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Comment Re:One party rule (Score 1) 2837

Which is fine. However, ObamaCare never billed itself as the be-all-end-all solution. It is a starting place, it was compromised to hell just to scrape into law.

This is my major complaint with the Affordable Care Act. It was indeed sold to the populace as just a stepping stone to something better (with the end goal, I think, of ultimately achieving something like the socialized medical systems found in European nation, once American could swallow such a "bitter" pill). The problem is that, once established, it became a government bureaucracy with the added disadvantage of being a money trough for the insurance companies; this created two huge stumbling blocks to ever changing or improving the system. The insurance companies like the ACA - it's basically free money because people are now legally obligated to get insurance - and so have no desire to change to a less profitable (e.g., socialized) model that cuts them out of the loop. The bureaucracy keeps the system from moving forward - or backwards - just from sheer inertia. So ultimately we-the-people end up with a terrible system that - while born of good ideals - is unlikely to improve.

Personally, I'd like to see the ACA scrapped just to clear the path for a truly reformed and workable medical system. I just don't feel the ACA itself is salvagable.

Comment Re:One party rule (Score 1) 2837

I've contemplated that - should Trump prove to be as unmanageable a president as he was a candidate - that the best bet for the Republicans is to find something to get him impeached (I get the impression that might not be so hard) and then have Pence as their spokesperson. It would be a sour pill to swallow (yet another Republican president impeached!) and cause some momentary unpopularity, but it would probably let the Republicans push through their agenda more readily. Right now Trump has almost as many enemies in the Republican party as he does across the aisle and it seems like he'd be almost as much an obstruction to the Republicans as the Democrats).

Not only would getting Trump out of office give the Republicans a firmer grip on the government, but it would win the Republican party points with the Democrats (which, again, would give the Republicans an even firmer grip on the government because now the Democrats owe them a favor). Properly managed, I think Pence would be a good president for the Republicans and might - after the upswell of disappointment following a Trump impeachment - bring the party into even more prominence (whether that is good or bad for the nation is an entirely different argument).

It could even be done without losing too many points among Trump supporters (the "drain the swamp" segment of the electorate) if they could portray Trump as a scheming villain who never truly represented their ideals. Unfortunately, the past two years indicate that the Republican party might not have the finesse to do so (any moreso than the Democrats). Unabashed and unsophisticated as he might come across, Trump is a brutally effective demagogue and has a good handle on how to attract people to his cause. The established parties have yet to show they can effectively oppose such a compelling personality, regardless of how unattractive his message or personality may be.

Comment Re:And to think the DNC wanted to face Trump... (Score 5, Insightful) 2837

I hope you aren't "getting shit" for voting for Jill Stein due to accusations that you "cost Hillary Clinton the election". Looking at the numbers, I don't see one instance in any state race where the outcome would have been any different had the independents not run. That is, even if all the people who voted for Jill Stein voted for Hillary Clinton, it still wouldn't have given her enough votes to win in the states where she lost to Trump (and similarly, none of the states where Trump lost might have been won had he gotten support from Gary Johnson voters). So if somebody is accusing you of costing Hillary Clinton they have absolutely no standing besides sour grapes.

Similarly, I despise people who accuse anyone of voting Independent as having "thrown their vote away". Elections are not a popularity contest and just because "your guy" doesn't win does not make your vote wasted. Voting is how citizens say, "this is the direction I want the country to go". If enough people vote for a third-party candidate, it can cost the major parties their victory, and in future elections the major parties will be forced to change to win back those third-party supporters. Unfortunately, voters have become extremely short-sighted, and cannot see beyond the immediate election (largely due to indoctrination by the major parties, who would prefer to minimalize third parties so they don't have to change). Catchy campaign slogans aside, voting third party really is the only way to force the major parties to alter their ways.

Personally, I find this one of the most disappointing things about the election, because - Trump's rhetoric aside - this was less a victory for the average citizen and more just a sign that things will continue to be the same (Trump is not going to "drain the swamp; he just filled it with Republicans who now control the House, the Senate, the Presidency, and most of the governors; they have no reason to significantly change tactics). I was really hoping that the independent candidates could make a decent showing this year - 4% of the vote would have been nice - to threaten both the Democrats and Republicans party enough to induce change. Unfortunately, the status quo has been maintained.

Of course, the most terrifying thing is that the Republicans have such a strong grip on the country. I say this not because I necessarily disagree (or for that matter, agree) with their policies; I just am extremely wary of any one power-block having, well, so much power. I would have felt the same had Hillary Clinton won and the Democrats gained control of Congress too. Ideally I would like the Congress controlled by one party (well, the House by one party and the Senate deadlocked), and the Presidency by the other party under the principle that the government that governs least governs best. I do not generally subscribe to the Libertarian philosophy of tiny government, but I do believe that any time one power block has such a sure grip on things, they fast track their policies and swift action like that is never good for the nation. Deadlocked government forces change to a crawl and requires compromise to get anything done, which is the ideal.

