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Comment Re:Please, it's Frivilous Regulation (Score 1) 242

Many places have had background checks for cab drivers for a long time.

Remember, I listed doing them as a 'reasonable compromise'. One concern I have, after thinking about it overnight, is more a philosophical one, a potential 'tragedy of the commons' problem.

Basically, we're doing background checks for more positions than ever. Now, it's one thing to do a background check, but what do you then do with it? The check has to be evaluated. Do you hire everybody after getting the check back, even if they're a paroled murderer? Rapist? What if they committed some check fraud 20 years ago? Do you hire nobody with a criminal history? Where do you draw the line?

So, let's go with the worst case - background check comes up with something, you're not hired. More positions than ever get background checks today. So what if this trend continues and having a criminal record is basically a death sentence to your ability to get employment(short of being a member of a family with a family owned/operated business)? Thought experiment here. Is it possible that such a philosophy can result in MORE criminal attacks than not having background checks at all, because those with criminal records aren't pushed into more crime because they can't find legitimate work?

I mean, you could have a prisoner dilemma situation where any one business can see benefits in doing background checks and not hiring criminals, without too much effect on the rest of the population, but as more do it, negative effects start popping up...

It's very much one where I'd want to see the numbers.

Comment Re:Frivilous Law Suit (Score 1) 242

Why should people follow building codes?

Okay, first up, building codes: Most are not actually created by the government, the government just adopts them.

That being said, requiring buildings to be constructed to a code isn't perfect. First, codes are often not ideal for a specific location - I believe that a home built in Alaska should be constructed differently than Florida, but many codes have them being identical.

Second, they tend to paint a 'good enough' line. IE homes will be built 'to code', not to exceed it. A related problem is that you can't go 'non-traditional' as easy, slowing the development of home-construction technology.

Third, it can create a perception that a house is 'good' even if it's not. Semi-recent storms, for example, flattened whole developments of ~$400k homes because it turned out that they weren't built to code - though everybody signed off that they were.

Comment Re:Please, it's Frivilous Regulation (Score 1) 242

Airbnb is driving up housing costs because people are purchasing homes and then renting them continuously as hotels.

That's what the critics say.

What I ask, per my first post, is that the problem actually be studied. Are people actually purchasing homes to use as Airbnb locations year round? How many? What percentage of the housing market is it?

Next, let's look at the proposed solution to the problem: a $50 registration fee.

Okay, first question I come up with: How is a $50 registration fee going to stop them? If they're buying a house to use as a unofficial short term rental, they're not going to balk at a $50 fee and a trip to city hall. I see a $50 fee as a bigger effect for those looking to rent out their place while the're gone on a month's vacation or such.

As such, I think the proposed regulation fails on the effectiveness standpoint, unless the registration comes with additional regulations to prevent their continuous use as Airbnb locations - but those would be regulations to assess on their own merits, and the $50 fee counterproductive.

Maybe the real fix is for SF to work on it's regulations to encourage the construction of additional housing and hotels - so that the profit availability to Airbnb users is low enough to keep people from using it professionally.

Comment Re:Please, it's Frivilous Regulation (Score 1) 242

Uber carries commercial insurance only when the customer is picked up. They don't bother when the app is just on and they're trolling for business. Which means they are uninsured at that time.

Incorrect. The polices described.
Not logged in: not working, personal insurance.
Logged in: attempt personal insurance first, then 50/100/25
On way to pickup: $1M commercial
During ride: $1M commercial

Uber just left Austin because Austin insisted they perform the same background checks that taxi drivers get. Only UberBlack has those checks.

Hmm.. I'll note that every city, much less state, regulates taxis differently. Most areas don't require a fingerprint background check.

Comment Re:Please, it's Frivilous Regulation (Score 1) 242

If you've never had a cab ride where you don't get told anything about the cost until you're at the destination and then find out it's amazingly ridiculous, thank the regulators. It's happened to me, in places where cabs are less well regulated.

Why? I ask about costs up front. Why couldn't you?

That being said, as I noted earlier, ridiculous fees are a problem that can be tracked, tested, and followed up on when the 'corrective' regulation is put in place. In most cases, a regulation requiring the fee structure be provided up front - such as on the side of the cab, isn't too expensive. So it's a good regulation.

However, a regulation that allows only cars under, say, 2 years old, might be less than ideal if you can't prove that such cars are more dangerous than younger ones. Perhaps a mileage limit or an inspection system would be better? Etc...

Comment Re:Please, it's Frivilous Regulation (Score 1) 242

Well yes and the SCOTUS essentially ruled yesterday that Texas can't impose safety regulations on abortion providers because abortion is 'right' (disagree personally) and the procedure appears to be to safe (which is funny because its about the only medical procedure I am aware that is almost universally fatal). So the states interest in ensuring safety does not offer a reason for regulation and imposes an undue burden.

