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Comment Re:Excellent (Score 1) 218

. Without an aggressive company the monopoly of taxis in so many cities would never have been broken.

what monopoly? In most cities there are at least 4-5 taxi companies. If Uber wins, however, then you will see what it is to have a monopoly.

I am referring to the instances where Uber skirted regulations that made it impossible to legally offer it's service. Had it asked for permission initially it would have simply been refused. Once the drivers and general public got used to the servuce, municipalities were forced to compromise.

Second, it's simply untrue to say the before Uber there were lots of can companies offering sufficient services. I have tried in many instances to obtain a ride in the past from them and have been turned down. Some of them are very rude and gruff. Some suburbs have only two functional services and you have to pay a significant surcharge to get a cab from somewhere else along with a significant delay. Sometimes they don't even answer their own phone! Uber cars don't stink and their drivers generally don't smoke. Taxi cabs drivers love to smoke and I personally find being around cigarette smoke to be repulsive. The health hazards from second hand smoke are huge and yet somehow municipalities don't care about that and if would complained the driver would screw with me.

Third, taxi medallions are not going nowhere, they are just worth less and of municipalities want they can increase the supply to increase competition. They are the only vehicle that can be hailed from the street. Although cities stupidly don't increase the supply because the owners of the medallions are big campaign contributers in local elections. And Lyft is still around. And Uber has been lowering prices because previously prices were too high even to maximize profits under an app based monopoly - where price elasticity equals one. Fourth, no one complained about the previous system. It sucked! It was deeply corrupt. And getting a ride was hard. Uber means you can go from having a two to a one car household and not be worried about getting a cab. It means you know what you will pay and not to have to worry about taxis breaking the law. I have seen taxis press the wrong rate button when I have exited the airport because they thought I was a tourist or refuse to use the meter and then make up a fair. But the law was not enforced.

I asked my economics professor that given that this was such a huge problem, why would we not do something about it. They answered "politics". Somehow now that Uber is disrupting the industry everyone cares. Well were you all 8 years ago. Why when people like me complained, was I told "it is what it is? Why are you being so selective about whom you criticize for doing something wrong???

Comment Re:Excellent (Score 5, Insightful) 218

Uber just went up a couple notches in my book!

I completely agree. The whole Greyball program is a feature not a bug. Without an aggressive company the monopoly of taxis in so many cities would never have been broken. The law is on the side of lobbyists who are paid by incumbents to prevent competition. I can't tell you how many times I tried to hail a cab in NYC before Uber and simply could not get one. I have similarly been unable to get a cab without 24 hours notice sometimes in the suburbs. The artificial shortage of taxis in NYC is what economics textbooks use to explain economic rent! It's outrageous that people complain about Uber busting up a deeply unfair system full of unnecessary bureaucracy and regulations.

Comment Re:omg proof reading (Score 1) 212

I'm glad I wasn't the only one trying to understand what the submitter had written. I am concerned that in many cases it isn't merely a lack of proofreading but some mixture of ignorance and laziness. Indeed, everywhere I look online, I find that standards for English grammar are falling. It makes it increasingly hard to interpret what is being communicated.

Comment Re:Clarification: Plus 8% US tax vs including 20% (Score 1) 172

I should clarify my comment, on some purchases, for customers in some states, the company adds tax, generally around 8%. So US customers pay 99 cents PLUS tax.

When the company collects VAT, it's INCLUDED in the sticker price - it's illegal in the UK, I understand, to show customers who they are really paying by listing it as "+0.80 purchase price plus VAT".

Anyway, after the currency conversion, the company is charging the same amount. The extra that UK customers pay is the government charging higher taxes.

Yes, you are right. But don't you think it's interesting that historically Apple products have cost more in the UK than in the US even after taking VAT into account. And why when the pound hit $2 in 2007 and 2008 didn't it lower prices? It seems that currency moves only cause Apply to raise prices, not to lower them.

Comment Re:Makes me think... (Score 1) 175

A more practical solution would be free mental healthcare to prevent the shooters ever getting to that stage.


