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Comment: This was not even about him actually breaking (Score 1) 95

by mark0978 (#36964622) Attached to: Judge Blasts Prosecution of Alleged NSA Leaker

the law. It was petty retribution for pointing out they were spying on all Americans and in the process wasting a Billion $ with a contractor that was incompetent. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Andrews_Drake and http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/05/23/110523fa_fact_mayer

Comment: It isn't an either or problem (Score 1) 844

by mark0978 (#36963110) Attached to: Debt Deal Reached

This debt issue won't be solved by just cutting expenses, and it surely won't be solved by cutting taxes. It is going to require both increased taxes, reduced subsidies, and reduced entitlements. Part of the problem with America is that it believes entitlements are best when paid to people that have a vested interest in getting more money, and the medical profession has discovered they can bleed the country via the poor and elderly by charging way more than they should for services.

We see this in the military as well, where we spend 7 times more than China and feed it into a system that is largely welfare for crummy engineers. This isn't to say that some of the money spent on defense doesn't produce top notch gear, but I've interviewed enough people that have many years experience in defense contracting and have found NONE of them worth hiring.

When the pain gets great enough we will address the problem, we could address it sooner if we had leaders that valued the country more than their personal bank account.

Comment: Dependency on OIL is a major problem (Score 1) 897

by mark0978 (#36933774) Attached to: The End of the Gas Guzzler

Part of the reason for this is that our dependence on foreign oil is a huge problem for us. It has turned us from net exporter to a net importer. If we don't do something to wean ourselves off of this imported commodity, we will continue to sink into the abyss.

By forcing all the new cars to have reasonable gas mileage, we reduce our need for foreign oil. Sure you could say Drill Baby Drill, but that doesn't give you a long term fix. By pushing for higher standards we get to reap the benefits of the R&D it takes to make create the solution, and we get a long term reduction in our need for oil. The market will price the cars where they are affordable enough for people to buy and as the technology matures it will be found in lots of other cool gadgets.

Comment: Re:All foam, no beer (Score 1) 224

by mark0978 (#36809774) Attached to: Do 'Ultracool' Brown Dwarfs Surround Us?

Gravity wells, using them to slingshot from point to point because they aren't hot enough to melt your space ship and yet still have the gravity you need to speed up to some truly amazing speeds. I would bet they still emit enough radiation to cause a few genetic effects even if they aren't on fire, but meaningful human exploration of the galaxies is going to have to wait for FTL anyway.....

Comment: Re:Go w/ MPP like Vertica (Score 1) 78

by mark0978 (#33635226) Attached to: The Big Promise of 'Big Data'

How exactly did war end communism?

Or, for that matter slavery? It may have ended it in the US, but at a staggering cost. But slavery still exists in the world today.

The NAZI's could have been prevented before war, had we not had our head stuck in the sand, our fingers in our ears, all the while saying nah nah nah nah nah

Privacy

SCOTUS Rules Petiton Signatures Are Public Record 780

Posted by kdawson
from the stand-behind-your-john-hancock dept.
Reader SheeEttin reminds us that back in October, the Supreme Court accepted a case testing whether or not petition signers' names could be kept anonymous. (The premise was that the act of signing a petition is covered by free speech, and thus signers are entitled to anonymity, especially to protect them from harassment.) Now the Court has issued its ruling: signatures are part of the public record. "By a strong majority Thursday, the Supreme Court issued a setback for opponents of gay marriage who wanted to keep their identities secret. The justices favored transparency over privacy in a case testing whether signing a petition is a public act. The case began with a bill that the Washington state legislature passed in 2009, expanding the state's domestic partnership law. The new referendum was known as 'everything but marriage' for the enhanced rights it gave same-sex couples. People who opposed the bill gathered 120,000 signatures for a ballot measure asking voters to repeal it. That measure eventually reached Washington voters, who upheld 'everything but marriage.' Those who signed the repeal petition feared that they would be harassed if their names became public, so they went to court challenging Washington's Public Records Act. They argued that signing a petition is speech that is protected from disclosure. But in Thursday's 8-1 ruling, the Supreme Court disagreed. 'Such disclosure does not, as a general matter, violate the first amendment,' Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the court."

