TanyaJLaird's recent activity

  1. Comment on Kroger’s panopticon: Making criminals of grocery shoppers in ~tech

    TanyaJLaird
    Link Parent
    And yet, they're not locking fruits and veggies behind cages. Yes, if you are subsisting off of rice and beans, veggies will be the most expensive part of your order. But for most people, the more...

    And yet, they're not locking fruits and veggies behind cages. Yes, if you are subsisting off of rice and beans, veggies will be the most expensive part of your order. But for most people, the more expensive items will be meat, processed foods, or general goods like laundry detergent. Yes, in the past, it was easier to steal these by fudging the weights or ringing up organic produce as regular produce. But one, this has gotten harder with better equipment and employee training. And two, again, produce doesn't have a lot of resale value. Stores aren't really that concerned about a broke kid ringing up a pound of onions as a half pound. They're more concerned about large scale theft, where people buy items to later sell online. And veggies really don't have any resale value.

    1 vote
  2. Comment on Kroger’s panopticon: Making criminals of grocery shoppers in ~tech

    TanyaJLaird
    Link Parent
    Thanks for the write-up. Yeah, the whole process is clearly intentionally designed to confuse and obfuscate. You can't tell the real price for many things until you've already scanned your entire...

    Thanks for the write-up. Yeah, the whole process is clearly intentionally designed to confuse and obfuscate. You can't tell the real price for many things until you've already scanned your entire order. At which point, there's a line of people in line behind you waiting their turn. And you've already put in all that time to wait in line and do some unpaid cashier work for Kroger. If you want to back out then, after you see the real prices, you have to overcome that huge sunk cost fallacy. The whole thing is set up to manipulate you.

    3 votes
  3. Comment on Kroger’s panopticon: Making criminals of grocery shoppers in ~tech

    TanyaJLaird
    Link Parent
    If anything, the big national chains should be able to offer better products, better service, and at better prices than local stores. That's the entire principle of economies of scale. If you...

    If anything, the big national chains should be able to offer better products, better service, and at better prices than local stores. That's the entire principle of economies of scale. If you double the number of employees your company has, you don't need an HR department twice as large. You don't need two CEOs, or one paid twice as much. A distribution warehouse that can house 100,000 widgets does not cost twice what one that houses 50,000 widgets does. They can get better deals by buying from suppliers in larger quantities, etc.

    If anything, with as big as they are, every Kroger should be a veritable shopping Shangri-La. But I notice the same, the big national stores are always dirtier and charge more than the smaller local stores. They do benefit from those economies of scale, but they just funnel all those gains to executives and shareholders.

    8 votes
  4. Comment on Kroger’s panopticon: Making criminals of grocery shoppers in ~tech

    TanyaJLaird
    Link Parent
    Not the one you replied to, but they're absolutely trying to have their cake and eat it to. They have deliberately understaffed their stores. They're a multi-billion dollar company. At that scale,...

    How so?

    Not the one you replied to, but they're absolutely trying to have their cake and eat it to. They have deliberately understaffed their stores. They're a multi-billion dollar company. At that scale, nothing is left to chance. Companies that big don't just hire architects to design their stores; they hire psychologists. They fine tune everything from the store layout to the paint color to the aisle width to subtly influence customers to spend more money. This is why the cheap low-margin staples, like milk, are always at the far back of the store. The stores deliberately force you to walk past all the high-margin processed foods to get to the real foods.

    Anyway, I cite store design as an example of how much thought they put into their operations. And the blindingly obvious downside of a store lowering their payroll is that it results in more theft. Imagine if I tried to run a grocery store on the honor system. No checkout at all, no scanning of items. I'll just put a big basket out front. Grab what you want, add the totals in your head, throw cash in the basket on the way out.

    What do you think would happen if I did that? Would anyone be surprised if the store didn't last a week due to rampant theft? Of course not. And no one would have any sympathy for me.

    The cost of running your stores on a skeleton crew is that theft will rise. They knew that before they contracted their staffing. And now they're still complaining about soaring theft levels. It was as inevitable as the Sun rising in the morning. And now they're forcing law-abiding customers to endure demeaning and inhuman treatment at the hands of their shitty AIs. It's classic enshittification.

    Because their price tags are confusing? I'm having some difficulty understanding how price tags can so confusing that it makes them a legitimate target of theft.

