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Comment: Re:The water wars are coming (Score 1) 138

by west (#48041373) Attached to: Aral Sea Basin Almost Completely Dry

There are other factors in this situation as pointed out just above, but as far as your comment goes, you are *exactly* right.

Almost every condition of existence is a mitigated disaster.

The very existence of a modern society has caused untold destruction on the environment. However, the fact that we like being alive is presumably a good that makes our existence a "mitigated disaster".

So, yes, I'd call a mitigated disaster much better. In fact, that's the best you can hope for, aside from pretending the people who feel it's a disaster don't count.

After all, *everything* has a cost.

Comment: Re:The water wars are coming (Score 3, Insightful) 138

by west (#48037709) Attached to: Aral Sea Basin Almost Completely Dry

Not to be too contrarian, but before we declare this an unmitigated disaster, shouldn't the cost of the destruction of the Aral sea be measured against the benefits of provided by the water that used to flow into it?

I have no idea of the numbers, but if we're talking about the 100,000 people having their livelihood destroyed and their environment destroyed so that millions can proper elsewhere, that might seem to be a fair trade-off to the government.

After all, I'm a North American, so unless I'm a huge hypocrite and also view North America as an unmitigated disaster, I have admit that the prosperity of my nation has only been achieved by the wholesale destruction of many others (the Native Americans).

There are *always* trade-offs. Unless we've got an accounting of both the costs and the benefits, who's to say the Aral sea decision was a failure?

Comment: Re:f**k nvidia... (Score 3, Funny) 189

by west (#48009373) Attached to: NVIDIA Begins Requiring Signed GPU Firmware Images

Nonsense, it's not on Nvidia to stop fake cards, its on law enforcement.

Actually, if it cuts their into sales because purchasing NVidia is perceived as risky, then it makes complete commercial sense to make changes to protect people who think they're purchasing NVidia. It's straight dollars and cents.

Now perhaps NVidia is only using this as an excuse to launch their evil conspiracy, but as excuses go, it's completely legit.

(And while I'd love to make fun of you for the evil conspiracy business, the NSA's actual shenanigans have made that impossible. When the utterly improbable has turned out to be true, the completely ridiculous now becomes only highly unlikely...)

Comment: Re:Agreed (Score 1) 167

by west (#47834723) Attached to: Scientists Sequence Coffee Genome, Ponder Genetic Modification

Nature has already perfected coffee, just as nature has already perfected ALL of the foods we eat. No amount of genetic engineering can make food taste better than hundreds of thousands of years of co-evolution (between plant and animal). The notion is absurd. And no, selective breeding is NOT the same thing as genetic engineering.

Um, evolution in most plants is "trying to make them taste BAD", otherwise, they... get eaten.

Nature's evolutionary "perfection", as a human might define it, would be a plant that replaces every living thing on the planet.

Of course, in reality evolution has no "goal". It is not "trying" anything. Producing something that is more fit is no more a "goal" of evolution than having a boulder roll downhill is a "goal" of gravity. Evolution is the simple outcome of the mathematics of self-replicating systems.

Comment: Re:Don't worry, Uber et all will end up regulated. (Score 1) 218

by west (#47590101) Attached to: The Great Taxi Upheaval

I completely agree with everything you say. My point is that for relatively rare, non-costly (i.e. non-headline grabbing) events, the public will demand regulation, even if the only effect is incumbent protection.

If a bad thing happens, and there is no regulation, then that's negligence in the eyes of the voter. If a bad thing happens and there's regulation that makes sense to the voter (even if it has no effect on safety), then that's simply bad luck.

The "meta" part, is that like a placebo, ineffective regulation, while having a cost, also has a benefit. Simply feeling safer makes people happier, and for relatively rare events, that's going to be the dominant effect almost all the time,

Comment: Don't worry, Uber et all will end up regulated.. (Score 2) 218

by west (#47588997) Attached to: The Great Taxi Upheaval

When enough consumers have a "bad experience" with anything vaguely taxi-like, there will be demand that anything that looks of feels like a taxi be regulated to ensure minimal levels of safety and service.

Sure, perfect information is out there, but that takes effort. Measure the cost of regulation vs. the cost of determining reputation and you'll find that the populace goes for regulation every time. They want to be able to call anything cab-like and be safe. They want to eat in anything restaurant-like and be safe.

Even if it doesn't significantly increase safety, it doesn't really matter. The feeling of being protected by government regulation increases happiness significantly enough that regulation is pretty much whole-heartedly endorsed by most of the population.

Comment: Re:Curation: Apple does high profile reviews... (Score 1) 258

by west (#47570533) Attached to: Is the App Store Broken?

First, if Apple puts a measure to sort by review score, then absolutely it will be taken seriously. Most people would not be informed enough to even care where the review came from - it's simply a metric.

For the informed, I would expect it to have as much credence as magazine reviews, which get taken fairly seriously by most.

Remember, *nothing* is going to work perfectly. What I want to see is ideas that allow more (not all, more) decent apps without $100K budget to get some more discoverability.

Comment: Curation: Apple does high profile reviews... (Score 2) 258

by west (#47569791) Attached to: Is the App Store Broken?

One possible imperfect solution:

For $x ($200? $500? $1,000?), Apple will do a real review of the application and attach the results to the app store listing. Then allow sorting by rating.

This is imperfect, in that it's still one person's opinion and subjective as any review is, but:

- It allows good applications to have an possible (no guarantees) avenue to stand-out apart from sales.
- By charging enough to cover the cost, it allows Apple to hire enough people to do timely reviews.
- Keeps out the chaff (who's willing to pay $500 for a guaranteed 'F' rating)

Nothing will guarantee successful curation. The question is what methods might *improve* discovery. Remember that any method that can be done by anyone, will be done by everyone, making it useless.

Comment: Re:.7% (Score 2) 168

by west (#47530977) Attached to: Amazon's Ambitious Bets Pile Up, and Its Losses Swell

Given the opportunity cost of the money an investor spent on buying Amazon stock, it's pretty much effectively a loss.

Heaven help Amazon if its investors ever start demanding actual market returns. Luckily, it may never happen. By now, every investor has got to realize that Amazon's profits will never justify their stock price. Yell that the profits aren't high enough, and all you're doing is yelling that "the Emperor has no clothes", when you're invested in the Emperor.

Far better to praise Amazon's moves and sell it even higher to the next investor.

Comment: We lose money on every sale... (Score 1) 168

by west (#47530667) Attached to: Amazon's Ambitious Bets Pile Up, and Its Losses Swell

"We lose money on every sale, but we make it up in volume" has never been as true as with Amazon.

(No, it's not literally true - but investors seem pleased to accept below-market returns (if not indeed losses) forever... If only the rest of American businesses had owners willing to give all their money to their customers.)

Everyone has a purpose in life. Perhaps yours is watching television. - David Letterman