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Comment Re:it's evolution: adapt or die (Score 4, Interesting) 167

My local (Gannett owned) paper has always had its biases and whatnot... we can argue about content all day long, BUT they used to have a pretty decent phpbb forum to comment on stories (or whatever people wanted to talk about). The forums were relatively unmoderated unless people became abusive, which allowed a wide range of opinions, for better or worse, to be subjected to debate. About once a year, the forums would get reset and we'd start from scratch.

Well, at one point back in 2007 or 2008, Gannett made the decision to force all of their papers onto Pluck. It was infuriatingly slow, it could be hard to find stories, but obviously, it was meant to give the papers more editorial control over all of their content (it's nice when you can make stories suddenly disappear from memory) but also encouraged them to do it with reader comments. Opinions which differed from the paper's staff, reasonable and polite or not, were deleted. The paper would start "ghosting" users, so that their posts appeared when they were logged in, but nobody else could see them. Readers that agreed with the paper's biases could get away with any amount of abuse of other readers. The editorial staff and executive staff of the paper didn't care, they just let things fester.

Then Gannett made the decision that there was just too much abuse going on in the comments and that it was too much work to keep up with, so they switched to facebook commenting (the reality, based on reading a Gannett insider blog, I get the distinct impression that may be that an exeucitve had pre-IPO stock in facebook, so this could be quite a personal boon as well).

Next thing you know, they were instituting a paywall, requiring a large mandatory subscription increase for paper-only subscribers that have no interest in digital, while simultaneously letting more than two dozen staff members "retire early" and shrinking the paper to a size that you couldn't start a fire with. About the same time, they printed a story on local tax delinquints, only they forgot to disclose that an editor at the paper was himself a delinquint, tried to scrub the posts when a reader posted it and then threatened legal action (ok, "consulting a lawyer about legal action") for libel when the story, along with the link to the state database, spread. A senior editor doesn't know that truth is an absolute defense in a libel/defamation case! And rather than simply admit it, the editor and one of the executives waged an online campaign against the readers before ultimatley hiding the comments.

They just seem determined to shoot themselves in the foot at every opportunity. And Gannett's executives just seem to be milking the company for every little drop they can get out of it along the way.

Comment Re:When Egypt or Libya does it, it's bad, of cours (Score 1) 513

"One should not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harm it would cause if improperly administered" - LBJ

Ironic, given who it came from, but a lesson to learn anyway.

Comment Re:Cops can get away with it unfortunately (Score 3, Informative) 215

A local tv station had a story on this a few weeks ago

When former Greece Police Chief Merritt Rahn was found guilty of cover-up crimes involving two of his officers, he lost his job, his reputation and his freedom. He didn't, however, lose his taxpayer funded pension. For the past two years, while behind bars, Rahn has been collecting a retirement pension of $55,000 per year.

"Well if he does, he doesn't deserve it, that's for sure," said Greece resident Bob Warnick when we told him of Rahn's pension.

In fact, that's just the tip of the iceberg. We found many public employees convicted of crimes and still collecting their pensions. And it's perfectly legal.

After digging online, we ran the names of some former dubious local public employees into a database that tracks pensions. And here's what I Team 10 discovered:

*Former state assemblyman Jerry Johnson. Convicted of breaking into a staff member's home in Livingston County, he retired in 2000 and now collects an annual pension of $39,807.

*Bob Morone, in prison for his part in the county Robutrad scandal...$18,790.

*Former City of Rochester inspector William Redden, who admitted to taking bribes in a bid rigging scheme...$21,376.

*Former Monroe County Sheriff's Deputy James Telban was found guilty of misdemeanor DWI in a crash that killed a motorcyclist. He still gets his pension...$30,000 a year.

*John Stanwix, former Monroe County Water Authority chairman who pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of steering contracts to a consulting company he owned has an staggering pension of $98,658 per year.

*Nelson Miles, Jr., formerly a teacher in Caledonia-Mumford, who downloaded child porn...$21,705.