    They deliberately design their price tags to be confusing. Why would they do that? Because they want to trick people. It's a form of legal fraud. They want you to think you're getting a better deal than you are; or to prevent you from recognizing the actual price. They figure out how to intrinsically promise a certain deal without ever explicitly claiming that deal. For example, maybe the label makes it seem like the cost of an item is $5, but it's actually $7. Imagine you don't have enough money to pay the $7 actual cost, but you do have enough for the $5 portrayed cost. You could go back and select a different item. You could just abandon the item at the checkout counter, but now you feel like an asshole and you have to go shop somewhere else. But the store, through its design, deliberately makes returning items difficult.

    And again, this is not accidental. Stores are deliberately designed to make back tracking difficult. The whole shopping and checkout process is built to make returning items or swapping them out stressful and difficult. After you've walked through all the aisles, waited ten minutes in line, have half your cart unloaded, have a quarter of it already bagged, and have a line of people behind you, who wants to leave checkout and go back to the aisles? They literally use peer pressure to prevent you from returning items! You have to awkwardly shove your way past others if you want to return an item you can't afford. They know that if they can keep you tricked up until the point where you're mid-checkout, you'll probably just grit your teeth and pay the bait-and-switch price anyway.

    Now, if I think a product should cost $5, but it turns out to actually cost $7, I'm not going to steal it. But it's not hard to see how people could be so angered by it that they may simply steal. A possible attitude is, "fine. You want to cheat me with your psychological games? I'm going to steal enough of this order that I'm getting the price that you deliberately tricked me into thinking I was getting. That item I you made me think was $5, but was actually $7? I'm going to just not ring up this $2 item."

    Is it legal? No. But this is one of those areas where the fuzzy boundaries of legality and morality blur. Kroger using psychological manipulation on their customers is highly immoral, but it is technically legal. Customers using theft to produce the deal they were promised isn't legal, but I'm not going to say it's immoral. Something isn't immoral simply because it's illegal. And many legal things are horribly immoral. The law is, at best, a rough approximation of morality. And while, legally, doing this is stealing, morally, I see it as little different from simply demanding the price you were promised.

    13 votes
  5. Comment on Kroger’s panopticon: Making criminals of grocery shoppers in ~tech

    TanyaJLaird
    Link Parent
    Are you sure you're actually witnessing theft and not just something that looks to you like theft?

    I don't know about gangs of people, but I see grocery store theft nearly every day, and that's how it works -- people get their hands on a product and then they just stroll out with it, typically with an LPO walking them out the door

    Are you sure you're actually witnessing theft and not just something that looks to you like theft?

    5 votes
  6. Comment on Kroger’s panopticon: Making criminals of grocery shoppers in ~tech

    TanyaJLaird
    Link Parent
    Alternately, we could go to a more modern version of the traditional general store. In the traditional general/dry goods store, everything was behind the counter. The process of walking around...

    They could prevent this problem entirely by just keeping their regular checkout lines staffed instead of pushing people towards self checkout.

    Alternately, we could go to a more modern version of the traditional general store. In the traditional general/dry goods store, everything was behind the counter. The process of walking around with a cart and selecting items from shelves was something that came about with the invention of supermarkets in the mid 20th century. In the traditional general store, you could get your items one of two ways. You could walk in, tell them what you want, and wait for them to grab it. Or, you could send them an order request and drop by at a certain time to pick it up, similar to modern curbside pickup.

    If the stores want to cut down on labor that much, they should abandon the cart and aisles approach all together. Invest in the necessary infrastructure and automation to allow orders to be placed and gathered automatically. Make the whole store automated and pickup only. The only thing this wouldn't work for is fresh produce, which people really want to be able to feel and inspect. To that end, you could have a traditional produce section, but everything else is automated and gathered by drones/conveyors, etc. With the exception of the veggies, customers don't even get to touch merchandise they haven't paid for. Suddenly, theft is a non-issue. And most fruits and veggies aren't really worth the hassle of trying to steal; they're not that valuable to start with, and they have no resale value. You're not going to steal an apple and then flip it on craigslist.

    The problem Kroger is having is that they're stuck in the lowest point of miserly cheapness. They don't want to invest in enough labor to properly staff all their stores. They're operating all their stores lean, with not enough people around to keep an eye on things and prevent theft. They could also stop theft by investing in enough automation that everything except the produce section is entirely automated. But again, they don't want to invest enough to do that.