So, the short of it is, good for you for voting for a third party if you believe that the major party candidates did not adequately represent you. Don't let anyone tell you that you were wrong to do so.

Comment Re:You don't own your computer anymore (Score 5, Insightful) 322

Except these days most people /are/ paying for Windows 10, either by purchasing it from retail (a tiny minority) or as a hidden cost included in the price of their new PCs (everybody else). While OEMs usually receive a large discount from Microsoft, Microsoft isn't giving Windows10 away for free to them either. I read that only about 30% of Windows 10 users are those who received the free upgrade; the larger majority purchased the new OS when they bought a new computer.

So it's ingenuous to claim that adverts are acceptable because Windows10 is free, because for most people it was not.

Comment Patent it and make some real cash (Score 3, Insightful) 156

Am I the only one who thinks that anyone who can make a device that pulls "2,000 liters of water a day from the atmosphere, using completely renewable energy, for at most 2 cents a liter" would be far, far better to patent the machine and then sell it themselves? The device they are describing would be so miraculous - not to mention useful - that the $2 million prize would be small change to what the inventors would get if they commercialized it.

I mean, I'm all for encouraging scientists and don't think that science should only be about making money, but for what they are describing, they really ought to be offering a /real/ prize rather than what would be comparative pocket-change to the device's actual value.

I mean, I read that the cost of desalinization in California costs ~$10,000 per person (and that's just for the cost of the building plant, not the power or the distribution); to desalinate enough water for the whole state would cost close to $400 billion dollars. A machine that could create water for 5 people (2000 liters is a little more than 500 gallons; Americans use about 100 gallons of water a day) for $40 a day would have municipalities breaking down the inventor's door. XPrize really should offer remuneration that reflects the importance and value of the invention.

Comment Content vs Eyeballs (Score 1) 40

I'm not familiar with the website in question and know nothing about it besides the description given to it in the Slashdot summary. But assuming it is even marginally accurate, I stand in saddened awe that a site which actually produces moderately interesting content ("recommendations for electronics and other gadgets that are both obsessively researched and simply presented") is purchased for a mere $30 million while something like Facebook or Twitter - which are blank slates filled with user-created nonsense - go for billions of dollars. We as a culture really need to look into our priorities...

Comment Re:2.3M? -- That'll teach them! (Score 1) 116

See, I disagree. I think the $2.3million dollar fine is appropriate for the crime, especially since it's basically also a warning that if the company keeps doing that sort of thing they're liable to receive even stiffer penalties. But I'd not really be comfortable with the government grabbing billions of dollars to stuff into their own coffers

What /isn't/ okay is that Comcast gets to keep its ill-gotten gains. I mean, if I stole something, I wouldn't just get a penalty (fine, jail-time, community service, whatever); I'd have to give up my illegally gained loot as well. So ideally, the fine should also include an order to return the fraudulently billed fees to the customers it bilked, at Comcast's cost and within a specified time period.

However, I'm not sure that such an order is within the FCC's mandate or power; it probably would require a court order.

Comment Re:Acronym collisions! (Score 1) 134

Ooh, is this the moaning about the theater experience thread? I want in on that!

Aside from the disadvantages mentioned above, theaters lack a lot of the amenities of watching a movie at home. Like a big comfy couch to slouch into (or fall asleep on), or being able to pause the movie at will if I want to go to the bathroom or get a drink, or being able to turn on the subtitles so I can actually /hear/ what the characters are saying during a big action scene. And I like being able to simply switching to a different movie if the one I've picked isn't living up to the hype or doesn't suit my current mood.

Having full control of the air conditioning is nice too; theaters are always too cold or too hot. Oh, and they almost always are too damn loud too. And don't get me started on the $10 popcorn...

Honestly, the theater experience is so sub-par that I'm always surprised to learn people still go to them. Get a big screen setup, and watch at home. If you want a social experience, invite a few friends over and then go out to dinner together afterwards.

Comment Oh no! (Score 1) 169

This is horrible! Now hackers will have access to all my spam!

Seriously, the only reason I even have/use the Yahoo email address is for websites that are so scummy I don't want to associate them with the /HOTMAIL/ account. Every now and then I take a peek and I don't think that account gets any email that /isn't/ virus-laden. Even if I wanted to use it, its interface is so ugly (with a stunning /purple/ color scheme) that my eyes were bleeding after just a few minutes. It's the cesspool of freemail providers.

Comment A shot across Verizon's bow... (Score 4, Funny) 50

This is a shot across Verizon's bow by Comcast, warning them the two will soon be in direct competition. Not for wireless service - I'm sure they'll both divvy up the country to ensure they each maintain their near-monopolies. Rather, Comcast executives were becoming worryingly upset by the comparisons between the two companies on who was providing the worst customer service. Comcast is getting into wireless telephony solely so they can show up those second-tier Verizon agents about how to /really/ screw over cell-phone customers. Because nobody fucks over customers like Comcast.

