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Comment Re:Summary is wrong, as usual (Score 1) 141

I worked on one of the versions on TFT, around the time All Stars popped up. At the time, DotA was really in its infancy and I felt like we were all just trying to figure out ways to make it better. The core gameplay was brilliant, but there were numerous balance issues that we were trying to address (as well as working to make the heroes, abilities, and items more exciting).

What All Stars did was make DotA really, really popular by polishing everything and innovating constantly. When it came out, it took a lot of the best ideas from all the different versions, and put it all together into one package. That's why it's called "All Stars" - it took the best heroes from all the versions. They even took a few ideas from the version I worked on. And then they just kept adding things and improving all aspects of the gameplay.

That all said, Ice Frog really deserves most of the credit. He and his developers took DotA from a niche mod to a popular and very competitive game. I have no problem with the fact that he used our ideas, as we were doing it for fun and we just wanted to see a great game develop from our efforts. So, good for him. I'm happy to see Ice Frog make some money from all that work and of course, I've had the benefit of being able to playing All Stars all these years.

Comment "greedy airlines" (Score 3, Insightful) 673

I find the greedy airlines bit in the summary to be rather offensive. I'm sure more than a few local European airlines will go bankrupt because of what happened. And billions of dollars of potential revenue were lost. Airline companies haven't exactly been rolling in it of late....remember when the high oil prices nearly ran a few of them out of business a year or two ago? These airlines employ thousands of people who are just trying to get by, just trying to make a living, and as companies, they run razor thin margins. And then there are the thousands of travelers who were trapped, burning through their wallets living out of a hotel who couldn't get back home. And the summary basically implies that this is all about greed. This story isn't about greed: it's about survival - people trying to make a living despite a crazy natural disaster that had a very negative impact on many, many people's lives. These people feel like the government was overly aggressive about shutting down air space and didn't sufficiently consider the magnitude of effects it would have on the airlines and the travelers. If the government made a mistake here and it had severe financial implications for lots of people, then government ought to take responsibility for its actions and compensate them.

Comment Re:Hey, old man (Score 1) 295

I've liked my doctor's generally. Haven't really dealt with one that's tried to screw me over. I've been less fond of dentists...but I don't feel like I need the government to get them to compete better. I do wish insurance worked differently than the way it does though. But I think medicare & regulation plays a big role in how they act nowadays.

As far as option 1 vs option 2 goes, if you had the money, you might really want that 10%. After all, it could be the difference between life and death. I wouldn't want anyone else making that decision for me, certainly.

Comment Re:Mind experiments on Mars (Score 1) 295

I agree that my example is simplified...the main reason I gave it is to illustrate a principle (I also wanted to keep the comment short). However, I don't think these examples or the principle is pointless. It's a place to start from.

To address your point, monopolies often form through some sort of government intervention. For example, while I am a fan of intellectual property rights, I'm not necessarily cool with the way they exist today. The system really needs to be simplified down to a few core principles. As of right now, the whole patent / legal system just serves as a government enforced barrier to entry for smaller companies that want to compete with larger ones. It makes it far more expensive than it really should be to start a business when you have to invest a substantial percentage of your money on legal counsel. This is one example where a defective legal system creates anti-competitive environment. I don’t think monopolies are nearly as much of a problem in a free market as opposed to one that’s been heavily regulated.

I’ve come to notice that, a lot of the time, these arguments come down to a moral one: is it okay to forcibly take from one person in order to provide a basic level of care for another? I don’t think that’s morally sound, in fact, I think it’s horribly unjust. One day, I think people will look at taxes the same way many of us look at the draft currently. But even if you think it is moral to rob the rich to feed the poor, you should look at the consequences of such an action. You will always be forced to make unconscionable choices: who deserves to bear the burden of supporting the others? Why shouldn’t we take equal amounts from everyone, why should some bear a higher burden than others from a moral perspective? What do you define as the bare minimum that everyone deserves? If a poor person needs an $1,000,000 surgery in order to survive, should he get it or not? If that person needs $10,000,000, should he get it? Or should we just let him die? At what point is it okay to let a person die? I would never want to be the one making these decisions because I don’t believe there are right answers here. They are all wrong.

