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Comment: Re:Idiotic (Score 1) 590

Indeed. I used to be a budget analyst for the state legislature in my state, and the cost for the various procedures that are followed in the event the prosecutor is asking for a death sentence runs about a million dollars. The extra costs cover a very thorough audit of the process, from initial investigation through final sentencing, and the costs of the appeals up through several levels of courts. State prison costs run about $35K per year per inmate, so that million dollars would cover almost 30 years of incarceration. The entire legal process from beginning to end typically takes ten years, so the state will pay for 10 years incarceration in addition to the million.

The death sentence is seldom sought. We do have one case in progress now where the prosecutor is seeking the death sentence; the accused killed 12 and injured 70 in a mass shooting. I can fairly safely say that the accused did it, as he offered, through his attorney, to plead guilty if the sentence was life without parole. After almost three years, the case has reached jury selection. The trial will be a travesty of dueling experts arguing over whether the accused was insane at the time or not. I figure there's a fair chance the verdict will be not guilty by reason of insanity, and he'll still get life without parole despite all the bills the prosecutor is racking up.

Comment: Re:Energy use (Score 1) 332

by michael_cain (#49459841) Attached to: California Looks To the Sea For a Drink of Water
I'm a westerner, and biased, but the West has more cause than other regions to say, "Let's watch and see if this next-gen stuff works somewhere else before we try it." Ranging from open-air nuclear tests in Nevada to Hitachi screwing up a billion-dollar repair to New Mexico fining the feds $54M for sloppy practices at WIPP, and a whole bunch of things in between.

Comment: Re:Energy use (Score 1) 332

by michael_cain (#49457935) Attached to: California Looks To the Sea For a Drink of Water
For various reasons, added nuclear is a political non-starter in the American West broadly and California specifically. The states in the Western Interconnect are down to six commercial reactors. If it were put to a vote, Washington would almost certainly close the reactor at the Columbia Generating Station; similarly, California would likely vote to close the two reactors at Diablo Canyon. PG&E, the operator at Diablo Canyon, has put the license renewal on hold while they look at the impact of California's new thermal pollution standard. Since conforming would likely require adding (large unsightly) cooling towers at a price of $2-4B, I suspect that the renewal application will eventually be withdrawn, and Diablo Canyon will shut down when its current licenses expire in 2024 and 2025.

Comment: Re:Lies, bullshit, and more lies ... (Score 4, Insightful) 442

A friend of mine who works as a high school counselor is telling people to go business, accounting, or law.

The job market for new graduates from anywhere but the big name law schools is terrible, has been getting worse for years, and shows no sign of improving in the future. Word is getting back and enrollment at lower-tier law schools has fallen off so much that the schools are getting desperate. Many have lowered their admission standards, and they've started lobbying to make the state bar exams easier.

Comment: Re:HOWTO (Score 1) 1081

by michael_cain (#49261289) Attached to: How To Execute People In the 21st Century
As the article notes, no medical personnel would have to be involved. So the prosecutor who sought the death penalty could be required to throw the switch/open the valve/whatever. I've always thought that prosecutors would be much more reluctant to ask for the death penalty if they were the ones who had to do the killing.

Comment: Re:this isnt an "obamacare" thing. (Score 1) 130

by michael_cain (#48689143) Attached to: 2015 Could Be the Year of the Hospital Hack
Medical practices, especially small practices, who haven't followed the changes to HIPAA that have occurred outside of the context of the ACA, will be in for a rude surprise if they're sloppy enough about their security practices ("willfully negligent") and have a breach. The civil fines have gotten much higher, are easier to impose, and it's much harder for the medical practice to hide behind service companies.

Comment: Re: Not quite true (Score 1) 307

by Zeinfeld (#48430745) Attached to: UK Hotel Adds Hefty Charge For Bad Reviews Online

Whether the term is enforceable or not is debatable and almost certain to be rendered moot. Unlike US Republicans, UK Conservatives do actually believe in the rule of law and honest business practices (sort of). There isn't any party who believes that screwing the consumer is a constitutional right. There will be a bill passed.

A rather more direct question is whether the hotelier was entitled to collect the charge under the credit card agreement. And that is unambiguous, he isn't. A credit card merchant cannot use a charge card to recover a disputed charge. It does not matter what the purported contract term was or if it is enforceable. The credit card agreements are designed to prevent cardholders from dishonest merchants. So the consumer will get their refund and the hotelier will find themselves facing a 30 quid chargeback fee.

The only option for the hotelier to recover would be to take the matter to court. The most he could win is the hundred pounds, if he lost he would likely be out the legal costs which could be a couple of thousand. Small claims courts don't usually award costs but they might well do so in this case. Judges tend to detest bullies.

Comment: Re: Ask the credit card for a refund (Score 1) 307

by Zeinfeld (#48430547) Attached to: UK Hotel Adds Hefty Charge For Bad Reviews Online

Its more than that, without regulation you end up with a lemon-law market.

Lots of times the difference between an honest product and a dishonest one only becomes apparent years later. If the product is safety equipment you only find out if the hard hat works when someone drops the brick on your head.

The libertarian theory that self interest will drive people to make honest products has turned out to be utterly false. In fact it turns out to be quite difficult for a company that intends to do the right thing to do so. I once had to get a guy fired after I found he had goosed his response rates for customer support calls by deliberately setting the phone tree up as a maze.

People do all sorts of idiotic short sighted stuff. This hotelier for example got his pants in a twist over a bad review and now he has probably sunk his business completely.

Rational choice is not an empirical fact of human behavior. It is a modelling assumption that tends to give good results in certain cases. But it does not hold for corporations because the interests of the corporation are not identical to those of the employees. All those banks who go belly up because the traders get big rewards for raking in profits and face no consequences for a loss. I don't gamble with my own money but if you want to give me $100,000 to gamble with I am happy to take it to Vegas, find a roulette wheel and let you take 100% of any losses and 90% of any gains.

We don't really understand it, so we'll give it to the programmers.

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