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Comment Re:Pilot's licenses should be required (Score 2) 62

Uh, as someone who *does* have a pilot's certificate, the GP is more right than you are.

First of all it's a certificate, not a license. Yes, the distinction matters. And there's lots of not-commercial aircraft - in any case the airspace rules are no different.

You don't own the air up to 500 feet by any means. The FAA's rules (mostly for fixed-wing aircraft) are in 14 CFR 91.119, paraphrased:
- Always where an emergency landing can be conducted without "undue hazard" (note, not "no hazard") to people or property on the surface
- Congested areas, like towns and other areas the FAA decides (naturally only after they come after you) are "too populated", like highways. 1000 feet above the highest obstacle within 2000 feet. At a minimum, includes the yellow areas on the World VFR chart here.
- "Other than congested areas", but not "sparsely populated" - that's your 500ft rule
- "Sparsely populated areas" can be operated arbitrarily low (subject to the first rule) as long as they're 500ft away from person, vessel, vehicle, or structure. This is why crop dusting is legal.

Of course this obviously doesn't apply to takeoffs and landings. It also doesn't apply for helicopters (they have a looser set of rules) and a few other kinds of aircraft.

The long and the short of it is I can fly over your field at 20 feet all day long if I want to. It's not very courteous, but it's quite legal. I can fly 501 lateral feet from your second-story bathroom window, even if it's over your property. And of course a helicopter can fly lower and closer than that, even over a congested area. Again, not courteous and not necessarily smart, but there's a whole lot of things in flying that are legal are not good ideas.

You have no special sovereignty over the air above your property. You can use it to the extent the use is reasonably connected to the property below. For instance you can put another level on your house without asking anybody, or even a tall radio tower (>200ft or near an airport you have to tell the FCC), but you can't put up a "spite pole" just to keep airplanes away. So basically you have a right to your airspace to the extent you don't try to exercise control over it by excluding airplanes.

Comment Re:A spreadsheet? Really? (Score 1) 430

Spreadsheets allow a lot of analysis - and believe me, there's a ton. (I lost count of how many tabs of pivot tables and charts this thing has, because I got tired of scrolling.)

It's alive and well, and you'd think Google could managed to take down a Google Spreadsheet if it was a problem. I don't get the hubbub - it basically confirms what they've been telling us for years about how salary is determined, which as you might expect is fairly well defined.

Comment Re:Summary is wrong, management didn't "freak" (Score 1) 430

(I also work at Google, but this is my opinion)

I've received peer bonuses. I've even received duplicate peer bonuses (bonii? yes, there's been a discussion) for the same thing, and I would've turned them down if I could. I get the sense that it's highly (manager) discretionary, though the default is generally to "approve" for typical, use-intended cases like staying late to help a team debug their problem, or really bending over backwards to help someone launch on time (both things I've gotten peer bonuses for).

The rules are very straightforward but they apply to a lot of "atypical" cases. There is manager discretion, but the rules are common-sense: It's not very kosher to give someone a peer bonus for doing their job in the normal fashion (e.g., thanks for implementing that feature you were supposed to implement), and it's (famously) not OK to ask for one to do your job (e.g., give me a peer bonus to approve your CL). It's also supposed to be beneficial to the company - you shouldn't get one because you helped someone move apartments. I do think that there's a tendency to use the peer bonus as a "+1" where people use it to agree or express support - there are (ignoring this case - I'm not saying one way or the other) several internally-widely-visible situations that any Googler can think of where this happened. It's not really supposed to be used for these, so a manager may (and should, according to the rules) reject them.

As for not knowing the peer bonus rules, I don't get that. I've known them almost since I started and I thought the rules were commonly understood...

Comment Re:Did TV beat this article to the punch? (Score 1) 245

I actually came here to say this. Yeah, I"m a Scrubs nerd. The "new" urologist turns down a risky surgery because it would make her stats look bad if he died - not strictly speaking a report card, but some of the same outcome-based grading. You incentivize surgeons to have patients not die, they'll do the best they can - and then they'll pick the patients that won't die anyway instead of the ones who *really* need help.

