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Comment: Re:Entitled much? (Score 1) 826

by srmalloy (#49741249) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax

'Fair share' -- if you have a 2.5-ton vehicle driving 12,000 miles per year on public roads, you should be paying the same overall amount in taxes and fees for road maintenance as any other 2.5-ton vehicle driven 12,000 miles per year on public roads; it doesn't matter whether it runs on gasoline, propane, hydrogen, electricity, methane clathrates, a hundred squirrels running in exercise wheels, or pure thoughts. A gasoline tax was a fair assessment against drivers when virtually all private automobiles ran on gasoline, were around the same weight, and got similar mileage. That's no longer the case. If one person has a car that gets 25mpg, and another a carefully-designed fuel efficient car that gets 50mph, and another an electric car that gets its energy from the power grid and doesn't burn gasoline, but all have cars that are roughly the same size and weight and are driven the same distance in a year, the first person pays twice the gas tax that the second one does, but receives no increased benefit for his taxes, and the third person, despite operating a vehicle that has the same physical impact on the road surface, pays no gas tax at all, reaping the benefit of the road maintenance paid for by the other two people's gas tax payments without contributing to the cost of that maintenance.

Here is an idea, why not simply tax Electric/hybrid vehicles a use tax based on miliage and leave the gas tax alone?

As has been pointed out repeatedly in the comments here, simply doing an odometer check can't tell how much of that mileage was driven inside Oregon's borders. But given the experience with the "your phone data is private unless you once, fifteen years ago, called someone whose brother's barber is a cousin five times removed to someone who, twenty years ago, was a known associate of someone we might, based on a pattern of legal but 'suspicious' activity, might be someone that we would conduct an investigation into in connection with an act of terrorism that they witnessed by happening to be looking the right way with a coin-fed scenic binocular at a national park, in which case we get FISA to rubberstamp our request, allowing us to grab every bit of data about every phone call you ever made or will make, even after we decide not to conduct the aforementioned investigation" attitude of the NSA and CIA, expecting people to believe "The GPS unit will only record your mileage as being inside or outside of Oregon, can't be used to track your driving habits, and we'll never give that data to anyone" is probably a lost cause.

Comment: Entitled much? (Score 1, Troll) 826

by srmalloy (#49735897) Attached to: Oregon Testing Pay-Per-Mile Driving Fee To Replace Gas Tax

You have to appreciate the sense of entitlement behind the statement "This program targets hybrid and electric vehicles, so it's discriminatory" in the article from an EV owner. "I use the roads, but I don't want to have to pay to maintain them" is a more accurate version of his statement. Given that the gas tax is $0.30 per gallon, the $0.015/mile charge equates to a 20mpg vehicle, so anyone with a conventional vehicle that gets better mileage would see their net costs go up participating in the pilot program, but the basic mechanism is merely ensuring that *every* vehicle on the road is paying the use tax that the gasoline tax was intended to be.

Comment: Re:carsickness (Score 1) 435

by srmalloy (#49675217) Attached to: Will Robot Cars Need Windows?

If they car uses an array of cameras for object detection I think that a wireless interface to VR headsets would probably be a more pleasing way for passengers to experience the outside world.

And when you have a camera failure that renders the autodrive software unable to determine a safe path to drive, the vehicle becomes useless, because the failure of the camera also renders it impossible for the occupant(s) of the car to assume driving duties.

Comment: Re:Vaginosis/Vaginitis Plus (Score 2) 532

by srmalloy (#49629845) Attached to: The Medical Bill Mystery

The first code listed is for a SureSwab Vaginosis/Vaginitis Plus test (87481).

More generically, 87484 is a DNA/RNA amplification test for candida, 87491 is a DNA/RNA amplification test for chlamydia, and 87798 is a procedural indicator for doing a DNA/RNA amplification test where they are testing for more than one organism. That SureSwab test may be billed as CPT 87481, but it's not the only test that can be billed under that code.

