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Comment Re:The Jig Is Up On The "Gig" Economy (Score 1) 90

That's 100% correct.

I think the point is that, if you're going to work a lower-wage job that's easily replaceable by anyone else that knows how to drive (or whatever else the next gig economy thing is), the least society could do in terms of non-monetary compensation is to offer you the flexibility that we can afford by having a huge pool of replacements. At this wage

In other words, it's not enough to just look at wages. I'm well-paid but there are other non-monterary components of my jobs.

Comment Re:The Jig Is Up On The "Gig" Economy (Score 1) 90

I mean, your excellent salaried job is excellent.

Now consider people in the same wage range as Uber drivers -- baristas at Starbucks, retail clerks, administrative assistants, office managers. Not quite as low as fast-food but also not excellent salaried jobs like yours.

Those people might in fact value the same kind of flexibility you have, and so far we have not been able to create working structures for them that provide anything like it. The idea that you could drop in to for your retail job whenever you feel like it is absurd.

So it doesn't seem like too much of a stretch to think that they would want what you already have.

Comment Re:When will they learn? (Score 1) 90

...unfortunately taking to the high court will mean loss against a major corporation no matter how fanciful the interpretation has to be by the high court

Actually, in the current term, businesses wins against non-business petitioners a little under 2/3rds of the time[1]. So your conception of "no matter how fanciful" is at least a few orders of magnitudes off of the facts.

[1] Epstein, Landes and Posner, How Business Fares in the Supreme Court, 97 Minn. L. Rev. 1431 (2013) PDF.

Comment Re:The Jig Is Up On The "Gig" Economy (Score 1) 90

I think you're missing something important, which is the value of being able to work whenever you damn-well feel like it and take a vacation whenever you damn-well feel like it and not be accountable to anyone else's schedule.

Let's do an experiment, take a worker in any other sector: retail/food/engineering/medicine, you name it. Now tell that person that they are going to move to a system where they can chose when to go to work and when to leave, with 15-minute granularity and no advance notice whatsoever. Of course, their wages will scale only with the time they actually spend working. Now ask them what that sort of flexibility would be worth to them.

Want to take the afternoon off to watch your nephew's baseball game -- it costs you exactly one afternoon of wages.
Want to take the weekend to attend your college friend's wedding -- it costs you exactly one weekend of wages.
Want to sign out of your job for 3 months while you backpack SE Asia and then come back and continue like nothing happened -- it costs you exactly 3 months of wages.

I'm quite fortunate that my boss is understanding, and I could probably do the above if we weren't swamped with work and if it wasn't too overlapped with my teammates (6-person team, so 2 of us leaving for the same week would be bad but not fatal). Most workers, especially in retail/food sectors closest in wage level to Uber can't dream of it. If your boss at Starbucks says you work on Saturday, your sister's birthday party will just have to wait (or you can swap).

Hell, even with my understanding boss and cushy job, I would absolutely love an arrangement where I make my pro-rated salary for every week (!) I want to work and can take unlimited pro-rated vacation without a single thought.

Comment Re:shocked! (Score 2) 248

Time for a refresher on the current state* of speech restrictions promulgated by government-as-employer. I think most people would understand that, when acting as an employer, the government has significantly more latitude than it would against a private citizen. At the same time, most people would understand that this lattitude has bounds of its own.

So cribbing the major part of the link above (but do read the whole thing), the place that the court put that balance* is that the government may not fire an employee based on the employeeâ(TM)s speech if (all of):

  1. 1. the speech is on a matter of public concern
  2. 2. the speech is not said by the employee as part of the employeeâ(TM)s job duties
  3. 3. the damage caused by the speech to the efficiency of the government agencyâ(TM)s operation does not outweigh the value of the speech to the employee and the public

The application of these three standards to the instant case I think weighs in favor of the employee, but ultimately that's a fact-bound decision that would require reviewing what his or her job duties are, what the topic and contents of the tweets were and what sort of proof the government produces about the harm to the agency.

* Note: This is the current state of the law as it is, not the law as I wish it to be. You could say that this is the praxis of the law, not the truth of it. I have no beef with people that wish argue about what the law ought to be or what is a more correct interpretation of it. They may even be right and the practice of it currently wrong (it's surely happened many times in the past), that does not change what is currently practiced.

