A Story About Uber Reveals That People Don’t Understand “Free Software/Services”

Uber broke more rules. Tracked more people. Because they could. Uber responds to report that it tracked devices after its app was deleted | TechCrunch

They violated the rules of the Apple App Store, geofenced Cuppertino in the hopes that Apple wouldn’t find out, and only agreed to “fix” the problem when threatened with being yanked from Apples ecosystem.

That isn’t the part that interests me, because at this point I expect Uber is breaking ever rule they can get away with. That is who they are. The interesting part is that people don’t understand that “free” means that you are the product.

A footnote of this story is about the selling of “anonymized data.” Uber was buying data to track their competitor – Lyft.

Selling anonymized data is not uncommon for free services like Unroll.me and its owner Slice — Slice even pitches its powerful data set publicly. But many appear to feel shocked that they were not more clearly informed that if you are not paying with money you still have to pay somehow. Unroll.me CEO Jojo Hedaya said that it was “heartbreaking to see that some of our users were upset to learn about how we monetize our free service.”

He made no indications that it would alter this practice in the future.

As Robert Heinlein point out in one of his novels, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” If you are getting something for free – say a Twitter or Facebook account – then that company is collecting as much data about you as they can and using that data to make money. Or where do you think targeted advertising comes from? That anyone could be confused on this subject in the 21st Century is amazing to me.

Some More Cracks Are Forming in the EU

The EU leadership – and the media, which seems to have appointed itself as the cheerleaders of the coalition – would like everyone to believe that all is well. But some cracks are beginning to show.

First, Poland is not too happy with the way things are going in the EU. Poland Foreign Minister Waszczykowski Interview – SPIEGEL ONLINE

As many people have pointed out, there are aspects of the EU governance structure that are not exactly democratic.

The European Council, for example, consists of representatives of elected governments, meaning it has a high degree of democratic legitimacy. As such, it should have the most power. The Commission, by contrast, is made up of deputies sent by the member states. They are bureaucrats. As such, the Commission shouldn’t have the right to monitor member states, as happened to us with the Rule of Law Framework. The Commission should only be able to carry out directives from the Council and should not have its own political ambitions.

There are other problems between Poland and the EU (and between Poland and Germany) that are festering. It is an interesting read, and not terribly long.

Next, Germany is about to start charging foreigners a toll to use the Autobahn. Not everyone thinks that is living up to their obligations. Austria says it will take Germany to court over autobahn ‘foreigner tolls’ – The Local

Germany’s upper house of parliament on Friday approved a controversial law imposing tolls on the country’s famous autobahns (motorways), in the face of objections from neighbouring countries who say it discriminates against foreign drivers.

The headlines (for the most part) imply that all is well with the Greeks and their economy. The truth isn’t quite so simple. Greece-Creditors Negotiations Stall Again Over Labor Law Issues and Pension Cuts | GreekReporter.com

The International Monetary Fund is not backing down on Greece’s request to implement pension cuts from 2020 onwards, insisting that pension reforms must be implemented in 2019. Furthermore, there are still differences on labor market legislation on issues like mass layoffs, the lockout and collective bargaining.

On pensions, the IMF argument was that since the present government’s term expires in 2019, the Greek side cannot guarantee that the next government will implement the changes.

Who will budge? I’m not sure either side can at this point.

That doesn’t even cover the rift between Germany and the US over Germany’s military budget, and whether or not the 2% goal is binding on NATO members or not. But that is a post for another day.

If you owe the bank $1,000, You have a problem

If you owe the bank $1 billion, the bank has a problem. It’s The IMF That Has A Greek Debt Problem, Not Greece At All

There’s an old saying that if you owe the bank £1,000 then you have a problem, if you owe them £1 million then the bank has a problem. It is indeed an old saying so we should probably update it to £1 million and £10 billion to get the correct sense of scale here.

Greece owes the rest of Europe so much money, that it cannot repay it. Politicians don’t want to admit that they lent Greece money that it can never repay. What a shock; politicians are avoiding unpleasant budgetary issues. (That never happens in the USA, does it?)

It looks as though the IMF is about to stop covering for the politicians. And just in time for a raft of elections in Europe.

