U of North Dakota studying ethical issues of drones

North Dakota? Drones? Ethics? Kevin Bonham of The Grand Forks Herald writes: “By next spring, the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Department could be using unmanned aircraft to probe scenes of traffic accidents or hazardous spills. But they’re not likely to be getting a bird’s-eye view of Spring fling festivities at University Park. UND’s UAS Research Compliance Committee, the first of its kind in the nation, is sorting through those and other ethical and privacy issues to develop UAS [unmanned aerial systems] compliance standards, a document that could become a national model. … The committee, which has been meeting about every three weeks since August, has set three main tasks:
• Establish and enforce a university-wide review of all UAS research protocols and perform ongoing review and monitoring.
• Consider the ethical consequences of proposed UAS research and apply community standards in determining whether a project is approved, modified or rejected.
• Leverage UND’s national leadership in UAS privacy-related issues and assist regulatory agencies with formulating publicly acceptable solutions.”

Further proof it is better to be a doe than a buck … The Duluth News Tribune says: “Bucks up, does down. That’s the story of the deer harvest in Northeastern Minnesota’s firearms deer season, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ preliminary harvest data released Tuesday. The buck harvest was up 5.4 percent from 2011 in Series 100 units, which cover most of Northeastern Minnesota. The antlerless harvest was down 24 percent in the region. Overall, the harvest in Northeastern Minnesota was down 10 percent from last year, and last year’s harvest was down slightly from 2010.”

In a commentary for the Rochester Post-Bulletin, Bob Johnson, president of the Minnesota Insurance Federation, writes: “After decades of being a low-cost state for property insurance, we’ve made a dramatic turn in the wrong direction. Thankfully, there are ways to reverse this trend through simple legislative changes that most other states already have enacted. … Right now, Minnesota is the only state in the nation that forbids insurers from raising rates or non-renewing coverage for policyholders that have multiple weather-related claims. In every other state, these high-risk policyholders are able to be placed in an insurance mechanism where their much-larger-than-average losses can be absorbed into a larger pool that can better manage the higher risk. In Minnesota, lower-risk policyholders are subsidizing higher-risk policyholders (who have filed multiple weather-related claims) because of our unique laws. If we can bring this important underwriting tool to Minnesota, we might be able to help prevent this unfair cost shifting.”

The GleanSemi, sort-of related. Home inspector Reuben Saltzman blogs for the Strib on lousy plumbing repairs: “I have about a million photos of hack plumbing repairs, but that’s not the point of this post.  Today I’m going to give a list of some common plumbing products sold at home improvement stores and hardware stores in Minnesota that probably shouldn’t be purchased.  Whatever you plan to do with these products is most likely going to be a violation of the Minnesota State Plumbing Code. … First and foremost comes my favorite; the drain tube meant for an S-trap or washing machine drain. I love the photo below because the packaging encourages you to be your own plumber … which is exactly what the ambitious-looking square on the cover has decided to be, unfortunately.  He’s installing an S-trap, which is illegal in Minnesota, and as far as I know, everywhere else in the country.  While the packaging also says that this 1-1/2″ drain tube can be used for a washing machine drain, the minimum size allowed for a washing machine drain, also known as a standpipe, is 2.” NOW he tells me.

There are days when every man would like his own private off-shore lighthouse. Martha Waggoner of the AP reports: “To the government, it was a defunct offshore light tower that hadn’t helped ships navigate the waters off North Carolina in more than a decade. To a Minnesota entrepreneur, the platform out in the Atlantic is a launching pad for research into wind power and other technologies. First, some renovations will be needed at the Diamond Shoals Light Tower, which sits about 13 miles off Cape Hatteras. Its buyer hopes to get his first view of his new property next week — provided, of course, that the landing pad is sturdy enough for a helicopter. ‘The pilot says he’s confident it will be OK,’ said Dave Schneider of Richfield, Minn., who plans to chopper out Wednesday for his first look. ‘He says if we try to land and it looks shaky, we’re not going to land.’ Schneider, 56, paid $20,000 for the tower and platform in September after he was the only bidder for it in an auction by the General Services Administration.”

Some bad PR for the Belle Plaine PD. Says Paul Walsh of the Strib: “An off-duty police officer with a southwest metro force was arrested overnight on suspicion of being drunk and driving nearly 100 miles per hour, authorities said Wednesday. Belle Plaine officer Bryan M. Pasek, 32, was traveling 96 mph in a pickup truck when a state trooper stopped him shortly before 2:30 a.m. Tuesday on Hwy. 169 between Jordan and Belle Plaine, according to the State Patrol. This is Pasek’s second drunken-driving arrest, both coming while on the Belle Plaine police force.” They might want to set their bar juuuust a bit higher.

