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Comment Re:Love it and stay (Score 1) 215

The fact is that America is no longer a conservative country. For example, for the first time in history there are more "nones" (people with no religious affiliation) than any other voting block. That statistic is never going to go back down, ever. That's clearly not the sign of a conservative country.

I'm not sure that this is the best metric of a "conservative country," but where do you get this data from??

Here's the history of Gallup polls on religion for example. According to them, in 2015, 38% of people identified as Protestant, 23% as Catholic, 9% as other Christian... that's 60% Christian right there. The "None" only accounted for a measly 17%. Pew polls put the number more at 70% Christian in 2014, with only 23% unaffiliated.

Moreover, when you start looking down that Gallup Poll list, you find stuff like, "Do you believe in God?" 1944 - 96%, 2016 - 89%. A downtick for sure, but hardly the sign of lack of religious belief.

"Do you believe in heaven?" 1968 - 85%, 2011 - 85%
Hell - 1968 - 66%, 2011 - 75%

Belief in angels is still up there in 2016 at 72%, which is a little lower than it was in the early 2000s, but about the same as it was back in the 1970s.

And heck, 73% of Americans believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, including about 1/3 of your "unaffiliated" no-religion group.

Now, there are other polls that put the numbers a little lower. The Harris Poll for example only puts belief in the virgin birth at 57%, with 68% saying he is the Son of God.

Religious belief and attendance is down more than ever before in history. There are fewer churches and places of worship in this country than ever before in history. Religion is dying off here, both figuratively and literally.

Is church attendance down? Yes. And the percentage of folks who say religion is "very important" in their lives is down (though still the MAJORITY of Americans, according to polls). But given that the majority of Americans still seem to strongly subscribe to religious beliefs, including significant numbers of your "unaffiliated" folks, I'd hardly say it's "dying off" yet.

I have absolutely no idea where you get your idea that there are more "nones" than any other voting block. It may be true that the majority of Americans no longer attend church every week, but it's still a highly religious country.

the fact is that America is slowly but steadily moving towards more liberal social and political systems, not away from them. It's been doing this since the late 50's, but has sped up a bit considerably the last decade or so.

I agree with this, though to go back to your previous point -- the number of people identifying as "Evangelical Christians" has been fairly constant over the past few decades. It hasn't even declined as much as the other general religion numbers. So... it's not like the true "conservatives" (in terms of religion) are going away... it's more like the people in the middle are becoming less concerned about religious values holding sway over their lives. But there's still a rather huge contingent of people with far right values (certainly larger than your "none" contingent), and that block isn't going away anytime soon.

Pot is now fully legal for recreational use in multiple states with more coming (count on it). That's not the sign of a conservative country.

We MIGHT just be getting back to the level of acceptance of recreational/medicinal drug use enjoyed in the 1900-1930 era or so. If that's "liberal" and "progressive" to you... well, gosh, that's great!

Comment Re:Facebook still wins the war (Score 3, Interesting) 21

They maintain they did nothing wrong. That means that their lack of ethics remains fully at play in every other business decision.

I'm generally the last person to defend Facebook, but this case appears to be a bit different from the typical "Kids rack up bills in in-app purchases" scenarios we've seen in Google or Apple in previous years. In particular, note the follow from another article on this case:

One child's mother let him spend $20 on her credit card to let him unlock features within the game Ninja Emblem, but the account was charged several hundred dollars for purchases the child subsequently made with what he thought was fake money.

The other child racked up charges of $1,059 after taking his parent's debit card without permission.

While the lawsuit was class-action and applies to a lot of other cases, these were the ONLY two kids who actually were directly involved in the suit, one of whom simply took his parent's card without permission.

That's something that ANY online site could have issues with -- a kid who takes a parent's card could be making purchases anywhere online. Why exactly should Facebook be more culpable than any other online site in dealing with payments like that?

Would it be NICE for Facebook to return that money? Sure. But not all companies would, particularly for goods that were non-returnable. In that case, most parents would have to take this up as a dispute with their credit card company, who probably would work it out. (Unfortunately, though, this says it was a debit card -- one more reason never to use debit cards... they simply don't give you as much protection if they are ever used in an unauthorized manner.)

