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Comment: Re: In a Self-Driving Future--- (Score 1) 453

by NicBenjamin (#48446513) Attached to: In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars

This is what I mean by white people who are totally irrational on the issue..

There are 1.8 million people in Wayne County Most of them do not live in Detroit. Oakland and Macomb have roughly 2 million between them. Unless you're assuming that Michigan will get the Federal Constitution amended specifically so the only people who can vote in the new city are the 700k from Detroit, then 3 million of the 3.8 million-odd residents will be non-Detroiters. This guy is smart enough to figure that out all on his own, but rather then actually think through my proposal to it's logical conclusion he goes right into impossible fantasy mode.

There'd be a lot less racial tension if the various sides didn't all have their champions, dedicated entirely to promoting their tiny little box on the map (which just happens to be 75% one race or another). New York City isn't a mecca of racial tolerance, but since the Mayor is responsible to all races he does tend to care what all races think.

Comment: Re: In a Self-Driving Future--- (Score 1) 453

by NicBenjamin (#48445551) Attached to: In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars

Blame the right for a town run by the left. Might as well say it was bush's fault.

So you freely admit that the Right has nobody living in Detroit, and couldn't pronounce Gratiot without a detailed instruction manual written by an Obama-loving Socialist, but you're nonetheless claiming they know why Detroit isn't working? Neither national side knows enough about Detroit to fix the problem.

The basic problem is that the current boxes on the map called Detroit is an incredibly dumb idea. It's per capita income is barely five figures ($12k or less), in a region where per capita income is actually pretty high ($49k). Which means that if local government costs are $700, the other cities have to scrounge up 1.5% of local income, but Detroit has to find almost 6%. The only way to make that math work is a) fire the police department and hope the criminals don't kill everyone before enough rich anti-tax activists move in to solve the per capita income problem; or b) tax rates have to be four times as high. Since a) is obviously unworkable, Coleman Young tries b) when he got the state to approve municipal income taxes. But he couldn't get the full 4 times, so he settled for slightly less then double. Which kinda worked, but also meant taxes were double the neighbors and we still didn't have enough money to deal with crime (the crack epidemic did not help).

Over the long term that meant that the only businessmen who stayed in the City were criminals (they'd be morons to move to some place that actually had the budget to arrest them; everyone else OTOH...), which means your number of capitas goes down but the total cost of policing stays the same. But there's another huge problem if your population is shrinking: 1.5 million could probably support the pension costs for a city that peaked at 2.5 million or so in the mid-50s, but 700k sure as hell can't. Which means the number you now need is more like $1,500...

So Orr could have done a couple things. He could've tried to get state law changed so Detroit could jack-up taxes more, but he was appointed by an anti-tax Republican. The option he took was to get those pensions, and several other major obligations, cut down in bankruptcy. Either taxes or bankruptcy would probably work for a few decades before the money ran out again. Given the resurgence of Detroit's Midtown area, and the continued exodus of the working class (who are expensive to govern and not very lucrative to tax), it's theoretically possible the few decades will be enough.

The way to definitively solve the problem would have been eliminate all of the little Cities in Michigan that make up Metro Detroit. But there's two much racial BS for the local whites to not make that a huge hassle, and said local whites are quite politically connected to both sides nationally.

Thus you have everyone, on both sides, trying to shoe-horn national issues into a very local debate.

Comment: Re:No Control (Score 1) 453

by NicBenjamin (#48445411) Attached to: In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars


There are still real horse enthusiasts who spend thousands a year maintaining animals they literally couldn't give away because they love horses that much. There are several religions that still use horse-drawn transport because they don't see a point in getting cars. That doesn't mean you see a horse-drawn buggy on the highways every day.

Comment: Re:In a Self-Driving Future--- (Score 2) 453

by NicBenjamin (#48443827) Attached to: In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars

That's Manhattan Real Estate prices for ya. In many areas of the country getting rid of the car, and moving to an urban apartment, would be a lot cheaper then living in the 'burbs, if public transit wasn't shitty.

For example when Detroit went bankrupt lots of righties claimed that "of course that happened their tax rates are ridiculous, nobody could afford to live there" but if you read page 11 of the bankruptcy report, you'll note that car insurance costs were two to three times taxes in Detroit and all the neighboring jurisdictions Orr presented data for. In fact car insurance in Detroit alone ($3,993) was as much as taxes for all four cities he mentioned (total of $3,395 per capita).

So if you moved to a $500 or $600 a month apartment in Detroit, and got rid of the car, your tax bill would double, but your car insurance goes down several grand. Add in gas and repairs, and in theory Detroit could triple or quadruple the local tax rate to pay for trains and you still end up ahead. They are really trying to do this -- one of the few new programs that bankruptcy didn't axe was a light rail system up and down the main drag.

The major problem is that if they actually pulled it off you'd have a lot of trouble getting a Detroit apartment for $500 a month.

