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Comment Re:Way to drive away your most loyal customers (Score 1) 58

This times a thousand. I've had my AT&T number since they were Cingular in 2005, and that was on my parents' account that had been AT&T since the early nineties - their first phone was AMPS, and I remember at age 6 or so them complaining about the new digital (D-AMPS) service's coverage range. I signed up for unlimited data for $20/mo on a Razr with HSDPA back in 2005 that I modded to have push IMAP and other smartphone-like capability years before the iPhone came out. AT&T is more expensive than others, but the service is quite good and very fast, and their network uses international standards. I primarily have the unlimited data because I just don't want to think about my use of cellular data - and until the recent price hikes you didn't save any money switching to a metered tier ($30 for unlimited, or $30 for 2GB? What do you think?).

I may not walk right away, but eventually they will succeed in getting me off unlimited data. What I can tell you is they won't be steering me to one of their metered plans, they'll be steering me to T-Mobile where I can get comparable service for half the price, and even though I'd be allowed less full-speed data I wouldn't have any bill concerns which is all I ever wanted.

Comment Re:If you want to know when adulthood really start (Score 1) 261

That's something you'll need to backup with facts. In the past 10 years where I've lived various governments have caved under pressure to let kids get their L plates at an earlier and earlier age.

With the reference to L plates, perhaps you're British? Here is a Guardian article with some statistics in the first paragraph about decline in licensure among 17-to-20 year olds, as well as 21-29. Here's a similar set of statistics for the US.

That would have a lot to do with very little information being passed onto them and people complaining about it everytime they do. How they would love to know how many hours you spend behind the wheel, as you already alluded to :-)

So we're in agreement - without that data they can't do much more than average across the population. But that unfairly (for some definition of "fair") benefits some people while punishing others, assuming you believe in some notion of the intrinsic safety of a driver

Not only did it count for me, the insurance company promoted the classes and I was able to claim back the cost of the class from the insurance company.

This wasn't a class the public could take - it was a class about emergency driving, with lights and siren. It did involve going on a skid pad and learning how to drive through a loss of traction, as well as slalom and reverse-slalom as well as general situational awareness (there's no rear window so you have to track where nearby cars are). Most useful to me was learning driver "psychology" as it were, learning how people in aggregate respond to unusual situations and seeing lots of examples of the ways drivers can screw up given a surprising event means I'm rarely surprised by what someone on the road does. I've had to take evasive action several times to avoid an imminent crash and it's certainly helped to know the limits of the vehicle performance, the road surface, and what the other driver(s) are likely to do given the circumstances.

I don't expect the insurance company to promote or pay for such a class, and in fact they would have no business doing so, but if they took it into consideration it would be a sign that they were willing to individualize their notion of driver risk. But they aren't interested.

Really to be fair, flying a plane is a very different skill set than driving a car. It is a much more refined skill with a metric shitload of inference based on information provided by instrumentation. Where looking out the window becomes important a lot of information is incredibly subtle (at height the landscape can appear almost unmoving) By comparison one of the biggest problems with new drivers is they spend too much time looking at instruments in a scenario where pretty much anything can jump out infront of their windscreen at any moment. It's a very different kind of situational awareness, and personally I don't believe that being a pilot would make you a better (or worse) driver on the road but I would be happy to see some stats to correct me.

The biggest problem with new pilots is that they spend too much time looking at instruments, too. Most private flying is done visually and "seat of the pants", and a flight instructor will commonly cover up all the instruments if a new student is fixating on something (usually the artificial horizon) to try to fly the plane without a "feel" for it. We don't typically fly high enough for the landscape to seem still; it's typical for me to fly at 3500' or 5500' and I spent a lot of time lower than 2500'.

I never said that they were exactly the same skillset, and I don't have any data, but becoming a pilot forces you to become very very good at multitasking, risk management, planning ahead (both before you get in the plane and figuring out what you can do in spare time to keep ahead of the situation), and monitoring the environment.

