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Comment: Re:Apt Tax (Score 1) 190

This actually isn't a bad system at all. Since the poor become a very small part of the tax base in such a system it probably wouldn't be regressive compared to something like a use tax. If it turns out to be regressive, then just raise the rate a bit and have basic income to make up for it.

Comment: Re:Phone size myopia (Score 1) 239

by Rich0 (#47973919) Attached to: Phablet Reviews: Before and After the iPhone 6

Yup. I think part of this is the whole surface-area vs volume relationship. Battery capacity is almost entirely a function of volume. When you have something like a phone which already has a considerable screen surface area just adding a fraction of a millimeter of thickness gives you a substantial amount of additional volume inside for more battery. On the other hand, when you're talking about a watch face that has to be the size of your wrist, adding a bit more thickness adds much less volume, and to really have a decent battery you start to get into something that looks like a cube that straps onto your wrist. If wrists were all the same size I guess you could start to have more of a wrap-around design. It would look super-ugly, but I guess another option would be a watch that adds an extra compartment on the other side of your wrist - no screen, just a big box for battery/components/etc. I guess you could stick a camera in there too if you wanted to and just hold you your wrist to shoot video out of the back of your wrist.

If anybody is wincing at these kinds of highly-utilitarian product descriptions, that would explain why the phone still contains all the smarts.

Comment: Re:I'm pleasantly surprised. (Score 1) 239

by Rich0 (#47973873) Attached to: Phablet Reviews: Before and After the iPhone 6

I just got a Oneplus One and wasn't quite sure how I'd like the screen size. I have to say that I really like the size, though it is definitely on the upper edge of usability. One thing I do like about it is that the keyboard doesn't feel like it is stealing so much screen real-estate, though it is perhaps getting to the upper-limit of swype-style keyboarding.

I also am tall with large hands, and I imagine that is a definite factor. One thing I do notice is that if I'm in a one-handed situation I have to manipulate the phone a bit to get from the bottom of the screen to the top. Usually, though, I have a second hand free so that isn't a problem at all.

I'm going to be interested in what impact the Apple move has on mid-sized tablets. I've seen even a lot of iOS users comment that they like tablets like the Nexus 7, while I never really saw a need for it and preferred the 10" format. I think that this may have been driven by the need for an intermediate size for people with really small phones like the past iPhones. My past Android phones were more in the 4" range but even so they were adequate enough for browsing/etc that I didn't feel the need to have another portable tablet that I could always have in a coat pocket/etc. Now that I have a 5.5" phone I REALLY don't need to carry around another tablet that is only 1.5" larger, and I'm wondering if the Apple move will take away another large segment of demand for this size.

Comment: Re:Uh... (Score 1) 71

by Rich0 (#47970723) Attached to: Google Partners With HTC For Latest Nexus Tablet

I like my Nexus 10. I could never see myself owning a 7" tablet. What would I use it for? It would only be 1.5" larger than my phone anyway.

I can see why iPhone owners like the 7" tablet - it definitely fills a niche of still being portable but being much more functional than a phone. However, I think the solution to that is to just make the phone bigger since I carry it in a belt case anyway, and it doesn't hurt that I have long fingers.

I think the 10" tablet is also a potential replacement for a laptop if you add a bluetooth keyboard.

Comment: Re:Speak for yourself, Mr. Emanuel (Score 1) 443

by Rich0 (#47970709) Attached to: Bioethicist At National Institutes of Health: "Why I Hope To Die At 75"

You lost me when you assigned an arbitrary number as your cutoff rather than defining the cutoff on reasonably definable measures of physical and mental health.


Also, what law of physics dictates that we can only extend life and not vigor? For all we know there will be breakthroughs that make us as lucide at the age of 300 as we are at the age of 30. It may not happen for us, but the complexity of the human body and mind are finite, so I think is just a matter of time.

Comment: Re:A few hundred extrasolar planets (Score 1) 80

by Rich0 (#47970647) Attached to: Astrophysicists Identify the Habitable Regions of the Entire Universe

If the space is expanding, I'd expect the objects to accelerate in time, and I'm not even sure how the speed of expansion changed over time, but I'm quite certain that merely dividing the current distance of two objects by the age of the Universe doesn't make much sense.

Well, relative to each other everything seems to be accelerating apart. Of course, that is a recent result - until recently the universe seemed to be nearly flat - that is the expansion of the earth was asymptotically slowing towards a static universe (which it would never actually reach).

