Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:Great Job, Republican Judge (Score 1) 1505

There's no incentive in a free market to provide a service to every single person regardless of ability to pay. And yet we as a society have for the most part decided that health care should be a right granted to everyone.

There's no incentive to grant care to every single person in an unfree market either. There isn't a free money machine that suddenly bestows enough money to cover the care for everyone. Instead what happens is that the government decides who gets care and who doesn't. Taken to the extreme it means the government will decide who lives and who dies.

The incentive in a government-run marketplace is to do whatever will get the politicians the most votes. Those in power and those who form discernible voting blocks will get health care. Those who form discernible voting blocks that vote against big-government politicians will not get health care. And everyone else will kind of fall through the cracks.

Right now the pro-government health-care message is it's going to reduce costs and make sure everyone is covered. Then they'll act surprised that costs have gone up and the only way to fix it will be to get a single-payer system. Then we'll move to single-payer and someone in the government will come out and say that we have to make tough decisions on exactly which treatments to approve because we only have so much money allocated in the budget. They'll say they are allocating the money based on "need" but in reality it will be based on what will get them the best PR and thus the most votes.

In a true free market system the people with the ability and will to pay for more health care will be able to afford it and will get it. The people who are unable or unwilling to afford it would either have to take charity or not get it. What we had before the new federal healthcare plan was not quite free market because we had various rules already that strongly encouraged expensive insurance plans, but it was reasonably close to it. The way to fix it is to go the opposite direction and encourage people to purchase health-care services in an a la carte fashion. This would likely lower costs back to the levels they were when people bought a la carte instead of buying expensive insurance and expecting everything to be paid for.

Apparently you find the idea of people dying because they don't have money to pay for care offensive. You aren't alone. I don't like it either but I am smart enough to know that in lieu of charity the only alternative is to let the government decide how to allocate health care resources. That ultimately means the government decides who lives and who dies. I find that to be more offensive than anything.

Comment Re:And this is a bad thing? (Score 1) 276

Now obviously this is far less odious [than an example of mining companies paying their employees in company certificates], but it is the same kind of thing just a much lesser degree. They want to artificially depress prices and work to remove mobility from the employees. You get a job at one company, and the others just won't hire you. That then lets them pay less, and care less about quality of work environment.

Except if you read the article even the Department of Justice doesn't allege this.

What is actually being alleged is that the companies agreed not to have their recruiters cold-call people working at the other companies. So, for instance, if Joe works at Google and submits a resume to an Apple recruiter then that recruiter will give it the same consideration (possibly even more) than other resumes. But the same recruiter won't take a list of Google employees and start cold calling them.

The government is alleging that even this practice has the effect of depressing wages. Their argument is that an employee working for one company can use the fact that he was called by a recruiter at the other company as leverage in future salary negotiations. That is downright laughable. It would be almost as good as me going in and telling my boss I got a call from some guy last night who promises I can make millions of dollars working from home.

The article also mentions that the Justice Department has to prove at least one employee's wages have actually been depressed. How do you suppose they could possibly do that? Have Joe Google-Employee testify that he could have negotiated for a better salary if only an Apple recruiter had called him? Joe Google-Employee couldn't figure out how to talk with some of his friends at Apple about getting a job there? He couldn't figure out how to submit his resume to recruiters?

As things stand now, this investigation is ludicrous. The government is investigating whether or not some companies did something that they can only be convicted of if it had an effect which can never rationally be proven in a court of law.

Comment Re:there is corruption in the government (Score 1) 773

why do you believe that the solution is to get rid of the government?

I don't believe the solution is to get rid of the government. What you describe there is anarchy which is quite distinct from libertarianism. I am also not saying we should get rid of all regulatory oversight. We had sufficient regulation when this was going on.

Regulators in the SEC did notice and report around 2005-2006. Congressional hearings were held then. No regulator can help us when the congressmen, particularly high level ones in the banking committee, are in on the scam actively fighting the regulators at the hearings telling them that Fannie and Freddie are "fundamentally sound."

The political call now is for "more regulation" and to "clean up Washington.". What is really meant is not more regulation but more direct control. The same kind of crooked control that led us into this disaster in the first place.

i believe the solution is to clean up the government

I'm sure you mean well but there is no cleaning up of big government. It cannot be done; it has never been done; it will never be done. Every attempt to do it has involved giving the government even greater power under the ruse that they need more power to clean things up. Once they have this power instead of cleaning themselves up they immediately turn on you and me, usually with weapons in hand.

