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Comment Re:Same tired argument from government bureaucrats (Score 5, Insightful) 296

How is this Insightful? How about -1 Trite. Is it that hard to believe that government can and does provide useful services, especially those that have such a long time horizon and capital investment that the market will not provide them? Is it also that hard to understand that these valuable programs and the people who run them (at a huge discount relative to the private sector) suffer under the vagaries of political brinksmanship?

Submission + - Evolution, then Climate, now Physics

lumbricus writes: First, they came for evolution [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scopes_Trial], then for Climate [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climategate], now the anti-science forces are coming for Physics with an attack on Relativity [http://conservapedia.com/Theory_of_relativity] (and be sure to check out the "Counterexamples to Relativity" [http://conservapedia.com/Counterexamples_to_Relativity]).

A sample quote:

"The theory of relativity is a mathematical system that allows no exceptions. It is heavily promoted by liberals who like its encouragement of relativism and its tendency to mislead people in how they view the world."

At this rate, it's only a matter of time before they come after arithmetic.

Comment Re:re Increase or decline? (Score 1) 746

It's been http://politics.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1451926&cid=30176822said before but maybe it has to be said again:

No doubt, instances of cherry-picked and poorly-worded "gotcha" phrases will be pulled out of context. One example is worth mentioning quickly. Phil Jones in discussing the presentation of temperature reconstructions stated that "I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline." The paper in question is the Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998) Nature paper on the original multiproxy temperature reconstruction, and the 'trick' is just to plot the instrumental records along with reconstruction so that the context of the recent warming is clear. Scientists often use the term "trick" to refer to a "a good way to deal with a problem", rather than something that is "secret", and so there is nothing problematic in this at all. As for the 'decline', it is well known that Keith Briffa's maximum latewood tree ring density proxy diverges from the temperature records after 1960 (this is more commonly known as the "divergence problem"-see e.g. the recent discussion in this paper) and has been discussed in the literature since Briffa et al in Nature in 1998 (Nature, 391, 678-682). Those authors have always recommend not using the post 1960 part of their reconstruction, and so while 'hiding' is probably a poor choice of words (since it is 'hidden' in plain sight), not using the data in the plot is completely appropriate, as is further research to understand why this happens.

Comment wow, this brings back a lot of memories... (Score 1) 509

Reading this headline brought a quick rush of angry memories and a tinge of guilty satisfaction.

Guilty because of course I know not every, or even most employees behave in the manner of the following story. I'm sure many of them are decent, honest people.

In any case I had many terrible experiences at CompUSA, including what I would consider to be the greatest insult I ever received in a retail situation.

In undergrad (around 1999) I went to the Emeryville, CA CompUSA to pick up a flat-screen CRT (remember when those were cool?) that was on sale for a reasonable price.
Of course when I got there, there were none within reach, so I had to go ask a salesman to pull one down off the storage shelves above the displays. Now, in order to appreciate what comes next, I should say that I'm a pretty nice little asian guy, bordering on appearing naive.
I was all around the store, and finally find the entire sales staff apparently having a little BS-ing time between two isles. The conversation quiets as I approach:

"Hi, I'm looking for this monitor (I point to the ad), but they're up above the display, could someone pull one down for me?"

"Sure, I'd be happy to"... all smiles at me.
Then, in full voice, right in front of me, that salesman turns to his buddies and says:
"Service plan?"
His buddies, wearing the biggest shit-eating grins, look up up and down for a second and respond:
"Service plan" says one...
"Service plan" says the other...

I was so dumbfounded that all three of them would just stand there and smile and literally call me "sucker" right to my face, I didn't respond.

I was pissed. Seeing red, clenched fists pissed. But I still wanted the monitor, so I figured I would have the last laugh after letting the guy pull the monitor and carry it up to he cashier before telling him politely, "NO".

So he pulls it down, we start walking up the the cashier, and I don't say a word, waiting for him to start giving his pitch. Halfway to the cashier, he mumbles:

"you know, we have this protection plan, it's really great..."
I quietly respond: "uh-huh?"

That's it, not another word. We get to the cashier, the salesman puts the monitor on the conveyor, and shouts to the cashier (who's dealing with customers ahead of me):
"Protection plan!"

Was that it?!! Were they really going to charge me for a protection plan without actually ASKING ME if I wanted it?

You can imagine what happens after that. The Cashier rings me up, and as the numbers flash by I ask: "What's this $45 ($45!!!) charge?"

"That's the protection plan you wanted"

"Take it off, I don't want it, he never asked me if I wanted it, and I never said I wanted it."

"but he said..."

"I don't care what he said"

"but I can't"

"are you saying you won't sell me this item at the advertised price without a $50 surcharge?" I had never nor since raised my voice at a service person, but I was going up involuntarily, and just enough so that when I turned my head in frustration, I noticed that I had the attention of everyone in line.

At that point the cashier noticed this also, and quickly removed the charge.
I had been looking forward to this monitor for a while, so I took it home, but I couldn't shake the anger I felt when I looked at it. By evening, I got so sick of it I brought it back. (I also don't return stuff).

Just remembering the event almost ten years later, my hands are shaking.

Bah! I don't feel guilty any more.

Dear CompUSA: Suck failure assholes.

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Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato