Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Submission + - California's bullet train is hurtling toward a multibillion-dollar overrun (

schwit1 writes: California’s bullet train could cost taxpayers 50% more than estimated — as much as $3.6 billion more. And that’s just for the first 118 miles through the Central Valley, which was supposed to be the easiest part of the route between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

A confidential Federal Railroad Administration risk analysis, obtained by the Times, projects that building bridges, viaducts, trenches and track from Merced to Shafter, just north of Bakersfield, could cost $9.5 billion to $10 billion, compared with the original budget of $6.4 billion.

The federal document outlines far-reaching management problems: significant delays in environmental planning, lags in processing invoices for federal grants and continuing failures to acquire needed property.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority originally anticipated completing the Central Valley track by this year, but the federal risk analysis estimates that that won’t happen until 2024, placing the project seven years behind schedule.

Submission + - Creepy genealogy site knows a lot about you. (

schwit1 writes: There are many “people search” sites and data brokers out there, like Spokeo, or Intelius, that also know a lot about you. This is not news, at least for the Internet-literate. And the information on FamilyTreeNow comes largely from the public records and other legally accessible sources that those other data brokers use. What makes FamilyTreeNow stand out on the creepy scale, though, is how easy the site makes it for anyone to access that information all at once, and free.

Profiles on FamilyTreeNow include the age, birth month, family members, addresses and phone numbers for individuals in their system, if they have them. It also guesses at their “possible associates,” all on a publicly accessible, permalink-able page. It’s possible to opt out, but it’s not clear whether doing so actually removes you from their records or (more likely) simply hides your record so it’s no longer accessible to the public.

Comment I agree (Score 2) 521

Hmm... 65,000 visas auctioned off for $1000 each would net about $65 million, possibly more.

I think it would net WAY more than that. My company paid a lawyer $10k to do the H1-B paperwork for an important employee from a site we were closing in Europe. It turned out that we didn't even get the visa. If we could have just bid instead, I think we would have been willing to pay at least $50k, and likely a lot more, to guarantee a quota.

I agree completely, I was just hesitant to speculate that much on the value.

We're now talking about a billion dollars in revenue, which for comparison purposes is a sizeable percentage of the $18b NASA budget or the $6b NOAA budget.

With that amount of money, over 20 years you could rebuild a lot of infrastructure.

Comment Another great post (Score 1) 521

Here's another even better solution: Set a fixed limit, and then auction off the visas to the highest bidder, with the proceeds going to the US Treasury. Currently, they are free (other than a processing fee) and issued to whomever is first in the queue. An auction would ensure they go to the companies that value them the most, and have a real need to import critical skills, rather than just looking for cheap labor.

Hmm... 65,000 visas auctioned off for $1000 each would net about $65 million, possibly more.

That's actually enough to pay for some of the smaller services, and it's a great idea.

What's been going on with Slashdot? There's been, like, 4 insightful posts in the last 24 hours.

Comment Good post (Score 4, Interesting) 521

I'm not a big fan of Trump, but if he actually delivers on this campaign promise (even if it's just scrawling his signature on the bill and then taking all the credit in speeches) that will be a good thing for me and most employed people on slashdot.

Is there any way this is a bad thing? H1B was supposed to be for bringing in essential foreign talent. If a company isn't willing to pay $100k per year plus the various expenses, whoever they are bringing it must not have been all that talented.

Good post.

We have to get back in the mode where we can say "the other side did this" without assigning blame and descending into name calling.

It's been argued for the last 2 decades (-ish) here on this site that the main problem with American governance is corruption by big business. Regardless of the left or right position we need to start doing things that are good for the people, even if such actions are narrowly bad for business.

This is a good start, it was indeed one of his campaign promises, and that part doesn't matter one bit.

(I'm very curious to see who votes for/against the bill, or if it gets killed in committee.)

Comment Good post, I'd mod you up if I had points (Score 4, Interesting) 474

One could argue that increased corporate tax rates and regulations have made it more difficult to start new businesses, and increases in health insurance costs (benefit packages are labor costs) thanks to Obamacare have made it more expensive to hire inexperienced workers. The government itself, i.e. The Democrat platform itself, is to blame.

Who knew that when you make it harder to run businesses, fewer people get employed (forcing them into part time work) and the average wage goes down?

You got modded to oblivion, but I think that's an insightful post. It suggests an alternate explanation without rancour.

We need to be able to say "the other side did this" without assigning blame and getting into name calling. I don't care what polarity (left or the right) the position is, so long as it's to our benefit.

Looking at your post, I note that the Democrats did, indeed give us Obamacare, it was widely advertised as being a good thing, and it's widely viewed as being a problem at this point in time.

Some ACA aspects were good - getting everyone insured and eliminating "pre-existing conditions" clauses among them - but the end result was a fiscal runaway that's causing a lot of grief among the people.

