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Comment Re:Yay sidebar! (Score 1) 173

One of the (many reasons) I've always hated the "ribbon" style interface is exactly this: its simply uses up way too much screen real estate (and the premium vertical kind). The paradigm of having a slim, text free button bar for truly common items (that is customizable for _your_ common items) combined with collapsible menus are much more efficient in space and time (aka searching for option / # of clicks).

Comment Re: Basic small-government argument. (Score 1) 357

Unless there has been a criminal conviction or an agreement following a civil trial

Like most libertarian proposals, this is insanity. You are basically saying anyone can drive right up until they are convicted for some crime, say like injuring/killing someone, causing irreversible harm (even if possibly, partially, monetarily compensated for via insurance or a civil settlement). We already know there is a substantial likelihood of this happening -- even with licensing schemes in place -- and can measure and predict rather well using aggregate economic harm that would result of a no-license regime. A license provides a low cost, easy to administer method to reduce this economic harm by validating some basic level of skill at driving and ability to pay some later civil settlement should you fail (or just get unlucky). Now if you want to argue the administrative or social cost outweighs the benefit here and/or there is a better system, please present your large, comprehenive, well researched , peer reviewed study.

Licensing seems like a good idea to me.

Comment Re:what is interesting is not that it won (Score 1) 591

Apparently you have not read the PPACA.

The Act provides that “[e]ach State shall, not later than January 1, 2014, establish an American Health Benefit Exchange (referred to in this title as an ‘Ex-change’) for the State.” 42 U.S.C. 18031(b)(1). But the Act affords “State flexibility” in the fulfillment of that requirement. 42 U.S.C. 18041. A State may “elect[]” to set up the Exchange for itself. 42 U.S.C. 18041(b). Alternatively, if a State does not elect to create the Exchange itself, or if the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) determines that the State will not have the “required Exchangeopera-tiona l by January 1, 2014,” then HHS “shall establish and operate such Exchange within the State.” 42 U.S.C. 18041(c)(1).

An Exchange operated by HHS is known as a “[f]ederally-facilitated Exchange.” 45 C.F.R. 155.20. Though run by HHS, each federally-facilitated Ex-change is the same state-specific Exchange the State otherwise would have established.

You are right in that is is not is explicit, the federal exchange is the established [and operated] exchange within a state.

Comment Re:Geothermal Heat Pump (Score 1) 557

Not very cost effective for new construction either. I was recently quoted (from multiple contractors) in the vicinity of a $60K delta for a geo-sourced (not, geothermal is not the same thing) heat pump for ~4K sq ft against a standard heat pump and/or furnance+A/C setup. The ROI is extremely poor, given the capital is all up front and the savings are realized slowly over time. I didn't even bother calculating a break even point, since it would be almost certainly have been outside the expected service life of either system.

Comment Xylitol has no known tocxicity in humans. (Score 1) 630

Seriously misleading commentary, as it implies Xylitol is also not safe for humans.
Also, the commenter's calculations appear very off. The toxicity levels appear (via wikipedia) to be 500 – 1000 mg/kg bwt. So an average dog, say in the 30-40 pound range, needs 7 or 8 grams to have issues. And this is more than is likely going to be incidentally lapped up from a spilled diet soda, assuming you are otherwise careful about providing your dog access to bulk/unmixed Xylitol.

Comment Why bother with missiles? (Score 1) 470

Most timely intercept geodesics would result in extremely high relative impact don't even need missiles embedded in your cloud of the flak. The impact from even fairly small objects would probably be catastrophic. Just make sure the the target passes through your cloud.

Comment Re:Still Disturbing (Score 1) 207

I was in 5th grade at the time, but on a ski vacation at the time. However, I pressed my parents to watch the launch with me in the hotel room, mostly because as a 10 year old kid I was fascinated with all things space, and just also happened to be writing a report for class on Alan Shepard. I had biographies of him and many of the other early pioneers of space in my lap when I saw the explosion on live TV.

