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Comment Re: Vietnam (Score 1) 282

I guess you could look at it that way (that my comments were just providing details behind the original assertion).

Although, I'd also say that America has *never* really been willing to wage "total war" to win one since WWII. I don't think the majority is really behind the idea that it's about "winning at any/all costs" unless the war directly threatens their continued existence. (If someone starts launching nuclear missiles with targets on U.S. soil? That would provoke a "total war is acceptable" response. Not much less than that would do so.)

Therefore, wars America gets involved in are probably much more about analyzing things and setting expectations. (Can we reasonably expect to win using no more than than X dollars and Y manpower, over Z length of time?) I don't know that the enemy "destroyed our will to fight" in these scenarios? It's more of a, "Hey... we tried and it turns out we misjudged what it would take to win. Time to cut the losses." situation.

Comment re: Vietnam (Score 4, Insightful) 282

I'm no professional historian, but I question your assertion.

American lost the Vietnam War because we weren't able to cope with a situation where there was so much guerrilla warfare taking place. Everything was a big question-mark. Did we eliminate all of the enemies in locations A and B? Did those snipers shooting from unseen locations in the jungle represent the only 1 or 2 enemies left, or were there many more? We kept dumping loads of money on equipment and manpower without any ability to see clear results.

I think we saw the same issue with the "war on terror" in countries like Afghanistan, except this time, it's notable that reconnaissance missions played a very big role with liberal use of drones, spy satellites and more. There's a growing realization that even if you're technically winning a war, you're still losing if you can't tell the current "score of the game".

Comment So what do you drink now, instead? (Score 1) 663

I always wonder about this, because honestly, I can't find too many things I really like to drink very much. Growing up, I had a glass of milk with every lunch and dinner, because that's what my parents were convinced was the only healthy thing to drink with meals. As an adult today, I almost never want a glass of it. Just burnt out on it completely.

I'll occasionally drink a glass of apple or grape juice, or maybe pineapple or cranberry juice -- but I usually don't find them all that satisfying. They're good with a breakfast, but little else.

Thinking maybe I was just missing the carbonation, I tried all kinds of different carbonated/fizzy bottled water drinks and seltzers, but found they ranged from gross to just "meh...."

I never liked tea or iced tea, so those are right out the window ... and I don't do coffee either, unless it's a mocha or flavored latte. And I imagine the sugar and calories in those isn't so much better off than a soda.

Ice water is fine, and I drink some of that. But as it has no flavor, it's, well.... boring. And drinks like vitamin water actually upset my stomach. I think they have too many added minerals, vitamins and what-not and the concentration bothers it?

Comment Thank you .... (Score 1) 663

Look, it's BLATANTLY obvious that a company like Coca Cola would have biased reasons for funding research into alternate theories about weight gain/loss. But ultimately, it's more important how that research is actually conducted. If the scientists involved really do find out some more about the reasons "exercise + diet" don't yield lasting results that work equally well across the board for everybody following those regimens, that might have some value - no matter WHO paid for the studies.

I've said for years that just from what I've observed, people appear to have their own personal "set point" for where their body wants their weight to be. Even people trying to gain weight because they have a "fat fetish" will talk about hitting a plateau, where they find it really difficult to gain any more weight beyond that point. And if they manage to "break through" that point, they tend to hit another one at a certain larger size, later on. Sustained weight loss is clearly not as simple as taking in fewer calories or exercising to burn more of them in a given time period. (There's even arguably some evidence, based on animal studies, that exercising to keep one's metabolism higher and stay slimmer shortens your lifespan in the long run.) And I know *so* many people who tried various diets, only to get results for 4 months or so, only to have it fizzle out. (Atkins was a great example.) I think the body adapts to the dietary changes you try to make to "short" it a certain number of calories.

Comment Not by a long shot! (Score 2) 280

Public transportation is useful, sure .... but you're WAY exaggerating its abilities.

For starters, you're at the mercy of the system. You've got to schedule everything around the times it stops where you need to be picked up, and it's likely it has no way to drop you off at your destination at the optimal time for your own needs. Then, you lose a measure of control over your environment while you're riding. Want to play your favorite song at full volume while you're out and about? Hope you brought a pair of earbuds, so they won't kick you off for disturbing someone else! Need to get someplace during "peak hours"? Hope you don't mind having to stand during half the trip, packed in to the subway or train car like a sardine because all of the seats are taken.

