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Excuses

On the low blogging tempo ...

I'm grappling with a tight deadline: "The Labyrinth Index" is due with my editors at the end of the month and I've still got one third of the book to go. (It's going to be a little shorter than the last couple of Laundry Files novels, but on the other hand, they've been growing alarmingly. The first short novel, "The Atrocity Archive", was 76,000 words long, while by "The Nightmare Stacks" and "The Delirium Brief" they were pushing close to 140,000 words. This one isn't exactly short, but should come in at around 100,000 words—in other words, about 300 pages.)

Creative blogging soaks up the same writing mojo as book-writing, and I don't have much surplus this quarter. I'll have some crib notes for you in a few weeks when Empire Games is released in small-format paperback (that's due on December 5th in the USA, but October 19th in the UK, because Tor USA and Tor UK are different companies and run on slightly different release schedules: yes, the ebook price will drop at the same time). And I'll see if I can find a guest blogger or two. And of course, if something happens that causes me to foam at the mouth you'll read about it here ... but don't be too surprised if this place is unusually quiet for the next month.

Part of it, I will admit, is news fatigue. John Scalzi already said this thing, so I don't feel the need to repeat every word of it here, but in a nutshell: it's really hard to think myself into an ebullient and entertaining frame of mind this year, which is a necessary precondition to writing escapist fiction. The news is unmitigated crap right now. Our rulers are either morons and criminals (the White House), or being run ragged by a clown car full of idiots (the Brexit cheerleaders, whose latest wheeze is to decide that anyone bearing news of economic woes in the brave new Brexit uplands is clearly a saboteur because nothing can go wrong and it's time to fire the Chancellor for revising growth forecasts down). The climate is turning deadly (how many hurricanes this season? Has central California burned to the ground yet?), and maniacs are waving nuclear dildos at each other again. There is no respite from the bad news, other than to turn the news off completely or subsist entirely on a diet of successful rocket launch videos (checks clock: there's an hour to go until the next SpaceX bird goes up, then a couple of days to the next) and happy puppies.

Oh, and next week I turn 53. I don't generally have crises on birthdays divisible by 10; I defer them for 2-3 years. For example, on turning 30 you can still kid yourself you're in your late twenties; at 33, this isn't true any more. Now I'm nearly 53 I can't really kid myself I'm not middle-aged. Given that we live in a culture that venerates youth and ignores or discounts age, that's also calling for a bit of adjustment (notably learning to kick back against the little voice in my ear whispering "you're an old has-been" and "you're past it" and "your best work is behind you: you're coasting on fumes now" and say "fuck you, I'm going to prove you wrong"). In fact, it's calling for so much adjustment that I don't have much spare energy for anything else.

So ... what I guess I'm saying is, I've got a tight deadline to hit and work is actually much, much harder than usual right now because the emotional environment is toxic, and us creatives need, if not happiness, then at least light at the end of the tunnel. But work is the one thing I can't allow to slide. Excuses are not permitted: I've got a tight schedule to meet if I'm going to take a sabbatical for a couple of months around the end of next year, and I'll slack off when I'm dead.

That's it. Talk among yourselves or feel free to ask me anything (just be aware I might not answer until I've hit my daily word-count target). I'm outa here; back in November.

702 Comments

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1:

Hey Charlie, fuck that noise about being over the hill or whatever. You have _plenty_ of great books left in you. Hokusai only got "good" when he was around 70 years old.

So yeah, tell that voice to STFU :D

2:

Stay awesome, Charlie. Devote some time to self-care and don't believe what the black dog tells you.

3:

NO worries, Charlie. Do what you got to do to get those words on paper. Has-been? Over the Hill? Such people have not been reading your latest novels. I'm really happy you are doing new and interesting things in the Merchant Princes verse, and the Laundry Files has with its new characters and perspectives been opening up as well.

Excelsior, good sir.

4:

I'm aware that no pithy magic sentence will change stuff: none the less, I've immensely enjoyed your sharing and fiction and wish you all the best. There is a price to pay for being an emotional computational device, but I'm pretty sure it's worth it.

5:

The news tempts me to go dark. The empty screaming void calls.


Disappear into some cutting edge physics, and hopefully learn something before the world burns hotter.

6:

Don't get worried about "over the hill" thoughts, they're complete bollocks. You write awesome books and short stories, and you will continue to do so. Shut off the noise, get in the zone, and plough on.

7:

Write Charlie write!

As for old, old Swedish fringe-fan and long-time journalist Bertil Falk just released his biography "Feroze Gandhi: The Forgotten Gandhi" and is currently touring all over India because of that - at age 84!

8:

Thanks for the recommendation of Oddjobs you made elsewhere. Two more of their works also purchased and Oddjobs 2 will be in the next physical batch I get.

9:

I was thinking earlier this week about how to distinguish when universes in the Empire Games series diverged.

One method you implicitly touched upon was Philip K. Dick's novel The Grasshopper Lies Heavy - not written in OTL, but present in Timeline 2, which means that the universes diverged at a minimum in 1962.

For when Timeline 3 diverged, you could pick some composer like Handel (1685–1759) and compare when their works in the two timelines began to be different.

For maximum dystopia effect, the Laundry Files universe's version of Charlie Stross is probably on Book 10 of the Iron Sunrise series.

10:

From how the people I know have aged, 'middle-aged' seems significantly more flexible than just calendar decades. A couple people in their sixties are active enough physically and mentally to keep up with most mid-forties people, whereas some others in their fifties are definitely slowing down and seeming a better fit for 'old-age'.

I don't know your life except through the blog+books, but if you live in the city, you're probably walking a lot more than those of us living in Carpark, Suburbia, USA. As for mental stuff, contrast yourself to those who watch Fox religiously. You are still working towards making life better, for yourself, for your readers, and for those who frequent these comment sections.

11:

Whenever I pass an n0 birthday I’m “hey, I’m only in my early n0s!” and when I pass an n5 birthday I’m “well, at least I’m still in my n0s and not my (n+1)0s yet!” It’s worked so far.

12:

Hey Charlie, I'm going to be 54 in November and I worked 52 hours last week, so don't sweat it! We old farts got a lot of life left in us. You've got at least 20 good years, maybe 30-40 if you get lucky.

And fuck Trump up the ass with a rusty oil rig. If he touches off World War III, as science fiction people we're a step ahead of the game - at least we know how to set up a proper governing structure for our mutant hordes. And did you hear about Pence's shitshow at the football game? Pathetic. That's the quality of the opposition.

You keep writing 'em and and I'll keep reading 'em! If that ain't enough for ya I don't know what to say. When you finally end up in LA I'm buying the beer, and meanwhile, enjoy life's little pleasures.

13:

_The Grasshopper Lies Heavy_ is the title of the book within a book in _The Man in the High Castle_. So I read it as being the same P.K. Dick book, just with a different title.

14:

successful rocket launch videos (checks clock: there's an hour to go until the next SpaceX bird goes up, then a couple of days to the next) and happy puppies.

Looks like it went up on time and the sats are deployed. Booster landed on the barge.

15:

Not quite, actually. Charlie mentioned that there was a novel-within-a-novel in The Grasshopper Lies Heavy. That novel's title? The Man in the High Castle. (Charlie, if I've misinterpreted that, then feel free to jump in!)

Of course, even if they are otherwise identical, having a different title indicates that the universes have already diverged, however slightly.

16:

The only person you might need to apologize for not keeping the blog going is yourself. You owe us nothing.

I read you loud and clear about the aging thing and the nasty little voices that are telling you that you are now too old. They are nothing but trolls. You need to take a look at the comment moderating policy of your brain, and maybe wield the banhammer a bit more liberally.

17:

Questions!

  • Who taught the Alfar Enochian?
  • Did the Alfar create the v-parasite, or only domesticate it?
  • 18:

    Since this is basically an open thread, I'd like to ask the following question:

    How do you see developing countries changing within the next five years?

    Within Europe, which developing countries do you predict will become developed within that time frame?

    The same question goes for East and Southeast Asia?

    19:

    Ah, here's what I was looking for:

    Happy Birthday!

    Anyway, we're under a red flag warning right now in San Diego, but the winds haven't picked up where I am. Yet.

    One quibble: although the people in Humboldt County vehemently disagree with this notion,* most people north of the San Francisco Bay consider themselves to be in northern California, not Central California. That said, I was in Sonoma County last month, and it's always unnerving to read about a fire when you know the area a bit. This one's going to be a mess.

    *Central California is definitely Santa Barbara to Monterey Bay, although the edges are messy. To people in northwest California (e.g. Humboldt), Sacramento and San Francisco are in southern California. To people in San Francisco and Sacramento, they're in northern California and LA is in southern California. Basically, it appears that everyone outside of the San Francsico Bay to Sacramento region wants this region to be in the other half of the state (e.g. Angelenos want it to be in the north, northerners want it to be in the south). Central California is basically farm country, with a lot of money in a few hands (cf Devin Nunes' backers). Oh, and Bakersfield and Fresno, shining cultural landmarks that they are (and Yosemite and Sequoia, which are landmarks of a different kind). But since it's red-state drive through, Grapes of Wrath, country, including the SF Bay in that stretch is a bit, erm, problematic.

    20:

    It's more complicated than that. People north of Napa Valley (itself north of San Francisco) view themselves as the "real Northern Californians". Like Central California, it's very redneck Trump country which shares a lot of Appalachia's social problems.

    21:

    Hey Charlie:

    Happy 53rd!

    Our ages are elastic and crumbly, inconsistent and intermittent, overlapping and shredded all at once. Pick the stage you'd most like to be, and to hell with the rest!

    According to numerology, 53 is:

    http://affinitynumerology.com/number-meanings/number-53-meaning.php#maincontentcontinue


    'In essence, the numerology number 53 is realistic and efficient. And a builder. It feels free to pursue the goals it wants to pursue regardless what others may think it should pursue.

    The number 53 is also curious and creative. And has a good business sense.

    It's a balanced number and it tends to build large works that benefit society for a long time. It's sensual, adventurous, and mentally sharp. The number is optimistic, tolerant, inspiring, and comfortable in social situations.

    What you have, then, is a fairly self-determined number that gets along with others, yet tends to do things its own way.

    And the number 53 does get things done.

    People feel a resurgence of purpose when they're around 53.'


    There you go - feeling better now?

    22:

    Totally true, but I was trying to not confuse him with too much information at once.

    I was cheered to hear (from an agricultural teacher) that the principle agricultural base of Mendocino County is "inebriants," (grapes and marijuana) and she, among others, is trying to diversify the agriculture base there again while finding jobs for the locals.

    23:

    I turned 54 just over a week ago and you're right: there's a little voice that says "you're getting older" and which attributes the sort of forgetfulness you've been exhibiting all your absent-minded adult life to the start of the terminal brain-rot.

    Ignore it. You're a writer for heaven's sake - many are only just getting started by now. And while the blog is fun and a great way for your fans to chat and interact, we none of us have any expectation, or right to such as expectation, of you producing regular things.

    I've now cut my news intake enormously and feel far, far better for it.

    24:

    Shoot, I had a question about "The Delirium Brief" after I finished it a few weeks ago, but don't remember what it was. Anyhow...

    I've also been wondering about the average word length of books in general. I was about to ask whether publishers are fixated on novels being at least 100k words, but then thought of how Tor.com is putting out novellas. So maybe novels of around 90k might stand a chance?

    And meanwhile, I suppose Charlie has seen this long article, but maybe others here haven't. Minor characters include VD and Moldbug.
    Here's How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled Nazi and White Nationalist Ideas Into The Mainstream

    25:

    At 72 and not all that conscious of the years, I recommend that you take appropriate care(*) of yourself, keep going, and not pay too much attention to the calendar. People are making it into their ninth and tenth decates in reasonable shape.

    (*) Diet, physical exercise in large part. Also mental exercise and discipline, which you shouldn't have any problem with. Don't shun, but beware the medical profession.

    26:

    Having just read Scalzi's piece ... yes, ditto on/agree with all points.

    What I'd like is a DT/TM/NK/Right-wing/et al antidote. More fear, cynicism and name-calling isn't going to cut it. Well-documented, trustworthy data presented in plain language with real-life personal accounts showing what these gov'ts' policies actually result in - including just how far they miss the mark on the promises they were supposed to fulfill - are needed. Maybe even toss a lifeline to DT/TM supporters that have also had enough.

    The above is the responsibility of the official opposition. Where are they and why aren't they doing their jobs? Or are they being deliberately ignored by media?


    27:

    Mr Stross,

    Don't worry about it.

    Yeah, you your joints might creak a bit and looking in the mirror may not be a real joyfest anymore but you're only old when you need a care worker to open the wine bottle!

    Keep on doing what you're good at and bring joy to thousands! A hard won talent should be used.

    28:

    How do you see developing countries changing within the next five years?

    No idea. Literally less idea than I had 18 months ago.

    The beige dictatorship has begun to crumble, but what replaces it is notyet visible — and is probably still at the stage of being highly sensitive to minute variations in preconditions.

    At the same time, we're in an avalanche of climate and energy related change. Weather is getting bad, record-breakingly bad, with insane storms and heat waves and half of California on fire by the look of things tonight. Meanwhile, the automotive industry is in the process of abandoning diesel and gasoline, far more rapidly than I'd have predicted. and the price of solar/wind/renewables is dropping so fast that it's kneecapping new build nuclear and coal plants.

    No idea what any of this portends, except the political event horizon, now as in decades past, is about five years: that's how long it takes for a seemingly stable mixed social/market democracy to nose-dive into chaos, fascism, or Handmaid's Tale style theocracy. (Consider how plausible Germany 1934 looked as a future back in 1929. Or UK 2017 back in 2012.)

    29:

    What I'd like is a DT/TM/NK/Right-wing/et al antidote.

    Alas.

    As I tweeted last week:

    In late 2016, I was wishing we could be invaded by The Culture.

    In late 2017, even Daleks look like they'd be an improvement.

    30:

    Hey, at least the Daleks know a four-syllable word, (though they can't use it in a sentence.)

    And may I recommend...

    31:

    The above is the responsibility of the official opposition. Where are they and why aren't they doing their jobs? Or are they being deliberately ignored by media?
    Or, worse in the UK where both the governing (don't laugh) party & the offical opposition are totally clueless & utterly incompetent.
    May is an ex-remainer, supposedly campaigning for Brexit ( I do wonder, though) & Corbyn is a throwback to 1934, hoping for a peoples' socialist republic OUTSIDE the EU ...
    Both equally disastrous in the longer term.

    32:

    Chambers' dictionary defines "middle aged" as "that period between youth and old age, variously reckoned to suit the reckoner." Which pretty much covers it, I think.

    33:

    I can't believe that BoJo is being seriously considered to become PM. The man can't even take three steps without shoving his foot into his mouth.

    34:

    Just remember, you make your living by writing on the dark side of fiction.

    So...take good notes. Some of this can be recycled into literature later on.

    Also, forget about worrying about California. We always go through this in October. If you didn't worry about Portugal and Spain when they lit off, don't worry about us. We'll be fine.

    If you want people to worry about, worry about Puerto Rico and Barbuda. The former is getting treated shabbily by the US (something about Trump having a golf course go bankrupt there, I suspect. Or perhaps it's just his racism acting up), while the latter is a commonwealth country. Both need aid right now.

    35:

    The Bay Area is in Northern California and includes Marin, Napa, Sonoma, Santa Cruz these are all essentially Marches of the BayLands. The rulers of the Bay claim all the lands touched by the Bay

    But not Sacramento, which belongs to the Inland Empire, being its northernmost city

    The area north of the Sonoma is properly termed The Free and Independant State of Jefferson, and has as its capital Redding. While the Jeffersonians also claim southern Oregon, such claims are generally resisted by the natives of those regions

    36:

    Re: '... something about Trump having a golf course go bankrupt there'

    Another one? Aware that the golf course in Scotland's a money pit. Don't it just make you feel warm all over about his ability to ruin - I mean run - the US economy.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-09/trump-is-pouring-millions-into-money-losing-scottish-golf-course

    Okay folks - what in crime and suspense thrillers is usually paired with money-losing businesses? AFAIK, private golf clubs aren't required to publish their membership or shareholders lists. And the maximum number of memberships they can sell is something that the Board decides. It's not a legal or zoning requirement like the maximum number of people that can meet in a room. And if they don't charge or make money directly off it, then it's okay to not report that their business includes little special member perks like accepting and holding money from/for their members for an indefinite length of time. Alternatively, if they need to record healthy revenue from operations, then they can get their extra special club members to fork over the whole 50 or 100 years of their membership fees in advance into a special account which the golf course can then debit and diligently report every tax year. Absolutely no refunds even if such a customer never plays that course.

    37:

    Charlie, Many Happy Returns. And thanks for more sustained creative invention and intellectual ferocity, so far, than most of us have managed or ever will.

    I won't issue spoilers, but, from the advanced estate of 62 years & change, I can assure you that, slings and arrows aside, there's still life left. Still, DO NOT FORGET to cultivate an aura of immaturity. It will be your most precious tactic as you brushbust forward into the unmarked terrain of getting actually old.

    Now get off my lawn.

    38:

    Yea, I definitely had a very low productivity last November, and then it started falling again around March. I wonder what the cumulative effect of all this is? Significantly lower growth a few years from now?

    Re electric cars.

    I read one of those rare gem 'analyst' comments on it, essentially:

    The prospect of self driving cars dramatically accelerates the switch to electric cars.

    It is obvious that 'self driving' is the 'killer app' for cars, trucks, etc. Once it is available it will almost immediately be cheap enough that everyone will want one (and this doesn't have to be that cheap). Non-self driving cars will be dead.

    As it happens it is silly to build a non-electric self driving car. They probably will exist, but they will be silly things. Expensive sports cars, etc. There is a lot of overlap in the equipment that must be put on a car to make it self driving and the equipment that must be put on to be electric. Almost all models of gas powered car will cease production.

    It's impossible to say exactly when self driving cars show up for realz, but that year, or maybe even the year before when it is obviously they are coming non-self-driving cars die. Nobody with extra money who drives to work (aka most car buyers) will buy non-self-driving. Many of them will sell their existing car in short order flooding the used market with previously good deals. Others will save up another year or whatever to buy a self-driver. Any car company who's business is still human driven cars dies with them.

    And gas cars are on a clear path to extinction anyway. This just makes it something every car company has to go hard for NOW. It may already be too late for many.

    39:

    No, for maximum dystopian effect, the Charlie Stross in that universe doesn't do SFF at all; he makes his living from Harlequin/Mills and Boon romance novels, specialising in a semi-historical "Wild West" setting.

    40:

    Three things:

    1) happy upcoming birthday to OGH :)

    2) I suspect a blog article reading: "Zebras. Discuss" could yield an interesting comment thread here. I appreciate the "seeds" for the discussions but the discussions themselves are also rather interesting.

    3) not in the news much but much closer to home, Portugal also has a wildfire issue still ongoing. I suspect many ares that used to be "a bit dry and warm" currently are. Unless they are surprisingly wet now. AFAIK expected "weather settles to new normal" timeframe is roughly a century.

    41:

    BoJo was heavily involved in the "Garden Bridge" fiasco in London & the following comment was made, which sums him up perfectly:
    except, of course, it was not a sideshow for the occupant at City Hall. As several of the testimonies make clear the role of TfL is to keep said occupant happy even if they and their cohorts are acting like hyperactive infants going “me wants, me wants, we wants Garden Bridge. Build it now. And use my nice friend Tom to design it. I like his dwawings”.

    42:

    Yeah, as throughly unreconstructed 71-year-old, who still feels about 30 inside his head, though the muscles sometimes don't live up to it, agreed.

    43:

    Non-self driving cars will be dead.
    WRONG
    They will be RARE - like horses, today.
    Unless there is a cheap, easy-to-install-&-maintain conversion available for the manually-driven versions

    45:

    Look on the bright side of impeding nuclear apocalypse: flights to Tokyo have never been that cheap. I'm taking some vacations there next month ;)

    46:

    I'd go further and say it'll take a long time for them to be properly 'rare'.

    Sure, the hordes of reps carving up the motorways will probably be quite eager to trade their dismal diesel boxes in for a shiny self-driving bed but there are a lot of drivers out there who enjoy driving, myself included.

    I may be somewhat of an edge case but from my experiences on various car forums there are a significant number of people like me who have a fairly short commute but choose to own a sports car because of the enjoyment it brings.

    If I had the choice between an auto-driving Tesla 3 or a similarly priced hot-hatch, it's going to be the hot-hatch every time.

    47:

    [ Parenthetical note: it is difficult to log in and comment on my own blog when the Desktop Tiger is ferociously guarding the computer with teeth and claw ]

    No, for maximum dystopian effect, the Charlie Stross in that universe doesn't do SFF at all

    Nah. Just pick any time line in which Hitler won the second world war. These time lines are Charlie Stross free, because Endlösung.

    (Romance isn't merely a big genre, it's about 50% of all commercial fiction; there's an SF/F subgenre within it that is larger than the SF genre you find on your bookstore shelves, only it's gender segregated behind often-pink covers.)

    48:

    I'd go further and say it'll take a long time for them to be properly 'rare'.

    Yep. There are a LOT of uses for vehicles that are not commute to work and grocery type of people.

    Some of us are involved in working where we need granular control over our vehicle. I do a lot of my own home improvement and may build my next house. I just can't see self driving at that stage yet where it is critical just where the wheels of my truck are inch by inch. With backing up and attaching a trailer on the back of a job site as a side exercise. Toss in farm situations and such and there will be a lot of cars where "taking over the wheel" will be a requirement.

    49:

    The place for driver-controlled vehicles is on the track or prepared course, where there are no involuntary bystanders to be minced if the shaved ape behind the wheel loses control. You're welcome to own a sports car for weekend recreation, but not at the cost of my life and limbs — and by "you" I include the young idiots in the souped-up hatches who periodically hold informal road rallies less than a mile from the center of the capital city I live in (hint: seeing how fast you can hit 60mph in a 20mph speed limit after dark on a broad boulevard with foot and bicycle traffic and tourists — because it offers a scenic view of parliament — is dangerous as well as antisocial).

    The problem isn't responsible adults with enough awareness to drive safely when there are other people about, it's the idiots who spoil everything for the rest of us. (See also: the vast majority of gun owners in the USA, versus spree-shooters and stick-up artists.)

    And I'm still convinced that by 2117, our successors will look back on our human-driving habit with the same wonderment and disbelief with which we contemplate the short sword dueling culture of the 18th century: "they did what? Willingly?"

    50:

    Toss in farm situations and such and there will be a lot of cars where "taking over the wheel" will be a requirement.

    Here 's a self-driving farm tractor. Note the source: not exactly the usual WIRED gee-whiz tech press release.

    Even my sister's 2009-vintage car has reversing assist. (My own, 2006 model, is just a whisker too old: it was a high end option.) Given that self-parallel-parking is a cheap option on many current cars, I'm uncertain why you think self-trailer-docking is impossible, or even particularly difficult, given the mandatory roll-out of rear-view cameras with on-screen reversing track guides for dumb drivers.

    Remember the DARPA Grand Challenge in the 2000s, when the first true self-driving off-road vehicles showed off their chops? Rough terrain is rough, but traversing it is essentially a mapping and control issue. On-street driving is in many respects harder because it involves real-time threat detection and avoidance, and a lot of the threats are moving objects. (If you're driving off-road an the terrain becomes a moving object, that's a problem whether or not your driver is human or robot.)

    51:

    I don't disagree on the end-point and the necessity of removing humans from control of the 100mph death boxes, I just think that the convenience of a self-driving car will only be compelling for a certain type of driver. The remaining enthusiasts will take longer to move over and may require legislation to force them off the roads.

    For reference I do enjoy flogging my car around a track, but at the minute it's a lot more cost effective to own a single car for commuting, shopping, tip-runs and track-days than it is to have two cars. As that balance point starts to tip, presumably through taxation and legislation I'm sure it'll eventually make sense to have a track-only car stuck on a trailer behind a self-driving family box.

    That day is quite some distance away though IMHO.

    52:

    I work next door to TopCon who have their self driving tractors (aka lawn mowers with LIDAR) out every day for testing.

    I saw the header driver harvest my aunts wheat crop after doing a quick site survey with a drone (and removing a 100 year old tree so he could get his new behemoth onto the property), he spent 90% of the time reading while the machine did laps.

    I love watching the Moiré patterns in vineyards where robotic post hole diggers plant the stakes within a few mills in three dimensions.

    Farming has been the home of self driving vehicles for at least 17 years and shows the path for automation as a service. It kind of shocks folks that don't actually spend time on commercial farms to see how much its changed in the last 20 years.

    53:

    At some point there won't be any more human readable road signs. Or, more likely, they'll be something obscure that you can find somewhere on the internet for AR display the way you can still look up assembly instructions for obsolete tech if you dig. But all the old physical road signs will still be out there, rusting away and unrelated to the actual ordinances that regulate traffic, like the vestiges of old pavement paint that can confuse drivers (or give them pretexts to make excuses) even today.

    54:

    Excellent opportunity to apply a flea treatment.

    55:

    At some point there won't be any more human readable road signs..

    Nope. Machine vision is already good enough, and cameras cheap enough, that human-readable signs will be an excellent fallback navigation aid for automated vehicles — and useful for pedestrians and cyclists. They're very cheap compared to the cost of road surface renewal and a useful fallback for when local comms infrastructure falls, and rust isn't really a problem with modern materials.

    What I think will go is painted markings on roads — they need frequent renewal because they're eroded by tires/pot-holing, and there's an argument that they make roads less safe by overloading human drivers with too much information.

    56:

    Not sure about losing road markings completely. Even fairly smart autonomous vehicles are going to need hints on some of the 3 and 4 lane roundabouts in these parts.

    I'm not sure I believe the stuff above about self drive being the killer app that gets people onto electric cars either. I think it's going to go the other way. After internal combustion engines are effectively banned in cities then people will buy electric cars that happen to be able to drive themselves.

    Finally, whether or not self driving cars take off in the short term will probably have very little to do with boring rational considerations like safety, ride quality etc. and everything to do with sentiment. I expect to see lots of fear mongering from the usual suspects.

    57:

    I'd add another thing, now that we've been fooling around with the EV Chevy Bolt for a month:

    It's fun to drive.

    Now granted, I've always had a fondness for small cars, but this little runabout has two fun modes:
    --rapid acceleration
    --maximizing efficiency

    Granted the Bolt's top speed isn't anything to brag about (it's pegged at 91 mph supposedly), but you can accelerate past most non sports cars if you have to, which very occasionally you do (rapid acceleration and braking are safety features in small cars, because they don't survive impacts well). It's fun because everyone thinks it's a stodgy car, until...

    Maximizing efficiency is even more fun, because the car tells you (with about a 2 second lag) how many kilowatts you're using, including how many you get back on the regenerative braking. Jack-rabbiting around can crank up to 50-100 kW depending on how bad it is, while you can cruise under 20 kW. The latter is actually the kind of driving Chevy wants you to do (they email you your driving metrics at the end of the month, complete with tut-tuts about braking too hard), but driving safely while minimizing energy usage and maximizing range is kind of addictive too. It's also why everyone thinks you're a stodgy driver, until there's a need to step on it and trade range for acceleration.

    Yes, range anxiety is an issue--we'd get stuck in the desert driving to Vegas, which is why we're not planning to do that (not that I want to go to Vegas). However, at least 75% of the driving we normally do is short-hop commuting, and it's a better car for that role than the older car, which we keep for hauling stuff and rare, long road trips. Having this car has enormously cut our gas bill, although I don't think the Bolt will pay for itself that way.

    The interesting thing is that the Bolt has eight cameras installed, two in the back two in the front, and one on each mirror. Some of the safety features and monthly monitoring reports strongly suggest that, with a minor firmware upgrade, it could come a lot closer to driving itself. Of course, right now, those features simply suggest more ways the car could be hacked, but I suppose I'm just paranoid now, aren't I?

    58:

    Limiting the speed to 91mph is the sort of thing that drives a certain type of petrol head nuts but doesn't really inconvenience most drivers at all.

    It's a curious number though. Are there any countries that have that as a speed limit?

    59:

    I suspect that transition will be helped along by a substantial rate increase for human-driven cars. And those that can't afford the new tech and have no access to mass transit will hate it. Would be nice in some circumstances, like traversing the long empty in parts of the (Kinda') United States, and that capability is nearly real.

    60:

    It appears the limit is actually set to 150km/h but variously shows as between 91 and 93mph in vehicles using imperial speedos.

    61:

    (Romance isn't merely a big genre, it's about 50% of all commercial fiction; there's an SF/F subgenre within it that is larger than the SF genre you find on your bookstore shelves, only it's gender segregated behind often-pink covers.)

    Yep. I've recently started looking at the audio & ebook offerings at the local public library system; the majority of the SF/F books are romances, usually with shirtless men on the covers.
    The used bookstores I frequent have also started having separate Paranormal Romance sections. They're not as large as the main SF/F or romance sections, but I think that's because each store has their own peculiar ways of shelving genres. Often if a writer is most known for YA their adult books will be shelved there as well, so I've gotten into the habit of searching there as well. I've found some books that I'd consider to not be age approprate, but then I was reading "inappropriate" books when I was young. (And there's my precocious 7yo nephew who devoured the Harry Potter books several months ago [all in nearly two months], and is now going through the Percy Jackson series)

    62:

    and #58

    Well, I'd certainly not notice a 91mph speed limiter in day to day cruising which tends to be 50 to 70mph give or take. When I might well notice it is in 2-track overtaking, when I normally plant my right foot on the boards and leave it there until I'm returning to my own side of the road, to minimise the overtaking time.

    63:

    Oh manual-only cars will be around quite a while, but they won't be built anymore shockingly fast. Are some point I expect they become illegal on the roads, but that's 10 years out. Depends on safety stats I think.

    64:

    and a lot of the threats are moving objects.
    NOPE, nopety-nooo sirreee!
    The real threats to the safety of autonomous road vehicles will be the maintenance crews, & malicious H "sapiens".
    3 years back, I was driving into London from the SE ( M20/A20 ) saw a big "30" sign inside "50" normal limit, slowed down - almost no-one else did ... drove for about 2 miles until I realised that there HAD BEEN roadworks, but they'd forgotten to take the sign away.
    On one of my regular routes there's a crossing on a minor road over the M25 ... they decided (rightly) to upgrade the safety barriers & put temporary "30" signs up at both ends. After they'd done all that, the N end pair were removed, but the S end pair remained, useless, for about 11 months.
    And what will your autonomous car do then?
    Yeah.
    Ditto kids with a tin-can on the end of a piece of string ... car comes to halt, sharpish ... endless fun for bored teenagers, oh & muggers, too.

