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Comment Verizon is probably going to lose me to Comcast. (Score 1) 104

As much as I don't want to -- after almost 20 years of being on Verizon DSL, I'm going to have to switch to "xfinity".

I can only get ~3Mbit via DSL, due to my distance from the CO, combined with Verizon's aging equipment (circa 1992!) in my semi-rural location. There are people in all directions about 10 miles away from me that have FIOS as an option, which I'd gladly pay more for, but Verizon (in a surprise bit of candor) has told me that we'll "never get" FIOS at our location.

I can pay about the same for 20Mbit cable internet (or a lot more for 50Mbit) but then lose the dry copper pair that I've had forever and that's literally never gone down (we have virtually no cell service at home, so we have to have a landline). The DSL has been nearly 100% as well.

I've been putting off the switch for quite a while, since I'm nervous about being left with no comm at all when there's an (inevitable) outage, but eventually I'll have to bite the bullet and get "xfinity", since I simply don't have any other (affordable) options.

I've looked at voipo for VOIP, since comcast's overpriced "voice" option leaves a lot to be desired. I don't have and don't want premium cable TV. I'd happily pay (a reasonable sum) for local broadcast TV signals over clear QAM cable, since our OTA TV reception isn't great, but they won't sell it to me. I don't want their crappy cable box, when my TV has a perfectly good built-in tuner. Gets my goat, and is half the reason I haven't switched yet.

I wonder how many of those new comcast subscribers are internet-only? I'd guess many of them are verizon refugees in similar situations to myself.

Huh. I didn't even know that AT&T still sold residential internet service.

Comment Voting for candidates should be in person, period. (Score 1) 182

For our "Representative" democracy, as many others are saying, electronic voting simply makes no sense. Too easy for coercion, too hard for identity confirmation, etc.

However, a "teledemocracy" system makes sense in the form of a national referendum, or maybe more like a national conversation about specific issues. It could pull some issues back into the realm of direct democracy. Probably not for everything, and probably not all at once, but having a serious system (unlike previous attempts which were largely ignored by our representatives) that could guide reps and congresspeople more directly than the current system(s) of "polling", which is again, all too-often ignored.

Such a system could be not unlike the one here on slashdot, with moderation, karma, etc., which though perhaps less than ideal, could lead to a system where the American People actually get to set (or at least nudge) the agenda, rather than the status quo, where lobbyists, and power-brokers get to not only set the agenda, but write the legislation.

I'm sure it wouldn't be perfect, any maybe not any better, but it's hard to see how it could be any worse than what we have now.

Comment Re:Solving the problem by ignoring the results. (Score 1) 908

This may fall on deaf ears, but I'll give it a go anyway.

Just because one finds manually-computing equations difficult does not make one dumb.

I was a straight-A student in math right up to Algebra II, after which point my grades suffered -- I went on to get A's again in geometry, trig, and later stats but later again struggled with my advanced Calc classes and struggled terribly in Linear Algebra, to the point where I ended up leaving college after 3.5 years in a computer science program with a 3.0 GPA (only not a 4.0 because my math grades were mediocre at best)

I excelled in all my other courses, and ultimately found a satisfying career as a software developer despite my lack of a degree. I don't regret any of my years in school, but I don't doubt that it would have been an even more rewarding experience if it were possible to tailor the curriculum to my specific interests and talents.

For the most part my difficulties in math all stemmed from my inability to accurately do the algebra *quickly* -- it wasn't that I couldn't do it at all, and in fact I had many epiphanies in math classes while absorbing the concepts being presented -- especially in Linear Algebra -- some of which I find quite useful to this day. I'm sure I'm not alone in this. I'm quite sure I could have done better in most, if not all of my math courses simply given twice as much time to complete my exams -- granted I had the motivation that I actually wanted to learn all that stuff. If I had wanted to become an actor or lawyer, for example, I'm sure I wouldn't have bothered to even try.

It's possible that I may have had a different experience all the way through if I had had a different Algebra II teacher (she wasn't bad, but I sometimes had a rough time following her methods) though I think it's more of a thing with the way my brain works.

