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Comment Re:Oil and internal combustion are not the problem (Score 2) 181

More accurately, as we increase our use of renewables, this will satisfy an increasing amount of our consumption. And as other posters have indicated, traditional methods of treating sewage release lots of greenhouse gases anyway. I do have to question how much energy comes out of this vs. all the energy that gets put in by both the conversion process and the refining process.

Maybe this will satisfy the needs for petroleum-based lubricants when most of our fuel needs are met by other methods.

Comment Re:Who would have guessed? (Score 1) 252

Well the flip side of "you didn't pay us to do x" is that government contracts don't allow substitutions and providing services free of charge can be viewed as a form of "false statement" or even bribery -- you're supposed to document the exact work you perform and bill for it accordingly.

Comment Re:Who would have guessed? (Score 2) 252

Keep in mind: small to medium companies are also terrible at maintaining security patch levels. This isn't just an issue with government contracts and fortune 500 companies. If you look at the headline breaches and vulnerability disclosures over the past few years, most of those were under internal IT departments even if the breach came in from another source. And how does a corporate IT department/contractor fix a vulnerability on a device where the manufacturer hasn't issued a patch and all comparable products have similar issues? Think security cameras for example.

Regarding government contractors, my theory is that all of the contractors are equally bad. You can get horror stories about IBM, Accenture, CSC, and all of them.

The other factor is the state budgeting and hiring processes are not geared toward hiring large IT departments..No state has a large internal IT department to serve the entire state. Each administrative area has its own IT department. The same applies at the federal level. These agency IT departments could be permanently staffed for maintenance, but no legislature is going to fund enough IT personnel on a permanent basis for project work -- once a project is done you have all these extra employees sitting around, and they can't be fired except for cause.

Two ways out of this: Modify state hiring laws to allow term contracts of x months or y years so that government IT departments can directly handle project work with temporary hires. Also consolidate agency IT departments to a statewide department of IT services. That would give many of the benefits of contracting and centralized management, without the overhead of procurement, corporate profits etc.

The difficulty is that there are many interest groups who would oppose both of these initiatives. Government workers would oppose the term hiring provisions and agency heads would oppose having their IT departments pulled from their direct administration.

Comment Re: Cue the idiots (Score 1) 159

Well the Republicans do have a history of this. The reason almost all scandals nowadays have "-gate" appended to them (for example Deflate-gate) is because of the original Watergate scandal. That's when staffers in the Nixon Whitehouse hired burglars to break into the DNC offices in the Watergate office complex during the 1972 presidential campaign.

Ironically, many of the other activities considered.scandalous at the time now seem routine: the use of the FBI and IRS to harass or entrap political dissidents was a big deal back then during the investigation.

Comment Government or hired? (Score 1) 159

I don't think Vlad P is _that_ invested in having Trump win. If he is, Trump's ties to him go deeper than mere admiration.

More likely is that someone else has hired the hackers. Those super PACs need to spend their money somewhere.

But I'd say the most likely scenario is that the Republicans have been hacked too, but their security is so crap they haven't even realized it.

Comment Re:loyalty is a two-way street (Score 0) 765

Flip the question around: Is it ok to lay people off without paying severance? (Or by playing games like low-ball job "offers" that force you to quit and lose severance.)

Considering the games that HR departments play, costing workers millions of dollars in compensation, quitting without notice is trivial by comparison.

Comment Re:WTF? (Score 1) 760

From where I stand, paying 6-7% on everything I buy constitutes "paying taxes". So I'm not sure where you get the idea that the poor don't pay taxes.

The power to define the tax rules is vested in Congress, so government can put whatever conditions it wants on benefits to the poor, AND it can put whatever conditions it wants on tax deductions. It could even put the SAME conditions on benefits and tax deductions. It's all a question of what congress is willing to enact. Fortunately for all of the folks who think a drug-testing requirement for tax deductions is government overreach, a majority in Congress feels the same way.

