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Comment Re:Questionable (Score 5, Insightful) 108

Public support for nationalizing airport security in 2001 was based on the claim that private airport 'rent-a-cops' were inherently underpaid, under-trained, and effectively responsible to no one. Nationalizing airport security was based on the notion that making those people Federal Officers at higher salaries would attract higher quality workers, subject them to rigorous and closely supervised training programs, and make their leadership directly answerable to national security leadership.

Turns out that the government hasn't made them "officers," in the sense of secret service or FBI, doesn't actually pay them any better, and is really struggling to train them faster than they quit. They do seem to have better documentation of their failures, so I guess that's a win of sorts. The "small government" party, who controlled the presidency, senate, and house at the time, forgot that they don't believe in nationalizing private industries, and now they have a fine demonstration of why.

Comment Re:beware greeks bearing gifts (Score 1) 239

It's odd that the richest person in congress would put forth this proposal. It's true that he has a democrat joining in the bill, but what's in it for him? There must be something evil hidden in the text that we haven't discovered yet.

FWIW, Darrell Issa is a big advocate of Open Government as an analogy to Open Source and has partnered with Mark Shuttleworth to create the Open Government Foundation which makes Project Madison...

You can question his motives, and disagree with his politics, but unlike other legislative efforts, typically for the ones that Mr Issa generates, you can generally inspect the process and look for bugs...

Although Issa made his money long ago in the "please step away from the car" alarm business and nowadays makes most of his money from bond funds, I guess you never know what politicians have up their sleeves...

Comment Re:Simple Reforms Needed (Score 1) 239

Actually, the H1b program was *supposed* to work like this. Unfortunately, there are big fat exemptions to having the market wage determined on a case basis:

1. Just pay them over $60K/year
2. Have a masters degree or better
3. Don't hire more than 15% H1bs in your company
4. Hire a bunch of people under the same *nominal* title and share the wage certification determination between them.

You can easily use #1 in a high wage area like SF bay or NYC...
Diploma mills make #2 pretty easy
Big US based consulting companies like IBM and Accenture push #3 to the limit
Infosys/Tata/etc drive trucks through #4...

I think bill is made to address #1 by jumping the number to $100K and indexing it to inflation, and eliminating #2. It doesn't really address #3 or #4 at all.

Comment Re:Nothing from Hilary herself (Score 1) 440

I suppose Hilary's private email server has saved her from being published by Wikileaks.

A previous poster suggested something incriminating would catapult Sanders into the DNC nomination spot.

If nothing actually incriminating is found, but something unfavorable is revealed, that would then help The Donald.

FYI, as a public service, wikileaks maintains a searchable database of Hilary's private email server documents obtained from FOIA request.

Of course now wikileaks is also hosting these newly obtained DNC emails. These DNC leaks mainly serve to discredit the DNC as to being fair to the Sanders campaign and probably mostly serve to open up old wounds among Sanders supporters. I doubt that Sanders could get catapulted to the nomination, but perhaps embolden his supporters to attempt the same stunt that the #NeverTrump folks tried (and failed) to do in the Republican Convention (ie., unbind the delegates).

Comment /. should encourage sharing (Score 4, Insightful) 66

So why not encourage GPL violators ("pirates" too)? Instead we seem to cheer whenever we find a GPL violator.

First, we should understand what the propagandistic term "piracy" really means and understand that meaning as separate from sharing—a friendly, neighborly thing to do. As the GNU Project points out in it's list of terms to avoid on "theft": "In general, laws don't define right and wrong. Laws, at their best, attempt to implement justice. If the laws (the implementation) don't fit our ideas of right and wrong (the spec), the laws are what should change. A US judge, presiding over a trial for copyright infringement, recognized that "piracy" and "theft" are smear-words.". This difference gets to the heart of the problem in your point—you're conflating the legal with the ethical and then trying to get others to view all sharing as copyright infringement and all copyright infringement as equivalent because the law frames things in that way.

We should recognize that the terms of the licenses involved between, say, the GNU General Public License (GPL) and a typical Hollywood movie, are radically different when it comes to doing what friends do: share. One can and should share copies of GPL'd programs. It's easy to do, the GPL is easy to comply with simply by also sharing a copy of the complete corresponding source code of the program at the same time as one shares the binary. By contrast, other famously shared copyrighted items (such as most Hollywood movies) aren't legal to share even if done non-commercially and verbatim. So doing the thing that comes naturally with friends, non-commercial and verbatim sharing, is likely not allowed by that movie's license.

