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Comment Re:It's not a race with freaken robots!! (Score 1) 373

Yes, manufacturers want to cut costs to increase profit margins, but they would also be compelled to pass a portion of those cost reductions on to their customers or risk losing market share.

Consider the worldwide oil market. Once an oil well is sunk and all the parts installed, it is a robot. There is zero human labor involved even in maintenance, for years at a time. The only expenses are electricity, possible royalties to a property owner, and taxes. Electricity is dirt cheap, royalties are routinely cheated, and taxes are obviously avoided almost completely. So running an existing oil well is extremely cheap to do. So cheap that almost any price per barrel is profitable.

But when Saudi Arabia realized this and cranked up their production, driving oil prices down from $100/barrel to $40/barrel, what did other producers do? Even though they were still profitable, they still shut down their robots and stopped pumping oil. Were they unprofitable? No. Income minus operating expenses was still a positive number. It was just a much smaller number. So no, they do not pass on cost reductions to their customers. They prefer to lose market share if they don't get the amount of profit they believe they deserve.

The model of humans that economists use is completely and totally divorced from reality. Humans don't think the way economists say they do. Not even close.

Comment Re:Lots of risk, little reward (Score 1) 166

That's why pretty much all the U.S. launch vehicles are actually modified ballistic missiles. They were designed (by the private sector under contract) with the goal of dropping bombs on places halfway around the world. And NASA got to re-use that tech at a price heavily subsidized by military R&D.

Historically this was true. The situation has now, bizarrely, reversed. NASA is being used to artificially keep Thiokol alive because they manufacture the solid fuel rockets that are ICBMs, but the Air Force hasn't been allowed to buy more ICBMs since the Clinton era. This is why the Senate Launch System is "architected" the way it is.

Trump has been making noises about the poor condition of our nuclear deterrent. If he gets his way, the Air Force will be able to replace a bunch of missiles directly, and NASA can stop pretending they ever wanted solid fuel boosters for anything.

Comment Re: Can't blame NASA (Score 1) 166

Are you ok blaming Trump for the same things you defend Obama on?

If you agree Trump is no more to blame than Obama, then ok. If not then time to self reflect.

Trump is no more to blame than Obama today. It's only March, after all. There still isn't a Trump administration to blame yet, since their takeover is in such a shambles.

But by the time of the mid-term elections in 2018? Yep, his fault by then. Why? Because he's the leader of the party that controls both houses of Congress.

I managed to type that with a straight face. Ok, we can't ever blame Trump for the F-35 or the SLS. We both know he is only the titular leader of the Republican party, not the actual leader. We both know they don't like him and don't want him and have no intention of ever listening to him. Trump had no idea what he was letting himself in for. He's going to be blamed for everything, while having control of almost nothing. Congress doesn't like him, doesn't respect him, and doesn't believe in anything he believes in, lip service to the contrary. He's going to get even less traction than Hillary Clinton would have, since she knew where the bodies were buried and he doesn't. If he wasn't such a childish, self-aggrandizing prick, I'd feel sorry for him.

Comment Re:Nonsense about the defense budget (Score 1) 166

Paying for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq doesn't get put into the general defense budget either, so add a few more trillion.

They weren't, under Bush. They are now. The Obama administration brought the war spending into the budget. And took the blame for the increased deficit, even though it wasn't their expense. The next time you hear some idiot hyperventilating over Obama's increase of the deficit, remember that.

Comment Re:Hollywood is usually awful (Score 1) 395

I'd like to see some Saberhagen Berserker stories on the big screen.

So would I. Australian director Alex Proyas, who directed Will Smith in I, Robot, says he's very slowly working on it. An attempt was made to license the rights to New Line Cinema, but that fell apart. Apparently no studio currently has the movie rights, which I find a bit odd. I guess most studio executives don't want to risk going up against the Terminator franchise.

In some respects I don't blame them. Quite a few of the Berserker novels would be difficult to adapt into movies without totally mangling them, and even after a mangling, they might not be good movies. Berserker Man comes to mind. Others are almost too easy to adapt, like Brother Assassin, but the problem with Berserker novels is they are frequently tragedies. Even though humanity wins, the hero dies. Chinese and Japanese audiences love that, but American audiences hate it.

