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Midweek links

  • Michelle Malkin’s FOURTH post-Obamacare policy has just died. Got anything to say about now, Mr. Obama, about how we’ll be able to keep our doctors and our insurance plans? Not to mention that “save $2,500 a year” business.
  • Amazon is trying to beat Walmart in the really stupid “smart” delivery race. What kind of moron would go for this?
  • Perhaps this kind of overeager tech consumer.
  • Chicago’s soft drink “sin tax” fizzles after two months. Even the WaPo, which clearly loved the tax, can’t completely deny that it was killed by a consumer revolt.
  • Eeew. Ick. Talk about disgusting. A judge grants parental and visitation rights to a violent rapist whose crime produced a child.
  • Japan’s Kobe Steel has been has been fudging figures on the quality of its copper and aluminum. Kobe metal products are found in Hondas, Toyotas, and Subarus.
  • A reader reports that Paladin’s going-out-of-business sale hasn’t started yet. I’ll check with them and report back on when it’s scheduled to begin. Better be soon. Because we’re all supposed to be dead by October 15 according to the same guy who previously predicted September 23 as the end of the world.
  • “Smart” devices have helped solve some crimes. But lordy, the long-term potential is horrifying on so many counts.
  • Academia’s wimpy little swat at the Godzilla of campus intolerance.
  • Your obscure triviabit for the day: Charlie Chaplin had a million dollars buried in his backyard.

17 Comments

  1. Sotted Owl
    Sotted Owl October 11, 2017 10:42 am

    “. . .we’re all supposed to be dead by October 15 . . .”

    At least we get Friday and Saturday night. I got plans.

  2. Jim Brook
    Jim Brook October 11, 2017 11:36 am

    Health insurance is illegal in these united States. The definition of insurance, from dictionary.com: “the act, system, or business of insuring property, life, one’s person, etc., against loss or harm arising in specified contingencies, as fire, accident, death, disablement, or the like, IN CONSIDERATION OF A PAYMENT PROPORTIONATE TO THE RISK INVOLVED.” Title 42, Section 300gg-4 of the Code of Babylon, a.k.a. the U.S. Code, says “…a health insurer…may not require any individual…to pay a premium…which is greater than such premium…for a similarly situated individual…on the basis of any health status-related factor.” I skipped over some extraneous language from the Code of Babylon. Thus, if the definition of insurance in dictionary.com is accurate, which I think it is, then health insurance is illegal in the U.S.

  3. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty October 11, 2017 11:54 am

    “Ninety-nine percent of crime will now have a digital component … We have these little sensors all over. ”

    Well, not ALL of us… but people who do have them would very likely be better off to tell the truth.

  4. Thomas L. Knapp
    Thomas L. Knapp October 11, 2017 12:44 pm

    “What kind of moron would go for this?”

    The kind of moron who does a lot, maybe even most, in a few cases all, of his shopping online and would rather have a life than spend time sitting around waiting for deliveries.

    Personally, I wouldn’t go for any scheme that gives people I don’t know full access to my home, and I’d be leery of a car trunk delivery option that tracks the car’s location (as opposed to the car just needing to be at the delivery address … which might defeat the point).

    Here’s what I expect to happen:

    1) Amazon will expand its “locker” service to include strong-boxes at frequent customers’ homes, either outside or inside with some kind of accessible delivery slot outside. The customer can open the box with a personal code; the Amazon delivery person (they’re working on starting their own delivery service instead of using USPS/FedEx/UPS) can open it with a one-time delivery code scanned from the package. A built-in camera gets a face shot of anyone who opens the box, either with a code or by force, and in the latter case the customer, vendor and police are all notified and provided with the pic. Or

    2) Some third party will come up with a scheme like that and work up agreements with Amazon, Wal-Mart, InstaCart, et al. You link your account to the box, and the linked delivery services can open it.

    I had a delivery due from a well-known frozen food delivery service yesterday. The designated time was “between 2pm and 5pm.” Between 5:30 and 6, I sent a note to the service asking if “between 2pm and 5pm” means “some time after 5 pm” or “it just ain’t coming.” It arrived between 6:30 and 7. If I had paid a couple of extra bucks, I could have had it left in an insulated bag on my porch, but I picked the “regular” delivery option because I expected it to be there when they said it would be there.

  5. Claire
    Claire October 11, 2017 12:59 pm

    “1) Amazon will expand its “locker” service to include strong-boxes at frequent customers’ homes, either outside or inside with some kind of accessible delivery slot outside. … A built-in camera gets a face shot of anyone who opens the box, either with a code or by force, and in the latter case the customer, vendor and police are all notified and provided with the pic.”

    Something along those lines sounds relatively reasonable. Wonder why they’re going with the moron solution first?

    I agree that with certain delivery services (Schwann’s) it’s a PITA to have to wait around. But with Amazon, sheesh you could already have a package delivered to you work address, your neighbor, a business that accepts packages for a fee, or to you own front or back porch, depending on circumstances. You don’t have to be there.

