About nine months ago, the cost for my auto insurance policy rose dramatically. My insurance agent's ears were burning and so he sent an email to all of his customers, including this fact: "Several factors are driving the rates up; Distracted Drivers (texting and driving), along with the cost of repairs being the leading causes. For example, the cost of minor repairs has gone through the roof with back-up cameras, and front and side sensors on newer vehicles."
What a surprise, texting and driving, though selfish drivers using their smart phone's apps and talking on their cell phone are also factors. We won't do anything about it even though every other civilized country has already done so.
The second sentence of the quoted text was not relevant for me, as my truck is too old for that technology, so the increase in my policy is pure distracted driving.
A recent visit to a body shop, one in a large GM dealership, turned out to be quite educational. The estimator had been in the business for decades and had seen just about everything. He told me that not too long ago, body shops would straighten most frames after an accident, but now, because they all worship at the altar of I-CAR, they only straighten ones that are only a few millimeters out of line. Once he saw my truck and its condition, he knew he was talking with a kindred spirit. He told me of his cherished Pontiac, which he had lavished with care, money, and improvements. He had a few vehicles, but this was his baby.
But because of the ever-increasing danger posed by texters and call phone users, his Pontiac spends almost all of its time resting quietly at home.
Look closely at the second photo in the Denver Post article regarding co-working and see how many things you can find that are wrong:
- Everyone is using their own laptop, i.e. the office is a BYOD (bring your own device) shop. Employees think it's wonderful, as they have their personal apps, but IT departments hate it because employees decide if they install questionable apps or have antivirus software, with all of these devices being behind the corporate firewall. It's not a coincidence that cyber-breaches such as the one at Equifax are multiplying like rabbits. When someone clicks on a phishing email, its malware will spread.
- There is no separation of any kind between employees, so all personal odors will waft throughout the work space. If your co-workers eat beans and onions for lunch, wear strong scents, or eschew regular showers, there's no place to escape. And some people just stink.
- Not one monitor is at eye level, forcing the person to look down all day. My neck hurts just looking at them, especially the ones using laptops with a display not much bigger than a smart phone. In the old days, we'd use telephone books to serve as a platform, but these companies don't have landlines.
- Some people cannot help clearing their throats or making personal noises. One solution is to wear headphones, but if someone wears ear buds or the open style of headphones, everyone in the vicinity will hear the escaping noise.
- Some people have annoying habits: knuckle-cracking, leg-bouncing, finger-tapping, etc. Quoth the raven, "ever more."
- Any personal or business conversation, whether on the phone or nearby, will distract.
- Movement of people will attract the eye. It's human nature.
- There's been quite a few articles and lawsuits regarding sexual harassment in the office. Look at the people sitting across from one another. Every time one of them looks up, perhaps to ponder a point, they will be looking directly at the other person, which might not be interpreted innocently.
Reuters reported that a number of politicians, including Senator Elizabeth Warren and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, are pressuring Equifax to allow people to freeze their credit for free.
Reuters is confused. It is free to freeze one's credit. However, it costs $10 to temporarily unfreeze one's credit to apply for a loan, credit card, or another form of credit. And it's even worse than that because companies offering credit do not usually advertise the name of the credit agency they use, forcing one to either guess or attempt to contact the relevant party in that corporation. Wrong guesses cost $10.
I was at the customer service counter at King Soopers to buy a lottery ticket. I had the appropriate amount of cash in my hand and was ready to perform the swap when the employee asked for my King Soopers rewards card.
The card was the only way to obtain store coupons, with King Soopers taking note of all purchases for marketing purposes. If one did not want King Soopers to be able to relate sales on a personal level, one could simply obtain a card and never register it. But if one did not care about sales, one could merely pay the regular rate.
I said nothing for a few seconds and pondered the reasons why a rewards card should be used for a purchase of lottery tickets. They would never be on sale, so I would never receive any benefit. I asked him why a card was necessary.
The employee sheepishly admitted that he had been pressured by management to ask for a card for all transactions, whether lottery tickets, tobacco products, or anything else. He further admitted that he had been told that his performance review would suffer if the percentage slipped below a certain number. He was actually a bit stressed by it all.
The CEO of King Soopers must want a bigger bonus.
And there are other grocery stores.
As I wrote before, redneck extraordinaire Spencer Tuttle rear-ended my full-size pickup. The obvious damage was to the bumper and tow hitch, the latter of which was bent down at a 45 degree angle. Not until I visited a few body shops did I learn that the frame was also bent down. This is now obvious with hindsight, as the tow hitch is bolted directly to the frame. At first I thought this would a relatively simple repair, as up until recently, frames were routinely straightened.
Not any more.