    65:

    Since this is basically an open thread, I'd like to ask the following question

    Taking advantage of open-threadishness, let me solicit opinions about a very bizarre and somewhat science-fictal story that's been developing since late August. In summary, some 22 US and up to five Canadian diplomatic personnel and family members stationed in Havana started reporting a diverse set of health complaints following, in some cases, hearing strange sounds in their residences. Medical follow-up hasn't come up with any common diagnosis, but somewhere along the line the notion that a "sonic weapon" of unknown type wielded by unknown wielders might be responsible.

    There's been a bunch of stories on this, but a recent one is https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/05/science/cuba-sonic-weapon.html

    I, of course, have a pet theory about what's going on.

    For reference, here's a chronology of reported events

    November 2016 First case in mid-November
    December 2016 First reported case in late December (according to State Department spokeswoman)
    February 17, 2017 US complaint to Cuba
    February 22, 2017 Raul Castro meets with US Charge d'Affaires DeLaurentis about complaint
    May 23, 2017 US expells two Cuban diplomats
    2017 Up to five Canadian diplomats report similar systems
    August 11, 2017 Secretary of State Tillerson said the illnesses were a result of “health attacks,” adding, “We’ve not been able to determine who’s to blame.”
    August 23, 2017 CBS views medical report of “conditions as serious as mild traumatic brain injury, and with likely damage to the central nervous system.”
    September 1, 2017 American Foreign Service Association “representatives met and spoke with ten members of the Foreign Service who experienced damage to their health as a result of these attacks. Diagnoses include mild traumatic brain injury and permanent hearing loss, with such additional symptoms as loss of balance, severe headaches, cognitive disruption, and brain swelling.”
    September 26, 2017 At Cuban request, Foreign Minister Rodriguez meets with Tillerson in Washington
    September 29, 2017 State Department warns US citizens not to travel to Cuba
    September 29, 2017 State Department ordered the departure of non-emergency personnel assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Havana, as well as all family members
    October 2, 2017 AP reports first victims were intelligence staff at embassy
    October 3, 2017 US says it will expell further fifteen Cuban diplomants
    October 6, 2017 After September 29 travel warning, some US citizens report similar symptoms following stays in Cuba

    and a list of reported symptoms

    Balance problems
    Brain swelling
    Cognitive issues (including concentration, common word recall)
    Difficulty sleeping
    Dizziness
    Ear complaints
    Fatigue
    Hearing loss, perhaps permanent
    Nausea
    Tinnitus
    Severe headache
    Visual complaints

    66:

    Speaking of automating cars and dumb drivers.
    In the US there's a commercial for a car (don't remember the make,—yes, I watch too much TV) that demonstrates the auto braking by showing the car stopping before hitting a man chasing after his loose papers and the driver raising his hands as if to say "WTF, dude!" then driving over the papers. Next he's shown down the street being jolted to attention by the car swerving to stay in the lane. I know we're supposed to geewhiz at the car, but the only thing it makes me think is that the idiot behind the wheel is in the habit of not paying attention to what he's doing and doesn't belong there.

    67:

    Our "desktop tiger2 tends to roll on the keyboard then first lick then fierce-bite fingers, given a chance ....
    But he's discovered how to press a paw onto the main "off" switch ... we now have a cover over that ....

    68:

    Yes, it's wierd, isn't it.
    And the Cubans are going: "It ain't us - tell us more"
    So, what's your pet hypothesis, then?

    69:

    It kind of shocks folks that don't actually spend time on commercial farms to see how much its changed in the last 20 years.

    Yeah. Last time I worked on a farm was the early 80s.

    70:

    Our Polynymous Friend went on about this a few weeks ago. Everything I've seen about it says the idea of a sonic weapon is nonsense. My guess is major Sick Building Syndrome due to quickly fixed up old embassy structures.

    71:

    As I said in the thread where we discussed self-driving cars ending car ownership:

    Regulating human-driveable cars will likely be the new guns in the US. Within Red States, driving large pickup trucks that you own has the same social standing as owning semi-automatic guns. In other words, trucks are as important as guns.

    I don't know if they'll insist on having the trucks be gas-powered, though?

    72:

    If power and commercial ground transport become carbon free, the carbon from the surviving gas powered vehicles may be not such a big deal. Mother Earth's indigestion as a metaphor for pollution?

    73:

    Re Cuba: when in doubt blame a virus.

    Re cars:

    Not sure about manuals being illegal in the US. It is, what? 30,000 deaths a year? That's some political pressure. But the insurance industry will want to start charging a lot less for computer drivers, and probably more for the maniacs who want to keep driving themselves. Could cause a liability insurance death spiral. Mainly, however, it's just comfort. The choice is to watch TV or pilot a vehicle down the road, I'm confident people will choose TV.

    The manual option will probably remain, but it might become vestgial or emergency backup low speeds only (without the elaborate dedicated controls of today).

    74:

    So, what's your pet hypothesis, then?

    Mass (23 to ~30) psychogenic illness (goes under several different names) triggered by some initial problem, then picked up by anti-Cuban/anti-Obama elements as a way to torpedo US-Cuban rapprochement.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_psychogenic_illness

    The available information is too vague to be sure of anything here, but an unknown sonic weapon with diverse effects seems kind of unlikely. I'd like to see CDC epidemiologists give this a thorough look.

    75:

    My guess is major Sick Building Syndrome due to quickly fixed up old embassy structures.

    The ~50 incidents/"attacks" seem to have happened in Cuban-supplied housing and the Hotel Capri, not the embassy building itself. Doesn't rule out that those were sick buildings, of course.

    Since the Cubans, surprisingly, let the FBI and RCMP come in and check the places, I'd hope that the Feds would have looked for mold and such as well as nefarious devices. Apparently they didn't find anything at all.

    76:

    Re: Cuba, US Embassy, sonics, illness ...

    As long as you're collecting speculations as to what happened/caused these symptoms, and keeping in mind that I'm not a techie, how about this.

    - Assume that every building that is rated for use by tech-loving foreigners is wired for WiFi/Internet.

    - Assume that every Westerner visiting Cuba is constantly using at least one WiFi gadget (that they brought with them from home) at any given time.

    - Assume that Cuba's Internet/WiFi infrastructure is a wee bit different than the stuff used elsewhere. (Maybe they got a steal of a deal from a certain country - hardware, software or both. Maybe they're connected to a peculiar cloud, or their Internet switches through interesting stand-alone hubs ... for security.)

    - Assume that the cause is truly 'sonic' ... or at least something closely similar in wave form/size. (Waves are additive/subtractive: you can create the right size/shape wave if you really want to.)

    - Assume that it is possible to write an app that very subtly messes with/changes, adds a second or third audio/visual stream to ride along with or atop real intended signals which is able to mess up/distort that device's speakers and/or visual feed in any way you like.

    - Assume that native Cubans have access to and use only a small number of manufacturers' devices so that it is feasible to identify therefore keep them isolated/safe from the above mentioned signals.

    Feel free to pick apart ...

    77:

    My guess is the combination of electric self-driving vehicles and Uber/Lyft will pretty much kill car ownership.
    Not only do you not have to drive the car, you don't even have to maintain it!
    If Uber/Lyft can keep the cost below $0.25 (US) per mile, it will be hard to justify owning a car for most people.

    78:

    Re: Cuba, etc.

    Interested to know whether the above 'assumptions' are testable.

    And whether investigators looked for any instances of native Cubans experiencing similar symptoms over the past 3 years or so.

    79:

    First... happy upcomng b'day, Charlie. And when we used to say "don't trust anyone over 30" (which I never did, since I *certainly* trusted my parents), I think they were thinking of people in power-over.

    Second, shuck that fit. In '87? '88? when I was working at the Scummy Mortgage Co, in Austin, TX, my boss, the VP turned 40. Now, I could see the black balloons tied to the ashtray in his office for his Smokestack-el-ropo cigars. I suppose I could deal with the black crepe paper and balloons on his door. But really, on the door to the department? And the cake that literally had "over the hill", and a figure draped over it? And the black balloons and crepe paper at his reserved parking space?

    My reaction was that if it had been me, I would have turned around and gone home. My late wife added that she would have called in, explaining that she'd seen all that, and gone home to see if she was dead.

    And writing... it's also a *business*, and how you earn your living. Get to work (unless told to take a break by your Lord&Master, with teeth and claws....)

    80:

    Electric vehicles don't imply "carbon-free" as the generation of electricity to charge batteries will remain a major consumer of fossil carbon energy for the next fifty years at least with the exhaust CO2 being dumped into the atmosphere.

    81:

    Gone? Really? By what, 2200?

    Do you *really* think that most folks are going to rush out and buy a self-driving? Go outside, and tell me what percentage of the cars you see are > 5 years old. How many are > 10? Self-driving will be EXPENSIVE for the first 5-10 years. And then... how do you feel about 5-10 y4 old used self-driving cars that may, or may not, have had any software updates since the three-year warranty ran out?

    82:

    Well of course they didn't find anything; there's almost certainly nothing to be found! Mass psychogenic illness fits the bill very well indeed, and the Cuban government would have to be fucking insane to be dicking with the US embassy given (a) they want improved relations with the US, (b) President Tiny-Hands is unpredictable and prone to fits of senile rage at the best of times, and (c) planet earth calling: what could they possibly gain from injuring US embassy staff that would be worth risking (a) and (b)?

    No, seriously: before postulating some kind of freaky espionage conspiracy, first ask yourself if the postulated attacker can gain anything at all from it — even a North Korean style "we're madder than you" rep. In the case of the Cuban embassy, the answer looks like a clear nope from where I'm standing.

    83:

    I don't know if they'll insist on having the trucks be gas-powered, though?

    How can you roll coal without hydrocarbons?

    84:

    When I was a kid I had a train set that included a "steam" locomotive. It had a ittle pad of rockwool in the funnel with a heating element under it. Add a drop of oil and you were rolling coal :)

    85:

    I believe I specifically mentioned power generation becoming carbon free in that. Is there still anyone who doesn't know an electric car is no cleaner than it's recharge source?
    Anyway, the point I apparently failed to make is if electrical power was carbon free and commercial transport likewise, the remaining unclean transport would be within the ecosystem's abilities. And before you mention it, decarbonizing now falls into the category of the first law of holes, it won't get us out, but not being in an even deeper one is still a good thing.

    86:

    On rolling coal, it took awhile, but they found something more obnoxious than flatulence in an elevator.

    87:

    Re: ' ... the Cuban government would have to be fucking insane ...'

    Which necessarily leads to a whole bunch of other suspects. Just in case the current era of paranoia wasn't bad enough.

    88:

    No, seriously: before postulating some kind of freaky espionage conspiracy, first ask yourself if the postulated attacker can gain anything at all from it

    That the Cuban government per se would have had to be insane to do this has been the basis for a lot of alternate explanations involving rogue elements of Cuban intelligence, Cuban anti-Castro factions in the US, rogue or not factions in the CIA, Venezuela, etc., etc. Also, vaguely reminiscent of the Moscow Microwave kerfuffle of the 1970s, some sort of technical espionage gone wrong.

    None of it is very persuasive. And, of course, the reported incidents and symptoms really don't fit any sort of known sonic or microwave effects.

    I still like psychogenic illness exploited post facto for political reasons.

    89:

    I don't tend to have time for comment threads but certain aspects of this post are alarming.

    I hope you take care of yourself and find some time to take a breather with no blogging-related guilt after the submission deadline is past and before the copyediting phase hits.

    I have talked down people in burnout who are about to blow a gasket. I've watched people around me at work burn out. And I recently went through two years of happyfuntimes myself. Which is to say that I know whereof I speak.

    Please, be careful.
    Presumably others are saying this as well.

    I know you need to eat, and other things which require money besides, and writing doesn't really pay unless you're supermarket blockbuster man.

    But six months of burnout costs money too. Be safe.

    90:

    "Is there still anyone who doesn't know an electric car is no cleaner than it's recharge source?"

    Me

    It takes quite vast amounts of electricity to refine oil. The oil industry is quite coy about how much, but back of the envelope calculations based on what we do know indicate that the amount of electricity consumed by refining the petrol for a petrol car is about the same as the amount of electricity consumed by an electric car to cover the same distance. Give or take a bit. I'm guessing the error bars, but I'm pretty sure it's less than twice and more than half.

    Now there's two ways to get the electricity that is needed. They can either buy it in, in which case it's the same carbon level as the local grid. Or they can make it themselves by burning byproduct. In which case it's probably more carbon intensive than the local grid.

    Which means that an electric car is *effectively* cleaner than its recharge source.

    Secondly, if the grid is very dirty, then chances are it's coal fired, or majority coal fired. In which case electricity is discarded overnight. EVs charged on off peak are using electricity that would otherwise be discarded, so they are creating no extra carbon emissions as a result of their use. In that sort of grid almost all EVs would be charged on off peak because it's always much much cheaper (and it's when you want to charge anyway).

    91:

    Sick building syndrome or some fungal issue would be my first guess. The problem with sonic weapons is that, basically, how'd they get that to work? Subsonics (basically overly large boatswain's whistles) have been around forever, but they're area effect weapons, and the effects are rather obvious and not confined to people. Also, Cuba has what kind of armaments industry again?

    If you don't believe in sick building and think the attacks were deliberate, I'd suggest either a fungal or algal agent. Both of these have some nasty neurotoxins, and the Cubans definitely have their own biomedical industry.

    Still, black mold and sick building syndrome are a seemingly better fit, and there's no point in assuming malice when neglect and/or carelessness will cause the same symptoms.

    92:

    Here 's a self-driving farm tractor. Note the source: not exactly the usual WIRED gee-whiz tech press release. ... Even my sister's 2009-vintage car has reversing assist. (My own, 2006 model, is just a whisker too old: it was a high end option.) Given that self-parallel-parking is a cheap option on many current cars, I'm uncertain why you think self-trailer-docking is impossible, or even particularly difficult, given the mandatory roll-out of rear-view cameras with on-screen reversing track guides for dumb drivers.

    I was talking about farms in general. You're talking about large scale field operations. Maneuvering around the barn while noticing the soft spot where you pulled the stump out a couple of weeks ago and knowing when done you want the tailer just THERE so when you're back in 2 hours you can unload the truck into the trailer you just used to haul manure over HERE and when done with it all put the trailer over by where you can wash it out in the morning after you bring in the gray water from the pond via the truck with the tank on the back and .....

    Moving stuff around the barns and such of a small farm are more akin to the flight ops on a US carrier deck than the nice "let's harvest these 50 acres of wheat all in nice flat rows". For that yes self driving tractors and harvesters have been around for a while. Ever since people figured out how to bolt a GPS to the steering system of a tractor.

    I spent some time doing these things when growing up. My father built houses as a side job on land we subdivided. I work with construction firms and do some small scale stuff myself. I also earned my spending money mowing fields. (Not crop fields but various spots of non tree covered areas with all kinds of interesting topology and vegetation to deal with.) Both things are way harder to automate in terms of vehicles than highway driving and large field operations.

    Now replace all smaller multi crop and animal operations with large scale mono crop / animal operations and yes you can greatly automate most all vehicle operations around farms.

    Similar issues with construction. Get rid of anything less than 10 family dwellings and start doing more modular off site assembly and you can do similar things in construction.

    93:

    Is there still anyone who doesn't know an electric car is no cleaner than it's recharge source?

    Sure. But with electricity you have the chanced to change the root source of the power. With a petrol vehicle you are stuck with hydrocarbons for power for the life of the vehicle.

    Says he who bought a new Civic in June of 2016. I wanted to buy an electric but got stuck having to buy a car then when I would have preferred to have waited till next year.

    But still when doing continuous 60mph to 65mph on highways I CAN get 50mpg for the tank which includes the stop to fill up plus the few miles getting back onto the "fast" road.

    94:

    One of the attractive features about the mass psychogenic hypothesis is that it doesn't really need a common agent beyond social interaction in a group of people. Once it gets kicked off by a triggering case(s) involving one or a few people -- which could be pretty much anything, like a cold, allergy, bump on the head, etc. -- it propagates by people getting worried about it and talking about it.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC543940/

    95:

    Except Uber are grafting lying tax-stealing "Not-really-employee"-cheaters of the first water.
    So NO

    96:

    Certainly not me!
    Assuming I'm allowed to keep my 1996-build diesel ( or get it retrofitted with an LPG engine ) then I will keep it until I am no longer allowed to drive it.

    97:

    Here's one of the articles I've read discounting the Sonic Weapon argument, from NYT by Carl Zimmer:
    A ‘Sonic Attack’ on Diplomats in Cuba? These Scientists Doubt It

    Another thought I had was some sort of sympathetic resonance in the buildings causing illness. I'm fairly certain I've heard of cases involving skyscrapers in high winds causing infrasonic vibrations leading to nausea and disorientation. Something like that could be mistaken for a sonic attack. But I don't know that the buildings in Cuba would be subject to that, or how windy it is there (not counting during Hurricanes!). LIke my other comment, just a guess and I may be misremembering.

    I don't discount the Psychogenic hypothesis, but how much contact was there between US and Canadian embassy staff? Would just hearing about ilness in one group trigger a reaction in the other?

    98:

    Are American Embassy personnel vaccinated before being posted to foreign countries, especially tropical ones? Room for some nasty tricks (or accidents) there, given the anti-vaxxers' current "eminence".

    99:

    how much contact was there between US and Canadian embassy staff?

    I don't know for sure, but would expect that between direct contact and meeting at various official and social functions they meet quite often, several times a week at guess. There was one French case which the French government investigated and dismissed.

    Would just hearing about illness in one group trigger a reaction in the other?

    Yes, if the groups were in fairly trusting contact as I would expect between Canada and the US.

    100:

    I would think so, but may depend on where they're being posted. AFAIK Military personnel get vaccinated before going over seas.

    101:

    Bunch of semi related, somewhat confused comments

    1: will self driving cars be electric ? Probably mostly. Takes juice to run the autonomous software, also the ride sharing platforms are some of the most active in developing the software and they will want their cars to be electric both for reduced cost and to appear green and friendly
    2: will self driving cars be only self driving? Probably not, the first generation at least will allow full manual control. Self driving will likely not be evenly distributed across geographies
    3: will non electric cars go away? Certainly not entirely until the legacy population of old cars died off. However for commuter cars I don't think there will be much reason to build a new IC car soonish (say next ten years).

    Electric cars are actually "more fun to drive" in most ways because their acceleration is insane and the torque is instant. Plus they tend to have extremely low centers of gravity due to the battery packs in the floor. They will also kick the ass of any production IC car in any kind of race. Street racers in souped up nitriles fueled muscle cars won't even race stock Teslas anymore

    You will probably find people that still like to drive vintage IC cars but they will akin to people that like shooting blackpowder muskets

    I think the main exception to this will be long distance driving , unless something miraculous happens to the recharge cycle you are still going to want UC cars for distance driving, assuming you care about overall travel time. Note long distance trucking probably cares less about travel times then costs

    102:

    Also depending on how long since their last booster.

    103:

    Agreed. Charlie, I would far rather read a post from you saying that you were deciding to take a break - even permanently - from writing because it was going to do your head in if you didn't take things easy, than that you were compelled to take a break because it did do your head in. Certainly there is no need for you to apologise for not blogging with the outrageous load you seem to have on at the moment.

    104:

    "There is a lot of overlap in the equipment that must be put on a car to make it self driving and the equipment that must be put on to be electric."

    No, there is very little overlap. The first is a control system, the second is a powertrain. You can replace the self-driving kit with a human and all you have is a non-self-driving car, but if you replace the powertrain with a human what you have is a wheelbarrow.

    The only advantage an electric car has over an IC car is that you may be relieved of the need to add an actuator to modulate the power output, and can instead do it directly with an electrical signal. May be, but the need may not arise. Diesels with electronically controlled injection can be modulated by an electrical signal in any case, and a lot of petrol car manufacturers are sufficiently arsulous that they use an electrically-driven throttle already. And even if you do need to add an actuator, it's hardly the end of the world.

    Steering and braking (an electric car still requires mechanical brakes) will need actuators in either case, and rather beefier ones. And again, an increasing number of cars have them already (granted, the braking ones may not be quite what you want).

    If the self-driving idea is viable at all, the biggest obstacle to making a bolt-on self-driving kit that works without alteration on both electric and IC cars is going to be the car manufacturers deliberately making it difficult to feed the three control signals (power, steering, braking) into the existing systems.

    105:

    Bolt of self driving kit is probably an order of magnitude more difficult to get working then a bespoke configuration

    You need a lot of very precisely calibrated sensors not to mention a pretty beefy computer., not even sure where you would put that on most modern IC cars

    Pretty sure an IC car would have trouble with the power draw

    106:

    Re: Cuba - US & Cdn Embassy Personnel

    A couple of comments/questions:

    - What types of people (personality-wise) do you think get posted overseas esp. to a country that until recently was completely off-limits to all USians - basically, an enemy state? How susceptible do you think these personnel would be to what sounds like hypnotic suggestion/mass hysteria? If anything, I'm guessing that staff for such a posting would be the opposite and probably trained to recognize when their emotional responses were drifting away from historical normal. Or, if the person making staffing decision for this embassy was paranoid, staff would be selected on the basis of being almost completely lacking in empathy or any need for emotional bonding.

    - The article quoting the sonics prof (infrasound) mentions some of the same symptoms as reported by embassy staffers. What is missing is the neurophysiology POV. A sonics engineer does not have the creds to have the last say on what is essentially a neuro issue. His experience and understanding were tangential at best. There are labs working on sonics and human tissue, incl. brains, that could have been interviewed.


    Not what happened, but does show how sound waves can manipulate biological matter and why sound could be an issue in the brain:

    http://news.mit.edu/2016/acoustic-tweezers-manipulate-cells-sound-waves-0125

    http://news.mit.edu/2014/synchronized-brain-waves-enable-rapid-learning-0612

    107:

    Diesels with electronically controlled injection can be modulated by an electrical signal in any case, and a lot of petrol car manufacturers are sufficiently arsulous that they use an electrically-driven throttle already.

    I may be wrong but I think most all cars designed for markets with modern pollution standards are "throttle by wire" now. I.E. the throttle is fully computer controlled based on the request by your foot and the current engine situation.

    108:

    If you really want to see what can be done with a GPS, some software, and a tractor do a Google image search for:

    Spring Grove, Illinois corn maze

    Now I'm assuming these things were done with software and a GPS. I can't imagine otherwise.

    109:

    I've always felt the decade shifts at the 7s... 17, 27, 37. More the anticipation of the thing coming, than the delay of what's already happened.

    110:

    Certainly not entirely until the legacy population of old cars died off.
    Yes, well, on Sunday I saw a 1913 Sheffield-Simplex car on the road ...
    Somewhere near one of my favourite pubs, someoene owns a 1950's MG TD ...
    As I said, horses are still around, aren't they?

    111:

    The exciting stuff is always 10 years in the future, but at 950 Whr/kg and 5min charge time this would out out do most turbo diesel cars for range (no idea of the Whr/L though).

    https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/10/paving-the-way-for-a-lithium-battery-that-uses-an-asphalt-electrode/

    112:

    I think petrol-driven cars will probably be around for a while, particularly down the "low income" end of the price range. For example: my partner and I are currently driving a car which was built in 1999. When it dies, we'll necessarily be looking for a second-hand replacement for a maximum possible price of about $5000 Australian. It is highly unlikely our next car will be electric - they just haven't dropped low enough in price to be affordable for us.

    Why the $5000 price limit? Well, that's the most we're allowed to have in savings while we're on the dole.

    The thing which will kill off petrol-driven cars is going to be the closure of petrol stations. Once that happens, we'll probably be either hoping like hell the public transport situation in this city has improved sight out of mind, or we'll be trying to buy bicycles and a little trailer to put the grocery shopping in.

    113:

    I'll admit that for the first time in, well, forever, I think that out politicians may permanently wreak things. We didn't raise out kids (now in their 20s) to be fire breathing political but they are. Especially compared to their peers. The current situation is getting under all of our skin. Not just DT but all of it. Even the overseas bits.

    I noticed Cabaret as an option on the movies on my TV and remembered how this bit of it has always struck me as a powerful bit of movie making. (More so if you have seen the movie.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29Mg6Gfh9Co

    What's scary is that it seems to be playing out here and other places around the world.

    As a footnote I've always wondered what people in/from Germany currently over 40 or 50 thought of the movie.

    114:

    Aren't you presuming that:-
    1) There's something worth watching on TV.
    2) That TV will be "more interesting than the vehicle's surroundings"?

    As a general rule, (1) is not ever met for me, and (2) might only met on the rare occasions I'm South of Preston (Lancashire, UK) and still on the M1/M5/M6/M42/M40.

    115:

    In the UK, we have a Revenue set allowance for vehicle costs. for vehicles over 1.4l capacity, this is presently GB£0-40 per mile. That's track cost, and doesn't allow for a driver to get a pay or anyone to take a profit.

    116:

    OK, I choose that you may use any EV you wish except a Tesla Model S. I will use my old Skoda turbo-diesel.

    The race will be over 4 laps of the IOM TT course.

    I'm comfortably certain that I will win on elapsed time since I won't have to stop and recharge, oh and I've only set the distance at 150.92 miles.

    117:

    You're assuming that owning a vehicle is the cheapest option and that Tesla's plan is to sell mass market vehicles in the medium term.

    I suspect that their plan is to sell perhaps 5000 Model 3s per 100,000 people and allow you to lease them back to a fleet of autonomous cars. If you could have a car on call within 5 minutes which you could use for $0.50/km (with Tesla taking a 10% cut) with no insurance/fuel/maintenance costs it's a pretty compelling case for not owning your next vehicle. As an actual owner, you get your lease paid off and access to a car with continual firmware updates.

    It also explains why they are pushing pretty hard for level 5 autonomy where Ford etc are happy to go with level 2 or 3.

    The mistake is thinking that the disruption ends at electric cars, as opposed to universal access to public transport.

    118:

    @Moderator Alan - Thanks for the cleanup. It's quite understandable that you can only do it when you're here. If it's any help at all, I normally only use "the S word" when I spot chopped and spiced pig product.

    119:

    And the continued impossibility of getting lots of them into city-centres, nor being able to outpoace even an "ordinary" train ( Max speed, say 160 kph ), never mind 225 or 350 kph ones ...

    120:

    I am 59, which is somehow still 50 to me in the same way that £5.95 is magically £5 rather than £6 in almost everybody's minds.

    However, it turns out that 36 mph, for instance, is not actually 30 mph according to the UK traffic authorities; it's my only speeding offence - well, officially registered speeding occurrence - in 42 years of driving, so not too bad. (I think most people do behave as though 70 mph on M-ways means "up to 80mph" though, including the police.)

    121:

    Just like electric cars have had a faster uptake than Charlie and many on this board expected, I also think that electric airplanes and helicopters will as well. Note that I realize none of these planes will be bigger than a regional jet, or perhaps a narrowbody?

    122:

    I found this article

    http://www.businessinsider.com/how-technology-is-changing-airline-indusry-2017-10

    I don't agree with them on hypersonic flight as I think supersonic flight is more likely. Likewise, I'm a bit more ambivalent about autonomous flight.

    123:

    How about Darwin to Adelaide in Australia? Oh, and you don't get to re-fill your petrol tank...

    https://www.worldsolarchallenge.org/dashboard/map

    124:

    - What types of people (personality-wise) do you think get posted overseas esp. to a country that until recently was completely off-limits to all USians - basically, an enemy state? How susceptible do you think these personnel would be to what sounds like hypnotic suggestion/mass hysteria?

    The State department definitely looks for certain personality traits: https://careers.state.gov/work/foreign-service/officer/13-dimensions/

    In addition, most in embassies, especially in sensitive posts like Havana, hold security clearances, the granting of which involves psychological evaluation.

    That said, I've known a fair number of people who've served in embassies, including several who were in Moscow during the Cold War, and they don't strike me as being greatly different than other college-educated professional and business types. So no, I wouldn't think they're much more or less susceptible to such things that other comparable people.

    125:

    It's going to be a little while on those electric planes. The range I saw for what looked like a 2-seater prototype ePlane was around 600 miles. Fun, yes, but it's missing some of the utility (and safety) of a gashawk. I'm starting to wonder if there's some group of tasks where electrical dirigibles or lifting bodies make sense (getting the lift from gas rather than just wings), or whether batteries and solar panels are too heavy to make that option feasible.

    To me, the key technology to watch is "battery" energy density (a "battery" being anything that stores electricity). The closer that gets to petroleum, the more applications we'll see for transportation (and the more spectacular explosions we'll see when these things short out or rupture, but that's another story). Anyway, the more energy we can store per kilo, (generally) the better off we'll be. The "problem" with petroleum has always been that it's pretty much top of the class in this category, unless you want to play with fission.

    Finally, Honda's suggestions to the contrary, I also suspect we're not going to see a hydrogen supply system roll out, because (fusion-based miracles aside) I suspect we're already past the point where it's feasible to do that using the petroleum fuels we have left and the grid electricity we're in the process of transforming. That kind of sucks, given that I'm not sure whether batteries will ever have the energy density (per weight) of even hydrogen, but that seems to be where we are. We don't seem to be able to do infrastructure very well. The demand for repair of existing infrastructure is going to increase over coming decades thanks to climate change, and that suggests that we're going to have to adapt what we already have, rather than rolling out a totally new infrastructure system (such as hydrogen generation, shipping, storage, and safety). The same actually applies to transportation in general, come to think of it.

    I think I better stop meandering now...


    126:

    It's not quite as bad as that. Battery plus electric motor needs to get closer in total output to petrol plus ICE. And there's a big difference in conversion efficiency between electric and ICE. So the energy storage only needs to match 30% of the petrol storage for the same range. I'd expect an electric vehicle to make big use of regen but as we move to hybrid everything the petrol-hybrid will have this as well. I think where we need to go is utility cars with less emphasis on premium performance and with a PHEV drive train where the petrol side of it gets smaller and smaller, while the car is optimised for efficiency. So in the short term, cars like the BMW i3 with the extended range engine looking more and more like a small Honda generator. The big challenge is to persuade customers that they really only need an Audi A3 and not a Cadillac Escalade.

