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Comment if left alone (Score 1) 1049

Even if people made rational economic decisions, the market price of electricity doesn't reflect its cost to society. The difference between the social cost of consuming power and the price individuals pay for electricity is huge. Utilities are (for the most part) regulated monopolies. Governments can't raise electricity prices because such a move would be economically unpopular. Instead governments have to keep prices artificially low and then find different ways of reducing consumption. There's no real market for power. But people don't make rational economic decisions. They subordinate long-term rewards for short-term savings.

Comment Re:Unfortunately (Score 2, Interesting) 28

I hadn't heard about it until now, but I'm just one data point. Later in the post, Schneier writes that "there are other ways to look at user data," so it's not clear that his proposed taxonomy is the only way of classifying social networking data. What's weird about it is how it assumes and implies ownership. A user owns the page to which other users post, and as a result, the data posted by those other users is of a different type than the data posted by the page's 'owner'.
Empirically, these types don't exist. In this sense, it's more of a typology than a taxonomy (in the social sciences, conceptually-derived classification systems are called typologies and empirical classification systems are taxonomies). Control over data -- particularly social networking data -- is, to a much greater degree, a function of the underlying protocols, API's, and SLA's.
I get that the post is normative -- that Schneier is proposing a means of classifying data that will result in a social networking infrastructure that returns the control over data to its creators. But as you say, that change has to take place without the active participation of Facebook's 5 million indifferent users.

Comment Re:I do not think it means what you think it means (Score 4, Insightful) 333

Woosh? I understand the concepts - maybe I could have been a bit more verbose. The point I was trying to make is that there are differences between licenses to read digital books and physical copies of them. The 1984 example so pissed everyone off not because it was inconvenient but because it points to how governments and corporations might use DRM and digital media distribution to rewrite history and suppress potentially subversive literature. The irony is that 1984 addresses and cautions against concentrating and enabling the power to rewrite history. You might be ticked off if your copy of 1984 was involuntarily refunded -- the rest of us would be alarmed. It's not the loss of money -- it's the loss of control.

Comment sound and fury, anyone? (Score 1) 676

The US constitution does say something about slaves being 3/5 people (correct me if I'm wrong -- I'm not an American). Having said that, it looks like a boilerplate warning that that the publisher would attach to reprinted historical documents that some people might find offensive and that might require a bit of historical context to fully understand. And who's linking to Fox for this story? Is anyone other than Fox and Conservapedia upset?

Comment it's what it's always been (Score 1) 595

What makes the Internet so threatening to incumbent companies is the way in which it's layered and platform-independent. New protocols can be deployed on the existing network as long as they conform to its rules. Flash is different, in that it is not as open as the Internet's underlying layers, but the way in which it threatens Apple's vertically-integrated hold on everything from the user to the bandwidth provider operates in the same way. It's a mistake to focus on the killer app -- the real threat is a platform that enables the distribution of a range of applications, some of which have not yet been imagined.

Comment Re:Carbon taxes (Score 3, Informative) 466

You can relax. Nothing gives him the right to decide anything that affects you -- I think it's just an opinion. It's probably based on the knowledge that burning coal leads to smog and greenhouse gas emissions. If the economic cost of these pollutants aren't reflected in the cost of their consumption, then we're using too much of them. It's an externality. It's not based on the relative purity of one or another way of generating power. It's based on the absolute cost of an economic activity.
It's not immediately clear that nuclear power doesn't have its own externalities or that the externalities can be approximated for either alternative, but that doesn't really make what he's saying any more or less of an opinion.

Comment Re:A Little Off (Score 1) 313

But liberty requires the freedom to choose (among other things) your government. If the form of government is determined, there is no opportunity to exercise free will.
It's not a question of staying power -- it's a question of whether Iraq was liberated.

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Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this-- no dog exchanges bones with another. -- Adam Smith