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Comment Re:Constitution free zone (Score 1) 622

I think that maps out of date. Remember you need to include the area around every "international airport". I would guess that this means closer to 2/3 of US citizens live in such areas. And that may well be an underestimate already. But they can expand it ad lib by granting an airport the right to have, say, an Canadian carrier land there. (It doesn't need to actually land there, just have the right to.)

Comment Re:All Hail Glorious Leader Obummer! (Score 2) 622

You don't understand the problem at all. Liberal and Conservative are camoflage suits worn by politicians.

Yes, Obama is breaking the law (mainly as an accessory before the fact). But he's able to do this because of the precedents set by Bush. That's what the cycle has been for (at least) decades. The Republicans extend the power of the government, but don't dare use that power because of the opposition (at least apparently). While the Republicans are in power the Democrats vilify their mad power grabs. Then the Democrats take power, and rather then repealing the extension of power, they use the powers that have been granted to them by their predecessors.

In this case, however, it sounds like the actual criminal actions were performed by the Maryland police. (With various TSA personnel accessories before the fact.) I expect that Obama is only an accessory after the fact...and even that hasn't yet been proven. He may decline to support this action.

Comment Re:Still Bad Patents (Score 1) 162

You can call it "sweat of the brow" if you want to, but that's not a reasonable description of, say, drug testing. First you need to invent a possible new drug. Then you need to test it on a large number of people. etc. This involves very significant up-front costs. It isn't that it's more inventive, it's that it's a lot more expensive to get it to the working stage.

OTOH, by this criterion no drug should actually be granted a patent until after it has FDA approval. I agree that if you are allowed to patent a drug before getting FDA approval, then you don't meet the target. But note that I still would reject many drug patents on "obviousness" ground. E.g., if selling a pill with a drug mixed with asprin to achieve the effects of taking the two pills separately, then you don't meet the "obviousness" criteria, even though you still need to fulfill all the drug testing requirements.

Comment Re:You prove the point (Score 2) 947

I agree completely. I do precisely the same thing. I generally assumed that most motorists are criminally incompetent idiots. I know this is incorrect, and that the vast majority of motorists are good, law-abiding citizens and competent drivers who are aware of their surroundings. But when you're sharing the road with someone driving a 5 ton metal box at 3-4x your speed, assuming they're a moron can save your life.

Not to defend idiot drivers, because there are plenty of them around, but cyclists can be difficult to see in numerous situations even under ideal weather/visibility condidtions. This is made worse when they're where they don't belong (weaving between cars, zipping into crosswalks and using them as a left-turn lane in states which allow right-on-red (NYC doesn't, much of NY does, and IL does, including Chicago except where marked), riding against traffic, moving erratically from using the sidewalk as a bike highway to cutting into traffic, often from in front of a parked truck or SUV that effectively hides there existence, etc. etc. etc.

If cyclists were required to hold a valid drivers license, obey the rules of the road, and it were enforced at least as well as it is against cars, with the same consequences (such as points on your license for running red lights, etc.), then a whole lot less cyclists would die, irrespective of whether the accident "blame" is placed on the automobile driver for not having x-ray vision and going 5 miles over the 30MPH limit, or on the cyclist for driving like an idiot.

I cycle around the city plenty, and it can get dicey, and there are drivers that need several hard whacks with a clue-bat, but they are dwarfed by the idiocy of other cyclists I observe every often as not against other cyclists.

Comment Re:Still Bad Patents (Score 4, Insightful) 162

Not saying anything you have said is wrong, but the current system is SO bad that we would be much better off without ANY patents.

A part of the problem has to do with "obviousness". If two people are looking at a problem, it's unlikely that either will find a non-obvious solution. If 100 are looking at the problem, lots of "non-obvious" solutions will be found. If 1,000 people are looking, not only will lots of "non-obvious" solutions be found, but there will be lots of independent duplication. And patents pick an arbitrary winner, which is grossly unfair.

The only time that patents seem to me to be justified is where there are truly significant up-front costs. Drug tests are one example. Even there, it shouldn't be possible to retire a product from the market and also prevent anyone else from making it. And yes, I know that what I'm proposing isn't perfect either. But it would be much less bad, and might well even have a net social benefit.

Comment Re:The fine wasn't all of the punishment (Score 1) 192

You are right that those who are in the market to gamble have no reason to gripe. OTOH, I also feel they have no business in the market. Let them play the lottery, or poker.

Still, I'll agree that the market is clearly not something that a sensible investor should get into without VERY deep pockets.

FWIW, I think it should be illegal to sell a (particular) stock more than once an hour. Either that, or there should be a strongly progressive tax on each trade, with the rate of taxation depending on how long you have had the stock. 0% if you've held it 5 years, 100% if you've held it less than a microsecond, and smooth and without an inflection point in between. I tend to think it should be quadratic, but I can see value in making it linear (and then you might consider a negative tax if you hold it for longer than 5 years).

The stock market should be for investment, NOT gambling.

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 1) 530

The universe clearly has a large number of points within it where results are sensitive to initial conditions. And the results interact. This is clearly true in, say, the genetic code, to pick something below human scale, in the spin of a die, to pick something at human scale, and in the multi-body problem, to pick something larger than human scale.

They don't need to be random to be unpredictable. Note that the time scale tends to be inverse to the size scale. so we appear to be able to predict planetary orbits, but we can't project them indefinitely into the future. 100,000 years is not a problem, but a few million is. We have reason to believe that at some point the Earth's orbit will become unstable, and it will either leave the solar system or be swallowed by the sun (presuming the sun doesn't change)...but we can't tell either which, or exactly how long it will take. But it won't be within a couple of million years, unless there's an effect from outside the solar system. (If Nemesis existed, it might produce such an effect, but it appears to not exist, and it's arguably outside the solar system.)

Comment The best way to make cycling safer (Score 5, Insightful) 947

The best way to make cycling in major cities safer would be to

1) require a drivers license to cycle on city streets
2) require cyclists to obey all traffic laws (this is already true in many jurisdictions)
3) disallow cyclists (and motorcycles) from weaving between lanes to move ahead in traffic. Require them to use lanes in the same manner as other vehicles (you don't see 2 smart cars trying to share one lane of traffic)
4) enforce #1, #2 and #3 as aggressivley with cyclists as with automobiles, with the same penalties

I have seen more pedestrians run down (or nearly run down) by cyclists running red lights, weaving in and out of slow moving traffic, transitioning from using the streets to using pedestrian crosswalks to thwart lights or make lefts from a right hand lane across traffic. I cannot count the number of times I've seen aggressive cyclists in New York and Chicago weave through cars, use the wrong side of the road (!!!), etc. and then get upset when someone nearly knocks them over because they weren't seen being where they didn't belong.

If you require a level of competence (driver's license), require all vehicles using the roads to abide by the same laws (and enforce equally, with equal consequences), you'd go a long way toward improving cycling safety.

Comment Re:NSA (Score 1) 267

I think you don't understand insect colonies very well. Just because one particular insect is called the Queen, doesn't mean she has any control. Generally she has less control than do the workers, even at an individual level.

Of course, you *could* be asserting this about the heads of state, but it didn't sound like it.

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