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Comment: Good luck avoiding political experiments... (Score 1) 1081

by dlenmn (#49736331) Attached to: Los Angeles Raises Minimum Wage To $15 an Hour

Like it or not, every business is the subject of politicians' experiments. For example, the minimum wage exists in the first place, and CA has a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum wage. Every law is an experiment because its unintended consequences are unknown. (Hell, even the intended consequences are sometimes unknown.) This experiment is getting more press than others, but the amount of press and the effect of the experiment are two very different things.

Comment: Hooray for experiments! (Score 1) 1081

by dlenmn (#49732465) Attached to: Los Angeles Raises Minimum Wage To $15 an Hour

A lot of people have strong opinions on raising the minimum wage, but that's all they are: opinions. Yes, there may be logic behind the arguments, but there is only one way to find out the effect of raising the minimum wage, and that's to try it and see what happens. Analysis may be difficult, but some data is better than blowing hot air.

In short: hooray for experiments! Let's see what happens!

Try to be a rational human being: make a prediction based on logic, wait for the data and analysis, and then update your beliefs! (I know, easier said than done.)

My prediction: it'll more-or-less be wash. Some good from increased wages, some people fired, somewhat higher prices to pay for labor. At the end of the day, low-wage workers will get displaced by automation anyway. In short, raising the minimum wage is nothing to get your undies in a bunch about.

Comment: Wasn't via WiFi; might make historical sense (Score 1) 190

(Replied to wrong comment above; reposting here.)

According to TFA, he didn't accomplish the hack via WiFi. The inflight entertainment screens have a wired connection, and he connected to them by plugging an ethernet cable into that system (supposedly accessible if you take the right cover off the right box under the seat).

I wouldn't have thought that this system is connected to vital systems, but TFA notes that the seat-back satellite phones are connected to this same system, which seems reasonable.

So, maybe it makes sense that everything is connected for historical reasons. When those phones were added, it didn't make sense to isolate them from the rest of the plane's systems -- because they were just phones; what harm could they do? So, maybe the phones just piggybacked off the existing system. When the inflight entertainment stuff was added, maybe they just piggybacked on the phone system, which was itself piggybacking on the important systems. Clearly, if things were designed from scratch, that wouldn't have happened. But I'm sure many /. users are aware what happens when networks evolve more, uh, organically -- especially in penny-pinching corporations.

Comment: Wasn't via WiFi; it might make historical sense (Score 1) 190

According to TFA, he didn't accomplish the hack via WiFi. The inflight entertainment screens have a wired connection, and he connected to them by plugging an ethernet cable into that system (supposedly accessible if you take the right cover off the right box under the seat).

I wouldn't have thought that this system is connected to vital systems, but TFA notes that the seat-back satellite phones are connected to this same system, which seems reasonable.

So, maybe it makes sense that everything is connected for historical reasons. When those phones were added, it didn't make sense to isolate them from the rest of the plane's systems -- because they were just phones; what harm could they do? So, maybe the phones just piggybacked off the existing system. When the inflight entertainment stuff was added, maybe they just piggybacked on the phone system, which was itself piggybacking on the important systems. Clearly, if things were designed from scratch, that wouldn't have happened. But I'm sure many /. users are aware what happens when networks evolve more, uh, organically -- especially in penny-pinching corporations.

Comment: Re:It doesn't matter who they're going after (Score 1) 167

by dlenmn (#49656155) Attached to: Texas Regulators Crack Down on App-Driven Hauling Service

You're right: I didn't phrase my first statement well. Change it to "reasonable people _harmlessly_ going about their business". Lead paint is quite dangerous. Putting a table in the back of a pickup truck is not.

That said, I don't think that lead paint is a good way to make your case. Lead paint has been banned in the US since 1978 (with a few legally-defined exceptions), and my understanding is that the law has been uniformly enforced. Are you implying that people still buy lead paint and are thereby violating the law? If so, could you provide details?

Comment: It doesn't matter who they're going after (Score 1) 167

by dlenmn (#49655877) Attached to: Texas Regulators Crack Down on App-Driven Hauling Service

I'm pretty darn certain this isn't what they're going after

It doesn't matter who they're going after. If this law is regularly violated by reasonable people just going about their business, then it's a bad law. Full stop.

Now, if they rewrite this law in such a way that there is a clear distinction between you paying for your buddy's gas and you paying for a for-hire service, then fine: enforce away. Until then, they should enforce this law for everyone or no one.

Aside: I think you should be able to challenge laws that are selectively enforced or not enforced at all. If the law isn't enforced, it might as well not be there. If the law is enforced selectively, then it can be used for discrimination or coercion (e.g. racial bias in Ferguson, MO traffic stops). Uniform enforcement of reasonable laws is a hallmark of a free society.

Comment: I think that will happen naturally (Score 1) 146

by dlenmn (#49608939) Attached to: Empty Landscape Looms, If Large Herbivores Continue to Die Out

I think that the number of humans will naturally decline. The birth rate in the US has been below the replacement rate since the '70s (expect for a year or two right before the '08 financial crisis). The same is true in every industrialized country, and there's no sign of that changing. The economic benefit of having kids is simply much lower in modern economies.

It'll be interesting to see what increasing automation does to population levels. I have the feeling that a lot of jobs will go poof due to automation, and that will further reduce population levels. If so, it won't be fun: there is a ~20 year lag between when the birth rate declines and when the labor force entrance rate declines...

