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Comment Meanwhile, back in the real economy... (Score 0) 429

The number of people considered "not in the labor force" increased by nearly 450,000 in November. The total is now at a record high of 95 million.

The "unemployment rate" that the politicians, economists and media like to talk about is bullshit. It doesn't really mean a hell of a lot when the government can arbitrarily adjust the size of the "labor force" to produce whatever fraction they want. It's not like 450,000 people just decided to retire in November. People fall into this category when their unemployment benefits run out, but they're still unemployed.

IMO, the most relevant metric for assessing the employment situation of the U.S. economy is the employment to population ratio.

I say it's the most relevant because it can't be so easily manipulated like the other "unemployment rate". Also because the working people, in one way or another, have to support themselves as well as all the non-working people. Of course there are a few who are living on retirement savings, but if they're old enough, they're getting their SS checks too, so they're still being supported in part by working people. That ratio is 59.7% at the moment, which is barely one percentage point above the lows it hit in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown. The whole "economic recovery" and the "unemployment rate" which has gone from 8-9% down to 4.9% is an illusion. The real economy and real employment situation still suck.

Actually, I think an even more interesting metric would throw kids into the equation. They need to be supported too. In that case, we've got a country where ~152 million people are supporting 320 million people, so the unemployment rate is really 52.5%

Operating Systems

Taking a Stand Against Unofficial Ubuntu Images ( 72

Canonical isn't pleased with cloud providers who are publishing broken, insecure images of Ubuntu despite being notified several times. In a blogpost, Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu, and the Executive Chairman and VP, Product Strategy at Canonical, made the situation public for all to see. An excerpt from the blog post: We are currently in dispute with a European cloud provider which has breached its contract and is publishing insecure, broken images of Ubuntu despite many months of coaxing to do it properly. The home-grown images on the cloud, VPS and bare metal services of this provider disable fundamental security mechanisms and modify the system in ways that are unsupportable. They are likely to behave unpredictably on update in weirdly creative and mysterious ways (the internet is full of fun examples). We hear about these issues all the time, because users assume there is a problem with Ubuntu on that cloud; users expect that 'all things that claim to be Ubuntu are genuine', and they have a right to expect that. We have spent many months of back and forth in which we unsuccessfully tried to establish the same operational framework on this cloud that already exists on tens of clouds around the world. We have on multiple occasions been promised it will be rectified to no avail. We are now ready to take legal steps to remove these images. We will seek to avoid affecting existing running users, but we must act to prevent future users from being misled. We do not make this move lightly, but have come to the view that the value of Ubuntu to its users rests on these commitments to security, quality and updates.

Comment Re:Plenty of low-wage jobs to go around... (Score 1) 429

Well, if you want data, according the social security adminsitration the average wage has gone up by about $8000 since 2010; however the median wage has gone up by something more like $3000.

This pretty much tells you what you'd expect under trade liberalization: it helps higher wage workers with specialized skills more than it does commodity labor.

The key to understanding data like this, as a sociology professor once told me, is to disaggregate it. If you do you'll see that while the averages and even median that looks fairly rosy over the last thirty years, the picture for median and below has been almost flat for a generation.

That doesn't sound too bad. Sure the wealthy and the well-to-do are getting richer, but nobody (at least no economic slice -- geography tells a different story) is doing worse. But even that result has to be disaggregated. On one hand you have only a modest increase in the overall cost of consumer goods (thanks free trade!); this modest increase along with modest compensation increases produces no growth or loss of purchasing power below median income.

On the other hand if you break out just health incurance, medical care and college tuition, median purchasing power has collapsed in the last thirty years or so.

What this means is that median income people can buy a lot more TVs and home entertainment crap than they could in the 70s, but as that stuff has become cheaper paths to upward mobility have been closing and paths to downward mobility have been opening.

Comment Re: Farewell and Thanks for My First Job! (Score 1) 25

It's remarkable how young so many of these pioneers were, which is why a few of them are still alive today.

I started mucking around with computers in high school in the 70s and when I got my first job in the 80s some of these guys were still working. I once sat next to a guy at a banquet who was probably only ten years older then than I am now. He regaled me with tales of his lab getting the IBM 701 in the mid 50s, which was exciting because it was, in his words, "a stored program jobbie." We could talk each other's language because the obsolete hardware I learned on wasn't much more advanced than the stuff he worked on as a young man. I look at the front panel of the 701 or the Stretch, and it makes perfect sense to me.

When these guys started dying off in the 90s, I remember a kind of stunned disbelief. Computer guys just didn't die. That was something that happened to old people.

Comment Re:so the Je suis Charlie stuff was 100% bullshit? (Score 1) 357

Yes, the whole "free speech" thing was 100% bullshit to begin with!

Charlie Hebdo has published cartoons suggesting that the leaders of Le Front Nationale should be arrested and thrown in prison. They also helped circulate a petition trying to get the party officially banned in France. I don't condone violence, but it was poetic justice that Muslims attacked them after Charlie Hebdo had been so fiercely opposed to an anti-immigration political party.

Comment Re:Every Fucking Day with this Shit (Score 1) 100

Ever walk down the street in the city and a bum comes up to you begging? He can smell and look offensive. Should that be censored?

Yes. My purpose of being there is not to be a begging target, I didn't invite him to approach me, he is, in Internet terms, spamming me.

Ever been on a farm and smell the pigs or the cow manure? That's offensive.

But it is a necessary part of the operation of the farm. It is a direct consequence without which the farm could not function. In Internet terms, it's the annoying login dialog.

