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Comment Act of Piracy (Score 1) 406

Treat it like an act of piracy and let the hammer drop. Time to make an example that gets the message across once and for all, for other wannabe third-world nations: mess with the United States at your own peril. Hunt down and destroy the ship, capture its crew to face piracy charges in the U.S., and dispatch a carrier group to turn its home port into a pile of rubble.

Comment Re: Thanks to (Score 2) 637

You have to keep in mind too that the way the electoral college works today is the democrats start with 86 electoral votes for NY and CA. These are awarded the minute the polls close; no count necessary. They don't need to campaign in these states, nor is it meaningful for republicans or anyone else to do so. The actual election is for the remaining 452 electoral votes, of which the democrats need 184 and anyone else would need 270. This is a tremendous advantage - why would they want to give this up despite a chance of losing the popular vote? In CA conservatives tend to live in the central valley and the northern parts of the state where voting means getting in your car and driving to the poll booth. Why would they, other than to vote for state initiatives? Their reps usually win with a wide majority anyway. As a result, conservative voter participation in CA and NY is relatively low. The democratic presidential candidate usually walks away with a 65-35% popular vote.

One doesn't have to be a genius to understand why the democrats haven't been in a hurry to abolish this system - it's massively rigged in their favor. No red state, such as GA or TX, comes close - republicans actually have to campaign there. As a result, the largest state collects a huge number of democratic popular votes, perhaps out of proportion to the electoral college votes, and hence tends to skew the national popular vote. Democrats, because of the CA-NY hegemony risk losing the popular vote exactly because of the electoral college advantage. In their mind, this is obviously an acceptable risk, because the elections are about electoral votes, not the popular vote, and why would they give up their advantage?!

Switch to a popular vote and you'd see campaigning in CA and 65-35 would quickly turn into 55-45 or even 53-47. A 30% margin would drop to a 10% or 6% margin. A 6% margin is still very dominant, but it's not comparable to the electoral college advantage they sit on today. I'm all for doing this, because a voting system where millions of votes, be they conservative rural californians or urban east coast minorities, are discouraged from voting is a structural wrong that should be fixed. However, I think it would make it significantly harder for democrats to win the presidential election, not easier. To bill it as making it easier would just be dishonest. Crassly speaking it's not in their interest to abolish the electoral college in favor of a simple popular vote count.

Comment Re:Will they be crediting the losses as well? (Score 1) 203

They will likely require reporting of capital gains or loss. Either way the IRS requires it to be reported and as far as I can tell reporting capital loss isn't optional. There's no lower limit, like with hobby income or such, so if you lost 10 cents net on trading BC you have to pony up for the CPA to supplement your filing for that year to report your capital loss. And yes, given the general trend of BC there will be more losses than gains reported, and the IRS will end up refunding more than it collects. I don't think it's overly concerned with this though - like any part of the federal government it's an anal-retentive law and regulations enforcer.

Comment Re:I wouldn't work there. (Score 1) 392

Working for any big organization if you get in the wrong unit, with the wrong set of managers you job is hell. If you get in the right spot, your job may be great, until that manager moves to a different unit.

Yeah, we find another job and then tender our resignation, we don't go leap off a 12 story building. Worst case we quit and then find another job; if we haven't saved up to do so we suck it up and jump through the hoops until we can leave. To go leap off a building because you didn't get a transfer is IMO a strong indicator of serious mental illness - which is likely why the person got put on an improvement program. The main problem isn't so much recognizing there's something wrong with this individual but rather there's no reasonable path from listening to someone crazy rant to getting a 5150 (or in this case WA's equivalent to the CA 5150).

Comment Re:Sounds fine (Score 1) 93

Russia needs to work on its economy and lower unemployment, increase wages and improving the quality of life of all their citizens. Space activities, admirable as they are, should be lower in priority

Keep in mind many of those missions are paid for by the U.S. and Europe to supply the ISS. Russia gets to tag along (space cred) and maintain its space industry which wouldn't exist otherwise; Russia is a middle-income country with about 10% the GDP of the U.S. or the EU, or about half that of Germany or the U.K. and as you point out it's would be a ludicrous waste of resources for such a small economy in need of growth to first-world tier to launch that many missions.

Comment Re:interesting though stupid comment (Score 1) 784

They shouldn't, but someone should have the power to exercise the "for no reason or any reason" bit.

This would violate constitutional requirements of equality before the law. If the law applies to me it applies to you, too. It's not someone's judgement call that it should be applied to me but not you.