Maybe someday a Berserker movie will get made, but I don't have a lot of hope for that, or a lot of hope for the result if it happens. Hollywood treats adapted material so badly so frequently that it's just not worth it. They insist on inserting jackass movie tropes into otherwise good material.

Comment Re:Adjust using the PCI index. (Score 1) 374

But everybody needs that second car.

Yes, everyone does need that second car. It's very rarely optional in a two income household, especially considering the state of mass transit in the US. Worse, both the first and second cars are notably more expensive than they were in the 1950s, even inflation-adjusted. Safety equipment costs money, and auto manufacturers really really want to upsell you to the model with the entertainment system in it.

They need to eat fast food rather than cook.

Fast food is as cheap as cooking yourself now. Maybe the results aren't as high quality for the same price, but it will keep you alive, and you aren't paying a premium for it.

They need to pay for that cable and internet.

Well yeah. Paying for Internet is as essential today as paying for a telephone line was in the 1950s. I suspect the two are comparably expensive, too, inflation-adjusted. Ma Bell ruled the world in the 50s, and extracted her pound of flesh. Today's ISPs behave quite similarly.

They need central heating and air.

Central air I'll give you, but central heating has been a thing since the 1800s in cities, when it was a coal furnace in the basement, and your house had a street-accessible coal chute for deliveries. It was certainly a thing everywhere in the 1950s, including rural areas, where it was propane or fuel oil. (I lived in a house with a fuel oil furnace for several years, as a child. Filthy.)

I'm surprised you left out the largest difference in expenditure. House sizes are considerably larger today than they were in the 1950s. That's usually the go-to complaint from the "slaves should never have it better than their parents" crowd that you represent.

How about this. All of those things are things we should have now. What the hell is civilization for? What the hell are all these engineers for, if not making things better for as many people as possible? And yes, why aren't all us Morlocks getting a bigger slice of the financial reward for doing all that work?

Comment Re:Google = a propaganda tool. (Score 1) 429

When Google seems to care about the 20,000,000 Russian lives lost in WWII, it might begin
to appear that Google is using its power with some sort of sense of fairness.

No one is trying to deny that 20 million people were killed in Soviet gulags. More to the point, no one is trying to deny that 20 million people died in the Soviet gulags and use that non-fact as justification for arson and murder today.

Comment Re:Bring it on! (Score 2) 331

I think artificial meat inevitable but I doubt it would be healthful.

Why wouldn't it be? By the time your gastric juices are done with the food you eat, it's been reduced to a slurry that is absorbed at the molecular level. If artificial meat contains the same molecules as animal meat, i.e. vitamins, fats, and amino acids, your intestines won't notice the difference. I suspect the results of these experiments are already fairly healthful. Perfecting the cosmetic attributes such as taste and texture will be the hard part.

Comment Re:Small business is going to get left behind (Score 1) 297

As a small business manufacturing a fairly niche product, in the past few months I've noticed that vendors are less willing to to small production runs of custom parts. Last week I had a CNC milling vendor tell me, and I quote, "Well, you haven't done any business with us in a while so we're unable to work with you."

Sounds like you're going to have to buy a CNC milling machine. A.K.A. a robot. If you don't, you'll miss out on the next industrial revolution...

That might not be as outrageous as you think, either. I hear a decent CNC milling machine can be had from China for 1/10th what they used to go for, and its own build quality and its accuracy aren't any worse than the far more expensive models. Small business can survive this, but it will be just a little bit bigger than it was, and more vertically integrated. You're going to have to produce more of the stuff you use in house, and you're going to have to produce it in an automated fashion.

Yeah, getting small runs of large custom castings done is going to be tough, but maybe they'll do it if you agree to do your own milling. I know that's how it works for steel castings. Large scale live steam model rail cars are built on cast iron wheels that are shipped from the foundry raw. The hobbyist has to do the finish milling himself.

Comment Re:Can you spell Theranos? (Score 1) 86

The real issue is if Tesla has a viable business model and if its current valuation can be justified. Many Tesla naysayers, and I am one, believe the answer is "No."

Normalize interest rates and Tesla will start have to start earning serious operating capital or be in the dot-com model of "we'll make it up on volume."