Test codes are likely to be specific to the company operating the lab, so unless the lab publishes what their test codes map to, that's going to stay opaque.

Comment: Re: He was an evil man (Score 1) 16

What makes him evil? I mean, aside from suspending habeus corpus, using the military to seize and close newspapers and arrest editors for publishing editorials critical of his conduct of the war (and holding them without charges or trial), arresting and deporting a US Senator for criticizing his conduct of the war, and issuing a declaration that "freed the slaves" only in the areas of the South not under control of the Union Army (it did not free a single slave in the North, nor in the areas conquered by the Union Army) -- an act that caused widespread desertions by soldiers who were willing to fight to preserve the Union, but not to free slaves -- what was particularly evil about him?

Comment: Re:So few experts... (Score 1) 220

by srmalloy (#49398615) Attached to: How would you rate your programming skills?

tl;dr, if you think you're an expert you probably need more exposure to better programmers.

Or to move out of the narrow scope of your current programming work to other languages and/or application types to discover whether you're actually an expert in programming or just have particularly deep experience in one limited area.

Comment: Re:Is there a reason they can't build this system? (Score 1) 114

by srmalloy (#49397689) Attached to: DHS Wants Access To License-plate Tracking System, Again

The data is already being collected, and has been for years; why should the NSA put out bids to create a parallel system that won't have historical data when it stands up, when they can just put out bids for building them an interface to the existing database?

Comment: Re:Mass unemployment (Score 1) 477

Not to mention that self driving trucks will ruin the crystal meth business.

Probably not; it would just change the mechanisms. Find a location where the trucks going to where you want your junk to go will stop as they pass through, arrange for a 'stupid pedestrian' to cross slowly in front of the autonomous truck to keep it stationary, and a confederate slips under the trailer and applies a magnetically-attached package to the frame. Repeat the process at the destination to recover the package.

Comment: Re:Um... How will it change society? (Score 1) 477

You can safely skip TFA, because it actually says nothing about what the title implies. Instead, the author seems to needlessly hand-wring about the "ethics" of these cars.

And the angsting about the 'ethics' of autonomous cars is an infinitely-deep well of assumptions and hypothetical scenarios. Your car detects another car having lost control that is heading for it in a head-on collision, but swerving to avoid it will hit another car. Now assume the car that lost control has a family of five in it, while the car that yours would hit when swerving has a single occupant. Now assume that the single occupant is a surgeon on their way to perform a transplant operation on a deathly-ill patient who will die if the transplant is not performed. You can construct an infinite number of 'what if' scenarios about what an autonomous car should do in situations that require an 'ethical' decision, the vast majority of which require additional information that would be impractical if not impossible to obtain and communicate, and attempting to implement decision trees for all the possibilities would result in a tangled snarl of conflicting rules that would make your car's operation resemble the scene from 'Robocop 2' where the myriad additional directives has him spazzing back and forth, unable to respond to his environment.

Comment: Re:He thinks it is bad now? (Score 1) 161

by srmalloy (#49371741) Attached to: Europol Chief Warns About Computer Encryption

Besides, how do you know that an ongoing unreasonable warrantless dragnet over the entire country isn't a disruption? It's insidious, even more so when the public wasn't aware of it.

Exactly. Where, from the outside, can you tell the difference between "We're collecting all this phone traffic, but we're only looking at it when it touches the specific individuals we already suspect of criminal activity and are investigating" and "We're collecting all this phone traffic; let's run the pattern-recognition software over all of it to see if we can turn up any criminal activity we can use to boost our arrest numbers"?

Comment: Re:A Language With No Rules... (Score 3, Interesting) 667

by srmalloy (#49267899) Attached to: Why There Is No Such Thing as 'Proper English'

I think non-native English users make all sorts of errors, while native speakers make the constistent errors that are all over the internet.

