* Posts by ratfox

3112 posts • joined 3 Sep 2007

Facebook invents new unit of time to measure modern attention spans: 1/705,600,000 of a sec

ratfox
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Boffin

Re: Maybe I missed something, but...

It's a unit in which various fractions of a second can be represented. If you want a unit in which both 1/24 and 1/25 seconds are integers, you need something that is 1/600 seconds or smaller. As you add more and more fractions you want to represent, your unit becomes smaller and smaller. At that point, you already need an int64 to store anything useful, so you might as well add a few zeroes just to be sure you'll never need more.

It's like amounts of money tend to be stored in micros of currency unit, not because you care about a micropound, but because you want to be sure never to need more precision than is available, and by the time you need that precision, you don't want to recode everything.

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Sili-spurned Valley! No way, San Jose! Amazon snubs SF Bay Area in search for HQ2 city

ratfox
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WTF?

Some of them sound downright unlikely. Washington DC? How is that a good city for a tech company? It's a hellhole you only live close to because you're working for the federal government. I'd also bet against Newark, New-York, Miami or Boston, seeing as they want a lot of cheap space. I think cities like Denver stand a good chance.

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Destroying the city to save the robocar

ratfox
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Re: Obviously the solution is....

Have you seen Wall-E?

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UK's Just Eat faces probe after woman tweets chat-up texts from 'delivery guy'

ratfox
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Facepalm

Technology can solve more and more complicated problems, but...

Now that we have technology, we can demand that Just Eat provide temporary means of communications between restaurants, their delivery people and customers! The delivery person can carry a smartphone with a secure app sending properly authenticated messages to a web interface provided by Just Eat, who will then relay the messages securely to the customer. The delivery person never gets the contact information of the customer, and All Is Well.

Except that well, you know, the delivery person necessarily needs to receive the name and address of the customer. In order to deliver. Let's invent a complex system which ensures safe deliveries, protecting the anonymity of the customer through a complex system of go-betweens which shall have appropriate levels of authorizations separated by double-blind communication channels!

Or maybe we shouldn't be so anal about private data. Delivery people have had the name, address and phone number of customers for many years, and the privacy issues can mostly be solved by a simple rule that if you call the customers for anything unrelated to work you get fired. I am not convinced that this system is broken or needs fixing.

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Q: How do you get YouTube to stop funneling ads to your vids? A: Make jokes next to a dead body

ratfox
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Meh

What I don't get is...

why did people ever watch this guy?

The fact that he was "punished" for going too far is actually encouraging; but I really can't understand why channels like this one and PewDiePie become popular.

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US House reps green-light Fourth Amendment busting spy program

ratfox
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Pint

It appears he posted his first tweet immediately after a Fox News analyst said that the vote was a bad idea.

For somebody who does not drink alcohol, Trump acts very much like a drunkard.

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Brit transport pundit Christian Wolmar on why the driverless car is on a 'road to nowhere'

ratfox
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I feel most of the criticism is short-sighted. People playing chicken with self-driving cars, for instance, could already do that. For some reason, they don't though. And self-driving cars could very well eventually learn how to go forward very slowly in gridlock situations in a way that solves the Holborn problem.

It seems to me all of these criticisms could have been said in the 1920s to explain how cars could never be used for transportation at scale.

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Max Schrems: The privacy bubble needs to start 'getting sh*t done'

ratfox
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Well realistically, there's not much governments can do, short of banning Facebook et al. They could maybe offer an ultimatum and a limit date, like starting from 2020, no private information is allowed to leave the continent, or your service is banned. But I'm not sure that if push came to shove, they would have the balls to actually go through with it.

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Memo man Damore is back – with lawyers: Now Google sued for 'punishing' white men

ratfox
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Re: Oh how El Reg is fallen

It was well argued, moderate and does not contain any of the sentiments indicated in the El Reg article.

I could agree that it does not contain those sentiments, but I have to disagree with well-argued and moderate.

The thesis of the paper is that women make choices that are different from men, because they are on average biologically different from men. The conclusion is that Google should stop their diversity efforts, and not make their employees follow anti-bias training.

The paper does not claim that the biological differences are significant enough to explain all or even most of the difference in results between men and women. The paper does not give any argument that bias does not exist. The paper does not explain why the status quo is optimal and should be left as is. Without these arguments, all that's left of the paper is the conclusion that the author wanted to reach, and a single factoid that generally goes in the right direction.