It always amazes me that the most simple thing we can do to stop all the violence committed by mentally disturbed individuals is to provide appropriate treatment and make sure all Americans have incredibly easy access to it. It would also help if we immediately took away firearms from the possession of anyone who is hearing voices pending a court hearing on the subject where the matter can be properly adjudicated.

If someone wonders how we will pay for it I would remind them that we spend about 18% of GDP on healthcare already. And if we got a handle on costs per unit of care we could provide high quality, nah luxurious care to everyone in the USA. At the very least why not tax all recreational drugs after legalization including alcohol and mandate that the funds go to mental health. For example place a $5 on every bottle of wine or $2 on every bottle of beer.

This also reminds me of why we need much more intensive outpatient care for some people and longer term stays inpatient for others (albeit humanely done). Doing so literally saves lives.

Comment Re:Typical enviro extremism (Score 1) 143

the majority of the world already lives in poverty so no real change.

No, India and China are much better off compared with 25 years ago. Africa has taken off since 2000 and is starting to experience a meaningful rise in living standards. And nihilist attitudes prevent progress.

Comment Re:Typical enviro extremism (Score 1) 143

As noted below in the comments, the study was done by the Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development. They have an agenda and will emphasize some things and ignore others to advance their agenda. This is not just neutral science. By not mentioning the benefits that roads bring to humankind it tries to imply that that are unnecessary. Yes of course there are costs to roads. But when you only research the costs and not the benefits you wreak of bias.

The very name "sustainable development" has come to mean you are only interested in research from a specific perspective. It's a deep sociological bias. It would be like a physicist who would only publish problematic issues related to electricity and not the positive ones. Btw, are you a scientist? Do you know how the proverbial sausage os made. From personal experience I can tell you it's not pretty. They don't want any development (sustainable development implies there are some types they indorse but the phrasing is a deceit and a firm of propoganda) and because of their type we have rising housing costs all over the place especially in the UK. So instead of "berating" try looking at yourself.

Comment Typical enviro extremism (Score 0, Troll) 143

We have close to 7.5 billion people on the planet. Without roads people would be living in poverty. Unless you have a reasonable alternative you cannot complain. Should we just have huge no go areas 200 km by 200 km? Should we just not farm the earth and allow humankind to starve? And there is already not enough homes for the current population. It's easy to be an environmentalist when you are wealthy and have a beautiful and large home. Articles like this don't consider the human dimension. Why is Slashdot so biased?

Comment Re:futurist (Score 1) 522

I also wonder when people think that we can somehow figure out a way to travel at light speeds to get to another planet. The alternative is to spend thousands of years traveling to another planet and potentially find it uninhabitable or die on the way. Any other planet would have a distinctly different gravity - one on which we have not evolved. How would we enable a breathable atmosphere? How would we remove toxins from the environment. It's quite probable that most of the environment would in one way or another be toxic.

How would we get a significant number of people to this planet? We would need to apply and quickly adapt the most cutting edge technology to survive - would we only take scientists, engineers and mathematicians? How would we successfully synthesize soil quickly enough? How would be know what kind of weather patterns to expect and how would we cope with them? Category 5 hurricanes could be a daily occurrence. Would we get enough sunlight? How would we make sure the temperatures do not exceed tolerable limits?

Why not stay here on earth and gradually reduce the human population to around 500 million people. 500 million people could maintain a high standard of living without making Earth uninhabitable. We could allow large areas such as South America to go back to being forests and live in those areas that are most conducive for human life. And we could use space technology to mine asteroids to provide additional raw materials. We could even start removing excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and eventually bring it down to historic levels. 500 million people are few enough that we could all eat a lot of meat and it still would be sustainable.

And we need a conversation about who does and does not care. The Middle East does not care about the planet. Neither does India or China or Indonesia or most of Africa. India's population has almost caught up with China. Regardless of reducing the world population or escaping the planet, how would we do this if most of the planet is not on board?

