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Comment Re:Acidifies soils (Score 4, Informative) 180

Yes, the soil acidification would be a downside. Alternatives to ammonium nitrate already exist, but they all have downsides. Ammonium sulphate is one example. One downside of ammonium sulphate is that it's inappropriate to use on crops which don't tolerate acid soil -- the same downside as the formula referenced in the article. We aren't all growing acid loving rhododendrons. Urea is another common alternative. It's an organic fertilizer which requires microbial action (in situ) before becoming bio-available. It's slow release which can be desirable for some management techniques but often farmers fertilize just weeks before planting. Quick release ammonium nitrate is generally preferable in that situation. Finally anhydrous ammonia is available. While not practical for the homeowner and subject to significant regulation due to its high potential for diversion for the illicit manufacture of methamphetamine, it's hardly ideal. Ammonium nitrate really is the silver bullet when it comes to quick release and cheap nitrogen for agricultural use. It would be great if farmers were concerned about the long term quality of their soils and we adopted farming techniques which reflected this. Unfortunately, this isn't the way it works, and for a farmer who needs nitrogen NOW for THIS YEAR'S crop, ammonium nitrate is an excellent solution.

Comment Re:Interesting contradiction (Score 1) 218

Of course, your definition of "stabilized" will likely be much different from that of the hospital before they kick you to the door here. You can forget getting cured of whatever caused your critical condition unless getting you stabilized cures you.

The American health care system would run out of patient to treat if we actually cured people! How would they stay in business?! Yes, yes... I'm just trolling...

Comment Re:Interesting contradiction (Score 1) 218

Obviously you can't cut people off just because they don't pay taxes, because that would cut off a lot of the poor from healthcare.

Sure you can. Here in the US, unless you are in the military, work for the government, or are retired on Social Security, everyone is cut off from government financed health care. If you can pay for it, great. If you can't, when your health gets bad enough, just call 911 and an ambulance will come pick you up and you'll be treated until you are stabilized. Works great!

Comment Re:Spying? Really? (Score 4, Informative) 162

So if I was there as a tourist, would I get arrested?

Or is somehow putting your island into a video game now sedition or something?

TFA is pretty slim, but I'm having a hard time imagine what law was broken.

This shouldn't be all that surprising. I'm not familiar with Greek law but in the US one can only be certain that photographing a military installation is legal if one has written authorization from the base commander. See here. Speaking from personal experience, if one were to stop on US Route 2 heading through North Dakota, photograph one of the Minuteman nuclear missile launch facilities just a few yards off the road, a visit from Minot Airforce Base security is quite likely. Again, speaking from personal experience, these security personnel have brand new shiny M-4s (not those beat up ones from the sandbox) and a .30 cal machine gun mounted on their HUMVEE. If one were to continue photographing, this is once again from personal experience, they will call the sheriff's deputy (who happens to be a serious hottie) and she will threaten arrest for disorderly conduct.

My guess is that the Minuteman launch facilities are considered off limits. They have signs which say "Restricted Area" and federal statute considers these areas off limits in terms of photography. According to statute, it seems that even photographing these area from a distance, such as while standing on a publicly traveled way such as US Route 2, is likely prohibited. The signs on the nuclear launch facilities say they will shoot you if you actually climb the fence. There are hundreds of these facilities across northwest North Dakota. It seems to me that the sheer number of launch facilities would make it difficult for a tourist to photographically document their vacation to beautiful North Dakota.

I don't see why it's surprising that other countries have similar laws in place

Comment Re:States with no sales tax (Score 1) 259

There are efforts to monitor state border of New Hampshire (no sales tax) for anyone trying to buy anything major (cars, electronics, etc.) and take it across the border

Regarding vehicles, in the states I've lived in, if you bring in a car from out of state you have to prove you have owned it for a relatively long period of time (say 12 months). Otherwise, they collect state sales tax when the vehicle is registered/licensed.

Comment Re:Jerks (Score 1) 259

FWIW when you purchase stuff out of state in California you use the "use tax" line on the state form to add up your taxes and pay those unpaid ones at the end of the year.

We have a similar use tax here in Maine and when I lived in Washington State we had use tax there. In both cases, tax due can be calculated based on the actual amount of out of state purchase or the tax payer can elect to pay a calculated amount based on income -- essentially an amnesty payment. I've always opted for the amnesty option because it's very difficult to get an accurate total of out of state purchases. As states move toward collecting sales tax on out of state purchases, those of us who also pay use tax will be getting taxed twice. The honest people are going to get screwed if states don't simultaneously eliminate the collection of use tax.

Comment Re:And yet. (Score 4, Interesting) 173

How does that happen? Why do people stop using their land for farming? Do they just keep it to have a nice place to spend a weekend? Or is the land so cheap that they don't actually worry about paying property taxes?