*Crooked cop Gary Pignato, now locked up for using his badge in Greece to coerce women into sex, gets $45,494 a year.

and that's just a partial list from one small area that isn't Chicago or New Orleans

Comment Re:How does the MTBF scale? (Score 2) 200

California also controls 53 out of 435 seats in the House of Representatives, far more than any other state and roughly 1/8th of the total Representatives. If they have a problem with the amount of money they give to the federal government or receive back, they have a lot of sway to change those laws. Band together with a couple other states large states with similar interests, like New York, and they wield a lot of power.

That they've consistently refused to do anything about it, implies that they really don't have a problem with it. In fact, they tend to be advocates of spending more money and creating more programs at the federal level, which is the same problem those states have at the state level.

Comment Re:So it begins (Score 2) 418

I also meant to add that former Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Fyodorovich Dobrynin wrote a book where he said less than 20% of Soviet spy activity went into trying to get state secrets/military technology, while most of their effort went into trying to boost the 60s counter-culture movement and, in particular, take over the education system so that children could be indoctrinated to accept Soviet style socialism as dogmatic truth so they could defeat us without firing a weapon in the long run.

Comment Re:So it begins (Score 1) 418

As time goes on, the US seems to resemble the Soviet Union more and more - obsessed with global expansion, spying on its citizens, increasing government control over them, etc.

Spying isn't just about gathering information and such to bring home, it's also about influencing others from the inside through the effective use of propaganda.

Comment Re:well... (Score 1) 311

The Pacific Railroad is a great example of government subsidies making an inferior product, not a successful one. Government paid out based on mileage and terrain (rough terrain gave the railroads low interest loans, so they deliberately built in rough terrain when better terrain was available), not by how fast trips could be completed, so there are many places where the rail was placed very inefficiently to get more subsidies.

Not only that, but the rail was often poorly laid and a good chunk of it was of such bad quality that it later had to be torn up and laid again. The Union Pacific Railroad went bankrupt twice in the 30 years after construction.

The Great Northern Railroad was built from St. Paul to Seattle entirely with private money and operated profitably for years until the other railroads complained that the owner was charging cheaper rates because he also had a shipping business across the Pacific and he would give discounts to people using both. They convinced the government to pass the Hepburn Act to effectively put him out of business... and in the long run, it's a piece of what eventually helped push road based shipping/transportation over rail.

Crony capitalism, brought to you a century and a half ago... yet people act like it's something new and are always surprised that there are unintended consequences that ultimately just cause the "need" for more crony capitalism to fix the last intervention. Funny part is, some people insist that they were a success despite the evidence pointing to the opposite. Then again, most people don't know any better since schools don't teach that part of history since it doesn't fit their agenda...

Comment Re:Arrest that pirate! (Score 1) 186

He's immune

Section. 6.

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

Clearly, this willful infringment was part of his duties as a Congressman (unless you want to argue that it's an act of treason to reveal a trade agreement). Come on, politicians are always exempt from the laws they force on everyone else.

ok, ok.. so in the case of legislative debate, it's actually a good thing or else not much debate would likely occur.

Comment Re:No Real Benefit. Police State (Score 1) 487

How long does it take to get reported stolen? There are lots of rarely used vehicles sitting around with them even at the police lot, but especially if they're also in non-police emergency vehicles (another local town has recently decommissioned a pumper truck and it's just sitting out in the parking lot of the fire department, fully equiped and unguarded). For that matter, every cop in my county is assigned his own car, so it's only in use on the days he's working. Steal a radio the night before your crime. Ditto with bribing a cop to borrow his on his day off or if a cop is outright in cahoots with a criminal.

It's all fine and dandy to revoke keys, the question is, how long does it take to notice something has been stolen before you can revoke them IF you even notice? This may stop Joe Meth-head, but organized crime is called organized for a reason.

Comment Re:No Real Benefit. Police State (Score 1) 487

Lots of cops wear a personal radio on them... nice, small, and portable, you just need to incapacitate a cop to get one. Either that, or buy it off one of your other criminal friends that has done so. You might even be able to bribe a cop to borrow it.

