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Comment Re:Why (Score 4, Informative) 128

Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc would get into the parallel networks, but it would be through the countries' gateways/filters. This implications of this are not good for the people in nations controlled by thugs.

China is the modern day case study for a for a parallel internetwork-domain system (via the great firewall).

The ".com" and other country specific versions of Google, Facebook and Twitter are all blocked by this firewall. There is self-censored and, but Twitter hasn't decided to get into the parallel network game yet (and get in bed with the censorship)...

The result is not really theoretical, you can look at the current situation and draw your own conclusions

Of course this is just a scaled up version of what is done in corporations already. If you are surfing the internet from work you likely are on a parallel internet that has domains censored today. The real issues are simply the scale of censoring and the laws and forum for arbitration of conflicting interests (e.g., is and a conflict? how about and

Comment Re:So what? (Score 1) 273

This is about decorum and not ideology.

Ahhh, "decorum", another "go-to" excuse for censoring things that might be controversial or make someone feel bad, ashamed, or uneasy.

There's a place for decorum and then there are times it must be ignored in favor of the truth.

Except when it has trigger words/images, violates my safe zone, or contributes to an atmosphere of microaggressions...

Oh wait, wrong thread... ;^)

Comment Re:So what? (Score 1) 273

Why would they? The US wasn't in that war after all, it was just a civil war in Vietnam... /s

I'm afraid the US actually admitted to being a party in the Vietnam war (which ended via the Paris Peace Accords in which the US basically admitted to it).

On the other hand, I was in a conversation with a group of people just the other day about the NK bomb issue and mentioned that unlike the Vietnam war, the Korean war hasn't technically ended in a peace treaty yet, only an armistice/truce, and a Millennial had to google that in disbelief.. Sadly his only defense of not knowing there was still a state of war between NK/SK was that he remembered hearing about people like Dennis Rodman who went there...

Comment Re: Before the reboot (Score 1) 204

People keep saying there was no money. Harry Mudd sold stuff for money all the time.

The point isn't that people couldn't/didn't use money. It was that the vast majority in the Federation didn't use money because it was a largely post-scarcity society. For things that were still scarce, meritocracy or a simple FIFO with level of rationing was included. In the end, though, there's always people with the means to buy and get ahead of the line.

Many episodes in TOS point to a currency based system...

"Mudd's Women", Mudd babbles about miner's being rich enough to buy a planet or a starship...
"The Devil in the Dark" they also talked about the horta making the operation a 1000 times more profitable and making they embarrassingly rich
"The Trouble with Tribbles" there were credits for tribbles and drinks...
"Requiem for Methuselah" asserted Holberg 917-G (the planet) was purchased only thirty years earlier by Brack, a private investor...

All of this suggests some sort of monetary system that goes along with a socialist system to take care of basic needs with a number of super wealthy private concerns that are mostly heredity. I see no evidence of a Meritocracy or FIFO behavior for scarce resources, but basically a barter economy or cash on the barrel head.

My theory is that all you see in star trek episodes is the "star-fleet" view of an economy and if you have ever been in the active military in the US, you won't be surprised how some quasi-military economy works. For basic things (food/shelter), the military kind of operates post-scarcity (even though there's lots of scarcity) with on-base housing and PX. There's still currency/money, however, there are many things that you might want and probably can't buy with money in the military and barter (goods and/or influence) is the way to obtain those things. As a result, if you are a lifer, there's less of a reason to accumulate too much money and you spend your time figuring out where you want to be stationed and what type of promotion you want to get before you retire. If you are not a lifer, you either get out quick, or perhaps, spend your time making your self a nice landing zone for when you resign and use (or abuse) your military-contacts as a private concern...

That being said, the way the economy works in a quasi-military organization (like star fleet) says nothing about how the economy as a whole (like the federation) works...

Comment Re:rotten at the top (Score 1) 341

You find me a bank that's not making money! They were making money. They just weren't making enough money for the executives' liking -- so they were pressured into increasing their profits 'or else'.

Executives and senior managers got their bonuses, and the line staff ultimately got the shaft.

That's an easy narrative. I'm not defending the bank or the profit level they make, but we can start to see the consequences of extended periods of low (or even negative) interest rates. Banks really can't make historical amounts of money on the interest rate spread anymore (e.g., they used to skim 0.5% out of 2% interest rate spread, and now the interest rate itself is 0.5%), so they try to make it up in fees or volume to fund their branch bank infrastructure (salaries, rent, fixtures/furniture, maintenance, etc) and pressure those assets to pull their own weight...