Am I dumb? I don't think so. I'm a good visual designer, as well as a competent programmer in any language I need to use. I pick up human languages fairly easily, am a decent cook, and have a knack with most machines. I do my own electrical and plumbing work (to code), and am a passable carpenter, welder and machinist.

My personal experiences aside, it's possible to be a frigging *genius* in one field, and yet unable to find even basic competence in another. I'm sure there are many great composers and choreographers (for instance) considered by not only their peers, but by the world at large to be at the top of their professions, that can't solve complex equations. Does that make them dumb too?

You're also discounting social intelligence, and the myriad other forms of intelligence that humans (and some other animals) can possess.

Humans tend to specialize, and even "generalists" like myself are a kind of specialist in a way. The ability to just pick things up and learn practical things quickly is (in my opinion) a form of intelligence. Granted I may be biased, since I seem to have that one.

We (as a society) need to recognize each other's value: simply as fellow human beings, as well as the specific talents we each possess, particularly when they don't conform to the "curricula" that happen to be in vogue at any moment. The talents to care for the sick and elderly, dance exquisitely or counsel the mentally ill (for just a few examples) are all vitally needed -- and to simply label people who have those important skills "dumb" because they can't reach a particular watermark in an academic discipline that they may, or may not actually need, does them, as well as the world at large a huge disservice.

Comment Re:The description is a lie... (Score 1) 440

A UBI is not really "socialist" at all. In fact one of it's main proponents was one of the world's staunchest conservative capitalists, Milton Friedman:

I think it's an idea to PRESERVE capitalism, which is getting a bit frayed around the edges -- as automation increases (think 100 years from now, not 10) there will be less and less "work" available. The solution will have to be either full-on socialism/collectivism, or continuing the status quo, with something like a UBI added to the mix to ensure that the teeming billions have enough money to actually, you know, buy stuff, not only just to survive, but to keep the economy rolling. See? It's not "socialism" at all, it's actually self-interest. A UBI would amount to a few more (large-ish) crumbs off GDP -- and the current "power elites" get to keep their position and status for another few generations or so without having to live like mole-people in underground bunkers while the rest of us quickly starve in the hell-scape produced by an irrevocable economic collapse -- not that that is a certainty, but it's an ever increasing risk with the status quo.

A couple hundred thousand multi-millionaires and billionaires can't possibly ever spend enough money to keep anything like the current economic system going, even if you forget about the billions of pissed-off proles.

Also think about the projected population stabilization: the economic system we have is predicated on growth. What will happen when the population stops growing?

A UBI would function as a feedback mechanism, to prop up the existing system long enough for humanity to realize an actual (more or less) post-scarcity global society. Without it (or something like it, or a literal miracle) I don't think we'll make it there as a species.

As far as government-collected statistics go for a UBI -- sure, there'd probably be some, but I'd doubt it would be any different than it is now, since we have to file a 1040 with the IRS every year anyway -- and if the information gathering were too much for an individual's sensibilities, I'd hope they'd simply not cash the checks, or opt out of the system, or donate 100% of it to charities, or whatever.

In at least one sense, it may be that something like a UBI would result in LESS government surveillance/data collection, since if the UBI were unconditional, there'd be no need to "check up" on anyone, like has to be done now for welfare and SSI/disability in order to discourage fraud.

As far as the Social Security Administration, et. al., not wanting to shut down, what exactly would they do, once no one is paying into or receiving social security anymore? Their reason for existence would simply go away, and all the funds that supported that edifice would have to go toward the UBI.

I'm actually quite surprised that the strongly fiscally-conservative among us have not glommed onto Friedman's original idea like cats in a toy mouse factory. In one fell swoop, half of what they rail against could be eliminated: the inefficiencies inherent in the "welfare state". I guess it's because they have so little faith in the rest of humanity, and think that the UBI would be widely "abused", generating a large permanent "leecher" class. It seems to me that we already have that "class" of humans (across the entire economic spectrum, as it were) so really, what's the worst that could happen? I'm just optimistic enough to think that maybe we'll get to find out.

