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Comment Re:Hmm (Score 1) 884

That's indeed the kind of ideas that is now floating around. I rank it in the category of Iraq coming to kill us all, with the same combination of inflating the threat and at the same time regarding the opponent as a pushover. I think Colin Powell has made some sensible comments on that. Russia is paranoid about us, about NATO. We scare them. They are a small power, we're a big one that is surrounding them more and more, and then sabre rattling is a sensible response.

That doesn't explain why they weren't rattling their sabers a few years ago. The Economist has a recent article that does offer an explanation that covers that as well The thesis is basically that domestic troubles caused by a weak economy have motivated Putin to seek ways to distract his people from domestic concerns. Specifically, he's tried to recapture the superpower position of the Soviet Union. He can't, really, because Russia isn't the Soviet Union. Without the central planning structure to force the massive overproduction of military resources, the Soviet Union wouldn't have been the Soviet Union, either.

But his people don't really realize this and, frankly, the rest of the world tends not to realize it much, either. So Putin can rattle his rusted and broken saber and the rest of the world reacts as though he was the mighty Soviet Union. Except... there is one area in which is military isn't so rusted or broken: nuclear weapons. Oh, his nuclear armament is aging and dilapidated, but it's still very real and Russia has the technological wherewithal to build highly functional nukes and missiles to carry them. Russia can't afford to build very many of them, but it doesn't really take all that many.

So, as it becomes more and more apparent that Putin doesn't really have the conventional forces to make the world treat Russia with the fear and respect that the Soviet Union got, he's almost certainly going to be making more and more use of the nuclear threat that the world can't ignore. And that will help to keep his people feeling like they're a major world power again, which will keep him in power.

Is this true? I don't know. Makes sense to me.

Comment Re:Am I missing something? (Score 1) 140

Hangouts used to have seamless SMS/Hangouts.

No, it was never seamless in the sense that iMessage is. The seams were harder to see, and that was exactly the problem that motivated the clear separation; the failure modes of the combined messaging were subtle, hard to understand and opaque to users. The upshot is that the combination made Hangouts messaging appear to be unreliable.

Actually, iMessage isn't really seamless either. It breaks badly if iMessage thinks the destination device is an iPhone but it isn't. It's very good in a pure-Apple world, though.

Comment Re:and if I shoplift a rack full of CD's it's just (Score 3, Insightful) 88

Because copyright law is bunch of crude analogies hacked together that used the physical encodings of information as a proxy for a creator's financial interests in a work. It worked great in the age of print when mainly you were talking about books which were cheap to mass produce but expensive to copy.

But today, conceptualizing an author's rights to a work as a monopoly on copying leads to nonsensical results. Suppose I download a song to the same computer twice, as can easily happen. Technically because the thing I did wrong was copying, I infringed *twice*; however it hardly does twice the harm to the author's interests. On the other hand if I copy that song once but listen to it a thousand times, you could reasonably argue I'm doing more harm to the author's interest than if I downloaded it a thousand times but *never* listened to it.

It's all just a way to get content creators paid; a ridiculously complex and arcane way, but it's familiar because it's traditional. You can't expect it to make sense, especially by trying to draw subtly different analogies.

Comment Re:Am I missing something? (Score 1) 140

Hangouts does everything you describe. It's what I use all the time. It is seamless across my phone and table and my PC. And it is seamless across windows, linux and apple.

It is seamless between SMS and the internal delivery system, and the conversations are synced to my gmail account allowing me to search them.

I like Hangouts and use it constantly, both personally and for work (I work for Google, where it is arguably the primary means of communication), but it isn't quite as seamless as iMessage in one respect: SMS integration. In iMessage there is no distinction between SMS and iMessage messages; they're all just messages. If they can be delivered via Apple's infrastructure, they are, if not they're routed via SMS. With Hangouts, SMS and Hangouts chat messages are distinct. They look similar, but they're different in subtle ways.

Of course, Hangouts clearly is superior to iMessage if you or your friends use non-Apple devices, because Hangouts works on a much wider variety of platforms, and for those who understand the distinction it's *good* to know what is SMS and what is not, because SMS is inherently unreliable -- and in some parts of the world SMS is also ridiculously expensive while data is cheap.

So, although depending on your context Hangouts may be better than iMessage, it's definitely not as seamless in a pure-Apple world as iMessage is.

Comment Re:Let me know when ... (Score 1) 281

The football analogy is stupid. Reaching the 35 yard line has no value in itself, indeed neither does reaching the 0 yard line. The only thing that goes up on the score board is getting into the end zone.