Not saying the banks aren't greedy, or they are somehow desperate for money, but stuff list this are the early signs that the retail banks can't really support the historical levels of branch banking infrastructure with the money they are making now and it portends/illustrates the main issue that retail banks face today: a massive shift away from branch banking.

The writing is on the wall for branch banking (and the strip-mall retail space and entry level bank teller jobs that go along with it). The FDIC data shows record levels of branch bank closures the last couple years and accelerating. Many industry watcher are predicted a sea-change in the next 5 years and your friendly neighborhood bank teller job going the way of the telegraph/telephone operator of ages past and even more retail vacancies. They are waiting for a "Amazon" of fin-tech to roll over the dead corpse of the current retail banking business model.

Welcome to your online bank future. Instead a human pressuring you to buy more crap banking products, you'll be pestered by personalized pop-up dialog boxes when doing your online banking on your phone...

Comment Re:Stop linking to CNNMoney. (Score 1) 341

Had it read along the lines of "Math and big data applied in a racist manner", it would have been much closer to the crux of the article. Many seem to confuse math and the application of math.

But this is politics...

Math isn't racist, people (using math) are racist...
Guns don't kill people, people (using guns) kill people...
Companies don't discriminate against people, people (in charge of companies) discriminate against people...

Don't foul up the narrative with explanations ;^)

Comment Re:gasoline == old fashioned?? (Score 1) 226

Your experience is atypical.

Consumer reports says the average annual cost of running a used car rises to over $4000 per year by year 12 in today's dollars.

I agree electric is more expensive when gasoline is below $2 per gallon. They made sense when gasoline was $4 per gallon and likely to head up.

Ironically, the higher the percentage of electric cars, the lower the cost of oil and gasoline until the gasoline network effect collapses which is at least a couple decades away. This is because they eliminate demand for the most expensive oil and most expensive gasoline which sets the price for all the rest of oil and gasoline.

FWIW, I didn't say I only have a few thousand in total maintenance over 20 years, only ICE specific maintenance. However, I find $4000/year a bit hard to believe, unless it includes *all* expenses and gas.

I suppose amortizing consumables like brakes, tires, adding insurance costs, and assuming general wear/tear like a broken tail light, a broken windshield, shocks, a bad AC unit etc, could easily add up to another $1000/year plus on an older car, but these would likely be the same for EV and ICE cars.

It probably also assumes you drive around 15K miles/year. I average about 7K miles/year which is a typical M-F EV commuter car amount. That extra gas could be responsible for 1/3 of that $4K. Also probably assumes folks change their oil every 3K miles (rather than 7.5K which is what is recommended for a car of my vintage).

The moral of the story, with today's cost structure, the less you drive, the less paying the EV premium makes sense, yet until they get the range up on the EV, you probably won't drive a typical EV *that* much meaning the range where it really is better is a somewhat narrow band of drivers. If you want to draw an analogy to lightbulbs, ICEs are like Incandecent, EVs are like CFLs. The LED equivalent car technology probably hasn't been invented yet, but will be the one that really works.

Comment Re:gasoline == old fashioned?? (Score 1) 226

An electric car is no more expensive than an ICE car in the long term - an ICE car's fuel and maintenance costs are vastly more expensive while an electric car is more expensive up front (and has the long-term occasional concentrated maintenance cost of a new battery pack). I know Gen. Y'ers who own Nissan Leafs and Kia Soul EVs.

I have a 20 year old acura integra with an old fashion ICE... Paid $16K in 1996 (perhaps $27K for something similar today). Only ICE related maintenance (other than changing oil about every 7500 miles and 3 air filter over those 20 years) was a battery and most recently spark plugs (when it diped down below 25mpg). At about 100K miles (mostly commute miles on par with a brave range-limited Leaf class EV), say about $12K in gas (@ $3/gallon) and about a $1000 in twenty oil changes (@ $50/each), and say $1000 in overhaul for sparkplugs, airfilter, battery etc. Given electric car batteries seem to last about 10 years and cost about $15K to replace (presumably 2 times in 20 years or basically the price of the car)...

I still think at least for my experience, an ICE is still more than a standard deviation cheaper than electric (given they are about 1sd more expensive up front).

