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Comment T-Mobile acts like they want our business (Score 1) 194

Verizon acts like they are doing you a big favor by letting you use their network. I switched from Verizon to T-Mobile because I wanted to be able to use Google Nexus devices. (My last Verizon phone was a Samsung Galaxy Nexus, but Google got fed up with Verizon over how they mishandled the Galaxy Nexus so there aren't any new Nexus devices for Verizon.)

Overall I'm happy with T-Mobile. And it was fantastic when I recently visited Japan and my phone actually worked. It was 2G speed only, but Google Maps worked great, Google Translate worked great, messaging worked great.

There are a few spots I have visited where a Verizon phone gets good signal and a T-Mobile phone doesn't work. They are few enough that I'm glad I made the switch.

Comment Re:Don't insult Hillary Clinton on Facebook (Score 1) 96

All the news of my friends is made available over Facebook. "I got a new job!" "I just ran a marathon!" "Got a new kitten!" "Broke up with my boyfriend." Whatever.

If your friends don't use Facebook, maybe you get the news of them the old-fashioned way. But I'm getting nonzero value out of reading my friends' news of themselves.

I share news that way too. I try to keep it interesting and non-political. I have friends who have different political views than I do, and Facebook isn't a place to convert anyone.

I really do wish that a decentralized friends network system could catch on and give us a Facebook-type experience without any one company being able to put a thumb onto the system. But it doesn't seem very likely now.

Comment Don't insult Hillary Clinton on Facebook (Score 1) 96

Liberty Memes ran a Hillary Clinton meme and Facebook took it down and suspended their account.

IMHO the meme was well within normal political satirical norms. I can imagine "memes" that I would agree should be taken down, but this seems like a case of lese-majeste enforcement by Facebook.

I think I could get away with posting a meme like that; I'm not famous or popular. It's only if something starts getting lots of likes and shares that it will get slapped down. You are free to do whatever you want as long as nobody notices. Facebook isn't absolutely chilling speech, but I do think they are managing which things are allowed to trend.

Sigh, I'm still using Facebook. Pretty much everyone I know is on it.

P.S. I just checked and the Liberty Memes account is back up, so the suspension must be over.

Comment Re:Headline is misleading and a little clickbaity (Score 1) 474

And yet did any of the executives cut their salaries, stock options and bonuses to help out?

Four executives had their salaries cut to $1 for the year 2012. As far as I can tell this was a gesture to make the workers happier since the plan was to cut worker salaries or else close down the company.

I'm not a real expert but I pulled together a whole bunch of supporting links for this post:

The supporting link for the $1 per year salary is now a dead link, so I Googled up one for you that still works:

How dare those greedy people in labor want living wages, that were probably 1/50th of what the CEO made, instead of being content living in poverty!

They can want whatever they want to want. However, the company was not profitable and after the second bankruptcy they were out of investors to pump in more money to keep running at a loss. Their one chance to keep the company alive was to cut their biggest expense: pay and benefits to the giant unionized staff. The BCTGM didn't yield (twice! they didn't yield twice!) and Hostess shut down.

Now instead of an unprofitable company employing around 19K workers, it's a profitable company employing 1170 workers. It's fewer workers than before, but those workers know the company isn't going to go bankrupt and lay them all off. And since the company is able to operate now with that number of workers, it makes no sense to wish they would hire 19K workers anyway when they don't need 94% of them. You might just as well wish that Apple Computer start hiring tens of thousands of people to use hand tools to carve MacBooks out of aluminum blocks rather than using computer-controlled milling machines to do it.

Comment I hope they standardize on an open file system (Score 1) 221

A UFS device is just a flash drive device so it will be possible to use any file system, but I'm wondering what the de-facto standard will be. If I buy a camera with a UFS slot, what file system(s) will the camera be able to use? If I buy a UFS card, what will it be pre-formatted to?

History suggests that they are most likely to license NTFS from Microsoft, since Windows is so hostile to open file systems. But I can dream and hope that they will standardize on something open, and just provide some sort of drivers or custom app for accessing the cards on Windows.