Comment Re: WTF? (Score 1) 760

Equality of opportunity cannot exist without redistributing wealth. Equality of opportunity is basically a meritocracy - people advance according to their own skills and ability. But it has already been demonstrated that Meritocracy inevitably devolves into oligarchy -- people rise to power, wealth and/or fame based on their merits, but unless you redistribute that wealth, power, or fame, their children have a disruptive advantage. This is plainly seen in the way we talk about the Kennedys the Bushes and the Clintons as "dynasties". Do you think the more recent generations of Kennedys and Bushes would have attained office and name recognition without the power built up by their parents and grandparents? And once attaining power, people use that power to reduce equality of opportunity. In court, the person who can afford the best lawyer (or the most lawyers) is much more likely to win, regardless of the merits. Rich donors get personal appointments with government officials, Joe Blow gets a glimpse of Donald or Hillary at a political rally.

These advantages extend to the corporate world as well. The reason Comcast and AT&T are able to succeed despite their crappy service and high cost structure is because they've used their wealth and power to establish a regulatory climate where opportunity is NOT equal in the ISP market.

Comment Re:WTF? (Score 2) 760

Deductions aren't gifts... correct. They are money you never owed...incorrect. They are adjustments the government allows you to make to your taxable income based on certain qualifying conditions. One reason the tax code is so complicated is that many deductions have really arcane formulas for the qualifying conditions.

So the bottom line is that the government can apply any condition it wants for eligibility for a deduction, just as it can apply any condition it wants to be eligible for benefit. There is nothing unfair about it. The rules for the deductions have to be approved by congress. If they want a deduction to only apply to rat-catchers in cities with 50,000 population, that can be a rule.. . . Or a "clean living" requirement for certain deductions that says you only get them if you haven't been convicted of a felony and can pass a drug test.

Rather than make this a class war, a smart way to do it would just be to say you don't qualify for any itemized deductions regardless of income level if you don't pass the "clean living" standard. You can still take the standard deduction for yourself and dependents, and maybe the child tax credit, but that would be it.

Comment Re:If not now... (Score 1) 1023

Yeah, if nothing else, the automation of McDonald's may serve to properly change the focus from "foreign workers are stealing our jobs" to "robots are taking our jobs". The historic arguments that new jobs will come along may not be relevant. Yes some new jobs like robot tech will be created, but either the job will be so simple that another robot can do it, or it will be so complex that entry level workers and long-term unskilled workers won't be able to perform the work. The key difference now is that the robots are reaching the point where they can permanently displace many or even most forms of unskilled labor and there is a large portion of the unskilled labor class that simply don't have the learning capacity to progress out of that trap.

A basic income law would be one answer - it would allow unskilled labor to survive while retraining full time or just to survive in the face of inability to learn new skills. But if you look at the historic antipathy in the U.S. to any kind of a taxpayer-funded handout even with stringent eligibility requirements, you can see that a basic income is going to be a loooonng, 20-30 year debate with the laissez-faire capitalists and IP rent-seekers screaming "illegal taking" every step of the way.

And then there's the question of how to fund such a program. A tax, or elimination of depreciation, on robots and other autonomous capital equipment might help, but probably wouldn't cover. It would also probably spark a move toward leasing robots.

Eventually, we'll reach a point where the social costs of a large "unproductive" and "unemployable" class will force some really hard decisions. I think that very long-term, either the US socio-economic system will be forced into democratic socialism with state ownership of sufficient property and industry to fund basic income or pseudo-productive employment, or there will be a violent revolution to outlaw AI in all forms, as in the Butlerian Jihad back-story of "Dune". (And yes, all you surveilling governments out there, this is how you use "jihad" in a sentence without being a terrorist.)

Comment Re:KATAMARI DAMACY 2017 MODEL (Score 1) 203

Katamari Damacy...Sounds like prior art to me...call the lawyers!

And if not Katamari, I'm pretty sure Tom & Jerry cartoons portrayed the concept of plastering pedestrians to the hood of your car decades ago.

On a more practical note, how does the coating distinguish between pedestrians and road dirt? Or is there a hidden "razor blade" cost here that you have to refresh the coating every month or so? Additional accident liability if you didn't wash your car and the pedestrian failed to stick?

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