Sunday, February 14, 2016

Alternative to Proof of Onward Travel

It seems to me that a business should step into the desire of countries for proof of onward travel. There are many times an onward ticket is not sensible. The countries are worried about people staying and/or become drains on the economy it isn't that they care about having a piece of paper saying you have a ticket out. A business could step in to aid travelers and vouch for people's financial well-being. A long time ago I believe American Express offices were actually used a great deal by travelers. It could start with companies like American Express.

They could provide a financial guarantee. Countries mostly would be thrilled to encourage visitors who are "wealthy" (globally wealthy people may well not think they are wealthy). Credit card companies could make it a feature of gold cards for example...

Digital nomads and location-independent workers often travel one country at a time, without onward travel confirmed. When I was I didn't know how long I would want to stay or where I would go next. The way things normally work, they are much looser with passports from rich countries, and since I have one, I didn't have problems. But as rules get more demanding it could become more annoying and it already is if you have a passport that isn't desired.

Related: Location Independent Living Can Be In Your Comfort Zone and a Good Experience - Economics: Digital Nomads, Visas, Foreign Currency - Transfer Money Between Currencies Using New Providers Not Banks And Save

Friday, December 04, 2015

Paypal Hamster Wheel for Customers

I have been trying to add a bank to my paypal account for a week now. This is a long time paypal account. They force you through a time consuming system (because after all, who cares about wasting customer's time - this is super common for nearly all large USA companies, treating customers as if wasting their time is no big deal). So even though I am signed in, they require a extra verification to add a bank (ok, not horrible, if it works). But it doesn't.

I do that extra step. They thank me for completing it.

Then then just tell me to do it again.

Yup, that is exactly the same as before they wasted your time to verify it and thanked you for completing the verification. They seem to like it so much they just repeatedly run you through the same thing, I guess forever though maybe if you do it 7 times they then let you succeed?

I have explained this to them at least 5 times still no fix. In the latest one, they said they adjusted the account and just try again poor sap. I did, exactly the same result. Enter your info on the bank (which is not at least the 7th time I have done so, beyond all the rest of it they delete your entry each time their system thanks you for completing their extra verification - what joy).

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Democrats and Republicans Have Failed the USA on Health Care for Decades

It is so sad that Democrats and Republicans have played games for decades while those of us in the USA are stuck coping with the disaster of a health care system those two parties have created. A good health care system is very close to the most important feature of a modern society. Yet those two parties have bungled for decades and left us to suffer.

Many Flexible Health Plans Come With A Costly Trap

Vince Hess of Grandview, Mo., racked up about $800 in costs related to surgery for a broken hand in 2013. Hess, an actuary, first checked that his surgeon was in network. He had the operation at an in-network surgical center, but only learned later when he was billed that the two anesthesiologists who assisted in the surgery were not.

This kind of thing should result in health care providers (insurers etc.) going to jail. It is intolerable that someone has insurance and is expected to police the health care provided to them in such a way. Costs must be detailed up front or they should not legally allow to be billed.

I realize emergency situations will create some complexity with providing all costs in advance, fixing that part can be delayed. This behavior of billing after the fact for huge expenses has gone on for at least a decade. It should have been stopped after a year. It is intolerable that our political parties just make excuses and sacrifice our lives to disreputable business practices by health care providers. This needs to be fixed now. Not after another decade or two of the parties not fixing it. Now.

If you have insurance and use the insurance, the insurer must be expected to deal with the games hospitals and doctors chose to play to try and stick USA citizens with bills after the fact. This isn't about making the USA system close to as good as the second worst rich country heath care system this is about fixing an intolerable hardship placed on citizens by the medical care system the Democrats and Republicans have put in place over the last 20 to 40 years.

Related: Medical Debt Increases as Economy Declines - Out of Pocket “Maximum” – Understanding USA Health Care Costs - USA Health Care Spending 2013: $2.9 trillion $9,255 per person and 17.4% of GDP - USA Spends $7,960 Compared to Around $3,800 for Other Rich Countries on Health Care with No Better Health Results (2009 data) - Our Failed Health-care System (2008)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Golden State Warriors 14-0, Philadelphia 76ers 0-13

The Golden State Warriors are starting their season after winning the championship last year in a near records fashion so far. They need 1 more win to tie the best every 15-0 start (by Michael Jordan's Bulls).

Stephen Curry (last years MVP) is one again leading the Warriors. So far he is making his MVP last season look like a mediocre one. Stephen Curry set the record for 3-pointers last season, with 286. He's currently on pace for 415.

The Philadelphia 76ers box score last night shows one of their starters in last night's game didn't even play. I would think they would be better off playing all 5 players. They fell to 0-13 with a 113-88 loss to Charlotte Bobcats (owned by Michael Jordan).

Ok, maybe this was a misprint, but with Philadelphia this year that isn't a sure bet. They really did send 6 players onto the court 2 days ago.

