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Comment Re:Countermeasures Deployed (Score 4, Interesting) 295

Also, many brick-and-mortar merchants encode whether a price has been marked down or not in the final digit. X.99 may represent a normal price, and X.98 or X.97 may represent a temporary sale price or a final markdown, usually to clue the register operator that other coupons or discounts may not apply. Most shoppers don't even notice, but the staff can tell.

Comment Re:Why was it confidential? (Score 4, Informative) 311

Because that was the law under which the sensitive information was collected. The average US life expectancy in 1935 was 61.7 years, so 72 years would mean that the privacy issues would be moot for most of the folks enumerated in the Census -- they weren't expected to be around to complain 72 years later. The laws that established the Census go way back -- I don't know when the 72 years criterion was established. Life expectancy was even shorter the farther back you go.

Comment Re:Welcome to the real truth (Score 2) 290

The actual, functional process that USED to be followed for many years is as follows. Assume for definiteness that we are planning for the FY2011 budget which covers the period from Oct 1, 2010 through Sept 30, 2011.

By Law, the president must prepare and submit his proposed budget by integrating and prioritizing inputs from all the cabinet agencies. He starts this in Sept-Dec of 2009, and sends it to Congress in Jan 2010.

Congress receives the President's budget proposal, then holds lots of hearings to review, adjust and agree on an overall budget. They pass the resulting budget resolution, sometime in late spring or summer of 2010. This establishes the levels of money that agencies can plan for. They are now 1/3 of the way done. No money can be spent yet.

For discretionary programs (not entitlements) Congress then passes legislation authorizing expenditures for various programs up to the agreed budget limits, providing the legal basis for the Government to spend the Public treasure. They must then pass appropriations bills (usually about 20, separated out by Agency, such as DoD, Interior, etc.). The appropriation (which can be less than the authorization amount) actually gives the money to the Agency to spend. This is supposed to happen in Aug or Sept of 2010, so that the funds have been budgeted, authorized, and appropriated in advance of the start of the 2011 FY on Oct 1, 2010.

I left out the parts about reconciliation between House and Senate versions, Presidential vetoes, and other gotchas, but the process is specified by Public Law passed in 1921, and has been mostly followed for most of our modern history. The continuing resolution is supposed to be an emergency measure only used for short periods when some emergency delays the completion of the process by the Oct 1 start date of a FY.

The current mess we are suffering through now regarding FY 2011 spending is the result of the complete abdication by the Democrats in control at the time, of the fundamental requirements of our federal government expenditure system. This began in early 2010 and continued throughout the campaign season, out of Democratic fear of public scrutiny of their spending plans in advance of the Nov 2010 elections. Shameful.

Comment Re:The *real* shame in all of this (Score 2) 1122

You are absolutely correct. I would love to see the proponents of solar and wind "solutions" provide a quantitative model showing how they would be able to provide a large fraction of total US electrical capacity -- say 50% or even 25%, and what it would cost, including transmission infrastructure.

Worse yet, the NIMBYs block almost every project to erect even simple power distribution trunk lines.

In the real world, it is necessary to choose among the feasible solutions that offer the best benefit-cost prospects. None is without risks, including all the fossil, nuclear, and "green" technologies. It is completely irresponsible to simply say "we shouldn't do nuclear, because it's dangerous". The real problem for nuclear is that only a tiny fraction of the populace understands the physics of nuclear power, and even fewer understand the engineering that controls it, but everybody reacts to the hysteria and fear that is propagated by the media.

Comment Re:plane not miss (Score 1) 858

I agree. When you view the video, you see that there is no characteristic rocket exhaust plume, which would be extremely bright. There appears to be sunlight reflecting directly from the underside of the object, but not the extended roman candle effect you see from rocket motors. Nor is it accelerating rapidly as it would if it were a solid fueled missile -- the velocity is pretty slow and constant. Just because the helicopter reporter called it a missile doesn't make it one.

Google Caffeine Drops MapReduce, Adds "Colossus" 65

An anonymous reader writes "With its new Caffeine search indexing system, Google has moved away from its MapReduce distributed number crunching platform in favor of a setup that mirrors database programming. The index is stored in Google's BigTable distributed database, and Caffeine allows for incremental changes to the database itself. The system also uses an update to the Google File System codenamed 'Colossus.'"

Plagiarism Inc. 236

Here's an interesting article on the life and times of 24-year-old Jordan Kavoosi, who has made a business of plagiarism. His Essay Writing Company employs writers from across the country, and will deliver a paper on any subject for $23 per page. In addition, his company will get it done in 48 hours, and he guarantees at least a B grade or your money back. From the article: "'Sure it's unethical, but it's just a business,' Kavoosi explains. 'I mean, what about strip clubs or porn shops? Those are unethical, and city-approved.'"

Comment Re:dear libertarians and tea baggers: (Score 1) 2044

teabaggers and libertarians: in SOME avenues of life, not all, the government is good, and works for you. you reject it at the price of your own impoverishment. that's the simple obvious truth

If we could reject them, we would. Our philosophy is for all people to choose their own poison. You're forcing it down everyone's throat. ONCE AGAIN, states' rights. If California or Iowa or [state] wants to enact this legislation, alright. But don't force it on 300m people! Our nation is too large for the high government to be representative of the people. Such sweeping, life changing, nation-bankrupting legislation is best reserved for the better-representing states, where only a portion of the country will be affected.

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