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back to article Curiosity keeps on trucking despite government shutdown

Despite media reports to the contrary, the Curiosity rover is continuing to operate on Mars and is carrying on with its year-long trip to the base of Mount Sharp despite the US government shutdown. "Because the Jet Propulsion Laboratory is operated by the California Institute of Technology as a contractor, JPL employees are …

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All theatre!

All the workers will get back pay, and life will go on.

I note that it takes the same effort to make a website say "closed" as "open". No money saved here.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: All theatre!

"I note that it takes the same effort to make a website say "closed" as "open". No money saved here."

Actually it takes more; someone had to change the page to say closed. They could have just left the existing site and let the content be stale. The reason is simple why they changed the sites, to make a point. This way more people get inconvenienced by this. You have the republicans stating that this happened because the democrats didn't want to compromise. You have the democrats seizing the opportunity to make the matter even worse.

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Worse than theatre. Clown show.

GovMedia Speak

By Peter G. Klein

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

We all know that in GovMedia speak, “spending cut” means reducing the rate of increase in spending, while “shutdown” means reducing the workforce by 40%. From David Henderson we learn that “defund” apparently means “change a few implementation requirements without reducing funding by a penny.” Specifically, the Congresspeople who supposedly want to “defund” Obamacare proposed only to scrap the individual mandate [mandatory buying of health insurance] and remove the subsidy for Congresspeople and their staffers.

Remember the old Soviet-era joke, “We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us?” This is the state of US political discourse about economic issues. The Republicans pretend to oppose Obamacare, and the Democrats pretend to oppose them. The purported differences are trivial, the “debate” political theater. Only government officials and the Official Media are amused.

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Re: All theatre!

Bandwidth, hardware maintenance, security, software upgrades, threat analysis, attack mitigation, wages of the team that do all this, server electricity...

If you really think running websites of the size and complexity of the US government's (including NASA) is in any way "free," what are you doing reading a tech website?

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FAIL

Re: All theatre!

"If you really think running websites of the size and complexity of the US government's (including NASA) is in any way "free," what are you doing reading a tech website?"

How much does it cost to just leave it on and not do anything else to it?

"hardware maintenance, security, software upgrades, threat analysis, attack mitigation

How much of that must be done on a daily basis?

As for the hosting and band width costs, are those bills due today, due at the end of the month or paid for in advance, year on year?

If you really think running websites of the size and complexity of the US government's (including NASA) is in any way "free," what are you doing reading a tech website?"

If you really think all those costs and bills due happen on a day by day basis and the people who may be owed money at the end of it think they will never ever be paid,ie a Govt debt default? then "what are you doing reading a tech website?"

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Re: All theatre!

I would think that government websites would *definitely* get hit with lots of extra attacks while the bad guys know there's no-one being paid to defend. Putting the websites into a functionality-free kind of "safe mode" for the duration therefore seems sensible.

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Pint

Americans should feel a sense of relief that their horendous government deficit and growing accumulated debts in excess of $16 TRILLION are taking a breather.

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Anonymous Coward

Americans should feel a sense of relief that their horendous government deficit and growing accumulated debts in excess of $16 TRILLION are taking a breather.

Actually, the US debts are still increasing due to interest payments even if they don't spend anything directly ... and the real crunch is 2 weeks time when if the deadlock continues and they Republicans also block any move to raise the US debt ceiling then the US will run out of money to repay exisitng debt (basically, it has to continually borrow more to pay off earlier debts) and the US government will technically default on its debt. Compared with this having a few 100,000 federal employees being paid in IOUs instead of real money is probably fairly insignificant.

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As anybody whose ever been in debt knows, the less money you have the more everything costs. This increases the risk of defaulting (it *is* defaulting) so the credit rating goes down so the borrowing cost increases, plus you let the whole government machinery run while not deciding anything, meaning lots of overtime down the line plus a few last-minute badly-negotiated deals (with procurers or between parties). So this whole deadlock thing is an incredible waste of money, which the USA can only afford because it's still a rich country. Another few decades and this won't happen anymore.

It's like having an important high-speed road full of potholes: instead of paying cheap basic stuff like asphalt to repair it, you are wearing out lots of higher/costlier tech like tires and shockbreakers, plus the occasional bit of fender/fairing -- and motorbike(r) -- that hits the ground unluckily.