This is in fact rather similar to what right-wing comments accuse the global warming argument from being: A single explanation (carbon pollution) is given for an effect (temperatures are going up); all other explanations are dismissed, and the conclusion is imposed.

Completely omitted: Diversity means racial diversity as well as gender diversity. It is well-documented that resumes wearing names that sound African-American are rejected more often than those wearing names that sound white. This is not only unfair, it reduces the pool of candidates to hire from, which means it is detrimental to businesses. Which is why businesses want their employees to follow anti-bias training. There is not a single word in the article that contradicts this; yet the article somehow concludes that Google should stop its efforts to raise diversity, and again that includes racial diversity just as much as gender diversity.

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ratfox
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Re: Where are the women in tech jobs?

However it does strike me that discriminating in *any* way when recruiting is just plain dumb -- "positive discrimination" just means you've a much smaller candidate list.

Depends who you are and how you do it, actually. Google is pretty much known to everybody, so their candidate list is everybody. But they also organize Anita Borg scholarships and participate to events encouraging women to work in tech in general and at Google in particular.

On the other hand, if your recruiters are calling 50 new graduates a day, that's how many candidates you get. What difference does it make if they call the women first?

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ratfox
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Trollface

Re: Funny how...

Those hippies who take gender studies instead of real qualifications, end up unemployable...

...and work for Google.

Like the Schrödinger immigrants who never work and take our jobs.

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ratfox
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Re: Translation

Yeah, it's like the men who complain about the women's rights movement, because the men's rights movement doesn't get nearly as much attention.

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UK.gov admits porn age checks could harm small ISPs and encourage risky online behaviour

ratfox
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When I was 6, I received from the school an official reference textbook, whose very first illustration was full frontal nudity of a man and a woman.

Is UK generally more prude than the rest of Europe, or is it just a small fraction of vocal prudes pushing this through?

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Long Island Iced Tea Corp renamed itself to Long Blockchain – and its shares went bananas

ratfox
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TIL that ice tea companies can be listed on NASDAQ. Being a tech company is not a requirement, it's just common.

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Twitter's not dreaming of a white supremacist Xmas: Accounts nuked

ratfox
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Angel

Well, it's apparently illegal for the US government to do it... So society at large must find other ways to separate themselves from people they don't like.

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French gov files €10m complaint: Claims Amazon abused dominance

ratfox
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Meh

€10M is unlikely to impress Amazon. Should be a a couple of hours of revenue...

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Google asks browser rival Vivaldi to post uninstall instructions

ratfox
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Meanwhile, governments are explicitly asking Google (among others) to police the internet, hide content encouraging terrorism/hate speech/copyright violations.

We're on a very thin path, and we don't know where it's going.

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Oi, force Microsoft to cough up emails on Irish servers to the Feds, US states urge Supremes

ratfox
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Black Helicopters

Looks like a market opportunity...

for mail servers owned and operated by companies outside the US.

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Erase 2017 from your brain. Face ID never happened. The Notch is an illusion

ratfox
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Re: Prefer authentication on the front of the phone

The iPhone sensor is a little bit too low for me to reach with my thumb (If I hold the phone by the bottom half, I always feel it's going to fall from my hand). So when I'm reaching for the phone in my pocket, I prefer the back sensor. But yeah, the front sensor is more convenient if the phone is lying on the table.

If the sensor can be under the screen, then they can put it in the middle of the screen, where it is easiest to reach. Or maybe they could put it on the side.

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US authorities issue strongly worded warnings about crypto-investments

ratfox
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Re: Bitcoin fees

I refer @ratfox to previous posts on the subject, listing a long history of global gullibility, including black tulips, south sea bubbles, the Wall Street Crash and Welsh silver and lead mines.

For all of these, there was at least a claim that these things had intrinsic worth, or eventually were going to have one. The claim was wrong, but it existed.

To answer the incoming choir of voices about fiat money: Even for fiat money, there is an implicit assumption that the country issuing the money has an interest in having a semi-stable currency. For instance, the US government could technically pay their debts in one day by printing a single bill of $5 trillions and giving it to the Chinese. They're not doing it, because it would crash their economy into the stone age (along with most of the world). That's why people keep US instead of Zimbabwean dollars.

