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Comment Re:Casino Noise (Score 1) 125 125

Property tax is still an indirect tax on economic activity, as I pointed out above, since the value of property is defined by economic activity (whether the property is actually used or not), and since property tax directly affects the cost of all economic activity involving property which, ultimately, is all economic activity or so close to all as makes no difference. There may be some business, somewhere, which requires no capital expenditures and takes place entirely on public land, but it certainly isn't the norm. It's true that some economic activity is more capital intensive than other economic activity, but I don't see how that implies that economic activity which is less capital-intensive necessarily makes fewer claims on government or should be taxed less.

And I still don't see that the Broken Window Fallacy is a counterexample. Perhaps I'm dense. Or perhaps we disagree on the meaning of "counterexamples". At best it seems to highlight that economic activity and property value aren't the same thing, but I don't think that was ever in dispute.

Comment Re: Tiny black holes (Score 1) 93 93

Man creates fancy cancer causing agent, lets call it ... agent orange. Did God create cancer?

All those "carcinogenic" substances you hear about don't cause cancer -- they increase the rate of mutation, which wouldn't ever cause cancer if the cells were better designed. To put it another way, if people didn't naturally get cancer it would be almost impossible to design a substance that would give them cancer. If an engineer had designed human DNA, then that engineer would be blamed if random mutagens would routinely cause cancer -- that's why we have fail-safes and error-correcting code. Human cells also have fail-safes and error correcting code, but they're poorly designed.

Just as an example, the naked mole rat has additional fail-safes and so is almost immune to cancer.

Comment Re:Smart (Score 1) 201 201

So for those several times per year, rent a car.

I lived in Colorado for three years, and regularly (almost monthly) made the 8-hour drive to my parents' home. Most of that time I had two vehicles, a Dodge Durango (needed to tow the camp trailer or boat, and to haul the whole family), and a Nissan LEAF, which was my commuter and the around-the-town vehicle when the whole family wasn't going. Given the amount of gas the Durango consumes I found it more economical (when all the kids weren't going) to rent a Prius or similar for the trips home. It worked great. Some unanticipated benefits were that the car tends to get pretty dirty when you drive it a thousand-plus miles in a short stretch, cluttered up with fast food containers and whatnot -- and there's an increased risk of spills and stains. So it's nice to just let Hertz deal with all of that.

Anyway, the point is that it's perfectly reasonable to choose a vehicle that is optimized for 95% of your driving, and rent one that is optimized for the other 5%. It can actually be very cost-effective. I've been looking into getting rid of the Durango and renting when I need a toy hauler, but so far it looks like the premiums charged for those sorts of vehicles make it a non-starter vs my paid-off SUV. Also, I haul the boat or trailer almost weekly during the summer, so the frequency of rentals would get annoying.

Comment Re:Smart (Score 3, Insightful) 201 201

Any system which allows for refuelability/battery swapping has a much better chance of competing with current transportation fuel methods.

Nice assertion. I'll counter with one of my own: Battery swapping has negligible effect on the ability of EVs to compete with ICEVs for consumer travel. The only case where it's of use is in long-distance, non-stop travel, which is a miniscule percentage of road miles and which can in most cases be done with a rental vehicle. As long as the people in the car need to refuel every few hours, all you need is enough range to go as far as the people can, and a sufficiently-fast recharge time that by the time the people eat the car is ready to go again.

What's needed for EVs to compete isn't battery swapping, it's lower prices for vehicles with adequate range. The Model S has the range required, now. The Nissan LEAF and similar cars are in the ballpark on price. When we get a $25K (new) EV sedan with a 250-mile range, they'll sell like hotcakes in suburban middle-class America, and pollution levels in places like LA will decline dramatically in just a few years.

This isn't to say that battery swapping never makes sense, or that better highway and home charging infrastructure (particularly for apartment dwellers) doesn't matter, but solving the price/range problem will put EVs over the hump and the rest will follow naturally.

Comment Re:Smart Battery Swaps (Score 1) 201 201

Is there a possible benefit to getting a battery with fewer charge cycles in a swap ? I sort of saw this concept as a way to get a refurbished battery when yours is reaching end of life, or has a few dead cells.

That's a completely different issue. Even without quick-recharge swaps, it's certainly possible to replace an old battery. But you're going to have to pay for that new battery (less a rebate for the value of the old one, I'm sure).

Comment Re:Human (Score 1) 71 71

I only get that line from people who hold up the Holy Writ of Smith, Ricardo, and Marx. Too bad all modern economics is based on an equivocation fallacy in which the term "value" means several different things, yet is interchanged to justify things even when the definition of value is unfixed between two suggestions.

Real economics--economics that surpasses all currently published treatises--dispenses with the term "value", applying only "valuation" in market economics to indicate what the market or a particular transaction sees as the acceptable price of a good. In macroeconomics--in discussing the wealth of nations--the term "value" is inapplicable; the correct terms are cost, price, and wealth. All discussions on economic principles to date have come disturbingly close to correct, yet have always been a hair's breadth away, with enormous implications, due to the mistaken ideal of value.

