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Comment: A few interesting ones (Score 1) 372 372

*I had an off-by-one error in a TopCoder problem (I used > instead of >= in a loop) that I didn't catch that cost me $3000 in prize money and a trip to the finals.

*I was working at an observatory on campus and left the huge, Peltier-cooled CCD for the telescope on a table but still plugged into a computer and left for the day. When I came back, I found that someone had tripped over the cable, smashing the CCD on the floor. They then sat the broken CCD next to the computer without a note or anything. $7000 CCD destroyed.

*Another time I was working with an AFM in a basement of the university, and left for the day. It stormed really hard that night, and when I came back the next day the basement had 6 inches of water in it. It turns out that the water had come from a leak directly above the AFM. I guess the AFM didn't like getting a shower in filthy storm water and it cost $20-$30K to replace.

*However, my biggest save was probably more important than all of that combined. Without divulging too many details, I was writing some tests and caught a serious data-loss bug in production before any customers were affected by it. The bug actually made the news:

Comment: Re:plastic is for junk (Score 0) 266 266

I drive a pick-up with a perfect paint job and I think your attitude is sterotypically elitist. Spare us this "I work with my hands and know what Real Work is like and you guys are all wusses." crap and get your head out of your butt. The only one who is impressed with your supercilious definition of your perfect self is yourself.

Comment: Re:Treat causes, not symptoms (Score 3, Insightful) 233 233

No money is not speech. It's money. Putting a limitation on campaign contribution in no way shape or form limits your speech.

Really? Citizens United was about some people who made a movie about Hillary Clinton. If the government forbids you to spend money on making a film (or publishing a book, putting up a website, or buying an ad, or making a sign, etc.), they are certainly limiting your speech.

And note that even the defenders of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that Citizens United overturned admitted in court that the law would have allowed the government to stop the publication of a book if it was about a candidate. If that isn't suppression of speech, what is?

Comment: Treat causes, not symptoms (Score 4, Insightful) 233 233

I think there's a basic error in this approach. It assumes that government can and will run better with "big money" taken out of campaigning. But there's a lot of money given to campaigns for several reasons. The first is that, as Citizens United confirmed, money is speech, and spending money to support a cause or a candidate is at the heart of political expression.

The second reason is perhaps even more basic. When government is huge and has their fingers in every pie, it creates a great deal of motivation to influence those fingers. Campaign contributions are merely a form of lobbying, and lobbying has a standard message: subsidize me and cut my taxes and regulations, but burden my competitors and enemies with taxes and regulations, if not ban them outright.

If you really want to "get money out of politics," you need to (as much as possible) get politics out of the economy. (Ideologues will always lobby, and that's fine, because it's the crony capitalism and pay-to-play aspects that are most objectionable.) Which, of course, is not what many reformers want to do. Until they do, they are basically advocating spreading sugar around their picnic blanket, and then complaining about all the ants.

Comment: Re:Even if it was true, terrible value for money (Score 2) 31 31

Considering that the Brits are now in the dozens of millions of pounds for standing two (2) policemen outside the Ecuadorian embassy for a couple years, I'd think hundreds of millions of dollars. What this really means is that the system is completely broken and money just disappears, which is to be expected in a corrupt nation.

Comment: Re:No business acumen (Score 2) 368 368

as they investment of time and effort requires serious dedication.

A couple hours spent interviewing someone to hire to set it all up? Yeah, lots of time and dedication. I'm not saying she'd do it herself. She'd hire people to do it for her. You think Paris Hilton personally manages her cosmetics line?

"Poor man... he was like an employee to me." -- The police commisioner on "Sledge Hammer" laments the death of his bodyguard