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Comment Re:How much will it cost. (Score 1) 396

You are seriously concerned that you might have an emergency, and need to drive more than 600 miles, and having to stop and re-charge for an hour would just make the emergency worse?

It's not the need to drive 600 miles - it's the need to drive any reasonable distance with minimal delay. Consider a drive that takes only 1 hour, and you just got home from your commute so your car's energy reserve is almost empty. With a gas car, that 1 hour drive takes you 1 hour and 5 minutes, plus you can have reserve to take you farther. With an electric, that 1 hour drive takes 1 hour 30 minutes.

The argument that "if it's a real emergency, use uber" posted also makes no sense - how long does it take for a taxi to arrive? Not everyone lives where there is a low-latency taxi service.

The simple fact is, current state-of-the-art electric cars are more restrictive than hydrocarbon-fueled vehicles and the current hydrocarbon refueling infrastructure. Do electric cars have benefits over liquid fuel? Yes, they do, but I do not buy arguments that they are not more restrictive.

In the future, perhaps these restrictions will be lifted, or hydro-fuels will get more restrictive. But I would argue that, as a society, having more restrictive transportation technology is hardly an "advance".

Comment Re:How much will it cost. (Score 2) 396

You're forgetting the loss of freedom there though, which has a cost. Consider a gasoline car with 5 miles fuel remaining. Consider an electric car with 5 miles charge remaining.

How long must either car wait before embarking on a trip? Say, because there is an emergency situation? The gasoline car has maybe a 5 minute delay to refuel the tank to full capacity. The electric - best case maybe is you can get to a car rental place, but that's still probably a 30 minute or more delay and much higher cost.

That "convenience factor" of hydrocarbon fuels is a real thing, and it's a real value. Going to an electric vehicle really does need to include that worst-case" trip initiation lag cost.

If you can get electric cars to charge at 50 miles/minute (instead of the current best, what, 5 miles per minute?) you will solve this problem and everyone will readily accept electric vehicles.

I would take a 250 mile range electric at 50 miles/minute recharge over a 600 mile range electric at 5 miles/minute recharge without hesitation.

Comment Re:My sister is a nurse (Score 1) 232

You have the correct thesis, I think, but some poor examples:

Pollution - everyone bears the cost but only the polluter benefits.


Not exactly; the people who pay low cost for the goods/services provided by the polluter/overfisher also benefit.

The examples of credit cards are better. MBSs, I'm not so sure - I don't think there was "tricking" there so much as an artifact of booking rules associated with unrealized gains and losses. Add to that the hot-potato nature of financial instruments, and it's unsurprising, really.

Insurance is a different beast - I've come to realize that insurance isn't about reducing total societal costs at all but it really is about socializing the cost. So large pools of people pay a total higher cost for potentially lower out-of-pocket costs per individual. Insurance by itself cannot ever reduce costs, especially health care costs - the providers have all the power, because sick people are basically willing to pay whatever it costs to be made well.

So the only way health care costs can come down is if people are more healthy, there are more providers, or there is regulation imposed to cap prices (e.g., all the recent hoopla about pharma companies buying rights to drugs and increasing prices because "that's what the market will bear").

The current regulatory framework almost guarantees fewer - not more - providers, so there is really very little hope for reduced health care costs from that aspect. So the only hope is that the socialized preventive care really does effect the desired increase in overall population health - but we won't know that for probably a decade or two.

Comment Re:The US can't even do healthcare like a g8 natio (Score 1) 1291

But giving people income does not remove scarcity (artificial or otherwise). Scarcity is only removed if production increases.

All money can do is change the allocation of what already exists.

I do admit there is an indirect effect - changing the allocation of what exists can result in new wealth if the allocation change results in new production (e.g., someone uses the money to buy a tool to build some new things). But simply allowing someone to buy something doesn't guarantee more wealth.