Comment Re:Core subjetc my a$$.... (Score 1) 71 71

It's not that. The standard argument is SELF-ACCESSIBLE college gives people the ability to get jobs by allowing them to, on their own, by their own assessment, using their own resources (time at least; money, if doing student loans instead of government-paid college), obtain a marketable job skill.

In a market where students can reasonably self-propel (that is, where anyone not sufficiently rich can send themselves to college), the absolute best course of action for the individual is to go to college and get a degree. Further, the best course of action is to get the degree in whatever field appears to provide the best immediate employment opportunity. These are both direct manifestations of the Prisonner's Dilemma; the latter involves a massive amount of market analysis, much of which is blind and long, meaning a lot of uncontrollable risk.

In such a market, students primarily face the risk of other students trying to enter the same market. Students cannot readily project how many jobs will be available in a field, how the field will grow, or how many other students will gain credentials for that field. Because *not* studying in that field provides even *worse* results, students must simply accept these risks. This creates floods of labor in the market, dynamically, driving down labor costs by creating high unemployment and a reduction of labor power, all through the simple mechanism of making skilled workers an over-supplied and readily-interchangeable commodity.

Besides the bargaining power problem, I believe this is plainly inefficient as an overall market strategy. It's an expensive way to produce an effective workforce.

In a non-intervention college market (where the government focuses on K-12, but not career education), the great majority of individuals cannot send themselves to college. Businesses, thus, suffer from a lack of required skilled labor. This sharply impacts each employer's ability to execute business strategies, placing them at sharp disadvantage to any other business which can effectively execute their own strategies. It's incredibly painful and destructive to business.

In such a market, the best action for any business is to hire entry-level employees and train them. Entrants can, almost immediately, take over low-skill, time-intensive work. Even shit programmers can hunt down and identify bugs, clean up code, and so forth; these things take the most skilled programmers some time, sometimes even hours or days, and so letting your $40k worker grind it for a week or so instead of having your $100k senior software engineer spend five days trying to track it down is at least breaking even. Carpenters who can't make intricate carvings can at least build rough furniture; those who can't can plane floors; those whose skills are so poor can at least lay joists; and those who are too inexperienced and terrible to lay joists can, at least, spend the hours of the day cutting wedges and shims, tasks which are too time-consuming for an expensive artisan to waste his day on.

Businesses in this context have stronger (still imperfect) insight into their individual needs, their market growth, their departmental expansion, and so forth. Often during times of expansion we approve budget 2-3 years in advance of hiring new accountants, programmers, sales people, digital artists, and master control engineers; during normal times, we approve budget 6-12 months in advance, when the need is recognized on the horizon. No student can so accurately and consistently project that there is a job somewhere out there waiting for him after college.

This arrangement is undesirable to businesses, as it makes workers valuable (this is a lay-term, not an economics one; the term "value" must be ejected from economic theory, while the term "valuation" must remain for market economics). Valuable workers are problematic: you can't just fire them and hire another interchangeable part. Workers, in an economic sense, have an up-front cost and a continuous cost, which become part of the cost of whatever product they produce; to fire a worker and hire a new entrant, you must now invest the up-front cost into the worker again, increasing the cost of whatever they produce. Such displaced workers save the up-front cost to the next employer, and may command an increased price if an employer needs a more senior developer and cannot wait to train a new laborer.

That means workers gain bargaining power and, ultimately, job security and stable salaries. On one hand, this raises their wage, which raises labor costs, which makes the economy less wealthy; on the other, this avoids a lot of poorly-invested expense in unnecessary college education, training laborers as needed rather than as a constant, freeing up a lot of capital (money) in the consumer's hands to spend on other things, creating new markets to obtain that residual wealth by selling the consumer new things, thus creating new jobs to produce those new goods and services, in all increasing total wealth.

As I said, our current strategy is inefficient. Considering 74% of STEM degree holders don't have STEM-related jobs and half of engineers don't work in engineering, there's a lot more waste than just liberal arts degrees.

Comment Re:Core subjetc my a$$.... (Score 1) 71 71

in order to flood the market with code monkeys that know how to write an if-then-else statement in order to deflate CS salaries

Why is it people can understand this effect, but can't understand government-funded or government-backed (loans) college initiatives do this on a grand scale, deflating the value, power, and, ultimately, salaries of the individual? Even when I explain the whole of the mechanism fully in ways people can understand, they eventually go, "Well, yeah, that makes sense; but it's still empowering to be able to get an education!" when they just agreed it's the best and most effective way to strip employee power and make them tradable, low-cost commodities.

Comment Re: Truck Stops, Gas Stations, etc (Score 1) 875 875

I called you daft for not understanding the concept that someone who runs a swapping service station covers all costs related to their business activities and rolls them into what they charge for service, just like every other business does.

I raised the question because it's a point you seemed to ignore. There are costs inherent in there, which means the cost of battery swap is significantly higher than the cost of charging your own batteries.