Let me give you an example: if the weather is good enough (which it is, if you're flying visually) it's on each pilot to "see and avoid" other airplanes. But in controlled airspace, it's a good idea (and sometimes required) to be monitoring the appropriate radio frequency where air traffic controllers are communicating with other airplanes sharing the same few-thousand square mile sector as you. Similarly at an untowered airport there's an advisory frequency that pilots are supposed to self-announce their position and intentions. So you get very good at building a mental model of the airspace around you and where everybody is in 3D space and where they're likely to go, since building this model makes it easier to spot them and make sure you don't fly into each other. Even at a towered airport, where the control tower is helping you find everyone you're flying around with (e.g. if you're practicing landings there might be 5 or more planes "in the pattern"), you have to keep track of where everyone is and make sure there's enough space.

How does this relate to driving? Well, this is about a hundred times harder than keeping track of the cars in front, behind, and in the adjoining lanes and making sure you don't change lanes into a car in your blind spot. And it's very good practice for that subconscious "map of the world" stuff. There are serious differences, in particular that during flying you overwhelmingly can get away with a few seconds of not looking out the window or touching the controls, and in fact it's expected, whereas such a mistake would be frequently costly while driving. But I can't think of a way that learning to fly would make you less safe of a driver (except perhaps by cockiness, which is pretty frowned upon in the aviation community), and considering that there are several areas of overlap that learning to fly improves your skills, I'd say it would make you safer. I certainly feel a lot more "on top of" the situation while I'm driving, and see close calls coming from further away, and am better-prepared to respond sensibly.

Totally agreed on the driver training aspect. Frankly people on the road scare me, and I've seen the aftermath of hundreds of crashes. I see no particular reason to trust the average US driver, and defensive driving only gets you so far. Nine years and two states ago I spent 10 minutes showing a guy (who spent the entire time filling out paperwork) that I could drive, and nobody's questioned me since - or will again for a very long time. But it's totally legal to have a license for 20 years and have driven about 10 hours total, and none in the past 5 years, and then to rent a car and go on the highway opposite direction to you at 70 miles an hour. If that's not an argument for raising the bar for initial licensure, I don't know what is.

Comment Re:What an idiotic professor (Score 1) 261

A bit offtopic, but I'd like to see any data suggesting that 16 or 18 year olds have substantially harder times with self-control than people in their 30s or older. I suspect the biggest factor is that you stop getting in "trouble" for it (aside from ending up broke or pregnant/a dad or with a shit life or alcoholism or something) or that being underage puts you in position where similarly-stupid behavior has bigger consequences. Certainly I knew plenty of kids who did stupid things, but I know plenty of older adults who also do similar kinds of stupid things and I know of no data to refute the idea that some people just are bad at self-control and we just hold it against young people as a class instead of adults where we're willing to localize it to the individual.

Most of the times people come out with data from brain scans (not sufficient, the brain is too complex to be reduced to size comparisons, as a recent study about brain-size changes as a result of pregnancy) or things like drunk-driving accidents. How many of those were a result of being unable to drink legally at the bar or picking up some liquor at the store for consumption at home? Personally I've never driven drunk, but all the times it would have solved a problem for me were before I was 21. You also tend to drink more if you're not - and can't - pay for it, between it being someone else's opportunity and the relative rarity of any alcohol promoting bingeing when it is available. Once you turn 21 it's usually a hit to your own wallet, which tends to put a damper on things. And my behavior personally changed quite a bit when I got a friend who was 21 and I could just keep beer in my fridge as a result - I started drinking better beer less frequently and stopped going to parties for the sole purpose of having alcohol.

Comment Re:If you want to know when adulthood really start (Score 1) 261

Now that people are learning to drive later in life, insurance companies are starting to move away from age as a risk factor for precisely the reason that the GP states. Someone who learns to drive at 25 is not particularly safer after 5 years (at 30) than someone who started driving at 16 after 5 years (at 21). States' "graduated drivers' licenses" are needing adjustment as well. When I got licensed in NJ starting at 16, I had to take a 6-hour road course with a school (after passing the written test of course), then I could drive with parents until 17, then I could drive by myself and one non-family member (and nowadays a red sticker) until 18 when I got a full license. So by 18 I'd already done hundreds of hours of accident- and ticket-free driving, but they still wanted a fortune for insurance. Meanwhile someone I know got licensed in NJ at 22, and they pretty much turned him loose after filling out some paperwork, 3 months of "supervised driving" (which he didn't actually do for more than a few hours, being out of the country for most of it), and passing the "road test" which consists of driving around a parking lot - and his insurance starting out was cheaper than mine after 2 years of driving despite having spent about 10 hours in the drivers' seat.

