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Comment Extrapolation (Score 4, Interesting) 586

So here are some data points we start with:

1. The ACA is a neoliberal kludge designed to give more people healthcare without getting rid of the for-profit insurance industry.
2. The federal government hired private companies to make the federal website (to the degree that Congress would fund it).
3. Oregon hired Oracle to make their state website.
4. The state and federal websites both suck.
5. Lots more people are signing up for Medicaid than for private insurance through the exchanges, because it's free and easier.

Now, as a liberal I look at these data points and extrapolate, "Hmm, sounds like private industry isn't automagically more efficient at everything. Heck, I bet if we just extended Medicare to everyone we wouldn't be in this mess to begin with! We could skip the whole part where we let private companies take 15% of our insurance dollars even though the federal programs manage with like 6% overhead! Seems like basically every other industrialized nation in the world has the right idea!" But I guess if you stick enough ellipses in those bullet points, you're left with "ACA... website... suck." Which proves that government is the problem and we should let the invisible hand rule, or something.

Comment Re:I'm more concerned about NJ cops shooting me (Score 0) 397

This is probably the most specious argument I've heard at least since last time I read Slashdot.

Why do police get guns even when civilians don't? Because they represent the government and therefore have a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force. ( That means that police and the military are the only people we allow to use physical force on others, because they represent our elected government and therefore (ideally) the common good. The only other real options are Blade Runner (corporations and other non-governmental groups also have "legitimate" use of force) or Mad Max (simple anarchy).

Does this mean that handguns should be illegal? Not at all. I'm moderately pro-gun myself. But pretending that the police have no more right to use force than anyone else ("at least as large a threat as civilians") is undercutting even the possibility of contemporary society.

(I agree with everyone else that this cell phone law is idiotic, unhelpful and unconstitutional, by the way.)

Comment I wouldn't have had that cheeseburger... (Score 1) 626

...if I knew it would cause this energy crisis!

So the point of the article is that it'd be very hard to scale up current renewable technologies (including nuclear) to cover all our energy needs, because of limited supplies of rare metals, etc. A fair enough point.

But then it dips into the more philosophical argument that if we keep expending 2.3% more energy every year we'll eventually run out of sunlight. But assuming a constant geometric increase in energy expenditures seems ridiculous. Especially when coupled with the concluding paragraph's assertion that the best solution is to eat less meat and drive less. Problem solved!

Here's the thing: human behavior is determined by economic realities. I live half an hour from work instead of within biking distance because houses are unaffordable in the downtown area - so I drive to work. I (probably) drink orange juice flown across the country from Florida instead of from here in California because global capitalism (and the incentives corporations have coerced from our government) make it "cheaper" to ship over some pre-pulped Florida's Best than to set up a factory here. If I can't afford to pay $80 for a shirt, I'll have to buy a new one in a few months because it's "cheaper" to have kids sew it together in Indonesia out of crappy materials and sell it at the Gap than it is for someone to make it here, out of quality materials by adult workers making at least minimum wage. So I get trapped in a cycle of wasting tons of crappy worn clothes and the fuel it takes to ship around the materials for NEW crappy clothes to replace them.

The "good" news: since we're at or near Peak Oil, the stuff's only going to get more expensive, so it'll gradually become less economically feasible to ship oranges across the country, or figs from Peru, or whatever. And at some point it'll be worth the cash for me to move closer to my work (or ride the smelly dangerous unreliable bus) rather than pay $20 a gallon to commute. And they won't save enough money underpaying Indonesian children to make it worth shipping fabric back and forth across the globe.

So overall, we're GOING to expend less non-renewable energy eventually, but we're all such short-sighted assholes it probably won't be until oil scarcity forces us to. So building renewables isn't just an eco-hippie priority; it's also about not screwing ourselves over in a decade or two when the Chinese are running on 50% solar (or whatever) and we're stuck paying through the nose to keep our gas cars and coal-burning power plants running.

