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Comment Re:Why should? (Score 4, Insightful) 121

If you can make a car that would drive significantly better then a human (accidents per mile) why wouldn't you?

Because people are irrational. We fear exotic deaths more than we do mundane deaths. Travel by airliner is much safer than travel by car, yet every time there's a plane crash we have a huge investigation for the purpose of figuring out what went wrong so we can prevent it from happening again. But tens of thousands of people die in car accidents, and all they get is a brief police report stating it was an accident without really delving into the cause. Why? Because death by airplane crash is more exotic than death by car crash. The same thing plagues nuclear power. Death by radiation is exotic, death by falling or getting lung cancer from soot inhalation is not. So we scrutinize and heavily regulate everything to do with nuclear power when it's already the safest power source we've ever invented in deaths per MWh of power generated, while turning a blind eye to deaths by coal (pollution), wind, and solar (primarily falls during maintenance - their diffuse nature means there's a lot more maintenance to do).

You double down on this if the accident was in your control vs out of your control. If you could've done something to prevent the accident (was driving a car) but failed to so, you say "Oopsie, I won't make that mistake again. No give me my keys back." If someone else could've done something to prevent the accident (driving a bus or piloting a plane) but failed to do so, you sue the bastard for everything he's got and try to get him banned so he never drives/flies again.

The combination of these two means autonomous cars have to become a helluva lot better than human drivers before they'll be accepted. Dying because of a typo in a line of code counts as really exotic, and the press will have a field day with it the first time it happens. And the makers of the autonomous cars will need huge insurance policies to deal with the extra liability they'll incur, since it'll likely be bigger than the sum total of all private auto liability insurance policies today (a few percent of the purchase price of the vehicle every year it's in operation).

Comment Re:Well.... (Score 2) 626

Actually, what we've seen is - as a function of how many times the police interact with other people every day all across the country - a very, very small number of such incidents. Vanishingly small fractions of one percent. Which doesn't make such things OK. But it hardly adds up to "the police are killing everybody!" ... which is what one would conclude if one took some of these deliberately hyperbolic idiot activists at their words.

Comment Re:Well.... (Score 1) 626

The police need to choose if they only want to interact with violent people or they want to assume people are innocent and peaceful.

What? That doesn't even make sense. The police deal peacefully with peaceful people untold thousands of times every day. I know that doesn't fit the narrative of the BLM types, but of course it's the lion's share of their daily interactions with the public. Alas, a lot of them that are killed on the job are killed while assuming that the person they're approaching isn't going to be violent.

Comment Re:Well.... (Score 2, Insightful) 626

So you treat a cop like you treat a poisonous snake or a wild animal.

No, you treat them like people who, every week, are killed for doing things like pulling people over in stolen cars or because they just drunkenly ran a red light. You treat them like people who are routinely assaulted with weapons as they try to do things like stop some guy from killing his wife. You treat them like someone who has just spent their entire week dealing with idiots, violent asshats, people who try to run them down with cars, people who abuse kids, people who actually say out loud that they want to kill them and encourage others do so so and march in the street shouting about how they should be killed. You know, treat them like they are people who aren't paid very much to do a thankless job that gets many of them hurt and killed every year ... and ask yourself if you're helping matters by reaching into your coat suddenly in a poorly lit situation after having forced a cop to chase you down for doing some stupid crap.

Comment Re:No (Score 1) 536

Why would an economy without money not work?

We know an economy with money works. The burden of proof is on the person advocating the hypothesis that an economy without money can work, to provide evidence in support of his hypothesis, not for the person arguing against it to disprove it. Or put another way, if you can provide an example of just one functioning money-less economy, you've proven your hypothesis. Rattling off a list of a million different things which don't affect whether an economy works, money or no money, doesn't prove a thing.

The main reason I can see it not working is because money isn't some "entrenchment of the economic elite." At a fundamental level, money is a representation of productivity. Maybe not a 1.0 correlation, but still correlated. Money is basically what you get in exchange for doing or making something society feels is productive. Which you can then exchange for things other people do or make that you feel is productive. Consequently, when supply does not match demand, the best way to sort who gets some of that limited supply is money - the most productive people. The entire rational for making theft, fraud, and scams illegal is because they deprive others of the fruits of their productivity without providing productivity of their own.

Why not use a bartering system instead? Because money offers more liquidity. If you''ve got eggs to sell, and you need milk, the easiest way to barter it is to find someone selling milk who wants eggs. If you can't find that, you need to find someone selling milk who wants x, then find someone selling x who wants eggs, and work out a 3-way trade. Beyond that the barters start to get more and more complicated, and there's an increased chance the time you spend putting together the barter costs you more than what you're trying to buy.

Money neatly solves this problem by making all barters universal. You exchange the eggs for money, then you can exchange the money for milk. It adds liquidity to the trading system (at the cost of having to maintain the money so its value is stable enough that people aren't afraid to use it as an intermediary instead of doing a straight barter).