---

Actually, I accidentally read the subtitle as "97% of NSA sent home", as if agreeing that they have nothing to do with defending the States.

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I'm really glad Curiosity isn't scuttled because of this, but surely it doesn't require constant monitoring anyway. You'd think there were assumptions that communications/Human input might be cut off for a while, and Curiosity would be able to cope OK...

I know at least one huge science experiment underway that wasn't spared though. A very large disease challenge was underway at a USDA aquaculture research facility near my home and now everyone is locked out of the facility. Nobody is going to be there to collect the data or even make mortality counts. Months of research and a large amount of funding has been thrown away. The knock on effects will be enormous as this experiment was being highly watched by the global aquaculture industry who had a high degree of confidence the findings would be directly applicable in commercial applications.

I can only imagine how many times this is being repeated all over the country. It will be hundreds of millions of dollars wasted because a bunch of old men can't communicate with their colleagues.

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RE: millions [..] wasted because a bunch of old men can't communicate with their colleagues

Oh I think they're communicating all right.

They're loudly saying FUCK YOU! to each other.

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Childcatcher

Won't someone think of the robots!?

Somebody should tell the poor little guy he won't be getting paid for a while.

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What goes around - comes around!

Maybe if they had not been wasting such vast sums on paying 20,0000+ skilled personnel to do nothing of any benefit to the normal American citizen, for the last 55 years (and on other similarly degenerate programs, such as NSA and unwarranted military aggression), they would be in a very good financial position, instead of the dia-straits they're in now!

What goes around - comes around!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What goes around - comes around!

The "dia-straits", weren't they big in the 80's?

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Bronze badge

Re: What goes around - comes around!

I think you missed an "A" somewhere...

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Re: What goes around - comes around!

He must be Brazilian.

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Those Republicans...

...must really hate science, and affordable health care, and evidence based schooling, and...

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Re: Those Republicans...

If they don't, they certainly do a damn good impression of it.

Fancy bringing a country to its knees because of an opposition to better health care for all. The bastards should be hanged for crimes against the citizenry.

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Re: Those Republicans...

Or they read the Oregon Medicaid (the primary means of enrolling additional uninsured and low income under Obamacare) study which showed no statistically significant health improvement. The paid attention to the lack of global warming over the last 15 years, and they looked at the outcome of private schools vs. the abject failure of massively funded monstrosities like the CPS, NYC, DC, and LA school systems.

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One wonders what he'd make of the unholy mess the US is in now.

Ike left us a solid indication of his thinking in one of his final speeches as President:

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

(the whole speech is worth your time: http://coursesa.matrix.msu.edu/~hst306/documents/indust.html)

There's a bleak irony that a president who served at the highest military level was so concerned about this prospect, whereas his draft-dodging successors and their unelected coteries of warmongers have embraced the villains that enable it and deliver blame-shrugging platitudes in reply to questions)

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Re: One wonders what he'd make of the unholy mess the US is in now.

i've watched American politics for about fifty years now and it's been pretty much downhill all the way. if Eisenhower were to run today he would be considered a left-wing looney, even by today's Democrats, and might carry two or three states. if Obama had run back in the 50's he never could be elected because he's so far-right he would have gotten the Goldwater treatment from the Democrats.

my country has been taken over by the plutocrats (corporations are people... money is speech...) and votes are no longer won by trying to do the best for one's constituents, they are just bought via the brain laundry.

i ran out of tears for my country just after the turn of the century and now i only wonder how my children and grandchildren will fare after the US destroys itself (and probably a large part of the world economy with it).

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." -- g w bush

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Re: One wonders what he'd make of the unholy mess the US is in now.

Sometimes I wonder if Bush MkII wasn't misspeaking with all the dumb shit he said. It was just so fucking far out there that nobody believed it could be correct.

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Alert

Re: One wonders what he'd make of the unholy mess the US is in now.

i ran out of tears for my country just after the turn of the century and now i only wonder how my children and grandchildren will fare after the US destroys itself"

Looking from the outside,it appears the bible thumpers are the ones increasing their levels of power and influence in US Govt. Just keep checking the electoral roles for "Nehemiah Scudder."

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Re: One wonders what he'd make of the unholy mess the US is in now.

He'd certainly wonder how a man who had achieved nothing of note, nor held any office, got voted in as President. And then, after 4 years of nothing much, got voted in again.

