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Comment Re:Compare filibuster threats (Score 1) 205

Requiring even a 90% threshold to pass a law, a supermajority, is still democratic. Everyone gets a voice. It just requires more people to agree before imposing something on everyone.

IMO there should be a higher threshold to passing a law, than there is for dissolving one.

Heinlein suggests this (among many other ideas just tossed out there) when they are forming the lunar government in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

Comment Re:Compare filibuster threats (Score 3, Insightful) 205

That doesn't prevent the passage of laws, it just requires a supermajority of 60% to pass, which, if the legislation is heavily controversial, sounds like a good idea to me. Prevent the whole 51% dictating to 49% thing.

Not that different from needing a supermajority to override a presidential veto really, except it works even if the president is of the 51%
Just one more check.

Comment Re:OMFG Reagan was right? (Score 1) 861

I was listening to an old episode of 2000 Ans D'Histoire where he was discussing l'Affaire Farewell.

The researcher he was interviewing noted that the upshot for the Americans at the time was that apart from needing to engage on a campaign of disinformation and sabotage to mitigate the damage, the scope of the Russian theft of technology and science from government and private research in the West indicated how hopelessly behind the USSR was.

And that, the course of action at that point would be to push the USSR over the edge through expenditure of resources.

His argument was that Farewell's revelations triggered the Americans to come up with Star Wars as a ploy to force the Russians to pour scant resources of their already disfunctional system into space weapons technology and into producing enough missiles to overwhelm the theoretical American system. So, this being a French program, he was suggesting that Farewell in a sense led to the eventual victory of the West in the Cold War.

What I got from it was that Star Wars might have been provocative and probably not workable, but it may well have had a legitimate strategy behind it. Reagan could have been selling an idea proposed by those who had studied the fallout from Farewell.

Comment Re:Just in time (Score 1) 315

There were no unencumbered jpeg formats w/ an alpha channel out at that time.
Certainly nothing available in a browser.
There's some hope now, but not a lot of progress.

MNG had feature creep, but that's why there was MNG-lc and MNG-vlc.
Which was successfully integrated into Firefox as a drop-in replacement for libpng.

APNG is fortunately slowly being picked up. Maybe it'll even someday get accepted despite the mistakes it made and the division caused.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/APNG#History

It's sad we lost like 12+ years due to some egos back then tho.

Oh well. Whatever.

Comment Re:Just in time (Score 1) 315

I think JNG would have been a bigger selling point.
APNG doesn't offer much on its own. Heck, I'm better off just using a javascript to animate a PNG sprite sheet in terms of browser support. Also, MNG was already out there with existing implementations. APNG had to start from scratch.

To summarise, I think APNG took some slow progress at replacing GIF w/ MNG and extending PNG to lossy images, completely squashed it, removed features, caused a bunch of division in the community, and then was all surprised at the loss of progress.

Comment Re:Just in time (Score 2) 315

Well, MNG might have had more traction if Firefox had kept support. Even for the "light" version of MNG.
Initially the accusation was that MNG took up too much space in Firefox (entire kilobytes more!) amusing in this age of slapping in megabytes of libs for the latest camera/microphone HTML5 support.
Anyway, the MNG guys went and stripped down libmng (minimal support) so that there was no increase in resulting size.

At that point, the reason changed to concerns about security. Which, is reasonable I guess, although I'd again point to all the libs they are just slapping in.

MNG had a lot of potential. There was the JNG - can you believe that over a decade ago we had browsers with lossy images with alpha channel?

Personally I think it was the fact that the people who were most active in killing off https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=18574 were those who had created APNG.
I'd be fine w/ APNG even with the less efficient animation frames if only they hadn't killed off JNG to get it :(

Comment Re:It's time to end the monopoly... (Score 1) 473

Amusingly, I've the opposite experience.
USPS carriers, ridiculously incompetent.
I'm routinely carrying letters over to neighbours, sometimes several streets over, despite clearly marked, usually typed, addresses.

Then there's stuff that just never arrives, like Netflix.

By contrast, if I want something absolutely positively to arrive, such as a document that needs a signature, I'm going to use UPS.

For a mortgage payment... that should all be done online nowdays. Providing remote communities with some public terminals should be way cheaper than maintaining USPS.

Comment Re:It's time to end the monopoly... (Score 1) 473

Just for the heck of it, although you'd hope actual costs of a full system could be lower...

