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Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 828 828

The Air Force is like the Navy. We always spend a lot on both in the hopes we'll never have to use them.

It also makes those counter-insurgencies easier on the Strategic and Grand Strategic level, because Poland is a lot more likely to contribute boots on the ground to an effort led by the guys who can definitely keep Russia out of their skies then they would contribute to a country that had 350k in light infantry sitting around just in case Iraq needed to be invaded.

In many ways things like this (and most of the Navy) are prestige purchases in the sense that they cost a lot of money that will only be useful under extremely unusual circumstances, but in the real world a hegemon has to make a lot of those or the non-hegemon states will be like "Dude, I don't need you for light infantry and 40-year-old-planes. I have light infantry and 40-year-old-planes and I can barely afford to educate my people to the 10th grade level."

On a somewhat related note, perhaps if the last guy had gone through that course you're talking about (which was presumably given by a bunch of Light Infantry/Spec Ops guys) perhaps he would not have fallen for Rummy's (paraphrasing, because I can't find the exact quote) "it beggars belief that it will take more men to hold Iraq then take it" line.

Comment: Re:Idiotic Question! Answer: Price, Range, and .. (Score 2) 618 618

Dude, per the original article:

The array of options can be bewildering, says the National Academy of Sciences' report. Commissioned by Congress, it examines the hurdles to adopting plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). The Academy splits PEVs into four classes: Long-range battery EV (BEV)s like the Tesla Model S, short-range BEVs like Nissan Leaf, range-extended plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV)s like the Chevrolet Volt (which drive on electric power most of the time), and minimal PHEVs like the plug-in BMW i8 (which can perform short trips on battery power alone).

I think the National Academy of Science is a pretty good source for an appeal to authority, don't you?

Comment: Re:The reason is more simple (Score 1) 618 618

That $10k is low-balled. $2.50 a gallon is the floor of gas prices in most of the country. Ceiling's in the $4 range. 20-miles is also a below-avereage commute.

As for the earnings potential of $10k, how old are you? You're taking inflation-risk seriously, talking about the interest on your bank account, and ignoring the fact that over the past decade $3.50 has been a much more typical price for gas then $2.50. Sounds like a baby-boomer to me.

The way most Gen Xers and Millennials think of this is that they're paying an extra couple hundred bucks for a couple years of the car loan in exchange for being free of a) the $86.67 or so we'd be paying every month under the low-balled model for gasoline, b) our life experience that actual cost will be $100-150, and c) our primal fear that the Indian and Chinese economies will pick up and it will be more like $300 per month. With an EV we're free of all that shit for roughly a decade. That is not a bad deal.

Electricity costs are a problem, but not nearly as much as you'd think. I pay 6.67 cents per kilowatt hour. EV batteries only hold 16 or so kilowatt hours, so even if I managed to drain the battery to zero every day I'm only paying $1.10 or so. More realistic estimates are in $0.50-$0.75 range. Whereas with the gas-car, I'd be paying $2.85.

With that kind of savings the range stuff can be worked around. Hybrids, for example, actually have gasoline engines and gas tanks. So if you really wanted to drive from Seattle to Minneapolis all in one go you could do it. It's just that instead of using the battery for power on almost the entire trip you'd stop at gas stations. Car rentals are also much easier to do if you're saving $800 a month on gasoline.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 828 828

The problem with basing the dang things in immigrants houses is it doesn't scale. 400k immigrants are not a small number, so somebody would notice, and if one guy decides to tell his American girlfriend about why he's got a huge plane in his garage you're screwed.

A 10,000 drone force would take some time to track down, but any base capable of supporting an aircraft that actually has air-to-air-combat specs (ie: 300 MPH speed, 50k feet service ceiling, a couple hard-points and the range to make them useful) is not gonna be hard to track down. The Navy is quite good at nailing surface warships, landing strips look very obvious from above, it's hard to disguise shipments of AvGas as anything else, etc.

