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Comment Re:Not just at the border... (Score 1) 240

We have the same in San Diego - a border check on 5 fwy 40 miles from the border. It's the only direct way to get to Orange County from SD & I drive through it every day. I am baffled as to why we cannot keep the border checks at the border.

Because there are lots of other places along the border where foreigners can slip in illegally than at border checkpoints. The 5 freeway is the major thoroughfare from San Diego to Los Angeles, and unlike at the Mexican border you cannot drive willy-nilly around it through the desert (Camp Pendleton Marine Corp base blocks you). So pretty much anyone entering the country illegally who wants to go head straight to Los Angeles is funneled into I-5. (The alternate route is I-15.)

I think Trump's border wall with Mexico is a stupid idea, but that's exactly what you need if you want to eliminate these sorts of checkpoints away from the border. (Unless you're willing to just throw your hands up and give up control of immigration.)

Comment Re:Simple Reforms Needed (Score 2) 240

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 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 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 Re:At least here Pokemon GO gets free advertising (Score 2) 108

They don't need advertising. Just go outside and you'll run into people playing it. The press could be absolutely silent about it, and it'd still be a huge hit because of this "word of mouth" advertising.

The game has succeeded not only in bringing augmented reality to the public's attention, but at inverting the whole concept. It's turned players (walking around staring at their phones) into real advertisements for a virtual game - kind of an augmented virtuality.

Comment Re:Old dog, old tricks (Score 2) 372

Let me dust off a quote from one of my posts on various forums back in the 1990s:

"The best solution is to break up Microsoft into two companies: An OS company which does nothing but produce Windows, not favoring any software. And an Applications company which makes software like Office, IE, etc., not favoring any operating system."

Comment Re:Burnt out doc here: (Score 1) 322

The core problem is, I have YET to see an EMR designed by people who actually have gotten down-on-the-ground with medical providers.

This. I've set up a few EMRs for some of my private practice doctor clients. From what I've seen, the software is written to make the programmer's life easier, not the user's. The programmer sees from the government specificiations that he has to implement a list of codes for ailments, and dutifully types them straight into a drop-down list because that's the easiest way to do it. A user-centric EMR would allow the doctor or nurse to describe, search for, or look up the ailment in multiple different ways. Instead, they're being forced to learn the codes to even have a chance to find the ailment in the huge list.

We're forcing doctors and nurses to adapt to computers, instead of programming computers to adapt to doctors and nurses. Ideally, they should never even have to see an ICD-10 code. They should just have to describe the ailment and the computer figures out the appropriate code, with the computer asking for more detail if the description isn't enough to narrow it down to a single code.

Comment Re:Most "automation" isn't, just like this. (Score 2) 322

My hospital does this for handwritten progress notes in charts. It's nice. Especially in anesthesia, which has an elegant (if densely-packed) system of record keeping. For years after the VA put everything in a flat-text note syste, their anesthesia records were done on paper and stored as images.

Comment Someone in the government doesn't get it (Score 2) 80

Because of Cold War era laws preventing North Korea from obtaining maps of the country, the use of Google Maps is restricted in South Korea

Erm, preventing the use of Google Maps in South Korea does nothing. For this to have the desired effect, you have to prevent the use of Google Maps in North Korea, or you have to prevent Google from mapping South Korea.

I'm in the U.S. and can browse South Korea on Google Maps. It even has extensive street view photos to help any would-be North Korean spy to learn the lay of the land. So that government policy is doing nothing to prevent North Korea from getting maps of South Korea. All it's doing is preventing South Koreans from using Google Maps (which may in fact be the real purpose).

Comment Not if you're going to tax them (Score 1) 415

Companies should have political power if you're going to tax them. No taxation without representation, right?

Yeah their employees have representation. Their employees also pay the same taxes as non-employees. Since the taxes their company pays are in addition to taxes the employees already pay as individuals, it needs to be counterbalanced by additional representation.

The whole tax charade is pointless anyway. It doesn't matter whether you tax personal income or corporate profits. If you accomplished the Bernie supporters' dream and eliminated all income taxes and converted them to corporate taxes, people would not suddenly become wealthier. Companies would just be forced to decrease wages and increase prices to pay for the taxes, meaning the average individual's purchasing power would be the same before and after the tax change. Wealth is proportional to productivity, not income. So unless your change increases productivity, it cannot increase average wealth. Artificially increasing income without increasing productivity just causes your currency to become worth less (prices will rise to compensate) so that there's no net change in real wealth (purchasing power).

So just pick whichever tax is easiest to collect and use that as your sole source of government revenue. Taxing a gazillion different things is just wasteful inefficiency - like using a thousand teaspoons to remove a percentage of a bathtub's water, instead of a single bucket. Also note that if you don't want to violate the "no taxation without representation" principle, and you want a progressive tax structure, the tax has to be on personal income. If you shifted all taxes to corporations, their price increases would be equivalent to a flat tax. And higher-income management controls wages and will be most reluctant to cut their own salaries. So the net result of shifting all taxes to corporations would be regressive compared to the current taxation system of income + corporate taxes. The only way to control a progressive tax system is zero corporate taxes, with all taxes being on income, and ratchet up the income tax rate on the higher income brackets.

It's amazing how people who reject the concept of corporate personhood hypocritically insist on treating a corporation as a person. They're not people. They're just a group of people who've decided to work and act together. If you have a beef with how a corporation is behaving, aim your ire at the people controlling that behavior. If you don't like how much profit a company is making, focus your remedy on the people who are receiving that profit from the corporation as distributions or dividends. Thinking of a corporation as a person just reinforces the notion that corporate personhood carries with it rights (e.g. free speech) and duties (e.g. paying taxes).

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