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Comment disappointing, but not surprising (Score 1) 203

I have had three Google reference phones, and all have performed pretty well. I like having bone-stock vanilla Android A LOT, and it eventually let me to adopting Project Fi (which has been pretty good, altogether!). So, naturally, I'm a bit bummed that the days of reference Andriod phones are coming to an end. I hope that there's still some kind of Google-preferred offering to upgrade to when my Nexus 6 gets tired, with a reasonably stock flavor of ANdriod. Since Google is my cell provider, I'll just go to whatever they are pointing to. All the same, I can see how having to keep competitive in the handset space was probably not something they were prepared to do, so I understand it.

Comment Re:Meh (Score 1) 413

Well, the VP role has evolved along with modern politics and foreign policy, too. The VP stands in for the president in ceremonial and diplomatic functions at home and abroad, and is usually the bridge to advice and consent in the senate. The VP frequently gets to say things that the president wants to say, but cannot. The VP is frequently the closest executive sounding-board for decision making that the president has. GWB relied very strongly on Cheney, in the first term for guidance, for example. The VP can (and has been, from time to time) be used as the more direct supervisor of the agencies (the bureaucracy) under the executive branch. Al Gore played that kind of role for Clinton, for example, and was able to make a lot of cost-cutting measures that helped create the projected surplus that we enjoyed when Clinton left the WH. What I'm getting at is the role can be fairly wide open to interpretation and has fewer constraints than that of the chief executive.

Comment Re:The DNC overlords always get their way (Score 1) 644

Funny, that "ramming" took 18 months, and I recall the GOP whinging about fictitious "death panels", "job-killing (didn't happen), "deficit exploding" (actually reduced the deficit) all along the way and for dozens of months afterwards... no constructive GOP contributions, no new or different ideas to add except "no change, not now, not ever" from the GOP. The PPACA was a total concession from the start to the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Inst, as an alternative to universal gov't health care. Obama stood back and let it happen and constantly invited GOP voices to the conversation. It's still a private health care system, but with some guard rails, some negotiated rules of cost and fair play and some requirements for infrastructure improvements. To this very day, the only GOP proposal has been to repeal the whole thing and no proposals have been made to address the problems the PPACA was passed to address. It's not perfect, by any means. My state has some real problems with making it work, but it can be improved, and it probably will be.

Pedantically, you cite Pelosi who said that "we have to pass the [health care bill] so that you can find out what's in it", and it's a great quote. Pelosi was trying to say that people needed to see it in action and how it worked in order to understand what it does in a practical sense. The neat thing about what people say and write is that we can each interpret the remarks from our own point of view. You certainly took what best fit your worldview, but Pelosi did a good job of clarifying her remark, so I'll take her words for what it meant, thanks.

Comment Re:Seems reasonable. Coming soon to USPS I hope? (Score 1) 183

I usually don't reply to AC posts, but something here needs to be cleared up. Bulk-rate "junk mail" is exactly what is keeping the postal service in the black, given that the number of letters has fallen off dramatically with the advent of electronic communications. Incidentally, bills go via bulk rate postage, too.

If you don't want junk mail in your box, you can contact the people that send it and get taken off their mailing lists. I do this every five years or so. It's a bit time consuming, but it does work.

Comment Re:USPS had its tyres slashed (Score 3, Informative) 183

I'm a little confused by your response. The postal service is written into the constitution, but the laws for funding of the pension obligations was written by Fedex and UPS and passed by the congress after a little campaign cash got passed around. I'm struggling to remember a law that the postal service got written on their behalf. Can you furnish an example?

The security and dependability of the mail was a big deal to the founding fathers, because it ensured privacy, facilitated commerce and provided the handling for unfettered communications between the people and the government. The logistical conditions are different, today, but those same elements still apply. It's the infrastructure of a free society, in gross terms. Voter information, tax forms, subpoenas, government invoices, correspondence with government agencies and branches of government, benefit payouts all need a dependable and timely way to get to people that is not influenced by or unduly affected by private industry. Everyone needs that stuff, so a basic foundation of affordable service for all citizens is necessary.

Postage actually used to be a tax when I was a kid, but they changed it to a service back in the eighties, if I remember correctly, and this opened up the private letter delivery market for UPS and Fedex and the rest. It's really the exact opposite of your contention that the USPS took over a commercial niche. The postal service can still be sued for liability, so I don't know what kind of immunity you're talking about. What offenses are you thinking about?

Comment ... the problem was solved with cockpit doors ... (Score 1) 266

The TSA isn't needed anymore because the procedures around admittance to the cockpit, and reinforcement of the cockpit door, have been adopted. Nobody is walking onto planes with bombs. They're stashing them onboard when they're being serviced, and that points to focusing on the security of the airport and monitoring of personnel. When I was flying out of the Dominican Republic, there was a cop body-searching everybody that approached and walked away from every plane. That's all he did was scan IDs and do pat-downs. It's all taken care of. We can go back to treating passengers as we did before 2001.

Comment Re:Citizen activism (Score 2) 81

As someone who has handled hundreds and hundreds of photographs used as exhibits for trial, I can tell you that the polaroid is pretty much the gold standard for evidence photography precisely because it cannot be messed with. (It can, technically, but tampering is an incredibly delicate job and extremely hard to conceal in practice.) The "negative" for polaroids is also the print, and their origin (and the image) can be tied directly to a specific point in time. Film is a little more consistent because there's way less variability in the development chemistry as a result of temperature (one of the problems with a lot of polaroid chemical formulations), and the negative is the more compact source of truth about the image, but film still has a two-step process from capture-to-printed-image. Both analog methods beat digital. They deteriorate on known timescales, with known effects from humidity and temperature, too, so it's easier to assess provenance and chain of custody. Further, any modification of the image, for film, almost always needs to be done at printmaking time. Usually this means lightening or darkening or color correcting, but you have to be an exacting master of the darkroom and enlarger to perform the time-consuming kind of editing tricks with printmaking that someone can knock off in 10 minutes with photoshop. Those skills (and the time involved) applied to negatives are far more challenging because you have to work with the chemistry of the post-exposure emulsion and the physical surface of thesubstrate itself. It still leaves evidence behind, too, no matter how hard one might try. Watch the X-wing and TIE fighter scenes in the original analog film version of StarWars, and you'll see ghosty-framed tracking boxes around those models as they fly through space. Those were done with frame-by-frame cutouts of images, with emulsions hand-painted over the cuts after gluing, but the optical properties of the film substrate itself gave the trick away, and that was at the very peak of negative image manipulation technique at the time, and you'll get loads of analog camera people who will argue forever about the question of whether it's still the peak, never since surpassed.

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