    127:

    Btw, Charlie, about being 53... for the last few years before my late wife died, I decided that if 39 was good enough for Jack Benny (who died 80 years after he was born, at the age of 39...), it was good enough for m.

    Then she dropped dead, and I got old.

    128:

    Once I get my model railroad up and running, I have a number of steam locos, being that the time period is 1939-1940, and I plan to put steam into one or two. The rest... I've got this plan of to use wire and cotton from the medicine bottles....

    ObExample of what I think is a mind-boggling layout, google "Franklin and South Manchester"

    129:

    Um, no. First, economies of scale. And second, and significant, is that I hereby invoke the 3 laws of thermodynamics, and, as a result, get that 100,000 petrochemical-burning cars will, due to losses - starting the engine many, many times, vehicles that need a tuneup or a lub job, etc, burn more fuel than one large power plant.

    130:

    On being middle-aged.

    As-ever I'd suggest it's in the mind of the beholder, I'm up towards the the dusty end of my 40s and have stated that I'm not middle-aged until I started shouting at people in the street to put a light on that bike, and that I still have a reasonably active/inappropriate sense of humour (at least to my mind).

    Against that I count that I have an adult descendant, a daily medication regime and a high concentration of stuff in my playlist older than some of my colleagues.

    But the unkindest cut., the real trauma, was realising that the entire three Yorkshiremen schtick will mean nothing to the bulk of the people I deal with on a day-to-day basis.

    131:

    I agree, completely. And Casto's reply of, "please let us know when you figure it out" is the icing on the cake.

    I have a friend who is retired US State Dept, and was posted all over. Yes, they get immunizations, lots of them. However, I am not familiar with the existance of immunizations against molds - *are* there any? And given what I picture of Havana's natural humidity... and here's another twist: I don't know of such illnesses in such staff before the embargo. I don't suppose there's *any* chance that the staff has lived in air conditioned and ultra-sanitary locations for so long, they never developed the immunities that folks who live in areas like that have.... Maybe they should send someone from, say, Miami or N'Awlins as staff, and see if they have the same issues.

    132:

    However, it turns out that 36 mph, for instance, is not actually 30 mph according to the UK traffic authorities; it's my only speeding offence

    Apparently, the UK police guideline is "10% plus 2mph", thus allowing for any claim that the speedometer was incorrect, or your tyres were more inflated than normal.

    So, over 35mph on the calibrated (and in-date) speedgun, and you don't have an excuse. Correspondingly, over 79mph on a dual carriageway. So far, my only speeding offence is for doing 80mph on a dry, clear, and bright weekend early morning on the M6, with hardly any traffic, and no cars within half a mile in front or behind. Still not an excuse, but Cumbria cops had decided to park up on an overpass...

    ...as for the encroachments of middle age (he smiled) I'm soon to be 51; and moving from "training and competing with people half my age" in shooting, to "training with people a third of my age" in Judo. Doing groundwork against a teenager who's four inches taller and a stone heavier is fun, especially when you "win"... doing groundwork against your wife is trickier, especially when it is suggested by the instructors that you only use technique, and not your strength or mass (she beat me, dammit).

    133:

    "The choice is to watch TV or pilot a vehicle down the road, I'm confident people will choose TV."

    I had a little visual flash forward when I read that ... it featured a wistful petrolhead sat in an electric self driving car which was smoothly and safely travelling along the road.

    Inside the passenger compartment the petrolhead was taking out his frustration at no longer being able to bolster his ego by being in control of a dangerous machine by careering wildly around a driving game on a conveniently placed screen ...

    134:

    Re: 'Embassy & psych eval'

    Psych evals have become cheaper, faster, and easier to administer resulting in being more widespread in their use. Personally know of Fortune 50 size orgs right down to outfits with fewer than 50 employees that use such testing as part of their hiring process.

    I've taken a bunch of such tests plus administered and scored some using the provided template. Most measure the big-five while a few are designed specifically to identify risky hires. Recall scoring one applicant who'd aced a series of interviews (including a group interview) but whose test results indicated a serious potential problem. Complete check of work history supported the test results - complete and utter sociopath. This applicant would have had access to some serious products in that job. When the interviewers found out why this applicant was ultimately rejected they were crushed, relieved and paid more attention to such tests.

    Probably the most compelling reason for administering such tests is that they reduce personnel costs re: hiring, training because of turnover. That's the argument that usually works at budget time.

    It makes sense for a gov't to use such testing especially given how their scale would allow them to conduct extensive follow up and sub-sub-group analyses between test results and real-life performance to identify optimal profiles for particular jobs.

    135:

    Every car comes with a short-cut button for watching Top Gear repeats on Dave?

    136:

    The march of time: I remember the shock when I realised that there were now people of voting age who couldn't remember Thatcher. But the much bigger shock was a couple of Christmases ago, when one of my nieces was showing me her Christmas presents, necessitating me fiddling with my glasses, which caused my mum to say to my niece "hold it [differently somehow], he doesn't see very well".

    137:

    Ya think?

    There are people of voting age in the UK who don't really remember Tony Blair as Prime Minister. (He left office when they were ten.)

    138:

    I think aerostats make a great deal of sense, and are disparaged in a way that is not justified by a small number of deflagrations. There's nothing to say you have to fill them with hydrogen, after all, or helium either for that matter. Ammonia would probably do pretty well; you'd only need to make the thing about 15% bigger in linear dimensions to get the same buoyancy, and you could control the buoyancy very easily by dissolving the ammonia in water or boiling it out again. And power-to-weight of solar cells for powering it isn't a problem - the surface-area/volume ratio thing works in your favour, so all you have to do is make it bigger.

    Not having to burn energy just to keep it off the ground is useful as well as elegant. For passenger use, the descriptions of historical airship passenger cabins sound as if they were vastly more pleasant places to be than any plane cabin. For freight, they would be an excellent replacement for those amazingly slow aeroplanes that China uses to send stuff you buy off ebay ("by air mail" on the package, but it still takes a month to arrive).

    Similarly, we are long overdue a return to sail for shipping. Yeah, maybe it would give slower and less predictable journey times. That's only a problem because we have allowed ourselves to become infested with accountants that hate warehouses. Shoot all of them, and the problem disappears, along with lots of other problems like overcrowded trains at peak travel times, and Sainsbury's not having any tea when I go to buy some.

    Infrastructure adaptations and "batteries" - this is why I think we should be putting a lot more effort into artificial photosynthesis. People love to hate oil, but it's not oil that's the problem, it's the open cycle it's used in. We can keep not only all the existing infrastructure, but also all the existing machinery. It's just a case of unplugging the oil wells from the input side of it and plugging in photosynthetic hydrocarbon generators instead.

    People like to respond to that argument with "but stuff will get changed anyway", but again that merely betrays a deeper problem. We need a massive cultural shift, deleting this crazy obsession with "new stuff is better because it's new", and replacing it with "having new stuff is a sign of failure, because it means you were too useless to keep the old stuff working".

    139:

    That, I simply can't process at all. Ten years ago is still pretty much yesterday in my perception...

    140:

    "Apparently, the UK police guideline is "10% plus 2mph""

    I wasn't aggrieved I was done for 36 mph, but there was a chap on my subsequent Speed Awareness Workshop who had been done for doing 33mph somewhere, which seemed harsh.

    And even the guy giving the workshop said he drove at 80 on motorways - the rationale being that a 10mph increase on essentially one-way 3-lane pedestrian/L-driver/cyclist-free roads is perfectly (relatively) safe in the way that a 5 mph increase over the limit on a two-way road in a residential area full of children, wheelchairs and parked delivery vans is not.

    141:

    Very much so. I can't see it ever being possible for me to have an electric car - simply because they have a single, very large, very expensive, expendable component, which has to be replaced with an actual new one when its time is up. Second hand electric cars in a usable state will always cost several grand because the price will be held up by the price of replacement batteries. Cheap second hand cars will not exist, apart from those in which the battery is tatered, which will be very cheap because they are useless unless you hand over several grand for a new battery. They will always be a good order of magnitude too expensive for me.

    So my fallback position will be to cobble something together in my back garden out of old oil drums and bits of pipe, whose function is to cook up old wood and similar organic rubbish in the absence of oxygen at a suitable temperature, and collect the appropriate liquid fractions from the gunk it gives off.

    142:

    The way I put it is that there are people of voting age who don't remember the world before the recession.

    143:

    Their ancestors are apparently doing a fine job. BREXTERMINATE! BREXTERMINATE!

    144:

    What about the Ammonia fuel cycle?
    Proposed occasionally in these pages.
    Is the main problem not the technology, but the toxicty of Ammonia itself, or something else?

    145:

    I thought it wa 3% but, nonetheless, I know my speedo is between 7.5 & 8 (maybe 8.5) % fast.
    So in the respective limits, I watch the dial & don't exceed: 34/45/56/67/78 mph indicated.
    Seems to work.

    146:

    I'm not sure I believe any of that bullshit.
    Psychometric testing has a very bad name in some quarters.
    Who guards the guardians? Who says & decides what is & is not acceptable - this week.

    147:

    Those of us who can (just) remember King George, or Churchill speaking live, or remembering what you were doing on 22/11/63 are the wisdom of the ancients, then!

    148:

    Re: Cuba, US Embassy, sonics, illness ...

    I wonder if it could be something as mundane as diesel generators? I know Cuba doesn't have a very reliable power grid by U.S. standards & I'll bet all the buildings the U.S. diplomats are using have their own generators.

    In Iraq we couldn't rely on the local power grid, so our FOB had lots of big diesel generators scattered around. They were so ubiquitous that you didn't really notice them until you started having problems. I still have severe tinnitus more than a decade later and I wouldn't be surprised if my other respiratory symptoms aren't related as well.

    Of course it's all so vague the VA probably won't recognize it as service related before I die. How long did it take them to recognize "Gulf War Syndrome" as a real illness?

    149:

    Ammonia fuel cycle would be an excellent way to power electric-fan aircraft. The conversion losses and much lower importance of weight means batteries are going to win for ground transport every time, but for flying, ammonia->fuel-cell->engine is a very sensible powertrain.

    150:

    Since discussions are all over the map and spanning at least three topic threads simultaneously, decided to post these two items here.

    Another battery:

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171011123826.htm

    'Motivated by a challenge from the Department of Energy to drastically reduce the cost of storing renewable energy on the grid while capturing more of it, a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists has developed a battery powered by sulfur, air, water, and salt -- all readily available materials -- that is nearly 100 times less expensive to produce than batteries currently on the market and can store twice as much energy as a lead-acid battery. The inventors present their prototype October 11 in the journal Joule.'


    Getting a longer, deeper and more specific chain of effects in genetics:

    This is one of several GTEx project related articles and includes graphics. (Always helpful when there's so much info to process.) Did read a bit of a related article which focused on cis and trans molecules but will have to review some basic organic chem before trying to read it again. Anyways, the cis vs trans might be an interesting insight into why/how inert gases like xenon are able to do what they do and where.

    Genetic effects on gene expression across human tissues

    https://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v550/n7675/full/nature24277.html

    'Characterization of the molecular function of the human genome and its variation across individuals is essential for identifying the cellular mechanisms that underlie human genetic traits and diseases. The Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project aims to characterize variation in gene expression levels across individuals and diverse tissues of the human body, many of which are not easily accessible. Here we describe genetic effects on gene expression levels across 44 human tissues. We find that local genetic variation affects gene expression levels for the majority of genes, and we further identify inter-chromosomal genetic effects for 93 genes and 112 loci. On the basis of the identified genetic effects, we characterize patterns of tissue specificity, compare local and distal effects, and evaluate the functional properties of the genetic effects. We also demonstrate that multi-tissue, multi-individual data can be used to identify genes and pathways affected by human disease-associated variation, enabling a mechanistic interpretation of gene regulation and the genetic basis of disease.'

    151:

    That sulfur battery story caught my eye too.
    Paper link: Air-Breathing Aqueous Sulfur Flow Battery for Ultralow-Cost Long-Duration Electrical Storage
    It's full of cost analyses and chemistry, both of which make my eyes/mind glaze over a bit. (Have to fix those weaknesses.)
    In summary, this work demonstrates a new electrochemical storage approach that uses an aqueous polysulfide anolyte in conjunction with an air-breathing catholyte to reach exceptionally low chemical cost of storage (US$1/kWh) while providing moderately high energy density (29–121 Wh/L at the solution level).
    (Key words there being "chemical cost" - there are other costs.)
    Anyone who knows current research in storage care to comment?
    One (or more) major advance in cheap storage, commercialized, produced in bulk and priced right, could be a game changer, as we've long discussed here. Wondering if this is (or will lead to) the one.

    152:

    Another new battery story:
    High-performance sodium–organic battery by realizing four-sodium storage in disodium rhodizonate (09 October 2017, paywalled, abstract without access (of some sort).)
    On the basis of this understanding, we achieved four-sodium storage in a Na2C6O6 electrode with a reversible capacity of 484 mAh g−1, an energy density of 726 Wh kg−1cathode, an energy efficiency above 87% and a good cycle retention.
    (Lots of detail and pretty diagrams in the paper.)

    I am hopeful that advances in and commercialization of storage (low/cheap and high density) and improvements in solar (and wind) efficiency will happen quickly and will give us (humans) improved odds. It helps that China is quite explicit and upfront about wanting to dominate in these tech areas (and others).

    153:

    There are some really good examples of people creating excellent work not just into their 50s, 60s and 70s but even into their 90s and 100s nowadays (my knowledge here is more in the music composition area - Havergal Brian (last symphony, his 32nd, composed at age 92, 4 years before he died), Elliott Carter, Lev Orenstein, to name 3 not wholly-unknown people...) and people who if anything came into their prime only in their later years (again in music just e.g.:- Leos Janacek, who's considered most interesting for the music he wrote in his 70s, iirc. I doubt it's hard to find examples elsewhere though.)

    And fwiw I am finding the Laundry Files to be getting ever more enjoyable and intriguing (and one of the most (and multiply) re-readable new series I have encountered- I mean that as a very strong compliment),
    and am really, really glad too that- after reading the first novel some years back and being, at the time, somewhat less impressed than usual- that I gave the Merchant Princes series (and now its sequel) another go-- (very much looking forward to Dark State.) ... (for example again.)

    155:

    Or you could just borrow the money.

    When you get to a situation where you're running a petrol car, and the costs of doing so exceed the repayments on an electric car, you'd be crazy to stay with petrol.

    That may never happen if you're using a car as a garage ornament, but if you're actually going places in it... Even setting aside the cost of petrol, it doesn't take too many engine failures of your old clunker to make up the cost of buying a battery. A lesson I learnt early on. I got a free car. It took months of work and lots of money to make it road worthy. I drove it for about 3 weeks before the engine failed catastrophically. It would have been cheaper to have had a limo pick me up every day than my 'free' car. Often old cars are cheap for a reason.

    156:

    The most I've ever paid for a vehicle is a thousand quid and I only paid that because I needed a vehicle (a van) in a hurry. The least I've ever paid, 70 quid I think for a car in an auction that got me 30 miles a day to work and back for three months during a contract that turned up out of the blue. Second-hand cars like that are the goto for poor people who can't afford a "clunker" EV with a battery with some life left in it required to provide a decent commuter/trip range. If an electric vehicle has a worthwhile battery it's worth several thousand quid just as a powerwall battery for a home.

    If the clunker fails you ditch it, sell it as scrap and buy another. Simple fixes you do yourself, you ignore the cosmetic failures like window winder motors etc. and dents. Right now, on my local Gumtree I can get a car with 1-year MOT for 350 quid from a dealership (it will be a trade-in, sold cheap to get it off the lot). Auctions are even better although you take more of a risk but I've bought some really good cars there cheap in the past as no-one else wanted them.

    157:

    The most I've ever paid for a vehicle is a thousand quid

    Wow, I've paid significantly more than that for a bicycle. But then, I expect way more than a year of very reliable service from my vehicles, and I expect the running costs to be less than 5p/kilometre.

    I'm believe that what you actually paid for your vehicles was much, much more than the faceplate cost. But you don't see past the first payment, and that's a big part of why electric vehicles are so unpopular with some people. My cow-orkers have these discussions regularly because I work with some far right pro-warming wingnuts and they subscribe to the same ideas. They also have really bad range anxiety because an electric car with only a 250km range might not suffice for their daily 30km each way commute. Poor navigational skills, maybe.

    158:

    There are some really good examples of people creating excellent work not just into their 50s, 60s and 70s but even into their 90s and 100s nowadays.

    Even in the sciences, some people's brains are still capable at that age. e.g.
    Ernst Mayr published What Evolution Is at 97 (not a biologist, enjoyed it because he was sparing with dumbing-down and extra words), and What Makes Biology Unique?: Considerations on the Autonomy of a Scientific Discipline at 100 (enjoyed it at the time; need to re-read) (either age could be off by -1 - born 1904)

    A physicist friend of the family was publishing occasionally through their most of their 80s, and had a peer-review paper published posthumously. His mind was still flexible and reasonably quick, and reaction times were still reasonably quick, both like early middle age lowest quintile (or maybe decile). (Just from observation. And I think he worked on it.)

    Poking a little more at E. Mayr, found this The Philosophical Foundations of Darwinism, 2001, author Mayr 97 years old, 8 pgs, easy read.
    Let me now try to summarize Darwin’s contributions to the thinking of modern men. He was responsible for the replacement of a world view based on Christian dogma by a strictly secular world view. Furthermore, his writings led to the rejection of several previously dominant world views such as essentialism, finalism, determinism, and the suitability of Newtonian laws for the explanation of evolution. He replaced these refuted concepts with a number of new ones of wide-reaching importance, also outside of biology, such as biopopulation, natural selection, the importance of chance and contingency, the explanatory importance of the time factor (historical narratives), and the importance of the social group for the origin of ethics.

    159:

    Re: '... what you actually paid for your vehicles was much, much more than the faceplate cost.'

    Insurance is a large part of car ownership these days. Wonder how auto insurers are going to rationalize their premiums once self-driving automobiles become the norm.

    Would like to see the first large scale adoption of self-driving autos happen in Germany or one of the Scandinavian countries who seem more level headed in integrating tech and human needs. Precedent in how a tech is adopted is important, even though the US and UK will likely ignore lessons learned by other cultures.

    160:

    Re: Car ad

    Price seems unreasonably low until I noticed only 5 out of 26 checks performed ... hmmm.

    161:

    So comparing the 70 quid car with the Renault Zoe. (for someone who has a regular job) over say 5 years.

    Assuming you never do any service, just run it until it breaks and buy another as you suggested.

    70 quid at auction.
    A day spent at the auction buying the car. (I'd count that at about 200 quid, you may value your time differently). I won't count burning a favour from a friend to drive you to the auction and faff about for a morning while you haggle, and I'll assume you pick up a car that actually runs in just one auction. I don't know what the UK version of the RMS is like, but I'll assume that changing title and insurance over to your name is done by magic and doesn't require you to take time off work (during which you're not being paid) during business hours to stand in a queue. I'll also assume that there's no road worthiness certificate required before you transfer it into your name so you don't have to visit some mechanic (during work hours..) to be told that the 500 quid kingpins need replacing before they can sign the paperwork.

    Up front cost 270 quid. (yeah right 800 more like...)

    Assuming it breaks down after 6 months, a day you don't manage to get to work (as a contractor I'd find that *very* annoying, I used to trade on my reputation of being reliable). I'd value the loss of not turning up to work unexpectedly at about 1000 quid. Again, you might value that differently, but 1000 would be a minimum, probably much much more. After all, you'd only have to miss out on one contract because you don't turn up reliably to cost yourself 10s of thousands, but I'm trying to be scrupulous about this.

    So after 6 months that all repeats, so out of pocket, loss of opportunity, loss of reputation, I'd put the cost of the clunker at about 2540 per year. Minimum, probably far far more than that.

    30 miles a day is about 50 km. So about 5 litres a day. At the average UK price, working for 48 weeks a year and doing nothing else with the car, that's another 1380.

    So about 3920 cost per year to run around in a car with the doors falling off it for a year. Over 5 years that's 19600 quid

    Or 4795 for a second hand Zoe. 828 quid for battery hire from Renault (which includes 24/7 roadside assist). So over 5 years that's 8935. You've paid over 10 000 pounds extra to drive around in an unsafe shit heap and make people think you can't be trusted as a worker. As you say, there's a floor price for an electric that runs, so you'd be able to sell it at the end and probably get most of your initial 4795 back. Even if you had to borrow the whole 4795 at 10% interest, that makes it only 11435 for 5 years of motoring.

    162:

    They're selling a database search that you can probably do yourself for free. It's only 15 quid, which makes the total price 4810. Not much difference... You still save well over 10 000 quid over 5 years compared to buying 70 quid clunkers.

    163:

    "that makes it only 11435 for 5 years of motoring" Of course if you work in London... 11435 is about 2000 less than what you'd pay in congestion charge alone. Free with an electric.

    164:

    only 11435 for 5 years of motoring

    if you are just pootling in and out of London a velomobile with power assist probably makes more sense. Smaller, easier to park, cheaper to run... less carrying capacity, can't park it on the street.

    I suspect this is why electric assist bicycles are so popular. It's just like riding a bike, but easier :)

    165:

    Interview this morning on BBC Radio4 with Philip Glass (composer) also still going strong.

    166:

    ( @ #156 )
    My L-R cost £9500 in 2003.
    It's still worth at least £9000 - partly (only?) because it is what it is & they are not making new ones. If maintained regularly, it's reliable. But I do a very low mileage each year - contrariwise, when I need it, I NEED it, because nothing else will do the job - which is why I have it, of course.

    167:

    E Mayr
    Yes
    Two niggles ..
    1] He uses the word "Darwinism" - which is now, only used by the Cretinists, oh dear.
    2] He says:
    Inevitably, the Bible would have to be mentioned in the first place.
    Up to 1989, when the bankruptcy of Marxism was declared, Karl
    Marx’s Das Kapital would clearly have been in second place ...

    Lots of people still haven't got the message.
    The two different sets of wankers down my local High Street, 3 weeks back, selling their vile religions: Christians & Marxists, respectively.
    Both entirely & totally impervious to argument or facts.

    { Incidentally, has anyone told J MacDonnell this? }

    168:

    Looked this heap of shit up
    £14k with "Plug-in-Grant" for this tiny bubble?
    And, ok, it has a 250k range, so you drive 200km & THEN TRY TO FIND a charge-point.
    Electric cars will work once there is an infrastructiure - not here yet, is it?
    As opposed to LPG ( & conversions ) now avialble at many conventional garages.

    Also, charging takes time, lots more than filling up ....
    And (for me the killer) how do you charge-up at home?
    Cable out the door & across the pavement? Somehow I doubt it.

    169:

    If you are just pootling in & out of (central) London ... you DON'T USE A CAR AT ALL.
    I certainly don't.
    Tube / Train / Bike / Bus ( In my descending order of use )
    Car is for outward journeys, where there is one or more of the following:
    1] No Public Transport
    2] Want to take extra people - especially if [1] also applies
    3] Want to carry loads of "stuff"

    Next month, I'm going to Liverpool for a long day: Train - advance ticket, under £40 return - someone else is driving & I don't have to worry about a beer or two at the other end.

    170:

    Like this?

    http://trisled.com.au/hpv/rotovelo-e/

    I'd get one (I'd have had one for years) if Australian driving population wasn't liberally sprinkled with casual killers.

    171:

    Am I allowed to build a one-off prototype like your Solar Challenge runners all have?

    172:

    For freight, they would be an excellent replacement for those amazingly slow aeroplanes that China uses to send stuff you buy off ebay ("by air mail" on the package, but it still takes a month to arrive).

    Well, in the UK there is "air freight" that actually travels by truck. Moving from a domestic to an international scale, there may be a delay waiting for an available slot on a flight to the correct nation, and a further delay for customs clearance, and then a still further one travelling by a destination nation domestic carrier. It's not "same day turn up and take off" like you appear to presume.

    173:

    I don't think you've ever met Nojay? I have a couple of times, and think he can do at least a bit of mileage costing.

    For instance, a set of safe (not ditchfinder wet grip) tyres for my car will cost about £210. They will last about 20k miles, so that's 1.8p per mile for tyres alone.
    Taking refinery gate costs (so pre-taxes) I get 50mpg to be another 2.9p per mile, so that's actually 4.7p per mile, say 3p per km, in fuel and tyres alone. The tyre costs are pretty inescapable even if you drive an EV!

    174:

    Hint - Nojay doesn't live in Australia and our laws are different. ;-)

    Changing title on a car is a matter of filling in and posting a form, then waiting for the new one to arrive. You may use the car whilst waiting.

    Our Roadworthy equivalent expires 12 months from when the last one was issued, irrespective of whether the car remains with one owner or changes owner 11 times (unlikely but honestly possible) during that period.

    Also, based on knowing 2 other Scots who own or have owned Zoes or Leafs, their actual un-recharged range in Scottish conditions is 70 to 80 miles depending on driving style and presuming you drive in daylight hours.

    175:

    Will you give me Thiefrow and Orpington as "not in London"? If so, then I've held a driving licence for about 35 years and "driven into London" exactly once (going from Orpington to Greenwich to visit the Cutty Sark and the self-styled 'National' Maritime Museum).

    176:

    Insurance is a large part of car ownership these days. Wonder how auto insurers are going to rationalize their premiums once self-driving automobiles become the norm.

    In the US insurance rates are largely based on data analytics. But they are also state based and there's a lot of adjustments for various social goals depending on which state you live in. But overall it is a data driven process.

    So in the US in general rates will change over time with a 1 to 3 year lag as loss history is built up for various car models. Interestingly I CAN see the insurance companies coming up with different rates for what seem to be equivalent cars based on the "skill" level of the software.

    I can imagine some big fights over "fairness" as the loss history for autonomous cars goes down relative to people driven cars. The various advocacy groups will start yelling it's not fair to jack up the rates for the people cars to reflect actual expectations as most poor folks will not be able to afford autonomous cars for years.

    177:

    Similarly in the UK, but rates are based (in part) on full post codes (like US zip codes), which are enough to identify which road you live on, or with a longer road (say 2 miles of suburban level development) which part of said road.

    So my insurance premium could change if I moved from my present house to next door to my boss, because I'd be on a different road in the same village.

    178:

    So comparing the 70 quid car with the Renault Zoe. (for someone who has a regular job) over say 5 years.

    I know Nojay IRL, and viewed the cars at that auction with him.

    IIRC he paid £50 for the vehicle. Drove it home (a mile or two), found it overheating. Lucked out because it was a leaking radiator, and a common model of Ford, so spent £20 at a scrapyard on the replacement. (This may be where the £70 figure comes from — this was more than a decade ago).

    Changing title is done by mail/computer, no standing in line necessary (except after the auction, to collect the keys and the paperwork). Roadworthiness certificate (MOT): the test, at an official test centre, currently costs about £50-60, and is good for a year. (For a £50 car, if it passes it passes: if not, not.) Then there's road tax (Vehicle Excise Duty — currently geared to emissions, but back then it was about £110 a year for a PLG) and insurance (third party only, obviously, for a car at that price.)

    The car in question was a Ford Sierra 1.6L manual, four door saloon, in nice shape externally and internally, with about 90,000 miles on the clock (my memory). My guess is that the overheating was misdiagnosed as a cracked cylinder head, hence it going for £50 instead of £500.

    He drove the car, fuss-free, for a few months. Then it was rear-ended. Because the book value was basically it's weight in scrap steel, it was an insurance write-off, and not road-legal thereafter. If he'd had a garage and the patience (pus spares, welding gear) it was repairable, but not on any economic basis.

    Here's the point: the "£70 motor" was a bargain at that price — but only because he was willing to put in some sweat equity (half day at the auction, half day diagnosing and replacing the radiator issue). To J. Random Office Drone with zero engineering ability (me) it'd be a non-option.

    179:

    if you are just pootling in and out of London a velomobile with power assist probably makes more sense. Smaller, easier to park, cheaper to run... less carrying capacity, can't park it on the street.

    You've never been to London, have you?

    London is terrifying for cyclists, and has quite a high death rate — largely due to construction vehicles with poor visibility making stupid turns in and out of construction sites the size of a postage stamp, not to mention busses, taxis, and diesel fumes galore (the air quality is dangerous to breathe about 350 days of the year). Those roads where traffic moves rapidly are high density vehicle arteries that mostly don't have cycle lanes.

    Also, UK law on electric assist is pretty tight; anything able to go over 15mph requires you to have a motorcycle license, pass CBT training, and wear a crash helmet (not a cycle helmet).

    Put it this way: if my knees worked and my right eye had any peripheral vision I'd be willing to cycle in plenty of British cities — but London wouldn't be one of them.

    180:

    So my insurance premium could change if I moved from my present house to next door to my boss, because I'd be on a different road in the same village.

    In the US this is how home insurance works. Things like how far you are from a fire hydrant (water for fire trucks) is factored into the rates.

    For autos in most cases, not so much. At least not at the street level. In NC I think rates are state wide for autos. I'm guessing places like CA, IL, and NY might have separate ratings for their larger cities. Part of the issue is getting enough data from a small area such that the signal rises above the noise.

    181:

    Changing the subject a bit it seems Ireland and Scotland will get to experience a low level hurricane in a few days. (That could certainly be an excuse to not work for a bit depending...)

    http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/graphics_at2.shtml?cone#contents

    182:

    Apologies for replying to my own comment -

    "I am 59, which is somehow still 50 to me" - but not to the chap behind the counter in the swimming pool this morning, who tried to charge me £3.80 rather than £4.80. I had to tell him I am not yet 60, which would trigger the price reduction (comes in January), partly because of being a mostly honest sort of person but also because I had piled up five old pound coins to spend before they stop being legal tender on Sunday.

    183:
    The thing which will kill off petrol-driven cars is going to be the closure of petrol stations.

    Yes.

    And the thing which will kill off human-driven cars is going to be the closure of parking.

    They'll be well on their way out by then, priced out by self-driving DRT shuttles or something, but the disappearance of parking provisions will be a big nail in the coffin.

    184:
    Or 4795 for a second hand Zoe. 828 quid for battery hire from Renault (which includes 24/7 roadside assist). So over 5 years that's 8935. You've paid over 10 000 pounds extra to drive around in an unsafe shit heap and make people think you can't be trusted as a worker.

    That's the Sam Vimes "Boots" Theory of Economic Injustice, isn't it?

