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Comment Consistency is the key (Score 1) 579

I am one of those people who think speed limit changes are an issue. A city or town or highway should have consistent, predictable speed limits, so drivers "know" how fast they should be going, and can intuitively know how fast they are actually driving.
If in a city, I am OK with two non-freeway speeds ... 25mph and 35 mph, for example. EVERY residential street is 25 mph, EVERY thoroughfare is 35 mph, done.
Same thing on a urban freeway or rural highway ... say 45 mph and 70 mph, or whatever ... the community can decide on the actual limits, but you only get two choices. No more.
I am OK with exceptions for obvious safety issues ... an unusually tight curve, for example. But don't take that to mean you can have more than two limits on otherwise ordinary streets or highways.
People will learn how fast they are driving, by looking at the speedo and correlating it with how the vehicle feels. If you speed, well, then you should be consistent when you speed (I'm 5 mph over, usually), so again you know intuitively how fast you are going.

I don't like a huge set of speed limits, where in one town or city you might find 15, 20, 25, 30 ... etc mph limits posted. Now, you have to hunt for speed limit signs everywhere, instead of watching where the hell you are going.

It does lead to greater ticket revenue, and never assume that isn't the motive when your local or state/provincial government can't get it together on speed limits. It is far from unheard of for a local administration to set out to deliberately confuse drivers with constant changes in speed limits, but it's wrong and in essence is trading dollars for safety.

Keeping your eyes on the road is way more important, and will lead to much fewer accidents, than trying to fit into some traffic engineer's idea of how fast a given section of pavement is "safe" at.

If you can't build a municipal road that is safe at 25 mph, you (or your civic administration, more precisely) are failing in more ways that matter, and they should be shit-canned at once. They simply don't get it, period.

Comment Re:This is my shocked face. (Score 4, Informative) 442

I lived in Houston, TX for several years and can confirm that TX police is for sale to the highest bidder. This instance of TX police "for sale" isn't at all surprising.

This topic (and your reply) are interesting and topical to me.
The Municipal Police force have the mobile scanners in their vehicles ... not all police cars but currently about half, and a continuous purchase program with the goal of eventually equipping every car eventually. A couple more years and they will be in every Cruiser.

But with regard to " TX police "for sale" ", only last week it was decided by City Council and the Police Commission, after proposals from various private and charitable groups and organizations, that the Municipal Police would accept no monies or equipment in lieu of money, under any circumstances, in the interest of impartiality and public confidence in Police impartiality, from any party save for the Civic Administration's normal funding of the department via Property Taxes *.

I was impressed by a City Council and Mayor (whom I rarely agree with), and the Chief of Police showing some integrity for a change.

* Property taxes are relatively low so it's not like the City is scrambling for tax revenue; average is about $C 2200/yr ($USD 1540) with the City getting about half and one of the Boards of Education getting the rest, and whom set their own mill rate (property tax rate) ... taxpayers "elect" to fund one of the school systems, regardless of whether you have children in K-12 or not; the two largest are Public and Catholic, but there are others to choose from (French Immersion, Ukrainian, Cree [native American] Mennonite, etc.). My 2015 Property Taxes were just under $C 500.00 but my home has a relatively low assessment of about $65K.

Comment Illegal under Federal Law anyway (Score 1) 81

It would have to be via an aircraft (helicopter or fixed wing) licensed to a company with a valid and current commercial passenger-carrying license. Which is to say it would be expensive.

It's not illegal under FAA regulations to accept money for a ride on a private aircraft, but the amount can be no more than the actual cost incurred, divided by the passengers carried.

Since a pilot of a private aircraft is considered a passenger, that means (for example) in a flight consisting of a pilot and a passenger, the passenger can legally pay, at most, ½ of the actual verified cost of the flight, and no more. The fact that it's a helicopter and not fixed wing is irrelevant as the same rules apply.

Comment Re:Can't be too much competition... (Score 1) 60

If you want to live and work in Ireland for Irish companies, then you could easily renounce your US citizenship, and have absolutely zero obligation to good old Uncle Sam whatsoever.

And, since you and I both know that you're probably not making billions of dollars a year, it's extraordinarily likely that you'd get a tax credit for taxes paid to the Irish government for all or very nearly all of the taxes you "would" owe to Uncle Sam, which means that, in effect, you have to simply file a tax return each year, which says "I owe nothing."

Stop whining.

Unfortunately, you cannot "easily renounce your US citizenship and have absolutely zero obligation to good old Uncle Sam whatsoever."