Comment Charging a battery to charge a battery . . . (Score 2) 99

Lithium-ion batteries are 80-90% efficient at charging, meaning that if you have to charge a battery on the pier in order to charge the ferry (explained in TFA as necessarily to buffer to load on the grid), then your charging efficiency is about 72% (0.85**2). That means the 150KWH that you have to spend on-ferry means you have to draw 210KWH from the grid. YMMV, but here in the US that's gonna run $35-40, much more than "a cup of coffee and a waffle".

Other than the double charge loss, which stood out as kind of costly, this seems like a solid and sensible engineering project. What I'd really like to hear is someone to do a 10-year follow up on whether they met their cost estimates and what else was interesting (hopefully nothing).

Actually, in general, following up seems like a good idea. We do a lot of hyping about the future and the present, not a lot of the boring work of "hey, so what happened to $COOL_IDEA or $NEW_PROJECT?" Maybe there should be a /. category for that :-)

Comment Re:Where's the news? (Score 1) 266

To be fair, this is not about "non-practicing entities" -- aka patent trolls. The companies that are suing actually do sell real physical golf balls incorporating some of the patents into the manufacturing process and design.

Maybe those patents are invalid, IANAPL, but this is definitely not a case of "those who can't, sue".

Comment Re:Picking your post apart: (Score 1) 360

Your developers should be smart enough to maintain their own security if they need admin rights, the ones that aren't can be weeded out immediately.

Indeed, most are smart enough. But it takes just one dumb (or groggy) developer to let an adversary yank a useful credential and start moving laterally through your network. I mean, even your developer's normal-privilege git account is enough to plant a backdoor in the code without any fancy persistent-threat-acrobatics added on top.

Don't get me wrong, I still think devs should have super-user privileges on their development machines. But things like IDS, monitoring, logging and other tools are quite useful to help them maintain security and catch the occasional slip up that can have outsize effects. Don't get in the way, but insist that access to sensitive materials requires some form of monitoring and audit trail. And have a solid legal policy that entitles you to access that data in order to investigate potential breaches while at the same time having a solid company policy that says you won't fish for any reason.

Comment Re:Microsoft is winning this in the 2nd Circuit (Score 2) 67

It's not venue-shopping, it's part of the design of our system that the Supreme Court weighs in only after the issue has been litigated in multiple circuits, especially if the circuits are split.

For one thing, if many or all of the circuits agree, there's much less reason to have the Court weigh in. But moreover, it means that the Court can draw on the full record of opinion and reasoning from all the lower courts to better inform their decision.

Comment Re:Batteries from Nevada to Australia? (Score 1) 274

If these are lithium ion batteries would it be possible to ship them by air given all the shipping restrictions that are placed on lithium ion batteries currently?

The restrictions are on shipping them on passenger airplanes. You can still fly them around on a cargo plane, where the tolerance for risk has always been significantly higher.

Comment Re:Lots of work to do (Score 1) 160

But if you're one of the many of us who actively fight being tracked, we're going to be relegated to second-hand internet user thanks to Google's monopoly.

Whatever happened to you happened because the owner of the site chose to use ReCaptcha as a tool to prevent bots. You have no right to insist that a particular website cater a particular user experience to you -- if you don't like it, you can go elsewhere.

And what monopoly are we talking about here? There's certainly no monopoly on plugins to detect bots, there are dozens. Google might (probably even) have a monopoly on search, but that's hardly relevant to the captcha story. . .

Comment This is a bit disingenuous ... (Score 5, Insightful) 87

Yes, pollution is bad for your health. In no way is that a false statement.

At the same time, living in a pre-industrial society is also very bad for your health. As it living in a poorer society for a number of important reasons.

And since (unfortunately) we cannot yet have an industrial society without some pollution, it's disingenuous to say that pollution causes those deaths because we don't know if reducing it, and thereby reducing our output, would be beneficial or harmful at each margin. It's somehow implying that the pollution isn't accepted as part of trade-off -- or that we intentionally pollute with no side benefit -- which is ludicrous.

Of course, by the same vein that not all polluting activities are harmful on the margin, not all are beneficial on the margin either. Clearcutting rainforest to make room for banana groves is almost certainly a net harm. Burning natural gas to electrify rural areas that didn't previously have power is almost certainly a net gain. In between there's a whole realm of less obvious answers.

There's a future where all our power comes from nuclear and renewable and all our food is grown or synthesized on a small amount of land. We aren't there yet, and so we have to pick and chose.

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