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Comment blind spot (Score -1) 240

Maybe the problem isn't that the music costs these distributors too much, but that the customers aren't paying the distributors enough?

Back in the last half of the 20th century, the music industry had a pretty viable business model, in which people who wanted to listen to music bought copies of it, and got to listen to those whenever they wanted. This model worked so well that it supported retail stores, distributors, recording companies, and musicians. It produced most of the music you listen to today. Of course then the music went digital, the internet arrived everywhere, and a whole generation got hooked on the myth that creative work like music doesn't need money to support it. So of course your favorite give-me-all-I-want-for-pocket-change distribution channels are failing, and everything "new" sounds like a bland imitation of stuff from 20 to 50 years ago.

Econ 101: you get what you pay for.

Comment Re:Orlando Shooter was a rent-a-cop (Score 1) 660

Have you considered that these measures aren't about retroactively preventing the last shooting, but are rather about possibly preventing the next? These are long-standing, long-stifled proposals. The Orlando incident merely served to give a bunch of Senators the kick in the ass to push for some of them again.


Invoking Orlando, Senate Republicans Set Up Vote To Expand FBI Spying (reuters.com) 660

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set up a vote late on Monday to expand the FBI's authority to use a secretive surveillance order without a warrant to include email metadata and some browsing history information. The move, made via an amendment to a criminal justice appropriations bill, is an effort by Senate Republicans to respond to last week's mass shooting in an Orlando nightclub after a series of measures to restrict guns offered by both parties failed on Monday. Privacy advocates denounced the effort, saying it seeks to exploit a mass shooting in order to expand the government's digital spying powers. The amendment would broaden the FBI's authority to use so-called National Security Letters to include electronic communications transaction records such as time stamps of emails and the emails' senders and recipients. NSLs do not require a warrant and are almost always accompanied by a gag order preventing the service provider from sharing the request with a targeted user. The amendment filed Monday would also make permanent a provision of the USA Patriot Act that allows the intelligence community to conduct surveillance on "lone wolf" suspects who do not have confirmed ties to a foreign terrorist group. A vote is expected no later than Wednesday, McConnell's office said. Last week, FBI Director James Comey said he is "highly confident that [the Orlando shooter] was radicalized at least in part through the internet."

Cancer Is An Evolutionary Mechanism To 'Autocorrect' Our Gene Pool, Suggests Paper (sciencealert.com) 262

schwit1 quotes a report from ScienceAlert: Two scientists have come up with a depressing new hypothesis that attempts to explain why cancer is so hard to stop. Maybe, they suggest, cancer's not working against us. Maybe the disease is actually an evolutionary 'final checkpoint' that stops faulty DNA from being passed down to the next generation. To be clear, this is just a hypothesis. It hasn't been tested experimentally, and, more importantly, no one is suggesting that anyone should die of cancer. In fact, it's quite the opposite -- the researchers say that this line of thinking could help us to better understand the disease, and come up with more effective treatment strategies, like immunotherapy, even if a cure might not be possible. So let's step back a second here, because why are our bodies trying to kill us? The idea behind the paper is based on the fact that, in the healthy body, there are a whole range of inbuilt safeguards, or 'checkpoints,' that stop DNA mutations from being passed onto new cells. One of the most important of these checkpoints is apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Whenever DNA is damaged and can't be fixed, cells are marked for apoptosis, and are quickly digested by the immune system -- effectively 'swallowing' the problem. No mess, no fuss. But the new hypothesis suggests that when apoptosis -- and the other safeguards -- don't work like they're supposed to, cancer just might be the final 'checkpoint' that steps in and gets rid of the rogue cells before their DNA can be passed on... by, uh, killing us, and removing our genetic material from the gene pool.

Comment Re:not so fast (Score 1) 271

The key phrase there being "status symbol". There was a short-lived fad in which Puch mopeds and Honda Spree scooters were popular among upper-class 15-year-olds without proper driver licenses, but they never became a mainstream form of transportation. They started to make a comeback about eight years ago, thanks to skyrocketing gas prices, but as soon as Wall Street tanked the economy and drove gas prices down, the idea of investing a couple grand into another vehicle made people nervous.

Comment not so fast (Score 2) 271

I'm skeptical that electric-powered bikes will become very popular in the US. They're fairly similar in riding qualities (lightweight, easy to handle) and licensing requirements (pretty much none) to a 50cc motorscooter, and those have failed to take off, despite being widely available in the same price range for years. I've been a day-to-day scooterist for seven years, but I don't have a lot of company out there. Especially in the north, where they're a three-season vehicle (or one-season, for the less dedicated), they aren't seen as a viable substitute for a car. Even with 100mpg engines that cost almost nothing to fuel, the ability to park them almost anywhere, and a lot of other appealing features, most consumers just don't seem interested (which is too bad for them, because unless the roads are wet or icy, I'd much rather ride than sit in a car).

An e-bike also suffers from being neither fish nor fowl. A 20mph bike is too slow to keep up with traffic in a motor-vehicle lane, but too fast to fit in with any human-powered traffic in a bicycle lane. I've ridden a 50cc scooter (mine was capable of 40mph) in 45mph zones, and believe me: motorists don't like you when you go under the speed limit in a motorized-vehicle lane. They'll eat a 20mph e-bike alive, even in a 25mph zone. But if that e-bike takes the bike lane (which isn't legal in many places), it will quickly overtake regular bicyclists, whom it won't be able to safely pass because bike lanes aren't designed for that. Dedicated lanes for motor-powered two-wheelers might help as an option for e-bikes and scooters (and motorcyclists who aren't in a hurry), but I don't see that happening until they become popular... ye olde Catch 22.

Comment OK Google... (Score 5, Funny) 110

"OK, Google, how do I get to the airport from here?"

"Throw yourself shamelessly onto Maple Drive. Proceed down in your loins to Lake Avenue, and turn hard on Washington. When you get to glistening I-69, take it take it all the way to my exit tunnel, where you should cum breathlessly to a quivering finish."

Comment Re: The only thing it will do (Score 3, Insightful) 866

Do you think that wages will stay the same if everyone gets X per month from the government? I can imagine that every employee who doesn't have a contract with a dollar amount spelled out in it, would immediately get a letter from the CEO explaining why their pay will be cut the week UBI goes into effect. Lower private wages are one of the assumptions that the universal-basic-income model is based on.

Comment not everyone is lazy (Score 5, Insightful) 866

"Good luck convincing many citizens to do actual work."

It wouldn't be that difficult, given how little "basic income" would pay. Adjusting for the cost of living difference between Switzerland and the US (rent, groceries, etc), their proposal would work out to about US$1500/month, or $18K/year. (This is in the range of what people who are judged too disabled to work get from Social Security.) Yes, there are people who are content to live on that. But not most people. Would you?

Anyone who aspires to a middle-class lifestyle would at least get a part-time job to supplement basic income (maybe regular freelance work, a half-time office job, gig-economy stuff as needed, a creative project that they never had time for, that business they were otherwise afraid to take a risk on, etc) or a full-time job that they might not otherwise be able to afford to take (e.g. teaching, social work, performing arts). And the kinds of people who are used to taking home $1500 or more every week would undoubtedly stick with the jobs they have already, and treat the basic-income grant as "mad money" to spend on something fun.

The idea needs to be tested thoroughly, before being tried on the scale of, say, the US, or even the UK. It may not work as projected based on how it's worked in a few small-population experiments so far. The amount definitely needs to be evaluated. But if you're ridiculing the idea based on the assumption that a just-above-poverty-level income is going to be really attractive to the masses... I'm pretty sure you're mistaken.

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