Under US Law, the US Government will refuse to recognize a renunciation of citizenship if it is determined the renunciation is solely to avoid US Income Taxes.

Also, in order to receive credit for taxes paid to a Foreign Nation, there must be a pre-existing reciprocal tax treaty between (in this case) Ireland and the USA. You know for certain such a treaty exists?

Comment Re:Can't be too much competition... (Score 1) 60

If you want to live and work in Ireland for Irish companies, then you could easily renounce your US citizenship, and have absolutely zero obligation to good old Uncle Sam whatsoever.

And, since you and I both know that you're probably not making billions of dollars a year, it's extraordinarily likely that you'd get a tax credit for taxes paid to the Irish government for all or very nearly all of the taxes you "would" owe to Uncle Sam, which means that, in effect, you have to simply file a tax return each year, which says "I owe nothing."

Stop whining.

Unfortunately, you cannot "easily renounce your US citizenship and have absolutely zero obligation to good old Uncle Sam whatsoever."

Under US Law, the US Government will refuse to recognize a renunciation of citizenship if it is determined the renunciation is solely to avoid US Income Taxes.

Comment It's a 2-way street (Score 1) 311

I have no problem whatsoever with paying a reasonable amount of money for quality news journalism.

The problem is not at my end .... trust me. The problem is you pay your $20 a month (which is all it is worth to me) and you get ...

The same drivel, lack of fact checking, and bizarre typo's from the Spill Chucker (those two words are an example of what the spell checker would pass) that show not only was someone without the required skill to even be writing in a news journal in the first place given the job, but there wasn't an Editor within a thousand miles of the story before it was plublished.

I can get that for nothing, which is just slightly less than what it's worth.

Provide value, and you would get revenue. It's not rocket science (which your journalist would fail at writing about anyway).

Comment Rugged "Road Apple" Story (Score 1) 332

I once ran a Macintosh Performa 5215CD for six and a half years ( 1995+) without a shutdown. It was still operational when it was replaced by a G4 Power Mac desktop in 2002. The funny part of the story , however, is this model's reputation amongst the Mac faithful at a time when Apple's prospects were looking ever more tenuous day by day. It's usually referred to as a "Road Apple" and considered one of the worst Macs ever released. For me, it was one of the best computers I've ever owned.

It had all the options available for this machine (plug in boards) which included a full TV tuner, a video encoder / decoder board, the CD-ROM drive which powered my music collection via a reasonably competent HiFi (NAD receiver; Energy loudspeakers), and a voice/data modem with, I swear, the best telephony application I've ever ran or am aware of (MegaPhone, Cyprus Research). It's service as my telephone answering system was the reason for it's 24/7 operation.

Megaphone was purchased by someone,can't remember who, and never properly updated ... the feature set shrank and never recovered ... when OSX v10.0+ was introduced. There is currently an app with that name, but it's completely unrelated.

This was an all-in-one Mac, Motorola 603e PowerPC @ 75 MHz, maxed RAM (64 MB), 1 MB VRAM, 15" Trinitron monitor, 4x CD-ROM, OS 7.5.1 (running OS9.1 when retired), $2300 but I won a $500 rebate in a promotion Apple was running at the time (most buyers got $100 off).

However, I can claim another longevity feat, kind-of-sort-of on topic ... the Motorola 68000 CPU, the very same chipset that ran Apple's original Macintosh from 1984 ... is the CPU that Mazda used for the Engine Management Computer when my Miata rolled off the assembly line in Hiroshima, Japan, on February, 1990.

It's still running the motor. I can't claim the continuous uptime, but the car does have 300,000 Km (186,500 Miles) on the original engine, and still runs like a top. I drive it like I stole it, with full-throttle runs to the 7,200 RPM redline in every gear at least once every month, and usually more often.

Comment Re:More attempts to get rid of cash... (Score 1) 702

Erm no, because the banks in turn borrowed that money from other people... investors, savers, the government, etc.

That is not how the Banking System works. I know it sounds crazy, but the Bank does not borrow anything from anyone; when they make a loan, they write a check, and it's the writing of the check that creates the money out of thin air.

The process is made stable by the Bank's strict assessment of the borrower's ability of paying the loan back. You should be able to see from this that the amount of money in circulation is constantly expanding, which is what happens when the economy is robust.

If the Banks assessment of borrowers' ability to pay falls, then they stop or reduce the making of loans. This reduces the amount of currency available in the economy (the economy "shrinks").

