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Biotech

Spider Silk Finally Ready For Commercialization 48 48

An anonymous reader writes: We've been hearing about little bits of progress for decades, but spider silk fibers are finally ready to be delivered at commercial scale, thanks to three scientist-founders and large investments ($40M) from SF and SV venture capitalists. Who'll be the first to build a web slinger?

Comment: Re:I blame the FDA (Score 5, Interesting) 365 365

One year vaper, previously 20 year smoker. I've had the medical labs done to show how much damage was undone in just one year.

At 41, I can run farther and faster, keep up with young folk better than most of my non-smoker friends of the same age. 3 years ago this was not the case.

Comment: From a non-driver perspective (Score 4, Insightful) 218 218

I stopped driving 2 years ago, voluntarily. My SUV cost me around $800 a month in replacement costs. Another $200 in maintenance. I was burning through $12,000 a year in gas. I spent an average of 1000 hours a year in the car, for work, for groceries, for fun. 999 of those hours were spent focused on the road. I hate talking on the phone while driving.

Consider my annual total: about $25,000 + 1000 hours of my time. For the "privilege" to sit in Chicago traffic.

I'm a consultant. I now use UberX every day. I also use public transportation when I'm not in a rush or when someone isn't paying me to swing by.

I spent about $5000 a year on UberX. $100 a week. While I am being driven around, I can respond to emails, make phone calls. I bill for that time. When a customer wants me to visit them, I pass the UberX fee on to them plus 50%. No one scoffs at it. Some customers will realize the cost of me visiting them is more expensive than just consulting over the phone.

I figure I'm $20,000 ahead in vehicle costs, plus I've literally gained another 600-700 hours of phone and email consulting time a year. Call it $40,000 ahead.

I don't take cabs, because they don't like to come to where my HQ is (ghetto neighborhood). UberX comes 24/7, within minutes.

My little sister had an emergency surgery a few months ago. I immediately hired an UberX driver, who took me from the office, to the hospital. He waited. We then took my sister to her apartment to get her cats and clothes, then he took us to the pharmacy. After, he drove us to our dad's house to drop her off, in the suburbs of Chicago. Then he drove me back to work. 3 hours, $90. I can't get a cab to wait even 10 minutes while I drop off a package at UPS. Forget about them taking credit cards.

UberX charges my Paypal account and they're off. If they're busy, they charge a surcharge. I can pick it or take public transportation.

I know why the Chicago Taxi authorities want Uber gone. But a guy like me is their best customer. Next year I'll budget $10,000 a year for UberX, and it will make my life so much more enjoyable and profitable.

Driving yourself around is dead. It's inefficient. Ridesharing is "libertarian" because it is truly freeing.

Comment: Nothing new to see here. (Score 4, Informative) 209 209

It's couched in all kinds of nice geek speak, but basically this is a PAC being created for one goal, campaign finance reform. As I do not believe that campaign finance reform should be used as a method to limit the speech of others, i'm out of this one. Sorry, Woz, not gonna be on your side of this fight. "Campaign finance reform" as a term used today is an attempt to stop grass-roots individuals such as those who funded this PAC from being able to donate in the future to organizations that support their own beliefs. Only those who can afford to pay for political ads personally will be able to play, and those who can't won't be able to band together as they do today.

Comment: Re:I sell actual things in Bitcoin (Score 1, Interesting) 293 293

Since my financial stability for the future doesn't correlate with income nor even profit, I think my risk is pretty low. Even if volatility continues, and even if my businesses took in 50% of their revenues in BTC, I still wouldn't see any actual harm. The businesses have been around for decades, and they're self-sufficient and stable.

Converting BTC to fiat currency puts a sell-pressure on BTC. Holding BTC would reduce the selling supply, thereby reducing volatility from the sell side. It's the same with dollars: I hoard my dollars in cash "under the mattress" rather than put it in a bank to get loaned out as debt (money multiplier effect).

The "market forces" in BTC right now are pretty unique because only a small number of BTC holders are actually transacting. Most people are "long game speculators", and are neither buying things with BTC nor selling it to liquidate for fiat currency. As the number of BTC users goes up (which will likely happen when volatility is reduced), I believe we'll see a more stable platform.

Comment: Re:I sell actual things in Bitcoin (Score 1, Insightful) 293 293

I'd be happy to throw back just to the 1800s or so -- when poor people could actually save their way to wealth, where credit addiction didn't lead to thrill-seeking behavior addiction, and where the money supply wasn't a medium to fund warfare and welfare entitlements benefiting the rich and powerful.

Business regulations, money regulations and savings dilution aren't modern in any way, but they've become the norm. I'd rather see all 3 go away, or at least just become part of the nanny-state economy, not my economies.

Comment: Re:I sell actual things in Bitcoin (Score 2) 293 293

Bingo. I may be aligned with the anarcho-capitalists, but I also have no issue with government regulating the people who want government.

I don't care for money stability, I just want a bartering medium that is freed from the pressures associated with money. Bitcoin is unlikely to fund government programs -- and if the day comes that a commodity currency becomes official, it will certainly restrict government to acting within their means.

I also appreciate that Bitcoin doesn't have the money multiplier effect of credit (cards, loans, etc). People have to live within their means with Bitcoin.

Comment: I sell actual things in Bitcoin (Score 2, Interesting) 293 293

I sell physical goods and accept Bitcoin as a payment method. The volatility doesn't bug me at all. While it's only a tiny percentage of overall sales, it's still exciting to see a currency that can actually become a true bartering agent that is freed of non-market forces.