Related: Frank Kaminsky - College Basketball Player of the Year 2014-2015 (he is playing for the Charlotte Bobcats now, by the way #2 Jahlil Okafor is playing for Philadelphia) - Davidson Students Get Free Sweet Sixteen Trip (when Steph Curry was playing for Davidson and Wisconsin was the opponent - Kaminsky later played for Wisconsin) - Universities Again Abandon Fans/Mission to Increase Pay to Administrative Staff/Coaches - Why Don’t Football Players Just Thrown the Ball Out of Bounds to Stop the Clock

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Art of a MacBook Pro Crash

I was watching this video, listening to Hank Green talk about how he appreciated art (even if he didn't always understand it of feel comfortable with it and how it is often presented) and was grateful for the largely unnoticed things in our lives.

He had just said

Sometimes it seems like everything is broken and nothing works at all. But when things work we don't tend to notice. There is nothing quite like knowing, as I have my entire life, that there will be food at the corner store. I don't spend enough time being grateful for that...

And then the playback of the video went crazy and my first thought was oh isn't that a neat artistic touch to show how we take for granted how amazing it is we can watch this video he shot himself and uploaded online and billions of people across the globe have instant access to it...

But instead, my MacBook Pro was crashing again :-/

When I restarted my computer his continued words continued his very worthwhile thoughts.

and not just grateful that I can always get food. But grateful that so many people come together to work hard to make sure that all of the people in New York City can continue eating and drinking and everything can continue to function. Thats not something that just happens. Thats something that people do.

Related: Appreciating Health - Action Is More Important Than Sympathy - Quitting, Habits and the Examined Life - Synchronicity

As soon as I posted this the MacBook Pro crashed again. It has been crashing a lot but this is the first time it did it within 10 minutes.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Our Diets Are Greatly Changing the Ecosystem Inside Our Bodies

We still have so much to learn about human health. The rich interaction of our bodies and our microbiome is amazing and important and complex and not very well understood.

Some posts I have made on these topics on the Curious Cat Science Blog: Waste from Gut Bacteria Helps Host Control Weight (2008) - Tracking the Ecosystem Within Us (2007) - People Have More Bacterial Cells than Human Cells (2007) - Microbes Flourish In Healthy People (2010) - Human Gene Origins: 37% Bacterial, 35% Animal, 28% Eukaryotic (2013)

Here is a recent article looking at variation in human microbiome.

Burgers and fries have nearly killed our ancestral micro biome.

A group of Italian microbiologists had compared the intestinal microbes of young villagers in Burkina Faso with those of children in Florence, Italy. The villagers, who subsisted on a diet of mostly millet and sorghum, harbored far more microbial diversity than the Florentines, who ate a variant of the refined, Western diet. Where the Florentine microbial community was adapted to protein, fats, and simple sugars, the Burkina Faso microbiome was oriented toward degrading the complex plant carbohydrates we call fiber.
The Western microbiome, the community of microbes scientists thought of as “normal” and “healthy,” the one they used as a baseline against which to compare “diseased” microbiomes, might be considerably different than the community that prevailed during most of human evolution.
a remarkable and somewhat quixotic effort has begun to catalog and possibly preserve, before they disappear, the microbes of people who live in environments thought to resemble humanity’s past—people whose microbiomes may approximate an ancestral state. Researchers are motoring down rivers in the Amazon, off-roading in the East African savanna, hiking into the mountain villages of Papua New Guinea. They see themselves as rushing to catalog an ecosystem that may soon disappear.

“It’s really our last chance to harvest a lot of these microbes from around the world,” Rob Knight, a microbiologist at the University of California, San Diego, told me. “We have to do it before it’s too late—and it’s very nearly too late.”

It is a very good idea to learn much more about this area. And it is also wise to learn what microbes we have co-evolved with for so long - before that information is lost.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Security - Verification of Change

Many web sites will now notify you if a change is made to various aspects of your account, say you change your address or email or phone... Every one I have ever received says if you made the change do nothing, if you didn't then call us.

My guess is this is because it provides some security and is super easy for them. But if security were the priority I think you would do more. Why not require them to affirmatively agree to the change? The main reason I can see is that it would create more work. You would need a process for the case where they failed to affirmatively agree to the change.

Still for very important matters it seems like this would be wise. Yet I have never seen anyplace do this.

One thing I can think of does has this process in place. For a long time (15 years?) if you get a new credit card you have to call and activate it (usually they use caller ID to auto approve if you call from the phone number on file, if the call isn't made from such a number you are asked other details to verify who you are).

Such a system could be opt-in, so only people concerned about security could participate and someone that didn't want to bother could continue as things are today.

Related: Protecting Your Privacy and Security (Curious Cat Investing blog) - Protect Yourself from Credit Card Fraud - Governments Shouldn't Prevent Citizens from Having Secure Software Solutions - Making Credit Cards More Secure and Useful (2014) - Bad Security on Government Required RFID e-passports