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Thumb Down

Re: One wonders what he'd make of the unholy mess the US is in now.

Oh yeah, Democrats are right wing alright. The list of Obama's right wing accomplishments:

Expansion of the entitlement state

Increased and more progressive taxes

Payoff to union buddies in the UAW in the GM bankruptcy

Doubling down on money losing green policies.

Yup, very conservative those items. The reality is that JFK couldn't get nominated by today's Democratic party. He did cut marginal tax rates, you know. I'm just weeping that the US seems determined to enter into glorious European decline. At least we'll all be equally miserable, and that's what really counts, isn't it?

"it is just wonderful to be back in Oregon, and over the last 15 months we've traveled to every corner of the United States. I've now been in fifty .... seven states? I think one left to go. One left to go." - B. H. Obama

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Forget NASA, what about the NSA?

Does this mean we can do what we want on the internet and not be worried about the NSA finding out about it? At least for a day?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Forget NASA, what about the NSA?

NSA is still open. As is the UK branch

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Unhappy

Re: Forget NASA, what about the NSA?

Forget NASA? How can I forget NASA? I'm already missing my APOD

(apod.nasa.gov if/when it comes back on line)

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The right time

Even the Asteroid Watch team that keep an eye out for Earth-threatening objects in space are on furlough,

A suitably-sized asteroid heading for Capitol Hill would be just the ticket.

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Re: The right time

"A suitably-sized asteroid heading for Capitol Hill would be just the ticket."

Didn't Tom Clancy (RIP) write about an airliner crashing into that cesspit (pre-9/11 too)?

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Holmes

All in all it's a sorry 55th birthday for NASA. The agency came into being on October 1, 1958 after being set up by President Eisenhower, who also established the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

That's a simplifying view of history. I remember the story of Lyndon B. Johnson operated operationally in Washington to create NASA to replace NACA, purposefully using practically the same name and posting legislation in Arthur Dent fashion buried and just before holidays. I need to find that story back. I need to find that story back.

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Paris Hilton

Surely this is a joke

So... Why does so much of the US shut down just because two competing parties can't agree?

I am legitimately having trouble understanding this.

If this happened in Britain then, well, we would all be back to worshipping at stonehenge by now.

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Re: Surely this is a joke

do americans get a tax rebate for all the time the federal government is on hiatus?

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Re: Surely this is a joke

What they're doing isn't allowed by a face value reading of the rules; but both parties exploit technicalities when they pull this stunt. Both parties have spent 150+ years twisting the definitions of words around that none of it makes any kind of reasonable sense.

The twisting of vocabulary is what led the two primary parties to completely swap places/platform since the a Civil War. They're still doing it and both will switch back. They have to. They paint themselves into a corner by twisting the language and it forces their platform to move as well. It is all really fucking stupid and more than anything highlights the weaknesses of our leaders.

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Re: Surely this is a joke

Most of the U.S. government is funded on a year-to-year basis, with the fiscal year ending 30 September. Congress is supposed to pass funding bills for the next fiscal year before the end of the current fiscal year. If that doesn't happen, by law, the parts of the government that did not get funded are shut down until new appropriations bills are passed. (Someone, somewhere, thought this was a good idea.)

There are exceptions for functions that are essential to the protection of life and property (the definition of which seems to be left as an exercise for the reader,) so the Weather Service, air traffic controllers, half of the Defense Department, etc are still on the job. Also, things that are funded through user fees or other mechanisms that don't expire at the end of the year are still open. This includes things like the mail, courts, passport processing, Amtrak, the Patent Office, some benefits programs, and the like.

There were a bunch of shutdowns in the 1970s and 1980s as well as a couple in the mid-90s. So this is not without precedent, but it hasn't happened anytime in recent memory.

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Re: Surely this is a joke

half of the Defense Department, etc are still on the job

Only half? Isn't the word "Defense" pretty much a perfect definition of "protection of life and property"? On the other hand, the entire Attack Department can have an unpaid holiday ;-)

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Anonymous Coward

surely not in the 21st century

My 13 year old son asked me why the NASA website was down. I explained the US government shutdown and why it happened. He was incredulous that half the US government would stand in the way of providing health care to its own citizens who can't afford it - and allow them to die untreated. I was embarrassed to have to explain it to him, on behalf on the human race.

The US really need to take a hard long look at themselves.

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