Feb 5, 2010
commented on The Ebook Pricing Wars Heat Up
When I pay $10 or $15 for any ebook, I'm paying for convenience so I can read it on the train or plane.
I don't need to be bogged down by any physical copy either. If I like the book, I can get it for free at the library. If I really really like it, I can buy it used.
Makes me wonder why "Netflix for Real Books" isn't viable as a business plan (though I do know some libraries do indeed charge rental fees for super-new bestselling books).
Feb 5, 2010
commented on I Don't Understand Why...
Wow that's stupidly lazy--they should've just grabbed the pictures from Facebook.
Or can they do that with copyright and all?
Feb 2, 2010
commented on State Officials Piss on Seattle’s 520 Plans! Predictable! Don't Worry!
@10 I'd also say that there's an underlying divide between Seattle and the rest of King County.
Seattle's small--less than a third of the county lives in Seattle--and there's a definite stench of snobbishness that Seattle Knows Best. Suburbanites are seen as stupid, spoiled, greedy, and self-centered (particularly those who live in Bellevue), and those Eastsiders should get out of the way for some lofty, superior Seattle-proposed solution that appeals to non-specific themes like "progressiveness", and that's far too expensive to ever build.
But I'd also say that it's not just the Seattle/Eastside split that causes paralysis: Seattle's paralyzed itself over the Alaskan Way viaduct for years (for that, Blame the State, no doubt.)
Jan 25, 2010
commented on Poll: Voters Support $2.1 Billion Light Rail This November
$2.1 billion doesn't buy a lot of track. Some back of the envelope calculations.
A rough cost is $100 million a mile for new track:
- $1.2 billion for the 11 mile Mid-Coast extension in San Diego
- $273 million for the 3 mile 19th Ave extension in Phoenix
- $175 million for a 1.6 mile extension between San Jose and Los Gatos.
Sometimes cost per mile is much more: $1.4 billion for 7.3 miles for the Portland-Milwaukie extension, which includes a new bridge over the Willamette River. That's $191 million a mile.
I'd set the price per mile at $170 million a mile: there's water to cross to get to places like West Seattle and Ballard. Geography in Seattle is more similar to Portland than it is to San Diego, San Jose, or Phoenix.
That $2.1 billion gets Seattle 12 miles of light rail track: enough to fund the 10+ miles from West Seattle to Ballard, with a little left over for contingency and (perhaps?) a maintenance base.
$2.1 billion is not going to ever be enough for even a second light rail line.
Also: where's the money for operating the line? Farebox recovery won't be 100%, that's for sure.
Jan 4, 2010
commented on The Globalization of Avatar
That message of Avatar already seems a bit dated... like it was written in the nearly-quaint era that was the 1999 WTO demonstrations, an era that's now fading.
In this decade, the method that works is to just corrupt and co-opt the local government, military, and police, preach "non-interference", and then insert the state-owned corporations to grab whatever resources at whatever environmental cost.
It's the Chinese model, and it's so much more effective at dealing with such outstanding regimes as those that run Zimbabwe, Sudan, and Turkmenistan. Hire the local thugs and syndicates to protect your in-country interests, rather than insert your own forces, to avoid any xenophobic reactions and any fears of colonization. And this model has the benefits that there are no messy complications like human rights at all... and no need to put a nice 'democratic' sheen on any activities at all.
Dec 16, 2009
commented on A Value Added Tax? Good Idea? Bad?
Progressive tax systems can also fail: the state with the least regressive tax system is California.
I'd rather see a cut in spending than a VAT--specifically military spending, which accounts for 25 to 30% of the federal budget. Reduce that by even a small percentage frees up tens of billions of dollars.
(By the way, doesn't everyone realize that direct government health care can be effective? It's what millions of active duty military, their dependents, and military retirees receive, at a cost of just under $4000 per person.)