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2 US Senators Propose 12-Cent Gas Tax Increase

GlassHeart Re:warming is Good! (619 comments)

No extra cost to warming [...] Sea level is rising as we warm up from the little ice age, and much land is subsiding.

Whatever the cause, we would need to mitigate sea level rises with measures such as relocation or sea walls, all of which are costly. The best available science points to AGW as the cause of the rise, and therefore it makes sense to pay for the mitigation with AGW sources.

it benefits agriculture and humans do well in warmth, much better than cold.

The problem is that the "warming" is an average of far wilder fluctuations in weather. The earth doesn't just get uniformly a bit warmer, and the localized effects can be devastating. More importantly, even if a bit of warming is beneficial on the average, continuing the trend - especially past a certain threshold into a feedback loop of uncontrollable warming - is obviously foolish. Unless you claim to know exactly how much greenhouse gasses we can release into the atmosphere for best effect, it would be prudent to not find out the hard way.

Pollution from cars--hmm, not much lately since the advent of catalytic converters.

"Today’s on-road vehicles produce over a third of the carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides in our atmosphere", says the Union of Concerned Scientists. The bottom of that article discusses the pollution's effects on public health.

about 7 months ago

2 US Senators Propose 12-Cent Gas Tax Increase

GlassHeart Re:Good! (619 comments)

According to the CPI Inflation Calculator, 18.3 cents today is worth about 11 cents in 1993, so a loss of around 40%, not 75%. But your point stands.

about 7 months ago

2 US Senators Propose 12-Cent Gas Tax Increase

GlassHeart Re:Good! (619 comments)

Because a good deal of the cost of gasoline has been externalized. Below are some examples:

  1. The efforts of the US Navy to maintain peace in the middle east shipping lanes. The US consumed some 134 billion gallons of gasoline in 2013, and the budget of the US Navy is about $150 billion. It's reasonable to assume that a few cents per gallon should be charged to help pay for the Navy.
  2. The increased incidences of respiratory diseases due to air pollution. Medical care is expensive in the US, and things that harm public health should at the very least help pay for it.
  3. The costs of global warming.

Obviously, gasoline is not the sole driver of these, but it makes sense to better account for the true cost of using gasoline. Note that the gasoline tax has not changed in absolute terms since 1993, which means it's lost about 40% of its value to inflation.

This isn't to say that the 12 cent proposal is fair, or that sharply increasing gasoline prices is wise, but that a gradual increase to match its true cost is sensible.

about 7 months ago

Global-Warming Skepticism Hits 6-Year High

GlassHeart Re:The death of expertise ("it's the money!") (846 comments)

Here are the two propositions that you are comparing:

  1. Opinions of regular people are just as valid as those of experts
  2. A gross majority of experts are lying to get funding

What would you say is the likelihood of each being true? Just because neither is 0% or 100% doesn't make them equivalent.

1 year,5 days

Fragmentation Leads To Android Insecurities

GlassHeart Re:Not vendor fragmentation (318 comments)

Other than Samsung, approximately no Android manufacturer makes a meaningful profit, and several operate in losses. Wonder why they're "lazy"? It's called racing to the bottom, and the bottom is not bothering with software updates once you make the sale, because it's cheaper that way.

about 2 years ago

Is 'Brogramming' Killing Requirements Engineering?

GlassHeart Re:Depends on the product (432 comments)

If you capture the market for a new idea you can use a more formal process for v2 while your competitors missed out.

That still depends on how much of your v1 you're able to salvage for your v2. If you essentially have to toss it all out, then you've just thrown away much of the advantage you have against a (typically big boy) competitor. Think of your v1 as detailed specs for Google's very bright engineers.

about 2 years ago

Does US Owe the World an Education At Its Expense?

GlassHeart Say hello to globalization (689 comments)

First of all, the US does not have a monopoly of good schools. Europe has many good schools, and there are schools that provide competent college-level education all over the world. Closing the doors of US universities merely directs the demand to these other good schools, and would probably not substantially decrease the creation of competition.

