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Comment That's not a work ethic. (Score 1) 605

That's desperation and a horror right up there with the "Saw" movies.

We, as a people, in MY country, forced a young woman to work right into the grave. We might as well be Pharoahs running the blocks right over anyone who weakens and falls.

Why is it we can give pharmaceutical giant Amgen 500 billion dollars for free in the cliff deal, but we can't find a way to let a helpless young woman die in peace?

Comment Bought at the Cost of my Family's Blood (Score 1) 454

no one says that you are entitled to any specific standard of living.

My family's sweat and blood, spilled in the defense of this great nation, says differently. My family has not held the funerals we have held to watch this nation's manufacturing base handed over to the very thugs our previous generation just got through fighting.

Not only is taking advantage of an exploited labor market immoral, since handing money to our sworn enemies is pretty much the definition of treason as well.


Comment Yes, that's certainly the Devil's Argument (Score 1) 80

What if the users explicitly agreed to this spying in their rental contracts?

Basic Contract Law would disallow this. Contracts are only valid when they are legal, mutual and entered into freely by people capable of a "meeting of minds." Contracts between two people of unequal understanding are void on their face. This is why you can't make contracts with children, the intoxicated or people of unsound mind. This is why the Courts generally protect "unsophisticated investors" from financial cardsharps, and why they take a very dim view of certain types of auto dealers who try to sell cars "as-is." It doesn't even have to be an "unconscionable contract," though I would argue that this case certainly would be. Any contract that obviously has one party taking advantage of the other is void on its face.

Think of it as the "Fair Fight" Principle. The Courts would generally allow Tyson and Ali in their prime to square off and call it "good." They wouldn't allow me to step in the ring with either, even if I agreed to it, because the Courts should not be in the business of providing legal cover to homicide.

Comment Re:Renting a Computer? (Score 1) 80

$320/month lease, $700/month mortgage. You'll lose money either to rental costs, or (mortgage interest + mortgage insurance + taxes - mortgage tax deductions). The deciding numbers would be at the end of 20 years, does the equity in the home exceed the value of the $380/month savings you've been banking and investing for 20 years? In some cities right now, the equity is more. In other cities, the investment account is more.

Comment Hubris (Score 1) 421

The concept you're looking for is "hubris." The guy's ego was writing checks his productivity couldn't cash. I worked with a really talented kid fresh out of school a while back. He'd been a big fish in a small pond his whole life, and couldn't fathom a world where some people might have more talent than he did, and worse yet, might be talented in different ways.

He kept insisting he was the only one competent to get this done, and that done, and the other thing until he finally met an old man who let him try.

The crackup was pretty spectacular.

Last I heard, the kid was doubling down on a bad strategy. Not sure what it's going to take to get the kid far enough past his own ego to work with other people.

But his time is running out.

Comment What Good? (Score 1) 265

What good is this SW if it only works under extremely specific circumstances?

Well, for one thing, you can bill the living daylights out of the government agency for providing it. And since each specific circumstance will likely require its own special patch, you have a guaranteed revenue stream for years to come...

Comment 2L soda = 800 calories (Score 2) 388

Two liters of soda carries in the neighborhood of 800 calories. The usual number quoted is that running burns about 100-120 calories per mile. Roughly speaking, you're gonna pay for that two-liter soda with a seven mile run.

Need to gain weight fast? One pound of fat = 3500 extra calories. Roughly, eight or nine liters or four six-packs (22 cans) of soda equal one pound. Drink a six-pack a day and you'll be a pound, pound and a half heavier by the end of the week. You'll be four or five pounds overweight by the end of the month. You can be grossly clinically obese by the end of the year, simply from drinking soda alone.

Now, yeah, I get personal freedom and, no, we shouldn't ban bacon and candy, but I have a lot of sympathy for the noise coming out of New York about banning soda. I was raised to think soda was basically "Water Plus," and the Coca Cola Company spent billions programming me to think "Coke Is It." I mean, good grief, we literally get our picture of Santa Claus from a Coca Cola ad, so deep is soda ingrained in American culture.

It took a ridiculous amount of effort as an adult to look at a can of soda and link that to feeling bad from poor health. It was ridiculous how hard it was to teach myself that I should look at a can of Coke and a cigarette the same way, since both would have roughly comparable deleterious effects on my health.