Listen to what you are saying. You are talking about increasing regulations and giving the government ever more power. Just step back and listen to yourself then reread the previous paragraph.

When you're done mulling that over, let me also make it clear that the banks did nothing criminal. They gave loans to people, which is equivalent to purchasing their IOUs. Although the banks knew most of the IOUs were worthless they already had buyers, starting with Fannie and Freddie then later branching out to hedge funds. The buyers kept telling the banks to keep buying junk IOUs because they, the buyers, wanted even more. So from the banks point of view they were making a sound business decision. Sure they were buying junk but they were buying junk that they already had a buyer for. Why not buy it and immediately sell it at a profit?

The scam is directly from the federal government. The banks were involved for two main reasons: 1. Too many subprime loans direct from the government would be suspicious but if you use the banks as agencies it won't be found out for years. 2. When it eventually comes crashing down you have a convenient scape goat to point the finger at.

No regulation in the world can prevent a crisis directly caused by government. Clearly though I must be the daft, insane, propagandized one for thinking if the banks were just the middle men (as is their business) and people in the government caused the problem then we should be getting rid of the people in the government instead of helping those same people go after the banks.

Call me a fool, that's fine. But you're only fooling yourself if you think giving the government more power to clean up their own mess is going to lead us anywhere other than straight into bondage. You are right that government has to be cleaned up. But the only way to do it is to strip it of all but the most essential powers and decentralize it.

I don't blame you for calling me names. It's extremely hard to believe in a movement and believe in the people leading it and bring yourself to the realization that, in truth, they are just a fresh bunch of crooks.

Barlow, the author of the article here, is also having trouble coming to terms with this. He lays out the solution: decentralize the government. I think he may be going too far talking about nation-states moving back to city-states. The federal government still has some very important roles to play, among them maintaining free interstate commerce, making international agreements, and organizing the common defense.

What Barlow cannot do is bring himself to admit that the Obama administration is furthering the problem. Instead he's making excuses blaming the problems with government on increased transparency in the internet age. At least he's figured out we have a problem and he's rediscovered the solution even though he can't bring himself to admit the causes.

The first step is admitting we have a problem. J.P. Barlow took that step. Who else among us has that strength?

Comment Re:hilarious (Score 1) 773

No, we simply don't believe that it was greedy bank behavior that cause the meltdown. It was government-provided immunity. Nobody had to care about the credit quality of mortgages--they were Fannie Mae insured!

yes, the feds forgot to lock the doors. which allowed the robbers to steal the loot. so you blame the feds, and give the robbers a pass! and then, you conclude that the real solution to the robbery is to take off the doors entirely!

Please stop with this lie. The feds didn't "forget" to lock the doors and "allow" the banks to rob people. The feds actively forced the banks to make loans to unqualified people using a typical carrot and stick approach. The stick was to threaten bringing them in for congressional hearings for bogus crap to make it impossible for them to do business. The carrot was to use Fannie and Freddie which are government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) to buy all the known-bad debt from the banks.

A better analogy would be you invite me over to your house and show me a pile of money. You point a gun at me and tell me I am to give my money to some people whose support you want to gain in return for IOUs they are highly unlikely to pay back. If I do that I can take your money to replace mine, give you their probably worthless IOUs, and pocket some for myself. You can't give your money to the people directly because it would look like you were trying to redistribute wealth.

Eventually I wind up getting stuck because I've given the people money but you no longer have money to give me. So you publicly bail me out while decrying how poorly I managed my business and how if I don't give you your bailout money back you're going to come in and take it over.

what the hell is wrong with you?

What the hell is wrong with you? This scam spans at least two presidents (Obama and Bush), and several congresses. Most of the details come out, the current administrations spins the hell out of it because too many of their people are involved, and you give them a pass because they say they're going to regulate these banks or "put [their] boot on [the company's] throat."

Yeah, there will be boots on throats of companies. Exactly like there was in the housing loan scam. Do what we say even if it makes no business sense to you and is probably illegal, or else.