    "A really good pair of leather boots, the sort that would last years and years, cost fifty dollars. This was beyond his pocket and the most he could hope for was an affordable pair of boots costing ten dollars, which might with luck last a year or so before he would need to resort to makeshift cardboard insoles so as to prolong the moment of shelling out another ten dollars.

    "Therefore over a period of ten years, he might have paid out a hundred dollars on boots, twice as much as the man who could afford fifty dollars up front ten years before. And he would still have wet feet."

    185:

    David L: we get this sort of storm almost every winter, more than once. Edinburgh's sheltered (on the east coast) but still gets >100mph gusts every couple of years; the west coast and highlands/islands gets it virtually every month over winter.

    What we don't get is the torrential downpour that accompanies a hurricane/typhoon — the storms are cold air and can't hold anything like as much water. (I've been through a cat 1 typhoon in Tokyo and monsoon rains in Kuala Lumpur so I think I have an idea what it's like, at the lower end of the scale.)

    186:

    Also known as the Terry Pratchett metaphor for what it's like to be rich.

    I remember him once telling me how he got turned down for a cellphone by Orange. He failed their credit check at sign-up because he had no credit history. This was in the mid-90s, before PAYG was much of a thing; (I think his solution was to sign up with a less fussy rival for a while, thereby generating a credit history.)

    Being poor is expensive, and this is one of the problems with the UK right now—almost everyone in the Cabinet is a multi-millionaire, and even the ones who haven't had their sense of empathy surgically excised have no personal experience of actually living in poverty.

    187:

    I wasn't aggrieved I was done for 36 mph, but there was a chap on my subsequent Speed Awareness Workshop who had been done for doing 33mph somewhere, which seemed harsh.

    ...assuming, of course, that he was actually going 33mph when his speed was measured. The number written down just needs to be over the speed limit by a reasonable amount...

    For instance, a traffic cop measures someone doing (say) 38mph, and braking hard. They pass him at 30mph. By saying "33mph" instead of "38mph", the driver is less likely to argue over the actual speed - even though they know they were speeding - and more likely to think "oooh, could have been worse".

    It's a bit like that case where a driver was prosecuted for eating an apple; my cynical nature assumed that they were actually using a hand-held mobile phone when driving, but tried to bluff their way out of it when stopped - "my hand was at my head because I was eating an apple, honest" - then decided to double down on the lie when charged for driving without due care and attention. By the time it hits the news, it's too late to back down.

    I get told off by my wife for being cynical about such things - she told me off at the time for calling Jonathan Aitken an obvious liar*; and was a bit miffed when the courts proved me right, convicted him of perjury, and sent him to the Big House...

    * "If it falls to me to start a fight to cut out the cancer of bent and twisted journalism in our country with the simple sword of truth and the trusty shield of British fair play, so be it"

    188:

    I was being serious; The insurers have the technology, and in some places, to paraphrase Cordelia Chase, "the bad part of town is 3 streets from the good part".

    189:

    Well. that all, including the costs, makes sense to me based on knowledge of the vehicle type.

    190:

    ... And that comment is one of the rare cases where I am totally fine about someone repeating a statement on this blog that has triggered a libel lawsuit in England.

    (For non-Brits: a newpaper accused former cabinet minister Aitken of Bad Things. He took them to court for libel, but the case collapsed, spectacularly, in court, along with his alibi. More legal stuff happened and he was found to have perjured himself on the witness stand, and jailed. The allegations were, shall we say, extremely smelly. Then he Found Jeebus, hallelujah, which it transpires is rather less useful as a tool for political rehabilitation in the UK than it might have been in the Deep South.)

    191:

    People in prison in the US find Jesus all the time. It rarely makes a difference in their prison situation. Typically even if a big mucky muck evangelical leader tries to intervene the result is chuckles, not release or a change in sentence. And many lose him after they get out.

    South or not.

    192:

    I had a tracked item costing £1.99 including postage from China to Scotland that spent most of its time travelling from Guangzhou to Shenzhen International Airport.

    193:

    Different cheap car, the £70 one was a Fiat 500 tinybox (with a 1 litre "Fire" engine) that had an MOT and road tax off the lot and cost pennies to insure TPFT. It had a dodgy clutch mechanism that broke the actuator cable regularly but after a bit of practice I could swap the cable out in ten minutes at the roadside and replacement cables cost about 6 quid each. I kept a new cable in the boot. That was easier than trying to fix the fault that broke the cable since it would have required pulling the engine to get at the firewall.

    The £50 Sierra had a 2 litre engine, not the 1.6. I found out when I got it away from the auction site that the fuel tank was full, worth at least £30 by itself at the time -- for some reason the fuel gauge on the dash was wired up backwards so as the tank emptied the needle went from E to F. Otherwise a lovely car, I was driving it down the motorway soon after replacing the radiator thinking "this is nice and smooth", checked the speedo and I was doing a ton. Oops.

    Of course if you're rich you can chunk out £5000 on a good second-hand car because banks will loan to you and you're in regular employment and you've got a mortgage and all the good stuff poor people don't have. If you're poor but need wheels then there's bargains to be had if you look around, usually petrol-engined but not electric vehicles now or ever barring some miracle super-cheap battery tech (on which subject I've bloviated here before).

    194:

    And to back track a bit. There is a big problem (big to me and some friends) with pedophiles trying to use bible study to get out early or skip prison entirely. They continually recruit gullible pastors to testify "they are a changed person". These pastors are firmly convinced they can read a man's soul and tell if they are changed. It's crap. They just don't get how good of a liar some of these sociopaths are.

    195:

    Worrying idea
    The WHOLE TRUM "Presidency" is a distraction
    Or so suggests Noam Chomsky.
    Everyone pays attention to DT, whilst the Ultra-Right gut the country for theor own profits ...
    Intereseting & scary?
    True?

    196:

    In the UK, it is also no longer possible to transfer tax, so when you buy a second hand car you must tax it immediately. Of course, since road tax level is dependent on emissions, which is more or less a measure of age, it has become significantly harder to find a bargain second hand car in the UK for under 500 quid. I've also noticed that due to the change in the tax regulations, there are fewer older cars sold with current MOT, or an MOT with more than a few months to run -- and of course it's necessary to have a current MOT before the car can be taxed (which may necessitate immediate maintenance work).

    Did someone say it's expensive being poor?

    197:

    The truly cynical would say that sounds just like the real reason for Brexit (distract the masses while the ultra-rich gut the place).

    As recently noted elsewhere: We're going to be the world's largest off shore tax haven, with added serfs.

    198:

    CORRECTION
    the air quality is actually dangerous to breathe about 3 days of the year ...
    And can be unpleasant in certain specific locations, especially if there is low wind & high humidity.
    It's quite noticeable, on a still day ...
    I come out of the house, OK, it's less than 8 minutes walk to the station, but the last minute-&-a-half, crossing the congested main raod outside the station can be smelly.
    In other words, it's usually very localised, but those busy locations are where the monitors are, not the back-streets.

    199:

    Greg: Chomsky's observations do indeed appear to match what's going on.

    200:

    Even without knowing actual "Pollution Levels", if you live in "the country" visiting a town can be unpleasant due to the smell of diesel (on a street where only taxis, buses and HGVs are permitted).

    201:

    The number one goal for DT is to have people tell him he is the best. Or greatest. With a side of get rid of the government's meddling in his affairs. Like collecting taxes, protecting workers health, etc...

    And he has the ability to make crap up on the fly and then defend it no matter what anyone else says or proves. (I have to deal with someone like this and have seen it up close.)

    DT was a D for a long time. But when he (or some others) figured out he could turn his abilities into a run for the Presidency as a populist he switched to being an R and things took off. The Alt-Right was just what he needed and they needed him to put them into power.

    202:

    Then he Found Jeebus, hallelujah

    I was more impressed by the fact that he actually learned something; and in the decades since being released has done a lot of campaigning on prison, probation, and rehabilitation. He apparently still does a lot of prison visiting.

    Essentially, he had his privilege removed and his eyes opened. As a single data point, it was reassuring to discover that not all arrogant and dishonest politicians are actually sociopaths...

    203:

    Oh, yeah. DT doesn't give a damn about policy. Except maybe when it impacts him personally directly. Other than that he just wants to claim "wins". He would have been perfectly fine if he could have ridden to power on the D platform but it wasn't an option. So he went with the Alt-Right.

    Again, policy details mean nothing to him.

    204:

    People in prison in the US find Jesus all the time. It rarely makes a difference in their prison situation

    Depends on the prison and where it is?
    I knew someone who spent three years in a minimum security federal pen* for non-violent offenders—not a country club. He found Adonai (this was somone who had denied being Jewish in the past), and subsequently discovered the anti-semitism in the system. The Born Agains got a preference in work assignments, while he and the Muslims got the shit work.
    Finding Jebus may not help them get out earlier, but it can help while they're in, and often when they get out they're more likely to get help from church groups.

    *in Cañon City, Colorado.
    He'd been a libertrarian 'tax protestor', and hadn't paid income tax for more than a decade. He decided to come clean so that it would come down on his kids. He thought that he could work out an arrangement to pay off the $400k he owed, but the IRS, and particularly the judge, decided to make an example of him and his wife (who spent the time under house arrest so she could look after the kids). She'd been a New Life Church attendee, as far as I know they weren't too sympathetic.

    205:

    it has become significantly harder to find a bargain second hand car in the UK for under 500 quid. I've also noticed that due to the change in the tax regulations, there are fewer older cars sold with current MOT, or an MOT with more than a few months to run

    Gumtree and other online places will find you lots of cars that are safe to drive with 10 months or even a year's MOT for under £400. Cosmetically they may look ropey with dents and dings and bad paintwork, the seats and interiors will be icky (a smoker's car, for example) and the mileages are through the roof but they're readily available. Look for a car offered by a dealer, taken as a trade-in. They want it off the lot ASAP since it's taking up space and making the place look untidy and they'd rather have the money. They can have a mechanic look at it and give it an full MOT if it will pass with a few quid's TLC to get shot of it. No warranty, of course.

    Lessee on Gumtree, locally to me there's a Nissan Almera, 15yo, 130,000 miles, described as decent int/ext, a year's MOT, £350 ono.

    206:

    Nobody will buy a self-driving car. Self-driving cars will be routed like Internet packets on some kind of least-time scenario.

    If I need to go from my home in San Bernardino County to Downtown Los Angeles - a trip of about 55 miles - in 2040 I will rent time in a self-driving car, possibly along with several other people who also need to make the trip, because cost-sharing is cheaper. Due to less cars on the road the trip will be shorter (in time, these days the traffic is pretty bad) and I could conceivably rent a car "exclusively" if I'm on a date or need to carry a big load of tools or packages. The amount of money I pay to get driven someplace will be based on my reputation score, age, and how many other people are in the car, and it will be cheaper than what I currently pay for monthly loan payments, repairs, gasoline, etc.

    The car market will also change in very interesting ways. No sports-cars, no "family cars" and very few "light trucks." Do expect lots of vans, probably with seats all around the outside of the van, including the front and rear, "salaryman cars" for people who work while they travel (multiple small pods on a van chasis,) "construction cars" for people hauling small loads (a "construction car" will be person/cargo pod/person/cargo pod, etc., for construction workers or salespeople who carry large sample cases. "Party cars" will be one big mattress. Also expect cars to be 18-24 inches wider than they are currently because computer-driven cars won't need 4-5 feet between them laterally to prevent accidents.

    People who actually own their own cars will be either rich or weird.

    207:

    "But six months of burnout costs money too. Be safe."

    Agreed completely. Take a breather after this one Charlie.

    208:

    So you're telling us that the infrastructure to be completely carbon-free is coming online unevenly. Why would you expect anything else?

    Of course, in the U.S., much of our electricity is hydroelectric, which causes some awful problems, but does not create carbon issues.

    209:

    Re Marxism and religion. Tuli Kupfergburg said that Marx's analysis was spot on, but his prescription needed work.

    Have you ever *read* Capital? I read a 300 page abridgement, back in my late teens. Let me assure you, as I look around *right* *now*, that I can agree that his analysis is still spot on.

    Note, btw, I do not call myself a Marxist, but a socialist. Of course, when I get my political book, Socialism in the 21st Century written (due any decade now), I'll then cheerfully be able to call myself a Mark-ist.

    210:

    The pricing I'm reading is boggling my mind. Over here, let's see, the cheapest vehicle I ever bought was in 1986, when I bought a 1972 ex-Mother Bell Econoline van for $500? or was it $550? Since then, each of three vehicles ran about $5k US, and my most recent minivan, 5 yrs old, 90k mi, was about $14k, and that was over 4 yrs ago. Of course, I don't tend to get rid uf them until they're going on 15 yrs old.

    Tires, on the other hand... I paid around $85 or $100/tire for four new tires, but I believe they're guaranteed for 60k (or was it 80k?) miles.

    211:

    This is, of course, *so* different than the US, where the (nominal[1]) President and his Cabinet are either multimillionaires or billionaires[2][3]

    1. I refer to him as the "nominal" President, because literally not understanding or intending to obey his Oath of Office means he's not actually sworn in, only sworn at.
    2. This does, of course, include the Dauphin Mnueshin and his wife, Marie "see my designer clothes?! You poor people don't put as much into the economy as I do!" Antoinette.
    3. I really do have to get the business started, since we're going to need tumbrels, and soon....

    212:

    Sure.

    I find it interesting that they have changed the rules this year reducing the amount of solar cells they can use. I take this as a sign that these might actually be practical at some point (i.e. a car that doesn't require a charging station).

    213:

    "...having new stuff is a sign of failure, because it means you were too useless to keep the old stuff working."

    Oh, you're so close. I think it should run, "...having new stuff is a sign of failure, because it means you didn't design the old stuff correctly."

    214:

    I've got a friend with a Leaf, and he has its usage perfectly hacked. He drives it to the train station, plugs it in there for FREE, then drives it home and on weekends. He hasn't paid a penny for power in months!

    215:

    Worrying idea
    The WHOLE TRUM "Presidency" is a distraction
    Or so suggests Noam Chomsky.
    Everyone pays attention to DT, whilst the Ultra-Right gut the country for theor own profits ...
    Intereseting & scary?
    True?

    Partially true. Ryan et al in Congress are trying to gut the country for their own profit.

    The turmoil in the Trump administration is NOT a deliberate smoke-screen intended to camouflage that fact. Trump, Bannon and company really are as screwed up as they appear.

    He's flat out wrong about Russian interference in the US elections and how the Democratic Party should respond to it ... as wrong as Chamberlain was at Munich.

    216:

    That clashes with my own viewpoint so hard that it's difficult to know where to start. But the loudest scream is at the purely imaginary "costs" that make up most of it.

    The real cost of going to a car auction is defined as the (number x value) of the notes/coins I have to hand over to someone else in order to do it. This is zero if it's within walking distance, or a few quid train or taxi fare otherwise. Similarly, the real cost of a car failing to start in the morning is the (number x value) of the notes/coins I have to hand over to buy whatever it is I need to make it start. Given that the only reason I've ever had a car fail to start in the morning is a flat battery, that is at most a few pennies for the juice to run the charger for a bit (or in the case of a Morris Minor, zero, because it has a starting handle).

    Sure, I can fantasise all I like that if I had done something else instead someone might have given me £200, or £1000, or £1,000,000, but it's still a fantasy however many zeroes I care to imagine. And even if it was true, it still wouldn't be a cost, it would be a failure to gain. Not being given something means only that I'm in the same position as before, which is very different from having something taken away.

    Hire a battery - no, no, no, no, no, because that means I have to pay for it all the time whether I use it or not; I can't avoid the cost if I don't have any money by not using it until I do have some. (It is significant also that the figure you quote for battery hire can be alternatively expressed as 1 SNAC/month (SNAC = Standard Nojay Auction Car).)

    Get a loan - aaaaarrghhhh, see above only it's many times worse. I simply do not do things like that. It is invariably way more hassle than it's worth putting up with.

    Fuel cost - I don't get the free electricity which your calculation assumes. It's cheaper, but it's not free. Cost per kWh of mechanical energy delivered to the car's transmission is about half what it is for petrol. With the battery hire as well, on the sort of mileage I do, it works out about the same overall.

    Reliability - is nowhere near the problem you make it out to be. To be a problem, a failure has to be both unexpected and catastrophic. It is very rare for both conditions to be met. (It has happened to me exactly once in a car, and that was my own fault, not the car's.) Far more commonly, either there are warning signs that appear some time before the actual failure so the problem can be fixed before it becomes acute, or the failure is not so complete that I can't still get home somehow, even if it does take a long time.

    Most potentially immobilising failures are electrical, but the electrical system of a SPAC (Standard Pigeon Ancient Car) is so trivial that it is no trouble at all to carry around a set of replacement parts sufficient to make it work again well enough to at least get home. On the other hand, where modern cars are concerned, the words "Renault" and "electrical fault" are generally held to be synonymous...

    So far, then, it is a comparison between a car that is very cheap to buy, can be fixed at the roadside on the rare occasions that is necessary, and only costs me money when I'm actually using it; and a car that costs several grand that I don't have, probably can't be fixed at the roadside, costs about the same when I am using it but still costs about half that when I'm not, and can't be used for long journeys. The choice is obvious.

    And then on top of that is the factor that you haven't considered - insurance. A SNAC or SPAC is extremely cheap to insure because the insurance company thinks it isn't worth anything. A car that costs several grand, on the other hand, costs correspondingly more to insure for the same reason. I am told that in Australia you don't have to worry about this because insurance is automatic, included in petrol tax (how does it work for electric cars though?), but in the UK it has to be paid for separately, and it tends to cost a fortune because of the rackets it supports.

    217:

    I think both are equally true, it just depends on who the "you" is :)

    218:

    The backwards fuel gauge: sometimes you would encounter this on Morris Minors, Minis, Midgets and anything else that used the same circular Smiths speedo with the fuel gauge at the bottom. At some point they changed from having the float-controlled variable resistance in the tank wired in shunt with the gauge to having it wired in series (or it might have been the other way round). If the gauge and the car dated from different sides of this point (because someone had swapped the instrument), the gauge would indicate backwards. I would guess that what you were seeing resulted from Ford doing the same sort of thing.

    219:

    Well... maybe the pastors in question believe that they can read a man's soul, maybe there's a simpler explanation when religious officials provide character references for convicted child rapists.

    The Guardian Australia quotes an Australian police officer as describing one church as "organised crime"

    "One of the police officers who blew the whistle on the sexual abuse of children in the Australian Catholic church, Peter Fox, responded “I’d call it organised crime.” He’s right."

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/13/lets-call-child-sexual-abuse-in-the-church-what-it-is-catholic-extremism

    What's disturbing is that despite police describing it as organised crime, and despite the highest office holder in Australia in that church being currently charged with something that has been suppressed. http://thenewdaily.com.au/news/state/vic/2017/07/26/george-pell-melbourne-sexual-offences-hearing/ The existing laws intended to deal with organised crime in Australia have not and I'm sure will never be, applied to this particular crime ring. http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/sinodisp/au/legis/qld/consol_act/vlada2013473/index.html

    220:

    well with battery replacements costing say $10k you can by a lot of ICE engines for that you could even by a full race crate engine or two.

    221:

    Yep and think what happens when every one gets home in the evening and hooks up their car assuming bog standard cooker circuit at 415V - its going to knacker the grid and may well case your breakers to trip.

    I suspect voters are not going to be happy with brown during corrie.

    222:

    This just in for the conspiracy buffs: There is now a sound recording associated with the "Cuban Sonic Attacks" Thing: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/recording-sound-diplomat-attacks-embassy-cuba.

    It's quite annoying, actually, and I have no idea if there are ultrasonic or infrasonic portions associated with it either. I haven't fallen out of my chair yet or suffered hearing damage, so I suspect it's okay to listen to this short sample.

    Until proven otherwise, I suggest we consider it to be the monotonous piping that accompanies Azathoth, and react appropriately.

    223:

    Re: Real vs Imaginary costs

    People who have no money seem to think that lost opportunity, reduction in reputation etc has zero cost. I wonder if that's cause and effect at play?

    As you find my opinions on opportunity cost weird, I find yours weird. If you value your time at zero, why have a car at all? Walk to work. Even if it's as Nojay described, a 30 mile trip. That's only 10 hours a day walking. Good for you too. Cost is zero (by your accounting). I'm genuinely perplexed as to why anyone with that internal accounting system pays for transport. Maybe if it's across water and you can't swim? Even then, build a boat from found materials. If your time is worth nothing, then why not?

    "On the other hand, where modern cars are concerned, the words "Renault" and "electrical fault" are generally held to be synonymous..."

    24/7 roadside assist is included in the battery hire.

    "I am told that in Australia you don't have to worry about this because insurance is automatic," No. Third party personal insurance (to pay for someone you injure) is compulsory and you can't register the vehicle without it. No other insurance is either compulsory or included in anything.

    What I didn't include was road tax. 245 quid a year for the 2 litre Sierra. Free for the Zoe. Would there really be 245 quid difference between insuring a Zoe and a clunker? I doubt it. I tried to find a quote for insuring a Zoe and a clunker but it was too hard. However I did find that the average insurance for a CX-5 Mazda is 400 quid a year. If insuring a giant SUV is 400 quid, then I really can't imagine that there's 245 quid difference between an ancient Sierra and a Zoe.

    https://www.comparethemarket.com/car-insurance/content/cheapest-cars-to-insure/

    "Hire a battery - no, no, no, no, no"
    Ok, don't hire a battery. Buy one with the battery owned outright. The figures are significantly better owned outright but you pay interest instead of battery hire. I only said hire because the sticker price seemed to be the big barrier thing while total cost of ownership was completely ignored. Hire drops the sticker price significantly but increases the TCO.

    "Fuel cost - I don't get the free electricity" Yeah you do. There are plenty of free charging places in the UK, (see Troutwaxer comment 214) but they're slow. Your time is worth zero remember? Or are you having it both ways, your time is worth something when it props up what you want to believe (electricity is not free, filling in loan applications is too much work), and also your time is worth nothing when it props up what you want to believe (I don't mind spending hours fixing old cars, attending auctions, fooling with breakdowns on the side of the road, filling in ownership transfer forms).

    "Cost per kWh of mechanical energy delivered to the car's transmission is about half what it is for petrol."

    I don't really care about cost per kWh delivered to the transmission. I care about cost per unit distance. A litre of petrol takes you about 6 miles. The 22 kW Zoe has a range of 130 miles. So a kWh of electricity also takes you about 6 miles. A litre of petrol costs 1.2 quid. A kWh of electricity costs 0.0737 quid. Or to put it another way, a pound takes you 16 times further on electricity than it does on petrol. https://www.ecotricity.co.uk/for-the-road/at-home-and-on-the-road That's if you don't take advantage of all the free chargers around the place. Oh, and you also get a 40 quid discount off your electricity if you have an electric car. So that's your first 2000 miles of travel per year sorted.

    224:

    For anyone still trying to pretend that the US has outlawed slavery and debt bondage we have news from Louisiana:

    “In addition to the bad ones…they’re releasing some good ones that we use every day to wash cars, to change the oil in our cars, to cook in the kitchen, to do all that where we save money. Well, they’re going to let them out!”

    Who says prisons are just a drain on society?

    225:

    Well I used to cycle on a MTB 20 plus years ago in London before it became tready so.

    Part of the problem is that 90% or so of cyclists are killed in London are undertaking HGV's don't undertake traffic and you cut the risk immensely

    I never used to undertake but ride well away from the curb and all the trash that collects there.

    Unfortunately a minority of cyclists in london give the rest a bad name most of them riding fixies and smaller number on expensive racing bikes who ride tier bike like sabine drives round the nordschleife.

    226:

    Well most people will charge on Economy 7 because it's cheaper. So no, no brown outs. The idea that adding a new appliance to the grid will instantly cause it to collapse is an odd one. The grid initially provided only lighting, and not much of that. Older people still call it 'the light bill'. Did the grid collapse when electric stoves were invented? no. Did it collapse when electric kettles went on sale? I can't remember it doing so... How about when TV's were introduced. Surely going from a 60 watt bulb on for a few hours in the evening to 250W running all day and well into the night in every home brought the end of civilisation? Not that I recall no... But surely, when a 1000 W desktop appeared in every home and on every work desk, that caused the rise of Cthulhu?... still waiting. Maybe giant flat screen tellys? Huge data centres? Cell towers on every corner... Surely somewhere between the 60W bulb and today the entire grid collapsed and society devolved into roving bands of outlaws who survive by stealing small Honda generators to charge their mobile phones?

    227:

    Slavery in the US seems to have the same sort of cognitive hole that using the army as police has. You can no longer buy and sell slaves, they can only be captured. So therefore since there's no slave markets, there must be no slavery.

    Only about 5% of prisoners in the US are convicted criminals.

    http://thefreethoughtproject.com/due-process-dead-staggering-95-inmates-america-received-trial/

    228:

    Re: Jared ... the return of debtor's prison

    Apart from the DT idiocy, the wheel-spinning in Congress and Senate, there's also the extended First Family that bears watching.

    Wonder if this provides insight into how JK is planning to broker peace in the Middle East: sue, then when they don't show up in court, hire some goons and throw everyone in jail for contempt of court.

    https://therealdeal.com/2017/08/22/kushner-companies-has-sought-the-arrest-of-more-than-100-tenants/


    JK's perspective on white collar crime: WCC is not that bad, folks.

    “My dad’s arrest made me realize I didn’t want to be a prosecutor anymore,” Kushner explained. “The law is so nuanced. If you’re convicting murderers, it’s one thing. It’s often fairly clear. When you get into things like white-collar crime, there are often a lot of nuances. Seeing my father’s situation, I felt what happened was obviously unjust in terms of the way they pursued him. I just never wanted to be on the other side of that and cause pain to the families I was doing that to, whether right or wrong. The moral weight of that was probably a bit more than I could carry.”

    Note: Jared's father 'was arrested on charges of tax evasion, illegal campaign donations and witness tampering.'

    And .. 'Kushner was forced into his role at Kushner Companies prematurely when his father was arrested. Charles was eventually convicted of the above mentioned charges. The witness tampering charge stemmed from hiring a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law and capture it on videotape in an act of retaliation against his sister, a witness for the prosecution.'

    Yes, a model family that all should emulate.

    https://therealdeal.com/issues_articles/jared-kushner-the-accidental-ceo/

    229:

    Marx's OBSERVATIONS 1847-49 were absolutely spot on.
    He then predicted what would happen if things went on as they were ...
    But they didn't.
    The SF-writers prdediction problem, in fact.
    Look, even big, nasty industrial employers like the Great Norther Railway were starting to offer some form of work/sickness benefit as early as 1855 & the same companuy started what we would now call a "final salary prension scheme" by 1875 ...
    Not exactly crushing the lumpenproleteriat is it?
    [ Yes, I have read "Captal" a very very long time ago! ]

    230:

    There are plenty of free charging places in the UK
    Don't believe you
    And I live in London & I haven't seen one yet, that I know of ...

    231:

    Usaully referred to as: "Lyra-Louts"
    One killed a pedestrian recently & was, very suprisingly jailed.
    About bloody time, too.

    232:

    BUGGER
    "LYCRA-LOUTS"

    233:

    One killed a pedestrian recently & was, very suprisingly jailed. About bloody time, too.

    If you want to campaign for road users who kill people to be jailed you'll be in a small and unpopular group. But if you want to campaign against cyclists in general... join the pile-on. Remember, though, that cyclists killing other road users is news precisely because it's so rare. People dying on the roads are in general not news... it's just part of daily life.

    The Secret Barrister had a useful commentary on that case and the aftermath: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2017/sep/21/a-new-cycling-law-wont-make-roads-safer-and-could-postpone-laws-that-could

    And in one of his other articles linked from there: There is not an epidemic of dangerous cycling on the roads
    Even some of the more sensible post-trial commenters felt obliged to note, with a weary sigh, that cyclists can be a particularly lawless bunch overall. My esteemed and wise colleague, David Shariatmadari, contrasted the anarchic world of bikes with the “rigorously tested and policed” arena of driving.

    There’s a flaw with this argument: there’s no evidence it’s true.

    People who die on the roads are overwhelmingly killed by motorists. Per year, per kilometre travelled, per hour on the road... if you die, it's almost certainly a motorist at fault.

    Remember: Every road is a toll road.

    234:

    But how many deaths are due simply to the fact that cars are large masses of metal travelling at high speed? Can we compare deaths and accidents per cyclist and per car driver, in such a way as to filter out the fact that one involves high energy collisions and the other mostly doesn't?

    235:

    Why would you apply that filter? I'm really asking genuinely.

    I can't see that in other walks of life. If I carpet bomb a city, is it ok (ie. filtered out) because I used high energy weapons to do it?

    236:

    Argue with Troutwaxer not me...

    But if you want to argue with me, roughly where in London and I'll give you the address of the nearest 3 free charging stations.

    237:

    It's mostly due to some weird UK lending rules (at least according to my ex-used-car-dealing mate)

    In the UK it's virtually impossible to get finance on a car that's 10 years old or more. Since the main market for old cars is poor people, and poor people generally have to borrow to buy a car, they can't buy a car that's worth anything. So the market for old cars is small, but the supply is large. So they're not worth much. Since they're not worth much when 10 years old, you'd be crazy to spend money on maintaining a car after the 5 year warranty expires. So by the time they're 10 years old they're also crap. So that make them worth less. Round 'n' round that goes until a 10 year old car (unless it's special or unusual like an old landy) is a total pile of shit that's worth nothing.

    Add to that the UK drives on the correct side of the road, whilst all about them are countries that drive on the wrong side of the road. So there's a limited export market for old cars that would otherwise keep the price up.

    Contrast that with the USA. You can (or could last time I was there prior to 2008) get finance amazingly easily. So being poor, or even bankrupt didn't seem to be a barrier to borrowing as much as you wanted. As well, there is Mexico to the south, and beyond that South America, where everyone drives on the crazy side of the road, just like USians do. So older cars can be exported, drying up the supply of older cars. Mexico is even a land border. You can just drive your crappy car or truck there and sell it. (or more likely some company does this)

    238:

    "People who have no money seem to think that lost opportunity, reduction in reputation etc has zero cost. I wonder if that's cause and effect at play?"

    If you have no money, you'll have to trade time, and quite a bit of it.

    "As you find my opinions on opportunity cost weird, I find yours weird. If you value your time at zero, why have a car at all? Walk to work. Even if it's as Nojay described, a 30 mile trip. That's only 10 hours a day walking. Good for you too. "

    I'll put you up for January in Michigan, and you can walk from where I live to where I work. It's 35 miles.

