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Comment Re:Monopoly on what exactly (Score 1) 142

If Uber don't like the law they should lobby to get the law changed.

They are.

They don't get to say "we don't like the law, so we'll just break it".

They don't legally get to, but in many cases they are making it work. Why is civil disobedience acceptable for people but not for corporations? Though in fact, there are actual people taking these actions. Uber is faceless to you and I, but actual people with actual faces risk actual arrest.

Comment Re:Monopoly on what exactly (Score 1) 142

Sounds like libertarian nonsense to me..

That's because your knee is jerking. You should have that checked out. I am more socialist than anything, my argument is that bullshit restraint of trade under a system of capitalism which includes property taxes, mandatory insurance etc. is slavery. If you want capitalism, fine. If you want to make it illegal to be broke, fine. That's how it is now. But you cannot then make it illegal to engage in voluntary economic activity.

You place restraints on trade to balance that exchange against other persons that have an interest in it.

Yeah, that's a nice idea. Only that's not how they are typically used in our system. You place restraints on trade to engage in protectionism.

Meaning, taxes to pay for the road, certification and testing to ensure people who drive on it don't kill others for lack of (very basic) skill.

But taxi drivers don't pay more road taxes, nor should they, because virtually all road damage is caused by weather or by heavy trucks. And no one should be permitted to drive if they lack that (very basic) skill. If you're not qualified to transport passengers for money, you're not qualified to transport passengers for free. In fact, you're not qualified to be driving on public roads at all. The same skills are involved either way. Now, when you get up into larger vehicles which can do more damage to more people at once like buses or cruise liners, then you should have to have some exceptional proof of your competence, but not for an automobile.

Comment Not even a good troll (Score 1) 103

wind and solar are still extremely diffuse, and the collection hardware has a large ecological footprint.

Bullshit. Wind has a minuscule ecological footprint; you put it on grazing land. Solar as well; you just put it on some crappy land that's not producing any benefit. And solar has the benefit that it reflects some of the light that would normally strike the ground, and it also absorbs and then reradiates as IR even more. More than half of that is reradiated upwards (because solar panels are white on their back sides) so solar panels reduce heating of the land and thus insolation-forced warming.

Not only the vast swaths of land permanently occupied, but the access roads and transmission lines.

The access roads already exist in the vast majority of cases, because as already stated, we put wind farms on grazing land. The energy cost of installation of the transmission lines is far dwarfed by the return, otherwise we wouldn't build them.

Comment Re:incomplete sentence... (Score 1) 103

They didn't manage the land and its resources. They lived a nomadic lifestyle. Once they'd depleted an area of its resources, they simply picked up everything and moved somewhere else.

Who told you that? Because they lied to you. First, there was substantial variation in lifestyle. Second, they didn't just deplete an area and then move. They practiced land management, and they had the land portioned up into different groups' territories. In the west, they lived in relative stasis, and in the same places, for over ten thousand years. They successfully managed forests (with yearly controlled burns), oyster beds (by not overcollecting from them) and fish stocks (by not overfishing.) Their yearly burns kept the oaks and redwoods healthy, by clearing the understory. The oaks provided more food than they could eat every year. Then whitey arrived, in the form of Andrew Kelsey, who enslaved, raped, and murdered the locals. Some of them understandably got upset and killed him. Then we sent the US 1st Cavalry up here to murder all the Pomo on Bo-no-po-ti, aka "Island Village". Literally only one girl survived, hiding in the reeds while the lake went red with blood. Later, the federal government paid the locals $1/tree to plant black walnuts, as motivation to chop down the oaks upon which the natives depended for food, oaks in healthy forests that they had maintained literally for millenia. The walnuts were never financially beneficial to the area, and few remain today.

In the Midwest, the natives deliberately burned forests to create more range land for the bison. The bison then maintained the land in a state suitable for their use, which left the bison suitable for the use of the natives. The natives would follow the bison herds, since that was their primary source of all things.

Sorry, I'm not familiar with the natives of the East.

Now, to be fair, if you go down and check out the natives of Mexico, they were eating one another, and they deforested the shit out of their land and they ran out of food and they migrated or they died. But up here in North America, the natives most certainly did practice sustainable land management.

Europeans arrived with a much higher population density. They would've had the same detrimental effect on the North American environment even if they'd lived as the native Americans did.