If we want to help the environment in the meantime, why the heck wouldn't we invest in renewables AND in consumption-reducing infrastructure? Change around the Farm Bill and international trade agreements and all the other laws that corporations have paid for to make it easier for them to profit on the backs of poor people in other countries while making us fatter and more wasteful. (People eat more meat than they used to because it didn't USED to be cheaper to buy a double cheeseburger than fish or a head of lettuce.) Build some damn train tracks and buy some new buses so public transit is actually a viable option outside of Manhattan. And yes, stop building coal and oil power plants, if for no other reason than because they'll cost more than they're worth long before they're due to be retired. Give more tax credits for solar panels and insulation and double-pane windows. Tell people to properly inflate their tires.

But don't pretend that simply NOT building more power plants is a viable option. What does that do, exactly? Jacks up the price of electricity and gas, which the corporations and farms that use most of that electricity and gas will pay for with another tax writeoff, and which will further screw the growing lower class in the First World by making us pay an even higher portion of our income to keep our houses heated and our lights on.

Comment Re:If it wasn't 99% memorization no one would chea (Score 1) 484

>>If it wasn't 99% memorization no one would cheat

Actually, I think you may be completely factually wrong here.

Nobody "cybercheats" on rote memorization tests (listing the state capitals or whatever) because the only time those things are tested are in closely monitored classroom situations. No teacher is going to give out a closed-book take-home exam.

  The kinds of assignments that people actually use the internet to cheat on are *intended* to test the "application of information."

The problem here is that the internet is FULL of analysis and applied information on a huge variety of subjects, so it's easy for students to pawn off someone else's analysis as their own.

The further problem is that teachers are expected to have the ability to apply some kind of retarded Turing Test to determine whether the paper they're reading is the mediocre ramblings a freshman typed up at 2am before the assignment was due, or the mediocre ramblings said freshman copied from the internet. And if teachers fall short in that psychic capacity, it's taken by you as evidence that they're only teaching rote memorization.

Comment Re:Crack down on spam already. (Score 2) 143

It would not be as difficult as they claim. If someone gets found using Glide, delete their account, ban their credit card from subscribing, don't let them use that email address to register for a new account.

The problem is that a great deal of the people using Glide are gold farmers using stolen accounts and/or accounts opened with stolen credit card numbers. So while Blizzard can and does ban accounts caught botting, all that really does is provide farmers more incentive to come up with creative trojans and scams to hack people's accounts.

Not defending Blizzard's legal tactics here, but this is the issue they're dealing with.

Comment Is "Congress" on that list? (Score 1) 477

I get a little furious every time I hear from Michelle Obama about childhood obesity, given that her husband is in charge of a government that gives billions of dollars in subsidies to corn farmers so that they can produce more high-fructose corn syrup to ensure that Twinkies remain cheaper than carrots.

Want to end childhood obesity? Fix farm subsidies so that healthy foods like fruits and vegetables become more affordable. But I guess that's a political impossibility, like 95% of the other change our government desperately needs.


California Legislature Declares "Cuss-Free" Week 262

shewfig writes "The California legislature, which previously tried to ban incandescent light bulbs, just added to the list of banned things ... swear words! Fortunately, the measure only applies for the first week of March, and compliance is voluntary — although, apparently, there will be a 'swear jar' in the Assembly and the Governor's mansion. No word yet on whether the Governator intends to comply."

Comment Not so much a "loophole" (Score 3, Interesting) 303

I'm guessing this is less an unintentional "loophole" than a very intentional concession to the lobbyists who are writing this bill.

The only reason Congress cares about "Net Neutrality" is that some big tech companies like Google are lobbying hard for it, while big service providers like Comcast are lobbying against it. But since neither group actually cares about your right to use BitTorrent, the RIAA lobbyists are free to stick in some extra restrictions like this.

I'm ever so glad the Supreme Court thinks these corporate groups should have even MORE influence over our elections.

Comment Re:Lone Wolf (Score 1, Insightful) 346

>>Not knowing much about this history of web browsers, coupled with a near-religious fanaticism for Firefox, leads to absolutely fucking stupid comments like we see in the summary.

Well, maybe they know just enough history to remember back to 2005 when Opera was neither free-as-in-Braveheart nor free-as-in-beer, and Firefox was both.

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