Comment Re:Collusion (Score 2) 784

I like "the war on diginity" because it better encompasses the kafka-esque nature of the unthinking and unyielding bureaucracy that produces this sort of result.

Yes, but it's probably better than the alternative - a thinking, opinionated bureaucracy. That's just one step shy of fascism, because once it can make decisions individuals will be empowered, and they will soon structure around the exercise of power. A bureaucracy permitted to think is prone to fascism and corruption.

Comment Re:very understandable (Score 3, Informative) 784

I think you got it backwards; it's the right wing which associates what it considers vague wu-wu diagnoses of mental illness a way for a potentially tyrannical government to deny them rights. Like the right to bear arms. It's generally liberals and lefties who want to limit such rights, and if they can't get enough traction to limit them for everyone they'll settle for what they might consider a dangerous subset. The former is clearly a more theoretical concern as we don't have a tyrannical government (in fact it's pretty damn benign, obsessed with rule of law, not dictatorial), while I think the latter is a bit naive. Clearly once made law to be enforced it will include some number of people not originally envisioned. And I think this is more what we're seeing here, so I don't think we can really blame the right wing on this one.

Comment Re:Umm, what? (Score 1, Flamebait) 784

What sort of insane logic is at work here?

The U.S. is a country ruled by law, and the federal government is an anal-retentive regulatory machine. There is probably a rule somewhere that says entry is to be denied for the mentally ill, and that depression is a mental illness. It's not up to whoever stamps passports at entry to decide or make personal judgements - if the rules say the person can't enter, then they can't enter. This is no different than any other rules applied - be it corporate accounting, environmental protection, labor laws, etc; it doesn't matter how ridiculous it may seem on the ground, the rules will be enforced.

This is exactly why it's the only government in the world I'd trust to obey the law. It's also exactly why it's incapable of even building modest insurance retail site for less than half a billion dollars - because its regulatory system isn't compatible with the need of reality.

Once something is made law it's no longer in the domain of common sense and judgement. Laws are binary; either you're in compliance or you're not.

Comment Re:thats silly (Score 1) 215

For a lot of low-bandwidth work with I/O controllers (like I2C buses, SPI peripherals running at low clock, etc) - get a BitScope. I have a network attached one and it's very convenient and inexpensive. They have a way of doing plugins, so it should be possible for instance to do a plugin to decode captures of I2C. The nice thing is it sits right on a desktop display, next to the ICE/JTAG debugger so you can easily monitor signals in parallel with watching board console output (for instance).

Comment Re:thats silly (Score 5, Insightful) 215

Obviously, anyone designing electronics and building prototypes needs a scope. How else would you know what the ground plane looks like? Clean or noisy? Even a cheap 20-40MHz scope will show dirty signals as "fussy", and will allow identification of beat patters and cyclic issues... I suspect the OP doesn't actually do any board design, because if he did he'd be using his scopes and spending big bucks on really good ones.

Comment Re:National Interest? (Score 1) 382

Even during its worst, CA had only a $25bn deficit. While this sounds enormous relative to the size of the state budget, note that CA provides $53bn more in federal taxes annually than it receives. And that's just the net difference! The federal government is enormously expensive for what it does! A web site for, what, $400M? And that was on the cheap! It's more than FaceBook spent in total for the first six years of its existence. The federal government is the only government in the world I'd trust to obey laws (or punish people when they break it), follow regulations to the letter, and enforce them. But what makes it so anal-retentive about those things is exactly what makes it unsuited to actually produce anything. The things it's cost-effective on it gets done by handing money to states to go do it (like it has Caltrans manage maintenance of the CA portion of the interstate system by handing it cash; Caltrans actually works very well for a government organization).

Comment Re:How hard can that possibly be? (Score 1) 663

Consequently, it's impossible to have an opinion on this test without knowing who it's aimed at, what their curriculum looks like, and what percentage is expected to be able to answer it. What would be the point of a test that has no difficult section that pushes the limits and only a few percent are expected to be able to answer correctly? It's also not clear how the grading is done, for instance if a wrong answer yields -1/2 point to discourage guessing (whereas "don't know" is the neutral answer); on a 4-way this means a random guess has negative expectation, whereas being certain of the wrong answer isn't too detrimental (but still not reflected as something positive, since it isn't). Tests with difficult questions and grading which penalizes guessing will quickly teach students not to jump to conclusions, to evaluate the certainty of knowledge (hmm, how do I know this? is it true?), and other good habits. Hence, the tests themselves are part of the training.

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