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Comment: Re:Russian rocket motors (Score 1) 59

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 2) 59

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.

User Journal

Journal: Verbiage: Some puns (2)

Journal by Chacham

As if Some puns wasn't bad enough, i shall here continue my plagiarism, brevity, and literary destruction:

Mick Jagger's dog asked his friend, Patricia Whack, for a loan, offering a small item as collateral. Puzzled, she asked her husband what it was. "It's a knick knack, Patty Whack. Give the dog a loan. His old man's a Rolling Stone."

Sixteen sodium atoms walk into a bar followed by Batman.

Comment: Greece's Welfare State is Unsustainable (Score 4, Insightful) 737

I've been following the Greek debt crisis for at least five years, Greece's problem is that they absolutely refuse to stop spending money they don't have. Remember: Greece has never practiced real austerity (cutting deficits to match receipts) since they joined the Eurozone. Not once. (By contrast, Estonia did eliminate their deficit, and as a result started recovering from The Great Recession quicker than other EU economies.) Greece merely slowed the rate at which they were going more broke (or at least pretended to). Despite being right at the edge of complete national bankruptcy, Greece continues to insist that there will be “no wage or pension cuts” for government workers.

Greece lied about their economic situation to get into the Eurozone, lied about it before the crisis broke, lied after it broke, and continue to lie now.

Keep in mind that the past four years of bank loans from the ECB have not been to save Greece. What they were really designed to do was to keep the card game running long enough to let EU insiders and favored national banks unload Greek bonds, and to reduce their exposure to Greek default risks long enough to put European taxpayers onto the hook in the inevitable event of a Greek default. They pretended to save Greece, and Greece pretended to reform. And now here we are.

The adoption of the Euro hastened and deepened Greece's crisis, but was not the central cause, which was their refusal to stop spending money they didn't have to prop up their extravagant (even by European standards) welfare state. This modern welfare state has now become more sacred to voters than the capitalist economics that make it possible. As Mark Steyn put it, "People’s sense of entitlement endures long after the entitlement has ceased to make sense."

The problem is that with declining demographics, the cradle-to-grave European welfare state is unsustainable. Greece and the rest of the PIIGS are discovering that first, but birth rates are declining all across Europe, and modern welfare states are unsustainable without a new generation to stick with the bill. Most economists believe that Greece will never be able to pay back what they've already borrowed.

Syriza was elected on a platform of ignoring basic economic reality, but they've finally run out of people willing to loan them money to spend. The risk of a Grexit is already priced into all the European markets, But leaving the Eurozone doesn't provide relief for any of the Euro-denominated debt Greece already owes, and there's no guarantee European markets would even be willing to exchange refloated drachmas for real(er) money. And since it's hard to see any sane institution buying Greek debt after a default, Greece's government would undoubtedly start printing drachmas like mad and trigger hyperinflation.

If Greece was willing to pare back its welfare state to much saner levels, they might have a chance to slowly dig their way out of the crisis. Since they refuse to, they're in for a whole lot more economic pain...

Comment: The European Welfare State is Unsustainable (Score 0) 396

Since the UK wisely kept its own currency, disruptions from a "Brexit" would be relatively minimal. It's far more likely that will see Greece exit the Euro, because they absolutely refuse to stop spending money they don't have. (Note that despite talk of "austerity," not once since the European debt crisis started has Greek cut government outlays to match receipts.) To Greece (and to a lesser extent the other PIIGS), the welfare state benefits have become more sacred than the capitalist system underwriting them.

The problem with the modern welfare state is that eventually you run out of people to stick with the tab. It both discourages work and generates declining demographics, a dynamic that is unsustainable in the long run.

Well, Greece is starting to reach the long run. They can't afford their own welfare state, but it's become so entrenched that politicians refuse to significately pare it back even on the brink of national bankruptcy.

The UK, like Germany, has a strong enough economy to avoid this fate for quite a while, but it too will get there eventually...

Comment: Re:useful (Score 2) 173

Our government is out of control anyway, anything that allows blackmail, removal from office, misery in their lives. etc is a good thing

While we're at it let's extend it to programmers, DBAs, sys admins an designers who cause us so much misery because they are too stupid or lazy to build secure systems.

Comment: Re:Really? (Score 1) 493

by Registered Coward v2 (#49742917) Attached to: The Brainteaser Elon Musk Asks New SpaceX Engineers

I came up with the answer by reading books and online content about common questions asked at interviews.

Wrong answer. You see, when I ask that question I am wondering how well you think on your feet, not that you actually have an answer; since I really don't care about the answer you give. I need to know how you might handle an off the wall question from a client in a meeting and if I can trust you not to say something stupid. I really just want to see how you react; because you never know what a client might ask, or say.

Do you want to know my Strengths and Weaknesses next, or just how many basketballs fit in this room?

Nah, I'm more of a "How many golf balls were sold in NYC last year" kinda person.

Comment: Re:Really? (Score 1) 493

by Registered Coward v2 (#49742335) Attached to: The Brainteaser Elon Musk Asks New SpaceX Engineers

On a related note, there is also an infinite number of shapes a manhole cover can have so that it cannot fall into the hole. But don't tell that to the interviewers.