Secondly, the US has a moral obligation to many countries, having terribly damaged their institutions and infrastructures over years of intervention. Even if the US was paying for their education (and we are generally not), a person with a sense of history might not think it's so unfair. One could even argue that the richest country in the history of the world has an obligation to humankind to help develop as much of the limited pool of talent we have. Would it really benefit us if the next Darwin or Einstein is denied the best education?

Thirdly, many universities are private and most professors (except perhaps ones with truly sensitive expertise like nuclear engineering) are mobile. Countries are not going to stop trying to compete with the US just because we stop issuing student visas. If we leave them no other choice, they'll simply invite our universities to set up satellite campuses, or just hire away professors. The resulting brain drain could be even worse.

Basically, the only way it'll work out as the submitter imagines is when there are lots of qualified and motivated US students who can afford the education to fill the slots vacated by foreigners. With the economy in trouble and government slashing education spending, it's more likely that a lot of schools will downsize, shut down, or simply move.

about 2 years ago

C Beats Java As Number One Language According To TIOBE Index

GlassHeart Re:Not surprising (535 comments)

It's strange that you would call C the "most standardized language". Lots of very basic things in C are implementation-defined or even undefined. For example, the C Standard allows int types to be implemented at least as sign-magnitude, one's-complement, and two's-complement formats. It doesn't specify the number of bits in a char type, allowing it to differ from implementation to implementation. It doesn't even specify if char is signed or unsigned by default. Real-world C programs often get by because they happen to run on similar CPU architectures, not because they actually comply with the Standard, compared to other languages that offer more hardware abstraction.

I would also disagree with "simple to learn and use". I've been writing in C (and C-like languages) for about 20 years now, and it's a professional tool that can hurt unwary newbies. Features like its relatively terse syntax and manual memory management are obviously not impossible to learn, but not particularly "easy" either.

about 2 years ago

C Beats Java As Number One Language According To TIOBE Index

GlassHeart Re:C? (535 comments)

The advantages to being able to develop software for anything from phones to mainframes in one language are not limited to just porting the same code everywhere, although many libraries do port readily even if the application doesn't. It also has to do with the programmer's mastery of the language. If the programmer is actually writing (even very different) code on all these disparate platforms, he or she is probably still going to be a better programmer in the end than one who has to switch among four different languages.

about 2 years ago

CIA Director David Petraeus Resigns, Citing Affair

GlassHeart Re:Base partisan politics? Look in the mirror. (401 comments)

'Shit' didn't just happen. A pending attack or assassination was a big concern for Ambassador Stevens months beforehand, and his requests for more security went nowhere.

Requests for all sorts of things are denied by superiors all the time for all sorts of reasons. Some reasons are good, some reasons are bad, and some reasons are even criminal, but you haven't established which one it was. I would suggest you present the substance of this supposed request, and show how a reasonable boss should've granted it. Just because the "big concern" turned out right in hindsight isn't actually enough.

there's some concern that Obama failed miserably when Hillary Clinton's legendary '3 am phone call' came.

That's rather vague. What did he do, and what was he supposed to do, when?

Note that I'm not defending the Obama administration's actions in any way. I'm just pointing out that I don't actually know what you're accusing them of.

more than 2 years ago

Richard Branson 'Determined To Start a Population On Mars'

GlassHeart Re:To what end? (266 comments)

Insurance only makes sense if the premium is much much lower than the catastrophic event you're protecting against. For example, Google shows me an ad for life insurance: "Get $500,000 of Coverage For Only $21/Month". That makes sense, because the $500,000 protects your family against financial ruin, and you can afford the $21. A Mars colony protects against human extinction, which I would expect most people care about a great deal less than their families. Hell, at least one major religion embraces apocalypse, so their believers would presumably not be too worried about it.

more than 2 years ago

FAA To Reevaluate Inflight Electronic Device Use

GlassHeart Re:Oh please no (336 comments)

So bring a book or magazine. Or chat with your seatmate. Or take a nap. It takes about half an hour for the plane to reach cruising altitude. You'll survive.

more than 2 years ago

California Wants Genetically Modified Foods To Be Labelled

GlassHeart Re:Land of the Free (559 comments)

If there ere any scientific prove these foods may be dangerous, they would be prohibited by governments.

