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Comment Re:Clever of someone (Score 1) 200

Or just get rid of the stupid two party winner-takes-all system. It makes it hard to have any true reform, because the choices are too limited.

Last I remember, there were approximately 20 serious candidates at the start of the last election cycle. I'm not sure how the choices are "limited".

Oh, you mean the guy you wanted didn't win? Tough luck. The same would be true if all 20 went to the end too. You've got a one in 20 chance. Most of the time you're going to be disappointed, no matter how many candidates are actually on the ballot come general election day.

Comment Re:undefinitized contracts (Score 1) 200

I'm not going to defend the constellation program, but they could have thrown the baby out without also including the bathwater.

What I'm saying is cancel constellation if you must, but replace it with something that has a chance in hell of working and is NASA controlled. I'm sorry, but I haven't seen a private contractor yet that's anywhere even close to NASA's level of expertise in launching men into space. NASA's not perfect, but what they do have is 50 years of experience in space - no private company can match that.

To put it another way, the US government has just pulled funding from the most experienced agency in the field, and is giving it instead to a bunch of unproven upstarts. That is generally not a smart move, in any industry.

Cancel constellation, go back to the drawing board if you have to. But don't waste 50 years worth of knowledge and experience like this.

I truly believe this is the end of the United States' commitment to space exploration. And without us there, somebody else will beat us back to the moon, and Mars.

Comment Re:What is this "entitlement mentality"? (Score 2, Interesting) 200

Or am I not understanding this Medicare program, and is it mainly spent on cosmetic surgery or something?

You're understanding Medicare perfectly.

What you are not understanding is the selfishness and short-sightedness of many Americans. This is a country that elected Bush president, after all (once, at least).

Many Americans look at a program like Medicare, see that they personally don't need it, and therefore think it's a waste of money to fund it. Only when they do come to depend on it do they then hold onto it like grim death. And they often don't even see the contradiction there.

I actually saw a sign somebody had painted at a Tea Party rally a while back that said "Don't raid Medicare to pay for socialized medicine!" which I think just about sums it up.

Comment Re:What is this "entitlement mentality"? (Score 1) 200

Any money they can *take* from the government is rightfully theirs? Methinks you have it backwards. The government doesn't have their own money, they have that of taxpayers. How can one take one's own money?

a) He didn't say "any money they can take from the government", he said any thing. You're reading things the way you want to read them. He was talking about products and services, not money.

b) When you pay your taxes, that is no longer your money. This is a fundamental concept that many people seem to misunderstand. It is no different than paying for any other service. If you pay a security company to guard your house, is that your money once you've paid it to them? Of course not - you gave them money to provide a service, they provide that service and then the money is theirs. Government works no differently. The funny thing is that it's always the capitalists, for whom this concept should be the simplest, that have the hardest time understanding it.

Now you're going to say "but I don't use any government services, so they're stealing my money!" to which the obvious reply is two-fold. Because first of all, you're using government services whether you think you are or not - what do you think pays for all that military hardware "protecting our freedom" in places like Iraq and Afghanistan? Who do you think paid for your schooling? Who built the roads you drive on? Who provides the police that protect you?

Secondly, this is not money you're directly paying for any specific service for you personally. Think of it like union dues. It goes to the collective. If everybody could just pay whatever they wanted for individual programs, there'd be total chaos. We live in a representative democracy on purpose - it was not a mistake that our Constitution (which people like you like to hold up whenever it's convenient) was written in such a way that government is not controlled directly by the people, but by representatives who are tasked with providing for the general welfare of the union as a whole. This is specifically intended to filter the selfish whims of the people - and the founding fathers people like you hold up as beacons of light designed the government this way.

I feel like I'm conducting an eighth grade civics class here, but sometimes it seems like that's what's necessary. I guess if I've got a complaint about where my taxes are going, it's that nobody bothers teaching basic government concepts - or even common sense - in US schools anymore.

Comment Re:false dichotomy (Score 1) 200

That's why the major push is to FORCE everyone to buy coverage, meaning healthy young people will poor money into the system paying for resources they don't want or need.

I hope you go to sleep one night "healthy" and wake up the next day with a collapsed lung like I did. We'll see what you think about health care coverage you "don't need" then.

Comment Re:Your chart lies (Score 3, Interesting) 200

What else would you expect from the New York Times? The chart is highly misleading.

The "mandatory spending" is only mandatory because of the !@&#(* spending bills that REQUIRE certain monies to be spent on certain things.

Uh, yes? In what way is this misleading?

I realize that during the Bush years, Republicans didn't think laws were much more than general guidelines. But we're back in the real world now, buddy.

Our (Democrat Party controlled) government has been spending like a drunken sailor with no regard whatsoever how to come up with the funds to meet our spending obligations. Democrats will typically point to the Bush administration and say "Look at what he spent!". Does one irresponsible act warrant another?

When eight years of deficit spending got us into this mess, it's going to take about that long to get us back out of it.

Were you not listening when some of us were saying it's going to take 20 years to undo the damage Bush was doing to this country during his two terms in office? He took a surplus and turned it into the largest deficits this country has ever seen. And he did it during economic prosperity. How do you expect Obama to take a recession he inherited and turn that deficit spending around in a year?

The damage Bush did is going to take a long, long time to recover from. This should not be news to anyone.