I'm not an expert in such things, but there are a bunch of factors involved with relativistic motion. The relative passage of time slows, light becomes red-shifted (to the extent that an event that was incomprehensibly hot is redshifted to the temperature of something at 4K or so), and so on. We can actually "see" all the way to the beginning of the universe, simply because it was an incredibly brilliant flash of energy, but we can't see anything immediately afterwards because those objects are all red-shifted into undetectability (and there are also period of time where the universe was not transparent to light).

Comment: Re:A few hundred extrasolar planets (Score 1) 80

by Rich0 (#47970619) Attached to: Astrophysicists Identify the Habitable Regions of the Entire Universe

As opposed to, what, assuming that our galaxy is unique and special and doesn't follow the same rules as the other ones?

Well, you can only extrapolate from what you have, so it is a useful exercise, but there is no reason that the rules apply the same everywhere. Nobody really understands what kinds of fields might exist on a large scale across the cosmos so it may very well be that there are things that behave differently elsewhere.

It isn't about our galaxy being "special" per se, so much as the anthropic principle. There may very well be many galaxies in the exact same situation as ours, but that doesn't mean that all galaxies are, or even most.

But, again, you can only work with the data you have, so it does make sense to at least ask what the universe is like assuming that it is uniform in behavior.

Comment: Re:Now all they need to do... (Score 1) 135

by Rich0 (#47970595) Attached to: New MRI Studies Show SSRIs Bring Rapid Changes to Brain Function

The doctors made a final diagnosis with a blood test, then stuck a catheter up my groin to pull the clot out of the artery, stopping the heart attack. (Then, for the next couple of days, it seemed almost everybody coming into my room wanted to check my groin.)

That isn't such a bad thing. I know somebody who had stents placed and the doctor didn't wait long enough when removing the sheath (or whatever they call the thing they insert catheter through). She was lying in bed and felt damp and looked down and there was blood all over the place. Good thing she hadn't taken a nap - she was bleeding from her femoral artery - not exactly a minor vessel. When she finally managed to get the attention of a nurse there was quite the stir.

Depression is a collection of symptoms, normally diagnosed from the patient's self-reporting. I haven't seen or heard of any objective test. Serotonin level won't do it: you can be depressed with a high level or just fine at a low level, but it appears that increasing the serotonin level does reduce depression in quite a few cases. There could well be several physiological causes.

No argument there - I suspect that once they figure out the brain the whole DSM is going to need a MAJOR refactor...

Comment: Re:They deserve praise (Score 2) 140

by Rich0 (#47968557) Attached to: The Raid-Proof Hosting Technology Behind 'The Pirate Bay'

Very bad examples here. In both cases of pharma and music, the up-front costs are vastly inflated because of the existence of "intellectual property" laws.

I'm talking about actual costs, not accounting games. It costs thousands of dollars to produce a record album, and I don't think anybody would really dispute this (maybe you can get people to work for free, but if you add up the hours and reasonable compensation it works out to something on that scale). If you factor in failed bands that were funded whose costs have to be recouped I'm sure the figure will be 10x higher.

With drugs the costs are in the tens to hundred of millions of dollars. Much of that goes to pay doctors to participate in clinical trials, but there are a lot of other costs as well. Hundreds of scientists are involved in the development and testing of a drug, and they are expensive to hire.

Now, some will argue if the cost is $100M, or $1B, or $10B. Few are going to argue that drugs are the sort of thing that a few people can develop in their kitchen (complete with supporting double-blind clinical trial data, and a robust manufacturing process that consistently turns out pills that work and are safe). If you don't want IP laws for drugs, then somebody has to spend that $100M+, and I think the real cost is closer to the $1B figure (factoring in the costs of drugs that are tested but turn out to not work - it isn't like somebody doing R&D can choose in advance to only research the stuff that works out).

Comment: Re:This is supposed to be the *WAY* they do their (Score 1) 386

First of all, universal health insurance is a scam. Insurance is a shared risk pool so putting people with preexisting conditions into that pool to be covered just hurts everyone else. If you want the government to treat people with preexisting conditions go ahead and do so, but don't bring in an additional layer of bureaucracy for no good reason.

Coverage of pre-existing conditions without universal coverage certainly can't work, because that isn't insurance. People have the incentive to not sign up until they're sick, and then drop coverage once they're healthy again, which bankrupts the insurance system.