Really, you think that bad fuel can't damage an engine? It can and does. And it's the supplier who ultimately bears the cost. No, "bad electricity" is not a proper analogy (although your sarcasm in this regard is funny given how many devices are damaged by surges every year); a gas station fuels vehicles by insertung fuel into them, while a swapping station fuels vehicles by inserting pre-charged batteries into them. Batteries correspond to fuel in this context.

Nope, you're using the fallacy of whole body analogy: X has aspect similar to Y, therefor X is similar to Y in all aspects. The problem is fuel and electricity are most similar, although bad fuel can damage a car and bad electricity can't. Swapping a battery for a defective battery can also damage a car (much worse, if it catches fire), but so can swapping in a bad radiator.

The battery is a car part. It isn't simply fuel, and it can't be fully analogized to fuel. You're swapping in a car part which may be bad and may damage the car or kill the driver.

In what world do you live where car parts are regularly inspected by the manufacturer after being installed into the vehicle?

A battery is a type of fuel tank. It's a storage container holding an electron charge (energy). This is substantially similar to a propane tank swap, which, yes, every single tank is individually inspected in the industry. Batteries, of course, don't fully analogize to propane tanks; they do tend to EXPLODE WHEN DAMAGED, and they explode or burn with the energy they contain: a Tesla 80kWh battery has as much energy as 64kg of TNT. A stick of dynamite is equivalent to .216kg of TNT, so that battery is potentially 300 sticks of dynamite.

Do you think inspection regulations for damaged and dangerous batteries won't appear overnight?

Lastly, you're still stuck in bizarro world where ICE vehicles full of combustible fuel are incombustible,

We don't routinely swap critical fuel management components in gasoline and diesel cars for other components which came out of other, random cars. We tend to install new or refurbished parts, and even then in vary rare cases (every few hundred thousand miles). Gasoline and diesel also don't massively explode, although Li+ batteries tend to burn--more rapidly than gasoline and diesel would, but they still tend to not detonate (they can). Both failure modes are more likely and more dangerous than liquid fuel failures, and harder to cease (dry chemical or CO2 onto gasoline will put it out; that won't work with a battery, because it's an oxidizer and reducer in one package--it has its own oxygen source).

You can live in a delusion where people (and, subsequently, governments) won't demand safety inspections on every single battery swap, but reality will happily ignore you.

Comment Re:SD Card? (Score 1) 153 153

Go back and read it again: "this isn't marketed at the premium price point ".

Listen you fallacy-of-equivocation prick, I said it's a PREMIUM OFFERING. It's their premium offering. It doesn't matter if it doesn't cost as much as an expensive-ass HTC phone; a Chevrolet Cobalt SS doesn't cost as much as a Mustang Cobra, but the Cobalt SS is a premium car (which costs $25k). Why? There's a base model, and a premium model.

No, it isn't. Nowhere did I write or imply that.

I said the 64GB model is their premium offering. You said it's "nuh-uh".

Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 1) 875 875

It's worth noting that mortgage interest is tax deductible

So your interest, minus about $12,000, is cut down by about 2/3, and given back to you. If you pay $25,000 in interest this year, you get $8,000 back from the Government. Cool.

in addition to the other misc. tax benefits of home ownership.

Which are all lower than the costs of home ownership.

In my city, a mortgage payment is significantly lower then the corresponding rental prices

That's why I bought my house. Normally, rent costs less than a mortgage, slightly; it also saves you on maintenance and homeowner's insurance ($892/year HOI, $118/year RI), as well as taxes (although my house is reported as worth $3,000, so I only pay $72; if it were reported as the $50,000 I paid for it, it would cost about $1,200/year in taxes, or roughly 3 month's 15-year mortgage). In this case, house prices had dropped, and rents hadn't followed (a lot of realtors had new mortgages...); a lot of houses got abandoned, and I picked one up from an investor cheap.

How does home ownership give you more control over your finances?

I managed to plan to pay my mortgage off in 3 years, and then decided to divert that to updating the insulation (cut my heating needs by 80%), installing a split system (cut my $500 heating bills by 2/3, not counting insulation), and installing new windows--it'll be a 5 year pay-off instead.

I tend to take ~$10k loans to do work in blocks. I took $10k for a project to remove the trees from my back yard (before they eat the sewage line, and of course so I could kill the poison ivy by saturating the ground with triclopyr--90 days to non-kill levels, 420 days to complete decomposition, and any run-off immediately decomposes in water), and also to buy a piano. That leaves several thousand dollars in my bank account, instead of just draining my accounts (and then my car needed $1000 of work, so you can see why I took a loan instead of paying out of pocket). I'll pay that down in a few months, and then get another $10k loan to install a split heat pump system, insulate the rear wall (foam panel exterior), and rebuild the master bedroom (drafty, no insulation, gets hot and extremely humid during the summer).

Each cycle will end with more cash-on-hand, and the months I take to pay down those loans only holds me to a $250/mo obligation in case of financial trouble. I can take them down by $1000-$2000 each month otherwise. Same with my $450/mo mortgage that I dump $1200 on, when I'm not managing other loans. Flexibility.

"Mach was the greatest intellectual fraud in the last ten years." "What about X?" "I said `intellectual'." ;login, 9/1990

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