    So they're stuck in this awkward middle stage. They have too few people to properly staff their stores, but they don't have the automation and store design needed to operate on a skeleton crew. So predictably, theft is rampant (especially when tied to usurious price increases). And now they're turning to AI as a desperate hail Mary to save them from their own idiocy. They hope that AI can be used to carefully monitor all the customers they're forcing to perform the work of the cashiers they fired. But of course, that's not really possible. There are just too many variables; too many shapes of human bodies; too many types of goods; too many places people might legitimately store goods before and after checkout. And that's before we get into things like racial bias in visual recognition systems.

    Ultimately, this may cause the collapse of Kroger. The executives can't properly staff their stores again, as they've conditioned their shareholders to expect a certain profit level. The CEO can't return things to healthy payroll levels without slashing profits and losing their job. They in turn could invest in truly automated stores. But again, the shareholders are addicted to unsustainably high profits. So they're now attempting this band-aid hack of a solution, trying to use AI.

    It may end up dooming Kroger. Maybe in some small towns Kroger is the only option. But in the cities where most of the population lives, people do have options on where to shop. And at some point, dealing with all the hassle of shopping at Kroger will just encourage people to shop elsewhere. I can get overpriced groceries some place that doesn't treat me like a criminal. And this may really harm Kroger in the long run. If they start losing customers, well, again, they've already conditioned their shareholders to expect unsustainably high profits. With declining revenue, they'll find it even more difficult to increase staffing or invest in useful automation. So they'll have to keep trying to squeeze their customers even harder. They'll have to treat them more and more like criminals. They'll have to try to force even more of the store's labor upon them.

    How long do you think it will be until they start informing customers that it's their responsibility to restock or reface shelves? How long do you think until using a cart requires a $10 deposit? Hell, they might even try to offload the work of fixing the shitty self-checkout machines. Maybe instead of calling an associate over when there's a problem, you'll have the option of dragging three other customers over, having them scan their drivers licenses, and you all can vouch for the honesty of your purchase? I wouldn't put it past them if they tried to convince us it was our responsibility to mop the floors.

    12 votes
  7. Comment on ‘It’s plain elitist’: anger at Greek plan for €5,000 private tours of Acropolis in ~travel

    TanyaJLaird
    Link Parent
    If there is a shortage of available space, the correct thing to do is to use a lottery system. Have a lottery where all people, rich and poor alike, have equal access to it. The Acropolis is the...
    • Exemplary

    If there is a shortage of available space, the correct thing to do is to use a lottery system. Have a lottery where all people, rich and poor alike, have equal access to it. The Acropolis is the quintessential temple to democracy. It shouldn't be corrupted with something that so flagrantly caters to the wealthy.

    The maintenance concerns, while a legitimate concern, are not a legitimate reason to so pervert a sacred temple to our democrat traditions. Once you start creating a special "rich person lane," the main experience inevitably starts to suffer as the agency involves starts catering to them and neglecting everyone else. Look at the TSA and its anti-democratic fast lane systems; providing the well-off a means to buy their way around security lines, as though terrorists can't purchase a TSA fast lane pass. And walk into any airport, and you'll find the TSA wasting vast resources to cater to the wealthy. They'll have one person in front of a long line of ordinary people, while another agent in the rich person line sits there idle, seeing a person every couple of minutes.

    Even if it makes some sense economically, there is an inherent value in keeping or society and its government small-d democratic. Governments should not offer fast lanes or superior experiences to those with wealth. If there is anything we should be able to agree on in a democratic society, it's basic equality under the law.

    The Acropolis should not be perverted by the whims of the wealthy. If you need to raise more funds, charge admission and make the price a sliding scale based on person income and wealth. Don't give the wealthy a special experience because they're oh-so-special rich boys. Charge them more for the basic experience. While verifying everyone's income is a difficult task, it's doable if you're using an advanced lottery system, and it's likely little more work than creating a special rich-boys' club.

    And I do not for a second buy the idea, that "we're just offering tours during otherwise closed hours!" If that's the case, then those are hours you could be offering more tours for regular non-oligarchs.

    9 votes
  8. Comment on Hades II - Technical test sign ups now available in ~games

    TanyaJLaird
    Link
    Heracles approves.

    Heracles approves.

