Such Things We Think When Our Work is Done

AC: Have you seen the website that tracks dollar bills? [ed:] It seems like a way to spend your VC money. Spend ten thousand of your million on the web site, and then spend the remaining nine hundred and ninety thousand on one-dollar bills that you stamp your name on.

Daniel: It's amazing what some web sites will do to claim they have "active members."

Steve: Sometime last year, one of these online services sent me an email saying "here's ten dollars!" So I took the money, and then I cancelled my account, because I figured they weren't going to do it again for me, since they'd already given me ten bucks.

Me: Every so often, Amazon sends me a certificate for whatever new store. Here's ten dollars at our Pets store! I'm waiting for them to send me one for ten bucks towards a new car.

Steve: You just need to wait for them to open up a car store. It can't be long.

Me: They sell new cars. [ed: here] It sounds like a joke, but it isn't.

Daniel: Do they gift wrap? I wonder what the overnight shipping option on one of those would cost.

Me: Two thousand dollars per order, and a thousand per item.

AC: Well, apparently, rich executives flying between New York and London have started FedExing their baggage rather than trusting the airlines with it.

Me: How much does that cost?

AC: Well, at one point I actually did that when I was going to California for a while. But I used UPS, and I had to because I was going over the weight limit on the plane. I think it was around $100 for an 80-pound package.

Steve: I've done that, too. When I went to college, I shipped myself --

Me: You shipped yourself?

Steve: A little less comfortable than a regular seat.

Daniel: Down there in the unpressurized baggage hold with the sub-zero temperatures.

AC: But the price isn't really that much of a savings off of a regular airplane ticket.

Daniel: That's scandalous. It shows you how little they actually give you when you fly, if the passenger cost isn't any higher than the dead weight cost.

Me: What this suggests is that maybe you should just ship your packages by regular coach airfare.

Steve: The ideal is that you walk onto the plane and strap your package into the seat, and then get off. Just need to have someone meet it at the other end.

Me: You say "This is my grandma. She's going to need some help getting of the plane."

Daniel: It's an unescorted minor. "He's not going to be hungry."

AC: The problem is that this is a perfect way to smuggle bombs onto planes.

Steve: There are fewer suicide bombers out there than there are, uh, . . .

AC: . . . bombers who aren't willing to commit suicide?

Me: Then why don't we hear about more UPS planes getting blown up?

AC: That's a way to make a statement without killing people. You send a note to the pilot saying there's a bomb on board, so he jumps out with his parachute, and then you wait for him and then you can blow up the plane.

Daniel: Or not. Once he's jumped out, you don't even need the bomb.

Steve: Unless the autopilot can land the plane. Can they do that?

AC: If the autopilot could do that, why would they have pilots at all?

Daniel: Actually, all planes have been flown by autopilot since 1962. The pilots are just for show. People don't trust machines.

Me: There have been studies of this. There's some subway system where the computers do all the driving, and the drivers are just there in case of emergency, and they discovered that the people actually made things worse, because they didn't handle surprises well, and didn't trust the machines when they should have.

Steve: As someone who writes code, I certainly wouldn't trust the machines.

Daniel: We wait for the twenty-car pileup on the highway, and then we go, "Ah! Left of the 'else' clause on that 'if'!"

AC: That's what we need garbage collection for. To come along and clean up all the wrecks when we forgot to make a call to Release().

Me: Then they can reuse the cars and give us all ten-dollar off gift certificates to buy them back.