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Comment Re:Luxury car market (Score 2) 215 215

A lot of luxury cars really aren't that high-performance. They might have bigger engines sometimes, but they also usually weigh more so it doesn't make them much faster than a Camry. What you're getting for your money is the brand cachet, more features, nicer amenities, and a higher quality interior. The interior is probably the most noticeable difference; go sit in a $60,000 Mercedes and then compare it to some $20k regular car. There's all kinds of corners cut in the cheaper cars; crappier materials, a cardboard-like headliner, cheaper plastics, hard plastics in places, no leather, etc. In the luxury car, the seating is usually all leather (and nicer grades than the cheaper cars that have it as an option), the plastics are higher quality, there's no hard plastic where you can easily touch it, the carpet is higher quality, etc. All that stuff adds up. Plus, the luxury car will have more amenities: more and nicer overhead lights for passengers, lights you can individually turn on and off for all the seats, auto up/down windows on all doors, separate HVAC/ventilation controls for the rear seats, heated seats both in front and in the rear, etc. Finally, take a look at a luxury car like that after it's 5 years old, or even 10 years old, and compare it to a more pedestrian car of the same age. The luxury car will frequently look almost new inside, whereas the cheaper car will have things falling apart, even if it was taken care of just as well; the plastics won't age as well, there'll be more rattles, etc.

Comment Re:HAHAHAHA! (Score 1) 215 215

If they'd build SkyTran, then a lot of people wouldn't need either manually-driven or automated cars to get to work, or anyplace else if they don't need to haul a bunch of kids or cargo. SkyTran isn't that complicated because it's confined to suspended rails, so it doesn't have to worry about other traffic (the system knows where all the cars are, and extra safety systems keep track of cars in front and behind on the same rail), there's no intersections, no worries about kids running out into traffic (since they're elevated well above the street), etc. Plus, since there's no intersections and the cars can go 50-100mph in the city nonstop, you can get to your destination far faster than any driverless car could.

For highway driving of trucks and other vehicles, automated is the way to go as that's a lot simpler than city streets.

Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 1) 869 869

No, it's not at all. The total volume of emissions is directly proportional, but the type of emissions is not. Older vehicles produce much more toxic emissions (carbon monoxide, etc.), whereas new cars produce much cleaner emissions (water and CO2, with far less of the nasty stuff). CO2 is a global warming gas, but it's a lot better than carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, unburned hydrocarbons, particulate pollution, etc. Newer cars produce far less of these than old ones.

Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 1) 869 869

Rent doesn't go up fast if you move frequently. They only jack up the rent when you stay there a long time. Then they lower it to attract new tenants.

You're never going to pay off a house if you buy a house, move in 2 years, buy another house, move in 2 years, etc. The overhead costs of buying and selling are just way too high. So it makes more sense to rent until you're in a place where you're pretty sure you're going to stay for at least 5 years.

Personally, I really don't want to be where I am now in 5 years, so I rent. My current location is just a stepping stone. For most engineers, it should be the same; these positions just aren't long-term any more.

Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 1) 869 869

The economy already recovered.

According to whom? Official government figures? The stock market?

All the unemployed and underemployed millenials would disagree with this assertion. What you're seeing is a widening gap between the rich and the poor, with the number of people on the latter side growing. A small number of rich people getting richer on paper does not make for a sound economy.

If the newer car has side-impact airbags, it will have a much higher safety rating. If not, then it won't have a higher rating

Even sub-$20k new cars these days have side airbags and side-curtain airbags. They also have better-designed chasses; the IIHS small-offset frontal crash test is only a few years old, and a lot of new cars (which are older designs) aren't faring well on it, but brand-new designs are doing well because the automakers have designed for this. Something from 1995 is not going to do well in that test at all, or in a side crash since cars back then didn't have side airbags or curtains.

Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 1) 869 869

When I lived in Portland we shopped at Whole Foods for fish, and a few other items. They have the best labeling anywhere. Yes, it was more expensive.

I've had the same experience with meats: WF is the best place to buy them usually, because they have great selection, including grass-fed beef which shitty grocery stores don't usually carry, and free-range chicken. The meats at regular stores are really lousy.

And no, the specialty cheese shop will be much, much cheaper.

I'm not a big cheese eater, so I don't know much about this. I've only noticed that WF has a far, far better cheese selection than regular grocery stores.

That said, most shoppers will find everything they buy at WF at Trader Joes for 20%+ less money, and often higher quality. But there is no fresh fish.

I have to disagree with this one. TJ is simply a much, much smaller store than WF, at least at every location of each that I've been to. There's no way for it to have a comparable selection. And for things I've looked for, it usually doesn't. They certainly don't have a comparable selection of hot cocoa IME. This isn't to say that TJ sucks: it's a great store, and usually cheaper than WF, but this comes with the disadvantage of a more limited selection. Also, I don't believe TJ has a butcher department at all.

