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Comment Full 2015 stats aren't out yet (Score 4, Insightful) 203

TFA links to some summaries, but some of the categories (particular deaths due to accidents) are aggravatingly unspecific. Alzheimer's and accidents (unintentional injuries) had the largest year-over-year increases, at +4.0 and +2.7 deaths per 100,000. The other causes were all +1.5 or less. The increase in these two exceeded the increases in all the other top-10 combined.

I'm really curious to see what the breakdown for unintentional injury deaths looks like for 2015. We're in the middle of a prescription painkiller addiction epidemic which is going largely unreported by the media. Two years ago, overdoses displaced motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of accidental death - a position it had held for over a half century. This year we lost more famous people to overdoses than to gun violence, even though the media spent a vastly disproportionate amount of time focusing on the latter. The day of the UCLA shooting (1 murder, 1 suicide), there was a synthetic drug poisoning incident at a concert in Florida which killed 2 and sent 60 to the hospital. But the media concentrated almost entirely on the UCLA shooting.

Comment Re:What's the point (Score 2) 61

I was on a Lufthansa flight from Chicago to Germany in 2006. They announced that since Boeing had decided to shut down Connexion, they were opening up the WiFi aboard the plane for everyone to use for free. I fired up my laptop while over the middle of the Atlantic, and used the service to VPN into my office. Got some work done, sent a few emails, and printed a quick document exclaiming in bold "I'm printing this from a plane in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean!!!!' just for the folks in the office. I also logged into a MMO for a bit. The lag was too much to really do any combat, but I chatted with guild members about where I was playing from. Alas I had to shut down at that point because I'd drained my battery and they didn't yet have charging ports outside of first class.

I haven't tried the newer WiFi service aboard planes. But based on what you're saying, it sounds like the service is somehow worse than what Boeing had a decade ago and shut down because not enough airlines were interested?

Comment Re:Change how tickets are sold (Score 1) 164

That's the perfect market efficiency method of matching supply with demand - adjust the price until the two match.

The performers who give converts frequently prefer to deliberately mismatch supply and demand. By underpricing the tickets, demand exceeds supply and you end up with lines and shortages. This sort of mismatch (insufficient supply) is a problem with essentials like food (or the long lines for toilet paper that the Soviet Union was famous for). But since concerts are almost always entertainment, they're nonessentials so this mismatch isn't a problem. You don't die or starve (or have dirty underwear) because you were unlucky and didn't manage to get a concert ticket.

So the performers consider the drawbacks of this type of mismatch to be acceptable if it means their fans are able to attend at a lower price if they're fortunate enough to get a ticket. Basically, the performers are willingly leaving money on the table in order to give fans a lower ticket price.

Scalpers try to take advantage of this market mismatch to scoop up some of that money performers are leaving on the table. They either deprive legit fans from a ticket, or force them to have to pay a higher price than the performer set. If there are enough scalpers or their methods of obtaining tickets are sophisticated enough, they could conceivably elbow legit fans completely out of the opportunity to buy tickets.

Laws are not a very good way to try to thwart scalping. The best method is to enforce the non-transferable legal restriction of the ticket sale. e.g. Attach a name to each ticket and require people to show ID when they present their ticket for entry, like the airlines do. This is essentially what companies do when they lower the price on a product with a rebate. If they just dropped the in-store price, ebayers would buy up the entire stock and sell it on eBay at close to the original price. But offering the discount via a rebate which is limited to x submissions per address prevents the biggest abusers. An ebayer might be able to buy a few extra of the product using a work address and relatives' addresses. But it's a lot of hassle and the long turnaround time for the rebate means they'll be out of the capital for a while. So the rebate, while mildly annoying to the legit buyer, makes flipping impractical for the ebayer, thus helping guarantee it's the end-user who enjoys the discounted price provided by the rebate.

Comment Re:I was fortunate to have met him a few year ago (Score 1) 100

My wife and I got a chuckle out of the young security guard that was with him. When people asked who he was, he said that he was the worlds oldest astronaut.

You misunderstood what the security guard meant. Glenn was the oldest person to ever go into space when he flew aboard Discovery on STS-95 in 1998. He was 77.

Comment Re:Preempting Apple (Score 1) 101

There's no pre-empting going on. Apple is not the originator of these ideas - they may be talking about adding them to the next iPhone, but Android has had them for close to 7 years. My Samsung Galaxy S (the first one they made) didn't have physical navigation buttons - it had capacitive touch buttons and used the phone's vibrate module to generate haptic feedback. The navigation buttons were simply a separate touch-sensitive OLED display. Heck, my current Nexus 5 does the same thing except the buttons are part of the main display (has been since Android Honeycomb).