Generating, say, half of your energy from renewables is more like reaching the half-way point in your quest to earn a million dollars; the half-mil in your pocket has utility right now. What's more since non-renewables aren't going away overnight, reducing their use is immediately useful in reducing carbon emissions and other pollution.

The economics of renewables are considerably different than non-renewables, which means we have to adjust our thinking (and engineering). To maximize the impact of renewables, we need a much better electricity grid, which will help us smooth over local variations in supply. We'll also need to work on storage at some point. Storage for renewables doesn't have to be as physically efficient as it would be for non-renewables, but it has to be cheap to build and operate.

Comment Re:Tzar Bomba (Score 3, Informative) 884

Actually... This thing can potentially deliver up to 15 separate warheads, which could in aggregate sum up to 50 MT, which coincidentally was the approximate yield of the Tsar Bomba. However those warheads would have immensely more destructive capacity than the Tsar Bomba.

The reason is simple geometry: the energy of an explosion is dissipated in three dimension, but people live on an approximately two dimensional surface; all that energy which goes down and up is wasted. To do more destruction, you need to find a way of distributing the energy of the attack across the surface of the Earth, which can easily be done by delivering two warheads of half the size, or even better ten warheads of 1/10 the size.

This is what is behind the whole "area the size of France" thing. You couldn't do that with a single massive bomb, but ten smaller bombs might do the trick. Also note that terrain makes a difference -- as it did in the Nagasaki bombing, which missed its mark, causing the blast to be contained by the Urakami Valley. Southern France is extremely rugged, so it is unlikely that all of France could be destroyed by one of these things; however, there's no question that France as a country would be destroyed.

Comment Re: Watches are worn as bling (Score 2) 325

I like Skagen, and they're a rare example of clean design at an affordable price. I especially like an Ancher model -- the arabic version with leather band for general wear and the baton dial for dress. The Holst with day/date dials combines two things I don't usually like (subdials and day/date complications) but does it in a way that I actually like quite a bit. For me it's not the existence of the complication per se, but the readability of the watch. Unfortunately the Holst is a bit on the thick side, but you can't have everything. Shave 3 mm off the thickness and you'd be looking at a $1000 watch.

There are few odd missteps in the lineup. Their rectangular dress watches have batons in a circular pattern, which is a bit... unusual. They also have a watch that has a month calculation. It's done nicely, but it's an utterly ridiculous feature.

Overall Skagen designs remind me of Baum et Mercier at about 20% of the price, and just little bit more Scandanavian if you know what I mean.

Danish Design watches seem pretty similar; I wouldn't be surprised in they came out of the same company. They almost certainly use the same movements. Ironically the faces seem less Scandinavian to me but what do I know? One of their designs reminds of the famous Swiss railway clocks.

I don't have watches from either of these companies because I focus on vintage pre-80s watches.

Comment Of course there is. (Score 1) 140

Smart people usually spend slack-ish time examining things they *might* want to do. It doesn't mean they *do* want to do those things, but one thing most of us know by now is whenever you're asked to do something, "in a hurry" is the default pace, and yet "slapdash" is not acceptable. So you don't want to be in a position where you use time figuring out how to use Material Design that you need for coding or testing.

And even if you don't use those little hypothetical forays, they're still valuable in understanding your competition, both weaknesses and things you can learn from them.

Comment Re:How dare you try to get around us regulating (Score 2) 111

And yet other companies manage to stay in business without committing fraud.

The reasons for emissions regulations are so that when consumers make the cost/performance tradeoff when buying a car, they don't externalize costs -- which is an economist's way of saying make other people pay for their choices. A car would be cheaper and perform better if it didn't have a catalytic converter (just dump your partially burned hydrocarbons on everyone else), EGRs (just dump your NOx on everyone else), PCVs (spread engine oil over everyone else) and mufflers (dump your noise on everyone else).

All of that stuff you'd be dumping on everyone else costs everyone else. You can argue about precisely how much it costs them, but it is certainly not zero.

So let's turn your little rhetorical device around: How dare you fraudulently make the public subsidize your business?

Here's the thing about markets: they're not about making everyone happy. They're about efficient distribution of resources. If costs go up producers are unhappy and some of them go out of business. That makes the owners and workers unhappy, but it is a rational response to costs going up. Dumping those costs on others and pretending they don't exist isn't rational; it's hysterical.

Comment Re:I own one... (Score 4, Informative) 111

Uh, what? That has to be a typo.

I have a 2013 with 95k miles on it. I still owe about $9,000. The deal will pay me about $18,000, so I'll walk away with $9,000 in cash after paying off the loan.

I'm headed over to my dealer this weekend to see what kind of incentive he'll give me on top of that for sticking with VW. Considering new Jettas start around $15,000, I could end up with a new car (2017 model year) for almost nothing.

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