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Comment Re:USPS (Score 1) 84

First class postage is still under $1 for a letter picked up and delivered door to door, usually in a few days. It's a huge bargain if you ask me.

Of course it is. And it's a huge bargain because the USPS is operating at enormous losses, losing ~$8B per year.

What's UPS going to charge you for a letter? $10? $5?

We don't know because they're not allowed to, unless the letter is "urgent" (overnight or 2-day). I suspect that their prices wouldn't be much higher (if any) than USPS, at least for urban areas. They might even be lower. People who live in more rural areas (like me) would likely pay a bit more, but that seems fair, just part of the cost of rural living.

And then they just drop the letter off at the local post office for delivery to your door usually. Same with FedEx.

That's because it's illegal for them to use mailboxes or to deliver first-class residential mail, thanks to the government-guaranteed USPS monopoly on mail delivery.

Perhaps we could scale back delivery days and save labor costs. Say three days a week to the door and only weekday delivery to P.O. boxes? That would drop about half their labor costs, keep service levels high for those who need it, and perhaps allow the USPS to get back to even instead of loosing money all the time.

That might work. While we're at it we should eliminate the monopoly and allow UPS and FedEx to compete with the USPS on all sorts of shipping, and remove all of the remaining subsidies. Let them all compete head to head on price and convenience, on a level playing field.

Comment Re:nice video, but the launch seems backwards (Score 1) 195

so far, statistically the 1st re-use (2nd launch) have a 0% probability of surviving into orbit

There is absolutely no data about the probability of a reused SpaceX rocket making it to orbit, because it's never been tried. The one that blew up wasn't a reused rocket, it was new.

Comment Re:Everything Trump does is bad (Score 1) 134

If she deleted emails AFTER them being subpoenaed by Congress she would be in prison now.

Perhaps. That's a question for Congress, and the Republican Congress has chosen not to pursue it.

If she deleted work related emails after being subpoenaed by the FBI, as Comey confirmed she did, she would be in prison now.

Clinton claims that the deleted emails were personal, not work-related. The DoJ found that she had the legal right to withhold and delete personal emails. Whether the emails actually were personal, of course, we'll never know. But barring existence of some evidence that they weren't personal, there is no prosecutable offense here.

If she lied under oath to Congress, as confirmed by Comey, she would be in prison now.

Almost nobody goes to prison for lying under oath to Congress. Comey has done it, and didn't go to prison, for example.

Just because there is a different set of rules for her and she doesn't go to prison for committing crimes doesn't mean she didn't commit crimes.

I don't see any evidence that there is a different set of rules. There's a lot of evidence that she is given every benefit of the doubt within the rules, probably more than others would. I suspect that some of that is due to the influence of a Democratic administration, but I think most of it arises from the fact that no one wants to destroy a major party's candidate for president without extremely clear cause. It seems entirely appropriate to allow the voters to hold a referendum on these issues in November... and, frankly, if her opponent were anyone other than Donald Trump voters would destroy her for it.

I should mention that I do not like Hillary Clinton, at all. I'm a conservative-leaning libertarian who generally votes for Republican candidates, so I disagree ideologically with Clinton, and as a person I consider her to be a cold, grasping, schemer. But I dislike the post-factual era that US (and world) politics seems to be entering even more.

Comment Re:This simply means we're succeeding. (Score 1) 229

Finally, you can't shave *that* much weight off the car even if you stopped worrying about crashworthiness altogether; you can only make a steel box for 4/5 people so light, and still make it ride nicely, not be noisy inside, have comfortable seats, be able to fit people over 6' tall, etc.

As a first step you could roll back vehicle weights to what they were 40 years ago. You can also shift from steel to lighter materials, and you can eliminate the entire engine compartment (using small hub motors instead) so you can simply chop away much of the existing vehicle. Further, in an autonomous-vehicle world, it seems very likely that individual vehicle ownership will largely become a thing of the past, so you wouldn't have to have a box for 4/5 people except on the occasions you actually have to transport 4/5 people. Of course, the smaller you make the vehicle the less surface you have for solar panels, unless you have something like a highly-streamlined "solar umbrella" which is larger than the vehicle.

As for solar panels, again, no, it's completely impossible. At highway speeds, you need tens of horsepower to overcome air resistance.

Depends on streamlining, and on what "useful speed" means (you said highway speed, not me -- the solar challenge vehicles go much faster than bicycles but not highway speeds), and on how much you can rely on batteries. I know I said "from on-board solar panels" but didn't mean to preclude the idea that the vehicle also has batteries. If the vehicle is parked in sunlight a significant portion of each day to charge the batteries, and it's very light and has very low air and rolling resistance... it may be possible that it can operate usefully without charging from an external source. Or perhaps just without very much external charging.

Also, you're implicitly assuming that the vehicle must overcome air resistance by itself. That needn't be true with autonomous vehicles at highway speeds, which could close up into big trains drafting off of one another. Perhaps the vehicles in the train could even join electrically or physically, so that the lead and trail vehicles don't have to draw down their batteries to maintain speed.

There are options, and I don't think the possibility should be dismissed out of hand. It's a stretch, certainly.

