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Comment make the punishment fit the crime (Score 5, Insightful) 124

So a few months ago, because I could not find the information anywhere on the entire internet, I did a back-of-the-envelope calculation to estimate how much more polluted the air in the U.S. is as a result of the VW emissions cheat. The answer is that the air is about zero percent more polluted because of that cheat.

The reason for that is that baseline emissions of diesel exhaust pollutants in the U.S. is so enormous. Commercial diesel tractor trailers emit pollutants at a much higher rate than do VW cars because the engines are so much larger and consume fuel at higher rates. The trucks run many more miles per years than the cars. There are many more diesel trucks than diesel cars. (There a lot of trucks and VW diesel cars are not huge sellers in the U.S.) So the net percentage increase in pollution because of that cheat calculates out to about zero.

VW is worth a lot of money and has not much political clout in the U.S. so this turned into feeding frenzy for lawyers. Penalties of this size are entirely unjustified by the degree of harm.

There should be a price for polluting, based strictly on the types and volumes of pollutants, and it should be applied to all, regardless of the type of vehicle or its nation of origin, or its owner. The right solution here is to tax vehicle exhaust emissions at a single universal rate and let manufacturers and buyers decide what to make and what to buy.

What we have instead is sanctioned pillaging.

 

Comment think of the children... (Score 1) 760

However, seven states who implemented drug testing for tax benefit program recipients spent $1 million on drug testing from the inception of their programs through 2014. But the average rate of drug use among those recipients has been far below the national average -- around 1% overall, compared with 9.4% in the general population

People who grow marijuana and smoke it should be prohibited from receiving government aid, but if you can not get a job because you are a chronically lazy, chain-smoking obese alcoholic with a porn addiction and a gambling compulsion then you are welcome to government handouts. What kind of incentive is that?

Conditioning government aid on actual need would be more appealing if the people devising policy were not imbeciles.

They could start by weighing fat people before giving them food stamps (SNAP). Your income is seized, under threat of prosecution, fines and imprisonment, to fund other people making themselves unhealthily fat. Your income is seized, under threat of prosecution, fines and imprisonment to pay for "free" health care required for medical treatments incurred from that obesity. "Your tax dollars go to save the lives of staving orphans" has more appeal when you are actually paying to save the lives of starving orphans and not buy groceries for that lardass blocking the aisle at the grocery on her i-am-to-fat-to-walk scooter with a cartload of donuts and steak, and then pay her medical bills.

Comment Lynch will indict (Score 2, Insightful) 742

"[Assange] doesn't think it will happen under Attorney General Loretta Lynch. "

Obama will not do anything to damage Hillary's chances of winning the election but there will be a limit to how much of a corrupt jackass Obama is willing to make himself look like to help here out. We already know, based on evidence released publicly, that Hillary is guilty and a crazy liar, so if Obama's justice department does not indict he goes down in history as the U.S. President more corrupt than Nixon.

A prediction: Obama has Lynch slow-walk the decision to indict until after Hillary is elected in November 2016, they they indict her. After Hillary takes office in January 2017, she pardons herself.

Comment P.T. Barnum in a Steve Jobs Turtleneck (Score 1) 65

Now, finally, the fraud of Elizabeth Holmes will be revealed. She can deny all she likes but she has known about this from the beginning.

Someone recently called her "P.T. Barnum in a Steve Jobs Turtleneck," but that comparison is unfair to Barnum. Barnum promoted a product which is legitimately intangible: entertainment. Holmes is also promoting something intangible, but which actually needs to exist and work to have value: blood tests.

Comment vs. OS X Dashboard (Score 2) 48

I am back to developing on Linux after a long stint on OS X and one thing I really miss now is the OS X Dashboard widgets.

Ubuntu is way behind OS X here, even if they integrated a Dashboard clone the ecosystem of widgets would be far behind and never catch up. But Ubuntu could leapfrog the OS X Dashboard by absorbing Chrome's support for Android widgets into an integrated Dashboard clone.

Comment Jerry Ehman (Score 4, Interesting) 96

When I was about 7 years old Jerry Ehman rode down to Kentucky with us in the family station wagon from Powell, Ohio to Kentucky to go spelunking. We lived a few houses down the street from the assistant director of the Big Ear radio observatory who organized the trip and who invited along coworkers and friends. All the radio observatory guys on the trip were full-time radio geeks, including Jerry, who brought his own CB radio on the trip and installed it in our car before we left. This was so we could keep in touch with the other vehicles on the drive down. Jerry had temporarily disconnected our am/fm car radio antenna to wire in his CB. So he is explaining this to me as my father drives down the highway to Kentucky. Being 7, of course I asked "but what if we want to listen to the radio?". Jerry, who was riding in the center of the front bench seat of the station wagon, replies that he can switch back and forth between them. Then he immediately inverts himself in the car seat with his feet up in the air and his head pushed up under the dashboard holding a handful of tools. A few minutes later the car radio is working again.

