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Comment: Re:FTYF, Submitter (Score 1) 137

by swb (#49629595) Attached to: The Medical Bill Mystery

I'm pretty sure there are acute illnesses that don't involve gushing blood. And sometimes your only recourse is the emergency room because the doctor's office is closed, the urgent care clinics only want to treat strep throat, yeast and bladder infections and won't prescribe any pain killer stronger than baby aspirin.

The NY Times has chronicled many explanations for high bills that have nothing to do with overuse of services. Like every person with a pulse in the ER bills their services separately, even if they don't do a damn thing. I badly mangled (and ultimately need to amputate) my left ring finger and I had a $1300 bill from the ER physician whose only "service" was to ask me if I did it on purpose.

And God forbid you should need surgery and the surgeon brings in his "out of network" business partner to consult in the surgery and you get hit with an uncovered four or five figure bill from them, too. I honestly think they overcharge on purpose so that both the "negotiated balance" is nothing to sneeze at for an hour of "work" (I'd like $5k/hr, too) AND they can write off the unpaid portion of the bill as a tax loss, too, cutting their gross income.

All of this is just bullshit designed to run up fees as high as possible. Which I guess was all part of the grand game when comprehensive insurance actually was, but now that it's not it's just so crystal clear how it's nothing more than a money grab.

Comment: Not worth it or worth the risk? (Score 1) 147

by swb (#49627917) Attached to: Uber Forced Out of Kansas

Kansas City, MO and Kansas City, KS have a funny geographic quirk where the border is kind of a line on the map, and not necessarily a geographic feature. You can cross the street and be in another state and from the street you'd never know.

If Uber still operates in KCMO, what will really stop drivers from dropping passengers in KCK? It's not like the cops can stop every car with two people in it with MO plates. Even doing pickups on the KCK side seems relatively low risk unless the state put a lot of effort into a sting operation.

Kansas City is the biggest metropolitan area in Kansas and Uber can still service 2/3s of that market with near zero risk. About the only thing they may deliberately do is turn off pickups for Kansas geolocations to prove they're "not in that market." But for all practical purposes they can still service it from the MO side.

Comment: Re:Because of the action of a few ... (Score 1) 142

by Bongo (#49627481) Attached to: French Version of 'Patriot Act' Becomes Law

Sure, but unless you want ordinary people to revert to codes of personal honour and clan protection, the state has to be strong.

A strong state isn't a bad state. A bad strong state is a bad state.

"Bad" meaning, dictatorial, nepotistic, corrupt, abusive, etc. And people being flawed, all states have this problem in their government. But my impression is, the level of corruption in say, a Zambia or a Pakistan, is bigger than the corruption in a China, which is in turn perhaps more corrupt than a USA, which is more corrupt than say, Norway. Which is why I'd rather live in Norway than Pakistan.

So ISIL and the Islamists and all the people who are corrupt Islamic leaders, trying to use religion to gain power, rather than just help people, those people WANT the West to look weak, that's the point of terrorist attacks, a few here and a few there, which kill in relatively small numbers (compared to road deaths) but the point is, to create the illusion that the West is weak and ready to fall, and that you know, Islamists will be raising the flag above Rome any day now. It is to make you look weak.

So the state has to respond with signs of strength.

And we hope that USA is not so corrupt that this actually trashes your existing country and so becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

Comment: Re:iPad 1 anyone? (Score 1) 330

by swb (#49625929) Attached to: Google Can't Ignore the Android Update Problem Any Longer

No, because they're too busy re-launching the crashed browser because the inadequate RAM on the device makes it choke and die on today's Javascript-heavy web pages.

The iPad 1 is a great tablet for letting your kids watch movies on an airplane, but it's obsolete for most every other use. Even my wife, who would still be watching TV on a 13" tube set if I hadn't given it away, finally gave in and bought a last year's iPad air versus putting up with it any longer.

IMHO, the iPads are pretty decent at longevity -- I have 8.3 on my iPad 3 and it's arguably no worse than it was on 7.x.

I think Apple could benefit everybody by doubling (or more) the RAM they put into iPads. New OS releases and expanding app capabilities eat into RAM to the point where you can't keep apps cached in RAM long enough and app switching becomes app re-launching and the inevitable grinding away as they refresh paged-out objects from the network.

IMHO this is what makes them slow/crash/obsolete. I'm sure the iPad 1 with 4 gigs of RAM would still be pretty useful.

