New York City to cap the number of Uber and Lyft drivers

New York City has become the first major municipality in the United States to put a cap on the number of ridesharing drivers allowed to exist within its city. From CBS News:

New York City is hitting the brakes on fast-expanding ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. Lawmakers on Wednesday approved a proposal to freeze new licenses for car service drivers for one year, becoming the first large city in the U.S. to impose such restrictions.

This is a very bad idea. It’s anti-consumer. By limiting the number of Lyft and Uber drivers available to riders, the taxi industry can now go back to raking in the money it was able to subject consumers to before ridesharing became a thing. The taxi industry has had years to establish itself as a positive entity in the market. They failed to do that. In fact, they burned a lot of calories doing the complete opposite.

Taxis suck and I hate them

People generally hate taxis. I sure do. The last time I used a taxi was in June 2008. We were back in California on vacation and the night before our flight to Maryland, we stayed at the Burbank Holiday Inn. The reason we stayed there was that it is close to the Burbank airport (3 miles) and offered a free shuttle service to the airport. We discovered the next morning that the free shuttle service didn’t start till 6:30 am. The problem was we had to check in to JetBlue at 6:00 am. We had to take a taxi. I called one and when the driver arrived, he informed me in an eastern European accent that he would take us for a flat $20.

I didn’t have a choice. He drove us to the airport without the meter running. The ride took only a few minutes. Taxis aren’t allowed to drive passengers without the meter running. I promised myself I’d never use a taxi again.

Getting an Uber or Lyft in New York City will be harder with each passing day

Uber and Lyft rely on a business model that depends heavily on constantly adding new drivers. The reason for this is drivers generally don’t stick around very long. It’s not like they turn in their two-week notice or call to have their driver account deleted. They just don’t drive anymore. You can go months without driving and then log in and start accepting rides again like nothing happened. I know this because if done that.

Unless Uber and Lyft make major changes to the way they manage drivers in New York City, getting a rideshare driver in New York City will get a lot harder.

Preseason football is stupid

In last night’s preseason opener “win” against the Cleveland Browns, the Washington Redskins lost tight end Niles Paul for the season with a broken ankle. The season as in the regular season.

Paul broke his ankle in a meaningless game in the preseason, something the NFL has had for far too long. The regular NFL season is 16 games long. That’s already far too long to play football, especially when it’s played the way it’s played today. Players are too big, too strong, and too fast to play that many games. The amount of carnage put on most NFL players on a weekly basis, is insane. The millionaires and billionaires that run the NFL ought to be coming up with ways of playing less football, not more.

The first thing they should do is abolish the preseason.

It’s not needed. Not really. College football, America’s second most popular sport, doesn’t have a preseason and it seems to get a long just fine without it. The players in college football are technically amateurs, yet they are somehow able to prepare themselves before the season starts without preseason games. NFL players come from the college ranks, so why do they need a preseason to prepare themselves?

They don’t.

Team owners enjoy the preseason because it makes them a lot of money, money they don’t have to share with the players. They force season ticket owners to buy two preseason home game tickets as part of the season ticket package. They also make a lot of money selling food and drink at each home game, whether it’s the preseason or the regular season. Concession stands charge the same for a beer whether it’s the preseason or the regular season.

Players make very little money during the preseason. Veteran players make a standard, flat-rate $1,600 per diem each week in training camp. Rookies make $850 a week during training camp. Preseason games are part of training camp. Players don’t make their regular paycheck until the regular season begins. Players in the NFL are paid 1/16 of their yearly salary each Monday of the regular season.

If I was in charge of the NFL, I’d abolish the preseason. I’d shorten the regular season to ten games, and I’d require a mandatory 10-day break for between games. This would allow players to recuperate more fully between games. Instead of concentrating most games on Sunday, I’d spread them out during the week. I’d also increase the 53-man roster to at least 70 players.

Preseason football, like all stupid things, will eventually go away. It’s just a matter of when, not if.

I don't understand the Ice Bucket Challenge

You know you’re getting old when you see stuff happen on the World Wide Internets Web and you don’t understand it. For me, this has been the case with the Ice Bucket Challenge. It’s where people pour a bucket of icy water on themselves, record it on video, and then challenge three other people to do the same. The three people challenged have 24 hours to complete the challenge. If they fail to do it in the allotted time, they’re supposed to donate $100 to ALS disease, research. If they carry out the challenge, they only have to donate $10. You’re also expected to post a video of your dumping to prove you did it and to publicly challenge three more people.

If I understand the Ice Bucket Challenge, and chances are, I probably don’t, people are choosing a bucket of ice water instead of making a $100 donation to a worthy cause. The Ice Bucket Challenge seems like a weird version of Truth or Dare, where the truth is donating $100 to ALS research and the dare is always a bucket of ice water and donating only $10.

If the goal is to get more money for ALS research, wouldn’t it be better if no one dumped ice on themselves? As far as I can see, this stunt only helps the ice industry, Big Ice, and Google, which owns YouTube. The Ice Bucket Challenge videos I’ve seen always start with a commercial for a cell phone provider or some car I don’t want to own.

ALS is a terrible and horrifying disease. Whatever money is put towards ALS research, it’s not enough. Personally, I’d like to see the United States take what it spends on military defense and use that money on finding cures for diseases like ALS. If we really want to spend money on defending people, we should spend it on stopping what actually kills them. The chances I’ll get killed by a member of Al Qaeda are really quite remote, but the chances I’ll get killed by cancer or heart disease are actually quite high.

Instead of donating $10 or even $100 towards ALS research, we should be pestering our elected officials to flip what we spend on military defense, $931 billion for the fiscal year 2013, and medical research, $29 billion in 2013.

4zXxmuNThat, of course, will never happen, so I guess we should all just dump a giant bucket of ice water on our heads and call it a day.