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Comment: Re:why is the cap a good idea? (Score 1) 154

by Tom (#48917635) Attached to: Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015

Hypothetically speaking, if I'm desperate to get somewhere, and I'm willing to pay *whatever it takes*, why is it a good idea to limit the surge pricing?

Because other people will pay for your desire.

Or what about having an auction system where each person that wants a ride indicates how much they're willing to pay for it? Would you want to cap that as well?

Economists are big fans of auctions and say that's the most fair method to distribute resources. Economists, however, are not known for taking social, cultural or human values into account in their simple models.

So yes, I would. Man, it really isn't so difficult. Get some history lessons on when and why the taxi business became regulated.

Comment: Re:So what will this accomplish? (Score 3, Informative) 154

by Tom (#48914375) Attached to: Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015

In Econ 101 you also learn about horizontal and vertical pricing.

Basically, if the surge price is reasonably high, most drivers will be available. From 1.0 to 1.5 you may raise the number of drivers considerably, but from 3.0 to 3.5 you will probably not motivate many more drivers to go out and drive - most available drivers will already be on the road, and the few who decide against it will not change their mind here because if 3.0 doesn't motivate them, then 3.5 most likely won't because they have important reasons to stay home.

A cap on such elastic pricing is almost always a good idea.

Comment: Re:Escaping only helps you until a war. (Score 1) 335

by Tom (#48914325) Attached to: Davos 2015: Less Innovation, More Regulation, More Unrest. Run Away!

This exactly.

Why do rich people not live in Africa and Asia where the climate is good? Safety and convenience. If you don't want to spend your life in a castle defending your riches, you go somewhere where culture, society and government will do that job for you.

Strangely, many don't see this as a service worth paying for, which is largely a semantic problem. Maybe we should tackle it there, and instead of taxes, we should collect a "wealth-protection service fee".

Comment: Re:"They" is us (Score 1) 335

by Tom (#48914267) Attached to: Davos 2015: Less Innovation, More Regulation, More Unrest. Run Away!

From the very article you link to:

But Credit Suisse's report doesn't tell the whole story.

It doesn't take into account how much it costs to buy goods in each country, for example. Half a million pounds might buy a one-bedroom flat in central London, but in other countries it could buy a mansion.

It also doesn't take into account income. As a result, many well-paid young people in Western countries may fall into the bottom 50% of wealth - either because they still have student debt to pay off, or because they know how to live well, and spend all their income.

Comment: never believe PR (Score 1) 335

by Tom (#48914189) Attached to: Davos 2015: Less Innovation, More Regulation, More Unrest. Run Away!

I am extremely sceptical about all these doomsday scenario media reports.

If you do not know something for sure, "follow the money" is always good advise. For example, why would someone who makes his money on the stock market give free advise to the rest of the world by warning them about an imminent market collapse? It makes no sense. If I knew (or were sure about) such an event, I would put my money into short options and become mega-rich.

But, of course, if you expect the opposite, such a press statement can lead a critical mass of people to disinvest, temporarily lowering prices, convincing others that you are right and the crash has begun, so they do the same, and then you buy at the low point.

The same with all the "super-rich are investing in getaways" bullshit. It's a really great tool to convince the wannabe-super-rich (aka the simply rich) to follow (or believe they are following), because that's what they do. In all layers of society, people tend to emulate the next-higher-up from their own status, because that is where they want to be.

Maybe I'm overly cynical or just blind, but thinking about not only what is being said, but also who is saying it and why seems to me to be a good idea.

Comment: Re:Lack Of Faith (Score 1) 90

by Tom (#48914101) Attached to: Germany Plans Highway Test Track For Self-Driving Cars

Could be, as I rent and don't buy, I don't drive cars older than a few years.

I know the Toyotas and Hondas are famous for their reliability. My first car was a used Honda and it had almost no signs of being used before.

That said, old Mercedes cars are also legendarily reliable. My GF wants to buy a used SLK for exactly that reason - they are cute and almost as good as new, for a fraction the price.

Comment: Re:Lack Of Faith (Score 1) 90

by Tom (#48907991) Attached to: Germany Plans Highway Test Track For Self-Driving Cars

Are you aware that BMW and Mercedes reliability has gone into the toilet since the 1980s?

The M3 I drove last year begs to differ. As did the SLK the year before. :-)

Maybe they have problems, I don't know, I don't own a car, I just rent them pretty often, and I'll take one of those every day over almost any brand. At least until my car rental company gets Teslas.

Comment: Re:what about liability? and maybe even criminal l (Score 2) 90

by Tom (#48907729) Attached to: Germany Plans Highway Test Track For Self-Driving Cars

Just think of a auto drive loosing control and plowing through a school crossing killing a dozen children. Who or what is responsible? The passenger? Or the computer?

The school that put its children on the fucking Autobahn, a high-speed road that is by law off-limits to pedestrians, bicycles and anything else that can't reach and maintain the minimum speed of 60 km/h.

Comment: targets (Score 1) 392

Intelligence agencies are not going to give up trying to get the bad guys.

I'm glad to hear that as I'm sure everyone else is.

Now if you could give up trying to spy on all the other guys, we could become friends. You see, the problem is your "kill 'em all, let god sort 'em out" approach of just vacuuming everything in and leaving the decision about who the bad guys actually are until later.

Comment: Re:Who are you? I'm bat- er, ANON! (Score 1) 408

by Tom (#48903287) Attached to: Anonymous Asks Activists To Fight Pedophiles In 'Operation Deatheaters'

This and more. There's also a massive difference between actually abusing a child and trading pictures of nude kids on the beach. And many more details.

That's the main problem with the public court of opinion - our own and the medias tendency to simplify. To replace details with labels.

Every witch hunt in history has this problem. They all start with something arguably reasonable. You want to get rid of the witch because she poisoned your cows. You want to kick out jews because they steal money from the people. You want to drive the heathen out of the community because he erodes moral values. You want to put the paedophile behind bars because he abuses children. More or less reasonable arguments, maybe not true but there's a causality in the thinking that we can relate to. But a few steps further the cause is lost or abstracted and the individual becomes a group, and the causality is not even assumed anymore, just implicit in the group attribution. Now you want to burn all witches, kill all jews, slaughter all heathen or castrate all paedophiles. Not because they've one anything, only because they belong to a group that you've given the "evil" label.

Comment: Re:Think of the children! (Score 2) 408

by Tom (#48903251) Attached to: Anonymous Asks Activists To Fight Pedophiles In 'Operation Deatheaters'

Not the purposefully coordinated kind where everyone meets in a dark room somewhere to plot their actions, but the kind where everyone sharing fundamentally rotten values leads to effectively coordinated flock behaviour.

Which is not a conspiracy. The first rule of searching for the truth is to call things by their proper names. A conspiracy, by both legal and colloquial definition, requires agreement between the parties. Agreement requires communication (not necessarily verbal, but explicit).
If everyone on the highway drives too fast, you can argue about "everyone sharing [fundamental values] leads to effectively coordinated flock behaviour", but that still only makes it a lot of speeding tickets and not a conspiracy.

It's important to make the distinction because it changes how to approach the problem. A conspiracy you would try to shatter in a different way than you would tackle a culture problem.

Everybody likes a kidder, but nobody lends him money. -- Arthur Miller

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