The errors that people for whom English is a second language mage cannot properly be characterized as 'all over'; they are almost invariably errors that result from adults, who lack the flexibility to learn new languages readily, running past the end of their knowledge of English and by reflex applying the grammar and lexicon rules of their own language to English. Where there have been populations that spoke another language that became integrated into the English-speaking population -- the Welsh, Irish, Scots, and Vikings, among others -- aspects of grammar from their own languages got absorbed into English, cases where English grammar were overly complicated got elided. For example, Celtic languages have a 'meaningless do' -- where, in other Germanic languages you would say 'saw you him today?', in Welsh it would be 'did you see him today?'; similarly, nouns lost the forest of cases, genders, and plurals that other Germanic languages retained. And this ignores the vocabulary changes from words the speakers of other languages brought; for example, the perfectly good 'ingang' has long since been buried by the Norman French 'entrance', while other Anglo-Saxonisms got relegated to a 'lower-class' status by French and Latinate words by association with the social class that used them -- 'ask', 'question', and 'interrogate', for example, or 'quick' vs. 'rapid', 'look' vs. 'regard', 'daze' vs. 'stupefy', 'room' vs. 'chamber', 'learning' vs. 'erudition'.

"The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary." -- James D. Nicoll

Comment: Re:Big Data (Score 1) 439

by srmalloy (#49063053) Attached to: Will Submarines Soon Become As Obsolete As the Battleship?

Take for instance the Harpoon, it's comparatively slow compared to the Russian stuff. But it is designed to be fired in huge numbers to overwhelm air defence systems.

Actually, all antiship missiles are designed to be fired in large numbers to overwhelm air-defense systems; that's one of the things that the US Navy's VLS systems were designed to counter. Defenses against antiship missiles are limited by their cycle times and total load -- how fast they can attack a new target and how many shots they carry. Swing-arm launchers that have to load a new missile each time they fire (or fire twice, depending on the launcher) have a slower cycle time, and may not be able to use their entire combat load in the time from detection to target (this is one of the things that drove Soviet supersonic antiship missile design, to reduce the engagement window); with a VLS system the reload cycle time is eliminated, allowing a guard ship to fire as fast as it needs to. This changes the parameters of engagement to a question of how many missiles can be carried, and produced the proposals for fleet-defense ships that were essentially nothing but massive VLS arrays, carrying several hundred launch cells each and relying on the task force's Aegis vessels to provide guidance.

While a battleship with a CIWS which has unlimited shots and can track super fast targets kind of cripples airpower and missiles (or is advertised to do so).

I can't speak for other CIWS systems, but the Phalanx system definitely does not have unlimited shots; the weapon has an internal load of ammunition (roughly 30 seconds of firing at low cyclic rate), and once the combat load is shot, the CIWS needs to be reloaded. Block 0 Phalanx would require 10 to 30 minutes to be reloaded; the Block I and later Phalanx systems can be reloaded in under five minutes. Five minutes for a Mach 2 antiship missile is 100 miles; once the incoming missile comes over the horizon, you don't have time to reload your CIWS.

Comment: Re:Higher temperature?!?!?! (Score 2) 42

by srmalloy (#49053191) Attached to: Scientists In China Predict Pentagonal Graphene

730C for this pentagonal graphene seems much lower, which also suggests a much lower stability.

You can see that from the molecular diagram. Look at the way carbon-carbon bonds form in molecules, and what this does to the geometry of the molecule. By themselves, the bonds would 'spread out' until evenly separated in angle. In the pentagonal arrangement, the angles between bonds are not distributed evenly, which means that there is more energy stored in the bond than there is for the normal 'spread' of carbon-carbon bonds, lowering the energy that would be required to break the bonds. This is reflected in a lower temperature limit before degradation occurs. Depending on what the normal operating environment is, there may well be no noticeable difference in stability.

It seems intuitively obvious to me, which means that it might be wrong. -- Chris Torek