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Comment Re:How many times... (Score 3, Funny) 52

Don't you worry. After this election we'll eliminate oversized regulatory agencies like the FCC that are full of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats who make it harder for small businesses like AT&T to come up with new business models (such as throttling websites that don't pay extortion fees).

Comment Re:Wait... Who got that other half of the $$$ rais (Score 5, Informative) 33

I spent about fifteen years of my career in the non-profit sector, so I have some perspective on this.

Raising money in a non-profit is just like selling stuff is for a for-profit. Generating gross revenue is relatively easy -- if you spend a lot of money you can rake in a lot of dough. What's a bitch to generate is net profit. In the non-profit sector we don't use the term "profitability" very much, so the metric that's often used to describe financial is "cost to raise a dollar." For typical fundraising activities cost-to-raise-a-dollar runs from 0.25 to 1.5 dollars/dollar.

Take junk mail. The cost to raise a dollar for a well-run direct mail campaign is in the range of $1.25 to $1.50, so if I want to raise $115,000 to spend on other things I have to scale my direct mail campaign to bring inover $258,000 gross. As you can see I chose a net target that was exactly 1/1000 the size of the ALS bucket challenge net, so you can compare the efficiency of the processes readily. The cost to raise a dollar for the ALS bucket challenge is actually better than a well-run direct mail campaign -- $0.91.

And it should be more efficient than direct mail, because direct mail is about the least efficient method there is. The marginal costs are huge because you pay for the names and addresses as well as printing and mailing of each piece, and most of those pieces will end up in the landfill unopened. So if direct mail is so inefficient, why use it? Because the financial inefficiency doesn't matter to the organization doing the fundraising. The end result of my hypothetical direct mail campaign is that my organization has $115,000 it didn't have before. That probably pays for one and half full time staff positions (at the low do-gooder wages we pay) for a year.

So the ALS challenge was in the financial efficiency range of methods normally used by non-profits, albeit a little towards the inefficient end. That doesn't really tell us if the campaign was responsibly run or not; to know that you'd have to look at all the expenses and compare those to costs in other viral Internet fundraising campaigns. But the bottom line is that the ALS association ended up with $115 million it didn't have before.

Can you think of a way of raising $115 million in a few months? I thought not. So presuming the guys who ran the campaign didn't spend the money on hookers and blow, I wouldn't be unduly concerned by a cost-to-raise-a-dollar of $0.91 if I was on the board.

Should donors care that the ALS challenge was a little high on the cost-to-raise-a-dollar metric? Well, I look at it this way. People did it because it was fun and for a good cause, and two years later we can point to concrete and significant scientific results from the money raised. That's not only pretty good, it's pretty damned awesome.

Comment Re:Joke ? (Score 1) 996

She's gleefully in favor of infringing on constitutionally protected rights,

Taking your guns away once again, I assume?

supports nationally self-destructive immigration policies,

Are you referring to the couple thousand Syrian women and children fleeing the aftermath of your stupid war? Or the 12 million Mexicans he wants to load onto rail cars and dump into the desert, south of the 2000 mile wall you think he's actually going to build?

and wants to see the government involved in wildly more private sector activities, at both the business and personal level.

Does she want to dictate where iPhones can be manufactured? Or does she have a history of abusing eminent domain to seize people's property?

Comment The two-party system (Score 1) 996

WE HAVE MORE THAN TWO POLITICAL PARTIES IN THIS COUNTRY.

That's only technically true. The U.S. Constitution doesn't actually specify that there can only be two parties, but it arranges a winner-take-all system that organically results in the emergence of a two-party system. For a third party to gain a foothold, one of the two major parties has to fission roughly in half. (The last time this happened was before the Civil War, when the Whigs split up.) The U.S. has always had third parties, but each one is a satellite of one of the two major parties. (The Libertarian Party is a splinter off the Republican Party, and the Green Party is a splinter off the Democratic Party.) The reason that these parties stay small is obvious- if a Democrat votes Green, he knows it will help the Republicans, and if a Republican votes Libertarian, he knows it will help the Democrats. So the third parties only get a small number of protest votes (and only if these people don't stay home and watch Netflix).

This clearly has an effect on Senate elections. Also on the Electoral College during presidential elections, but states are reluctant to apportion electoral votes by the proportion of voters- since it means voters in that state exert less of an effect on the outcome of a presidential election than voters in winner-take-all states nearby.

Meanwhile the House of Representatives is controlled not by a majority of voters, not even by a majority of seats, but by a majority of a majority of seats. And that majority-of-a-majority isn't even answerable to the majority of voters in their districts, but to the (generally nutcase) minority that votes in primaries. Even if you disregard the ridiculous gerrymandering of districts, this isn't government by the people; it's government by a minority of a majority of a minority of the people. It's an absurd perversion of democracy and one of the biggest bugs in the Constitution.

Comment Re:Absurd Pile (Score 1) 996

The vast majority of which owe their national security to the US. Security which we are not properly compensated for. Trump will force our lazier "allies" to get their houses in order and shoulder more of the burden for protecting themselves.

The United States pays only 22.1% of the direct costs of NATO- about $500 million annually. (Germany pays 14.6%, France pays 10.6%, the UK pays 9.8%, Italy pays 8.4%, Canada pays 6.6%, Spain pays 5.8%, Turkey pays 4.3%, and the remaining 20 NATO allies- the Netherlands, Luxembourg, etc.- pay about 1% each on average.) On a per capita basis, the U.S. spends considerably less on NATO than either Germany or France.

