Good luck slicing your partitions
Huh? People still do that? Fresh FreeBSD install, just select the 'auto (zfs)' option and never think about partitions or slices ever again.
It doesn't matter. I'm not sure why this is news, because Facebook has sold a service for quite a few years based on this. They know which constituency each of their users live in (even if you don't provide a real address, the IP that you connect from most frequently and the location of your phone if you install their app give them a good idea). They have a good hit rate for identifying the undecided voters and, importantly, what issues they consider important. They will sell parties the ability to run ads targeted at people in a particular constituency based on the issues that they find important. If you pay more, they will even sell you the names, addresses, and key issues for these voters so that you can send people around to canvas, briefed with exactly the right talking points.
It doesn't matter that Facebook has a few outliers like yourself, they still have enough information to have a disproportionate amount of influence on the political process.
The problem is that you're both right. The taxis are providing the service, the taxi companies are not. Taxi companies have long since adopted similar business models to Uber and Lyft: the drivers either bring (and maintain) their own car or rent it from the taxi company. The only service that the companies provide is a dispatcher, for which they take a hefty cut.
Consumers want to have a single dispatcher service that works anywhere and puts them in touch with a lot of taxi drivers. Uber provides something like this. The taxi companies don't want to, because this kind of thing naturally benefits from economies of scale: it's only slightly more expensive to provide a dispatcher service for the entire USA than for NYC.
If you really want to address the problem with a legislative fix then make every licensed taxi reachable via a single computerised dispatcher service and provide a well documented API for interacting with it. Provide (and fund out of the taxes on taxi fares and licenses) enough infrastructure that anyone can write an app that will hail any taxi in your jurisdiction and pay for it. If Uber wants to operate in your city, then they're free to do so by simply integrating their front end with your municipal back end.
Laymen cannot build a modern car or airplane or understand how it works, which means they cannot trust this system...
That's irrelevant. The interests of the people who build the cars are aligned with those of the people who use them, and if that proves not to be the case then there are liability laws that ensure that you can be compensated if your car is not built to spec. In contrast, the interests of small subsets of the population are typically not directly aligned with the rest when choosing a government.
In the UK, our elections run by putting a cross on a piece of paper, which then goes into a box. The boxes are taken to a central location for each constituency and are then counted. If I don't trust the system, then I can watch the box from the time that I cast my vote until it gets to the polling station and can then watch the votes being taken from the box and put into piles and counted. The same is true for almost any member of the electorate. In contrast, with an electronic voting system the number of people who are able to verify it is tiny: I have a PhD in Computer Science and work in computer security and I wouldn't be confident that I could spot hidden manipulation of an electronic election and I doubt that there are more than 100 people in the world who could - if that. Do you trust those 100 people to decide who wins the next election? Remember what Stalin said: it doesn't matter who casts the votes, only who counts them.
am I correct in understanding that the NSA knew about security holes in important aspects of our cyber infrastructure, and rather than report them so they could be fixed, they sat on them so they could use them "to protect us"?
Yes. This is a big problem with the NSA and GCHQ, which have the dual missions of securing infrastructure and compromising enemy infrastructure. These missions come into direct conflict when the core of your and your enemy's infrastructure rely on the same components. Germany separates the two missions into separate institutions.
The same thing came up when Heartbleed was discovered. There were basically two options:
There is no interpretation of events that makes them appear competent.
Google isn't using Oracle's IP
This is repeated a lot in this thread, yet Google's own testimony indicates that they copied around 11,000 lines of code from Sun, that they knew that they needed a license, and attempted to negotiate one. The ruling was in their favour because the judge asked the jury to rule on whether their copyright infringement was fair use and the jury ruled that it was.
The previous ruling already establishes that Google did use Sun/Oracle's IP, but that this use specifically in the context of smartphones constitutes fair use.
Pretty stupid because Android phones don't run any version of Java
I think that's a big part of their complaint. Sun and Oracle have given a patent and copyright grant for all of their Java-related IP to all fully conforming Java implementations. Android provides a non-conforming Java implementation (for example, attempting to install a SecurityManager on Android throws an exception, so you can't do fine-grained privilege separation in Google's version). This significantly decreases the value of the Java platform, because now you have to target Java and Google-Java as separate platforms. This is precisely the same complaint that Sun had against Microsoft, who produced an almost-compatible Java implementation.
That's a nice idea, but where can you buy a smartphone that gets security updates for 3-6+ years? Most Android phones get them for a year if you're very lucky, iPhones seem to get 3 years of support (counting from initial release date for that model - less if you buy them after that). Given the kinds of vulnerabilities that we're seeing on Android, I'd be as nervous about connecting one to WiFi without the latest security updates as I would of connecting a Windows PC directly to the Internet in the late '90s.
I'd love to see manufacturers made liable for providing new phones for customers if they don't provide fixes for fix security holes for 4-6 years.
Truth is free, but information costs.