Sunday, June 25, 2017

As I Was Saying

My self-driving car skepticism used to make some people Mad, the way that bitching about Apple products makes some people Mad (I mean, disagree, fine, but why you so mad, bro?). At some point people stopped getting mad...

The obvious conclusion to draw from Uber's crisis and Tesla's Autopilot struggles is that the disruption of transportation so enthusiastically cheered by the tech industry was ridiculously overblown. And it wasn't confined to Tesla and Uber.

Despite Waymo's partnership with Lyft, the self-driving project isn't closer to commercialization now than it was three years ago. And the Apple Car — "Project Titan" — has pivoted numerous times, always vaguely and secretively.

Lying Is Bold

Modern journalism.

Afternoon Thread


Maybe We Shouldn't Burn All The School Children

Takes conservatives a massive tragedy do understand what all those safety regulations were about.
Controversial government proposals to relax fire safety standards for new school buildings as a cost-cutting measure are to be dropped by ministers in a major policy U-turn following the Grenfell Tower fire.

Though at least in the UK they're occasionally capable of learning.

Of course there are dumb and "bad" regulations but conservatives have decided that they're all just some liberal plot to sap the precious bodily fluids from rich people when, Actually, some of them are there so people are less likely to die in horrible fires.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Late Night

Rock on.

This Isn't Better

I think the point that people miss is that having to pay attention while having nothing to do is really boring. Boredom sucks. I'd rather drive the car then have to pay constant attention to my car driving itself. These just aren't useful features.

General Motors delayed introduction of a driver assistance technology called Super Cruise that was initially planned for late last year because it said it was not ready. The technology will go on sale this fall.
Barry Walkup, chief engineer of Super Cruise, said the company added "a driver attention function, to insist on driver supervision."
The system uses a small camera that focuses on the driver and works with infrared lights to track head position to determine where the driver is looking.
If the system—which uses facial recognition software—detects the driver is not paying attention, it will prompt the driver to return attention to the road. If the driver does not respond, it will escalate alerts, including a steering wheel light bar, visual indicators, tactile alerts in the seat and audible alerts. If the driver does not respond, the vehicle is brought to a controlled stop.

Maybe the driver should just, you know, drive? Sure some safety features like auto-braking or collision avoidance might be good (if implemented well), but those are just safety features, not "you don't actually have to drive the car" features.

Mini-Fundraiser Final Day!

Thanks to all who contributed. I said a 3 day mini-fundraiser but then I sort of forgot about the last couple of days so, day 3 today! (I didn't really forget I just find these posts hard to write).

People have been complaining about some ads. Annoying auto-on ads aren't supposed to happen, but I don't see the same ads "you" see, so it's hard for me to do anything about them when they do. I did tweak a couple of settings though I'm not sure if that did the trick. If there's a problem, send me a screen shot or if you dare actually click on the ad or otherwise figure out what the landing page is and let me know (that's the easiest way for me to kill these things but I understand if people don't want to click on the ads).

The DCCC Defense Squad

Once upon a time it seemed to be a rather banal observation that the Democrats (overall, the official party/fundraising structures) were a bit more beholden to and influenced by the rich donor class than they should be. This didn't make them all evil, but the people with the big checks and, even more sadly, David Brooks, were more likely to have their ears than, say, a fast food worker, and even those of us with the best intentions tend to be influenced by those in our social circles.

One doesn't even have to get to corruption to see all of this is rather obvious. That rich people are smart and have all the answers is deeply ingrained in our contemporary discourse, or so I discussed over drinks with Katie Couric, David Koch, Madeline Albright, and David Bradley at the Aspen Ideas Festival. Okay I served them drinks.

This seems to make people Mad now. I don't get it.

20 Years?

I suppose it's been fun reading all of those articles about how self-driving taxis were about to be on the road, but the new CW is starting to sink in.

