Here’s How Much Google Should Pay To Have Its Buses Pick Up Employees In San Francisco (GOOG)

Google Bus

Protesters in San Francisco who hate private buses for tech employees are right about at least one thing: Google and other companies that pick up and drop off their employees on public streets should pay for the privilege of using public bus stops.

But the protesters are drastically wrong when they demand the companies pay $500 million a year. Instead, the payments should be in the ballpark of $1 million t0 $4 million annually.

Here’s how the protesters’ math works, according to a flyer from today’s protest shared by Instagram user Tigerbeat:

Tech industry private shuttles use over 200 SF MUNI stops approximately 7,100 times each day in total (M-F) without permission or contributing funds to support public infrastructure… If the tech industry was forced to pay for every illegal use of these stops for the past two years, they would owe an estimated $1 billion.

That $1 billion-over-two-years figure is based on a $271 fine for illegal use of a bus stop. But it would be absurd to charge so much for a bus pickup that takes a couple of minutes or less. That price would imply that about 75 feet of curbside space in San Francisco is worth thousands of dollars an hour. The city is expensive, but it’s not that expensive. It’s no surprise the fine provides bad guidance: Fines are supposed to be set far above the price of authorized use, because most unauthorized users don’t get fined.

Instead of the fine, we should look to prices that municipalities charge for authorized use of curbside space. As it happens, New York City has just implemented a permit system for intercity buses that pick up or drop off on the street. Bus operators must pay for permits that cost $30 per year for every scheduled weekly pickup. That’s a price of 58 cents per pickup. Applying the same charge in San Francisco would result in total payments just over $1 million.

Or we can look at the price of on-street metered parking in San Francisco, which is up to $6 per hour during peak periods. If a bus stop is the length of five parking spaces and a Google bus uses such space for two minutes for a pick up or drop off, the implied price per use would be $1. That price would raise about $2 million in annual revenues — not nothing, but also not much.

Maybe street parking in San Francisco is underpriced. Maybe the meters should go up to $12 per hour and the bus stop use fee should accordingly be $2, raising $4 million. In any case, we’re not going to get anywhere close to $500 million.

Buses impose other costs on the government than the value of the curbside space they use to pick up and drop off. San Francisco and the state of California have to build, maintain and police the roads. Bus operators already pay gas taxes and vehicle registration fees that go toward these costs. If these charges are insufficient, they should be raised — not just for the private buses but also for individual drivers.

Of course, the protesters don’t really hate the buses because they’re undercharged for the use of curbside space. They hate the fact that housing is a market good whose price is determined by supply and demand. The best way to address that problem would be to allow the construction of lots more housing units in San Francisco, so that housing supply can rise to meet demand. But while we’re doing that, applying a modest charge to the buses for their modest use of curbside space is a good idea too.

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A Protest of Historic Proportions: 15 Photos From Kiev

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Protests in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, have evolved over the past week from groups of chanting citizens to demonstrations of hundreds of thousands of people, some of whom are demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych after he refused to sign free trade and political agreements with the European Union.

Yanukovych’s refusal was a nod toward Russia, which disapproved of the pending deals. The president then dismissed his people’s unrest, but his cavalier attitude only caused their ranks to swell. On Monday morning, Yanukovych announced he would sit down with other politicians to hash out the differences between him and his people, according to The New York Times, though it is unclear how the process will work. Read more…

More about Photos, Russia, European Union, Us World, and Politics

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Protesters Block Google Bus, Demand $1 Billion

Protesters in San Francisco blocked a Google Bus from shuttling employees to the company’s Mountain View headquarters on Monday morning, putting anti-gentrification activists and tech workers face-to-face in the dispute over long-time residents being outpriced by the wealthy newcomers.

The protest centered around Google’s use of the city’s Muni bus stops for the last two years — a practice that protesters allege is illegal and would total $1 billion in owed fines. Activists from the San Francisco Displacement and Neighborhood Impact Agency stalled an employee-filled Google Bus at the corner of 24th and Mission Streets for approximately half an hour on Monday morning with mock traffic signs citing the shuttles for illegal use of public infrastructure.

“We’re stopping the injustice in the city’s two-tier system where the public pays and the private corporations gain,” the group’s website announced. “Tech Industry private shuttles use over 200 SF MUNI stops approximately 7,100 times in total each day (M-F) without permission or contributing funds to support this public infrastructure.”