Comment Re:Don't agree with the conclusion .... (Score 1) 229

Electric cars are a fad. The biggest problem is what do you do with all the batteries? Sure you can recycle them, but they will all eventually die. Then what..?

Among other things, EV batteries are going to have a long life as home electricity storage batteries. After a decade or so of use in a vehicle, a battery will have lost ~30% of its capacity. That sucks because it means you have a lot of dead weight to haul around. But it's not nearly as much of a concern to have it parked in the corner of your garage or basement. A couple of old EV batteries would be fantastic for time shifting rooftop solar production to match home consumption. And in that usage model, you should be able to get several more decades of use out of a battery.

And then, recycling... which provides access to high-value raw materials much less expensively than mining.

Comment Re:Don't agree with the conclusion .... (Score 1) 229

High fuel prices punish the people who are already struggling, on tight budgets. If they need to drive a vehicle for any kind of delivery or taxi job (Uber, Lyft, etc.) - it means their costs go up, because they can't just "drive less".

That doesn't mean it shouldn't be done, it just means that it shouldn't be done too quickly or without warning. People can adapt, by moving where they live, by relocating businesses, by switching to telecommuting, by carpooling, using mass transit (which may require transit buildout) etc. (and taxis can simply raise their prices to account for the higher fuel costs -- or switch to electrics). The key is to give people time to adapt, and let them know that they need to.

IMO, we should implement a schedule of federal fuel tax increases. The increases should start very gently, but then get steeper, much steeper, and everyone should know they're coming well in advance. And the taxes collected should be invested in renewable and mass transportation.

Comment Re:This simply means we're succeeding. (Score 1) 229

You can't, unless you're proposing to have vehicles that can't go faster than bicycle speed. The size and weight of modern cars stems directly from crash-safety requirements.

Crash-safety requirements are necessary only because cars crash. When we mandate fully-autonomous vehicles, crashes will be reduced to a miniscule fraction of what they are, because they'll occur only in cases of severe mechanical failure or some non-vehicle object on the roadway (big rocks, etc.). Effectively, we'll move the crash safety assurance from heavy steel to lightweight sensor, communications and computing equipment.

I'm not sure if cars can be made lightweight enough to operate at useful speed from on-board solar panels, but we will be able to get much, much closer than we are now.

Comment Re:Story's Not Over (Score 2) 203

If I understand this correctly, Akamai threw Krebs out because Akamai could not handle the DDS. This means I'm never sending any business to Akamai because they can't handle it properly. But it doesn't mean Krebs is off the air for long.

For example, I bet Cloudflare would take him on. They've differentiated themselves on the ability to handle DDS.

There's also Google's Project Shield, which is free for journalists.

Comment Re:Do we have to let the winner out of the arena? (Score 1) 53

Why does it boggle the mind? Most of the Android revenue is licensing. Google doesn't have a lot of cost when it comes to licensing.

I think most of Android's revenue is from the Play store, not licensing. In fact, I don't think Google charges anything for the Google apps, and it really couldn't charge anything for Android, since it's open source.

Comment Re:Think about it (Score 2) 280

It's wishful thinking to suppose that a more technically advanced civilization would be more peaceful and tolerant.

I don't think so, for two reasons.

The first is that our own history is one of increasing peace and tolerance. If you don't believe this, you should read Stephen Pinker's "The Better Angels of our Nature". I won't attempt to restate his arguments here, but there's very compelling evidence that we've become dramatically less violent and more tolerant in step with our increased technology.

The second is that advanced technology is impossible without extremely high levels of cooperation. For one example, the massive, interlocking global supply chains that are needed to produce all of our more advanced technologies today (such as the computer I'm typing this on or the phone sitting next to the computer) are mind-bogglingly complex and involve a significant fraction of the world. Broad negotiation and cooperation requires empathy, the ability to understand the minds and goals of both your collaborators and your opponents, and that same empathy slowly -- but inevitably -- results in discomfort with violence and suffering.

Indeed, we've become uncomfortable with violence to and suffering of even non-human creatures. Up to the 19th century cat burning was a popular mass entertainment in much of Europe. They'd hang a sack full of live cats over a bonfire, or douse a cat in oil and light it's tail on fire and chase it through the street. Although there were people who found these activities distasteful, the vast majority found them hilarious. Today, that would be reversed, and the vast majority would call such "entertainment" sick. In many jurisdictions, such animal cruelty is a felony.

It's clear that we're rapidly proceeding further down this road. We devote large areas of land and resources to preserving other species. Vegetarianism and veganism are on the rise, and I expect that within a few decades we'll have good cultured meats and that we'll virtually cease killing other animals for food. As the human population declines (it's rising towards a peak but will then begin to fall) and our wealth increases we'll be better able to indulge our empathy and go ever further to minimize future killing and we'll work hard to try to repair the damage we've done to other species.

Your argument is that it seems likely that advanced alien species would have followed much the same course that ours did. I agree, I think it stands to reason they'll have followed that course to become very peaceful and tolerant, particularly if they have achieved FTL travel which should completely eliminate any need to compete for resources. To reach the stars (assuming that's possible) will require openness and scientific inquisitiveness that are incompatible with violence and subjugation, and make them unnecessary.

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