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Comment Re:Municipal/County Fiber (Score 2) 155

Yes, this is the model that makes the most sense.

It closely parallels the road system -- government builds the roads, but they don't deploy commercial services on the roads themselves -- ie, they don't get into the taxi business, the delivery business, etc.

I think it's telling and strange that they complain about this. For one, it says that they are less profitable on actual services delivered over the wire because when faced with competition where pricing is solely determined by content and not delivery.

Strange, because I would kind of expect that physical plant maintenance would be expensive. I see Comcast trucks all the time, which assume at least some percentage of involve physical plant work. If a city put in municipal fiber Comcast could connect subscribers to, I would expect that they would be thrilled to dump a shitload of plant maintenance overhead.

And at some point in the future, I would expect both competitors running fiber to the home and signaling limits on coax cable to render coax plants non-competitive, meaning that cable providers are sitting on something of a timebomb of aging infrastructure which will be very costly to upgrade.

I've often wondered if a smarter strategy for cable providers might not be offering to sell their municipal wire plant (coax to the house plus fiber distribution network) to municipalities. The cable company could spin off an independent plant management company which would actually run the plant -- I would expect any municipal plant to be managed under contract by a private entity anyway. The municipality gets an instant network to homes plus fiber distribution without having to do any construction and the cable company unloads a physical plant which will need a long-term investment to remain viable.

Comment Re:No complaints here (Score 1) 319

This is the 2nd winter in a row with less than average snow and higher than average temps. I certainly don't mind.

The best part is that it extends boating season by a month, another month when I get to run twin 350s and burn 20 gallons an hour!

If I can keep it up I may be able to warm it up to get another month!

Comment Re:goodbye jiffy lube hello $60-$100 dealer oil ch (Score 1) 233

The problem is, does screaming legalese and acts of Congress when you're standing there in the dealership to pick up your car (late for daycare pickup or something) and some low-wage flunky is telling you that you owe $1,787 because the repair isn't covered by the warranty really get you very far?

Sure, you might be *right* but they can say no, not give you your car back until you pay, and generally make your life miserable until you sue them and then they can drag that out until it costs you 10x what the invoice was.

I recently had some work done where the invoice exceeded a written estimate by 20% and explaining the fact that such an overage is illegal in this state really was not effective. They were literally more afraid of me screaming on social media or disputing the charge on my card than they were in breaking the law.

The legalese is great idea, but unless you can call the cops and get somebody arrested for violating consumer protection laws, the imbalance between a large business and the average consumer is so great that its almost like having no protection at all.

Comment Re:Features? Look Elsewhere (Score 1) 245

I was thinking about this yesterday in a similar way, how once a product's core functionality reaches a certain level you reach a point in its life cycle where as a user you're at risk of significant instability.

Inevitably the desire to add new features to justify additional licensing fees will lead to the "need" to rewrite or significantly restructure the core functionality and they never get that right the first time, often plunging products back to levels of instability not seen in many versions. And often not fixed for a long time, either, as feature bloat dilutes engineering resources and product managers and marketing fall on their sword to preserve the new version.

I sometimes wonder if a strategy to deal with this wouldn't be planning on switching to a rising competitor, even if it meant suffering a competitor's marginally lower stability. The idea being that the competitor hasn't hit a functionality & stability plateau yet and will be mostly increasing stability first and functionality second.

Comment Re:No Objective Measurements (Score 1) 179

Since we have opioid receptors and endogenous opioids, it would stand to reason that receptors and endogenous opioid production would vary among the population.

So perception of pain is likely to vary in the population as well, as not everyone will produce the same amount of endogenous opioids.

I'd wager that people prone to addiction may produce fewer endogenous opioids or have a greater number of receptors, which causes them to respond more strongly to opioid medications.

I also wonder if below average opioid production isn't somehow conceptually similar to abnormal serotonin levels, making those individuals prone to mood states where opioids act as something like an anti-depressant.

Many addicts who sustain stable maintenance doses report that it makes them "feel normal". Perhaps these are individuals who have subnormal endogenous opiate production and those that stabilize on maintenance doses of opiates are in effect treating a mood disorder caused by low opiate levels.

Such a theory would go a long way towards explaining why millions of people who get opioid prescriptions don't develop addictions. I had half my ring finger amputated after an accident and took oxycodone for months on a regular basis and just kind of stopped without any cravings or side effects.

