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Fascinating Rosetta Image Captures Philae's Comet Bounce

jfengel Re:"...moving east." (69 comments)

Well, yeah. The comet rotates. The direction of its rotation is east. It's as good a coordinate system as any.

about a week ago
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Military Laser/Radio Tech Proposed As Alternative To Laying Costly Fiber Cable

jfengel Re:The Old is New again (150 comments)

Huh. I never knew that.

Well, now that's a brain cell that I'm never getting back. Now if I can just remember to call the MCI Center the "Verizon Center".

about a week ago
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Big Talk About Small Samples

jfengel Re:I don't get the hate. (243 comments)

It may be that it's JUST him. No other contributors get that kind of preferred place, not even people who participate in the community. It's kind of galling to see his name pop up every couple of weeks, and everybody instantly knows that the comments are going to be primarily about just how bad the contribution is, simultaneously wordy and wrong.

Perhaps if Slashdot spread it around a bit more, it might aggravate less. Instead, it's one of a mere two dozen or so stories posted per day. Few of them will be really engaging, but here's one that we know for a fact will be "thought provoking" only in the sense that people will have to explain why his "novel" idea is novel because it's bad. Nobody else's novelties get that kind of pride of place, on a web site that used to be known for driving so much traffic it could crash a small server.

about a week ago
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Senate May Vote On NSA Reform As Soon As Next Week

jfengel Re:Not a solution (127 comments)

Exactly. The NSA was never supposed to be doing that. They took advantage of technological changes and played semantic games that justified all kinds of shenanigans that was at best barely within the letter of the law, and at worst completely subverted the oversight.

So, a new law was called for. Ideally, it would update the NSA's mission to the age of Internets and cell phones, and put in oversight to at least put an end to the previous excesses (though they'll surely find new ones).

Whether this law actually does that... hell, when was the last time we passed any kind of law about anything? If Harry Reid is for it, I'm sure the Republicans will filibuster it, and if somehow Harry Reid and Republicans are on the same side it would only be because the bill doesn't actually say anything at all.

about two weeks ago
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US Weather System and Satellite Network Hacked

jfengel Re:LOL (76 comments)

Well... while there sure as hell is a problem of China's state-operated hacking, it's not going away any time soon. We're not going to war over it (either physically or economically) and any treaty we signed to deal with it wouldn't be worth the paper it's written on. While I'd love to see the Chinese at least commit to removing the line item in their budget that says, "30 gazillion yuan for breaking into American computers", they'd surely just rename it and the actual hackers would do no more than change the project number on their time cards.

So yeah, you have to harden your web sites, and start thinking about our protocols in ways designed to make it easy to recognize and divert hackers, because the hackers aren't going away. We can blame them all we like, and be right, but that and $2.99 will get you a tall latte.

about two weeks ago
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U.S. and China Make Landmark Climate Deal

jfengel Re:Mitch McConnell pulls a Boehner (285 comments)

Ha. Thanks. There was so much bad news from SCOTUS this year that I missed the bit with the EPA.

It still seems like a dicey thing for China to gamble on having the US fulfill its commitments. Unlike them, we're going to swap out our executive branch in two years, and there's a nearly 50-50 chance it'll be a member of the party of Ted Cruz and James Inhofe. Anything Obama does by executive action can be undone by executive action. That President would still have a hard time passing legislation, since 2016 will be voting out some of the Republican wave of 2010 just as 2014 voted out some of the Democratic wave of 2008, and even if they don't, the filibuster busts both ways.

Still, I don't know if China has any good reason to trust us on this.

about two weeks ago
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Denmark Faces a Tricky Transition To 100 Percent Renewable Energy

jfengel Re:Home storage (485 comments)

I would have thought you could do it for less, since you don't have to haul the batteries around like you do in a car. Weight and volume are much smaller considerations. Any idea what it would cost for, say, a lead-acid battery?

And even at that, US$25,000 isn't all that much compared to the price of a house. The median home price in the US is $313k as of September (and that's down from $350k the previous month). It's not negligible, but it's small, and can be folded into the mortgage. It adds $70 a month to the mortgage payment (not counting the interest costs), and that's offsetting part of an electric bill that averages over $300/month.