My truck is old enough to have graduated high school, if trucks attended school, that is, which makes the availability of parts problematic. All of the body shops informed me that the frame needed to be replaced. I must admit, I had never heard of a frame replacement before. All collision repair centers I had ever visited had a rack of some kind to straighten steel frames, both traditional and unibody. All of the estimators told me they would not do the work because it would not meet I-CAR standards, with it being an organization "dedicated to providing the information, knowledge and skills required to perform complete, safe and quality repairs."
But there are no new frames to be had and used ones are problematic because the quality is unknown, e.g. it could have been involved in a rollover. One estimator told me that in the old days, used frames would be measured from end to end to ensure that they met the specification, with his shop no longer working with used frames for that reason. Not to mention that to replace a frame, first the body must be removed and then the frame must be remove from the undercarriage, requiring the dismantling of many connections and the removal of many bolts. It's not the kind of job one entrusts to inexperienced mechanics.
The problem is that a straightened piece of steel would no longer be as strong as it originally was. However, the rear-most section of frame is mainly used for the attachment of the bumper and an optional tow hitch. With the former, there would be less crush resistance, and with the latter, towing would stress the frame beyond safe limits.
In speaking with collision shop estimators and managers, it became clear that I-CAR is considered to be a god. If this were the age of Egyptian pharaohs, they might refer to it as Auto-Ra. Or maybe Auto-Rama. Though I wonder how large of an influence beancounters and shysters have had on this idol worship.
I proposed to a number of shops that the bumper and tow hitch be removed, the frame straightened, a custom piece of steel be installed to serve as a strengthening cross-member, which would also prevent another tow hitch from being installed, and a new bumper installed. One service manager's answer was, "We will follow acceptable and safe repair procedures only, what you are describing sounds a little risky."
On the contrary, my proposal would eliminate any risk with respect to towing because it would never occur. Certainly, the crush resistance would be reduced, but with the addition of the fabricated cross-member, the problem would be mitigated somewhat. And given that this is a pickup truck, not a car with passengers just a foot or two away from the bumper, injuries would not be a concern.
And my proposal would be safer than driving with the frame bent and bumper askew, which is what I will be doing from now on.
Libertarians and other fools often rail over inflexible government regulations, but inflexible corporations are equally bad.
The BBC News article by Sarah Buckley and Amelia Butterly on Glassbreakers CEO Eileen Carey is so blonde
There are countless blonde jokes, while jokes regarding brunettes and redheads are rare. There are jokes inferring that blondes are less than intelligent and there are jokes describing their allegedly voracious sexual habits.
I thought about it and came to the conclusion that the jokes were not derived from the antics of natural blondes. They were derived from the antics of bottle blondes, women who believe that a change in hair color substantially improves their life. Bottle blondes tend to be party girls, which would explain the second category of jokes. And as I wrote before, the natural skin and hair color of people go well together, as compared to the often hideous appearance of people with hair color from a bottle. Lady Gaga comes to mind.
BBC News journalists Sarah Buckley and Amelia Butterly interviewed Glassbreakers CEO Eileen Carey. Their article asserted that poor Carey has suffered so greviously in life, being hit on by "people" -- not solely men as one would suspect -- in bars, that this "natural blonde" dyed her hair brown.
It's definitely true that many men, both straight and gay, are predatory, with Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, and Gaëtan Dugas being the poster boys.
And it's definitely true that Silicon Valley has interpersonal problems in the workforce. It wasn't that long ago that Silicon Valley companies supplied unlimited quantities of liquor at company parties, with employees expected to imbibe heavily. Until the lawsuits, of course.
But Carey is not a natural blonde. She's a natural brunette, as can be seen in the second photo in the BBC News article which shows her dark roots.
It appears that Carey simply returned to her natural color, to her roots if you will, as shown in the first photo in the BBC News article which shows her skin, eyebrows, and hair in close harmony, though it's likely that even the brown color is not her natural one, as the second photo depicts her roots to be closer to black, making this an advanced exercise in blonde logic.
Not to mention that Carey's business model, convincing companies to hire more diversely, is in stark contradiction to her contention that "investors she was pitching to would feel more comfortable dealing with a brunette, rather than a blonde woman." Those investors would appear to require some education in tolerance or at least a good public shaming.
So was this an ingenious way for Carey to obtain free publicity for her company or a poorly researched feminist diatribe?
My father warned me about Allstate Insurance when I was a teenager. He told me that the company was notorious for having adjusters issue checks that would not cover actual repairs to damaged vehicles. I wondered about the type of people who would accept such a policy, concluding that they must be ignorant or ready to cash-in on an accident, taking the money instead of fixing their vehicle.
Some things never change.
I was driving through a construction zone in Broomfield, Colorado, a city with mostly normal families, but also significant populations of two types of people. The first category consists of self-important liberals who would prefer to live in nearby Boulder -- 26 square miles surrounded by reality -- but cannot afford it, with these people often speeding through 20 mph school zones and texting while driving, often at the same time. The second category consists of people better suited to living in a small farm town.
