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Comment Re:Start with the moon (Score 4, Informative) 684

The Moon is not better than Mars. It has a much harsher thermal environment due to its complete lack of atmosphere. Mars is very cold - but its pretty consistent. The Moon has wild variations in temperature depending on if you are in sunlight or shade - and the night lasts 2 weeks. The first lunar night it had to endure pretty much killed the Chinese moon rover. Non of the Apollo missions spent a night.

The dust on the Moon is entirely un-weathered, and is likely to present a hazard due to being incredible abrasive. Mars dust is probably easier to deal with

The martian atmosphere provides CO2 - that is 2 useful elements you can get just by sucking it through a pump. Any materials you want to use on the Moon must be mined from rocks, and that is harder.

Finally, the Moon is too close. One goal of an offworld colony is a break from lots of the crap here on Earth. A place where you could conceivably still get a connection to Earth internet (albeit with seconds of lag) makes this harder.

Comment Re:Author has no clue ... (Score 2) 684

There have been expeditions to space stations smaller than the ISS, for duration longer than a trip to Mars. He is also wrong about the Hinderberg; hydrogen may well not have been the culprit (this theory was mainly pushed by the Nazis to blame the US for not selling them helium) and in any case the airship industry was mostly killed by powered flight getting better.

Comment Re:The article optimistically adds.. (Score 1) 70

That really ought to read "Down the line, wearables also could help pharmaceutical makers prove to insurance companies that their treatments are effective, thus increasing healthcare profits."

Big Pharma companies don't profit from "health," they profit from "care."

Sure, but if they don't show that they deliver the former, people will be reluctant to pay for the latter.

It is still a big problem, but I'd say that drugs are actually far better off than the rest of healthcare. How much clinical evidence do you think there is for half the advice your doctor charged you $80 to give the last time you visited him? The pills are actually some of the better-tested stuff on the healthcare market.

Comment Re:A service is a service (Score 1) 250

I have no problem with reasonable insurance requirements for drivers. That really applies across the board, but probably moreso for commercial operators.

However, you need to keep the requirements reasonable, and of course allow self-insurance. If Uber has a better way of managing its drivers/etc and ensuring safer operations, and they can lower their insurance costs as a result, then they ought to be able to pass those savings on to customers. I am not in any way a supporter of the whole "independent contractor" theory where Uber keeps x% of the fare but if there is a crash they accept 0% of the liability. But, that is a principle I apply everywhere - if it were up to me then if you went to Memorial Hospital for a procedure then it would be illegal to get more than one bill for the procedure and it had better come from Memorial Hospital, and if anything goes wrong Memorial Hospital pays for it and they can make the argument about liability with their subcontractors themselves. Of course, if it were up to me you probably wouldn't get a bill in the first place, but whatever...

Comment Re:If only... (Score 1) 250

I'll agree that surge pricing is more likely to affect supply when it is predictable (which still makes it useful). During unpredictable spikes it actually can help out on the demand side. If I have 3 choices of how to get from point A to B, and one of those choices triples in cost, then I'm less likely to use it. Maybe somebody else doesn't have 3 choices, and they benefit from my not leaving a subway seat empty to use Uber.

Comment Re:If only... (Score 1) 250

Most commuter train systems have peak timing. In the US examples I can think off offhand include New York, DC, and Philadelphia.

Besides the peak/off-peak fare, there are often fare discount programs only available off-peak (like disabled/senior fares, or family deals). Also, in many cities and transit systems parking may be cheaper or free on weekends, which is an off-peak time.

The idea is to try to shift usage to off-peak times so that the use of the system is more balanced, which makes it far more economical to run. Kind of like a taxi service.

Comment Re:If only... (Score 1) 250

Charging less would just mean that he'd have to leave earlier for work to get there on time, since in addition to the million people already using the system there would be another 500k people taking the train at 8 when they don't need to. It would also mean that fares would need to be raised across-the-board to maintain the same funding for the system.

It isn't like public transit operations are huge profit centers.

Comment Re:A service is a service (Score 1) 250

I don't have any problem with making Taxi services operate like Uber. The idea of the only record of a ride being something scribbled on a piece of paper that the driver can tamper with is ridiculous.

The Taxi model made sense back before it was easy to track all your cars and passengers in realtime. The problem is that we're still trying to make it work that way today.

Comment Re:Surge Pricing - Why The Hate? (Score 2) 250

Transportation can be vital to maintaining a job or caring for kids - it can also be a luxury. I can see an argument either way.

The thing is that demand for transportation isn't constant.

I need to go to the store sometime today. I can go at 8AM, or I can go at 10AM. If I go at 8AM I'm competing for transportation resources with all the folks trying to get to work. If I go at 10AM then I'm employing a driver who otherwise would probably bit sitting around unpaid.

If it costs me the same either way I'll go whenever I think it is most convenient for me. If I have to pay more for the trip at 8AM, I end up doing what is more convenient for everybody else. How is this not a win-win?

Comment Re:Surge Pricing - Why The Hate? (Score 1) 250

Because that is what decent people do in times of need.

Sounds great. So the 1% of the population with means who are decent chipped in and helped.

Wouldn't it be better if the other 99% of the population with means who aren't so decent also chipped in and helped? Or is it better to stand up for principles and watch people die?

Comment Re: If only... (Score 0) 250

There is no reason for doctors not to charge more for prime time appointments. Why not charge people less on a weekday? Then people who can't go to the doctor on a weekday don't have to book six months out to get a weekend slot. Some people have flexibility, and others don't. When you charge everybody the same then it becomes more about who books the appointment first and less about who needs the appointment more.

Comment Re:If only... (Score 1) 250

Are you slow? Increasing prices doesn't magically create sufficient extra drivers to cope with high demand. Economics 101 is not a sufficiently detailed analysis of how real life works.

Increasing prices has two effects:

1. It actually DOES create extra drivers. Maybe I'm a driver and it is my day off. I notice that the going fare is triple the normal rate, so I tell my wife I'll take her out to dinner tomorrow and hop in my car. More passengers get driven, and I get paid more. Win-win.

2. It also reduces demand. Maybe one of those passengers wants to run to the grocery store, but doesn't care if they do it today or tomorrow. So, they just do it tomorrow. Meanwhile, the guy who is stuck at the airport trying to get to where he is going has one less person in line ahead of him.

When you cap prices you tend to get lines. If I were given the choice of waiting in a 2 hour line for a $10 cab ride, or having a $20 cab ride RIGHT NOW, chances are I'd opt for the latter. Or, maybe I'm hungry and will have to eat dinner either before I leave or after I arrive, so I just go grab dinner now to save $10 and now there's one less person in line.

Pricing is really about information. It helps people make better decisions about allocating resources. Even if not a single extra driver started driving surge pricing would help people plan their trips such that demand is more even.

The opossum is a very sophisticated animal. It doesn't even get up until 5 or 6 PM.