Since you mention the GPL, a free software license written by Richard Stallman, this is somewhat akin to what Stallman describes in his talks about the freedoms of free software specifically freedom #2: the freedom to help your neighbour. That's the freedom to make copies and distribute them to others, when you wish. This comes from a 2006-03-09 talk and you can see how the consideration here is akin to the dilemma one faces should a friend ask for a copy of a Hollywood movie:

Freedom two is essential on fundamental ethical grounds, so that you can live an upright, ethical life as a member of your community. If you use a program that does not give you freedom number two, you're in danger of falling at any moment into a moral dilemma. When your friend says "that's a nice program, could I have a copy?" At that moment, you will have to choose between two evils. One evil is: give your friend a copy and violate the licence of the program. The other evil is: deny your friend a copy and comply with the licence of the program.

Once you are in that situation, you should choose the lesser evil. The lesser evil is to give your friend a copy and violate the licence of the program.


Now, why is that the lesser evil? The reason is that we can assume that your friend has treated you well and has been a good person and deserves your cooperation. The reason we can assume this is that in the other case, if a nasty person you don't really like asked you for help, of course you can say "Why should I help you?" So that's an easy case. The hard case is the case where that person has been a good person to you and other people and you would want to help him normally.

Whereas, the developer of the program has deliberately attacked the social solidarity of your community. Deliberately tried to separate you from everyone else in the World. So if you can't help doing wrong in some direction or other, better to aim the wrong at somebody who deserves it, who has done something wrong, rather than at somebody who hasn't done anything wrong.

However, to be the lesser evil does not mean it is good. It's never good - not entirely - to make some kind of agreement and then break it. It may be the right thing to do, but it's not entirely good.

The only thing in the software field that is worse than an unauthorised copy of a proprietary program, is an authorised copy of the proprietary program because this does the same harm to its whole community of users, and in addition, usually the developer, the perpetrator of this evil, profits from it.

Comment Re: Bullshit (Score 1) 144

The downside of blackmail is that you may make a lot of money from one mug. But if word gets out your business is essentially destroyed instantly.

Strongly disagree. The whole premise of ransomware depends on the existence of a sustainable model of blackmail. Just like any business you can be too greedy or too reckless and fail, but once the word of the standard operating procedures are established a working arraignment can often be found.

On the other hand, if some third party causes a break of the unwritten rules (e.g, 9/11 or ashley madison), then all bets are off for that type of business...

Comment Re:Amazon is awesome for knockoffs! (Score 1) 336

I have always wondered why the so called brand means anything when it's made by someone else anyway...

The theory behind a brand is that you are buying something from someone who has something to lose and thus might be more motivated to not screw you over.

In a game theoretical sense, a brand is simply an identifier used to track interaction over multiple iterations. It affects the payoff matrix in a way that can promote cooperation between suppliers and customers.

As a very coarse example, think of how people might act when buying illicit drugs on the street. The dealer is the "brand", but you probably have no idea where it was sourced. Trudging over to your "dealer" across town kinda sucks, but opportunistically a middle man (let's call him "Jeff") decides to start up a delivery service to your local 7-11. "Jeff" gave you a choice of dealers for you drug of choice at different price points. You might imagine your "dealer" might get pissed off if "Jeff" allowed other dealers to advertise their product under your "dealer's" name or other dealers that claim that they got their stuff from the same source as your "dealer", but at a lower price. Your "dealer" might get so pissed off that she might cut off "Jeff" and force you to trudge your butt across down to buy directly from her if you want the good stuff.

Your multiple iterations with your identified "dealer" affect your view of the payout matrix with your interaction both directly with her and through the "Jeff" intermediary, even though you know it is sourced somewhere else. A single interaction with other dealers require some other perceived improvement in the payoff matrix (e.g., cheaper, potentially better, etc).

Comment Re:Impressive (Score 1) 106

What are the odds such different technologies would cost exactly the same to the consumer?

The price is not a function of costs, as you mistakenly believe, but of the balance between supply and demand.

Price is a function of supply and demand, so if you artificially restrict the supply, then you can raise price arbitrarily high without affecting the cost. This is how you profit. In an actual, free market, a large difference between market price and cost of service should attract new businesses until the market price is close to the cost of service. This is known as an efficient market. The US telecom market is horribly inefficient, as witnessed by cable providers gross profit margin of 97%.

Comment High-tech users have a lot to learn here (Score 1) 637

There's a lot programmers, sysadmins, and other high-tech people could learn from those who are used to organizing politically for shared ends. Political advocacy is not one of the poorer high-tech person's strengths. There's a streak of undeserved independence in high-tech that doesn't reflect how much people have to work together explicitly for political ends, not dismissing politics as undesirable, unnecessary, or unimportant as you commonly see the high-tech set train each other to espouse.

