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The Improbable Story of the 184 MPH Jet Train

Primate Pete Amtrak subsidies (194 comments)

Yeah, it competes with road funding, but Amtrak also takes huge funding from the government, too... near 30% of operating expenses or about half of revenue:

Bloomberg: "After automatic budget cuts, Amtrak is getting $1.3 billion in taxpayer money for fiscal 2013, with $905 million of that going to capital costs and debt service, Kulm said. That’s less than the $1.4 billion the railroad received the previous year."

Amtrak: "In FY 2012, Amtrak earned approximately $2.877 billion in revenue and incurred approximately $4.036 billion in expense. No country in the world operates a passenger rail system without some form of public support for capital costs and/or operating expenses."

It may be a good social service, but it's a lousy business, and it is nowhere near self-sufficient.

5 days ago

Comcast Customer Service Rep Just Won't Take No For an Answer

Primate Pete A success story (401 comments)

When I needed to cancel Comcast a few years ago because I was moving to a new apartment, they wouldn't let me go without giving them a forwarding address, which I did not want to provide. (The bill was already paid in full.) The solution I finally found was to lie to them. I called and told them that I'd found Jesus, and he didn't want that filth in my house anymore. They let me cancel without complaint or argument.So there are two lessons here: (1) find an excuse they don't want to fight with, and (2) don't tell them you're moving unless you want them to stalk you.

about a week ago

Aereo Embraces Ruling, Tries To Re-Classify Itself As Cable Company

Primate Pete No, no, no..... (147 comments)

......the whole point is to avoid competition, restricting consumers' choices and forcing them to pay premium prices. A low-price offering doesn't really fit into that model, now, does it?

about two weeks ago

Unintended Consequences For Traffic Safety Feature

Primate Pete Re:Simple solution (579 comments)

I think it would be difficult to make the numbers visible to pedestrians, but invisible to cars. The cars and pedestrians are only a few degrees apart.

about three weeks ago

Mayors of Atlanta & New Orleans: Uber Will Knock-Out Taxi Industry

Primate Pete Re:Taxi Medallions (273 comments)

And this is why Sidecar, Uber, etc. will not put cabs out of business. Riders want to go where they want to go, not just where someone else is going. You will always need a cab to get to a bad part of town from a nice part of town because yuppies won't drive you there, but taxi drivers (usually) will.

about three weeks ago

Hospitals Begin Data-Mining Patients

Primate Pete HIPAA? (162 comments)

How is not a HIPAA violation to share my health data (which is necessary for the marketing to be profitable) with advertisers? Under most circumstances, just identifying people as patients is not allowed, let alone saying that John Doe, who has hypertension, has been ordering pizza.

about a month ago

Searching For Ocean Life On Another World

Primate Pete Water ice floats (49 comments)

...making a hole won't create a geyser, no matter how deep the water is.

about a month ago

Canadian Court Orders Google To Remove Websites From Its Global Index

Primate Pete Um, if I understand this correctly... (248 comments)

Canada doesn't like the things that are imported to Canada from Country X, so they've decided to sue the printers in Country Y who publish maps of the roads to Country X?

about a month ago

Was Turing Test Legitimately Beaten, Or Just Cleverly Tricked?

Primate Pete Turnabout (309 comments)

It would probably be more convincing if the computer could correctly tell whether the judges were real people or programs...

about a month and a half ago

Apple Announces New Programming Language Called Swift

Primate Pete Re:Viva Eco (636 comments)

But you don't understand... Apple has an ecosystem. In an ecosystem, someone has to be the prey...

about a month and a half ago

Apple Says Many Users 'Bought an Android Phone By Mistake'

Primate Pete Re:Anecdotal but... (711 comments)

Most people don't have geek friends for the simple reason that most real geeks don't have non-geek friends. Geeks are not a public utility.

about a month and a half ago

Happy 95th Anniversary, Relativity

Primate Pete Re:The poetry of the Universe (120 comments)

Also, since electrons do not experience time (as you stated), then NOTHING ever happens to them. Ergo, it is boring to be an electron.

That was the point, right? Mind-blowing = infinitely stultifying?

about 2 months ago

Scientists Find Method To Reliably Teleport Data

Primate Pete Re:Could the soul survive? (202 comments)

I'm pretty sure electrons don't have souls. I'm fairly confident that I don't, either.

So maybe this is on physics/engineering problem we can ignore.

about 2 months ago

Why I'm Sending Back Google Glass

Primate Pete Project Ginger (166 comments)

It seems like the main issue is that there is no good use case.

Google glass = Project Ginger.

about 2 months ago

Favorite Star Wars Movie?

Primate Pete Re:Episode V! (457 comments)

I salute you, sir, and respect your level-headed approach to space station safety protocols.

about 2 months ago

Autonomous Car Ethics: If a Crash Is Unavoidable, What Does It Hit?

Primate Pete Just accept the risk at current levels (800 comments)

Why do we assume that automated cars must necessarily be safer (to the driver, to the others in the environment) that current cars? We have shown by driving that we accept the current level of risk posed by ourselves and other drivers. In cases that call for special care, we teach our kids not to play in the street, we install millions of detailed traffic signals and controls, and we line streets with Jersey barriers..

Just accepting that sometimes cars hit things seems much better that handing a robot a prioritized kill list that it can use whenever it cannot maintain its "happy path" logic.

about 2 months ago

Favorite Star Wars Movie?

Primate Pete Re:Loved the original (457 comments)

I'd second this, or possibly amplify it. I saw the original 10 times in the theater as a 10-year old. Loved it, got completely absorbed into everything related to the movie.

Everything after that was downhill. #5 I probably saw twice out of loyalty, #6 only once and felt deeply disappointed.

Seriously, the ewoks were an unforgivable breach of trust and proof that there was nothing there.

about 3 months ago

SEC Chair On HFT: 'The Markets Are Not Rigged'

Primate Pete How big a problem, in the scheme of things? (303 comments)

While HFT needs to be controlled, or at least watched, I strongly suspect that it does less damange to individual investors' portfolios than a general lack of knowledge about accounting, tax, and business. HFT is an important issue, but if you don't know how to understand a 10-Q, then HFT is probably not your largest problem.

Just sayin'....

about 3 months ago

50 Years of BASIC, the Language That Made Computers Personal

Primate Pete VB != BASIC (224 comments)

Really, though, VB6 is not BASIC, despite claims to the contrary. Program structure (numbered lines), approach (graphical), flow control (GOTO?) and syntax is entirely different.

about 3 months ago


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