Of course I've had other vehicle ownership costs (e.g, emissions tests that always pass), and of course tires need to be replaced (ev's tend to be harder on tires, but I drive pretty hard on my car tires), Also living in Cali, AC is a must and that thing sprung a leak once (I guess I would just need to roll down the windows on the EV for a long commute) One thing that might be important to some, I don't get to drive in the carpool lane (doesn't matter for my commute), but if everyone had an electric car, that fringe benefit would disappear. At least my old ICE car has an old fashion key and not one of those hackable wireless keyfobs...

Maybe I'll buy something like a Bolt if it is likely to be no more expensive than ICE over 20 years, but until then, I think I'll see if I can make it 30 years for my Integra (my mechanic thinks it definitely possible)...

Comment Re:Well Good. (Score 1) 420

To my understanding, one of the points of debate was that this was an administrative finance-tracking scandal, and at no point were any aspersions being placed on the teachers or quality of education coming out of CCSF. At least that's what I got from the local public protests over the threat of loss of accreditation; the local populace was very happy with CCSF and its effects as students.

“The actions of the ACCJC –- an organization accountable to no one — have unnecessarily put at risk the livelihoods of the nearly 2,500 hard-working men and women at the college,” Tim Paulson of the San Francisco Central Labor Council said in a statement. “What’s more, their move to deny CCSF accreditation has imperiled the future of San Francisco’s working people, who rely heavily on a CCSF education for workforce training, language learning, and a pathway to better futures for themselves and their communities.”

I have no doubt that teaching was probably fine at CCSF: they spent 92% of their budget on salaries and benefits (all staff, not just teachers).

The problems are simply not just finance-tracking, though, it's actually, that they didn't have any money left over at all (as I understand it, they 3-day operating reserve and intended to rely on bond money which presumably gets paid back by taxpayers, not tuition and fees, for contingencies).

Instead of addressing this issue, they actually increased salaries by 7% the next year after being warned about it. The risk of investing dollars from student (and federal student loan) into an institution that might implode financially (and cut a program leaving students out in the cold) at any time is an important aspect of any accreditation program. Sure, CCSF could be bailed out by SF (or the state as UC gets from time-to-time), but a perilous financial condition seems like something an accreditation program should warn prospective students about, no?

Apparently CCSF, ignored auditor warnings about continuing to offer many classes for free that staffed by CCSF employees (such as “Weaving and Tapestry,” “Arts and Crafts for Older Adults” and “Baking and Pastry”) which apparently cost 1/2 million a year in salaries not including that these non-revenue courses occupy time and space in expensive SF real estate. In comparison CCSF's technology investment rate was only $1.5M/year, and the reserve for unpaid tuition was $3M/year. This in the context of under-investment in student support services and Articulation courses that can transfer to CSU and other colleges contributed to their problems. Instead of using operating funds and grants for "free" classes, they should have perhaps have sought out volunteers and foundation funding sources for community outreach which didn't come from student dollars/loans? Just thinking out loud here...

Teaching, though, was likely not a problem at CCSF...

Comment summary (Score 3, Insightful) 265

blah-blah, white-man's burden, blah-blah...

Not saying the west should pull out or that we are in a post-violence world, but it might be a good idea to step back and see if the west is helping or hurting.
Too often we are jumping in to protect our "interests" instead of helping the "situation". It may be we are doing too much short term reacting...

FWIW, the US Civil War wasn't really much about instability as it was a conflict over the future of the recently annexed territory and the power of the central government. The small guy lost in the end (after lots of bloodshed) their right to secede from the union and were basically adopt the institutions of the union. Is that what you are saying what happens when an uneducated population, is forced to turn to a "Democratic Republic" (e.g., the USA's current form of govt)? ;^)

It's so much clearer now...

The so called "peace" we have today in the west is of course illusory (as seen by recent events like Crimea). The waves of immigrants to Europe fleeing the *real* instability in Syria and the economically challenged countries the middle east is showing the cracks in European stability.

Let's face the sad truth, stability that everyone desires seems to only draw on the wealth of a nation. Given the current assortment of "wealthy" nations historically used mercantilism to create much of their wealth from these in-stable countries, is it no wonder that we continue to attempt to project stability in a region to protect our interests. But what of *their* interests? Hence we return to the white man's burden argument... ;^)

I hate to use China as an example, but it used to be a dumping ground for European and Japanese influence peddling (e.g., opium war, concession ports, forced trade, occupation, etc), until they managed to get everyone to leave them alone for a few decades. Sure it was brutal (great-leap-forward, cultural revolution, etc), but they managed to dig themselves out of a hole into some reasonable form of stability mainly because they simply got wealthier without interference. Now they look like they might take over the world. Perhaps this is what people fear the most and keeps the west involved in other countries...

