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Comment: Re:I don't get the hate. (Score 1) 243

by jfengel (#48403225) Attached to: Big Talk About Small Samples

It may be that it's JUST him. No other contributors get that kind of preferred place, not even people who participate in the community. It's kind of galling to see his name pop up every couple of weeks, and everybody instantly knows that the comments are going to be primarily about just how bad the contribution is, simultaneously wordy and wrong.

Perhaps if Slashdot spread it around a bit more, it might aggravate less. Instead, it's one of a mere two dozen or so stories posted per day. Few of them will be really engaging, but here's one that we know for a fact will be "thought provoking" only in the sense that people will have to explain why his "novel" idea is novel because it's bad. Nobody else's novelties get that kind of pride of place, on a web site that used to be known for driving so much traffic it could crash a small server.

Comment: Re:Not a solution (Score 1) 127

by jfengel (#48380949) Attached to: Senate May Vote On NSA Reform As Soon As Next Week

Exactly. The NSA was never supposed to be doing that. They took advantage of technological changes and played semantic games that justified all kinds of shenanigans that was at best barely within the letter of the law, and at worst completely subverted the oversight.

So, a new law was called for. Ideally, it would update the NSA's mission to the age of Internets and cell phones, and put in oversight to at least put an end to the previous excesses (though they'll surely find new ones).

Whether this law actually does that... hell, when was the last time we passed any kind of law about anything? If Harry Reid is for it, I'm sure the Republicans will filibuster it, and if somehow Harry Reid and Republicans are on the same side it would only be because the bill doesn't actually say anything at all.

Comment: Re:LOL (Score 2) 76

by jfengel (#48380891) Attached to: US Weather System and Satellite Network Hacked

Well... while there sure as hell is a problem of China's state-operated hacking, it's not going away any time soon. We're not going to war over it (either physically or economically) and any treaty we signed to deal with it wouldn't be worth the paper it's written on. While I'd love to see the Chinese at least commit to removing the line item in their budget that says, "30 gazillion yuan for breaking into American computers", they'd surely just rename it and the actual hackers would do no more than change the project number on their time cards.

So yeah, you have to harden your web sites, and start thinking about our protocols in ways designed to make it easy to recognize and divert hackers, because the hackers aren't going away. We can blame them all we like, and be right, but that and $2.99 will get you a tall latte.

Comment: Re:Mitch McConnell pulls a Boehner (Score 1) 285

by jfengel (#48374357) Attached to: U.S. and China Make Landmark Climate Deal

Ha. Thanks. There was so much bad news from SCOTUS this year that I missed the bit with the EPA.

It still seems like a dicey thing for China to gamble on having the US fulfill its commitments. Unlike them, we're going to swap out our executive branch in two years, and there's a nearly 50-50 chance it'll be a member of the party of Ted Cruz and James Inhofe. Anything Obama does by executive action can be undone by executive action. That President would still have a hard time passing legislation, since 2016 will be voting out some of the Republican wave of 2010 just as 2014 voted out some of the Democratic wave of 2008, and even if they don't, the filibuster busts both ways.

Still, I don't know if China has any good reason to trust us on this.

Comment: Re:Home storage (Score 1) 485

by jfengel (#48373021) Attached to: Denmark Faces a Tricky Transition To 100 Percent Renewable Energy

I would have thought you could do it for less, since you don't have to haul the batteries around like you do in a car. Weight and volume are much smaller considerations. Any idea what it would cost for, say, a lead-acid battery?

And even at that, US$25,000 isn't all that much compared to the price of a house. The median home price in the US is $313k as of September (and that's down from $350k the previous month). It's not negligible, but it's small, and can be folded into the mortgage. It adds $70 a month to the mortgage payment (not counting the interest costs), and that's offsetting part of an electric bill that averages over $300/month.

(Speaking of which... sheesh. I pay less than $100 most months. I must be doing something right.)

Comment: Re:Ok, they got ONE right... (Score 1) 257

by jfengel (#48372939) Attached to: Internet Sales Tax Bill Dead In Congress

This is very much a stopped-clock kind of "right". It's Congress doing nothing, by default, as per usual. Even if the bill were a good idea, there's no chance of it getting serious consideration. It's always in somebody's best interest to make sure something doesn't happen, and it's just not hard to find people to support you on that.

