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Comment Re:Leveling the playing field (Score 1) 65

>The Uber driver won't be paying it unless they lower their fares so the customers pay the same as before,

Yes. But the customer sees that as a significant fare increase, and Uber fares are where they are to make them much more attractive than cabs.

>they just collect it.

Which is a pain in the ass, especially for people who are making shit money and will likely spend the extra collected money and worry about paying the taxes in April (except I think GST remittance is quarterly... it's been a while). Anyway, it won't work out well for them.

>If the drivers are smart, they'll register themselves as a business, get a tax number, and get reimbursed for whatever GST they pay for business purposes, things like gas, vehicle maintenance along with the vehicle, clothes, phones etc. Might actually come out ahead.

I agree in theory, but I suspect in practice the extra overhead in paperwork will be too much for the kind of person who is trying to make a living as an Uber driver.

I certainly don't expect Uber to handle the GST for them. In fact, as long as they're treating the drivers as contractors, they can't.

Comment Already done by BlackBerry (Score 2) 63

...and probably everyone else.

What else do you call it when you can connect your phone to an external keyboard, monitor, and control devices? The phone did most things by Bluetooth but video (and audio optionally) over HDMI. It would also connect to Samba shares for file access.

Now, if I can put my phone down on the opened 'laptop' and it's smart enough to act as a trackpad for the external device while drawing power from it and sending video and audio to it, that'd be nice.

I don't really need massively upgraded processing power or video - my phone itself is already good enough for most purposes, and if the external device has all those upgrades, I'd probably use it instead of the phone and not bother with the whole 'docking' part.

Comment Re:If it moves, tax it... if it... (Score 2) 65

In theory, taxation takes a percentage of all productivity and redirects it to the common good. That makes Regan's rule "Take a little from everywhere, and if it looks like it's killing something important, use some of the money taken elsewhere and give it to that thing".

Though meant as a joke, that seems like a decent guideline for funding a government... as long as you cap your taxation at 'enough to fund government programs' even if things keep moving briskly despite what you're already taking.

The regulation part is kind of silly. That's part and parcel of the taxation - you have to define something to tax it, then find new definition for the stuff that falls outside the initial ones, etc.

Comment Leveling the playing field (Score 3, Interesting) 65

>Federal tax laws already offer small business owners a break on collecting sales tax, but unfairly exclude taxi drivers. The best way to support taxi drivers and level the playing field is to extend the same exemption to them."

This is because the taxi driver's an employee everywhere but on paper. Uber's model is to exploit the system (which is good for cracking the cab licencing scheme but no better for tax collection and worse for the drivers).

If those drivers had resources (and at their wages they'll never save up enough to do anything), they could get together and pay some other entity to handle dispatching them, pay another entity to handle the money, and a third to vet drivers and vehicles. Keep 'em separate so they can't collude against the drivers.

But what really needs to be done is to reform the cab licencing systems.

Comment Re:Enough of Mars! (Score 1) 102

Until we have the medical technology to make people to thrive in microgravity, Mars' 0.38g is the best chance we have at surviving off-Earth. Of course, we still don't know if 0.38 is enough.

Regardless, making the Martian surface marginally habitable (meaning self-sustaining colonies, not walking around without a pressure suit) is only just beyond our reach right now. The Moon isn't worth considering as more than a more distant space station. If you're really focused on the resource and manufacturing issues, then you should focus on asteroid mining instead.

Submission + - Molecule Kills Elderly Cells, Reduces Signs of Aging In Mice (sciencemag.org)

An anonymous reader writes: Even if you aren’t elderly, your body is home to agents of senility—frail and damaged cells that age us and promote disease. Now, researchers have developed a molecule that selectively destroys these so-called senescent cells. The compound makes old mice act and appear more youthful, providing hope that it may do the same for us. As we get older, senescent cells build up in our tissues, where researchers think they contribute to illnesses such as heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes. In the past, scientists have genetically modified mice to dispatch their senescent cells, allowing the rodents to live longer and reducing plaque buildup in their arteries. Such genetic alterations aren’t practical for people, but researchers have reported at least seven compounds, known as senolytics, that kill senescent cells. A clinical trial is testing two of the drugs in patients with kidney disease, and other trials are in the works. However, current senolytic compounds, many of which are cancer drugs, come with downsides. They can kill healthy cells or trigger side effects such as a drop in the number of platelets, the cellular chunks that help our blood clot. Cell biologist Peter de Keizer of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues were investigating how senescent cells stay alive when they uncovered a different strategy for attacking them. Senescent cells carry the type of DNA damage that should spur a protective protein, called p53, to put them down. Instead, the researchers found that a different protein, FOXO4, latches onto p53 and prevents it from doing its duty. To counteract this effect, De Keizer and colleagues designed a molecule, known as a peptide, that carries a shortened version of the segment of FOXO4 that attaches to p53. In a petri dish, this peptide prevented FOXO4 and p53 from hooking up, prompting senescent cells to commit suicide. But it spared healthy cells. The researchers then injected the molecule into mutant mice that age rapidly. These rodents live about half as long as normal mice, and when they are only a few months old, their fur starts to fall out, their kidneys begin to falter, and they become sluggish. However, the peptide boosted the density of their fur, reversed the kidney damage, and increased the amount of time they could scurry in a running wheel, the scientists report online today in Cell. When the researchers tested the molecule in normal, elderly mice, they saw a similar picture: In addition to helping their kidneys and fur, the molecule also increased their willingness to explore their surroundings.