By the way, the radio observatory at which Jerry recorded the Wow! signal no longer exits. It was a joint project between Ohio State and Ohio Wesleyan universities. It was constructed and managed by the Ohio State University but located on land owned by Ohio Wesleyan University which sold it to developers to build a golf source. There was an international effort to preserve it, Nobel price winners and other notables campaigned for it. Wesleyan believed that a golf course was much more important than SETI. "Ignorant small-town hicks" would not go far enough to describe that school.

Comment Indisious MegaBloks (Score 4, Informative) 165

MegaBloks makes generic bricks that are nominally compatible with LEGO bricks. But in practice, they are built to lower quality standards and tend to attach much more poorly. As small number of MegaBloks in a collection of LEGO bricks can cause a lot of havoc and result in LEGO models that keep falling apart.

Yes, and even worse, in my experience, MegaBloks are dimensionally unstable over a decade or less, Legos are stable for at least 4 decades.

About 10 years ago I gave my nephews a set of MegaBloks and patted myself on the back because I had given an enormous set of "Legos" for so cheap. When new, they worked just as well as Legos. My nephews have long-since outgrown those MegaBloks but my own kids were visiting recently and we dragged them out. They do not stay together at all now.

I still have the real Legos which I had as a kid in the 1970's, and they hold together just like new.

So you might think you are getting a deal with MegaBloks, but not so much, if you plan on them lasting.

Comment Backroom Deals (Score 2) 143

from the ./ summary:

the Obama administration canceled amid strong local and state opposition to it.

from the Wall Street Journal:

The Reid-Obama Bargain: Harry shut down the Senate because Barack shut down the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada... Mr. Reid’s admirers seem to think Mr. Reid is their champion, but the reason he has carried so much water for Mr. Obama isn’t liberal ideals. It’s the result of a crude political bargain in which Mr. Reid agreed to do the President’s dirty work on Capitol Hill if Mr. Obama blocked the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

Comment If DHS were not idiots... (Score 4, Insightful) 77

A friend who is an amateur pilot pointed this out to me a few years ago: There is a huge surplus of cheap pilot labor because passenger airline pilot jobs require a minimum of 1,200 hours of flight time for certification. All of those would-be passenger airline pilots are trying to accumulate that much flying time on someone else's dime, meaning any flying job where the pilot does not pay for his own aircraft, maintenance and fuel.

Military drones are super expensive and have different requirements than are needed for border patrol, requirements such as long loiter times, capability for long-range missions, extreme stealth to evade sophisticated radar , offensive capabilities, high fuel efficiency, etc. Any conventional aircraft would be just fine for the job of border patrol. If DHS hired pilots to fly conventional aircraft retrofitted with cameras instead of purchasing and maintaining state-of-the art military drones they would save an enormous amount, get far greater coverage, and help out all those pilots looking for flight hours.

   

Comment Hollywood vs. Reality (Score 1) 245

You listen to some people and you get the idea that the business world is run by Gordon Geckos, that Hollywood caricatures of capitalist villains are the reality and the norm and that the greedy bastards who would do anything to take one dollar more control corporate America.

Then a person who is really like that actually shows up, and only then, by comparison, do we realize again that the others are not. Every few years some of these guys climb out from Hell to remind us of that. It is Martin Shkreli taking over from Enron accountants, Bernard Madoff and John Corzine.

Comment Cops Steal More than Criminals (Score 3, Informative) 210

I posted this link a few days ago here on ./ but it's topical and worthy of a repost here:
Cops Now Steal More from Citizens than do Actual Criminals

And also on the "policing for profit" topic: Prisoners are now billed for their time in jail.. More here with some commentary here.

Comment Silver Hauled Away (Score 1) 97

Fascinating article over at City detailing how Silver's legislative agenda was to support corrupt government because he benefited from corruption personally, including this nugget:

Silver thought the people’s money was his money. For years, he helped lead a regime in which legislators from both parties received millions of dollars to distribute as “earmarks”—money handed out directly by elected officials to favored organizations outside of the state’s regular contracting or granting process. The New York Times dubbed Silver the “king of earmarks” because he used them as a way of exercising power over members of his political caucus. In doing so, Silver was accountable to no one.... In New York, the earmark process is so corrupt that politicians can create their own nonprofits and then finance them with taxpayer money...

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