Comment Re:Hey, old man (Score 2, Insightful) 295

Without regulations, companies have no reason not to charge you outrageously for everything, since the cost you're willing to pay to live his virtually no limit.

This line of reasoning is problematic for two reasons. First, there's capitalism. In an unregulated economy, if doctor A believed that the procedure to save my life would take 2 two hours of his time and that my life was worth all the money I had in the bank to me, then he could try to charge me that amount. Of course, without any money to pay for food or my house or future procedures, the life I'd be living after the procedure might not be worth all that much to me, in which case I could just say "no" to the doctor. On the other hand, doctor B might realize that he could also perform the procedure, and actually leave me with enough money to live a decent life after the surgery. That doctor might also benefit from future services that he could provide me and my family, given that he didn't just bankrupt us on one procedure. In an unregulated economy, that doctor can choose to provide his service at a cost lower than doctor A, and that will likely be a better proposition for him and me (it'll also have the side effect of forcing doctor A to lower his prices in order to stay in business). With 100 doctors in the mix, prices would normally be driven down even further. Note that this is opposite the trend we're seeing in our current system (and the hypothesis for why that is the case is basically that our health care system is not unregulated, but rather, very regulated.) Note that the competition not only drives down the cost of services provided, but will also drive down the cost of the medical technology available to all of us as well.

The second reason is that there are usually multiple treatments to a given condition, all resulting in a different quality of life afterward and all requiring differing amounts of time and resources on the part of the doctor. For example, if one procedure will cure me with a 10% chance of death, vs another with a 20%, and the cost of the first procedure is 1000 times more than the cost of the second, who should make the decision regarding which procedure I should get? Should the doctor automatically pick the one that's in his best interest? That seems like a bad idea. Should the government be picking the option that's in its best interest? If you believe that the government should pick the option in the patient's best interest, how can the government, which is footing the bill, fairly decide what's in its patient's best interest when it's resources are finite and split between 100,000,000 different people? I propose that the fairest solution is to let the decision be based on the patient's values, priorities, and resources.

Comment Re:Good explanation, great ruling (Score 1) 1070

Hey, I wanted to say one last thing on the topic because I've enjoyed this discussion with you (but my time is fairly limited because of work and thoughtful entries are time consuming).

I think there are interesting points to be made with regard to the differences between the actions made by an individual vs as part of a group or corporation. The law does to an extent protect individual property from the other members of a group (and the obligations the group makes), but I think that's really just contract don't really need any additional laws to create these sorts of protection. When I join a corporation (sign on to be part of the group), I don't automatically put my personal assets at stake, and when I sign contracts as part of a corporation, I'm taking different risks than when I'm doing it as an individual.

As far as speech goes, I do feel that individuals and corporations should be able to say whatever they please, provided they don't break any other laws while doing so (corporations and individuals shouldn't commit fraud or threaten others, etc). If this means that corporations can rally support for a candidate, I'm not really sure how you could prevent that. Even if you had campaign finance laws, there are other ways corporations (or the individuals who are part of them) could support the candidates that allow them to benefit at the expense of others.

The other part of what you said involving the various governments and their successes is a more involved conversation, but very interesting. I have not studied much Chinese, Japanese, or Korean history so I don't know the various factors that led to the growth in their economies. I have heard it said though that over the past 20 years or so, the Chinese have loosen a lot of the restrictions on the market over there and that the loosening of those restrictions have contributed to the incredible growth China has experienced. Though the Chinese government is communist in ideology, their market is surprisingly free (despite incredible social regulation).

US History I know quite a bit more about. As far as the depression goes, I (and many others) really doubt how much the depression was a result of a bad American economy as opposed to an inevitable consequence of new regulation on an economy that thrived off being unregulated. For example, the formation of the Federal Reserve occurred in 1913, as a response to the panic of 1907. The problem was that there was a fear of bank runs in this country at the time, and the nervousness was that banks could be spread potentially too thin to survive a severe run. At the time, the way this problem was handled was through a system of checks among the banks themselves...the larger banks would keep reserve money on hand that they could use in times of crisis, and indeed, during some of the panics in the early 1900s, the bigger banks tended to purchase the smaller banks and prevent them from going under and defaulting.