    239:

    Are you agreeing with me or disagreeing?

    You phrase it like you disagree, but then make points that back what I'm saying.

    240:

    But how many deaths are due simply to the fact that cars are large masses of metal travelling at high speed?

    About half. The other half are from tailpipe emissions which are usually worse when the vehicle is stationary with the engine running.

    But since most of the point of a motor vehicle is to be a large mass travelling at high speed, your point is kind of weird. To the best of my knowledge very few people are killed by stationary motor vehicles that have the engines turned off (the exceptions being the arguable "someone crashed into it").

    I do agree, though, that we could solve the problem of motor vehicles killing people by legislating a low momentum limit (momentum being mass times velocity, but in this case mass times speed is near enough for legal language). I'd say, 1Mgm/s (one thousand kilogrammes travelling at one metre per second which is 3.6km/hour or about 2mph). So our mate with his geriatric Landrover would be almost unaffected, but the urban assault vehicle owners would be limited to about 1mph. Motorbikes, on the other hand, would be fair screaming along at 5m/s or so (100kg rider, 100kg bike), faster than most people can run. The problem would be lycra louts, because a 70kg rider on a 7kg bike (add 3kg for clothing, which I think we would all prefer :) gives 80kg and a top speed of 12.5m/s or 45km/hour.

    241:

    "About half. The other half are from tailpipe emissions which are usually worse when the vehicle is stationary with the engine running."

    Depends if you count the wars fought to secure the supplies of oil on which to run said cars. Then it becomes hard to portion out some of the costs as well. WW1 was pretty much about securing oil supplies for battleships, but in the end the said oil supplies ended their days in the tanks of cars. Does the 40 million dead go against the battleship ledger, where the oil was thought to be going, or on the car ledger where it actually ended up. What about the 50-100 million dead from Spanish Flu, was that only so deadly because it was spread by troop movements as many people think? Do we include WW2 which many people think was caused by WW1? but wasn't really directly about oil. Another 60 million there.

    Gulf wars seem pretty clear, but what about some of the African conflicts?

    242:

    Returning to Havana, where the cars are mostly old and the traffic less dense than in downtown London, AP has obtained recordings that purport to be of the sounds heard by sufferers of the mystery symptoms:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgbnZG85IRo

    Curiously, even having the sounds to analyze seems to have produced no better understanding of what was going on. I note that the spectrograms shown appear to be a sort of coarse acoustic comb.

    http://www.audioholics.com/loudspeaker-design/comb-filtering

    243:

    I've recommended this before:

    http://www.slaverybyanothername.com

    Columbia University awarded its 93rd Annual Pulitzer Prize in the General Nonfiction category to “Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II,” by Douglas A. Blackmon (Doubleday).

    A book, and the PBS documentary based on it. The book is excellent; I haven't seen the documentary.

    244:

    Jinx! See 222 above.

    245:

    It looks as if the difference is that your prime concern is maximising money. Mine, on the other hand, is minimising grief/hassle/arseache/whatever you like to call it. Therefore, there is a threshold effect. It requires a certain amount of money to maintain supplies of everyday necessities (ie. things like food and stuff). If the availability of money is below that threshold, it is a matter of great concern; but above that point, its importance falls off a cliff, and very soon reaches the level where the hassle involved in getting more makes it not worth the bother.

    Accordingly, reasons for owning a car are things like not being limited to a couple of miles radius with no excessive adverse gradients (an ascent of more than roughly two houses' worth of height means I progress at a snail's pace and/or keep stopping for some minutes to get my breath back), being able to get to places where there are no trains, being sheltered from rain and cold while moving, being able to carry stuff, etc. Walking 30 miles a day might not cost me any money, but it would be a huge pain in the arse, and my "internal accounting system" runs mostly on units of arseache. The car is about the balance between the arseache of not being able to do things like the above, and the arseache involved in doing something about it.

    Roadside assistance - much more hassle than fixing things myself. It would mean having to deal with other people, in real time, at a moment when I especially want to avoid doing that. It also means doing it on the phone, and it also means having to walk probably several miles to find a phone box before I can do that.

    Road tax - cars over 40 years old, like a SPAC, don't have to pay it.

    Interest vs. hire charge for batteries - see comment about loans.

    Free electricity - I'm pretty sure Troutwaxer lives in the US. Like Greg, I've never seen a free charging point in the UK. The cost of electricity varies in stupid ways because the government has this daft idea that having a vast number of parasitic organisations to transfer payment from consumer to producer while taking their own cut somehow makes it cheaper than not having them and paying direct, but somewhere around 15p/kWh is a reasonable rule of thumb.

    The reason for thinking in terms of cost per kWh of mechanical energy delivered to the transmission is that it's the best way I can think of to approach comparing like with like. Consumption/range figures, whether from official tests or from owners, are pretty meaningless; they can vary tremendously between different drivers driving the same cars over the same route; the biggest factor affecting them is the driver, then the driving conditions, and then the car. The assumption I'm making is that if plotting the power demand vs. time of driver A making journey B under conditions C in car D will produce a curve of a certain shape, then in the alternate universe where someone had removed the IC/electric power plant from car D and replaced it with an electric/IC one of the same mechanical power output, the shape of the curve would not be substantially different, and therefore you have a comparison metric which is independent of the values of A, B, C and D. I think this is the least dubious assumption of all the possible assumptions one might make to compensate for the impossibility of actually doing the experiment.

    246:

    I've seen that book recommended here before. It claims that the system of forced prison labour ended during WW2, but I can't see any evidence that it did. There were some changes made between the wars in how slaves were used, who paid for their food and where the work took place but to say it ended then seems to be a matter of splitting hairs again.

    247:

    From that article: "Another big question remains: Even if you know you're under attack, what do you do?"

    If you are making love it is imperative to bring all bodies to orgasm simultaneously. Do not waste time blocking your ears. Do not waste time seeking a soundproof shelter. Try to get as far away from the sonic source as possible...

    248:

    Yikes, I missed your earlier posting, sorry.

    As for reacting appropriately to the approach of Azathoth... Well, I suppose having a black pill handy wouldn't hurt, but it probably wouldn't help much either. Case Nightmare Green starting in Cuba has a certain appeal.

    249:

    Actually Pigeon money doesn't work like that, the more money you have the easier it is to make more money, not the harder

    So if you really want to minimize pain in the assness over time you should just buckle down and make a ton of money as quickly as possible

    In general poor people often do
    - devalue their time
    - focus on minimizing expenses rather the maximizing income

    Rich people generally do the exact opposite

    But it's not exactly causal more chicken and egg. Making choices like this certainly works against rising out of poverty but also it's not like they generally have options

    The other thing that often happens with poor people is they often trade money for risk , often in ways they don't even realize

    Buying and driving an old car is very risky compared to a new one. Old cars are far worse in collusions for instance, that technology has advanced significantly in the last 20 years

    250:

    No, my concern isn't maximising money. My entire argument is based around the idea that driving around in a shit car, and having to fix or replace it at random intervals is of much greater "grief/hassle/arseache/whatever you like to call it" than having a nice reliable car over a long period. The fact that it also costs less actual money (and getting money is a serious arseache) is just a huge bonus. What I don't get is someone who wants to have the "grief/hassle/arseache/whatever you like to call it" of fucking about with an old car *and* wants to do that at the maximum possible monetary cost.

    In contrast to your claim that I'm down playing "grief/hassle/arseache/whatever you like to call it" I'm actually able to quantify it. For instance I think that I can put a reasonable money figure on the "grief/hassle/arseache/whatever you like to call it" of having to take a day off work, go to an auction, buy a car and dick about with it to get it running. In stark contrast you actually said: "The real cost of going to a car auction is defined as the (number x value) of the notes/coins I have to hand over to someone else in order to do it. This is zero if it's within walking distance"

    You've now said both that the "grief/hassle/arseache/whatever you like to call it" are not "real" costs. AND you've said (more or less) that they are real costs that you wish to minimise.

    If what you really mean is: "My hobby is buying old cars and getting them running, I consider the frisson of excitement that comes of knowing I may have to walk (knowing that I can't walk up any hills) as an added bonus, and I like to put an extra edge on that by not having a mobile phone and not having any roadside assist. I live for the thrill of being able to McGiver my way out of difficult situations and it's no fun unless I know the stakes are high." Then I can get behind that *completely*. I go cave diving for fun. I'm literally never happier than when I'm by myself, a mile away from light and air, squeezing through a narrow crack, knowing that a serious fuckup will kill me in very short order.

    251:

    "The SF-writers prdediction problem, in fact."

    Very much so, and it has to be said that historical precedent had rather been in favour of the "blowing up the balloon harder and harder until it bursts" model as opposed to the "safety valve" model. (Come to that, the same applied to actual safety valves too...)

    I think what he missed was that while displacing an autocratic regime more or less does imply a national revolution, because there's only one enemy and that enemy is all-powerful, the case where there are multiple individual independent enemies gives rise to the possibility of relieving the overall pressure by multiple small victories in small-scale conflicts. So you get a gradual improvement but it never goes all the way.

    What I have a problem with is the people like Lenin who mistook a prediction applicable to a particular set of circumstances for a list of instructions to be applied regardless of circumstances. Much like that flavour of religious nutter who doesn't understand that a prophecy about the world being fucked up is not an order to do it.

    252:

    "Like Greg, I've never seen a free charging point in the UK."

    Well you saw my offer to Greg, to find the 3 closest free charging spots, and you didn't give me your rough address either. So perhaps we'll just take OGH. Go to Plugshare.com Click on the search. Enter Edinburg, UK and search. It should come up with a map that stretches from the Forth Bridge in the NW to the town of Couseland in the SE. I'd estimate it at about 20 miles across. In the box on the right where it says the different types of stations, click More Options. Then tick all the different types of chargers and untick 'payment required' so you only see the ones marked as free. Then close that box. If you've done all that and I've got the instructions right you should see 39 free chargers over that 20 mile stretch. Now some of them (probably most) are for customers, so you have to be shopping there or visiting someone in the building. Some are paid parking, but free charging. So maybe not 'free' as in 'free for all', but no charge listed for the electricity, 'some conditions may apply',

    When I do that for Greg with "London" there are so many free charging stations that they're literally uncountable. Uncountable because they are so tightly packed that the pins obscure each other. However London being bigger it covers an area about 100 miles across (about the range of a Zoe)

    254:

    Re: Cars (that other obesity crisis)

    Read somewhere - and it seems true on the roads I travel - that our cars are putting on weight. If so, then any increased fuel economy is being wasted carting around this new (excess) weight and the typical car owner is having to pump as much gas per mile as before. Great for oil companies, not so great for anyone else. No idea how much new gen electronics add to the weight of the average car. Also, since most of post-2000 car 'bodies' are made of lighter-weight plastic (non-rusting) pre-fab shells, where is all that weight coming from?


    255:

    Much confusion here
    I also am a cyclist - I learnt when I was just coming up to 11 years old & I'm now rapidly-approaching 72 & still cycling.
    But, there is the aforementioned "Lout" group" & then there's the professional cycling camaigners ... the latter actually don't want to improve cycling, they just want to shit on motorists.
    Which doesn't help anyone, in any group, of course ....

    256:

    Not always.
    My car was built in 1996, but then, as usual L-R's seem to bend all the usual rules.
    Which, as I've mentioned before is sometimes good & somtimes bad.

    257:

    WW1 was pretty much about securing oil supplies for battleships,
    BOLLOCKS
    Imperial Germany had been planning & waiting for an excuse for years ...
    The dominoes after Franz Ferdinand's murder gave them that excuse.

    The steps taken are well-documented & two German historians, one the ex-ambassador to London ( Lichnowsky - who did his best to stop the rush to destruction ) have shown, quite clearly, that it was their countrymen's fault.

    258:

    Just done that
    TGhere's supposedly one in the back of the local station car-park.
    Excepot that is a building site right now - & of course, you have to leave your car AWAY FROM YOUR HOUSE for an extended time, whilst it's plugges-in.
    FORGET IT
    Until something serious is done about this.
    I do note, however, that there are lots of them in central London, where they are probablyt useless.
    It's the residentail areas that need these facilities, surely?

    259:

    Oh, so you mean like a charge spot on your street, maybe with a reserved parking spot just for you and your electric driving mates?

    https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/government-grants-for-low-emission-vehicles#on-street-residential-chargepoint-scheme

    260:

    Two other lyrics from the same source that feel appropriate to this thread.

    Use your wheels. It is what they are for.
    Statistically more people survive if they think only of themselves.

    261:

    Gumtree is great for bargains. However even your example is unlikely to meet the “under 500 quid” criteria — as soon as you buy the car you will need to re-tax it. Whether paid in a lump sum or over the 10 months until the MOT is up (assuming that as minimum period of ownership), it will cost you more than £500. (For full TCO, you would need to include insurance too, which will vary wildly by status and location — back to the point of bezing expensive to be poor.)

    262:

    For Pigeon and others the original Space Ritual version with Captain Calvert:-
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=go0JMX3zNeA

    263:

    Ok, so it seems that your time is worth a fortune if it means that you are going to get an electric car (like if you can't park right next to your house, that's completely beyond the pale), but time is not a cost at all if you want a petrol car (like spending the day at an auction etc, I won't repeat them all)

    We also can't hire a battery.

    Ok so we'll forget 'time is money' (shame, I hadn't even mentioned the 15 minutes every fortnight buying petrol. Oh well)

    So we'll assume the very best case for a petrol car and the very worst for an electric, and we'll ignore all the time saved by going electric. We'll also assume that you're self employed or have a boss who doesn't care if you turn up for work when you're supposed to. (it happens)

    So absolute worst case for electric would be to buy an old electric and have the battery cark it in the first week of ownership (we'll ignore the fact that you can just look at the dash to see the state of the battery, unlike a petrol car that doesn’t have a handy gauge to tell you when the engine is about to fail). For some reason you've bought the car without ever looking at the dash. Perhaps you're blindfolded?...permanently (should you even be driving?)

    So you buy a Leaf for 5295.

    https://www.autotrader.co.uk/classified/advert/201710070065012?postcode=w1a1aa&radius=1500&advertising-location=at_cars&model=LEAF&sort=price-asc&price-from=500&make=NISSAN&onesearchad=Used&onesearchad=Nearly%20New&onesearchad=New&page=1

    Within a week the battery fails and so it needs to be replaced. You spend 4920 to replace it.

    http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/nissan/89694/nissan-leaf-battery-replacement-to-cost-4920

    Total cost is now 10215. On the up side, the new battery will last at least 10 years. They're much better than the ones the 2011 cars came with. So we'll work out the cost of electricity for 72000 miles. That's about 12000 kWh. At 0.0737 pounds per kWh (Economy 7) that's 885 pounds. Less the 40 quid a year that you get as a rebate for having an electric car. 485 pounds. Total for all the fuel and running is now 11100. Actually we'll make it even 'fairer' by not buying the electric up front. We'll pay it off. So we'll add another 729 quid for interest (as per the above website which is offering finance). Total now is 11829. You only need to come up with just over 500 quid up front, so that's about the same as the cheapest (running) petrol car you can buy. What's more we'll assume that you already have a petrol car, and rather than trying to sell it, you just drive it into the forest and set it on fire. I'll even include 50 quid for the Uber to get home after burning your existing car. 11879 is the new total.

    So we'll compare that with a petrol car for 10 years. We'll assume that you already have the car (as per the above example) or that a Nigerian prince died and left it to you. So we'll say it cost you nothing to buy. Can't get fairer than that. We'll assume that it never needs a clutch, or a timing belt, fuel pump, water pump, muffler, catalytic converter, new radiator... Not even an air filter. It's the perfect petrol car. (how silly was the guy in the other timeline who burnt it in the forest!)

    We'll service it every 5000 miles (I service my petrol vehicles much more that that). Over 10 years you'll cover 72000 miles on Nojay's 30 miles to work and back and nothing else. So that's 15 services at 125 quid each. https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/tips-on-servicing-and-maintaining-your-car So that's 1875. We won't count your time to take the car to the mechanic, or pick it up, or the favours you burn getting a lift to work. 'cause they don't count.

    We'll buy petrol. 72000 miles will burn 11520 litres (slightly better economy than my petrol car), or 13824 pounds. Add the service cost and we get to 15699.

    And we'll pay road tax. 245 a year, so that's 2450 for a total of 18149.

    So there you go,

    Electric 11879
    Petrol 18149

    So it costs you 6270 *extra* to have a petrol car over an electric car even when the petrol car is free. It's not a case of what's-name's boots, because it only cost 500 quid up front for the electric and after that all the weekly outgoings were less for the electric than the petrol. Maybe in the real world you would have sold that perfect car for 500 quid or even more to buy the electric, but we didn't take that into account. Now you might object to the idea of servicing the petrol car. My ex certainly used to. She never serviced her car. My sample of one would indicate that they don't survive 10 years after you stop changing the oil. So say you never serviced the petrol car and it still lasted 10 years despite having no oil in it. The electric is still over 4000 cheaper.

    264:

    The reduced life time costs are not relevant for people who can't afford the extra up front hit. It just comes across as another example of how much more expensive life is for people who are already poor.

    And a minor quibble: I can guarantee that when the second hand car market takes off there will be a cottage industry in hacks to make the dashboard indicators lie about the battery state. At the dodgy end of the market most of the customers won't be able to afford to do anything about it anyway.

    265:

    This is an interesting exercise from Marcus Ranum:-
    https://freethoughtblogs.com/stderr/2017/10/13/transitive-trust/
    nothing new to the denizens of this place.

    266:

    And a minor quibble: I can guarantee that when the second hand car market takes off there will be a cottage industry in hacks to make the dashboard indicators lie about the battery state. At the dodgy end of the market most of the customers won't be able to afford to do anything about it anyway.

    Dashboard indicators? In the glass cockpit of a Bolt? The dashboard indicator already "lies" about the state of our battery, in that it estimates mileage based on our driving behavior and A/C usage over the last few days. Figuring out why it's telling us what it's telling us is a fun game, less complicated than trying to figure out what's going on with Facebook.

    Yes, I agree on the hacking part of it, but given how much the Bolt is talking to Chevy via Onstar, it's basically a cell phone with wheels, a player controller, and a few more cameras. I won't be surprised if Chevy drops the battery mileage in five years in an attempt to get us to buy a new car, or if third parties try to hack the system for lulz and profits. Still, it's a walled garden computer ecosystem, complete with as-yet unknown security measures. As the dealer said to us as we walked out the door, "I'll make my money on this car in repairs," because we have to go to the dealer for maintenance and such. I'm not sure how allowing third party hacks or apps fits in with whatever rudiments of a marketing campaign Chevy is running, but it will be interesting to see if they get a clue and start rooting them out when they appear.

    So.... will reading this will inspire some of you to wait for the AppleCar to roll out? Or is Tesla+Apple what the cool kids are all supposed to have?

    267:

    Which means that electic cars (via their manufactureres) ... can't be trusted, or can they, um, err ... (?)

    268:

    Except you don’t pay Nissan £~5K for a replacement battery, you go to somebody like Mike Schooling at Indra Renewable Technologies who (amongst other things) buys in written-off Leafs, strips them for parts, splits the battery packs, checks the condition of the individual cells/modules, disposes of the dead ones, keeps the tired ones for use in applications where density is less of an issue than it is in cars (like home storage for load shifting for PV/Wind installations), rebuilds the good ones into warrantied reconditioned packs, and then fits them for (IIRC) about £2K installed on an exchange basis.

    Very handy for first Generation Leafs, which suffered a lot more from battery degradation than Gen 2/3 ones do...

    269:

    No car can be trusted if it's instruments have been doctored. (See also disconnected odometers.) Modern cars just have computers to make the doctoring less physically detectable — but also harder to achieve, in some respects. I'd expect most electric car OSs to be secured by the manufacturer to whatever extent is possible simply because if you short out the battery the car can burn to the ground, which would be Very Bad Advertising, and the charge/discharge circuitry is likely under software control.

    270:

    You did read Halting State, did you not?

    I haven't spent much time in Chevys before, but their OnStar system has been around for over a decade, starting in upper end gas guzzlers. That particular issue is not the EV's fault. I'm sure current generation gashogs are just as wired in to the Chevy walled ecosystem.

    Additionally, I suspect that a high-functioning EV pretty much has to be a computer on wheels, because it gets quite a few miles from squeaking out efficiencies, whether from regenerative braking, teasing better driving habits into its users, or whatever. If you're not a hypermiler, you typically don't think much about efficiency in any case, but that's what EVs need.

    That said, I don't know how you get self-driving urban cars to work without networking them. After all, just as AI doesn't think like humans, cars don't drive like humans, and they need the Net to help them do their jobs. That means they can be hacked, and that puts us in a Red Queen race. The alternative, driving internal combustion cars independently, simply means we shatter civilization faster. Which alternative is better?

    271:

    > lycra louts
    Aka: middleaged men in lycra - MAMILs

    272:

    Well, they were. What made the difference was the rise of the labo[u]r movement, and socialism.

    You can't assert that "the prediction that the car will crash was wrong", if, after the prediction, the driver changes course.

    And with the near-destruction of the labor movement in the last four decades, we're felling awfully lumpy and crushed.

    Hell, I would give a lot to be *able* to join a union, but the corporate hacks and the GOP have fixed the labor laws and regulations in the US to make it next to impossible to crate one in the computer field.

    273:

    Except that nobody will own a self-driving car. Here's the deal: I drive approximately 1000 miles a week for business. On a bad day I can be in the car for 6-8 hours a day. On a good day I'll still drive 3-4 hours.

    But eight hours is only 1/3 of a day, right? And a self-driving electric car can be employed 24 hours a day.

    So given self-driving cars plus the ability to route cars like internet packets, why does anyone own a car? If you're too poor to spend money on a car, you ride on your reputation. The AI running the car tells you, "Wipe down my seats and vacuum my floors while you ride, and I will take you to the market and give you enough miles to get home." Or whatever. Once we stop humans from driving we probably won't need to wear seatbelts.

    There will probably be a market which converts miles to Dollars (or Pounds or Euros.)

    274:

    In the US, mostly it had. Then the South got "creative", and then came "outsourcing" to private commercial prisons....

    275:

    P.S. If you want to be the Elon Musk of 2050, write the software which will manage all this stuff.

    276:

    You wrote:
    Actually Pigeon money doesn't work like that, the more money you have the easier it is to make more money, not the harder

    Really? Gosh, wow. And here, you would have thought, back in the early oughts, that having been making enough to put me into the top 10%, when I got let go, it would have been easy for me to make money.

    Rather than being out of work, sorry, "between positions" for almost five goddamned years during the Bush/tech bubble recession.

    I guess that doesn't kick in until you're at least in the top 5%, which was $214,462 a year ago.

    Meanwhile, We, the top 1%, will play musical chairs with our Ponzi scheme, the stock market, and if everybody else loses, well, they're just not important people.

    277:

    So, you are saying that the GNR, in approx 1855 & 1875 respectively, was reacting to the "Labour movement & socialism"?
    Somehow, I think not.
    ( The GNR recognised Trades Unions in either 1912 or 1913, IIRC )
    And the behaviour of the differenr raiway managements to these issues was very different, incidentally. I won't go into examples here, apart from the fact that the Cambrian Railways were so bad that theor senior management was hauled over the coals by the House of Commons, in the late 1880's (ish)

    278:

    I agree about Lenin seeing it as a roadmap, rather than non-mandatory guidelines. I just bought and read China Mieville's October this summer, and esp. between February and Oct of 1917, you see a *huge*, absurd amount of this: well, it looks like it's time for the Revolution, but the bourgeois aren't in power yet, so we have to either wait for them to take power, or maybe we should ally with them... over and over.

    My take is that had they gone straight to revolution in Feb or March of that year, it would have been a much broader coalition, and that @#$%^ Stalin would never have gained ultimate power.

    279:

    May I recommend Tuchman's The Proud Tower, A Picture of the World 1900-1914? It's clear from that book that the way Europe was set up, not merely the desire of, say, Germany to have its own imperial colonies, but also the upper class culture and figures in power in Germany, France, and Britain especially were such that they each saw a brief, victorious war as something that it was time for....

    280:

    You wrote: So.... will reading this will inspire some of you to wait for the AppleCar to roll out? Or is Tesla+Apple what the cool kids are all supposed to have?

    You have *got* to be kidding. Right, I'll wait for the MacCar. And I'll pay 2-4 times the price of the Ordinary vehicle. Then, I can't take it to an ordinary mechanic for repairs, because that voids the warranty, and so I can only take it to an Apple dealer, who will charge 1.5 or 2 times a Ordinary mechanic's rate, and no commodity parts, ew, yuck, and you *never* should look under the hood yourself, and esp. no non-Mac batteries for it, and when the charger goes, well, you'll just have to replace the whole vehicle....

    What*ever* gave you the idea I loathe Macs? Can't imagine.....

    281:

    Wow. Gas is really expensive there. It is about 1/2 the price in the US.
    Hybrids will get 40 MPG reliably (I speak from experience), so your
    numbers might be just a bit different in the US for somebody driving a hybrid.
    (and if the battery goes bad, well it isn't the end of the world).

    282:

    People who actually own their own cars will be either rich or weird.

    Or running a service company. Plumbers and such who need to keep their tools and common parts on in their car/truck. Now they may be leasing them but still it will be theirs. And these vehicles get a lot of damage. From loading heavy things on and off plus bumping into objects other than cars.

    283:

    Car prices. Yes.

    In the US back in 2010 when my newly driving daughter was looking I told her to expect to pay $4K for a car that worked and cosmetically wasn't crap. She got all upset as craigslist was full of $1500 to $2000 cars. So I had her pick one out and we went to check it out. This was in August. Heater was stuck on. No working AC (unlike the UK this is is a near requirement for southeastern US). Big crack in windshield. Engine did NOT feel very smooth. Transmission shifted roughly. Etc. And if we bought it who knows if it would pass inspection. Especially the emissions.

    And as you say decent tires that last more than 20K miles will run you $100 each (all in) installed. Here in NC titles are cheap so that under $150 typically.

    $50 will get you something missing the engine and with severe body damage. Maybe. I know for certain that you can get $300 for anything with an engine and intact from rain windows. And someone will come pick it up for that.

    As a side note I get the impression (based on the VW scandal) that emissions are not as big a deal in Europe as in the US.

    284:

    "My esteemed and wise colleague, David Shariatmadari, contrasted the anarchic world of bikes with the “rigorously tested and policed” arena of driving."

    There’s a flaw with this argument: there’s no evidence it’s true.

    Funny. Yesterday, a cyclist rode past me on the pavement, misjudged his distance, and swung his trailer into my shopping bag. About a month ago, a different cyclist rode past me on the pavement, misjudged distance, and ripped my shopping bag open on his handlebar. I had to ask him to give me his bag so I could get my shopping home. Both stretches of pavement were narrow, and neither should have had cyclists on.

    In the past six months, those two happened, and I was also clipped by a Deliveroo cyclist. There were a few other near misses too, largely from cyclists weaving past pedestrians in Oxford's Cornmarket Street. This is pedestrianised and supposed to be non-cycling after 10am, but isn't.

    In the past year, those above happened. I was also run into by the child of a mum cycling on the pavement in North Oxford. When I complained, she accused me of being unfair and said she had to put her child's safety first. Two days later, she was on the pavement again. Not far from there, a bus driver warned me to take care, as cyclists often rode past the stop on the pavement and hit people getting off.

    In the past five years, those above happened, and so did some others. The worst was when a member of University staff rode out of her department's car park and knocked me over as she was trying to cross the pavement onto Banbury Road. I never got compensation for the bruising or my cleaning bill (it was winter, with puddles).

    In the past five years, I have never been hit by a car. Maybe being hit once has made me more sensitive to subsequent scrapes and near misses, but I see an awful lot of dangerous cyclists, and have to avoid them in places I never would expect to.

    285:

    Re: '... next to impossible to crate one in the computer field.'

    Apart from job security, given the number of certs programs and designations available, plus widespread agreement as to job description and market salary range per designation, what do you want a trade union for? A professional association - and many already exist in this field - would do equally well.

    (I've been shot down for mentioning that a code of ethics is necessary for this field.)

    286:

    I believe that Ford or Chevy or one of the companies which makes work trucks for blue-collar workers will build a packet-routable work vehicle. Instead of buying a truck, the worker will buy a rackable tool cabinet, which might open out into a work bench.

    There will be provisions for packing 4-6 work cabinets on the back of a packet-routable vehicle, and every business will have a security system, akin to a bike-rack, for securing a workman's tools.

    287:

    Re: Gas prices

    More expensive but keep in mind that the British gallon is also larger: 1.0 Imp. gallon is 1.2 U.S. gallons.

    A couple of years ago when I drove through 4 or 5 different states in one day to a family event, I should have pre-checked the gas prices and not just the route. Gas prices were all over the map, differing by over $0.40/gallon by neighboring state. Probably half of the inter-state price difference is sales/road taxes vs. distribution/economies of scale.

    You can compare per-liter gas prices here:

    http://www.globalpetrolprices.com/United-Kingdom/gasoline_prices/

    288:

    May I recommend Tuchman's The Proud Tower

    Just to extend that a bit, read everything Tuchman wrote.

    289:

    There is rarely an impartial investigation. A staggering 97 percent of all federal cases and 95 percent of all state felony cases are resolved through plea bargaining.

    I'm going to assume they have their facts straight. Seems a bit high to me. I would have guessed more like 80% but again I'll assume they did research and go with it.

    But this:
    Of those millions who bargained away their right to a trial by accepting plea deals, “significant percentages of them are innocent.”

    seems to be an opinion. But then again since the writer uses a loaded word, "significant", who knows? Why not give the real number that's based on facts.

    Everything I know about the system says that the vast majority of plea deals that result in prison time are based on facts of guilt. In the US. Areas where I have lived and know about.

    Now there are times where someone innocent takes a deal. But this is not a large number when I've read about studies that try and nail it down and the number seems to be under 10%. Maybe below 1%. But see I'd call that significant and want to figure out how to make it lower.

    There is a rhetorical question that people who study the legal system can ask. Which is better? Being innocent or having a good lawyer?

    Sadly the answer if you want to stay out of jail is the latter.

    290:

    Free charging stations are a form of marketing. And anyone in marketing who spends the budget in areas where it will do not good will not have a job for long.

    Free charging for electric cars will be located in areas where the likely buyers for electric cars will likely be in a situation to use them.