However, with universal coverage there is no such thing as a "pre-existing condition" other than during a transition period. If somebody is insured from the moment they are conceived, then no condition can pre-exist conception.

Of course, universal coverage isn't really "insurance" as much as a socialized benefit. And I'll certainly agree that the ACA as it currently stands doesn't achieve universal coverage.

Furthermore, people seem to not understand healthcare is a scarce resource. That means not everyone can be treated for everything. The resources need to be divided amongst the population. Socialized medicine puts control of this decision into the hands of politicians.

No argument with any of that. However, EVERY insurance system puts control over coverage in the hands of somebody. For most in the US it basically resides with your employer, without a great deal of visibility into how decisions get made. One of the advantages of a government-run plan is that the decision logic can be subject to the democratic process. As you point out, that can also be a disadvantage. I have no illusions that the well-connected will get the same care as the average person under any system.

I don't have an objection to people with money paying for their own services. However, the way the US system really doesn't make this a real option for all but the most wealthy for any problem of any significance. From hospital bills I've seen the list prices for serious procedures often work out to upwards of $100k, with insurance companies paying 8-9% of that, and individuals paying 1-2% of that, and the hospital discounting the other 90%. If you pay cash they'll offer you a "nice" deal of maybe 50-70% off and then bankrupt you, and most people think they were getting a good deal when this happens.

Comment: Look at the whole picture (Score 1) 176

by Rich0 (#47965005) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Who Should Pay Costs To Attend Conferences?

There is no "right" or "wrong" answer here. Typically employers pay these costs, but not all do at all times. My own employer has paid for me to attend conferences, but has also had dry times where it has been very difficult for anybody to travel to anything that isn't local.

You have to look the whole package. If you're skilled you could probably find another employer who would pay for you to attend the conference. On the other hand, maybe there is some other benefit that you currently receive which you would not in another job, or maybe you would have to relocate to an area you might not prefer to live in.

I think employers should pay for development if they want to succeed, but there are lots of short-sighted companies out there.

You need to look at the big picture and decide what makes sense for you. If another employer will pay $2k for you to travel to a conference but will pay you $10k less per year, etc, you have to decide if that tradeoff makes sense vs just paying your own $2k and pocketing the other $8k, and then getting to pick any conference you want. And so on...

Comment: Re:They deserve praise (Score 1) 140

by Rich0 (#47963719) Attached to: The Raid-Proof Hosting Technology Behind 'The Pirate Bay'

Movies and pharmaceuticals are similar in that regard - they have huge up-front costs (sure, those costs are often debated, but nobody disputes that what gets spend is huge no matter whose estimates you use), and low marginal production costs.

Music does have higher up-front than marginal costs, but the main "cost" is the creative serendipity that led to the work in the first place. You don't necessary need a lot of infrastructure for that to happen, even if it is something that should be rewarded in some way. Otherwise, producing a song does cost money, but not a very great deal of it (a few band members for a few days, a few engineers/etc for a few days, etc). The costs are real, but the fact is that a garage band could produce their own song that is competitive with a major label song if they had the talent, while a garage movie production simply couldn't compete with a first-line movie production on talent alone.

Now, one element of music that also involves large up-front costs is the concept of taking any song that appears half-decent, signing the artist, and then trying to market an album after the fact. I imagine most of the artists that get money up-front turn out to be bad investments. So, when an album sells, it is in part supporting unsuccessful artists as well as successful ones. Of course, it is supporting a lot of middle-managers and executives as well.

Comment: Re:Why do they take the risk? (Score 4, Interesting) 140

by Rich0 (#47963649) Attached to: The Raid-Proof Hosting Technology Behind 'The Pirate Bay'

Yup. I recently bought a game on a steam sale. For as little as I paid for it, the hassle of pirating it would not have been worth it.

On the other hand, apparently many parts of the game aren't actually working now due to a bad update. Of course, the advantage of Steam is that I'll probably get that update automatically within a few days. On the other hand, if I had obtained it from TPB I probably would be playing it now instead of waiting, since the pirated version would be an older known-good one (though obviously missing whatever was in that update).

I also saw a "# activations remaining" message when registering my CD key with the game, which wasn't terribly comforting. I suspect that Valve would take care of any actual issues down the road, but who knows, maybe in 10 years I'll end up stopping by TPB to get a crack for the game that I just bought.

Stuff like this is why there is piracy.

Uncertain fortune is thoroughly mastered by the equity of the calculation. - Blaise Pascal