San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency is aware of companies like Google, Facebook, Apple and Genentech using its bus stops for their shuttles and proposed a plan in July requiring the companies pay for permits the to use the stops. If approved, the permitted use is expected to start next summer.

“We’re actively working with the San Francisco MTA towards a mutually agreeable policy on shuttles in the city,” Google said in a statement to The Huffington Post

But disgruntled employees on board shared their frustrations on social media.

A solution to the activists’ cries may not be that simple. For protesters and long-time residents of the Mission District and beyond, the Google Bus is a symbol of the city’s soaring rent prices and escalating number of evictions triggered by high-paid tech employees with the money to drive up the market.

However, a staged act by a fake Google employee may have dampened the blockade’s credibility. Protest organizer Leslie Dreyer confirmed with the San Francisco Bay Guardian that an enraged man who told an activist to get a better job or leave town was actually Max Bell Alper, a union organizer from Oakland. Dreyer said she was not aware that the performance had been planned.

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Why The NSA Was Really Spying On Gamers

And the NSA spying saga continues: news broke this week that both American and British intelligence agencies have been spying on players of fantasy games such as “World of Warcraft” and “Second Life.” But why?

As ever, there are a lot of reasons, and HuffPost Comedy is here to break them down in delicious pie chart form.

Be warned friends, that Orc you’re talking to isn’t a 12-year-old avoiding taking the garbage out, he’s a government spook with a pretty low charisma rating.

nsa spying gamers

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CHART OF THE DAY: Brands Are Picking Instagram For Video Over Vine

Brands are choosing Instagram video over Vine video, according to a new report from BI Intelligence

This is a bit of a no-brainer. Instagram has a bigger user base than Vine which is relatively new. So, naturally brands are going to pick Instagram.

We’re highlighting this chart because when Vine burst onto the scene, it looked like it was going to be a major social network.

Since Instagram added video our usage of Vine has declined significantly (almost down to nothing). We’re not sure if we’re outliers or what, but this is one of those things we’re keeping an eye on.

chart of the day vine instagram brands

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How to Get Rid of Fleas the Natural Way

A home infested with fleas is a stressful and painful problem to deal with, particularly if one or more family members is allergic. Infestations generally begin with pets, such as cats or dogs, and find homes in bedding, upholstered furniture and carpeting. Dog fleas (Ctenocephalides canis) and cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis) are the most common, though some 2,000 species of fleas exist worldwide. Natural control is best when dealing with these wingless bloodsuckers, as chemical methods pose health threats to animals and their human counterparts.

About

Fleas are tiny insects anywhere from 1/16 to ⅛ inches long, and are generally dark in color. Unable to fly, fleas nevertheless are capable of jumping incredible distances, and are very fast, making them difficult to catch and kill. They are regarded as some of the “best jumpers” in the animal world thanks to their long hind legs. Their laterally-compressed bodies make it easy for them to move through hair, fur and feathers on host bodies, as do the short spines that cover their shells. These hairs are “directed backwards” for easy movement.

These pesky insects go through four life cycles–egg, larvae, pupa and imago, or adult. An adult flea seeks to feed and reproduce, with females laying as many as 5,000 eggs throughout their lifetimes. Fleas can live as long as a few years if conditions are ideal, with females laying about 20 eggs per spawning.

The insects’ tube-like mouths are perfect for sucking blood. Common hosts include humans, cats, dogs, rabbits, mice, ferrets, chickens, squirrels and rats. Flea bites result in red, itchy welts on hosts, though even worse problems can occur, including hair loss, hot spots, and the transference of viruses and bacteria. Fleas were also among the carriers of the Black Death, or bubonic plague. Bites often appear in clusters and can take up to two weeks to heal.

Commercial flea medications contain powerful chemicals deemed highly dangerous by the EPA, with the agency reporting a range of conditions and illnesses from spot treatments in pets, including more mild problems such as skin irritations to serious issues, such as cancer and death. “Spot-on” products are those sold in tubes or similar containers and are applied between the shoulders of the animal or across the back ridge. Touching a pet following application results in exposure to these toxic chemicals. The animal also ingests the medication every time it grooms itself.

Flea “bombs” are another way to rid the home of fleas and other insects. A device sets off a “bomb” in the home, which coats everything in the house with a chemical that kills fleas.

