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Comment Re:warming is Good! (Score 1) 619

No extra cost to warming [...] Sea level is rising as we warm up from the little ice age, and much land is subsiding.

Whatever the cause, we would need to mitigate sea level rises with measures such as relocation or sea walls, all of which are costly. The best available science points to AGW as the cause of the rise, and therefore it makes sense to pay for the mitigation with AGW sources.

it benefits agriculture and humans do well in warmth, much better than cold.

The problem is that the "warming" is an average of far wilder fluctuations in weather. The earth doesn't just get uniformly a bit warmer, and the localized effects can be devastating. More importantly, even if a bit of warming is beneficial on the average, continuing the trend - especially past a certain threshold into a feedback loop of uncontrollable warming - is obviously foolish. Unless you claim to know exactly how much greenhouse gasses we can release into the atmosphere for best effect, it would be prudent to not find out the hard way.

Pollution from cars--hmm, not much lately since the advent of catalytic converters.

"Today’s on-road vehicles produce over a third of the carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides in our atmosphere", says the Union of Concerned Scientists. The bottom of that article discusses the pollution's effects on public health.

Comment Re:Good! (Score 5, Insightful) 619

Because a good deal of the cost of gasoline has been externalized. Below are some examples:

  1. The efforts of the US Navy to maintain peace in the middle east shipping lanes. The US consumed some 134 billion gallons of gasoline in 2013, and the budget of the US Navy is about $150 billion. It's reasonable to assume that a few cents per gallon should be charged to help pay for the Navy.
  2. The increased incidences of respiratory diseases due to air pollution. Medical care is expensive in the US, and things that harm public health should at the very least help pay for it.
  3. The costs of global warming.

Obviously, gasoline is not the sole driver of these, but it makes sense to better account for the true cost of using gasoline. Note that the gasoline tax has not changed in absolute terms since 1993, which means it's lost about 40% of its value to inflation.

This isn't to say that the 12 cent proposal is fair, or that sharply increasing gasoline prices is wise, but that a gradual increase to match its true cost is sensible.

Comment Re:Depends on the product (Score 1) 432

If you capture the market for a new idea you can use a more formal process for v2 while your competitors missed out.

That still depends on how much of your v1 you're able to salvage for your v2. If you essentially have to toss it all out, then you've just thrown away much of the advantage you have against a (typically big boy) competitor. Think of your v1 as detailed specs for Google's very bright engineers.

Comment Say hello to globalization (Score 1) 689

First of all, the US does not have a monopoly of good schools. Europe has many good schools, and there are schools that provide competent college-level education all over the world. Closing the doors of US universities merely directs the demand to these other good schools, and would probably not substantially decrease the creation of competition.

Secondly, the US has a moral obligation to many countries, having terribly damaged their institutions and infrastructures over years of intervention. Even if the US was paying for their education (and we are generally not), a person with a sense of history might not think it's so unfair. One could even argue that the richest country in the history of the world has an obligation to humankind to help develop as much of the limited pool of talent we have. Would it really benefit us if the next Darwin or Einstein is denied the best education?

Thirdly, many universities are private and most professors (except perhaps ones with truly sensitive expertise like nuclear engineering) are mobile. Countries are not going to stop trying to compete with the US just because we stop issuing student visas. If we leave them no other choice, they'll simply invite our universities to set up satellite campuses, or just hire away professors. The resulting brain drain could be even worse.

Basically, the only way it'll work out as the submitter imagines is when there are lots of qualified and motivated US students who can afford the education to fill the slots vacated by foreigners. With the economy in trouble and government slashing education spending, it's more likely that a lot of schools will downsize, shut down, or simply move.

Comment Re:Not surprising (Score 1) 535

It's strange that you would call C the "most standardized language". Lots of very basic things in C are implementation-defined or even undefined. For example, the C Standard allows int types to be implemented at least as sign-magnitude, one's-complement, and two's-complement formats. It doesn't specify the number of bits in a char type, allowing it to differ from implementation to implementation. It doesn't even specify if char is signed or unsigned by default. Real-world C programs often get by because they happen to run on similar CPU architectures, not because they actually comply with the Standard, compared to other languages that offer more hardware abstraction.