Anyhow, obviously it would be reasonable for Facebook to refund most or all of the money in a case like this. But it's a rather different scenario from some of the other "in-app purchase" judgments we've seen. In those cases, the issue was that a credit card was generally entered by parents, say to make a couple app purchases, and they didn't realize that their device was set to automatically authorize all future purchases or whatever. In those cases, what was lacking was a proper control setting to turn off in-app purchases, a proper password requirement, or some sort of warning.

In other words, the credit card information was entered knowingly for an authorized reason, but the parent had no clear notice that it could be used further without limit.

Here the bar is much lower -- basically, any kid under 18 is eligible for refunds, regardless of what level of negligence on the parent's part, whether the card was basically stolen from the parents, or whatever. Again, it's generally the "right thing to do" to refund the money, but ethically I think at least in one scenario here Facebook is not as culpable or "evil" as some other cases we've seen.

Comment Re:Rules for thee, not for me (Score 1) 211

One gross miscarriage of justice is not a rationale to commit another one, nor to entrench systematic miscarriages.

You're assuming that this would be a "miscarriage of justice" to Getty. But corporations and commercial infringement SHOULD be different from individual infringement.

And in this case, it's much, much worse -- because the artist explicitly wanted to license the works effectively to be used freely by the public. (Not technically public domain, but free for use with attribution.)

Getty then truly "stepped over the line" when they not only charge fees for someone else's work, but then threaten people who don't pay fees to them.

I know you probably won't agree with this, but to me stealing "from the public" is one of the worst sins that can be committed. I find modern copyright extensions to a horrific infraction against human knowledge and culture. (Copyright should be "for limited times," perhaps a few decades at most, as it was originally.) The natural state of "intellectual property" should be public domain, i.e., the cultural resources of the public. To threaten people with legal action for using the resources of the public is despicable behavior and should be punished accordingly.

It would be one thing if this were a first offense. It was not -- Getty has done precisely this before, and that's why the lawsuit is entitled to treble damages. It would also be one thing if they merely mistakenly were selling rights to photos without vetting them -- that's a copyright violation, and should be subject to the smaller fees you've discussed, raised higher for commercial violation and increased because they've done it before.

But Getty has gone far beyond that in appropriating material for itself that was released for free to the public and threatening people who used it. THAT is an offense against our society and our culture. And they've done it before. It's no different from the level of outrage that should be directed at a public official who embezzled funds out of the public school treasury. Or even an official who went around and started charging rent to people who owned land claiming, "This is actually state property." Those are equivalent scenarios here -- Getty has committed an offense against the public.

It would not be a "miscarriage of justice" in this case to sue Getty out of existence, along with any other entity who systematically tries to deny the public access to free intellectual property when it has been released as such.

Comment Re:Sample size to small (Score 2) 156

Basically this finding is something that should make scientists go "huh, that's curious - we should follow up on this once we have more data".

And that's actually what MOST science should be. Particularly with human studies, it's often difficult to get huge amounts of data for a decent sample, so most studies should be exploratory. Then a larger future study should be designed in such a way that it could easily DISPROVE the previous one. In that case, we'd actually make scientific progress more efficiently.

Instead, what generally happens today:

-- Data shows small correlation, but too little statistical power to draw firm conclusions. ("X might be related to Y.")
-- Researchers often exaggerate significance in discussion section of paper, frequently extrapolating even more findings related to other stuff that wasn't even supported directly by data. ("X likely causes Y, and it might have something to do with A and B.")
-- University press releases and media shout results from the rooftops. ("X is now implicated in A and B!!" Third paragraph: "Study actually showed a connection between X and Y; researchers emphasize this is preliminary finding.")
-- Future studies cite the original without retesting. ("As shown by Jim, Sam, et al., X causes Y...") If A and B were mentioned in the abstract, you might even get references to how X "was shown" to be related to A and B.
-- 20 years later, somebody does a study on something else, but happens to also measure X and Y. Turns out X isn't even correlated with Y at all, and the mechanism postulating a connection to A and B is based on an entirely bogus set of assumptions.

That's why we have all these metastudies in the past few years saying, "Retesting shows 70% of findings in field X are false!"