If a seller is concerned with volatility, they should consider not selling their received BTC for fiat currency. It's the number of "we accept bitcoin" sites that accept currency and then immediately convert it to fiat that is one reason for the downward pressure.

I blogged about it the other day, in how I wish governments would just make BTC to fiat currency transactions illegal. It would be a great step in reducing volatility and decoupling BTC from the regulated markets.

Comment: Re:How about a Monster.com for the non-degreed? (Score 1) 728 728

It sounds like you're projecting your own insecurities about your inability to interact with whom you want to interact with. That's too bad.

The straw man argument about "giving up" roads, postal, internet etc is irrelevant to me. I'm not political. I believe in the feudalism that has existed since the dawn of agriculture. 80% of people are serfs, 20% are lords. I'll take advantage of the system that you serfs have created, be it political, corporate, even sexual markets.

I don't support the systems, and in a truly free market guys like me would be knocked down a notch.

But we aren't. I'm still making good enough money to vacation every week or two. I have great friends who either really like me, or like the things I have access to. I sleep with great women who also take care of my domestic needs. I don't work in a cubicle or in a "team environment" and I work with the customers I want to work with -- and ones who want to work with me.

And I work when I want to work. My employees have that same freedom: if they don't need the income, they don't have to come in and field new jobs. It's pretty basic, it's how humans seem designed to operate.

Or, you can be a serf in a 9-5 job paying off a mortgage for 42 years, college debt for 20+ years, and hope you'll die being able to leave your children something of value.

You can have your society, I don't want a part of it.

Comment: Re:How about a Monster.com for the non-degreed? (Score 1) 728 728

The entire world has attempted this one-size-fits-all mentality, and it's a failure. People are unhappy with it.

I want to be with happy people in my life. I don't need the money from any one unhappy person, so I'd rather not have them in my life.

The idea that all businesses should accept all customers is insane. Should all men accept all women as possible sex partners? Should you accept any platonic friend who comes into your life?

No. We form relationships based on compatibility, and my businesses do BETTER because my clients are generally compatible with my viewpoints.

Comment: Re:Misplaced arrogance (Score 1) 728 728

"Being a self starter has nothing to do with whether or not you went to college."

Really? I don't meet too many college graduates who I would consider self-starters. Very rare, actually.

"Having a college degree isn't the only thing that matters but it can be a very useful indicator of what the person standing in front of me is capable of."

"I have several college degrees including masters in both engineering and business. I've started 5 businesses, am a certified accountant, run a manufacturing company and am on the board of a non-profit. My wife has a doctorate and does even better than I do. If you think our college degrees have held either of us back in any way you are delusional."

I'm sure they haven't held you back, but I also don't see the purpose of those degrees connecting with your 5 businesses. Sounds like you wasted a lot of time chasing degrees. I wouldn't hire you.

"So you want to hire people who have no respect for others? Nice. I'll be sure to avoid you and the people you hire."

Feminists have respect for others? Please. Progressives have respect for others? Yeah, sure, tell me another one.

"You know a lot of engineers or doctors who picked up their profession "on the streets"?"

I own an engineering company and I have no degree. Two of my consultants who work with me also don't have degrees.

And I did mention in my OP that STEM degrees can make sense -- but they aren't the end off for confirming someone's ability to engineer.

The greatest engineer I ever met, in Chicago, who has been retired just 5 years, did not have an engineer degree. And he was the #1 guy in a certain engineering field in the Midwest. My mentor, of sorts. Never went to college.

Comment: Re:How about a Monster.com for the non-degreed? (Score 1) 728 728

I refuse to subsidize bad ideology.

The idea of freedom is that we can congregate with people we like, and refuse to congregate with people we don't like.

For me, all relationships I have include an economic metric. Not a FINANCIAL metric, but economic -- both parties should gain, and both parties should invest in the relationship. It's that way with love, with sex, with family, with platonic friends, and with business.

I don't want to invest in people with shitty entitled attitudes. I tell feminists that I am anti-feminism, but they still shop from me. Some of them date me, which is insane because I am THE anti-feminist. Figure that one out.

A few years ago, I purposefully told state employees that I'd rather not do business with them. Some of them came to me and discussed it. Cops, public school teachers, even the local postal employee. I told them why I didn't want to do business with them, and they basically agreed with me. They agreed with my opinion, even though I was trying to fire them as customers.

I'm very open about my prejudices. If people want to do business with me, they either accept it, or they don't. Isn't it better to KNOW what another person believes, so you can make the decision to congregate with them, or not?

Comment: Re:How about a Monster.com for the non-degreed? (Score 1) 728 728

That's an imbecilic response.

All my companies have an open books policy. That means that even the lowliest employee can look at our accounting books, our bank statements, even my tax returns (personal identity information redacted).

I generally earn the LEAST of any business I own. If I am not at the bottom, I am pretty close to it.

If I was a capitalist overlord, I'd be earning the most.

Why do I have an open book policy? To teach my employees how to be entrepreneurs. To teach them that the $1500 job they're working on doesn't create $1500 in wealth for us, but for many suppliers, contract workers, waged workers, and sales persons.

People learn from me. I have many competitors in my field who worked for me a decade ago (or even 1 year ago). They move on to doing things themselves, or partnering up with someone else. I encourage this. Competition doesn't hurt me, it helps grow the markets I am in.

Showing my staff the books doesn't hurt me, it encourages them to work harder knowing that the wealth is shared.

"Conversion, fastidious Goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts most subtly on the human will." -- Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"

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