We'll never know, because they didn't even try. They did the opposite. They deliberately destroyed the lifestyle of the natives. They killed all the bison, a free renewable resource, so that they could carve the land up into fenced portions that someday, nobody would want to live on anyway. Seriously, do you think they would have killed the bison if they knew that someday all that territory would be known as "the flyover states", just a bunch of shitholes with poor civil rights? And they deforested the shit out of the west so that they could run cattle here! All they had to do to have more cattle than we could use was not kill all the bison at once.

Comment Re:Parts fail, it needs to be planned for. (Score 1) 77

So everyone needs to perform a full audit of what they're buying, including purchasing something to test that it's safe/fit to purchase?

It's basically already like that for most products. I can't remember the last time I got something with more than three moving parts that actually did everything it was supposed to do correctly.

Comment Re:Monopoly on what exactly (Score 3, Insightful) 142

The question is, is Uber comparable to a Minicab service. And if it is, how come the drivers do not have to pass the same checks as other minicab drivers? Looks like a Minicab service to me.

First, the background checks are meaningless, and Uber also does meaningless background checks, so they have parity there. They also get logged via the Uber app, so there is the digital equivalent of "a paper trail allowing them to be located quickly if they are involved in crimes". Actually, while you're transporting a fare the app actually tracks your activity, so it's even better than what the minicabs have. So all that's missing is licensing and regulation of the offices, but since Uber cars operate completely different to taxis, there's no need for that.

If the state wants public transportation to serve the disadvantaged and handicapped, then the state should provide it, at the people's expense. It shouldn't be pushed off onto an industry attempting to serve willing customers in a voluntary arrangement. So that blows away the last argument.

Comment Re:Monopoly on what exactly (Score 1) 142

Contrary to what the libertarians/extreme right wing free marketers think, not all human interaction is based on the cash nexus.

Under capitalism, though, we all must feed it. Laws are set up specifically to make sure we generate revenue. And it's wrong to place restraints on trade when people have to engage in it to exist.

Comment Re:If the black cabs have a legal monopoly... (Score 1) 142

Uber paints itself as a "Heavyweight freedom fighter for the little guy", IMO nothing could be further from the truth.

It's true whether they want it to be or not, because if they succeed then their competitors will also benefit. It's not like they're going to get themselves a monopoly for their efforts, whatever else happens.

Comment Re:Safety (Score 1) 400

A firearm is quite clearly a tool. It can also be used as a weapon - as can most anything, up to and including using your attached limbs. I use my firearms as a tool that enables me to throw small bits of metal at accuracies, distances, and speeds unable to be easily matched by other means in a similar format.

A firearm is a tool in the same sense as heroin is a tool: no reasonable person would ever describe them in such terms unless they were trying to set up some particularly transparent bullshit fence.

All in all, it's a pretty damned well designed too for a very specific task - throwing bits of metal to quite a distance, accurately, quickly, and with decent reliability.

And the reason this is useful is that those fast-moving bits of metal project deadly force over distance. In other words, it's a well-designed weapon.

Comment Re:Safety (Score 1) 400

No one wants to actually really solve the problem. They just want to mindlessly apply the bag of tricks associated with their agenda whether they will work or not.

I very much doubt that that's true. It would require most people to be actively dishonest, after all. No, what's happening is that the gridlock makes it impossible to push any agenda in a moderate, considered and conditional way, so when the opportunity comes - when there's a crisis of some sort - people use it to force things through. It's like locked continental plates violently shifting in an earthquake instead of constantly and gradually.

Comment Re:It's even worse as an international merchant :- (Score 1) 327

Thanks for the ideas, but yes, we've pretty much exhausted the sensible options, at least with the current card payment service we use. We do wonder whether that service might itself be part of the problem -- if having a programmer-friendly system so taking card payments on-line make it easier to take payments, naturally it also makes it easier to take fraudulent payments, and I wonder whether these new services' own "reputations" within the industry affect their custoemrs' fraud ratings on whatever systems check these things.

As for the crooks angle, of course there is always the problem with services being used to validate illegally obtained credentials, but in this case it is likely that every one of those users was legitimate. We're in a niche market, and the access patterns of the users in question are far too consistent with normal use and unlike anything someone just testing out a card would be likely to hit by accident -- we're talking dozens if not hundreds of page views looking up specialised information in specific, logical orders here. Also, while we see quite a few failures in month 2, in a frustrating proportion of the cases that mysteriously fail it's a subscriber who's had many months of continued membership and/or been known in our field and/or been in touch with us personally at some point, i.e., a good customer who was probably very happy to continue subscribing (but might not get around to doing it again for a while if the failed payment means hassle to stay signed up).

Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother. - Kahlil Gibran