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Comment Re: Sorry - whose car is this? (Score 1) 301

This is not technically true. The same protection is offered to all products in all industries via the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. The difference here is that some vehicle companies tried to do an end run around it and were slammed by the FTC for doing so.

I wonder if Tesla will try to claim that they do the maintenance for free and are therefore exempt. But I think (and hope) there will be a quick and considerable backlash against them, both from consumers and the courts.

Comment Re:Is that all (Score 1) 540

It's inevitable that a certain fraction of people go off the deep edge. People are irrational, even (or perhaps mostly) people who are convinced they are entirely rational. Rationality is a fragile thing because emotion and confirmation bias are deeply woven into everyone's thinking.

For normal people are few more powerful emotional impulses than the urge to protect children. It should hardly be surprising that children come to harm from it.

Comment Re:DCMA Fair Use / Parody (Score 1) 215

Ah, but is it a parody of the copyrighted elements? That's the tack I'd take if I were Samsung's lawyer: this is not parodying Samsung's IP, it is quoting Samsung's IP in a literal, non-transformative way that is not actually parody.

Of course in my heart I'd hope to lose, but that argument is no more ridiculous than many others that have become established case law. Issues like privacy and IP are where fundamental values we have as a society cut against each other and generate innumerable weird corner cases.

Comment Re:So it appears . . . (Score 1) 180

It's not just how hard you check, but how incisively. It's easy to satisfy yourself that software's anticipated failure modes won't happen. What's tough is discovering ways of screwing up that have never happened before.

That's why there's no substitute for experience. This gets back to the very roots of rocket science: the path to success passes through many, many failures.

Comment Re:Before copyright, no credit and no money (Score 1) 215

The idea is that a limited monopoly for copying enables the artist to derive some (non-joyous) benefit from their endeavour, thus allowing them to create more art, since they're not busy using all their time working on something else simply so they can eat.

Joy is a wonderful byproduct of being an artist, but it doesn't feed anyone.

Comment Re:Not to Sound iIke a Snowflake... (Score 4, Insightful) 227

It's not only that. The problem with most theories of eugenics is that they draw from experience with agricultural breeding of domesticated species. Humans are not domesticated; we're a wild species with massive genetic diversity compared to, say, purebred Arabian horses.

This means that with us sexual reproduction still does what it is supposed to do: generate genetic diversity in offspring. Look at large families. You get some who are tall and some who are short; some who have Grandpa Joe's nose and others that have Grandpa John's jaw, others who get both or neither. Even with litter of pedigreed puppies you'll get one total loser and if you're lucky one champion; and pedigreed dog litters are much more alike than any set of human siblings. And that's just physical traits; in terms of interests, talents, and success there is massive variability among siblings, although there is some correlation, in part due to economic circumstances, upbringing and education.

Nature works this way because variability is good for the species, and that variability comes from combinations of genes being shuffled. Add to that the massive behavioral plasticity of our gigantic brains, and the idea that you can sample some of, say, Steve Jobs DNA for successful CEO markers is ludicrous. If you'd raised Jobs in a different family and sent him to a different set of schools, and didn't get him luck out by ending up close friends with Woz, then while he may well have been quite successful in some other way, he wouldn't have been the Steve Jobs we knew.

Of course, willingness to go along with the DNA test is a good test for one phenotypical trait: the willingness to put up with pseudo-scientific baloney.

Comment Re:Drake Equation == 1 (Score 1) 258

Alternatively, (as far as I understand it) if you can figure out how to bypass inertia, you don't need acceleration. If we can find a way to manipulate our inertial reference frame directly, we can skip the whole 'acceleration' business altogether and change velocities instantaneously.

Interestingly, this ability would also enable us to ignore gravity completely. So I think we should get started on it immediately.

Comment Re: Microsoft... (Score 1) 291

This is my single biggest complaint about the iPhone - there is NO option to prevent a device from requesting play to start. I rented a Camry recently (though I've had the exact same issue with Ford/Lincoln, GM, and other brands) and had to add an Activator trigger upon bluetooth connection to enable StopPlayin', wait 15 seconds, and disable it so it wouldn't blow my ears out and scare the shite out of me when I started the car.

Of course, I'd also like to draw and quarter the langering fuckwanks who decided that the appropriate behaviour when an audio source is disconnected is to IMMEDIATELY START BLASTING THE RADIO AT THE SAME VOLUME AS THE LAST SOURCE with no option to disable it.

Comment Re:Here's the full menu (Score 1) 171

People who don't believe that VP picks have always been analyzed this way are naive. Lincoln picked Andrew Johnson because Johnson was from a border state (Tennessee) that could go either way. The primary goal of a VP pick is to help you win. Everything else is secondary.

The VP pick is all about picking up votes from electorate segments you might not otherwise get (Palin/women), or solidifying shaky part of your coalition (Biden/labor and left), or being young when you are old or vice versa (Quayle). Coming from a swing state or an adjacent state with major media market overlap (Edwards, Ryan, Pence, Kaine) puts you on the inside track. Naturally, sometimes those calculations go hilariously wrong.

It's safe to say that almost nobody ever picks the person they think would be the best president as their running mate; it's ways the person who would be the best running mate. The last time I think that anyone picked someone on the basis that they'd be the best president was when Bob Dole picked Jack Kemp -- who wouldn't be my choice for President, but I'm pretty sure he'd have been Dole's.

Comment Re: Hilarious (Score 2) 185

When you have a tablet, you can do things like punch in what defense the other team just used to provide statistical analysis of what the next best play is, or what kind of defense to run if your opponent is doing X often.

I'm guessing this is another case of a solution in search of a problem.

The reason this happens is that as a technologist faced with helping someone solve a problem you have no choice but to imagine what you would need to do that person's job. But if you want to have a better than random chance at success, you have to really understand the people who will use the system and what they would need.

I'm guessing Belichick of all people doesn't need a computer to give him a statistical analysis of what the best next play is or how to set up his defense -- although you or I sure as hell would. What sets Belichick apart from all the other ruthless, unprincipled, hyper-competitive control-freak coaches is that he's a smart bastard who is obsessive about research. If I had to take a wild stab at what kind of technical aids he needs during a game, the broad theme would be "communication", not "analysis".

By the way, does anyone else find it bizarre that the NFL provides stuff like computer tablets and headsets, but the teams are in charge of supplying the footballs?

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