I stopped at a traffic light, second in line. The speed limit was 30 mph, but people were generally driving slower due to the terrible road quality. Thirty seconds after I stopped, Spencer Tuttle rear-ended me in his Mercury Grand Marquis. Hard. My neck went forwards and backwards. I heard no sounds of braking. We pulled off the road into a small parking lot where the scruffy Tuttle attempted to work his hillbilly magic. He tried to coerce me into exchanging information and leaving the scene. I firmly refused, stating that the law required us to wait for the police, which I then called. After I called, he again tried to coerce me into leaving. I again stated that we would wait for the police. I was not friendly, but I didn't call him any names. He loudly commented as to why I was being such an asshole.
Yeah, he plows into me without even touching his brakes, possibly because he was texting, doesn't ask me if I was hurt, pressures me to evade the law, and becomes angry when I refuse, but I'm the asshole.
Any thoughts of cutting him a break ended then. I copied his insurance information and license plate, but then my pen ran out of ink. I walked back to my truck to call the non-emergency number for the Broomfield police department because it had been ten minutes since I first called. I suspected he might make a run for it, and he proved me right, driving away with his damaged hood and bumper. I placed a fingernail-sized piece of his car's paint in my truck just in case he denied his guilt. I looked over at where he had temporarily parked, but there was no puddle of radiator fluid, and his car did not make the sounds one would expect if a fan had been bent or dislodged.
A few minutes later, a police car drove into the parking lot. I explained the situation to the officer. He was much more experienced than I was at such matters, because he used the insurance information I had copied to contact Allstate and inform them that they needed to call Tuttle and notify him that if he didn't call the officer by close of business that day, he would be ticketed for hit and run, along with the ticket for the accident. Tuttle called within a few minutes and tried to argue with the officer who was having none of it.
Ten minutes later I saw a scruffy guy riding a motorcycle enter the parking lot. At first I wondered if it was a construction worker, but then I realized it was Tuttle riding without a helmet. After he dismounted, the officer tore him a new one. Tuttle tried to blame me for his early departure, asserting that it was my idea for him to leave the scene of an accident before the police arrived, but the officer already knew the facts of the case. I would have preferred that Tuttle bring the car back so it could be inspected, as he appeared to be hiding something.
I filed a claim with Allstate while all of this was happening on the advice of the officer. They tried to lower my expectations in every aspect. The operator tried to get me to agree that Allstate was only liable for an econobox rental car while my full-sized pickup was in the shop, even though I'm too tall for Tonka toys.
Later that day, I visited a body shop that my insurance company recommended. I thought I would employ a GM dealer recommended collision center, but I was curious as to what I would learn. The adjuster looked at the drooping bumper and tow hitch, but also looked under the back of the truck. I could tell he was concerned about something. He went inside and returned with a senior technician who also looked under the vehicle. He then told me something I had not expected to hear, that the frame was bent, with the damage being so bad that it might require a replacement of the frame. He wouldn't know for sure until he removed the bumper, tow hitch, and exhaust system, and connected the chains.
The next day, Allstate's adjuster called. She told me to use Allstate's app to send them photos. I countered with the fact that I did not have a recent smart phone with a good camera, but I did have a decent point-and-shoot camera, computers with Windows or Linux installed, and the ability to use email. She rejected this approach and told me that it was not possible to send Allstate photos via email. As an alternative, she told me that a contractor would visit me to take photos. She would use those photos to create a repair estimate and then send me a check. I told her of my visit to the body shop, but she seemed strangely uninterested. I asked her if she could contact the body shop to get a copy of their estimate, but she told me she could not do so, regardless of the fact that it was a large chain with which most insurance companies, including Allstate, did regular business. I told her of the senior technician's opinion that the frame would need repair, but she was oblivious to the fact that her estimate would not take that into account. The only good news was that after I explained Tuttle's antics, she told me Allstate accepted liability.
What my father had told me many years before is still in effect.
But in Colorado, I'm not required to deal with the insurance company of the perp. I can file a claim with my own insurance company, with them having the financial clout to force Allstate to reimburse them for all charges. And so I did. In a borderline case, I might be charged for the collision deductible while the two companies fight it out, but my insurance company's adjuster has already informed me that the company will waive the deductible.
The police report noted that "the defendant stated he was looking at the car in front of him that was moving a [sic] then he looked away and when he looked back forward the car in front of him ahead stopped." This is horse manure, because I had been stopped for thirty seconds before I was hit. And this intersection is in the middle of being reconstructed, with a light pole in the lane forcing drivers to take a sharp right after leaving the intersection, i.e. if my truck and the car in front of me had not been there, the scruffster would have run into the pole. If only. He was texting or doing something else that completely took his attention away from his driving. He never touched his brakes. He's hiding something, but there's no way to force him to admit what actually happened. And our police have no way of quickly determining if a driver was texting because our useless government refuses to pass the necessary law.