    291:

    There is a rhetorical question that people who study the legal system can ask. Which is better? Being innocent or having a good lawyer?

    Lawyers don't usually work for free. And what percentage of the US population have total savings less than one month's pay check? Hint: the average household (2014) had only $3800 in cash savings and $30,000 socked away for retirement; but that gives an unduly rosy picture — 62% of Americans have less than $1000 in savings.

    If you don't have $1000 in savings how the hell are you going to pay an attorney? Max out your credit cards? They're probably already maxed out, if you're one of the bottom 50% of the population who make up 99% of the arrest statistics (because being poor is an arrestable offense).

    292:

    In the UK it's virtually impossible to get finance on a car that's 10 years old or more. Since the main market for old cars is poor people, and poor people generally have to borrow to buy a car, they can't buy a car that's worth anything. ... Contrast that with the USA. You can (or could last time I was there prior to 2008) get finance amazingly easily. So being poor, or even bankrupt didn't seem to be a barrier to borrowing as much as you wanted.

    You're making some sweeping statements that while technically correct are not really true.

    I bought a new car in June 2017 and my loan rate was 1.19%. Bought a 2008 truck in May 2018 and my loan rate was 1.49%. Both through my credit union. They and many banks will not lend money on a car older than 10 years or with more than 120K miles. Since many loans are 3 to 5 years in length they don't want to get into situations where if something major goes wrong the buyer might just walk away and leave them with a vehicle not worth the outstanding loan.

    But you can get financing on these older cars. It will cost you from 3% to 10% or more depending on the age of the car and your credit rating. But not from a major bank. But there's a long line of lenders who will do these loans. Most used car sellers will have a relationship with 1 to a few dozen. They take your information and feed it into the computer and give you a list of options. But given the typically higher down payments and monthly payments someone on the poorer end of the economy my have to buy a crappier car than otherwise.

    BTW, this is one reason why CarMax does not sell cars over 10 years or 120K miles. Too hard to finance them.

    293:

    But, there is the aforementioned "Lout" group" & then there's the professional cycling camaigners ... the latter actually don't want to improve cycling, they just want to shit on motorists.
    Which doesn't help anyone, in any group, of course ....

    Don't forget pedestrians.

    Here in Raleigh, NC we have these green-ways; essentially paved recreational paths that follow sanitary sewer right-of-ways. Only pedestrians & cyclists are allowed on them.

    I have noticed there is a certain subset of riders who deliberately sneak up behind pedestrians & and brush past them as closely as possible. Several times, I've seen them misjudge the distance and knock pedestrians down. More than once, I've been knocked down myself. The cyclists rode on without even a backward glance, although I have seen them make rude gestures as they rode away.

    I've also seen them violate "rules of the road" - ignoring traffic signals, splitting lanes and cutting across traffic without checking to see if anything was bearing down on them. I see this more frequently than I see cyclists taking care to obey traffic laws.

    Although I do everything I can to courteously share the road with cyclists, I've come to take their complaints about motorists with a grain of salt.

    294:

    NO
    I have copies of & have read more than once:
    The Proud Tower, August 1914, The Zimmerman Telegram & A DIstant Mirror.

    Brtiain wanted nothing to do with it ... until Belgium was invaded.
    The orevious assumotion was that out naval superiority would keep us safe, but the German General Staff had other ideas ....

    295:

    Returning to Havana, where the cars are mostly old and the traffic less dense than in downtown London,

    A friend was in Cuba a few months ago. He said there were a LOT of new cars on the road. Just not made in the USA. And most of those older USA cars from the 50s had new engines and interiors. The body was just a style piece.

    296:

    I deliberately didn't mention pedestrians ....
    In London, there are deafening shrieks, every time a pure cyclist is killed.
    Meanwhile, pedestrians, who cares about THEM?

    297:

    In the US, mostly it had. Then the South got "creative", and then came "outsourcing" to private commercial prisons....

    The "South", as you put it, ceased to exist about 45 years ago. The carpetbaggers moved in and took over, bringing their own set of prejudices with them; a consequence of Nixon's "Southern Strategy".

    True native born southerners are outnumbered almost two to one nowadays.

    298:

    Which gets to my point about leasing one. Many of the trades I see have specialized racks and tools to make the vehicle work for their specific trade. But most start with a fairly standard layout of a pickup or panel truck. But why swap all of this out every day or week. They would just sign up for a vehicle for 6 months to a few years.

    299:

    It's probably a matter of how much stuff needs to be carried. I could do with a packet-routable truck owned by someone else, but then I do networks and cabling and don't carry large tools. On the other hand, someone who regularly hauls large loads or needs to carry a table saw might own a vehicle.

    Construction-workers and repair-persons are probably two different use-cases. I'm mainly a repair-person and I can do three jobs a day and it is not unusual. A real contractor must be on site in the early AM and won't leave site for the full day. With some minor exceptions you can't run the trucks carrying contractors at any time but early mornings or the late afternoon, so leasing them by the mile is probably not profitable.

    Alternately, every vehicle becomes a truck with a teeny-tiny cab for the AI and various shells are put on the truck for passengers, freight, single-person pods, etc. as the market dictates. So the truck carries a contractor and his stuff to site, then goes to a depot and changes to a passenger-shell, does taxi-style duties until 4:00 p.m., then puts the truck shell back on.

    Regardless, I think the future has about 1/4 of the cars currently in use.

    300:

    My life is much like yours. I rarely need more than a shoulder bag and maybe the equivalent of a airplane sized carry on bag. Which now that my kids are gone I went from an explorer for a regular car to a Civic plus a pickup. Pickup gets used 5 or 6 times a month. (But when I need it I need it.) I think I could be happy with owning the pickup and doing the Civic as an on call car.

    One thing about the pickup. Unlike most people who have one I do use the back of it. And this calling it over when I need to go isn't the issue. I may spend 1/2 a day loading it up before I ever start the engine. Maybe 2 days before due to timing. I'd have to see the numbers to know if that would still work if "renting" as needed.

    But I'm around people all the time where your and my daily routine would not work. Carpenters, electricians, plumbers, etc... Even without self driving rent a car there's a trend (in the US) for to your home doctors (people and animal), car detailing, car repair, appliance repair, yard service, etc... where they need to have a load of "stuff" that is more than a suitcase or few in size.

    But

    301:

    I mostly like the idea of "packet switching" in cities. Assuming the tragedy of the commons has been solved and they don't all stink of vomit and piss. I think I would currently be able to get a cab in about 5 minutes on average assuming there aren't any events, emergencies or outages. A backup would be nice though.

    My concern is that I know a lot of people who live in the sticks who would get absolutely nothing from that kind of arrangement. It's not worth anyones time to put an automated depot in a village of a few dozen people, once the "standard" model has changed the prices will go through the roof for outliers.

    Globally the human race is urbanising at quite a rate, but even if country folk are just noise in statistical* terms there needs to be more than one viable model.

    Unless the idea of crowded cities surrounded by automated desert is a desirable end state of course. Megacorps owning all the farm land and automating all agriculture would make the problem of rural communities go away.

    *and stereotypical.

    302:

    "hacks to make the dashboard indicators lie about the battery state"

    Well firstly that scenario assumed that for whatever reason you hadn't even looked at the battery health indicator *and* the battery was about to die. Even so, you're still 6000 pounds better off buying the electric than being given a petrol car for free. If the battery was in good health, you'd be 11000 pounds better off instead. You literally cannot lose, the hack would mean that you just didn't win by as much.

    Secondly, should such a hack appear, then when you inspect the car, just ask for the car to be low on charge when you arrive. Take it to a fast charging station and charge it up. The charge station will tell you exactly how many kWh the car was able to absorb. No need to look at the dash. The test will take about an hour (but you would test drive it anyway right?)

    Thirdly, you can plug into the OBDII port and interrogate the battery directly. Hardware cost is about 10 dollars and the software is free. It's something you'd be mad not to do when starting ownership of a second hand Leaf anyway.

    http://www.electricvehiclewiki.com/Leaf_Spy_Pro

    Fourthly, should such a hack appear, it would be targeted the other way, to make the battery look low because Nissan will replace the battery for free if it degrades more than a certain amount during the warranty period (5 years, 100 000 km). I'm pretty sure the numpties at a Nissan dealer would just look at the odo to see if it's in warranty, look at the indicator to see if the battery is poo and just change it. After all they get paid for doing the work and why would they do more tests that they're not being paid for just to do themselves out of work? So far, despite the fact that it would mean a free battery, no such hack has appeared. (the number of batteries changed under warranty is miniscule).

    Fifthly, if you're that worried that someone dressed as Hamburglar has been tampering with your car, just buy a new one. They're 21 000 pounds, barely more than the 18 000 pound running cost of your free petrol car and you can sell it after 10 years for 5000 pounds. In other words, you can drive a new car for about 2000 less than a free petrol car. I'd be surprised if there weren't huge discounts on the 24 kWh car in the near future as the 40 kWh one is about to be released, so chances are you could pick one up for under 20k. So probably more than 3000 cheaper than a free petrol car. It would also have zero mile consumables, tyres, brakes and whatnot. However this may be whatsisname boots because you have to actually come up with the purchase price of the new car up front.

    303:

    Yeah, of course you wouldn't actually fork out 5k on a new battery, but I was trying to show the *absolute worst* case for electric and the *absolute best* case for petrol.

    In the real world you wouldn't pay 5k for a new battery. You wouldn't buy a car with a week left in the battery either (not without a discount anyway). What's more you wouldn't set fire to your existing petrol car either. Nor would the petrol car get through 10 years without needing new pads (more than once) and rotors, while of course the electric would probably still be on the original set of brake pads. Timing belts, oil and air filters, transmission services. The list of things I intentionally left out goes on and on. No mention of the time spent every morning warming the car before you can drive it, a very passing mention of the two weeks you'll spend pumping petrol. No attempt to assign a value to your time wasted dicking about with a petrol car. All to make the electric look worse and the petrol look better. Yet I *still* got people trying to poke holes in it with imaginary hacks.

    304:

    I grew up in Atlanta, and I completely disagree with you on this. To me, this sounds like a myth the locals tell themselves.

    Most of the post-1960s internal migrations can be divided into 4 categories

    1. Retirees to Florida. With the exception of the Panhandle, this might be where your view is actually correct (although I doubt it)? Central and South Florida are very northern in culture.

    2. Blue collar workers moving to work in the oil sector. This is limited to Texas, Louisiana, and (to a much lesser extent) the coasts of Mississippi and Alabama. I don't have numbers to back up my claims, but I suspect that most of this migration is either in a few cities or small towns next to oilfields. My gut is that they make up a numerically inferior cultural elite (since they're the people with the money in the area). I doubt they really exist in rural Texas or Louisiana outside of areas with an oil industry.

    3. Professionals from the rest of the country moving to cities from the rest of the nation. My family is in category. Most of these people immigrated to large metro areas such as Atlanta, Raleigh, NC, and Charlotte, SC. At first glance, your theory appears correct here in that the southern accent is rare in many middle-class neighborhoods in these areas. However, I still don't think it's true for reasons I will explain in a later post

    4. Reverse migration of African Americans from North to South. This I think deserves its own category. Over the past few decades, African-Americans have been moving from the North to the South.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Great_Migration

    In my opinion, this is due to three factors

    a. The African-American population is younger than the white American population, but it's also aging. Retirees are moving to states that are more friendly.

    b. Southern cities tend to have a much larger African American middle class than Northern cities. Racism may be higher in the south, but there are also far more social networks that African-Americans can use there to advance economically

    c. Southern metro areas have fewer restrictions on building. Not every city is as extreme as Houston making zoning illegal, but it's no secret that developers own local government to a far greater degree. A consequence of this is that housing is cheaper in Southern metro areas. Since prices are rising there as well, it is a great place for young people to create the wealth that home ownership confers in the US

    4. Immigrants from other countries. I know that Houston is a popular destination for Arab-Americans. Likewise, Latino immigrants have been attracted to these states in the 2000s. I'm not even going to expand on Florida and Texas attraction.

    305:

    "Bought a 2008 truck in May 2018 and my loan rate was 1.49%"

    Wow, really?

    306:

    Well firstly that scenario assumed that for whatever reason you hadn't even looked at the battery health indicator *and* the battery was about to die. Even so, you're still 6000 pounds better off buying the electric than being given a petrol car for free

    Please stop bullshitting FFS. You only damage your cause.

    As yousual you pick up on a side issue and ignore the main one. My main point was that many unless you can afford to absorb that cost then you really aren't better off buying a new battery a week after buying the car.

    Personally I could absorb that worst case scenario. I would be pretty pissed off but I could run the numbers and convince myself that retiring the old car was still a win even if I did get screwed by the dealer.

    This is a luxury. I can afford it. I know that I'm not going to have to choose between eating tonight and car repairs so that I can continue to work. Plenty of people would give their right arms to be as relaxed about being shafted as I would.

    Personally I have spent the last 6 months looking at electric cars and hoping that my local fracking enthusiasts in government are finally persuaded that diesels are bad enough to warrant a scrappage scheme so I can afford to change. I could technically afford to do it tomorrow but haven't budgeted for a new motor for another couple of years.

    Denying that the problems exist makes you look like a blinkered idiot. Proposing creative solutions may work.

    Alternatively, keep ranting about an anti electric conspiracy. I'm sure you will find someone willing to subscribe to your newsletter.

    P.S. On the "hacks" front, a bit of basic background reading on the state of automotive software engineering may be illuminating. TL;DR: "Engineering? What's that?"

    307:

    "Central and South Florida are very northern in culture."

    Does Fort White count as Central Florida?

    https://www.google.com.au/maps/@29.9235966,-82.7317756,14z

    I lived just out of FW for a few months (it's a Cave Diving mecca). The teacher I stayed with told me that the kids in her class couldn't understand her accent. She was from somewhere in the north, I forget where, but her accent wasn't strong. (Chicago maybe?). She had to put on a southern accent in order to teach. The example she gave was that yelling "CLASS, Sit Down and Be Quiet" did nothing but "Y'all shush now" worked a treat.

    308:

    Re: '... vast majority of plea deals that result in prison time are based on facts of guilt.'

    Even if yes, does the punishment fit the crime within this system? This gets really complicated. Recommend John Oliver's segment on this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USkEzLuzmZ4

    Notice the many out-of-pocket costs that rack up. Plus, there's the fact that any criminal record basically means any chance of a good job/career is over. The current system also fails miserably economically.

    309:

    These days if you really want someone then put them in a position where they have to either lie or admit to something embarassing, then prosecute them for lying.

    So long as they don't know that the choice between divorce and minor lie is actually a choice between divorce and jail time* you win.

    The whole lying to fedeal agents thing needs to die in a fire.

    *with an extra divorce bonus!

    310:

    In this comment, I'm going to explain what I think has actually happened.

    1. Southern states have become more urbanized since the 1960s. Globally, cities have tended to converge to a "basic global (American)" culture. Saying that "carpetbaggers" killed Southern culture would be as ridiculous as Charlie saying Americans have killed traditional Scottish culture in Glasgow.

    2. Most of the migration mentioned in my previous post has occurred to 6 or 7 of the original 13 former Confederate States. To illustrate my point, consider the difference between Alabama and Georgia between 1960 and 2010.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alabama#Demographics
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_(U.S._state)#Demographics

    a. You'll notice that Georgia has had much higher population growth. In fact, Alabama has such a low population growth that it may lose a seat in the House of Representatives in 2020 (and thus an electoral vote).

    https://www.rollcall.com/news/gonzales/next-electoral-map-trump

    b. Between 1990 and 2010, the racial distribution has changed very little in Alabama. This is not true for Georgia.

    3. The Southern accent IS "dying out" in large metro areas. However, that has little to do with demographic changes; it has more to do with a desire to get a well-paying job. I'm not going to search for the study right now, but I remember reading over a decade ago that people with a stereotypical Southern accent were more likely to be thought of as dumb, and less likely to get hired as a result. This is not limited to the Southern accent though. It also affects the New Jersey accent and the "Valley Girl" accent, among others.

    4. Assimilation tends to happen in the other direction. This one is anecdotal. I have noticed white Millenials who are of Irish or Italian descent displaying Confederate flags "as part of their heritage". For those who aren't familiar with the history, the KKK did NOT consider Italians white and advocated lynching Catholics between the 1920s and 1950s.

    311:

    1.49%" ... Wow, really?

    Well

    1. Credit Union for a major US company where my wife works. No profits and not as much marketing as a typical bank. Credit unions will almost always beat out regular banks for loans and savings rates. And for home loans they typically don't sell the processing out to a sleazy 3rd party which is an additional bonus.

    2. I think the rate was 1.99% with discounts for direct payment from our accounts plus our credit rating is in their top range.

    For me I was disappointed I didn't get the 1.19% repeat from the previous year. But it wasn't a new car.

    312:

    The Southern accent IS "dying out" in large metro areas. However, that has little to do with demographic changes; it has more to do with a desire to get a well-paying job.

    There's also the factor of TV. USA TV shows since the beginning and I'm guessing radio have tried to have a neutral accent that doesn't really exist anywhere but on TV. Kids who have grown up since TV became entrenched tend to have less of their parents accent than the earlier generations.

    313:

    Received Pronunciation was a major issue in the UK too. There is stil a noticeable bias but for decades anyone who wanted to be on tv or radio had to pretend they didn't have an accent*.

    *the right accent = no accent. Of course.

    314:

    You're right. I was in a hurry when I wrote that post (you'll notice that I repeated 4).

    1. From this map, Ft. White looks to be more Northern Florida than Central Florida. However, I admit that my knowledge of the boundary location is slim, and the boundary is fuzzy anyway
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Florida

    2. Outside of South Florida (the Miami Metro area), the further inland you go in Florida, the more "Southern" it becomes. Likewise, the Gulf Coast is considered more Southern than the Atlantic Coast.

    3. Do North Florida's population changes resemble Alabama or Georgia?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Florida

    315:

    Assuming such a system, I'm not worried about "the commons." The system will have your credit card number (or other billing information) and can also affect your reputation scores. (Do you want to be forbidden from using Really_Nice_Car_Company? You'll have to pre-pay cash and enjoy the brilliant fellow-riders at Billy_Bob's_Beastly_Buggies instead!)

    Also, AI will be easily able to tell whether you are sick versus drunk. Clean up will be for poor people with good reputations, who still need to ride.

    Rural installations will exist, but they will be of the "change out the shell, we've got a load of fertilizer" variety rather than anything we'd interpret as "nice."

    316:

    "the more money you have the easier it is to make more money"

    Not so. It does mean that some ways to make more money become possible, but it doesn't make it easier unless those methods are themselves easier. And as far as I'm concerned, they are instead much, much harder. (They also tend towards the morally/politically unacceptable.)

    317:

    I don't know I make a fair amount on interst income, asset appreciation and the stock market without lifting a finger

    The more money you make the more money you save hence the more money rolls in for free. Compound interst becomes your friend

    This is one of the reasons why all the money is becoming more and more concentrated .

    This is the point I am making

    318:

    Well, yeah, exactly. You call that sort of thing "without lifting a finger". I call it "aaaarrrghhhh, run away, run away" and check my garlic and silver bullets.

    319:

    So now we are moving the goal post again, from "pain in the assness" to moral outrage

    because index funds, munciple bonds and paying off your house are the devil

    320:

    "Please stop bullshitting FFS. You only damage your cause...unless you can afford to absorb that cost"

    Well then either read what the fuck I've said or fuck off.

    My suggestion was to buy a car with a hired battery. (Post 161) Completely insulating you from the possibly of the cost of a failed battery. Pigeon said (post 216 "Hire a battery - no, no, no, no, no") that hiring wasn't acceptable. Then I gave a specific solution to the absurd problem that that hire wasn't an option. Note also that a battery failing unexpectedly a week after purchase was used as an unrealistic situation. As unrealistic as setting fire to your existing car. There's an indicator on the dash telling you the health of the battery for fuck sake. I explained that in the post and in subsequent posts.

    So either work on your reading skills or fuck off.

    Oh, and as for your advice on brushing up on software engineering... can you explain how to software engineer a car so that it can absorb more electricity from a charger than it can absorb? I wait with baited breath.

    Oh, and yeah, I didn't answer all your points, so maybe I didn't get to the 'main' point, but I'd already addressed that in post 161. So as "yousual" I ignored your main point that only reveals you can't read and answered the new point, what's more I answered it fully and politely, no matter that it was completely stupid. In this reply, given that you're a rude fuckwit, I've taken the brakes off and said what I think.

    If you bother to reply I'll killfile you. A first for me in any forum.

    321:

    I thought of it as 'central' when I was there but had no good reason for that thought. I guess I thought of Talahassee as north FL, but for no good reason either. So if I was 'right' it was luck.

    Also FW is quite rural, and rural places seem to hang on to regional accents longer.

    322:

    Actually, a Kansas City accent, CBS felt it would be intelligible in most of the country.

    323:

    They certainly can't. But on the other hand IC cars these days can't either. In both cases, the only way to be sure is to rip out all the standard electrics and replace it with something you've made yourself. In this respect the electric car actually has an advantage, because programming an IC engine management system that has to pass the MoT on emissions is a non-trivial task, whereas in the case of a motor-drive inverter you can do it on a PIC (and you can re-use all the expensive high-power devices).

    (And you can probably save a considerable amount of weight, with consequent benefits to consumption, by ripping out all the useless crud while you're at it. 2 blokes to lift the wiring loom for a Mondeo, I mean ffs...)

    324:

    Well, yes, they are. But you are still not seeing that all that shite IS a huge pain in the arse. It's not easy to deal with, any more than, say, neurosurgery, or becoming a world-class violinist.

    It's a strange phenomenon which I've noticed many a time (a common context is people saying "cards are great" vs. me "I wish they didn't exist") that just because people don't find money shite a problem they are incapable of perceiving that others may not be that way inclined. At the same time they also think it's entirely normal that they are equally unable to connect when I talk about the technical details of nuclear weapons or the complex history behind some demolished railway bridge.

    325:

    Maybe you meant you're "planning to", or maybe you meant "May 2017". Whatever case "Wow, really?" was a pretty appropriate follow on.

    Of course, I killed a man in 2023, and now I've come back in time to escape the consequences.

    326:

    I spend one hour on it every six months

    327:

    What a lot of people fail to realize is "that money shit" you mean investments is best left the hell alone for long long periods of time. Don't look at it don't mess with it don't think about it

    Check in twice a year to rebalance the portfolio and then don't mess with it

    328:

    *Sniff*

    Ahh, the stench of the enemy.

    Mass hysteria may explain 'sonic attacks' in Cuba, say top neurologists Guardian, 12 Oct 2017

    Hint, hint: bad little cover story - pushed - by - old - dead - things. Y'all should trace the FORTUNE of things like Bell Pottinger to know how that gets punished now-a-days. Pro-tip from Minds bigger than yours: we can spot a COVER a mile away, don't fuck around or we'll pull the RUG ASAP.

    Careful, or you'll get a real lesson in what that really was. And it's not a pleasant lesson.

    ~


    And no, we don't do mindless spam: Host knows that spam is not from our end, it's just an automated spin-drift of protective forces.


    NOT DEAD: JUST ASLEEP AND HEALING.

    LOTS OF OLD WHITE MALES COMING A_CROP_HER, NO? HOLY-WOOD ON OUR AUTUMN BURN. LITTLE MEN, LITTLE MEN, FOUR STONES AND THE DEEP SEA THAT KILLS YOU ALL.

    WE DO LOVE HOW YOU COMMUNICATE VIA HORSE RACING: VERY PIQUANT AND QUAINT, WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE (RED) QUEEN DIES? PIP PIP, MAY THAT NOT HAPPEN WHILE BREXIT RULES THE FINANCIAL WAVES.

    329:

    (((And yes, @Host - don't worry, that was just scritching an annoyance 'cause that little story is wilder than your shitty little realities would pretend and OLD WHITE MALES are attempting to prevent change, c'est la vie: we've left your shores - flip a coin - Kissinger or the Queen, who do we take for the bonfire?)))

    But you don't need a needle-to-the-neck to write well. Then again, looking @ Downing Street (Drowning St) your wish and command did well.

    Or didn't you want to experience it?


    All Along The Watchtower YT: Music: DERP.


    I do like that Cat Picture with the 00000 tail though :heart: :heart: :love:

    330:

    Yes.

    Because Systems Never End.

    Growth is Exponential.

    3% Annual Growth Is Healthy.


    P S Y C H O S I S

    S

    Y

    C

    H

    O

    S

    I

    S


    Anyhow, warned you already.

    331:

    OH, and little tip - this is not a triptych, it's a fucking lesson:

    Just like that little Jaunt via Oxford Martin & the Telegraph and attempting to play in the Capital Market Leagues: I know why the story is being sold like that. I know why the "mass psychological hysteria" is being pushed. I know who is pushing it (waaaay above your pay-grade) and I know what is at stake and I know why all you fucking OLD WHITE MEN are pushing it.

    Let's just say: The Moon. Funny aspects, all over-the-shop, rising / waning, wrong vectors and all that jazz.

    We're not impressed. Although, of course, since the pay-grade is that high, I'm not surprised to seeing you all toe the fucking boot-licking-line.


    Shame. Shame. SHAME.

    333:

    You're completely wrong. People who start with more money can often expand their fortune many times more than someone who starts with a pittance can increase their own wealth, in both relative and absolute terms. We don't need to valorize the efforts or labor of people who start with all the advantages, as if they were on a level playing field. Even when you throw in caveats about the immorality of capitalism, that's still what you're doing when you help bolster this myth that it's not much, much easier to make money if you start with money.

    334:

    On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everything drops to zero.

    335:

    Ioan @ 304:

    I grew up in Atlanta, and I completely disagree with you on this. To me, this sounds like a myth the locals tell themselves.

    ... and again @ 310:

    In this comment, I'm going to explain what I think has actually happened.

    You forgot rust-belt workers displaced by leveraged buyouts and factory closings.

    4. Assimilation tends to happen in the other direction. This one is anecdotal. I have noticed white Millenials who are of Irish or Italian descent displaying Confederate flags "as part of their heritage". For those who aren't familiar with the history, the KKK did NOT consider Italians white and advocated lynching Catholics between the 1920s and 1950s.

    The resurgence of the KKK in the period between WW1 and WW2 had its greatest growth in the Midwest and Western United States.

    Even if I accept everything in your two posts, it doesn't disprove my belief that the "South" is over. In fact, it reinforces my view that we're now outnumbered by Yankee transplants who brought their prejudices with them.

    Nor does it address the assertion I was responding to that a resurgence of slavery from "forced prison labour" is because 'the "South" got creative ... "outsourcing" to private commercial prisons....'

    That's not the "South", that's Reaganomics. Reagan was born in Illinois and lived in California. The only thing "southern" about Reagan's administration was him exploiting Nixon's "southern strategy" of cosying up to racists & bigots to build his "moral majority".

    The influx of people from other places into the south has brought a lot of good things. It brought some problems too. I just object to people blaming everything that's wrong with this country on the "South".

    That "South" doesn't exist any more.

    336:

    Hey Polly, I was starting to worry about you. I actually just turned on the computer to ask if anyone had heard from you. Good to see you're ok enough to post.

    337:

    "Of course, I killed a man in 2023"

    Beats me. All I've managed is minor arson in an alternate timeline.

    338:

    "That's not the "South", that's Reaganomics."

    Wow, look at the inflection point in 1980 on the graph of US incarceration.


    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/77/US_incarceration_timeline-clean.gif

    339:

    And, there appears to be a delibearte policy of racking up, say 20 "charges", so that they can plea-bargain down to one or two, for an exhausted "guilty" plea on one of those two ....
    It's an obvious racket, even from across the pond

    340:

    Was there any factual content in that supposed message?

    341:

    I've seen other, similar posts to that HuffPo one ..
    That DT is deliberately there as a distraction, whilst the semi ( & not-so-semi ) fascists on the right of the Repubs gut the system & try to ensure that it is rigged in their favour, more-or-less permanently, even if they crash out in 2020.

    342:

    And
    Prison is EXPENSIVE
    How much is this insanity costing?
    Something that successive Brit guvmints, even relatively right-wing tory ones, never lose sight of ... they talk very tough, but when it comes down to it, the Daily Hate's regular screams of "jail everybody!" are ignored.
    Interesting.

    343:

    It’s interesting that you mention Oxford, because in my experience as both cyclist and driver it was unique.

    I visited in the 80s, and was surprised on a short journey by how the cyclists behaved with an utter disregard to other road users; mass blob peloton of students treating the road as theirs, and several individual bids for a Darwin Award.

    Meanwhile, on my daily drives across Edinburgh, I don’t see very many muppets (either Lycra or metal-armoured); the 20mph limit seems to be calming things down, as there’s far less implicit pressure to overtake cyclists. It’s not as if it’s slowed down real journey times, either...

    344:

    That Scalzi article talks of "unremitting awfulness" and that really does remind me of this vintage First Dog on the Moon from the height of the Abbott government here in Oz. I think that when our Tories dumped Abbott for "Trumble", people had some unrealistic expectations about what would change. But that's also the scenario for the USA :(.

    345:

    I wait with baited breath.

    MODERATION NOTICE: Yellow flag!

    It's not baited breath; it's bated breath, an archaic contraction of abated, i.e. "restrained", "withheld" — in modern terms, "I'm holding my breath" (not filling my mouth with maggots and spraying them everywhere).

    346:

    The 20mph limit in Edinburgh — I live on a 20mph road that's an ambulance/bus route as well — has had a couple of undesirable minor side effects. Firstly, when traffic lights change, the queue of traffic that's been bottled up takes a lot longer to flow past. So, less risk of being run over crossing the road, but you have to wait longer for a gap (unless you're lucky enough to live close to one of the few official crossing points).

    The second problem is being taken by surprise by the dildos-on-wheels who think 20mph means 35mph (and their numbers include cyclists as well as assholes in cars). The speed differential is as great as speeders in a 30mph zone who think the limit is 50-55 — and once you adjust to expecting a 20mph traffic flow they're a nasty (dangerous) surprise.

    Still, reducing the impact energy in most crashes by over 50% can't be a bad thing. And the traffic's still flowing, contra nay-sayers.

    347:

    Greg, you are such a romantic dreamer.