The Federal Reserve's role at the time was to become a centralized way of protecting banks. The Fed would loan the money to banks in need so that the larger banks wouldn't need to keep money on hand for this purpose. So, instead of keeping that reserve capital, a lot of the larger banks invested that money because the Fed stepped into that role.

Fast forward to 1929, and fears that Britain was planning to switch off the gold standard caused some ripples in our economy as people worried that our government would take economic action to protect Britain from the fallout of such a move. Though I don't remember all the details, I believe these fears led to the initial panics on the banks. In previous crises, when banks were run, the bigger banks stepped in, but with the Federal Reserve in place, the bigger banks just hung back (and didn't really have the funds to do anything away). Now, from what I've read, the Federal Reserve simply didn't act fast enough (and the degree to which it was legally allowed to intervene was also not really established) and so, a lot of the smaller banks went under without sufficient support from either the larger banks or the Fed. This led to the cascading disaster of bank runs on larger and larger banks that the Federal Reserve was created to prevent in first place!

Now, all this is to say that the initial causes of the 1929 Panic were a result of largely untested new system put in place by the government that failed to deal with the problems it was created to deal with in the first place. The depression that resulted I personally think was far more severe than it should have been precisely because of all the steps taken by FDR and others to fix the problem. Ultimately, the depression probably would have been just a short period of turmoil and adjustment as money shifted hands and the banks renegotiated its debts and reestablished themselves on firmer ground. Instead, the entire nature of our economy completely changed with FDR's New Deal.

Anyway, there's plenty to be said about these topics, but I just wanted to give some of the information and thoughts I had on the topic. There are important questions worth thinking about with regard the role regulation and intervention has played in the history of this country and others. From what I've read myself, the extent to which we've regulated is tied with the extent to which we've hurt our economy while the degree to which a market is allowed to be free has largely been correlated with the degree to which that market flourishes. That's not to say I endorse anarchy...there is a proper role of government in terms of defense, security, criminal justice, and contract enforcement. But the government needs to keep its hands off the economy...and this would go a long way to ending the corruption and back door deals that exist in Washington today.

Comment Re:Good explanation, great ruling (Score 1) 1070

Groups of people get special rights when they are in a corporation. They lose those rights when they are not part of a corporation - i.e., when they go home after work. Furthermore, groups of people have access to resources as part of a corporation that they do not have as private citizens. It is ludicrous to argue that merely by being part of the right group of people, some people can wield far more influence over the electoral process than others.

I'm not sure the concept of rights is really what you're referring to here. Or at least it isn't consistent with the Constitution's definition of rights. Certainly the Constitution does not define a set of rights that applies differently to corporations as opposed to individuals (corporations didn't exist, of course). In addition, the 1886 ruling doesn't guarantee corporations any additional rights that weren't already guaranteed to the individuals themselves.

All this is to say that what separates corporations from individuals is not an issue of constitutionally defined rights, but rather an issue of contract law and its key definitions. People who make contracts with a corporation can choose to do use freely, but upon doing so, agree to terms that are somewhat different than if they were to create a contract with an individual. This doesn't imply that corporations have special rights, only that contracts made with corporations have different terms than those made with individuals. Why should this affect or involve the constitutional definition of rights? People as part of a corporation should have the same constitutionally defined rights as anyone else.

I also want to address your last point. People frequently criticize the position of minimal centralized government as idealistic and impractical. Yet, in my experience, when you look at some of the people who advocate this idea, they're among the most well read in the subjects of history and (most importantly) economics. Many, many economists have warned for decades about the dangers of expanding government influence in the economy, and today we're seeing a lot of the consequences they very accurately predicted. Time and time again, minimal government intervention has led to economic progress and innovation, where control and regulation has led to stagnation. If you guys would pick up some reading on economics and history, I'd wager most slashdotters would feel differently about this issue. In fact, just look at our own country's history.

Prior to 1930, the federal government's role in this country was fairly minimal, and after WWI we were clearly a world super power thanks to the industrial revolution. The fact is, most libertarians wouldn't have a problem just scaling back to what the Federal government was like (economically) before 1920. Yet our country in 1920 was nothing like Somalia is today and equating the two is gross intellectual mistake.

