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Comment: Re:is anyone really surprised here (Score 3, Interesting) 195

by danheskett (#48005941) Attached to: The Secret Goldman Sachs Tapes

"Throwing people in jail" also isn't a very good solution. The financial collapse was a result of mistakes, not crimes. We don't arrest people for making bad investments. Ironically, the biggest company betting against mortgage backed securities, was Goldman Sachs. Yet they have probably been demonized more than any other company. That makes no sense.

There were endless amounts of laws that broken all the time. Daily, in fact. We'll never even know about them because most were not investigated, and now we've just decided that jailing people isn't good policy. Throwing people in jail and taking all their stuff is the way to fix white-collar crime.

Banning revolving door employment deals isn't a good solution either. The government already has enough trouble attracting good people. If you want people that know how the system works, you need to hire people that have worked in the system. After their stint in government is over, those people expect to continue in their profession.

This is very easy to solve with good policy:

1. After leaving government employment, your private sector salary above your top government salary is taxed a 100% the first year, declining by 10% each year thereafter.

2. Pay after bonuses for regulated industries is tied to the pay of the regulators. Pay and bonuses and equity in excess of the government regulator salary is taxes at a rate of 90%.

As a matter of fact, this will solve just about 99% of all problems in the financial services industry, because it will remove the absurd profit motive that drives bankers to take massively inappropriate risks. We'll end up with a nice, respectable, small, non-dynamic, stable financial services industries, doing things like encouraging savings, and lending out money that is accumulated through savings at a reasonable rate of interest.

Comment: Re:And thus the balance shifts. (Score 1) 353

by danheskett (#48005155) Attached to: FBI Chief: Apple, Google Phone Encryption Perilous

Not to my knowledge. The problem comes down to two things:

a. No one has standing. If the person is blown to smithereens, there is no standing. You can't get a write of habeus corpus, as there is no person left to produce.

b. Actions that have been filed get killed by the States Secrete privilege, the government can produce no evidence, can make no response because doing so would reveal state secrets.

It's a perfect kangaroo court. Kill someone, can't face accountability because doing so would expose how you killed them.

Comment: Re:Just put fine print sticker on the dash,,,,, (Score 1) 267

by Sloppy (#48003835) Attached to: 2015 Corvette Valet Mode Recorder Illegal In Some States

Sorry, but simply by adding "By entering this vehicle you are agreeing to be monitored" is all that is needed.

Today I Learned: writing a stated opinion or prediction causes it to become true! I think I'll put a sticker in my garden, "By entering this garden, it has rained today."

Comment: Re:Keeping it safe (Score 1) 267

by Sloppy (#48003639) Attached to: 2015 Corvette Valet Mode Recorder Illegal In Some States

How does this prevent the non-driver from crashing it into a tree?

Take the recording out of the crashed car, to your desktop. Play back the recording up until a point where the car is near the tree. Then quickly hit a seek button that goes to another part of the video where the car is travelling down a safe unobstructed road. Click Save, eject, and then sneakernet the recording back to the car. Insert it and click load.


Comment: Re:What is the net effect? (Score 1) 903

by danheskett (#48001857) Attached to: Miss a Payment? Your Car Stops Running

If subprime auto lending is really so profitable why aren't there more people doing it?

It is a huge business. On the very bottom end, there are Pay-Here car lots. In low-wage areas, they on every steet corner. Big auto lenders like GMAC have started to push down into that business, thanks to these devices. The profit is too irresistible- access Fed funds at 1%, lend at 14.99%.

Given the small amounts of money that are involved any tiny bank or hedge fund could get into. At the prices you're talking about even a small investment club could make these loans.

Yes, hedge funds are involved in auto-lending now. There are now securitized car loan instruments, much like REIT's and all that before the housing crash. I am sure some of the local car lots in the country are operated that way, by upper-middle and investment class people floating the cash.

Take your first example. How much do you think it costs to repossess a car? Of course there are legal fees and court fees. Then you have to pay a guy to go and get the car to some holding area (which you also have to pay for). Then you need to arrange to sell it and unless the bank is going to open it's own used car lot (which costs money) they need to pay someone to sell it for them (which costs money).
Well, generally, repo'ing an older car if you know where it is costs a few hundred bucks. In most states, there is non-judicial repossession, which means you have to provide notices, but not go to court. Then you sell it to a wholesaler who will take it to auction. The spread is there, but it's not nearly as much as you would imagine. The difference is that on these cars, most of the value is already gone. To a prime buyer, there is a huge difference between a car with 0 miles on it, and one with 20,000 miles on it. The value difference is amazing. To a sub-prime buyer, there is marginal difference between a car with 100,000 miles on it and 120,000 miles on it.

Then you need to arrange to sell it and unless the bank is going to open it's own used car lot (which costs money) they need to pay someone to sell it for them (which costs money).
Many credit unions, who are also in this business, do exactly that. But if you are a buy-here/pay-here lot, doing sub-prime loans, you already have the sales channel. So doing a repo, and putting the car back on the lot, is very low cost proposition. You will often have the same people doing sales and repo'ing the car later.

Also, if a bank repossess a car and somehow manages to sell it for more than the outstanding value of the loan plus expenses they don't get to keep the difference.
In theory no, but in practice, they never give a penny back. The internet is replete with cases with banks repo'ing a car worth $10k on a $2k balance, and the borrower never gets a nickel back.

