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Comment The cost of government regulation (Score 1) 371

It's entirely possible that the costs of government regulation are at work here. Assuming that we're talking about physical product and not just an electronic download, there are all manner of import/export regulations that have to be complied with and fees that have to be paid. Granted, Photoshop isn't a controlled product (as far as we know), but take ITAR for example. Yeah, it's supposed to apply to "arms" but in reality every screw and bolt that goes into a controlled item is considered a controlled item even if you can go buy it at Home Depot. Just registering with ITAR costs $2500 a year. The paperwork to export is extensive. Companies have employees dedicated to compliance. They all have to get paid, get benefits, a 401(k), perhaps a pension. All of that costs rather a lot of money. And for what? Denied persons/countries will still find a way to get the stuff they want. So really, all this does is add bureaucrats AKA Ship B people.

Comment Tito, Chico, and George (Score 1) 474

Tell George to wait! - George Carlin
As someone who grew up with an unusual name, I can tell you that stereotyping a person by name is not limited to race. In my experience, guys with names like Joe, Chris, and Jeff always seemed to have girlfriends and never had any trouble getting (or stealing) a new one when the current one turned to boom boom. On the other hand, guys with weird names rarely had girlfriends.

Comment Re:Wise after the fact (Score 1) 99

That assumes that the paper is reporting everything. Not only is it physically impossible for papers to do so but editorial policy will emphasize one type of story and demphasize or completely ignore another. In addition, does this prediction system take into account the location and size of story? What shows up on page one above the fold in one paper (with one editorial viewpoint) may only appear several pages down in another and the number of words can also be vastly different. A paper could easily churn out a dozen followup stories to the original minor event in order to keep it fresh in their readers' minds. And then there's the tone of the writing. Does the algorithm attempt to evaluate tone for speculative or inflammatory language? People who pass themselves off as objective journalists notoriously pepper their writing with speculation knowing full well that their readers are likely to morph that into truth.

All of this said, perhaps there's indirect truth to the algorithm. Repeat a lie long enough and it becomes the truth. The media has long had the ability to create its own reality or at least they attempt to do so. Taking statements and events out of context or even blatant editing of audio transcripts can change a person's fate. The longer such actions go unchallenged, the more likely what really happened is dismissed.

Comment One real experience (Score 1) 436

Okay, granted it's not (necessarily) the ATF or the FBI but if you want to comply with the ITAR and need to work with the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (the State Department), they do all of their electronic paperwork in...wait for it...Lotus. Apparently while the rest of the world uses Acrobat for electronic forms, IBM won the contract for that particular IT system. In addition, were the DDTC to decide to create a new form for something, several other branches of the government have to be involved and thus the process can take several years. By that time, administrations, their policies and priorities may change and all that effort could be thrown out. Government bureaucracies are as a rule inefficient.

Comment I've said it for years (an observation from sci-fi (Score 1) 626

Star Trek made a lot of social statements over the years but there is one underlying fact that stands in our way of making such a world reality: the lack of the über power supply. Hell, even Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged had to create a free energy generator in order to make her version of utopia possible. Yet, today, our governments are packed with uninformed and misinformed Peter Principle people who think that simply by passing a law forcing people to use one form of energy over another, the science will simply step aside and allow it to happen. Of course, if we put on our conspiracy theory hats, consider how the world and society would change if free energy or at least a huge reduction in the cost of energy suddenly came to fruition. What are all the people who used to work in the fossil fuel or renewable energy industries going to do? And how would free energy affect nations whose entire wealth is dependent on the sale of energy? And would governments be able to control the citizenry when they don't have to pay for or ask permission to use energy?

Comment I have a much better idea (Score 1) 149

I think such a system should be a required filter before any journalist can publish an article. This filtering system should also red flag words that imply speculation on the part of the author such as "might," "if," or "maybe." And to take that a step further, television news should also have a system that identifies when file footage has been inserted into a report for dramatic effect.

Comment Unintended consequences (Score 1) 732

So let's review. Some Washington bureaucrat decided that it was okay for retailers to pass on the cost of taking credit cards on the grounds that the fee was "baked into the price". Even if that were true which you can't prove, what makes anyone think that merchants are going to lower the price now? They'll just cheerfully pocket the extra. Now consider this: what's going to happen when the consumer realizes they're getting shafted (again) for fees? Does anyone think that the consumer is going to walk around with cash all the time? Aside from the increased risk of getting mugged, people already don't want to do that when they get dinged at the ATM. And those fees will surely go up and become universal to offset the increased cost to handle physical money. I'd venture to say that the net effect will be that people will think twice about spending discretionary funds in general. What about purchase of durable goods e.g. a new frig that might cost several thousand dollars? Are people really going to be willing pay perhaps an extra $100 when they already have to spread the payments out over several months? And what about online bill pay for monthly bills? Is any consumer going to be willing to cough up yet another fee or will they be willing and able to remember to write a check and stick it in the mail every month? And then what if you can't find what you need to buy locally so you could pay with cash?What if you're a business that buys a lot of inventory via online distributors? Are they going to eat the extra 3%? Hell no, they're going to find a way to pass it on to their customers. Seems to me that this is going to slow down an already anemic economy when consumers, who can't pass on fees to anyone else, are already living paycheck to paycheck.

Ultimately, I find no provable good in this.

Comment More luddite-isms? (Score 1) 586

Here's my first question: Since when are assembly-line jobs considered middle class? IMHO, these are lower class jobs. If you take offense to that, A) tough noogies and B) what then ARE lower class jobs?

Second question: What makes anyone think that dismissing technological advances and replacement of menial tasks with machines in favor of simply preserving the paycheck of a human is a good idea? Machines don't demand benefits, a pension, and a pay raise every year. Do you really think the employers are going to simply take the extra costs up the a$$? Hell no. They will either pass the costs on to the customer thus resulting in inflation or they will go out of business.

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