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Comment Re:well well well (Score 4, Insightful) 759

The US elections are ran and decided by the ultra-rich.

Sorry to sound confrontational, but that's bullshit. It just is. And ironically Donald Trump is the one that proves it.

Yes, his election to GOP nominee isn't an election for office, but he was detested and denigrated by pretty much every single Republican establishment "ultra rich" figure. He won because the Joe Sixpacks of the GOP - their wisdom in doing so is a separate discussion topic - actually voted for him more than anyone else. Despite all the best efforts of the "rich" and the "establishment" in the party, the demagogue with popular support ACTUALLY WON.

If the fact that the Republican Party - the REPUBLICAN FUCKING PARTY - can be taken over by popular votes against the fervent wishes of the Koch Brothers, the Bushes, the Cruz Evangelicals and everyone else who hated them, then nothing will. The rich did not get their way. And spare me any "false flag" bullshit. The Republican Powers That Be did not conspire to sink their own party. Joe and Jane Sixpack voted for somebody else, and they had to suck it up.

Saying that the rich own elections is a cop-out. Yes, the US is a democratic republic. Yes, the elections for the two highest offices in the land are mediated through an Electoral College. But by and large, the US is absolutely a functional democracy. It's easy to claim it's not because you don't like who got elected... but really you should think about the idea that the people in power are really there because 51% of the voting public wanted them there, even if they disagree with you. Not liking the results of democracy is its great hazard.

Comment Re:Question (Score 1) 504

This would be good for startup owners who no longer have to worry about where their next meal is coming from.

I understand your intent but that fundamentally misunderstands the nature of startups and funding. Nobody is going to be able to create a startup they otherwise wouldn't have because they are getting a $10K UBI instead of working at a job. Start-ups cost money - usually a lot of it - because they need resources and people who require actual money to get paid for. (If your startup employees were going to work for less than $10K/year or UBI income anyway, then they didn't need this incentive.) Most software startups generally require - depending on scope - anywhere from $100K to $250K just to get started in the first year, and that is far beyond what UBI can provide. If your startup is in hardware, expect your first year to require an order of magnitude more startup funding.

The point being that UBI does nothing to encourage new startups. Entrepreneurs need capital - which (at least for non-billionaires, who are only a tiny percentage of investors in startups) arguably might be lessened if potential investors were paying the increased taxes necessary for the government to dole out UBIs.

Comment Re:Question (Score 1) 504

There is no fundamental reason why people should have to work more than a few hours a week, as this is all that is really required to maintain society.

I do a job which requires me to work 50-60 hours a week because it requires a relatively (within my field) unique combination of skills and knowledge, plus there needs to be one person making a consistent set of decisions for the people underneath me in the organization structure. Much like getting nine women pregnant won't produce a child in a month, having more people do my job won't decrease the amount of work I have to do, and having multiple managers giving out potentially contradictory instructions would potentially make it far far worse.

The real/sad truth is that if your job is fungible - if literally almost anyone else could pick it up and do the same thing, like working on an assembly line - then yes there is no "need" for you to work much. That's because you can be replaced at whim with pretty much anyone, and there is a large supply of "pretty much anyone." And no offense, but in a capitalist economy, your job is going to be the first to go.

Communism - at least in theory - does a great job at protecting people who have few differentiated skills and fungible jobs. It does an absolutely fucking dreadful job at incentivizing those who have differentiated skills or ambitions. Which of these systems you prefer, as the old saying goes, follows the dictum that "where you stand depends on where you sit."

Comment Re:Anything incriminating? (Score 5, Insightful) 455

I was going to ask the same thing. To be a "whistleblower" organization (as described in the summary) is to call attention to illegal activities that have been suppressed. If there is no evidence of wrongdoing here, all Wikileaks is doing is violating people's privacy. While it might be interesting to read the internal e-mails of politicians, executives or celebrities, if there is nothing illegal going on then it's ultimately just voyeurism that doesn't justify distribution from a dodgily (probably illegally) obtained source.

Comment Re:Unlimited. You keep using that word. (Score 2) 412

What does unlimited mean? And why do you get penalized if you actually use it as such?