Ever see guts at the scene of a car wreck? That's offensive.

That is an unintended side-effect, not desired by anyone and not intentionally inflicted upon me by anyone. In Internet terms, it's lag or slow loading times.

You are comparing completely different things, not understanding that for some of them, there is no reason we should have to endure them (for the record: The proper solution is that the bum doesn't exist, our society is rich enough that every homeless person is a shame to us all)

Get off your ass, unplug, get out there into the real world and get offended! Trust me, it gets easier after the first few times. And you'll probably realized that being offended isn't anywhere near the worst thing that can possibly happen to you

I'm with you on that there's no right to not be offended.
However, I can absolutely want to protect myself from what I don't like. I keep my house clean because I don't like trash and smells. I keep my door closed because I want to decide who I invite in and who not. I don't hang disgusting pictures on my walls, etc.
I can filter my view of the world. You have a right to Free Speech, but not a right to force me to listen. Individual filters are a necessity or we would all drown in spam. What we need to prevent is centrally controlled filters.

Comment They've got it backwards. (Score 0) 234

Get rid of paper money first. Replace it with large denomination coins. This would eliminate the cost of printing paper money, which is more expensive because paper is less durable. It maintains most advantages of paper currency, except for one: making large cash purchases.

That's the reason this has been suggested as a way to curb drug trafficking. The highest denomination coin currently in US circulation is $1, and weighs about 8.1 grams. At around $20,000 per kilogram, to buy a kilo of coke a middleman would have to fork over 357 pounds of Sacajaweas. Even if you minted $20 coins that weighed about twice as much, you'd still need over thirty pounds of coins to by a kilo. However transactions in the sub-thousand dollar range would remain quite easy. It'd be a cinch to carry enough cash to cover dinner for two, with wine, at a three star restaurant in Manhattan. Or penny candy, although that cost a dime these days.

The basic strategy is the same: discourage some cash transactions. It's just that it makes more sense to discourage big cash transactions.

Comment Re:Slashdot Trolling? (Score 2) 180

Well, I don't really see that this is a Trump trolling. It's a genuine news story, and it is an interesting question what the new administration will do about it -- if anything. Especially as Trump's proposed Secretary of Defense (Jim Mathis) really, really wants to contain Iran, and Iran's cyberwarfare is one of the issues he's mentioned. Mathis is aggressive and sometimes impolitic, but he doesn't come across as a fool.

On the other hand the Secretary of State position is up in the air. Currently in the running according to transition team leaks: Mitt Romney, David Petraeus, Rudy Giuliani, and John Bolton. That's quite a range there.

Comment Re:"Hate speech" is protected by the 1st Amendment (Score 1) 996

But we also have companies, which occupy a space between an individual and society in total.

Not necessarily. I agree in the case where a company has an entrenched monopoly which is protected by serious barriers to entry. But in the case of Twitter there are alternate social media platforms available. And even if they all banned you for your KKK activities, it's not really that hard to create a social media app that can support a broadly unpopular viewpoint.


Microsoft Says Summer's Windows 10 Upgrade Fit For Business ( 112

Microsoft has moved Windows 10 August update to the Current Branch for Business release track, putting the "Anniversary Update" in the queue for automatic downloads and installation on enterprise PCs. From a report on ComputerWorld: The move will also set in motion a two-month countdown clock on support for the original mid-2015 version of Windows 10. "Windows 10 1607, also known as the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, has been declared as Current Branch for Business (CBB) and is ready for deployment," Michael Niehaus, a director of product marketing, said in a post to a company blog that used similar wording to the first upgrade to the CBB. In April, Microsoft moved the November 2015 upgrade to the corporate delivery track. Microsoft issued the Anniversary Update Aug. 2, even though its numerical designation of 1607 referred to July (07) of this year (16). The upgrade will be released in January through Windows Update, Windows Update for Business and Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), Niehaus said.

Comment Re:We need fewer rocket launches, not more (Score 1) 57

All the rocket fuel used annually is absolutely dwarfed by, e.g., automotive fuel.

Check out this flowchart of where roughly 97.4% of US energy comes from/goes to. Note the massive waste (rejected energy) in transportation AND electric generation. However a move to electric vehicles over the next few decades will still reduce wastage because of lower amounts of energy consumed overall. Plus the wastage in energy generation and transmission can also be greatly reduced.

But we have to admit this is a problem. For example shifting from coal to natural gas, which is happening because gas is a lot cheaper, could save us a lot of energy wastage and carbon emissions -- if we're careful to regulate methane emissions from natural gas production and distribution. Methane, the main component of natural gas, is a very potent greenhouse gas. Thus scrapping environmental regulations would actually hurt coal production because the gas industry would be able to externalize its costs and sell at an artificially low price.

There's every reason to believe we can make a big dent in the roughly 60% of energy that is simply wasted, and if on top of that we develop more carbon neutral sources like nuclear, wind, and biofuels we can over the course of a twenty years or so really reduce our carbon footprint while improving our energy independence. We're almost energy independent now, and if things continue on the path we've been on for the past six years or so we'll be a net exporter of energy in the next two or three years.

Conservation and clean energy will allow us to grow our economy, become independent of foreign oil supplies from unstable regions, and create jobs. But it will take changing the status quo, which is why people who benefit from the status quo don't want us to acknowledge the problem.

As for rocketry, it may not be a big deal in aggregate, but single orbital launch still puts out a lot of CO2 -- about the same as an average car driven for almost 50 years. However I think that could be reduced too, by introducing more biofuels as well as developing alternative launch technologies.

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