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Comment Re:Read again - reality is fixed for transfer (Score 0) 181

If I make a widget, and I know I can get people to pay $400 for it, I don't go "Well, it costs me 100 to make, so 150+tax = 180 is what I'll charge". I say "It costs 100 to make, people will pay 400, so my profit is 400-(tax+100). That's how I make the most profit. If tax goes up, people will still only pay 400 for it, so my profits may go down. If they go up high enough, it may make sense for me to charge more and sell fewer widgets, but the base price is set by what I know I can sell the item for.

No no no no no no. If it costs you 100 to make a widget then, at most, it costs your competitor 150 to make. In modern hardware a 1.5x comparative cost advantage is absolutely enormous actually -- real advantages are a few percentage points here and there.

So we'll be generous and assume you've got a huge head start on tooling, process -- you've got the whole supply chain set up and the QA working and everything. That buys you maybe 6 months, maybe a year, in which you can charge $400 (or whatever the market will bear) before your competitor undercuts at $200. You enjoy the good times immensely, you're making 400% margin, everything is peachy. But eventually it ends and you have to match the competitor's pricing or move on to the next thing.

Comment Re:Nope. This involves active sharing and consent. (Score 1) 116

Not a bad example. And likewise, if I wanted to send someone to the bank to retrieve or add to the contents of the safety deposit box, that would be my prerogative.

I agree and I don't agree. You have the power delegate authority to add or remove items from the box. That is surely your prerogative. So if you fall ill or move to another country, surely you can delegate your rights over the box itself to Bob.

The part where I don't agree is the idea that your authorization to Bob in any way impacts whether he is allows to use the bank lobby to access the box. Under no feasible reading of the safe-deposit-box-owner-protocol did you ever possess any authority over the bank lobby. As a consequence of not possessing those rights, you cannot delegate them to anyone.

For instance, if Bob was previously a nuisance at the bank lobby (say, he leafleted customers with Hare Krishna materials) and they served him official trespass notice, then he cannot set foot in the bank again. You can delegate to him rights over the box all you want, he still can't use the lobby.

Where the law varies significantly from people's expectations is where conflict arises, and the law is usually wrong or ultimately unenforceable, because society en masse simply ignores the law.

Really? I'm wondering how this could be true. Most people expect cantilever bridges to be stronger than suspension bridges because they intuitively (and incorrectly) believe that materials are stronger under shear than under tension. But surely material science is not something that society has the right to "simply ignore" because it violates their expectations.

If we let social expectations dictate bridge design (or medical practice, or ....), people would die. Instead, we have democratically accountable leaders that delegate technical decision making to people with subject domain expertise.

Comment Re:Nope. This involves active sharing and consent. (Score 1) 116

But does that principle automatically apply here? Does a normal person *consider* their Twitter account their own property or the property of twiiter.

No one is talking about ownership of the account, if that's even a well-formed concept. It doesn't matter either way, because what we are talking about is Twitter's actual physical servers.

Twitter has authorized everyone to connect to their servers to do certain operations (like read all tweets)
Twitter has authorized person A to use their physical servers to do other operations (like write a tweet or a DM). To enforce this authorization, Twitter and A agree an authentication token (password, whatever).
Twitter has not authorized person A to authorize new users to those protected operations on those servers.

They'll say it's 'my account'; they'll complain 'my account was hacked'... everything surrounding it is framed in that sense of ownership.

Indeed. And perhaps we can say that you have some ownership interest in the data present in the account and it's social status. But that ownership interest obviously doesn't extend to any sort of ownership in the server that hosts it.

By comparison, I might own all the items in my safe deposit box at the bank. But clearly I don't own the bank, or even the bank lobby. And yet I cannot access my owned items except by using the bank's property.

The notion that I would be delegating access to twitter's server infrastructure in a way analogous to Bob letting Jill use your pool...? That would NOT be a consideration at all. No normal person thinks of their twitter account in that sense. (even if technically and legally that's what it is.)

Well, OK. Then legally a legal court of law will come to a different legal conclusion than a person with no technical or legal expertise might come to. Also, civil engineer might build a bridge differently than a normal person would. News at 11!

Comment Re:Nope. This involves active sharing and consent. (Score 1) 116

This is not stupid at all. It mirrors the obvious principle that everyone here knows, which is that authorization to use a system does not necessarily confer authorization to authorize additional users. This has been a principle in UNIX since before most of us were born, and it continues to be a principle of every multi-user operating system since. There are distinct privilege levels between user and some form of super-user that has the right to authorize additional users.