Our Favorite Congresswoman seems to be having an effect on how Iowa goes about it’s presidential campaign business. Brett Neely of MPR writes: “For a brief moment last summer after she won the Iowa Republican Party’s Ames Straw Poll, Michele Bachmann’s bid for the GOP presidential nomination seemed to have caught fire. Now, citing her post-straw poll flameout, Iowa’s governor Terry Branstad says it’s time for the political pageant to end. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Branstad said: ‘I think the straw poll has outlived its usefulness.’ He continued, ‘It has been a great fundraiser for the party, but I think its days are over.’ … Last year’s Iowa straw poll also ended the candidacy of Minnesota’s other candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty. His poor showing in the poll led to the end of his campaign. Pawlenty now runs one of the top trade associations for the banking industry in Washington, DC. The chairman of the state party, A.J. Spiker, told the Journal that Branstad was ‘wrong’ and that ‘this is not a decision he will make anyway.’ ” Damn straight! The American political media like the sight of candidates debasing themselves for 27,000 zealots.

Kevin Kling offers an MPR commentary on why he prays. It’s changed over the years. The piece has a poignant ending, but here’s a slice of the funny set-up: “I’m wild Russian boar hunting in Texas. Wild Russian boar were introduced to Texas for big game hunting. They weigh five, six hundred pounds with six-inch tusks, and they eat meat in the middle of the night, which is you. So when they come to eat you in the night, you shoot them. I’m what’s called the light man. I hold a flashlight and search for a boar. I asked the guy, Mario, “Mario, aren’t they going to come for the guy with the light?” He says, “Yeah.” So I decide right then and there if I see a boar, I’m going to the shine the light on Mario. Hoo — there’s a big one. Mario decides it’s a good time to drink really a lot, right out of the bottle. And then he topples over, lying there out cold, lying on his gun. I’m standing there in the dark, waiting for a boar, and I pray to God, “God, please get me out of this. Get me out of this and I’ll never do anything stupid again as long as I live.”

Denny news! John Welbes of the PiPress writes: “More than three years after Denny Hecker declared bankruptcy, there’s at least one asset that’s still worth fighting for: Hecker’s former 8,400-square-foot home in suburban Medina. On Tuesday, Nov. 20, the battle for the home on Northridge Drive came to a head in Minneapolis, featuring attorneys grilling other attorneys about who’s telling the truth. … The tale of the Northridge Drive home is a colossally complicated real estate transaction. … The bankruptcy court lawsuit was filed by Randall Seaver, the court-appointed trustee who handled Hecker’s bankruptcy case. Seaver’s case against the Northridge property’s current owner led to lengthy questioning Tuesday about why Seaver made a deal to let someone else obtain the deed to the property but later filed suit to get more cash out of the house. … At the time Hecker filed for bankruptcy liquidation in 2009, the Northridge home was buried under about $1.2 million in mortgages, not to mention a $2.6 million federal tax lien.” … I’m sorry, I’m having a moment here.

Have a pleasant holiday.

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 11/21/2012 - 03:49 pm.

    Just a Little Question for Insurance Companies

    If someone has multiple weather-related claims which you deem to be legitimate,…

    thereby implying that they really ARE the result of multiple incidents of bad weather in certain locales i.e. acts of God or acts of nature (whichever you prefer),…

    aren’t you REALLY just trying to get the state legislature to hand you the means to kick up rates or cancel policies WHENEVER you have to pay out a claim,…

    in other words, people can only keep reasonable rates by NEVER FILING a claim?

    Or are you confidently worried that, with global climate change, some parts of Minnesota are going to find themselves in the middle of a new “tornado alley” and you want to make sure you have the means to leave the people living in those areas holding the bag?

    Finally, how does the proportion of money you receive in premiums that now goes to executive salaries compare (by percentage) to those figures back in the early 70’s? I suspect in examining that number you’ll find a very strong clue as to why our insurance rates have risen since that time.

    Or in other words, aren’t you just floating this idea to try to convince us that our rates are going up because too many people are filing frivolous weather-related claims,…

    in order to distract us from the fact that our rates are going up because of massive increases in the percentage of our premiums that are going to the salaries your executives are paying themselves?

    I’d suggest you might want to use caution in your approach, because of the fact that those who have mortgages on their homes are REQUIRED to carry property/casualty insurance. With that requirement in mind, it wouldn’t be too difficult to make a case that too-rapidly rising insurance rates are the result of insurance executives seeking to enrich themselves at the expense of people who have no choice but to purchase such insurance,…

    necessitating much more stringent state regulation of the companies that are providing the required product.

  2. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 11/23/2012 - 09:58 am.

    Insurance Claims

    The point was made in the article that people who haven’t made a claim are subsidizing those who have. I have to wonder though: isn’t that the whole point of insurance? You may not have a claim today, but you might have one tomorrow. So today you’re subsidizing the other guy. And if you submit a claim in the future, then she subsidizes you.

    But if you kick people out of the program just because they filed a claim, then that shrinks the pool of people paying in, which means the rates go up for the remaining people. What should happen instead is they open up the pool so there are more people paying in, thereby bringing everyone’s rates down. Not subdivide the customers into ever smaller pools, making it cheap for the people who never file a claim and ridiculously expensive for everyone else.

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