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Comment A red light grace period is the wrong answer (Score 1) 254

If the problem is that drivers don't have enough time when driving the speed limit to safely slow to a stop when they see a yellow light, the solution is not to allow them some go-time when the light is red. The correct solution is to extend the length of time of the yellow light.
Yellow light does not mean speed up so you don't get stuck at a red light. Yellow light is an instruction to come to a steady stop before the intersection if speed and distance allow. This requires a light to be yellow for the appropriate length of time. Fix that (perhaps it already is), and let the ticketing commence. Some day drivers will recognize that ensuring that accelerating to make the light puts other people in danger, or at the very least, hits 'em in the wallet.

Comment Re:Obligatory XKCD (Score 4, Informative) 498

It's worth pointing out that XKCD's pretense that four random words are easy to memorize was based on them choosing four easy to memorize words. If I just have /usr/share/dict/words pull up random words for me, here's the first five passwords it comes up with:

It's a good thing that XKCD's Munro doesn't choose four random words from /usr/share/dict/words then, isn't it? The cartoon shows 11 bits of entropy associated with each word. That means a dictionary size of 2^11: about 2000 words. (In contrast, a typical /words file might have a hundred thousand entries. That's fifty-fold larger, so you get about 5.5 extra bits per word, but would indeed lead to the utterly useless output you've shown.)

The General Service List contains the top 2000ish most-often used words in the English language. I used the version compiled in 1995 and found here, mostly because it was the first version I could grab online. Pulling random words from the first 2000 entries, the four words I got (on my first three passes) were:
competition behave exact toward
experiment miserable there lord
spare page circle rabbit

Right out of the box, it's not what I would call a disaster, though a few of the words are a bit cumbersome, length-wise. (For reference, your /usr/share/dict/words selection only contains one word - "weave" - from the GSL.) If you started from, say, the top 5000 words, you could probably cut it down to a 2000-word list where every entry was non-obscure, had between 4 and 8 letters (the average word in the GSL has a length of 5.8 letters), avoided difficult-to-spell words, and eliminated similar-sounding words.

Comment Re:Interesting story (Score 4, Informative) 553

No commercial airline flight is 24 hours. There used to be a 19 hour one for a Singapore to New York flight but that's no longer in service.

The Mashable report quoted in the Slashdot summary uses a slightly different phrasing from the original LinkedIn report. The LinkedIn article actually says "after having spent 24 hours cramped in an economy seat on Qatar Airways".

Poking around a bit on Kayak, I see a bunch of Qatar Airways itineraries from Lagos, Nigeria (LOS) to JFK that involve three segments, with stops in Doha, Qatar (DOH) and western Europe (CDG, FCO, MAN, etc.). Total travel time is 27 or 28 hours, with nominal times in flight adding up to about 23 hours. Add an hour in a holding pattern somewhere (or queued up for takeoff on a taxiway, or waiting for a gate to open up), and the poor guy could easily have spent 24 hours in an economy-class seat on his way to JFK. Yeah, the phrasing's a bit sneaky since he would have had a couple of short "intermissions" to stretch his legs...but still, if we figure he arrived at LOS two hours before his flight, he would have been stuck in the international air transport system for better (worse?) than thirty hours all told.

Comment Re:Let's go even further! (Score 1) 181

No upper management. And no board. Now that is a scary thought. How would companies run without people in charge? We need someone there don't we?

Well, the Swedish approach was to look at the individual job responsibilities of the CEO, and determine if all of those functions could readily be absorbed by other people or bodies within the company (where they weren't already overlapping - and sometimes conflicting - anyway). So if you want to go ahead and do the systematic hard work, there's nothing that prevents you from figuring out which positions could (or should) be eliminated, with their responsibilities reallocated to other staff.

Of course, it's waaaaay easier to just go the observational humor route and declare "Hey, everything is so much better in the office when the boss is away, amiright? Let's get rid of 'em all!" So, kudos for that contribution.

More seriously, I see a couple of obvious gaps that you would need to fill, right off the top. For one, you need to develop some mechanism for larger-scale strategic direction. In the Swedish company discussed, that role was filled by the company's board of directors. For another, you need to have some sort of framework for handling civil and criminal liability issues when someone eventually screws up. Where does the buck stop, ethically and legally?