(Speaking of which... sheesh. I pay less than $100 most months. I must be doing something right.)

about two weeks ago
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Internet Sales Tax Bill Dead In Congress

jfengel Re:Ok, they got ONE right... (257 comments)

This is very much a stopped-clock kind of "right". It's Congress doing nothing, by default, as per usual. Even if the bill were a good idea, there's no chance of it getting serious consideration. It's always in somebody's best interest to make sure something doesn't happen, and it's just not hard to find people to support you on that.

The only way to pass legislation now requires half the House PLUS 60% of the Senate PLUS the President, and then it has to find 56% of the Supreme Court to keep it from being overturned. Getting all of those at once is very rare.

So this isn't a sign of anybody getting anything right. It's just another instance of them failing to do anything at all. We just happen to be lucky that this one time, "do nothing" is the right answer.

about two weeks ago
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U.S. and China Make Landmark Climate Deal

jfengel Re:Mitch McConnell pulls a Boehner (285 comments)

Speaking of deals... how are we supposed to deliver on this? Even before last Tuesday, there was no chance of getting this through as a treaty past the Republican filibuster. Now there's less-than-no-chance, and even the most extreme overreach of executive powers can't impose that much reduction.

So how are we supposed to deliver on this deal? There's simply no concession that Obama could possibly make to Boehner and McConnell that would get the to sign off on this. What am I missing?

about two weeks ago
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U.S. and China Make Landmark Climate Deal

jfengel Re:Ya...Right (285 comments)

So... we underwent whatever expenses that cost, and we managed to get no concessions out of other countries for doing so. I suppose I should be glad that we're managing to do things out of the goodness of our hearts, but it might have been nice to use our signature to also get China and India to put in some effort to reducing their carbon consumption over the past decade.

Part of their excuse for not signing was because we didn't, and unlike us, they weren't going to be reducing their emissions out of the goodness of their hearts. They're both undergoing an industrial expansion, prompted in part by our outsourcing, which also effectively meant outsourcing our pollution. They weren't going to reduce their pollution unless we committed to as well. Otherwise, it would put them at a competitive disadvantage, and they're still trying to catch up to us.

about two weeks ago
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"Car Talk" Co-Host Tom Magliozzi Dies At Age 77

jfengel Driving the Sleek Black Beauty (82 comments)

I'm glad to hear that Tommy is finally reunited with is 1965 AMC Ambassador, which Ray so cruelly sent to the crusher (just because it had fungus growing out of the seats and it hadn't moved for years).

If ever there were a time for Slashdot to allow image links, this would have been it. Meantime, this link is for you.

about three weeks ago
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"Car Talk" Co-Host Tom Magliozzi Dies At Age 77

jfengel Re:One of the most listened to Engineers (82 comments)

Without meaning to sound like a jerk, the show wasn't quite as "natural" as they made it sound. The show was heavily edited by some extraordinarily talented crew, which is how the callers always sounded so articulate and they never had to cut people off for time. They selected the most effective calls; I believe that part of what they're doing now includes old calls that didn't get aired. They worked very hard to create an illusion of naturalness, kind of like the un-made-up look that requires so much makeup work.

That's not to detract from Tom and Ray, who were incredibly gifted both as radio personalities and as mechanics. I've never heard anybody with anywhere near their level of talent. They brought warmth and humanity that resonated with callers and brought out the best in them. The crew helped make it look as easy with a bit of slight-of-hand, but they couldn't have done it without their utterly amazing source material.

about three weeks ago
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New Atomic Clock Reaches the Boundaries of Timekeeping

jfengel Re:Old saying (249 comments)

Yep. Effectively, it's a four-variable problem: x, y, z, and t. If you had a synchronized atomic clock with you, you might be able to do it with just three satellites, but that would be pretty bulky and delicate.

about three weeks ago
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Some Virgin Galactic Customers Demand Money Back

jfengel Re:If the cause of the crash... (165 comments)

Larger than Columbus thought. The consensus among the experts, going back to Eratosthenes, was pretty much right on the money. Columbus was the only one who thought it was smaller (much smaller, by 2/3), which is why he was rejected by the Portuguese king. I don't know how he managed to convince the Spanish monarchs to fund his expedition, but if he hadn't gotten very lucky, he would indeed have killed his crew.

about three weeks ago
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Reactions To Disgusting Images Predict a Persons Political Ideology

jfengel Re:Two things. (330 comments)

In this case, it might be the opposite: Blacksburg is the home of Virginia Tech, and between the students and the professors it's considerably more liberal than the deep red you'd see on a coarser-grained map of the area. It does give them access to a large pool of both liberals and conservatives, if they're seeking volunteers from off campus.