I can't speak for the midwest but in New England there were once a lot of fairly small farms. If a house comes with an additional 5-50 acres of property, at $1000 an acre for rural land, it may not add a great deal to the cost of the house. If it's wetland, and therefore difficult to develop or harvest timber from, around here it might go for $500 an acre. Many people with a few tens of acres in this area are engaged in small scale timber harvesting so having the extra land isn't necessarily a financial burden.

As far as taxes, some people will place "the back 40" in to tree growth. State law here allows a landowner to develop a timber harvest plan and get a significant reduction on property tax. In unincorporated parts of the state, I've heard this amounts to $1/acre per year in total tax. I don't know how much of a tax rebate individuals get inside an incorporated town but it is very significant. A number of communities have been complaining about the state mandated tax abatement program and urging reforms because of abuse. For example, owners of waterfront property have been known to place the land into tree growth even though they couldn't possibly harvest the timber due it's close proximity to water -- environmental laws. Of course, this is some of the more expensive property as well.

When I lived outside Seattle I heard of tax abatement programs for landowners who use their property for agricultural uses. Some of the requirements were pretty minimal. We had neighbors who stabled horses or bread a horse per year specifically so they could receive abatements which were only available for land used for agriculture. Property taxes were quite high there so I can certainly see the appeal of working the system.

Comment Re:And yet. (Score 2) 173

something i noticed while looking for some land to buy, the only trees the usa has left in any large areas is in national and state parks.

That's not entirely true. I live in Maine. Indeed, it was pretty much clear cut a century ago. At that time, it was only about 20% forested. We simply cleared much of the land in order to farm. Over the last 100 years, we have moved away from agriculture and the state is now about 90% forested. Very little land here is actually in the hands of the feds or the state. In fact, about 2/3 of the land area is owned as large parcels (millions of acres) by private timber companies.

Many other parts of the country have similar stories. Trees were clear cut a century ago. As areas moved away from an agricultural economy, reforestation occurred. A great deal of the land in the central part of the US, which is now used for agriculture, has not been heavily forested in centuries. The trees weren't cut down -- there just weren't many to begin with.

Comment Re:Good Luck I Am NOT North American! (Score 1) 451

Is it so hard to see that no other country in the whole world has so many security issues?

You may misunderstand the EAS. While the EAS (and the old EBS) have a theoretical role in national defense, the few times I've actually seen it activated have never involved a security issue. In fact, this test is the first time EVER that the EAS has been used nationally -- though I've heard stories of national EBS (the predecessor) activations decades ago. The few times I've seen EAS activated it has been on a local level to announce extremely unusual severe weather events that pose an imminent threat to life -- hurricanes and tornadoes. It's an easy method to reach a large number of people in a very short period of time.

Comment EAS Shows Linux Login Prompt (Score 2) 451

Time Warner analog broadcast the alert about a minute after it completed on our local NPR affiliates. For about 5 seconds before the alert the TV displayed a Linux command prompt at login. I used to see this screen appear late at night occasionally when using the set top box on the other TV. The set top box would display "EAS" instead of a channel number and a login screen would be displayed for a couple minutes. There was some sort of identifiable brand name on the login screen and at one time I looked it up on google. Sure enough, it's a company that sells computer hardware and software for interfacing with EAS -- apparently linux based. Just kind of interesting.

Comment Re:Trouble With Social Security?!? (Score 1) 698

Technically true

Why do you feel the need to qualify this? Is technically true somehow less than just true?

It holds debt: It's invested in Treasuries.

Yes, as I explained above, the Social Security trust fund has been lent to pay for other underfunded programs. People who say there is a problem with Social Security funding have it all wrong. The problems is with all of the other underfunded programs -- not with Social Security. It's misdirection.

Comment Trouble With Social Security?!? (Score 5, Insightful) 698

This is one of the biggest reasons why social security is in trouble.

This is so wrong! You have bought into the shell game and misdirection that so many politicians have been leading. The Social Security trust fund holds over $2.5 trillion. Most of this has been lent to other under funded government projects. That's the problem. We don't want to pay back the the money we borrowed from the Social Security system and instead say the system is broken. It isn't. The systems is fully self funded. We've just been treating the huge Social Security surpluses as a giant piggy bank for so long that we find it easier to say Social Security is broken than pay back the money we stole!

Comment Stick with ME and wait for Grad School (Score 3, Insightful) 296

Just stick with ME. Instead of spreading yourself thin with a double major, take advantage of other opportunities to gain experience in your field. Take part in club or engineering competitions. Find a professor who does interesting engineering research and get a position in his or her lab. There is WAY more to school than just classes and most students don't take advantage of all there is to do. These activities outside your class will get you face to face with people who will serve as future career contacts. If you really want more education, wait for grad school.

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