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Comment: Re:Well done! (Score 1) 444

by swillden (#49515339) Attached to: George Lucas Building Low-Income Housing Next Door To Millionaires

I believe the typical rule of thumb when buying/building a house (bubble aside) is that it's worth ten years rent


I just did some searching and found dozens of articles that put that rule of thumb at 15 years, and a fair number that put it at 20, but none that said 10.

Granted that as applied to Lucas' development it's a distinction without a difference, because Lucas would have to use a rule of thumb of about 150 years.

Comment: Re:Well done! (Score 1) 444

by swillden (#49515269) Attached to: George Lucas Building Low-Income Housing Next Door To Millionaires

Suppose that everything was true, except that they were there illegally (because there is no way for them to immigrate legally, which is the case for most Mexicans). Would your opinion of them change?

A more interesting question for those who would say "yes", if you could get them to answer it, is "Suppose that everything was true, except that they were there illegally, and they were white Canadians?". I think the truth that most who sneer at illegals won't admit to is that it's not just about their illegal status, and in fact it's not even mostly about their illegal status. It's mostly about race and culture.

If that weren't the case, why not fix the illegals' status by providing good options for them to get on the right side of the law? Because the law isn't really the issue.

Comment: Re:Ok.... Here's the thing, though ..... (Score 1) 486

by swillden (#49514887) Attached to: Utilities Battle Homeowners Over Solar Power

The smartness of the meter isn't the expensive part, it's making sure that power fed back into the system matches frequency and phase and cuts off when the grid loses power. You are required not to directly screw up your competitor, or engage in unsafe practices.

Grid-tie inverters that do all of that are necessary for this to work at all, long before you get to questions about supply and demand management.

Comment: Re:Idiotic (Score 1) 546

Where on a continuum is "beyond a shadow of a doubt"?

I don't know, but it's certainly higher than "beyond a reasonable doubt", which is the standard for legal conviction.

With that said, if you want to establish "beyond a shadow of a doubt" as the standard for capital punishment, I'm good with it in theory. In practice it'll be even more expensive than what we do now, and odds are you'll never execute anyone because the standard is impossible to meet. Which I guess may make it inexpensive, because no one will bother trying. But I don't think abolishing capital punishment is what you actually want.

As to capital punishment being too expensive, that is because they can appeal for ten million years. Have the execution one year after conviction unless enough evidence comes forward to call the initial trail into question.

So you're recommending that we solve the problem that the standard of proof is uncomfortably low for taking irreversible action by lowering the standard of proof. Keep in mind that the standard includes not just the stated standard for the one trial, but also the structure of the system of appeals, etc., which is in place to ensure that that trial was conducted correctly, and the appellate process also deals in shades of gray.

Lowering the standard as a way to solve the cost problem is fine for you, since you apparently have no doubts about the possibility of convicting innocent people, but it will inevitably increase the percentage of the population that opposes capital punishment, because they do have doubts. Again, I think that's not what you want.

They want to control your actions by trolling you.

Bah. I form my own opinions, and my opinion is that the current process with all of the appeals in place is fairly good but very expensive. It's still not perfect, mind you, as evidenced by the number of death row convictions that have been overturned (often MUCH more than one year after the conviction), but I don't believe perfection is possible, and I don't believe that we should do nothing just because we can't do it perfectly. So, if cost is irrelevant, then I don't object overmuch to the system we have, and I also wouldn't object to your "beyond a shadow of a doubt" system, assuming you could build one that works.

Comment: Re:Idiotic (Score 1) 546

You either have confidence in the system or you don't.

I'm largely in agreement with your arguments, but this claim is nonsense. Confidence isn't boolean, it's a continuum. It makes perfect sense to talk about degree of confidence, and one can have enough confidence to imprison but not to execute.

FWIW, my opinion is that I have no moral problem with execution following a proper trial with an appropriate standard of proof (beyond a reasonable doubt is good), but I'm opposed to capital punishment because it's a waste of money. It ought to be cheaper than life imprisonment, but because execution is final we add a raft of additional legal processes, with the idea that they help to raise our confidence in the correctness of the conviction enough that we're okay with taking this irreversible step. There are two problems with that: First, the additional processes still don't actually increase our confidence enough and second, they actually cost more than caring for the accused for the remainder of his or her natural life.

That second point is, IMO, fatal to the concept of capital punishment. If it's cheaper and easier to just lock them up until they die then the only possible justification for the death penalty is the theoretical deterrent effect, but no one has ever shown any compelling evidence that the effect is significant.

Comment: Re: "Surge Pricing" (Score 1) 89

by swillden (#49505663) Attached to: How Uber Surge Pricing Really Works

If I own a store and there's a civil emergency, I won't even open my store. I would use the products for the safety/survival of my family.

On the other hand if there aren't any silly laws in place preventing your from selling your goods at 10X the normal price, maybe you will only keep aside what your family really needs and sell the rest, thus making important goods available to the public when they're really needed. But if that's illegal, yeah, might as well keep them for yourself. When things get back to normal you can continue selling whatever you didn't use at the normal price -- same as you were able to sell it for during the emergency, but without taking the risk of selling something you might need.

Restrictions on scarcity pricing are a bad idea and serve only to create even more scarcity.

Comment: Re:Copyrighting History (Score 1) 295

by swillden (#49504945) Attached to: Joseph Goebbels' Estate Sues Publisher Over Diary Excerpt Royalties

It seems that the bigger problem here is that modern copyright is so unreasonably long, historical documents are still under copyright. Anything over the original 28 year copyright term is really robbing the next generation of history.

While I know al copyright issues are sensitive on /. and hate going against the stream here, note that the next generation is not really robbed from history. They just have to pay for it.

Assuming the copyright owner can be found, and is willing to sell.

The basis for Eldred v Ashcroft was that the celluloid of many old films is rapidly degrading but because the copyright ownership is muddled it's impossible to find anyone from which the right to republish the films can be purchased, so the films are being lost forever.

Comment: Re:Ok.... Here's the thing, though ..... (Score 5, Insightful) 486

by swillden (#49504883) Attached to: Utilities Battle Homeowners Over Solar Power

The power companies are all moving towards "smart meter" technologies anyway. Why not make sure they've put one in that can monitor the output of a PV solar (or even a wind turbine) installation while they're at it?

For that matter, it seems perfectly reasonable to require the homeowner to install such a meter as part of a solar installation, as a condition of being able to sell power to the utility -- or even to push power into the grid at all.

365 Days of drinking Lo-Cal beer. = 1 Lite-year