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  • Jan 3rd, 2014 @ 12:46am

    Flimsy anti-NAFTA reasoning

    Um, just listing bad things since NAFTA doesn't show causality. Some other bigger things happened to the economy, too the rise of competitive industries worldwide, the dotcom bust and multiple wars, the housing bust and financial crisis.

    Mexico has become more economically stable and competitive in recent decades it's grown a little faster than the US since the start of NAFTA so the in-migration and pressure on wages (from migrants or imports) could easily have been worse.

    The reliability of the anti-trade Public Citizen research is revealed by goofball spin like "the average nominal price of food in the United States has jumped 65 percent". Nominal? Only economic policy shysters will pick nominal prices over a long period to try to scare people. The rise in CPI since 1993? 63%. So in real terms, food has gone up by maybe 2%. And is it really likely NAFTA has made that worse - compared to fuel costs, 1.5B more people on the planet, 700 million moved out of poverty (more than halving the global poverty rate)? If NAFTA has led to more people and products moving over borders as Public Citizen fears it's almost certainly made food prices (and those of lots of other goods) lower than they would have been otherwise.

  • Sep 9th, 2013 @ 12:16pm

    Maybe also motivated by clumsy DoD site-blocking policies

    Another possibility: the DoD thinks the post is 'dangerous viewing' for troops. So, as when they blocked access to the entire Guardian website (http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130627/22485123649/defense-department-blocks-all-web-access-to-g uardian-response-to-nsa-leaks.shtml), they will be blocking any *.jhu.edu domains that host it.

    But, those same domains may include other information that the DoD/troops need (and have "paid for" in research grants and joint programs). Hence, because (like early versions of China's firewall) their censoring tech is crude and whole domain/IP-address oriented, they pressure JHU to segregate content for troop-friendliness.

  • Aug 29th, 2013 @ 3:43pm

    Modern Family should really...

    ...integrate this into an episode next season. Like, the new neighbors are corporal-punishment fire-and-brimstone types... and while visiting their house, Phil notices this book on their bookshelf, with his family on the cover, and is perplexed. Then the dad's family and in-laws get involved somehow, the original picture (where the other spokes of the family were cropped out) is found online, misunderstandings and hilarity ensue.

  • Jul 1st, 2013 @ 4:06pm

    Plural 'United States' not unheard of domestically...

    While less common, Americans do sometimes treat "United States" as plural, and there's even some evidence the usage is making a comeback. See for example this about Obama saying "These United States..." recently:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/05/these-united-states-how-obamas-vocal-tic-rev eals-a-polarized-america/275739/

    I think it's most common if wanting to emphasize states' rights or distinct characters... so you also see it sometimes in the rhetoric of some right-wing/originalist groups. (["these united states" "ron paul"] = 744K hits; ["these united states" "barack obama"] = 244K hits)

    So it *could have been* a consciously chosen affectation of Snowden's... though Wikileaks' editing makes it seem like their own error of clumsy group-composition.

    Why isn't the statement signed with a PGP key, such as the one Wired thought could be Snowden's? Quite possibly, where Snowden currently is, he doesn't have confidence he could unlock his key for signing without compromising it to nearby minders.

  • Jun 13th, 2013 @ 2:21pm

    (untitled comment)

    People, [SHIFT]-[DELETE] is the key sequence for launching drone strikes!

  • Jun 7th, 2013 @ 1:13am

    They've also redefined 'collect'

    The EFF notes the intelligence community also uses a peculiar definition of 'collect'...


    ...such that it only applies to data that's been processed into a reviewable form and delivered to an intelligence employee end-user.

    I suppose if Google used the same definition, they could crawl web pages, use them to build indexes and train algorithms, but deny that any particular page has been 'collected' unless and until they show up in a user's search results.

    Note also that Wyden used the qualifying phrase "on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans". Using this peculiar meaning of 'collect' Clapper could have given a fully-forthcoming, peculiar, but still self-consistent answer like: "No, even though we have received and indexed data records on hundreds of millions of Americans, each of our searches are configured to return only the top 10 results, thus our intelligence officers only ever 'collect' data on 10 people at a time. And we try really really hard to craft our queries so that most of those 10 results are foreigners, but you know how hard crafting precise queries can be!"

  • Dec 19th, 2012 @ 11:20am

    Another reasoned takedown of simple "you are the product" thinking...

    ...from Derek Powazek:


  • Oct 10th, 2012 @ 1:50pm

    Taking 'rewards multiple viewings' to all-new levels

    Another embellishment that could work really well for a twisty time-travel film like Looper: have slightly-alternate versions of the movie replace it during its run, ideally in secret.

    The post-viewing discussions would then be delightfully confusing, and perhaps only by seeing them all would you get the full, full story.

    (The 'Clue' movie way-back-when had three alternate endings in theaters.)

    Even if not for narrative innovation, can we be very far from A/B Tested movie cuts, where on opening night every theater has a unique variant and after audience reactions some cuts are discarded while others proliferate?

  • Feb 15th, 2012 @ 11:10am

    Re: Re: True, but...

    I think it could be so bad.

    Asshole geniuses may bruise a few people's feelings, but leave enduring work that stands alone, without regard to their personality. The asshole damage they can do is capped by their lifetime and personal interactions; the genius good they can do is unbounded by infinite reproduction.

    But, given the observation leading this article, the incentives for creation and the personality are now more linked than before. We've actually *lost* one of the benefits of mass-reproduction -- detaching the work from the personality-outside-the-work -- when we go to voluntary payments. Some asshole geniuses will, at the margin, go into other fields (like banking or law) rather than creating great works. Not a win for the culture.