In general, car insurance companies are not particularly good at estimating individual risk. My insurance rates were unaffected by becoming a certified emergency vehicle operator (for my town's volunteer ambulance agency) on my 18th birthday, which requires special training. For some reason the computer goes "ding" if you have a good high school report card (which I did), but spending a day of classroom and on-the-road training in how to handle vehicles and other drivers while operating radios and sirens doesn't count. Becoming a pilot didn't count either, despite extensive training and practice in high-stakes multitasking, situational awareness, and "thinking ahead of the vehicle" that you can feel working on every drive. But getting a high-paying job in a city where I don't drive at all (and thus lose practice)? Sure, lower rates.

For flying, your insurance has to do with the value of the airplane modulated by your experience as a pilot (in number of hours) as well as any advanced ratings on your certificate. For instance an instrument rating dramatically lowers what you pay. For driving they have their tables based on age and length of license, but those are aggregate statistics. Even if you kept a logbook of every drive and its duration and special skills required on that drive (analogous to the one pilots keep for flying), they wouldn't be interested. This is why the insurance companies are so interested in those ODB plugs with cell modems to report on your driving skill, to actually get that info.

Comment Re:FICA (Score 1) 261

I'm still pretty damn liberal, and I paid in excess of $80,000 in tax last year and have the W2 to prove it. I'm not making enough to get out of paying any of it, either. (I reduced my AMT by about $800 because I made a retroactive contribution to a HSA, but that's it.) Most people in this country don't make as much income as I pay in tax (the median income is something like $50k?). They certainly don't pay as high an high overall rate, especially if they get to deduct mortgage interest (I pay rent in an apartment) or aren't subject to AMT.

I look at what the federal, state, and local governments do with my tax money and figure they should do even more. Sure they ought to be more efficient, which is true for everything, but that would let them do more stuff without having to raise taxes.

But then again I can see that government services - like universal healthcare - are frequently a way to reduce my out-of-pocket expenses. There's also the tiny problem that if things get bad enough, people will rise up and attack - and I don't have the kind of money to buy an island or private army or something.

Comment Re:Let's hope the Electoral College does their job (Score 1) 858

Yeah, I know people like you. You voted for someone you don't understand and have no clue either what he's going to do. (But you're sure it'll be good, or at least better.) You trust that he's got your interests in heart, because billionaire real-estate magnate sons of millionaire fathers know your problems well. (Or at least better than Clinton.) You're sure he's going to do all the things he said, except the things you figure he didn't really mean, right? (Of course, those two sets are different for each supporter and even opponent.)

Basically it's an experiment, but that's not so bad because you think things are really bad and they can't get any worse.

You're wrong.

Comment Re:Let's hope the Electoral College does their job (Score 5, Insightful) 858

If it does, then we probably need one I hate to say. The Founding Fathers were very smart and chose to make the Electoral College full of people who could vote however they chose. They knew full well they could simply do the numerical apportionment we all assume today's EC is, but they didn't - it's people. The only reason that could be is because they were expected to make their own choice, and the only time that's meaningful is if it's different from what the popular vote in their state was.

If the Electoral College exercises their intended autonomy and doesn't elect Trump, they are doing the very thing they're there for. If that - following the letter and intent of the Constitution - causes a revolution then we are a very sick country indeed.

On the other hand, if the EC rubber-stamps Trump's nomination, I have to ask: what purpose does the EC serve? Under what circumstances would they exercise that autonomy? Do we even need an EC at all in that case? And if we're changing things, how should we elect the president considering the urbanization of the country? The current system gives far more weight to citizens in rural states than urban ones, and we should have a conversation about that as well.

