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Comment Re:Was there supposed to be a question? (Score 1) 174

Don't get overconfident. It might be the dystopian movie where the evil mastermind is luring us to our fate... Trump might be holding his fire. Well, he's not that smart, but his campaign manager seems to be.

It's the last debate that will be closest to the election, and many American voters seem to have all the attention span and long-term memory of fruit flies.

Comment Re:I'm trying to look at this objectively (Score 1) 174

Don't fall into the trap. Vote for someone else. Anyone else.

It's a trap that is hard-coded into the Constitution. The founders understood the risks of fractious political parties, but they wanted a system that would give the president a "mandate" to act strongly when emergencies required it. They had all lived through such an emergency and all agreed that the strong leadership of General Washington had been essential to victory. (Washington could have become king if he had wanted to.)

Their solution was a winner-take-all mechanism for selecting presidents. Not their best work, as shown by how many times it's been amended. The stable dynamics of "winner take all" are two competing parties, or one permanently dominant party. Any third party can only weaken the most similar party by sucking off voters.

The real problem is that elections are decided by the largest chunk of the votes, and the bell curve means the peak is always in the middle, so whichever side a party started from, it tries to move to the middle of each issue. No ideological consistency, or rather political ideology always gets sacrificed for victory.

Coalition government allows for political parties to have stable ideologies, but at this point it would require a massive rewrite to adopt it in America. The founders had their limits.

Comment Re:I'm trying to look at this objectively (Score 1) 174

Most insightful analysis I could find, but the lack of "funny" comments was disappointing. Have we all lost our senses of humor? The debate was certainly a target-rich environment for jokes.

I want to expand on one of your points and introduce one new one. The old point is whether it is "smart" to avoid paying taxes and the new one is branching from your broad attribution of "they're both liars" to consider the kinds of lies and liars.

Trump can claim that he didn't actually say he is not paying taxes, but he definitely claimed it is smart to not pay them. As a logical rule, "If 'smart', then 'not pay taxes'." You have surely heard the Donald claim he is smart. Modus ponens, he does not pay taxes. We also have an existence proof from the tax returns Hillary cited, but maybe Trump will claim he has become more stupid than he used to be. I'm not holding my breath waiting for that claim. (Then again, confessing to not paying taxes in front of 80 million tax-paying voters certainly could be regarded as evidence of stupidity.)

However, I reject the claim that not paying taxes is good. There are certain functions that can only be performed by governments, and if everyone followed Trump's example, then society would collapse. We can (and probably will) argue all day about what those functions are, but absolute nihilism loses as soon as two people agree to work together against the one nihilist.

Now onto the topic of liars and lies. Perhaps the easiest way to approach the topic is by considering it from the perspective of professional versus amateur? I would say that Hillary is a professional liar, AKA a lawyer. A large part of legal training is learning how to "handle" the truth when it conflicts with the best interests of your client. You hire a lawyer for that reason, and the main thing I dislike about Hillary is that her top personal identity is probably "lawyer" or even "corporate lawyer". (I certainly wish our top politicians had higher personal identities such as "philosopher" or "statesman", but that is not how it works in America these days. "Government of the corporations, by the lawyers, for the richest 0.1% shall rule the earth.")

In contrast, I would argue that Trump is an amateur liar. If he was just a real estate agent, then you could argue he is hired to lie convincingly on behalf of the actual property owners he is representing, but if he is an actual player in the game (as he claims), then he is just lying for his own advantage--and the thousands of lawsuits are evidence that he's pretty bad at it.

In conclusion, I think Hillary is a skilled lawyer, and if her client is the American people, then she will represent their interests skillfully. Indirect evidence, but I actually think she was a fairly effective Secretary of State who inherited an incredible mess from Dubya. President Obama was able to focus more on the domestic messes because she was doing so well with the foreign messes.

Getting a bit far off topic, but I think my ontology of lies is relevant (with apologies to Heinlein):

Level 0: Self-contradictions. You know there's a lie without checking (and it's possible both sides are false). Most of Trump's amateurish lies are L0. (He's a L0ser?)

Level 1: Counterfactual. Any fool can check the facts. Many of Trump's lies are L1.

Level 2: Partial truth. What makes it a lie is knowing the rest of the story and withholding it, but this can be a professional technique. This is where Hillary usually is. (She would doubtless claim that time constraints preclude full disclosure, but lawyers are also taught how to stall.)

Level 3: Framing. This broad category involves distorting the meanings of words or providing misleading contexts. Also logical tricks like the classic "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?" This is actually where serious propaganda works. Trump has no idea (unless he's clinging to his teleprompter), Hillary sometimes uses these techniques, but mostly Level 3 is for the serious professional liars like Roger Ailes. (BtW, when Ailes bails, then you know to dump Trump.)

Me? Tell a joke? Sorry, but as an original Trekkie and fan of Mr Spock, I had my sense of humor removed.

