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Comment Re: Well, damn (Score 3, Insightful) 335

The USA has been advertising itself as "The Land of the Free" for longer than anyone here has been alive. This marketing campaign has been very effective, allowing the USA to "brain-drain" most of the earth for generations. Other famous USA marketing slogans include:

"...with Liberty and Justice for All" in the USA Pledge of Allegiance.

"...your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free", inscribed on the Statue of Liberty.

"This Land is Your Land", from a popular folk song.

These slogans reflect long-held USA "core values", and make the USA appear more attractive to citizens of other countries. The resulting influx of immigrants has arguably made the USA a prosperous and powerful country:

IAAWAM (I Am A While American Male), and I believe it is in the long-term best interest of the USA to continue accepting immigrants of all colors. When, for the sake of expediency, the USA compromises its core values (e.g. immigration restrictions, tariffs, torture, religious discrimination, secret prisons, whatever), it sullies our international image, slowing immigration. Even if you ignore the "core values" stuff, overall, immigration has been a good business deal for the USA.

Comment Re:Holiday (Score 3, Insightful) 130

I agree, but this is very unlikely. The local streetlights (San Jose CA) are wired directly into the local power grid, without benefit of meters. The only switches are the light detectors on each streetlamp. There is no "off switch", anywhere.The city has a deal with the local power company (Pacific Gas & Electric); they pay a flat fee per month for all the streetlamps in the city.

Comment Re:Bogus argument (Score 3, Informative) 311

I used to work on GCC, and the randomness you describe would have made it impossible to find bugs.

GCC is deterministic. If you feed it the same input and launch it with the same options, it generates the same output. GCC developers would never tolerate random behavior.

Is it possible that you have address randomization turned on in your OS? I used to to use watchpoints & similar in the heap, and this would only work if randomization (ASLR/PAX) is disabled.

Comment Re:A clear example of how lobbying hurts everyone (Score 2) 375

Not quite.

The Federal EPA told CA "You're exceeding smog levels in some areas (e.g. Sacramento & Riverside County), so you must add oxygenate to your fuel."

CA objected, saying "Let us deal with our smog in our own way, and judge us by our results. We think we can do it without oxygenate." EPA (under W. Bush) said "No, our rules say you must add oxygenate, and we're not granting you any exceptions" basically as a favor to MTBE and Ethanol interests.

The original decades-old studies said adding oxygen to gasoline makes engines burn leaner. That's true, if your engine has a carburetor. Modern cars all have fuel injection with oxygen sensors in the exhaust; when the FI computer detects the lean mixture, it sprays in more gas, "fixing" the lean condition. Bottom line: slightly lower mileage, *no change* to smog, and a transfer of $$ from the consumer to the oxygenate producer.

CA refiners used MTBE because it was cheaper than Ethanol; Ethanol couldn't be shipped via existing petroleum pipelines, because it's hygroscopic (water loving). MTBE is also hygroscopic, but you need less of it to oxygenate gasoline.

So, CA refiners added MTBE, and the oxygenated gas leaked out of gas station tanks into the water table. It turns out that all underground gasoline tanks always leaked gasoline into the water table, but gas and water don't mix! This was never a problem, until MTBE got into it. Lots of aquifers (wells) were ruined this way; search for "Charnock MTBE" for a typical disaster.

The boating thing was because the existing two-cycle marine engines (outboards and personal watercraft) were grossly inefficient; at part throttle, about 1/3 of the gas you put into those engines blows through the engine without burning. And most pleasure watercraft emit their exhaust underwater. All that raw gasoline in the lake wasn't a problem because gas and water don't mix!... Until you add MTBE. Rain had nothing to do with it; the MTBE put in car engines was generally burned properly; car exhaust has only traces of MTBE left.

MTBE has never been proven to cause cancer. It's apparently very similar to several other chemicals that do, and it's widely believed to cause cancer, but nobody has funded the studies. The MTBE producers and gasoline refiners don't want to know. However, we do know that MTBE makes water taste like paint thinner.

CA never wanted to use MTBE or Ethanol. EPA relented on CA oxygenate right after W. left office. CA gasoline has been essentially MTBE-free since.


Comment Re:fiber in silicon valley? (Score 1) 80

I believe that the most of the Santa Clara Valley ("Silicon Valley") has legacy landline service from AT&T (formerly SBC, formerly PacBell). I think Los Gatos was served by GTE, and GTE is now part of Verizon, but I've never heard anything about FIOS in Los Gatos, or anywhere else in the Valley. FWIW, most of the AT&T DSL in the Valley is supplied by beige boxes on the sidewalks; every box is filled with DSL equipment, has a conspicuous power meter, and has an upstream fiber link. But AT&T has no plans to extend that fiber to any homes; you get DSL, served over a twisted pair.