    1 vote
  9. Comment on How can I completely and permanently remove the ability to access the internet from a Debian derivative? in ~tech

    TanyaJLaird
    Link Parent
    Yeah, I agree. "Good enough" should be the rule here. Ultimately, there's nothing stopping OP from just using another computer. If they're a university student, there's nothing stopping them from...

    Yeah, I agree. "Good enough" should be the rule here. Ultimately, there's nothing stopping OP from just using another computer. If they're a university student, there's nothing stopping them from just heading to a computer lab and messing around on social media. The point is to make a device that has a similarly difficulty accessing the Internet as finding a different computer to work with. Honestly, simply disabling the wifi in bios should be enough. Give the laptop to a friend or partner. Have them change the bios password and record it. Or, change it to something too long and random to remember and write the password down a few times. Then, place these scraps of paper in a few locations you won't constantly see them, but can be easily addressed. Think bottom of the sock drawer.

    It's important to keep your eye on the ball here. The real goal is to make it so accessing the Internet requires a good 15-30 minutes of effort, whether through elite hacking skill or simply finding another computer. We're not designing a computer for prison inmates; we're just trying to make accessing social media such a pain in the ass it loses its luster.

    11 votes
  10. Comment on Swedish company Scout Park has launched a mobile app where you can tip off wrongly parked cars to traffic wardens to earn money in ~transport

    TanyaJLaird
    Link
    Honestly, we need a lot more of this. I'm living in a more bike-friendly area now. I used to live in a larger more bike-intolerant city in the US South. I would ride in accordance with local laws....

    Honestly, we need a lot more of this. I'm living in a more bike-friendly area now. I used to live in a larger more bike-intolerant city in the US South. I would ride in accordance with local laws. However, biking was a constant exercise dealing with the repeated illegal violation and harassment on the part of local drivers. I might be biking on a street in a no-passing zone with no shoulder. People would try to illegally pass, or aggressively honk and yell at you for biking legally. Some would even try to run you off the road.

    The police generally do not respect cyclists. Even killing a bicyclist will rarely result in so much as a ticket. What is needed to police aggressive drivers and abuse against cyclists is a system that bypasses the police all together. One possibility is to establish a private cause of action against aggressive drivers endangering cyclists. For example, there was, I believe, a four-foot minimum passing distance required. Cars would violate that all the time, zooming by with short separations. We could make it so a bicyclist so endangered could drag every single driver who does this to them into small-claims court. Cameras are cheap now. You can wear a camera on your ride, and even have it back up automatically to the cloud. Driver passes you at an unsafe distance? You should be able to sue them for $200. A driver repeatedly honks or tailgates at you, while you are riding the safest you can in accordance with the law? $1000 right of private action. A driver tries to force you off the road? You now own their car.

    We could use the same thing with parking in bicycle lanes. Are you riding along and a car is illegally blocking your path? You should be able to take several pictures of it, record the date and time, make a quick video, and then sue them in court. Any random person impeded by an illegally parked vehicle should be able to sue the owner of that vehicle. A similar thing would do wonders for pedestrian safety.

    At least in the US, police largely view pedestrians and bicyclists as subhuman creatures not really worthy of legal protection. If we really want to combat the surge of pedestrian and cyclist deaths, we need enforcement mechanisms that bypass police and their biases all together. Drivers who recklessly endanger cyclists and pedestrians will quickly find themselves joining the ranks of bicyclists and pedestrians as their cars are sued out from under them.

    13 votes
  11. Comment on Iran launches dozens of drones toward Israel in ~news

    TanyaJLaird
    Link Parent
    This is me putting my conspiracy theorist's hat on. But are we really sure Iran doesn't already have nukes? Their chief rival is Israel. Israel has, for decades, maintained a policy of ambiguity,...

    This is me putting my conspiracy theorist's hat on. But are we really sure Iran doesn't already have nukes? Their chief rival is Israel. Israel has, for decades, maintained a policy of ambiguity, refusing to admit the existence of their nuclear arsenal. At the same time, Iran has been reportedly right on the brink of developing nuclear weapons for what...20 years at this point? Trump withdrew the US from the Iranian deal in 2017. And at the time, Iran was reported to be just months away from the bomb. Them already having a decent number of nuclear weapons doesn't seem that absurd an idea.