According to Wikipedia, "Asbestos became increasingly popular among manufacturers and builders in the late 19th century because of its sound absorption, average tensile strength, its resistance to fire, heat, electrical and chemical damage, and affordability. [...] The first documented death related to asbestos was in 1906. In the early 1900s researchers began to notice a large number of early deaths and lung problems in asbestos mining towns. The first diagnosis of asbestosis was made in the UK in 1924. By the 1930s, the UK regulated ventilation and made asbestosis an excusable work-related disease, followed by the U.S about ten years later. The term mesothelioma was first used in medical literature in 1931; its association with asbestos was first noted sometime in the 1940s."

The point is not to say that GM foods are dangerous. The point is that some ill effects can take time to show up, still more time to link to the source conclusively, and then still more time for governments to take action. The harmful effects of tobacco have been well-known for decades, yet it's still quite legal, so I'm not sure where you get your faith in governments.

more than 2 years ago

TomTom Satnavs To Set Insurance Prices

GlassHeart Re:What about external hazards? (605 comments)

It's not that complicated. Your personal sharp brake count can be compared to the average count of all drivers in the area. Random events happen to everybody, but if it somehow happens to you a lot more, then either you are extraordinarily unlucky, or you're a bad driver. Either way the insurance company would want you to pay more, assuming they can correlate this behavior with actual accident rates.

more than 2 years ago

Nokia CEO Blames Salesmen For Windows Phone Struggles

GlassHeart Re:"...only show phones they think might sell." (435 comments)

Prolonging the inevitable doesn't make it any less inevitable.

That's not actually true. Even just breaking even means that you don't have to lay off employees with important skills and knowledge, and watch them go work for competitors. It means buying yourself some time for R&D to catch up. It means time for a competitor or two to make a mistake. People forget how many years Apple struggled with "inevitable" bankruptcy, that as recently as 2003 you could've had a share of AAPL for $7.

more than 2 years ago

Mathematics Says Romney and Santorum Tied In Iowa

GlassHeart Re:speaking of which (457 comments)

It's not as if Obama has strayed at all from his predecessor's policies on war, executive supremacy, and foreign policy.

Obama got the Arab League* to endorse the no-fly zone over Libya, and got the Europeans flying many of the missions, for a final cost of about $2 billion and no known American lives. Does that sound even remotely like either of Bush's wars?

* Which, mind you, is not only Arab and Muslim like Libya, but also mostly dealing with internal dissent themselves, and are obviously wary of Western intervention themselves. How eager do you suppose they were to throw Libya under the bus?

about 3 years ago

Fusion Garage Going After Lower-Price Tablet Market

GlassHeart Re:No sale (196 comments)

A no-name company with a skeevy CEO, a custom OS instead of Android or something more well-supported? Maybe at $100, or possibly even $200.

I fear your expectations for a $100 tablet may be a bit high.

more than 3 years ago

Hands-On Account of Amazon's Upcoming Color Kindle

GlassHeart Re:so much for e-ink... (156 comments)

I really don't see how my reader could be significantly improved.

In no particular order:

  1. The background color of e-ink is not ideal, and should be able to display something resembling white, if not actually a user-selectable color.
  2. The resolution of e-ink can be improved, at least to 300 dpi or so.
  3. While the flashing refresh is bearable, it's obviously not ideal.
  4. Depending on what you're reading, rich color.

more than 3 years ago

Why Amazon Can't Manufacture a Kindle In the US

GlassHeart Re:Comparative Advantage... (598 comments)

Yes, because the bleeding hearts couldn't stand seeing it locally, so they got rid of polluters, sweatshops, abusive management. IF we could export those guys to China, they would clean up China, which is pretty much a hellhole. Better than it was 10 years ago, but still a hellhole..

If that's the kind of country you want to live in, seems to me it'd be more efficient to move you to China than to send the "bleeding hearts" to transform China.

more than 3 years ago

American Grant Writing: Race Matters

GlassHeart Re:Reality... (464 comments)

Can't we just face the reality that some races are actually better are certain things than others due to millions of years of evolution?

You misunderstand the reported problem entirely.

Even if we assume your assertion is correct, the average still means nothing in this context. Even if 2% of white people have IQ of 130 but only 1% of black people do (numbers entirely made up for illustration purposes), we would expect the 1% to be approximately as successful as the 2%. If they aren't, then we might reasonably want to understand why.

