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Comment: Re:*sigh* (Score 1) 289

by zenyu (#49360475) Attached to: Iowa's Governor Terry Branstad Thinks He Doesn't Use E-mail

Native born isn't really the issue. It is pretty easy to argue he isn't native born if you just look at the original constitution. But the 14th amendment pretty much states that if you a citizen you have full rights whether naturalized or born, and of course anyone born in the country is a citizen. This means the whole native born stuff is meaningless now. By the time this amendment was passed the country no-longer worried that England might infiltrate the government and put an Englishman in charge and there was the very real problem of the Southern states abridging the rights of blacks.

If he is a citizen he can run for president, under the law of the land at the time all he had to do to naturalize was file a short form stating that his mother was a US citizen. My mother filed this form on my behalf when I was a child and I got a nice letter from Jimmy Carter. Same with McCain, he was probably born in a hospital outside the canal zone, but it doesn't matter due to the 14th amendment. He is unquestionably a citizen.

Comment: Maryland must be some dangerous place! (Score 5, Informative) 784

by zenyu (#48828623) Attached to: Parents Investigated For Neglect For Letting Kids Walk Home Alone

Per the NYC Department of Education children 5 and above are expected to walk up to 0.5 miles to school. Children between 5 and 11 are expected to walk up to 1 mile, and children 12 and above up are expected to walk or bike up to 1.5 miles to school.

Being run over by a car is by far the most likely tragety to occur to a child walking home from school so I looked up ped/bike fatalities in Maryland, and it is 1.88 per 100,000. This is actually lower than NYC, which had 2.00 such deaths per 100,000.

Comment: Federal Funding is not contingent on speed limits (Score 5, Interesting) 525

by zenyu (#48496507) Attached to: Montana Lawmakers Propose 85 Mph Speed Limit On Interstates

The national maximum speed limit was repealed under Bill Clinton so federal funding is not an issue.

Safety is an issue. Crashes on highways are no more frequent at higher speeds so long as they are designed for it, they are however more deadly. In Germany you have two additional things that make it possible to have high or no speed limit on intercity highways. First, the driver training is of much higher quality, you will never see anyone changing lanes without signalling on the autobahn. Second, there is generally a parallel slower road. If an 85 mph road is the only option then you will have people who are little tired or had a glass of wine with dinner on it. Not a recipe for success.

Comment: Re:Flawed, 'cos... (Score 1) 454

by zenyu (#48444539) Attached to: In a Self-Driving Future, We May Not Even Want To Own Cars

#1 is a killer for most American cities. When you look at ones built in the last 50 years they are just not designed for getting around in any way but the car. Even when you look at cities built before the car they often have been destroyed by parking minimums in the zoning code that lead to huge parking craters and significant distances between points of interest. If you need a car for two peak travel time trips every day you might as well have your own.

When we fix it so that most people can commute to work without a car again then there are many models of ownership that might make sense. But self-driving cars are a red herring. They don't address the space inefficiency of cars both when moving and when parked. They won't work on streets anytime soon (as opposed to roads which are significantly easier to navigate). And they don't address the peak demand problem.

If you address #1, #2 would be easy enough to solve. Like many who don't use my car for getting to work I don't give a whit about #3 anymore plus you could do a lot of customization via profiles stored in your car rental account. #4 is what I mostly use my car for these days, it is a peak proplem, I use my car disproportionately on the same holidays everyone else does. But I don't leave the city on every holiday. I could see a zipcar type service keeping up with that kind of peak and not everyone is hauling stuff. Other countries have luxury busses for liesure travel, if car ownership weren't so high here I'm sure we would too.

Comment: Just implement the carbon tax already! (Score 1) 554

by zenyu (#48396377) Attached to: The Downside to Low Gas Prices

We don't need more money in the highway trust fund. Driving has been decreasing nationwide for a long time now. Just pass a rule saying that trust fund capital dollars can only be used for shrinking roads, adding toll infrastructure, or converting them to some greater use such as transit. Allow some money to be used for maintenance, but not the current 90%, and make funding contingent on the state requesting it keeping 95% of the system in good repair.

But add a $5/gallon carbon tax along with an income tax exemption increase. The mode shift from that will greatly decrease the need for road repairs. In my municipality we spend a $1000 per car per year out of the general funds for street repair.

