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Deputy Who Fatally Struck Cyclist While Answering Email Will Face No Charges

raehl Ridiculous. (463 comments)

We don't imprison everyone who is involved in a fatal car accident. We accept that there are inherent risks in using roadways, and those risks include errors by other users of said roadways.

about two weeks ago

Deputy Who Fatally Struck Cyclist While Answering Email Will Face No Charges

raehl No, it wasn't. (463 comments)

The problem is, this death was a result of systemic problems between the police and society at large, specifically the police thinking - correctly, it appears - that they're above the law.

The lack of prosecution in this case is NOT because the police are "above the law". The lack of prosecution in this case is because the law specifically allows the police to use electronic devices in the course of their duties while operating their vehicles. The same way the law allows the police to exceed the speed limit in certain cases, or allows them to park pretty much anywhere, or allows them to pull you over, or allows them to do any number of other things that a normal citizen can't do.

You may argue that it's a bad practice, but keep in mind that one person dying because officers are allowed to use electronic devices while driving doesn't necessarily mean that's bad practice any more than officers sometimes causing accidents because they can speed or run red lights in the course of their duties means those are overall bad practices either. We'd need to know how many people are hurt as a result of officers operating electronic devices while driving and compare that to how many people would be hurt if officers had to use the radio or pull over every time they needed to use electronic devices.

Regardless, there was no legal basis for criminal charges in this incident.

about two weeks ago

9th Circuit Court Elevates Celebrity Privacy Rights Over Video Game Portrayals

raehl But they're not. (207 comments)

They're using a jersey number assigned by the NCAA that will be reused for other players later, and a set of stats collected by the NCAA.

This won't last long, NCAA will just amend their terms so that all athletes must give up likeness rights to compete.

about a year ago

Obama Praises Amazon At One of Its Controversial Warehouses

raehl Re:Misleading summary (435 comments)

It may have the same effect as a subsidy

If it looks like a duck....

If the government agreed to send oil companies a check for $10 for every barrel of oil produced, we'd all agree that that's a subsidy, right?

If the government instead says, "We'll credit your tax bill $10 for every barrel of oil you produce, reducing the amount on the tax check you send us", it's THE SAME DAMNED THING.

Oh and calling tax write-offs that oil companies take over employee benefits and such a "subsidy", when every other type of company can use those same write-offs is being disingenuous.

No one is calling those tax write-offs available to all businesses subsidies. The subsidies are the tax write-offs available ONLY to oil production companies. One example is the ability to write off the "declining value" of oil wells.

So, if you're an oil company, you spend $20 billion looking for oil reserves, and deduct those expenses. Then, you find a reserve, worth say, $100 billion. Then, you spend $20 billion getting that oil out of the ground, and deduct those expenses, and then you sell the oil for $100 billion. This is all the normal way a business would run. For example, someone might spend $20 million researching a new product, $20 million making the products, and then sell the products for $100 million, making $60 million in profits they are taxed on.

But on top of the normal deductions for ACTUAL COSTS, the oil companies ALSO deduct the "declining value of the wells". You know, since the oil in the ground was worth $100 billion, as they pump the oil out of the ground and the "value" of the oil in the ground declines, THEY DEDUCT THE DECLINING VALUE OF THE WELLS TOO!

And that's a subsidy. It's a tax deduction no normal business gets.

about a year ago

Apple Retailer Facing Class Action Suit Over Employee Bag Checks

raehl You're wrong on all counts. (353 comments)

As an airline pilot, you've (well, your union, on your behalf) negotiated a contract with the airline where your pay is based on getting the plane where it needs to go, and you are paid for all activities necessary to accomplish the task for which you are paid for.


I am sure that, once you add up all the time you spend on all of your job-related activities, your wage + time and a half for hours over 40 per week, greatly exceeds the minimum wage.

Just like every other salaried employee who doesn't make any more money when it's crunch time and you have to pull 10-12 hour days to get shit done. It's called a job description, and being paid for the job (get plane from A to B) instead of the time (you were in airports/planes from 9 AM to 8 PM.)

If you don't like the terms of your contract, either renegotiate it so you are paid by the hour instead of by the trip (or flight hour), or work somewhere else. I hear Apple stores are hiring.

Note that Apple stores probably don't have benefits like medical, dental, or free flights on any domestic carrier on a space-available basis, and your hourly wage will plummet vs. your flight-hour wage, but at least you'll get a slight increase on your paycheck if customs takes a little longer to clear!

about a year ago

Why Protesters In Cairo Use Laser Pointers

raehl It depends. (303 comments)

Is that not the textbook definition of a coup d'etat?

Just because a government is democratically elected doesn't mean it's a democracy. History is full of democratically elected governments that then turn into totalitarian regimes.