Comment On building permits (Score 1) 386

95% of all building permits in SF were denied last year

I'm not disagreeing with the theme of your post, but a question about the building permits: does that mean that 95% of applicants didn't build, or that 95% of applicants needed some kind of zoning relief or design review, and some fraction of that 95% did in fact build after a process that was more thorough, more expensive, more challenging, and more inclusive of the opinion of abutters? I'm not arguing good or bad, just curious about the facts. Where I live, most building permits are initially denied, but most of the applicants eventually build their structure anyway, albeit with closer oversight than they would have had they been able to build "by right."

Comment Re:Free Motorcycles (Score 1) 295

Like I said, one can fiddle with the numbers to swing the accounting a fair bit in one direction or the other. As you've demonstrated, if one makes optimistic assumptions about the age of the donor and maximizes the number of recipients by assuming a strict one-organ-per recipient (include just one lung at a time, and no multiple-organ transplants--bear in mind that the vast majority of pancreas transplants are actually pancreas-kidney, for example) and 100% organ recovery and transplantation, one can choose to make the math give you the result you're looking for.

It's very sticky if you want to score tissues that aren't necessarily lifesaving or for which artificial or animal alternative sources exist. (It's ethically problematic to suggest, for example, that more dead motorcyclists are a good thing because it will improve the supply of cadaveric ACL replacements, especially given that many patients could instead receive an autograft of their own tissue.)

It doesn't help that you're neglecting the last and most important part of my comment acknowledging that a very substantial fraction of potential organs won't be converted into actual transplants: helmetless motorcyclists who die too far from care or too quickly for their organs to be recovered; ones who have communicable diseases, malignancies, or other medical conditions that exclude them from donation; and so forth. (Going forward, helmet laws will only be suspended if you're over 40, free of hepatitis and HIV infection, have recently been screened for cancer, and are biking in an area with excellent ambulance service within 1 hour of a major transplant center. Hmmm...) Each dead motorcyclist is only "worth" 60 years multiplied by the fraction of viable organ recoveries--which probably comes out to well under 50%.

Finally, we're using "accounting" in a couple of different ways, here. I was using it purely to refer to life-years saved or lost. If we actually want to look at dollars and cents, it gets really ugly really fast. In the United States, the total billable costs for a heart transplant (including 30 days of pre-operative screening and prep, organ procurement, the transplant operation itself, and the subsequent 6-month period of recovery and rehab) comes out to about a million bucks. A single lung or a liver transplant are both well over half a million apiece. Kidneys are well clear of the quarter million mark.

From a purely financial perspective, it's waaaaay less costly to just let the motorcyclist survive and the potential transplant recipients die in a few months or a year, rather than let them be brutally expensive surgeries with steep and ongoing maintenance costs. Amortizing that heart transplant over the likely life of the recipient (or the transplanted organ) runs a hundred grand plus per year. Oh, and don't forget the cost of care and rehab for all those brain-damaged motorcyclists who don't manage to actually die from their head injuries....

Comment Re:Free Motorcycles (Score 1) 295

I've said for years that helmet laws probably costs lives.

Maybe, but not necessarily. It depends a lot on your accounting. A 20-year-old dumbass male might expect to have around 60 years ahead of him, most of which will be time spent in good health.

His kidneys will probably last about 10 years in each of their recipients, so count 20 years "saved" total.

The median survival time for heart transplant recipients is also about 10 years.

Liver transplants tend to do particularly well; the median survival is closer to 20 years.

Lungs are a lot pickier; the median is closer to 5 years, but is steadily improving.

Add that all up, and we're just shy of breaking even (55 life-years for the recipients, versus 60 life-years lost by the motorcyclist). On can fiddle with the parameters to swing things a bit either way. In some cases, the liver can be split into two lobes; the larger right lobe goes to an adult and the smaller left lobe to a child recipient. Some recipients only need a single-lung transplant, so one pair of lungs can go to two recipients. And we're getting better at keeping transplanted organs functional for longer. And, of course, some dead motorcyclists are 40-year-olds having a mid-life crisis.

