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Comment: Re:more important question... (Score 2) 69 69

I don't know how cost of living translates

€144,000 annually is comfortable living by any metric.

What are your choices? Run away and look over your shoulder for years?

Getting deeper into bed with them is not a sensible decision either. It may be necessary in the short term but what's the exit strategy? The most sensible decision would be to avoid putting yourself in the position where you have to make that choice. Failing that, I would personally take my chances with the authorities. Caving to blackmail is never a winning move in the long term.

Comment: Re:They are trying to get off... (Score 1) 69 69

If you don't want to get fleas don't lay down with dogs. The "mob" (a misleading title, given that TFA doesn't mention Cosa Nostra or any other organized crime syndicate....) didn't pick these two at random and hold guns to their head. They got involved with them willingly; one of the two was seeking start up capital for a business venture and quite likely ignored the little voice inside of his head because of greed. An old adage comes to mind, "If it sounds too good to be true....."

Incidentally, the "mob" as traditionally discussed in the United States doesn't tend to go after random citizens. They typically get hooks into their victims because of the victim's own bad judgment. Loansharking, gambling, prostitution, drugs, and so forth. At the street level the vast majority of violent crime is common criminal on common criminal. There aren't too many places in the First World where taxpaying citizens have to really worry about becoming a statistic. Common sense goes a long way....

Comment: Re:They are trying to get off... (Score 2) 69 69

You've never imagined having a gun to your kids' head, have you?

Read TFA. Specifically these paragraphs:

To his surprise, Adibelli agreed. “If you wanted out, why didn’t you let us know?” he said. Maertens was too scared to bring up the beating and the kidnapping and death threats. “Obviously, you know we’re not in a legal business,” Adibelli added. “So if you talk to anyone, we know where you and your family live.”

Adibelli brought Van De Moere down next and asked him if he wanted out, too. Van De Moere said yes.

There was only one condition of the release: Van De Moere had to give Okul an intensive training session on Linux, the operating system on which Metasploit, the hacking software, is based. A few weeks later, according to police and interviews, he did so over one weekend at a Holiday Inn in Ghent. In November, Van De Moere returned two antennas and had a couple of beers with Okul. That was the last either man would see of the Turks.

Something doesn't jive here. The type of people that are willing to actually hold a gun to your head are not the type of people that are willing to let you walk away simply by giving your notice. I don't doubt that there was some level of intimidation at play but there were apparently limits to how far the bad guys were willing to go. Which begs the question of why these two didn't go to the authorities after they "got out." Perhaps they didn't wish to part with the €25,000 in cash they had previously received?

Comment: Re:more important question... (Score 5, Interesting) 69 69

These two were making €12,000 and €20,000 per month, before their involvement with the criminal element. One of them was seeking start up capital for a business venture and allowed himself to get roped in that way. If you give them the benefit of the doubt the best you can say about them is they were naive. In the worst reading they were greedy and willfully complicit. I suspect reality falls between those two extremes.

Comment: Re:It stopped piracy (Score 1) 396 396

Hey, while we are at it, let's outlaw murder and rape too... Oh wait... What is already illegal?

New York State limits you to carrying no more than seven condoms at a time. It's a bit of common sense legislation; there's no legitimate reason why a non-rapist would need more than seven condoms. :)

Comment: Re: Because...it's the LAW! (Score 1) 396 396

If you argue that gun control requires an amendment to be truly legal that's one thing, but the constitution is not some immutable natural law, and can and should be amended whenever it diesn't serve society's needs.

Please name 38 States that you think would ratify such an amendment. My own State (New York) would not ratify a repeal of the 2nd Amendment, despite our hostility to gun rights; the votes simply aren't there in the New York State Senate. If New York State would not ratify it just who do you think would? Other than New Jersey there is no State that is more hostile to gun rights than New York. I could set the bar lower for you than an outright repeal and you still can't get to 38.

Politics is the art of the possible; whatever the merits or lack thereof of gun control you do need to acknowledge this reality.

Comment: Re: Because...it's the LAW! (Score 1) 396 396

"Gun rights" and "gun controls" are not mutually incompatible. For example, mandatory mental health checks for licensees seems emininently sensible as a control, and yet there are people who cry "freedom" and "rights" even when people try to establish checks of that sort.

That would be prior restraint; in the United States we do not apply prior restraint to fundamental rights. You can be denied your right to keep and bear arms because of an established mental illness (the Federal standard requires that you be deemed mentally incompetent by a court) but you can not be compelled to prove a negative in order to exercise it.

