Tuesday, 16 December 2008

GPS buying advice

Rich Owings of GPS Tracklog offers advice on must-have and less-worthwhile features for an automotive GPS. I’ll slightly dissent from Rich on the value of traffic information, although of the units I’ve used the Dash Express has the only helpful implementation* of traffic I’ve found so far—and with Dash leaving the hardware business it’s not clear that anyone will be filling the gap in the future—although TomTom’s HD Traffic is allegedly headed stateside in 2009.

* Virtually all of the existing products focus on Interstates and other freeways, which might be helpful in really big cities where there are multiple freeway routes to the same destination, but isn’t so helpful in the places I’ve lived where the question is not “which freeway should I take?” but “should I take the freeway or one of the 2–3 surface street options?” Dash at least has some data on traffic on the surface street network—but much of it relies on Dash getting more market penetration, which seems unlikely unless they’ve hooked up with a major player like TomTom to provide traffic services going forward.

More on the filibuster

The Economist gets in on the filibuster debate thusly:

What’s needed is less posturing and more discussion of when, exactly, a supermajority should be required to get something done in Congress. Right now the only constitutionally-required supermajorities are the two-thirds majority needed to remove an impeached official from office and the two-thirds majorities needed in both houses to pass constitutional amendments. Which other issues are important enough to get that treatment? Should a Supreme Court nominee require confirmation by a supermajority? Should either house of Congress do as California does, and require a two-thrids majority to pass a budget?

Approach the question another way: What sort of congressional actions should only require a simple majority vote? As much as Republicans and business interests fear the Employee Free Choice Act, why should Democrats need 60 votes to pass it? If voters were opposed to the concept, they could have avoided giving the Democrats the presidency and a net 14 Senate seats and 55 House seats over the last two elections.

They are sanguine about the prospects of a real debate over the role of the filibuster, though. And, again, I am forced to wonder how Harry Reid is supposed to “bully” Republicans into not exercising the privilege of unlimited debate since he lacks any effective institutional tools to engage in such bullying.