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Comment: Re:I respect the FAA (Score 1) 58

by sjbe (#49188387) Attached to: US Air Traffic Control System Is Riddled With Vulnerabilities

You've got to be kidding me. Nearly every instructor I've ever had offers different stories about the FAA.

So because a bunch of flight instructors don't like dealing with the FAA the organization isn't effective at ensuring airline safety? You can tell stories about stupid things that happen in ANY organization and the FAA is no different. Yeah, not everything the FAA does is perfect - news at 11. Of course the aviation industry has achieved a ridiculously impressive safety record and the FAA has been a huge part of that. Coincidence? Not remotely. Just because an organization does some silly stuff doesn't negate their actual accomplishments.

Hasn't anyone noticed the steady decline [] in the number [] of licensed pilots over the last decade?

For general aviation sure. It's expensive, time consuming, and causes your insurance rates to go through the roof if you are a general aviation pilot. Owning and maintaining a plane is not a cheap hobby.

If you are a pro the pay for a newbie pilot is ridiculously low and that has nothing at all to do with the FAA. That's simply due to the fact that there is an excess supply of pilot so wages get pushed down. I have a cousin who became a airline pilot. Spent a ton of money getting trained and was making all of about $30K/year in salary to drive the bus in the sky. Gee, wonder why people wouldn't want to become a pilot if the wages are shit and the hours are long.

However, if you piss off the wrong FAA guy and he decides to ride you like a pony, you will go broke and enter bankruptcy trying to comply with the specific and individual demands he makes in the name of safety regarding your plane, or you will stop participating in aviation altogether.

So don't piss him off.

When they raise the standards for safety so high that pilots and airlines go broke as super expensive FAA certified mechanics throw away perfectly good parts from their planes, the FAA is clearly failing again.

Just because a part is functional and not yet broken does not mean it is inappropriate to take it out of service. I'm sure you can find examples of something silly done by some FAA employee but the fact remains that without them the safety record of the aviation industry would not be anywhere close to what it is today.

Oh and the airlines industry right now is reporting record profits. Airlines going broke? Only the badly run ones. They've finally figured out that having excess capacity is economically stupid and they've started charging ticket and other fees that are high enough to actually generate a profit. What a concept...

Comment: Passive cooling != No cooling (Score 1) 336

by sjbe (#49187695) Attached to: French Nuclear Industry In Turmoil As Manufacturer Buckles

Well as an example, the new thorium reactors don't even need cooling as the reaction is cut off immediately when there's a failure.

Thorium reactors don't need cooling? I think you don't understand the physics involved. Some newer reactor designs have passive cooling systems which are (theoretically) safer but they still need and have cooling systems. Fission generates heat which is used to drive turbines. If you have heat you must have a cooling system. It takes a substantial amount of time for a fission reactor to cool even once the reaction is shut down and you have to have some form of cooling system in place to do that.

Comment: Nuclear is not cheap (Score 2) 336

by sjbe (#49187665) Attached to: French Nuclear Industry In Turmoil As Manufacturer Buckles

Nuclear is cheap.

Nuclear (specifically fission) power generation is cheap. All the safety systems, regulatory oversight, large construction projects, waste management/disposal, licensing, project management, environmental impact, financing and maintenance of nuclear power are tremendously expensive. And you cannot separate the power generation from the rest of those items.

Comment: I respect the FAA (Score 4, Interesting) 58

by sjbe (#49181607) Attached to: US Air Traffic Control System Is Riddled With Vulnerabilities

The FAA is one of a very few government agencies that takes its job seriously and focuses on quality.

They're better than that. Surgeons in operating rooms are cribbing from the FAA for techniques and procedures to improve patient safety. The safety record of the airline industry is quite remarkable and the FAA deserves a huge amount of the credit for that achievement. I've worked as a quality engineer and whatever their other flaws might be, the FAA groks quality and safety as well as any organization I've ever seen.

I'd trust them to take IT systems security seriously and delegate the work to competent engineers.

As would I. The only thing I really worry about with the FAA is in keeping Congress from meddling with them too much. They are in my opinion one of the best run agencies in our government. That's not to say they don't have their flaws but on the big picture stuff, especially safety, they do a pretty good job overall even when they don't have all the resources they might.

Almost can't believe I'm saying this, but it would seem they have good workers.

Why should it shock you? We have many people in our government who are remarkably competent. I'd be happy to introduce you to some that I know personally. The FAA does not only have good workers but they have a safety first framework and have built a culture and procedures to support that. They also have the advantage of not being a political football for Congress to fight over. A good worker can be put into a system that doesn't work and chances are they will fail. Safety and reliability are NOT about competent people working hard. Those are important things but they will not get the job done unless you also have an organizational framework that supports them properly. The FAA has oversight over the entire process from certifying the airplanes before they even get built, to overseeing the ongoing maintenance and supply, to being able to force private companies to be grounded if they don't do what they are supposed to do when they are supposed to do it. They are able to get into all the corners of the industry that affect safety and they largely do a good job of ensuring that things are done properly like a regulator is suppose to.

