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Comment: Re:And Northrop is right to do it. (Score 1) 125

by Steve Hamlin (#49356261) Attached to: GAO Denied Access To Webb Telescope Workers By Northrop Grumman

"Auditting rarely adds anything of value anywhere."

Says someone who has never seen a manager cover-up problems that proper oversight would have caught, and cost more money in the long run. You had bad auditors focused on the wrong goals. GOOD auditors are a valuable part of enterprise risk management, who are an independent means for testing assertions made by management, and who can help add value to a business or process.

If a production-and-P&L oriented process manager is telling the president that environmental regulations are being dilgently followed, do you just assume that's correct? Pray that it is and hope the fines are less that cumulative profits if it isn't? Or do you have some else review input sourcing, production and disposal regulatory compliance, to make SURE things are being done correctly?

If your CFO is telling the Board that the company's accounting processes are in-place, appropriate and effective, do you simply believe that story? Wait for the SEC or a shareholder lawsuit to eventually prove him wrong? Or do you want someone to review, test and provide a report about whether that is a complete load of bollocks?

An effective auditing and compliance program, done correctly, is a net positive to a business.

Trust, but verify.

Curious - do you ever review your payslip to make sure HR is calculating your gross and net pay correctly? Review your subordinates' work before they send it off to someone else? Check that your kids actually did their homework or brushed their teeth when they told you they did? Congratulations - you're an auditor!

Comment: Re:Hmmm .... (Score 1) 127

by Steve Hamlin (#49190249) Attached to: Physicists Gear Up To Catch a Gravitational Wave
That seems similar to something I just read about earlier this week: a ring laser gyroscope, which has replaced gimbal-mounted mechanically-spinning gryroscope for inertial navigation. It splits a laser beam into running in opposite directions around a path, then checks the interference patterns of the recombined pair. Due to the Sagnac effect, the interference pattern shifts upon movement - as I understand it, as the measurement point moves, each laser beam must travel a different distance than its pair, which results in a changing interference pattern which can be translated into "this device has moved X amount". Amazing - humanity is so freakin' smart.

Comment: Re:Odds are favorable in a way (Score 1) 480

by Steve Hamlin (#49039945) Attached to: The Mathematical Case For Buying a Powerball Ticket

"I generally play the market for a 2:1 gain." Not on a risk-adjusted basis you don't.

Either you should be a professional investor and stop posting on Slashdot, or your sample-set is small and you are taking above-average risks that have not become apparent to you yet.

Or, another way: over how long? Doubing your money over 10ish years is about normal for the stock market - over the long run, the inflation-adjusted return of the stock market is about 6-7%. Only been investing since 2009? The market is up 100% since Jan. 2010 (dividends re-invested), for a CAGR of about 16%. These are no ordinary times.

The article is talking about the emotional enjoyment of daydreaming about something specific (and if their math is right, that dream costs 7 cents). Do you bemoan people that indulge in life's little pleasures because they could have invested the cost of that ice-cream cone?

Comment: Re:Double Irish (Score 1) 825

"But never make the mistake of thinking that taxing corporations has zero impact on taxpayers. It has exactly the same economic effect as directly raising taxes on taxpayers. The only thing that gets changed is who gets blamed"

But it certainly can affect the distribution of taxes - between those with differing proportions of captial_gains to consumption_taxes to property_taxes. The total societal tax burden might stay the same, but relative elasticies of demand do affect which taxpayer pays the tax. For example, higher corporate income taxes do not manifest themselves 100% in higher prices, they also affect wages, share prices, dividend policies, financial leverage, R&D, etc. And all of those changes affect effective total tax rates of different tax payers differently.

Comment: SSD endurance testing (Score 1) 52

by Steve Hamlin (#48776331) Attached to: NASA Update Will Deal With Opportunity Flash Memory "Amnesia"

http://techreport.com/review/24841/introducing-the-ssd-endurance-experiment/5

These guys ran continuous high-IO tests on commercial SSDs for over a year - the results are impressive. Most drives could write hundreds of terabytes before significant issues, with some reasonable COTS drives successfully writing/reading petabytes.

