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Comment Re:Against the law (Score 1) 207

Here's a scenario: Uber driver is between fares, checks phone, doesn't look, and hits me when I'm out walking, injuring me. I consider this entirely possible. Any disagreements?

Uber insurance apparently only applies when there's a passenger in the car, so they don't cover it. The driver has ordinary insurance, not commercial, so his insurance company won't cover it. The driver likely doesn't have enough assets to sue over. I'm there with medical bills, time off work, pain and suffering. Who's going to pay for that?

The insurance would appear to be inadequate.

Comment Re:Real World? (Score 1) 108

In the book (haven't seen the movie yet), the storm slammed a piece of metal into Watney's suit and into his body. He was knocked unconscious, so he was unresponsive, and IIRC they couldn't see his body immediately. The instruments in his suit were damaged, and so his telemetry was gone. It was a crisis situation. People will leave an unburied colleague behind in those circumstances, if they think him or her dead.

Comment Re:US didn't defeat Germany (Score 1) 387

The Red Army equipped its soldiers as well as it could. It did try to concentrate mass to overwhelm enemy defenses, like every other army in this and pretty much every other war. It was harsh on its troops, but not as bad as the Germans were (although, after 1941, the survival rate for Soviets captured by the Axis rose above miniscule, since it became clear that they were better at performing labor when alive).

It's reasonable to say that the Soviets destroyed the German Army, in the same sense as it's reasonable to say the Brits and the US destroyed the Luftwaffe.

Comment Re:Summary is flat out WRONG (Score 1) 388

Unreasonable is anything else

No, that's not what the Fourth Amendment says. Let's look:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

There are two clauses here, one forbidding unreasonable searches and seizures, and one about the issuance of warrants. There is no connection made between the two clauses. There is an implication that a warrant makes any search and/or seizure Constitutional, which is based on general usage at the time. There was, to the best of my knowledge, no general usage that would state that only a warranted search and/or seizure is reasonable. It seems to me that, if that was the intent, it would have been phrased differently. It has been held that there are searches and seizures that are reasonable without a warrant (for example, searching a person for weapons when you've arrested him).

The Constitution is ambiguous at times.

Comment Re:Just makes them look even more guilty (Score 1) 323

The demand for cars is not completely inelastic. Given rising costs, people will make do with old cars longer, decreasing new car sales, and will buy cheaper cars, and there's less profit on them. Therefore, if the cost of producing and selling cars goes up, car manufacturer profits go down. The law of supply and demand means that there is an optimum price, based on unit cost and demand, that will make the most money. Increasing the price to maintain profit margins means less sales, and actually results in less profit. This is basic microeconomics.

To put it another way, if car manufacturers could raise prices to get more profit, why haven't they? Investors don't get into a business to make a certain fixed level of profit, and refuse to take any more profits. Large companies are out to get what profit they can, and not making a profit does not make them go bankrupt. There are some very high barriers to entry in automobile manufacturing, and any manufacturer has the physical plant to make stuff. This is not going to go away, and if an auto manufacturer goes bankrupt people will pick up that physical plant and use it.

As far as externalities, if my air is polluted I've got a lessened quality of life. If there are pollution regulations that clean up my air, that means somebody isn't making the same profit, and somebody else gets a lessened quality of life. There is a balance here, and the proper way to resolve a balance is political. It can't be through individual contracts, because each polluting industry would have to have a valid contract with each and every landowner in the vicinity in order to proceed. Moreover, what incentive would I, as a landowner, have to sign contracts? People will require much larger amounts of money than are warranted, partly to cover the overhead, and partly as safety. How do you intend to ensure that a factory can open without crippling costs? It seems to me this would be a worse economic drag than pollution regulations.

We could institute a landowners' cooperative that would do the negotiation, but factory proprietors would still have to deal with landowners not in the cooperative. If we force people into the cooperative, we've got a government.

When market economics doesn't work (which is frequently), the best way to solve conflicts is political. This is a flawed process, but it's what we've got.

Comment Re:Just makes them look even more guilty (Score 1) 323

With a consistent test, the auto manufacturer can come within, say, 5% of the emission limits. With random tests, the manufacturer has to come in way low to beat the odds on the test. Assuming that the emission limits are reasonable, and that reducing emissions further will cost somehow, it's much better to have a consistent test.