And let's not pretend the ONLY reason for a trunk and extra storage space in a vehicle is to bring shopping home! I've owned several pickup trucks before where the idea was throwing large items back there to save me a LOT of money paying someone else to transport them for me. Moving furniture to/from a house, for example? Getting building materials to do some home repair? Hauling away bags of yard waste or other trash? And in my car, I've done on-site computer service jobs for years where I need to haul around all of the tools and spare parts, plus broken machines to bring back with me to work on at home. NONE of this is possible with public transportation.

Comment Re:Uber - Cabby Riots - Autonomous (Score 1) 280

Nah.... Every Uber driver I've met is doing it as extra side income. Their "need" for that particular type of job is on about the same level as the guy mowing lawns on weekends for some extra cash.

If they realize they can buy an autonomous car next time they need a new vehicle, and charge people some money to borrow it for automated trips from point A to B? Then they're going to be even happier, as they don't have to be there doing the driving to earn some extra cash.

Comment Really? I disagree.... (Score 1) 280

My experience, here in the DC metro area, is people take public transportation precisely because it's the most cost-effective option. Don't forget that time is money, and part of the equation includes people factoring in the ability to get some work done while riding on the train or metro, as opposed to having to actively drive if they use their own vehicle.

In my own case, for example? I've been using public transportation for my daily commute, but I'd honestly prefer to just drive. Public transportation has historically won out for me, though, largely because I have to pay upwards of $8 a day to park my car in a public garage once I get to the office. When you add the parking cost to the cost of gasoline (not to mention the mileage you put on your vehicle which reduces its resale value, and wear/tear on tires, brakes, etc.) -- the monthly train and metro unlimited usage pass is simply more cost effective.

On the other hand? They just raised rates for the train and metro so my monthly pass now costs about $40 more, AND it seems like at the same time, service has gotten worse. (Lots of delays lately due to freight train congestion on the tracks, trains breaking down, and metro trains derailing or having various track issues.) It's making me re-evaluate my decision, and I just suspended "auto pay" on my pass renewal while I consider going back to driving again.

Comment Yep... simply wrong use of labels.... (Score 1) 273

It's not typically a smart financial move in today's society to actually invent things for a living. It's FAR more likely to bring a person financial success if they merely build upon known successes.

I've run across a few guys who really do fit the description of the classical tinkerer/inventor and all of them were living relatively "middle class" lives, living in average sized homes, and paying for what they had with something other than their inventing and tinkering skills.

Steve Jobs really deserves the most credit for his ability to see when it was the right time to take an existing idea and focus on it, building it into a product that would see mass consumer adoption. For example, digital music. Of course he didn't INVENT the idea! He didn't even invent the idea of a pocket sized digital music player. But he *did* realize it was the way of the future for music sales and had the sense to realize it needed to be marketed as one complete package. (Other companies might have been trying to market early MP3 players, for example -- but they weren't thinking about building a music manager app for it which was also the online music store, offering music from all of the major record labels they negotiated with.)

And when other companies are always trying to "add more things" to each product, to boost sales ... Apple generally embraced a "less is more" mantra. Jobs may have been a jerk about it at times, but he basically pushed his engineers and designers to keep going back to the table, until they found the easiest way they could come up with to control a device's functions. If the iPod designers didn't come up with that "click wheel" design, for example? I doubt it would have been nearly as successful. It was unique enough that it was actually fun to use it. When I had my first iPod, people would always want to borrow it for a minute just to play with the controls, because there was nothing else quite like that out there. Other MP3 players of that era tended to have tiny silver buttons you had to press multiple times to toggle through different modes and other bad UI designs.

Comment Re:Barking at the wrong tree (Score 1) 114

Well, it's not like your complaints are technically insurmountable challenges.

A realtor who was smart could manage multiple Twitter accounts and have interested people subscribe to only the appropriate one(s). EG. Offer one list for only commercial properties, one for only foreclosures, and several for regular residential listings, broken out by price ranges.