Comment Re:They don't make disaster recoveries like before (Score 5, Insightful) 265

Gee that's odd. I seem to remember O'Reilly doing a show back then about the 9/11 relief efforts and warning people about scams. As part of this he had several reputable organizations on, the highlight of which was the Red Cross. The Red Cross guys explained that unlike the scam organizations the Red Cross had the money in advance, had already spent a lot of it on 9/11 relief and that the donations go to replenish their fund for the next disaster.

I also remember in the aftermath of hurricane Isabel the Red Cross was there the next morning offering essentials like water. FEMA didn't show up until 4 or 5 days later when some lard-ass government employee ticked off little boxes on a crappy tablet PC so the government would have an idea of the amount of damage done.

Then a year or two later Katrina happens and all of a sudden it's a big media story and oh my god where is FEMA? You know what though, the Red Cross was there early. That is until they started getting shot at. That was perfect though for political vultures like yourself just waiting with baited breath for the next big tragedy to happen so they could use it to beat up their perceived enemies. Of course there have been all kinds of disasters in the world between 9/11 and Haiti so it's quite telling that the one you think of is Katrina. Were there problems with relief in Katrina? Yes. Worse than normal for other disasters of that magnitude? No. Reported on more than others? You bet! I mean right on time to kick off the 2006 election season, it doesn't get any better than that.

Hopefully the rest of slashdot can see through your and your ilk's self-righteous bullshit. Clearly you don't give a crap about the people in Haiti or the Red Cross providing relief or these Hams who risked their lives in an attempt to set up a basic communications network. No, for you it's all about badmouthing other people. Why let a perfectly good disaster go to waste right?

Comment Re:I've heard that before.... (Score 2, Informative) 158

selectors, which I believe can't be prebound (for you java programmers, these are equivalent to interfaces - C/C++ does not have this concept and instead allows direct access to the classes using protected or public)

I'm sorry, but this and most of the rest of your description is completely wrong. Selectors are nothing like Java interfaces. Interfaces are Java's version of Objective-C Protocols. Selectors are abstract method names (Smalltalk calls them symbols). Each Objective-C class has some data structure mapping these to function pointers.

Although I will agree with you that GPP is somewhat misinformed I take issue with your statement that selectors are nothing like Java Interfaces.

It is true that the class structure of Objective-C (one root NSObject class, at least in common practice) and the class structure of Java (one root Object class) are virtually identical. And it is true that an Objective-C protocol has feature parity with a Java Interface and when you think of formal interfaces in Java the equivalent to that in Objective-C is a protocol.

So Java has anObj instanceof SomeClass which will indicate that anObj is an instance of SomeClass or an instance of some other class that derives from SomeClass. The Objective-C equivalent to this is [anObj isKindOfClass:[SomeClass class]]. And Java has anObj instanceof SomeInterface where the equivalent in Objective-C is [anObj conformsToProtocol:@protocol(SomeInterface)].

But then Objective-C also has this nifty thing [anObj respondsToSelector:@selector(doSomething:)] which does exactly what it says and allows you to see if the object will respond to the doSomething selector that takes one argument. Java has no analogue to this. I mean, you can sort of fake it using reflection to find methods but it isn't quite the same thing.

The bottom line is that when a unique selector can be looked up like this each selector functions almost as if it were its own Java-style interface. There is clearly a parallel between Java if(anObj instanceof DoSomethingInterface) ((DoSomethingInterface)anObj).doSometing(1); and Objective-C if([anObj respondsToSelector:@selector(doSomething:)]) [(id)anObj doSomething: 1];

From a coding standpoint where I would think to use a respondsToSelector: in Objective-C I wind up making an interface containing exactly 1 method in Java. Sometimes it's the right choice to add the extra lines and make an interface (and if so, then you should add all the extra lines and make a protocol in Objective-C). But often times I find the required formality of Java to be a distraction.


Submission + - Apple to Ship Mac OS X Snow Leopard on August 28

okapi writes: Apple® today announced that Mac OS® X v10.6 Snow Leopard(TM) will go on sale Friday, August 28 at Apple's retail stores and Apple Authorized Resellers, and that Apple's online store is now accepting pre-orders.

Comment Re:Can someone explain this guy's logic to me (Score 1) 367

Err.. how would they be doing that.