Moreover, it's a principle of our daily lives that's so obvious we don't even mention it. I let my neighbor Bob use my pool whenever he wants, but I would be shocked if Jill was using it and just said "Oh yeah, Bob said I could".

There is no reason that the principle of non-delegation (that is to say, without explicit authority granted to delegate) shouldn't apply to the virtual world just as much as it applies everywhere else.

Comment Re:Encryption (Score 1) 318

Routine searches of items as they travel across the international border into the US have never been basedon on reasonable suspicion. That was the custom at the time when the Fourth Amendment was ratified and continues in unbroken tradition today.

I specifically say 'routine' to mean things like xray of baggage or vehicles, inspection of cargo,
provision of payment for customs/tariffs, verification of visas/passports and the like. No one has ever suggested that a country should allow people and goods to enter without being checked for compliance. Nor would most of the useful parts of the regulatory state (e.g. the requirement for pharmaceuticals to be safe/pure) be possible if anyone could bring suitcases of the knockoff Chinese medicine through the airport without fear of a search.

Of course, neither extreme position ('the border police can do anything/nothing') is tenable. What I was trying to document is the limits on either end. So you have the sort of short interview on the one hand and the 48 hour hard limit that requires judicial authorization on the other.

Comment Re:Encryption (Score 2) 318

Josh Wolf served 226 days for failure to comply with a subpoena issued by a district court judge pursuant to a court ordered entered into during a grand jury investigation. His case in no way involved a border search. And right or wrong, it has no bearing on this topic.

What we were discussing here was border searches and what sort of searches and seizures agents can carry out without any judicial hearing. Like what sort of searches can be carried out and what sort of limits on the duration of said searches might be before the agent needs to go to a judge.

So either you don't know that the two have nothing at all to do with one another (except in the sense that 'both involves the US legal system', which also relates my speeding tickets to OJ's murder trial) or you did figure that out but are posting off topic nonsense anyway.

Comment Re:Encryption (Score 3, Informative) 318

Incorrect. Prolonged (non-routine) detentions must be based on reasonable suspicion. Even then, the duration of the detention must be limited to the time necessary to confirm or dispel that suspicion. And even if there is reasonable suspicion, under no circumstances can the duration exceed 48 hours without a judicial hearing.

See this handy guide [PDF] for more details and lots of citations. Or here's a quote for the lazy:

There appear to be no âoehard-and-fast time limitsâ that automatically transform what would otherwise be a routine search into a non-routine search, nor render a non-routine search conducted under the reasonable suspicion standard unconstitutional. Rather, courts consider âoewhether the detention of [the traveler] was reasonably related in scope to the circumstances which justified it initially.â In order to provide perspective, the 16-hour detention in Montoya de Hernandez was considered a non-routine search (justifiable by reasonable suspicions), while a one-hour vehicular search did not require reasonable suspicion. The Second Circuit has characterized four- to six-hour-long detentions of individuals suspected of having terrorist ties as routine.

However, the Fifth Circuit in United States v. Adekunle concluded that the government must, within a reasonable time (generally within 48 hours), seek a judicial determination that reasonable suspicion exists to detain a suspect for an extended period of time.

Comment Re:over-simplification of economy (Score 1) 507

The entire field of economics is predicated upon the idea of 'endless growth', the implementation of which is trashing the planet. It would be good if we could do something about that first.

Actually, growth leads to the sort of prosperity that is conducive to environmentalism. It is really only after people can afford food, shelter, power, heat and medicine that they chose to stop trashing the planet. Until that point, worrying about the planet is a luxury they cannot afford. If you want to save the planet, your strategic aim should be to ensure that your protections allow sufficient economic growth to make the third world comfortably middle class enough that they actually care about it and are willing to shoulder the additional expense and brake on growth inherent in the environmental tradeoff.

There's a reason India is building 100s of coal fired power plants and mocking the US and Europe when we tell them to switch to more expensive sources even when they already have 30% on hydro/solar.There are still 250 million Indians without power -- why would a democratically accountable government put more priority on reducing emissions than on providing a basic need to them? And given this is a basic need that westerners have for decades taken for granted, what right do we have to lecture them?

I don't mean to say that I don't believe in environmentalism. I do, even though I think it has significant tradeoffs (and is sometimes executed inefficiently, in the sense that I believe we could have more protection at less cost, making everyone happier all at once). But it does have to be placed in the right spot in the list of priorities.