    Sure, there are security problems with some of those options. But they’re nothing compared to the security problems of giving strangers the way to get into your house or car. I’m still shaking my head.

  6. Thomas L. Knapp
    Thomas L. Knapp October 11, 2017 2:30 pm

    Well, like I said — I won’t be using any option that involves people I don’t know being able to enter my house when I’m not home, or mess around with the family car when nobody’s there to watch them. As much as we use delivery (and it’s more and more — saves time, saves gas, etc.), though, I’d consider a third party strongbox that fit under my porch and lets me authorize multiple services to open it and put stuff in it. It would have to be reasonably priced and not come with a fees so high they kill the whole purpose, though. If not third party, if I was Amazon I would consider offering such a thing as part of Prime membership, but making it possible to authorize other companies’ deliveries too.

    Another thing I’d consider if I was Amazon and starting my own delivery service is “wherever you happen to be delivery.” You get an alert on your phone — your package is out for delivery, do you want us to drop it at your house, or click here to zap your phone’s location to us and if it’s within X miles of your home (i.e. you’re not across the country for the weekend), the guy will drive to where you are and hand it to you.

    I’m expecting Amazon to explode on deliveries soon. They’ve been testing their grocery service in big cities. I assume the reason they bought Whole Foods was to have 500 grocery stores in other cities to use as grocery delivery hubs. At this point, they are basically becoming the next Wal-Mart. There’s not much (legal) stuff you can’t buy from them, and if you’re a Prime member it usually comes with two-day shipping at no extra cost. I expect that to become routinely same-day for most stuff in the next year or two.

    When I was a kid I lived in a town that really wasn’t big enough for the two “general stores” it had (one of them kept going out of business, getting bought, starting up again, going out of business, while the older one just kept on going OK). Town was 15 miles away and we went maybe once a week to shop at the “big” stores or occasionally to pick up mail order at the tiny Sears and Ward storefronts. Things have certainly changed. Now it’s point, click, order and watch the front porch.

  7. Thomas L. Knapp
    Thomas L. Knapp October 11, 2017 2:31 pm

    Of course, at this point, I don’t have to watch the front porch. I just say “Alexa, read my notifications” and it lets me know if the latest Amazon order is out for delivery or if it’s already out on the porch.

  8. Claire
    Claire October 11, 2017 3:03 pm

    “When I was a kid I lived in a town that really wasn’t big enough for the two “general stores” it had (one of them kept going out of business, getting bought, starting up again, going out of business, while the older one just kept on going OK). Town was 15 miles away and we went maybe once a week to shop at the “big” stores or occasionally to pick up mail order at the tiny Sears and Ward storefronts. Things have certainly changed. Now it’s point, click, order and watch the front porch.”

    Ain’t that the truth?

    Although I don’t buy a lot on Amazon in dollar terms, I buy a lot on Amazon relative to how much stuff I buy, period. And for that very reason: small town.

    We’re blessed with a few great stores here, but without Amazon it would still be a matter of saving up and going to the “big city.” I love having a camera cable, a kitchen appliance, or a pack of undies delivered to my door.

    Ain’t asking Alexa, though. No way, nohow.

  9. Claire
    Claire October 11, 2017 6:11 pm

    I think they both should have been fired — and probably some higher-ups demoted as well. Aside from being an abuse of power, that was clearly an attempt to pin some sort of drug or alcohol use on the unconscious man so they could duck the fact that the police themselves were partly at fault for causing the crash. That sort of plotting seems unlikely to have come from the lieutenant level of operations.

  10. s
    s October 11, 2017 6:27 pm

    I feel Michelle Malkin’s pain. Literally.

    Fourth plan? Pffft. In Taxachusetts, where Romneycare presaged Obamacare by 4 long years, my tiny company is on its 8th plan. Pretty much every year, the insurance company terminates the plan we have (or leaves the state entirely), and we’re compelled to find another.

    Our costs have risen a factor of 10 (1000%) in 10 years. Health care insurance costs the firm more than rent, more than anything except salaries. We haven’t seen less than a large double-digit increase in premiums in a decade. Our deductibles have risen to $4000 per year, $8000 for families.

    Michelle is right that “Private, flexible PPOs for self-sufficient, self-employed people are vanishing by design.” We’re being forced into HMOs, where there is limited or no choice of doctor, advance permission required for most tests and all specialists. Your health care is decided by faceless, completely unaccountable insurance company bureaucrats.

  11. bud
    bud October 11, 2017 7:09 pm

    Re:Porch deliveries
    Is there a market for large boxes that you would bolt to your stoop or porch that emulated the action of lockable mail boxes, where things go in, but require a key to get out?

    That removes the requirement that the sender have access to anything, especially trunk or house.

