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Comment Re:Streisand effect (Score 1) 700

My guess is that the Model S doesn't have a battery charge indicator, which is analogous to a gas gauge, but does have a range indicator.

It appears that it has both. The remaining charge is shown as the green portion of the battery symbol.

Range indicators are on newer cars, and tell you the number of miles you have left based on the time since your last fillup, gas left, and almost never take into account conditions like speed and stop-and-go conditions.

I haven't seen those. Not sure what the value of them would be because you drive more conservatively if you are on last drops of fuel than when you have a full tank. Range indicators are actually a liability because the car manufacturer gives you a specific promise (miles to empty) but cannot guarantee it (such as if you are approaching a mountain pass.) Gas gauge can be as accurate as they want it to be, and if it shows 2.3 gallons left then that's what is left - and you can use that fuel in any way you want.

In this case the range indicators were off a bit, as many EV owners report. It's not unique to Tesla - you can't measure the charge of a battery directly, you have to integrate incoming/outgoing currents and then use voltage under some load as a fixed reference. The reporter failed because the car's power system started dropping charge left and right from the first day. One sign of trouble was the diminished range after the second charge, at Milford - it took longer than the first one and left the car with 185 miles of range. The reporter had to cover 180 miles from that point (to Norwich and back, with no chargers in between.) This would be a no-go event for me; but what can you do if you are committed already? Do you turn around and go back because your $101,000 shiny red car can't make it from the charger to the next town and back? 80-90 miles is a laughable distance for a car; you can easily cover it even on a horse.

The car still would have made it; the range indicator was tolerable at the hotel in Groton (90 miles remaining after driving 79; off by 16 miles.) Perhaps those 90 miles could be covered with a 1 hour low voltage unplanned charge in Norwich.

But here another sign of trouble struck - the battery in the morning lost 65 miles of range, and after the failed "conditioning" attempt lost 9 more. The reporter had to cover 90 miles when the range indicator claimed only 16. This was not doable, and the reporter should have called the tow to the hotel to make his life easier. Clearly the "network" of chargers is too sparse, and the car is not sufficiently bug-free (reliable) to travel between existing chargers. The self-discharge rate is simply atrocious. The reporter haven't experienced it before because he was driving continuously. It may be a bug, something that Tesla swept under the carpet assuming that the car will be charging all night anyway. This one wasn't.

Comment Re:Streisand effect (Score 1) 700

Have you looked closely at the range indicator on a gas car? Some of your other points are fair, but anyone who trusts the range indicator on any vehicle beyond as a very rough guess is going to get into trouble.

The indicators may be nonlinear. This depends on the shape of the tank. I know because I own a car with a "guess gauge" like that.

However even a pretty bad gasoline level indicator is repeatable. If it shows 2 last bars you can drive 50 miles, for example. (It took you 150 miles to consume the top two bars - nonlinearity in effect.) If it shows full then the tank is pretty full. In a city I refuel at 3 bars remaining, on a road trip - at 4 bars (I get hungry by that time, and I like to have fuel just in case.) Very few people suffer range anxiety with gasoline cars because the gas gauges are pretty good and because when the gauge starts blinking at you you still have a few miles left. It only takes a few minutes to fully recharge your gas car, and there is no penalty for full charge - in fact, all charges are to the brim if you use the automatic cutoff. In worst case, if you didn't pay attention or did something else stupid, all you need is to call AAA and a truck will show up with a can of gas, and you can be back on the road for a moderate fee. Your car will not have to be towed with locked wheels, tearing the rubber and twisting the drive shafts, and you will not have to end up at a weird location just because that's where the charger is.

Regardless, in this case the reporter had no choice. The range indicator was all over the place anyway, seemingly randomly. Sometimes a short charge gives more miles, sometimes a longer charge gives fewer miles, sometimes a parked car loses 74 miles overnight. (Where did that energy go? Into heat? That's a lot of energy; not only it didn't move the car, it also was paid for and then wasted.)

For all practical purposes, the reporter did not need the range indicator because his trip was preplanned by Tesla and monitored over the phone all the way. He should have been able to sail through and never have a worry. But many things went wrong, on all levels. The trip was poorly planned, using ideal numbers instead of realistic ones. The car had "a glitch" that wasted energy. The advise from Tesla was inadequate. I'd say the reporter did OK - for a typical car driver who doesn't care about technology and just wants to go from A to B. The reporter did better than that, actually - he sacrificed his comfort, he called Tesla every hour for an advice, he sat idly for an hour and waited for the low voltage charge... none of Regular Joes would do that, ever - the car would be sent back as a lemon. We are used to reliable vehicles; EVs reopen a very old page of history when every car trip was an adventure that had to be painstakingly planned. Very few common folks will accept that, even if they can pay $101K for the car.