Comment: Yes the US lost the Vietnam war - get over it (Score 1) 532

The United States _won_ the war in Vietnam.

In what universe? I've been to Vietnam. If you think the US won you have no idea what actually happened there. There is no point at which you can claim the US "won" that war by any reasonable definition of the term. The US rarely lost battles in Vietnam but ultimately accomplished none of their objectives and the moment the US pulled out, South Vietnam fell.

The North Vietnamese were powerless, and the US left.

Really? Then explain why the Vietnam war ended with the fall of Saigon. The US did the largest air evacuation in history. That is not what you do when you have won a war. "North Vietnamese were powerless"? Don't make me laugh.

Comment: None too soon (Score 1) 532

Is it good to cut off access to the modern equivalent of the public square just because we don't like what is being said?

Let's not pretend that anything this ISIL group does is in any way an attempt at a discussion. These are psychopaths who even other terrorist groups have cut ties with because they think they have gone too far. These are people who would subjugate and kill you in a brutal and public manner without a hint of remorse. This isn't a public square debate. This is a war. Never confuse the one with the other. This isn't two civilized groups agreeing to disagree. ISIS has engaged in genocidal activities. And you seriously think that is a situation where we should just sit back and respect their rights?

Is it a victory to beat them by cutting off their ability to speak?

Very possibly. While I don't pretend to understand everything about them, literally everything I've heard from this group leads me to believe these are people who promote extreme violence and use the islamic faith to justify their psychosis.

How is this different from cutting off Mega's cashflow via PayPal and the credit cards?

How many people has Mega executed?

Comment: Economics matters (Score 1) 372

by sjbe (#49131519) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

People are combining two different acts when going solar, a) getting off of fossil fuels, and b) generating their own power that the big energy companies don't control. Energy companies are not necessarily against a), but b) is anathema to them, and therefore they are doing everything they can to block the adoption of solar.

Power companies buy power from other power companies all the time. It's positively routine for them. What they aren't used to doing is buying it from a large number of small generators. They are just used to buying it from other similarly sized power companies. It has nothing to do with control and everything to do with cost to service those vendors. It costs more to deal with multiple vendors than it does one. It also costs more to buy from a small generator that is no where near minimum efficient scale.

I would be happy if legislation was passed that outlawed individual ownership of personal solar installations, and mandated big utilities to install, operate, and maintain them instead. I would continue sending a check each month as I have been for my power like before, and my bill might even go up 10-30%.

I think if I want to buy a personal solar installation I should have every right to do so and both you and the power company can piss off if you don't like it. Furthermore there already are private sector companies doing basically what you are proposing. They install the solar array on your house and rent it to you and they sell the power to you and any excess to the power company. You get a modest discount and they make some money in the process. Wouldn't be surprising to see power companies get into the business as well at some point if the business model proves viable.

I honestly would be all for it, let the utilities continue to control me, we've got to address climate change NOW.

Ahh, I get it. You (mistakenly) think that the power companies would be on board with this despite the fact that it would not be economically sane for them to do it. I agree that climate change is a real and present danger but your argument is both politically a non-starter and economically impossible to justify.

Comment: Re:The big picture (Score 1) 211

by sjbe (#49110953) Attached to: 800,000 Using Were Sent Incorrect Tax Data

ACA is doing the exact opposite, it is tying health insurance even more closely with employment.

Bullshit. You can buy health insurance now regardless of job status and without worrying about pre-existing conditions. If your income is low then you can get subsidies. You also do not lose your health insurance if you lose your job so long as you can find some way to pay the premiums. NONE of that was true prior to the ACA.

And, no one lost health insurance because they lost a job before ACA.

That could not be more incorrect. Prior to 2014 if you lost your job you were IMMEDIATELY bounced out of your company health plan in almost all cases. You could get COBRA for a short time afterwards in some cases but only for a short time.

Comment: You haven't really looked (Score 1) 211

by sjbe (#49110933) Attached to: 800,000 Using Were Sent Incorrect Tax Data

Well, I am not aware of anyone whose insurance is only going up 3-5% per year and am not aware of anyone for whom their insurance didn't got up by at least 30% when Obamacare happened.

Then you haven't looked. I run a small company and we closed our company sponsored plan in 2014 because it was double the price of the plans available through the exchanges. Price increases in 2015 were low single digit percentages for most of our employees including myself. I'm intimately aware of the prices both before and after 2014 and on the average.

Personally I got coverage that was better than our company plan for roughly the same amount of money out of pocket plus I now have an HSA on top of that. Some folks in our company are paying much less per month. A few are paying more, mostly those who are very close to retirement age and smoke.

Furthermore because we dropped the company sponsored plan we save about $250 per month per employee so we were able to hire more people.

