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Comment Re: Not forced... (Score 1) 302

Whoah, I pay like 650€/year for my 2007 BMW, liability and comprehensive cover included. We have a discount system depending on the number of years without an accident (the insurance had to pay for). Since I've been driving for 20 years without (any major) accident, I'm down to 30% of the reference rate. Our rates are per car, not per driver, and react to type of car, engine hp, km driven/year and some minor details (garage/roadside parker, region, age of driver, other drivers' lowest age etc.)

Do you self-report the km driven per year, or do they have some type of system in place to track this?

Comment Re: Not forced... (Score 2) 302

Also, stupid unnecessary shit like tailgating 2 inches from the other guy's bumper with two open passing lanes is unfathomably popular.


Perhaps, but I really doubt so many people are attempting to hypermile in SUVs, large pick-up trucks, and other vehicles unlikely to be chosen for such a purpose. I also doubt hypermiling is so popular that I would see it every day I drive, though I admit I haven't surveyed a representative sample so I don't know that.

Observing the same drivers, they tend to accelerate v.e.r.y s.l.o.w.l.y and will randomly speed up or slow down for no apparent reason. I would expect a hypermiler to know that accelerating more quickly and then maintaining a steady speed is more fuel-efficient. Finally, to hypermile one must put continuous effort into a conscious awareness of one's driving habits, which (as explained in my lengthy post above) is inconsistent with other behaviors I see that cannot have a constructive purpose.

Comment Re: Not forced... (Score 2) 302

It's similar, they won't cancel your insurance but they hike the rate enormously and stick on a large deductible. The "unlimited" is simply because medical NHS system is free, so they know they won't face an infinite bill for medical treatment.

Can you explain further, please? Does NHS pay for medical treatement no matter what? Or is there such a concept as, "your negligence or malice directly caused this medical expense that otherwise would not have happened, so yes you are liable?".

At least in my mind, there's a huge difference between "this person has an infection, or cancer, or heart disease" versus "this person was hurt because a drunk driver ran straight through a stop sign and crashed into them". Does your law make such a distinction?

Comment Re:A spokesman for Uber said (Score 1) 302

Yet another recurrent "Uber is evicted from [somewhere]", Could we have a status on where Über is still allowed/active/authorized/working?

They need to sprinkle a few of those onto the front page every now and then, to break up all of the "Google did something!", "Apple did something too!", and "Microsoft hasn't done much lately!" stories. At least the systemd stories tend to cause some interesting and amusing debates (incidentally, Gentoo with OpenRC here).

Comment Re:Über was not forced (Score 1) 302

This headline is absolutely ridiculous. It's taking Uber's perspective as legitimate, and then the article links to Uber propaganda in the form of a press release.

Was this posting bought and paid for by Uber?

Uber operates by committing regulatory arbitrage and then hoping it doesn't get caught or stopped.

Uber could absolutely continue to operate but they simply choose not to comply with reasonable legislation. Carrying commercial insurance and submitting to a background check is hardly overbearing.

When Google pulled out of China, was it that Google was forced out? Of course not. They just didn't want to comply with Chinese law.

Same here.

Please reword this article, because right now its a bunch of bullshit.

Laws like this will be appearing everywhere, Massachusetts is up next, and in markets like NYC, its been the standard for years.

The day I read such a biased Slashdot story and don't see at least one comment like this will be the day I stop visiting this site, for on that day it will have lost all value to me. If all you want is a news aggregator there are better ones available. Some of them even have proper editors who copy-edit, attempt to vet stories, and post direct links to good articles instead of kicking traffic over to someone's shitty blog that comments on a good article.

At least I use an effective ad blocker, so said shitty blogs with their dishonest methods of gaining traffic earned nothing from me the few times I gave them a chance prior to deciding never to click on one.

Comment Re:Not forced... (Score 1) 302

I'm really curious why Uber just can't self-insure. They could easily just stash 1 million in a bank account to cover the required insurance.

It's really not that simple. You may want to look into the kind of cash reserves insurance companies are required to have on hand at any given time (this is public information, regulated by your state). They're huge at the same time they're smaller than what most insurers think is more realistic.

If they could do it, this would definitely hurt Uber's cashflow. Then they'd have to have their own underwriting standards, eligibility requirements, etc. because Uber would be batshit insane to offer indemnity to ANYONE who signs up regardless of driving record. All of this costs money and requires in-house expertise to implement. They would have to fully be a "ride-sharing company" and partially be a commercial insurance company, simultaneously. Oh and that's also ignoring a crucial difference: maybe Uber could somehow overcome all of these problems and "self-insure" ... if all of their drivers are employees. If their drivers are contractors, then they are not "self" insuring at all and would in fact be a full-fledged insurance company, complete with having to follow all of the (numerous and complex) regulations attached to that.