You have a fundamental misunderstanding of corporate profits. Corporations cannot simply decree how much revenue they get; they have to sell products or services or something to customers, and that's their revenue. This means that it's governed by laws of supply and demand. When selling a given product, there is a price that will bring in the most profit, based on the individual production cost of something and the demand curve. There will be other expenses that don't depend on how many items the corp makes, and those determine whether the corporation is profitable or not. If fixed expenses go up, they come out of corporate profits because there's no way to change the item price to make more money (if the corp could have changed prices to make more money, it would have). If individual unit expenses go up, the price will go up, but that means fewer units will be sold, and the price will almost certainly stabilize at a point where there's less per-unit profit.

Therefore, imposing costs due to environmental regulation, or anything else, cuts into corporate profits.

Further, some things have significant externalities that are not accounted for in the price. Since we're talking about the environment, assume that a certain product produces a lot of pollution in its manufacture (gold) or use (cars). This pollution imposes costs on people, which are not accounted for in the manufacture, buying, or selling, and therefore which distort the market. This results in more polluting stuff being produced and bought than is optimum. This is a version of the Tragedy of the Commons.

I'm also not sure what you think contractual obligations will do to deal with pollution, say. I don't sign contracts with people saying how much pollution I'm going to allow them. The contractual obligations are going to be between the manufacturer and suppliers or manufacturers and customers, and it's to the immediate financial interest of all three of those to disregard externalities. Who's going to sign a contract with whom limiting pollution?

If you want a totalitarian economy, mandate that all disputes be settled through binding arbitration. The arbitrators look for return business, and so will tend to deliver decisions that favor their best customers, which will be the corps. Moreover, the damages or whatever they can award are typically limited by contract. Private arbitration is no substitute for a good public court system.

Comment Re:It was a test update (Score 1) 215

Real tools? LibreOffice is, in some respects, inferior to Microsoft Office (particularly with spreadsheets). What do you recommend as replacements for Quicken and TurboTax, bearing in mind that ease of use is an essential feature? Heck, what do you recommend to replace a certain program that interfaces a Windows computer with model railroad controls? (That's tricky stuff, by the way, since the standard's too vague.) There's lots of other programs that somebody's written for Windows and not Linux that certain people find very useful, and they frequently don't have acceptable equivalents on Linux.

If there's software on Linux that does what you want, great. I use my Windows laptop for games, TurboTax, and stuff that I could just as easily do on my Linux box except that that it's upstairs and I'm often downstairs (files shared through Dropbox). I do some CAD stuff at work, which means I need a Windows machine there. My in-laws used to have a GPS unit hooked up in a proprietary manner to a Windows laptop, and that did require Windows. My model railroad friend needs Windows to control his trains. I know someone who uses Windows needlepoint software, and I doubt that's got an equivalent on Linux. If they were to switch, they'd lose functionality that they couldn't replace.

It's the thousands of little applications like that that keep lots of people on Windows (and it takes only one to keep someone on Windows). After all, most people get Windows either because they don't know any better or it's most convenient or to run Windows-compatible software. People who want an audience for their software and don't want to do anything cross-platform typically write Windows-compatible software because of all the people who have Windows. It's a vicious circle, and will not be easily solved.

If you can tell the difference between working in Windows and in Linux, you're better at this than the vast majority of the population.

Comment Re:Antitrust... (Score 1) 222

Except that this is a cross-business-line issue. The part of Amazon that's in the business of selling stuff online doesn't see these as competing products. They're only competing to other parts of Amazon's business.

Similarly, Google has gotten into trouble for favoring its own other services too much in search.

Comment Re:Software Engineering as unskilled labor (Score 1) 144

Back in the day (like around 1960) COBOL was going to remove the need for programmers. Programming would be so easy the management could do it. You know what happened.

Management has been trying to come up with some way to get along without us pesky programmers for over fifty years. We don't dress management-professional, we get paid too much money, we typically have to be treated as individuals, and we don't act like nice corporate drones.

Comment Re:Translation ... (Score 1) 144

Is it possible to access your Github repository from pretty well anywhere you've got a net connection? In that case, it'd be useful when you needed distributed access and didn't want to run a public-facing Git server.

I have my private repo on Dropbox, which has the same security issues, but I have to take the small additional effort of managing the repo. (If Dropbox reveals the repo, or the FBI hacks in, I really don't care except on principle.)

You will lose an important tape file.