Comment Re:Streisand effect (Score 2, Insightful) 700

Unless they completely screwed you over, and you have evidence to prove that.

Being right has nothing to do with [not] being stomped into the mud. One necessary condition here is the ability of the audience to comprehend your proof.

In this case, though, I think Tesla is wrong. The reporter drove the car exactly per instructions, and he was frequently on the phone with Tesla. He charged the car also per instructions. I do not know if he used the mode "Kill my battery but give me 10% more range" - but no sane person would be even trying to find this mode unless it is preset. If Tesla had to use this mode, on a preplanned trip, why didn't they preset it before delivering the car to the reporter?

Tesla is also haggling about a 2 mile "detour" in NYC, about 200 miles away from the failure point and before the last supercharge. This is ridiculous. Tesla instead should explain this:

  1. Why the sequence of supercharges was yielding shorter and shorter remaining range at the end of the charge? ("Full" - 242 - 185 - 216.) Who is in charge of the charge here?
  2. Why the charge meter and the odometer do not agree? (In other words, if the range meter reports 100 miles to empty it is correct only if you don't drive?)
  3. Why the charge dropped from 90 miles to 25 miles overnight?
  4. Why the "battery conditioning" that was supposed to improve the range made it worse? The missing (90-16)=74 miles of range would cover the whole segment between Norwich and Milford, probably even without a charge at Norwich.
  5. Why the low voltage recharge is so pathetic? You'd have to set up camp near a 120V outlet if you want to charge the car.

All in all, I see that the reporter did all that he could to help the car to take this easy trip - but the car still failed. Lame, literally. Nobody should pay $100K for a car that can't take a road trip. EV manufacturers should lower their estimated range by measuring it not in ideal conditions but in real conditions, by physically driving the car - at night, in rain, in snow. Then the manufacturer can stand by these numbers - and journalists wouldn't be using them as an easy punching bag. EV makers are lying, all of them; they think puffing the range up helps them. But in reality the negative PR hurts them more. Be honest, say that the car cannot cover more than $m miles and nobody will take you to court. Those are expensive toys, and people who buy them have resources.

Comment Re:magic (Score 2) 295

Doesn't gmail log every IP you logged in from?

GMail can read your mail; that is a bigger hole than the IP address of a coffee shop.

Google, however, usually does not have a need to try and discover your real life identity. It is not automatically published for everyone to see. That is what is important. If a corporation sells your browser fingerprint, use a different browser. This one, FF with AdBlock + NoScript + Ghostery + whatever else, shows no ads, blocks web bugs, and runs no scripts. It may still be tracked by IP addresses and other unique information, but why advertisers would be building a list of people who refuse their product? What would they do to me, send the mafia in? I'm not their client, and they move on. I don't need to outrun the bear, I only need to outrun the average Internet user.

Comment Re:first human target (Score 1) 498

All wars are "us" vs. "them." Police already has a derogatory term "civilians" that they use on non-police citizens. Police officers are civilians as well (not the standing army, I hope.)

If things turn to worse, expect more definitions to fly by, all intended to separate "the good guys" from " the bad guys" in a way that favors one faction or another.

You have "sand n!ggers" in Afghanistan; you have some subhumans on the border; you will have yet another kind in ghettos, then they will discover militia terrorists in suburbs, then they will turn their attention to farmers and ranchers who cling to their guns and Bibles... there is a label for everyone.

Comment Re:How about the US-Canadian/US-Mexico border? (Score 1) 597

You might be quite surprised at some of the surveillance tech in use.

There is no technology, outside of Star Trek, that would have detected chemical and biological weapons in that boat at a distance of a mile. Nuclear weapons don't radiate that much either (until they are used.)

Also, if we believe the TSA, the survival of this country hinges on the fact that every incoming laptop and every Flash disk must be examined by professionals for traces of terrism. (I'm not professional enough to figure out what can anyone find on a multi-GB Flash that is full of binaries.) This vital task cannot be done remotely.

That wouldn't be true even if you had said "cats" instead of "boats."

It's the oldest trick in spy movies. Why wouldn't that work if far more worked for the boat that came from Hawaii? Satellites have to be there to observe, and they have to be actually *used* to look at *that spot* instead of a billion other spots, and they have to see in darkness or through the cloud cover. Additionally, you don't have to swap ships, you can just swap the cargo if it is small and valuable. The cargo can be submerged under a pontoon, and you only throw the tow rope from one ship to another. You can even leave the pontoon in the sea, with a small, low power beacon that sends the GPS position, and the other ship will collect it in a few hours. Possibilities are endless. Why would none of that work?