Submission + - DARPA Launches Program To Combat Suicide Drones

An anonymous reader writes: DARPA has launched a new program to combat the threat of suicide drones, which can be loaded with explosives and deployed without the use of radio signals. The Mobile Force Protection (MFP) Program will begin Phase 1 development and testing this spring. The aim of the program is to develop a system capable of defeating a raid of drones sent to attack a moving asset, such as a troop convoy. Specifically, DARPA is looking for a solution that can counter multiple threats on a mobile asset moving at up to 70 miles per hour. Appropriate anti-drone weaponry must be able to detect an attack in an extended range and react quickly to a recognized threat. Focusing on a mobile solution withanti-drone capabilities is hoped to benefit stationary anti-drone activitiesas well, because of the necessity for a low-footprint, small and lightweight solution which is both effective and affordable.

Comment The American obsession with self-reliance (Score 5, Insightful) 452

> the American obsession with self-reliance, which makes it more acceptable to applaud an individual for working himself to death than to argue that an individual working himself to death is evidence of a flawed economic system.

It's a choice between community and individuals. Self-reliance was great back in the day when you could (in theory) walk into the wilds and build your own civilization, but if you want a modern standard of living there are simply too many things to do, too much to know. We rely heavily on people taking on highly specialized roles and ultimately everyone lives better as a result.

Modern 'self-reliance' is more like modern 'fuck you, I got mine'. It's people exploiting others and making them like it by holding out the carrot of their own anomalous success. And we eat it up because the human brain is shitty at probabilities... we all think WE are going to be the next big exploiter when the odds are far better that we'll win the lottery, and the truth is we're more likely to die by lightning strike than have either of those things happen.

Americans have to get over their fear of socialism and accept that, all other things being equal, a community that works together is stronger and more prosperous than one that does not. Or they can watch wealth disparity continue to increase, a smaller and smaller portion of the population living like near-Gods while the greater portion has less and less. It'll take time for that to become apparent, so long as bellies are full and everyone has an Internet connection, but eventually the mob rises up and you get a revolution.

Submission + - SPAM: Modified Gravity vies with Planet9 to explain Solar system structure- and fails.

RockDoctor writes: One of the serious contenders to the majority opinion Matter/ Dark Matter/ Dark Energy hypothesis for explaining the structure of the universe is the "MOdified Newtonian Dynamics" or MOND hypothesis in which the gravity field strength decreases not according to a 1/(radius^2) factor, but according to some other function of (radius), which would then explain the movements ("Dynamics") of galaxy-scale structures — the original evidence for postulating the existence of Dark Matter. This hypothesis dates back to 1983 — before the observations that prompt the Dark Energy hypothesis — and has been championed mainly (but not only) by physicist Mordehai Milgrom. While it is definitely not "mainstream" physics, it is certainly a respectable hypothesis.

One way to look for MOND effects is to look closely at the outer Solar system, where distances are larger than can be examined on Earth, but things are close enough for small effects to be measurable from Earth. And in a new paper published on Arxiv, people have done just that. The known "Extreme Trans-Neptunian Objects" ("ETNO"s — closest separation from Sol outside Neptune's orbit ; furthest separation 150 ~ 1500 AU) are closely clustered in direction — the evidence that Batygin, Brown, Sheppard and Trujillo have used in the last five years as evidence for a ninth planet in the Solar system. (No, Pluto is not a planet. Unless you want it to be about 10th or 11th in a 100+ planetary system.) It was possible that the MOND hypothesis might explain the orientation of the ETNOs, so the idea has been examined in detail (paper) — and found it less than 1% likely to explain the observations.

MOND remains an attractive type of hypothesis to explain the observational evidence of the universe's structure without postulating major changes in our understanding of physics. But again, it has failed at the test of new data types. Which still leaves physics with no viable alternative to the Matter / Dark Matter/ Dark Energy hypothesis.

Link to Original Source

Comment Re:I have noticed this personally (Score 1) 158

I guess I'm older. I used to travel with a Perly's Guide for the Toronto area and big folding maps for the rest of the province. And some change for a pay phone.

I got pretty good at dead reckoning and knowing my approximate position at different scales. It's also pretty easy to estimate your travel time when the highway markers count kilometers and traffic goes at 120 km/h. 2km/min. Of course, you have to know where the highway terminus is (or at least your exit) so you can figure out how far you have left to go, but that doesn't take long since exit numbers match the distance from the terminus.

Big trips are easy. Head to the biggest road that heads the way you want to go. Bump over to a country concession if the highway's blocked. Big cities... everything's nicely marked even if some of the roads twist and wind a bit.

Small towns, though... I could get lost on a postage stamp. For that I am immensely glad for smartphones, ubiquitous cellular coverage, mobile GPS apps, and Google Streetview.

Still, I'm glad I have the navigation skills I developed the difficult way even though I now generally rely on GPS. When the navigation directions are poor, I'm not a slave to the device.

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