Comment Re:devry or university of phoenix ms hill? (Score 1) 420

I haven't heard anything about Devry in a long time but I had a friend that went there in the early 80s, he worked on the internals of teddy ruxpin while he was still in school.

Devry is also facing a lawsuit for deceptive advertising for saying they have an 90% placement rate. Also with declining enrollments (due to people being more skeptical about for-profit schools like Corinthian), last year DeVry closed 14 campuses and moved the students on-line. The writing is probably on the wall for them as well...

Comment Re:Well Good. (Score 2) 420

Hence - if the US government wants cost effective college teaching, fund the community colleges to do it. They have a track record and a customer base. The local colleges would not need to raise tuition at all. They are able to teach at a specific cost per student. There's no need for it to change because they take on a few more techy courses.

As a reminder that sometimes community colleges aren't necessarily the panacea you only need to look at City College of San Francisco...

Apparently the financial governance at CCSF is so bad, they have been threatened with losing their accreditation. They are currently now on probation. Elected officials (since it is a public community college, board members are elected by the citizens of SF) were convicted of diverting/laundering bond money to finance election campaigns, and accreditation audits showed 14 failures including maintaining minimum spending levels required for students, failure to track educational outcomes, allowing department heads control over the payroll system that allowed for systematic overpayment for travel expenses and recurring payment to contractors that no longer had assigned jobs, over-funding politically popular department, and short changing student access to courses that could transfer to the university system, etc. On top of this, the board approved a silly capital improvement bond and went on a silly construction binge (including a mostly vacant "chinatown" branch) which is thought to have been pushed by contractor donations to the bond campaign.

Over protests by student groups and faculty, the state finally decided to step in and strip the CCSF board of their oversight powers and appointed a special trustee to see if they can correct the situation before the probation period expires (in Jan 2017) and CCSF could end up closing their doors.

Of course there are many community colleges that do an excellent job, but like all red-blue generalizations, there is a lot of grey in the middle.

Comment Re: All student loans are sketchy (Score 4, Interesting) 81

Well, of course very school is different, but it has been my observation that the people working financial aid dept for colleges are more concentrating on getting people financed (either through grants/loans), than the actual terms of that financing.

I don't blame them, I know how hard they work, and the are overworked and underappreciated, but their goal is really to get everyone matriculated to be financed (because, generally, they won't be able to attend if they aren't financed). If you want to think about it, it's like Tetris, they have lots of weird blocks of funding (grants, loans, fellowships, etc) that become available at different time to fit to the students empty coffers which appear as they matriculate and sometimes they just need to fill up a row of students because time is of the essence and they generally don't look back to see if it was optimal or not once a row of students is retired and shifted away. When it is done and the whole class is financed, they declare success and move on to their next task (raising funding for next quarter), but unfortunately it is the students that experience the indigestion that can be the result of their efforts.

The sad part of this is that most students approach educational funding the same way. If they get financed, they win, and generally don't think about the terms. People may lament the apparent unfairness of this lottery based funding system for higher education, but it is the current reality. IMO, part the issue is the fact that students often will opt for a specific educational path regardless of the cost to them specifically blindly believing that a head-in-the-sand approach to educational financing will yield them their desired result. We have sex-ed in secondary school, why we don't have financial-ed is beyond me.

Your lament seems to be reminiscent to a group of friends sitting around with some beers some complaining how some people got to have unprotected sex in high school and it didn't result in a pregnancy or some dreaded STD, yet others experienced life changing results with their singular lapse in judgement. Perhaps those that dodged the bullet, just got incredibly lucky with their inordinate risk.

Quantum mechanics tells us that end results in the universe are often only statistical, not deterministic. Since we can't live in a basement, we often need to take risks which potentially have statistical results from time to time, but we know that statistically better (but not guaranteed) outcomes result from calculated risks, not hopeful risks. We can bemoan dependence on luck, but remember, funding for anything (including higher education) is a scare resource and sometime the fairest way to distribute such a resource is by drawing straws. Sometimes you have to ask yourself if a 1550 SAT really statistically better than 1600 based on 1 sampling point taken at one point in time and if it would actually be fair to distribute resources based on a potential statistical anomaly...