Comment Re:false dichotomy (Score 3, Insightful) 200

The US spends far more on programs like SS and Medicare than it does on the Pentagon. Indeed, looking at the big items first would help. In order to support the existing medicare committments, with no further socialization of medicine, tax rates would have to reach 80% in my lifetime.

Quit pulling numbers out of your ass. That number you just quoted has zero basis in reality. Ok, how about this: in order to keep funding the military at the rate its growing, taxes will need to reach 90% in my lifetime. Top that!

And do you see that big chunk of the budget labeled "health"? Yeah, that's what the health care bill is designed to reduce. Without a health care bill, that chunk will only get bigger and bigger. It's amazing to me that some people don't understand this.

Comment Re:Just to put things into perspective... (Score 1) 630

Where's the story?

Especially as it relates to Slashdot. Not really seeing how a story about a government policy on alcohol prohibition 90 years ago is "news for nerds", nor how it affects "my rights online".

I'm all for stories like this being made public, but this is not the kind of thing I think most of us come here for.

Comment Re:Arm your citizens... (Score 1) 368

A $500 RC plane isn't going to be carrying any kind of load that can do any real damage.

Sure, you can pack an RC plane with some C-4 and just fly it kamikaze style into something, but it still couldn't be much more C-4 than the amount needed to blow the lock off a door. Explosives have weight, and RC planes can't carry much extra weight. Given the imprecision of flying one of these things any distance whatsoever, I would think you'd have to carry a tremendous amount of explosives to be able to reliably take out any sort of target.

I would think these would make for an extremely ineffective weapon. A truck bomb would be much more effective.

As for military drones, while it's fun to play "what-if", the reality is there's no practical way for anybody else to attack the US mainland with one of these. For one thing, they are extremely slow. For another thing, they are not stealthy. They would even show up on commercial radar. Heck, bottle rockets show up on commercial radar sometimes. And the FAA doesn't look kindly on unauthorized flights in commercial airspace.

That's not even mentioning the range. We fly drones in Afghanistan from Afghanistan. Where is somebody going to launch a drone attack on the United States from?

And lastly, drones are not difficult to shoot down. Lots of things are immune to heat-seeking missiles - that's why radar guided missiles exist. We've actually had several drones shot down ourselves, even in countries with zero radar coverage, zero opposing air force and zero air defense. These were shot down by guys looking up into the sky and getting off a lucky shot.

Look at it this way. How successful would you imagine a Tu-95 bomber run would be over the US mainland? I personally would expect that every one of them would be shot down - they'd be detected early, fighters would be scrambled, SAM sites alerted. Now replace the Tu-95 with a slower, less well armed drone with a lot less range. Why would you think it would actually be easier for a drone to get through?

I think we've got more important things to worry about, not least of which preparing for more conventional attacks from our enemies, or more "traditional" terrorist attacks.

Government

Secret Service Runs At "Six Sixes" Availability 248

PCM2 writes "ABC News is reporting that the US Secret Service is in dire need of server upgrades. 'Currently, 42 mission-oriented applications run on a 1980s IBM mainframe with a 68 percent performance reliability rating,' says one leaked memo. That finding was the result of an NSA study commissioned by the Secret Service to evaluate the severity of their computer problems. Curiously, upgrades to the Service's computers are being championed by Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who says he's had 'concern for a while' about the issue."

Comment Re:Nice, sure, but revolutionary? (Score 1, Insightful) 278

Saying there is nothing new here is like saying that you take some rockets, some heat shielding, some wings and make the space shuttle. No biggie.

Well, that's an odd metaphor, considering that most generally consider the space shuttle to be a failure at the mission for which it was originally conceived. And two of the five orbiters have been lost to accidents. The overall program safety rate is much worse than the rockets that preceded it.

The point being, yes, it takes some imagination to put all these things together in a certain way. But just displaying imagination does not equal a revolution. In many ways, the iPhone interface - like the space shuttle - is a step backwards. It's not that people are arguing that the iPhone is exactly like other things. They're arguing that the iPhone doesn't really improve the UI experience from where we were before. Those are two different statements, and you're arguing with the former whereas most people are making the latter.

Comment Re:Files too much for n00bs... (Score 1) 278

It's only unorganized if you choose to not organize it.

Which no doubt describes 95% of actual users.

Most modern UI's at least imply some sort of organizational structure (ie. Windows has "documents", "videos", "photos" etc. folders where these types of files generally go by default in most apps, and the Mac has something similar). The iPhone makes you do all the organizational work yourself. This isn't a UI revolution, it's a step backwards.

Comment Re:In short: (Score 1) 278

That assumes that users really need to learn things. The best UIs are often those that match intuitively with our preexisting intuitions about the world. It's not quite that simple, but I definitely think a good UI designer can exploit a lot of our natural understanding of time and space and simple mechanics to make an interface that requires very little learning.

There's nothing "natural" about using a table computer in the first place. You will always need to learn the interface, unless that interface is based around a metaphor previously learned but familiar that we've all been doing since we were kids.

Something, for example, like manipulating documents on a desktop.

There's a reason why the desktop model has endured the way it has. And that's because it's something that everybody knows how to deal with. It's not "intuitive" anymore than a 3D interface would be, but it is something that's almost universally learned from a very young age. And there is no reason to change it, from a usability standpoint or otherwise. There's no such thing as an intuitive computer interface, so I wish so-called UI "experts" would drop that word from their vocabulary. There are only interfaces that are more or less easy to learn. A desktop UI is easy to learn. A 3D UI is not.

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