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Comment Re:Inflation or Rally? (Score 1) 247

Remember the shovel ready jobs? Never happened.

This varied wildly by state, and even by county within a state. I too remember shovel-ready infrastructure jobs. I remember tons of road construction, which also had signs citing stimulus funds. In the case of my county, they used it to accelerate existing plans to convert a multi-access divided highway into a limited access highway. They built tons of new overpasses and new pavement in new places, with new ramps, ripping out a dozen stoplights in the process, plus putting in a whole new road where there wasn't one before (but the land had been bought years before).

All of this was going to happen anyway, but completion dates for the various phases extended into the 2020s. My county executive is actually competent. They had plans to do the most important thing a government can do—improve the roads—with a sensible budget that was pay-as-you-go so it wouldn't saddle us with a ridiculous debt burden, and they were busily executing this plan before the crash, and would have continued more or less as planned. When the crash yielded stimulus, they grabbed it with both hands and cut 6-8 years off the schedule.

America's multi-tiered governmental system has its good points and bad points. The worst bad point is wildly varying competence levels at the local level across the country. There's lots of places where idiots are in charge, and those idiots, who are idiots because they don't know what government is for, didn't have anything shovel-ready. In those places, yeah, cronies in the financial sector sucked up all the money. Of course they did. Taking candy from a drooling moron who has way too much candy is just too much for some people to pass up. In other places, long-term economically useful things actually got done.


Comment Re: Finally, the gloves will come off! (Score 1) 1055

They were forced to make a custom cake. Which made them active participants in the wedding.

No, it didn't. It made them participants in a wedding reception. Also known as the awkward party where Aunt Gertrude has a few too many martinis and starts macking on the bartender.

There is no cake in wedding ceremonies. There is a distinct absence of cake. Wedding ceremonies do not involve confections of any kind. The baker does not get invited to the wedding, as a rule. The baker is expected to show up at a party that happens to come after a wedding, often not even in the same venue, and deliver a fucking cake. That's all.

These repeated attempts to conflate baking with wedding participation would be funny if they weren't so pathetic. Millenials often get accused of being special snowflakes. These people take being a special snowflake to a whole new level.

Comment Everything wrong with ULA (Score 1) 58

Price out a rocket like buying a car? Seriously? You patterned your buying experience after the worst buying experience known to man? The one everybody in the country loathes? And your competitor also happens to run the only US auto manufacturer that doesn't put you through the horror that is the traditional auto buying experience? I don't even...

Comment Re:Time for the Chinese citizens to start shooting (Score 1) 204

Over and over we have seen asymmetric warfare by untrained citizens with second-hand small arms working against the most powerful armed forces the world has ever seen. Over and over and over.

Uhm. What? Over and over we have seen asymmetric warfare by untrained citizens with second-hand small arms barely able to even annoy the most powerful armed forces the world has ever seen, armed forces which are more operationally constrained than any occupying force in history, to the point they are forced to act like nothing more than unusually well-armed police.

At no time have the operations of the most powerful armed forces in the world retreated or even lost anything significant without the express order of politicians. Bombers roam the skies with impunity. Tanks roam the streets with impunity. Even foot soldiers by and large go where they like, intrude where they like, arrest whom they like. The only times they have trouble, it's because the politicians have forbidden them to roam the streets in tanks.

Make no mistake, if Americans once again resort to civil war, it will be total war.

"...should guerrillas or bushwhackers molest our march, or should the inhabitants burn bridges, obstruct roads, or otherwise manifest local hostility, then army commanders should order and enforce a devastation more or less relentless according to the measure of such hostility."

Such orders have not been given since World War II, and the results are enlightening:

We are not only fighting armies, but a hostile people, and must make old and young, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war, as well as their organized armies. I know that this recent movement of mine through Georgia has had a wonderful effect in this respect. Thousands who had been deceived by their lying papers into the belief that we were being whipped all the time, realized the truth, and have no appetite for a repetition of the same experience.

Letter, Sherman to Henry W. Halleck, December 24, 1864.

We're living in a post-factual world they say. Sure. Just like the Confederate states were. It's a lovely, comforting world to be sure. Right up until the truth shows up on your doorstep on the point of a bayonet.

Comment Re:This isn't even the first Republican (Score 1) 314

Revoke their clearances. At which point they're no longer eligible for any government post that requires a security clearance... or any position with a civilian government contractor that requires a security clearance.