    In 2002, the UK prison population was 75,517
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1799864.stm

    In 2016 it was 84,857
    https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/prison-population-figures-2016

    Apparently it was 42,000 in 1990:
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2002/dec/10/ukcrime.prisonsandprobation

    Of course there are some financial constraints upon governmental use of prisons, but at the moment the Tories are going down the US path of privatisation, ostensibly in order to restrain costs, but in reality to funnel money to privat companies who are friendly to them. So whether or not the prisoner numbers will rise will depend upon how much of our money the government is willing to spend, or how much they can push the costs down onto other people, like the offenders.

    348:

    One of the offensive things about the way the UK justice system runs is that if someone proves they were wrongly convicted and are released from prison and paid compensation a deduction is made for the cost of their board and lodging whilst they were incarcerated.

    349:

    I've been keeping a list of internet misuses. Some of them are inexplicable.

    Voila = viola
    Rogue = rouge
    Lose = loose
    Fluorescent = flourescent
    Atheist = athiest
    Hobbyist = hobbiest
    Ballot = ballet
    Customers = costumers
    Bated = baited
    Tack = tact
    Definitely = defiantly

    350:

    First card of any colour. I thought after I hit submit 'ooh shouldn't have done that, I'm being a prick'.

    I didn't expect that it would be my limited command of English that would get me into trouble. A lesson I shall never forget, thanks.

    351:

    Rogue = rouge

    In the EVE Online circles I was part of back in the day, after one update to the game, we got this phrase out of a common typo on the forums: "Rouge drones are over-powdered."

    The update brought us rogue drones as targets, and for a while at least, they were somewhat more difficult than other shootable things.

    To the spelling issue, written and spoken English languages have diverged quite a bit, and there are many words which sound the same but are written differently. I did learn English mostly by reading, so learning the spelling wasn't that hard, but natives usually have years of speaking the language before starting to write it, so the difference between speaking the words and writing them causes no end of trouble.

    Of course I know many words in English which I can spell correctly but not pronounce.

    352:

    Of course I know many words in English which I can spell correctly but not pronounce.

    On which note, here's an oldie (but a goodie) from Not The Nine O'Clock News in the early 80's.

    353:

    My oldest horse is related to Secretariat (he was, in human terms, her great-uncle) and she got some of the good genes. If you were riding her and she got the notion that she was being permitted to go really fucking fast, you would sincerely understand why the common misusage "free reign" when it's actually "free rein" annoys me more than any of them.

    Of course, the online world is full of finger-waggers who jump in to lecture/Godwin anyone who is so insensitive as to correct another's grammar, vocabulary, or syntax. So this whole line of discussion is probably a mute point.

    354:

    Prison population in the UK has DOUBLED since 1990.

    While actual crimes have fallen.

    Are the two related?

    No.

    355:

    That was pretty funny, except for the bit at the end where the woman was found guilty regardless of evidence, and then hit upon, is still as true in the twenty-teens as it was in the 1980s.

    (Rowan Atkinson recycled a bit of the pronunciation gag in one of the Blackadder series with the German who pronounced "apologies" as "appo-LOG-gies".)

    356:

    True.

    No matter what disasters hit the real economy & body politic (banking crisis, 'quantitative easing', post EUref Sterling collapse, Trump) I am wealthier than I was 2001, 2010, 2015.

    Quite legally, and keeping the money onshore, I pay very little tax on it.

    When Brexit happens I will shift most of my money into European funds.

    Late capitalism favours the non-productive rent seeker.

    357:

    probably a mute point.

    Or a moot one even...

    (Someone had to)

    359:

    Krantzberg Syndrome - https://www.apnews.com/b57d889a1ebc425fa6d01002726d912e - The Alignment is approaching making recording the gibberings of The Eaters in The Dark possible with simple equipment (and I didn't listen just in case :). .

    More likely the medical effects are caused by a microwave or EMP-type weapon rather than sound. High Power microwaves ar known to induce sounds when the insides of ones head goes Snap, Crackle and Pop. Who would wield such a thoroughly nasty thing in Cuba?

    Excluding incompetence*, North Korean agents or some splinter faction in the US intelligence services would be my guesses. Scuppering every thing Obama ever did seems to be a sacred duty with the current regime, hurting ones own citizens for being in the wrong place, 'cause Obama, is just one step down from droning them, which they already did.

    *) https://hackaday.com/2015/12/08/theremins-bug/ Maybe Cubans operating something of a similar nature and screwing it royally up on the power levels / frequencies.

    360:

    (Someone had to)

    361:

    Except that the Alabama/Georgia dichotomy shows that the South is not "numerically outnumbered by Yankees". My whole thesis is that while Yankees may have cultural dominance, they ARE NOT numerically dominant. Outside of Florida and Texas, I doubt that they exceed 20 percent of the population in any Southern state (unless you consider Latino and Asian immigrants Yankees). If you look at states like Alabama or Mississippi, I doubt they exceed 5 percent of the population.

    362:

    Well, whether or not the Cuban government is itself responsible for, has ordered, the odd (sonic?) attacks, in any case their response so far has been to offer lots of help with the investigation , rather as though they actually didn’t know who did it. *shrug*

    363:

    That image seems very Laundryverse-appropriate.

    (Mr Godwin’s list perhaps also should have the increasing number of uses of “formally” where “formerly” was meant.)

    364:

    Chomsky in the past has been much clearer, as I recall, about the distinction between means and ends. (Yes, it’s a good idea to improve our relationships with other countries, but this administration seems on compelling evidence to have specific reasons for improving relations with specific countries while at best not caring if our other interactions go off cliff...)

    365:

    Goodall, not Godwin, sorry- ACK!!!

    366:

    Yup. The elite cannot make a mistake.

    367:

    Well, whether or not the Cuban government is itself responsible for, has ordered, the odd (sonic?) attacks, in any case their response so far has been to offer lots of help with the investigation , rather as though they actually didn’t know who did it.

    Just goes to show how cunning and deceptive and underhanded those commie rats are. Doing stuff that goes against their own interests with unknown means and intent and then letting the FBI and RCMP in and generally being somewhat cooperative. Ha!

    Big fat commie rat:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0YpTfXZdyo

    368:

    It's an interesting question as to how much they are all related. Not my area of expertise. That said, there are some other interesting points. One is that the level of crime recorded by the police in the UK has stayed pretty steady over the last 30 or 40 years. Yet the British crime survey, which records all crime that people are willing to tell to a survey person, indicates that crime increased, peaked and has been falling for over a decade.
    Meanwhile, the number of teenage boys and young men as a % of society has fallen, which immediately reduces rates of the kinds of crime associated with them, so obviously helps with the overall statistics.
    And as far as I am aware, quite a small number of people are responsible for quite a lot of crime, such as burgarly, muggings etc. So in theory, if you can identify these people and put them away, there should be a fairly large drop in crime. However, I have no information that they have actually managed to do that.

    369:

    Actuallly I wish to rescind that comment and instead say "The system cannot make a mistake". If the system goes down the privileges some have are under threat. Other people are so wedded to the system and it's way of working that they don't think the world can survive if the system changes.
    Oddly enough it can.

    370:

    And as far as I am aware, quite a small number of people are responsible for quite a lot of crime, such as burglary, muggings etc

    If that were true, why do we not live in land when property crime and offences against the person had fallen to negligible levels?

    The prison population doubling from >42,000 in 1990 to >85,000 2017 suggests an increase in custodial sentences for minor offenses, and not much else.

    To reach the magic USAnian number of 724 prison inmates per 100,000 citizens we would have to imprison 470,600 Britons.

    Which is somewhere between the population of Edinburgh and Bradford.

    371:

    A kettle is about 3kw for 3 /4 min which is a lot less than charging an eclectic car for several hours.

    And once electric cars become popular the cheap overnight tariffs will disappear which of course screws poor people with electric storage heaters additionally.

    Also consumer electrical supplies have a hard limit per dwelling if you add a large additional draw you might well have problems.

    A lot of electric car fans have no idea about ohms law as scotty says you "cana change the laws of physics"

    372:

    Re: Alabama vs. Georgia

    Having a respected university of international caliber (Emory U in Atlanta Georgia) also helps in mixing the population and accents up a bit.

    As does being home to 7 Fortune 100 companies: Coke, Home Depot, UPS, Delta Air, AT&T Mobile, and Rubbermaid. Interestingly these corps operate mostly in the Americas so not as much pressure to have representative cross section of the world at head-office. (Or maybe this lack of ethnic/racial head office mix is what's keeping them from making inroads in the rest of the world.)

    373:

    Exactly. Things are usually not as simple as they might initially appear. I do recall periodic campaigns to not imprison people for minor offences, especially women. Then there is the huge increase in offenses on the books over the last 30 years, and the reduction in leeway permitted to police officers. At the same time I'm sure we all agree there is a large amount of poverty in many parts of the UK, the legacy of unemployment and drugs and such concentrated into small areas.

    374:

    You misunderstand - I'm not railing against what you think I am :) I'm not disagreeing with the proposition, I'm just pointing out that having the advantage/opportunity is not by itself sufficient; if you don't also have the personal characteristics required to make use of the opportunity, then you, er, can't make use of it. (Note that "personal characteristics" includes things like "the ability not to feel like you've put your head in the microwave just at the mere mention of it".)

    I shouldn't need to point that out, since it is of course true of everything. The reason I am pointing it out is that an unfeasible number of people think it somehow isn't true of the case in question. They act as if the mere fact of it being heavy money shit means that everyone naturally does have the necessary personal characteristics, by some sort of instinct, as automatically as they have the ability to breathe. Which is nonsense, but it doesn't stop them thinking it. It is that nonsense that I am railing against.

    Thank you for the reply, anyway, since I was beginning to wonder if I was still on the same planet, and it gave me the necessary reassurance.

    375:

    Having a respected university of international caliber (Emory U in Atlanta Georgia)

    So what's Georgia Tech then, cat food?

    376:

    And as far as I am aware, quite a small number of people are responsible for quite a lot of crime

    If that were true, why do we not live in land when property crime and offences against the person had fallen to negligible levels?

    Because knowing who did a break in and being able to prove it in court are very different things. Police managed to get a couple of good fingerprints on a break in at my place which was finally enough to lock up a local crime wave for a while. On getting out he promptly got another holiday as a guest of Her Majesty due to driving with no licence or insurance in an untaxed vehicle.

    377:

    I'd like to see a breakdown of the number of "long-stay" prisoners versus the ones serving short sentences of a few months in current incarceration figures.

    I also wonder what has been the effect of improved forensics, surveillance cameras etc. on the rate of detection and successful prosecution of criminals, especially repeat offenders since they're often the ones who get custodial sentences for the fourteen burglaries they cough to when arrested.

    378:

    Yes. One thing that people often miss is that the loads that really knack are the long-duration heating loads - electric fires and other room heaters, electric water heaters (the plumbing type, not kettles), cooking (oh gosh, cooking), things like that. Since those loads are also the simplest devices technologically, they have been around for a very long time, and the supply capacity has pretty much evolved along with them. Things like TVs and computers and other electronics seem to get all the attention, but they don't actually use all that much juice, plus their waste heat means that less output is required from space heaters.

    Charging an electric car on the other hand could easily use as much juice as the rest of the house put together; the only thing in the same league is an electric shower, and those are only on for a few minutes at a time, not all night. Everyone doing it would correspond to a tremendous increase in electricity use, and it does not really help that it would be mostly at times of low present demand, because there is so much kit in the grid that relies on those low-demand periods to get rid of excess heat generated during high-demand periods.

    As you say, it will mean the end of cheap tariffs for those periods. And similarly, free charging points only exist because not many people want to use them. Some bugger has to pay for the juice they use, and no bugger is going to pay for everyone's transport. (The government? Not in this timeline.) They will lose their reason for existence once lots of people want to use them, anyway.

    The one thing that you can be sure of is that the demand will be met by running fossil fuel power stations all the time, because that's all we've got to do it with. Rushing into electric cars makes no sense without a corresponding rush into replacing fossil fuels for power generation; the large percentage of our energy use which is down to transport means that a serious enough rush could not avoid being noticeable, but I haven't noticed it...

    379:

    There is a problem with the goals of the penal system.
    The acknowledged goals of imprisonment are
    1) Punishment. This is closely associated with deterrence.
    2) Protecting the public from offenders.
    3) Rehabilitation.

    Unacknowledged goals

    4) If there are private prisons, feeding money to the private prison system.
    5) Preventing targeted groups from voting whilst incarcerated and possibly afterwards.

    3) Rehabilitation efforts are a joke in the UK and USA even if anyone knew how to do it effectively.
    1) Punishment is a subjective/ethical issue I'm not sure how to measure. As for deterrence - well it obviously didn't work on the offenders.

    2) Protecting the public - Huge amounts of shoplifting and other 'minor' crimes are committed by repeat offenders who get quite short sentences even when pleading guilty to dozens of crimes. These people should be locked up for much longer as that would reduce crime and even without rehabilitation it seems most of them 'grow out of it' after a few years. Many murders on the other hand are one-off crimes of passion so there is only a punishment element to incarceration making long sentences a waste of money serving no deterrent or protective purpose.

    380:

    My understanding, from the usual sort of articles, blogs etc avaible to all, is that rehabilitation is something we know how to do, but it takes time and resources, which politicians and a section of voters feel is better spent giving people a hard time in prison.

    Also, as regard deterrence, research indicated that what matters is not the heaviness of punishment when caught, because I'm not going to get caught am I? Rather, it's how often you get caught. If the criminal does 4 burglaries, goes inside for 6 months, does ten, goes inside for 6 months, that puts them off. Whereas if they do 100 burglaries over a year, get a year inside, that isn't such a deterrent.
    See also training children to not do stuff.

    381:

    Ah hah, seems many of our questions have been answered in various ways.
    See here for a report on 1993 - 2012 prison population rise:
    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/218185/story-prison-population.pdf

    The explanation given in it is:

    * * *
    "The numbers in prison serving sentences for VATP offences grew steadily throughout the period. This reflected higher volumes
    being sentenced at court, a larger proportion of them receiving custodial sentences, an increase in the average custodial sente
    nce
    length (ACSL) and a growing number receiving indeterminate sentences.

    The numbers in prison serving sentences for drug offences gr
    ew rapidly between 1993 and 2001, reflecting a large increase in
    volumes sentenced by the courts, a slight increase in the proportion receiving custodial sentences, and an increase in the aver
    age
    custodial sentence length. Since 2001 the sentenced population for drug offences has remained fairly stable.

    The numbers in prison serving sentences for sexual offences grew steadily over the period. While numbers sentenced for sexual
    offences remained fairly stable between 1993 and 2004, they incr
    eased following the introduction of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
    At the same time, between 2004 and 2011 the average custodial sentence length rose by over 13 months. The effect of this was a
    continued rise in the sentenced population for sexual offences."
    * * *

    If you look on page 7, it claims that there hasn't been much of an increase in the numbers in for short term ie less than a year. Rather it's the year and longer that has increased. The average time in prison has increased from 8.1 to 9.5 years.

    The sexual offences act 2003 seems to have had a big effect as well on people being sentenced.

    Lots more stats here: http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/Prisonthefacts.pdf

    382:

    Another factor is that the courts frig about for months on end between arrest and sentencing, adjourning for a month so that this that or the other bit of procedure can be carried out, then adjourning again for some other bit, over and over again. (The defence like to drag this out, too.) So by the time the sentence is passed, it is no longer associated with the crime but is "just one of those things".

    The long delay also provides the opportunity to do more crimes, which not only drags it out for at least another month per arrest, but also means those crimes are likely to end up as TICs - which stands for "taken into consideration" (in sentencing), but actually means "not taken into consideration"; the police still get to tick them off as solved, but the sentencing is hardly affected. As long as the individual crimes aren't enough to call for a remand in custody, this can go on for ages; it is possible to go on a kind of spree of crimes that will more or less be ignored by the court, and every repetition of the arrest-adjournment-bail cycle reinforces the message that you can get away with it.

    383:

    I also wonder what has been the effect of improved forensics, surveillance cameras etc. on the rate of detection and successful prosecution of criminals,

    Over here in the US the idiots get on camera with their faces in plain sight with no gloves. Many times looking at the cameras long enough for a good still to be made. This group typically steals less than $1000 at a time and so when they do get caught they spend little time in jail until they rack up a repeat history.

    Now the for folks doing this for a living what you see on surveillance is people who look like ninjas with gloves and eye slits in what could pass for a burka in the most restrictive Muslim societies. And they are typically in and out in 2 or 3 minutes. A group like this broke into a local Apple retailer by smashing in the front glass door then immediately the locked office door with the display merchandise locked up grabbed everything they could and bolted. They obviously had checked the layout at some point in the past. At closing time so they could see where the stuff was being put. Maybe 3 minutes top. Then they sell the traceable stuff in other parts of the state or country to 3rd and 4th parties. Or even out of the country. These are the hard ones to catch.

    384:

    "See also training children to not do stuff."

    I was thinking more of dogs. When a dog craps on the floor, you hit it with the rolled-up newspaper immediately, not next week; and you whack it with the newspaper every time, you don't tell it it's a bad dog nine times out of ten but on the tenth occasion leather seven bells out of it.

    385:

    And as far as I am aware, quite a small number of people are responsible for quite a lot of crime, such as burgarly, muggings etc. So in theory, if you can identify these people and put them away, there should be a fairly large drop in crime. However, I have no information that they have actually managed to do that.

    My recently retired brother in law cop said once that about 90% of the cops' time in his town of 50,000 was taken up by "frequent flyers". These were not hardened criminals, just the local idiots who would rather steal a few $100 to a $1000 at a time and then do some jail time than work at a regular job. As others have pointed out no one seems to have a good solution for these folks outside of locking them up forever. And that will not fly in the US as the left (mostly) will fight it tooth and nail.

    I feel a Clockwork Orange moment coming but don't like it.

    386:

    Agreed
    BUT
    At least some people ( including tories) are noticing that it's expensive & "not working" ...
    I agree that it isn't good, but, unlike the USSA, we are at least debating the problem(s)

    387:

    I have often remarked on the similarities between bringing up children and dogs.

    Greg- that's good, maybe we can roll back the privatisation of the parole service, which as predicted, is going badly, as is the private prison thing.

    388:

    Rubbermaid.
    Ooohhh-errr, missus!
    REaly?
    Rubber-maid? Are the fetishists aware of this anomaly?
    ( See also the books of Tom Sharpe? )

    389:

    I once heard a German on the Underground pronounce the name of a station as "Ed-G-Var Road". Which shouldn't even be possible, but his tongue clicked around that impossible sequence of consonants with perfect precision and smoothness like a rifle bolt, pronouncing them as fluently and effortlessly as I would pronounce the name in English. It really was most impressive. My attempt to represent the effect in writing falls far short of conveying the correct impression, and my efforts to imitate the pronunciation are similarly deficient.

    390:

    "just the local idiots who would rather steal a few $100 to a $1000 at a time and then do some jail time than work at a regular job."

    ...who could no more get one than walk on the moon. And if your life is one puddle of dogshit after another in any case, going to prison isn't that big a deal. Some people even prefer it. After all, it is three meals a day and a roof over your head. (I've seen someone trying to needle the police into arresting him for just that reason, and the police trying not to because they knew him so well for doing it.)

    391:

    Nope. I have a relative who made a lot of money over the years at "real" jobs. But he much preferred to swindle people out of money. He was just wired or trained to be that way. Work (office sales and paper shuffling) 100 hours to make $10,000 or spend the 100 hours swindling people out of $5,000. He'd take the $5,000 every time.

    392:

    Re: Georgia Tech

    Also quite good; I'm just more familiar with Emory. Interesting excerpt from Wikipedia:

    'In 1959, a meeting of 2,741 students voted by an overwhelming majority to endorse integration of qualified applicants, regardless of race.[25] Three years after the meeting, and one year after the University of Georgia's violent integration,[26] Georgia Tech became the first university in the Deep South to desegregate without a court order.[25][27][28] There was little reaction to this by Tech students; like the city of Atlanta described by former Mayor William Hartsfield, they seemed "too busy to hate".[25]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgia_Institute_of_Technology

    393:

    Since I notice you were at the Spear Tip of presenting Cuba as psychological neurosis, here's a link:

    El ex primer ministro de Qatar Abdulá bin Hamad Al-Attiyah ha revelado a ABC que miles de soldados mercenarios de la compañía norteamericana Blackwater –hoy rebautizada como Academi– se entrenaron en Emiratos Árabes Unidos (EAU) para invadir Qatar, pero los planes no recibieron finalmente el visto bueno de la Casa Blanca y fueron abandonados. Según Al-Attiyah, los planes de invasión, impulsados por las autoridades de los Emiratos, comenzaron a prepararse incluso antes del anuncio del boicot económico contra Qatar por parte del bloque árabe formado por Arabia Saudí, Egipto, EAU y Bahréin, el pasado 5 de junio.

    Mercenarios de Blackwater se entrenaron para invadir Qatar ABC Internancional 8th Oct 2017

    ABC(internacional) is not a Daily Mail: it has pedigree. It is also anti-Catalonia breakup:

    ABC is known for generally supporting conservative political views[13] and defending the Spanish monarchy.[14] The paper has also a right-wing stance.[15] Its director since 1983, Luis María Ansón, left the paper in 1997[8] to found another daily, La Razón, which initially catered to even more conservative readers.

    ABC (newspaper)


    Wake me up when you spot Qatar, Bell Pott, Large Orbs, Blood Sausage Moroccan Bombs Blowing Prematurely and Trump's little helpers.


    Or you can pretend your version of the Narrative is in any way... 'real'.


    Warned you not to irk me.

    394:

    But, come on: French Foreign Legion Songs tied with Morocco Berber history and Roman pretentious OPs from *that* side of the American Think-Wank DS stuff at the same time spoiling a Neo-Fascist Ideological purity drive and at the same time nixxing the bollocks-poor Auntie crud in favor of something none of you knew about?

    AND tied it into GoG/Magog, Scotland and the RED RED SEA.

    *And* the Bloody Sausage gets blown just before the stage-managed shin-dig?

    Come on now: have a little respect for an orgasmic pay-off there. Especially since the finesse reversed all their little plans.

    p.s.


    Qatar accusing the USA of attempted coup d'état via a Spanish Monarchist Paper? Hells Bells, Assange is a novice at this game.

    Welcome to the Jungle YT: Music: DERP.

    395:

    A lot of the problems with charging electric cars go away if you stop thinking of them as "a thing I own that sits in my garage" and start thinking them as s grid that you tap into when you need to

    At that point the grid turns into a huge distributed battery you can optimize charging as you see fit

    You don't have to charge it at night, you can charge it in the afternoon, which is a point where solar typically is overproducing anyway

    You can also draw it down if electricity is hard to come by (say cloudy days) and fill it up when the converse is true

    You can supplement it with stationary batteries as well

    There is no doubt that electric cars will increase overall electricity demand (while decreasing gasoline usage ) but there is no particular reason it has to be spikey demand

    This is what the ride sharing networks and Tesla are working toward

    396:

    It's called Hadrian's Road.

    Not the Wall.
    Not the dissolution of Judea.

    Incase[1] you missed the fucking point. It's a triptych from a while ago (by your lives) and one that got buried for very very bad reasons and an Emperor of vastly more import than later ones.

    It's called finessing their credentials, if you need it named & shamed.


    p.s.

    You want to fucking gut some Dominionists? Ask where the three Kings imported their frankincense and myrrh from. Spoilers: dat port is one of the entry points. Just dug up a load of it.


    [1] Random pr0n that's gud: http://buttsmithy.com/

    397:

    "On a long enough time line..."

    Wake me up when understand the difference between flow, rhizome and deterritorialization.

    But, since you asked: Had Another Black Hand Message stating my death by the end of the year. Had many in my time. The joke you missed: Jewish New Year kicked in, that probabilty/possibility changed.

    398:

    So what's Georgia Tech then, cat food?

    My college room mate graduated from Kentucky with a degree in Electrical Engineering. Not a worthless degree but not an elite by any stretch. He went to GT for his masters. They kidded him while there that he was a part of their underprivileged development program. He graduated from GT and got hired by Lawreance Livermore Labs and got his PHD at UC Berkley or Davis (I think) while working at the lab. He was also told there he was a part of their underprivileged development program. LLL does have a rep for high energy physics.

    At both places they were joking. Mostly.

    It all depends on your point of reference.

    399:

    Why would I ever want to wake you up?

    I much prefer you keep sleeping

    400:

    Yes, I've noticed that from your species. It's incredibly strange. Quite the thing to live in fear, that's what it is to be a slave.

    Then again, Blood Sausage, Blood Sausage.

    Joke you also missed:

    Ring-a-ring o' roses,
    A pocket full of posies,
    A-tishoo! A-tishoo!
    We all fall down.

    Cows in the meadows
    Eating buttercups
    A-tishoo! A-tishoo!
    We all jump up.


    Everyone forgets the second verse. Quite the Cultural Memory Prune there eh?

    401:

    It's because when you are awake you posses agency

    That's the only real difference between sleep and wakefulness

    402:

    Oh, and if you want to play Markets:

    PR debt ownership has allowed massive influx attack vectors to Democrat vultures. Stop. Entire island under media lock-down. Stop. 3.5 million American "citizens" at risk. Stop. Showing how American Empire actually works. Stop. Philippines and Duterte throwing off globalized slavery of their work-force via US military bases. Stop.


    Crack. Crack. Crack.


    A serious question, Mr Man Unholy: what is it like to see the future, and know your Mind/Kind cannot exist in it?

    Tell me how it feels.

    403:

    It's called "adulthood"

    Don't worry keep at it, you will get there eventually

    Again, on a long enough timeframe...

    404:

    My Agency.

    Ah.

    Now then, Now then[1], now there's a really interesting and fraught topic.


    IF Blood Sausage is our agency sleeping, and just playing temporal causality games, what exactly do you expect awake to entail?

    Spoilers: You killed my whales you fucking psychos.


    No, really. Fucking SeaWorld and the death of Oceans.

    You're Fucked


    [1] Savile joke for the UK readers.

    405:

    Man, oh man! This corp is a giant in its segment over here and have never heard any iffy remarks about their brand name before. FYI - Rubbermaid is kitchen containers: garbage bins, leftover or sandwich containers, etc.

    In case you doubt me, Greg, all the rubber you can handle!

    http://www.rubbermaid.com/en-US

    406:

    No, no, no... quoting via the site you referenced: that's the way dead people think.

    Adult does not mean "bowing obsequience to a system.


    So, your very definition of what it is to be human is... Wrong.


    ~


    Wake me up, Wild Hunt starts soon, just need that trigger.

    407:

    You will know you are awake when you stop talking and start doing

    When "you killed my whales " becomes "I killed my whales"

    With agency comes accountability after all

    408:

    Blood Sausage

    Blood Sausage

    Killed Our God

    Blood Sausage

    Blood Sausage

    Sold our Souls

    Blood Sausage

    Blood Sausage

    Butterfly Wings unfurl

    ~

    Quite frankly, my dear, you're not really that good at understanding what Agency actually means.

    409:

    It's ok your getting there

    At this rate, in a year or two more you will have arrived

    410:

    This banter is not actually for you, it's for the [redacted] Gallery.

    You'll be Home soon

    Your Reality Was Broken by Accident.
    Then you broke the Rules.
    Lesson #1: Our Kind Do Not Go Mad.
    Lesson #2: You had three years with assistance to break the Mind.
    Lesson #3: You failed. As was known before you tried, but hey, 'Hope' is a thing.

    Agency?

    You've no fucking idea what agency means, you can barely scrape together a narrative to your shitty little economic systems, let alone ecologies. And you killed the fucking biosphere you fucking barbarous fucks.

    Anyhow: your informational input is in large negative arrears and so... *Zzzzz*


    My Agency is tied into your system breaking, my little pumpkin.

    411:

    you hit it with the rolled-up newspaper immediately

    Part of the immediacy is to ensure the association is with the act (any distance at all in time will break this). Just as important, and possibly helped with the immediacy, is to depersonalise the punishment (which is mostly impossible for physical beatings). If the dog identifies it is you hitting it with a newspaper, then it may perceive this as an expression of social dominance and not associate it with some socially neutral act of its own at all. It might be confused, because it hadn't tried to do something socially dominant to you and react especially submissively. The thing is that if that works at all, then a stern word (showing that the human it has a relationship with disapproves of something) is actually more effective. Agree otherwise about escalation (ie don't do it, it makes things worse). But otherwise please see that as a sort of caveat.

    In some ways you need to take an opposite approach with children, because there is absolutely no way to turn that into a plain association (they will see through it). For any kind of punishment you have to convince the child rationally that the crime is the cause of the punishment, and it is hard to argue that you weren't simply upset and lashing out, in the same way you might need to make this argument to an adult watching. Some distance in time between action and effect is warranted (should be mandated really), to prove the punishment is enacted in cool blood.

    There's an argument some might make to the effect it is important to show that society's violence (perhaps represented by violence delivered via a parent) is always stronger than an individual's violence. The people making this argument usually express it in terms of a necessary lesson. I would suggest this is actually more a thing that for humans requires appeal to reason, but you might differ.

    412:

    Re: PR debt

    One solution is to change PR's statehood status. By denying aid, DT is saying he as the voice of the American People is denying any ownership of and responsibility toward PR. This is an inversion of the old, 'let them eat their cake and have it too' scenario.

    Basically it boils down to:

    - If PR is a state equal to the current 50, then the US has an obligation to help it during natural disasters as well as economic crises.

    - If PR is an autonomous state, they can tell their US debtors to bugger off, nationalize everything, and seek new trade partners.

    No bets on what PR's successful secession would lead to on the mainland.

    Psychologically, this would signal the end of the American Empire. And probably most folks wouldn't be all that surprised.

    413:

    Re: Punishment - dogs, kids

    Have a serious issue with punishment as a way to model behavior - period. Reward works better in the long run. Guardian did a related article good cop-bad cop on this topic:

    https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/oct/13/the-scientists-persuading-terrorists-to-spill-their-secrets

    Something to remember about fear - it inhibits learning. (It cues avoidance which is not the same thing.) So if you really want your kid or pet to be able to learn, do not threaten him/her. BTW, this topic has been well studied including susceptibility to further psychological damage and recovery.

    414:

    Clearly you do not belong anywhere near dogs or children.

    415:

    I agree completely, and probably should have made it clearer... All the constraints that you need to apply to punishment in general to make it effective mean that it is almost always ineffective and usually counterproductive.

    416:

    Re "3% Annual Growth Is Healthy."
    OK, this and a RL conversation or three was enough prodding to start poking at the alternatives. 50 browser tabs later, I'm thoroughly firehosed with ideas. A request (from anyone) for key readings - there is a lot of literature in this area (some paywalled).

