They don't need to have been around to learn from the past mistakes of others. Just remember the saying "A wise man learns from his own mistakes, only an idiot doesn't learn from someone else's". Of course there's nothing to stop them from blatantly ignoring the past out or arrogance, but we have a saying for that too, "Those who ignore history's mistakes are doomed to repeat them".
I agree with your second point though, given how many mergers and takeovers we've seen the last year, it's very unlikely that any of the big 4 will be exactly the same as they are now, and at least one of them will lose a spot in the top 4, though probably remaining in the top 10 (I'd guess Apple).
Google has massive brand awareness, and probably still has the best search algorithms in the world. If they can avoid making the sort of mistakes they have been with things like Google+ then they'll still be relevant in 15 years, but they'll need to get into the knowledge engine game. I wouldn't be surprised if they bought a few of IBM's Watson systems for that very purpose.
Amazon has the potential to stick around for quite a while, they're very competitive when it comes to buying goods, and they're massively expanding their cloud business, which puts them in a good position as a service provider to others in the future.
Facebook is constantly innovating, trying new things (one look at the number of protest groups that pop up every time they change a font is all you need to see that), and as long as they keep trying new things and remain open to new ideas then they'll last, but the competition in the social networking space is fierce, so it could go either way.
Apple is where things get interesting, they have a massive audience tied into their ecosystem with the iPhone and iTunes, but with the loss of Steve they may have also lost the sense of drive and direction he brought (for better or worse). The iCloud could be big, but if Android and WP7 keep up the pressure then Apple will slowly lose the dominance it has now (I know the number of Android phones is greater than the number of iPhones, but Apple is still beating Google in overall mobile revenue). We've already seen that Android is slowly beating the iPhone back, only time will tell how far they'll slip.
That's not exactly reasonable from a time or cost perspective. In fact given the volume of passenger traffic to and from Hawaii I'd say that flying by plane could be considered an essential means of movement and invalidate some of the private protections afforded to airlines.
The reason the Police will likely tell you to bugger off is because they have far better things to do with their time. Personal infringement (i.e. non-commercial) is not a criminal offense in Australia, it is a civil one, as such the Police are not obligated to investigate anything.
Futhermore this ruling clearly indicates that the Australian courts do not think that an IP address is sufficient proof of identity. Therefore the basic message to all the movie companies that want to start trying to sue people for infringement is that they'll have to do their own research and gather factual proof before any civil case can proceed.
Actually the anime industry should be happy, since they get far less revenue from the rental industry than they do from selling at retail. Most video stores would have at most a dozen copies of the latest films, so the studio would only get a dozen sales, but the rental store would rent out those copies potentially hundreds of times over the lifetime of the disk.
A decrease in the rental industry and an increase in DVD sales is a win for the anime industry.
There's a slight problem with that logic, the government works for the people, they have a right to know how and why decisions are made, whereas a private individual does have the right to privacy, though there is some overlap when it comes to people that work for the public sector. In any case, the government only has the right to secrecy in matters of national security, however as the US government is full of corrupt and/or self serving politicians who generate all manner of potentially damaging paperwork, it has become standard practice to just classify everything as national security.
Take ACTA, for example, a major treaty with many governments around the world, and yet the whole thing has been classified under national security, why? The simplest, and most likely, explanation is that the people who drafted ACTA know that it would never pass public scrutiny, so they made it a secret so that it would never need to, and would be passed without serious public consultation. That is not how a democracy is supposed to work.
It's a perfectly nice place to visit, provided you don't get attacked by dropbears or bunyips, just don't move here, unless you like the government to slowly take away all your civil liberties and make everything remotely fun illegal.
we have morality by majority, enforced by the courts and the police. There doesn't need to be an omnipotent power to enforce morality, not that God has done much to stop immoral behavior in the past, but that's a discussion best left for another day.
How often do the police officers get proper training to use them effectively, and how often are they told to ignore their training to fill their quotas (they may deny it but every police force sets quotas)