Some individuals would probably be just fine drinking 2L of sugar soda from plastic bottles if they're active enough to burn off the extra calories.

No one, nobody, is going to stay fine if they're drinking two liters of soda a day.

Comment Why? (Score 1) 544

Why should I have to pay for their lack of responsibility?

Because "Herd Immunity," that's why. As those "irresponsible schmucks" begin to die, they don't just switch off like a lightbulb. As their bodies' defenses begin to fail, various infectious diseases of one kind or another set up shop in their bodies and begin cranking out one communicable illness after another. Don't think of that guy with the failing liver as just some alkie getting what he deserves. Think of him instead as the walking tuberculosis distributor who breathes the same air you do. As much as you might want to think of yourself as some rugged individualist, the awful fact is that you are part of a big old herd of people, and the health of the herd eventually becomes your health. See "Masque of the Red Death" for an illustration or look up "Mary Mallon" for an example of what your the hotel maid or the fast food cook you never even meet can do to you.

Of course, that's the ROI, self-interested, purely selfish argument I'm frankly sick of making. Let's pretend your health really was firewalled from everyone else. Let's suppose we're talking about some old drunk dying of richly deserved delerium tremens. Why should we give him anything?

We treat him not because he deserves it. We treat him because we're human beings. We treat him because we are a civilized people who do not simply stand by and watch while our fellow human beings die screaming. We treat him because there's NO religious or philosophical school of thought apart from monsters like Rand and Nietzsche that condones not treating him. You can't refuse to treat him and continue to call yourself a Christian, a Muslim, a Mormon, a Buddhist, or a Jew.

Oh God, I can already hear you whine, "But that's the role of private charity..." Apart from Tesla Museums, private charity is not how we get things done in this country. This is why we don't close down the VA in favor of the Red Cross. This is why our mail doesn't get delivered by a coalition of marathon runners. When We the People choose to act, we do so under the organizing principles of government.

Why should we have to pay for this? Well, mainly because you have a choice between putting patients in hospitals or walking over the highly infectious dying in the street. Because we as a society pay less by writing a few scrips than we do by trying to employ enough cops, prisons and CDC resources to handle the chaos caused by the desperate and dying.

But mainly because if you've ever actually seen another human being suffer and die -- and I don't mean Grandma passing in her sleep -- then you'd never even ask the question.

Comment A Meteor Impact isn't a Problem? (Score 1) 170

A meteor impact wiping out 80% of all species on the planet you could deem damaging to the ecosystem, it's still a natural occurence, life still finds a way and the world still turns.

Sure, on geologic timescales. Interestingly enough, it's the larger, more dominant predators most at risk to such an event. Know anyone at the top of the food chain you'd like to keep around?

Seriously though, if you don't define a meteor strike like the one that killed the dinosaurs to be a disaster, then the simple fact is that the word "disaster" holds no meaning for you. There is literally nothing up to and including the aforementioned "red giant" phase of the sun that will one day engulf the Earth that you find to be a problem.

Meanwhile, my concerns are a bit more immediate.

Comment China doesn't have an independent press... (Score 5, Interesting) 481

China doesn't have an adversarial and independent press (though God knows it could be argued the US doesn't have one anymore either). When things like this happen, the best you're going to get are strangled, scattered reports in fitful sporadic bursts, as happened in our own (US) revolution.

Responsible journalism would involve a reporter going out to investigate the reports and interview the people on the scene. The government won't allow it. So now you're in a similar situation where the police get a call about a wife beater. They go to the accused man's house and find there's blood on his sleeveless t-shirt, they can hear sobbing inside, but he won't let them in the door. Suddenly you have to take those few scattered reports a lot more seriously.

Various students are reporting they've been pressed into service by a dictatorial government. The dictatorial government in question isn't allowing anyone to investigate their claims. The government's behavior in and of itself tends to corroborate the students' reports, especially given the previous history of the factory in question.

Comment Read the article... (Score 5, Interesting) 481

Students were pulled from their classes, forced to work 12-hour shifts, and punished if they protested or tried to leave. None of this was voluntary, and all of it highly illegal even by Chinese law. The students were paid a very nominal amount, but were billed for room and board which clawed that money right back to the factory, meaning this is a "Sixteen Tons" situation where the students didn't actually get paid.

