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Comment Capital one is actually one of the better ones... (Score 1) 150

I always make it a point to let Capital One know before I use the credit card in India. They send me texts when the card is used.

Last year I told them I was traveling to Europe and India for two weeks. Found out in London that all their retailers use credit cards with pin numbers. American credit cards without pin numbers are authorized by the discretion of the retailer. Apparently if I use the card and deny making the charges, the merchant is in the hole in UK. Not sure if this is true, this what the pizzaria near Trafalgar Square told me. Anyway there were tons of fraudulent charges from London, mostly airline tickets bought from London to African destinations. Capital reversed ALL the charges from London. Had to call back and tell them the bonafide ones, I didn't want the legitimate businesses to suffer.

So far all the experience I had with credit card companies (Citi, Capital One) or debit cards (Schwab) were uniformly good.

The only minor negative experience was when Citi left a fraud alert phone message that let the cat out of the bag about a surprise Las Vegas trip I had planned for my wife.

Comment Re:fair competition (Score 1) 155

What you say is very valid, but that is exactly how free market operates.

Free market is like evolution, it does not plan ahead, it gets stuck in local minima.

In a city for someone hoping to open a new bar, established areas would need very heavy capital. With a taxi system without surge pricing such a bar owner would strike new ground and may be eventually that area would grow and thrive as another established area. This is how load balancing would work in free market. But with Uber and surge pricing, it would strengthen existing high traffic areas and corridors would not let alternate areas to develop.

The solution to free marking cherry picking only the profitable sectors of an essential service has always been publicly funded government provided services. Post office is the perfect example. Contrary to popular opinion, the Post Office is extremely efficient. Private companies in USA would not even tell you time of the day for 50 cents. USPS will deliver a first class mail anywhere in the USA, even if it has to fly a single engine float plane for 150 miles from Anchorage, Alaska to Noname, Middle-of--nowhere county, Alaska.

So if Uber takes hold, the bar owners will convince government to provide a Post Office equivalent of a taxi service. Price will be low, but it will be a single bus that takes all the patrons from that area, travel all around the town and drop them in their homes over the next six hours.

Comment Re:fair competition (Score 1) 155

Once you remove the quota, and the natural competition drives the price low, most of the honest intelligent taxi drivers will exit the profession. There is always demand for honest people looking for decent wages. At that point very few honest people will be driving the taxi. They will be honest only to the extent the honesty could be thrust on them.

Comment It is "hctaw s'yelaP" argument. (Score 2) 35

A generation before Charles Darwin, Paley explored the question of origin of species. Some of his lines of arguments in favor of divine creation resonate to this day. He was an inspiring figure to Charles Darwin. His argument was: "If you come across a watch in the woods, you would instantly recognize it is not natural, the way components fit together, the purposefulness of the components etc would clearly convince you that it was not a naturally occurring object". This argument is called "Paley's watch" argument.

In this case the scientists are arguing the way the components of a natural are disassembled the way they are disarticulated shows the evidence of human hand. This is the reverse of Paley's watch, it is hctaw s'yelaP.

Comment But they will always have a place in ... (Score 2) 466

... the trunks of police cars. According to widely circulated "facts" about cola one thing I still remember is, "Every police car in America has a two liter bottle of coke in their trunks. It is the best thing to dissolve blood stains off asphalt" and "put a chicken bone into a bottle of coke, and it will dissolve completely in six days"

Comment Evil too is in the eye of the beholder. (Score 1) 225

Almost everyone would say without any hesitation throwing your new born baby in the river is an evil. But is it?

Ganga Mata, consort of Emperor Shantanu the Great, threw her new born baby into the Ganges, not once but seven times. You see eight celestials, Guardians of the eight directions were sentenced to live as humans, for some crime[*] they committed. On appeal their sentence was commuted for seven of them, they were allowed to die as soon as possible and return as celestials. They appealed to Mother Ganges to serve as their mother and kill them before they get a chance to commit any sin and be caught in the perpetual cycle of sins and rebirths. The eighth one who had to serve a full lifetime as a human, was spared by Mother Ganges. Once you get the details, you see what mother Ganges did was not evil at all, but an act of utmost kindness.

What life the eighth one had!

He was the one originally named Satyaviradhan, later named Bheeshman and lived a long and illustrious life, torn between the allegiance he swore to his father's throne and the degenerate their Crown Prince Duryodhanan had become. He gave his life for the oath of loyalty, his blessings and love for the righteous descendants of his dynasty. He fell on the tenth day of the battle, shot by his beloved grandson Arjunan (and the first gender reassigned warrior recorded anywhere, Shikandi) and died on the following winter solstice, roughly five thousand years ago.

[*] Their crime: They stole a cow that gave ambrosia as milk for the benefit of a human friend, lied about it.

Comment Re:ooh, ooh, I know how to fix this problem (Score 1) 203

From every American I've spoken with, ...