Pretty much the only way this strategy works is if you use submarines (which presents interesting coordination issues when the drone needs to land), or you also have some amazing solar-powered aircraft tech that allows you to go pretty much base-free. Right now with enough money you can get an Octocopter with solar in the air, but giving it the speed so that cocky little ground-pounders with their tiny little M-16s couldn't take it out, a sufficiently high service ceiling that the F-35 can't out-dog-fight it, all-weather operation, and the hard-points so that it's a threat would probably wipe out your budgetary savings vs. the F-35.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 828 828

2,000 F-35s at 50k feet are just fine, and immune to drone attacks,

You don't have 2000, you have 150, because they cost so damn much. This is sort of my point. Any defence needs aircraft numbers in the thousands. Like the B2, the F35 will be too expensive to use and therefore pointless.

A $1 Trillion budget definitely you 2,000 F-35s, because that's what we're spending and we're getting 2,400 of the damn things.

And in point of fact, there are precisely two air forces in the world with thousands of combat aircraft. And it's far from clear the Chinese have any aircraft that could out-dog-fight an F-16, much less detect an F-35 and survive it's air-to-air missiles long enough to start a dogfight with it. The Russians are at 1,900, and their fifth-generation fighter project has just been shelved indefinitely because they can't afford it (sanctions), and the Indians (~1,100 or so) decided that paying 100% of development costs for somebody else's plane was a stupid plan they were not gonna go along with.

Almost none of aerial warfare since the Battle of Britain has turned on which side had better planes. It's all been about protecting your ground-based facilities.

That's right. The US has had the best planes since WW2 yet still hasn't won any major war since. Why do you think that is? Planes aren't such great defence against IEDs and suicide bombers.

In the Air Force's defense, it's not their fault that the President insists on dragging them into land wars in Asia.

Comment: Re:I didn't get some contractors fired soon enough (Score 1) 362 362

It doesn't surprise me.

A woman who has gotten through college and gotten a job in a male-dominated culture has done so by being really really smart, and if she comes to the US it's probably partly because she's sick of saying a smart thing in a meeting, and being ignored till the some guy repeats her. So you're almost certainly dealing with someone who knows what she's doing and wants to be helpful.

Guys, OTOH, are much more likely to be in it for the paycheck and the "I worked in America" resume line.

Comment: Re:$40,000 - $60,000 (Score 1) 362 362

Tells you a lot about the design goals of the people who make the program.

MS wants to sell you a new version of Office, so the file format is always in flux and you buddy with a brand new machine makes documents you can't read until you upgrade.

Siesmologists need to do really long term studies, so they wouldn't even consider making a program that couldn't read the old format perfectly, and they'd probably stubbornly resist a new data format even if it was a good idea.

Comment: Re:Idiotic Question! Answer: Price, Range, and .. (Score 1) 618 618

I'm only assuming you're using the same terminology as the original article. They talk about Hybrids as one of four categories of Electric Vehicle. If you want to specifically change the subject from Electric Vehicles (including hybrids) to just pure Electrics you can do so, but don't expect the rest of us to be psychic.

As for your explanations, most of them are verifiably wrong. This is not unusual. If markets actually had perfect information at all times prices would be a lot more stable. When people have taken a single test drive in a Prius they will know that range is not an issue. Since the number of people who have taken a test drive/ridden in a friend's car/etc. is not gonna get smaller it follows that if the market is truly choosing non-EVs (including Hybrids) because the market thinks that range is an issue, then in the relatively near future the market will change it's mind.

Comment: Re:Idiotic Question! Answer: Price, Range, and .. (Score 1) 618 618

Your arguments about EVs seems to be based partly on misperceptions about their capabilities (the Volt's gas tank is only 9 Gallons, but it exists, which means you can drive it thousands of miles without charging if you want, you just have to stop at the gas station every 9 gallons instead of every 13), and partly based on people's misperception of what they need in a car (250 mile trips are not common).

Which sounds a lot like the small-car market in the late 70s, right before foreign cars started to dominate. The old guard in Detroit were convinced car buyers wanted symbolic, hard-to-measure shit like beautiful design and fun driving, and that a tiny Japanese car designed to not have this shit would move zero units. Then their customers got used to the idea that Honda made real cars, and anyone who wanted a sensible car went Japanese.