If Obama woke up tomorrow and ordered that all Tea Party members be arrested, I would expect our military to essentially remove him from office - in the immediate case by ignoring him, and in the longer case by Congress impeaching him and removing him from office - which would still require the cooperation of the military (they'd have to decide to listen to Congress and not the President.)

In Egypt, there isn't really a constitutional mechanism to get rid of a leader who, while democratically elected, isn't fulfilling his responsibilities as a democratic leader, so the best thing they have is the Army takes care of it.

So while this may technically be a coup in that the elected leader is being removed from office through a non-elective means, it's not necessarily undemocratic, if you believe the elected leader is abusing the freedoms of the people and the coup is to create the opportunity for someone who does respect the rights of the people to be elected.

about a year ago

Hacker Exposes Evidence of Widespread Grade Tampering In India

raehl Sorry.... (304 comments)

Just because the questions are assigned those values doesn't mean that the final result is the sum of the points. For example, somewhere here someone linked to a test where the total possible points was 110. So it's pretty obvious that final test score is NOT just the sum of the points earned on the questions, since no one gets a score higher than 100.

about a year ago

Amazon: Publishers Strong-Armed Us On E-Books

raehl More importantly... (171 comments)

You don't set your price based on what it costs you to make/provide something. You set your price to maximize profits.

So it doesn't matter that eBooks are cheaper to make/distribute than hard copies. What matters is whether people are willing to pay the same price for an eBook as they are for a hard copy. eBooks are arguably better than hard copy books, so it stands to reason people will pay at least as much, if not more, for them.

Now, in a free market, you would expect a competitor to enter the market at lower pricing - but books are copywritten, so it's not exactly a free market. Even then, the justice department is examining whether competitors in the market illegally colluded to force the agency model on eBook retailers.

about a year ago

Hacker Exposes Evidence of Widespread Grade Tampering In India

raehl Re: and how many people just cramed the test (304 comments)

Did you notice that the exam you linked has a 110 points worth of questions?

Obviously the test score earned is not merely the sum of the value of the questions answered correctly.

about a year ago

Hacker Exposes Evidence of Widespread Grade Tampering In India

raehl Say what? (304 comments)

there's an entire paragraph devoted to how it can't be that the questions had such a scoring system which made certain numbers unattainable.

And that entire paragraph is wrong.

Example: Any scoring system where the final test score earned is NOT the sum of point values for each question.

about a year ago

Hacker Exposes Evidence of Widespread Grade Tampering In India

raehl The Author is an Idiot (304 comments)


- There is a national cheating conspiracy ...or....

- The test score is not based on assigning a value to each question and adding up those values.

For example, the test could simply be scored as such:

All answers correct: Score 100
Miss one question: Score 99
Miss two questions: 98
Three questions: 97
Four: 96
Five: 94
Six: 92
etc etc
Miss 20 questions: 35
Miss 21 questions: 31
etc etc.

The author makes the ASSUMPTION that the score of the test must be the sum of the value of the questions answered correctly. There is no basis for that assumption. The fact that certain values are not present, and the values 34, 33 and 32 are not present, are likely by design (i.e. don't make people feel like they just missed passing.)

All the author has shown is that India is apparently doing a very poor job teaching critical thinking skills (as evidenced by the author's inability to exercise critical thinking skills.)

about a year ago

FAA On Travel Delays: Get Used To It

raehl Re:Sequestration is a gimmick (720 comments)

That's because when most people suggest a flat tax, they only mean replacing the income tax with a flat tax and not including the payroll tax. A flat tax PLUS a payroll tax is tremendously unfair to the poor.

If your flat tax replaces both the federal income and federal payroll tax, and applies to all income, and maybe has an exemption for the first $X of income per adult, then you have an actual fair tax.

about a year ago

FAA On Travel Delays: Get Used To It

raehl Re:Sequestration is a gimmick (720 comments)

The Republicans love the rich, that's why they try to make it easier to become rich.

Except that's not true. Republicans make it easier to *STAY* rich. They make it quite difficult to become rich, because if you're not already rich, you have to pay the federal government 43% of your income in taxes on the way to becoming rich, while the people who are already rich pay 15%.

If Republicans really wanted to make it easier to become rich, they would replace the income and payroll taxes with a flat 25% tax on all income. Maybe let everyone have their first $10k tax free.

about a year ago

FAA On Travel Delays: Get Used To It

raehl You're making a common error. (720 comments)

and see that the higher income groups do, in fact, pay more in income taxes.

Except they don't. The problem here is that politicians are very sneaky, and it appears you've fallen for the trick: There is the Income Tax, and then there are taxes on income. They are not the same, but people (especially republican politicians) like to use them interchangeably. Most of the time, when a politician says "income tax", they are excluding the payroll tax, which is a big federal tax on all income... from wages, i.e. actually working.