Comment Re:Also kicks out scores from third party purchase (Score 1) 85

This might be intentional on the part of Steam to discourage publishers - especially smaller publishers - from selling their products via HumbleBundle, Bundlestars, CDKeys or any other venue since Valve gets no (or much less) revenue from sales made outside of Steam. These other markets are important to smaller developers, who want to make their game as widely available as possible, but if it costs them recognition on Steam - the Walmart of digital PC game distribution - then they might think twice about selling anywhere but through Valve's storefront.

I'm not saying that this change to review policy was made by Valve to purposely limit developer's options but I have little doubt it was seen as an added benefit. As people become more comfortable with digital distribution, Valve is increasingly becoming less essential; there's no reason a person can't buy and download the game from any other service just as easily and many developers have considered rolling their own storefront rather than sharing their profits with Valve. Valve needs to ensure that they have enough extras to offer both developers and customers that both /want/ to use Steam rather than the alternative. This move just helps protect one of Steam's most valuable features: user reviews.

Comment Google needs to be careful (Score 3, Interesting) 241

They've shown that they don't just blindly respond to DMCA requests, that somebody is vetting them first and deciding whether or not to take down the supposedly infringing material. In the linked case, Google decided not to honor the request to remove Warner Brothers websites from their search engine, as it was obviously erroneous. Yet they do not provide the same service globally, as evidenced by the request to take down a Ubuntu torrent despite this request being farcical.

I can see this issue being used by both sides of the DMCA argument to show that Google is not handling these requests correctly. The fact that they aren't handling all DMCA requests the same leaves them open to a possible lawsuit.

Comment Doctor Who was right (Score 1) 88

Strange, to me it looks a lot like those endless rock quarries used in the innumerable low-budget sci-fi shows produced by the BBC in the '70s and '80s.

I mean, I am as excited as the next guy to see pictures of Mars and all, but "amazing vistas" these are not. It's grungy, dusty rocks not that dissimilar to what you might find on Earth, without even any funky colors we've been trained to expect from space (they need to use more red filter so people "know" its Mars ;-). Who knew that the universe subscribed to the Real is Brown philosophy?

Comment Hardware - and customer - fragmentation (Score 5, Insightful) 82

Isn't this move sacrificing one of the major advantages of owning - and developing for - a console, which is its standardized hardware? As a customer, being sure that any Playstation 4 game I buy will run on my platform without difficulties is a big plus over the uncertainty of trying to get that same game running on a PC. Similarly, as a developer, I can max out the platform's capability without worrying that some players are going to have a substandard experience because their GPU isn't up to snuff (also, I don't have to worry as much about compatibility testing because the platform is standardized). But now Sony has introduced two different tiers to the customers.

If I own an older, slower PS4, am I going to miss out on some games because my hardware can't hack it, or - even if the game is nominally compatible - am I going to have to play with poor framerates or worse graphics effects? Or is Sony going to insist developers limit themselves to the capabilities of the older hardware, in which case what advantage is there really to buying the PS4 Pro if games are going to target the lowest common denominator anyway? Meanwhile, as a developer I would hate this because now I either have to target and test against two different hardware configurations.

Consoles used to be the ultimate in plug-n-play gaming. The way things are going, playing a game on a console is going to be as troublesome as on a PC.

Comment I Prefer E-Books... mostly (Score 1) 140

I made the transition to e-books in the late '90s, starting with a huge download from Project Gutenberg onto my Palm Pilot. These days I almost entirely read books on an electronic device; for the most part, I find it far more convenient than hard-copy. It's usually lighter, easier to carry around (just slip it in the pocket!), the book stays open to the page you want whenever you put it down, and I can carry an entire library with me. The latter is extremely useful since I can finish a good book in just a few hours. I used to carry three books in my bag just to make sure I had enough reading material; now it's just the phone, which I have to carry around anyway.

Having said that, electronic books are best enjoyed if you are going to access the material linearly; that is, you start at page one and progress page by page to the end, as with most novels. I've yet to find any device or software that makes reading an eBook where you are going to bounce back and forth between pages or chapters - which is pretty much any reference book - anything but a grueling chore. Anything with multiple columns also requires a larger screen (phablet minimum, tablet preferred), whereas novels can be read on smaller devices. Regardless of the type of book, I've never found the addition of multimedia or hyperlinked information particularly welcome either.

When it comes to eBooks, I consider myself an outlier; nonetheless, I've converted a number of friends to eBooks, including an elderly literature professor who once swore vehemently against the new format but now reluctantly agrees there are some advantages and regularly reads on his android phone. Almost all of them still read hard-copy, but increasingly they look for the digital version first. Surprisingly, I've found more success converting older people than young, possibly because the lighter weight - and the ability to increase the font-size - are welcome additions for their age bracket.

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