And provoke a constitutional crisis if the person won't resign and their appointer won't fire them. There's language in the Constitution describing the heads of departments of the executive branch, the people currently titled "Secretary", and it gives them sweeping authority to act on behalf of the president. But nowhere in it is a security clearance required, and its lack is no impediment to doing the job (legally).

Our current system automatically grants clearance to members of all three branches of the federal government who require classified information to do their constitutionally designated jobs, even if they would not have otherwise been granted a clearance. It was said repeatedly that no one would have given Bill Clinton a clearance if they didn't have to. But they had to. There is currently no option to withdraw a clearance from a President or a Cabinet official or a Congressman on a security committee. The US Constitution doesn't leave any wiggle room there. If you are elected to the position or appointed and confirmed to the position, you have the explicit constitutional authority to do the job, regardless of what the spooks think of you.

Importantly, there is no Constitutional description of a classification system, or classified information in general. US classified information was created by executive order, and its sole constitutional justification is contained wholly within the constitutionally granted authority of the Office of the President.

Comment Re: No (Score 1) 278

Take a potato harvester it does a fairly good job of picking up potatoes but it also picks up mud and rocks there is usually a team of around 4 people riding on the back pulling off mud and rocks to avoid carrying half the field back to the sheds then the crates filled on the field go on to a grader which sizes the potatos and again there is a team of people removing more mud and rocks. you can't automate that.

Used to be. Many forms of automation in past decades have depended on physics to do discrimination jobs. For instance, (and topically), ripeness of cranberries is established with a bounce test. An overripe berry doesn't bounce high enough, and is therefore physically rejected. More commonly, (and without the holiday tie-in), everything that happens inside a combine harvester of grain is based on physics. Wheat and chaff are separated by exploiting their physical differences. Same for corn and husk. But a potato and a rock the right size are harder to distinguish physically without an unacceptably high rate of potato destruction.

We've pretty much reached the limit of easily exploited physical differences like that, so we're now using more and more processing power instead. Your crisp processing machine already contains the leading edge of that, using a color sensor to detect burnt crisps. The machine that can distinguish between a clod of dirt and a potato will contain a neural network trained to the task. The hardware required to efficiently train such a large neural network and the hardware required to successfully execute such a large neural network has finally been commoditized. A LOT of things are going to change because of that. Machine discrimination is entering a whole new era which was formerly the exclusive domain of humans.

Very hard for a machine to identify a nettle from a lettuce someones got to pick that out. As my old mam used to say the cheapest robot is the human being.

Used to be. Not anymore.

Comment Re:What I don't get (Score 1) 736

It's like you guys are grown in pods like orcs in "Lord of the Rings" and released into the wild in batches.

What a weirdly specific analogy. That analogy looks hand-crafted for use against Slashdot users, who might actually recognize it, as opposed to most of the rest of the world, who wouldn't get it.

You're trying too hard, Coward.

Comment Re:look who's talking (Score 1) 736

As for Musk, of course, he is a major crony capitalist; his business wouldn't exist without massive government support.

You seem to think that any business which takes advantage of government incentives involves cronyism. You are wrong. Elon Musk is the exact opposite of a crony capitalist. Elon Musk wasn't supposed to happen at all. He grew up in South Africa, and wasn't even a US Citizen until 2002. He had no US cronies whatsoever because he didn't live here, and he had no South African cronies because he was severely bullied as a child, to the point of being thrown down stairs and beaten unconscious. He was beaten by a bully and his cronies, which doesn't happen to people who have cronies of their own.

Elon Musk is an upstart immigrant entrepreneur who succeeded despite the best efforts of the crony capitalists to prevent it. Those automotive incentives Tesla Motors has taken advantage of were meant for GM and Ford, purely as window-dressing. GM and Ford were trying to greenwash themselves, and firmly believed that in their capital-intensive industry no brand new company could possible grow big enough to compete with them and actually qualify for those subsidies. The NTSHA safety testing regime was meant to be too difficult and too expensive for any tiny little startup to afford, let alone pass, let alone pass with a better rating than anything GM or Ford had on the road.