The only way to pass legislation now requires half the House PLUS 60% of the Senate PLUS the President, and then it has to find 56% of the Supreme Court to keep it from being overturned. Getting all of those at once is very rare.

So this isn't a sign of anybody getting anything right. It's just another instance of them failing to do anything at all. We just happen to be lucky that this one time, "do nothing" is the right answer.

Comment: Re:Mitch McConnell pulls a Boehner (Score 1) 285

by jfengel (#48372825) Attached to: U.S. and China Make Landmark Climate Deal

Speaking of deals... how are we supposed to deliver on this? Even before last Tuesday, there was no chance of getting this through as a treaty past the Republican filibuster. Now there's less-than-no-chance, and even the most extreme overreach of executive powers can't impose that much reduction.

So how are we supposed to deliver on this deal? There's simply no concession that Obama could possibly make to Boehner and McConnell that would get the to sign off on this. What am I missing?

Comment: Re:Ya...Right (Score 1) 285

by jfengel (#48372765) Attached to: U.S. and China Make Landmark Climate Deal

So... we underwent whatever expenses that cost, and we managed to get no concessions out of other countries for doing so. I suppose I should be glad that we're managing to do things out of the goodness of our hearts, but it might have been nice to use our signature to also get China and India to put in some effort to reducing their carbon consumption over the past decade.

Part of their excuse for not signing was because we didn't, and unlike us, they weren't going to be reducing their emissions out of the goodness of their hearts. They're both undergoing an industrial expansion, prompted in part by our outsourcing, which also effectively meant outsourcing our pollution. They weren't going to reduce their pollution unless we committed to as well. Otherwise, it would put them at a competitive disadvantage, and they're still trying to catch up to us.

Comment: Driving the Sleek Black Beauty (Score 1) 82

by jfengel (#48312535) Attached to: "Car Talk" Co-Host Tom Magliozzi Dies At Age 77

I'm glad to hear that Tommy is finally reunited with is 1965 AMC Ambassador, which Ray so cruelly sent to the crusher (just because it had fungus growing out of the seats and it hadn't moved for years).

If ever there were a time for Slashdot to allow image links, this would have been it. Meantime, this link is for you.

Comment: Re:One of the most listened to Engineers (Score 1) 82

by jfengel (#48312475) Attached to: "Car Talk" Co-Host Tom Magliozzi Dies At Age 77

Without meaning to sound like a jerk, the show wasn't quite as "natural" as they made it sound. The show was heavily edited by some extraordinarily talented crew, which is how the callers always sounded so articulate and they never had to cut people off for time. They selected the most effective calls; I believe that part of what they're doing now includes old calls that didn't get aired. They worked very hard to create an illusion of naturalness, kind of like the un-made-up look that requires so much makeup work.

That's not to detract from Tom and Ray, who were incredibly gifted both as radio personalities and as mechanics. I've never heard anybody with anywhere near their level of talent. They brought warmth and humanity that resonated with callers and brought out the best in them. The crew helped make it look as easy with a bit of slight-of-hand, but they couldn't have done it without their utterly amazing source material.

Comment: Re:If the cause of the crash... (Score 3, Interesting) 165

by jfengel (#48312149) Attached to: Some Virgin Galactic Customers Demand Money Back

Larger than Columbus thought. The consensus among the experts, going back to Eratosthenes, was pretty much right on the money. Columbus was the only one who thought it was smaller (much smaller, by 2/3), which is why he was rejected by the Portuguese king. I don't know how he managed to convince the Spanish monarchs to fund his expedition, but if he hadn't gotten very lucky, he would indeed have killed his crew.

Comment: Re:Two things. (Score 1) 330

by jfengel (#48302763) Attached to: Reactions To Disgusting Images Predict a Persons Political Ideology

In this case, it might be the opposite: Blacksburg is the home of Virginia Tech, and between the students and the professors it's considerably more liberal than the deep red you'd see on a coarser-grained map of the area. It does give them access to a large pool of both liberals and conservatives, if they're seeking volunteers from off campus.

At the very least they'd be able to statistically adjust it against national demographics, though the study isn't very large. I'd think of it as an interesting bit of preliminary work, but it would have to be replicated very broadly before taking it seriously.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." -- Bertrand Russell