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Comment Re:median vs average (Score 5, Informative) 622

84% of statistics are made up; however, GP is not 100% wrong, just wrong about what cost should not exceed 20% of your income.

According to AAA, an organization more reputable than Bankrate.com, the cost to own and drive a vehicle in the USA today is $8,558 per year. That's a number with a lot of precision but without a lot of accuracy. They have an article up on the web that talks through their assumptions and calculations, though. Fun fact: they note that the cost of owning and driving a car has fallen to a six-year low, so TFA's author can go peddle their papers someplace else.

Back to GP! 5 x $8,558 is $42,790, which is not so far off what actual people actually working actually make. If you're making less you should consider a small sedan, which AAA estimates costs only $6,579 annually. You can do a little better if you buy a good used car. You can't do much better, though, and there is an element of luck around whether you buy a car from a careful owner or a doofus.

Comment The economics strongly favour pay per view. (Score 1) 316

Television advertisements sell for about 2.5 cents per impression, and there are about 40 impression slots available in a one-hour show. Each airing of a show makes about a dollar per viewer in advertising revenue.

An episode on iTunes (admittedly not the cheapest way to watch tv on demand) is about two to four bucks, of which Apple keeps some - maybe around 30%. That means the content producer walks away with somewhere between $1.40 and $2.80 per viewer. More than for ad-supported shows!

As a viewer, I have to figure out what twenty minutes is worth to me. It's not easy, but for most people an hour is worth at least $15, which makes 20 minutes worth five bucks. Even at the prices iTunes charges, it's more attractive than watching ads.

At ten bucks a month, Netflix is a steal. Part of their catalogue is reruns, but part of what I watched on cable/broadcast was reruns as well. I do not think I save 160-odd hours a year. Maybe some people do though. Paying a dollar or two per hour saved is a tremendous bargain.

Comment Re:Logic? (Score 4, Interesting) 751

Saying "gone are the days when you can operate as a singular nation" needs to be explained. First, you'd have to say that anyone is actually suggesting such a thing. Second, whether people are doing that or not doesn't mean that is or is not a good or reasonable idea.

I think that you have misunderstood what Mr. Hawking was referring to with that comment. It seems that the interview was wide-ranging, and covered both Mr. Trump's candidacy and the (concurrent) referendum in the United Kingdom on whether to remain in the European Union. The statement that you quoted referred to Mr. Hawking's belief that the United Kingdom is better off within the European Union than it is without it.

His dismissal of Mr. Trump as a demagogue is given without any support, though demagogue has about the same meaning as populist if not the same connotation. His position that the UK is not an island entire of itself is supported by his experience, as a scientist, that it's very difficult to do research without cooperation between nations. He also points out that British security and economic performance is enhanced by cooperation with Europe. I think that it's well understood that modern human endeavours work best when we work with each other, even though he is only able to speak with authority about scientific research.

Comment Re:The enemy of my enemy is my friend (Score 2) 307

The New York Times has reported that

Questions about the independence of Mr. Bollea [aka Hulk Hogan], who never mentioned a third-party backer, first emerged when his lawyer removed a claim from his complaint that had the effect of eliminating Gawker’s insurance company from the case. That struck many legal observers as odd, given that most lawyers seeking large payouts want to include claims that are insured against because doing so increases the chances of a settlement.

The thinking goes that if the insurance company is not named in the suit then Gawker would have had to pay more, but the plaintiff would have won a lower settlement or would have risked losing the possibility of an out-of-court settlement. It is possible, though, that both Hulk Hogan and Paul Thiel agreed that the best outcome was the one that made Gawker pay the most, or that they were embarrassed as much as possible by a public airing. In that case, the lawyer acted in the interest of their client.

Comment Re:Economics of corporate cash hoarding? (Score 1) 166

My understanding is that corporate balance sheets include anything that isn't a business-related asset in "cash".

That is not quite correct. Here is a quick way to get at Google's balance sheet. As of April 31, Google has about $75 million in cash, cash equivalents, and short term investments (US GAAP - will expire, mature, or be sold within one year). Bean counters commonly refer to those three together as "cash". This article has used that shorthand, but reported the cash from December 31 of last year.

One counter-example to a non-business asset outside the "cash" umbrella is long term investments.

Comment Re: Missing an M? (Score 1) 121

You probably didn't get the idea that it's spelled "skimmer" (two M's). You might also try reading your own subject line.

I am afraid it is you who is incorrect. A skimmer is a device, usually electromechanical, that you install in or on a legitimate card reader to illicitly read card numbers. This malware is a new version of "Backdoor.Win32.Skimer" (really, actually spelled with one "m"). While the malware can skim card numbers, it can do much more - including collecting PINs and telling the ATM to dispense cash. Given the capabilities of the malware, it's better to refer to it by it's proper name or as malware. If you read the summary, you will see that the author has done exactly that.

But don't get me started on ATM machine.

Comment Machines already drive cars as well as humans. (Score 1) 381

In this thread, we will see numerous posts about the shortcomings of machines that drive. Snow, child in the road, failures and defects, any number of things. Every time you read one of these posts, please think to yourself: "We already have machines that drive as well as humans, because humans are machines that are made out of meat." That is, the hypothesis that it's possible to have a machine that can drive a car as well as a human is proven true by example.

I haven't lived a long time, but I've lived long enough to be shocked at the speed of discoveries that make artificial machines better than humans at human tasks. The mechanical automation period started before my time, and it's been just iterative improvements for my whole life: the combine, the cotton gin, Jacquard's loom. These were transformative, and we have seen incremental changes for over a century. At the start of the 21st century, it's hard to imagine that the bulk of the physical work done in the 19th was by human hands.

Today, we see things done by machines that used to require human heads: bank tellers, train drivers, pilots, and librarians have all seen the value of their work product greatly diminished over just 30 years. Deep learning neural networks have brought a step change to the capabilities of machines to do things that used to require us to think. Go is played better by a computer than a person - and that happened well before most had predicted. The next hurdle will be games like poker and rock-paper-scissors. These advances in the state of the art are not slowing; they are accelerating! I think it is quite possible that trucking, uber/taxis, car sharing, and public transport will start to see human workers replaced with artificial machines within five years.

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