    The one thing that would really make me suspect this is that Israel and Iran really are acting very similar to how other nuclear powers operate when in conflict. They've doubled down on the proxy war, and they've been running a low-level cloak and dagger spy v. spy conflict with each other for years. The present Israel/Iran relationship reminds me a lot of the Cold War US/Soviet relationship. If you can't declare outright war against each other, you have to use covert and indirect action to advance your aims.

    And part of this is being very careful about how you respond to slights and actions against you. Iran has supported Hamas and Hezbollah, so Israel killed one of their leading generals. In response, Iran launched a drone attack against Israel. However, they've done so in a way that seems geared to give Israel an easy off ramp. Yes, they made a big spectacular attack...hundreds of drones! They initiated an attack that they can play up in their media, something to show their people that slights against their country won't go unanswered. But at the same time, they hardly launched everything they could against Israel. They didn't order Hezbollah to unleash their rocket arsenal. They mostly sent a bunch of cheap, slow, low-yield drones that could be easily shot down. Israel has apparently shot down 99% of the drones and missiles Iran launched. What we saw represents only a tiny fraction of Iran's capabilities. Despite the spectacular nature of an attack with hundreds of drones, it was actually a pretty modest demonstration of their capabilities. And the damage to Israel was minimal. Those drones cost something like $20k a piece, so 500 of them would represent a cost of $10 million. That's about the cost of five tomahawk cruise missiles.

    It reminds me of the lengths the Soviet Union went to during the Korean War to give the US a path to avoid escalation. Soviet Pilots fought the US over the skies of Korea. However, they always made sure to provide a fig-leaf of plausible deniability. They flew in planes with North Korean or Chinese markings. Some were given fake Chinese passports. Others were officially not even active duty Soviet soldiers, but just volunteers who just showed up in China offering to help. There absolutely was an organized campaign to pit Soviet pilots against American ones, but this provided a small degree of deniability. And the American government certainly wasn't fooled by it. They knew these were actually Soviet pilots. But they never called the Soviet Union out on it or used it as an excuse to escalate. If the Soviet Union had directly sent in Soviet planes to openly attack US troops and aircraft, that would have been a direct declaration of war. But by doing it indirectly, the Soviets could help their allies while also giving the US an easy path to avoid escalating the situation into an all-out nuclear war. The Soviets pulled their pilot shenanigans not to fool the US, but to give the Americans an easy excuse to not start a nuclear war.

    This whole situation feels very similar. The two sides are engaging in tit-for-tat retaliatory attacks, but they're deliberately designed to be relatively minor. Maybe this means that they really just don't want to fight a conventional war. But it really makes me wonder if perhaps Iran is already a nuclear power, but it has just chosen to maintain the same strategic ambiguity that Israel does. They would even have a similar motivation to do it. Israel has avoided admitting having the bomb because that would have given the Arab states a clear justification for pursuing one of their own. Iran might deny having the bomb to prevent Saudi Arabia from having a clear excuse for building one.

    I don't really have any firm evidence of this of course, it's all just speculation. But this whole situation makes me wonder if Iran already has the bomb, their rival powers already knows it, and they're all walking around on tip toes to prevent things from going nuclear.

    3 votes
  12. Comment on Video game devotees are much more likely to be working-class than middle-class, says research in ~games

    TanyaJLaird
    Link Parent
    My version of that is probably the original Kerbal Space Program. I bought it not at the earliest release, but pretty early. I think I spent a similar amount, maybe $10-20 on it. And I've played...

    My version of that is probably the original Kerbal Space Program. I bought it not at the earliest release, but pretty early. I think I spent a similar amount, maybe $10-20 on it. And I've played that thing for a few thousand hours. I've played it many times, but every once in awhile I'll go back for a whole career-mode play through, visiting all the planets and climbing the old tech tree again. It's basically rocket legos, and like legos, it has a lot of replay value.

    9 votes
  13. Comment on What's the best way to avoid scams when being paid by strangers on the internet? in ~finance

    TanyaJLaird
    Link
    You could ask for a US Post Office money order. The only way to get one of those is to go to a post office and get one. Moreover, you can't buy one with a credit card. The Post Office makes sure...

    You could ask for a US Post Office money order. The only way to get one of those is to go to a post office and get one. Moreover, you can't buy one with a credit card. The Post Office makes sure you have the money before they give you the money order, so you know it's good.