It's all a matter of culture and common consensus about value and how things should work.

That's the catch. There is no common consensus about the value of things. There's an average consensus, but not a common consensus. Some people value certain things more than others. When different people value things differently, you need to be able to somehow amalgamate their preferences. The way to do this which gives the most individual freedom (i.e. the method which least requires the person who doesn't value the item to have to contribute to paying for it) is to give each individual their own "money" and put them entirely in control of their own purchases. That's the basis of the free market. (This model breaks down when consequences of that purchase are borne by society, rather than the purchasing individual. e.g. Pollution. More generally classified as tragedy of the commons, or prisoner's dilemma situations. Which is why most successful economies are a mixture of free market and socialist ideals.)

I always figured the "economy" in Star Trek worked because they had access to nearly limitless power (warp cores), and devices which could convert that energy into any form of matter (replicators). Once you get those two, personal productivity becomes moot. You could do manual labor 24 hours/day and it wouldn't generate as much productivity as a fraction of a percent of the output of a warp core. Thus it's just less of a hassle to give everyone what they want and not require them to do productive work. (Items of limited supply aren't really addressed by the show, like how do they decide who gets to live in the prime waterfront apartment in San Francisco?)

Comment Re:I Just Solved This Problem (Score 1) 522

Actually, that's a problem too. I manage a small commercial building, and I noticed the electric bill spike one month. Some investigation and it turned out one of the tenants had bought an electric car, and was charging it while he was at work by using an extension cord to plug the car into an outdoor power outlet near the parking lot. That outlet happened to be hooked up to the building's electric meter.

Comment Re:Did they realize they were in a National Park? (Score 3, Insightful) 57

Apparently not. All RC aircraft, of any kind, are completely banned from use in any area managed by the parks department. That includes thousands of miles of coastline and riverfronts, huge swaths of unoccupied forest, large areas of unoccupied desert, and so on. We certainly can't have some photographer using a 4-pound plastic quad copter to take pictures from 50' feet in the air out in the middle of a huge forest. But we can allow your visit to a national monument to be disrupted by a pack of screaming children, or someone wearing toxic levels of perfume, or people jousting with selfie sticks in front of Abraham Lincoln, because that's different.

Comment Re:give it a rest (Score 1) 765

So I haven't earned your respect by pointing out the obvious about most people's behavior. That's fine. I don't want the respect of someone whose standards about what's respectable are based on fundamental dishonesty about the world around them. You obviously don't respect me. Fine! Did you respect me before you'd ever heard me say anything? If not, then you're just like me. If yes, then you were proven wrong, and your strategy is incorrect.

Comment Re:give it a rest (Score 1) 765

No, respect should be a default that you can lose by acting like an asshole.

No. Practical experience shows that the vast majority of people are fools, assholes, hypocrites, just plain dim, or otherwise unlikable if not outright reprehensible. The default position certainly should be to expect a demonstration of why respect is worth dispensing. Such displays are far less common than the ample, recurring evidence that most people neither deserve nor understand what respect actually is.

Comment They didn't give the residents iodine tablets (Score 1) 140

Don't blame nuclear for this one. They didn't give the residents iodine tablets. They distributed the tablets at the time of the accident, but never gave them to the evacuated residents. That's pretty much like if the Titanic had had enough liferafts to save everyone, but after it struck the iceberg they decided not to put anyone aboard the liferafts. Yeah the ship sank, but the deaths were caused by the safety measure in place to save the people aboard not being used, not the sinking itself.

It's a horribly complex technology that it's adherents fucked up badly by not carefully and consistently holding to the highest of engineering standards (like naval reactors). They cheaped out and they are paying the price.

Yup, it's fucked up so badly that it kills fewer people per MWh generated than any other power source, including solar, wind, and hydro. Shame on us for creating the safest form of power generation in the history of mankind.

You can't compare to a vacuum. You can't look at fatalities or injuries caused by a nuclear accident, compare to some hypothetical universe where that nuclear power plant (and only that nuclear power plant) didn't exist, and criticize nuclear power for killing those people. A valid comparison must use opportunity cost. Everything has some danger, some risk of death.. If the nuclear plant hadn't been there, some other type of plant would've had to be there to generate the same amount of electricity. That's the alternative case you have to compare against, not a vacuum. How many deaths would that alternate power plant have caused?

When you crunch the statistics that way, you find that had the nuclear plant been replaced by any other type of power plant, statistically you would've killed more people. Even wind, solar, and hydro are more dangerous. Or put in relative terms, replacing coal, gas, hydro, wind, and solar plants with nuclear plants saves lives.

Comment Re:Realism (Score 1) 416

Is there some compelling reason why these tests aren't being conducted in realistic conditions in the first place?