Comment Re:Are they soft lenses? (Score 1) 98

RGP lenses don't hurt, after your eyes have become accustomed to them. Admittedly, the acclimatization is ... unpleasant. However, it can be done, and I've worn hard lenses for about thirty years. I've never tried soft lenses.

Perhaps you should try some rigid scleral lenses; they ride only on the sclera (white part) of your eye, and don't touch your eyeball lens at all. (Google for: scleral contact lens)

Comment Re:UVerse? (Score 1) 284

I don't think so. I get lots of junk mail touting UVerse, and on my existing DSL they claim to deliver

one HD video
two lower-def videos
6Mb/s broadband


IOW, the broadband throughput is kept separate from the video throughput. This is a farce; Uverse is all IP packets.

I've read elsewhere that modern DSL equipment on a short loop can handle approximately 20-25 Mb/s, but AT&T won't sell me that. The broadband component is capped to leave space for their video offerings.

Comment Re:Two sides (Score 1) 292

1) The government mandated "oxygenate," not MTBE. Ethanol also satisfied the mandate.

2) Gasoline has been leaking into the environment for decades; it wasn't a problem because gas and water don't mix. MTBE loves water, and they're very difficult to separate once mixed:

I'm not a chemist, but "5 years" sounds very optimistic to me.

3) Oxygenate (MTBE or Ethanol) is pointless because it doesn't lessen smog, when used in modern cars; the O2 sensor compensates, richening the mixture and lowering mileage, and the smog output doesn't change.


Comment Re:Apples and Oranges (Score 1) 272

Money is not the problem, accountability is.

Here in California, local property tax money is redistributed throughout the state. Often schools is poorer neighborhoods get more money per student than the schools in more affluent areas. Heck, in some districts teachers get paid more to teach in the under-achieving schools. Nothing has gotten better except the employment at schools.

No. While property taxes get handled by the state, most of that money stays local. Most of the state's income is from income taxes (that's why CA has such a divergent boom-and-bust budget). The difference is due to the variation in the price of real estate; here in the Silicon Valley, a house in East San Jose might cost $200K, while that same house in Palo Alto would be $1.5M. Yes, the school districts in poorer neighborhoods get some money from the state, and rich districts don't. That's because those rich districts are *much* richer than the other districts; a whole bunch of teachers in the not-so-rich districts were laid off last summer (including my kid's school). The state money doesn't come anywhere near to closing the district funding gap. gawbl

Comment Re:Empty Never Means Empty (Score 1) 199

This seems to be the "conventional wisdom," but I've never encountered anyone that had such a failure. I have several fuel-injected cars, and I've worn out a few fuel pumps, but mine always died of old age. Even if your gas tank really has a bunch of water, rust, and sand sloshing around the bottom, I believe that virtually all fuel pumps have an intake filter (or, at least, a screen) to keep that crud out.

Comment Parkinson's Law (Score 4, Interesting) 251

C. Northcote Parkinson described this in his landmark work "Parkinson's Law." He noticed that British bureaucracies were most effective when young, dynamic, focused, and invariably housed in makeshift quarters.

As these bureaucracies matured, they arranged better housing for themselves, and the completion of a grand edifice, complete with statuary, limousine parking, &etc. they had invariably achieved institutional senility, becoming utterly ineffective.

While dated, Parkinson's Law (1958) is still relevant today; it's simultaneously too funny to be true, yet too true to be dismissed as humor.


Comment Re:Nothing revolutinary? (Score 1) 570


The primary impetus was to cut down unburned hydrocarbons.

EPA is concerned only with results (e.g. smog), and not with means (e.g. how it's accomplished). The amount of raw gas blowing through an old-fashioned two-stroke is the major source of their smog. These engines have variable-ratio oiling systems, but typically run at 50:1. Oil is not the issue.

Google "Mercury Optimax" or "Evinrude Ficht"; they're both direct-injection schemes. Those engines still burn oil, but they never burned very much, and they don't premix the oil and gasoline.

Google "OMC VRO" to see a typical oil-injection scheme.


Comment Re:Nothing revolutinary? (Score 1) 570

Actually, I don't think EPA is worried about two-stroke lubricants.

When EPA began regulating two-stroke outboards, the outboards went to direct injection; see Mercury's OptiMax and Evinrude's Ficht. The oiling systems didn't change appreciably.

It appears the problem with classic two-strokes is the quantity of raw fuel that blows through the cylinder and out the exhaust port, without experiencing compression or ignition of any kind.


Comment Amanda Brownell (Score 2, Informative) 709

Amanda Brownell is an ex-classmate of my kids here in San Jose, California. In December 2008, Amanda attempted suicide at school. I understand there were texts left on Amanda's cell phone that suggested she had been bullied. Her family apparently had no idea this was happening.

Today, Amanda lives in a nursing home, and is fed by a tube. You can read her story here:

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