It's simple really. Apparently there is a federal law saying that the power company cannot do separate metering for inbound and outbound power, as I suggested in my post, but must bill you in terms of net power usage.

That means they pay you the same amount for power you produce as for the power you consume. But most of the time the power you produce isn't worth anywhere near as much as the power you consume. And that's just talking about the power itself. On top of that you have the distribution cost which they are effectively paying you but which is borne by them.

I am not sure what Enronian accounting method you are using but there is no way that this can ever be profitable for the power company. The distribution cost alone guarantees a loss.

Comment Re:Capacity factor and those externalities (Score 1) 367

The electric power companies never did like solar and wind interconnects, especially from residential users, and maybe they have solid reasons for not liking them, apart from utility executives being Blue Meanies with sharp teeth where most people have their stomachs. Maybe a homeowner with a wind or solar setup is producing much less in the way of usable green power than they think and is increasing the use of expensive natural gas in less-than-efficient peaking plants. We are geeks, here, and we can come up with some reasonable back-of-the-envelope estimates of these effects, instead of lapsing into, "Oh the humanity, those EVIL power companies!!"

Well said. My dad was actually VP of Electric Supply at a power company. That meant he was in charge of everything relating supplying electricity. Generating it, handling peak loads, buying power from other companies when needed (hopefully not, it's expensive as hell), selling power to other companies when possible, and making sure the transmission infrastructure could support all of this.

The thing is, he isn't a business man by any means. He's an engineer. Has a bachelors in electrical engineering and a masters in nuclear engineering (yet never did get the chance to build a nuclear plant). He is an engineer's engineer if you will and what you mention are some of the exact points he has always brought up.

I have a low enough UID here that I can still vaguely remember the days when Slashdot was full of computer geeks and engineers. But it keeps trending more towards the ignorant masses who don't even attempt to rationalize why these "green" energy solutions might not be so easy to implement. It's all about the evil corporations and "the man" and oh those poor underdogs.

It's unfortunate too because at one time I thought that the smart people on the Internet would eventually be able to leverage the new medium to bring sense and reason back to the populace. But exactly the opposite has happened and the established media (e.g. right here with Denver ABC 7 News) has taken over and brought all of the bad things about media to the Internet.

Comment Re:Positive externalities are UNACCEPABLE! (Score 1) 367

We even get cheaper electricity out of the deal, without having to pay for the equipment

Bzzt.. Wrong. You can stop right there. In some places the power company does not pay a separate (reduced) rate for power supplied to the grid but instead just runs the meter backwards. In this case the power company is paying more, in fact MUCH more, for the power. And since they roll most of the transmission cost into the $/kWh rate they are actually paying their producing customers for transmission that the power company has to supply.

Does that sound fair to you? Does it sound like a good deal to the power company? It seems what they want to do with this monthly fee is get back some of the money for transmission costs that they shouldn't be paying out in the first place. Let me be clear here: those selling power to the grid aren't going to have to pay for it, they are simply going to get less money for the power they sell, more in line with the actual cost. That's fair.

Comment Re:Not completely outrageous (Score 1) 367

It may depend on locale but generally for the big transmission runs (e.g. the giant steel towers) the power company has to buy the land at market price if they put in new lines and had to buy the land at market price for the lines they have now. So no, that's not a subsidy. Now granted the locale forced the issue on the prior owner of the property but realistically the land is usually farm land or some such (or was at the time it was purchased) and if it remains farm land then it's not like the farmer can't still use most of the land, at least the parts between the big towers.

As for the local utility poles, I am not entirely sure. Generally they are placed on the easement on one side of the road. And often times in return for being able to put the poles there the power company becomes responsible for maintenance costs (e.g. mowing the grass). You wouldn't believe how much money is spent just keeping trees cut back so they don't grow around the lines.

Incidentally.. pro tip: Need mulch for cheap and don't really care what tree it came from? Contact the power company. They are usually more than willing to pull a dump truck up to your house and dump off however much you need for free. It sure as hell beats paying to have it disposed.

Comment Re:Can someone explain this guy's logic to me (Score 1) 367

I think the problem is that they do not currently charge two separate rates. They ought to as that is the most fair way to do it. I think though that they are just "running the meter backwards" so you get paid the same rate that you pay.