The media is just dominated by Apple fans who refuse to tell the truth and say that Apple is copying Android with these "new" ideas, or who have never taken a serious look outside the iOS ecosystem so they have no idea what else has been available for close to a decade.

Comment Re:I Would Rather Go To Theatres (Score 1) 306

This exactly. You don't go out to eat at a fancy restaurant because the food is worth $40 a plate. You do it because of its value as a shared social experience with your SO, a date, your family or friends. Likewise, a movie on its own is not worth the $10-$15 a theater charges for a seat. Most of its value comes afterwards, from your ability to talk about it with other people who've seen it. Same goes for broadcast TV shows and live sporting events - the synchronized mass consumption is what makes them the topic of conversation around the water cooler the next day.

In that respect, an early rental would work for someone like me. My family room has a projector with 130" screen and a 7.1 speaker system, I could invite some friends over and we could watch a newly released movie together without the lines and screaming kids (or for the friends who have screaming kids, we can pause the movie until the kids stop screaming). But I suspect only a small minority of people have a setup like mine. If all you've got is a 42" TV with built-in speakers, what's the point? You spend all your alone time in your house already. If you're gonna hang out and do something together with your friends, you probably want to do it outside the house. Not to pay $25-$50 to watch a new release movie like it was a TV show.

I should add that I do use my home theater system in this manner. It's a lot of trouble to try to keep track of a herd of kids in a dark room, and embarrassing when one of them has a meltdown in public. So my friends and I do regularly get together with our kids for mass viewings of kids movies on my home theater. But here's the rub - the studios are putting out too many movies. We simply don't have the time to watch them all in this manner. So we're still trying to catch up on the better movies released a few months ago which are now on HBO or Netflix. There's little point watching a current new release for $25-$50 when we can watch as part of our subscription package a movie which was a new release a few months ago that we haven't yet had time to see. Saves us money, and helps us filter out the stinkers and bombs.

Comment I'm kind of surprised they don't do more tie-ins. (Score 1) 306

I'm not talking advertising tie-ins, but why not do additional story lines available for streaming purchase? Especially in those big ensemble superhero movies that are always so narratively cluttered because they have to give you a thin slice of so many characters.

Comment Re:Warranty Support? (Score 2) 183

So... if that is possible, why would any company choose to acquire the debts and obligations of the company they are purchasing?

Because oftentimes they are buying a functioning business and they must. The secured creditors must release their security interests, the unsecured creditors can file suit and argue that there is successor liability, etc.

The situation is entirely different when the business is failing. Sure, you can't fraudulently sell assets for less than their reasonable value, carve up lines of business in odd ways to separate the revenue-generating portion of the line from the obligations of the line, etc. But you can sell off profitable lines of business for their value, or sell off assets for their value, while keeping the obligations and satisfying those that you can. That's exactly what happens in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy -- functioning parts and things that can be salvaged are sold so that they remain productive assets for someone, with the proceeds going to offset the debts. Since the cash, proceeds, and value of any remaining assets are usually less than the sum of the debts and obligations, there losses are allocated amongst the creditors. And customers are just a different, unsecured class of creditor.

Pebble will end up in bankruptcy, sooner rather than later. Lawyers for the creditors will look at what happened in a period before the bankruptcy to see if there is any way to recover additional funds, but so long as the transactions were reasonable, they won't be undone.

Comment Re:Sad (Score 3, Insightful) 183

Well, I dunno. It seems like blaming Fitbit for Pebble's financial failure.

Let's take a consequentialist view of matters. If the rule is you have to buy the whole business and continue to operate it, even though it's losing money, Pebble goes out of business and it's customers and debt holders suffer. If you can sell of just the good bits without the obligation to continue running the failing as before, the customers suffer but the debt holders get some relief. Which approach is better?

Comment Re:Warranty Support? (Score 3, Informative) 183

My understanding is that selling off all your assets right before entering bankruptcy is a reason to have those sales reversed by the courts.

No, a fraudulent sale is a reason to have sales unwound by the courts. If you have an arms-length transaction with a willing buyer at a reasonable price, you haven't done anything that a bankruptcy court wouldn't oversee and approve in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

The company is done. Even in bankruptcy (which is likely coming), those assets would be sold, the obligations left with the defunct company and discharged, and the cash doled out first to the secured creditors, then (if any is left) to others. There's a rather complex hierarchy of priority, and who gets what amount of cents on the dollar is frequently negotiated, but customers are essentially unsecured creditors and very low in the priority scheme.

In short, you're not going to be able to force someone who only is interested in buying IP to also take on order, warranty, and support obligations for the product.

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