For Bitcoin, there is nothing of the sort. Under all the complex cryptography algorithm ensuring various interesting features, you are literally buying a number in a finite list. It is very much like fiat money, except that the country is only made of people who happen to be currently working with bitcoin, and any of them can leave that country at any time without losing anything. As long as everybody does not leave at once, Bitcoin keeps existing.

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ratfox
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I find the whole thing fascinating. Whether Bitcoin goes even higher, manages to keep its value or crashes back, history is being made. As a social experiment, it's almost unbelievable.

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Archive of 1.4 billion credentials in clear text found in dark web archive

ratfox
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Meh

The issue for me is that "correct horse battery staple" is too long. I already type my current 9-character password wrong roughly 10% of the time; with 28 characters it'd become a real pain.

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UK lacks engineering and tech skillz to make government's industrial strategy work – report

ratfox
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Paris Hilton

How about raising salaries? They're kind of low in UK, especially compared to the price of living in London...

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Hitchcock cameo steals opening of Oracle v Google Java spat

ratfox
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Headmaster

Once more, I'd like to point out that what Google copied was not code, but the standard Java API — without the implementation.

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European Commission intervenes in Microsoft Irish data centre spat

ratfox
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Mushroom

So so. First, relocating the data to a US server does not violate privacy, because they're not showing the data to anybody yet. Then, revealing data on a US server to the US government happens outside of Europe, so Europe law does not apply? Hmm. I wonder if there should be some kind of contempt of court for claiming such bullshit.

Maybe Europe should simply forbid private data to be stored outside of the EU?

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Euro Patent Office ignores ruling and refuses entry to vindicated judge

ratfox
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The EU needs to have some way of forcing its institutions to behave. This is ridiculous. From what I understand, there's even a committee that does have the power to remove Battistelli, and they're doing nothing, probably because they want to preserve the independence of the patent office. I guess they're just going to wait until his ten is over...

Thankfully, there's little chance that the next guy will be quite as bad as this one. Knock on wood.

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Europe Commission thunders: Tech firms must do more to remove extremist content

ratfox
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Do they realize that they are outsourcing censorship to private companies? AI-powered censorship, no less. This is going to end well.

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Apple looks forward to wiping $47bn off its overseas profit tax bill – thanks to US shakeup

ratfox
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Re: Or...

If I read correctly, one change is that there would be now a permanent tax on offshore assets. So yes, it still costs some money to bring money back in the US, but if it costs money each year to keep it offshore, it's suddenly much more interesting to bring it back...

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Opportunity rover survives Martian winter for eighth time

ratfox
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Re: Obligatory...

And here's the Follow-up.

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EU data protection groups: Fix Privacy Shield or face lawsuit

ratfox
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The king's clothes

Except everybody knows the king is naked, even himself. Nobody wants to admit they're powerless to fix the situation.

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Facebook, Twitter, Google cleared in Dallas shooting lawsuit

ratfox
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Trollface

Google?

Does Google have a social network?

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French activists storm Paris Apple Store over EU tax dispute

ratfox
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Re: Theft or not

I presume that Apple products are priced locally with local taxes in mind ?

If they are escaping paying local taxes by paying less elsewhere should this not be considered as actually stealing from the customer?

I'm not quite sure what you mean. Apple can charge whatever they want in whatever country they want. They of course have to also charge VAT of the local country, and they certainly do that. The VAT gets paid back in complex ways to and by different countries, but there's little doubt that they're doing that correctly.

But if Apple decides, say, to charge twice the price in UK than in Ireland for the same phone, it's their right. They don't have to connect the price to the local tax, whether VAT or corporate.

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Want a new HDMI cable? No? Bad luck. You'll need one for HDMI 2.1

ratfox
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Angel

It's aspirational

You buy the cable dreaming for the moment you'll actually have a TV that needs it.

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What will drive our cars when the combustion engine dies?

ratfox
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Re: fossil fuel - we're addicted.

Fusion!

Just kidding. Plain old fission, probably.

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Apple and Qualcomm become best pals... lol jk the sueballs keep flying

ratfox
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Angel

NO U

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The six simple questions Facebook refused to answer about its creepy suicide-detection AI

ratfox
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Angel

Next step: experiments in inducing thoughts of suicide in Facebook users.

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'Break up Google and Facebook if you ever want innovation again'

ratfox
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Paris Hilton

Re: woefully misinformed

Hardly any software ever is innovative. It's just tedious hard work!