What we actually should recognize is that most studies (even if they seem to have a high level of statistical significance) should be regarded as "preliminary" and need verification in retesting with a more rigorous experimental design before they are accepted. It's not gonna happen in our current grant environment which rewards "innovative" and "groundbreaking" research, but that's what science should be.

This study is precisely the kind of things that preliminary research should be about. They can't have a larger sample size yet, but they tried some testing with mice and there might be something. It's the first step in a rigorous scientific process. (Note if you actually the discussion section in this study, the authors hedge a lot and point out what they're doing is inconclusive and preliminary, though suggestive of possible effects that had previously not been measured.)

What we DON'T need from stuff like this is headlines screaming: "Astronauts FAR MORE LIKELY TO DIE from X." That's bogus BS, and it's part of the problem.

Comment Re:So, what's a problem? (Score 1) 156

In the case of astronauts, you're also dealing with a bunch of guys who are in relatively good shape - you've already weeded out the morbidly obese, drug addiction, etc.

THIS. It's probably an even more significant issue in terms of mortality stats. We're not just dealing with "Average Joe" here -- these guys were generally chosen because they were in top physical and mental condition... physically probably in the top 5% of the population, if not higher. It shouldn't be surprising at all that most of them live to their mid-80s or more.

Comment Non sequiturs? (Score 5, Interesting) 124

In addition to "patterns," both TFS and the people interviewed seem to have embraced the art of NON-patterned word salad... or maybe they just don't have a clue about what they are talking about.

'There's this logical positivist mindset that the only things that have value are those things that can be measured and can empirically be shown to be true, and while that has its merits it also takes us down a pretty dark place,' said digital product designer Cennydd Bowles, who is researching ethical design. 'We start to look at ethics as pure utilitarianism, whatever benefits the most people. Yikes, it has problems.'

What the heck is this supposed to have to do with anything?? First off, logical positivism is an early to mid 20th-century philosophical movement that embraced the idea of verification as the basis of truth. There are all sorts of things we could say about this philosophical movement, but I have no clue what it could possibly have to do with "Dark Patterns" or immoral web design. There's no reason verificationism inevitably leads one to a "dark place," whatever that means.

Yet we then jump to this idea of utilitarianism, yet another philosophical term that seems out of place. Yes, the stereotype of extreme utilitarians is that they will justify all sorts of weird ethically questionable behavior "for the sake of the greater good," like the doctor who would kill the live healthy dude who wanders into the hospital if he could save five other dying people with the organs. Most utilitarians aren't that crazy.

But again, I'm not sure what this has to do with "dark patterns" or web design, because it's pretty clear that these things probably DON'T do "the greatest good for the most people" -- in fact, they are ways of stealing wealth from large amounts of stupid people (who probably don't have that much money to spare, on average) and concentrating it among a few people. That's actually pretty much the opposite of utilitarian reasoning.

And I still have no clue what utilitarianism (an ethical philosophy) has to do with logical positivism (which has to do with epistemology, or the basis of knowledge). It would be quite possible to subscribe to one and not the other, or neither, or whatever -- they simply have little to do with each other. I'm not sure how empirical verification of stuff to determine truth inevitably leads to a MORAL argument around utilitarianism (which isn't usually something "verifiable" in the normal scientific sense)... and neither of these seem to have anything to do with "evil" web design.

The only thing I can figure is that this person is some sort of anti-science religious nutjob who thinks that dependence on scientific reasoning leads to moral decay or something, and they're just using "utilitarian" as a code word for "bad moral system."

This is one of the most muddled things I've seen in a Slashdot summary recently (and that's saying something)... and this person is supposedly "researching" ethical web design?? I think you might want to learn English first or some basic logic before you start throwing around irrelevant philosophical terms.

Comment Re:Rules for thee, not for me (Score 4, Insightful) 211

Getty would do well to quickly offer up a very reasonable/rationa settlement - such as repaying every customer who paid for images they didn't have the right to sell and making a sizable donation to some art charity/foundation. Anything else, and they undermind the very laws that provide for their business model and very existence.

Not enough, sorry. Not when we have court judgments standing against ordinary citizens for non-commercial infringement of over $10,000 per violation.