The tallest woman was 2.48m tall. Would you expect her to be shorter than a 2.48m-tall man, just because women are shorter than men on average?

more than 3 years ago


GlassHeart hasn't submitted any stories.



My Problem With The War

GlassHeart GlassHeart writes  |  more than 11 years ago Everybody seems to be talking about the war, so let's start somewhere else.

If you've ever read any report on Taiwanese politics on cnn.com, chances are you'll see a line like "China regards Taiwan as a renegade province". The truth is, of course, a bit more nuanced.

Taiwan was a territory of the Ching (Qing) Dynasty, which lasted for about three centuries ending in the early 1900s. It has not always been considered a part of Ching, and in fact housed remnants of the previous Ming Dynasty for many years. It was an unadministered island occupied by rebels, and later collected into the Ching Dynasty. Still later, after losing a war with Japan, Taiwan was given to Japan.

The Japanese occupation of Taiwan lasted until the end of WWII, when it was given back to the Republic of China, headed by the Nationalist government. In 1949, the Nationalist government finally lost the civil war against the Communists, and retreated to Taiwan.

The Nationalist government has governed Taiwan continuously, since 1949. It has recently democratized a great deal, and now enjoys free elections. The Communists created a new country, called the "People's Republic of China".

So how is Taiwan a "renegade province"? The first concept to understand is that Beijing considers a greater "China" than itself. That is, Beijing feels that it inherited the rights to all of "China", including Taiwan. Any elements of "China" not under its control is, therefore, renegade.

Before I bore you any more, here's the point. The PRC government has never governed Taiwan for a single day. Its claim is based on a greater concept of nation than anybody accepts, because the definition is unlimited. Along the same lines of reasoning, Beijing should be able to claim territories conquered by Genghis Khan, which extends to Vienna or so. Beijing, of course, doesn't actually extend its claim that far, only far enough to include Taiwan.

In other words, Beijing isn't interested in logical argument. It has defined what Taiwan is, and its power ensures that the definition sticks.

How does this relate to the war? After 9/11, the Bush government seized a most important power - the power to define. Who is a "terrorist"? Who is an "enemy combatant"? Who is a "prisoner of war"? Who is part of an "axis of evil"? Who is "evil"?

The old definition of a terrorist is political (or perhaps religious) motive. Somebody who hijacks a plane for money is a kidnapper; somebody who hijacks a plane to broadcast the "plight of his people" or to demand the release of comrades is a terrorist. Today, a terrorist is one who targets civilians. This conveniently ignores the indisputable fact that the United States targeted Japanese civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki with weapons of mass destruction. Does that make the US a terrorist organization?

The nonsense of "enemy combatant" versus "prisoner of war" should be plainly obvious. POWs are people captured in a war. Was the campaign in Afghanistan a war? Were the people captured there?

Which brings us to the most dangerous word: "evil". Evil is something every good person must combat. Evil is something good people must leave no room for. There is no negotiating or compromise with Evil. Never mind that by inference, those who combat Evil are the Good.

Because Saddam Hussein is "evil", he can be judged by what he is "likely" to do in the future with WMDs that he may not yet have. What about all the other nuclear powers? Pakistan has nuclear weapons, and is even a Muslim country. Why are they not "likely", at some undetermined time in the future, to use them against the US?

"Weapons of Mass Destruction" is another clever definition. It collectively refers to nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. It neglects the fact that biological and chemical weapons have never been usable to inflict the kinds of casualties that nuclear weapons can. It's basically impossible to cause death in the millions with B and C weapons, while it's relatively trivial with nuclear weapons. Why are the three lumped together? Well, you'd lump them together too if you had nukes.

I have no problem with war. War is sometimes inevitable, and sometimes just. What I have a problem with is powerful entities using definitions to selectively pursue their own interests. The US wants to invade Iraq because it's "evil"? Fine, define "evil" clearly, and invade everybody who fits that bill. China wants Taiwan "back"? Fine, claim every territory that a "Chinese" government ever held.

When you can be selective with its application, it's not really a principle.

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