Needless to say, my report took on a rather more morbid tone following this, but at least I never lost my interest in space.

Comment Stupid assumption (Score 1) 414

For one, I don't accept there are two categories: there are plenty of people that cross those lines depending on context (speeding, other "minor" laws), or groups of interacting people that in aggregate blur these categories, or people that might be tempted/forced to switch groups due to some external circumstance.

1) I care because a lot of guns are acquired by criminals from honest people, either knowingly/negligently (gun shows without background checks being the obvious example) or inadvertently (lost/stolen). Reducing the legal boundaries of plastic/undetectable guns means that there are going to be fewer of these and a correspondingly lower probability these guns will be widely distributed or used.

2) The "if a criminal really wants to" argument assumes that all crimes are carefully planned and executed, when facts show otherwise. Statistically, most crimes are unplanned, opportunistic, and random. The chances of all kinds guns (plastic/undetectable being one subset) being used is lowered when access is reduced. Again, facts and statistics bear this out in places where gun control limits access and there is correspondingly lower rates of run related crimes.

Overall, bans like this do have a simple, logical effect of reducing crime. In concert with other measures, laws in general reduce the probability of potential actors from simultaneously having the means (anti-organized crime, gun bans), motive (anti-poverty measures, education, penal), and opportunity (police patrols, security systems) to commit crime. No single thing with STOP all crime for all time.

Comment Network effects (Score 1) 120

It is in general not very difficult to predict these sorts of networks at a gross level (see's_law). Most networks scale in value, to the first order approximation, with the number of connected nodes. Simply put, if you have a network with very few nodes (aka stops on a rail line) it costs a lot and/or no one uses it. If you have a network with a lot of nodes, it cost more sure, but it gets used a lot more. Each successive node's value is scales roughly by N squared, where N is the number of nodes. The biggest wonder is that once a viable network is established, that is ever stops being expanded. Of course, not every network is analogous to a telecommunications network, and there are lots of other effects to consider in practice.

Comment Time to ditch "THE THEORY" (Score 1) 775

In many, many instances secondary/tertiary/etc effects dominate. Plus, money expended is not the same as cost borne by the environment (as other have pointed out) due to differences between internalized and externalized costs. So until you've actually analyzed all these and concluded they are irrelevant, your terse, first-approximation theory has very little utility.

Comment Re:Why is it news (Score 2) 815

There are lots of other reasons you want regulation and government, not just because something is too expensive. Sometimes corporations (thay are after all designed to be a means to aggregate capital) can take of that for you.

Sometimes corporations fail: when coordinated behavior is required, for example in cases of large externalities. The economics classic "Tragedy of the Commons" is exemplified by our modern day causes of and solutions to pollution (compare for example how acid rain and CO2 are/are not handled). Game theory and showed us how under real world economic assumptions and actors (not the economics 101 supply/demand model that many people never seem to advance past), markets can and do consistently fail without regulation.

Also consider what is efficient. Sure, society, life expectancy, technology, or anything can probably advance without governmental institutions (or week ones), but much faster with properly designed strong interaction much faster. As a thought exercise, consider the relative course of history with and without the CDC, WHO, and UNICEF. Go read about guinea worm disease if you need help. You seem to like the idea of consumption taxes, a revenue mechanism that is very inefficient since it ignores the declining marginal utility of money.

As an engineer myself, I am dismayed at how many engineers I encounter that don't get the above and are libertarian in nature. They should firstly be interested in designed to solutions to problems, like the various failure modes of market based systems or political institutions. Second, they should understand the dynamics and forcing functions that might drive these very complex systems to self destruction when improperly designed or regulated. Back when I was in school, they made all the engineers in the early intro classes watch the various famous cases of engineering failures...Tocoma Narrows, Hyatt Regency skywalk, space shuttle...They still do right?

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For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. -- H. L. Mencken