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Comment: Re:Credit rating databases aren't new (Score 1) 294

The other posters are referring to 11 year old Sarah Murnaghan, who needed a lung transplant and, by the transplant registry rules was at the bottom of the list because she was under 12 and was on the pediatric list instead. After winning the court case, she had two double lung transplants because the first set of lungs failed within 24 hours. She's still alive, nearly a year after the transplants.

Comment: Re:And each part takes a proportional share of deb (Score 2) 489

by bgalbrecht (#45754783) Attached to: Goodbye, California? Tim Draper Proposes a 6-Way Split
I think you'll find this sentiment in the agricultural areas of most states that have a lot of agricultural area and a few large (1 million +) metropolitan areas, as the metro areas are usually much more liberal than the agricultural areas. Their primary issues are often quite different also. Look at North Carolina, which lumps most of the liberals into a district that is Charlotte, Raleigh, and the interstate highway between them.

Comment: Re:Furloughed workers (Score 1) 346

by bgalbrecht (#45376195) Attached to: "War Room" Notes Describe IT Chaos At Healthcare.gov

If I want subsidized insurance I have to enroll in medicaid. I bet you didn't realize that if your income is too low your only option for subsidized insurance is medicaid. I wouldn't touch that crap with a 10 foot pole.

What do you think Medicaid is? Under Obamacare, it's that exchange insurance policy with a subsidy. You'll be paying your portion of the premium to the insurance company and the government pays the rest. You don't have to take the bronze plan in order to get the subsidy, either.

Comment: Do you REALLY want these people in charge of your (Score 1) 346

by bgalbrecht (#45376169) Attached to: "War Room" Notes Describe IT Chaos At Healthcare.gov

And this is this typical anti-Obamacare response based on misrepresentation of how Obamacare works. Obamacare is basically two things: a private insurance exchange that has specific rules about what is covered and a medicaid program that subsidizes the premiums. The only people who are deciding whether or not your mother can have surgery are employees of the insurance company your mother chooses. That's right, the so-called death panels are run by a bunch of private for-profit (or sometimes not-for-profit) insurance actuaries. And even those not-for-profit insurance companies don't do losses unless they want to go out of business.

Sure, some people signing up in the exchange might end up being told that they qualified for subsidies when they should have, and will have to refund some or all of their subsidies. But your definition of "routinely" is bogus. I'm quite sure that it doesn't mean, at least 50% of benefits are calculated incorrectly, probably something like .1%-.3% are calculated incorrectly. If you have a hundred thousand SSA beneficiaries with incorrect benefits, it sounds like a huge problem, but when it's put in the perspective of .2% of 55 million recipients, it doesn't have the same impact.

Even though healthcare.gov is a government program, most of the development work was not done by government employees, it was done by a bunch of government contractors following the requirements of a bunch of political appointees who were in over their heads. People like your wife's coworkers aren't the ones setting up these systems, they're not the cause of the initial fiasco, they're not the ones on the death march to fix the problems. They're just shuffling the paperwork once the process is set up. And the paperwork they're shuffling has nothing to do with medical decisions whatsoever, it's just deciding whether somebody is going to have to pay full price for their insurance or if the government is subsidizing it.

I probably should have posted this anonymously like you did so I could mod you down, because your post isn't insightful at all. If Obamacare was a national healthcare system like the UK NIH you might have had a valid point, but it's not, and the Department of Health and Human Services is not in charge of your healthcare beyond requiring that any health insurance sold in the exchanges has to provide coverage for specific procedures and have specific out of pocket maximums. They're not even responsible for the insurance companies cancelling the existing policies that don't meet their requirements for the exchanges.

Comment: Oh noes! Congress gets fed employee subsidies! (Score 1) 634

by bgalbrecht (#45161357) Attached to: British NHS May Soon No Longer Offer Free Care
You mean Congress, the President and VP and their aides get the same employer subsidies the rest of the federal workers get, it's just that instead of using the couple of plans negotiated by the federal government specifically for its employees, this subset of the federal employees will be buying their insurance from the state/federal exchanges. Will they be paying less than people who don't have an employer subsidizing their insurance and don't qualify for Medicaid assistance? Sure. But it's not the special sweetheart deal that the GOP and the right-wing media makes it out to be.

