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Comment Re:And it's only getting better (Score -1) 687

It'll be a while, it currently take more energy to make a solar panel than it can generate in it's lifespan and costs more than coal or nuclear without the subsidies.
And that's not even counting that solar panel production has so much toxic waste associated that it's one of the worst.
That said I do like the potential if we ever find a way to make solar cleaner and cost effective without government (tax payers) money artificially sustaining what would otherwise be an economic failure.


Comment Re:NO NO NO (Score 1, Troll) 687

It can, only problem is last time I checked (a few years ago though) it took about 6 TW of energy to produce solar cells that could deliver that much energy. It also produced more and more highly toxic waste than the same in coal which in turn produces more radioactive contamination than nuclear, which in modern designs is even better and much safer.


Comment Re:Town centers (Score 5, Insightful) 193

Before urbanization, we used to order much of what we bought from catalogs. You could order everything from shoelaces to a prefab house kit from the Sears Catalog, and if you lived in a rural place, you pretty much had to mail-order.

One can argue that the retail shopping experience that we've come to regard as the norm didn't really appear until the middle-class started shopping like the upper class did, where choice became possible and one could actually discriminate between objects to purchase. It's fairly expensive to run a retail store that's packed full of merchandise that lets everyone touch everything. You have to have plenty of floor space. You have to have pretty displays and lots of bright lighting. You have to clean up after the customers. You have to stock things speculatively en masse, and have to discount merchandise that doesn't sell but try to strike a balance between that discounted merch and full-retail prices for other merchandise, lest people not buy your full-price stuff and instead opt for the cheap stuff. And you have to deal with all of the inevitable clashes between your staff and the public, and between members of your staff.

A catalog service does away or shrinks many of these issues. Floorspace and lighting are what's OSHA-mandated. Appearance isn't so much an issue so long as the warehouse is kept tidy enough to avoid damaging the merchandise, and the warehouse can go decades between remodels if it's set up right in the first place. Less staff and no public browsing means no staff-public interaction problems, and if the staff is kept busy pulling and shipping merchandise, less staff-to-staff problems. The warehouse can also actually stock less materials if they want, so if something doesn't sell they don't have as much of it on hand as they might in retail stores, and since online it seems harder to compare this discounted thing with this full-priced thing on a tangible level, it might not even cannibalize full-priced sales.

I like some retail shopping, but sometimes it's really annoying, and I think there's plenty of good in a mail-order or internet-order catalog to make up for the negatives.

Comment Re:Object lesson from the stock market (Score 1) 198

AAPL was elevated to stratospheric heights because of a bubble in their stock. Every hedge fund on the planet was buying it because the price was going up and the price was going up because every hedge fund on the planet was buying it. Its not really useful to compare to a time its stock was at stratospheric heights due to speculators.

On the other hand since Jobs died they do seem to be completely sucking. Hiring Kevin Lynch from Adobe was the most vivid illustration of that I can think of. I wager Jobs would have instantly fired anyone dumb enough to hire that guy.

Its probably an interesting question if those same hedge funds are pushing GOOG to heights greater than it deserves. Android is doing well but its a has a weird business model.

Comment Re:What's next? (Score 2) 68

Japan has been using unmanned helicopters to spray crops for decades. Yamaha makes them, though they are a little expensive. They are extremely good at it, the down wash from the rotor helps spread the spray all through the plants.

UC Davis, if memory serves, has started trials on them in the U.S. recently but the restrictive drone regulatory climate needs to relax a little

Comment Re:"letting you play previously purchased games." (Score 1) 158

Actually, Starbucks provides a service as all food service businesses do. Back in school a teacher in an economics class brought up a case where a man sued a restaurant that refused to provide him with any containers to take his leftovers home. The court ruled that restaurants provide a service, not a good, and that there was no requirement for them to provide him with any means by which to take unconsumed food home.

Assuming that precedent actually exists, you're paying for the service provided to you by Starbucks. Mind you, they intentionally provide the means by which to take the fruits of their service out of the facility as it makes a lot more sense business-wise, but you're buying being-served-coffee moreso than you're buying coffee.

Comment Re:He's been broken on the wheel. (Score 1) 496

Politicians would generally be clueless enough to not grasp that rapidly evolving technology has eliminated the need for human involvment in the analysis part most of the time. A crafty bureaucrat would let them restrict his human staff and point to this as proof for how our civil liberties are being protected.

Meanwhile in the server room the AI's are raping us.

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