To get an idea of the net effect of federal taxes, below are marginal tax rates for different types of income:

Income from wages: 25.6 to 43.6% (income tax plus payroll tax)
Interest: 10% to 35%
Short term capital gains: Same as interest.
Dividends and Long Term Capital Gains: 15%
Carried Interest: 15%
Tax-exempt municipal bonds: 0%

So while SOME of the "rich" (like doctors) pay a pretty high tax rate, most of the filthy rich ("investors") pay a very low 15% rate on their income. That's why Romney's rate is so low.

Again, many of the rich pay a much, much lower federal tax rate on their income than most of the middle class.

about a year ago

HTC Does What Google Wouldn't: Sell an LTE Phone That Sidesteps AT&T

raehl Re:Just so you know what you're in for... (290 comments)

I'm not talking 4G coverage. I'm talking any coverage at all.

I do a LOT of traveling, and have both Verizon and T-Mobile plans. In urban areas, T-Mobile is fine. But it doesn't work many places, including my parent's house in the Chicago suburbs, and several spots along I-94 from Hudson to Madison, and even where there is coverage, it'll regularly drop calls while driving.

In rural areas, it won't work at all.

I'm aware that T-mobile has a coverage map. So does Verizon, and it's far, far larger.

Again, if you spend all your time in urban areas, not an issue for you, but if not, T-Mobile can be quite annoying. (There's a technical reason for this - due to the frequency T-Mobile has a license for in the US, they need more towers to cover the same area.)

about a year ago

HTC Does What Google Wouldn't: Sell an LTE Phone That Sidesteps AT&T

raehl Re:Just so you know what you're in for... (290 comments)

Meh, my phone integrates to the sound system of the car and is entirely hands free. I can even answer the call with a button on the steering wheel. If you're allowed to talk to passengers....

about a year ago

FAA On Travel Delays: Get Used To It

raehl Re:Sequestration is a gimmick (720 comments)

The dems only wanted to raise taxes on the rich

The problem is raise is the wrong word here. The correct word to use is RESTORE taxes on the rich.

I'm a small business owner. By the time I pay my federal taxes (income and payroll, which is really all income) I'm paying 43.6% of every additional dollar I own to the federal government.

How can I lower my tax burden?

Well, I just need to become FILTHY rich. The problem is that I actually work for my income. If I already had enough money that I just needed to "invest" for my income, I could knock my federal tax rate down to 15%. Even less with some nice accounting tricks.

I think it is perfectly fair that people who "invest" to get their income pay the same tax rate as those of us who actually WORK for our income.

Republicans, however, are not interested in this concept. They are a party whose #1 priority is helping the rich get richer. The Republican position isn't "low taxes", the Republican position is "High taxes for the middle class, low taxes for the rich." And they have been successful at advancing that position - the Bush tax cuts heavily favored the wealthy. Now that the Republicans already managed to get the rich to pay lower taxes than the rest of us, they are working very hard to make sure the rich keep that advantage, at the expense of everything else.

That's not to say Democrats don't have their own problems, but until Republicans agree that the rich should pay the same taxes as people who work, it is silly for me to support Republicans.

And if a bunch of generally wealthy people have to spend a lot more time sitting around airports to get rich people to pay their fair share, I'm good with that.

about a year ago

HTC Does What Google Wouldn't: Sell an LTE Phone That Sidesteps AT&T

raehl Just so you know what you're in for... (290 comments)

T-Mobile has the most affordable service in the US.

It also has the worst coverage. If you're in urban areas all the time, this won't effect you much, but if you travel outside urban areas, dropped calls and areas of no coverage at all are common.

I drive along interstate 94 through western Wisconsin fairly frequently and while I can place calls along the way, I can't keep a call going more than a couple minutes until I get into the MSP metro area. 94 down to Madison is even worse.

"Can't talk on phone while driving on interstate" is a pretty big negative for me.

about a year ago

Researcher Evan Booth: How To Weaponize Tax-Free Airport Goods

raehl Re:Uhm, no. (288 comments)

So, if I actually only need to be there 30 minutes in advance, why am I told that I need to be there two hours in advance?

The 2 hours is published as a recommendation, not a requirement.

And you're told that because if you don't know when you actually need to arrive at the airport, you're probably an infrequent traveler, and then you may need to be there 2 hours in advance.

That 2 hours includes finding a place to park, getting into the terminal, waiting through the check-in line (which may be short or long, depending), getting through security (which may be short or long, depending), and getting to the gate.

If you know what you're doing and are fit and able, you can clip that down to 45 minutes. I do it all the time. In fact I've checked a bag 31 minutes before departure more times than one might think possible. But if the airline is publishing a number for Jane and Joe Public, 2 hours is a good recommendation.

about a year and a half ago


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