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Comment Re:So where are the criminal convictions? (Score 2, Interesting) 55

It's a large fine, but my question is why weren't the senior executives charged under the RICO laws and given the 20 year jail sentences and $100k per incident personal fines?

Why is it that if you're running under a corporate charter that you're excluded from being defined as running an ongoing criminal enterprise?

Comment Re:BASIC (Score 2) 48

That's a bit harsh, isn't it?

For 1987 HyperCard seemed like a pretty easy way for someone with casual knowledge to produce what amounted to something close to a GUI application without climbing the super steep learning curve involved in writing a native Mac application. I think Inside Macintosh was up to about 5 volumes by then and event-based programming was a bit of mind fuck for people who had come out of general programming creating menu-driven designs, not to mention the headaches of generating GUI interfaces.

I seem to remember running an NNTP reader on the Mac ~1999 that used Hypercard.

Comment Re:Gouge the middle class to make them poor (Score 1) 223

I think you undersell how people lived in the 1950s.

I live in a house built in 1954 and it was originally about 1800 finished square feet with 3 bedrooms. Switching counter tops to Formica was probably an upgrade over previous choices which probably had been wood or linoleum. I don't think automatic dishwashers were that widespread until the 1960s or later.

But I think they would have had a washing machine, possibly a dryer, almost certainly a TV and a couple of radios.

I think in many ways the lifestyle of a 1955 family probably felt extremely futuristic to them -- for a lot of them, I bet they had first hand experience with houses without central heating, wood cooking stoves, using an outhouse, no automatic hot water heater.

The other high tech stuff nobody had, either, so they weren't exactly missing it.

Comment Re:Wow. (Score 1) 90

I wonder if they should work with pharma and come up with some new and improved hypnotics for a Mars journey. It might makes sense to have long-haul astronauts "zoned out" for several hours per day. They could keep a patch or some kind of autoinjector connected with a drug to counter-act it in case of emergency.

Comment Re:Good Idea! (Score 1) 34

Their minidisc stuff wasn't bad in the late 1990s. It had some DRM limits if you recorded digitally, but I don't remember it being a pain and it was way better than cassette for general reliability and analog recording.

I think they managed to screw this up when MP3 came along, bringing in more DRM and limitations while trying to stay relevant.

Comment Re:Remote work is validated once again. (Score 1) 146

Clearly humans, possessing more developed language and sophisticated intellectual capabilities, have been able to develop more sophisticated social organizations than other primates.

But it doesn't stop them from displaying regressive behavior that shows pretty clearly while we've branched off into a new species we still carry a lot of primal instincts from our ancestors.

Comment Re:Self-fulfilling Prophecy (Score 2) 309

I always thought the elite schools attracted people not for their education but for the benefits of their social connections to a lot of rich and well-connected people.

What would Facebook be if Zuckerberg had instead gone to Purdue or Texas A&M instead of Harvard? How much of his success is due to the fact that he had access to a lot of rich and influential people?

Comment Re:Remote work is validated once again. (Score 3, Interesting) 146

It's not really meant as a joke. For a lot of managers, at its core, managing is about being in charge, and being in charge is about dominance.

And it ultimately looks like innate primate behavior. They're achieved status in the troop and they need to dominate the other members or they fear they will lose their dominance.

Comment Re:Advertising and greed (Score 1) 145

I think the cable companies started ramping prices to consumers first, then the networks caught on and began demanding more carriage fees, figuring that they weren't going to let the cable company profit while they didn't.

Then the production companies and sports leagues caught on, and figured they weren't going to let the networks get fat and profitable, and THEY demanded more money, part of which the networks tried to make up with more advertising.

And now we're in this spiral where they've gotten used to just regular increases, and as soon as any one of them demands an increase they all demand an increase.

The net result is that the pricing to consumers is out of whack and it's so filled with commercials the value proposition is wiped out.

Comment Re:Remote work is validated once again. (Score 4, Interesting) 146

You're fighting the cultural expectations of management and power, and likely at the root, primate dominance.

Your boss assumes that being boss requires some level of physical control of you, and that means controlling your locality to reinforce his perception of dominance and control over you.

It goes a long way towards explaining why incompetent employees who show up and don't evidence much insubordination are tolerated so well.

Comment Re:Catastrophic man-made global warming (Score 2) 278

Perhaps, perhaps not. Venus is still very poorly understood. In its high temperature environment its conditions are largely self-sustaining (preventing the sequestration of CO2 in rock), although it's also unstable, prone to broad temperature and pressure swings. It also appears to have undergone a global resurfacing event about 300-500mya, if that gives a clue as to how unstable the planet as a whole is. ;) We don't know what caused it, or really anything about it. Part of the planet's properties are now a result of it having lost its water rather than being a cause, such as its hard crust. Obviously its lack of a magnetic field is responsible for its loss of water, but we don't know exactly when or why it disappeared (there are of course theories... I had always just assumed it was the slow rotation rate, but the last research I read suggested that not enough to account for it). Other issues as to how Venus ended up as it did may be related to size - although it's only a bit smaller than Earth, that may be the initial factor that set its fate in motion - for example, its lithosphere in general appears to be thicker and higher viscosity on Earth, which could have hindered or prevented plate tectonics, and thus subduction of carbonates.

Either way, it's a mess now at the surface (though rather comfy ~55km up ;) ). And I'm not so sure I buy into some of the proposed ways to fix it (terraforming). For example, some have suggest mass drivers ejecting the atmosphere. Let's just say you can pull it off, and then you start building oxygen in the atmosphere - what happens next? The crust is something like 7-9% FEO; it's going to rust away whatever oxygen you make in short order.

Interestingly, I'd argue that this is possibly the salvation to Sagan's airborne-microbe concept for terraforming Venus. The main criticism is that if you engineered some sort of carbon-sequestering microbe on Venus (or artificial equivalent), you'd end up with a deep surface layer of graphite surrounded by some hugely hot, dense oxygen layer, and the atmosphere would explode. But that would never happen; at Venus surface temperatures and pressures, the surface rocks would rust away the oxygen as fast as it was created, even in tiny quantities, with the wind blowing the dust around to collect at low/eddy areas. So you're laying down bands of carbon and iron oxide as you burn through the planet's iron buffer. Where have we seen this before? Right, Earth, ~2,3 billion years ago, banded iron formations. Just like on Earth, you'd eventually burn through the iron and start to accumulate oxygen. But by then the graphite is already underground, buried in iron dust.

It's not a fast process. But it has precedent. Microbes already rusted at least one planet, and that planet's surface conditions weren't nearly as favorable for rusting as Venus's.

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