A surefire way to tell if your pet has fleas is if the animal scratches and itches itself constantly. Examining the animal is another way, as you can usually see the insects living on the pet.

Rather than using chemical means to rid your pets and home of fleas, check out the many effective natural options that won’t harm anyone in the family, whether they walk on two or four legs.

How to Rid the Home of Fleas Naturally

Meticulous bathing of your pet and cleaning of your home are the best ways to ensure your home is free of these bloodsuckers. Making sure your pet is healthy will also prevent infestation.

This lesson is free for the first 7 days, after which; to subscribe to the lesson will cost only $1.99. All other lessons will cost $1.99 too.

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6 Reasons Why Your Comfort Zone Is Holding You Back In Life

If you’re not where you want to be in your life, it’s probably because you’re stuck inside of your own comfort zone.

It’s easy to do what you’re used to doing and stay within the confines of least resistance, but if you want to make progress in your life, you need to break free from what holds you back. Here are 6 reasons why your comfort zone may be holding you back in life and what you can do to change that.

1. By not taking risks, you never really discover your true self.

Living in your comfort zone is all about doing what is safe and easy: you know the outcome. If you’re afraid to take some risks and do something that scares you, or that by doing you don’t know how things will end up, you can never really understand who you truly are.

We find out a lot about ourselves when we take risks. We find out what we’re made of. We discover what makes us tick, and begin to see that part of ourselves deep inside, our true self, the one that holds the wisdom and power most of us are unaware of. When you can connect to your true self, you open doors to change, growth, progress, love, and understanding that cannot be found inside your comfort zone.

2. It’s almost impossible to grow and learn while stuck inside your comfort zone.

You can’t grow as a human being by following the path that’s already lit. As AJ Leon says, “Don’t follow well lit paths; grab a machete and hack down your own.” You learn more about yourself taking the road less traveled. You see and experience things you may never have if you’d stayed with what was comfortable.

With knowledge and growth comes an increased ability to do things in your life you never dreamed possible. All you have to do is start hacking.

3. If you stay in your comfort zone when faced with difficulties, you end up postponing your life goals.

A scenario that I’ve seen happen time and time again is one where you are faced with a difficult situation in your life and instead of facing it head on and overcoming it, you take a step back into your comfort zone. This is a major red flag when it comes to your goals in life and not being able to achieve them.

Your life goals are important. When difficulties come up—and they will—you need to be brave enough to keep moving forward. It’s really easy to just jump back into your routine, but postponing your goals now will make them more difficult to achieve later on. Find the courage to push through the hard things and you’ll be glad you did later on.

4. When life becomes routine, you lose a part of yourself.

Comfort feels all cozy and warm when you’re in it, but it’s also a double-edged sword. You stay comfortable for too long and you begin to get bored, lazy, content. And then you’re just primed to be another walking, talking zombie: just another spoke on the wheel with no meaning other than maintaining the status quo.

Routine is a part of your comfort zone. It may be satisfying you for now, but meanwhile you’re losing your ability to open up your true self and share your gifts with the world. When you lose that, you lose the ability to create anything meaningful for your life. That not only hurts your life, but those around you, including the rest of the world, which is being neglected by another wasted opportunity to show your true greatness.

5. You get lost by following the crowd.

Life is so much more fulfilling when you are constantly learning, growing, connecting, and making dents in the Universe by releasing your greatness to the world. When you are living within your comfort zone, all of that disappears. You become lost in the crowd, another krill in a swarm, headed in one direction.

Break out of that comfort zone and you will start to be noticed. You’ll no longer be a follower, you’ll become a leader. You have the ability to set an example and pull other lost souls out as well. When you start to become noticed, you start to move forward in your life. Greater opportunities present themselves, other people will look up to you, and the world will be a better place with you out there making waves.

6. The unknown is where dreams are made.

The unknown is a magical place where dreams come true and life happens. Your comfort zone is a predictable place where dreams die and life stalls. It’s pretty simple when you think about it. Stay within your comfort zone and keep hoping, wishing, and dreaming of a better life, or take a step into the unknown and create your own version of how you want your life to look.

Like the tiny, soft bodied creatures that build coral reefs, habits start off small and flexible, and end up by building massive barriers of rock all around your mind. How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

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