I'd certainly trust SSD longevity over spinning platters, these days. Sure, $/GB means archival storage of large data sets goes to hard drives or tape, but absent constant, bus-limited IO (which you'd buffer to battery-backed DRAM solutions, anyway), SSD drives seem to be more suitable than spinning rust for all common workloads.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 440

by Steve Hamlin (#48611339) Attached to: Federal Court Nixes Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance

One of the fundamental tenants of the (literally) pre-historical concept of sovereignty, by which the people ordain and establish the U.S. Constituion, includes the ability to controls one's borders. The federal government, through the 14th amendment, has supremacy in defining citizenship of the United States, and through Article 4, at least a parallel duty to defend the States against invasion. You object that invasion means a group meaning to overthrow the goverment - a definition not found in the Constitution. Another definition of invasion is infrigment by intrusion, which ties back to the ability of the people's goverment to control borders.

So, historical pre-Consitutional ideas of sovereignty give the people the power to form a nation and the ability of that nation to control its borders, Amendment 14 specifically empowers the federal government with defining who is and is not a citizen of the United States, and Article 4 specifically empowers the federal goverment to protect the state's borders (against invasion, which necessarily posits who can and cannot legally cross the border) . You can add to that the Preamble, which states that the purpose of the Constitution is to insure domestic tranquility - legality of residence being central to national domesticity.

Perhaps you're a 10th amendment supporter getting confused about primacy in federalism, and instead of objecting to the argument that Federal law on border security preempts all State law on the topic (i.e. arguing that it does not and States also have the parallel authority to secure the borders), are thinking the inverse: that the federal government has NO rights to secure the State's borders? Which doesn't seem to be correct, because no one, not even 10th Amendmentists, are currently arguing that the federal government has NO right to deport non-citizens not legally in the U.S.; the argument is that the States should be able to do so independently of and in parallel to the federal government.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 440

by Steve Hamlin (#48610373) Attached to: Federal Court Nixes Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance

Article 4, Section 4: "The United States shall...protect [every State] against Invasion;"

Amendment 14, Section 1, Clause 1: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

Comment: Re:Yahoo doesn't have a search engine. (Score 1) 400

"what's the gain in running it through Yahoo?"

Advertising. Firefox searches will drive traffic to Yahoo, Yahoo gets paid to show ads to that traffic, and Yahoo pays Mozilla for the referrals.

A good question is what does Mozilla do with $300 million per year in revenue? Does coding Seamonkey, Firefox and Thunderbird plus some 'education and outreach' efforts really cost that much? How many programmers do they hire, and how much of the Mozilla Foundation is a self-perpetuating bureaucracy where the managers have hijacked an open-source code base into long-term employment (doing what, exactly?) A web browser has a QUARTER BILLION in net unrestricted assets.

https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/...

Comment: Re:Governments need the source code (Score 3, Interesting) 264

"Actually, you don't get to put Windows on a warship, period."

While it was only a test bed, the USS Yorktown (USN cruiser) was using Windows NT in a test capacity and in 1997 a divide-by-zero error took down the integrated control, navigation, engine and machinery monitoring systems.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U...

Comment: Re:Earthquakes competency (Score 1) 127

by Steve Hamlin (#46933893) Attached to: Earthquake Warning Issued For Central Oklahoma

"Of course, when the frequency of EQ is high, the probability that a bigger one happens is higher."

You maybe talking about cumulative probabilities across multiple faults, but if we're talking about a single fault, then more frequent earthquakes generally mean that each earthquake is 'smaller', as opposed to infrequent fault slips that allow tectonic forces to build up so that when it finally does break free, that earthquake is 'bigger'.

Comment: Re:Conspiracy theory? (Score 1) 328

by Steve Hamlin (#46841049) Attached to: FTC Approves Tesla's Direct Sales Model

"You realize they could just set up a local state dealer and sell through them?"

Most of the state dealership laws require that the dealers be independent (legally and financially, de jure and de facto) from the vehicle manufacturers.

