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Comment Re:How many times... (Score 3, Funny) 52

Don't you worry. After this election we'll eliminate oversized regulatory agencies like the FCC that are full of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who make it harder for small businesses like AT&T to come up with new business models (such as throttling websites that don't pay extortion fees).

Comment Re:Not tech crisis - it's a general crisis (Score 1) 118

Interesting - thanks for that. It nicely addresses what I was going for with my "what kind of skills...?" question. It's also kind of telling that it belies the idea that you can teach everyone anything - forgetting that there are inherent capabilities and limitations that are different for each individual (I, for instance, will always be at a disadvantage in a height-dominated sport because "you can't teach tall").

Comment Not tech crisis - it's a general crisis (Score 2) 118

What skills are lacking in the first place? I would argue that it's not lack of 'tech' skills - there are many people who can read specs and often obtuse community posts and write software that meets some specs.

What is lacking is critical thinking, ability and desire to refine existing technologies (rather than reinvent things or try to come up with the next biggest thing), and failing to look at how everything is interconnected over the long term.

We don't need more computer science in schools, we need more critical thinking classes. I'd also say we need more classes in "how practice is different than theory" but that doesn't sound glamorous.

Comment Re:Wait... Who got that other half of the $$$ rais (Score 5, Informative) 33

I spent about fifteen years of my career in the non-profit sector, so I have some perspective on this.

Raising money in a non-profit is just like selling stuff is for a for-profit. Generating gross revenue is relatively easy -- if you spend a lot of money you can rake in a lot of dough. What's a bitch to generate is net profit. In the non-profit sector we don't use the term "profitability" very much, so the metric that's often used to describe financial is "cost to raise a dollar." For typical fundraising activities cost-to-raise-a-dollar runs from 0.25 to 1.5 dollars/dollar.

Take junk mail. The cost to raise a dollar for a well-run direct mail campaign is in the range of $1.25 to $1.50, so if I want to raise $115,000 to spend on other things I have to scale my direct mail campaign to bring inover $258,000 gross. As you can see I chose a net target that was exactly 1/1000 the size of the ALS bucket challenge net, so you can compare the efficiency of the processes readily. The cost to raise a dollar for the ALS bucket challenge is actually better than a well-run direct mail campaign -- $0.91.

And it should be more efficient than direct mail, because direct mail is about the least efficient method there is. The marginal costs are huge because you pay for the names and addresses as well as printing and mailing of each piece, and most of those pieces will end up in the landfill unopened. So if direct mail is so inefficient, why use it? Because the financial inefficiency doesn't matter to the organization doing the fundraising. The end result of my hypothetical direct mail campaign is that my organization has $115,000 it didn't have before. That probably pays for one and half full time staff positions (at the low do-gooder wages we pay) for a year.

So the ALS challenge was in the financial efficiency range of methods normally used by non-profits, albeit a little towards the inefficient end. That doesn't really tell us if the campaign was responsibly run or not; to know that you'd have to look at all the expenses and compare those to costs in other viral Internet fundraising campaigns. But the bottom line is that the ALS association ended up with $115 million it didn't have before.

Can you think of a way of raising $115 million in a few months? I thought not. So presuming the guys who ran the campaign didn't spend the money on hookers and blow, I wouldn't be unduly concerned by a cost-to-raise-a-dollar of $0.91 if I was on the board.

Should donors care that the ALS challenge was a little high on the cost-to-raise-a-dollar metric? Well, I look at it this way. People did it because it was fun and for a good cause, and two years later we can point to concrete and significant scientific results from the money raised. That's not only pretty good, it's pretty damned awesome.

Comment Re:Joke ? (Score 1) 996

She's gleefully in favor of infringing on constitutionally protected rights,

Taking your guns away once again, I assume?

supports nationally self-destructive immigration policies,

Are you referring to the couple thousand Syrian women and children fleeing the aftermath of your stupid war? Or the 12 million Mexicans he wants to load onto rail cars and dump into the desert, south of the 2000 mile wall you think he's actually going to build?

and wants to see the government involved in wildly more private sector activities, at both the business and personal level.

Does she want to dictate where iPhones can be manufactured? Or does she have a history of abusing eminent domain to seize people's property?

Comment The two-party system (Score 1) 996

WE HAVE MORE THAN TWO POLITICAL PARTIES IN THIS COUNTRY.