Comment Re:They don't need to be up there (Score 0) 135

You're correct that the i3-4330 is similarly priced, and it does outperform (but hardly trounces) the A10-7800 on the cpu side -- but it is still $50 more expensive, and intel motherboards run $20-$30 more -- so there's still a price premium, and idle power draw is very close. At the time I built my current setup, intel's prices on haswell were quite a bit higher than now -- I guess skylake brought down the haswell prices quite a bit...

Comment Re:They don't need to be up there (Score 5, Insightful) 135

This. The A10-7800 in my rig is as power-efficient (at idle) as a similarly spec'd intel i5 box would be, has superior on-die graphics (which admittedly, I barely use) and came in about $300 less for mITX mainboard, proc & memory. I could have paid $1000 or more extra for a high-end intel i7 workstation, which would have given me maybe 30% higher performance (at best), that for the most part I'd never notice. AMD wins as far as I'm concerned, and they should make some inroads in the server space with ZEN.

Comment Movies? (Score 1) 144

Who torrents movies anymore? Or music for that matter. Netflix, Spotify and other streaming services have pretty much solved that one. I suspect that most of the people torrenting movies are either young kids that do it for the lulz, or people who can't afford $20/month to rent DVDs from Netflix, in which case they wouldn't be a customer anyway. If the studios were smart, they'd launch a PR campaign saying how they're not going to prosecute anyone anymore for sharing, generating goodwill and (re)capture some movie theater ticket sales, and then put their entire "loss-prevention" budget into discovering people actually profiting from selling burned blu-rays.

Comment Used Nissan Leaf -- good buy? (Score 1) 111

I've seen reference to this before, that the used market for the Leaf is a buyer's market, because they depreciate much faster than their gasoline-powered brethren; at least that's one way to look at it. I guess the tech-advancement from year-to-year at least partly explains the high depreciation -- but for someone that may be in the market (in the next few years) for a used Leaf, it looks like a boon for me, at least if the current trend holds. As a second car that gets used for a 15 mile (third shift, i.e. the car sits in the driveway all day when the sun is shining) daily commute and occasional shopping trips, combined with a (soon to be installed) on-site solar PV system, a used leaf is looking very attractive, even if it only has a 50-60 mile range, as we also have a gas-powered car for longer trips.

I wonder if other people who work 2nd or 3rd shift have had similar thoughts?

Submission + - An EPIC View of the Moon in Earth's Orbital Embrace (

astroengine writes: As a suitably impressive follow-up to the new “blue marble” image of our world released in July, today NASA shared a gorgeous animation created from pictures captured by NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft positioned nearly a million miles (1.5 million km) away — over four times farther than the moon. In a series of images acquired between 3:50 and 8:45 p.m. EDT on July 16, 2015, the moon can be seen passing in front of a rotating Earth, the warm gray face of its far side framed by the swirling-cloud-covered blue water of the eastern Pacific Ocean. The north pole is at the 11 o’clock position, illustrating our planet’s 23.5-degree axial tilt.

Comment DIY (Score 1) 73

I use a similar solution (formerly using sipdroid) with a free Google Voice number (there are other free or almost free providers too) -- calling is now built into hangouts -- though it's buggy, it does work, and you can have your google voice number forwarded to your mobile number for when you're not connected to wifi.

It's a clunky solution, but works well enough for me, since I still do 90% of my voice calling on a landline...

Comment Re:Games versus reality (Score 1) 393

Same here, though I don't have kids, and won't ever have kids, though I do have siblings with kids... so the same concept holds -- though poverty is not the only cause of suffering -- I'd imagine there are plenty of "well off" people who live with suffering of some sort, perhaps not so much physical suffering, but suffering nonetheless. So leaving one's kids a large inheritance is hardly a guarantee of them not suffering. I've heard too many horror stories of siblings fighting bitterly over inheritance... which I'm sure causes suffering. Anxiety and fear of losing one's worldly possessions is a form of suffering.

Something like a universal basic income would likely solve the most egregious physical suffering for most that simply lack basic survival necessities, and an actual functioning public mental health system would take care of most who wouldn't benefit from just a basic income.

The other kinds of suffering can only be eliminated by good friends, more advanced medicine, therapy, and personal philosophy or spirituality.

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