"Unlimited" means the exact same thing as "all you can eat." Which is to say that it is unlimited relative to a reasonably expected degree of consumption and within the bounds of what the provider considers to be the constraints of sharing a fixed amount of resources among multiple paying customers. If you go to the buffet and grab all the food before anyone else can eat it, and continue to do so until the restaurant's food is all gone, you can be pretty sure they are going to kick you out, regardless of how many times you protest that the language says "all you can eat."

Comment Re:I'm totally shocked... (Score 2, Informative) 607

The only social nets I can spot currently are keeping banks and other "important" entities propped up. Can't identify any normal people in there.

I'm pretty sure it's not the banks who are signed up for Obamacare. Or GW Bush's prescription drug benefit expansion. Companies pay into Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance, not receive money from them.

I know it's cool and hip to say that the US government helps nobody except banks or something - usually not a charge leveled at Democratic administrations, but whatever - but it's not true and contributes nothing positive to the discussion. In the 2015 US Federal budget including discretionary and nondiscretionary spending, 53% of all spending goes to Health and Human Services or Social Security. (Education accounts for 3% and veterans spending accounts for another 4% if you want to consider those as part of the social safety net, which would bring the total to 60%.) By contrast, the military and homeland security receive 16%. So, yes, the "social safety net" is alive and bigger by percentage of spending than before.

Comment Re:The vote is on November 8th (Score 2) 101

Now that that pesky democracy thing has been nipped in the bud

People keep saying this and I really, really don't understand it. Donald Trump's nomination - in the face of implacable opposition from nearly every major Republican officeholder, megabucks donor and deep pocketed SuperPAC - is proof that democracy is alive and well, in the sense that the guy who got the most votes won. Against all the entrenched elites and gigabucks influencers, the guy who got the majority of votes from our assembled Joe Sixpacks actually got the nomination.

Personally, I believe he's a buffoon and would be a catastrophe as President. (I think Hillary would be awful too but for different reasons.) But how can you say that democracy has been replaced with the politics of oligarchs and moneyed interests has replaced "one person, one vote?" Republican voters voted and got who they asked for. Not liking the results of democracy is one of its hazards.

Oh, and FWIW, both Trump and Clinton oppose the TPP despite the "establishment" of both of their parties supporting it. So there's another reason not to suggest that the Powers That Be will always get their way...

Comment Re:Renting airwaves (Score 2) 72

We should be renting them by the month.

Will you be changing cellphones every month when your current provider no longer has the lease to the spectrum band you were using? Phones can only support so many radio band filters without increasing size and cost, so different versions are frequently built with support for only the frequency bands used by specific carriers, especially on low-cost phones. You know that the radios on the cellphone towers don't magically support every frequency as well, right? Would you spend large sums of $$$ to buy equipment tuned for a particular spectrum band if you didn't know if you could keep if for the long run (at least the life of the equipment)?

More importantly, the companies that buy spectrum do so because it becomes an asset with a known, fixed cost. Renting means rates may fluctuate or change (as they must, right? Otherwise the spectrum will not underpriced or overpriced.) Businesses - especially the ones that throw around the big piles of cash needed to stand up wireless networks - don't like having to guess how much their underlying costs will be from month to month.

I said nearly the exact same thing as a solution for keeping the IPV4 address space from running out

Do you really want to renumber all your public IPs every month when the rent goes up and your company doesn't want to pay it?

Comment Re:Fuck ALL those assholes! (Score 4, Interesting) 660

The Second Amendment does not affirm our right to own guns for "personal defense;" it affirms our right to own guns for defense against tyranny.

Read the Second Amendment again and spot the word "tyranny" for me. Don't find it? Because the SA says that "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." It's easy to ignore the first half of the sentence and just pay attention to the second, but that's disingenuous.

Furthermore, you have to take it in the context of the times in which it was written. The United States at this point had no standing army. (Historical aside: the US was very averse to keeping a standing army until after World War II. On the eve of the Civil War, the whole strength of the US Army was 15,000 men; just before World War II, in 1940, the US Army's size was smaller than that of Belgium.) Much of this aversion was due to the fact that it was Britain's desire to keep a standing professional army in the colonies that necessitated the Intolerable Acts which taxed the colonists to pay for said army.