Except that the regulations were a thinly veiled attempt to ban abortions by driving out all operations that do them. Going back to what I said - abortions are generally safe(for the mother), and the requirements that were being imposed would fail my standards.

First, they're expensive changes, this means the bar is higher for them being considered 'efficient'.

Second, there were no identified harms being addressed - IE they couldn't identify harm from the clinic drug cabinets not having medicines specified in the rules they passed, because there are no realistic scenarios in an abortion/women's health clinic where they would NEED said medications. That means that obtaining, tracking, and replacing said meds as they expire is simply an additional burden. Having hallways wide enough for two gurneys to pass side by side isn't necessary when they're not using gurneys in the first place. Requiring a woman to listen to the fetal heartbeat by having a sonogram sensor shoved up her because the fetus is too small to hear it otherwise isn't a medical need. Etc...

So yes lets apply this standard everywhere, best ruling ever as far as limiting the role government is potentially concerned, when used broadly.

Indeed. I see NOT applying these standards objectively as a very large reason why our government is so large, expensive, and ineffective.

If a government regulation or agency isn't doing appreciable good, isn't being effective, it needs to be reformed or eliminated.

Comment Re:Please, it's Frivilous Regulation (Score 1) 242

Some modern companies seem to complain excessively about regulations that people have been living with for years without complaint. We've seen Uber complain that their taxi service is sometimes regulated like a taxi service, requiring commercial driver's licenses, commercial insurance, and background checks (nobody's applying medallion limits to Uber).

Most of that seems to be Uber and the city working out something reasonable. For example, from what I've heard Uber now carries commercial insurance for the drivers, does background checks about as good as what taxi drivers get*. Uber has a facility in NYC to help it's drivers get the licenses and permits required. I read the page on it, it seems that NY has 'numerous' levels of commercial driver's license, depending on if you're going to be a taxi, limo, truck, or bus driver.

You seem to be saying that regulation shouldn't be applied when it's actually needed, but rather has to wait until numerous people have suffered for the lack of it.

Okay, so let me ask, how do you determine that it's 'actually needed' if people haven't suffered from the lack of it? That being said, I'm willing to accept a convincingly logical argument that harm would take place without the proposed regulation, but note 'convincing'. Vague statements that it needs to be regulated to prevent vague types of harm isn't convincing. For example, I'm willing to accept evidence from related situations from the past, in different locations.

It's usually not possible to directly compare results with regulation and results without regulation over time.

Sure it is. That being said, you should go back and re-assess regulations on a regular basis for adjustment. We should not be enacting regulations where the expected effect is intended to be so subtle as to be hard to track.

the idea is to reduce crime perpetrated by the drivers, but there really isn't much measurable other than how many people failed the check. In order to see if it reduces crime, it would be necessary to take some of the people failing the check and put them into cabs over a period of time and see how many passengers were crime victims.

Or, for example, you don't require background checks at first, then notice that the crime rate against passengers is too high. You notice that most of the offenders have a history of it, and that's why you put the background checks in. If you note that most of the offenders don't have a history, you look for other options.

For example, consider background checks on people who work with children - including volunteers. This is a law that I consider more harmful than good. This is because, in the vast majority of cases, it turns out that offenders didn't have a disqualifying history even before the checks were put in place.

So you're spending money that the organizations often don't have(why they're depending on volunteers in the first place), in order to prevent not very many potential predators, imposing even more paperwork on organizations while providing what I'd call a false sense of security to parents - because most offenders are the uncaught ones.

Same deal with the sex offender list. Child molesters didn't and don't actually molest children all that often after they're released, list or not, but said list has resulted in a number of murders, both sex offenders and innocents**.

Life requires judgment calls. If you don't like the calls your elected representatives are making, campaign against them in elections. If you get no traction, then it may well be that everyone else is happy with the situation.

Oddly enough, I do this already. There's plenty of 'traction', half the people are upset with one guy, half the other. I also regularly write them to try to convince them to take my side in various matters. My senators, representatives, and such are all familiar with me at this point... Or at least I'm in their databases. I like it when I get a letter back from them.

*One complaint I heard about "Uber drivers aren't checked good enough" was shut up when it turned out that Uber was using the same company and service as the taxi companies were for their check.
**In one case the angry parents went to the apartment in the list and killed the person there - but the sex offender had moved out a year earlier and the dude killed had just moved in, having no idea his address was on the list. So the kids get to deal with daddy in prison for a while for first degree murder.

Comment Please, it's Frivilous Regulation (Score 2, Interesting) 242

Sack up and deal with it Airbnb

So a company should comply with any regulation at all without complaint?

That other companies should be able to impose regulations in order to capture the industry by excluding any possible competition?