Comment Re:My tax dude is more efficient than my doctor (Score 1) 322

To be fair, the tax code is a complex document with some 4000 pages of specific and detailed rules. By comparison, the human body is a construction of some 40 trillion cells, the functions and rules for which science is still trying to work out.

Tax accountancy is not brain surgery.

Comment Re:My PCP has a "scribe!" (Score 1) 322

My doctor types in what I am there fore, print outs the prescriptions (so they are readable) and papers for the insurance. If he would have a scribe, I would ask that scribe to leave.

If you imagine that your records are only seen by people who are in the room at the time the diagnosis is presented to you, then either you have a very small, backwards and inefficient doctor, or you're very naive. The part of his office that collects payments from the insurance company and matches them with payments will see your name, diagnosis, and treatments. The part of the insurance company that receives your paperwork will see your name, diagnosis, and treatments. If you're happy to pay your doctor $150/hour to fill out insurance forms for you, good on you, I guess. I'd rather pay the $150/hr doc for medical care and let a $20/hr transcriptionist do the paperwork.

Comment Re:Most "automation" isn't, just like this. (Score 5, Insightful) 322

So, the US spends 18% of its GDP on healthcare, but that only covers part of the population. Meanwhile those countries who only spend 6-9% of GDP on healthcare manage to cover everyone. So, that 18-6 cost disparity is actually understated

This is your argument that quality of care in the US is actually the best in the world?

I'm not really sure I care that a US millionaire can get outstanding care, if he can only do so at the cost of forcing the rest of the country to get 3rd-world quality care. I'm sure appropriately rich people in those other countries also get better than local average care. It's ridiculous to compare the quality of care available to the few Americans who can afford it to the quality of care available to an average 'socialized' medicine citizen.

Comment Re:Bull Stuff (Score 2) 322

I didn't ask for it, I want the gov't the H out of the healthcare inner workings. I'm just fine with written paper records, and see no advantage to having them in a computer - just lots of disadvantages including malware such as ransomware as well as data entry errors, which had me supposedly taking a drug I've never heard the name of before, as well as the wrong dosage of a drug that I am taking.

Believe it or not, de facto standardization of medical records to meet government/medicare rules is a big benefit to healthcare providers. For a while, every insurance company had different forms that had to be filled out, often by the patient, in order to get reimbursed. Better doctors/hospitals employed people whose only job was to learn the differences between Blue Cross and Cigna forms and language and to either fill out or help their patients fill out those forms. Spend your 15 minutes in the exam room, then go spend 30 minutes with the billing specialist.

You might think there would be some natural pressure to open standards in diagnostic descriptions. You would be forgetting that insurance companies have a vested interest in not paying claims. If they can get you to fill out the form wrong, or to claim treatment for a diagnosis that isn't covered, then they're perfectly justified in denying. If you don't like it, you can go somewhere else - that's also in the company interest, as only ~5% of their customers actually file claims. Fewer claims, more profit.

Comment Re:Bull Stuff (Score 1) 322

This 1 minute talk, it takes that long to login..if the system is polite, then to open the chart, then to find the actual note, then to load the CT scan... There are multiple hard studies that show 33% reduction in efficiency that cannot be recouped.

The software is not written for the docs. The software is written for the administrators. It makes sure all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed so that insurance and medicare make timely payments (or at least lack valid excuses for delaying payment).

Docs used to 1) make hand-written notes during an exam 2) quickly dictate a more elaborate summary of the exam/consult by phone or tape 3) let a transcriptionist convert those notes to a permanent record. (maybe 0: have patient history handed to them by PA) Nobody trusted a doc to know how to type or to waste his time figuring out how to fill in some insurance company form. Put those forms in a web-interface, though, and all of a sudden it's something the doc can do. Fire the transcriptionist: doc is making his own records now. Even better, if the doc himself checks a box, the hospital can use it as certification that specific observation was made and that specific treatment or care was delivered. Legal proof that either the individual doc committed fraud or that the insurance company owes them $X.

You'd think that there would be a market for software written to make the docs' jobs easier - to automate the back-end of the old process, leaving the responsibility for converting doctors' verbal notes into insurance company codes to back-office transcriptionists - but the big purchasing decisions are made by administrators is organizations that are too big for the admins to actively practice medicine. So, you end up with healthcare software written for accountants.

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