The $1 billion would be a bargain for them to get off so easy, compared to how Getty and similar companies have treated individuals. Frankly, if I were Ms. Highsmith, I'd take the billion dollars and track down every individual non-commercial "infringer" she can find who has been the victim of such lawsuits and use the money from the lawsuit to pay them back. If there was any money left over, I'd create a victims defense fund for people who are sued for ridiculous amounts for non-commercial infringement.

It's not that I'm pro-piracy. I'm not. But I think non-commercial copyright infringement with no intent to cause harm (and sometimes unknowing infringement, in the case of photos just grabbed over the internet) shouldn't be putting individuals in the poorhouse. If the infringing fees were more reasonable (particularly for first-time offenders), that'd be one thing... but they're not. I'd be all in favor of an escalating set of penalties for repeat offenders, even.... but suing for thousands of dollars over a single violation?

Comment Re:BS "most popualar" (Score 1) 356

It's brand product models that are being compared here. If you read the summary they mention Toyota Corolla and not all Toyota cars, for example. Now you could pit the Samsung Galaxy vs the Apple iPhone and that would be a reasonable comparison.

It also depends on what the goal of the metric is. What is the goal of the comparison? Anyhow who knows basic stats or deals with data regularly understands that you can arbitrarily create all sorts of categories. But do those categories get at something meaningful? By choosing the wrong categories, you can also end up causing all sorts of statistical ghosts, making it look like trends are the opposite of what they "really" are (in terms of the most practical interpretations) or other weird stuff.

Toyota has for many years had the best selling car in America, the Toyota Camry. Would you argue that Ford has the best selling car because it has sold more cars overall than the Camry? Again, apples and oranges comparison.

Well, again, we need to consider the purpose of the metric. Do we care most about proving what single "product" is the most popular (even if the boundaries around that "product" may be arbitrarily defined by a company), or are we trying to measure which company's product lines in general are the most popular?

I think what this thread is about is that people are trying to point out that phones are the sort of thing that the average person has one of at a time. (Or, they may have a business phone and a personal phone, but they usually only tend to choose their personal one.)

And therefore it's not like they are going to go out and buy 3 or 4 different Nokia or Samsung model phones for use at the same time (or an iPhone AND an Android phone or whatever). They make a choice to buy ONE phone. For some people, they may specifically desire the iPhone models, and they want that SPECIFIC phone over others. For other people, the choice is more broad -- do I want Apple or do I want Android? Or do I want Apple vs. Nokia vs. Samsung. Again, most people are going to end up choosing one product here at a time.

And that means in terms of "popularity" it may or may not be meaningful to compare only models of phones. Perhaps more people are making a choice more like "Apple vs. Android" first, and then once they've decided Android, they narrow it down further. In that case, if the total number of Android phones is greater (regardless of who makes them), there's a case to be made that Android is "more popular."

Most people I know seem to have relatively little brand loyalty these days. They'll happily switch to another Android company as long as the interface is somewhat similar (whereas switching to an iPhone is a lot more work). So the big categorical divide may not be around individual products but elsewhere... and that's why you may need to think about what it means to look at "popularity."

Comment Re:So in other words... (Score 2) 304

What's rather disturbing about your comment is that you obviously don't realize that these same words in the Constitution were consistently interpreted in a much more narrow way for the first 150 years or so of the U.S. It was only the in late 1930s (after the switch in time that saved nine) that the federal government assumed more-or-less plenary power with no constraints.

Maybe if you had read the Constitution you wouldn't be spouting such crap. The power starts in the Preamble:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

As noted repeatedly by the Supreme Court, the preamble of the Constitution does NOT grant any powers which are not explicitly already mentioned elsewhere in the Constitution. See, for example, Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905): " Although that Preamble indicates the general purposes for which the people ordained and established the Constitution, it has never been regarded as the source of any substantive power conferred on the Government of the United States or on any of its Departments."

In other words, Congress has been granted the power to pass legislation of any kind, which includes regulating things.

False. And there's nothing in Section 1 which implies that. Instead, Section 8 clearly enumerates the exact powers granted to Congress, while the 10th Amendment makes clear (which the Founders already intended, even without the Bill of Rights) that all others not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution are granted to the states or to the people.

