Sunday, July 23, 2017

Small idea to simplify updating auto insurance card

You know how when you get your replacement credit card, it arrives a month or so before your old one expires, but is effective immediately? That's smart--no need to manage the transition by hanging on to the old one until the last day. You know what's dumb? How auto insurance cab cards work. They, too, arrive a month in advance. But unlike credit cards, the insurance cab card has an effective date. So you can't just immediately replace your current card with the new one.
Instead of trying to manage the transition--remember to put them in the car the very night before they expire--I just put them in immediately, along with the prior one (and I remove the prior prior). But I can foresee, in some moment of panic, one of my family members will pull out the expired card, and think they don't have the current one.
I expect there is a regulatory element to this. Like so many things in life, just a combination of independently reasonable policies and practices that combine to create an annoyingly flawed experience. Obviously, if anyone was paying attention and cared (regulators included, perhaps principally), the 6-month thing could be finessed. 
But in the absence of that, I think a reasonable hack may be available to an insurer, without requiring any regulatory chnages. Provide a copy of the new card, along with a repeat of the old card, with some kind of "EXPIRING SOON" stamp across the old one (or if regulators didn't like that, above the margins of the old card) Then you could just cut out, fold in half and voila.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Dream Hoarders

I've been following Richard Reeves, author of Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do about It lately, as well as some other writers on the same topic.

In this latest newsletter, he highlights pundits who disagree, including Robert J. Samuelson, Samuelson says Reeves has it almost backward, the upper-middle class are setting a good model for society to aspire to:
Reeves has the story almost backward. As a society, we should try not to restrict the upper middle class, but to expand it. In general, it’s doing what we ought to want the rest of society to do. Its marriage rates are higher, its out-of-wedlock births are lower, its education levels are higher. As for parents, why make them feel guilty for wanting to help their children? What are parents for, after all?
I think there is a straightforward reconciliation to their two positions, and it is already embedded, I think, in Reeves model. The problem being that the UMC may disproportionately enjoy these traits in their own orbits, but exclusionary housing policies, and the leveraging of networks, prevent them from migrating to less privileged groups.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Remote Car Hacking

There are a lot of articles about the vulnerability of cars to remote car hacking. I continue to think that it should not be possible to update car control software over a wireless connection. Period. Physical access needed to update.

That's not a panacea, but it seems like it would eliminate a lot of the problem. Also, the article talked about passengers hacking driverless cars via the ODB2 port, and exiting the car. Partial physical solution there is to lock the ODB2 port--maybe under the hood. Of course securing the software is the more complete solution.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Healthcare Not Deserved Case?

Cases like this one are maddening to those of us who do generally believe that healthcare is a right:
"Already being treated for diabetes, but 'I started drinking soda again,” confessed Willie Johnson...'Quite a bit.' Also "stopped taking his cholesterol medicine because it left a bad taste in his mouth. And he was using neither the gym membership that IU Health helps pay for nor his sleep apnea machine. 'I never could get adjusted to it,' he told the docto
This guy is never going to get better. I can maybe feel sorry for him in the cosmic sense that somehow he (presumably) has this terrible disposition toward unhealthy habits and absolutely no motivation to take care of his health. Maybe there is some deeper underlying cause for that (depression, PTSD for example--who knows?). But as a good-government centrist, I really can't feel sorry for his health situation--nor do I feel that he deserves healthcare. It is a waste of resources, he will never get better. He literally can't be bothered to lift a finger on his own behalf. Spend the money on healthcare and education instead.

Don't get me wrong, I know this is anecdotal evidence, and the exception. In no way is it to be construed as a evidence for "see, most of the people getting government-assisted healthcare are this kind of 'undeserving sick' ". That's why I'm blogging about this, rather than Facebooking,

Monday, January 02, 2017

Young Males and Car Preferences

Many things have changed since my youth. Including the general importance of cars (go, millenials!) A couple of things that haven't completely changed:

  1. Young males impractically prefer 2-door cars. 
  2. Young males impractically prefer manual transmissions.
Even in my day, #1 was (in my book) a silly aesthetic preference. The drawbacks of 2-doors are overwhelming. I have only owned one in my life. Not because I wanted 2-doors, but it was a cheapie Tercel, and I think that is all they came in. My son insisted on buying a 2-door Focus a couple of years ago, and every now and then I have cause to drive it, and every time, I hate it. I have never had to sit in the back, thankfully, so that biggest drawback is not even my reason for complaining. But the doors are heavy and cumbersome. And the seatbelt is much harder to reach (I know this because I owned a 4-door Focus, which did not share this problem--not quite sure why).

#2 had some justification in my day. Manual transmission was cheaper (I'm guessing about 7%), and got maybe 10% better mileage. But those advantages have almost disappeared, and the problem is, nobody drives manual. So spouse, friends, may not be able to drive your car in a pinch.

Sigh--youth.