How about Samsung's own F2FS? (Already contributed to Linux!)

Comment But they did file charges against Saucier (Score 4, Interesting) 801

FBI Director Comey said that there was no evidence of any guilty intent, so "no reasonable prosecutor" would file charges. So why were charges filed against Kristian Saucier, who unwisely took photos of a classified area on a nuclear submarine? No intent was proven or needed to file charges against him; he had photos of classified stuff on his phone, charges filed.

I am disturbed that there is clearly one standard for ordinary people, and another standard for Hillary Clinton. I sincerely hope that Mr. Saucier appeals his verdict on the grounds that the FBI Director said "no reasonable prosecutor" should have filed the charges, and he clearly didn't get equal protection under the law as Hillary Clinton got.

Comment Rhapsody (Score 1) 316

I've been using Rhapsody for nearly a decade, and I have a whole bunch of stuff bookmarked.

I've found some music I really like by browsing the Rhapsody link structure. For example, look up a band I like and then click on some of the "related" links, or look up a category I like and then click on some of the "most popular" links. It's how I found Zero 7, for example.

I tried using Spotify and I didn't see any real advantage to Spotify over Rhapsody, so I stayed with my bookmarks.

But I have an Android Auto car stereo unit now, and Google Play Music works seamlessly with that. I really wish Rhapsody would update their Android client to work with Android Auto so I could use that when driving around.

P.S. I guess Rhapsody is changing its name to Napster, but their web site still says Rhapsody on it.

Comment Re:In Regards to the Trek Prime Directive (Score 1) 180

The Prime Directive makes a lot of sense: let each planet develop its own culture. Once it is ready to spread among the stars, make friendly contact.

But the episode of TNG that I was referencing took it to a stupid, absurd degree. We need to protect the planet's culture, so we are going to let every person on the planet die! How is that "protecting" the culture? The culture will be extinct, along with all the people who developed it.

The ending of the episode was IMHO a cop-out. "Hey, the entire population of this world is one tribe of like 20 people. We can fit them all in a single holodeck, and they will never know they left their homeworld!" It would have been much more interesting, and more realistic, if they had tried to save as many people as they could, while minimizing cultural contamination (but unable to completely prevent it). So they would bring a few hundred to huddle in crowded spaces. (IIRC it's canon that you can fit hundreds of people inside the warp nacelles; the entire crew of the Enterprise NX-01 hid inside the nacelles in one episode of Enterprise.) "No, we are not the gods. The gods sent us to help you. No, don't worship us.... in fact forget us, and remember the hundreds of millions of your people we couldn't save. We're sorry we couldn't do more, but we aren't gods."

In the real world, sometimes all you can do is the best you can do and it isn't perfect. To me saving hundreds of people with some inevitable cultural contamination is a much more interesting story than saving 20 or so people without them ever realizing they left their home planet. And to me, the fact that they even considered the option of letting all the people die is stupid.

Comment Re:Space Patrol Unsatisfactory (Score 4, Interesting) 180

The moment you invent a replicator, money becomes worthless

Not so. A replicator would certainly render coins and paper money worthless, and would as you note mean that people could make many things rather than buying them.

The future of money may well be Bitcoin and such, but money there will be.

Suppose you want to build a house on a plot of land right on a beach with a view. Other people would like to build there too... who gets it? That's easy: someone buys it, with money.

Suppose you want to go to a concert, in person, rather than watching it in your personal holodeck or whatever. There are a limited number of seats. Who gets those seats? That's easy: tickets cost money.

Suppose you want a human being to come and watch your pets while you travel, and you don't want to impose on your friends all the time. Why would a person take their valuable time to do you a favor? That's easy: you agree to pay the person.

There will always be things and services that cost money, even in a post-scarcity civilization. The replicators may mean that common items are so inexpensive that everyone can have them, but they can't make everything. (We don't even have to imagine Star Trek-style replicators... molecular nanotechnology may make it easy to create things out of carbon: carbon fibre and diamond and such. Imagine a world where brass was more expensive than diamond. I wonder what the feedstocks are for replicators, but it's certainly easy to get carbon.)

