Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the predictions-etc dept

This week, we asked a critical question: will we ever really get flying cars? There are plenty of obstacles, and Ehud Gavron won most insightful comment of the week by deploying his expertise to explain them:


Disclosure: I’m a current FAA-certificated commercial helicopter pilot.

Dreams of flying are awesome, and dreams of flying cars are great, but the regulatory reality will prevent these from *ever* flying at least in the United States.

A. Reliability and Technology
1. “Drones” and UAS devices don’t have the failsafes to allow safe landing (for human passengers) in the event of a failure. All commercially-certificated aircraft *must* demonstrate power-off landing.

2. In order to provide those failsafes, “Drones” and UAS devices would have redundant systems making them too heavy to functionally lift humans and carry them anywhere.

B. Regulations
3. The FAA has control of the air from the ground up. (Yes, there are those who claim it’s from 8′ up, those who claim 58′ up, those who claim 400′ up but recent rulings support the “anything from the top of ground or structure on up”). The FAA jealously regulates its airspace — to the point they don’t want to allow military UAVs unless the pilot flying the UAV is a)FAA-certificated (which military pilots are not), and b)Is in radio contact with the appropriate air-traffic control coordinator. In other words, only a pilot can fly one and only while keeping in contact with ATC.

4. All aircraft within the national airspace system (NAS) have to be not only certificated by the FAA but also registered. These add *substantial* fees to what would otherwise be “A car”.

C. Exisitng Industries Won’t Allow it
5. Law-enforcement has a very big hard-on for the driver being responsible for the equipment. Thus there will never be a self-driving car… not will there ever be a car that can fly away from a road-block.

6. Insurance companies enjoy taking hard-earned money to gamble that you WON’T ever use your policy. Governmental regulations requiring the purchase of insurance provides them a captive audience of clients all of whom also gamble they WON’T ever use that policy. (Not to worry, if the policy gets used, the rates go sky high for at least three years…) That’s just to insure a vehicle that at most can cause minor damage. When you put that same mass in the air, (F=ma and all that), its potential for damage is exponentially higher… and so, btw, is the cost of aircraft insurance. (At least for the helicopters we fly)

Would I love to see a vehicle that “if things got frustrating I could just pick up and fly”… sure… but that makes no sense… because if you can “just pick up and fly” why would you use the road in the first place?

Far better to build a plane that can legally drive on the highway.

Ehud Gavron
Tucson AZ

Meanwhile, we looked at the disturbing suggestions from both presumptive presidential candidates about expanding watch-lists and diminishing civil liberties in the wake of the Orlando attacks. One anonymous commenter won second place for insightful by pointing out a difficult irony in one of those suggestions:

Cognitive dissonance on Hillary’s part

She wants to ban the purchase of guns for anyone being investigated by the FBI while she is running for President while under investigation by the FBI.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start with the news that AMC is suing a fan site over predicted spoilers about future plotlines. One anonymous commenter neatly summed up why they probably won’t win, except they’ve already kind of won:

Spoiler prediction: AMC doesn’t stand a chance in court.

The problem is that the penalty structure is so one sided that those that make bogus claims face no real consequences.

Next, we’ve got another anonymous commenter with a simple explanation of the craziness of Australian officials not letting anyone examine their e-voting infrastructure:

Proprietary code in election software is equivalent to secret law.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is WDS with a sarcastic response that pops up often when we criticize Google, as we did this week:

I don’t understand this complaining about Google. Don’t you know that you are only a Google puppet, and your whole sites purpose is to promote Google’s agenda?

For second place, we head to the story of another lawsuit against Gawker with Peter Thiel’s fingerprints all over it, this time involving a company called Ivari International over its supposed work treating Donald Trump’s hair. Pixel got to the heart of the matter:

Ivari International should sue themselves for defamation if they had anything to do with Trump’s hair.

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we start with an anonymous response to the silly trademark dispute between a soft drink and the Denver Broncos over the term “Orange Crush”. One anonymous commenter was infuriated by all the wanton consumer confusion:

I’m always disappointed when I’m at the store looking for a refreshing orange pop but all I find is the Denver defensive line, that Orange Crush is way to expensive and just doesn’t taste very good.

Finally, in response to AMC’s absurd prediction lawsuit, Hugues raised the question of whether the lawsuit might be flowing in the wrong direction:

If you publicly predict the outcome of an unpublished TV show could you sue them for copyright infringement?

That’s all for this week, folks!

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Comments on “Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt”

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shanen (profile) says:

Insightful? Not so much.

The helicopter thing was kind of amusing, but not insightful. Mostly a political screed.It could have gotten up to informative if it had included some of the numbers, but insightful would have called for something like the fundamental conflict between the freedom of flying and the need for absolutely reliable computer control (sans human freedom) to make it remotely plausible, given our poor human reflexes and worse judgment. (Writing as a pilot who lost his ticket for taking out a few harmless runway lights.)

The one about Hillary also failed to be insightful, but might have been slightly humorous to some people. Why would she want to buy a gun? She has secret service protection. Insight might have been to consider if people under FBI investigation should be allowed to hire armed bodyguards. Still don’t see how to make it a problem for Hillary, at least on the theory that the secret service will probably cooperate with the FBI if they want to arrest someone.

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