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Comment Re:Simple Reforms Needed (Score 2) 239

in one particularly egregious instance, a McD's franchisee was also acting as the landlord for his TFWs in a house he owned and would "helpfully" pre-deduct rent and utilities from their paycheques.

There's actually a legit reason for doing this. When a company provides living quarters, that technically counts as additional income (at least to the IRS - I assume the same is true for CRA). You're supposed to pay taxes on it. Sometimes the employee doesn't report that income on their taxes. When the company reports it to the government, the employee ends up being audited and having to pay "additional" taxes they didn't know they owed.

Having the company deduct it from the employee's paycheck makes the numbers balance in the company's books, the government's books, and the employee's books. This is particularly important if the company is giving the employee the room at below-market rates. Without the company backing up the employee on how much they're charging, the IRS can get finicky and declare that the value of the room is the market rate for rent in the area, and force the employee to pay taxes on that higher amount. That's why I know about this. When I worked at a hotel, we would always get a few high school grads working for us temporarily as part of their "go out and travel the world" phase (so they had no place to live). We'd let them shack up in some of the more worn out rooms (renovation scheduled in a year or two) and charge them a token amount like $100/mo, pre-deducted from their paycheck just to keep the IRS happy.

Not saying this was what was going on in the case you cite, but just pointing out that the act of pre-deducting rent is not in itself evidence of malfeasance, and may in fact be evidence that the company is trying to do the employee a favor. We didn't require these employees to live there, they just did because it was cheaper (and more convenient) than anything else they could find nearby.

Comment Re:Harm (Score 1) 93

Kind of funny, our company is on the cutting edge actually, but in fluorescents, not LEDs, which are terrible for producing what we would consider high output of UVB or UVA. There is a huge difference between 320nm and 399nm, yet both are "UVA". 320nm has a lot more energy, and as you up in frequency (down in nm), it forms a Bell curve and gets exponentially more damaging. It also goes down in penetration, which is why you can get a quick flash burn from UVC (100nm-280nm) that doesn't penetrate more than a few layers of skin, but it is very damaging to those layers. And of course, the real kicker is how much you are getting.

And the reason it has that warning on it is simple: anything with any measurable amount of UVA must have that warning by law. The FDA regulates this (CFR 1040.20 for sunlamps, for example). I'm used to seeing them regularly for inspections. For some reason, general lighting fluorescents are excepted from this warning, even though they do produce a measurable amount of UVA.

Comment Well... (Score 1, Interesting) 441

...I think Hilary and Bill are as dirty-rotten & blatantly corrupt as the day is long...but if we've had what now, 2 dumps of "info" from the leaks and AFAIK nothing has jumped up obviously to bite her in the ass?

I have to either
a) commend them on the rigor of their operational security, or
b) expect that all the very best bits are still yet to come in Sept or Oct, when the splash will be large enough.

I honestly don't know which I hope. I really, truly don't want her as president, but then I don't want Trump EITHER.
I'm hoping for the enormous asteroid 2016.

Comment The stupid thing is (Score 4, Insightful) 67

All they need is a simple settings option which lets you change how you want the app to appear. Material design, Windows 8 Tiles, Windows 7 Aero, bubbly Windows XP, rounded corners Mac OS, do you want drop shadows or not, whatever. There is absolutely nothing preventing Microsoft / Google / Apple / etc. from letting the user pick how they want their computer desktop to look. The computer doesn't know the difference. To it, it's just a window with graphical elements overlaid on top of it.

It's like the designers at these companies are on a power trip, deriving satisfaction from knowing they can force everyone to bend to their will.

Comment This is the deal you originally signed up for (Score 1) 409

Verizon agreed to give you unlimited data for 2 or 3 years, and you agreed to continue to use (and pay for) that service for 2 or 3 years. After that term, the agreement became month-to-month. Either side can choose to cancel it at the end of any month for any reason (actually I believe both sides have the right to cancel service at any time in the month, the company just prefers to do it at the end of the month to keep their bookkeeping cleaner).

Verizon did not agree to give you unlimited data for $x/mo until the day you died. And even if they did, I suspect you wouldn't have signed up for it since it would've required you to pay Verizon $x/mo until the day you died.

Comment Re:So basically... (Score 5, Insightful) 409

No. If you have an unlimited plan and use 100+ GB in a month, Verizon will give it to you that month as their contract terms say they will deliver unlimited data. It's just that next month Verizon will opt not to renew your month-to-month plan.