I would also disagree with "simple to learn and use". I've been writing in C (and C-like languages) for about 20 years now, and it's a professional tool that can hurt unwary newbies. Features like its relatively terse syntax and manual memory management are obviously not impossible to learn, but not particularly "easy" either.

Comment Re:C? (Score 1) 535

The advantages to being able to develop software for anything from phones to mainframes in one language are not limited to just porting the same code everywhere, although many libraries do port readily even if the application doesn't. It also has to do with the programmer's mastery of the language. If the programmer is actually writing (even very different) code on all these disparate platforms, he or she is probably still going to be a better programmer in the end than one who has to switch among four different languages.

Comment Re:Base partisan politics? Look in the mirror. (Score 2) 401

'Shit' didn't just happen. A pending attack or assassination was a big concern for Ambassador Stevens months beforehand, and his requests for more security went nowhere.

Requests for all sorts of things are denied by superiors all the time for all sorts of reasons. Some reasons are good, some reasons are bad, and some reasons are even criminal, but you haven't established which one it was. I would suggest you present the substance of this supposed request, and show how a reasonable boss should've granted it. Just because the "big concern" turned out right in hindsight isn't actually enough.

there's some concern that Obama failed miserably when Hillary Clinton's legendary '3 am phone call' came.

That's rather vague. What did he do, and what was he supposed to do, when?

Note that I'm not defending the Obama administration's actions in any way. I'm just pointing out that I don't actually know what you're accusing them of.

Comment Re:To what end? (Score 2) 266

Insurance only makes sense if the premium is much much lower than the catastrophic event you're protecting against. For example, Google shows me an ad for life insurance: "Get $500,000 of Coverage For Only $21/Month". That makes sense, because the $500,000 protects your family against financial ruin, and you can afford the $21. A Mars colony protects against human extinction, which I would expect most people care about a great deal less than their families. Hell, at least one major religion embraces apocalypse, so their believers would presumably not be too worried about it.

Comment Re:Land of the Free (Score 1) 559

If there ere any scientific prove these foods may be dangerous, they would be prohibited by governments.

According to Wikipedia, "Asbestos became increasingly popular among manufacturers and builders in the late 19th century because of its sound absorption, average tensile strength, its resistance to fire, heat, electrical and chemical damage, and affordability. [...] The first documented death related to asbestos was in 1906. In the early 1900s researchers began to notice a large number of early deaths and lung problems in asbestos mining towns. The first diagnosis of asbestosis was made in the UK in 1924. By the 1930s, the UK regulated ventilation and made asbestosis an excusable work-related disease, followed by the U.S about ten years later. The term mesothelioma was first used in medical literature in 1931; its association with asbestos was first noted sometime in the 1940s."

The point is not to say that GM foods are dangerous. The point is that some ill effects can take time to show up, still more time to link to the source conclusively, and then still more time for governments to take action. The harmful effects of tobacco have been well-known for decades, yet it's still quite legal, so I'm not sure where you get your faith in governments.

Comment Re:What about external hazards? (Score 4, Insightful) 605

It's not that complicated. Your personal sharp brake count can be compared to the average count of all drivers in the area. Random events happen to everybody, but if it somehow happens to you a lot more, then either you are extraordinarily unlucky, or you're a bad driver. Either way the insurance company would want you to pay more, assuming they can correlate this behavior with actual accident rates.

Comment Re:"...only show phones they think might sell." (Score 3, Interesting) 435

Prolonging the inevitable doesn't make it any less inevitable.

That's not actually true. Even just breaking even means that you don't have to lay off employees with important skills and knowledge, and watch them go work for competitors. It means buying yourself some time for R&D to catch up. It means time for a competitor or two to make a mistake. People forget how many years Apple struggled with "inevitable" bankruptcy, that as recently as 2003 you could've had a share of AAPL for $7.

We all agree on the necessity of compromise. We just can't agree on when it's necessary to compromise. -- Larry Wall