    Not that I think this jusitifes (or that it would even be possible) trying to go back to the old system of copy-tolls. It's just an observation about the texture of the new deal. Maybe culturally we'll adapt, when we get bored with all the nice-guys, by adopting an ethic of even paying those we don't 'like' when they make us think.

  • Feb 15th, 2012 @ 10:09am

    True, but...

    ...this insight also has a dark side. A lot of great creators were assholes. A world where you don't just have to be creative, but also likable, could miss out on some prolific careers.

  • Jan 19th, 2012 @ 3:33pm

    (untitled comment)

    So censorship by the government is wrong, but censorship by 'Anonymous' is teaching a valuable moral lesson?

    I prefer: all censorship is wrong.

  • Oct 14th, 2011 @ 12:58pm

    Attack of the Drones

    When the assassination drones home onto their targets by facial recognition, then he'll have a good case. Of course, then it may be too late (for him).

  • Oct 10th, 2011 @ 10:30pm

    (untitled comment)

    IV is smart. Their agreement with customers of their protection service, like Google, may specific procedures for how acquisitions are treated... and with the suit, IV manages to stake a claim at some higher rate than otherwise.

    Or, the agreement is silent, but IV thinks they have enough leverage to shake a payday from the traditional cash pot often set-aside, in a big acquisition, for clearing pending pre-acquisition disputes. It might even be the case that such disputes, once resolved, get deducted (up to a level a little like a deductible) from the prior MMI owner's payments. So Google may be indifferent to IV taking its pint of blood: they pay the same either way, and get MMI at the end... only the current MMI shareholders get bled.

  • Jun 29th, 2011 @ 11:17pm

    Re: Re: Can only boot so many affiliates...

    My understanding regarding NY: Amazon is pursuing a court challenge there. While the challenge is alive (it lost at a lower level, but has been appealed), Amazon is paying New York sales taxes into an escrow account. As long as they're on the hook for sales taxes during the appeal, and hopeful of a victory, it seems they're also maintaining the affiliate program.

  • Jun 29th, 2011 @ 7:33pm

    (untitled comment)

    Having sales-affiliates who are under incentive payment plans (commissions as a percentage of sales) isn't an absurd basis for a tax nexus. And the relevant Supreme Court ruling came from 1992, and relied at least a little on how onerous it was, back then, to keep track of sales taxes everywhere. Now, there's practically 'An App For That'.

    Amazon doesn't even like to pay sales taxes in states where it has actual physical distribution centers, which store and ship retail-purchased products, like it has in Nevada and Texas. (It uses a system of subsidiaries to try to avoid liability.)

    Last year, the Texas comptroller decided Amazon owed almost $300 million in back taxes based on its in-state distribution center, kicking off a battle there with many twists and turns:

    GOP comptroller demands back-tax payment

    Amazon declares intent to leave state

    GOP governor announces opposition to GOP comptroller's decision

    Amazon's hometown newspaper, the Seattle Times, editorializes that Amazon should stop trying to dodge sales taxes in Texas and elsewhere

    Texas's GOP legislature passes bill (like the California one) establishing additional Amazon liability based on the affiliate logic supporting and going beyond the Comptroller

    GOP governor with rumored presidential ambitions vetoes bill

    Texas GOP legislature starts working on ways to pass measure over veto

    Amazon offers Texas legislature 5000 no, two weeks later, make that 6000! new distribution jobs in state if they pass a multi-year Amazon-specific sales-tax exemption.

    Since Texas has no income tax, they can't make up that exemption on the employees' income taxes the sales tax is the state's main source of revenue. So far, the legislature has rejected Amazon's offer.

  • Apr 18th, 2011 @ 12:40pm

    (untitled comment)

    This highlights one of the reasons a national popular vote (rather than the electoral college) could create more, rather than fewer, problematic situations like Bush/Gore 2000.

    By the median voter theorem, the two parties will adjust themselves so that most elections tend towards a 50-50 split. A nationwide popular vote makes a few thousand votes *anywhere* potentially result-changing. Both parties have regions where their partisans dominate; both parties have some ethically-challenged-if-its-for-the-cause rank-and-file, especially at the local levels where there's less focused media attention.

    So, sneaking in a small number of votes to run up the victory totals in the most partisan, least-mentally-balanced strongholds could more easily swing the whole election. It means that instead of having to watch a few swing states very closely states that by definition have healthy organizations on both sides every single partisan outpost needs to be suspect.

    In a close election, everyplace becomes Florida/Palm Beach County (or Waukesha County), simultaneously.

  • Mar 11th, 2011 @ 1:01pm

    You know a European who'd really like to be forgotten?


  • Mar 2nd, 2011 @ 2:22pm

    Cui bono?

    Are we sure IBM doesn't have some massive government contract pending in Holt's committee? :)

  • Feb 28th, 2011 @ 10:27pm



    "schumer.senate.gov uses an invalid security certificate."

  • Nov 24th, 2010 @ 9:59pm

    Gov-payment scrip

    Reminds me of a favorite (though far-fetched) idea for encouraging federal fiscal responsibility I read about long ago: have two currencies, one for all private use (including taxpaying), one that's used to pay all government workers, dependents, and contractors. The exchange rate between the two would float such that for any given rolling reference period, payments in Gov$ must equal receipts in Priv$.

    All at once, all the constituencies whose tight-feedback-loop lobbying and politicking throw budgets into long-term deficit would pay a lot closer attention to government overpromises -- because the main way they'd be reconciled would be automatic devaluation of Gov$.

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