Honestly the country is very, very ill. I sometimes wonder if the "liberal" and "conservative" areas would consent to a sort of a "trial separation" - say 6 or 10 years, something with a fixed end date that would result in a vote to continue or reunite. The details are extremely complex but it's the only thing I can come up with that might get people appreciating their countrymates.

Comment Re:Someone missed the Spirit of the Law (Score 1) 86

That's an overly simplistic (dare I say, engineering) view of how the law works. While their decisions are grounded in statute and constitutional law, as well as common law, they have broad enough latitude in how they apply it that they use a number of doctrines to actually figure out how they're going to rule even if they could rule either way based on the merits of the case. The higher up the court, the more likely this becomes - after all the case is sufficiently ambiguous that the lower courts couldn't resolve it easily. These doctrines are broadly speaking the court's view of "justness" and help them consistently apply the law to the facts of the case.

For instance, a number of laws have been struck down as being overly vague and a court could certainly find that because your hypothetical law doesn't define "shoe size" precisely enough, it's essentially void. Or if they figured that such a law was fair, they could also agree with the government that "shoe size" is commonly understood.

Put more broadly, one of the reasons the courts are so important is because they can essentially create law from thin air. For instance, did you know that the Constitution has nothing in it giving the Supreme Court the power to strike down laws? The court gave itself that power in Marbury v. Madison. (It's a bit more complicated than that, as history is, but nonetheless the Constitution doesn't mention it.) The court's mandate is deliberately left vague enough to continue to be relevant - for instance, if you piss off the court, you might find yourself jailed indefinitely for contempt, which is the only indefinite detention allowed by law. If you proscribe a court's behavior too much it becomes too easy to circumvent which leads to absurdities. Thankfully courts are reactive, not proactive, by nature - and they tend to have pretty reasonable and history-conscious people on them, so this usually works out alright.


Comment Re:Deflection (Score 1) 756

Sure. On the money side I was against Citizens United, and on the media side I think cable news is an abomination. There's a lot to be said for there being a few national networks - ideally non-profit public broadcasters - that attempt to reach everybody. With a national audience you have to be balanced and clearly call out editorializing to be broadly palatable. Cable news (let alone the Internet) can get away with confusing opinion and fact on a regular basis - in fact it's a virtue.

But again, we expect citizens to influence our elections. Foreign governments don't get to do it, let alone covertly. It's axiomatic. Why is this so hard?

Comment Re:Deflection (Score 1) 756

No. It doesn't work that way. Governments don't get to interfere in other country's elections without repercussions. Full stop. Especially covertly - if their motives are so noble why are they all cloak and dagger? Is it because they think people wouldn't like it if they started running ads on TV saying "Russia thinks you should vote for Trump"? You know, the last time the Russians interfered in our elections, people got kind of annoyed about it.

If you think saying this is locker room banter, stay the FUCK out of my locker room. I've heard some stuff in locker rooms and it didn't come close to this. You just don't get it, do you? There's a difference between "wow, she's hot, I'd like to fuck her, look at those boobs, think they're real?" and "I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab 'em by the pussy. You can do anything"

One is vulgar appreciation for hot women, which (while in poor taste perhaps) certainly qualifies as locker room banter. Guys think women are hot and would like to have sex with them - news at 11. Talking about how you, as a celebrity, get to "grab 'em by the pussy" and KNOWING that you get away with it is a whole other level. It's not abstract, it's not hypothetical, and there's mounting evidence that this has actually happened more than once.

You are what is wrong with this country. And you don't even understand why! Clinton's "basket of deplorables" comment was a pretty awful thing to say about her countrymates, but damn it all you just keep trying to prove it, huh?

Clinton is a damaged candidate in a lot of ways and I doubt she'll be seen as one of history's great presidents. Trump represents an existential threat to this country. And if you don't see why, you are the existential threat. Because the problem isn't Trump - it's you who have brought him to the cusp of power and given him the support he requires. Without you and your cohorts he has nothing but money. When he loses, you will still be there.

