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Comment: Re: Tesla Is Good For All (Score 4, Insightful) 341

by cduffy (#49809663) Attached to: How Elon Musk's Growing Empire is Fueled By Government Subsidies

And that has been Tesla's argument for the last ten years, yet they still lose about $9,000 on each car they make.

"On" each car, or "for" each car?

"On" makes it sound like their marginal costs are negative -- that, literally, producing one more car increases their losses by $9K. Were it "for" each car, then they're losing money only after fixed costs, R&D, etc. are taken into account.

That latter makes considerably more sense -- folks can legitimately decide to back a company investing in itself rather than taking out a profit; indeed, Amazon has done that for years.

Comment: Re:Heart valves? Refrigerators? Pah! (Score 3, Interesting) 63

by cduffy (#49809355) Attached to: New Alloy Bounces Back Into Shape 10 Million Times And Counting

please enlighten us as to why the fountain pin and/or feathered quill is superior to the free pens I get from the bank?

Y'know, I actually don't mind giving this a serious answer.

You don't need pressure to write with a fountain pen -- at all. (The modern competitor is a rollerball, not a ballpoint; rollerballs don't give you amount of flexibility on nib grind or opportunities for flex and shading effects that you get with a fountain, but at least you're not forced to use tons of pressure). Allows different, more comfortable grips.

Also, they're refillable with water-based inks -- meaning that they're not disposable, and that you have a huge amount of choice in terms of color and properties of your ink. Want an ink that's still viscous in below-freezing weather? I've got a bottle on my desk! Want an ink that changes from yellow to red depending on how much you're putting down on the paper? That too! Want an ink that responds to ultraviolet and is completely waterproof you can mix in with other inks that are water-soluable, so you can see where writing that's been washed away used to be under a blacklight?

Lots of room for geekery. :)

Comment: Re:Russian rocket motors (Score 1) 62

by Bruce Perens (#49787045) Attached to: SpaceX Cleared For US Military Launches

Russia would like for us to continue gifting them with cash for 40-year-old missle motors, it's our own government that doesn't want them any longer. For good reason. That did not cause SpaceX to enter the competitive process, they want the U.S. military as a customer. But it probably did make it go faster.

Also, ULA is flying 1960 technology, stuff that Mercury astronauts used, and only recently came up with concept drawings for something new due to competitive pressure from SpaceX. So, I am sure that folks within the Air Force wished for a better vendor but had no choice.

Comment: Context (Score 3, Informative) 62

by Bruce Perens (#49782349) Attached to: SpaceX Cleared For US Military Launches

This ends a situation in which two companies that would otherwise have been competitive bidders decided that it would cost them less to be a monopoly, and created their own cartel. Since they were a sole provider, they persuaded the government to pay them a Billion dollars a year simply so that they would retain the capability to manufacture rockets to government requirements.

Yes, there will be at least that Billion in savings and SpaceX so far seems more than competitive with the prices United Launch Alliance was charging. There will be other bidders eventually, as well.

Comment: That's because there is nothing to do (Score 1) 113

by dirk (#49769651) Attached to: Privacy Behaviors Changed Little After Snowden

Unfortunately, there isn't anything really to do to increase your privacy unless you want to give everything up. Sure, I could start using PGP and encrypt all my emails. That would work great until I actually wanted to send and email to someone, because no one else I know uses PGP. I can use a "secure" search engine, but there is no way to tell if it is really secure or if I am just using an inferior product to make myself feel better. Sure, I can avoid Facebook and Twitter and everything else, but again, I then give up easy contact with those that do. The government has back doors into everything, so unless I avoid anything they might be able to access (which frankly is pretty much everything) there isn't anything I can really do.

Comment: Re:dupe dupe dupe... (Score 1) 496

by SEE (#49740337) Attached to: The Brainteaser Elon Musk Asks New SpaceX Engineers

Of course, that's why it's at least theoretically a useful interview question. The North Pole answer takes just enough cognitive work to reach that upon arriving at it you can feel clever and stop. So the question filters for the people who don't stop.

(The major problem with it is that it's a reasonably famous such question; I remember reading it and learning the existence of the infinite number of South Pole answers in grade school.)

Comment: Re:Only Two Futures? (Score 1, Flamebait) 609

by Raul654 (#49726175) Attached to: The Demographic Future of America's Political Parties

>NOMINATE scales people based on their choices relative to contemporaries

That's exactly *why* it works across decades. Because it allows a continuous chain of comparison even between people who never served together. (E.g, person A served with person B, person B later served with person C, person C later served with person D, etc)

Comment: Re:Only Two Futures? (Score 5, Informative) 609

by Raul654 (#49725605) Attached to: The Demographic Future of America's Political Parties

> "JFK was more conservative than most conservatives are today"


Keith T. Poole at the University of Georgia has built his career on quanitfying the liberality/conservativeness of politics.

I couldn't find his numbers for John Kennedy, but he gave John Kennedy a -.318 during the 83rd Congress, making him the 15th most liberal member of that body. By comparison, in today's Senate, he'd rank as the 31st most liberal senator, between Senators Wyden and Murphy, and more liberal than EVERY SINGLE Republican in Congress.

Comment: Re:Not yet statistically significant (Score 1) 408

Well it is interesting in so far as knowing when the companies think they need to have human operators still.

Actually, having a licensed human operator ready to take over is a legal precondition for putting an autonomous car on the road (in all US states where they're legal at all).

Comment: Re:Compares well (Score 2) 408

No-fault is about taking money away from lawyers, who used to litigate each and every auto accident as a lawsuit in court before the insurers would pay. Eventually the insurers decided that they spent more on lawyers than accident payments, and they had no reason to do so.

If you want to go back to the way things were, you are welcome to spend lots of time and money in court for trivial things, and see how you like it. I will provide you with expert witness testimony for $7.50/minute plus expenses. The lawyers charge more.

In general your insurer can figure out for themselves if you were at fault or not, and AAA insurance usually tells me when they think I was, or wasn't, when they set rates.

A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that works.