Comment: Re:NASA Restructured As Space-Based FAA. (Score 1) 83

by mark0978 (#29565375) Attached to: SpaceX Announces Dragon As First Falcon 9 Payload

I think auctioning things off would be a huge mistake. Better to use prizes to encourage competition:

  • First company to land a probe on the moon gets X number of billion dollars.
     
  • First company to send people around the moon and return them safely gets 2X billion dollars.

NASA would have a certain amount of dollars to put up as prizes, and would be in charge of the objectives, just not how they were accomplished.

The prizes could be substantial and would still be less than the $90 billion NASA will squander attempting to build the Ares V Rocket. The current scheme simply pays out money without requiring results. It also stifles competition by awarding the contract to a single player, the company with the best connections or spin gets the contract. The prize method would reward the fittest competitor that could actually deliver. That would encourage many more to attempt to the actual feat. At the end of the prize-winning phrase one company has a huge amount of technology that was paid for by the prize leaving lots to profit from.

The prizes also encourage frugality; people are a lot less likely waste their money than they are the governments'. And since there is a fixed dollar value at the end, there is no incentive to simply run on with contract overruns because we didn't get the job done. Those that play that game go bankrupt in the prize scenario.

Yes, this would require speculation and investment by private industry. But SpaceX has already proven that the job can be done and done efficiently, and it's probably a lot safer than investing in home mortgages for overpriced property was under capable purchasers. Even if you lost this bet, you'd have something to show for it at the end in the form of patents, equipment, and/or capability. Coming in second place would only mean you lost prize, not the farm (mortgages?).

Comment: Re:So, which side (Score 1) 150

by mark0978 (#29565147) Attached to: Google Barks Back At Microsoft Over Chrome Frame Security

Have you ever considered the fact that Microsoft has a vested interest in not allowing the browser to become the central focus of the OS. Originally Microsoft brought you active desktop which made the desktop act like a web page and discovered that Google and others could deliver a compelling experience simply within the browser. Then active desktop faded away and IE 6 went through several years without being updated, possibly to hinder this ability. This meant that the web platform could not compete with the desktop applications, which during that same time underwent a massive revision in the form of ribbons and new interaction methods. And are of course the largest money maker for Microsoft.

The Google plug-in essentially takes this path away from Microsoft because even if they stopped updating the browser, failed to enhance it to keep pace with all the others, the plug-in can be updated and the war for the desktop continues and enters a slightly more active phase.

At this point in the game, it's too late for Microsoft to undo this new avenue. Google docs exist and are viable method for doing a fair number of tasks. The Fidelity swap of using a browser-based app instead of the thick client app in many cases is no longer so significant as to discount the web app.

Because of this we see IE7 and IE8 trying to recapture what was once a monumental market share that threatened the core moneymaking product of the desktop OS and applications. Kind of funny when you think about the fact that Microsoft used free software to bankrupt Netscape and is now under threat from other free software. And the other free software that's available doesn't require installation, just decent web browser. My guess is that they did see this one coming and managed to stall it using IE 6 without enhancements, until they had a more mature web platform to deliver their own Web applications.

Comment: Re:Schools dont change (Score 1) 705

by mark0978 (#29373467) Attached to: The Case For Mandatory Touch-Typing In High School

Yes, teachers are out of date. We know for a fact now, with 50 years of in the field research that acceleration of students by subject or even by whole grades will likely be GOOD for the student, yet most teachers and admins continue to refuse to use the practice. The Iowa Acceleration Scale is in its 3rd edition and yet almost none of the teachers in my kids' school have even heard of it.

We know more about how the brain works, but have we applied it to the classroom, no, because "Those who can, DO, those who can't, TEACH, and those that can't teach, WRITE (textbooks)"

It is time to fix the system, computers aren't required, but fixing the teachers is.

Comment: The EC has a reason to exist (Score 1) 175

by mark0978 (#29310457) Attached to: ES&S To Buy Diebold, Blackbox Voting To Sue

The Electoral College is a firewall between states. You can have MASSIVE FRAUD in Chicago where an additional 10 million votes are added to a candidates total, but those 10 million votes won't sway the whole election because Illinois only has N Electoral College votes.

The EC has a reason, and electronic voting minus the EC will allow an even easier route to steal not just the presidential election, but all of congress as well.

Getting rid of the EC isn't as important (in fact is probably a very bad idea) as being able to validate the vote after the fact.

That does not compute.

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