My Urologist:

Dr. Cox: Surgery is really the only thing that has a shot at curing this guy and the reason that she's not going to do it is because he's older and he's got heart issues which makes him high-risk and if he were to drop dead on her operating table, well, that would make her surgery stats go down. And that wouldn't look very good on a young doctor's resume, would it?

Kim: What can I say? You got me.


J.D.: It bothers me that a doctor wouldn't help a patient so she could keep her stats up.

Turk: Yeah.

Kim: Look, J.D., surgery is competitive. We do what we have to to get ahead.

J.D.: Well, my best friend here is a surgeon and he would never pass on a risky surgery just to keep his stats up.

Turk: Actually, I have done that. Everyone has.


Dr. Cox: However, it is not Dr. Briggs' fault that she works in a broken system. Top hospitals are only interested in hiring surgeons who they think are flawless. Newbie, that's not the answer you thought you were gonna hear. But as always, I don't care.

Comment Re:Here's a bold idea... (Score 2, Insightful) 212

Two otherwise-identical people of different genders doing the same job are paid almost exactly the same, at least on a population level and with moderate-size or larger companies. To do otherwise is super-dangerous because it is an open-and-shut lawsuit and the information is all discoverable. (Of course individuals may have minor differences due to experience or negotiation at hiring, which generally goes away with tenure - if the company is smart.) You can look at any of the company stats of salaries for like-for-like positions and they're incredibly close to 100%.

This is a fact and is true today. Look at it another way - if a company could get the same work for 77% of what they pay a man, wouldn't they far prefer to hire women? People in companies could be wildly sexist, but they'd fail - that's just too much money left on the table! The 77-cents-on-the-dollar thing is an absolute lie. I'd link to actual articles, but there's too many. It makes me so angry to hear otherwise-intelligent people (like the President!) repeat it - are they that cynical, or do they really not get it? (It's got to be the former - when someone pulled up the WH workforce stats, they were quick to reply that it wasn't fair to compare across titles and experience, which is exactly how the 77c number was fabricated.)

So what's going on? Well, there is undoubtedly a motherhood gap, because mothers generally take time off to be with the new child, which puts them behind their non-childbearing peers of any gender. Some women, of course, don't ever come back, but are still included in the stats. Of those that do, well in some industries it's particularly difficult to take a leave of absence (for any reason) - academia and tech are prominent examples. If I as a man took 6+ months off to go hiking in Asia, I'd be in the same boat.

This isn't that complicated. The question is, what do we want to do about it? Well, it's an unavoidable fact of taking time off. We can incentivize anybody who take time off for any reason by negating the setback with an opposite incentive - this seems highly risky and undesirable. Alternatively, because procreation is a societal good, we can incentivize specifically mothers in this fashion. I trust that women wouldn't just have kids to get this benefit, and who pays for it is an open question, but it still seems like a perverse incentive - and in any case it may not be legal to do this. Regardless, such a change should be an open debate - but trying to fix it by erasing the symptom of the 77c lie would just be sneaking through the back door.

The only alternative I see is to accept that having kids is a life choice like any other, and it has downsides and upsides. The downsides are easier to measure, but maybe not important. I personally don't know many women, including my own very successful mother, whose joy about being a mother is tempered by "but it has reduced my lifetime earning potential by X%". People do things for reasons other than money.

This whole thing smacks of the nasty phase of old-style feminism where women berated mothers for being unenlightened and choosing to have kids. I thought we were past that...

Comment Re:On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog (Score 1) 727

People didn't used to go around talking about it. It didn't matter, your "name" was cpphead24 or whatever. People formed real identities and had real interpersonal relationships with other people without ever knowing more than their username. Race, religion, sexuality, age, and - yes - gender just didn't come up - a/s/l was a bit creepy, etc. I'm not that old - it wasn't *that* long ago...

This of course was back during the time where the generally accepted advice was to not reveal anything of their real life online. Parents taught their kids this - I remember when I signed up for Facebook in 2007, I was pretty freaked out by the whole "real names" thing. I think it was the first time I'd ever used my full name online, and I don't think I was uncommon.

I wonder if we should go back to that.

