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Comment Hardly enough enough bodies . . . (Score 4, Funny) 176

. . . to fertilize King Barsoom II's lawn and flower gardens! MARS NEEDS MULCH!

But seriously: Initial training for the would-be colonists will consist of living for five years in trailer homes buried beneath the soil of Antarctica's "dry deserts." People who can't cope with the psychological pressure, or who are judged insufficiently entertaining by the casting group of the MARS LIVE! production company and its advertisers and charter sponsors, will be summarily kicked off of the program. (They will receive copies of the home game, which consists of a refrigerator box equipped with fake controls and a framed color print of a Mars probe landing site.)

Comment Re:Sigh (Score 2) 185

The article mentioned one possible practical use: fleet vehicles. As it stands, either tags have to be manually applied or plates changed out, and even done every so many years, this can become a management hassle for larger fleets. Electronic plates would, depending on their durability, remove this requirement. Many fleet vehicles are already tracked via data networks, so the privacy issues aren't as strong as for a personal vehicle and the ability to display a message indicating theft could be useful. Then, of course, there could also be ads for the fleet owner on it, but I think that's pushing into tacky territory.

I don't see this catching on, though, at least not for a while yet. The technical hurdles are just too high, and California has a history of not being able to implement their computer projects on time or budget. It will be a novelty for the trial period and then quietly go away when not enough people sign up for it.

Comment Re:I never understood the principle. (Score 1) 454

Chemical weapons are a problem because they usually do not kill. It takes a LOT of chemicals and the right environment to kill. But they do tear up lungs and eyes and nervous systems. So the casualties may be able to move themselves but they cannot pick up their old lives again.

I read somewhere that the overall cost of chemical weapons and conventional weapons per casualty work out to be the same. Chemical weapons on a per-round basis may be more effective (when used to the greatest tactical advantage, and a wind shift can affect that quickly), but the resource costs (additional training, transportation, storage, and protective costs) associated with chemical weapons neutralizes the advantage overall. That military foes will almost certainly already be trained and equipped to deal with a chemical attack further reduces their effectiveness.

Their only effective use remains as a terror weapon, or at best an area denial weapon on retreat to slow the enemy (it's much harder to move as quickly when you're wearing a mask and possibly other gear).

Comment ESPN is the key (Score 4, Insightful) 304

I think the biggest player that keeps people locked into subscription TV is ESPN, and they know it. Everything else can be found via acceptable delays whether it's Netflix/Hulu/whatever, DVD release, or even torrents. But most fans still strongly prefer to watch sports live.

Most people I know who still subscribe would gladly ditch cable/satellite if they could stream ESPN even if it cost $20/month, which is far more than ESPN gets from the cable companies and would allow them to offer features they can't run through non-interactive media. The number of people who have cut the cord (or know how to) hasn't reached critical mass yet, but once it does, ESPN is either going to be able to start dictating higher fees from cable companies or will take a shot at streaming (or both). I expect a strong drop in the cable/satellite subscriber base in the first year after this happens, which will be devastating to their share prices because jacking up rates to make up for lost revenues and profits will just encourage more people to leave.

Comment Re:Maybe overturning an election (Score 1) 381

I do have a fair idea of what Morsi was doing, and yes, he was trying to consolidate power for the Muslim Brotherhood. But much like every other opposition party who decried all of the things the party long in power was doing, he learned that calling for change and actually changing are two very different things.

In trying to take control of the military, he set himself up for failure. I mentioned the fuel and food shortages, and there is also Egypt's significant debt that requires payment from reserves it doesn't have. Had Morsi tried to work with the military, they might have tried to work with him to keep the population under control. As it was, when he started talking about reducing subsidies and people started protesting that (on top of everything else), the military intervened only when they deemed it in their interest, like protecting Morsi when the security forces he did control proved inadequate.

The military doesn't care too much who is running the government as long as it doesn't interfere with their own investments and power, which also means not abrogating the peace treaty with Israel (war is bad for their investments). They'll work with anyone who is willing to leave them alone and doesn't cause too much discontent among the populace. But this removes a large fraction of the people who would run and hence makes almost anyone else not viable in an election. There has been some speculation that Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will run for president, but this risks the military getting involved directly and openly in politics, something that it has been loathe to do. If he wins, he risks being seen as a Mubarak-like dictator running the government while cozy with--or completely controlling--the military, especially if he starts doing things the people don't like (like reducing subsidies). If he loses, he risks tarnishing the generally positive view the population has of the military.

I agree that this will probably go back and forth. I think it may at some point end up in a situation like Turkey: a nominally secular state with an overwhelmingly Muslim majority where the secular character is protected by the military, which steps in whenever the secular aspect is threatened. There would still be members of Islamic--and even Islamist--parties elected and even reaching the most senior jobs in government, but always with the risk of being deposed if they push too hard toward a religious state.