Comment Re:Abuse? (Score 1) 212

Right. So if that coffee shop specifically advertizes "Free WiFi With Unlimited Bandwidth", and is not a coffee shop but a multibillion dollar IT company with a dedicated department of lawyers going over every detail of the deals they offer, what's the implied meaning of "Unlimited Bandwidth"?

I think in the Microsoft case, it's clear that unlimited storage on OneDrive is that it's unlimited storage for items relating to the imputed use as a collaborative tool. That would mean documents, photos, and the like. And, you know, be reasonable about it using your own internal ability to discern it.

[ Of course, now the rules lawyering begins. "Oh photos are allowed, I'm going to download every GIF on planet Earth and sync it because I'm on the spectrum and hence believe that technically-correct-is-the-best-kind-of-correct". And that might tempt me to say, "No, it's your own personal, non-commercial, photos, not the entire National Geographic archive since 1965". But I won't, because that just invites more rules-lawyering and concedes the idea that I'm supposed to enumerate every detail. ]

Oh, and for bandwidth, I would think "Unlimited Bandwidth" would imply something fuzzily-like "No numerical limit but users in the top 5% that are using more than 10-20x what the median user does should probably lay off a bit. We'll probably let them go at top speed unless the network is saturated, at which point we'll put them in the lowest priority QoS so that the other 95% of users don't experience degraded performance due to those hogs." But I'm not going to formulate that in a rules-lawyery way, because it's pretty obvious to the reasonable folks that when 5% of users are using 50% of the resource, they should a back a smidge.

Comment Re:economics (Score 1) 260

At least in SF, my impression is that new supply is expensive which drives up the average price but suppresses the increase in prices for other units by soaking up high-end demand that would otherwise chase other units.

And that's the rub -- it's better to have two $5K condos and 10 $3K flats than to just have the 10 flats. In that case, the would-be-condo owners will just bid up the flats, pushing out whoever was in that segment. And those folks will bid up the next tier and so forth.

Or do you think that rich people that want to live in SF will look at the unavailability of high-end real estate and think "Oh well, nothing but cheaper units here, I'll pass" or will they buy up those properties and renovate them up?

Comment Re:The old struggling to fight off the new (Score 1) 260

Yes, the same thing should happen with banks, insurance companies, childcare and hospitals. Let's get the government regulations out of the way and rely on Yelp reviews and Facebook likes. FREE MARKET!

Because clearly if person ever expresses the opinion that one particular regulation or set of regulations should be repealed, that person is forever committed to arguing that every single one should be repealed. And conversely, if one ever argues that a regulation has positive worth, they are permanently banned from arguing against any other. Analyzing each regulation independently and concluding that (like many other things) some are useful and some aren't (and a few really perverse ones are downright counterproductive) should definitely not be allowed.

Comment Re:Abuse? (Score 1) 212

Because we are humans and not machines and, as such, we are capable of understanding limiting principles that are fuzzy and imprecise. Moreover, in many cases we prefer such fuzzy limits because in most cases it's much less effort to rely on them than to expend the intellectual effort to precisely quantify the limits. Besides being a pain to draft, communicate and clarify, precise language creates two additional negative effects: first it displaces the existing fuzzy limits, which can actually lead to less heuristic control. Second, it encourages rules-lawyering that consumes more effort and bogs people down in nit-picking (except that pig likes wrestling in the mud).

To give a practical example, coffee shops are happy to offer "Free WiFi", often having a large sign to that effect. But if buy a small regular coffee and proceed to download/serve dozens of Linux ISOs at max bandwidth over Bittorrent (and degrade the service of everyone else in the shop), you will be asked to leave. It's implicit that "Free WiFi" here is understood in the context of things that normal people do in a coffee shop. It would be positively ridiculous for them to have to write the rules out instead of just assuming that people will be reasonable.

You can only use X MB per hour and $Z of baked goods minus A MB every time you harass the baristas. At no time can your peak bandwidth, as measured by the rolling average over the last 60 second period as computed every 10 seconds, exceed A/B Kbps download/upload. A first offense under this section shall be punishable by a discrete warning. A second offense under this section shall be punishable by a public shaming in front of the other patrons. Third and subsequent offenses shall be punished by having hot coffee poured on your laptop, phone or pants at the discretion of the barista. Offenses shall toll at the rate of 1 offense per calendar week, provided that you visit the coffee shop at least twice during said calendar week.

TLDR: Summarized succinctly in a single-pane webcomic.

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