There is a reason that even very large multinational corporations purchase commercial insurance policies for their drivers (who are typically employees) instead of self-insuring. If Uber were going to do anything like this at all, they would require their drivers to obtain commercial insurance policies and subsidize the extra cost. By far, that would be the most sensible thing to do.

Comment Re: Uber cars not covered by insurance (Score 1, Informative) 302

Excellent comment. Anne I am glad to see the folks on Slashdot are not skewering Kansas en masse. This law seems appropriate. It does not look like it is operating to defend taxi badge holders turf, but is instead protecting riders.

The problems Uber is having boil down to this: they want to look like a taxi company, act like a taxi company, and operate in the same market as a taxi company, but they don't want to be a taxi company. I wish them good luck because I have always believed that consenting adults should be able to do what they want so long as they alone bear the consequences, but none of this is even slightly surprising.

What follows is my personal opinion only - if you want real advice talk to an insurance agent or lawyer. Anyway, as a matter of fact, by requiring them to obtain commercial insurance, Kansas is only repeating what's already in the agreement these drivers have made with their insurance companies. If any Uber driver has an accident and files a claim under a personal-lines policy, and the insurance company finds out they were a driver-for-hire, they're likely to lose their insurance anyway. When you signed your policy you gave the insurer all kinds of investigatory powers, so they probably will find out. They will do everything possible to cancel the personal-lines policy at that point. Whether they can also deny the claim and leave you 100% on the hook for the full liability depends on your state's regulations, but if they can, I'm sure they would.

Do most Uber drivers fully understand this? If so, are they just counting on nothing going wrong, or not getting caught if something does go wrong?

Comment Re:Uber cars not covered by insurance (Score 1) 302

Normal car insurance doesn't cover commercial use, so Uber drivers should be prosecuted as not having insurance anyway. That is true for all states, not just Kansas.

If the Uber drivers have the correct drivers insurance for commercial passenger vehicles, then it covers those limits and substantially more.

Kansas is basically just defining the minimum level of insurance that they need, not forcing them to take proper insurance, that's already a requirement for driving in most states.

Even if Kansas caves, the requirement to have valid driving insurance is still law, and Uber drivers cannot do commercial work on insurance designed for commuting and home use.

Indeed. If you actually look at actuarial data, you will find that there are good reasons for the price difference between personal and commercial insurance. The commercial vehicles have far greater exposure to risk. I know it's popular to bash insurance companies - hell, I dislike American corporatism myself - but when people do that from a position of ignorance, it doesn't help.

Comment Re: Not forced... (Score 5, Insightful) 302

Here in the US, our insurance companies are not in business to pay for auto accidents. They are in business to collect our money. Hence the tiered pricing for different dollar amounts of coverage. Also why most insurance companies will cancel our policies if we have more than one accident in X number of months. Then the high risk insurance steps in for hundreds of dollars per month. Your system sounds better.

One important difference: in the US you get a license by memorizing a few signs and traffic laws. They will tell you "driving is a privilege, not a fundamental right" but in practice it's treated like a right unless you get multiple DUIs or something (even then, a few years later - or less - the irresponsible adult can re-apply). The result is lots of unskilled drivers on the road, including those with more than enough experience to know better.

It's regrettable but the more the USA continues down its current commercial and philosophical path, the more people tend to do the minimum even when the minimum (in this case, of skill) is grossly inadequate. It doesn't take much effort to gradually get just a little better at something day by day, but it does take an awareness that one should do so. Here driving is widely seen as nothing more than a means to an end, not something in which to invest any skill because the lives of oneself and others may depend on it. Actually almost everything is viewed that way. It's the same reason in computing, there are so many permanent newbies - they managed to avoid accidentally picking up any new knowledge day by day even when a computer is an important tool without which they can't earn a living.

So unsurprisingly, I see unsafe practices every day I drive. Also, stupid unnecessary shit like tailgating 2 inches from the other guy's bumper with two open passing lanes is unfathomably popular. On a related practice, I have no idea why it's so important to get beside somebody and carefully maintain the exact same speed, even though to appear there they had to initially move faster, but I simply cannot drive a few miles down an interstate without seeing it, even during low-traffic hours like 4am. I think it's just a mindless "go with the flow, do what everyone else is doing" herd mentality -- that's consistent with what I see elsewhere in this culture. It could also be some psychology of feeling powerless in one's own life, causing them to want to control others by blocking passing lanes and creating hazards. Also, during heavy rain, many don't seem to understand that visibility is vastly improved by not hanging out in the massive backwash from 18-wheelers; this is really not difficult to comprehend, but to do so, one would have to be aware enough to consider it.