Comment Re:All student loans are sketchy (Score 4, Interesting) 81

Banks are incredibly greedy, no doubt. They're always looking for new fees and new ways to prey on consumers. I nearly took out a student loan with Wells Fargo a few years ago, and I'm really glad I didn't. Federal loans are pretty sketchy, too, though. It's not the government, necessarily, that's the problem. The issue is that you get assigned to a student loan servicer. Nelnet is mine, and they're a complete disaster. I've always made my payments on time, and pay a little extra along the way, but they've claimed I've missed a payment when I didn't. Then they tried to tell me I was wrong when I claimed I didn't miss a payment. Finally, I asked which payment was late and, not being able to tell me, they admitted they were wrong. The next month they again claimed I'd missed a payment and, upon me threatening to report them to the BBB and attorney general and threatening to sue them, the problem magically got fixed. I've concluded that ALL student loans are sketchy, and I can't wait to pay mine off and never look back.

I do not intend to be off-topic (and certainly hope I'm not), but I don't understand how the lucky (who have stories to tell about it) people that got BS/MS/PhD degrees managed to not pay a cent, or only a 1% fee on their loans. What did the loan "companies" have to gain from those individuals versus people with almost identical SAT/etc scores that got shafted with the generic bait and hidden-text switch regular student loan method? Is it like the way they target torrent downloaders/hosts - just do a random pick of a few in a state with hard laws and go with those?


Since you don't get pick which company gets to service your loan and since loans are batched up and transferred to serviced pretty much ad-hoc, it might as well be randomly assigned from the perspective of the borrower. Don't worry, it has nothing to do with your SAT score. Loan servicers bid for contracts to service loans (e.g., keep track of payments) on behalf of the holder of the loan. Like with many things, some servicers bid low and hope to make it up in fees, some might be more reputable but of course they make less money.

Not saying wells fargo (or other banks and loan originators), are without blame (no doubt they continue to do business with shady loan servicers as well), but it is also quite likely that the originator of the loan packaged your loan into a big pool and sold them to an investment company. That investment company is free to work with these shady loan servicers (and may even potentially be in cahoots with them) to squeeze out every penny from you to maximize the return on their investment. This happens with all types of loans (house, car, student, personal, etc) and is not restricted to student loans. In fact most originators sell your loan pretty much immediately to such investment companies, so they have more money to create new loans (that is how they make money).

Lest you think originators reselling loans in pools is something only underhanded companies do, two of the biggest USA government chartered companies FannieMae and FreddieMac were created for exactly this purpose: to buy loan pools from loan originators, package them up as bonds and sell them as investments. This was seen as an essential function to make sure that loan originators always had enough liquidity to finance non-FHA conforming loans (loan originators could buy GNMA insurance for FHA conforming loans and securitize them in to US treasury backed GinnieMae bonds, but not non-conforming loans).

Unfortunately, this whole idea of a secondary market for loan pools is what many believe contributed to the 2008 crash. Since investment companies were making so much money from these loan pools (buying them from originators and reselling them to investors), they wanted any loan pools they could get their hands on. Since AAA rated pools equivalent to FHA loans through FannieMae and FreddieMac were in short supply, investment companies bought lower rated non-conforming pools and "tranched" them to dressed up the repayment fractions and called the first-dollar repayment tranches as equivalent to AAA.

I suspect the same to be true with student loans. Maybe your SAT score matters for this tranch-ing, but probably not. Either way your loan gets put in a pool an sold to someone else. They always need to throw a few "good" loans in with the bad to make this work anyhow...

Comment Re:What Employee Works Without Pay? (Score 1) 120

The crazy thing was they leveraged themselves so much, they had no way to control their spending. Private jet service? Hiring dozens of employees when you are on the edge of the cliff? Just speaks volumes of their willingness to live reality vs. living the dream.

This is a good example of how the startup culture often manifests itself as a cargo cult...

Sadly in some startups, there is this continuous undertone that if they perform the various ritualistic acts they have observed in other startups, that will eventually manifest in the appearance of wealth. With some personalities (often spiritual leaders and prophets), failing to manifest such wealth, just causes them to double-down on their behavior on the belief that looking successful is a prerequisite to being successful (basically a dress-for-success mentality on steroids). Why would anyone invest in a company that is desperate for investors?

The laws of physics generally prevail in the end...

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