Another thing that's nice about many WF locations is the deli department, and the prepared food tables next to it (not at all locations). At the one I used to go to in New Jersey, they had a huge hot-bar buffet section, so you could just go get your lunch there and eat it in the large open area in front with free WiFi. Or you could get something made for you at the deli. TJ's doesn't have any of that. The hot-bar stuff is a bit pricey ($8.99/lb I believe), but generally good and lets you pick and choose what you want. Deli sandwiches and wraps are actually pretty well-priced IME, compared to the King's grocery store that it competes with in that area, which is even more expensive than WF.

As a side note, WF is not the most expensive grocer around. In NJ, they have King's which is rather pricey, and in AZ they have AJ's. At least at WF, they have a policy forbidding anything with HFCS and trans fats, so the foods all have to meet a certain quality level; the other fancy stores will happily sell you mass-market junk from Coca-Cola, at an inflated price, and with really nice tile floors in the aisles.

On the west coast, there are a variety of stores that offer these types of higher-quality items without the extra premium that WF charges. ... In places without a strong health-food culture, WF might be the only game in town for things like organic fair trade cocoa in a glass jar; on the west coast you can actually find that almost anywhere.

So basically I need to move to the PacNW?

Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 1) 869 869

Yep, from what I'm seeing, in a lot of places it seems to make more sense to rent than buy (a home) because of this. Landlords may have bought the houses when they were cheaper, so the rent isn't as high, plus with more people renting there's more competition.

Plus, at least in my line of work, and with the crappy economy, it makes more sense to me to not be locked into a mortgage payment, so I can be more mobile. If my job disappears, I can pretty easily pack up and move for another job; that's not so easy when you own a house.

Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 1) 869 869

Exactly how did it do that? CfC was a one-time thing (or was it two-time?), you can't get cash for your clunker any more. And it only applied to gas guzzlers as I recall. The cars I've been looking at (both new and used) have been ones getting at least 25mpg and usually over 30.

That did seem to be a rather stupid program though, as it concentrated too much on fuel economy rather than emissions. The focus should have been to get old, poorly-maintained cars off the road, because they're the ones creating the most pollutants, by orders of magnitude. Some 10-year-old car getting crappy fuel economy because it has a big V8 doesn't produce nearly as many emissions as a 30-year-old 4-cylinder. The latter is the one that should be prioritized in removing from operation.

Comment Re:Truck Stops, Gas Stations, etc (Score 1) 869 869

That's nice, but it doesn't help me keep track of it. Even cars which display some of this info to the driver don't help much; my car tells me the instantaneous mpg (which is somewhat useless as it varies so much), the "average mpg" (which is since the last time it was reset, even more useless), and then the trip mpg (since the car was last started, probably the most useful, but only displays for a few seconds when I turn the car off). It has no facility to track fuel economy over time or by the tank. (The trip mpg isn't even that useful, because a 3-minute trip with poor economy isn't comparable to a 3-hour trip on the highway; seeing the per-tank mileage gives you a better perspective of how your car is performing.)

Comment Re:Easy Conclusion If Perceived Costs & Range (Score 1) 869 869

The range thing is a red herring, and the people who complain about it are short-sighted and stupid. Even right now, EVs are perfectly adequate for most families, since most families have multiple vehicles. It's very simple: one vehicle is electric, and the other is gas. When you need to drive far, you take the gas-burner. For daily commuting, take the EV. For a dual-earner household, obviously this means that one of the spouses will be driving the noisy gas car, but it's better than both driving them. Right now, there's only so many people doing this because EVs are relatively expensive, but that's changing and before long they'll be much more common, even if used mainly for commuter vehicles.

These short-sighted idiots were the same people who said they'd never use a smartphone, and now they all have one. They were the same morons who said they'd never have a computer at home, and now they all have one. They were the same morons who said that 3 TV channels was all they needed, and now they all have cable, and pretty soon even though they're saying they'll never give up cable, they'll be cutting the cord with the rest of us Netflix users. These people are sheep: they follow trends after enough early adopters do it and prove that it works, even though not long before they were loudly proclaiming that "this will never happen".

EVs don't need any more range than current models to be completely viable replacements for at least half of the US's personal automobile fleet. Their main problem is cost: nice ones (Model S) are really expensive, and cheaper ones are $10k more expensive than similarly-appointed gas cars. Hybrids are a decent middle ground, and honestly I'm surprised those haven't done better, but I guess having an ICE plus an electric drivetrain ends up inflating the cost too much, but the Priuses have been doing very well.

"Pok pok pok, P'kok!" -- Superchicken