    Fraudulent money orders are always a possibility. But faking a Post Office money order is a serious federal offense and would require an elaborate act of physical forgery. And if you're still paranoid, you can always take the money order directly to your local Post Office instead of depositing it in your bank account. Go to the Post Office and cash the money order, then deposit the cash in your bank. The problem with banks and money orders/checks is they'll often not actually be fully "cleared" by the time the money pops into your account. It actually takes weeks to clear checks. If you're a customer in good standing with a bank, they'll usually just take your word for it that the check is good and credit your account immediately. Then, weeks later, the money is removed from your account when the check turns out to be bad.

    Wire transfers aren't necessarily a bad option either, as those are irreversible. Or at least that's often the case internationally. There's a reason the scammers all want wire transfers. A payment by regular check can be reversed, an international wire transfer can't. While that helps scammers looking to steal grandma's retirement, it also helps you trying to get assuredly paid for your work.

    Another possibility is Venmo. I believe their payments are irreversible. Finally, there are other more primitive and exotic options like literal cash in the mail or crypto.

    Finally, one other option you might look into is formal escrow services. I found escrow.com via a quick search, though I have no idea how good or legit it is. The idea of an escrow service is that they serve as middle men who protect both buyer and seller in a transaction. There's a reason escrow services are used for big-ticket items like real estate. You don't generally buy a house just by handing the seller a cashier's check and asking them to sign a quit-claim deed. You use an escrow service. The seller assigns the title to the escrow service. The buyer hands them the money. The escrow services verifies that the funds are good and that the property deed is valid. Then the escrow service gives the buyer the deed and the seller the cash. They serve as a neutral and reliable middle-man. And typically they assume the liability. So if the payment does in fact turn bad, they're on the hook for it, not you. They in turn have far greater resources than the average person to look into and verify the authenticity of payments.

    14 votes
  14. Comment on Video game devotees are much more likely to be working-class than middle-class, says research in ~games

    TanyaJLaird
    Link Parent
    Even beyond families, video games, if done right, really are a quite frugal form of entertainment. Sure, you can spend irresponsibly on it, like any hobby or form of entertainment. If you're a...

    Even beyond families, video games, if done right, really are a quite frugal form of entertainment. Sure, you can spend irresponsibly on it, like any hobby or form of entertainment. If you're a whale sinking thousands of dollars into play-to-win games, then yes, you will spend a lot of money on games. But there are games that I've put literally thousands of hours into that cost me $50 or less. Compare that to going out to the movies, playing golf or bowling, attending sporting events or public concerts, etc. About the only form of entertainment that gives more bang for the buck is books you borrow from a public library.

    34 votes
  15. Comment on US Senate Republicans furious over Donald Trump derailing FISA bill in ~misc

    TanyaJLaird
    Link Parent
    Do you have any evidence for that? The Wikipedia article doesn't mention its dismantling. Plus there are any number of other mass surveillance programs. One way the NSA can get around legal bars...

    PRISM was dismantled

    Do you have any evidence for that? The Wikipedia article doesn't mention its dismantling. Plus there are any number of other mass surveillance programs. One way the NSA can get around legal bars against mass surveillance is through international agreements such as Five Eyes. This way, the NSA can claim they're not spying on US citizens. The US will spy on the citizens of the other Five Eyes members and share that info with them. In turn, the other members will spy on US citizens and share the info with the NSA. That way, everyone can pretend that they're not spying on their own citizens.

    I'm sorry, but I simply do not believe that the NSA just gave up tracking. After you've spent decades weaving your spying apparatus into the entire global telecommunications system, you don't just let that go overnight.

    The proof is in the fact that the NSA has been involved in such mass surveillance actions before and has gone to extraordinary lengths to skirt around laws and constitutional protections. While we don't have any big leaks since Snowden documenting the scale of their surveillance, we don't have any evidence that they're curtailing their work either. Has the NSA's budget shrunk? Are they employing fewer people than they used to? By the time you've reached the point where you're monitoring all electronic communication of the entire populace, the default assumption is you're going to keep doing that until proven otherwise. And this is especially true since the NSA does have a proven track record of skirting around privacy laws by outsourcing their surveillance to other governments.