"I have schizophrenia." <--- Denied
"Prove you don't have schizophrenia." <--- Unconstitutional

If you're not an American that may seem like a weird place to draw the line but we've got centuries of case law and tradition behind this concept. Speech works the same way too.

Comment: Re:Bank admits error? (Score 5, Insightful) 96 96

Maybe you should switch banks. I can't speak for the UK, but it never ceases to astound me how many people whine about banking in the United States when there are thousands of small community banks you could be doing business with. It's a tough industry and the little guys are facing setbacks on a daily basis, but they're still there if people are willing to look for and do business with them.

In the day and age of remote deposit there's no reason to do business with a large national bank. I get waived ATM fees worldwide, no account fees of any sort, and competitive loan and deposit rates, all from a little regional bank that you've probably never heard of unless you're from my small hometown.

For the life of me I don't understand why Chase, Capital One, or Bank of America have any retail customers at all. They bend people over on fees, structure your transactions to obtain yet more fees, and generally do all sorts of nefarious things while offering no real advantage over their smaller competitors.

Comment: Re:Welcome to Fascist America! (Score 1) 413 413

You're implying that people of the same ethnicity find it easier to agree politically. Reality suggests that's far from the truth. The Finns fought a pretty nasty Civil War, even by Civil War standards, within living memory.

The reason the Finnish system works on consensus has to do with the structure of their political system and the rules in their Parliament. I suggest reading Finland: Myth and Reality; it's a bit dated, most of the foreign policy stuff lost relevance after the Cold War ended, but the domestic discussions are still applicable.

Comment: Re:Welcome to Fascist America! (Score 1) 413 413

Finland has never had a "homogeneous" culture; it only appears that they do from the outside. Read the history of the Swedish speaking minority or of their civil war sometime when you're bored. The concept of Finland as a nation-state didn't even exist until the late 1800s and probably would never have evolved if the Russians had been a little bit more tactful. That's without even getting into the outside pressures and obstacles that they had to overcome.

What they have is trust in their institutions, a willingness to admit mistakes and try something new, and a political system that operates on consensus rather than a 50%+1 majority trying to ram its agenda down the throats of the opposition.

Comment: Re:Welcome to Fascist America! (Score 3, Insightful) 413 413

That may be a valid point, but it's worth mentioning that the welfare state doesn't have to be run at the national level. Much of Kela is run and funded by municipalities, not the national Government. Finland leads the world in education yet has no standardized tests or national curriculum mandates. Intuitive at the local level is encouraged, not stifled.

Of course it still won't happen here, even if we got over our love affair with top-down control. Our mistrust of institutions doesn't begin or end with the Federal Government. I do find these conversations interesting though; people on the American left talk a big game about how awesome the Nordic countries are but very few of them actually know anything about them. Finland has no concept of tuition -- even foreigners can go study there for free (with only one barrier to entry, it's called "Finnish") -- but they also have universal conscription.

Think there are many people on the American left that would support universal conscription? Not bloody likely. Which is too bad, because it would actually make interventionism less likely, not more. Anyhow, I digress.....

Comment: Re:Welcome to Fascist America! (Score 5, Interesting) 413 413

he nordic countries and canada have more government than us and far less corruption. the people are happier, more socially mobile, and pay far less for healthcare and education

The important difference there is that the people of the Nordic countries (at least Sweden and Finland, where I visited and lived) still have faith in their institutions. Americans haven't had faith in our institutions since Watergate. It's not just the Government either; in increasing numbers Americans don't trust business, academia, religion, or any other reasonably sized institution.

The reasons for this are varied -- you could write an entire thesis on the subject -- but at the end of the day it's the reality of the situation, and a Nordic style welfare state is a non-starter in the United States.

Comment: Re:Real banner week for the TSA... (Score 5, Insightful) 166 166

It's not like the private companies that they replaced were any better. A buddy of mine is the Operations Manager for our little regional airport; in the pre 9/11 days he watched the private outfit miss firearms as they scrolled past on the x-ray machine. In the post 9/11 days it's still a joke; he can get me into the secured area with a simple, "He's with me." statement to the TSA flunkies. Not even a metal detector. That's the gaping hole in airport security, incidentally, insiders. Just buy one off or blackmail them and you're set to do whatever nefarious deed you have in mind. Once you're through the secured area at one airport you're into all of them.

The bigger problem is that our body politic is incapable of having an adult conversation about risk. We live in a society that won't let kids use playgrounds where they might scrape a knee. Good luck having a conversation about the proper balance between security and liberty in that environment.

BLISS is ignorance.

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