The people who run GM and Ford got together with their friends from prep school (their cronies) who had been elected to government to do a little harmless PR so they could fend off the environmentalist lobby a few more years. They knew no one was going to actually use those incentives because they knew they were the only ones big enough to be able to use them and they had already agreed not to actually use them at all. But it's illegal in the US to pass laws to benefit or harm specifically named entities, be they natural or artificial persons, so the law had to be written nominally generically, as these things always are, but with attempts at specificity that should have excluded anyone but the intended recipients. That's how actual crony capitalism works. Elon Musk was never supposed to be able to use that money, and especially not to use that money to prove that GM and Ford are liars when they had spent the previous three decades claiming it's impossible to make an electric car people would want to buy.

It's even worse with SpaceX. Before the creation of SpaceX, the United Launch Alliance was an illegal monopoly launch provider who had managed to push the price of a single rocket launch up to nearly half a billion dollars, so far in excess of actual expenses as to be ludicrous, and effectively affordable only by the US government. When SpaceX got permission to launch their first Falcon 1 rocket from Vandenberg, ULA intentionally delayed the launch of a Titan IV they had on a nearby pad for more than a year, trying to starve SpaceX out. Elon Musk figured it out, took down his rocket, stuffed it into an airplane, and flew it to the Kwajalein Atoll in the South Pacific to use the launch range there, which was too small for Titans and mostly ignored by ULA, and so safe from their machinations. To that point, Elon Musk had spent $90 million of his own money and $0 of any government money to develop the rocket.

The first Falcon launches were paid for by DARPA under a program to test new entrants into the market, but they paid only for the launches, not for the development of the rocket. And again, that program was never supposed to be used. ULA didn't qualify for it and knew that no one was going to challenge them in an extremely tightly regulated and capital intensive market. They let that program be created so they would have something to point to when people like me accused them of being an illegal monopoly. No one was ever supposed to use that money. Their cronies in government had assured them that no one could. When someone actually did, ULA panicked and tipped their hand, rushing to their cronies in the US Air Force, who agreed to sign an $11 billion sole source contract in 2014 in order to lock SpaceX out of the most lucrative parts of the government market. SpaceX filed suit in court, challenging the contract's legality. Justice Department cronies of ULA filed for dismissal. Turns out the judge was not a ULA crony, and denied the motion for dismissal. Air Force cronies of ULA then said SpaceX isn't qualified because they haven't been certified for national security launches. Guess who certifies for national security launches? ULA cronies in the US Air Force, who sat on SpaceX's certification paperwork for six months, before finally proceeding with and certifying SpaceX.

Elon Musk is not a crony capitalist. Elon Musk has been going up against crony capitalists in everything he does, and beating them at their own game.

Comment Re: Buuuuuullshit (Score 1) 736

Over-represented in the House? How is that even possible?

Gerrymandering of state voting districts where left-leaning regions are carefully split up into chunks small enough to be grouped with right-leaning regions (usually rural) that just slightly outnumber them in terms of likely voters. A huge swath of suburban America has been effectively disenfranchised this way, unable to elect a House representative that actually represents their views. Only city centers are densely left-leaning enough to preclude such shenanigans. It's gotten so bad that voting districts in some states are actually discontiguous in order to overwhelm the left-leaning vote.

Comment Re:Do No Evil (Score 1) 236

But what happens in 12 months? 24 months? The distribution needs to be maintained and updated and that takes resources and costs money. The business model will become stretched to include that indefinitely, so the only practical way is to use subscriptions, which many don't like.

I have a vague recollection of a company covered here on Slashdot that tried to do this by selling preconfigured hardware, a true turnkey solution. Profit margins on the gear was supposed to fund ongoing software maintenance, together with leveraging existing supported projects like ownCloud.

It sounded like a good idea and a viable business plan. Evidently it wasn't, because I've been unable to unearth any hint of its existence in my searches today.

Might have been just a proposal.

Comment Social problem, not technical (Score 1) 230

As is so frequently the case, you're trying to solve a social problem with a purely technical solution. Would such a device work? Of course. Would many of the dozens of existing router products work, if properly configured? Yes. Does any of this matter? No. People don't care what devices on their network are doing as long as they appear to mostly be doing what they want. If they're doing other things, people are completely oblivious, and get petulant if you point out their ignorance.

The only market-driven solution is for Apple to make an IoT router and instruct all their fanboys to buy it for $400. ($600 for the gigabit capable one.)

The only real solution is the same as for every other tragedy of the commons. But that requires a competent legislature interested in doing its job, rather than a rabble of moronic sycophants of industry only competent at being elected.

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