As for the "work experience," it consisted of snapping parts together and filling boxes. The students were studying Law and English. The factory work had no educational value of any kind, not are any of the students getting the references or connections customarily associated with internships.

Are you getting this yet? The students were grabbed from school, shipped to the factory and made to work 12-hour shifts. No one had agreed to any of this. Anyone who talked back or tried to leave was punished.

The nicest label you can slap on this is "impressment," which is just a fancy way of saying slavery. So let me get this straight. A national healthcare plan is "enslaving doctors," but grabbing kids out of class and forcing them to work 12-hour shifts without pay is "valuable work experience?"

Comment Ah, another "John Wayne" conservative... (Score 1) 307

...and there are precious few of us old school conservatives left who remember "Rio Bravo." If you'd hold a rich man in jail despite deadly opposition because you believe in the Rule of Law, you're a John Wayne conservative.

If you oppose one man monopolizing the water and land rights in town, you're a John Wayne conservative.
If you believe that we all -- even the drunks and the handicapped -- should work together toward a common good, you're a John Wayne conservative.
If you believe even addicts and convicts deserve a second chance, you're a John Wayne conservative.
If you believe Jesus died for our sins and that we're all undeserving of His grace, and that how we treat "the least of these" is how we treat Him, then you're a John Wayne conservative.

The problem is Paul Ryan's GOP thinks you're a pinko socialist.

Go ahead. Walk into a gathering of your fellow faux conservatives and say the following: "I believe that people who commit a crime should go to jail. Lying on a sworn court document is perjury. Any banker who 'robo-signed' documents should be in prison." Let me know how that goes.

Walk into your nearest Assembly of God church and try the following line: "I believe Christians should go, sell all that they have, give to the poor, and follow Him." Follow that up with a suggestion that Christians should spend most of their time among brawlers, whores and thieves (Peter, Mary, Zacchaeus). If you really want to wind them up, try quoting Barbara Ehrenreich describing our Lord as "a wine-guzzling vagrant," which is pretty much a direct quote from how Christ described himself. It's amazing how many of my brethren balk at that blunt and clever turn of phrase, and totally miss the scathing indictment she makes about our lack of Faith.

I spent my little boys years in Huck Finn territory, and I grew up among men with rough hands and hard lives. I spent my Sundays in literal clapboard churches on wooden pews. When the men I grew up with had time for a movie, it was usually John Wayne.

And I cannot reconcile the classic American values found in those movies with the Ebenezer Scrooge beliefs of the modern Republican party.


Comment Re:kids with jobs! (Score 5, Insightful) 307

Hey Farm Boy,

You and I probably have similar blue-collar backgrounds and work histories, and I have the scars on my back and face to prove it. We're not talking about kids there feeding the goats and collecting eggs. We're not talking about the double-bit ax I was handed at eight years old. We're talking situations closer to ones we had in America, where we sent small children into coal mines because it was cheaper to dig exploratory tunnels that could only fit little kids instead of a full-grown man. A lot of those little boys didn't make it out when their makeshift tunnels collapsed on them. Underage labor in China doesn't mean we sent the kid out under the Texas sun to clear the field. Underage labor in China is a lot more "Oliver Twist" than "The Waltons."

But let's consider your experience. Just because you and I have had hardscrabble lives, does that mean it was right, or does that mean we think our kids should follow in our footsteps? My grandfather never finished grade school. My father had a tractor roll over on him and shatter his leg in several places. He walked with a noticable limp for the rest of his life because of a lack of proper medical care. I can tell you in exquisite detail what blood and bone tastes like and what a shot fired in anger at your head sounds like as it whizzes by.

Sure, we're all badasses here. But is this what we want for our kids? I got a handful of my own, and if my boys went their entire lives without making a fist and meaning it, that would suit me just fine.

Maybe it was the time I spent as a teacher, maybe it the result of being a father for so long, but I find my paternal insticts grow as I get older. Little kids, whether they're mine or not, are little kids. I don't wanna hear about kids in China being worked to death in God-forsaken pits any more than I'd like to hear about the same being done to mine.

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