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Comment: Re:Idiotic (Score 1) 590

Indeed. I used to be a budget analyst for the state legislature in my state, and the cost for the various procedures that are followed in the event the prosecutor is asking for a death sentence runs about a million dollars. The extra costs cover a very thorough audit of the process, from initial investigation through final sentencing, and the costs of the appeals up through several levels of courts. State prison costs run about $35K per year per inmate, so that million dollars would cover almost 30 years of incarceration. The entire legal process from beginning to end typically takes ten years, so the state will pay for 10 years incarceration in addition to the million.

The death sentence is seldom sought. We do have one case in progress now where the prosecutor is seeking the death sentence; the accused killed 12 and injured 70 in a mass shooting. I can fairly safely say that the accused did it, as he offered, through his attorney, to plead guilty if the sentence was life without parole. After almost three years, the case has reached jury selection. The trial will be a travesty of dueling experts arguing over whether the accused was insane at the time or not. I figure there's a fair chance the verdict will be not guilty by reason of insanity, and he'll still get life without parole despite all the bills the prosecutor is racking up.

Comment: Re:Energy use (Score 1) 332

by michael_cain (#49459841) Attached to: California Looks To the Sea For a Drink of Water
I'm a westerner, and biased, but the West has more cause than other regions to say, "Let's watch and see if this next-gen stuff works somewhere else before we try it." Ranging from open-air nuclear tests in Nevada to Hitachi screwing up a billion-dollar repair to New Mexico fining the feds $54M for sloppy practices at WIPP, and a whole bunch of things in between.

Comment: Re:Energy use (Score 1) 332

by michael_cain (#49457935) Attached to: California Looks To the Sea For a Drink of Water
For various reasons, added nuclear is a political non-starter in the American West broadly and California specifically. The states in the Western Interconnect are down to six commercial reactors. If it were put to a vote, Washington would almost certainly close the reactor at the Columbia Generating Station; similarly, California would likely vote to close the two reactors at Diablo Canyon. PG&E, the operator at Diablo Canyon, has put the license renewal on hold while they look at the impact of California's new thermal pollution standard. Since conforming would likely require adding (large unsightly) cooling towers at a price of $2-4B, I suspect that the renewal application will eventually be withdrawn, and Diablo Canyon will shut down when its current licenses expire in 2024 and 2025.

Comment: Re:Lies, bullshit, and more lies ... (Score 4, Insightful) 442

A friend of mine who works as a high school counselor is telling people to go business, accounting, or law.

The job market for new graduates from anywhere but the big name law schools is terrible, has been getting worse for years, and shows no sign of improving in the future. Word is getting back and enrollment at lower-tier law schools has fallen off so much that the schools are getting desperate. Many have lowered their admission standards, and they've started lobbying to make the state bar exams easier.

Comment: Re:HOWTO (Score 1) 1081

by michael_cain (#49261289) Attached to: How To Execute People In the 21st Century
As the article notes, no medical personnel would have to be involved. So the prosecutor who sought the death penalty could be required to throw the switch/open the valve/whatever. I've always thought that prosecutors would be much more reluctant to ask for the death penalty if they were the ones who had to do the killing.

Comment: Re:this isnt an "obamacare" thing. (Score 1) 130

by michael_cain (#48689143) Attached to: 2015 Could Be the Year of the Hospital Hack
Medical practices, especially small practices, who haven't followed the changes to HIPAA that have occurred outside of the context of the ACA, will be in for a rude surprise if they're sloppy enough about their security practices ("willfully negligent") and have a breach. The civil fines have gotten much higher, are easier to impose, and it's much harder for the medical practice to hide behind service companies.

Comment: Re:Watch your kneecaps (Score 1) 468

by michael_cain (#48287023) Attached to: Boo! The House Majority PAC Is Watching You
It's a state-level decision, so where do you live? Does your state have citizen-initiated ballot issues? If so, file the paperwork, print off petitions, gather like-minded friends (or more effective, hire staff) and collect signatures. I live in Colorado, which has probably the lowest hurdle in the country for getting citizen initiatives on the ballot. You wouldn't believe some of the proposals that I've been privileged to vote on over the years.

Comment: Re:West Virginia too (Score 1) 468

by michael_cain (#48286973) Attached to: Boo! The House Majority PAC Is Watching You
The problem is that with the US system, you cannot vote blank.

There is no such thing as "the US system." Elections, including all of those for national office, are conducted by the individual states. Western states in particular are returning to paper in the form of mail-in ballots. Oregon and Washington are mail-in only; Colorado sends a mail-in ballot to every registered voter but still allows in-person voting at vote centers (last year, more than 80% of votes cast were cast by mail); Arizona and California have permanent no-excuse absentee ballot lists and both have more than 50% of votes cast being cast by mail.

Comment: Re:This (Score 1) 1007

...seems to only happen in the USA. Why ?

The US (and the colonial areas before it was a country) has experienced at least three religious "Great Awakenings," the first starting circa 1730. These are generally associated with various sorts of social upheaval and/or populist movements, and the rise of new denominations. There are almost as many theories about why they occur as there are sociologists and/or historians who study them. My own (strictly amateur) interpretation for what is happening now is the collapse of rural America and the struggle to hold that off.

Money can't buy love, but it improves your bargaining position. -- Christopher Marlowe

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