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How a Solar Storm Two Years Ago Nearly Caused a Catastrophe On Earth

jratcliffe Objoke (212 comments)

Bunch of astrophysicists walk into a bar. First one orders a gin and tonic, and gets it. Second one orders a red wine, and gets it. Third one orders a Mexican beer, at which point the bartender yells "all right, that's it, everybody out!" Another bar customer asks the first astrophysicist "what's going on?" He responds "Coronal mass ejection."

3 days ago
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Amazon Fire Phone Reviews: Solid But Overly Ambitious

jratcliffe Re:they're also toys though (58 comments)

Posting to remove moderation error (meant to click insightful, accidentally hit redundant!).

5 days ago
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Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

jratcliffe Re:The real problem here... (353 comments)

Except that credit score is actually quite a good predictor of car insurance risk. Not saying that it's causal, but, overall, people who pay their bills on time also tend to drive more cautiously and get into fewer accidents.

Yup - the beauty of actuarial tables is that they contain all those non-politically-correct correlations we're not supposed to talk about. We can hate what is in the tables, but they are cold hard statistics. Certainly they are open to over-interpretation, but the correlations are what they are.

Yup - there are some criteria that we've explicitly decided NOT to let people use (i.e. even if you could show that race and auto insurance costs were correlated, and that the relationship was statistically significant, you still couldn't charge people more for being black/white/Asian/whatever), but credit score isn't one of those.

about three weeks ago
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Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

jratcliffe Re:The real problem here... (353 comments)

Except that credit score is actually quite a good predictor of car insurance risk. Not saying that it's causal, but, overall, people who pay their bills on time also tend to drive more cautiously and get into fewer accidents.

about three weeks ago
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US Arrests Son of Russian MP In Maldives For Hacking

jratcliffe Re:Guam is in the Maldives now? (176 comments)

I've got to think he was arrested/detained/etc in the Maldives. I can't imagine that he'd be stupid enough to visit Guam with a US indictment hanging over him.

about three weeks ago
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US Arrests Son of Russian MP In Maldives For Hacking

jratcliffe Re:Hm... (176 comments)

Since when did the US got power to arrest people in Maldives? Does that mean they can just go into arbitrary countries and arrest people arbitrarily?

Not unless the country in question authorizes it. If the Maldives didn't, then it's kidnapping. If they did, then it's deportation, and entirely kosher.

about three weeks ago
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US Arrests Son of Russian MP In Maldives For Hacking

jratcliffe Re:Kidnapping. (176 comments)

1. The US and Russia don't have an extradition treaty. Russia, in fact, doesn't extradite their citizens, period. So, that option is moot.
2. If the Maldives decided to hand him over to the US, that's the Maldives' call. They can deport people to wherever they please. Again, no violation of treaty, since the Maldives and Russia (and the Maldives and the US) don't have an extradition treaty.
3. If he was grabbed without the consent of the Maldivian (?) government, then that would constitute kidnapping there (presumably, I'm not an expert on the law of the Maldives).

about three weeks ago
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US Arrests Son of Russian MP In Maldives For Hacking

jratcliffe Re:Secret Service job description (176 comments)

The US Secret Service is chartered with two utterly unrelated duties:
1) Investigation of financial crimes such as counterfeiting and fraud.
2) Protection of the US protected class of untouchable leaders, as well as visiting foreign dignitaries.

I don't see violation of the rights of third party nationals in foreign lands anywhere in their charter. Surely there are normal cooperative channels to bring the case to the attention of the law enforcement agencies of the foreign lands and also the third party governments.

Violation of the sovereignty of the US by attacking it or its citizens does not seem to be a part of this case.

1. This falls clearly under #1, investigation of financial crimes.
2. He was indicted in 2011. If he were, say, a UK citizen (for example), the US would have put in an extradition request, and the UK would have (following a hearing, assuming there was credible evidence) extradited him. Same if the alleged crime had taken place in the UK, and he were a US citizen in the US.
3. Russia doesn't extradite their citizens, period, and, even if they did, there's no extradition treaty between the US and Russia. Therefore, no, there aren't any "normal cooperative channels" involved.
4. If the Maldives government (and I have to assume he was arrested there, otherwise he'd be a complete idiot, knowing that he had been indicted in the US, to visit Guam) consented to his arrest and transfer to the US, that's entirely kosher. The Maldives doesn't have an extradition treaty with the US (they don't have one with anyone, as far as I know, which might have been a reason that Mr. Seleznev decided to vacation there), but that doesn't mean that they're not allowed to extradite people, just that they're not obliged to.

about three weeks ago
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Uber Is Now Cheaper Than a New York City Taxi

jratcliffe Re:And in other news (139 comments)

Again, in NYC (not everywhere, NYC is the exception), Uber drivers, including UberX, have to have commercial licenses, and their cars have commercial plates. They also have commercial insurance.

about three weeks ago
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Uber Is Now Cheaper Than a New York City Taxi

jratcliffe Re:And in other news (139 comments)

Again, Uber in NYC is different. All their drivers (including UberX drivers) have commercial licenses, and are driving Taxi & Limo Commission certified cars, with commercial plates.

about three weeks ago
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Uber Is Now Cheaper Than a New York City Taxi

jratcliffe Re:And in other news (139 comments)

Around here, you also have to declare and insure for a 'purpose', not just a liability amount. After all, $1 million dollar liability on a sunny summer weekends only car is less than the same risk as a Taxi.