Basically, political lobbying has forced us into a type of testing which can be conducted by a trained monkey in 10-20 minutes. It's hard to make a realistic test which meets those requirements. Cut and paste from my last post on this topic:

Pulling each car off the road and testing it only makes sense when a large number of cars are not in compliance or in borderline compliance (i.e. might drift out of compliance before the next test). If a test costs $40 and 90% of cars are in compliance with emissions standards, you're paying $400 to detect each car out of compliance. And the test is worth it.

Now what happens when 99.9% of cars are in compliance? You're now paying $40,000 to detect each car out of compliance. At that point (actually long before it) the testing isn't cost-effective anymore. California reached this threshold where the testing was no longer worth it in the early 1990s. Most cars were in compliance, and most of the air pollution was caused by about 1 in 1000 cars (mostly older models) which were spewing out hundreds or thousands of times more emissions than a compliant car.

The companies which make the emissions testing equipment suggested a much more elegant and cost-effective solution. Stop testing each car every year. Put the emissions measuring equipment at various chokepoints on the road like free off-ramps. The equipment would then sniff the air as each car drove by, and when it detected an excessive amount of emissions it would snap a picture of the violating car's license plate. If a certain set of plates was flagged by multiple measuring stations, the State could then send the owner of that car a letter requiring its emissions be tested.

Sounds great! It would've caught the cheating VW cars immediately. So why didn't it happen? The emissions testing itself had become a billion dollar industry. The gas stations and auto mechanics lobbied heavily to keep the mandatory testing in place. For them, a billion dollars a year were on the line. The companies making the detection equipment only stood to make a few tens or hundreds of millions of dollars one time by selling it to the state. You can guess which side won. So we ended up with testing which wastes money and isn't as effective at detecting cheating as other solutions.

Comment Re:Why no diesel hybrids? (Score 3, Informative) 416

I don't understand why we're seeing all these gasoline hybrids instead of diesel ones. Aren't diesels running in their optimum range much more efficient? And with all these emissions issues turning up, isn't it feasible to set up diesel hybrids to basically always run in a narrow range with the best emissions and efficiency possible?

Diesels already almost always run in their optimum range. A car engine basically has three operating states that are important. Accelerating from a stop, cruising (usually at highway speeds), and accelerating at highway speeds (to pass).

Gasoline engines hit peak power and torque at the high-end of their RPM range. That's great for accelerating at highway speeds, not so good for cruising and accelerating from a stop. Because most of the engine's time is spent cruising, that's where you need to optimize fuel burn rate to improve overall fuel efficiency. Gas engines have a lot of problem with this because it's not coincident with their peak power and torque production. Consequently you're having to optimize the engine's performance at two hugely different RPMs. The hybrid helps a lot here because the electric motor provides a lot of torque at 0 RPM for accelerating from a stop (power = torque * RPM * a constant),and allows the gas engine to be shut off completely for a while during cruising. So now you can optimize the gas engine for high-RPM efficiency, and rely on the electric motor for what would normally be low-RPM operation.

Diesel engines have a higher compression ratio so hit peak power and torque at the low-end of their RPM range. That's great for cruising and accelerating from a stop, not so great for accelerating at highway speeds. This is why they're so common in tractor trailers - it's OK if the truck takes a long time to accelerate at highway speeds, but you want good power and fuel efficiency during cruise. Since the diesel engine's peak torque and power happen close to cruise, they're a lot easier to optimize for fuel efficiency.

A hybrid won't actually help much here because it doesn't add much - the diesel engine already has lots of torque close to 0 RPM, and is fuel efficient during cruise. About the only thing a hybrid would add would be regenerative braking. While that's a big deal in city driving, the vast majority of the driving tractor trailers do is on the highway, so again there's little benefit from the hybrid. The best thing to add to a diesel is actually a turbo. Their weakness is power output at higher RPMs, and a turbo provides extra power at the high-end of the RPM range, which improves accelerating to pass at highway speeds - precisely the driving stage diesels normally have problems with.

Comment Re:Why no diesel hybrids? (Score 1) 416

Isn't that exactly how locomotives work? The popularity of diesel-electric locomotives makes it even more surprising that we don't see the same technology in trucking.

If you compare the power of a diesel-electric locomotive to the weight it's pulling, it's like putting a 5 hp engine on a SUV. If you're ok with having that little power and taking several minutes to get up to full speeds, then yeah a diesel-electric motor makes more sense than putting in a 50-gear transmission. Realistic driving conditions require the truck engine be a lot more powerful, meaning fewer gears needed to accelerate from 0 to highway speeds. And it's cheaper, less complex, and more efficient just to send the power straight to the wheels rather than going with a diesel-electric system.

Comment Re:Simple (Score 1) 166

Which phone? I've got a Nexus 5 on pure Lollipop and it doesn't exhibit that behavior. Pressing the Home button sends you back to your home screen, or locks the device (from the lock screen - I have Smart Lock enabled). Long-pressing it does nothing. Swiping the home button up takes me to the Google Now screen. I think you're dealing with a modification to Android made by a phone manufacturer or carrier.

The opossum is a very sophisticated animal. It doesn't even get up until 5 or 6 PM.