We Can’t Let John Deere Destroy the Very Idea of Ownership | WIRED

April 23rd, 2015

You should have the right to use anything you own the way you want to use it. John Deere needs to get a grip.

It’s official: John Deere and General Motors want to eviscerate the notion of ownership. Sure, we pay for their vehicles. But we don’t own them. Not according to their corporate lawyers, anyway.

In a particularly spectacular display of corporate delusion, John Deere—the world’s largest agricultural machinery maker —told the Copyright Office that farmers don’t own their tractors. Because computer code snakes through the DNA of modern tractors, farmers receive “an implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle.

”It’s John Deere’s tractor, folks. You’re just driving it.

via We Can't Let John Deere Destroy the Very Idea of Ownership | WIRED.

Liberals and the racist label

April 20th, 2015

Our local, world-famous RPD beat officer posted to the East CAC Facebook page today about his upcoming meeting with the owners of the local shopping center and asked neighbors what things he should discuss with the owners. Several citizens posted thoughtful, helpful critiques of the shopping center, though a few noted how some teens who sometime loiter in the parking lot make them nervous.

This made one neighbor uncomfortable. She responded:

“I’ve shopped at [this store] regularly for five years and I have never–not once–been solicited, approached, or bothered in any way, shape, or form by teenagers or loiterers. I’m confused as to where this concern is coming from (and yeah, I know there was that big fight there a month or so ago) Frankly, it’s making me a little bit uncomfortable, as this thread seems to be a bunch of white people talking about how to make the neighborhood shopping center a better place. A good conversation, for sure, but are (black) teenagers hanging out outside of a local grocery store really a safety concern?”

This led me to dryly remark on Twitter:

“The community discussion made it all the way to 31 posts before a white person accused the other white people of being racist.”

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Former Obama Pilot: TWA Flight 800 was shot down, here’s why – NY Daily News

April 17th, 2015

I’m glad I’m not the only one.

Was TWA Flight 800 shot out of the sky?As a former pilot, that is a question I get asked about all the time.

I’m no conspiracy theorist, but let’s be clear: Yes. I say it was. And I believe the FBI covered it up.

There are many reasons to disbelieve the official explanation of what happened to TWA 800 almost 19 years ago, on July 17, 1996, off the South Shore of Long Island. There’s hardly an airline pilot among the hundreds I know who buys the official explanation — that it was a fuel-tank explosion — offered by the National Transportation Safety Board some four years later.

Lots can go wrong with an airplane. Engines can fail; they can catch fire. Devices can malfunction. Pilots make errors.

But jets do not explode in midair.

via Former Obama Pilot: TWA Flight 800 was shot down, here's why – NY Daily News.

Obama to Remove Cuba From State Sponsor of Terror List – ABC News

April 14th, 2015

Obama removes Cuba from the terror sponsor list. I wonder if Raul Castro will remove America from Cuba’s terror sponsor list?

The terror designation has been a stain on Cuba’s pride and a major stumbling block for efforts to mend ties between Washington and Havana.In a message to Congress, Obama said the government of Cuba "has not provided any support for international terrorism" over the last six months. He also told lawmakers that Cuba "has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future."

via Obama to Remove Cuba From State Sponsor of Terror List – ABC News.

Flexing the muscle of my electric vehicle

April 12th, 2015

Our Ford Focus Electric

Our Ford Focus Electric

There are many days when I’m driving my electric vehicle (EV) that I’m focused on economy. I will try hard to accelerate smoothly, drive at the speed limit (or sometimes more slowly), and brake as gradually as I can. The reward is high efficiency driving, saving as much money as I can.

Yesterday was not one of those days! Having many different events to attend, stretched from one end of the city to the other, I decided to flex my EV’s muscles. On our Time Of Use (TOU) plan, weekend electricity is super-cheap, so why not have a little fun?

As I drove down 401 yesterday, I sensed the guy behind me was becoming annoyed with my efficient driving. He shifted over a lane in an attempt to pass me. Not only are EVs cheap to drive, they also have a ton of torque just ready and waiting. I let the guy pass but caught up with him at the next light, where we both were lined up.

You think my EV is slow? I mentally challenged him. Watch this!
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AON Hewitt thinks people are costs

April 11th, 2015

Here’s AON Hewitt’s page describing its Dependent Verification Services. I’d hate to be one of those “costly, ineligible dependents” that naively believe they have some sort of right to healthcare or something.



Aon Hewitt’s Plan-Smart® and Plan-Guard® dependent eligibility solutions help companies verify that eligible dependents maintain access to anticipated benefits and costly, ineligible dependents are removed from coverage as quickly as possible. Plan-Smart performs a complete audit of an enrolled dependent population. Plan-Guard’s ongoing dependent verification services preserve the integrity of the benefit plans on an ongoing basis and protect the results of the comprehensive audit.
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Dependent Verification programs are a stupid idea

April 11th, 2015

Many employers are implementing audits of those employees using their company’s health insurance to verify that the dependents claimed are eligible to receive health insurance benefits. I think this is … well, evil.

Sez the Pittsburgh Post:

Employers like the audits because they are often able to help save on health care costs overnight without reducing benefit levels for employees. One in-depth study by the University of Colorado showed the return on investment for its own audit was 13 to 1, in the first year.

But employees targeted by the audits aren’t always fans.
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Lessons learned from a month of EV ownership — Technology Musings — Medium

April 10th, 2015

Good advice from a new EV driver.

I’ve lusted after a Tesla since they debuted, thought seriously about getting a Nissan Leaf too, but it was after I took a test ride in a BMW i3 that I found a perfect happy medium. I picked one up last month and learned plenty in the short time I’ve been driving it. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to live with an electric vehicle (EV), here’s a list of things I’ve learned since taking the plunge.

via Lessons learned from a month of EV ownership — Technology Musings — Medium.

Silent running

April 10th, 2015

I’ve driven an electric car for about 5 months now and discovered a curious effect: Electric cars are invisible to wildlife. Several times I’ve driven right up on a bird, car, or squirrel standing in the road and they only move when I’m within a split second of hitting them. You would think that just the sight of an approaching vehicle would be enough to send them scurrying but this does not appear to be the case. Critters apparently depend on the noise of vehicles for detection the same way many people do.
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Baltimore Police used secret technology to track cellphones in thousands of cases – Baltimore Sun

April 9th, 2015

"In Baltimore, they’ve been using this since 2007, and it’s only been in the last several months that defense attorneys have learned enough to start asking questions," he said. "Our entire judicial system and constitution is set up to avoid a ‘just trust us’ system where the use of invasive surveillance gear is secret."

via Baltimore Police used secret technology to track cellphones in thousands of cases – Baltimore Sun.