Rather than trying to give people more money, I would rather see an approach that starts incentivizing production and reducing barriers to entry to all markets. Consumption taxes don't do this - I hate the "Fair Tax" idea because taxing consumption does nothing to encourage production and the resulting reduction in scarcity. Our current regulations don't help either - the ACA for example cannot fundamentally reduce costs because it puts up even more barriers to entry to providing health care than we had before.

Comment Re:Again, false solutions ... (Score 3, Informative) 127

The big problem with addressing global warming is that the ability (and cost) associated with mitigating global warming is not located in the same places that are most likely to be adversely affected by global warming.

Asking individuals to change their behavior (or pay a tax) for social programs even in their own backyard is hard enough, yet the climate change folks want to impose costs for people literally on the other side of the globe.

Now I'm not saying that trying to mitigate effects of climate change isn't worthy - it's just that the way people go about trying to get people to make changes is missing the boat as far as how to convince people to make a difference goes. Instead of encouraging, educating, and unifying people, mostly what we see is almost-dictatorial decrees about "you must stop X" and is very vilifying and divisive. Even the jabs thrown between the "deniers" and "supporters" don't actually get anything done.

Make efforts that are appealing now (both personally and economically) without vilifying people, and we'll get some traction. Saying "we're doomed, and you're evil because you don't want to change X in your life!" isn't a helpful approach.

Comment Re:Might as well ... (Score 1) 105

I'd say insulation is your best bang for the buck. Rather than replacing windows (yes, very expensive) you should consider just putting in heavy curtains or blinds; the air barrier they provide can be quite effective. Yes, this affects lighting, but if you do it selectively, such as in rooms that aren't often occupied, you can get a big impact for little cost. Even closing AC registers in little-used rooms helps.

We are in the process of switching to LEDs, but generally we do it when an existing bulb burns out. But that said, lighting is probably maybe 10% of our electrical budget. Number 1 is AC, number 2 is most likely our 20-year-old refrigerator which needs replacing anyway since its seals are going and it's just got an inconvenient internal layout.

Biggest thing though: we have about 1800 sq.ft, and we are only cooling from the mid-high 80s (F) to about 74. When I was a kid and lived in a warmer area, we cooled in the summer from mid-high 90s down to the low 80s; humidity control was more important than the temperature. Minimizing the temperature differential is a huge factor in energy cost.

Comment Re:Might as well ... (Score 1) 105

Of course this past month has been pretty high, with the AC running all the time, but we used 4,189 kWh last month.

I was feeling really bad about the 780kW-hr or so we used at my house last month, but now I don't feel bad about that at all. Anything over about 20kW-hr/day makes me think we need to conserve more*. But an average of well over 100kW-hr/day? Wow.

*I'm always running around the house turning off lights in rooms that are unoccupied, ceiling fans running when nobody's home, stuff like that.

Comment Re:I'm spending 60% of my monthly income on rent (Score 1) 940

I've often thought along these lines - something like "your tax rate is a function of your wealth percentile" coupled with all income being taxable and provisions to avoid "hiding" income (e.g., you can't say "this income went to this company, not to me.")

A simple example would be something like, "Income tax rate is your wealth percentile squared." So if you were in the top 1% (99th percentile), your tax rate would be 98%, but if you were in the 50th percentile, your tax rate would be 25%.

This would essentially prevent concentration of wealth into the hands of a few, because at some point the diminishing returns mean the uber-rich wouldn't have any income left with which to purchase new property.

Note the de-coupling here: the tax is on income but the tax rate is based on wealth. So if you basically own nothing but suddenly make $1M, you pay very little tax. Then the next year, say, you have zero income but have that $1M in the bank (as wealth). You pay zero tax - your tax rate would be higher (due to having $1M assets) but zero income.

This mechanism would be simple (aside from trying to address the attribution of wealth to particular individuals and defining income. Easy, right?) and would "naturally" (as naturally as you can get with only force of law) address the pesky wealth distribution issue. It would also appeal to those who want to get rid of estate taxes; you would be free to live off your estate, tax free, so long as you had no additional income. But as soon as you generate income, it's taxed based on the size of the estate.