As with most naysayers, you're obviously completely clueless about anything and everything to do with finances. If you did, you'd have read Tesla's financial statements and know they make a profit on every single vehicle sold. As in "sale price - (cost of materials + cost of labor) = a positive number." They most definitely can "make it up on volume" eventually. That's the whole point of this funding round—ramping up their production capacity so they can produce higher volumes. Higher volumes of a profitable product x the amount of product sold = higher profit. Tesla doesn't post a profit because they're busy sinking those earnings into building out not one but two factories. But a super genius like you already knew that.

You obviously have no clue what a convertible note is, either. The interest rate on convertible notes is often not tied to the prime rate or to any other published rate. Tesla's coupon rate on their convertible notes is habitually a fixed 1.5%. Normalize the interest rates or further denormalize them, it doesn't matter. Tesla knows how much they will be paying on their debt, and it's totally unaffected by the prime rate. Further, when those convertible notes come due, they will pay in equity, not cash. That's what a convertible note is. But a super genius like you knew that too.

Oh wait. You obviously didn't know those things. Maybe when you learn the most basic things about corporate finance and about Tesla's specific financing, you'll be a super genius. Until then, you're just an idiot.

Comment Re:Tough shit -- welcome to the real world (Score 5, Interesting) 283

Not to mention if we choose as a society to pay together, it can be a lit cheaper for everyone. Currently we collectively pay 4 times as much per person as any other country and we have a lot less to show for it.

Those of us who do have health insurance might actually pay less under a universal healthcare system than we do now even while covering other people.

That only happens in other countries because other countries have come to grips with the fact that running a healthcare system for profit is not merely inefficient, but immoral. The US doesn't understand that.

Which is kind of peculiar, because the US healthcare system was largely non-profit for most people for most of the history of the country. Why do you think all these hospitals all over the country have the names of saints in them? Well, today it's because of marketing. Calling them Uncle Bob's Chop Shop and Surgery Emporium just doesn't have quite the same ring. But originally it was because they were charity hospitals. Not just non-profit, but literally free to the majority of the recipients. They were founded and run by church organizations, especially the monetary behemoth that is the Catholic Church.

Other countries pay much much less because other countries have determined how much each and every drug costs to make, how much each and every procedure costs to perform, and how much each and every machine costs to make, and dictated the amount that will be paid for each of those things. And drug manufacturers, hospitals, and equipment manufacturers manage to get along just fine. They just don't get to rake in record profits every year. Oh, and they can almost completely avoid the monstrous parasitic growth that the US suffers from known as the health insurance industry: that most ridiculous organization whose sole purpose is to prevent healthcare.

Healthcare in the US started as a charity and somehow evolved into a mammoth profit-taking entity and there is no way back for us, ever, because of the first italicized word in my preceding paragraph. Because the only way out is to use government for its intended purpose, "to promote the general welfare" as it says in the Constitution, but we can't do that because "muh freedums!" And because of the root of this entire thread, still reflected in the comment subject: "Re: Tough shit -- welcome to the real world", which translates with ease as "Fuck you -- I got mine".

So Christian, these Americans... Like Jesus said in the Bible, "Fuck you, I got mine."

Comment Re:Translation (Score 1) 203

I can lose a contract just because some client can't open a proposal in their copy of word. Not worth the chance to me.

You really really should be sending your proposals as cryptographically signed PDFs. Both because of the aforementioned problem and because you want to have the ability to prove the customer still has what you sent, days or weeks later. PDFs display the same everywhere, including Android and iOS, and any decent PDF viewer makes them easy to annotate as well.

And... guess which office suite it's trivially easy to export a PDF from, for free? Yeah, LibreOffice.

As for compatibility issues when editing the same document together with another person, the only way to do it reliably with MS Office is if you both have absolutely identical versions of MS Office, down to the patch level. DOC format is such a fucking disaster that Microsoft's own tool will break it if passed between versions that aren't even all that far apart. LibreOffice has broken documents in its own format before too, but it's considerably less common, and of course it's free for everyone to use the same version.

Personally, I found it easier to transition between Word and LibreWriter than it was to transition between Word and the new version of Word with the ribbon abomination. I used a ribbon version of Office for 4 years, and now that I'm perfectly familiar with it, I still despise it. Why the LibreOffice people felt obliged to waste hundreds of hours of developer time on imitating the pathetic disaster that is the ribbon, I'm sure I don't know.

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