I suspect it would be somewhat costly to replace all of the meters with ones that measured incoming and outgoing independently so in lieu of this they'd prefer to just charge a connection fee under the assumption that it will be a decent estimate of how much the transmission grid was used.

Comment Re:Can someone explain this guy's logic to me (Score 1, Troll) 367

From the article: The monthly fee, which would pay for distribution and transmission of energy

So no, it is exactly as I described it. And what you suggest is exactly what they want to do, charge a monthly fee to be connected to the grid. There is a small difference though between your plan and theirs. Under their plan if you buy enough power from them they waive the fee because they figure they got enough money to cover the grid costs out of the combined power+transmission cost per kWh they generally charge for power.

Comment Re:Can someone explain this guy's logic to me (Score 4, Informative) 367

Actually no, it's about simple accounting for resources. It costs money to maintain the electric grid. There are two basic costs involved for you to receive power: 1) Cost of generating the power, 2) cost of transmitting that power. Ordinarily when you buy power from the power company they roll these together and charge you per kWh.

When you have your own on-site generation you have 3 basic states of use: 1) Using some amount of power from the grid, 2) using zero power from the grid, 3) putting power back into the grid. For state 1 and 2 you are simply charged for electricity as per usual. It's state 3 that's problematic.

The problem is that many people naively expect to get paid the same rate for energy they put back into the grid as energy they took from the grid. But the rate they paid to take energy from the grid was generation plus transmission. If the rate they are paid to put energy back into the grid is the same rate, e.g. "running the meter backwards" then they are effectively being paid for stealing.

The ideal fix for this is to have two meters. One for inbound power usage and one for outbound power supply. The customer would then have to pay for inbound usage at the normal rate and would be paid for supplying power at a reduced rate. That is, they would be paid for generation of the power but would not be paid for transmission of it because they did not themselves pay for transmission.

In lieu of this, the power company has found it easier to simply charge a connection fee to pay for this transmission. It looks bad to someone who is ignorant of the mechanics of power transmission and it doesn't seem particularly fair because it's apparently a flat fee that will be charged based on how much the company estimates the customer is using the grid to transmit power.

That said it is still more fair than what they are doing now which seems to be paying the customers who put power back into the grid for not only the generation, which they did provide, but also for the transmission, which they did not. The money has to come from somewhere and that somewhere is the companies bottom line. So the company will eventually petition to have the electricity rates raised to cover this cost which means that everybody else will have to pay more because some people think its cool that their meter actually runs backwards.

It's really not that difficult to understand. The problem here is that the reporter didn't check her facts or use logic or reason. Instead it's a he-said he-said story between the underdogs and the big bad evil corporation. She mentions in the article that she pressed the power company spokesman and got him to admit that "currently, no Xcel electric customers pay extra to fund solar connectivity fees. In reality, Xcel absorbs those fees." Then she goes on to say that "The money from the proposed fee would not go into the pockets of electric customers, but would go back to Xcel." This is true but no where near the whole story. Xcel has a fiduciary responsibility to account for resources used. Right now Xcel's resources are being used without payment and actually worse than that Xcel is actually paying someone else to use their resources. That is an untenable situation which can only be resolved by charging someone for it. This can be done by either correctly charging the customers who use these resources or, if this fails, by raising the rates for everyone. There are no other options. But Christin did not bother to point out the obvious here.

Comment Re:Read about this yesterday (Score 1) 254

Seems like the best solution for those who don't receive many SMS messages is to restrict SMS messaging to your phone. To do this, call AT&T at 1-800-331-0500 (or 611 from your phone), and ask to restrict text messages. According to the rep I spoke with just now, only AT&T's (free) text messages regarding changes in service, firmware upgrade info or plan info (e.g., how many minutes left or your bill) will go through.

Thanks. I just got my iPhone the other day and I didn't sign up for any SMS plans since I don't use SMS. I just called 611 from the phone and it was no trouble at all to get the plan changed from a la carte text messaging (at an outrageous 20 cents a text, even for incoming) to text messaging restricted. Now I don't have to worry about someone sending me a text message and getting charged for it and hopefully I don't have to worry about this bug since it will presumably be blocked at the server.

Thanks again.

Slashdot Top Deals

U X e dUdX, e dX, cosine, secant, tangent, sine, 3.14159...