It shows what a narrow cross section of America you are mingling with. Sample bias, them statisticians call it. And all it would take is one minor accident or illness they would really see how much it really costs them. 66% of personal bankruptcies in America are due to medical bills.

When you are smugly feeling superior about your employer provided healthcare, think about it: Guaranteed company pensions, defined benefit, not defined contribution, $xx per month, used to be as prevalent as employer provided healthcare is today. What happened to the guaranteed benefits plans? What makes you think your employers love you so much they will continue to provide healthcare? Have you ever priced what it would cost you if the employer throws you out to the wolves in the individual health plan market?

Comment Definitely not a lone engineer. But ... (Score 1) 143

I can easily see how it started out as a legitimate piece of work and then got subverted by a small coterie of top level managers and a few on the code development side.

The auto companies repeatedly test the cars on their test bench. They use specially instrumented engines that collect so much of data on those test cars. Knowing which data was collected on the test harness and which were real road data is a legitimate data for debugging and fine tuning. The amount of data collected (actual valve position, commanded valve position, sensed crank angle, actual crank angle, time fuel injector open, time fuel injector done, blah blah ...) would so copious they might turn off certain data collections under certain circum stances.

They might have started with a special manual switch on the dash to turn on "test bench" mode. They forget to turn it on a few times, invalidating lots of collected data because "on test bench" field was wrong. Some clever guy suggest automating it. All these would be very legitimate and most engineers on the team would be working on good faith that it is not a cheat device.

What I am trying to say is "auto detection of test bench run" has a legitimate purpose. They also have so many use profiles. CA air standards profile, Euro air standards profile, China air standards profile, India air standards profile etc. All these use cases are also quite legitimate. All the engineers working on all these projects would be doing work without compromising their integrity or ethics.

Eventually someone high up had a clever idea to load China/India urea use profile when the car is not on test bench. This work does not involve company wide collusion. It would require very few engineers on the coding side and a few top level managers. They would know what they are doing is implementing a cheat device. They might have even done it as a stop-gap measure intending to correct in a few weeks or few months.

Some scenario along the lines of ... "Heinz, the air-quality team needs a few more weeks, they are behind, we are going to miss the deadline. But they are close, just a few more weeks. For now let us load India profile when not on test bench, once the air-quality team finishes the project we can quietly restore the setting. Or we have to delay the ship date by a few weeks". "Erwin, are you sure they would be done in six weeks". "Definite, absolutely". "OK I will talk to Walter and Karl. Keep Adolf and Joseph out of the loop. Keep it under your hat, and make sure there is no paper trail".

Comment Re:Unionize (Score 1) 340

The main problem is bogus credentials. There are diploma mills in India where people who could not pass 8th grade in USA get BTech and MTech degrees. If the credential verification system is instituted so that foreign universities and colleges are checked and their credentials correctly validated it would go a long way in solving the problem.

The US treats a B Tech from IIT or an ME from IISc the same way as a B Tech This-is-a-totally-real-engg-college-in-my-backyard Institue of Technology.

Any US High school grad can be trained to do what these Masters and Bachelors being exported by the body shopping Indian companies.

But, it is collusion with corporate America. They know it true. But they figure their company will survive long enough to give them their bonus after that they plan to jump ship anyway.

Comment Re:ooh, ooh, I know how to fix this problem (Score 1) 203

Wow! You get to decide what one is allowed and what one is not. Truly American. Get wrap yourself in confederate flag with don't tread on me snake and attend a rally "to take our country back". You can pry my free America from my cold dead hands.

Comment Re:ooh, ooh, I know how to fix this problem (Score 1) 203

Oh, really? I would like to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge, which I totally own.

Corporations use so many different tax dodges, having a post office box in a tax friendly state declared as the HQ, creating shell corporations to funnel profits through so many different countries and tax regimes, eventually they pay nothing. Companies as big as Apple, Google, Microsoft and GE pay no taxes.

But I really admire you for sticking up for these downtrodden and exploited mega billionaires. Without selfless sacrifices by people like you, they would just be mere kilo billionaires.

Comment Re:ooh, ooh, I know how to fix this problem (Score 2) 203

I was wondering about New Gingrich. I am a liberal, I have very low opinion of him and to see he was paying at 29% effective rate was very surprising. My theory is that his lust was for power not money. Still he could have used quite legal tax planning tax mitigation strategies to get to 20 or 22% quite easily. I think he chose not to do it. He had Presidential ambitions and paying rate lower tax rate would have doomed him, he must have thought. He must have been kicking himself when he saw 14% effective Romney romped past him.

But still as a liberal it pains me to say it, but Newt did the right thing. No matter how much you disagree with the law, you must obey it as long as it is in effect or openly defy it and accept whatever punishment is due. Today October the Second is the birthday of Gandhi. He openly defied unjust laws and calmly took the punishment meted out. Newt obeyed the law he strongly disagreed with.

"I may be synthetic, but I'm not stupid" -- the artificial person, from _Aliens_