Comment: It's pretty much all due to stupid risk taking (Score 1) 353

by zenyu (#47411967) Attached to: Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

s/many more/infinitesimally less/

The number of crashes that happen with both parties following the law is practically none. Pretty much every crash is due to multiple factors, but a healthy majority of fatal crashes are caused by the big three: speeding, failing to yield and running red lights. The rest are caused by a variety of causes. Starting with what you might suspect, cell phone usage and drunk driving, and ending with random low probability stuff like heart attacks and vehicle defects.

If we just tamed the big three the US would save 15,000+ lives each year and prevent another 1,000,000 casualties.

Comment: Funny Hat (Score 1) 301

by zenyu (#47054983) Attached to: What qualifications should the 'driver' of a fully autonomous car need?

Right now there should be strict limits on the number of autonomous vehicles per state, say 50 per state. Enough to do R&D, but not enough to be a serious nuisance. But when they are ready to drive down a Manhattan street then there should be no driver's license required and no insurance required of the vehicle owner. The company writing the software should be required to have a policy that pays a significant amount per injured party, say $10 million. So if a car plows into a large gathering of people the $250,000,000 payout will be covered.

The crash rate should be significantly smaller with autonomous cars, but it is important that we don't allow the self-driving car companies to shift responsibility onto the passengers in the vehicle. If you aren't actively driving the car you won't be ready to take the wheel when the software loses control and we want the incentive for making the software ever safer to remain with the writers of the software.

Comment: 4 ton 30 mph on a jogging trail, really? (Score 1) 204

by zenyu (#46813755) Attached to: NYC's 19th-Century Horse Carriages Spawn Weird, Truck-Size Electric Car

The carriages drive along a crowded jogging paths where motorized vehicles are banned for safety reasons. Allowing this monstrosity where you can't ride a Vespa makes no sense. A reconstruction of a light early electric like a 1902 Wood's Phaeton would have some charm and would be much safer to everyone it encounters in the park.

Comment: Re:Conspiracy to speed (Score 1) 457

by zenyu (#46169573) Attached to: Judge Says You Can Warn Others About Speed Traps

Highway speed limits are significantly less than conditions allow but speeding is a huge problem on residential streets. Over the last 40's the highways have as a matter of policy been engineered to be pretty safe for people going a bit over the speed limit. This conditions drivers to speed and then they carry over this behavior to streets where is generally not even safe to go near the speed limit most times of day.

Really we need to revisit the whole approach to speed limits. We can make them electronic on all highways and adjust them to conditions. Then we can set them at 90 mph when conditions warrant, but in exchange we should enforce these speed limits with an iron fist. If you go 1% over you get a $50 ticket, 5% $500 ticket, 10% over $5000, 15% $50,000, etc. with various Jail times for greater speeding. And forget having cops for this, just cameras that take a picture of the perp. We can have cameras every 1000ft and we can forget about conspiracies to signal the presence of speed traps.

Comment: Maintenance (Score 1) 237

by zenyu (#45194623) Attached to: New York City Considers Articulated Subway Cars

This is exactly why NYC ordered individual cars last time around. They wanted to be able to scavange good cars into a train if maintenance fell behind. They had been forced to do so in the 1970's and 1980's. In practice they have married sets of cars together and maintain them as a set.

Articulated cars were run on the NYC subway from 1925 to 1965, google D-type Triplex, but each car needs to be shorter. I don't think anyone knows what the impact of running articulated cars again would be. It is worth an engineering study.

Comment: Does it really matter? (Score 1) 668

by zenyu (#45174005) Attached to: A Ray of Hope For Americans and Scientific Literacy?

The Koch brothers, aka Tea Party, don't really care about science as such. All they want is to not pay taxes or get EPA fines for pouring toxins into the environment. If you tell them that their actions kill people why should they care if science or the tooth fairy tells you so? They just don't care. They simply want more money for themselves and they believe selfishness is the only ideal. Caring about the suffering they inflict on the world would be a sign of human frailty.

Comment: Finance? (Score 2) 105

by zenyu (#45173729) Attached to: Tech's Highest-Paid Engineers Are At Juniper

I don't work in finance, but I'm surprized not a single hedge fund made the list. A big part of their compensation is in the bonus, but still you can't live on a base of $130k in Manhattan, kindergarten costs $38k per year per kid, not to mention a place to live, etc.

Is it just that you need to have 10,000+ employees before 50 of them post their salary on glassdoor?

Do hedge funds actively discourage their employees from posting?

An optimist believes we live in the best world possible; a pessimist fears this is true.