EVs are the sensible cars of the next 20 years, and if battery tech keeps getting 10-20% better year-on-year it's not gonna be a decade before everything else switches over.

Comment: Re:Drone It (Score 1) 828 828

I believe you forgot a decimal point. 1000 times $27.4 Million is $27.4 Billion. Not that it changes the argument any.

What F-35 adds is partly modern features like Stealth that make it more survivable then F-16, but also strategically locks in our neighbors to the US weapons ecosystem. Unless you want to sell the Canadians a bunch of F-22s.

Which is wasteful in dollar terms, but hey. If we'd wanted any given department of the government to be efficient we'd have waited on the independence thing until the Brits had developed Responsible Government.

Comment: Re:Idiotic Question! Answer: Price, Range, and .. (Score 1) 618 618

Dude, 40% is roughly the share of the market enjoyed by light trucks. EVs share could not possibly be higher then 35%, because that's roughly the percent buying cars cars, as opposed to trucks/SUVs/crossovers/etc.

The question they're trying to figure out is why that 35% or so that belongs to the kinds of vehicles EVs can replace is not going EV. Which means you're basically answering the question "Why aren't Android smartphones dominating iOS?" with a long-ass explanation about how great Windows XP is for spreadsheets. Just as it doesn't take a genius to figure out that smartphones are not going to replace desktops for office work, it does not take a genius to figure out why the 40% of the market buying pickups do not want a Prius. The debate is why people will not switch from a Taurus or Accord to a Volt or Prius.

As for long trips, two points:

1) Everybody thinks they make a lot of long trips. Almost nobody actually does. My family's vacation spots were Piqua OH, and Southhampton, ON. Before I checked I would have thought both broke the 250-mile limit from Detroit. Neither does. Piqua isn't close (180ish according to google), and Southhampton is only 240. But they took forever, and severely taxed everyone's sanity because we were in an Accord and there were four of us.

Thus I sincerely question the sanity of anyone who claims that he spends more then 250 miles in the same car as his four-year-old, on multiple trips a year. Note the "car," explicitly referencing a four-door sedan or smaller. The kind of vehicle that does not have a TV screen on the back console because nobody can see the back console. As I mentioned above nobody has ever wondered why a family that needs a Minivan does not switch over to a Leaf.

2) Hybrids have gas tanks. The 250-mile range you see on something like a Volt means that after 250 miles you stop at a gas station and fill up, not that after 250 miles you stop at a hotel and plug it in overnight.

Comment: Re:The reason is more simple (Score 1) 618 618

I know all about insurance. When I lived in Detroit the penalty for buying car insurance with a Detroit Zip code was in the $1,500 a year range. This site shows it's still happening. Click on a dot. If it's Detroit, the minimum will be in the $2,500-$3,100 range. The 'burbs are all below $2k, and mostly at $1,500.

As for EVs, the technology keeps improving, the costs keep going down, and used ones keep entering the marketplace. For example let's say you've got one car, but somebody needs to get to work every day and it's only a 40-mile commute. A used Leaf (available for $12k in my new suburban Cleveland home) would be perfect. If you need a car that can do gas-engine shit, then a hybrid Chevy Volt will set you back $16k used, and since you're saving about $1k a year in gas, if you use it for 10 years you basically purchased a 4-year-old-car for $6k.

Part of the problem is this areas is moving at much greater speeds then most automotive technology, so something that was true when they were first introduced four years ago is no longer true, particularly if you buy used and get half-off the original sticker price.

Comment: Re:Idiotic Question! Answer: Price, Range, and .. (Score 1) 618 618

It's a huge subset.

I have never met a family where Mom did not have her own car, and I work in retail. My coworkers are not wealthy people. The secondary car is frequently a POS that's barely running, but it exists. As long as the commute is less then 100 miles (and almost all of them are) an EV would be fine. Probably superior to the POS, because said POS's problems are almost all directly related to the complexity of the machinery required to get a gasoline engine to start, and it's tendency to wear out after 100k miles.

Even in one-car families (which are almost universally also single-parent families) saving $1,000 a year on gas pays for a lot of car rentals to see grandma 400 miles away.

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