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Comment Perception of law enforcement (Score 5, Interesting) 377

I'm assuming that the vast majority of commenters are from the US, Canada, and western European countries where the rule of law is well understood and (mostly) enforced in a non-arbitrary manner. That's apt to color your reaction to a story such as this.

While I don't know the facts in this particular case, it is often true in many Central and South American countries (and Caribbean islands) that the rule of law can be enforced arbitrarily, and sometimes in response to the desire to acquire the wealth of an accused person. Presumption of innocence or even actual innocence does not matter in such cases; individuals have been known to disappear for years into Byzantine court systems, or found guilty without what we would consider to be sufficient evidence of guilt. I have a friend whose college roommate has been held as a political prisoner for well over a decade in a South American country; my sisters have both had to "pay tickets" to Mexican police to keep their passports from being impounded. So I don't take flight from authorities as an admission of guilt; if McAfee knows or suspects he's being railroaded, that's probably the wise choice.

For all I know, he may be guilty, but don't take his actions as an admission.

Comment Re:Limit copyright to payment (Score 1) 296

"artificial scarcity, such as the Disney Vault, and plain scarcity where it's impossible to get a copy of what would otherwise be an unremarkable product due to limited publishing runs."

As a parent, it seems to me that the Disney Vault is almost designed to create piracy. Think about it—most Disney "classics" are only released once every seven years, IF that. When you have a kid, and you figure that Disney movies are what you want to have on while the kid is sick, what are you going to do once you've run through your limited stock? You don't go around buying movies before your kid is born, so that movie they released four years ago would be PERFECT for your three-year-old is not available until they're six (maybe), when it bores them. So what are parents going to do? The tech-savvy might pirate, while the ones who aren't... will go elsewhere. Either way, you'd think Disney would wise up to the fact that there's a HUGE market out there that would willingly buy all of their things without that artificial scarcity built in—probably more than the ones who think that if they don't buy it now, they'll never own it.

Comment Re:Not smart Enough? (Score 1) 1276

The Electoral College does two things very well. The first is that it distributes the voting power among different constituencies. Take a look at the population densities in the country. If we voted by straight democratic voting, the best bet for every candidate would be to hit the big population centers. In other words, cities. New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, and so on. I don't know if you've noticed, but the concerns of city dwellers are not always congruent with those of rural dwellers. The city person wants cheap groceries. Great! says the candidate. I'll campaign on lowering grocery prices. And the farmers suffer from the tenth straight year of no price increase in the payment for their crops. (Seriously, if you want to see the results of no inflation, check out grain prices from a century ago vs. grain prices now. It's hard to make a living as a farmer.)

The Electoral College means that a candidate can't concentrate on the dense population areas but has to spend time campaigning for the thinly-spread ones too. This is good. The more groups a candidate has to think about, the better off we all are.

The other thing that the Electoral College does is take the election results past the margin of error. It amplifies the winner so that it's very clear which person is the winner. Think about it; we've had a number of elections in recent decades where the popular vote totals were within, say, half a million. The problem is that when you're talking about a country of 50 million voters, that's within the margin of error. Talk about recounts. However, each state's vote is more clear, and when the electors are divided up according to that state's apportioning, the outcome is well outside the margin of error. (Statistics is definitely one thing most people don't understand.)

On the whole, I think the Electoral College is neither outdated nor unnecessary. It's a way of keeping the tyranny of the majority at bay.

Comment Re:Of course (Score 1) 1040

"I repeatedly told him that he didn't charge enough money for his services (his competitors charged anywhere from 2 to 5 times more than he did for inferior service), but he would never listen as he considered it wrong to charge any more than he did."

This is actually a fairly common business error—not the charging lower than competitors, but thinking it's somehow wrong to charge what your services are worth. Unfortunately, our brains are set up to eventually see the lower price not as "bargain" but as somehow less worthy than the higher prices. You can charge high prices if you're providing high services without being a shark or unethical. It's only when you don't intend to give value for the money that you're doing something wrong.

Cheers to your Dad. I hope life grants him a better deal than what he's got now, because it sounds as though he just didn't have the knowledge he needed.

Comment Re:Public Employees (Score 2) 557

My husband once took over a warehouse that had been used by an unscrupulous manager to steal thousands of dollars of inventory. Needless to say, none of the records were accurate. My husband assessed the situation, contacted the central distribution group, and returned several months of the worst metrics they'd ever seen. But at the end, everything was fixed—and he got a promotion out of the deal.

Numbers aren't everything. His bosses knew the story behind those terrible numbers, but just imagine if his performance had been available to the public at large. They'd wonder how such a terrible employee came to be.

Comment Re:Rights? where are their responsibilities? (Score 2) 421

The original point of copyright is to keep a steady stream of inventiveness going for the public at large—with the idea that the works involved will eventually fall into the public domain and become part of our culture. The importance of copyright is illustrated by the time period immediately following the French Revolution, in which copyright was abolished... and the stream of new works dried up.

The other side of this is that copyrighted works are supposed to fall into the public domain, not be in copyright for eternity. So the corporations who don't want to lose hold of Mickey Mouse are in the wrong when they keep extending copyright. I'd add to your list the "corporation copyright" clause, wherein a corporation can keep copyright on a creation past the logical timeline (life of the author + enough time to raise any minors), BUT they have to pay to maintain it afterwards, on a geometric scale.