Comment Re:this is going on right now (Score 4, Insightful) 597

there is no ammo box option. it's not an option in a civil society

That is correct. The ammo box is to be used when the society is no longer civil. For example, when your lords and masters tread upon you and enslave you. At one point it had something to do with taxes, at another - with slavery. Thirst for power also works. The society can drop the pretenses of civility very quickly (technically, at any time when civil methods are no longer advantageous.)

shooting people does what? turns you into a target for a manhunt. that's it

Largely yes, it does that. However it also tells others that their actions have consequences. Some people understand only the language of force; you can find many such people in your local MS13 gang - or, as Chris Dorner tells us, at LAPD headquarters. He may be wrong even in theory; and killing people over verbal offenses or over dismissal from a job is a terrible overreaction. He is very likely to be a mental patient because even in his manifesto you can see explosive rage where a reasonable man would record the conversation on his cell phone, then call his lawyer and get rich.

i don't really know why this stupid idea appeals to some people unless you are actually an unhinged individual

Mr. Dorner is unhinged, it is obvious from any one out of the many hints that he provided. Naturally, he is absolutely sure that he is perfectly sane and his actions are "necessary evil." All insane people are sure that they are sane. Half of his manifesto is talking about petty offenses that he was subjected to at work. He then proceeds to make a mountain out of that. A normal person would simply quit and move to a city with better PD, or he would take a different job altogether.

Comment Re:How about the US-Canadian/US-Mexico border? (Score 1) 597

You only think you were unobserved.

It doesn't matter. He bypassed the customs and border guards. He could carry *anything* in his boat - or anyone, to that matter.

However I don't know how could the border guards tell the difference between his boat (that came from the outside of the invisible line) and any boat that never left the US territory. There are thousands of those boats in water on any given day, all moving chaotically and reporting to no one. You cannot tell the difference between the boat that came to LA from Hawaii and the boat that came to LA from San Diego. Even the satellite observation is pointless if two identical boats approach the same point at the border and then "turn around" and go back where they came from. Especially at night. You have to be on site to notice that the boats did not turn around; the only things that did come back were the captain and the vessel's paperwork.

Comment Re:Oh, the surprise. (Score 1) 800

You painted a sad but true picture of a rogue state.

If we had any integrity maybe we could have just publicly retracted our participation in the Geneva convention if we don't want to follow it.

No, "we" don't want to quit Geneva conventions because "we" want others to follow them when some of our soldiers are captured by the enemy. There was a lot of noise made that Iran took a picture of captured UK sailors "in violation of Geneva conventions." (I guess next time Iranians won't bother to prove that they treated their detainees well.)

The question is whether there is even a point trying to live up to a standard of morality and ethics in foreign relations

On an individual level everyone should live up to a standard of morality and ethics. Otherwise bad karma will bite you. Not in a religious sense; gods rarely interfere in human affairs (except FSM, who is always nearby, tweaking your measurements :-) Bad karma comes back just as a reflection of your own bad actions. Sell drugs, be killed by another drug dealer. Go shoot some "brown people" - don't wonder why you got shot up yourself. That's the primary mechanism of karma, and it works very well.

On the national level ... well, accept the fact that you, as a citizen, have no control or even influence over political decisions. You are nothing but a worker ant whose only purpose is to make war materiel for your masters. Humanity knows of only one way to repair the damage; it's in the fourth box at this point.

I would rather live in a country where we had more expensive gasoline than one where we try to be the biggest bully, but maybe I am just naive.

Consider the option of Canada, if you are not afraid of -20C temperatures (at best) in winter. As the exodus picks up (for many reasons, political being the least important) the immigration rules will be tightened. At least you will stop financing killing people all over the world. As things are, you are "running with a machine gun and shooting brown people up" for about two months per year, considering your tax share and the percentage of taxes that directly and indirectly go to the altar of death. You don't have to be a grunt with a rifle; your hands are just as bloody if you buy ammo for the grunt, or even food, so that he can do his job in comfort. Every US taxpayer is guilty of that, and every US voter is guilty of electing a member of the War Party to the throne.

Comment Re:Oh, the surprise. (Score 1) 800

1. Except congress never declared war on Afghanistan or Iraq, and certainly not on Yemen or Pakistan.

Occupying force of armed foreigners on your land, sent by a foreign state, is all the proof of war that anyone needs. Who is giving a desert rat's behind about the fact that Congress hasn't authorized this war, or tens of wars prior?

Unlike wars against other sovereign nations, the enemy "soldiers" in Iraq and Afghanistan are actually also enemies of the local government.

Creative use of puppet governments is an old art. The one in Kabul is hardly the first example. Those puppets are convenient, aren't they? You pull a string and the puppet says what you want it to say.

The Taliban insurgency wouldn't have been possible without sufficient, widespread popular support. Taliban has that support; Karzai does not.

Imagine if China occupies the USA and makes one John Smith, a Chinese citizen, the new President of the USA? Will you obey his orders? The said John will otherwise call you a bad man, and the occupying force will blow you away, no questions asked or answered. Will it be OK with you?