Then there are the radios in their cars. A local sheriff (the top guy mind you, not some rookie deputy) took his daughter and granddaughters to the mall in his official vehicle, where a couple broke into it and stole two .45s, a GPS unit and a camera. Just add radio to the list.

in addition to the cops, other emergency responders often have the equipment to talk to them. Fire chiefs/officers (if not all trucks), medics (if not all ambulances), etc. Back when my dad used to work for the town highway department, even all of the highway trucks were set up to be able to communicate on the police bands too.

Comment Re:Both (Score 1) 503

One more thing that occured to me, I remember reading that the average income of a Chevy Volt owner is $175k. That would imply that, again, it's a toy for the rich rather than a practical car, especially since YTD, they've only sold around 6,000 of them. Most consumers just aren't interested given the price point and that's with GM taking a loss/breaking even on every sale, depending on what numbers you want to believe.

Comment Re:Both (Score 1) 503

Just a nit, but a working class guy with a $40k truck that he needs for work isn't buying a toy, it's an investment that brings him an income.

With the exception of 3 work trucks, all of the top 15 best selling vehicles in the US are all under $30k, so the majority of buyers aren't going to be interested in spending at least $10k more for a less capable vehicle than what they're driving now and this car certainly isn't going to replace the F250 type of work trucks.

At this price, it remains a toy for the rich, though you'll probably get some middle class people still insisting on living beyond their means in order to keep up with the joneses.

Comment Re:The tax holiday issue (Score 1) 630

A short term extension to keep talking when both sides refuse to budge isn't going to do anything, it isn't even going to maintain the status quo because a two month deadline means people expect it to go away soon... In the spirit of working things out later, the Republicans caved and provided a short term debt limit increase over the summer and it's about to run out again. Meanwhile, the Senate refuses to take up a vote on any of the appropriation bills passed by the Senate (and they haven't passed a budget since GWB was in office, even when the Dems controlled both houses of Congress). Both houses and parties walked away from the last attempt at a deficit commission as well as the SImpson-Bowles one a year before that.

As I said, both sides are playing politics and holding the people of America hostage to get their way. What it ultimately comes down to, is a distinct difference in the fundamental purpose of government that simpy can never be resolved. Either we accept that the federal government is supposed to do virtually nothing or we accept that it is supposed to do virtually everything. A "compromise" somewhere in between is what we've been doing for most of the last century and it's gotten us a massive debt that we can never repay, numerous systems rife with corruption, a healthcare system that is pretty much the worst of both worlds, etc.

We, as a country, need to decide what we want from the federal government... and we're pretty evenly split on which way to go. Nothing is really going to happen until we pick one side or the other... but what is happening, is the politicians and their friends are profiteering at our expense, so they're more than happy to keep engaging in petty fighting with each other to keep the people fighting with each other, so we aren't busy fighting our politicians. This team sport stuff plays right into their hands. It's what they want... and too many people blindly fall into it (and that's not to say I'm perfect in keeping away from it all the time myself).

Comment Re:Expecting honesty from politicians?!???!?!! (Score 1) 630

All of which could be resolved by the long-standing "conference committee," whereby when the House and Senate pass similar, but slightly different, laws, appoint a handful of members to a conference to hammer out the details so that both houses can approve a final, agreed upon measure. The Democrats refuse to appoint anyone to the conference committe.

Both sides are playing politics here... Obama wants to vote present on the pipeline so his enviro-supporters won't be pissed at him next year. Republicans want to force his hand. Likewise, Democrats want to paint the Republicans into a corner by passing a half-assed tax cut in a form that they know the Republicans don't want to support, though the Republicans would back it in the full year form. It's all about using the legislative process for party political gain in an upcoming election year and both sides are guilty of it.

And people like the GP are the ones playing right into it by doing the team politics thing... "my side good, your side bad." Forget the notion of fully informing oneself, much having a little bit of intellectual integrity, an election is on the line! Same goes for the moderator that voted me overrated for simply pointing out a political fact that they disagreed with.

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The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work. -- Herbert V. Prochnow