In short, minimal government's responsible for the success of our country and many others.

Comment Good explanation, great ruling (Score 1, Insightful) 1070

I'm glad you said this. I'm also shocked by how many misconceptions are apparent throughout these comments.

People seem to go on and on about 1886. Corporations are certainly not people strictly speaking, they are just groups of people. Those people have individual rights, and by extension, a group of people also has the same set of rights. And by rights, I simply mean things that the government is restricted from doing to those people.

Why shouldn't corporations be entitled to free speech, just as any person who is a part of that corporation is entitled to it? If I speak as part of a company, do I suddenly lose my right whereas if I take off my "Exxon" cap I get it back? Doesn't really make sense to me.

I think overall this ruling is excellent for many reasons. One, it upholds the Constitution as opposed to reinterpreting it...that's really great. We need more rulings like this. Second, it forces people to rethink their approach to this problem. Yes, it is a problem that corporations and other groups of people can essentially "buy" elections. As opposed to restricting their ability to spend money on speech though, what we should instead be focusing on is the motivation behind why these groups of people find it in their best interest to spend millions of dollars on campaigns. The real problem is that the government makes decisions that redirect billions of dollars from one group of people to another. These groups have incredible monetary incentive to spend billions to ensure that the pot goes to them and not to the others vying for it.

The reality is that the only way to end this constant conflict between groups of men is to end the government's ability to determine who gets the pot by taking away that pot from the government to begin with. Let private citizens individually make decisions on how their money gets spent....not voters. The government's job and how it should go about it should be clearly defined and restricted by the constitution. It's ability to raise money shouldn't be arbitrarily determined by majority rules voting, but rather, by people voluntarily investing in it because of the results it produces. Only by sufficiently limiting the government's role in the economy and it's overall power will you be able to eliminate the corporations incentive to buy elections and profit from a process that is inherently and essentially unfair.

Comment This is not exactly correct... (Score 2, Interesting) 551

Recently, I went to Europe for a week with my iPhone and I needed to use the internet frequently while I was there to stay in touch with people back in the States. So after having done a bit of research, I decided to purchase the $60 Global Data Add-on, which gave me 50MB I could use while in Europe. Using that and Wifi, I was able to have internet whenever I needed it during that week, and by the end, I had used just under the limit. Because of that, I really ended up paying only $1.2 / MB, or $60 per week, which I thought was pretty reasonable. Also note that you can monitor how much bandwidth you've used through the phone's statistics (which you can reset when you depart for your trip).

All in all, it worked out pretty well.

Comment The hidden costs... (Score 1) 443

Exactly. This service doesn't really cost $10 per month. To figure out the real cost of the network, you'd have to add together all the expenses the city incurred creating/maintaining the service, and divide that by the number of people using the service. At $10 per month, I doubt the service will ever be profitable (maintenance will be expensive!), but the city's goal isn't to make a profit anyway.

The thing is, the reason people using the service are paying $10 per month is because the rest of the money is coming from taxes/deficit spending. Hell, some people who aren't even using the service might be paying more than that for the people who are making use of it.

The better situation is one where people pay for what they make use of. I'd rather not pay for other people's luxuries and I wouldn't want others paying for me.

Comment It's all about fear (Score 1) 227

I feel like many industries are afraid of what new technology is going to do to their bottom line. Because of this, you see these very defensive moves that hurt the growth of the industry and hurt the consumer. Really, I think these businesses should be first asking the question, 'what's the best way for the consumer to make use of our products?', and then ask the question, 'how can we monetize it?'.

If you provide a value, I believe people are willing to pay for it. On the other hand, if you fail to provide what people want, you're just asking for someone to step in and replace what you do (or dominate the marketplace, as in the case of Apple and the RIAA).


McCain Backs Nuclear Power 1563

bagsc writes "Senator John McCain set out another branch of his energy policy agenda today, with a key point: 45 new nuclear power plants by 2030." So it finally appears that this discussion is back on the table. I'm curious how Nevada feels about this, as well as the Obama campaign. All it took was $4/gallon gas I guess. When it hits $5, I figure one of the campaigns will start to promote Perpetual Motion.

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