I have made it a point of pride to respect people I disagree with politically. I understood Mitt Romney and his supporters, I knew John McCain was a decent man, and thought Paul Ryan was looking out for the best interests of the country. I knew they saw the world and the country and its problems differently than I did, but that seems like a silly thing to lose respect over. This year that all went out the window. I can have no respect for the Trump supporter. It's that simple. You've allowed yourself to become so wound up over a bogus set of facts that you can't even see where you're going, and you can't be allowed to take the country with you. Even Trump campaign staffers have had enough!

"It's appalling. It's just flat out appalling," a Trump adviser said.

Asked about the reaction at a campaign field office, a Trump field staffer told CNN there were "gasps. Collective gasps. We're trying to get our heads around it right now, but there's no way to spin this. There just isn't."

Don't bother replying, I really don't care what you think. Instead take the time to ask a woman in your life what she thinks about someone famous and powerful grabbing them by the pussy because he knows she won't be able to do anything to him. You at least have a mother or aunt or sister or something so ask her.

Comment Re:Deflection (Score 1) 756

There is, in fact, strong evidence that Russia is trying to influence our election for their own aims. Doesn't that bother you? Would it bother you more if they were trying to help Hillary? Hell most Trump supporters are mad at the media for talking about the things he says publicly, let alone when a foreign government does it. It's this far from an act of war to interfere with another country's elections, and the US has been rightly criticized for doing it to other countries before.

Nobody's denying that they're true - in fact nobody cares since all she describes is politics, and business, and book group negotiations, and... - and that's not the point. All of these Hillary scandals are washed up and never as juicy as the media makes them sound, so people just get tired. We get it, people don't like her, and people think she's secretive. But most people think she'd be a better administrator for a few years, custodian if you will, than someone with such a short fuse that he'll upend his entire campaign at 3AM - so without talking to anyone - in a fit of pique. Presidential campaigns are very serious! You can't just fuck it up because something got under your skin! What's he gonna do, nuke France one night on a whim because Hollande said something mean to him and it's been keeping him up?

Comment Re:So that's how Trump's spinning it (Score 1) 843

I think you're attributing too much to the Times. They - several times - point out that what he did was perfectly legal and acceptable, and otherwise don't waste any time discussing it, instead discussing how the deductions work and other aspects of his finances. Any characterization of him in the article has nothing to do with legality or even ethics - it's about his skill as a businessman, at using the rules to his advantage, as a responsible citizen, and of course overall his suitability to become the President.

People hate taxes. People also try to pay the least taxes possible. We all do it - and we're supposed to, since the tax code explicitly encourages certain behaviors like charity and investing for the future. I personally reduced my tax bill last year by $1000 because I (retroactively) maxed out my HSA. But most people have to pay taxes because they get a paycheck and it's just taken out and they have no way around it. And they watch people with astonishing amounts of money (which includes Trump, regardless of his exact income) get out of the thing that they have no control over. The government spends their money, not Trump's. This feeling people have isn't really open for debate - the tax code has undergone significant upheavals due to similar public outrage before. (The creation of the AMT is just one example, but virtually every other loophole counts.)

The question is, what does your average working person think about Donald Trump as a man who is on their side? This is a question they answer emotionally, not by referring to the depreciation schedules or a philosopher. Do you think the average American is impressed or angered by Trump losing approximately ~%0 of his effective income between 1995-2013 (at least) while they lost about ~20%? Certainly he is trying to convince people that they should be impressed. But what did they think of Romney, who had very similar tax- and bankruptcy-law acumen?

Notice - I haven't actually judged Trump negatively or positively in the above text. Does it seem like I have? All I did was described facts about him and the American people. Personally I actually agree with what Romney said in 2012 - basically it's up to the legislators to make a tax code that reflects the public policy about who should pay what taxes, and if a man like Mr. Trump can avoid paying taxes then either that's what he should be doing according to our Congress, or they should fix it.

It's not patriotic to pay extra tax and nobody is seriously arguing that it is. The questions people have about him have nothing to do with money.