I can't say about Iraq, but Afghanistan does not have a functioning government. It has one Mayor of Kabul and a bunch of warlords all around him, who occasionally say that they want his head on a pike. (At other times they don't say it out loud.) Insurgency is native to Afghanistan, and it is traditional, and it will not go away because a US-educated lawyer tells them so. In a democracy the power belongs to the people. It is interesting to note that Afghanistan, by this definition, is more democratic than the USA.

Comment Re:Oh, the surprise. (Score 1) 800

1. Is what we are doing warfare? why? or why not?

It is warfare because the strikes are done by military, against unspecific targets, without a court order for termination (even if one could be issued,) and in foreign countries. Additionally, warfare is carried out for political goals (removal of threat, for example) before the fact - whereas police actions are carried out to capture criminals after the fact. Police activities are under control of a judge. Military activities are under control of the political authorities - ultimately, under the President's command.

Some say strikes against civilians are terrorism. Perhaps so, and perhaps not. Strikes *specifically* on civilian targets, like those done by Clinton against Serbia, were probably terrorism. Strikes done largely on combatants are not terrorism. Terrorism is defined as warfare against noncombatants to achieve a political goal. There is no political goal to achieve by blowing villagers' huts up.

Most Taliban fighters are not uniformed. It las legal meaning because they have free will to fight. Many guerillas took part in World War II; and many uniformed soldiers fought willingly even when they could desert. IMO if you fight against a state you are at war with that state. A criminal does not fight against the state, and does not attack citizens of that state just because they are citizens. That's where, I think, the dividing line is.

2. Should warfare even be exempt from due process? why? or why not?

Warfare is exempt from due process by millennia of practice and because the soldiers of the enemy are not criminals. They would be criminals (in their own country) if they don't fight against you. They have no free will, in most cases. This is why captured enemy soldiers are not put on trial. They are not guilty. The only legal constraint on warfare is in a few internatonal treaties.

3. Should US citizens be given a level of due process better than non-US citizens?

No. The 5th Amendment uses the word "persons", not "citizens." Any sentient being under US Constitution's jurisdiction is a person. Anything else would open the door to citizens holding foreigners as slaves or as targets for archery practice.

Comment Re:Automation (Score 1) 141

I know this is a joke but have you ever grown a rose bush?

My grandparents did. It was pretty hard, considering the climate (-20C in winter is normal and expected for extended periods of time.) Maybe roses grow like kudzu where you live, but I haven't observed that firsthand.

Comment Re:Not a bad start. (Score 1) 665

the fact that efficiency continues to grow should make us richer, not poorer

This is still possible, if we figure out how to socialize those robotic factories that someone else built with money out of his pocket. Only the transition phase is unclear.

we better find something to do for the "useless" masses in their "spare" time.

And therein lies the problem. Make-work will not do. What idiot would be working - say, rolling a big stone up a mountain - if he doesn't have to? You will get robots that cater to your every whim; you will be living the lazy life. What will happen? You will get a massive crime problem because people always crave for power - or at least for respect, for their well-earned place in the society. Today you can become rich and be respected; you can work hard and be respected. This will not be possible anymore. What remains? There is only one way - you can *force* someone to respect you. Remember the London riots? A group of hooligans forced a man to take his clothes off. This was entirely innocent and harmless, compared to the "knockout king" games that are now popular in all ghettoized locations. Gangs will be forming from young men who have nothing better to do, and gangs will be fighting each other. This is what's coming - millions and millions of young and strong men who have no purpose in life and no motivation whatsoever to do anything productive (there is nothing, actually, that they can contribute - too few can write books or compose music.) Power over other humans is a very strong and addictive feeling. Vandalism will be also widespread, especially because it will be practically not punished - robots will rebuild for free. You may even have problem hiring the police - who is going to walk the beat at night and in rain when there is no damn reason to do that, unless you are one of very few men who will work just because it is the right thing to do. Those men will not last long; their own wives will do a quick job on their priorities in life.

In best case the society will devolve to the level of monkeys who don't need to work, to study, to invent - they have all the food and all the sex within reach. What else the majority will need?

This is the real question, not the technicality of the transition. This problem became apparent in 1970's in USSR. The society was technically prepared for a decent level of socialism, but the humans refused to be good little socialists - they tended to grab a piece here, to steal something there, to skip work elsewhere. Without application of a good whip to the bare backs of those bad workers they wouldn't do anything - and they didn't, and they were given the same social benefits as anyone else. That was ultimately the downfall of the socialist experiment - the tragedy of commons on the scale of a country. You need to find an answer to that before well-fed members of the brave new, robotically maintained world will start burning cities to the ground just for fun. They will do that, I have no doubt. The USA saw enough riots to learn how that works.

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