And, of course, no one from Allstate has called to take photos.
The former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, said there had been little alternative to the taxpayer-funded rescue plan for RBS and Lloyds/HBOS. "If the plan hadn't worked, I don't know where we would have been. Where would we have gone? The International Monetary Fund isn't big enough."
That's only because government ministers in the UK and politicians in the U.S. started with one assumption, to quote Clinton Treasury Secretary and Obama Director of the National Economic Council, Lawrence Summers, "there must be a clear and unambiguous commitment that whatever else happens, the failure of major financial institutions in any country will not be permitted."
Throw women, children, and dogs overboard, but save the banks!
The government should have seen the problems coming. Lehmen CEO and one of the 25 people to blame for the financial crisis, Dick Fuld, told an audience of Davos jackals in January 2007 that "this was the year that markets could crack."
In late 2008, the chairman of RBS told Darling that his bank was in danger of running out of money. Darling said, "Okay, we have plans in place, how long have you got?" The RBS chairman replied, "A few hours."
This occurred because UK and U.S. bank regulators had embraced the Ayn Rand philosophy of the multi-term Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, that bankers would always do the right thing.
The TBTF banks should have been nationalized, with a regent, e.g. Brooksley Born, put in charge. All corporate officers should have been fired and bonuses clawed-back. They should have been given the Glass-Steagall treatment, i.e. separate the casinos from the banks, and given the Standard Oil treatment, i.e. separated the banks into entities that could only do business in one state.
Because it's going to happen again.
Texting and other smart phone activities which require finger presses by the driver of a moving vehicle -- including, but not limited to automobiles, trucks, busses, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, mopeds, trains, tricycles, bicycles, unicycles, and all terrain vehicles -- traveling on any road which was financed even partially via federal funds shall be illegal. It shall not matter if the smart phone activity was accomplished in a hands-on or hands-free manner. The penalty for this behavior shall be equivalent to the existing one for driving under the influence of alcohol.
All law enforcement officers -- federal, state, and local -- shall be allowed to stop, detain, investigate, and issue citations for any driver suspected of texting and other smart phone activities which require finger presses. Law enforcement officers shall be allowed to do so after witnessing erratic behavior, receiving notice of erratic behavior via official channels, or witnessing a driver using a hand-held device, or if they are in the process of investigating a traffic offense.
All motor vehicles built after the passage of this statute -- including, but not limited to automobiles, trucks, busses, recreational vehicles, motorcycles, mopeds, trains, and all terrain vehicles -- shall be required to disable texting and other smart phone activities which require finger presses via onboard and connected phones while the vehicle is in motion.
Suppliers of wireless services for smart phones, cell phones, disposable cell phones, tablets, PCs, and all other computers capable of texting and other smart phone activities which require finger presses shall be required to establish and maintain a communal telephone inquiry service for law enforcement officers, making it possible for them to inquire if a particular user was texting in a specific timeframe, with the call being toll-free. If a user is illegally using a wireless service, with the service being unable to positively identify the user, the law enforcement officer shall be allowed to detain the user and confiscate the phone until positive identification is established.
This statute shall take effect on the day after its passage.
If any provision of this statute is declared unconstitutional, the remainder shall remain in effect.
One lesson I learned long ago is that Amazon sometimes offers different pricing when I am logged-on versus when I am browsing anonymously, with the price always being lower with the latter. And if I place an item in my cart while logged-on, it sometimes declines in price the next day, but if I wait more than a day or two to purchase it, the price always rises back to the default or even higher.
Amazon has announced a new policy for sellers, with it taking effect July 1, where logons will require the use of a smartphone for two-step verification. Starting a few weeks ago, sellers were required to click on the "not now" button to avoid two-step verification.
Amazon patented advanced predatory behavior for use in actual retail stores, "Physical store online shopping control," preventing shoppers from comparing prices by monitoring online activity conducted over its wireless network and responding by displaying a different page, directing an Amazon employee to harangue the shopper, sending the customer a text message or email, or blocking Internet access to non-Amazon sites.
Hopefully we will see anti-capitalists establishing powerful wireless transmitters in nearby buildings, along with highly directional antennas, to give Amazon shoppers the opportunity to price-check outside of the oligarchy, though that would require shoppers to carry two wireless devices.
Amazon's tactics are very different than the ones used by stores offering frequent shopper cards. Prices are the same for all shoppers, with the retailer only discovering the identity of the shopper at checkout. And some of the cards do not require surrendering personal data, though not giving it will result in not receiving any coupons.
Only someone with more dollars than sense would shop in such a store.