Again, Congress passes legislation and the President approves or vetoes it. This includes regulating things.

I don't see any mention of a plenary power to "regulate" anything, especially not in Section 7, which is just about legislative process. What are you talking about??

Article 1, Section 8:

The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

The general welfare. In other words, the power to use taxes to inform people of the crap their ingesting or smoking to let them make an informed decision. It's also called regulation.

Uh, again, please note that this clause was significantly more restricted in interpretation before 1937 or so. It was generally accepted only as a power to tax, and there was great debate in the 1800s over whether it allowed taxation beyond the enumerated powers or only directly in relation to the enumerated powers. Eventually, it was interpreted more broadly, but still ONLY as an ability to TAX for "general welfare." Hence, for example, in the early 1900s alcohol couldn't be regulated or prohibited generally without a Constitutional amendment. But the federal government nevertheless attempted to tax it in various ways, e.g., the Harrison Act as a proxy for more general regulation. Anyhow, the "general welfare" clause here only relates to taxation (and has always been interpreted as such), not a broad power to regulate generally.

The last sentence of Section 8:

To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

Can you read and understand what those words mean?

Yes, I can. Can you? Please note the phrase "for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution" -- again, the "necessary and proper" clause is about specifying the fact that laws can be passed ONLY related to the enumerated powers of Section 8, as well as any other federal powers granted clearly elsewhere in the Constitution.

Congress has the power to make any law it deems necessary for any department to carry out its duties. That includes regulation.

Post 1941 or so, yes. After the gradual expansion of federal power through SCOTUS reinterpretations in the 1936-1941 period, our federal government was transformed from one of limited enumerated powers to one with basically plenary authority to pass any law it wishes. (Those familiar with legal history will know that it's more complex than that, and federal power ebbed and flowed a bit before the 1930s, but the general perspective prior to the late 30s was that federal power was limited. Afterward, it was not.)

Now, you are certainly right that this is just the way the Constitution is interpreted TODAY and has been for the past 75 years or so. But let's not pretend that the "plain text" of the Constitution actually says what you think it does, because the Founders explicitly argued against your interpretation and the federal government basically was restricted for the first 150 years or so under the Constitution in accordance with that.

P.S. Please note that I am not some "small government" nutter. I actually think we NEED a much larger federal government these days than we did back in 1789 to deal with the realities of the modern world. I just wish we had accomplished this feat by actually amending the Constitution to change our laws, rather than just pretending that these words mean something else now.

Comment Re:Cut 'n Paste (Score 5, Insightful) 98

And this is what we get when somebody tries to use a word processor for complex document layout. This is what's behind all the bloat in Word: people using the wrong tool for the job.

I know people do it all the time, but that doesn't mean it ever made sense. Typesetting and layout should be mostly independent of content creation. When you try to combine the two dynamically, this kind of crap is just bound to happen.

You want to do layout and actual decent typography? Use a tool designed for it. InDesign works. LaTeX is good.

Or heck, learn how to use styles and proper global formatting settings in Word, rather than direct formatting hacks everywhere... And suddenly a lot of this crap won't happen.

(P.S. I hate Word with a passion and rarely use it except when forced to. And Word is buggy. But if this stuff happens too often, it's likely also because you're trying to do things like you're still using a typewriter instead of the right features or even the right software application.)

Comment Re:I used to love going to the theater (Score 1) 328

It's too expensive, too crowded, and I don't want to watch 15 minutes of product endorsements followed by 20 minutes of spoilers for upcoming films before they get around to showing the feature.

Agreed. I have no problem with them showing ads and trailers, but they should be legally obligated to provide the actual starting time of the feature film as well -- so if I don't want to see that stuff, I can come 25 minutes "late" or whatever.

It wasn't bad when it used to just be 2 or 3 trailers and some little intro video saying, "And now for our feature presentation..." But it's really out of hand. Imagine if you went to an opera and the actor from next season came out beforehand and performed a 20-second clip from an aria from a different show.... followed by 10 more ridiculous "previews." Or if you went to the theatre and some guy came out and did a "To be or not to be" soliloquy before Romeo and Juliet started, just to get you set for "the coming attractions." Or maybe you go to a baseball game and before the Star-Spangled Banner, a dozen football players come out into the middle of the baseball field and run a play -- just so you can get ready to see what's "Coming this fall...."