Comment Re:The problem is that landfills are too cheap (Score 2) 371

Glass - rarely cost effective because it requires more energy to recycle than create new. It's also great in a landfill because its inert. Quit wasting energy trying to recycle it.

[citation needed]. I'd always understood (from watching programs where glass was recycled) that it was much less energy to melt existing glass and re-form than it was to combine new ingredients, which requires a higher temperature. Wikipedia agrees: "The processing and use of recycled glass in manufacturing conserves raw materials, reduces energy consumption, and reduces the volume of waste sent to landfill." I assume you're talking about total process energy consumption, but yeah I'd like to see evidence. (You also seem to assume that reducing the waste load on landfills isn't a benefit in and of itself.)

I'd always understood that some plastics were recyclable as well, but generally "downgraded" - a soda bottle becoming polyester fabric, etc.

Comment Re:Less suspect than the others (Score 1) 78

Just to concur, I also work at Google and the security is pretty incredible. They baked it into the RPC system (predating but similar to the publicly-available gRPC) so you don't even have to think about it - it just happens automatically and still doesn't get in the way (which is a remarkable achievement). I work pretty closely with one of the teams responsible for most of the user traffic, and they did some pretty heroic stuff to secure their part (which was some huge percentage of "all of it") in like a week.

Internally the sentiment in response to seeing our golden geese on the NSA slides was pretty much outrage and "explod[ing] in profanity" just about covers it. I think the higher ups were pretty outraged and frankly felt betrayed by their country, as Google's always cooperated with lawful, reasonable, and limited-in-scope requests, so to have them breaking in to dark fiber is pretty treacherous. I know I felt betrayed. (Some sense of the outrage can be seen in David Drummond's statement)

Google's actually pretty admirable from the inside. I wish we could publish more of what we do to protect user data, as without knowing it it's easy to be cynical. This video is worth watching, as far as legal requests go.

Comment Re:Royalty tax on ALL blank hard drives?! (Score 1) 301

It's quite illegal. In farm country (the only place it's readily available) they do random roadside stops and check to see if your tank has ever had red gas in it (since it was thoroughly washed out, or many many tanks). They can detect it to quite low PPM values and the fine is quite high - deliberately high enough that it's really not worth the risk as getting caught is all the "savings" and more out the window.

Comment Re:Read the bill (Score 1) 164

Because the US Congress, presumably with their interstate commerce powers, passed a law establishing the FAA:

The United States Government has exclusive sovereignty of airspace of the United States.

-- 49 USC 40.103a1

You could attempt to have that law declared unconstitutional, but it would be a hard row to hoe.

True, this applies to "navigable airspace", which the FAA interprets to mean:
- any altitude an emergency landing won't endanger people on the ground (general rule)
- any altitude if near an airport ("except when necessary for takeoff or landing")
- any altitude if a helicopter or powered-parachute or weight-shift control aircraft
- above 1000 feet over "congested areas"
- above 500 feet over "other than congested areas" but not "sparsely populated areas" or open water
- for these, anywhere other than within 500 feet "to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure".

Ignoring the existence proof that they're not, do you think the drone operators are really going to keep these rules in mind? A great place for flying a drone (large open fields and such) will often be classifiable as a "sparsely populated area" and if there's 500 feet between you and the plane, it is perfectly legal for them to be flying 50 feet above the ground. So your "couple hundred feet" is completely irrelevant - the FAA regulates all airspace in the country.

There's a long history of the FAA guidelines for model aircraft operators. The AM(odel)A has worked productively with the FAA and has - for decades - had an agreement ("advisory circular") that is fairly low-maintenance and non-onerous for both sides. But building and learning to fly a model airplane is much harder and much more community oriented than going to Walmart and buying a Phantom and taking it out back, so they kept each other pretty reasonable (not to mention there were far fewer of them). But the drone idiots are screwing it up by going to check out the jets landing at Newark or the police helicopter, and forcing the FAA to make actual rules now. The federal rulemaking process is a pain in the ass, and again we have an existence proof that they were very happy to not have to do that when they didn't feel like they had to - they've been just fine with the not-strictly-binding advisory circular until the drones showed up.

