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Comment Power is the missing discussion in economics (Score 2) 212

Capitalism is a great system for allocating capital, when well regulated. Otherwise, it becomes a winner-take-all game, as economic power, begets more economic and political power, in a reinforcing feedback loop.

Markets are a great economic system, but a really crappy religion. Will it be power of economic and political winners that takes us down, or will it be computers and robots who forget the three laws?

If we're going to continue on with some semblance of democratic citizen rule we need to understand and embrace the discussion about power .

Comment Re:They are forced to (Score 1) 404

It would be, if there really were competition. As with so much in the U.S., this industry is dominated by a few giants. If there were 5000 companies or even 20 to choose from, we could see real competition. How is it that texting still costs more than voice, when it's a fraction of a percent of the data volume and quality concern? Oligopoly, baby! It's the American way! It will continue to be so, as long as we refuse to enforce antitrust laws, allow corruption of money in politics, and allow for regulatory capture by wealthy corporations.

Comment Re:the only long term solution is solar (Score 1) 143

Almost true, but not quite 99.9%. Solar is king, ultimately, but Geothermal is a princely addition, and tidal might be interesting. Really, ALL of our power comes down to concentrated solar (wind, wave, fossil, PV, thermal...), gravity (tidal), geothermal (natural radioactive decay), or nuclear fission. The dark horse here is geothermal, which is massive compared to our needs, and is available most anywhere--not limited to Idaho and Wyoming, as many might think.

Comment Inevitable Slippery Succession of Events (Score 1) 610

1. Invention (RFID, GPS, ...)

2. Headlines: Big child scare or threat or actual harm: MANY MANY children were kidnapped or lost last year!!!!

3. Voluntary application: Get your kid chipped, and we'll be able to reconnect you or let you know where they are! Safer, with peace of mind!

4. Coerced application: For your child's safety, to your child must get chipped.

5. Mandatory: This has turned out to be a pretty good idea. In order to claim your child tax deduction, fly on an airplane, vote, e.g, you must have an SSN and RFID #.

6. Generation 1 accomplished.

7. Repeat.

Inevitable? Yes, unless our trajectory drastically changes. Police are now using portable fingerprint scanning devices ($300?) per copy. Why not an RFID scanner?

Comment Re:I thought these were pretty much known already (Score 1) 414

Interesting timing. I was just talking with my wife about how amazing it is that a 10 or 11 year old kid in the outfield can solve this problem in the outfield in the moments after a ball is hit, and then run to that position to catch the ball. There is a lot of correction happening until the catch, but the main calculation is pretty quick. Also note that most kids step IN as their first reaction, even when it's going to be over their heads, but the good ones do not, and they track the ball amazingly well.

This includes top & bottom spin, lateral spin (slice & hook) on the ball, and other interesting complexity. While the visual pickup and transfer to the computer are very difficult for a computer, it is bordering on trivial for a competent ball player.

Comment Re:Open Tax Solver (Score 1) 387

I have a simple solution that would make nearly ALL of this go away.

Create a new "File Under Constrained Key, Yourself" rule that states that ANY and EVERY person responsible for creating or modifying tax law, regulation or code shall file such taxes without benefit of professional help or outside reference besides the tax forms themselves (contrained key).

I imagine the tax code would become simple faster than you could say, "Go F*** Yourself!" The name could be our little inside joke, but the principle is completely serious.

Comment Re:They aren't wrong (Score 2) 720

like saying breathing is a sign of being a terrorist, because terrorists breathe.

What you're referring to is really Positive Predictive Value of a test. When you have a low percentage of actual positives (terrorists, in this case) in a population, and a something less than 100% PPV test, then NEARLY ALL of those caught in the dragnet are false positives.

The insidious part is that nearly every target, being a false positive, is not just that a waste of resources to pursue, but that to the extent false suspects are hassled, they may become irritated resisters or sympathizers, fraying the fabric of a watchful citizenry. If I'm falsely suspected, hassled, randomly selected for special screening every time I fly, and treated like a bad guy, I'm going to be far less likely to want to help the "good guys." If you're legitimately trying to catch criminals and terrorists, casting a wide, intrusive net (like suspecting those who want privacy or those who breathe) only makes the job more difficult and less effective.

Comment Re:Lets keep E85, but.. (Score 1) 556

Corn-based fuels should never have been considered as and end-game. The whole point is to build out the infrastructure while R&D drives us to next-gen feedstocks such as cellulosic or algae. Hemp has been mentioned as well, but folks tend to think about the oils (and other fringe benefits?) more than the cellulosic angle, which is probably more important. If we hang our heads and call it a scam or a failure, it means we've lost sight of this as a stepping stone to a potentially highly sustainable fuels end game. I don't think we can *afford* to abandon the vision. What's the alternative, with peak oil crossing increasing global demand? Suck it out of sensitve areas of the arctic? THAT is a predictable failure before it begins. We cannot outrun the numbers on petroleum, and we cannot deal with climate change effectively unless we confront this. We MUST work through the next stage in the game plan.

Comment Re:Still continues to be an asshole (Score 1) 576

When I was a kid, someone once told me something I never forgot: "No matter how 'bad' someone thinks they are, one day they're going to run into someone who is much more 'bad.' If they think they're the baddest guy around, that will be a *very* bad day for them."

Seems Christoforo used to think he was the baddest guy around.

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