Comment Apple products = showing off (Score 1) 106

Until about three months ago I did not properly understand the Apple phenomenon. I have always been an early adopter of tech enjoying the features for their own sake. However I am circumspect when I buy new technology as I peruse the specs and look at user reviews. With the exception of the early MacBook Airs that had no lightweight competition, and the iPhones until 2011, it has never made any financial sense to buy Apple products. They have always been 20% to 40% more expensive than the their competitors.

I did buy the original iPhone 3G when it came out. It was clearly the best product on the market and was a new way of using the internet. I loved it. However, the Android OS quickly advanced after it was bought by Google. By Ice Cream Sandwich Android was competitively stable. By Jelly Bean it started to outfeature iOS. And Android was versatile. An iPhone could not be used as a USB flash drive, whereas an Android based phone could be. Android was so much more configurable. And it could be rooted with Google's permission unlike Apple's aversion to jailbreaking. I could store all manner of file types and have different music players on my Android device. I was not chained to iTunes.

So I switched to high end Android devices. And I could not understand why others did not. But this summer and early this fall I met some new acquaintances and after hearing them insist that they would only have a iPhone I understood that Apple products were status symbols and that they wanted to show off. They want their MacBook to be seen when they used it in a coffee shop. They wants the 'oohs' that come with the flashy logo. The phone in their hand signaled style.

Of course, these are often (not always) the same people who often parrot the mainstream mantra about us being too 'materialistic' (no matter that real median household income is only about 10% above what it was in 1973 and people under 35 are poorer despite being better educated than in 1973 with much larger real housing costs). They seem to think that if they buy no name brand clothes and spend their saved money on Apple products, somehow they are no longer materialistic. They talk about environmentalism as being core to their being and ignore the planned obsolescence that is core to Apple's products. I tried to assist a friend with a three year old Apple laptop. It needed more memory because it had become quite slow as software had advanced. We went to the Apple store and were gently laughed at when we tried to buy new ram - we were told they did not stock it any more and that they should buy a new laptop instead.

So now when I see a hipster-greenie hypocrite conspicuously or otherwise using their Apple product in public I see a cynical manipulative liar.

Comment The developing world is not so innocent (Score 1) 208

And no country is contributing to Global Warming the way the US is. Most of the pollution in the "3rd world countries" is from the production of goods for the US (and allies), often by US companies operating on foreign soil to run around regulations..

Those countries choose to produce that stuff. The people there like the new higher paying jobs. It enables them to develop and raises living standards as has happened in India and China. They aren't innocent victims. And they do make choices as to how they want to allocate resources. China could be more environmentally conscious where it to stop increasing the size of it military and spend the money on green energy instead. And it's important to remember that there are many more environmentally safe technologies in 2016 than there were in the nineteenth century or in the 1950s - if you are building out an industrial infrastructure from scratch now it's much easier to be green than before. Solar electricity was not around 100 years ago.

And what would you have the US do about it? Raise tariffs on third world produced goods? Do you propose a 500% tariff on goods from China? I would remind you that bossing around third world countries is also rejected as neocolonialism.

And you seem to be ignoring the emissions released by burning forests in Indonesia and Brazil. The forest fires in Indonesia last year released 11.3 million tonnes of carbon per day, exceeding the daily rate of 8.9 million tonnes of carbon emissions from the whole of the European Union. Predictions for future deforestation in Central Africa estimate that by 2050 forest clearance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will release a total of up to 34.4 billion tonnes of CO2, roughly equivalent to the UK’s CO2 emissions over the last sixty years.

But that doesn't fit into a convenient narrative of blaming the West, does it?

Comment I forgot that being rockstar is so elementary (Score 1) 269

And if all else fails, just become a "rock star,"

As if it was that easy. This reminds me of when I explained that the cost of housing was too high and a friend said 'people should just earn more money'. Don't you think they aren't already trying?

How much of the advice out there is for a very select few able, talented, healthy, and driven individuals. What about the other 99.5% of us? The ordinary folk. The very best of us don't need advice. They will virtually always find a way to succeed.

What is wrong people that they would dish out such myopic 'advice'?

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