Truth be told, as a creator, I'd be fine with the original term of a couple decades plus one renewal. If I'm not creating more in that time period, I deserve what I get.

Comment Re:P&T on handicapped parking (Score 5, Interesting) 551

A number of people who are disabled are not visibly disabled. For example, my husband's niece suffered from life-threatening asthma as a child—and by that, I mean there was a point when her immune system collapsed due to the drugs they had her on to keep her breathing. There was no outward sign that she couldn't walk far, so people would give her family dirty looks for parking (legally) in the handicapped spots. But she couldn't walk the length of a parking lot.

Now, she was a child, so a wheelchair might have been worthwhile in a number of situations. But imagine an adult in the same situation. The effort of lifting a wheelchair out of a car would be beyond them, and the method of propulsion wouldn't be any easier than walking. So they'd be better off walking the short distance inside, where they could sit down and wait until they felt well enough to walk further.

And if someone thinks they'd be better off staying at home, you've never been in contact with someone with chronic illness. It's isolating enough without being trapped at home.

Comment Health over the century (Score 4, Insightful) 162

This doesn't surprise me in the least. Various stories have been done on the fact that not only are we living longer, we're healthier as we age. The nineteenth century in particular is rife with forty-somethings suffering from afflictions such as gout, the aftereffects of rickets, or severe arthritis as well as the travails of various malnutrition diseases. At the time Einstein made his quote, the examples presented to his awareness would primarily be those giants of the nineteenth century, as his contemporaries were yet to show their true glory.

So imagine how hard it is to focus when you're dealing with continual pain, and you'll understand quite well that most scientists of the time had to make their contributions before the onset of age-related issues, or their concentration would suffer markedly.

Comment How do you fit him in? (Score 1) 659

Quick answer: You don't. The American school system is designed for an average student, and he's definitely not average.

In reading the article, it seems as though his parents have come up with a good educational plan: they're keeping him in non-math pursuits at an age-appropriate level and getting special classes and tutoring for the maths and sciences, where he's excelling. Basically, he's half-homeschooled (because homeschooling doesn't just mean the parents as teachers.) They're catering to his needs while looking out for his emotional stability and development.

The American educational system still has enough flexibility to allow parents to do these things. It just does them by allowing the parents to work in parallel to the system rather than within it.

Comment Why not? (Score 1, Interesting) 263

It wouldn't surprise me in the least that a look/feel would be emulated, especially if the designer were idolized. It might even be a sort of design Easter egg, the sort of in-joke that only those in the know would get as funny. Like font jokes, which are only funny if you use the fonts every day.

Comment Re:When parents complain about bruises ... (Score 2) 493

Social services folks are taught to look for specific types of bruises, not just a highly bruised kid. If a kid has bruises up and down their shins and scraped knees, that's an obvious active kid. Even a black eye by itself doesn't call for suspicion. The types of bruises they look for are the more subtle injuries—bruises on the insides of the arms, or fingerprint bruises (looks like—and is—the result of a digging grab.)

It's also the attitude of the kid. I gave myself a rather spectacular black eye by running into the corner of a wall at home—my second day at a new school. The teacher asked me to do show & tell about it when I got back and it took me years to realize that this was her subtle form of investigation, because no abused kid in the world would give the performance and details of the event that I did. "I fell" or "I ran into a door" is typical for abuse, not "I did this, and this, and this, and then I turned the corner too quickly and BAM, and then my brother started laughing, and so on..."

Comment Re:US has a space industry, for now ... (Score 1) 628

Technically, property taxes can be raised every year, but the amount they can be raised is limited to a percentage of the valuation at time of sale. And I'd blame a certain NIMBY-ism in areas that are way overvalued (Marin County, anyone?) You're certainly right about the building regulations.

Though IIRC, property tax revenue is currently about 200 times the increase in population as relative to 1977 values, which is one reason I despise politicians who use Prop. 13 for an excuse for our failing schools. They've had more than three decades to adjust; the fact that it's gotten worse as they spend money on every pet cause they can think of instead of education, public safety, and infrastructure is not the fault of the voters who were trying to fix something that was clearly broken (as evidenced by folks in other states slammed by the recent housing bubble in regards to their property tax valuations.)

The problem is that unlimited development—one of the ways Texas has kept its housing prices down—isn't necessarily the best idea in California. Either you have building up on arable land—not a good idea for an agricultural powerhouse—or on a floodplain (they're often both for a reason), or you have development in nasty areas that no one really wants to live in (Salton Sea.) This makes those folks living in areas that are actually desirable price their houses in the silly range, and they think their house actually deserves it.

Comment Re:This is *NOT* capitalism (Score 2) 288

I know that at least one buggy whip manufacturer saw the writing on the wall and went into another braided-cord technology—high test fishing line. You know, for swordfish and other large sea game. They're still around, and tout this change on their website.

So technology gets rid of jobs and doesn't replace them? You say this on a website, created by people on software created by people on hardware designed and built by people. You do this with your computer which was designed by people and assembled by robots which were designed by people.

Heck, my job as a Photoshop manipulator for a photography studio didn't exist ten years ago.

In other words, you may want to rethink your premise.

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