    15 votes
  16. Comment on US Senate Republicans furious over Donald Trump derailing FISA bill in ~misc

    TanyaJLaird
    Link Parent
    One thing to keep in mind is that the NSA is involved way deeper than anyone else. They get back doors put into hardware. Often even software with encryption in it has backdoors in it. Even if you...
    • Exemplary

    One thing to keep in mind is that the NSA is involved way deeper than anyone else. They get back doors put into hardware. Often even software with encryption in it has backdoors in it. Even if you download what you think is an open-source application, often the publicly hosted versions of it will have backdoors. Unless you're actually reviewing the code yourself on hardware you can verify yourself, you have no idea if your communications are really secure. Hell, even searching for privacy tools gets you flagged by the NSA for increased surveillance.

    At this point, with all that has been revealed, the default assumption is that the NSA can read literally any form of electronic communication. Hell, the only reason Osama was able to survive so long was because he refused to use electronic communication all together; he relied on couriers for everything.

    Encryption is a good thing. It certainly can help prevent fraud and identity theft. But the NSA? They're a whole different ballgame. They don't need to hack your phone, as they contracted with its manufacturer to get backdoors placed into it when it was still on the drawing board.

    This kind of thing has actually affected how I interact with the internet. My username is not just a username, that's my literal name. I've started preferring to use my real name on the internet for two reasons. First, it reminds me that nothing I post or comment on is secret. Anonymity doesn't really exist. If someone really wants to dox you, they can, let alone the NSA or law enforcement. Second, I find it helps cool some of the passions that social media can otherwise generate. I find myself commenting in anger or passion far less when using my actual name than when using a screen name. If anonymity doesn't really exist, then perhaps the best we can do is to simply accept it and be careful about what we post in public. Treat it no differently than how you would handle speaking at a large public gathering.

    16 votes
  17. Comment on Truong My Lan: Vietnamese billionaire sentenced to death for $44bn fraud in ~finance

    TanyaJLaird
    Link Parent
    "Taylor Swift" isn't really a person, she's a marketing concept. There are thousands of people involved in engineering the Taylor Swift brand. Part of the marketing is that she is a self-created...

    "Taylor Swift" isn't really a person, she's a marketing concept. There are thousands of people involved in engineering the Taylor Swift brand. Part of the marketing is that she is a self-created artist. And she, like many other billionaires, really does have some innate talent. But like every other billionaire, her real wealth comes from the labor of others, not her own actions. Her personal contributions to the whole enterprise are a crucial, but minimal portion of all the labor performed. Just consider how many hundreds of people are involved in the performing of just one show. Then add the production, marketing, travel, sales, talent agencies, and on and on. "Taylor Swift" is a person, but she's also a brand, a huge corporation. She makes her living not by her own labor, but by leveraging the labor of thousands to multiply the value of her own efforts manyfold.

    Just imagine if Taylor Swift tried to hold even a single concert all by herself, without any aid or assistance whatsoever. Imagine if she, herself, tried to book a major venue, set up the stage, handle the crowds, etc.

    So is Taylor Swift an ethical billionaire? Personally, I would say no. Ultimately most of her wealth comes from the labor of others. Sure, she was entirely self-supporting at one point. But past the point where she was setting up her own shows and working small time gigs, her main source of income stopped being her own efforts and started being the labor of others. She's ultimately little different from other billionaires, except she has a better marketing department and a friendlier image.

    And, like other billionaires, her wealth is her own choice. She doesn't need to be a billionaire to do what she does. For example, after her first ten million or so, more than enough to live a comfortable life without ever working again, she could have transitioned her operation to a worker-owned coop model. If she wanted to still perform at her level but without exploiting the labor of others, she could choose to do so. Maybe over time, the copyrights to her songs end up being transferred to the workers who ultimately make her stardom possible. Or, she could have simply paid her people enough that she at the end of the day makes very little money, content to live off of a "modest" ten million dollar fortune or so.

    This doesn't mean that Swift is in any way worse than other artists. But it is important to remember that ultimately she isn't self-made. No billionaire is. As soon as an artist gets past the point of performing in bars and tiny venues, they start relying more and more on the labor of others. Without the labor of others, Swift would still be performing at only that level. Also, keep in mind that she was hardly pulled herself up from nothing by her own bootstraps. Yes, she had talent, but many other artists have talent and never get anywhere. She herself came from a very wealthy background and relied on family wealth and connections to get her career started. She's "self made" in the way that many other billionaires with some talent are, like Bill Gates or other tech CEOs that came from money.