Comment: Bogus justification (Score 3, Insightful) 299

by danheskett (#48000287) Attached to: Forest Service Wants To Require Permits For Photography

"She said the agency was implementing the Wilderness Act of 1964, which aims to protect wilderness areas from being exploited for commercial gain."

The Wilderness Act was designed to protect wild lands from being exploited in the traditional sense of the word - meaning, deforested, mined, or otherwise permanently changed.

If we are talking about some sort of mega industrial photography in which the flash bulbs destroy the trees, or a camera crew of 10,000, sure, that's exploitation for commercial gain.

But if we are talking about the normal filming or photography associated with any day to day activities or programming, then there is no exploitation for commercial gain.

Comment: Re:partly agree with him (Score 1) 353

by danheskett (#48000243) Attached to: FBI Chief: Apple, Google Phone Encryption Perilous

It's fine, if he wants to make the case to repeal the 4th amendment, and institute national key escrow, to save the children, I'll hear him out. He can take it to the states and to the US Congress.

But in the meantime, too fucking bad. I don't care if my encryption makes it difficult to do your job. And I don't care that if my teenage daughter has something on her iPhone you want that you can't get it. Too fucking bad.

Comment: Re: ...allow people to place themselves beyond the (Score 3, Interesting) 353

by danheskett (#48000225) Attached to: FBI Chief: Apple, Google Phone Encryption Perilous

What this calls for is encryption and deniability. You need to have the data encrypted, but you also need it hidden in plain sight, so that decrypting the data produces only trivially non-incriminating evidence.

A real mathematical feat would be one set of data, encrypted such that decryption with key #1 produces JPEG's of the US flag and patriotic jingles, while decryption with key #2 produces your actual data.

Comment: Re:And thus the balance shifts. (Score 1) 353

by danheskett (#48000211) Attached to: FBI Chief: Apple, Google Phone Encryption Perilous

It's not even the black letter law. There is the law, and then there are legal memo's which provide the legal reasoning of the laws interact and what the practical effects are. The legal reasoning becomes a new form of law. It's not black letter, it's not case law, it's not administrative law, it's some sort of zombie law. And worse, we can't even see what the zombie laws are.

It turns into these vast, scary, obtuse legal situations where their is no defense because you don't even know what you have supposedly broken for laws.

For example, we have no idea what legal basis Pres. Obama has for killing Americans abroad by drone.

Comment: Re:And thus the balance shifts. (Score 2) 353

by danheskett (#48000199) Attached to: FBI Chief: Apple, Google Phone Encryption Perilous

Or, just trust the people. If the 99/1 rule was in place, and some agent had to go all Jack Bauer, don't lie about. Fess up, get a special prosecutor, go to trial, and then either appeal to the jury OR take the conviction and then pardon the guy. That's how it's supposed to work. Instead, they want the best of both worlds - break the law when they want, and have no accountability.

Comment: Re:Think of the children (Score 5, Insightful) 353

by danheskett (#48000143) Attached to: FBI Chief: Apple, Google Phone Encryption Perilous

The posts by Orin Kerr are actually really bad on a lot of fronts.

The main benefit of encryption is that it prevents any access, without the key, to the data. We are focused on warrants, but what is worse is that the government, if it has the technical means, can access the contents of any iphone without a warrant. Since there are available tools to get data from an iphone without the passcode, it stands to reason that the government has access to them. We also know that the government spends billions of dollars on black things, and it's not unfeasible to think some of it is either bribes or weaken encryption, or technology to brute force it.

We know we can't trust the government, so there is no way for sure we can know that the government will go and get a warrant. We've already seen cases where top government officials demand other government officials bless legally dubious programs at a literal sick bed, we've already seen cases where top government officials clearly and blatantly lie with impunity, we've already seen cases where government agents make up fake back stories for evidence to cover up their legally dubious origins, we've already seen cases where the government subverts foreign governments to do things that they cannot legally do themselves. These are just the things we know about. For everyone abuse we know about, there may be thousands more we don't know about.

Encryption takes the 3rd party out of the equation. If the government has probable cause to get a search warrant, they can serve it on your for encryption keys. If you do not wish to incriminate yourself, you have that legal right.

The lesson the FBI and others should take from this is that once broken, trust cannot be reacquired by whining about the children.

Comment: Re:Someone's going to complain (Score 3, Interesting) 208

by Cyberdyne (#47996915) Attached to: Drones Reveal Widespread Tax Evasion In Argentina

In the US, this would be "Google Maps Reveals Widespread Tax Evasion"

In the UK, even before Google got in there, the government was using spy satellites to check on things like farm subsidies: when a farm submits a claim saying there's a 100 acre patch empty (to claim "setaside" payments) or has a highly subsidised crop growing, it's quick and easy to check a satellite photo and know if it's really only 90 acres - or if only the strip nearest the road is as claimed, with a big patch of some more profitable crop hidden inside. Compared to the cost of sending someone there by car to inspect the whole field on foot, using satellites (which of course they had in orbit anyway, for more predictable purposes) apparently it saved a fortune.

Never test for an error condition you don't know how to handle. -- Steinbach