Well from that point of view, software companies clearly can't innovate much no matter how hard they try! However...

PageRank concept isn't a Google idea!

I really have wonder how you came to this conclusion. PageRank was first described in an article from 1998 co-authored by the Google founders and two other people. Are you insinuating that they stole the idea from somebody else? Or that anyway PageRank was not innovative, it was "just tedious hard work"?

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IBM does what IBM does best: Raises the chopper again

ratfox
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Paris Hilton

How is IBM making money these days?

I'm kind of wondering. These days, you feel that anybody would get fired for choosing IBM.

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Watch how Google's AI catches shoulder surfers spying on your phone

ratfox
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Yeah, sounds academic. In the first place, you don't want the battery drain. And then, this only works for people actually caught by the camera. On my phone, the angle under which the screen can be viewed is much wider than what the camera sees. Very interesting work and all that, but pretty much useless.

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Net neutrality nonsense: Can we, please, just not all lose our minds?

ratfox
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Re: Actually, Google and Facebook win either way

Indeed. It seems that repealing net neutrality rules would benefit all big companies, whether they're telcos or content providers.

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AT&T, Comcast trash, kill Nashville's Googley broadband cable rules

ratfox
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What's that about FCC rules aiming to facilitate one touch make ready policies? Does Ajit Pai know about this?

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Pokémon GO caused hundreds of deaths, increased crashes

ratfox
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Everything has big effects when on that scale

When Google put a pacman game on their home page, it reportedly cost $120 million in productivity...

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Forget Sesame Street, scientists pretty much watched Big Bird evolve on Galápagos island

ratfox
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Devil

I was under the impression that in order to be considered a different species, the most important factor was cross-fertility, not mating habits.

There are certain groups of humans who only mate within the group; but I'd hardly say that Tories and Labour are different species.

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Phone fatigue takes hold: SIM-onlys now top UK market

ratfox
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Finally

With a bit of luck, it means that the telcos will lose some of the power they had to force crapware on users. Maybe now they'll work harder to provide upgrades... Though to be honest, I haven't bought a telco-controlled phone in ten years, and I doubt I'll ever do it again.

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iPhone X: Bargain! You've just bagged yourself a cheap AR device

ratfox
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Go

I'm looking forward to the day AR is a thing you can have without attracting weird looks. And I'm not talking about looking at your phone which happens to display what's behind it with an overlay; I'm thinking of having transparent glasses which act as heads-up displays. I think that there are a lot of very interesting and useful applications, people just need to get used to the idea first.

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Google says broader right to be forgotten is 'serious assault' on freedom

ratfox
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About what is lawful or not: The awkward thing about the right to be forgotten is that it prevents Google to display certain results for certain search queries, even though it's perfectly legal to publish the content on a website.

So for instance, it's legal to have a website stating that Mr. Mario Costeja went bankrupt in 1998. It's fine for Google to show that website as result for "la vanguardia 19 January 1998", but they're not allowed to show the same result if you search for "Mario Costeja".

The website is legal, Google is allowed to index it, they're allowed to show it, just not for this particular search.

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Google aims disrupto-tronic ray at intercoms. Yes, intercoms

ratfox
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Devil

the domestic intercom industry

Man, that's another thousand-dollar industry that Google is destroying.

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You, Google. Get in here and explain all this personal data slurping – Missouri AG subpoena

ratfox
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Re: Missouri GDP ~$230B - Google market cap ~$720B.

Careful: the Missouri GDP is the total yearly revenue of the state, while the market cap is a measure of what Google is worth. For comparison, Google's revenue is about $100B a year. It's growing fast, but it will take 4-5 years until it catches up with Missouri. So no, Google cannot buy Missouri.

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ratfox
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What happened to the fight with the AG in the neighboring Mississippi? If I remember correctly, Google managed to convinced some judge that the AG's subpoena was too broad, and a fishing expedition. I'm not sure it's over yet though.

Since the FTC decided to give Google a pass, the state AG are apparently taking things into their own hands.

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Uber loses appeal against employment rights for workers

ratfox
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However If they were a decent company and had plenty of competition then the actual business seems legitimate.

To be honest, even though the legal system is supposed to blindly apply the law, I think people underestimate how much the reputation and general behavior of a company can influence rulings. I wouldn't be surprised if the ruling had been different, were Uber indeed a decent company with plenty of competition.

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