Comment: Re:If I was running counter-intelligence for the C (Score 1) 340

by NicBenjamin (#48414899) Attached to: Alleged Satellite Photo Says Ukraine Shootdown of MH17

If it wasn't a time-bomb what was it? It has to be in the cockpit, so it can't be transmitting signals or it would screw up the pilot's insturments and tip them off. It's 5-6 miles up so it can't be receiving signals passively.

And you still haven't addressed the risk/reward problem. If Israel gets caught Israel dies. Period. Therefore a 2% chance of getting caught is only an acceptable risk if the alternative is a 3% chance of the destruction of the country, and that just wasn't gonna happen no matter how bad the blow-back from Gaza.

Comment: Re:If I was running counter-intelligence for the C (Score 1) 340

by NicBenjamin (#48399631) Attached to: Alleged Satellite Photo Says Ukraine Shootdown of MH17

So an Israeli security contractor put a bomb on the plane, which nobody noticed, and timed it to go off over a very small war-zone, and it worked?

This is an aircraft that travels at 900 kph. If the pilot's a half-hour behind schedule he's over Kiev when the bomb goes off. If it's an hour he's in Poland. If he's 10 minutes ahead of schedule he's well into Russia.

Even if you have an answer for that one you still haven't addressed the risk/reward: if the Israelis get caught doing this they get fucked. All of Europe would ostracize them. That means UN Security Council resolutions requiring everyone to embargo Israel until they've turned half their security services over to the Dutch for prosecution. The US is not gonna veto those resolutions because a couple hundred million Europeans are a lot better alliance-partner then 7-8 million Israelis. The Russians probably wrote the damn resolution, because the Israelis were trying to frame Russia. That means Israel's only hope is China, and the Chinese are not likely to stick their necks out to save the people who just pissed a) their biggest energy supplier, and b) all their customers.

That's a lot to risk for some abstract reward of "distracting" people.

Comment: Re:Yet Another Fake Picture (Score 2) 340

by NicBenjamin (#48397515) Attached to: Alleged Satellite Photo Says Ukraine Shootdown of MH17

Two points:

1) We know the rebels were using anti-aircraft weapons in the area because they said they were using anti-aircraft weapons. They got an AN-26, an SU-25, and an IL-76. I never read CNN because they are too damn cheap to do their own research, which means in international news they almost always end up parroting the President's line. But the BBC had extensive coverage of all three shoot-downs, it's quite skeptical of the official line (check out the Hutton Inquiry if you don;t believe me), and all were quite close (150 km or less) to MH17. They themselves repeatedly claimed to have done all three shoot-downs.

2) Your source does not understand how aerial combat works or looks. Canon fire produces lots of identical holes. Identical. The bullets are precisely machined to all be exactly the same size, they are coming in at the exact same angle, and they are hitting the exact same material. You don't get a 2 cm hole right by a 5 mm hole, you get a bunch of 30 mm holes.

Moreover his scenario may be "coherent," but it's stupid. Su-25s are not fighter aircraft, they are ground-attack aircraft. Their systems are not designed to accurately hit a specific part of an aircraft traveling at hundreds of miles an hour, they are designed to pepper a 30 mph tank with as many bullets as possible in the hopes that one will get lucky and hit a weak point in the armor. Moreover they have to be incredibly close to work, (under a km, a couple hundred meters is ideal), aimed straight at the target (the gun is welded onto the nose), and the pilots of a commercial aircraft are damn well gonna notice a military aircraft pointed straight at them, at maximum speed, closing to within a km. If the Ukrainians actually wanted to do this they'd use an actual fighter-jet, like a Mig-29 or Su-27, or they'd sneak a missile battery close to the front and use that.

OTOH, as I said we know the rebels were using anti-aircraft weapons. We know those weapons put a bunch of non-similar-sized holes in the planes cockpit. We know they boasted about shooting down a plane (which they thought was a large Yakovlev transport) at exactly the same time MH17 went down, and they pulled the post pretty much the second they realized the only plane missing in Ukraine was a neutral civilian airliner, etc. Most important we know their attempt to blame it on the other side is ridiculous. It's the kind of thing you think up when you've been caught red-handed and you don;t want to admit it, not the kind of thing you say because you believe it's true.

Comment: Re:If I was running counter-intelligence for the C (Score 1) 340

by NicBenjamin (#48397053) Attached to: Alleged Satellite Photo Says Ukraine Shootdown of MH17

The problem with plans like that are numerous, sundry, and gi-fucking-normous.

The number one biggest problem is finding a reliable trigger-man. If you use an Israeli (or even a non-Israeli Jew) it's gonna be pretty conspicuous, so you need a reliable gentile. Let me repeat: you're looking for a person who is willing to murder several hundred completely innocent people, but will never betray you. Because if he does betray you you got bigger problems then a bunch of Euro-sissies with no military complaining about your latest Gaza offensive, you've UN resolutions accusing your PM of war crimes, the country you usually depend on to protect (the US and Russia) will not protect your ass, and your back-up (Israel maintains a fairly good relationship with the Russians) is probably sponsoring the damn thing.