Around here, there is, in order of increasing cost:

Pleasure (pleasure use only, a couple days per month commuting are ok)

Commuting (driving to and from work, not "for work" itself - different sub classes depending on how far you commute)

Business (drive for work, meeting customers etc)

Delivery -- For the delivery class there are sub classes depending on what type of vehicle, and what is being delivered. Pizza drivers need this I know from personal experience. And I bet anything that 'delivering people' or 'taxi' insurance is in here to, that uber drivers would be required to have it, and that many do not.

Again, in NYC, Uber drivers carry the same insurance that taxis or any other livery car driver carriers. It's commercial vehicle insurance.

about three weeks ago
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Uber Is Now Cheaper Than a New York City Taxi

jratcliffe Re:And in other news (139 comments)

Uber drivers are covered by a lot less when they are looking but have not accepted a fare.

Not in NYC. Same insurance requirements, since they're all regulated livery car drivers.

about three weeks ago
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Uber Is Now Cheaper Than a New York City Taxi

jratcliffe One key clarification (139 comments)

UberX in NYC is somewhat different from UberX in most markets. In NYC, UberX uses licensed livery cars and drivers (who have livery licenses, commercial insurance, etc), the same as Uber Black, etc., and the standard car service companies. The only difference between UberX and Uber Black in NYC is that UberX will have less nice cars (typically Camrys vs. Town Cars).

This is very different from UberX in SF, LA, etc., where it's pretty much "got a car? got a license? congrats, you're an UberX driver!"

about three weeks ago
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Bug In Fire TV Screensaver Tears Through 250 GB Data Cap

jratcliffe Re:If some idiot leaves a space heater running 24/ (349 comments)

lets not paint a picture of US IPSs as working tirelessly to upgrade infrastructure and provide lower cost, improved service...It's Not in their interest to spend billions on new infrastructure to improve services and lower consumer costs

1. They are spending billions on new infrastructure. AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and Time Warner Cable spent about $51 billion last year in capex.
2. They aren't focused on lowering consumer costs, but the improved service is definitely there (albeit clearly uneven, depending on location). As an example, Comcast's base broadband service was 10Mbps two years ago. By the end of this year, it will be 50Mbps. Prices have risen about 5-10% over that time, so you're looking at a 75%+ decline in $/Mbps.

about a month ago
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Bug In Fire TV Screensaver Tears Through 250 GB Data Cap

jratcliffe Re:It's 2014 (349 comments)

If you think that the $ AT&T is getting from USF is at all meaningful to them, or comes even close to the benefit they'd get from being able to raise their other rates to capture the 15%+ USF tax (i.e. instead of consumer paying $100, USF getting 15, and AT&T getting 85, AT&T could get 95, and consumer's bill would drop), you really haven't thought much about this.

As for your complaint that USF subsidizes the wrong things, I don't necessarily disagree with you, but the program is designed to ensure that every household in the US, even if poor, rural, or both, has phone service.

about a month ago
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Bug In Fire TV Screensaver Tears Through 250 GB Data Cap

jratcliffe Re:It's 2014 (349 comments)

AT&T gets minimal benefit from the USF. The vast majority goes to medium and small rural telcos. AT&T would be ecstatic if USF were cancelled tomorrow.

about a month ago
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Unintended Consequences For Traffic Safety Feature

jratcliffe Re:Old news. More accidents != bad (579 comments)

Thus we introduce seatbelts and eventually legally require them for safety -- but what happened is car crashes skyrocketed because drivers felt safer while strapped in so everyone started driving more irresponsibly.

Do you have any data to support this assertion? The data we do have clearly shows that highway fatalities have dropped DRAMATICALLY since seatbelt installation, and later use, became mandatory. In 1967 (the last year before all new cars were required to have seatbelts, the US had 5.26 traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles travelled. Fifteen years later (by which time virtually all cars on the road had seatbelts, given the lifespan of a car), that rate was 2.58, or down more than 50%. Even if there was some level of increased reckless driving (which, again, you've provided no evidence for), the NET impact was dramatically positive.

about a month ago
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Winners of First Seized Silk Road Bitcoin Auction Remain Anonymous

jratcliffe Re:Pivotal point? (88 comments)

The gov't is saying anything about their value. The buyers in the auction are.

about a month ago

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