It would all be silly. But they expect people to put up with 20+ minutes of that interspersed with commercials? There's a reason I got rid of cable TV too. Movie theaters are eventually going to realize the ad revenue is no longer going to support them either if they have no actual customers.

Comment Re:That's 129.2F if you're interested. (Score 1) 353

No , the link says the Netherlands uses ounces (I.e. "ons" in Dutch) instead of the proper metric term of hectogram. The term "pond" (pound) is still around for half a kilo too in casual contexts, which approximates the size of the historical pound. The point is that even when the sizes of metric units have been adopted, people frequently keep using the old terms, which obscures the "simple" conversions that are the whole point of metric.

Comment Re:Netflix v. Cable? How about Netflix v. HBO (Score 1) 174

Once at night on German TV they had news from 30 years ago. Amazing how nothing has really changed. The names have, but it was basically identical to what is going on now.

From that moment on, I decided not to watch news anymore. Just not worth my time.

The "news" is really just entertainment. It is packaged and sold as entertainment (which means it often is really just selling advertisements).

Typical American news broadcast -- teaser all evening, "This common household item could KILL you! News at 11!" So you watch a bunch of commercials waiting for the news to start... finally... "Our top story is a new expose of X... but first, some breaking news...." More delaying tactics, more hints of fear, more commercials... finally about 15 minutes in you get to the piece on X, which of course isn't as horrifying as expected. Oh, and you get teasers for sports and weather throughout, but they aren't put on until the very end, because they know that few viewers would bother to watch the rest of the news (and the ADS!) unless they were waiting around for what most viewers actually care about... sports and weather.

The news is a combination of entertainment, scare tactics, and delaying tactics to get you to watch ads. And the vast majority of it is ephemera that is either (1) on-going stories that change little day-to-day, so you don't need a daily update, let alone an hourly one on CNN or whatever, or (2) random crap that no one will care about two days from now.

As you say, go look at a newspaper from a few decades ago and see what percentage of it was actually worthwhile to care about enough to read it for the long-term.

I stopped watching the news/reading the newspaper almost 20 years ago, and I haven't missed it a bit. What I do watch or read, I recognize it mostly for entertainment, not "being informed." Instead, I spend about 3 minutes/day checking the big headlines online (just to be sure I don't miss something that everyone will be talking about), and instead spend time reading/researching topics that interest me in-depth.

That's really the biggest problem with the news -- it makes us dumb. (Seriously, there was a book that came out maybe 15 years ago called How the News Makes Us Dumb, and it was quite insightful.) It turns every issue and event into a 30-second segment or a 3-paragraph story, which is bound to lead to oversimplifications and ignore nuance. In the long-term, that actually conditions us not to think too deeply about anything... everything in the world is just a 30-second blurb, and then we move on.

What bothers me the most are people who think watching the news daily "keeps them informed." No -- if you actually want to be informed, take those 30 minutes per day and read a couple in-depth articles about a current topic that show some nuance. At least then you'll be "informed" about SOMETHING, rather than drowning in a morass of shallow ephemera.

Comment Re:uhm, no.... (Score 1) 174

You can't compare the average hours per user for cable and netflix. They aren't equal... At best you can compare the cost per person. The number of hours is highly variable, and not to mention it doesn't change the monthly cost anyways...

I agree that there are a lot of issues with this comparison. BUT I think there is at least some validity to this approach, Anecdotally, the people I know who still have cable AND have Netflix tend to still watch a lot more cable TV than streaming Netflix. There's something different about the user experience of cable TV that causes people to "channel surf" more and hooks you in... even if the programming is less desirable than choosing something specific you want to watch on Netflix. I've seen lots of other people do this, and I did too until I "cut the cord" some years ago. (I also stopped watching as much TV in general and had more "directed" viewing for things I actually wanted to watch, rather than just "channel surfing" and getting hooked watching something mindless.)

Anyhow, for those reasons I don't think a per-user cost is entirely a good metric either. People may actually use these services differently, which affects how many hours on average they use them.

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