Comment: Virtual credit cards: BoA, Citi, Discover (Score 1) 123

by bgalbrecht (#44956293) Attached to: Facebook Autofill Wants To Store Users' Credit Card Info
Bank of America, Citigroup and Discover all have virtual credit card programs. I think BoA and Citi are better than Discover. While all three limit the virtual credit card to a single merchant, BoA and Citi allow you to set lower credit limits and shorter expiration dates, Discover's credit limit and expiration date is the same as your real card. You can also bump up the credit limit and expiration date at BoA and Citi for repeat purchases from the virtual card's merchant. I think that if you tie a virtual credit card to a PayPal account, it can pay out to multiple PayPal accounts, so you're probably better off not using Discover with PayPal if you don't trust PayPal or the merchant. Amex shut down their virtual credit card program in 2004, I don't think it's been restarted. There may be other banks with virtual credit cards, but they're rare.

Comment: Re:Payout a separate thing... (Score 1) 130

by bgalbrecht (#44781801) Attached to: Court Bars Apple From Making Industry-Wide E-book Deals

I've bought a lot of ebooks (well over a thousand), and most of them I bought on sale before agency pricing model took effect or after the settlements. I never bought any ebooks from Amazon before agency pricing model, and I calculated that I would have had to pay triple, at least $3,000 more, after agency pricing model took effect over what I paid. With that sort of price increase, I don't think they're being unfairly punished.

While Amazon's monopsony might make it harder for publishers to raise prices, they weren't alone in discounting best seller ebooks or hardcovers, sometimes even below cost. Who knows, maybe it would have forced the publishers to revise their business practices so they aren't so dependent on the blockbuster authors with the several million dollar advances. As for being disrupted by new technologies, it would be trivial for the publishers to compete with the used book stores by adding a new pricing tier at about half the new paperback book price when the paperback print run is over (instead of raising it to trade paperback prices like some publishers are doing). But they're not going to do that because they're afraid it will cannibalize the sales of their newly released books.

Comment: Re:Payout a separate thing... (Score 2) 130

by bgalbrecht (#44781697) Attached to: Court Bars Apple From Making Industry-Wide E-book Deals

IANAL either, but they're not being penalized for doing a bunch of legal activities, they're being penalized for the collusion. The penalty is a limitation in their ability to make contracts using the legal activities they used during the collusion so that it will be harder for them to collude again in the near future. This includes forcing Apple to stagger their contracts with the publishers.

There's nothing illegal in the way Amazon got it's monopsony by sometimes selling ebooks cheaper by accepting lower profit margins, providing an easy way to buy ebooks and install them on the ereader, and creating ereaders that could only decrypt DRMd ebooks sold by Amazon. In general, once a Kindle owner, always a Kindle owner thanks to publisher DRM. If the publishers wanted to make it harder for Amazon to keep their monopsony, they should have dropped DRM or changed their contracts to stipulate the ebook format so Amazon couldn't lock Kindle owners into Amazon's proprietary format. Just because the publishers were afraid that Amazon was going to use it's monopsony to keep prices lower (a la Wal-Mart) doesn't give them the right to engage in collusion to fix prices.

Comment: Re:light, tunnel, oncoming train (Score 1) 248

by bgalbrecht (#44660699) Attached to: How Companies Are Preparing For the IT Workforce Exodus
That's because it's always been a wealth transfer program. When it was enacted, it was designed to tax workers only the amount needed to pay for the benefits received by the current retiree beneficiaries. The program was changed in 1977 and again in 1983 to collect deliberately surpluses "to ensure solvency when the baby boomers retire". Since the surpluses were used to pay for federal deficits giving the trust fund IOUs from the general treasury, it really means that when the boomer retires, some of their benefits will be paid for by general revenues taxes instead of social security taxes.

Comment: Re:Apple (Score 1) 323

by bgalbrecht (#44527745) Attached to: Have eBooks Peaked?
I was mostly buying my ebooks on sale, so the Apple/publisher collusion would have cost me between 2 and 3 times as much as what I paid before agency pricing went into effect. I've probably purchased as many books this year after the publishers settled with the DOJ than I did the 3 years in which agency pricing was in effect.

