Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Skype Sleazeballs

Skype has unexpectedly cut off my account. When I emailed them, asking them why, they say I've violated their agreement! How this could be is a complete mystery to me since I simply use the service to call my mother.  I have a lot of money remaining in my Skype account, money that they apparently plan on keeping. Needless to say, I'm completely taken back by all this. It's impossible to get anyone on the phone or a chat who has authorization to resolve this. (And they have my money for free, so where's their motivation?) For all of you who are considering Skype, I'd think again about giving them any money. Skype is a sleazy company. There are much better and cheaper services available, such as Google Hangouts.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Wall Street Journal's bogus attack on Sanders

Robert Reich has a good article debunking a very poor article in the Wall Street Journal that assesses Bernie Sander's proposals.

4 Reasons Why The Wall Street Journal’s Attack on Bernie is Bogus

I’ve had so many calls about an article appearing earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal – charging that Bernie Sanders’s proposals would carry a “price tag” of $18 trillion over a 10-year period – that it’s necessary to respond.
The Journal’s number is entirely bogus, designed to frighten the public. Please spread the truth:
1. Bernie’s proposals would cost less than what we’d spend without them. Most of the “cost” the Journal comes up with—$15 trillion—would pay for opening Medicare to everyone. 
This would be cheaper than relying on our current system of for-profit private health insurers that charge you and me huge administrative costs, advertising, marketing, bloated executive salaries, and high pharmaceutical prices. 
(Gerald Friedman, an economist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, whom the Journal relies on for some of its data, actually estimates a Medicare-for-all system would actually save all of us $10 trillion over 10 years).
2. The savings from Medicare-for-all would more than cover the costs of the rest of Bernie’s agenda—tuition-free education at public colleges, expanded Social Security benefits, improved infrastructure, and a fund to help cover paid family leave – and still leave us $2 trillion to cut federal deficits for the next ten years.
3. Many of these other “costs" would also otherwise be paid by individuals and families – for example, in college tuition and private insurance. So they shouldn’t be considered added costs for the country as a whole, and may well save us money.
4. Finally, Bernie’s proposed spending on education and infrastructure aren’t really “spending” at all, but investments in the nation’s future productivity. If we don’t make them, we’re all poorer.
That Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal would do this giant dump on Bernie Sanders, based on misinformation and distortion, confirms Bernie’s status as the candidate willing to take on the moneyed interests that the Wall Street Journal represents.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Richard Carrier

I just listened to Richard Carrier, an atheist academic with a PhD in relevant areas who, in this talk, sheds light on apocalyptic ideas.

Monday, June 30, 2014

When Aliens Attack (Call Your Local Survivalist)

I'm a sucker for anything about aliens and will entertain any remotely plausible scenario, but the silly premises of When Aliens Attack really goes over the top. Chad Orzel has a great article that evokes a couple chuckles as I read through it. A couple of Orzel's paragraphs are sufficient to give you a flavor of the documentary-slash-fantasy:

This is loaded with all sorts of wacky goodness, like wild inconsistencies in the abilities of the aliens: at one point, they reasonably note that travel at relativistic speeds would require sufficient shielding against micrometeorites and whatnot that the alien ships would likely be impervious to nukes; an hour later, the same giant ships are brought down by small bands of commandoes with small blocks of C4 scavenged from God knows where. they also offer hilariously bizarre hypothetical motivations for the invasion: while they correctly note that aliens wouldn’t need to invade Earth to get water, which is one of the most common substances in the universe, they posit instead that they would come for “chlorophyll and protein.” Yes, that’s right, the aliens came here to eat us, with a nice salad on the side.

and this...

There are also some queasy-making segments touting the virtues of survivalist whack jobsrugged individualists touting their manly-man superiority over effete city dwellers, plus a bit about how we would need to breed large numbers of human soldiers to defeat the aliens, and thus all the women among the survivors would need to be pregnant all the time, about which I can only say OH JOHN RINGO NO! (The creepiness of this is muted to the point of becoming amusing by the fact that, from the occasional timeline cards they showed, the whole scenario appears to play out in about a year, considerably less time than it takes to raise a single generation of new warriors.)