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Comment Re:Saving the world with a Tax. (Score 3, Insightful) 155

The idea of a tax isn't as silly as you make it sound. The problem with most forms of pollution (from a purely economic standpoint) is that one person or company gains the benefits from polluting, but everyone pays the costs. This is known as an externality. Taxing pollution fixes this and means that the polluting technology becomes more expensive to operate and makes the barrier to entry for non-polluting technologies higher. If something is producing a lot of carbon dioxide but costs $5/widget, and you add a tax that amounts to $2.50/widget, then a replacement technology that doesn't emit any CO_2 but costs $7/widget is now cheaper to use. This means that you can bring it to market before you've got the economies of scale to push the price down below $5/widget.

Comment Re:solar/wind talk is spin - France vs China (Score 1) 155

Size doesn't really matter, because most renewable schemes scale with area. Population density does. France has 116/km^2, China has 145/km^2, so almost a 25% higher overall population density. That translates to a little bit less space for wind, solar, hydro and so on per capita, but not by enough to make it infeasible. Add in nuclear power, and the scaling is quite easy - building a nuclear power plant is hard, but doubling the generating capacity doesn't come close to doubling the land area, as long as you have a supply of uranium (China has uranium mines, France doesn't).

Comment Re:White Power Rangers...ASSEMBLE! (Score 1) 227

A big part of the problem is that race and wealth correlate strongly in the USA and the rhetoric from the Democrats has been about race and not poverty, even though the latter is the real problem. This leaves people who are both poor and white feeling that the party only cares about poverty when it happens to black people and, worse, that it feels middle class black people deserve more help than poor white ones. This is made even worse by the fact that there's a black President: clearly being black isn't a complete barrier to success, but being born poor often is.

Comment Re:How's that feel Texas? (Score 2) 100

The key word in the summary is 'hundreds'. It brings the total that Tesla is planning on hiring to 7,000. Nevada is giving Tesla $1.3bn over 20 years, so that works out at $65m/year, or $10K/worker. It's a pretty big gamble that the state will take $10K/year more in tax revenues per worker than if the factory were not there. They're betting that the existence of the Tesla factory will spur other job-creating manufacturing industry.

Comment Re:so old! (Score 1) 50

1. Do you have to go out of your way and invest significant time and effort to avoid the use of these Oracle-owned libraries when you want to develop software in Java?

I'm quite happy to go out of my way to not add an extra 'use expensive commercial features' flag when I invoke the JVM.

2. Are you able to write good software without the Oracle-owned libraries? (good = robust, efficient, secure, ...)

I'd first like to see an existence proof that robust, efficient, and secure software exists, but assuming that axiom, any Java program that works with OpenJDK (i.e. the reference Java implementation) will work without any Oracle-specific things.

Comment Re:Mac OS based espionage malware (Score 3, Informative) 50

It's also probably difficult to get a user to accidentally install it. Java used to be installed by default on MacOS X, then there was a thing where, on first use, it would prompt the user and ask them if they wanted it. Now there's a thing saying 'you need Java to do this, go to this web page and download and install it, then try again'. Most casual users will say 'that looks hard, I can't be bothered'.

Comment Re:Mac OS based espionage malware (Score 4, Insightful) 50

It doesn't. Someone has to authorize it with the admin password.

Is this based on anything, or are you just guessing?

The article makes it clear that in order to extract and run the malware, you have to extract and install other malware named "Java".

This "Java" is apparently malware developed by a large database company in order to install security holes in otherwise secure computers, and is so named to trick tired programmers into believing that they are installing coffee.

Comment Ha! I had the same thing happen to me. (Score 5, Interesting) 208

I owned a small consulting company in the late '90s and we were hired to do some work for a VPN vendor. We had to sign a rather onerous NDA and then they stiffed us on payment after six months' work and proceeded to ship what we had built anyway. The "separation" was acrimonious and involved court just so we could get paid.

Two years later, the president of the company contacts me begging for archival copies of what we'd produced, as they suffered some sort of catastrophic event and had lost a lot of source code.

I rather gleefully told him that (a) I had to take him to court to get him to pay me for shipping our work last time around, and (b) as per the NDA that they made a serious issue of in court, we had dutifully wiped everything we had ever worked on for them, and good luck.

I smiled for about a month after that.

Comment About as useful as touch screens for amputees (Score 1) 159

As of 2004, there were ~530,000 deaf and hard-of-hearing people in Sweden (Encyclopedia of Deafness and Hearing Disorders, p.197.)

So basically 5% of the population isn't going to hear the radio announcements, even if they have their radio on. Which they probably don't, or it's tuned to Sirius Satellite or plugged into their iPod/iPhone.

About as useful as touch screens for amputees whose prosthetic hands can't capacitively couple with trackpads or iPhones...

Comment Re:That doesn't change anything (Score 1) 112

Making money here means net profit. For a growing business, this should be negative. If you can borrow money at a 5% interest rate and use it to grow the business at a rate of 10%, then you report a loss but your company value increases. Amazon's strategy has been along these lines for most of its existence: all gross profits are reinvested in the business, so they always show a loss and their increase in value gives them the access to more capital through loans or by issuing more stock.

Comment Re:Can it beat the doctors (Score 4, Informative) 146

This is a common problem with most AI announcements. Is 80% accurate better than a simple statistical model? Often not. Does it scale up from a small sample size? Remember the recent face recognition thing that managed with only a hundred or so pixels? Sounded impressive, until you realise that the training set and the testing set were the same and that they only included around 1,000 faces, so simple information theory tells you that you only need 10 bits of information to identify each one and 800 bits doesn't sound quite so impressive.

Comment Re:Don't realize who the robber barons are, do you (Score 2) 112

And yet, in the UK where it is illegal to make union membership compulsory, unions seem to work better. If people see the unions working on their behalf, then they're generally happy to pay the dues (sure, you get a few freeloaders, but not enough to break the system). If a union is not representing the interests of the majority of its members, then it will quickly see its funding dry up. Importantly, voluntarily paying union dues is a big signal to the employer that the union actually does have negotiating power: it implies that the the union is trusted by the majority of the employees to bargain on their behalf. In many places, you have two or more competing unions (though the law says that any deal reached by one union must be offered to all employees, irrespective of whether they are members of that union) and so not only does a union have to represent its members' interests to retain its income, it has to represent those interests better than the competition.

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