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Comment: Supply & demand (Score 1) 281

by Ichijo (#48187603) Attached to: An Algorithm to End the Lines for Ice at Burning Man

The existence of a queue means that people are willing to pay more for the product. So why not let them? Raise the price as the queue gets longer, and lower the price as the queue gets shorter. This stabilizes and even lets you control the length of the queue.

They should do the same at ballparks on game day. Instead of charging a fixed rate for parking, charge to go through the gate according to the number of cars waiting to get in or out. If you get there really early, you could get in practically for free, and if you tailgate after the game, you can get out practically for free. With shorter queues and a greater ability to save money, everybody wins!

Robotics

Robot SmackDowns Wants To Bring Robot Death Matches To an Arena Near You 80

Posted by timothy
from the only-if-I-get-to-drive dept.
Business Insider profiles Andrew Stroup, Gui Cavalcanti and Matt Oehrlein, who are trying to get off the ground a robot competition league, called Robot SmackDowns. The idea, as you might guess from the name, is to showcase violence and drama to draw on the crowd-appeal of wrestling, NASCAR, and monster truck rallies: this is definitely not Dean Kamen's FIRST — it's giant mechanical beasts shooting at and otherwise trying to destroy each other. And it's not quite right to call them robots in the usual sense; they're more like mecha: "In a MegaBots battle, a two-member team sits inside the bot's upper torso, where the controls systems are housed. Although the co-founders assure me that the pilot and gunner are well protected inside, the situation presents a heightened suspense. Each 15,000-pound robot is equipped with six-inch cannons inside its arms that fire paint-filled missiles and cannon balls at 120 miles per hour. Good aim can cause enough damage to jam its opponent's weapons system or shoot off a limb." They'll be launching a Kickstarter campaign soon; according to the article, "Assuming it raises enough money to build a fleet, [the company's] plan is to take the bots on the road. They will tour the country, face off in epic battles against other MegaBots, and build a fan base. Stroup says (without giving specifics) networks have reached out and will closely watch how MegaBot, Inc.'s upcoming Kickstarter campaign performs. The possibilities for distribution seem endless, though the team is tight-lipped about the exact direction it's headed."

Comment: Re:Prison population (Score 4, Interesting) 407

by Ichijo (#48171747) Attached to: As Prison Population Sinks, Jails Are a Steal
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Felonies are also ridiculously easy to get. In the '80s, if two people were caught racing in their cars, it would be a $111 fine. Now, here in Texas, that is a felony.

Rather than a prison sentence followed by automatic eligibility to be re-licensed to be a hazard on the streets again, I think a far more appropriate punishment would be to permanently revoke the person's license until he or she can prove, through a battery of physical and psychological tests, that he or she is no longer a hazard on the road. (This is what they do in Germany.)

But in the USA, for some reason it seems to be considered more humane to make someone a felon and lock them away than to ban them from driving.

Great for private prison profit margins... all paid for on the US taxpayers nickel.

This is why the goals of prisons need to be aligned better with the goals of society. Instead of putting someone away for x years, if private prisons bid against each other on a fixed price to rehabilitate each prisoner, coupled with penalties each time a released prisoner re-offends, private prisons would do their best to rehabilitate each prisoner as quickly, completely, and inexpensively as possible. Isn't this what we all really want?

Comment: Re:Let me get this right (Score 1) 832

by Ichijo (#48165031) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

no housing allowed in the industrial zone

That's a silly law. It should be the other way around: no industry allowed in the residential zone.

Would you like to explain how those zones "keep the poor and minorities out of middle-class and wealthy neighborhoods"?

When you force every house to have parking (which people too poor to own cars don't need), you drive up the cost of housing and drive out the poor from the neighborhood.

You also drive out the poor with limits on dwelling units per acre, minimum liveable square footage, and prohibitions against granny flats, dorms, and boarding houses.

Comment: Re:Let me get this right (Score 1) 832

by Ichijo (#48164279) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

No, it's the victims and the rest of society who seek revenge (called "retribution" by lawyer types) who create the need for imprisonment.

Because the main purpose of prisons is revenge and not rehabilitation, prisoners benefit very little from prisons. And because our society decided that people should pay for things in proportion to the benefit they receive from them, it stands to reason that prisoners should not pay for their own incarceration.

Comment: Re:Let me get this right (Score 2) 832

by Ichijo (#48161695) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

Middle and lower income households absorb the greatest percentage of social programs, so why shouldn't they be the ones that contribute the most to them?

That's like asking prisoners to pay for their imprisonment. Remember, the purpose of the zoning code is to keep the poor and minorities out of middle-class and wealthy neighborhoods, and that in turn restricts economic mobility, keeping the poor dependent on social programs for their livelihood. For example, the market would build more affordable housing if it weren't prevented from building it.

(Side note: this is similar to the way motorists support separated bicycling infrastructure, in order to get bicyclists out of their way. And then they complain that bicyclists aren't paying their fair share for those separated facilities.)

So I think the people who actually want those social programs (the wealthy) that keep the poor poor should be the ones to pay for them.

Government

Worcester Mass. City Council Votes To Keep Comcast From Entering the Area 232

Posted by samzenpus
from the and-stay-out dept.
First time accepted submitter _AustinPowell writes Comcast wants a cable television license in Worcester, Massachusetts. In response, the City Council voted 8-3 to urge Worcester's city manager to let the company's license request die. The deadline for the decision is Wednesday, but the manager is not bound by the vote of the Council. "It's a terrible company," City Councilor Gary Rosen said. "In my opinion, they should not be welcome in this city. Comcast is a wolf in wolf's clothing; it's that bad."

Comment: Re:Article ignores variability (Score 1) 608

by Ichijo (#48136947) Attached to: Wind Power Is Cheaper Than Coal, Leaked Report Shows

...when wind varies you need to have other types of power (such as natural gas) ready to pick up the slack.

You're half correct. If you'll recall your demand curve from Econ 101, when demand exceeds supply, there are two ways to reach an equilibrium. Your suggestion, increase supply, is one of those ways. The other, of course, is to reduce demand, as eBay does to prevent too many people from winning the same auction.

Security

Snapchat Says Users Were Victimized By Their Use of Third-Party Apps 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the illusion-of-impermanence dept.
Lucas123 writes: Reports that the servers of photo messaging site Snapchat were hacked are being denied by the company, which is now is saying its users were instead victimized by their use of third-party apps to send and receive Snaps. Hackers on 4chan have said broke into the site and they're preparing to release 200,000 photos or videos in their own database that will be searchable by Snapchatter name. According to one report, the third-party Snapchat client app enabled access for years to the data that was supposed have been deleted. The hackers have said they have a 13GB photo library. For its part, Snapchat in a statement reiterated its Terms of Use Policy, that "expressly prohibits" third-party app use "because they compromise our users' security."

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