So, no, Tesla can't just create a controlled dealer in each state and sell through that dealer.

Comment: Re:"Obamacare Enrollment"? (Score 1) 723

by Steve Hamlin (#46725723) Attached to: Can the ObamaCare Enrollment Numbers Be Believed?

"April 8, 2014. The long-awaited Rand Corp. study of Obamacare's effect on health insurance coverage was released Tuesday and confirmed the numbers that had been telegraphed for more than a week: At least 9.3 million more Americans have health insurance now than in September 2013, virtually all of them as a result of the law."

"That's a net figure, accommodating all those who lost their individual health insurance because of cancellations. The Rand study confirms other surveys that placed the number of people who lost their old insurance and did not or could not replace it -- the focus of an enormous volume of anti-Obamacare rhetoric -- at less than 1 million."

Source: http://www.latimes.com/busines...

Comment: Re:So why use trees? (Score 1) 112

by Steve Hamlin (#46663621) Attached to: Cheaper Fuel From Self-Destructing Trees

Burning isn't always bad.

Burning carbon sources that are the accumulation of millions of years of photosynthesis is bad, because you are net-adding carbon to the atmosphere.

Efficiently burning renewable carbon sources (while controlling other embedded pollutants) is not so bad, because over a reasonable timeframe you are merely putting carbon into the atmosphere that your fuel sources took out several years before; rinse & repeat, with little effect on long-term atmospheric carbon pollution.

Comment: Re:Walmart employees, rejoice! (Score 3, Informative) 455

by Steve Hamlin (#46606013) Attached to: Wal-Mart Sues Visa For $5 Billion For Rigging Card Swipe Fees

"Hard to break free of that system though...everybody expects the benefit, and it costs the company less to provide the benefit than they would have to pay you extra to afford your own insurance."

True. Right now, you do not pay income tax on the value of the employer-provided insurance that is provided by the employer (i.e. that which is not charged to you as premiums or deductibles - employers used to pick up most the tab, and still do pick up some of it). It was usually not even possible for you to get a good answer from HR on the value of that. In the past several years, something akin to the value of that untaxed benefit has started appearing on your W-2 (as information only - not included in your taxable income).

McCain floated a plan in the 2008 U.S. Presidential race to slowly phase out that untaxed-benefit, which would ultimately divorce health-insurance from being mostly employer-provided: it would start including the value of the employer-provided health insurance as taxable income to you, and then provide a tax credit that would cover the majority of this new taxable-income (based on some value of an average health-insurance plan). Over time, that credit would be reduced, under the theory that in a perfect free-market for labor, wages paid would adjust upwards to compensate as previously-health-care-providing employers competed on a tax-neutral playing field against employers that paid 100% in cash (whose employees would purchase their own insurance with after-tax money, just like any other consumer purchase).

This would help to disclose both how much health-insurance costs (theoretically bending the health-case cost curve down), as well as ramping down any tax benefit associated with employer-provided health insurance. Eventually, when there would be no advantage to employer-provided health insurance, people would buy policies on the open market without any connection to their employer, and you would be able to carry that policy with you when you changed employers - no COBRA, because it's not needed.

Of course, that plan did not address all of the other problems with the health insurance market, and of course not all of the problems with delivery of health care in the U.S.. But I liked the plan, because it provided a glide path that seemed to make sense, in reaching a goal of separating the purchase of health-insurance policies from the employer you happen to be working for at the time, when that connection no longer makes any sense.

Comment: Re:NASA needs SpaceX. SpaceX doesn't need NASA. (Score 1) 292

by Steve Hamlin (#46551225) Attached to: Back To the Moon — In Four Years

MightyYar writes "But that shouldn't matter to those of us on the ground, since we have the atmosphere to protect us."

But: "The magnetosphere protect[s] the Earth from cosmic rays that would otherwise strip away the upper atmosphere, including the ozone layer that protects the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation." (Source: Wikipedia)

Money can't buy happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you're being miserable. -- C.B. Luce

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