On the flip side, some recipients may need multiple organs (heart-lung, heart-liver, etc.).

More important, not all organs will be viable--not every helmet-less fatality leads to a full complement of usable donor organs. For reasons of underlying disease or quirks of the donor's physiology, it may not be possible to transplant some organs. The fatal motorcycle accident may damage some other organs beyond repair. The accident may even occur in a location or under circumstances where none of the organs can be recovered for donation. That is going to tip the scales a long way against the "benefit" of more brain-dead motorcyclists.

Frankly, we have more than enough cadavers now; what we need is for more of them to donate their organs. Presumed consent (an opt-out rather than opt-in) system would be far more effective than suspending helmet laws.

Comment Bush and Trump? (Score 1) 131

Trump got roughly 4.6 million votes in Florida. There are just shy of 20M Floridians. The typical Floridian didn't vote at all.

But even if we restrict ourselves to people who voted in at least 2000 or 2016 in Florida, I suspect that there are few Floridians who voted for both Bush and Trump.
  1. 1. Loads of Bush voters are no longer alive 16 years later.
  2. 2. Similar to (1), loads of Trump voters weren't yet 18 years old sixteen years ago.
  3. 3. Plenty of Floridians were 18+ for both elections, but didn't vote for Bush and Trump, or failed to vote in one election or the other.

I'd be surprised if 10 percent of Floridians (2M out of 20M) voted for both Bush and Trump.

Comment Re:We already have one. (Score 1) 635

That argument makes no sense. This planet cannot sustain 7 billion people, especially as more and more try to mimic Western lifestyles. It doesn't matter a whit if the population isn't going to double again. It doesn't matter a whit if the population doesn't grow at all. Seven billion is too many. Four billion is too many if we want everyone to enjoy a Western standard of living.

Comment A la carte please (Score 3, Interesting) 77

I don't want a year or a month of MLB. I want to buy by the game. Charge me a buck or two for a single ball game. No monthly or annual fee (above the Amazon Prime fee), and let me just watch what I want, when I want, and pay for just that. Hell, I'll throw in an extra buck per game if you fill the "ad space" time with a single Amazon ad and then run sports highlights during the teevee timeouts.

Comment TMTOWTDI (Score 1) 137

What needs to be done is build more newer cities and job opportunities in them (cheaper outsourcing anyone?) so the infrastructure in the bigger cities gets a chance to catch up.

That's one way to do it. Another is to look at what's causing the emissions upwind and curb them. Could be power plants. Could be dirt roads. Could be the burning of all the litter/household trash. Could be two stroke engines. Now do two things: 1. implement (stricter) standards on pollutants for new equipment, and 2. work on retrofitting existing equipment to tighter emissions standards.

You don't need a new city to require motorcycles that pollute less or to improve the electric grid to burn less coal in central steam plants and less diesel fuel at local gensets.

Comment Cost to operate (Score 1) 344

That's helpful, but you've failed to include fixed operations and maintenance (O&M), fuel, variable O&M, and, most important perhaps for nuclear, ongoing capital expenditures (capex) necessary to keep the thing running. We're seeing nuclear units retiring in America right now because the $30/MWh they make on the energy market isn't enough to cover their per-unit-energy ongoing costs. When you include the ongoing costs to keep them running, it's far less obvious that new nuclear power plants will be money makers. Even less obvious is that they will make more money than a combined cycle gas plant, a wind farm, or a solar farm.

Comment Who's average? (Score 1) 115

Where do you think the power for that electric car comes from? 75% of that power on average comes from burning coal.

Who's average? The percentage of electricity generation fueled by coal in 2015 was 38%. (EIA source, with trend) Even regionally, electricity generation from coal sources exceeded 50% in only one region in 2015 -- the Northern Plans, which represent an area defined in the north by North Dakota to Wisconsin, by the south from Kansas to Illinois (excluding Chicago Land), and less than 10% of total generation in tUSA. And even in the Northern Plains, it was less than 75%. Please show up with data and facts, not horse apples.

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