Comment Re:FAA is barred from legislating by sec 331 (Score 3, Informative) 192

Section 331 of the 2012 FAA modernization act is a definitions section. Perhaps you meant section 336. You also left off a bunch of conditions:
- It has to be hobby/recreational
- It has to be according to the AMA's rules ("in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization")
- It has to be less than 55 pounds or signed off on by the AMA
- It has not interfere with manned aircraft
- If within 5 miles of an airport, you have to call the airport
- It has to be within visual line of sight

Also it says that "Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the authority of the Administrator to pursue enforcement action against persons operating model aircraft who endanger the safety of the national airspace system."

So the section 336 exemption is followed exactly, except that the FAA says that if the drone is more than 0.55lbs it must be registered. The FAA probably argues that this is part of maintaining the safety of the national airspace system, and I think it's a case they will win considering it's based on weight. Their legal argument is basically that by codifying the Part 107 UAS rules, they have told everyone "we consider unregistered drones over 0.55lbs to endanger the safety of the NAS and will pursue enforcement actions against such persons" - which is basically all a regulation is. The plantiff's argument would have to be along the lines of "well technically the law says you can't do anything it doesn't say, and doesn't say anything about whether heavier drones can be required to be registered". Which is fair enough, but since registration is non-discriminatory (anyone can do it, the FAA won't tell anyone they can't) and free ($5 online but you can do it on paper), they'd have to argue that the registration requirement itself constitutes a burdensome regulation on top of what's allowed by the law - to which I say good luck.

Generally, laws about regulation either delegate a section of authority to an agency for them to figure out the rules, or (if the congress-folks are worried about the agency doing or not doing something they don't like, which is what happened here and with the more recent class-3 medical certification reform for manned aircraft) they lay out the shape of the rules that they expect the FAA to create. That's what the FAA did here, modulo that registration requirement. But it's up to the agency to create the laws that follow the outline in the law, and on general principle courts will yield to the regulating authority unless the disconnect is "big enough".

Comment Re:I don't think there's much of a case here. (Score 1) 192

Laws like the Air Commerce Act and the Federal Aviation Act which give the FAA authority over aircraft in the United States? Once those laws have been passed, it's up to the FAA to figure out what the rules are. That's called "administrative law" and the "real" law says "you have to follow the administrative law".

Let's say you fly the drone stupidly and get punished by the FAA. (If you fly the drone non-stupidly and follow the simple rules, that's fine with everyone.) They have to follow an internal process to decide if they punish you or not, and you get your say, but I recommend you be apologetic because they don't have to convince anyone but themselves to punish you. If you don't like it you can appeal - to the NTSB. If you don't like what the NTSB's Administrative Law Judge decides, you can appeal to the full board of the NTSB. The NTSB will only stop the FAA if the FAA isn't following its own rules or is acting "arbitrary and capricious" in its decision - that's extremely rare, though it did happen with drones a few years back (the FAA had to go through the full rulemaking process, which they've since done). If you don't like the NTSB's decision you can appeal that to the federal courts, who themselves will only intervene if the NTSB "abused its discretion, or its determination is wholly unsupported by the evidence". I don't think this has ever happened, but you're welcome to give it a shot!

Comment Re:Common sense solution (Score 3, Insightful) 192

Er, what do you think "kill[s] millions of Americans every year"? Only 2.6 million people died in 2014 all together. 614k of those are heart disease, followed closely by cancer at 591k. Those two are the only causes of death above 150k/yr. Unless you're saying that "our Western appetites, processed food, and a largely sedentary lifestyle" are the "countless things" we're letting by, you're talking out your ass.

Certainly drones must seem like a non-issue to you if you think the world is at least 10x more fatal than it is. For the rest of us, it would be nice if people would be a bit more responsible with their dangerous toys. Like the old-school model airplane AMA-member types - that's all anyone (including the FAA) wants out of the drone types. I think the eggs and magnet bans are stupid too (though you can still buy the magnets btw) but drones can hurt other people so they're a different category.

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