P.S. Elf Sternberg wrote a bunch of NSFW science fiction, and I think some of his world-building ideas were spot on. In particular, he imagined that young people would wear replicated or mass-produced clothes and shoes, but as people got older they would accumulate more and more unique things. For example, you might get a present, a nifty hand-made leather jacket, and start wearing that rather than a replicated jacket. This was especially likely as he imagined the whole economy running mostly as a gift economy. In a society that has defeated aging, all the adults look about 20 years old; you may spot the older people more by their unusual hand-crafted items than by their appearance. I think he may have underestimated how diverse the young people might look though, as even today clothes are inexpensive enough that even teens can dress themselves up in ways to stand out.

Comment Space Patrol Unsatisfactory (Score 4, Interesting) 180

Heinlein wrote a very far-sighted story -- in 1941! -- called "Solution Unsatisfactory" that imagined a deadly weapon, "nuclear dust". Just drop the dust from an ordinary bomber, and anyone who breathes or touches the dust dies. All the animals and plants die too; the land becomes uninhabitable until the radiation dies away after many many years. Such an awful, ultimate weapon posed a grave threat to all of humanity; the solution was to form the "Peace Patrol" and recruit its members from all around the world. And if any country became a threat to world peace, the Patrol could bomb with radioactive dust; the Patrol was specifically created as a neutral and accountable organization with no specific loyalty (as an organization) to any single country. The climax of the story was when a new President of the United States wanted to use the dust to conquer the world, and the Patrol was ready to dust-bomb Washington D.C. (or in other words, treat the USA exactly as any other threat to world peace would be treated). The bombers were already in the air, ready to drop dust, and the crew of the bombers contained only non-Americans, specifically to avoid asking any Americans to bomb their own country. (Standard operating procedure for the Patrol; no English would be asked to bomb England, no Chinese would be asked to bomb China, etc.)

The story presented this Patrol as an unsatisfactory solution to the problems caused by the existence of "radioactive dust" weapons, but no better solution was available.

The Space Patrol being discussed here was invented by Heinlein as a direct descendant of the original Peace Patrol, but now patrolling in space. (As was typical of SF from that era, Mars and Venus were imagined to be habitable and contain alien races.)

So, the Space Patrol "is the opposite of the kind democratic and open society championed by Star Trek"? Considering that it was explicitly a military organization devoted to peacekeeping and given a monopoly on the most awful destructive power available, it's hardly a surprise that it was neither democratic nor a society.

Gene Roddenberry loved a Utopian vision of the future. In Star Trek: The Next Generation the characters claimed that the Federation no longer needs or uses money, which seems unlikely in the extreme to me. Heinlein had a more libertarian and much more individualistic bent than Roddenberry, and his Utopias were different from Star Trek.

However, a major theme of the novel was to respect the culture of others. There was an entertaining subplot where one cadet wanted to eat pie with his hands, and was ordered to eat with a fork, and it was intended as a small lesson toward learning the big lesson that manners vary according to where you are, and respecting the local culture wherever you are. There are obvious parallels with "the Prime Directive" but I can't imagine Heinlein ever going so stupid as some of the Next Generation Prime Directive episodes. ("Oh no, this planet is about to be destroyed and all the intelligent native people will die. But we can't save them without violating The Prime Directive!" "Guess we'll just have to let them die, then." Okay, they didn't, but they felt the Prime Directive was more important than saving the native people. Lucky for them there were so few natives that they were able to fit them all into the Holodeck and convince them they were still on their own planet!)

The other major theme, which this novel shares with Starship Troopers, is that it is a highly moral act to put the needs of others above your own needs. It's easy for people to look out for themselves; it's not much of a stretch to look out for your own children. It's higher morals to put the good of your country above your own good, and even higher morals to put the good of humanity above the good of any single country. The Space Patrol was entrusted with the most powerful weapons and expected to use them only to preserve the peace, and to preserve it no matter who was threatening it.