There is a process whereby accounts are settled daily between the Banks and the Federal Reserve to satisfy technical requirements of currency, but it's a mistake to equate that with the Government (via the Federal Reserve) creating the money the Bank "borrows"; it's actually the other way around. The Bank creates the money, the Federal Reserve prints the currency the Bank has already created via a loan.

Should the Government want to create money, it lowers the interest rate the Banks pay to the Federal Reserve, which encourages the Banks to create more money out of thin air (commonly known as "loaning"). If it wants to discourage the creation of money, it raises the interest rate the Banks pay to the Federal Reserve, and since loans are being repaid to the Bank at a rate lower than the Bank can create money out of thin air, this discourages the creation of "loans".

Comment The cost of manufacture is irrelevant ... (Score 1) 702

The cost of manufacture of coins or paper money is irrelevant if you operate a Fiat Currency, which is what we do.

The cost to make a penny at 0.5c does not make the value of a penny any different than if the cost is 2c ... it's still a penny worth exactly one cent.

You can make an argument that the low value coins have no purpose in the settlement by cash in the payment of goods, but that isn't the same as arguing the coin has no purpose because it costs more than it represents.

The manufacture of your national currency costs what it costs ... it has nothing to do with the agreed value the coin represents (the proof being the value of a given coin doesn't change with changes in the cost of manufacture).

Comment Kool-Aid Summary should not be relied upon (Score 1) 256

" ... The new record was caused by the long-term warming of the planet due to human-caused emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide, combined with a extra bump in temperature due to the strongest El Niño event ever recorded in the Eastern Pacific. ..."

This is, of course, the Kool-Aid of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); here is another summary from the IPCC's webpage:

" ... the human influence on the climate system is clear and is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system. ..."
http://www.un.org/climatechang...

This has nothing to do with whether Global Warming is real or imagined; it's about the causes of Global Warming. There is (at least) one other contributing factor, namely a historical record of patterns in Earth's climate that predicts that we should be experiencing a warming trend, regardless of human activities.

The reason is the IPCC is limited to considering the human activities affecting Global Climate and is prohibited from even considering any other cause, including the Geological record.

In other words, when you read that humans are the only cause of Global Warming, you are drinking the IPCC Kool-Aid, which is a very narrow view of the issue that specifically ignores well regarded science on the subject. Ignoring science is a poor method to investigate the causes of Climate Change.

Comment Re:That's stupid. (Score 1) 118

One should get a life sentence (to which 30 years might be pretty close depending on your age) for murder, but for a financial scam ? That will be pretty costly for the taxpayers and would not be much more of a deterrent to his colleages than, say 3 or 5 years in prison. Let's hope the guy gets to pay the money back and then some and somehow kept away from computers for 30 years...

You clearly don't understand the US legal system, nor the real-world implications of elected legal officials.

Let's deal with the latter first ( the real-world implications of elected legal officials) ... in order to be re-elected Sheriff, Judge, Prosecutor, etc as is the common practice in the USA, you need headlines that support your effectiveness as someone who, to use the short answer, is "tough on crime". Therefore all headlines will:

A) ... refer to the longest potential sentences
B)... ignore the implication of any sentence with regard to inmates serving less than the final legal sentence due to rules regarding "Time Off for Good Behavior" which is mandatory due to Supreme Court rulings on the Constitutional prohibition of "Cruel and Unusual Punishment"
C) ... ignore the implication of any Federal Sanctions that may apply on time served due to overcrowding of prisons in a given State
D) ... ignore the implication of the granting of Parole, which varies from State to State but could concievably make the inmate eligible after serving as little as 1 year.
E) Note that most States will not keep an inmate on Parole for the length of the original sentence; in many cases the longest time Parole will be in effect is around 5 years.

Note that compared to State Justice Administration, The Federal Government will, on the other hand, maintain Parole for the length of the original sentence, and has the least generous time off for Good Behaviour (not eligible until 1 year is served, and the least number of days off per month served compared to any US State.

As to the former ( the US legal system), news headlines always quote the sentence the accused is likely to face should they plead "Not Guilty"; in reality they will be offered a Plea Bargain that will "save the State the cost of an expensive trial" and will result in, typically, a vastly lower maximum sentence (due to a different charge being applied from the agreed upon Plea Bargain).