As for the laundromat idea? It's just an example of something creative I saw done with the technology. If you find it unbearable, fine ... don't use it! I doubt most laundromats offer the feature anyway. But I've also seen a similar thing done inside area hospitals, where if you subscribe, you get tweets with immediate updates on little things like specials their cafeteria or gift shop has running that day. You'd probably subscribe to it only for as long as you were staying in the hospital, and remove it again when you leave -- so not a big deal.

I mean, ultimately, you can do ALL of this social media stuff with only the older technologies out there. Email and Usenet newsgroups, plus RSS feeds and links to downloads via FTP cover a lot of ground. Throw in some IRC servers to handle chat, and you're "golden".

The thing is though, people decided there were fancier ways to get some of these things done. It's a lot easier to toss an app on a smartphone and let someone create a user login/password for the service than figuring out how to configure everything necessary to pull down a Usenet feed, subscribe to the right groups, decode binary attachments, etc.

Comment Re:Barking at the wrong tree (Score 2) 114

Well, yes and no. Frankly, although I don't use Twitter much -- I don't have a problem with the core concept. There's something interesting about a form of social media that places such strict requirements on the length of what you can send out in a single broadcast. At first, I thought it was pointless - but I've grown to rather like it when it's used thoughtfully. There's an art to realizing when you have something unique, thoughtful or funny to share and distilling it down to 140 characters. And there are "niche cases" where people came up with good uses for Twitter that its own developers probably didn't even imagine. (EG. The realtors that let you follow them so you get regular updates about new home listings, or the laundromats that use it to let you know when certain washers or dryers are finished.)

Facebook is "all over the place" with what you can do with your account on the site. Personally, I like Facebook, but my friends and I tend to share hyperlinks (with comments about what we're sharing and why), and then enjoy the discussions that come about it in comment replies beneath it. Seems to me, that's almost exactly what Hossein is lamenting the death of on the net in this article!

Comment Too much incentive to hype this stuff up.... (Score 1) 904

I have no doubt that electric car sales will keep increasing as the technology gets cheaper and better. That's true for everything.

But just like the "OMG ... solar panels are exploding onto the scene, and soon, EVERYONE will have them and pay nothing for electricity!" commenters, you've got a group trying to convince us that electric cars are going to take over in just a few more years.

Both groups have ulterior motives to keep hawking these technologies and come up pretty short when you look at all of the facts.

For one thing, even if electric chargers were everywhere and "range anxiety" was rendered a complete non-issue, AND costs came down so electric cars cost you no premium whatsoever over a gas powered counterpart? You'd have the problem that most electrics are still your generic 4 door sedan or economy car form-factor. The last vehicle I bought was a Jeep Wrangler, and I love it -- but I doubt you'll see one of these sold in an electric version for a LONG time, if ever. Not much available in all electric full size pickup trucks either, or in large cargo/conversion vans, or even full size SUVs.

Another problem which the industry is really downplaying right now is your resale value as these vehicles age. Sure, right now, it seems like a non-issue because so few used electrics are even for sale, the ones out there get sold at prices sellers are happy with. What I'm saying, though, is that given enough time -- electric motors wear out. Even simple devices like ceiling fans develop bad motor bearings or brushes wear out inside them and they start making ticking/clicking noises and eventually burn out. Electric cars may not have near the complexity of gas powered vehicles, but that means that instead, they rely on relatively few, expensive parts that make up the car as a whole. If you've got an old battery that doesn't hold much charge anymore, combined with a failing electric motor -- are you at the point where the car is essentially scrap, vs. the cost of repairing it?

I think with traditional vehicles, you're far more likely to have random, smaller components fail over time, here and there. So someone gets tired of spending a lot of money on the "money pit" of replacing dry rotted hoses and belts and other wear items like brakes and they decide to sell the car off -- but the next owner finds he/she got a pretty good deal out of it because then it goes for a long time again with relatively little breaking down. Even a total engine rebuild, while a several thousand dollar expense, means the main part of the car is good for another couple hundred thousand miles of driving again.

Comment re: client contact (Score 1) 480

For that matter? I'd venture to say that even for client facing employees, dress code/attire has too much emphasis placed on it in many cases.