Comment: The ISS is garbage (Score 2) 179

by dlenmn (#49605463) Attached to: NASA Gets Its Marching Orders: Look Up! Look Out!

It's not like NASA's manned space flight program does much better

1) We've been putting humans into low earth orbit for decades. There's not much "expansion of human knowledge" here. Well, they did study ants in space on the ISS recently...
2) ISS is old tech; there's no "improvement" to speak of. Well, they did put a new espresso machine up there recently, right?
3) Unless "development" means "making more of the same thing we already know how to make", then ISS fails again.
4) Maybe the ISS does this, but the main conclusion of the "long-range study" is that, yes, we can keep an inhabited space station in low earth orbit while spending billions of dollars!
5) The ISS does this, but it could also be done by other means at a much lower cost.
6) Nope
7) The ISS is great for this; it's the only way the US still interacts with Russia!
8) "The most effective utilization" Ha!

If you only want to focus on missions that _effectively_ and _efficiently_ fulfill NASA's charter, then a lot of stuff has to go. Since the budget for the ISS is ~$3 billion, I'd focus on that before the climate research -- which is only 1/10th the cost and does a lot more to expand human knowledge of phenomena in the atmosphere. Even if climate research doesn't fit with NASA's charter (debatable), then its work should be moved to another agency -- not axed.

Comment: If NASA isn't supposed to do earth science... (Score 1) 179

by dlenmn (#49605375) Attached to: NASA Gets Its Marching Orders: Look Up! Look Out!

then its earth science division should be moved to NOAA (or whatever is appropriate). I'd be fine with that. However that's not in the plan. Yes, maybe NASA wasn't the right place to study climate science (debatable), but it needs to be done somewhere; simply cutting it is not acceptable.

Moreover, this is hardly the first time a government agency has had mission creep or that multiple government agencies have overlapped. Mission creep/overlap to the tune of $300 million is absolutely nothing; that's not even the cost of three F-35 fighters. (Aside: dollars are the wrong units to measure government spending; government spending should be measured in F-35 fighters. That puts things in perspective -- especially when you realize we're buying ~2,400 F-35s.)

This is simply an attempted at killing government research into climate science -- not an attempted at reorganization.

Comment: The limit means a lot (Score 3, Interesting) 93

by dlenmn (#49598647) Attached to: Humans Dominating Poker Super Computer

I almost did a double-take with this story; a few months ago I read about computers having solved heads-up _limit_ Texas hold’em: http://arstechnica.com/science...

Well, it looks like the computer can win when there is a limit, but humans can still win when there is no limit.

I guess that's not too surprising: the limit really cuts down the number of choices, making a brute-force calculations more practical, and brute-force calculations are what computers do best. Without the restrictions of a limit, the AI needs to be a lot more clever. I wonder how long it'll be until computers win at this.

Comment: Good luck... (Score 1) 29

by dlenmn (#49580937) Attached to: Armadillo Aerospace Resurrected On Kickstarter By the Team Members

How exactly is a $125 k kickstarter supposed to help them get into space? They need millions of $$$ in funding -- which they call "Phase 2 (Funding)" on their kickstarter page. If they have a real shot at the funding they need, then a kickstarter is unnecessary. If they don't have a shot at the funding they need, then a kickstarter is worthless. I hate to be a hater, but I think it's the latter. The business plan sounds like:

1) $125 k Kickstarter
2) ???
3) Space Profit!

I wish them luck...

Comment: They already have batteries good for 10 years... (Score 4, Informative) 622

by dlenmn (#49528653) Attached to: Cheap Gas Fuels Switch From Electric Cars To SUVs

Let me know when Toyota starts shipping hybrid vehicles with batteries that actually retain their ability to recharge to a usable capacity for 10+ years.

They've been shipping those batteries... since 2001. See this 10 year checkup from Consumer Reports:

http://www.consumerreports.org...

Moreover, Toyota made it so that you can replace individual battery cells, instead of only being able to replace everything at once. My GF's Prius needed a few cells replaced, and the price was quite reasonable. ($250? I forget the exact number.)

Comment: Calm down about the screenshot in TFA (Score 5, Informative) 64

by dlenmn (#49486255) Attached to: KDE Plasma 5.3 Beta Brings Lot of Improvements

It seems that a number of commenters are blowing their fuses about the screenshot in TFA. The screenshot is of the media center _not_ the desktop. I agree that the media center looks ugly, but IMHO, the actual desktop (i.e. KDE Plasma) looks nice. Look at screenshots of KDE Plasma 5.3 before passing judgement. (No, I won't link to them; use google.)

Comment: Depends who you are nuking (Score 1) 228

by dlenmn (#49337921) Attached to: How Nuclear Weapon Modernization Undercuts Disarmament

Full disclosure: I haven't RTFA, so I don't know who the author thinks will nuke who. However, the responses here mostly assume it would be a nuclear power nuking another nuclear power. As many have pointed out, having precision nukes would not cause that to happen; it's just too risky.

However, I think that precision nukes do increase the chance of a nuclear power nuking a _non_nuclear power. Granted, I don't think the risk is that high, but there are some possible scenarios where a precision nuke could be used -- maybe a major terrorist attack on the US (lead by a hawkish president) by a group based in some remote area. I'm sure other scenarios could give other nuclear powers an itchy trigger finger too. Again, I'm not saying it will happen, but it's more likely with precision nukes than without.

Remember, UNIX spelled backwards is XINU. -- Mt.

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