Grexit? Greece Is Back in the News (Sort of)

Greece would be back in the news, if the US media hadn’t lost its collective mind in November. Grexit? Greece again on the brink as debt crisis threatens break with EU

Greece has an unsustainable debt load. They have creditors, and want relief (need relief) from those creditors. But they don’t want to face the long-term hard choices. (They are politicians, and focused on the next election cycle – which for Greece could come sooner than expected.)

Once again, time is of the essence. Shored up by a third EU-led bailout, Athens was told this week that further rescue funds would not be forthcoming until it concluded a compliance review of terms attached to the €86bn (£74bn) aid package. In July Greece faces debt repayments of €10.5bn – once again raising the spectre of default because the country just does not have the money.

One of the largest creditors is the government of Germany. Angela Merkel faces her own elections in September. And the people of Germany are listening to the folks that say they should stop funding Athens. So, in order to hold onto power, she may do what she said she would not do, stop funding Greece.

Ahead of Germany’s general election in September, Berlin’s finance minister Wolfgang Schauble has also raised the stakes with growing criticism of Greece – a tactic that has proved popular with voters who might otherwise support Germany’s far right AfD party. Earlier this week Bild, the mass-selling newspaper, stoked passions further by suggesting the German government was warming to the idea of Greece leaving the euro – a notion Schauble has openly supported in the past.

Trump has tweeted in the past that Greece is wasting its time in the Euro, and should leave. (Which has been my position all along.)

$1.9 billion error in California’s version of Medicaid.

As one of the commenters on the story said, no one expects Progressives to be good at math. $1.9 billion error adds to California deficit projection

The administration discovered accounting mistakes last fall, but it did not notify lawmakers until the administration included adjustments to make up for the errors in Brown’s budget proposal last week.

Expanding Medicaid was a cornerstone of Obamacare. Said to be working smoothly in California. 1.9 billion dollars discovered in the fall. Before or after the election, I wonder. (Not that a few billion dollars would have changed voting habits on the Left Coast – where it is all about FEELINGS.) No one will lose their job over this error.

The 1.9 billion error is compounding the problem that CA is not collecting taxes at the rate they expected. Total budget shortfall is closer to $3 billion. [Hat tip to Small Dead Animals]

Why is it that Socialist and Communist Paradises Have to Wall Folks IN?

Venezuela is worried about people leaving, because starvation and violence. Venezuela Reopens Border With Brazil, Colombia Perimeter Still Closed

The border with Colombia had been closed on the orders of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to prevent 100 Bolivars from entering the country, which he said were being hoarded by “mafias” in the border city of Cúcuta, Colombia.

The border was supposed to be closed for only 72 hours, during which time banknotes were supposed to be delivered to banks and then removed from circulation. However, the border with Colombia has remained closed.

Brazil had to work through diplomatic channels to get their citizens OUT of the country, when Venezuela closed the Brazilian border.

For conditions in the country, see my previous post on the subject.

Life in a Socialist Paradise. Or Not

The collapse of Venezuela continues apace. Venezuela Set for Murderous 2017

Shortages of food and medicine. Hyperinflation. Violence. Welcome to the Socialist paradise – praised by one and all from Hollywood just a few years ago.

The Venezuelan Violence Observatory (Observatorio Venezolano de Violencia – OVV) estimated 28,479 “violent deaths” during 2016, a homicide rate of 91.8 per 100,000 residents. As a point of comparison the murder rate in the United States is under five per 100,000. The count included deaths from confrontations involving security forces, a mounting number.

The numbers are expected to get worse this year.

During 2016 living conditions in the country further, hyperinflation is spiraling out of control and while the minimum wage has increased, salaries have been eroded by the rising cost of products, leading to a proliferation of the black market.

Can you say “failed state?”

So who were the Hollywood Celebs that were in love with the Venezuelan government? Danny Glover, Sean Penn, Kevin Spacey, Danny Glover, Oliver Stone, Harry Belafonte, Naomi Campbell, and Princeton University Professor Cornel West. Not to mention boxing promoter Don King.

Wonder why they aren’t down there now?