As I entertain no delusions about controlling what other people do, my main goal while driving is to keep as much distance between myself and others as I can. They can drive in tightly clustered packs with no room to maneuver (and sometimes, terrible visibility) if that pleases them. Whether it means speeding up or slowing down, I'll be the guy between the nearest two packs.

Please educate me if I am wrong, but I understand that in most European nations, acquiring a license means you actually have to demonstrate skill with maneuvering the vehicle and it's not nearly so easy. The failure rate for license applicants is significantly higher, and since driving means we're talking life and limb, that sounds quite reasonable. If you have only driven in Europe you might even find my descriptions difficult to believe, but I promise you I see this and worse every day.

TL:DR right? I really think it boils down to culture. The USA once had a culture that promoted responsible adulthood but that was a long time ago. What's promoted now is convenience and the idea that nothing is ever one's own fault. The focus has shifted from responsibility to a childish concern about fault-and-blame that prevents so many from learning that cause precedes effect. It's really amazing how many things boil down to that. Ergo, what works great in Europe might not work here, even if it really should be that way. Would you offer unlimited liability coverage to these people? While I don't normally advocate using technology to solve social problems caused by human stupidity and irresponsible adults, I really cannot wait until fully autonomous self-driving cars become mainstream.

Comment Re:Automated sorting of mail and metadata? (Score 1) 66

Get rid of government and see how long your liberty lasts.

Do you deny that liberty tends to erode over time? Or did a hallucination cause you to falsely believe I wanted to get rid of all government?

If neither of those is true, then I cannot understand what motivated you to write that post. It looks like a knee-jerk response to someone else's conversation.

Comment Re:Automated sorting of mail and metadata? (Score 1) 66

The USPS has been using automated systems of sorting mail for decades. It's why mail across town goes to a consolidated center (perhaps halfway across the state) first for sorting into carrier routes and has been for decades.

That Homeland Security want to capture this information - which has long been determined to accessible (the original pen-trace) isn't surprising at all.

And they only have to photograph/image the ones that the machines can't read. It's only surprising to people who drink the conservative kool-aide that government can't do anything right.

There are four things government is in a position to do better than anyone else: military defense, law enforcement, public works, and the erosion of liberty.

Comment Re:Is banishment legal? (Score 1) 271

Well, the constitution does say any American citizen has free travel between areas within the US. So if I was this guy, I'd sue the federal court. Fun fact, because it's a federal issue, he's constitutionally promised a jury of at least 6 people if the suit is for more than $20. At that point, it really doesn't matter what the federal judge says, it's the jury. And since the US is a country of "letter of the law", the federal government is going to have a hell of a time defending this action when the constitution explicitly prohibits it.

Sure thing. All it will cost him is his life savings plus whatever debt he incurs.

Comment Re:Do the math: that is stupid! (Score 2) 421

"It one of the least efficient form for transporting ethanol. "

But still more efficient that carrying the potable form which multiplies the mass by another 2.5x.

I don't think you understood what was meant by "efficient". Greater mass (the ethanol plus the absorbent material) makes it a less efficient method of transporting ethanol. This product does not produce a drink nearly as strong as regular 80-proof, 40% liquor. It's not even close. I'd carry some 151 (75.5% alcohol) and be much better off. There are lightweight non-glass containers that would be more than suitable.

Comment Re:Astronaut-booze (Score 1) 421

Yes, you point out the facts of this; namely that typical strong alcohol at 70 proof is 35% ethanol. The balance is mostly water. This product is about that ratio of ethanol to some sorbent material that appears to go into solution if you add water.

  If the legislature of those states who are alarmed just did a little homework, they would realize that this is much ado about nothing.

Did you ever consider that they already know that? These are people who jumped through so many hoops to get where they are that they just enjoy being in control, flexing their muscles, and feeling secure in their positions by using them to real effect. Frivolous shit like this is the low-hanging fruit for control freaks. The very fact that it doesn't involve anything important means that the degree of serious, committed opposition will be minimal.

The important part for this mentality: if it doesn't work, nothing is really lost and you can wait a bit then keep trying until it sticks; if or when it does work, it establishes a "useful" precedent, giving an appearance of legitimacy to the idea that yes, the state can regulate this thing, too.

This is how sociopaths think. It's about winning and winning is about strategy. Most of that comes from a good knowledge of history, what others have tried beore, which things worked and which backfired, and what one is willing to risk. The campaign promises and speeches are just part of playing the game. The problem, the disconnect, is that average people don't think this way. They keep misinterpreting the actions they're observing.

As long as that keeps happening, things are unlikely to change. It's really difficult to solve a problem you haven't even defined.

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