Before you say it, there's no such thing as "air rights". In general you are allowed to use the air above your property to the extent that it can be reasonably used in connection with the property underneath - including things like tall antennas, at least in most places away from airports (but you have to put a light on them and tell them so they can chart it, which seems reasonable). IIRC there is jurisprudence that says that you can't just build a tall "spite pole" to keep planes away since it's not reasonably connected to the use of the land underneath.

Look, I'm a nerd and I think drones are cool. Really cool. But I'm also a pilot and the thought of something metal coming through my windshield at 140MPH scares the bejeezus out of me. Birds are bad enough. And there are tons of stories and videos of people flying drones deliberately near planes. It's hard for me to see them as different from the idiot kids throwing rocks off the overpass.

Comment Re:Answer (Score 4, Interesting) 336

(I work at Google and use C++ there, but what follows is my opinion)

What precisely don't you like about the C++ style guide? (This is almost identical to the internal guide)

- It is true that exceptions are verboten, but honestly it's not particularly limiting. Java gets exceptions right - something is truly "impossible" (in a crash-the-program you-have-a-logic-error sense) and thus you don't need to handle it, or else it's "expected" like an I/O issue and the language forces you to do something with it - either try/catch, or declaring that you're potentially passing it along. C++ doesn't have any such enforcement, which makes it very hard to reason about what a function may throw at you. You rely on everybody in the entire call hierarchy doing the right thing. Reminiscing about my Java days, the lack of exceptions does make some things somewhat more cumbersome to deal with - having to explicitly return a status object, for instance, to deal with plausible-but-atypical cases. But the Google guide is fairly apologetic in this area and basically says "sure, we'd use it if we had a brand-new codebase, but we don't..." and the reasons that follow for why exceptions are hard to integrate into a truly enormous codebase seem sound to me. What do you disagree with about this reasoning?

- There is certainly no rule about "allocate at the top, clean up at the bottom, never return from the middle". In fact, with unique_ptr and the like, there's even less reason to do those kind of things than there's ever been. The local variable part of the style guide actually explicitly encourages as-close-as-possible declaration, and the rest of the style guide is quite gung-ho about unique_ptr (we actually had an internal class for a long time that was sufficiently identical to unique_ptr that they were able to replace all uses and remove the custom type in just a few months). I can find no reference to any sort of prescription about the location of return statements.

- The standard libraries have actually been moving away from exceptions, haven't they? C++11 introduced 'noexcept' and added it to a bunch of methods, and the specs for a lot of other ones guarantee that the only exceptions are from the allocator (e.g. std::bad_alloc). To be clear there is no prohibition against *using* code (especially the standard library) that may throw exceptions.

In a nutshell the style guide is, in order, "be readable" followed by "be consistent". It is hilariously easy to write unreadable, bug-prone C++ code. Nobody cares if your code is perfect and correct, they care if the next guy along can modify or use it correctly and it is useful to have a style guide to make some of the more hard to reason about things impossible. How many different bits of code could the statement 'a = b;' potentially execute? (It's a lot - copy constructor, operator=, operator Foo(), etc.) The style guide limits it to just a few things you might have to consider, so that when you use some code someone wrote 6 years ago there's not so much to look at. C++ has references and pointers, which is great, but at least with pointers there's a hint that you might have "spooky action at a distance" so the guide mandates their use for out-params which seems perfectly reasonable since it's basically arbitrary which to use - and in practice, it's a really handy hint to have when you're reading. Unless you're passing an address, you know your copy can't be modified. IMO, way more readable.

If you've really been hanging up on recruiters because you object to the style guide, it is probably worthwhile to actually ensure that your understanding of it is correct and up to date. It has changed in recent years as C++11 has become better understood and it is fair to say that it is far more liberal to things like lambdas, template metaprogramming, operator overloading, copyable classes, etc - than it was a few years ago.