It's not strictly correct to say something along the lines of "no-one ever gets the 30 years for this crime" since people who insist they are innocent or have other principled reasons to refuse the Plea Bargain will surely be sentenced to the 30 years (or some other reduced but still long sentence). Also there are occasions when the Prosecutor does not offer a Plea Bargain to the suspect; that could be political (see "I have to be re-elected", above) or practical; it's somewhat rare but can't be ruled out completely. Still, re-read B) above.

Comment Any Airport in Canada (Score 1) 410

There is a 16 Km (10 mile) radius operations ban in Canada (Federal Law) of drones from any airport with military or commercial aviation activities.

In my city (pop 300k) the location of the airport and the city limits intersect in such a way as to ban the use of drones pretty much anywhere in the city. Interestingly, one of the world's most successful drone manufacturers (more than 10 years in operation) with mostly military, research, university, and law enforcement clientele is based in the city, but have to foray out of town to demonstrate outdoors.

Comment Quietly in the City; Used to be loud at the Lake (Score 2) 102

For about 25 years we would drive up to a buddy's parents' cabin on the lake, and do a 3 day-ish party. People would start showing up Dec 30, more on the 31st, and darkness falls about 4:30 at the latitude of our location.

Bar-B-Q'ing, open fire so roasting whatever fits on a stick, and a dedicated mission as far as drink goes. Nobody drives until the next day, and not before noon.

We set up fireworks on the (frozen) lake, and carve out a play area for what amounts to a street hockey game (called "shinny" in Canada) suitable for an orange tennis ball (instead of a puck) and boots/shoes (no skates allowed).

You get an "all access" game out of those rules, and people from neighbouring cabins are welcome, although typically no-one else is there since most cabins aren't winterized (basically, = water / sewer services protected / not protected from freezing).

Our cabin is directly across the lake from the bar, which does a fairly good business on New Year's Eve and sells offsale, so you can hop on a snowmobile and get beer should a liquidity crisis arise. People tend to party at the bar, so no visitors from there, usually. They do watch our fireworks, though.

Around ten o'clock or so the shinny game starts, and around 11:30 it ends so we can clear a safe area for the fireworks, which we light right at midnight while the 30 or so people there do the countdown, out on the ice. After the stroke of midnight, there is usually a lot of tackling in the snow, hugs, and the like. By 15 after midnight everyone is back in the cabin getting warm and properly inebriated.

We started this when I (and my friends) were in our late 20's ... after the first one, it was obvious how much nicer a time it was compared to going out to some club or live music event, fighting for a cab later, and spending one or two hundred dollars.

Instead we spend a bit on gas (cabin is a 200 mile drive from home), a bit more on booze, and eat properly the whole time (as anyone whose experienced it, breakfast at the cabin is wonderful), plus steaks, burgers, dogs on the Bar-B-Q or open fire, and the usual pot luck dishes to round things out. There is a strong Ukrainian immigrant tradition here, from the 1900's to the 1930's, so Cabbage Rolls, Perogies*, are always abundant, as well as the usual cabin fare, like homemade Jerky, Deer Sausage, salads and vegetables. I always make Mexican Breakfast Burritos from a recipe I was taught by a Mexican-born and raised Air Force member at Little Rock AFB, who would make it in deer camp (hunting).

Nobody starves and in general the food is far superior to what you would have to pay good money for in the city. The company is top notch and in many cases you see people you only see once a year, at this event. Perfect.

I encourage everyone to find a good way to celebrate the new year that involves mostly friends and not so much commercial events or spending time at a bar somewhere. You won't regret it.

Comment Let's Not Forget ... (Score 4, Insightful) 133

Let's Not Forget that a pre-requisite for owning a Used Book Store is the proprietor must be clearly insane. I don't mean that he or she would "have to be crazy" to be in the used book market in a "market" sense ... I mean that if they were not certifiable lunatics, they would not even consider possessing large quantities of used books sufficient to offer them for retail sale. Plus, the inventory multiplies like rabbits, since they sell one used book for every 20 used books they buy.

One of the big issues Used Book Stores have to deal with are commercial leases ... they are not necessarily ideal tenants because the weight of the product they sell is probably higher than just about any other product, and that includes New Books, since resellers of new books generally make an effort to have the inventory look good, versus stacked 10 rows high covered in dust with extremely narrow shelf pitches making browsing difficult except for the super skinny.

What they have going for them as tenants is they are very reluctant to move. So shady landlords love them, since the leaseholder is putty in their hands. Want to raise the rent? Go ahead, and make it unreasonable while you're at it. 50/50 they will pay rather than move.

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