People have got this really distorted view of how contracts work - where companies should not be allowed to screw you, but you're allowed to screw companies in perpetuity. When you signed up for the unlimited plan, Verizon agreed to it and you agreed to it for a x year contract (usually 2 years). When the contract was up, the plan continued as month-to-month. As the years passed, Verizon felt the plan was disadvantageous to them, but as a courtesy allowed you to keep it. They didn't have to, but in the interest of good customer relations they let you keep it. Now they've decided the drawbacks of that courtesy outweigh the benefits for them, and are adding a condition that if you use what they consider an excessive amount of data, they will not renew your outdated plan on a month-to-month basis.

Think of if the situation were reversed. Say you got a cell phone in the early days when service was $100/mo for just voice, and calls were $1/min. After your 2 year contract was up, you should be allowed to change to a better plan if you want, right? Well so can the other party in the contract. Both sides have the right to terminate a month-to-month contract at the end of the month for any reason they see fit. If you want the security of knowing the other side will not terminate your contract at the end of the month, you need to sign a year or multi-year contract with them which locks in your contract terms for that period of time. But the other party is under no obligation to give you the same contract terms (same plan) they gave you 5 years ago.

Comment The High Tide of the American Empire (Score 4, Insightful) 184

...was the direct result of the unique experiences of WW2.

First, the US - despite the existential military challenge from the Soviet Union, which was only possible due to the disproportionately cheap annihilatory threat of nukes - was basically unchallenged as Earth's superpower economically, culturally, and militarily.

The rest of the world was still recovering from the aftereffects of WW2, from which the US had emerged largely unscathed but with a newfound taste/appreciation for the power of its science & industry marshaled by a central government (again, born of WW2).

At that same time, you had an entire generation of men that came back from war with a "we can accomplish anything" confidence (which in some cases tragically proved to be a dangerously entitled arrogance) AND an understanding that some things in the span of human events were WORTH the sacrifice of life and treasure. They accepted that.

I doubt we'll ever see such a time again.
We live in what remains the wealthiest, most comfortable society ever in human history, yet we still can't afford everything we buy.
47 years ago, we celebrated the triumph of landing people on the moon. In a short time, it became so pedestrian that it wasn't even front-page news anymore.
Today's triumphant news is about a new Tinder app that lets you 'hook up' with multiple people.
I know it's very "get off my lawn" but where we had an outward-looking, achievement-oriented society 50 years ago, today I see nothing but an enervated country suffused with ennui and a narcissistic obsession with carnality that leaves us paralyzed like a heroin addict on a buzz.

Comment Re:EPA MPG != CAGE MPG (Score 1) 136

Neither are supposed to measure real-world mileage. The EPA MPG figures are closer since they're meant for car buyers to use to comparison-shop. But every sticker includes the disclaimer, "Actual results will vary for many reasons including driving conditions and how you drive and maintain your vehicle." And every now and then the EPA revamps their tests to reflect changes in how people drive (resulting in all old MPG ratings needing an * next to them). The last update increased top highway speed from 55 mph to 60 mph, among other things.

CAFE on the other hand serves a single purpose - to provide a consistent baseline for comparing fuel efficiency across multiple years. Tweaking it over time defeats its purpose for existing.

Comment Re:VCR didn't compete against DVD (Score 1) 130

DVRs don't entirely replace VCRs. The tapes used to record shows on a VCR are portable between VCRs. You can record a show at your home, then lend the tape to one of your co-workers. You can't really do that with a DVR because they're a lot more expensive than a tape, you don't have your DVR while it's on loan (whereas you can just stick a new tape into a VCR), and Hollywood has been trying its damnedest to prevent you from sharing shows in this manner by mandating encryption in DVRs and broadcast standards to stop you from simply sharing the file of the recording.

This last aspect of VCRs has been replaced by pirated filesharing - both online and via thumb drives.

Comment Curious about single payer. Like the VA? (Score 0) 322

I am curious why you think single payer operated by the government (or whomever they outsource to) would better. Would the offering be better than the VA? Medicare? Bureau of Indian Affairs Med System? What would make it different this time around when the government gets involved? I ask because anyone who actually has to participated in those systems knows they suck all over the place. Even the governments own reports say they suck so what would make it different next time around?

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