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Comment: Razors and blades (Score 1) 415

My wife has a $100 color HP printer; each ink refill costs $60 but she's become attached to it. The printer won't print unless it's a "genuine HP cartridge" with DoD level 5 DRM and ink that costs more than Zafrio Anejo tequila laced with polonium 210. It should be spraying powdered rubies, emeralds, and sapphire, not marked-up food coloring. And when their overpriced black cartridge runs out, they trick you into wasting all your remaining cartridges by combining all three to make black.

I ended up pulling my ten year old laser printer out of the closet (tucked next to a ten year old Win XP laptop), got a third party drum cartridge for $15, and now I can print things without having to decide whether it's worth the ink.

Carly Fiorina left HP's reputation lying in pieces on a seafloor before she switched to a more appropriate career. Now we have Satya Nadella who is synergistically pumping Microsoft's reputation down a fracking well. After Microsoft fully transitions its business model from software to cable compary fuckery,, he'll change careers and become a Senator.


NSF Accused of Misuse of Funds In Giant Ecological Project 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the $15000-for-porpoise-sweaters dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The National Science Foundation (NSF) and a contractor have been accused by both an audit and by Congress of a significant misuse of funds in a major ecological monitoring project costing almost a half a billion dollars. From the article: "With a construction budget of $433.7 million, NEON is planned to consist of 106 sites across the United States. Arrays of sensors at each site will monitor climate change and human impacts for 30 years, building an unprecedented continental-scale data set. Although some initially doubted its merits, the allure of big-data ecology eventually won over most scientists.

But a 2011 audit of the project's proposed construction budget stalled three times when, according to the independent Defense Contract Audit Agency, NEON's accounting proved so poor that the review could not be completed. Eventually, DCAA issued an adverse ruling, concluding that nearly 36% of NEON's budget proposal was questionable or undocumented.

When the NSF green-lit the project, the agency's inspector-general ordered the audit released on 24 November, which found unallowable expenses including a $25,000 winter holiday party, $11,000 to provide coffee for employees, $3,000 for board-of-directors dinners that included alcohol, $3,000 for t-shirts and other clothes, $83,000 for "business development" and $112,000 for lobbying."

Comment: Flare stars (Score 3, Informative) 62

by MillionthMonkey (#48512171) Attached to: 'Mirage Earth' Exoplanets May Have Burned Away Chances For Life

Ok, I understand that, but isn't it possible for an ice bearing comet (or several) to impact the planet at some later time when the sun was cooler? Surely those planetary systems have their own equivalent of oort clouds?

The whole reason that a red dwarf is so dangerous to live around is its low gravity. It can hurl flares from its surface that ascend far out into space and reach its tight little "habitable zone", and its planets will occasionally orbit through a flare and get zapped. The flares are channeled and accelerated by electromagnetic turbulence that originates from deep inside the star. Even after the surface temperature of its photosphere finally declines, the star will continue to flare until it shrinks down to a white dwarf (which has no habitable zone at all, since its starlight is extreme ultraviolet radiation that can easily blast water molecules apart). Since M-class stars typically have expected lifetimes of trillions of years, you'd have to wait a long time to see it happen.

Comment: Re:Helium shortage, US govt effed-up (Score 1) 116

Air is 5 ppm helium and 15 ppm neon. Neon lifts balloons too, but we don't use it because it's too expensive to recover from the air, and recovering helium is even more inefficient.

We'll never run out on any timescale that matters, the loss to outer space is only concern over geological time spans.

NOTHING is a concern over geological time periods! The Sun will eventually swallow the Earth- but nobody seems to care too much. Helium depletion on Earth will be a blip on a geological time scale, but during that blip helium will be just a memory to several thousand generations.

Helium is for sissies anyway. I don't care if Donald Trump commutes to work in a blimp refilled with freshly scented helium-3 every morning. MY airship has a pedal-powered generator to pump current through a electrolysis chamber. Hydrogen works so much better than helium anyway... it really gets you high.