Shipping a 10 pound package from Washington, DC to Aleknagik, Alaska using UPS which is presumably seeking to turn a profit on this, costs $90.45

10 pounds would be ~160 letters.

That's 56 cents a letter for a bulk delivery.
That's really not that bad.

Now I'm assuming costs might be lower if UPS and FedEx went into general mass delivery, although, who knows, maybe UPS piggybacks an a USPS plane or something to get to Aleknagik.

IMO though, it isn't the end of the world if USPS shuts down most of their operations, I think we have enough alternatives these days, which is the other reason they've been losing money.

Comment Re:It's time to end the monopoly... (Score 1) 473

There is a rate/frequency/location at which it *is* profitable to send them mail though, and it is probably not cost prohibitive. Esp nowdays when automated systems for assisting delivery might actually be practical for truly remote areas.

If all the letters for middle-of-nowhere were collected and sent out once a week, and they cost $2 to send there instead of 32 cents or whatevertheheckthepostofficeispayingdunnohaventuseditinyears and maybe you had to drive 20 miles to the post office instead of 10 miles...

Well, just saying, it is doable, and unlike pony express days, transportation and processing is cheaper and more automated. Who knows, maybe drones might be a practical delivery mechanism for areas where air mail is still the way to go :)

Comment Re:It's time to end the monopoly... (Score 1) 473

Well, I was trying to think of a system that would allow reduced cost of actual physical delivery, especially to rural areas.
I'm a huge fan of online billpay and such, but most systems nowdays are for eliminating the need for *you* to send a physical letter.

Unfortunately there are still quite a few people who feel the need to send me things physically.

I'll admit implementation is tricky, but postal service already has automated sorting and scanning. But. Ok. Opening it might only be practical if there was a way to easily tell if the dimensions and contents were standard.

Oh well, was just 5 minutes of off-the-cuff speculation. But surely there's a way to avoid actually delivering all that stuff that gets to me that I didn't actually want. I suppose that if prices to rural areas went up, people might just naturally opt to use faxes or scans without the need for a centralised system :)

Comment Re:It's time to end the monopoly... (Score 1) 473

In terms of implementation of a "scan the mail instead of delivering it system"
1) Mail goes to central sorting
2) If you're an opt-in-to-scanning address, front of letter is scanned, image is sent to your electronic inbox
3) In your inbox, you then click "open" which triggers cutting it open and scanning it. At this point, if you still want it physically, it can be resealed/dropped into a new envelope, possibly w/ a 5Â nuisance charge or something.

Any letters where the person does not "collect" within 24 hours get sent on physically. Any letters not delivered physically the recipient gets an incentive credit, say, 5Â - although probably the real incentive would be convenience.

All letters sent by scan get shredded after the scan is accepted.

Comment Re:It's time to end the monopoly... (Score 1) 473

If you're in a remote area, maybe you'd just have to accept mail service that only came by once a week, and maybe only to centralised postal locations.
And maybe you'd also have to accept that anyone who wanted to send you mail might have to pay a bit more for it.

For other areas, why are they proposing dropping Saturday delivery. That means 2 days without mail. Why not drop Wednesday?

Perhaps you could subscribe to a service where a completely automated system could open the original mail, scan it, and allow you to accept an electronic copy instead, for a credit. If you still wanted/needed it delivered, it could reseal it.
That might admittedly be complex to implement in a private fashion, but, I suspect people even in non-rural areas might be excited to have scans instead, so it might pay for itself.

Dunno. Maybe some areas will never be profitable for non-electronic delivery of cheap (say, $1) mail. People living in those areas might just have to accept that paying more for physical delivery of mail is a side effect of living there.

In this case though, the main reason the Postal Service is running out of money is their retirement plan.

Comment Re:"Artificial Womb" sounds so awkward. (Score 1) 367

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axlotl_tank#Axlotl_tank
Later in Heretics, Teg's own daughter, Reverend Mother Darwi Odrade, theorizes that the axlotl tanks may be, in fact, "surrogate mothers" â" Tleilaxu females somehow transformed.[13] Soon, the current Duncan ghola recalls his repeated "births" from the tanks:

        The axlotl tanks! He remembered emerging time after time: bright lights and padded mechanical hands. The hands rotated him and, in the unfocused blurs of the newborn, he saw a great mound of female flesh â" monstrous in her almost immobile grossness ... a maze of dark tubes linked her body to giant metal containers.

Just being a Dune series pedant.

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