At the very least they'd be able to statistically adjust it against national demographics, though the study isn't very large. I'd think of it as an interesting bit of preliminary work, but it would have to be replicated very broadly before taking it seriously.

about three weeks ago
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Statisticians Study Who Was Helped Most By Obamacare

jfengel Re:Redistribution (739 comments)

Because that's your actual actuarial risk including the middlemen's 50% cut.

One of the specific provisions of the ACA is to limit that cut to 20%. Companies have had to actually send rebates when they took in more than that.

Whether the middleman's value is worth even that much is a different question. It's not completely valueless: they negotiate the price with the hospital, and they're on your side in wanting to pay less. It would much much harder for you to do that yourself, since you're not an expert in the cost of care or on what anybody else paid. That's a benefit to some, and a cost to those more savvy negotiators. I can tell you that I'm not in the latter category.

about three weeks ago
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Statisticians Study Who Was Helped Most By Obamacare

jfengel Re:Redistribution (739 comments)

I've always found it kind of odd that Republicans wanted to eliminate the latter, without eliminating the former, which is obviously more popular. It seems to me that Democrats at some point should have said, "Sure! Hey, everybody, you can stop paying for insurance."

I know that it wouldn't actually get that far, but it seems to me that they could at least have gotten the insurance companies mad at the Republicans for making "paying for insurance" the problem. It's the only unpopular provision in the law, but necessary.

about three weeks ago
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Hackers Breach White House Network

jfengel Re:Way ahead of his time. (98 comments)

What a difference 17 years make. Now there are a great many individual 12.9 gigabyte PowerPoint slide decks running around.

about three weeks ago
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Researchers At Brown University Shattered a Quantum Wave Function

jfengel Re:Tentative summary (150 comments)

Thanks. No mod points today, but I appreciate somebody attempting to extract information from this rather than just apply quantum juju. #ifuckinghatesciencewriters

about three weeks ago
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LAX To London Flight Delayed Over "Al-Quida" Wi-Fi Name

jfengel Re:This was no AP. (339 comments)

It depends on how you count the return. The US GDP is still going up. Perhaps it would be going up faster if we weren't jumping at our own shadows, but it doesn't appear to be bankrupting us.

We do a much better job at it ourselves. A graph of GDP shows only one visible hitch, the 2007 crisis. That had nothing to do with terrorism, unless you want to call the widespread fraud by the major investment banks "terrorism" (and I bet you could find some people to agree with you if you wanted to). It certainly wasn't Al Qaeda's fault; any hitch in the graph around September 2001 is lost in the noise.

about a month ago

Submissions

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Executive order makes government data open by default

jfengel jfengel writes  |  about a year and a half ago

jfengel (409917) writes "Last week, President Obama issued an executive order titled "Making Open and Machine Readable the New Default for Government Information".

Government information shall be managed as an asset throughout its life cycle to promote interoperability and openness, and, wherever possible and legally permissible, to ensure that data are released to the public in ways that make the data easy to find, accessible, and usable.

It relies heavily on a paper from the CIO, "Digital Government: Building a 21st Century Platform to Better Serve the American People.", issued in February."

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Former Senator claims US government suppressing UFO evidence

jfengel jfengel writes  |  about a year and a half ago

jfengel (409917) writes "Former Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) says the White House has helped keep the truth about the “extraterrestrial influence that is investigating our planet” from the public. He was joined by five former Representatives. Paradigm Research paid each $20k to appear at a press conference, at which Gravel said:

“It goes right to the White House, and of course, once the White House takes a position, ‘well there's nothing going on’...it just goes down the chain of command, everyone stands toe. ... The smoking gun of the whole issue, which is when they saw hovering space craft in Wyoming and South Dakota over the ICBM missile silos that the missiles couldn't work.”"

Link to Original Source

Journals

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Theater

jfengel jfengel writes  |  about 11 years ago Just on the off chance somebody comes to find out who I am, I'll stick in a plug for my theater group, The Rude Mechanicals. We put on really, really good Shakespeare in Laurel, MD. Half the cast reads Slashdot, and you've never seen Shakespeare until you've seen it performed by computer nerds. The other half are English majors. This is serious amateur theater.

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