Then there's the problem of getting weapons in the right place. You get the right Ukrainian patsy that works fine, but that guy pretty much has to be a Ukrainian ultra-nationalist, and Ukrainian ultra-nationalists are not known for their loyalty to the Zionist project. They're also not known for their ability to keep secrets from Russia.You could get around that problem by using an IDF aircraft with an IDF pilot, but getting an IDF aircraft 800+ km across Turkey, the Black Sea, Russian bases in Crimea, etc. without anybody noticing is not an easy task.

Comment: Re:uh, no? (Score 4, Interesting) 340

by NicBenjamin (#48396795) Attached to: Alleged Satellite Photo Says Ukraine Shootdown of MH17

What else can we do?

Putin has apparently just accidentally killed several hundred civilians, most of whom are part of a nuclear-armed alliance. And he won't even say "oops."

The reason those countries are in that alliance is that they expect us to have their backs when somebody does that kind of shit to them.

Now if we respond militarily, which has the advantage that a) it would target the people who actually blew the plane up, and b) if it worked would work really well; we face the disadvantage that c) our military aim isn't perfect so we'd probably nail a bomb shelter full of civilians, d) much of the Russian military is conscripted, e) invading Russia is historically speaking a really ineffective policy, and f) if we did so Putin might nuke Seattle.

Which leaves sanctions. Sanctions are slow, and they tend to hit a lot of innocents, but military action is worse (ie: Bush's invasion of Iraq ended the sanctions that killed thousands, but only by starting a war that killed hundreds of thousands and refuses to end).

Comment: Re:If I was running counter-intelligence for the C (Score 1, Insightful) 340

by NicBenjamin (#48395053) Attached to: Alleged Satellite Photo Says Ukraine Shootdown of MH17

I have no idea why a sane person would suspect Mossad.

Some sane people suspect Mossad of secretly supporting the Russians in their war against Georgia, because they may actually have gotten something they could use out of that (Russian support against the Iranians). But they really don't give two shits about who owns Luhansk and Donetsk, but they definitely give a shit whether the Russians hate them because a nuclear-armed Security Council state could make life very uncomfortable for them. So they are gonna stayt far away from any anti-Russian operation in this conflict.

Comment: Re:Yet Another Fake Picture (Score 1) 340

by NicBenjamin (#48394951) Attached to: Alleged Satellite Photo Says Ukraine Shootdown of MH17

It's hard to take that possibility very seriously.

Cannon fire is a bunch of bullets that are exactly the same shape and size. This leaves a bunch of identical holes in the wreckage. Frequently they're all in a line.

OTOH, an air-to-air missile blows up before it hits the target, peppering it with shrapnel, The shrapnel puts lots of holes in the plane, but they aren't all exactly the same size, and there's just a mass of them where the missile hit.

The pictures of wreckage we've seen show the latter, not the former.

Just as important, we know the rebels were operating air-to-air batteries in the area because they blew a couple Ukrainian military aircraft out of the sky. It's not uncommon for anti-0aircraft batteries to blow up the wrong plane, particularly if there's a lot of fighting going on and the crew are poorly trained. We did it to an Iranian airliner, the Russians did it to a South Korean jet. The rebel military is quite new so their guys can;t have 20 years experience telli8ng a Boeing from a Sukhoi.

Comment: Re: uh, no? (Score 1) 340

by NicBenjamin (#48394879) Attached to: Alleged Satellite Photo Says Ukraine Shootdown of MH17

In the short term in Russia proper that's true.

But everyone else knows this is more then a bit fishy. In fact it's ridiculous BS.

And in the long-term it's really, really hard to duck responsibility on something like this for an extended period of time. We blew that Iranian airliner up, gave the dude who did it a medal, but within a decade we had to take responsibility and pay substantial damages. Libya was able to duck responsibility for quite a bit longer after the Lockerbie bombing, but even Gadaffi had to own up eventually.

Comment: Re:uh, no? (Score 4, Insightful) 340

by NicBenjamin (#48394795) Attached to: Alleged Satellite Photo Says Ukraine Shootdown of MH17

Because the only thing they could do that would work is sending NATO troops into Ukraine, which would be mighty fucking risky. And not risky as in "we could lose a few thousand troops for no damn good reason and waste a $Trillion or three doing it," risky as in nuclear fucking war.

So they decided on sanctions. Apparently the sanctions are pretty effective, because there's no good economic news out of Russia.

Comment: Re:Summary is hogwash (Score 1) 271

by NicBenjamin (#48383183) Attached to: Dealer-Installed GPS Tracker Leads To Kidnapper's Arrest in Maryland

The Appeals Court removed Judge Scheindlein.

She said the Fourth Amendment bans a policy that resulted in every black man in New York City being frisked, and the Appeals Court removed her. It reprimanded her in extremely strong language, accusing her of major ethical violations (they've changed their tune on this). Then they said the Stop-and-frisk program can continue until a new trial is held under a Judge who hasn't said that stopping all black people is racist and against the Fourth Amendment.

Don't get me wrong. But that's not the ruling you issue if you think the Fourth Amendment is something more thena technicality to be reasoned away.

The reason that every major university maintains a department of mathematics is that it's cheaper than institutionalizing all those people.