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Comment Re:Just makes them look even more guilty (Score 1) 319

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) 210

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) 140

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) 140

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.)

Comment Re:Requirement to be forgotten (Score 1) 157

The credit bureaus need to keep identifying information on everyone. Otherwise, they couldn't keep credit ratings up to date, and they couldn't even give my score to anyone as they wouldn't know that that was my score.

It appears that what was leaked was identifying information, which they really have to keep.

My Social Security number is fine for identifying me. It really, really sucks at verifying that I'm me. The idea that someone who knows the number I am required to tell many different people must be me has to go.

The big problem is that institutions don't actually verify who they're dealing with before granting credit, talking to credit bureaus, working with collection agencies, and so on. They accept identification at face value. If they required some sort of verification (and I'm not saying that's necessarily easy to work out), there'd be no problem.

It's really unfortunate that this is known as "identity theft" rather than "fraudulent misrepresentation".

Comment Re:Can we get back (Score 1) 92

There was, in ancient times, an idea of a river. If we consider streams of water flowing in long depressions in the ground, we currently call the larger ones rivers. We don't refer to small creeks as rivers.

There was, in ancient times, an idea of organs. If we consider distinct components of the body, we apply the term "organ" to the ones of roughly the size of the classical organs or larger. We don't usually refer to small glands as organs.

There was in ancient times, an idea of elements. We screwed that one up proper. There's not one of the classical elements that we'd call an element nowadays, and while we have solid (earthlike), liquid (waterlike), and gaseous (airlike) elements at our usual temperatures, we don't have one that's firelike. Instead, what were elements have been mostly redefined as phases of matter. There's no comparison.

There was, in ancient times, an idea of planets, being Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn (and possibly the Sun and Moon). Earth, Uranus, and Neptune fit into this category nicely. Pluto doesn't really, not really having its own near-circular orbit or being nearly as large as the smallest classical planet (Mercury). Pluto was also not considered a planet by the ancients. Since the ancients had no knowledge of Pluto-like objects, we can leave Pluto off without doing any violence to etymology.

Comment Re:How to regulate drones (Score 1) 182

The upper limits of your airspace over your property are not well defined, and they don't extend up to 400'. If you as a property owner, can show actual harm or a genuine threat of actual harm, you've probably got control over that airspace. (The highest the Supreme Court has ever ruled was controlled by the property owner is 83', as I remember, high enough not to frighten the chickens too much.)

What do you have against commercial drone use? I'm happy with the idea of regulating this more heavily, but there's a whole lot of potential uses that I wouldn't want to ban.

Comment Re:Nope (Score 1) 277

The "rules of the road", on water, are based primarily on the idea that the ship or boat that is less maneuverable has the right of way over the ship or boat that is more maneuverable. Basically, the one that can most easily avoid a collision must do so. Applying this to city streets, the pedestrian is more maneuverable and can most easily avoid a car-person collision under most circumstances, and should not in general have right-of-way.

The Wright Bothers weren't the first to fly. They were just the first not to crash.