I note that Republicans (house *and* senate) have already voted to repeal the ACA without having a replacement on hand, and that will probably mean that we go back to pre-existing conditions, dropping coverage after an accident, and insurance companies charging whatever the hell they want.

Which is not at all a good thing, right or left.

Trump said he wanted to get rid of Obamacare and replace it, but he specifically said he wanted the replacement in place *first*. So now we're left to trust that he will do the right thing when the bill comes to his desk. That'll be a good test of his character. If he dumps Obamacare without a replacement and a lot of people lose insurance because of it, it would be a betrayal of our trust.

We really need to fix healthcare in this country. We're paying 6x as much as other countries, and only getting 3rd world care for it.

Comment Or it could be globalism (Score 5, Insightful) 474

Was thinking the same thing. A additional 15% took an extra 4 or 5 years of partying before starting work. Graduate dumber, but better indoctrinated, than when they started.

Not just 'for profits', all schools are offering lots of watered down degrees, not that * studies wasn't already worthless 30 years ago.

It could also be globalism.

Jobs leaving the country create an excess of workers, so the remaining jobs can be offered for lower salaries. It's simple supply and demand.

Is there another economic explanation that could account for the difference between then and now?

Ignoring government numbers because of various controversies in how they are measured, the Gallup Poll survey puts us at 9.2% real unemployment, and less than half of those are rated "good" jobs.

We're supposedly out of the depression, the economy is doing great, and yet people are making 20% less than average from 30 years ago.

What other major economic forces could account for this?

Comment Hillary is just as bad (Score 1) 271

So, Bush and Obama were both shitty Presidents. I think that has been firmly established. Should we just give worthless piece of shit Trump a pass since the other Presidents were shitty, too?

Hillary put one of her big donors on a government intelligence advisory board, even though he had no relevant experience.

Yes, we can give Trump a pass on appointing Giuliani.

And also, why are you insulting our president?

Hillary lost.

Get over it.

Comment Finally, a cogent post! (Score 3, Insightful) 271

Of your points, this is one that I wanted to address because this sort of protectionism is something which really resonates with people who don't think too hard about it. It seems so simple: "Protect American jobs! The only cost is screwing some foreigners! Why haven't we been doing this all along? Our government must be corrupt or stupid or something." It's a topic which demagogues can latch onto, but the only people who protectionism really benefits are the people in control of the industry in question. Even to the peons in that industry the benefit from protectionism is questionable.

Finally, a cogent argument and the start of a discussion.

You say that protectionism seems good on the surface, but ultimately hurts the country.

Firstly, I think you're drawing a black-white distinction between protectionism and globalism, as if there are no middle ground positions or other policies. We could easily be protectionist in one industry and globalist in another, or "slightly" protectionist (through tariffs, for instance), or isolationist (like North Korea) in some circumstances(*).

Secondly, you're repeating an economist meme without citing references or analysis or even rationale, and making your point by making an emotional appeal.

I claim that the economist meme "globalism is better for a country" is false, in the mathematical sense.

I'm familiar with the globalism rationale as set forth by economists, and I agree that the mathematics show that globalism is better, but the analysis is based on a model that makes many assumptions. Even though the mathematics pans out, when the assumptions don't match the model you can't rely on the conclusions.

It's like Nate Silver predicting Hillary would win the election. It was based on sound statistical models with no calculation errors, but the assumptions were faulty.

In the specific case of globalism, the model assumes an economic and citizen equality between the two nations. Specifically, if both nations allow citizens to acquire and keep wealth, the model works as planned. When this is not true, all the wealth flows out of the wealth-building nation and into the poor nation, where it is squandered and lost.

To be even more specific, someone from Poland or Greece could emigrate to the UK and take a high-paying job (lab tech, dentist, programmer, or similar), but a Brit cannot expect to emigrate to Poland or Greece and do the same. Poland and Greece are rife with corruption, which makes it almost impossible to build wealth. For contrast, a Brit and a Norwegian could realistically swap places, in the economic sense.

Someone in China could do the same manufacturing jobs as Americans, but after a lifetime of work would have almost nothing to show: No paid-off house, or car, or retirement funds. Most of the wealth in China goes to the government, which spends it on infrastructure, much of which is unwisely spent.

Furthermore, a Chinese can emigrate to the US and take a job or start a company, but it's impossible for an American to go to China to do this, even if you live there and are married to a local. The difference in model completely reverses the effects of globalism on the US: It puts the US is in decline, while China experiences impressive growth.

And finally, the idea of "good for the country" in the minds of economists is based on the wealth of the corporations. The welfare of the citizenry is an afterthought in these models, as unemployment rate, and that only because of its effect on the corporations.