Comment The evidence was in the video (Score 5, Informative) 142

The headline is "There's No Evidence" but there was evidence presented in the video. Decisive evidence? Persuasive evidence? You decide.

For me, the most persuasive part was where they used Google Trends to see how popular the autocompleted searches actually were. The autocomplete suggested "hillary clinton crime reform" yet Google Trends said that search didn't happen often enough to graph. It was super rare and yet it was the most popular completion to "hillary clinton cri"?

Okay, let's ask Google Trends what is popular. I am providing you with clickable links so you can see the graphs for yourself. "hillary clinton indicted" vs. "hillary clinton indiana"

Hmm, "indiana" was roughly as searched for in May as "indicted" but searches for "indiana" have dropped to near zero while "indicted" shot way up. So Google Trends says "indicted" is much more searched for than "indiana".

Here, let's add in "hillary clinton india" as another item on the graph.

Nope, "hillary clinton india" clearly isn't a popular search.

Okay, for "hillary clinton cri" what is the more searched-for completion, "hillary clinton criminal" or "hillary clinton crime reform"?

When they tried it they couldn't even get a graph for "crime reform" but by asking for a comparison of the two I got a graph. And wow, slam-dunk win for "criminal", way more searches.

Okay, I decided to try one on my own. I went to Bing and typed "hillary clinton cor" and the top suggestion was "hillary clinton corruption" Google? The top suggestions were "hillary clinton corporate" and "hillary clinton correct the record"

Okay, Google Trends, which of those three is the most popular?

And it's "corruption" by a large margin.

Interestingly, there is a completely different autocomplete for Google News results.

"hillary clinton cri" -> "hillary clinton criminal prosecution", "hillary clinton criminal video"

"hillary clinton ind" -> "hillary clinton indictment for emails", "hillary clinton indiana", "hillary clinton indianapolis"

"hillary clinton cor" -> "hillary clinton correct the record", "hillary clinton cory booker", "hillary clinton corruption reddit"

Now, Google claims that what is going on is just a standard thing where they block certain terms like "criminal" from searches. This story from The Verge argues, persuasively, that Google is telling the truth.

The most interesting point: most of the people searching for dirt on Hillary Clinton don't bother to type her full name, and the autocomplete gives more negative results if you just search for "hillary". Let's try that.

"hillary in" -> "hillary indictment" (I didn't even need to type all three letters)

"hillary co" -> "hillary corrupt" (Again I didn't even need to type all three letters)

"hillary cr" -> "hillary criminal email" (Yet again, two was enough for the autocomplete)

So I'm completely convinced: the video documents a real thing, a true example of Google providing very different results from Bing and Yahoo. But I'm not convinced that it's a conspiracy at Google. The negative "hillary *" searches show that Google is willing to autocomplete negative stuff; if someone were altering the search results I would expect they would get the "hillary *" searches in addition to the "hillary clinton *" searches.

P.S. An anecdote from my personal experience: if you search for "affordable care act" you will find almost 100% favorable commentary and news stories, while if you search for "obamacare" you will find much more negative stuff. The people who disapprove of the ACA are much more likely to call it "Obamacare".

Comment Re:Mixed blessing (Score 5, Insightful) 284

it is deeply concerning that we may be in a situation where a billionaire can essentially destroy a company by funding lawsuits from other people

I would agree with you if I thought that the lawsuit was without merit. Gawker would have been safe from Thiel if they hadn't opened themselves up to a ruinous lawsuit. They horribly invaded Hulk Hogan's privacy to sell ad clicks; there was less than zero journalistic merit in what they did to Hulk Hogan. So I really am not sad that they lost in court, and I don't care who paid the lawyers on Hulk Hogan's side.

I also think there was less than zero journalistic merit in the way Gawker treated Thiel. So Gawker brought this upon itself two ways: it harassed and bullied Thiel, and then published the Hulk Hogan sex tape.

