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Comment Re:In the US, insurance is a racket (Score 1) 1330

Is that because of the distoration insurance causes, though? We don't have to buy cars through intermediaries and they aren't ridiculously jacked up. We don't buy groceries through intermediaries and they aren't ridiculously jacked up. I think part of the reason medical costs have gone nuts, and to a degree education costs, too, is because people are separated from actually paying them. Most people don't pay for their medical costs, they pay for their medical insurance, or rather just a part of it. People don't care what things cost, they care if it's covered by insurance or not. Your premise seems to be that without insurance you'd be paying 3x as much. Maybe competition would drive the price down to what the insurance companies pay.

Comment KDE, Canonical, Mozilla, and GNOME (Score 1, Offtopic) 71

KDE, Canonical, and GNOME have all made this huge push into stupid design decisions lately. Canonical with Ubuntu Phone/Tablet and Mir, GNOME with GNOME 3 and treating the desktop like a tablet, Mozilla with FirefoxOS, and KDE with this sort of stuff.

You know what I want out of an open source desktop? A DESKTOP! Seriously. I need a good desktop environment for my COMPUTER where I do actual work. I can't write code on a tablet. I can't write papers on a tablet. I can't do serious design work (anywhere, because I'm not a designer, but specifically also not on a tablet).

If I want to use a tablet, I want to use it to play games and watch movies, and Ubuntu/KDE/GNOME tablets aren't going to have Civilization Revolution, Ticket to Ride, Netflix, or Amazon Instant Video any time soon, so any tablet running those operating systems is going to be just a really crippled computer and a useless tablet.

Comment Re:Lots of people can't afford a movie a week (Score 1) 1330

Vaccines, sure. I think you may misunderstand how insurance works. It's a risk pool. It exists so if you have a heart attack, you don't have to shell out $500,000 for treatment. That $500,000 is spread over all the people who MIGHT have a heart attack. Basically, you trade the low probability of a high expense for the certainty of a low expense. The insurance co. doesn't collect $500,000, they collect more to cover their own costs and profit. Everybody's happy.

Now, how does that work for things like vaccines, where there's a 100% chance of you getting them? Yup. No risk pooling. You pay the cost, plus the insurance company's costs, plus their profit, minus whatever discount they can negotiate as a big company, if they care to because you're ultimately paying for it anyway. Blood transfusions, not so much. I've never needed one, so I infer the risk is low. I'd rather pool that risk and pay a couple bucks a year because hey, maybe I'll need one someday. The years I don't, that money can pay for someone else's.

Birth control isn't much different. You have a high likelihood of needing an inexpensive thing. The cost is just tucked away in your premium where you won't notice it, you'll just be ticked off (again) that your premiums are so high, and wonder why they can't control costs better.

Comment Re:Bad media coverage (Score 1) 1330

Except that if you read the majority opinion they actually open up any provision of the law to challenge on the same grounds. They warn that the ruling should not be taken as covering anything covered by insurance, but presumably any such thing could in principle be challenged on the same basis, and depending on the circumstances might likewise be exempted. The majority has opened the door to challenging the application of any provision of this law to a closely held corporation -- indeed any provision of any law. They just don't know how the challenge will turn out.

It's interesting to note that the court broke down almost exactly on religious lines when dealing with contraception. Five of the six Roman Catholic justices voted with the majority, and all three Jews joined by one dissenting Catholic. I think this is significant because the majority opinion, written exclusively by Catholics, seems to treat concerns over contraception as sui generis; and the possibility of objections to the law based on issues important to other religious groups to be remote.

Another big deal in the majority opinion is that it takes another step towards raising for-profit corporations to the same status as natural persons. The quibbling involved is astonishing:

....no conceivable definition of 'person' includes natural persons and non-profit corporations, but not for-profit corporations.

Which may be true, but it's irrelevant. The question is whether compelling a for-profit corporation to do something impacts the religious liberties of natural persons in exactly the same way as compelling a church to do that same thing. If there is any difference whatsoever, then then the regulations imposed on the church *must* be less restrictive than the regulations imposed on a business. Logically, this is equivalent to saying the regulations imposed on a business *may* be more restrictive than the regulations imposed on a church.

Comment Re:Humanless cars are a Disease (Score 1) 61

What is all this autonomous car crap spreading around like tumors and gout?

