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Comment Re:Lost wages? What about back pay? (Score 1) 767

I've got some friends who work for the Fed and they loved the shutdown because they a) didn't have to go to work, b) weren't using up vacation days and c) were guaranteed backpay for the days the gov't was shutdown.

Then, frankly, your friends are either lucky (in that they had no bills to pay with the paycheck they didn't get), or they're stupid.
My friends who work for the fed (most of whom were barely recovered from the furloughs over the summer wiping out their savings) hated the shutdown. Many had to work anyhow, and are uncertain when they'll get paid for the shutdown. (The last time this happened, it took five years for some to get paid.) In the meantime, working or not, mortgages and car payments came due, groceries still had to be put on the table, utility bills still came due... etc... etc... The couple next door, between the both of them and the shutdown and the furloughs will have lost nine weeks of pay (presuming, is as likely, they don't get paid for the shutdown anytime soon) - almost a ten percent pay cut.
And pretty much all the federal employees I know are talking about cutting their budget to the bone to save money for a potential showdown/slowdown/shutdown in January. Between that, and furloughs over the summer, and the lost business over the last two weeks... the secondary effects on my county (where the Fed is the largest employer by far) are seriously approaching disastrous. The business my wife works at has (as of today, and she's the CFO and knows to the penny) seen a 15% drop over the course of 2013 - on top of not having completely recovered from the recession.

Comment Re:Really? (Score 1) 767

If we'd have left [the terrorists in Afghanistan] there and did absolutely not one damn thing to try and stop/kill them, well, how much did 9/11 cost the economy?

Quite a bit, actually. Took out a lot of infrastructure (including a major telecommunications hub and a number of business headquarters with all their personnel).

Then there was the cost of the reaction. For starters it stopped air traffic for days, and led to the creation of Homeland Security and all its costs - both direct and indirect (such as the large number of people who now drive rather than submit to the airport security theater.)

But I agree it was far less than the cost of the war that followed.

If someone walks in and shoots the party planning committee, how much does the next party cost the company? Trick question, there isn't one. Same with terrorists.

Actually, not the same with terrorists. Look up the term "blowback". Terrorists are hydras: Killing them tends to make martyrs, leading to the recruiting of more new terrorists than were killed

  It also leads to diversification: The longer the tit-for-tat goes on, the less centralized and connected, the more independent and self-sufficient, the factions of the opposition become.

9/11 itself (along with his previous shot at the Twin Towers) was, according to Bin Laden, retaliation for the US bombing of a similar tower on his side of the world.

Comment Re:Solar panels (Score 2) 178

Wouldn't this work well with some kind of solar panel technology that charges the panels. You would never have to plug it in.

Only if you drive it no more than an hour a month.

A horsepower is almost exactly 3/4 kilowatt. A square yard gets about a kilowatt of raw sunshine at high noon. Factor in the efficiency of the solar panel, battery storage, and motor control and you're lucky to get a fifth of that. Call it a quarter-horse for each square yard of cross-secton as seen by the sun, if you're parked in the open on a clear day. A good, sunny, location might get five "solar hours" - equivalent of five hours of noontime sun - per day. So call it a tad over a horsepower hour per day.

Crusing at highway speed takes maybe 18 horsepower. (Acceleration much more, but only for a short time - but then you lose much of it with breaking - even regenerative breaking that scavenges some of it. So stop-and-go driving is substantially lower mileage than highway.)

Remember the intro to "The Jetsons", where George hits the button on his flying commuter car and it folds up into a briefcase? You need a car that does the opposite: Spread out over a half-acre when you park it. But your company probably won't want you to use that many parking spaces...

So you plug in your electric car, move to the planet Mercury, or wait for Mr Fusion to get cheap.

Comment Re:Hazard (Score 2) 178

If an impact creates a short through the surface, the energy of the battery will be dumped through the short, appearing as heat in the resistance of the (non-superconducting) short and the conductors leading to it.

If something isn't done to interrupt this discharge, the energy will be dumped as heat (and perhaps actinic light and vaporized material) at the short, the region around it, or the whole panel.

The trick will be to build the panel so that, in a crash, the breakage and/or the current from the short(s) itself will interrupt the circuit before a dangerous amount of the battery's stored energy is converted - rather than creating a cascading failure that releases the whole charge, surrounding the car's occupants with red-hot walls, white-hot walls, or clouds of incandescent vapor.

If there's one car company with a track record of focusing their engineering on keeping the car's occupants safe, it's Volvo.

Comment Oh, Barak. . . (Score 2) 999

When asked as he left the podium whether he believed America would be going through all this political turmoil again in a few months, the President didn't waste words. "No."'"

. . . still naive.

Comment Re:Once again: Really? (Score 1) 396

... if the NSA is wiretapping a Somali terrorist in Somalia, and notices that he keeps talking to people in San Diego, it doesn't seem like the descending boot of tyranny for them to call the FBI and say "Check out these guys." As long as the FBI then gets all the warrants it's supposed to, I think I'm OK with it.

But that's not what's at issue.

What's at issue is whether the defendant can force the prosecution to prove the agencies followed the law and the constitution.

The government claims he can't.

I say that's bogus. The prosecution has to put up or shut up.

Comment Re:Outrage doesn't do shit (Score 0) 610

Slashdot is packed with mentally unstable conspiracy theorists who insist that the US is worse than Nazi Germany, Stalin's Russia, and North Korea all rolled into one. Compared to that level of white hot hatred, most Americans will seem pretty passive over the NSA thing.

That and privacy activists have been screaming bloody murder over every little thing so loudly and for so long now... that everyone who isn't a borderline mental case/conspiracy theorist classifies them right beside Chicken Little and The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

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