My take on it - any proposed regulation should identify a problem or opportunity*. There should be fairly solid numbers on the problem - IE X amount of criminal calls, complaints, accidents, and such per year. The regulation should identify how much it's expected to cost. There should be a metric to identify whether the regulation is fulfilling it's purpose adequately.

If the regulation turns out to be more expensive than anticipated or doesn't solve the problem in line with it's costs, it should be eliminated.

*And no, 'government makes more money' isn't an opportunity.

Comment Re:News at 5... (Score 1) 451

That's definitely *not* always the case. If you are going at 50 km/h you have around 10 meters braking distance before you get to a full stop (ignoring reaction time). This means that if your obstacle is at 5 meters you will hit it, but if the obstacle is relatively narrow, 5 meters could be well enough to completely dodge it.

First, your scenario is unrealistic because Self-driving cars have sight distances longer than 10 meters, including that they shouldn't be running at 50km/hour on streets where somebody stepping into the road is likely.

Second, have you tried to see how far you can dodge at 50 km/h in 'only' 5 meters? Remember that, compared to applying the brakes, it takes time to turn the tires.

As others have mentioned - more people have been killed dodging deer than hitting them. The severity of a turn necessary to avoid an obstacle at short distances combined with high speeds often results in a loss of control and leaving the road.

Comment Re:The 'real' software (Score 4, Insightful) 228

Why don't they use the fundamentals used in developing the algorithm to identify and eliminate the root causes of crime (through rehabilitation/counseling) and thus reduce crime in highly prone areas?

Honestly enough they should, there are pushes to do so, it's just that funding is an issue, as always. Funny thing is, though, it's supposed to actually save money!

Okay, up here in Alaska low oil prices have resulted in a government crisis - the government's income has dropped drastically. One of the reforms being put in place, finally, is 'community corrections', which has been shown to save money by actually preventing repeat criminal occurrences. As they mentioned, locking people up for long periods actually increases the chance they'll reoffend, especially if you don't provide support after they get out.

So rather than locking somebody up for 12 years, you lock them up for, say, 4. You take the money for the next 4 years of prison and put it into rehabilitating the criminal, which is enough to cover extended services in prison, as well as at least 4 years outside, because, surprise, it's cheaper than keeping them in prison. The last 4 years of prison sentence avoided is pure savings, though they mentioned that they're putting half the money into what you mentioned - addressing the core situations causing criminality in the first place.

As for the op -

His attorneys claim that the code is "full of holes," including secret criteria and generic decisions that aren't as individually tailored as they have to be. For instance, they'll skew predictions based on your gender or age -- how does that reflect the actual offender...?

Secret criteria is a problem, but gender and age have clear differences on how likely you are to re-offend. If you're a first time offender at 40 odds are something very strange happened, and if you fix that problem the person is unlikely to offend again, while being a first time offender at 15 is a bad sign that it might become a habit.

Comment Braking is complicated. (Score 1) 365

There's lots of problem with the parking brake as an emergency brake. While on some models, yes, they'll lock up the rear tires, on others they won't, and a secondary problem is heating causing brake fade.

As they're not intended for use while driving, they're pretty much all or nothing. You can't apply them partially with an acceptable amount of control.

Thus, my labeling it as a parking brake, not an emergency brake. I've never used it in an emergency, but as a driver of a manual transmission, setting it is part of my parking ritual.

Comment Re:News at 5... (Score 4, Informative) 451

Come back to me when you have *realistic* scenarios.

Indeed. One of the things that was covered in my motorcycle safety class was the concept of 'traction management'.

To keep it simple, depending on the type and condition of the road and your tires, you only have so much traction. It takes traction capability to do anything - speed up, slow down, or turn. It was part of them teaching us that you are not to brake in a turn on a motorcycle. Cars can get away with that, bikes(pushed to limit) can't. You brake, then turn. If you need to stop during a turn, you straighten and brake.

Anyways, to get back to the point - it takes traction to turn. For motorcycles and cars, they covered that it's better to brake than to dodge for any substantial obstacle - if you have the luxury of dodging it, you could have braked to stop hitting it.

So, in the situations mentioned, they're stuck using trains, which have stopping distances that no car maker would be allowed to release a vehicle with. Short of the langoliers being behind you eating everything, braking is pretty much the universal solution.

Comment Mechanical failure (Score 1) 365

That way the weight of the car is being supported by the parking brake and not the engine (or something... I'm not a car guy), which would be used as a back up in case the parking brake fails.

Indeed That's the reason I mentioned using the parking brake - on a slope, if you put it in park AND set the brake, you have 2 redundant systems that should stop the car from rolling. If you do the third thing - properly angling your tires, you're either creating a 3rd backup with a curb or at least limiting the damage.

It's the same reason we mirror drives and such - If you have two 99% effective systems that are completely redundant, you reduce the failure rate from 1% to .01%.

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