Comment Re:Seriously? (Score 5, Interesting) 110

The FAA and the model aircraft folks have an understanding - they have worked with the FAA for many years and kept their members in check (using, among other things, the carrot/stick insurance approach). Before the 2012 law that explicitly orders the FAA to work with the model aircraft folks to come up with reasonable rules, there's been an advisory circular ("this is our interpretation of the rules, just a heads up because we'll enforce them this way") since 1981 that's still basically the rules: AC 91-57. You'll note that they're hardly onerous and really there's been very few problems with the "traditional" model aircraft folks. An advisory circular isn't a rule as such - and in fact one of the court cases over the drones was the judge saying "you can't enforce an AC as an official rule" - but it is broadly speaking "intent to rule". The actual federal air regulations are quite nonspecific and allow a tremendous amount of leeway for the FAA to say exactly what the rule means - and unless the interpretation is deliberately capricious the administrative law judge (basically a trial for regulations, not laws) is bound to their interpretation so they almost always win. Best not to violate the AC, since that's how you know what this interpretation is that they'll hit you with.

The FAA trusts the AMA guys to do this right, and really they've done a remarkably good job and have a many-decade long track record. It's hard to build and fly model aircraft, and if it's a hobby it's much easier to do things "right" by joining a club and using their field and following the rules.

They're not the problem. No, the problem is the drone idiots who go on Amazon and buy a "point and fly" DJI Phantom or something and go to the park and fly it up to check out a police helicopter, or the planes in a major airport's approach path. They have no training, no sense, and no community that will keep them in line. They don't care about being accredited and having insurance - their level of commitment is a few hundred bucks and a couple hours' time.

Irresponsible drone use is ruining it for the rest of the hobbyists. There is responsible use, but since drones are so easy to use, there's a lot more irresponsible use than there was with traditional model planes. It's really that simple. They are causing a safety hazard and forcing the FAA's hand to more proper regulation than their laissez-faire "the AMA seems to be doing this properly" approach of the last 30 years until now.

I am a fixed-wing pilot, anything that can fly through my window at 140MPH pisses me off. Birds are bad enough, but at least they're not metal and we can't really control them. I trust the model aircraft guys to stay low and in their traditional fields and away from my airports. I don't trust the drone guys.

As for incorrect information... the GP was more accurate than you on balance, so maybe look a little deeper next time?

Comment Re:Error in summary: (Score 2) 203

Well they started building the NYC subway system before planes existed and it opened for business less than a year after the Wright Brother's flight so there's a bit more legacy here than Atlanta. It's also a different scale as you could fit the Atlanta system 40 times over into the NYC system (by weekday passenger volume). Our secondary subway system is bigger than Atlanta's subway. We have a single line that, if it were its own entire subway system, it would still have more rides than the entire Washington Metro (#2 system), or Boston and SF (#4 and #5) combined. So to say it's a much more complicated (and thus harder to change) system is an understatement. It's also worth noting that they built the airport and subway so they could connect to each other, and that Atlanta is not an island, so there is a lot more freedom of placement.

That said... yeah, it is pretty bad. They could extend the N/Q out east but I don't think it's really going to cope with 100x passenger volume on those segments. The new express bus is pretty good, one or two stops from a few subway stations to the airport. But there should be a train.

Comment Re:idgi (Score 1) 628

Leaving aside the fact that we are not discussing an image that is pornography nor of a nude woman - it is face and top-of-shoulders, which makes all of this irrelevant...

Your own link goes on to discuss (immediately after the section you quote!) how there is not universal agreement on what is objectifying, including pornography. I happen to think that a woman should be allowed to express herself however she wishes, including sexually, and specifically that she is smart enough to decide if she wants to let someone pay her to take pictures of her and put them in a magazine. I think it's pretty bigoted that you disagree. Presumably you are not so paternalistic to think that this woman, in her simple way, didn't realize that men would be sexually desiring this picture of her. So who is being harmed, exactly? She wasn't taken advantage of by any stretch of the definition. Everybody's happy except the anti-sex second-wave feminists, who missed the boat in the 90s. (Third-wave feminism generally views "bad porn as bad", in the sense that nobody should be exploited into making porn but that it is OK to choose to do so and choose to consume)

And to answer your question I don't generally take the concerns of religious extremists into account, whether they are ISIS or the "god hates fags" folks or someone who is so far gone that they think sexuality itself demeans women.

"The fundamental principle of science, the definition almost, is this: the sole test of the validity of any idea is experiment." -- Richard P. Feynman