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Comment Re:Then they preach to the world about capitalism (Score 5, Interesting) 306

One definition of free enterprise that the US government conveniently chooses to ignore:

Business governed by the laws of supply and demand, not restrained by government interference, regulation or subsidy, also called free market.

This is a definition of a free market that even Adam Smith would not have recognized. It was not regulation per se that he was opposed to, but mercantilism and state granted monopolies. He looked favorably regulations which protected workmen (citation Wealth of Nations I.10.121). He was also in favor of regulating banks where their actions endanger society, even at the expense of curtailing natural liberties (citation: Wealth fo Nations II.2.94
).

The free market is free of price or supplier choice regulations. It's not necessarily free of regulation per se, such as regulations of weights and measures, of worker or consumer safety, or even of public morality (e.g. drugs and prostitution).

In any case you can't use the actions of states to indict the federal government for hypocrisy, although there is plenty of other material for that.

Comment Re:No, school should not be year-round. (Score 1) 421

While I agree that kids need downtime, a two or two-and-a-half month break means schools waste time refreshing material they've forgotten at the start of the year. If the summer break were shorter you could give kids *more* vacation, more frequently through the year.

A typical US school years is 180 days or 36 weeks. This leave 16 weeks off, of which about two are holidays. This leaves 14 weeks of vacation, of which it's customary to divide up into three one week vacations and one eleven week vacation.

You could give kids four weeks off in January and July, and eight one week vacations distributed through the rest of the year mostly coinciding with holidays.

Comment Re:Math (Score 2) 141

So... 195,000,000 particles per square kilometer in our 361 million square kilometers of ocean. That is over 70 quadrillion paint particles polluting our oceans. We are all clearly doomed!

It depends on whether the particles are accumulating faster than they are leaving the system. If the figures we're talking about represent an equilibrium that will continue indefinitely into the future, surely we are not doomed. But if the concentration of particles is increasing and people need to do something about this before it becomes a problem, we might be.

Eventually something's going to get our species. Either changes in the Sun will make the Earth uninhabitable to anything recognizably human, or we'll do ourselves in before then.

Comment Re:So.. what? (Score 1) 255

Well, it probably makes no difference to the clean-up, but it does add to the take-away lessons from the disaster. It's an ongoing theme that TEPCO knew less about what was going on at the time than they thought or led us to believe. You have to set that against the overall good news that the failsafe designs of even this relatively primitive reactor mostly contained the accident. The principles of engineering are sound; management, not so much; at least not in a disaster.

Comment I use digital currency for 95% of my purchases. (Score 1) 85

It just happens to be denominated in dollars.

You don't seriously think when the Fed decides to add a trillion dollars to the US money supply that they call up the Treasury Department and tell them to fire up the printing presses? There's only about $4000 of physical currency for every US citizen, and a majority of the physical currency is being held overseas.

Most dollars "exist" as part of aggregate numbers sitting in databases. There's no reason to create an elaborate cryptographic algorithm for identifying each individual unit of currency for a centrally controlled money supply. The whole bitcoin thing, the interesting thing about it, is an attempt to create decentralized money.

Comment Re:Next wave of phishing? (Score 1) 149

I agree. The real solution is hardened authentication getting baked right into email. I'm all for UTF8 domain names and email user names, however if the email protocol suite is going to be expanded to allow for more features, then I think security should be top of that list.

Sure, for a while, domains that span multiple character sets such as hotmail.com with a Cyrillic o could be spam flagged, however what happens when (not, if, but when) legitimate domains with multiple character sets start appearing? What about domains that use characters restricted to the intersection of two character sets such that they appear to be from one but are in fact from another?

The ONLY answer to this is an email client that can associate a certificate with a domain and checks it against received email as a matter of course. This solution not only has the property of preventing domain spoofing, but also comprehensively solves the spam problem. (It didn't get done earlier because it fell foul of the "requires everyone to agree at the same time" point on that pro forma "Why your proposal won't work" sheet.)

Comment Re:Why knit? (Score 1) 75

Why knit something when you can make something out of heavy cloth; with a simple pattern, *anyone* can put something together in a few minutes

I think you just answered your own question there. Because not everyone can do it.

Of course, the fact that you did something that anybody can do but almost nobody does can be cool too.

I make stuff all the time. Just the other day I made a belt sheath that holds a pair of kitchen shears and a pair of forceps for when I'm fishing from my canoe. I made the sheath out of duct tape, which took me about five minutes. Anybody could have done it, which I think makes it a cool project. But suppose I'd sewed the sheath out of fish leather that I'd tanned myself. Not anyone could do that, and that would be cool too, but in a different way.

Comment Re:This is chilling (Score 1) 790

Well, this is what you signed up for.

Google's ToS explicitly states you can't use it for anything illegal, and their privacy policy states they can poke around in anything you send through them to make sure you're complying with the ToS. Furthermore their privacy policy allows them to disclose your data to third parties in order to "protect against harm to the rights, property or safety of Google, our users or the public as required or permitted by law."

So Google in this case was doing nothing that the user in question didn't grant permission for. Like most Google service users he didn't bother to read and think about all the documents he was supposedly agreeing to when he signed up. But it's not that hard to do. I did it, and I periodically check for changes.

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