Comment Was my personal information used for this? (Score 3, Interesting) 40

Trying to judge from this summary if I was involved... There was a quasi-fake account created using my name and email address. One so-called support person claimed it was created with a bug in the Android reader, but I'm not convinced and the "discussion" went on for some months without solving the problem in the obvious way. (Nuke the imposter and block the email address.) I gave up for a long time, but after a year tried again and escalated all the way up...

Suddenly the problem seems to have gone away, but Amazon got all quiet about it. There were three or four "phase transitions" over the 15 months the problem went on, but only two of them seemed to have clear angles for making money--but this article seems to have suggested a couple of angles that I hadn't considered. My latest theory was that it might be something like the Wells Fargo scam, creating fake accounts to boost some kind of internal accounting numbers. Based on dormant accounts?

Just for background, I had used Amazon around the year 2000. I had accounts on and one of the international Amazons, but after they abused my personal information, I stopped doing business with them. (Still reading lots of books, but NO plans to use Amazon EVER again.) However, at least one of the accounts still exists, and it is possible that some of the information from that account was used for the fake account--but Amazon refused to provide any details to prove (or disprove) it.

Comment Re:Limit their bandwidth? (Score 1) 277

I'm not sure I believe them, but I've read claims that there will be many billions of IoT devices. Sometimes mitigation is not enough.

However, in practice I'd guess that a sophisticated attacker would individually test each of the zombies (obviously in an automated manner) to determine their network connectivity. That would probably detect any throttling, too, and allow the attacker to optimize the attacks themselves.

Just thought of another problem with your proposed solution: What if some IoT devices legitimately need larger amounts of bandwidth to accomplish whatever purpose justified the connectivity in the first place?

Trying to think of a construction alternative suggestion, but it's obviously a hard problem. In general, I think we need to go after their business models, and that will work if they are in it for the money and the money dries up. However, these days there are increasing numbers of bad actors working at the state level, and their funding is hard to touch from the outside... That means you need to target some other link in the chain. Tax the manufacturers in proportion to the vulnerability of the devices they make?

Comment Re:Do we have to let the winner out of the arena? (Score 1) 53

Maybe you could clarify your position with the same questions the other fellow ignored. What amount of profit would you regard as obscene? Also, do you understand natural monopoly?

However, mostly I feel like just saying "Drop me a line when you figure out this whole freedom thing." My basic position is that reduced freedom is an indicator of evil at work. If I had that freedom, I might well be satisfied with a superior PDA.

Comment Re:Do we have to let the winner out of the arena? (Score 1) 53

I'm not sure what your point is, but I was definitely NOT saying that there was something wrong with their strategy for making profits. My point would be more along the lines that large American companies are forced to become evil in the pursuit of increasing profits (and no amount of profit is ever a "solution" to their "problem of needing larger profits), which leaves us in the position of always choosing among evils, greater or lesser.

You focused on the google, but if you think "Don't be evil" is still relevant, then I think you aren't paying attention. I can't prove it, but I'm quite sure their de facto motto is along the lines of "All your attention are belong to us" (even though that makes it somewhat difficult to explain the google's ongoing support of attention-stealing (and reputation-abusing) spammers).

Comment Live and let spam is EVIL (Score 2) 45

Do we need to rehash the reasons why? You might not have any sympathy for the suckers, or you might not care about attacks on corporate reputations and customers. You might not have any children for the spammers to target, but in that case I think I should extend my sympathies. You don't care about false positives that lose your actual email and you think your time spent with false negatives is too small to matter (and don't care about the multiplication of that time by the millions). You're still getting victimized by the general inefficiency the spammers impose on everyone. Or perhaps worst of all, the basic spammers create noise that helps mask the serious threats of the serious scammers, such as spear-phishermen and identity thieves.

It seems like all of the big email providers have adopted the motto of "Live and Let Spam." Obviously didn't work for Yahoo, did it? Whatever Microsoft paid for the Hotmail brand must have been written off for similar reasons. The google is the saddest case of all, but perhaps that was just the generalized result of dropping "Don't be evil" in favor of "All your attention are belong to us." Anyway, at this point I monitor all three and Gmail clearly has the worst filters, both for false positives and false negatives and for feebleness of their countermeasures. Proof? In the preferences of the spammers themselves, blessing Gmail with the most spam of all.

Doesn't have to be that way. The rational spammers do have economic models that could be attacked. Dropboxes can be nuked and external email services that provide the dropboxes can be pressured. Link shorteners can be subverted against the spammers. Lots of other countermeasures are possible, but the google don't care (and Yahoo can't afford to care and who cares about Outlook).

*sigh* Just venting again, but I really wish someone provided a really good email system, one with tools that would let me help fight the spammers. Why not convert some of the universal hatred of spammers into positive sentiments towards an email system that scares the spammers?

Comment Re:Do we have to let the winner out of the arena? (Score 1) 53

Okay if that's how you feel. At what point would you regard the profits as harmful or even obscene?

I hope I'm not confusing you, but I'm also going to ask if you understand what a monopoly profit is? Also, do you understand the concept of a natural monopoly?

Pretty sure this is stretching you much too far, but if you understand the problems, do you have anything like a remotely constructive solution?

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