  12. larryarnold
    larryarnold October 11, 2017 7:09 pm

    Your health care is decided by faceless, completely unaccountable insurance company bureaucrats.

    I would quibble that insurance company bureaucrats are held strictly accountable – to government bureaucrats. Follow an insurance company executive around for a month or so and you’ll notice that almost every decision is based on complying with a federal, state, or in some cases local rule or regulation.

    You aren’t the customer, Congress is. Even though they wouldn’t touch the plans with a ten-foot pole.

    Health insurance companies loved them some private, flexible PPOs for self-sufficient, self-employed people. But the plans didn’t cover acupuncture and aromatherapy and all the other homeopathic nonsense Democrats decided you needed to pay for, for your well-being.

  13. Arthur Murray
    Arthur Murray October 12, 2017 2:29 am

    RE: the front porch lockbox thing; some years back had a rural friend who lived at the end of a 1/2 mile dirt and gravel “driveway” which USPS wouldn’t travel (seems USPS regulations prohibit using USPS vehicles on “private and unimproved drives” which doesn’t explain why mail gets delivered daily in midwest farm country, but….).

    Anyway, he built a large locking steel mailbox designed to resist panzer attacks and installed it about 20 feet off the paved road. There was a slot and separate space for envelope mail and a one-time openable space about 30″ wide, high and deep. The latch allowed one opening, and when closed it locked, requiring a key to open. Very clever design.

    It lasted two months. First, USPS personnel couldn’t master it; the space was large enough for multiple packages, but they insisted on trying to insert packages serially. And, if packages were delivered by different carriers, the first (smart enough) one was the winner, and the second just piled the packages next to the locked box (UPS didn’t seem phased by 1/2 mile of dirt driveway, but if they could avoid it they did). Today, modern electronics mght offer some sort of workaround, but back then, the solution was, as is common in very rural areas, a box at the several-miles-distant post office.

    There’s all kinds of process problems with locking porch boxes; who besides an Amazon-selected carrier might need to leave a package? A little thought will come up with dozens of shortcomings. As for the bright idea about letting them inside to put it in the fridge, who is dumb enough to give Walmart or Amazon an alarm system access code? Even if you did, good luck getting unionized UPS or random minimum-IQ USPS personnel to follow the correct procedure (and dogs, which don’t have “alarm access codes”….)

    I can see business opportunities for better, neighborhood-located package receipt enterprises. Which is available now, in the form of UPS Stores, regular post offices, and private mail services. Amazon is trying out lockers, but their procedures make them less than desirable. The four big problems (of a longer list) are: how far out of your travel path is the location, standing in line to get your packages from the clerk, perishables, and do you really want more neighborhood people knowing you just bought 1,000 rounds of 7.62X51 or signing for delivery of 50 silver eagles? There are solutions to some of those, but it will require out-of-the-box thinking throughout the delivery chain which is lacking at the moment.

  14. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty October 12, 2017 6:16 am

    “Ain’t asking Alexa, though. No way, nohow.”

    Amen, Claire. But I’m also never going to do the “Prime” thing either. That 2 day delivery is not “free” at all, unless you don’t count the membership cost. I can get free delivery simply by bunching my orders into the minimum. The delivery is plenty fast enough for me. Most packages are delivered by UPS to the post office, and the rural mail carrier puts it in my locking street box (a mile from the house.) If the package is too big for the box, she brings it to the house… rings the doorbell and gives a treat to the barking dog. I couldn’t ask for a better set up.

    And the big “town” here is 80 miles away. I don’t even bother going there anymore. If nobody here has it, and I can’t get it from Amazon… I can’t imagine really needing it. 🙂 Oh, and NOBODY is going to choose my groceries for me. I can’t imagine some clerk being as picky and careful about choosing bananas as I am… can you?

  15. Comrade X
    Comrade X October 12, 2017 9:00 am

    “. . .we’re all supposed to be dead by October 15 . . .”

    At least we won’t have to deal with 11/04!

  16. Jolly
    Jolly October 12, 2017 9:16 am

    I’ve been associated with the pizza business for 30+ years. Many years ago, I encountered an operation in Missouri that had purchased three RVs and modified them ( at GREAT expense ) to be mobile pizza kitchens. Their idea was that they would make the pizzas while driving to the delivery location, then deliver a ridiculously fresh pizza. They were convinced that this was the cat’s meow and they’d make a killing. They bankrupted their company and small chain of pizzerias within six months. They were so engrossed with the “cool factor” of their idea, they completely lost sight of the costs involved. It was extremely expensive to run those gas-guzzling RVs, with two people each to deliver a $10 pizza. I warned them, but they just couldn’t see it. They eventually sold-off their equipment to people that went around to town fairs. On a side note, one of the many many problems that cropped-up was they had to pay for claims of injured people because quick stops were flinging the person in the back on the floor and pizzas were falling out of the oven, and all kinds of “duh” things.

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