Home Alone

Home Insurance-less, Hostage Rescue Op

If you want to know the truth about the risk of climate change, ignore the politics and follow the money. With all due respect to my local weatherman, there’s probably no one better at assessing climate risk than insurance companies, so if you want the actual facts, ask an actuary. In an increasing number of areas, big home insurance companies are raising premiums for homeowners in the line of fire (or more specifically, wildfire) and flood. These days, an increasing number of homeowners are opting out of coverage for natural disasters or even skipping home insurance altogether. WaPo (Gift Article): Home insurance was once a ‘must.’ Now more homeowners are going without. “Experts say this trend is driven by the escalating threat of climate change — which has forced insurers to make larger and larger payouts — and skyrocketing housing prices. Both trends are pushing the cost of policies up. On average, home insurance policies rose 11.3 percent in 2023, according to S&P Global. Compounding the problem, some insurance providers are pulling out of disaster-prone areas as a result of rising payouts — leaving former policyholders with fewer and more expensive alternatives.”


The Tracks of My Gears

“Life360, is popular with parents who want to keep track of their families. MyRadar offers weather forecasts. GasBuddy can help you find cheap fuel on a road trip.” But all these apps (and many others) are doing something else in the background. Assessing your driving. “Those insights are provided by Arity, a data broker founded by Allstate. Arity uses the data to create driving scores for tens of millions of people, and then markets the scores to auto insurance companies.” Kashmir Hill continues her interesting examination of how backseat connivers are tracking your driving, whether you know it or not. NYT (Gift Article): Your Driving, Tracked.


Anon Issue

“An app lets high-schoolers post anonymously about their classmates, and police the rules themselves. I know what you’re thinking: What could possibly go wrong?” WSJ: An Anonymous-Messaging App Upended This High School. This app briefly infested the high school one of my kids attends. Whatever happened to traditional modes of communication like writing something nasty on a bathroom wall…


Are You Ready to Rumble?

“Elephants’ trumpeting is well known, but Pardo says trumpeting is an abrupt noise that’s more like screaming or laughing. He figured that if elephants had names, they’d be somehow encoded in elephants’ constant, low-frequency rumblings.” Wild elephants may have names that other elephants use to call them.


Extra, Extra

Hostage Rescue: “Locals asked the newcomers where they came from, and the latter answered that they were escaping the IDF operation in Rafah, and had rented a place in the area around the market in Nuseirat, pointing at the building where Noa Argamani was being held.” Special forces posed as displaced Gazans moving into building where hostage held. From AP: How an Israeli raid freed 4 hostages and killed at least 274 Palestinians in Gaza. “They arrived in the middle of the day, when the squat concrete buildings of the Nuseirat refugee camp are stifling and the narrow streets outside are filled with people. No one suspected a thing until the shots rang out. The Israeli raid caught everyone off guard, from the Hamas militants guarding four hostages in two different buildings to the thousands of civilians who soon found themselves running for their lives through a blistering crossfire.” The father of one of the hostage died hours before son’s rescue. Meanwhile, Blinken is making his 8th visit to the region since Oct 7. “My message to governments throughout the region, to people throughout the region, is if you want a ceasefire, press Hamas to say yes.”

+ Righty Ho: “A four-day election has shaken the foundations of the European Union, with the far right rocking ruling parties in France and Germany, the bloc’s traditional driving forces. For the next five years it will be harder for the European Parliament to make decisions. French President Emmanuel Macron called snap national elections after Marine Le Pen’s National Rally humbled his pro-European centrists in the polls. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats also suffered as the extreme-right Alternative for Germany shrugged off scandals to make massive gains.” NPR: Takeaways from the European parliamentary elections. And BBC: Macron snap election leaves rivals stunned after EU vote.

+ Justice Just Ain’t: “Justice Samuel Alito spoke candidly about the ideological battle between the left and the right – discussing the difficulty of living ‘peacefully’ with ideological opponents in the face of ‘fundamental’ differences that ‘can’t be compromised.’ He endorsed what his interlocutor described as a necessary fight to ‘return our country to a place of godliness.’ And Alito offered a blunt assessment of how America’s polarization will ultimately be resolved: ‘One side or the other is going to win.'” Justice Alito Caught on Tape Discussing How Battle for America ‘Can’t Be Compromised.’

+ The Lies Work: “Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Donald Trump is unhappy about the outcome of a proceeding. So despite a complete lack of evidence, he spends months claiming a concerted conspiracy against him, masterminded by his nefarious political opponents. He says this many dozens of times, despite firm denials from key figures and even some Trump allies. And by the end of it, 4 in 10 Americans come to believe in the vast left-wing conspiracy.” WaPo (Gift Article): There remains no evidence that Biden was behind the Manhattan prosecution of the former president, but 80 percent of Republicans say otherwise. Oh well, I guess we can always get the real story from AI. Oh wait… Google’s and Microsoft’s AI Chatbots Refuse to Say Who Won the 2020 US Election. (They must be watching Trump’s enablers on Sunday morning talkshows.)

+ Shopping a Plea: “TJX finance chief John Klinger disclosed the body-camera initiative on an earnings call last month. ‘It’s almost like a de-escalation, where people are less likely to do something when they’re being videotaped.'” Workers at TJ Maxx and Marshalls are wearing police-like body cameras.

+ Going to the Mattresses: NYT: When the Money Is Under the Mattress. Or in the Freezer. Or a Shoebox. “Older people who stash large sums of cash in their homes think it’s safer there than anyplace else. But they could be creating huge headaches for their heirs.” (What’s the point of having money if you can’t pass on the associated headaches, stress, and conflicts to your kids?)


Bottom of the News

“A server at a North Carolina restaurant said she was fired after posting a viral video of a man having a meal with a blow-up doll.” The guy later explained that that “dining with the doll was nothing more than his punishment from losing a wager in his fantasy football league.” Ah, ok, now it all makes sense. Wait, isn’t it baseball season?

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