Comment Re:Autonomous Ships? (Score 2) 138

Most boats down to even 10 meter recreational vessels already have pretty good autopilots, often integrating cartography, bathymetry and radar, but they don't always work that well in close approaches due to shifting channels, local currents and tides.

Most ports have professional pilots that bring large ships into harbors because expertise is needed in those local features, and they might also require tugs, too, for precision movement.

Comment Are actual globes wrong? (Score 1) 318

Any globe you buy these days is a cardboard or plastic sphere usually with printed strips glued to the sphere. Are these accurate considering they are actually on a sphere and thus shouldn't suffer from spherical to flat distortion?

And if a physical globe is accurate, why can't they just take all the strips they would normally glue onto the globe and lay them out flat, even if the seams don't line up when flat?

I saw the projection they are advancing and it looks really distorted compared to an actual globe. Whether it's a good projection or not, but of all the dozens of possible projections it looked like it was picked because it makes Africa look much larger, as if that alone would make people stop being racist.

Comment I'd like Amazon to quit becoming Ebay (Score 1, Offtopic) 62

I'd like Amazon to quit being Ebay. Filter off the crap, stop merging SKUs with third party sellers who often sell old revs, fake items or other problematic inventory. Be more aggressive about knock-off products.

If I want to buy a shitty Chinese clone that's probably been already opened, I'll go to Ebay, thanks, or better yet, skip Ebay and go to Craigslist.

Comment Re:Won't get there (Score 1) 374

If #3 happens, it will be a race-related claim initially and not be relief granted to the general population.

I think the easier solution is to lower the bar for bankruptcy discharge of student loan debt or imposed reductions during bankruptcy.

The devil will be in the details to keep it from becoming abused, but if lenders face increased risks on debt discharge they will end up loaning less money and force educational institutions to figure out how to charge less.

Who knows, maybe lenders could consider taking some kind of underwriting interest in their borrowers education -- is the debt load in line with earnings prospects? How can we help borrowers to become better debt risks, such as employment assistance for unemployed borrowers?

I also think the resort-like expectations of college students is crazy. I went to college in '85 at a well-funded state institution and you got a small box to share with another student and a locker-room style bathroom down the hall. These days, people expect a luxury apartment, private baths, and so on. I can't believe it.

Comment Cash hoarding is the real problem (Score 1) 447

The problem on the ground in New Zealand seems to be something of a side effect of being New Zealand -- a small yet prosperous nation at the end of the world and the end of the supply chain. They kind of need to be an attractive marketplace for sellers otherwise they may not be worth the effort of supplying.

But my problem with meta-national tax strategies isn't really with the avoidance of taxes so much, although slightly irksome. Apple does pay a lot of taxes, although perhaps not enough to specific jurisdictions. If anything, I think Apple owe the US government more as it is the civil authority with the most clout to protect its intellectual property and business interests.

My problem is that so many of these big companies are so profitable yet they just hoard the profits without doing much of anything with them but dump them in short term cash-equivalent securities. They invest tiny portions in R&D, pay out tiny portions in dividends, pay large executive bonuses and then sit on the rest, mostly using it to buy up products that challenge their market dominance.

This last bit skews the larger innovation landscape through perverse motivations on innovators who see winning the buyout lottery as the main end-goal in innovation. Instead of focusing on creating new companies with competitive products, they create new companies that look like competitive products but end up just being buyout bait.

IMHO, the main problem with our current iteration of capitalism is that it enables hoarding of capital and hoarded capital doesn't get put efficiently to work in the economy, and only seems to get put to work staving off competition.

Comment Re:Activation Lock (Score 1) 447

Sure, as a side affect, perhaps this reduces the theft of devices to some degree. I argue that is merely a minor side affect. Thieves are going to grab any device they have a good opportunity to take, because it could be an Android phone, or maybe an iPhone that was not registered with iCloud's Find my Device. But I argue the primary purpose is to increase Apple's profit margins further by "destroying" a significant number of devices that cannot be used by anyone else.

Before they cracked down with activation lock, the argument was that WITHOUT activation lock mobile phone makers were basically profiting from theft because it was so easy to steal a phone and sell it on the black market.

So which is it -- they're ripping us off by limiting post-purchase ownership, or they're ripping us off by making the devices easy to steal?

In your case (which is really pretty niche, actually) I would think that the state would provide proof of purchase of some kind which would let you go into an Apple store and have the device factory reset since you have basically state-sponsored proof of your legitimate ownership.

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