At any rate, the presumption of the framers in 1791 would likely have been that the US needed to call on a citizen militia if it was invaded (or if it had to put down internal rebellions, such as the Whiskey Rebellion or Shays' Rebellion). Therefore, the citizens of the US should be prepared to take up arms as needed under the direction of the government (i.e. a well regulated militia), not against it. I know it's easy to have a romantic view of the Founding Fathers that they somehow encoded into the Constitution the seeds of the government's demise if it became too "tyrannical," but it's just not there in the text of the Second Amendment.

Personally, I like guns. I don't think there's anything wrong with responsible gun ownership. But please don't try to use the Second Amendment as a source for saying Americans should be armed and prepared to fight their own government with military-grade firearms.

Comment Re: Omar Saddiqui Mateen? (Score 4, Insightful) 1718

Animals do not, generally, behave as amoral rapists, murderers and child molesters

Sorry - I am about as unreligious as one can get while still being able to get along with coworkers/friends/etc. who are religious - but this is a deeply silly argument. Amoral is, by definition, lacking in the scruples or strictures defined by the human concept of "morals." Animals are all "amoral."

"Morals" are a meta-conversation about behavior which large-brained social creatures such as humans use to form behavioral norms which go beyond direct self-interest (or pack interest in some social animal contexts). "Animals" as we think of most non-human creatures on this planet are simply not capable of that kind of thought.

Every dog that has ever tried to hump your leg is a "rapist." Pretty much any male animal will f--k any other female (or male in some species) member of their species at any time, regardless of consent, unless they are genetically programmed to wait for signs of estrus/fertility and "presenting" before doing so. There are no voluntarily vegan brown bears who do so because they feel bad for salmon. Lions, wolves and other predatory animals feel no compunctions around murdering alpha pack animals in order to take their place. I don't have the knowledge to speak to animal "child molestation" but I'm fairly certain that horny animals will f--k whatever they think they can.

Animals don't have religion, but they don't have morals either. To suppose that one is a requirement for the other is a base fallacy at best.

Submission + - Scientists Find Genes That Lets Some Bees Reproduce Without Males

schnell writes: Forget about Jurassic Park and its gender-morphing dinosaurs. According to the New York Times, scientists have discovered the genes that enable female workers of a species of South African honeybees to begin laying their own self-fertilized eggs and even invade other bee colonies and begin using up all the new hive's resources in a process called "social parasitism." While the Cape Honeybee — which lives in "a unique area of incredible diversity" — generally follows the honeybee model of male drones who fertilize a queen which then renders all the female workers sterile, sometimes female workers of this species are able to in essence strike out as queens on their own.

But while the ability and the genes behind it have been identified, the article notes that "What scientists haven’t sorted out is why there might be an evolutionary advantage for a female being able to reproduce without a male. In extreme situations with no males, it could mean the survival of her species. But then again, self-fertilization, the epitome of inbreeding, could leave her offspring more vulnerable to disease and other threats."

Comment Re: Pricing for Abusers, or Abusive Pricing (Score 1) 91

And still even with that outlier, at this point it is not a concern about network congestion.

Maybe it isn't a concern for Frontier (yet). But look at their footprint and you will see it's very different in terms of density and demographics. Verizon for example might just have more serious bandwidth abusers, as evidenced by the fact that their territory includes Philadelphia, which is solely populated by terrible human beings.

Just ribbing you there, Philly. I grew up in Bucks County, so we're paisans and we probably bumped into each other on South Street or at the Spectrum! Ha ha! Please don't track me down and assault me with cheesesteaks or subject me to harangues about the Eagles quarterback situation!

It's good to know that Frontier isn't planning on data caps (yet). But the amount that you can safely infer about other networks from theirs is somewhat limited.