For these reasons, globalism is a terrible idea even though it's repeated by economists a lot, and even though their mathematics and analysis is correct.

That is my rationale, and the logical underpinnings of why that economic meme is wrong.

If you have a counter argument, I'd like to hear it... but just restating your position or saying "most economists agree" isn't a proper argument, and making an emotional appeal (which you've already done) isn't one either. (Also, insults don't count.)

To really sort this out, someone would have to model whether the unequal flow of wealth (or goods, or labour) from one country to another still makes globalism good for a country, and use "total wealth of citizens" as the metric.

As far as I know, no one has modelled these conditions.

(*) For example, we could be isolationist in military tech, keeping all the good secrets to ourselves.

Submission + - Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC? 1

MarkBrown151 writes: Russia, we are told, breached the servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), swiped emails and other documents, and released them to the public, to alter the outcome of the U.S. presidential election.

How substantial is the evidence backing these assertions?

Hired by the Democratic National Committee to investigate unusual network activity, the security firm Crowdstrike discovered two separate intrusions on DNC servers. Crowdstrike named the two intruders Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear, in an allusion to what it felt were Russian sources. According to Crowdstrike, “Their tradecraft is superb, operational security second to none,” and “both groups were constantly going back into the environment” to change code and methods and switch command and control channels..Source

Comment Random aspersions (Score 3, Informative) 271

Robert Graham explained it succinctly: .

The real story here is that Giuliani is now a goddamn cybersecurity advisor, not that this personal site is crap. The guy was hired not because of competence but because he spent the entire campaign kissing Trump's ass.

"Thus historian Vincent J. Cannato concluded in September 2006, "With time, Giuliani's legacy will be based on more than just 9/11. He left a city immeasurably better off — safer, more prosperous, more confident — than the one he had inherited eight years earlier, even with the smoldering ruins of the World Trade Center at its heart. Debates about his accomplishments will continue, but the significance of his mayoralty is hard to deny."

You might be correct, in that Giuliani was not hired because of competence, but you are completely incorrect implying that Giuliani is wholly without competance.

And once again, I have to ask: is [what you said] this important? Is *why* someone is hired more important than their competence?

And once again again, I have to ask: compared to what? Is hiring Giuliani any worse than the practices of the previous administration or the runner-up candidate?

For contrast, note that Bush appointed a crony as head of FEMA who completely fell on his face during Katrina, and Obama appointed Caroline Kennedy as ambassador to Japan, who was completely outmastered in our recent Japanese treaty negotiations(*).

Is it useful *at all* to just throw throws random aspersions around?

(*) Resulting in a treaty which is beneficial to Japan, but a very bad deal for America. I have no opinion about Ms. Kennedy, good or bad, only note that she was unqualified for the position, was apparently appointed because of her ties to a famous family dynasty, and America was worse off because of it.

Comment And spin is important? (Score 1) 184

Why should credit even matter?

Trump takes credit for everything that makes him look good even though he had nothing to do with it. He will constantly remind people that he is so awesome that he refers to himself in the third-person (i.e., "If Putin likes Donald Trump — guess what, folks, that's called an asset, not a liability."). It's going to be a long four years.

And that's important?

I think what's important is the reality, not the spin. The important bit from the article is that we get 100,000 more jobs.

I think you're focusing on the wrong goals.

And additionally, you're imagining a fantasy situation just so you can complain how bad that fantasy situation is.

But hey, fantasy simulation seems like it'll be the next big thing in VR.

Knock yourself out.

Comment And what's the point? (Score 2) 184

You can rest assured that this is one company that wont credit Trump in any way for these jobs.

But you can rest assured that Trump himself will try to claim some credit. That's just how he rolls.

I'm not sure why this matters.

Adding 100,000 domestic workers in the US seems like it's a good thing. It even seems quite likely that many (if not all) of these jobs could have been outsourced or performed in a foreign office, and Amazon itself says that these are "across the board" jobs, and not simply seasonal or fulfilment slave-labor.

And you should also admit that Trump is largely the source of the "hire local" climate, he's caused companies to rethink their outsourcing plans, especially in light of the alternative candidate who said explicitly that she wants completely open borders for job seekers.

But none of that matters. I don't think many people really care who takes the credit.

Is it important to you?

Help me out here.

Why should credit even matter?

Comment The internet disagrees with you (Score 3, Informative) 84

Look, a solar panel never makes in it's usable life the amount of energy it takes to produce, the same with wind power. Do the math with cost of production and construction. It NEVER works.

The internet disagrees with you. On both points.

Do you have links or other supporting information you can cite?

If not, consider changing your position.

Spreading these sorts of lies will only hurt our efforts to avoid a real and imminent crisis.

Slashdot Top Deals

"If Diet Coke did not exist it would have been neccessary to invent it." -- Karl Lehenbauer