Comment Re:Maybe overturning an election (Score 2, Informative) 381

There was little to no chance of Morsi becoming a dictator. The military ultimately has the power in Egypt and has for decades. That the ruler has been cozy with the military and therefore safe has been the general rule. Morsi was not only not cozy but aggressively tried to sideline the military which made him unpopular with both the military and the people.

It doesn't matter who runs Egypt in the next few years. They're going to be unpopular because Egypt's economy is in a shambles largely due to excessive subsidies. They export oil but import gasoline because they don't have sufficient refining capacity, making fuel subsidies extremely expensive to maintain. They don't grow near enough grain to feed the population and have to import it at international market prices while subsidizing it to an enormous degree.

The military wants to keep the power but doesn't want to be the public face of it. They also don't want anyone remotely friendly with the insurgents in the Sinai in power (effectively ruling out Salafist candidates), and know that most secularists stand zero chance of doing anything more than spoiling a vote. This leaves the Muslim Brotherhood and allied smaller parties, which isn't really possible right now because they're boycotting anything political.

But in the absence of an overthrow of the military establishment (everyone from captains up and even most of the junior officers), the military isn't going anywhere, nor do about half the people want them to. They're seen as the protectors of the state, such as it is.

Comment Re:A cynic's view (Score 5, Informative) 637

A board that reviews health care expenses and recommends cuts in specific areas isn't new with or unique to Obamacare. Every insurance company has one, and they feed off of an existing, independent board that recommends prices for the entire medical industry (and which is sometimes wildly off the mark in terms of current costs).

Unlike Obamacare, every insurance company also has employees (doctors, yes, but not the ones treating the patient) who can decide that a given treatment isn't worth the cost associated with it and deny its coverage, thereby in some cases sentencing the patient to death. That nearly happened to my then-86-year-old grandfather who was denied coverage for a triple bypass because he was already beyond his life expectancy. It wasn't until it was pointed out--twice--to the insurance company that he was still working 40 hours per week that the surgery was approved, by which time he was in the ICU on oxygen. It was his employer-provided insurance that tried to nix the surgery. This was about 2005. He lived another five years or so after the surgery.

I'm not entirely certain how the insurance-company doctors making such decisions will fare under Obamacare, but I expect that they'll still be around.

Comment Re:What makes him think this can be done? (Score 1) 533

I understand your view and to an extent I agree with it, but a lot of people thought Musk was crazy for thinking that he could build rockets basically from the ground up for a few hundred million dollars. There were many who said that such a program would need billions just to get the first launch, but he came up with a way to do it for far less than most expected. He might have something here, though whether it's possible at any price in the current California political environment is a very good question.

Comment Re:Look at tata as well. IN addition, H1Bs need to (Score 1) 684

Every nation manipulates their money against the dollar. Preventing that wouldn't work. Some do it blatantly, revaluing their currency every few years; some throw some whitewash on it and let it float in a narrow band; and some pretend it's purely market-driven. But taxes, duties, and currency purchases and sales can and do alter exchange rates, sometimes dramatically.

But yeah, the visa system needs an overhaul, like more documentation that there are no credible candidates stateside. I think it should include holding over the resumes of all who apply for a given period of time and notes on why they weren't qualified, with random audits. Failing an audit would automatically nullify all visas obtained by the company and block them from applying for new visas for a period of ten years.

I'm not opposed to there being visas, just them being abused.

Comment Re:maybe until 2004 (Score 1) 583

I didn't negate the point. I corrected the intermediary. The FBI is under the DoJ, but is a part of the Intelligence Community. It interfaces with DNI but is not subservient to the office. The FBI is first and foremost a law enforcement agency with a substantial intelligence mission.

Check the bottom of the FBI website: "FBI.gov is an official site of the U.S. government, U.S. Department of Justice"

You can also check Wikipedia, etc., for confirmation.

Comment Re:Master's degree in information systems (Score 2) 684

I was looking for a job in another state for a couple of years, but had a job that I generally enjoyed and paid well so I could afford to bide my time looking for the job I really wanted. It was the first time in about 7 or so years that I had done so, but I had to quickly relearn how to sift out the bad recruiters, which turned out to be most of them. A couple of them that managed to get my updated resume wanted to "update" it, changing terms to things that didn't reflect my experience at all (major example: I'm not a programmer and one guy wanted to make it look like I had more than a decade of C experience because I took a semester of it in the 1990s).

What I discovered is that the majority of the contacts came from resume mills, and further delving suggested that many of them simply collect resumes to dump on clients en masse, with or without editing. Some of them take qualified resumes and change the contact information to others as part of a further hiring scam.

In the last three years, I've worked with maybe four good recruiters who took the time to figure out what I wanted and to try to match me up with a company where everyone would be happy. Unfortunately, all of them have since moved on to different companies.

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