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Comment Re:Sounds great! (Score 4, Insightful) 147 147

But hang on, how many cyclists out there, who are of age to drive, don't also own a car? Outside of dense inner-metro areas (NYC, London), virtually everyone owns a car.

The administrative costs of imposing and collecting bike registration (not to mention the relative difficulty of policing it, given that plenty of people own bikes but only ride on trails and other things that aren't city streets) would seem to outweigh the extra revenue it would bring in. Not to mention that you generally want to encourage bike riding as much as possible, for public health reasons, and the extra cost and inconvenience of having to register would probably drive away a lot of casual cyclists.

Comment Re:Crime (Score 1) 337 337

The poor, AND middle class I would argue. Much higher median wage, four weeks minimum paid statutory leave per year, for any job (even part time), plus 10 public holidays, plus cheaper healthcare. Those factors alone would make a huge difference to the average family.

Once you get up into the top 20% those factors cease to favour Australia over the US. And once you get into the top 5-10%, the US offers more paths to making really obscene amounts of money than Australia does.

Comment Re:What a load of horse shit (Score 1) 337 337

Australia probably does have overall higher property crime (burglaries). I'd rather that than violent crime though.

Rape stats are notoriously difficult to compare between countries as the definition and rates of reporting vary hugely, so I wouldn't read too much into that comparison. It's about like the comparisons of infant mortality that are often made that show the US doing very poorly - it's more to do with the fact that the US counts certain miscarriages and in-utero deaths that other countries don't.

Comment Re:What a load of horse shit (Score 1) 337 337

How long/how long ago did you live in Australia? A lot of that stuff isn't accurate, particularly the stuff about duopolies:

- Most urban areas have a choice of dozens of broadband providers, since there has been separation of ownership of infrastructure (physical lines) and services provided over that infrastructure (ISPs) for almost 15 years now. Some more remote areas may only have a couple of choices ... but the vast majority can purchase ADSL connections from 10+ national providers, and many also have access to cable, VDSL or fibre providers on top of that. On the contrary, it's the *US* that is characterized by broadband duopolies - in most places you have a choice of the local DSL monopoly and the local cable monopoly.

- Cars? Huh? Australia has a range of makes available as large as anywhere else in the world. Ford, GM, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes, BMW, Volkwagen, Nissan, Mitsubishi, many others ... and some that you'd be hard pressed to find in the US (Euro makes like Skoda etc.) Perhaps you meant the choice of Australian-made vehicles? (in which case until recently limited you to Ford, GM, and some Toyotas)

Where Australia DOES have a stifling duopoly is in groceries: the two big supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths, account for the vast majority of supermarkets in the country. Aldi is making some inroads and there are local grocers still holding in in some areas, but it's still a pretty sad state of affairs.

You're right about prices - the cost of living is quite high (though, with the AUD only at 74 US cents now, it's a good 30% cheaper than it was a few years ago, measured in US dollar terms). But median wage is significantly higher as well, which offsets that to an extent.

Comment Re:Guns (Score 1) 337 337

Simply because multiple mass shooting stories come out of the US every year. In most of the world such an event would be a horrifying once-in-a-decade news story, yet they are almost routine coming out of America ... enough that they are almost treated as a mundane event. A substantial portion of stories that come out of the US are about such violence or related matters. That, plus the prominence of guns (and how 'normalised' they appear to be) in many popular US television shows.

The result is that guns are what springs to mind when one thinks of the US, because that aspect of America is unique among developed countries. You pay attention to what's different about a place, not the majority of stuff that's similar.

Decades ago I'd say that the prevalence of fast food was the common 'US stereotype'. But now fast food chains dominate over most of the world, that's no longer unique to America.

Comment Re:I'd consider moving to Australia (Score 1) 337 337

As someone who's done both AU-US and US-AU moves (full moves, moving entire lives/house contents/jobs etc. between the two countries), it's not really ~that~ expensive. Under $10,000 will buy you the airfare, space on a shipping container for your furniture and goods, and the relevant visa/immigration fees (depending on visa type, of course). I was self-funded for one of my moves, my company paid for the other.

Not saying that's chump change but it's not out of reach for a middle class professional. Of course this was just me and the wife ... if you have kids then you have to consider disruption to their education and social lives etc, which makes the prospect less desirable.

Comment Re:Stop charging for checked bag (Score 1) 273 273

Hmm, I'm not sure about that. There are quite a few players in Australia as well - 2 majors (Qantas, Virgin) and a bunch of minors and LCCs (Jetstar, Tiger, etc.). Not all that different from the US with the three majors (post-merger), considering the US population is 15x greater.

And Sydney-Melbourne is the world's 3rd busiest route in terms of aircraft movements, and 5th busiest route in terms of number of passengers.* On both metrics it surpasses ~any~ single route in the US. So Aussies do know the value of frequency. And airport congestion in Australia is surely less than in the US (IAD, ORD, SFO etc are clusterf***s as soon as there's any kind of weather or other disruption).

