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Comment Re:Taxes? (Score 1) 60

I suspect that this is also one of those situations where the fact that 'law' tends to have ways of bending to practicality is showing up.

The activities of the street vendors are illegal, and some of them probably have pretty dubious immigration status; but the fact that they remain active, are quite numerous, and are visible enough to form a union suggests that the local authorities lack the will or ability to suppress their vending; and the national authorities the will or ability to process them all as vigorously as the law theoretically allows.

Under those circumstances, it isn't terribly illogical for the mayor of Barcelona to be open to negotiations aimed at reducing the nuisances caused by street vendors in exchange for potential loosening of restrictions that are mostly theoretical or haphazardly and unevenly enforced at present.

It always upsets people who cherish the idea that 'law' is somehow a matter of pure principle and above the sordid world of pragmatism and political horse-trading; but that doesn't make it any less true. Even when the ability of the state to enforce the law is relatively strong, pressure is applied by lobbying the political apparatus. When it is weak or partial, pragmatism can, and often does, result in the state(or its agents) reaching a compromise with the illegal sector that aims to give the less noxious elements some of what they want in exchange for cooperation, or at least non-resistance, in going after higher-value targets.

Comment Re:Take my money! (Score 1) 274

I can't speak for khallow; but my impression was that the bunker leader was the one who has an incentive to double-cross his clients, in favor of people who will be more useful to him should the shit actually hit the fan; not that those useful people would self-organize and head for the bunker.

If nothing else, during the course of constructing an emergency bunker, stocking it with necessary supplies and equipment, making provisions for its security, etc. one would presumably make contact with a variety of people with relevant skills. You'll be overseeing construction, food and medical supply, security, and so on. If you really wanted to improve your chances, you'd presumably do additional research; but 'the people who built and furnished the bunker' are a practically ready-made group of better-than-average candidates.

It is true that screwing over anyone you allow into the bunker would be a dangerous plan, so you'd likely have to put up with some less-useful friends and family; but screwing over someone without connections to those allowed inside, and who isn't allowed inside, has fewer obvious risks.

Comment Re:Take my money! (Score 1) 274

The existence of the bunker isn't the issue; it's being let in when crunch-time hits. If management cant' control access, it's a sucky bunker that will be at considerable risk of attack in a disaster scenario. If they can control access, you are depending on them to honor an agreement enforced by a legal structure that is, presumably, currently dealing with bigger problems right now, if it remains functional at all.

I don't mean to allege that this guy specifically is planning on doing so; but those circumstances would make 'overbooking' a very tempting strategy. If disaster fails to occur, you merely need to conceal exactly how many spots you've sold. If disaster does occur, the people you do admit are unlikely to give up their spots to let in the ones you don't, and the ones that don't won't exactly have much recourse.

It doesn't help that, pre-disaster, the people with the most money are the most valuable potential-bunker-dwellers, since they can pay the most for spots; but during a disaster, and after, people with assorted useful skills are the most valuable potential-bunker-dwellers. There could well be some overlap, if some doctor who has made good in his practice can afford a space, he's also a useful guy to have around; but the post-apocalypse's demand for investment bankers is probably fairly low.

Comment Clarify... (Score 4, Insightful) 33

This seems like it could well be a viable thing; but 'AI-based' is serious weasel-word territory: is a Baysian spam filter an "AI-based anti-spam solution"? It's hard to argue with the notion that identifying anomalous activity in large volumes of traffic is a problem that might be amenable to statistical methods and assorted heuristics; but what exactly qualifies or disqualifies something for 'AI-based', 'deep learning', and similar buzzwords?

Comment Re:Take my money! (Score 1) 274

Insurance against calamities on a larger scale than your underwriter is prepared to cope with, or sufficiently large to eliminate the legal and economic framework under which the policy was purchased would be pretty worthless.

Just look at the truly impressive work that AIG and friends managed to do in selling impossible amounts of insurance, and remember that that didn't even require an external catastrophe of any particular magnitude, they just fucked it up during the course of business. You think that they'd do better under circumstances that have people running for the bunkers and executing continuity-of-government directives?

Comment Re:Boston has an app like this. It's useless. (Score 1) 159

I suspect that it depends on the attitude as well. At least in IT, there seem to be two basic flavors(in varying levels of competence, there are some commendably diligent but not terribly sharp ones; and there are some total slackers with the annoying ability to pull off something brilliant just when it looks like their slacking might catch up with them; then go back to slacking): There are the people who say "The problem is that you are bothering me about some 'problem', so now I have to go look at it." and the ones who say "The problem is that there might be a problem I don't know about yet."

The former is...unlikely... to welcome better reporting systems. The latter is likely to be delighted that they can spend less time hunting for problems and more time fixing them.

Comment Re:What? (Score 2) 159

Fundamentally? Not at all. In terms of convenience? The fancy tech toys presumably make it fairly trivial to construct a nice machine-readable trouble ticket, with GPS coordinates, user submitted text, pictures, etc. that drops right into the trouble ticket without needing anyone to man the phone; or depending on their ability to reliably interpret and record what the caller is reporting, write it up, and send it to the appropriate person.

Given that the input is still coming from people, I suspect that you can't automate all the labor out of cleaning it up(if there is a way for data you attempt to collect about the world to be messy and intractable, it will find it; and even if you think that there isn't, it might just invent one...); but there's a lot to be said for cutting out tedious, error-prone, steps, especially once you are dealing with a system large enough that providing 'the personal touch' simply isn't possible. These sorts of systems can be somewhat prone to being impersonal or inflexible(especially if the implementation tries to use a bunch of drop-down options to shove you through the decision tree and your problem is some flavor of 'other' that they don't provide for); but if the userbase is large enough that you'd need a call center to do it with humans, you don't really have the option of interpersonal familiarity; so you might as well go for efficiency.

If this were Ye Olde Smalle Towne, where you could just ring up the mayor's office and the kindly secretary who has been there forever and knows everybody would pick up and you could tell her about it, the 'app' thing would be a pointless gimmick; but that's not exactly the scope of the problem here.

"I never let my schooling get in the way of my education." -- Mark Twain