Comment Re:That's a lot of money (Score 1) 181

Yes, one could argue that Merissa Mayer hasn't gotten results for Yahoo. But that would be overlooking the fact that she started with a dying company. No, it's not robust, but it does look like she'll be able to get someone to pay millions for the company, problems and all. Can you do that?

Precisely this. It mystifies me why people still don't understand how what you get paid is determined in a market environment. (This is not applicable in a unionized or government environment where all employees are assumed to be fungible in terms of skills and compensation is based on "how long have you been here?")

How much you get paid is not based on how hard your job is, or how good you are at it, but how scarce your skill set is, and how important that skill set is. To wit:

  • Starting NFL left tackles don't get $8M/year because they work 160 times harder than the team janitor, they get it because there is only a limited number of humans who are 6'4"/300+ lbs with the agility and stamina to get beat up by and still excel against another set of the world's best 6'4"/300+ lbs athletes on the other side of the ball. Left tackles are rare and in demand because the success or failure of these particular athletes can determine whether your football team wins a championship and adds tens of millions of dollars to your revenue or sucks and empties the stands of ticket holders. (Oh, and they protect your $15M/year quarterback from getting beaten to a pulp.)
  • Conversely, there are also a limited number of people qualified to teach Masters-level courses in Socialist Realism art and Stalinist Gothic architecture. These people are also rare, but might get paid as much as the janitor if they are lucky. That's because they are scarce, but no university is going to lose attendance because of the lack of a masters-level 20th Century Soviet Art class. Or if it does, then its percentage of employed graduates will only go up.
  • So we come to CEOs. CEOs are (usually) genuinely the most pivotal employees in a company, since a great CEO at a Fortune 500 company is almost literally worth their weight in gold, and a terrible CEO is absolutely worth their equal value in horse manure. While the CEO's job sounds simple to everyone who hasn't been in senior management at a big company before, it really isn't. There is a very specific skill set involved, and if that doesn't seem like a big deal to you, imagine that you need to do an interview on CNBC tomorrow and depending on how you do, literally tens or hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of your shareholders' wealth may increase or disappear. If you haven't faced that kind of pressure before, then don't assume you actually know what their job is like.

Okay, so at long last coming around to Marissa Mayer. Has she turned Yahoo! around, as was her mandate? Nope. Was her job arguably impossible from the start because Yahoo! was already irretrievably a has-been? Probably. So why did they give her a $55M golden parachute when they hired her? Simple. Because she almost certainly would have made at least $55M in stock by this point if she had stayed at Google. So she took a big risk by going to Yahoo! - at which, yeah, she probably failed - but she would have been crazy to try if they hadn't guaranteed her this kind of Plan B. It all comes back to my original point about how rare your skill set is, and how important it is. In this environment, you have to throw these kinds of compensation packages out at candidates just to get someone with decent qualifications to give up their sure thing and try to pull your broken down company out of the ditch.

Comment Re:The Purpose of a Phone (Score 1) 197

try an old rotary dial phone on a landline... it totally blows away anything since.

I love the shout out to old school POTS, but it really doesn't blow away anything since, not by a long shot. You may not have had an opportunity to try it, but if your phone and carrier support VoLTE calls using the AMR-WB codec (often marketed as "HD Voice,") you will hear a immediately noticeable improvement in audio quality over traditional 64 kbps uncompressed circuit-switched voice.

The catch is that you have to have a LTE phone which supports VoLTE (most premium smartphones made in the last two years do, but don't expect it in "feature phones" or a lot of prepaid-type lower end smartphones). You need to be in a LTE (rather than 3G fallback) coverage area when you initiate the call, as does your recipient. Your carrier also has to support VoLTE with AMR-WB (most big US carriers do nowadays but you may not have it on their MVNOs or "value" brands). Lastly, the person on the other end of your call has to have a setup which supports it too, and you probably have to be using the same wireless carrier. There is some effort (such as between AT&T and Verizon in the US) to enable cross-carrier VoLTE HD Voice, but it's not generally available yet.

That sounds like a long list of caveats, but in a few years I imagine VoLTE calling with HD Voice will the be the rule rather than the exception. Try it out yourself and see if you aren't amazed at the change in audibility and clarity of phone calls.

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