I just think that the flying public in Australia simply wouldn't stand for some of the penny pinching moves that carriers do in the US - there'd be a revolt. The majors all run similar routes at similar frequencies and so they really do compete more on the passenger experience than the do in the US.

Don't get me wrong, I get the need for the RJs between mid-sized cities, of which the US has many and Australia not so much (Australian cities are oddly distributed in terms of size - they're either massive metros or tiny towns, not much in the 100k-500k range other than Canberra and a couple of others). It just seems weird to me that 70% of flights between say, Chicago and Toronto (two of the very biggest cities in North America) are on RJs.


Comment Re:Stop charging for checked bag (Score 1) 273 273

Well, the EMB-190s aren't too bad. It's the 120s and 175s I can't stand :) On paper they don't look too bad since they have 1-2 or 2-2 configs but the fuselage curves inwards at at low height so much that you end up having to hold your head at a weird angle if you have a window seat...

Comment Re:Stop charging for checked bag (Score 3, Insightful) 273 273

Yep. I moved from Australia to the US a couple of years ago. I am a very frequent flier (140+ segments per year).

In Australia it was never a problem getting overhead space because:

(a) The carry on bag size limits were enforced

(b) Most airlines (including the major two - Qantas and Virgin) allow one checked bag as part of the ticket price (I won't say 'free', but it's not charged as an extra fee)

(c) Less of those godforsaken small regional jets (EMB 120s, 175s and CRJ 200s and 700s in particular) that have tiny overhead bins. The proportion of flights in the US (and Canada) that these aircraft amazes me. You get them even between major (4M+ population) cities. You'd never get anything smaller than a 737 or A320 in Australia between major city pairs.

Having said that, addressing (a) and/or (b) alone would probably be enough to solve the issue in North America.

Comment "Still" have followers? (Score 2) 147 147

"Still" have followers? Mechanical keyboards have been making a huge comeback for years, and are pretty much a standard for gaming and other high-end self-built machines now. You don't have to spend anywhere near $500 to get a good one either. This article/video sounds like it was written for an audience from six years ago or something.

Love my Corsair K95. Marketed as a gaming keyboard (it's got fancy LEDs and 18 macro keys etc.) but works well for long coding sessions too.

Comment Re:I still have dial-up (Score 1) 153 153

My DSL provider actually provides free dialup with every account, for emergencies and/or if you're on the road and just need to check your mail or something. I didn't even know about it until I saw a mention of it in some obscure corner of their website. Tried it for a laugh and hey, it worked! :P

Comment Re:Exede (Score 1) 153 153

It's pretty much unusable. Even what looks like a relatively simple, plain site these days is hundreds of kilobytes in size (which, when you are downloading at maybe 3 or 4 kB/s, takes quite a while to load!)

It's not just a matter of 'patience' either, as many sites actually fail to render properly as the downloading of various page elements just times out.

Comment Re:nonsense (Score 1) 532 532

How can a single payer (the government) 'screw up' that badly though? All they are is the PAYER, not the entity providing medical treatment. All they do is pay the bill. The worst screw up they could manage is ... not paying. In which case it's their problem, not yours.

Writing from the perspective of someone living in a single payer healthcare country here (Australia), where the government pays the bill (or most of it at least). Doctors clinics themselves are still private businesses - I can pick any doctor I want and switch at will. "Single payer" means precisely that: single ~payer~ (i.e. the government pays the doctor, or reimburses me for what I've already paid to them). The Canadian system is different. It is indeed single payer but the problems your extended family are describing aren't related to that aspect of the system.

PS. I've lived in Canada, the UK, Australia and the US. The former three are all 'single payer universal' systems but all are different in terms of the actual provision of treatment side of things.

Comment Re:nonsense (Score 1) 532 532

Uh, living in a country with single payer universal healthcare Australia ... that's exactly how it works. If I want to go to the doctor right now, I can pick any doctor whatsoever and just ... go there. (Obviously in reality I'd call and make an appointment first to make sure they have time to fit me in, but then, you do that in America too).

What ever gave you the idea that you can't go to the doctor whenever you feel like it? That'd be a pretty awful system - indeed part of the reason why universal health care has better health outcomes in the first place is BECAUSE there's no cost barriers to going to the doctor. You can go when you feel you need it and not put something off because of cost. Prevention/early detection is better than cure after all.

Now if you're talking about hospital treatment, then yes, on occasion you may need to wait. Same as if you showed up at emergency ... you get triaged. Waiting a month or two to get treated for something that isn't urgent and won't affect the final outcome is fine. But if you need treatment or surgery ASAP for something serious - you'll get it.

Steve Jobs said two years ago that X is brain-damaged and it will be gone in two years. He was half right. -- Dennis Ritchie