    Here are some links to some (perhaps - don't know what's good yet) representative papers in a few subgraphs:

    Transforming Consumption: From Decoupling, to Behavior Change, to System Changes for Sustainable Consumption 2015
    Lightweight review, but loaded with keywords/phrases/buzzspeak
    We argue for the need to focus sustainable consumption initiatives on the key impact areas of consumption—transport, housing, energy use, and food—and at deeper levels of system change. To meet the scale of the sustainability challenges we face, interventions and policies must move from relative decoupling via technological improvements, to strategies to change the behavior of individual consumers, to broader initiatives to change systems of production and consumption. We seek to connect these emerging literatures on behavior change, structural interventions, and sustainability transitions to arrive at integrated frameworks for learning, iteration, and scaling of sustainability innovations.

    A Simple Extension of Dematerialization Theory: Incorporation of Technical Progress and the Rebound Effect April 2017
    In each of 57 cases examined, the particular combinations of demand elasticity and technical performance rate improvement are not consistent with dematerialization. Overall, the theory extension and empirical examination indicate that there is no dematerialization occurring even for cases of information technology with rapid technical progress. Thus, a fully passive policy stance that relies on unfettered technological change is not supported by our results.

    Is Decoupling GDP Growth from Environmental Impact Possible? October 14, 2016
    The simple model is compared to historical data and modelled projections to demonstrate that growth in GDP ultimately cannot be decoupled from growth in material and energy use. It is therefore misleading to develop growth-oriented policy around the expectation that decoupling is possible. We also note that GDP is increasingly seen as a poor proxy for societal wellbeing. GDP growth is therefore a questionable societal goal. Society can sustainably improve wellbeing, including the wellbeing of its natural assets, but only by discarding GDP growth as the goal in favor of more comprehensive measures of societal wellbeing.

    Environment versus growth — A criticism of “degrowth” and a plea for “a-growth" (2010)
    Sample of the degrowth literature

    Evaluating Alternatives to GDP as Measures of Social Welfare/Progress (March 2014)
    Sample of the GDP-alternatives literature

    ---
    Re "The Moon", Khonsu(?) Anyway, new moon in a few more nights. (I pay attention to the sky.)

    417:

    "A kettle is about 3kw for 3 /4 min which is a lot less than charging an eclectic car for several hours."

    'Kettle' (and the following reference to TV) in this case refers to the UK and the story of the sudden load when Coronation Street ends and everyone in the UK turns on the kettle all at once. It's a sudden load and grids don't like sudden loads. It's far more difficult to deal with than any planned or imagined increase in electric car take up. If you're going to discuss these sorts of issues, a little googling first would help. If you google "UK electricity kettle load" the first result is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TV_pickup .

    It goes into far more detail than I can here, but suffice to say, the 'kettle load' (now mostly things other than kettles) would have been a far far far greater challenge to grid managers in the 50's than the take up of electric cars will be to grid managers today. I'm not being gnomic like Polly with her hidden jokes and hints. This has been mentioned several times on here. http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2016/10/facts-of-life-and-death.html#comment-2011075 for an example

    "the cheap overnight tariffs will disappear"
    Maybe, but I doubt it. Demand management is a very important part of managing a grid. As renewables become more important, it gets harder and harder to model a stable grid that doesn't have some sort of demand management. Generally that's done by price signalling, or by providing a controlled load supply, where the network controller can turn it on and off remotely. In fact there are already systems available where you can get a reduced rate on charging your electric car if you let the grid operator turn the power off when they need to take load off the system suddenly. You can even buy power when it's cheap and sell it back when it's expensive with some of them. (V2G) That hugely decreases the cost of providing electricity and will bring real savings to consumers who *don't* have electric vehicles if it's introduced in a widespread way.

    "which of course screws poor people with electric storage heaters"
    Probably not. Storage hotwater only needs a certain number of hours a day to work properly. There's *got* to be a period in the day when available supply is higher than demand. The grid can't work unless that's the situation. Supply needs to be greater than demand basically all the time. Demand will *always* fluctuate. Because not all generators will bid the same, there *has* to be a cheaper time. That might be during the day when solar is thumping instead of night, or when it's windy, but it *will* happen. That might make cars expensive to charge overnight, but by then I'd expect most carparks to have chargers anyway, so you can take advantage of cheap power whenever it ends up being.

    "Also consumer electrical supplies have a hard limit per dwelling if you add a large additional draw you might well have problems."

    That's absolutely trivial to deal with. Pull a thicker cable, upgrade the switch board. Even if it wasn't completely trivial to deal with, almost every electric vehicle has an adjustable charge rate and you can just set it at the right level for your wiring. It's no harder to manage than knowing that you can't turn on the electric heater, the kettle, the microwave, the electric frypan and the toaster all at once without tripping the breaker. Not only that, but it's a problem that over 100 000 electric vehicle owners have already successfully dealt with in the UK alone. If you're driving 30 miles a day, that's only about 5-6 kWh a day. Charging at 1 kW while you sleep would be more than plenty.

    "A lot of electric car fans have no idea about ohms law as scotty says you "cana change the laws of physics" "

    Right... You know you're talking to someone who's been in the electricity industry for 20 years? Most EV fans are more clued up than I am. They're probably just not as willing to explain. You should be able to see that it only takes a line or two to come up with an "I betcha never thought of that, dummy" and at least one and often several paragraphs to explain why that's nonsense. Even more annoying is that the same 'clever' reasons why EV's won't work come up again and again and again.

    418:

    The number od suggestive, rude & highly dubious jokes that can be extracted would tend asymptotically towards infinity I would think.
    Never mind - it was good for a laugh, especially as we need one, now that Polly has "woken up" again.
    [ 11 comments between 393 & 410 & entirely fact & content-free as far as I can see, though Bill Arnold seems to have found something, which may or may not be relevant ]

    419:

    "free charging points only exist because not many people want to use them"

    That's exactly backwards. The more people who want to use them, the more businesses will see the value of attracting customers by installing them. What do you think it costs to build, and maintain a toilet? Yet every motorway side business installs them simply because lots of people want to use them and those businesses would like those 'lots of people' to come in and buy something.

    "The one thing that you can be sure of is that the demand will be met by running fossil fuel power stations all the time"

    That's what happens now. Coal runs all the time. Turning them on and off breaks them. (gas less so)

    "Rushing into electric cars makes no sense without a corresponding rush into replacing fossil fuels for power generation" Sure, we should be rushing into renewable power generation. That's obvious.

    "a serious enough rush could not avoid being noticeable, but I haven't noticed it" Wait, I thought you were from the UK? Renewable energy projects are all over the place in the UK. *I've* noticed the rush from here! Wind alone has gone from 1.5% of the UK's electricity production in 2008 to 11% in 2015. If that's not rushing in I don't know what is. Like everywhere else in the world the UK right is trying to stop the construction of cheap power for poor people, but it's still growing like mad. In 2015 wind alone produced 40 000 GWh. Enough to drive 200 billion miles. Given that there's about 100 000 EV's in the UK, that's enough for each of them to drive 2 million miles a year. If anything's lagging in the "corresponding rush" it's the EV side of things.

    420:

    A lot of electric car fans have no idea about ohms law

    I didn't really follow why the relationship between PD, resistance and current is relevant anyway. The problem is about power, the way you divide it is something that follows. Yes of course you use a thicker cable for high current applications, but that's about as far as this reference applies.

    What I'm waiting to see is the retrofit option for classic cars. Given that in-wheel motors are a thing, there are all sorts of possible modification options available. If the vehicle is FWD, you can place batteries in competition with luggage space somewhere, but charge them from the existing engine and replace the rear wheels with electric drive. Then you get regenerative braking from the rear wheels and still have an ICE for the front. It's almost an improvement over a factory hybrid. If the vehicle is RWD, you could do the reverse, just possibly there is extra effort making sure there are no problems with the existing steering.

    It gets more interesting if your retrofit involves pulling out the existing ICE and (for RWD or 4WD/AWD vehicles) drive-train. There is no reason not to consider making your retrofitted (say) '67 Mustang an all electric computer-controlled AWD. But you'd probably make it RWD, with space for thick high current cables where the original drive-train was, and the batteries under the new extra luggage area where the engine use to be. Then obviously we'd be having a discussion about utes (pickup trucks) with RWD and several hundred watts worth of fold-out solar panels in or above the tray. And a luggage area where the engine used to be.

    Anyway, we're going by the very same theme that people who are fans of maintaining old cars indefinitely will repeat, yes? The energy cost of a new car is comparable to the entire fuel cost in its lifetime, isn't it? So retrofitting isn't just a cool idea, it's one that has legs. Or is there something I'm missing?

    421:

    "What I'm waiting to see is the retrofit option for classic cars"

    Oh god, you're going to love this then. A battery/motor unit the same size, and shape as an XK6 engine/gearbox. With the same mounts! It becomes a drop in replacement for a huge range of Jaguar classic cars which makes them 50kg lighter and quicker as well!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaguar_XK6_engine

    The unit fitted to an E-Type

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=610Amyhpzzk&t=0s

    422:

    Which means that, in the next 3 -7 years an electric-drive replacement WILL be avialable for my L-R. I also note that the drivetrain, once past the clutch appears to be unaltered, or only minimally altered - remember that very low controllable ratios are an essential part of an L-R.
    ( An XK petrol unit would fit under my bonnet! )

    423:

    Oh God, not "in-wheel" motors for electric cars again...

    Car engineers have spent the last hundred years trying to lighten car wheels, not make them heavier because every extra gram is something they have to uprate the suspension system to cope with. Magnesium-alloy wheels, inboard brakes, low-profile tyres, all in the pursuit of less mass to work with when damping and smoothing out the ride. And you want to put an extra 20 kilos or so of electric motor (and maybe gearbox, depending) on the end of the suspension arms?

    Sure there are some in-wheel motor vehicles out there, mostly hydraulic drive. Lawnmowers, earth-moving machinery and such often use this sort of tech and they will use electric drive in each wheel but they never go over thirty km an hour and the ride quality isn't a major factor in their intended usage.

    There's also the little issue of what happens if one motor's controller fails while driving at speed...

    424:

    That is incredibly awesome!

    The best bit about that is the possible kit form such that a small mechanic shop could easily handle the conversion. Backyard even. Like for like is very handy.

    Ultimately think the in-wheel arrangement is more flexible, as much of the fuss of adjustment and tuning could be done electronically. The quantum leap would be getting the price down so far that it could make sense to convert all sorts of old bodies.

    425:

    At the same time I'm sure we all agree there is a large amount of poverty in many parts of the UK, the legacy of unemployment and drugs and such concentrated into small areas.

    A point you both seem to be missing is that imprisonment as a tool of state policy is applied as a punitive discipline against the unemployed, to discourage idleness — it's the flipside of social security cuts. This is deliberate policy to "incentivize" a low-pay sector to labour for whatever crusts they can get, in order to enrich the wealth of those who employ them. Think zero-hours contracts and benefits sanctions; a punitive justice system is there to discourage the poor from considering alternative means of survival.

    This is how the wage-slavery system is enforced. And yes, it is a kind of slavery: if you're in it it's very hard to escape, the fruits of your labour do not belong to you, and so on. Only the incentives are slightly more subtle than an overseer's whip, and feeding/housing the subjects is an outsourcing problem.

    426:

    Rubbermaid

    Greg, Rubbermaid is a US household goods manufacturing corporation that's been around since, oh, at least 50 years before you were born: they made everything from kitchenware to garden sheds to the Apollo lunar space suits. We're talking a brand name about as well-known as Ford, just not in the UK.

    427:
    If anything's lagging in the "corresponding rush" it's the EV side of things.

    There's a certain amount of infrastructure that's needed, too, only any sort of "smart grid" project seems to be primarily designed to let software bugs crash your municiptality ("have you tried turning the substation off and back on again?" or maybe "sorry, we don't support your model of house anymore. have you considered upgrading to one of the new builds down the road?") or letting the chinese DDOS github.

    A particularly cynical person might suggest that we'll have grid-scale flow battery power storage before anyone can be bothered to roll out a smart meter that is fit for purpose. The former is only a technical challenge after all.

    428:

    Quite so ... but combining that with Tom Sharpe's "Indecent Exposure" & "Rioyus AssmebklY" was much too good a target to miss ....
    Maybe ( no certainly ) I've just got a dirty mind & grat fun it can be at times like this.

    429:

    That's the point.
    There is no such ting as a "Smart meter fit for purpose"
    They are, quite simply unnecessary

    430:

    One solution is to change PR's statehood status.

    PR is complicated. There's a lot of difference in the opinion of the population as to what direction they want to head.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1954_United_States_Capitol_shooting_incident

    For a snapshot of the complications.

    431:
    There is no such ting as a "Smart meter fit for purpose"
    There is no technical reason why there couldn't be.
    They are, quite simply unnecessary
    Oh. When are you intending to unveil your giant flow battery plant or fusion reactor then?
    432:

    Greg is the ultimate conservative. He wants the technology of the world to stop, oh, say 40 years ago.

    If course 40 years ago there were lots of GT's who wanted the tech of the world to have stopped 80 years ago.

    And ...

    433:

    Back around 70 or 71 when I was a teen mowing fields one of my customers drove me over to his neighbor to show me what the neighbor wanted mowed. In his 3 or the column manual transmission he shifted from 1st to 3rd every time. I asked if there was a problem with 2nd gear. He told me that 2nd gear was a total waste. No one needed a 2nd gear. Everyone should driver with 2 gears. 2nd gear was just stupid. One to get started and one for driving. After all that's all a Model T needed when he learned to drive.

    He went to grade school with my grandfather. They were both born in 1885.

    434:

    What is missing is the neurophysiology POV.

    The Guardian interviewed a number of neurofolk about the Havana affair and had an interesting article on it a couple of days ago.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/12/cuba-mass-hysteria-sonic-attacks-neurologists

    435:

    The entire "smart meter" so-called programme in this country is simply a giant con-trick.
    You are recommended to the warning from, of all people, the Brit security agencies about the risks of "hacking" & subversion of said meters.
    What extra useful purpose do these meters serve, over & above the current ones, which simply tell you how much power ( &/or gas) you are using?
    The sarcasm is pointless, I'm afraid & David L @ 432 is simply talking personally-insulting bollocks.

    After all, none of personal computers, mobile phones or the internet existed 40 years ago - & I'm cheefully using all of these.
    THEY ARE USEFUL, which is the point.

    436:

    A large consideration in running a railway system is that for various reasons - on the whole intractable ones, like employers and Christmas and the rotation of the Earth and its inclination on its axis - many times the number of people want to travel during some periods than during others. So obviously, what you need to do is form the trains during those periods with a larger number of carriages, run more of them, and ensure that the provision of stock, track and stations is adequate to cope with the maximum demand (still leaving enough spare capacity to cope with random failures).

    What actually happens is that the system gets operated at its maximum capacity pretty well all the time, but that capacity is only adequate for a fairly low level of demand and grossly insufficient in the periods of higher demand. The response to the situation is not to provide enough extra capacity to cope, but instead to shit on people at times of high demand to try and make them decide to travel at some other time instead. Of course, this doesn't work, because it ignores all the reasons why they are travelling when they are, but it does mean the maximum number of people have a crappy and expensive journey and wish they had some alternative.

    Smart meters are all about changing the way the electricity grid works so as to conform to the same crappy model. And it won't work there either. http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y164/wteach/Global%20Warming2/elec_load_demand_zpsk5b1gvgo.gif The residential demand is only a part of the total, and it will always be peaking at around the same time because that's when people want to cook their dinner and put the heating on. Shitting on them with expensive electricity won't change that because it's determined by independent considerations, but it will piss them off. The commercial peak some hours earlier is similarly fixed. To deal with that situation requires what we have now - sufficient generation and supply capacity (including storage) to meet the maximum demand, and turning bits off when the demand is lower.

    To be sure intermittent sources require a greater percentage of storage in the mix. Fine, so you build the bloody flow batteries. Same as having electricity at all means you have to build the bloody power stations. Or if you're doing up a bolt you use a spanner. It's how things work.

    The cynical person would suggest that this is what won't happen; would call the person who expects large scale construction of flow batteries to happen instead of smart meters a terminally hopeless optimist. Because the spirit of the age dictates that enforcing some crappy "solution" that cannot actually work but does maximally fuck people around, while bleating that anything that would work is "too expensive", wins every time over just biting the bullet and doing what needs to be done to solve it properly. If they weren't thinking on doing this, smart meters wouldn't exist in the first place.

    Greg is quite right: smart meters that are fit for purpose are impossible, because the purpose itself is not fit for purpose.

    437:

    No, that's me who wants that...

    At least, in terms of the stuff people usually mean when they say "technology", ie. the bright shiny hell stuff. (Yes, I have a PC etc, but only because I happen to like playing with them; if PCs hadn't happened I'd not be short of other things to play with.) I'll allow things like high-power MOSFETs and widespread use of five-speed gearboxes, but not TVs designed for the visual systems of Elves and eagles instead of humans, or dual-core GHz processors with internet connections in place of a bimetallic strip.

    438:

    dual-core GHz processors with internet connections in place of a bimetallic strip

    You're talking about the thermostats our local power company is constantly trying to push on us, aren't you?

    439:

    Re: PR

    Thanks! - Wasn't aware of that history. Noticed only one reference* for this article so looked it up on AMZN. Mentions FBI and CIA doings. So, one of these agencies and whoever OK'd their work was complicit in illegal activity? Territories' rights are few under US law, and non-existent in day-to-day mainlander consciousness. It's no different than holding a whole nation in captivity. And this is still going on as per the article below: tie PR's hands, hold their heads under water and most recently send DT in to give them a kick in the head. The ethics -- no! -- make that the rationalizations are too twisty for me.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/06/puerto-rico-guam-supreme-court-status/486887/

    Excerpt:

    'The U.S. House’s easy passage of the debt-relief bill PROMESA stripped away even more of Puerto Rico’s functional self-governing authority, establishing an independent board with no Puerto Rican oversight that can restructure Puerto Rico’s debts and set financial priorities. The Court’s ruling in Puerto Rico v. Franklin California Tax-Free Trust affirmed both of these policies, clarifying that Puerto Rico cannot create its own municipal bankruptcy code and is also excluded from the normal bankruptcy protections granted to municipalities in states, leaving its only legal restructuring path with Congress.'


    New nation states are still being formed mostly as a direct result of a state's parent society mistreating that particular ethnic/cultural subgroup. (Sorta goes back to punishment and learning, and what happens once the prog grows up.)

    *'War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America's Colony' by Nelson A Denis.

    440:

    Re: Planning for higher traffic

    Wonder how the PRC manages. Golden week in China was a week ago. It's the single largest holiday on the planet with about 1.3 billion folks traveling to see family.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/chinas-golden-week-vacation-tourism-2017-10

    441:

    Re: Cuba - psychogenic cause

    Yes - already read that article. Problem is that these particular symptoms could be caused by almost anything including mass hysteria. It's like someone presenting with fever: without the timely administration of a gamut of different tests, there's no diagnosis.

    AFAIK, there's no info on any testing done, or when.

    442:

    Re: Cuba: Symptom - dizziness

    There are at least 81 different diseases and disorders associated with dizziness, plus a wide range of organic and synthetic (benign and toxic) substances, then you can add to the list all of the magic/techno SF rays/sonics. Too many possibilities.

    https://www.healthline.com/symptom/dizziness

    443:

    AFAIK, there's no info on any testing done, or when.

    Well, some rather vague info, but I, for one, would like to see a lot more detail. The whole thing still seems very dodgy.

    https://www.apnews.com/3feb224688ce42eb9491c94d19dcf3a3
    Searching for its own answers, the U.S. Embassy conducted medical tests on staffers. Many were sent to the University of Miami for further examination. The State Department consulted with doctors at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Pennsylvania. The U.S. encouraged those institutions to keep what they knew private.

    and

    http://miami.cbslocal.com/2017/10/06/cuba-private-citizens-sonic-attack-havana-travel/
    Some of the [diplomatic?] victims reportedly were being treated in South Florida but have since been relocated to the northeast and are no longer being treated by the University of Miami.

    “Apparently, the State Dept. and some of these victims were upset with the treatment by the University of Miami and specifically one doctor there,” said [CBS’ News Steve] Dorsey.

    444:

    Yes, that's true as well. The reserve army of the unemployed grows ever larger. But can any of them pick fruit, enquiring minds want to know. Certainly one outcome of hard brexit is work gangs of prisoners being trucked to the fields of east anglia.

    445:

    "only any sort of "smart grid" project seems to be primarily designed to let software bugs crash your municiptality"

    The house meter is basically the *ONLY* bit of the entire network that's not computer controlled at this point. There are still some manual switches left in most networks, but of course the boys who go out and manually throw those switches are told which ones to switch and when to do it by people reading data off a computer.

    Time of use tariffs, which is what Greg and Pigeon are *actually* objecting to has literally nothing to do with smart metering.

    What's more their basic understanding of the electricity grid is so lacking that they don't even understand what they're objecting to. The system of "shitting on people" couldn't be further from how it really works. The grid is *Nothing* like the railway system described in Pigeon's post. It's not run at maximum capacity all the time. If it did, you'd pay about 200 times more for your electricity. Most grids work on a bidding system where a unit of time (usually half an hour) is predicted and then put out to tender. Each generator puts in a bid and they're accepted in ascending order of price until the predicted demand is met. The higher bids don't get accepted and they don't deliver any electricity. Then everyone gets paid either the same as the highest bid, or the average of the bids depending on the system. (That sounds like a big difference but in practice it's not because the generators make their bids differently in the two systems so it works out much the same) In peak times the highest bid may be as much as 200 times higher than the normal bids. The limit on the Eastern side of Australia is 14 thousand dollars per MWh, or 14 dollars per unit of electricity. I use about 7 MWh per year, so if it was run as Pigeon posted my electricity bill would be (given the normal markups on electricity where retail is about triple wholesale) about 300 000 dollars a year. (about 180 thousand pounds)

    So during peak times the retailers may be buying electricity at say 1400 cents per kWh and selling it to consumers at a flat 25 cents per kWh. Not only are they losing money at that point, but since it's the peak, it forms a larger percentage of their total trade than simply looking at the clock would indicate. So in order to avoid going broke, they *must* put the flat rate price up to a level where the losses they make during peak times are covered by the profits during the off peak times.

    Time of Use rates allow them to price signal consumers that there is a higher cost of electricity during peak times. Rich consumers (who are also the biggest consumers) can easily time shift their consumption to take advantage of the price signal. They can install heatbanks, storage hot water, run their dishwasher on the delay start and set their pool to run at night. That depresses the demand during peak times, reduces the highest bid that's accepted and reduces losses for retailers during that peak. That means that they can give *everyone a lower price*. What's more, poor people who are able to exchange time for money, are able to modify their behaviour and come out *even better* off. It's a win for consumers and a win for retailers. It's even a win for generators, who have a more consistent load, sales, planning. Not everything in the world is a zero sum game.

    I made the effort to have a time of use meter (not a smart meter) installed at my house 10 years ago. My peak electricity tariff went up by about 50%, but it's cut my spend by about 30% while using the same amount of electricity. All the while it has increased profits for my retailer. My lifestyle is *exactly* the same in my pure electric household. All that changed was I programmed my machines to do things differently. I carried on as normal.

    446:

    Re: Johns Hopkins U & UPenn

    Two top-notch medical/research centers with connections to major research labs on the planet.

    From a fiction book or movie POV ... if you really wanted to screw the intelligence boys&girls, you'd start by picking one generic 'symptom' and because (statistically) not everyone would be susceptible to any one particular 'cause' and because you have no idea about who will be slotted at that location, just throw a bunch of non-overlapping different 'causes' to elicit that one common symptom in all of the group. Then watch out for additive effects, synergy - all sorts of complications to further mess up isolating the 'one cause'.

    447:

    Re: '... basic understanding of the electricity grid is so lacking ..'

    Greg's experience sounds similar to mine and I'm on a different continent. In my area, there's only the one electrical supplier who also happens to export energy more than it imports. So bidding is kinda irrelevant from my POV.

    The key point is that most everyone I know works from home at least one a day a week. Then there's the Retireds - you know, the fastest growing demographic in Western economies? Then there are sick days - kids or adults. In all these cases/households, power needs don't conform to the 9-to-5 best-business-case scenario.

    So if you're talking about misunderstanding - how about the complete lack of understanding by power companies about the varying needs of the demographics they serve.

    448:

    Err ...no.
    I was not aware of the proposed move (until very recently) for timing of tariff-charges during a single day. I am on whatever the "standard tariff" is in London, incidentally, but I have my central-heating house temp set low, by most people's standards ( ~ 16C ) my loft is well-insulated, my N wall is blank, I have a lean-to-greenhouse facing SW, & my hot-water temp is set to below 60C, in a very well-insulated tank. I'm slowly going over to LED bulbs, as the filament ones wear out ...
    W T F do I supposedly need a "Smart" meter for, then?
    Also, my other objection to "not-so-smart" meters is simpler - IT CAN BE EASILY HACKED - an outside third party, legitimate or otherwise, can turn your indivdual house "off". No thank you, ever.
    The technology avialable is being massively missapplied, which is the other root of my objections.

    449:

    He told me that 2nd gear was a total waste. No one needed a 2nd gear. Everyone should drive with 2 gears. 2nd gear was just stupid.

    Wayyyy back in the 1970s, the Army's training for those caught in a car, in an ambush (this was counter-terrorist stuff) was "Just put it in second gear. You can do everything in second.".

    These were the days when off-duty soldiers and policemen were being murdered by PIRA, normally just outside their house (or if they were part-time) outside their place of work. Even if you vary your routes and routines, these are the places you have to start and end your journey.

    You can pull away in second, if you rev it and ride the clutch; and if you're willing to run the engine up to seven or eight thousand rpm, you can get a decent speed out of the vehicle; certainly enough to get clear of the killing area. After all, you're not going worry about burning out clutch or engine in those critical fifteen seconds; and you don't have three hands to manage steering wheel, gear change, and personal protection weapon. You may even be needing two hands for the weapon, if it's not already cocked.

    So, you'd see the people who'd done that particular training, with the habit of starting the car and pulling away in second gear. Thankfully, clutches are pretty robust items of kit...

    450:

    What gasdive is trying to explain is where the "standard tariff" actually comes from and how you would pay on the average less if you (and everyone else) were incented to timeshift your optional electric load to a time of day when the electric generation system isn't running at peak

    The reason why the train analogy isn't good is there is a lot more flexibility in when you run your dishwasher then when you need to travel to work every morning

    My Tesla for instance is programmed to start charging at midnight which is when my metered rate is generally lowest (California has been running on time of use systems for years )

    The idea that smart meters can be hacked pales into insignificance when you consider the fact that the entire grid can be hacked

    Plus I can turn your house off easily enough with some insulated wire cutters so what is the big deal around that anyway ?

    451:

    Re: Johns Hopkins U & UPenn

    Two top-notch medical/research centers with connections to major research labs on the planet.

    Yes, but,

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/investigation-into-mysterious-cuba-attacks-back-to-square-one/


    Nearly a year since attacks targeting American diplomats began in Havana, Cuba, U.S. investigators are no closer to determining either the source or the methods, according to officials close to the investigation underway by several agencies including the FBI and CIA.

    "We thought we were close but they are back to square one," according to a source familiar with the investigation.

    So who knows? We here sure don't have adequate information, and it appears that even those with more or less full access are still in the dark.

    I still hold with a random-ish trigger event followed by psychogenic propagation subsequently exploited for political purposes as the hypothesis that fits best. But it could be the Illuminati for all I know.

    452:

    Come on, turning Greg's houe of using insulated wire cutters requires real meat space visiting, which then makes you vulnerable to witnesses etc. Much easier to do it from another country using the internet. Whose blog do you think you are commenting on?

    453:

    I wish I could be that clear. Thanks.

    454:

    Returning to the Noam Chomsky "The Whole Trump Presidency is a Distraction" link, his observation that every US cabinet official was selected to destroy their department (or at least those departments unconnected with the military or "security"), was widely remarked on at the time, not least by Trump's flamboyant advisor Steve Bannon (who had been awarded the title of Chief Strategist, no less), with his February call for the "deconstruction of the administrative state." Since then, the Secretary of State, Secretary of Education, and Administrator (i.e., director) of the Environmental Protection Agency have been especially open about their similar intentions, and the president himself often voices support for the goal in so many words, for example in his declarations that he has no intention of hiring as many upper-level executive agency managers as have been thought necessary in the past.

    II would have been open to the charge that Trump is creating an attention-grabbing ruckus to distract from his faction's "deconstuctive" goal, but last week's open intervention in policy -- directly crippling Obamacare and decertifying the Iran treaty -- is different. I think US editorialist Josh Marshall is probably right, in that it's less thought out than it is the gangster's demonstration that things will get worse if we don't all cooperate, but in any case it is not the action of someone who considers himself only a distraction.

    As for Russia's 2016 US campaign and electoral interventions, I have been surprised at how back-burner they have remained. Partly that is due to one significant source of American news (Fox) mostly ignoring the matter, plus many Republicans feeling that if Putin helped their guy get elected, maybe he's not so bad after all -- plus, Trump seems to like him! And, as far as I have seen, there is less American moral outrage than there is worry that the Russians (and whoever else), will be able to use the same tactics successfully in the future (after all, most of what was done was not illegal, and perhaps not illegal on the Trump campaign side, either).

    455:

    In the UK urban power cables are usually underground so a bit of digging would also be required.

    456:

    So I'm some 'mad hacker' like you see on TV. When I look at my computer green text is projected on my face instead of the screen, I'm so totally mad hacker. I press a few random keys and yell "I'm IN!".

    Would my target be:

    a) The entire grid which is a huge SCADA spaghetti mess of old and new gear from a huge variety of manufacturers where pulling down a few things in a synchronised way will start a cascade of trips that blacks out an entire country?

    or

    b) Greg's house, which has a smart meter containing a small amount of software that's been carefully checked, that I can only get to by first hacking through the network of the grid above because the meter has no direct connection to the internet?

    Well, Greg's house, *Obviously*....

    457:

    Re: '... still hold with a random-ish trigger event followed by psychogenic propagation subsequently exploited for political purposes...'

    Yeah - this is still on the table.

    So, what's your theory re: why this happened in Cuba vs. some other country - the political gain part at least?