The only escape for Uber imagined by Kalanick was to delete drivers and their wages from the picture through the development of autonomous vehicles. But it is increasingly clear that this is another massive gamble that Uber cannot win, at least not in time to save itself. Most experts, including those previously bullish on self-driving technology such as the Economist magazine, have recognized that autonomous vehicles are at least 20 years from fruition.

Maybe it sinks in just quickly enough to stop the state from making tons of policy decisions based on a fantasy, which is the only reason I've ever cared about this, especially as even if they worked, the self-driving car fantasy of removing the need for mass transit was dumber than than the idea that they would work in the first place...

Morning Thread

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday Evening


No One Should Write A Column Twice Per Week

This is correct! A nice thing about blogging is it allows you to recognize that sometimes you have a good point (or a point you think is good) which requires a just few sentences. Or even one! This is not to say that shorter is always better. I am not trying to write in favor of my usual style. It's just that if you have a two column per week gig then you have to turn those two possibly good sentences into 740 words. Also sometimes your point might take 1500 words! Maybe you have two timely wordy good takes two days in a row! And that won't be an option either! Gotta have one column for Tuesday, one for Saturday, or whatever.

The general point is that even people who have a lot to say and are good at finding interesting things to say those things are going to find it hard to come up with two good 740 word columns on schedule twice per week every week. Year after year after year.

It isn't that writing two columns per week for an absurd about of money is hard work, it's just that a lot of it is inevitably going to be bad work. Though, yes, a lot of the people with those jobs are also horribly bad at them for other reasons.

Nobody Cares About Process

I still see Dem politicians boasting about how many hearings, etc..., they had for Obamacare back in 2009. Sure there's a working the ref angle here - reporters shouldn't continue (they never should have begun) broadcasting Republican complaints (lies) about how the Dems didn't include them in the process - but Republicans don't care, Republican voters don't care, and most other voters don't care either.

Figure out how to beat this bill and/or cause maximum PR and electoral pain for anyone who votes for it. It isn't as if there hasn't been time to prepare for this. And, no, relying on "moderate Republicans" to do the right thing won't work.


I doubt they need to be "foolproof" in the sense of being 100% safe.

The problems with semiautonomous features should sound a warning bell for auto makers, tech companies and parts suppliers. Customers will need to be convinced that these semiautonomous features that are the building blocks for autonomous vehicles are foolproof before they give up driving control.

They need to work in a way which reduces your stress levels, not increases them. Look even basic "cruise control" which has been around forever was never especially awesome. Sure I use it sometimes and lots of people do but I generally turn it off after awhile because it felt like I had to pay more mental attention, not less, to what was going on. As long as you feel like you might have to take full control suddenly, there's a little primitive brain stress alarm just poised to go off. The "auto-pilot" of instinctive driving (which I've lost somewhat since I don't drive that much anymore) is actually more automatic than autonomous driving features that only sorta work.

Researchers find that Americans are particularly skittish about giving up control of a vehicle to an automated system, but a new study says car buyers are now simply fed up with semi-autonomous features like lane-departure assist and adaptive cruise control, the Wall Street Journal reports.

As part of J.D. Power’s annual Initial Quality Study, the Journal says car buyers reported being “increasingly dissatisfied with the semiautonomous features showing up on vehicles.”

Is this a good idea?

Auto makers and regulators are taking steps to make semiautonomous safety gear becomes more ubiquitous. Nearly a dozen top car companies, for instance, have pledged to make automatic emergency brakes standard on future vehicles.

It could be! But people will like it if they're basically unaware of it until it kicks in, and not if they're expecting to happen, not if they are told "ah, don't worry about the brake, the car will apply it if necessary..probably..."


It's obviously good that they are pro-actively going after a genuine fire hazard, but the broader issue is years of neglect of basic fire safety issues. The cladding is likely just one problem of many.
Thousands of tower block residents around the UK have been warned that their homes are clad with the same flammable aluminium panels believed to have fuelled the deadly blaze at Grenfell Tower in London.

