Simply put, they stick around because it's a good-paying job in an economy where there aren't that many available. Your friend bailed 10 years ago, back when jobs for people in these fields were a lot more plentiful. NASA became a giant jobs-and-pork operation years ago, and was one of the original "welfare for whitecoats" agencies (whitecoats as in lab coats). Any engineer or scientist with a NASA job these days hangs on as long as they can. Mortgages gotta be paid, and kids gotta be fed.
I am a long-time bleeding-heart liberal type, and while I am aghast at what we’ve given up in the name of The War on Terrorism I can see the usefulness, and perhaps even the imperative, for the US to collect and analyze data of this sort. If, and a very important if, the use of the data is carefully monitored by third parties and there are clear guidelines for collection, protection, and use of the data. Back in the Good Old Days of the 20th Century enemies were spatially located (for the most part). Spy satellites and spy boots-on-the-ground could be and were used to keep track of what people who wanted to do us harm were up to (in theory, anyway). These could also be used on US citizens, and there were pretty clear rules about not doing so (rules that were, admittedly, overlooked or circumvented at times). These days, the people who need to be watched are all over the world and are best tracked via lines of communication, most importantly cell phone and internet technologies. That’s what this is all about, keeping track of what’s going on so there are few surprises like the 9/11 fiasco.
Now, can this be misused? You betcha it can. Faster than you can say Nixon (or your favorite Bad Guy’s name). However, to NOT collect and analyze these data is a bad idea as well. As always, there’s no perfect solution. I think those data need to be collected and analyzed to keep an eye on what’s happening, but we also need more transparency on the checks-and-balances put in place to make sure the data are used only for very clear purposes. Can this be done in today’s highly politicized, the-other-side-is-stupid, political environment? I don’t know, but I do think we need to try.
Started with punch-card (not IBM format) programming a Wang desktop beast, hand-inserting one card at a time. Rebooting (which was needed more often than I care to admit) required walking down the hall to the closet where the "brains" of the thing lived. I then graduated to a PDP-8 that was sitting in a corner waiting to be installed for a remote-access telescope, programming by entering Basic commands via a TTY. Finally they let me at the observatory's new CDC 6600, reading data from paper tapes (down from the mountain) and programs from punch-card decks. That's when I learned Fortran (II), which is still my main language. I also had to walk 12 miles to work in the snow every day (in Tucson). The alternative was to wait for the stage coach.
This really makes me feel like retiring! I worked at the USAF Global Weather Center (AFGWC) near Omaha in the 1970s where there was this mysterious computer referred to as a TIP which plugged into an even more mysterious ARPANET thing. We'd hang 9-track tapes and ship data back to research and archive centers on the east coast once a day. As a 2nd LT my time was deemed cheap enough to spend babysitting the transfer process (which often broke down). Time flies when you're on the 'net.
Link to Original Source
Ok, just looking at water for a four-person household you're at something on the order of 600 gallons of water for 30 days (5gal/day times 4 people times 30 days). That's 120 of those 5-gallon jugs that sit on top of office water coolers. A bit more than "closet space" unless you live in a megamansion. Storage of enough water, and the periodic recycling of the water store, is probably the biggest headache for going past a few days for most people.
This is how Government funding works. I was at a workshop on the then-new field of space weather forecasting in the mid 1990s where the keynote address was given by Dr. Joe Friday, at the time the head of the NWS. He pointed out that we would see no serious funding from Congress until there was the space-weather equivalent of a train wreck that kills many voters, or costs the monied interests lots of dinero. (Joe later lost his job when a non-forecastable flood in the mid-west that exceeded the 100-year flood levels wasn't correctly forecast. In this case, the solution was of the Shoot the Messenger variety since the real cause of the bad flooding was lousy planning by the Corps of Engineers.) The local government version of this is not putting a stoplight at a bad intersection until someone, preferably a cute child or pregnant mother, is killed there.