That's only technically true. The U.S. Constitution doesn't actually specify that there can only be two parties, but it arranges a winner-take-all system that organically results in the emergence of a two-party system. For a third party to gain a foothold, one of the two major parties has to fission roughly in half. (The last time this happened was before the Civil War, when the Whigs split up.) The U.S. has always had third parties, but each one is a satellite of one of the two major parties. (The Libertarian Party is a splinter off the Republican Party, and the Green Party is a splinter off the Democratic Party.) The reason that these parties stay small is obvious- if a Democrat votes Green, he knows it will help the Republicans, and if a Republican votes Libertarian, he knows it will help the Democrats. So the third parties only get a small number of protest votes (and only if these people don't stay home and watch Netflix).

This clearly has an effect on Senate elections. Also on the Electoral College during presidential elections, but states are reluctant to apportion electoral votes by the proportion of voters- since it means voters in that state exert less of an effect on the outcome of a presidential election than voters in winner-take-all states nearby.

Meanwhile the House of Representatives is controlled not by a majority of voters, not even by a majority of seats, but by a majority of a majority of seats. And that majority-of-a-majority isn't even answerable to the majority of voters in their districts, but to the (generally nutcase) minority that votes in primaries. Even if you disregard the ridiculous gerrymandering of districts, this isn't government by the people; it's government by a minority of a majority of a minority of the people. It's an absurd perversion of democracy and one of the biggest bugs in the Constitution.

Comment Re:Absurd Pile (Score 1) 996

The vast majority of which owe their national security to the US. Security which we are not properly compensated for. Trump will force our lazier "allies" to get their houses in order and shoulder more of the burden for protecting themselves.

The United States pays only 22.1% of the direct costs of NATO- about $500 million annually. (Germany pays 14.6%, France pays 10.6%, the UK pays 9.8%, Italy pays 8.4%, Canada pays 6.6%, Spain pays 5.8%, Turkey pays 4.3%, and the remaining 20 NATO allies- the Netherlands, Luxembourg, etc.- pay about 1% each on average.) On a per capita basis, the U.S. spends considerably less on NATO than either Germany or France.

The indirect costs of NATO, of course, are somewhat higher, as you'd naturally expect when a country voluntarily spends 54% of its discretionary budget on defense. That's totally nuts, and the way to address it would be to simply reduce military spending. But that's obviously not what he's proposing, since he knows it would get him booed off the stage. He's talking about keeping the military budget at present levels, and instituting a shakedown of NATO allies with an explicit threat to disregard our treaty obligations if countries don't pay up and are subsequently attacked. (The NATO treaty has been ratified by a Congressional supermajority, so this would be unconstitutional, but Trump insists that he can "negotiate" his way out of it and get a "better deal"- albeit one that could not possibly net us any more than $1 billion.)

Regardless of whether he intends to follow through on these statements or not, the mere fact that he's describing NATO in public as a protection racket instead of a treaty has already undermined national security. It's not as if both our NATO allies and Putin can't hear these rants (via "our Internet"), and the leaders of several of these countries have already expressed their suspicions that the United States might be willing to abrogate its treaty obligations if this fool gets elected. In fact Trump is making it clear that there could be no point in signing a treaty with the United States at all. It's now obvious to the rest of the world that the American political system has reached an ominous level of instability which is possibly sufficient to elevate a cretin like this to the presidency.

Comment Re:The basest, vilest (Score 1) 996

I don't recall any of those attacks being blamed on a youtube video by a Secretary of State and a President, let alone going after and investigating someone who made said video and using them as a scapegoat. Nor do I recall a Secretary of State lying to the families of those victims while telling people in private emails that it had nothing to do with a video.

Perhaps you could enlighten me?

Perhaps bold text can penetrate your thick skull. Once again, from the same 2014 article:

On the day of the attack, Islamists in Cairo had staged a demonstration outside the United States Embassy there to protest an American-made online video mocking Islam, and the protest culminated in a breach of the embassy's walls- images that flashed through news coverage around the Arab world. As the attack in Benghazi was unfolding a few hours later, Mr. Abu Khattala told fellow Islamist fighters and others that the assault was retaliation for the same insulting video, according to people who heard him.

Comment Re:The Theater Experience (Score 1) 326

This. I sometimes think that the so-called 'social' ones simply have a heightened sense of belonging in a group, and thus seem more social to their immediate peers. For example, groups of people hanging out on a walkway and blocking the way for passers-by. Or a party next door, while you're trying to focus on your next big coding project. The other irony is that they're probably consuming software, music and other entertainment made by the 'anti-social' ones during those rare moments they were not being harassed by the 'social' ones.

Comment My dog would really like a pony, too. (Score 1) 251

My dog would really like a pony, too. Sometimes the world doesn't work the way we want for our own little special interests. The politicians all rant and rave about special interest groups. What's a more special interest than wanting to weaken security of everyone worldwide just so your job is a little easier?

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