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Comment Re:69% know that piracy is illegal ? (Score 1) 249

Alright, I will spell it out for you.

One of the excuses for copyright was that the author, having made a significant investment to create and distribute their work, need to be able to recoup their costs (and hopefully make a profit). Those sunk costs have plummeted.

But the main reason, which you don't seem to view as an answer, is that the current copyright terms do nothing except lock down culture and impoverish the public domain.

Now it's your turn to answer my question: how is life + 70 better for society than 15 years?

Comment Re:69% know that piracy is illegal ? (Score 1) 249

The real question is why have long copyright terms at all?

Enforcing artificial scarcity on ideas and treating them as "property", especially for long periods of time, should only be done if the end result is beneficial to society as a whole, rather than to a few powerful lobbies. And I have not seen anything that suggests that it is the case.

I am aware of one attempt to empirically establish the optimal copyright term, and the conclusion was around 15 years. You are welcome to read the papers and state any disagreement that you have with them.

https://web.archive.org/web/20...
https://web.archive.org/web/20...

Comment Re:Sad end to a great operating system (Score 1) 112

Focusing on the Alpha was also a mistake. People learned UNIX by running it on cheap machines. Even during the heyday of proprietary UNIX systems, people were learning BSD on the Amiga and then going to work on SunOS, AIX, or whatever. In the i386, Intel added the 4-ring protection model to x86 because DEC said that they needed it for VMS. Instead of porting from VAX to i386, they ported to Alpha (which only had two rings). If they'd made a cheaper uniprocessor VMS (maybe missing some of the clustering features), they'd have had an entry-level system for people to learn about the system. Instead, you had 100 people who knew UNIX for every one who knew VMS and this made it a no brainer to use UNIX.

Comment Re:Sad end to a great operating system (Score 1) 112

No, but more importantly it was never ported to the PDP-11. The Multics process and library model required a lot more from the memory management unit than most modern commodity hardware provides, whereas UNIX ran on systems with no MMU at all. You could run UNIX on a toy computer, even if you couldn't afford something that could run Multics. That's a key lesson for tech companies: watch out for competitors eating the low end of your market because economies of scale matter.

Comment Re:HBO needs to get its head back in the game (Score 1) 145

I found that once I stopped having a TV, I also stopped being bombarded with adverts for TV shows and movies, and I stopped caring about whether I was watching something new or something 5-10 years after release. I wonder how much this will become the norm as more people switch from broadcast TV to other media.

Comment Re:HBO needs to get its head back in the game (Score 1) 145

The HBO subscription is only worth it if you have a peer group that also has an HBO subscription and so it's important to watch things at the same time as them. I stopped buying DVDs about 10 years ago when renting became a lot cheaper than buying, but I've recently started again with boxed sets. Even if I only watch each episode once, it's cheaper than any of the streaming options, plus they're practically DRM free (as in, the DRM is so broken that it may as well not exist) and I can copy them to a mobile device for watching on long trips. Oh, and I get to wait until there are multiple years of something before I watch it.

I do wonder a bit what would happen to the economics of TV series production if most people did this. You'd expect a TV show to make a loss for the first few years, but then be profitable over a longer time, which is a very different model from the current mode of any profits after the first year are a nice bonus, but not factored into the accounting calculations.

Comment Re:Sitting too much ages you by 8 years (Score 1) 140

And jogging and bicycling increases your chances to get fatally hit by an automobile, train or plane.

I wondered about that a while back, so I did some investigation into the odds. It turned out that the risk of riding a bike is in the same ballpark as riding in a car when measured on a per-hour basis.

While the risks aren't insignificant, they turned out to be clearly better than the risk of being out of shape and keeling over prematurely from a heart attack or similar problem.

I do avoid some of the things that probably skew the cycling risk numbers higher, such as riding at night, or riding on hilly country roads that lack shoulders.

Comment Re:Saving the world with a Tax. (Score 5, Insightful) 269

The idea of a tax isn't as silly as you make it sound. The problem with most forms of pollution (from a purely economic standpoint) is that one person or company gains the benefits from polluting, but everyone pays the costs. This is known as an externality. Taxing pollution fixes this and means that the polluting technology becomes more expensive to operate and makes the barrier to entry for non-polluting technologies higher. If something is producing a lot of carbon dioxide but costs $5/widget, and you add a tax that amounts to $2.50/widget, then a replacement technology that doesn't emit any CO_2 but costs $7/widget is now cheaper to use. This means that you can bring it to market before you've got the economies of scale to push the price down below $5/widget.

Comment Re:solar/wind talk is spin - France vs China (Score 1) 269

Size doesn't really matter, because most renewable schemes scale with area. Population density does. France has 116/km^2, China has 145/km^2, so almost a 25% higher overall population density. That translates to a little bit less space for wind, solar, hydro and so on per capita, but not by enough to make it infeasible. Add in nuclear power, and the scaling is quite easy - building a nuclear power plant is hard, but doubling the generating capacity doesn't come close to doubling the land area, as long as you have a supply of uranium (China has uranium mines, France doesn't).

Comment Re:White Power Rangers...ASSEMBLE! (Score 1) 308

A big part of the problem is that race and wealth correlate strongly in the USA and the rhetoric from the Democrats has been about race and not poverty, even though the latter is the real problem. This leaves people who are both poor and white feeling that the party only cares about poverty when it happens to black people and, worse, that it feels middle class black people deserve more help than poor white ones. This is made even worse by the fact that there's a black President: clearly being black isn't a complete barrier to success, but being born poor often is.

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