The indirect costs of NATO, of course, are somewhat higher, as you'd naturally expect when a country voluntarily spends 54% of its discretionary budget on defense. That's totally nuts, and the way to address it would be to simply reduce military spending. But that's obviously not what he's proposing, since he knows it would get him booed off the stage. He's talking about keeping the military budget at present levels, and instituting a shakedown of NATO allies with an explicit threat to disregard our treaty obligations if countries don't pay up and are subsequently attacked. (The NATO treaty has been ratified by a Congressional supermajority, so this would be unconstitutional, but Trump insists that he can "negotiate" his way out of it and get a "better deal"- albeit one that could not possibly net us any more than $1 billion.)

Regardless of whether he intends to follow through on these statements or not, the mere fact that he's describing NATO in public as a protection racket instead of a treaty has already undermined national security. It's not as if both our NATO allies and Putin can't hear these rants (via "our Internet"), and the leaders of several of these countries have already expressed their suspicions that the United States might be willing to abrogate its treaty obligations if this fool gets elected. In fact Trump is making it clear that there could be no point in signing a treaty with the United States at all. It's now obvious to the rest of the world that the American political system has reached an ominous level of instability which is possibly sufficient to elevate a cretin like this to the presidency.

Comment Re:The basest, vilest (Score 1) 996

I don't recall any of those attacks being blamed on a youtube video by a Secretary of State and a President, let alone going after and investigating someone who made said video and using them as a scapegoat. Nor do I recall a Secretary of State lying to the families of those victims while telling people in private emails that it had nothing to do with a video.

Perhaps you could enlighten me?

Perhaps bold text can penetrate your thick skull. Once again, from the same 2014 article:

On the day of the attack, Islamists in Cairo had staged a demonstration outside the United States Embassy there to protest an American-made online video mocking Islam, and the protest culminated in a breach of the embassy's walls- images that flashed through news coverage around the Arab world. As the attack in Benghazi was unfolding a few hours later, Mr. Abu Khattala told fellow Islamist fighters and others that the assault was retaliation for the same insulting video, according to people who heard him.

Comment Re:And you shouldn't be.... (Score 1) 251

The "bad guys" will still find that classic abandoned warehouse across the train tracks and plot their evil in the veil of darkness. Perhaps we should require spotlights and mandatory cameras over every square inch of the planet too?

The problem has never been all that hard for the authorities: They have always known that to snag all the bad guys, they only have to monitor the small subset of warehouses that are built on a slanted "Dutch angle".

Comment Re:The basest, vilest (Score 4, Interesting) 996

Yes, the 87 does include some attackers (duh), but if you actually read what I wrote, you would "fucking realize" that many more Americans died during those attacks than in Benghazi.

Were there nine investigations into them? No, zero. How many front page stories even mentioned them? Zero. Generally Americans don't give a shit about human life unless the victims are American citizens, so there's no point even mentioning total casualties. But aside from 9/11 (a day when GWB was "keeping us safe") it seems that even American lives are only valued when the GOP is not in power.

Comment Re:anti-science environmentalists (Score 1) 181

Actually, it's thoroughly impossible to tell how the new standards work based upon by the linked articles, but it sounds like in plain language that Florida is using a computer model that could allow more flexibility in discharge permitting. This can lead to better results, whether your definition of better is "more rationally defensible" or "more in line with what my donors want." Determining which way it is better requires review by a competent expert. It might be both.

The real issue here is this phrase from TFA: "one of a kind." That's not so good.

It's important in managing environmental data to do things in the usual way. This is contrary to the way public thinks about new technologies. If there's a new iPhone, you expect it to be better in every way or at least as good. It's not like that with scientific methods; new techniques are proposed because they have certain advantages, obviously. But they always have one big disadvantage: their results are hard to compare with what you already know. You need to do a lot of work to justify doing things a new way, otherwise you can find yourself unable to compare what is happening now to what was happening before.

Fortunately Florida can't do this on its own; it has to get EPA approval. Since this is an administration that is generally favorable to environmental regulation, if they can get this past Obama's EPA that will help give these new methods more credibility.

Comment Re:The basest, vilest (Score 5, Informative) 996

The blaming a Youtube video part happened pretty fucking definitely.

This is from a New York Times article in 2014:

On the day of the attack, Islamists in Cairo had staged a demonstration outside the United States Embassy there to protest an American-made online video mocking Islam, and the protest culminated in a breach of the embassy's walls- images that flashed through news coverage around the Arab world.

As the attack in Benghazi was unfolding a few hours later, Mr. Abu Khattala told fellow Islamist fighters and others that the assault was retaliation for the same insulting video, according to people who heard him.

In an interview a few days later, he pointedly declined to say whether an offensive online video might indeed warrant the destruction of the diplomatic mission or the killing of the ambassador. "From a religious point of view, it is hard to say whether it is good or bad," he said.

No one who obsesses about Benghazi seems aware that during the George W Bush administration, there were 39 attempted attacks on U.S. embassies, 20 of which resulted in fatalities. The total death toll in those attacks was 87, including three confirmed to be U.S. civilians, and another 21 who worked at U.S. embassies or consulates and were either of American or foreign nationality.

The reason you might not have heard of those tragedies is that unlike Benghazi, no one exploited them for politics.

Comment Concrete evil (Score 1) 996

Trump, despite all the mud being thrown this way, has done very little concrete evil in comparison.

A $7.8 million contract for Trump Plaza was awarded to S&A Concrete, owned by Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno. Trump World Tower was built with concrete from Quadrozzi Concrete Company, associated with the Lucchese crime family.

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