Comment: It's about ACCESS to insurance (Score 1) 211

by sjbe (#49110883) Attached to: 800,000 Using Were Sent Incorrect Tax Data

Help me out here, because I really don't understand how it works....but how are you supposed to pay for private health insurance if you lose employment?

Might be tough but the important bit is that you have the OPTION to maintain your coverage which you didn't have before. The point you missed is that it used to be that if you lost your job you IMMEDIATELY lost your health insurance and you had ZERO alternative options except for maybe COBRA which is only a stop gap and an expensive one at that. Borrow the money, dip into savings or get another job but you can take your insurance with you. Even if you can't pay for it you can still sign up again at a later date when you can afford it regardless of your job situation. Got a pre-existing condition? Prior to 2014 you were screwed because no company would insure that condition for any amount of money. Prior to 2014, anyone who was self employed had very few options and they were almost universally shitty with huge deductibles.

Comment: Lying Anonymously (Score 1) 211

by sjbe (#49110807) Attached to: 800,000 Using Were Sent Incorrect Tax Data

My family of 5 coverage was $160 per month, $35 copay, no deductible. Here comes Osamabinladencare, one adult person is now $1200 per month for almost the same coverage

Oh bullshit. Either you had a ludicrously good deal or you are lying and I'm pretty sure you are lying. $160/month to cover a family of 5? I run a company an have been looking at health plans for years and have NEVER seen a plan like that. There isn't an insurance company out there that could make a dime underwriting coverage for a family that size at that rate.

Comment: Denying ecomic reality (Score 1) 211

by sjbe (#49110783) Attached to: 800,000 Using Were Sent Incorrect Tax Data

Right, that's why a lot of middle class families are now paying more for worse insurance than they were before Obamacare...

Prices have been going up by huge (often double digit) percentages every year for a long time and that started LONG before the ACA was passed. I run a company so I have seen it first hand for years. Those cost increases cannot be endlessly absorbed by employers. If costs go up faster than the population then sooner or later some people are going to end up with either more expensive coverage or worse coverage or both. To pretend that we can have both rising costs but not have people pay more is to be in denial of economic reality.

The whole point of insurance is to spread the risk and the cost. The health care system in the US had to change and any change you make is going to benefit some and cost others. To deny some people access to health insurance to keep rates lower for others is immoral and wrong. To tie one's ability to get health coverage to having a job is even more immoral and wrong. Your employment should have nothing to do with your access to health insurance.

Nice revisionist history there.

I didn't state anything that isn't a fact. Prior to 2014 it was literally impossible for millions of people to get insurance for reasonable rates unless they had access to a group plan through an employer. If you had a pre-existing condition you were screwed.

Speaking for myself and my staff, we dropped our health plan at our company and sent everyone to the exchanges. Everyone in our company found coverage that was roughly comparable to what they had before for similar or less money or in a few cases they picked high deductible plans. In rough numbers our health plan before 2014 cost about $600/person/month and the company picked up half of that amount. Post 2014, most people are paying between $150-250/month out of pocket and the company doesn't pay a dime. This has allowed us to hire extra staff and buy some equipment we couldn't previously justify. Speaking for myself I went from a HMO to a PPO with an HSA which is better coverage for the same money. Best of all, if I were to change jobs or the company were to fold, every one of those people would still have health coverage.

Comment: What makes you such an expert? (Score 1) 532

by sjbe (#49096449) Attached to: Stephen Hawking: Biggest Human Failing Is Aggression

Stephen Hawking needs to stick to cosmology...he doesn't know *shit* about computing and human behavior.

And what are your credentials that make you such an expert on the topic of human behavior? If you're so smart about the topic what are you doing posting here?

just like all traits of human behavior, evolutionary biologists (esp. psych) drastically oversimplify the most complex behavior we observe in the known universe

Complex behavior can arise from very simple rules. That's something I'm quite sure Hawking understands far better than you or me.

the **real problem** is listening to people like Hawking

Really? Someone arguing for peace? How horrible that we should listen to someone saying we should be less aggressive. [/sarcasm]

Comment: Regulatory discretion (Score 3, Insightful) 211

by sjbe (#49096173) Attached to: 800,000 Using Were Sent Incorrect Tax Data

The executive branch needs to learn they implement the law congress passes not the one they wish congress passes.

If Congress isn't specific in their statutes then it is to the discretion of the administration how they handle the regulations. Very few laws are passed with enough specificity that the executive branch doesn't have considerable discretion in the interpretation of the statutes.

If Obama and lefties suddenly are not allowed to continue to make up the rules as they go along maybe the other half of America will realize this law for the ill considered, abusive over reach of authority and corporate give away that it is.

You're accusing the left of corporate giveaways? Methinks you have the left and right mixed up. Abusive overreach of authority? I direct your attention to the actions of the previous administration, particularly post 9/11.

Some people have a great ambition: to build something that will last, at least until they've finished building it.