Comment: Re:Market Analysis (Score 1) 352

by bgalbrecht (#39294885) Attached to: Publishers Warned On Ebook Prices

I suppose that if Toyota and Honda were to secretly collude to raise prices across the board, you'd use an the example that a Toyota Tacoma (pickup truck) is not essentially similar goods to a Honda Accord (sedan). It may well be that certain categories of books have different price points, for example historical biographies are more expensive than contemporary biographies because the expected sales per title are a lot lower for the former. If Macmillan and HarperCollins were to secretly decide to jointly to raise the price of all biographies by 15%, that would be illegal price fixing, even if Macmillan only sold historical biographies and HarperCollins only sold contemporary and therefore all Macmillan biographies cost more than HarperCollins.

I believe the DOJ is arguing that between windowing, most favored retailer agreements with Apple, and enforcing a no-discounting sales model, all of which were organized in secret discussions between the 6 companies was a form of price fixing and hence illegal. It's not illegal if Macmillan decides to raise the new title mass market paperback price to $11, and then a few days later the rest of the publishers follow suit, as long as they didn't meet in advance and agree to all raise their prices.

Comment: MIT lab used laundry detergents (Score 1) 429

by bgalbrecht (#39284597) Attached to: Server Names For a New Generation

Back in the 80s, I visited a MIT lab that used laundry detergents for their names, and each machine had the name from the detergent box taped to the hard drive. At the time, the hard drives were about the size of a washer and had a removable disk. Each computer was connected to a single hard drive. How times have changed....

At my work, they're more practical, and the first letter indicates domain (test, production, etc), second letter the OS, third letter server application type (webserver, database server, app server, etc), followed by a short name and number. When there are hundreds of servers, cutesy names just don't cut it.

Comment: Re:That's not the problem (Score 1) 301

by bgalbrecht (#39191681) Attached to: Paypal Forces E-Book Publisher To Censor Erotic Content

In another forum, the founder of Smashwords was claiming that they didn't have excessive chargebacks, and that their most egregious chargeback was from someone in India using stolen credit cards to buy self-help books and books on spiritual enlightenment. Still, it makes me wonder whether Amazon is getting the same treatment from PayPal. I note that when I go to a site that displays all the Amazon freebies that became free within the last day and disable the filter for erotica, the titles indicate that of the free erotica there's a high percentage of stories that appear to violate PayPal's incest restriction, with titles with mentioning a parent, offspring or sibling, or using the term pseudo-incest. I assume the non-free erotica covers the same topics and fetishes with roughly the same percentages, although I have no interest in verifying it. I also suspect that some of the paranormal romances involving werewolves sold by both Amazon and Smashwords would also violate PayPal's restrictions.

Part of the problem for Smashwords is that they have embedded PayPal into their entire business process, and use PayPal to pay some or all of their authors. If they don't capitulate, at least for the short term, PayPal can severely damage their business by freezing their funds and shut down their disbursements to authors. I suspect Smashwords will be reassessing their internal systems over the next few months.

Comment: Re:interference (Score 1) 167

by bgalbrecht (#39081139) Attached to: Making a Better Solar Cooker

If you had bothered to RFA, you'd see that Climate Healers are trying to bring about reforestation by enabling these people in poor countries to have cheap solar cooking that can be used in their current way of life, just replacing wood for the heat source for their cooking. The original attempts failed because Climate Healers didn't do a good enough job of creating solar cooking replacements that fit with their current schedules, which includes cooking early in the morning and late in the day when the sunlight is inadequate for direct solar heating.

Just because something is traditional and has been done for centuries doesn't mean that it's an activity that should be continued. Slash and burn agriculture and using wood for cooking both work for very low population densities. As the population increases, there's less land available for forests, and the population quickly runs out of mature forest that can be used for these techniques.

As for electricity, the people in the poor countries want electricity also. They're currently burning stuff, like oil or candles to have light after dark, and electricity from renewable sources allows them to have the light without using oil and candles.

Comment: Suit is about how broad is educational fair use (Score 2) 170

by bgalbrecht (#37383300) Attached to: Authors' Guild Goes After University Book Digitization Projects

This suit has nothing to do with public domain works. It is whether the universities and HathiTrust have a fair use right to digitize copyrighted works for which they can't request permission because they can't find the copyright holder and make digital copies available to students and faculty. This fair use claim is based on one of the four factors for determining fair use of a US copyrighted work: the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes. The authors and Authors Guilds are saying the universities and HathiTrust are using a too broad an interpretation of this fair use factor, and besides that, they're using a tainted copy of the digital work because they're getting the copy from Google, which they claim is an unauthorized copy which would fail the fair use tests.

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