There would also need to be some reconsideration of municipal taxes which are currently property-value based; those might be better instead changed to actually be a per-capita tax since most municipal costs (education, police, fire, roads) scale with population, not with property value.

Comment Re:Memory Safe Languages As Countermeasure (Score 4, Insightful) 165

Five letters generally prevent most of the software *coding* issues found in critical automotive software: MISRA.

Failures that happen in automotive software are almost never coding issues, but rather design issues. For instance, even the "infamous" Toyota brake control issues were due to design, not faulty coding.

Switching languages is actually more likely to introduce more errors than reduce them, since you've now likely added coding errors on top of the design issues.

(And I second the other poster mentioning things like compile-time allocation of all objects. I have never seen a dynamically-allocated anything in any of the embedded programs on which I've worked in the main code stream; closest we came was in a data logger which wrote to a dedicated area of flash, on a separate chip even from the main micro.)

Comment Re:Hang on WTF? (Score 1) 191

That someone provided him with all the equipment and capabilities to do the research why the hell should he be awarded the patent?

And herein lies the great virtue and vice of capitalism: the assignment of profits to the owner of capital, rather than the one who made the capital useful.

It doesn't have anything to do with fairness - it's just the way capitalism is set up. There are many good and bad things with this setup; most of the good came about during the time of physical wealth; most of the bad is showing up with the "intangible" wealth.

Let's say you own the lab in which the guy who invented LEDs (original, not just blue). Should (economically? morally? how do you avoid rent-seeking?) the guy who invented LEDs get income from every single LED ever produced, or every device inspired by the LED? Should the lab? How do you fairly allocate possibly infinite income to any individual or corporation? When does an inventor's or capital-owner's interest (and share) get exhausted? Should this interest be exhausted in the first place?

It's sadly not as simple as "without patents there would be no incentive to invent" or "all patents should be abolished."

Comment Re:Sounds suspiciously like welfare. (Score 1) 109

I had a slight error - I shouldn't have said "supply and demand for currency" but rather "supply and demand for things purchased by currency".

That is - as long as currency is separate from actual goods and services, if you don't balance the demand for those goods and services, a "basic income" is almost futile because the value of goods and services relative to that currency is always going to be a moving target.

If all you do is give people currency, but don't actually give people more of the things that are useful to buy with that currency, it's only an accounting exercise.

It doesn't help that it's a very multi-variable problem. Sometimes there is incentive to increase supply when prices increase, thus helping mitigate price increases - but only in instances with low barriers to entry to increase supply. Sometimes - especially in situations where there is a physical or legal constraint on supply (such as housing, or professional sports say) - there is incentive to keep supply low and simply extract higher rent. Basic income alone cannot ameliorate that type of situation.

Comment Re:Sounds suspiciously like welfare. (Score 1) 109

I think I generally agree with what you're saying, but let me paraphrase to make sure: Basic income would work, so long as there wasn't such a thing as supply and demand for currency.

The only way I can see "basic income" working is if we also mandate that prices cannot be raised; to make (more) profit this would mean production must be increased, rather than just make profit based on increased demand for a scarce good.

Something tells me the problem thus isn't a technical one related to the existence of basic income or welfare, but rather a social one.

Comment Re:Time to end it (Score 1) 232

Shipping as well as cruise ships also are major polluters

Yup. Something like 4.5% of all direct CO2 emissions, give or take. So about twice as bad as air travel, but probably 10 times simpler to fix than for aircraft because of easier constraints on weight and much less stringent safety requirements, etc.

Of course, aircraft are basically going to be switching to carbon-neutral* bio-kerosene in the next two decades or so anyway, so the argument against air travel is kind of moot.

*Assuming the energy used to make it is not carbon-combustion based.

I'm always looking for a new idea that will be more productive than its cost. -- David Rockefeller