For a long time, I knew a lot of really good, bright people in I.T. who avoided or distrusted any salesperson approaching them in a suit and tie. They knew that you could basically pull any warm body off the street, dress them up like that, and put them out there to try to sell you something. The people with real knowledge about the products or services were more likely not to be forced to go through all of that.

I know myself, I'd mainly be concerned that someone I interact with as a potential business partner looks like they have it together. Don't show up with clothes with holes and tears in them, or clothes that fit really poorly. But beyond that? Trust me.... I don't waste any time looking to see if you have designer brand shoes on, or care if your shirt buttons down vs. pulls over.

I've found that you can look fairly professional just by wearing clothing as simple as a solid black t-shirt and a pair of black jeans. (It has sort of a modern "I'm a techie." look to it, as long as what you wear is in good, clean condition and fits you properly.)

Comment So what? Actually, this matters to me too.... (Score 2) 480

I don't think I ever showed up for a job wearing gym clothes. But jeans and comfortable short-sleeve polo type shirts, or even t-shirts in the summer months, and tennis-shoes? Definitely!

At one of my previous jobs, they hired a new woman in the H.R. department, and all of a sudden she decided she was going to enforce new dress codes. The word was, I.T. and software developers would no longer be allowed to wear jeans. Thankfully, our best Java developer was an ex-hippie who viewed this as an opportunity to get the whole team together and fight for a cause again. Within about a month, H.R. retracted the policy change, agreeing that jeans in "presentable condition" were part of an acceptable business casual dress code for the company.

Truthfully, I can't speak for the software devs. But as one of the support specialists - the ability to wear jeans and t-shirts was a huge benefit, as we were expected to crawl around on the floor to connect or disconnect cables and had to go out to an industrial shop floor regularly to swap out nasty, grimy old equipment or service it. It just didn't make sense to wear clothing you'd have to pay to get dry cleaned, or even khaki pants that would get torn too easily.

Even at my current job, I consider it a big perk of the job that they're pretty casual with the dress code. I don't own a lot of more formal clothing, so I'd have to lay out a lot of money to build my wardrobe of that stuff up again. And I'd pretty much never wear it except for the job requiring it -- so in that sense, I may as well be buying my own uniforms or something.

I will say, there are always people out there who don't seem to have any sense of what's appropriate to wear into a workplace. Especially in some of the help-desk environments I've seen, you've got people dressing like they're going out to a nightclub instead of to do technical support. And no, I don't think it's professional to wear beat up, raggedy clothes either. If you work I.T., I think t-shirts with advertising logos related to your industry are perfectly acceptable. (If you have that Microsoft, Intel Inside, Apple or HP promotional t-shirt - great.) But one advertising your favorite alcoholic beverage? Probably best to leave that at home.

Comment Convenience makes it happen, though .... (Score 1) 294

Sure... governments love cashless transactions (assuming they're traceable, and most are). But the real motivator for people to switch away from paying with cash is the convenience factor.

For example, this morning, I used a smartphone app to pay the parking meter in the garage I parked in before going in to work. It still lets you pay with coins, but that's so impractical. For starters, it costs about $8/day to park, and the meter won't even let you put that much money into it using coins, at one time. So you're forced to make a trip back out to the meter to re-fill it if you want to avoid a ticket. With the cashless payment system, you just point the phone's camera at the QR code sticker on the meter, and you get billed automatically based on when you tell the app to stop counting time (or when the max. daily parking rate is reached).

Same with the toll booths around here. Most have eliminated the option to pay tolls with cash except for one lane, and they're even discussing removing the baskets from those and going all electronic. Which is easier and more convenient? Making sure you've got a bunch of coins handy in your vehicle and having to stop and toss them into the toll basket, making sure it counted them all properly -- or just driving on through while an electronic pass device registers you going through it?

IMO, the real solution here is an *anonymous* cashless transaction system. (Cue the bitcoin fanatics insisting that's exactly what they've got ... but not quite, since people are able to go back through the block-chain and sleuth out who moved money between accounts at a certain time.) I'm talking more about an official government and banking system sponsored e-cash alternative though. But I know it'll never see the light of day since government would have no motivation to spend effort and money designing a system with the very properties that frustrate them now with cash.

When you make your mark in the world, watch out for guys with erasers. -- The Wall Street Journal

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