The moral of the story is: freedom of the press is not a license to harass and humiliate people.

Comment Re:How about replacing the CEO with a machine (Score 1) 921

It appears you did not understand the simple point that I was making. I'm not sure how I could have made it more clear, but I'll try to restate it again for you. I'll phrase it differently this time.

The "Jim Crow" laws required all businesses to have separate facilities for whites and non-whites, whether the businesses wanted this or not. I'm sure that a majority of the businesses in some locations were enthusiastic about this, but I doubt you could get it to 100% without the force of law. I'm pretty sure that some small businesses would rather just have one sales area and sell to anyone, rather than having multiple sales areas and the extra overhead. Also some small businesses must have been run by people who were not racist jerks.

Undoubtedly there businesses that didn't care about race existed at time... just as there were abolitionists during slavery.

Oh wait, you did understand my point. Maybe you thought I didn't understand it? I'm really not clear on what you are arguing.

These laws regulated what water fountain to drink in a public government building or who you could legally marry. Those two examples (and many, many more) had s*** to do with regulating business.

And therefore these laws had nothing to do with my point, are in fact completely irrelevant. Not sure why you felt the need to bring that up.

Jim Crow laws were a function of states exercising the will of a majority who did not consider a minority as equal human beings. No amount of revisionism is every going to wash away that stain from history.

Seriously, dude, what did I say that was "revisionism"? Where did I say that "Jim Crow" laws were not a stain on the history of the USA? Where did I say that a majority wasn't in favor of them?

What I said was that you would never get 100% of all businesses to mistreat some of their customers without the force of law. I stand by that.

If I were a minority and some businesses treated me poorly while others treated me well, I would vote with my dollars and spend my money at the businesses that treated me well. Over time, economic forces would punish the jerks and reward the nice businesses. Because the Jim Crow laws required all businesses to treat minorities poorly, this feedback mechanism was impaired.

I'm sure that in practice the minorities could tell which businesses were enthusiastic about the arrangement and which were not, and in practice the nice businesses tended to get more money from minorities than the jerks. I'm also sure that in those times and places the minorities had less money than the majorities, but over time I still think the feedback effect would have a significant effect.

Just in case you still fail to understand my position: I am opposed to any sort of laws that try to put the boot of government on the neck of minorities. In fact I'm pretty much opposed to the boot of government on the neck of anyone, even people I dislike very much. I am in favor of government being very small and doing very little, chiefly things like running fair courts and enforcing the laws against violence, theft, and fraud.

I'm even opposed to government forcing a bakery to make a cake for any particular customer. If someone goes into a Jewish bakery and demands a cake that says "Hitler", the bakery shouldn't have to make it. If a gay couple goes into a Christian bakery and demands a cake that celebrates a gay wedding, the bakery shouldn't have to make it. If a Christian goes into a gay bakery and demands a cake with the message "Leviticus 18:22" on it, the bakery shouldn't have to make it. This isn't like a life-saving emergency room or something... there are plenty of places to get cakes. People should vote with their dollars, and reward the bakeries that make the cakes they want made.

And before you accuse me of anything, I'm in favor of letting gay people get married, I have friends who are same-sex married couples, and I have attended two gay weddings (one before it had legal force in my state and one after). What I am not in favor of is using the force of government to make people behave a certain way.

P.S. My understanding is that not everyone who favored the Jim Crow laws were all racist jerks; some of them thought that the "separate but equal" facilities would reduce friction between racist white jerks and minorities, and thus this was a way to protect minorities. Even if they had good intentions, I reject the idea of Jim Crow laws.

Comment Re:How about replacing the CEO with a machine (Score 1) 921

enforcing Jim Crow laws

Don't forget: Jim Crow laws were laws. They were the government telling businesses that they were not permitted to treat black folks the same as white folks.

No doubt some of the businesses were totally enthusiastic about the laws, but equally no doubt some of the businesses would have preferred to just serve all the customers.

The only way to get all the businesses to do something bad is to use the force of law.

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