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Comment: Likely to make them less transparent (Score 3, Interesting) 83

by sjbe (#47517087) Attached to: The Department of Homeland Security Needs Its Own Edward Snowden

The problem has become so severe that nothing short of an Edward Snowden-style leak may be needed to increase transparency at the DHS.

Such a leak is just as likely to have exactly the opposite effect. The Snowden leak hasn't exactly made the NSA any more forthcoming regarding their activities. No, the ONLY thing that is going to force DHS to be more transparent in the long run is a motivated Congress. Oversight of the executive branch is after all their job. But since the Dems and Reps are so busy trying to grab power they can't be bothered. The judiciary is no help since they have their head stuck in the sand over standing that they are worse than useless. So the executive branch can do whatever the hell they like without consequence until at least one of the other branches of government starts doing their damn job. All a leak is likely to do is show them what they need to do the be even less transparent than they already are.

Comment: Earthquakes exist everywhere (Score 1) 139

by sjbe (#47516135) Attached to: China Plans Particle Colliders That Would Dwarf CERN's LHC

The point the poster made, which I think is legitimate, is that even a very small earthquake could probably be catastrophic for a collider's integrity and alignment.

That's an engineering issue that would exist no matter where you built the accelerator. You think there aren't fault lines near the LHC? Fermilab's Tevatron is within the New Madrid seismic zone. There basically is no place on earth that doesn't get earthquakes from time to time. You have to engineer the device with this in mind.

Comment: China has no cost advantage here (Score 1) 139

by sjbe (#47516093) Attached to: China Plans Particle Colliders That Would Dwarf CERN's LHC

Even assuming China has the technical expertise to create that custom component

China almost certainly has a labor force can make the gear or can hire people who can if there are specific skills needed.

does it pass even casual scrutiny to think that China can make a collider of twice the size at one-third the cost?

No. I'm a cost accountant and I can assure you that China will not enjoy any meaningful cost advantages on a project like this. China might have a minor cost advantage due to cheap labor on the digging portion of the project but it wouldn't be hugely cheaper. The biggest costs will be the gear that goes into the accelerator and China enjoys no meaningful cost advantage there. It's all custom electronics and other stuff which is simply very expensive no matter who does it.

Comment: Pointless (Score 2) 43

by sjbe (#47515013) Attached to: Amazon Fire Phone Reviews: Solid But Overly Ambitious

It's a way to make the display appear 3D.

That's what it does but not why you would want it. Like others here I'm failing to see any utility for this "feature". It's sort of cool as a technology demo but I just can't see any practical use for this. It does sound like a great way to reduce battery life, slow the interface, and create unnecessary bugs however. Possibly with a motion sickness chaser for some folks!

Comment: Re:Take two cars (Score 2) 205

by sjbe (#47509331) Attached to: New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids

Which (gasp) you don't need to do if you have, say......a minivan.

Which (gasp) didn't exist when I was a child and yet somehow we managed without. The first vehicles recognizable as a modern minivan came on the market in 1984 and I was close to driving age by then. Prior to that you either had a full sized econoline van, a VW mini-bus, a station wagon or a second car. Worked out just fine. Plus since we didn't actually need the extra seating of a minivan 99% of the time we didn't have to waste fuel driving around a lot of extra unused vehicle all the time. We owned an econoline van when I was really little for a while (didn't need the space though which is why we got rid of it) and then we owned a series of coupes and sedans. Never was a problem getting all the people wherever we needed to go. I rode from the Great Lakes down to Florida several times in the back of a VW Scirocco.

And it's still odd that you chuckle at people saying they need a van immediately after laying out reasons why some people need a pickup instead of an SUV.

I said most people who buy pickups do not actually need a pickup. An SUV or a minivan or a station wagon would suit their needs fine. A pickup is a work vehicle. If you don't haul messy stuff that would trash an interior then you don't need a pickup. You may want a pickup but you don't need it.

A minivan is a convenience for hauling a family, not a necessity. Nothing wrong with buying a minivan since they are hugely practical but most of the people who claim they "need" a minivan are incorrect. I think minivans make a lot of sense even for many people without kids but station wagons or SUVs can accomplish most of the same things just fine. Both my parents still own minivans despite me and my sister having been out of the house for several decades now. But they are a luxury, not a necessity for most people who have them.

Comment: Because... (Score 4, Informative) 320

by sjbe (#47508317) Attached to: Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same

For something that is after all, only data? Why would anybody want to wait for a day or two for a piece of plastic when they can access the data instantly online?

Because some things aren't available online (legally).
Because you don't have enough bandwidth to get it online.
Because you lack the equipment to stream movies to your TV
Because some DVDs have features not available to streaming versions.
Because you may not have an internet connection at point of viewing
Because Netflix's streaming catalog has more holes than shotgunned swiss cheese.

They may not apply to you but there are reasons why someone might prefer a DVD in some cases.

Comment: Re:Minivans are practical but ignored (Score 1) 205

by sjbe (#47507245) Attached to: New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids

I'd like to see 30+ mpg in a minivan myself.

Agreed. I see no reason why this should not be possible in a minivan at least on the highway.

I have to disagree concerning the other points. My minivans have all handled extremely well, with much better footing (being lower to the ground) than any truck I've driven.

The trucks I currently own handle better than any minivan I've driven, not that that is a high bar to cross. Both my parents still own minivans (both Chrysler products) and I drive them now and again and they both handle like crap despite being well maintained. We're talking serious bodyroll and scary cornering. I'm not expecting a sports car but there is definite room for improvement. If you are comparing against some of the larger trucks then you have a point - they have terrible handling due to their use of leaf springs and other suspension technology just this side of wagon wheels. A truck does not have to be particularly low to the ground to handle well so long as the suspension is set up properly. I've had a Honda Ridgeline that handles better than any minivan you can point out except *maybe* the Mazda. Furthermore being low to the ground is a real problem for some of the things I use my trucks for like plowing. I would be unable to get out of my (steep) driveway in the winter using a minivan, especially after a hard snow.