    5 votes
  18. Comment on US Senate Republicans furious over Donald Trump derailing FISA bill in ~misc

    TanyaJLaird
    Link Parent
    I would file this under "a broken clock is right twice per day." This is an issue that Trump and the ACLU agree on. Under this act, the federal government flagrantly disregards the US...
    • Exemplary

    I would file this under "a broken clock is right twice per day." This is an issue that Trump and the ACLU agree on.

    Under this act, the federal government flagrantly disregards the US constitution. The electronic activities of every American are tapped, recorded, archived, and analyzed. Every time you visit a website, that data is recorded by the government. Every text you send is archived forever. Every phone call you make is sent through a voice-to-text converter and archived. The NSA installs elaborate monitoring equipment right into the offices and data centers of telecom companies. They don't even need to do it in secret. The telecom companies and ISPs allow or are required to allow the NSA to install their equipment in their networks. Everything is recorded; nothing is secret. Electronic communications are all monitored. The 4th amendment means nothing anymore.

    This act is an abomination. This act is precisely the surveillance apparatus that Snowden martyred himself for. The federal government, through the NSA and other agencies, monitors and records essentially every form of electronic communications we have access to. We currently live under a surveillance state far, far more intrusive than anything the Soviet Union or East Germany could ever dream of.

    It's a flagrant violation of the US constitution. The courts have looked the other way through the strained legal gymnastics that developed post-9/11. But regardless of what the court say, there is simply no way a sane human being could argue that the complete warrantless recording of all digital communications of all Americans somehow is compatible with the 4th Amendment.

    I have no doubt that Trump is opposing this for entirely selfish reasons. The man has no soul; he is an empty husk, utterly incapable of empathy for any other human being. He opposes it because he fears some of his actions are illegal and could be discovered through this mass unconstitutional dragnet. If a law were passed that kept section 702 the same, except it specifically exempted Donald Trump from surveillance, Trump would support the law. Again, he is fundamentally incapable of empathy. The man does not have a soul.

    Yet still, despite being in it for entirely selfish reasons, Trump is actually right on this. The act should not be renewed. In fact, we should pass a Constitutional amendment explicitly prohibiting anything like it from ever being attempted again. As much as it pains me to say, Trump is actually right on this one.

    60 votes
  19. Comment on I’ve been at NPR for twenty-five years. Here’s how we lost America’s trust. in ~news

    TanyaJLaird
    Link Parent
    The main reason the mainstream news sources rejected the lab leak theory was because it was clearly just a jingoistic attempt at racist yellow journalism. Ultimately, what difference did it make?...
    • Exemplary

    On Covid virus origins, for example, I recently posted about an extensive debate on that.

    The main reason the mainstream news sources rejected the lab leak theory was because it was clearly just a jingoistic attempt at racist yellow journalism. Ultimately, what difference did it make? Whether a bat bit someone naturally or a scientists collected some bat blood and later the vial broke, what real difference does it matter?

    Yes, it is possible that the virus accidentally found its way out of a lab. But that isn't really what the conspiracy theorists were getting at. They were trying to argue or insinuate that the virus was a bioweapon deliberately released onto the world by some nefarious Chinese plot. It was no different than a thousand other racist conspiracy theories that have accompanied disease outbreaks over the centuries. Consider all the pogroms that Jews found themselves victims of, accused of spreading disease or poisoning wells. Virulent racism and disease outbreaks have always gone together.

    This is the context the lab leak theory needs to be considered in. The mainstream media rightfully brushed it aside, because they were rightfully on guard for the kind of racist conspiracy theories that always accompany disease outbreaks. And ultimately, it would make zero difference. Whether the disease leaked from some blood of a bat someone ate or from a vial of bat blood kept in a lab, the difference is irrelevant. On one, a scientist screwed up. In another, a butcher screwed up. The conspiracy theory is only of any relevance if you insist on taking it all the way to the insane bioweapon direction. The media rightfully shut it down because we didn't need to be arguing racist conspiracy theories when we were trying to contain a global outbreak.

    31 votes
  20. Comment on O.J. Simpson dies at age 76 after battle with cancer in ~sports.american_football

    TanyaJLaird
    Link
    No! Not the Juice! How ever will we get by without him?

    No! Not the Juice! How ever will we get by without him?

    1 vote