4 out of 5 days of the week, my commute is slowed down by an accident on a more or less straight highway. I can't figure out how people are having accidents on this road unless they're texting. Something like the car in front of them slows down, they don't notice because they're not looking at the road, and rear end someone. I had some idiot teenager total my car with 2 kids in it because he was fishing around for CDs on his floor. 40mph straight into the back of the car behind mine, which still hit mine with enough energy to total it.

WHAT is the reason for having this technology?

See above. I only have to look out the window of my car to see why I'd rather not share the roads with some drivers. I also feel like driving is a waste of my time the second a computer is better at it than I am. I'd rather read, make calls, or any number of other things.

Humans will never agree with this as an alternative to driving themselves.

I want one.

Comment Re:Oh Joy! (Score 1) 61

You have a situation where you either need to get every driver everywhere to actually be good at it, or produce a car where it won't matter if you're good at it. You think the former solution is better. I really couldn't possibly disagree more.

I think you're always going to have drivers who are inexperienced, or distracted, or intoxicated, or bored, or in some other way not driving very well. To ask people never to fail in those ways amounts to asking them not to be human.

Hey, wait a minute. That's exactly what those of us who think autonomous cars are a good idea are asking. Let the drivers not be human.

Comment Re:Vegetables out of necessity, or out of preferen (Score 2) 151

Some of us are old enough to remember the Vietnam war, which in turn brought us in contact with the long running civil war in Laos. Anti-communist Hmong from Laos fought alongside Americans and after both Vietnam and Laos fell to the Communists many Hmong refugees were resettled here in the US along with their families.

I remember this story about S. nigrum from a newspaper account back in the 80s about foraging by local Hmong refugees. There were lots of stories about Hmong settling in, and because this was pre WWW you read them because you read pretty much everything in the paper that was even vaguely interesting.

Comment Re:Vegetables out of necessity, or out of preferen (Score 1) 151

In my experience you tend to crave what you habitually eat. The Hmong forage for Solanum nigrum -- black nightshade -- a plant that is not only inedibly bitter for most people, it's actually poisonous if you haven't spent years working up a tolerance to its toxic alkaloids. And here's the kicker: black nightshade grows wild here in the US and the old folks here go looking for it in the woods, even though they can buy meat and non-toxic vegetables in the supermarket. They grew up with the stuff, so they crave it.

The single most powerful feature our species has is behavioral flexibility. The same plant that is a side dish providing auxiliary nutrients today could be famine food tomorrow if the hunt doesn't go well. If a plant is nutritious and abundant in the environment, I'd expect local humans to eat it with enjoyment.

Comment Re:Climate effect? (Score 1) 501

I think the point of the wall is to change the weather (short term, hours/days), not the climate (long term prevailing conditions). I think we agree that it's not likely to work that way. This will change both, if it works at all, that is. 1000' is a pretty short mountain. Then again, I'm not a meteorologist.

Comment What if I don't want to date women smart as me? (Score 1) 561

Maybe I'm looking for a woman who is better looking than me and who'll accept the IQ differential in exchange.


True story. I took a long bike ride last summer and ended up in a very affluent seaside community. I cross over the causeway to an island that's the most desirable neighborhood. I pass an attractive blonde woman jogging, but I think nothing of it. Then I pass another one. Then another. And another. I notice the women getting in and out of the Land Rovers in front of the Islands quaint shops. They're obviously blonde joggers too. It's like all the women came from the same Jogging Blonde Lady factory then were rigged out with different accessories. None of them look over 30.

So I start looking for men. They're obviously wealthy, but they appear on average 20 years older than the women. In fact, they're just regular, dumpy old shlumps with expensive cars and watches.

It was weird, like having a young, blonde, athletic wife was part of the homeowners' covenant or something. Sorry honey, but we just got a citation from the association and you'll have to move of the island. Heather here will be taking over your duties; be a dear and show her around the old place.

Comment Re:B&N (Score 1) 51

I actually like going there. I do read more on my phone than on dead tree books, mostly because when I find time to read, I usually want to do it now, not whenver I next get to the book store.

GP also raises a very good point. Electronic books used to be cheap enough that it was hard to justify paying for the paper copy just to support a store I kind of like. Now, the paper copies are only a little more, and what the heck, I can grab a coffee while I'm there, browse around, etc. If ebooks stay(ed) cheap, brick and mortar stores would inevitably die. I'd say it's iffy now.

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"The fundamental principle of science, the definition almost, is this: the sole test of the validity of any idea is experiment." -- Richard P. Feynman