Minivan styling? Whatever. It's a box with a compact drivetrain to maximize interior room. You want swoopy style, it'll hurt the very thing you want the minivan for.

Styling matters. A box can still be an attractive box. You may not care but most people do. Some pickups and SUVs manage to be at least modestly decent looking whereas I think pretty much every minivan looks like crap. They are either shaped like a doorstop or an ugly station wagon stretched vertically.

Comment: Unions are not a big problem in Michigan anymore (Score 1) 171

by sjbe (#47506735) Attached to: California In the Running For Tesla Gigafactory

Yes. There's also the matter of the labor unions and the screwed up politics of both Detroit and the state.

Neither of which are the problem you think they are. Michigan is now a Right To Work state. Whatever your feelings regarding that politically, it is clear evidence that unions are not the power they once were in Michigan. Both legislative houses and the governor are Republican at the moment and (like him or hate him) governor Rick Snyder (former CEO of Gateway Computer BTW) has been pretty business friendly. Frankly I don't run into anyone on a regular basis that is a member of any union.

Furthermore the economic problems in Michigan have cut a lot of the political BS away. Michigan is very actively courting business including a lot of battery business. A lot of business taxes have been eliminated in the last few years. Detroit City is under the control of an emergency manager. The politics there don't really interfere with anyone who is actually bringing money and business to the city. The politics in Michigan are no more screwed up than in any number of other states I could mention, including California. Virtually all the problems in Michigan are simply long term economic trends relating to the state's dependence on the auto industry.

I think it'd be far cheaper to move whatever fragment of that workforce which is still "capable" out of Michigan to California or Texas than it would be to build anything there.

You would be very wrong to believe that. What you are saying is as absurd as saying it would be cheaper to move the workforce for IT out of Silicon Valley. You clearly have no idea what life is actually like in Michigan.

Comment: Not the same use cases (Score 1) 205

by sjbe (#47506623) Attached to: New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids

An SUV plus a utility trailer does fill the role of a pickup truck.

It's not the same thing. By your logic a sedan + a utility trailer = a pickup or an electric vehicle + a towed generator = a hybrid. It's a fine solution but its not a perfect substitute. There are plenty of times when a trailer is WAY more trouble than it is worth. I can (and have) stopped by the landscaping yard on my way home when my wife called needing some dirt or stone for the garden. Just had them dump it in the bed of my pickup with a front end loader. No trailer or extra planning necessary since I don't haul my trailer everywhere I go. I also cannot tow a trailer large enough to justify a fifth wheel with any SUV. I also occasionally take my pickup places with stuff in the bed where I wouldn't dream of towing a trailer. Nothing wrong with buying an SUV + a trailer but if you do that then you are confirming what I said which is that you don't actually need a pickup if an SUV can do the jobs you need done. Most people who buy pickups don't actually need one.

The cost of a minivan plus a pickup plus the fuel to commute in the pickup is greater than the cost of an SUV plus a small sedan plus the fuel to commute in the sedan.

The comparison is for 3 cars versus 2 cars per the original post. There is NO way that you will recoup the cost of a third vehicle in fuel. Even if it is a $2000 beater you'll spend more on maintenance than you will recoup in fuel for a third vehicle. Plus they have pickups now that get good fuel economy. There is the Ram 1500 Ecodiesel and next year there will be some 4 cylinder diesel options in light pickups. It's not hard to find a gas powered pickup that gets 20-25mpg combined these days. Even with a Prius you aren't going to recoup *that* much money in gas.

Comment: Take two cars (Score 1) 205

by sjbe (#47506467) Attached to: New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids

Do you do said laughter right after highlighting the different capabilities of trucks and SUV's, as you just did above? You weren't hauling 7 people plus gear in that sports coupe, at least not safely.

Of course we didn't put 7 people in a coupe. (5 sometimes though) If we needed to haul more stuff we *gasp* took a second vehicle.

Comment: SUV vs pickup (Score 1) 205

by sjbe (#47502837) Attached to: New Toyota Helps You Yell At the Kids

If I'd had a minivan, I'd also have needed to buy a pickup truck. An SUV fills both roles.

An SUV does NOT fill the role of a pickup truck unless you don't actually need a pickup truck. You need a pickup when you are toting things that you do not want to carry in the interior of a vehicle like loose dirt, stone, certain bulky supplies, trash, etc. Messy stuff. Very bulky stuff. If you can put what you are likely to carry in an SUV then you don' t actually need a pickup. My wife has an SUV which we use for plowing and I have a pickup which we use for transporting bulky stuff. Significant overlap but the use cases are not identical.

An SUV can fill the role of a station wagon or minivan depending on the specific use case and number of people you need to transport. If you get up towards 7 with lots of gear then you need either a minivan or a full sized van. If you are just transporting up to 4/5 people with some gear then an SUV or station wagon can serve adequately.

I kind of laugh when I hear people say they "need" a minivan. Amazing how those of us who predate minivans somehow managed to survive. They're a great tool but hardly a necessity. The car my family had when I was growing up was a sports coupe. We took all the family trips and got all our gear in it too.

Neither quite as well as the ideal vehicle, but well enough that it makes more sense than two vehicles... actually three since we also needed a commuter vehicle.

Why would you "need" a commuter vehicle? The cost of any commuter vehicle is going to hugely outstrip any fuel savings you might possible generate.

The two most common things in the Universe are hydrogen and stupidity. -- Harlan Ellison