A day of frantic testing by local authorities began to determine how many people were living in potentially dangerous high rises, after Theresa May warned that some of the first tests had revealed combustible cladding on buildings.

Some councils said that cladding would be stripped from buildings and that round-the-clock fire patrols would start immediately in suspect blocks.

They Did It!!!

Can't wait to take a self-driving taxi to the mall!!!

“We are delighted that JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs have completed the full financing for American Dream. The response by the investment community to the bond offering and private financing have been exceptional, both oversubscribed, confirming strong investor confidence in our vision for American Dream. We would like to thank the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and Borough of East Rutherford for their assistance in the bond sale.” Don Ghermezian, President, Triple Five.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Later Evening Arguing


Happy Hour Thread

Get happy.

On That Note

This has been the basic critique of the DCCC every since I started paying attention to these things. They don't have a great track record.

All of that can lead to the conclusion that the DCCC could be as incompetent as its leftist critics allege, and Democrats could still take back the House. But there’s another perspective, which is essentially that while the party can help on the margins, it’s greatest power is to actively screw things up. When I asked Jeff Hauser, the director of the Revolving Door Project and a former Democratic operative who has been critical of the DCCC, to lay out this case for me, he argued that the organization shapes how individual races play out, especially in their early stages. Here’s part of the email he sent in reply:
  • The DCCC recruits candidates and influences primaries by signaling who is viable or not to donors and state and local party actors.
  • Mega-donors and independent expenditure groups take cues about which races matter and which messages work from the DCCC.
  • Young but experienced political staff are often directed to campaigns by the DCCC — there are a lot of arranged staffing marriages where candidates and staff, even campaign managers, barely know each other.
  • And candidates pick and choose messages with an eye toward being in line with the DCCC’s thinking, as they know direct contributions and independent expenditures go to campaigns in line with the DCCC.
  • When Ossoff went wholly bland and didn’t run on Trump, Russia, or almost anything else readily identifiable as an issue, that represented a campaign following DCCC directions.
  • If you are a Democrat and think Ossoff blew an opportunity and fear more of the same in 2018, you need the DCCC’s theory of the electorate to improve.

The Long Game

I am much less likely to play Amateur Political Consultant than I once was. Campaigns do what they do and carping from the sidelines isn't going to change that. But the thing which is maddening is that we have House elections every 2 years in this country (plus special elections of course) and it's like the whole apparatus shuts down on election day and then revs back up again 12-15 months later. With all the money spent on TV ads you could actually pay people locally to worry about this stuff full time instead of reinventing everything. Dems always complain about low midterm turnout, but, well, what are people doing about it? There isn't a fixed amount of people that go to the polls. If you truly believe there are all these people who would vote for you if only you could get them to the polls, then..

Not A Debating Club

These days we mostly refer to "bothsidesing" as the need to come up with a supposedly Equal and Opposite Bad thing a Democrat did once in 1963 every time a Republican does something Bad. But a worse kind of bothsidesing is that Both Sides have serious lawmakers who just want what is best for the country but have ideological difference about how best to achieve that. So policy debates can be framed as "the free market" versus "big government."

But Republicans don't think poor people should have health care. They think people who get sick should die if they can't pay for treatment. Sure it's "the free market" (to some degree, nothing in our health care system is really "the free market"), but only in the sense that if you can't pay you don't get to buy the product. Fair enough for Maseratis, but in this case the product is "living."

Your Liberal Media

Still not liberal. The ratings will suck and they will keep it on the air anyway because obviously ratings aren't the goal. Who the hell - conservative, liberal, space alien - would want to watch Hugh Hewitt?

Even at "peak liberalism" MSNBC had an evening lineup of liberals, 3-4 hours of conservative Morning Joseph, and news coverage during the day which was fairly Obama-friendly, but not any more Obama-friendly than news outlets were Bush-friendly when he was in charge.