Having asked that question in interviews, I didn't care what you answer d but was interested in how you came up with answers. Answering "so they don't fall in the hole right away is the least best answer.

Comment: Re:Registered to vote != Voted (Score 1) 609

by Registered Coward v2 (#49734591) Attached to: The Demographic Future of America's Political Parties

There are always rare cases where someone is declared legally dead before word reaches their body, sometimes by many years. There will also always be people who voted by mail then die before the election. It's possible the law they were debating was for these sorts of things.

I doubt it. Carter's first election included ballot boxes with votes bundled together by rubber bands. If the county boss wanted you elected you got elected. Voters got their government check abd a filled out ballot at the same time. He went to court to secure his victory. He said it best when asked why he was qualified to oversee elections to identify fraud: 'I ran for election in Georgia.' His book on growing up in rural Georgia is a great read.

Comment: Re:Compelling? (Score 1) 243

by Registered Coward v2 (#49728717) Attached to: Why Apple Ditched Its Plan To Build a Television

Whether cable tv, netflix, or amazon prime, people like to rent their television content by the month, and that isn't really Apple's thing.

They seem to be moving in that direction with the addition of HBO subscriptions to Apple TV. They could renegotiate deals with studios to rent bundles of shows and it Netflix to let people buy Netflix via the App store, for example. If they get enough AppleTV's into the hands of consumers so that they can significantly raise Netflix's subscriber base Netflix may just be willing to cut Apple in on the monthly fee. Alternatively, Apple could negotiate with content owners to create their own AppleFlix and offer a monthly service.

Comment: Re:Compelling? (Score 3, Informative) 243

by Registered Coward v2 (#49728663) Attached to: Why Apple Ditched Its Plan To Build a Television

But they couldn't have differentiated themselves. The television market is highly competitive, with intense pressure driving manufacturers to minimum margins. For Apple to justify a price premium, they would have needed some sort of compelling features to differentiate it from every other television, and it seems that they weren't confident that they could do that.

Many of the things that differentiate them with other products (excellent build quality/fit and finish and the benefits of their vertical integration) don't really apply to a TV. You don't tend to notice build quality on something like a TV that you never really handle directly, and there isn't a huge amount to be gained in terms of vertical integration with a television versus connecting an external device by HDMI.

Exactly. TV's tend to be a low margins price sensitive business an that just isn't Apple's game. More importantly, virtually all of the advanced features they could build into a TV they could put into AppleTV and carve out the higher margin part of the TV business and leave the display manufacturers to fight it out. In auditor, building features into AppleTV means they can adapt to whatever display technology is popular without having to pick a winner as they would have to if they built a TV and the Apple TV can simply connect to a new display whenever an old one is replaced an thus Apple's connection with the end user is not lost when the TV is upgraded.

Why go into a low margin business where the technology isn't settled and you have no real advantage to be able to charge a premium that you can't already charge with an existing device?

Comment: Re:Mixed reaction (Score 5, Insightful) 319

by Registered Coward v2 (#49725573) Attached to: Battle To Regulate Ridesharing Moves Through States

I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, some of these regulations are clear attempts to just protect the taxi industry from new models. On the other hand, some of the regulations (like having some basic insurance to cover if things go wrong) are pretty reasonable. On the gripping hand, both Uber and Lyft are both just blatantly ignoring regulations in many jurisdictions, and whether or not one thinks the laws should be there, it is hard to think that having cheaper car services is such a compellingly necessary service that it can morally or ethically justify ignoring laws.

If you wish to speak of morals and ethics, perhaps you should review the existing structure and their pricing model first.

There's a reason we have a compelling argument for competition here, and it's not because they have cooler looking cars.

There certainly is a compelling argument for competition, as there is for proper regulation. So when one looks at the existing structure the question becomes what parts of it need to be applicable to new entrants providing the same service, i.e a ride for hire? Uber et. al. are merely a modification of the existing call a taxi on a phone model and thus should be subject to similar regulatory oversight. You contact a dispatcher, they send an independent contractor to pick you up and take you to a location for a fee. They may not have a medallion on their car and may or may not own the car but the end result is the same - a ride to a location in exchange for money.

Of course the existing companies are fighting tooth and nail becasue there is a lot of money at stake. In locations where medallions are scarce people can have hundred of thousands of dollars tied up in medallions, the medallion may be the most valuable thing the company or individual owns. Uber threatens that by putting cars on the road, thus threatening to overcome the artificially constrained supply of cabs and make owning a medallion necessary and thus lowering the value of existing medallions. So one can expect the medallion owners, as well as those who lend money to people to buy them, to fight back. Interestingly enough a medallion is one expensive item that is tailored to people with poor or no credit, since as one lender put it "If they don't pay all I have to do is pry the medallion off of the hood. I can then resell it but they can no longer drive so they'll do anything needed to make their payments."

"Floggings will continue until morale improves." -- anonymous flyer being distributed at Exxon USA