Comment: Re:Another market overlooked (Score 1) 310

by swb (#49625685) Attached to: Tesla's Household Battery: Costs, Prices, and Tradeoffs

It's a good question.

When our house was built in 1957 it had a fuse panel. Someone in the late 1970s/early 1980s upgraded it to a 100A breaker panel and did some significant wiring changes.

When we remodeled in 2003, I had the service upgraded to 200A and beat the total chaos of rewiring by having the new service feed a 200A panel and then fed the old panel from the new panel, deftly avoiding the chaos of trying to rewire a hot mess of Romex, BX, flexible metal conduit (original to the house) and EMT to a new panel.

A commercial electrician I used to work with did the wiring when he built his house and piped all of it, most of it in 1" EMT with a couple of strategic junction boxes. In theory he could rewire relatively easily by just pulling more wire in existing pipe.

I always kind of wondered why houses didn't go one better and have raceways integrated into them.

Comment: Re:The Curve on Academic Courses (Score 1) 400

by Bongo (#49620811) Attached to: The Programming Talent Myth

OK well let's say that programming is more like architectural design, ie. it involves drawing, but what you draw comes as a result of thinking over a large set of technical, aesthetic, cultural, psychological, risk, and practical issues, and being able to organise them, puzzle out the contradictions, and find a balance which is about right for the particular site and client and costs and timescales. But again, it is a certain mode of thinking involved, or a set of modes, and if they can't teach people how to get into those modes, then students can't design stuff. Actually, there was a debate about architecture back in 1890 or something, when they were proposing to formalise architectural education, and many architects/master builders of the day, argued that it wasn't something which could be taught. You either had the skills, or you didn't, and no amount of teaching or testing could give them to you. The only way to learn was by apprenticeship, where you'd soon find out if you had the right stuff or not. Personally, I tend to think they had a point. So maybe like architecture, programming isn't about simply executing a mechanical skill, like drawing or coding, but being able to handle all the other stuff. Whether that stuff can be taught, that's the question.

Comment: School me on well water (Score 0) 300

Is "well water" (drill hole into water table, pump out water) always used raw and unfiltered? Has it traditionally always been safe to drink anywhere you can sink a well, or is there some history of bad wells due to natural contamination?

Every home I've ever been that had well water at least had a water softener and often had issues with high iron content. A woman I worked with who grew up on a farm said they had to buy bottled water (the giant kind of bottles you see on old school water coolers) for visitors because they had some kind of low-level bacterial contamination her family was immune to but would make guests sick.

It seems like it would be common sense anymore to have a whole-house reverse osmosis system if you had a well. If not for health then for not choking your plumbing with mineral build up and making your washing machine and dishwasher work.

Comment: Re: trickle down economics (Score 1) 213

Do you understand what 'rich fuckers' do now? They pay property taxes at an obscene rate to fund their local public schools and then leave the public school system to privately fund their children's education elsewhere, leaving more money in the school system for the other students.

I think it depends on how you define "rich fuckers". Astronomically, family-dynasty rich? Sure, they pay big property taxes either in an urban school district which is so chronically underfunded and mismanaged that their generous and unused contribution doesn't make a difference or in some elite suburb which is so generously funded their contribution doesn't matter. And they're so rich they don't care.

On the larger scale though, the HENRY (high earner, not rich yet) generally flock together in affluent suburbs where their property taxes are pooled to fund really great school systems and where housing prices and housing policies basically redline the non-affluent out of the district.

The real benefit of this isn't the money per se, but the way it keeps out the problem children of the urban wasteland -- those whose parents don't participate in their kids' education or really provide any structure in their lives. These kids are the drag on urban school systems through discipline problems, the extra work required by teachers to get them back to any kind of baseline, special education needs, etc.

An average funded school district can educate children well if the kids have some kind of parent-engaged baseline to start with.

Comment: Re:The Curve on Academic Courses (Score 4, Interesting) 400

by Bongo (#49619743) Attached to: The Programming Talent Myth

Maybe then there is something about how to really teach programming that everyone is missing. With drawing, people are either good at drawing or awful at it, regardless of classes, until teachers figure out what drawing really is and what the mind is doing when it is drawing. The people who have been seen to do well "in class" are just the ones who happen to have already got that mind skill. So I would wonder whether education has this figured out with programming, and that you'll see bimodal until it does.

In order to dial out, it is necessary to broaden one's dimension.