Comment: Re:The FCC is waiting for a new president (Score 1) 127

by MillionthMonkey (#48366059) Attached to: FCC Confirms Delay of New Net Neutrality Rules Until 2015
I don't think Obama needs to worry about the veto hurting the Democrats in 2016. His veto count so far is 2, a lower count than any president since James Garfield in 1881. (In comparison GWB vetoed 12 bills, Clinton 39, GHWB 29, Reagan 39.) This is mostly a consequence of the filibuster used to cut off the flow of legislation that reaches him- which effectively raised the required vote count from 50 to 60 during his term. But now, more stuff is now going to percolate through Congress and reach his desk, including some unpopular, corrupt shit that will scare the public. Before, he simply hadn't been given many bills to veto; now he's going to be tested. Even if he only vetoes one bill in the next Congress, that's going to be enough to elicit nuclear head explosions on Fox, so he might as well add a few dozen without having to worry about any additional meaningful repercussions. Hopefully he won't cave as usual.

Comment: Re:In other words. (Score 1) 127

by MillionthMonkey (#48365949) Attached to: FCC Confirms Delay of New Net Neutrality Rules Until 2015

Seriously, a regulatory board just changing law or the implimentation of it with absolutely no constitutional process at all or involving any elected official.

Just four fucking million public comments sent by American citizens to the FCC- but they're not corrupt politicians, so screw 'em.

Comment: Re:The Pentagon is more important than climate cha (Score 1) 163

by MillionthMonkey (#48347971) Attached to: The Military's Latest Enemy: Climate Change
Why is it flamebait? (It got modded as flamebait but went back up to a 5). This video is two years old, but that's the new guy who's now going to head the Environment and Public Works Committee in 2015. He's already bragging that his staff is been poring over NSF studies to compile a list of "wasteful studies" to be targeted in 2015, and says that one of his "top three priorities" for that committee is going to be âoeshining a lightâ on wasteful funding of climate scientists.

Comment: Re:The Pentagon is more important than climate cha (Score 2, Interesting) 163

by MillionthMonkey (#48347265) Attached to: The Military's Latest Enemy: Climate Change

I cannot believe that one-sided, war-mongering, short-sighted propaganda piece is called 'News'.

I used to work for a guy who founded a software company in Sunnyvale. After Bush got reelected, he decided to sell the company to Agilent for a couple million bucks, went back to Australia, and formed a new company there. He comes back to visit sometimes, and says that he now gets a lot of questions from people in Australia- "What happened over there? Americans used to be smart!" His standard answer: "No, it's not that they're stupid, but the news they get in the U.S. is really bad."

Comment: Re:Bread-and-butter brainwashed (Score 4, Insightful) 224

by MillionthMonkey (#48346943) Attached to: Mayday PAC Goes 2 For 8

He is working hard to earn that money if he is thinking about leaving it as a legacy for his children to enjoy that should be his choice. What difference does it matter if its $5 or $5 million, or hell $5 billion.

  1. The "difference" is math. You don't pay estate taxes on $5 or $5 million. It doesn't apply to the first $5.3 million dollars of inheritance.
  2. If someone wants to leave an inheritance as a legacy to his children to enjoy, it IS his choice. A tax on a huge inheritance won't prevent anybody from doing that.
  3. If someone leaves $5 million to their kids, it's usually not because they worked 100 times as hard as a school bus driver leaving $50K. In fact, the driver paid a percentage of income in tax that is roughly double what the millionaire paid.
  4. School bus drivers who make $30K per year are not going to leave behind a $5.3 million dollar fortune of hard-earned money. But all the cable news shows this guy is willing to trust have got him and his redneck friends at church panicked about the "death tax".
  5. People don't seem to understand this anymore, but it's the government's job to collect taxes on income. It doesn't matter if you have $5 or $5 million or $5 billion. If you want electricity going to traffic lights, you have to pay your fair share. Just because you're rich doesn't mean you get special rights to stuff your mattress. My friend worked hard and brought kids to school. If you want to see the hard work billionaires do, just run your kitchen faucet and light a match.

"Bureaucracy is the enemy of innovation." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments