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Why You Don't Want Politicians Doing Your Engineering For You

from the not-a-good-thing dept

We frequently worry (or point out the negative consequences) of technologically illiterate politicians passing laws that impact technology. It goes beyond just laws, however, into other investigations. Frank Ahrens, at the Washington Post, highlights what happens when you have technologically illiterate politicians trying to investigate the Toyota acceleration problem, highlighting a troubling exchange between Toyota's boss, Akio Toyoda, and Eleanor Holmes Norton, the Congresswoman from DC:
Toyoda said that when his company gets a complaint about a mechanical problem, engineers set to work trying to duplicate the problem in their labs to find out what went wrong.

Norton said: "Your answer -- we'll wait to see if this is duplicated -- is very troublesome." Norton asked Toyoda why his company waited until a problem recurred to try to diagnose it, which is exactly what he was not saying.

Members of Congress are generally lawyers and politicians, not engineers. But they are launching investigations and creating policies that have a direct impact on the designers and builders of incredibly complex vehicles -- there are 20,000 parts in a modern car -- so there are some basics they should understand. Chief among them: The only way to credibly figure out why something fails is to attempt to duplicate the failure under observable conditions. This is the engineering method.
But, of course, understanding how engineering and technology works doesn't get you (re-)elected. Grandstanding does.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 2:56pm

    Obviously

    We should be electing engineers. Seriously.
    If not engineers then programmers or scientists or somebody who understands little things like LOGIC, physics, math perhaps...

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 3:01pm

    it is kinda scary, shouldnt they have 'advisors or experts' to help them at the very least and hope they listen..

     

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  3.  
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    dryfire, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 3:14pm

    Yes, Toyota should diagnose every problem users report even if they cannot repeat them... All they need to do is travel back in time and space and watch it happen!

     

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  4.  
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    paul (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 3:19pm

    It's a language barrier

    The whole hearing is of course pointless grandstanding as only Congress can do it. But we also need to remember that lay people understand the concept of "duplicating the problem" a lot differently than those in the engineering fields. This congressperson is not the only one who was thinking that, I can assure you.

    His choice of words was not suitable for his audience. Sadly, there ARE people who are not scientists or engineers, and these things need to be explained to them.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 3:27pm

    Re: Obviously

    No, those kinds of people are too logical. If there's one thing the American electorate hates, it's logic.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 3:30pm

    Re:

    it is kinda scary, shouldnt they have 'advisors or experts' to help them at the very least and hope they listen..

    Who needs expert advice when they already know it all?

     

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  7.  
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    ECA (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 3:39pm

    Education

    Long ago, the job of federal Representative was considered a part time job. They were only paid a Stipend(allowance) that paid for Travel and living expenses while in session..
    Afterward, they would go home and find OTHER WORK..
    Their main JOB was not, to run this country. They had experiences in OTHER THINGS..

    NOW days we hire those that are Groomed from SCHOOL, to be Politicians. Which is the problem. They have NO OTHER KNOWLEDGE, except how to get money out of our pockets.

    As an old saying goes..
    Those SMART enough to understand Politics dont want the job, tend to be ruled by those Without the intelligence to know better.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 3:43pm

    It scares me how little troubleshooting skills people have. Someone tells me "This did that, what should I do?" And my response is usually, "Well, did you try this on a different computer to see if you could reproduce that?" And the answer is usually no.

     

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  9.  
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    Anony1, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 4:01pm

    LOL..You expect fact driven analysis from this woman Eleanor Holmes Norton? Go look up her profile on Wikipedia.
    She was apparently so busy being "inspired to a life of social activism", and building up her "budding sense of feminism" that a basic science education was beyond her.
    You see people, this is why you shouldn't elect people who are you know, dumb as a brick ideoulogues. You get what you pay for D.C. Enjoy.

     

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  10.  
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    Rob Pegoraro (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 4:11pm

    Glad you noticed my colleague's work

    Frank's one of the better writers--make that, prose engineers--in the Post newsroom.

    FWIW, I also saw his post as evidence that it's healthy for journalists to have an academic background in something besides journalism. But maybe that's just me trying to rationalize my failure to make much real-world use of an international-relations degree...

    - RP

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous of Course, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 4:16pm

    I'd like a senator to ask some victims of the failure
    in question why, since they had enough time call their
    spouses and time enough to burn out the brakes, why
    didn't they have enough time to turn the ignition key
    to off? Seems to me that turning the engine off would
    be the first thing on the to do list.

     

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  12.  
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    zellamayzao, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 4:39pm

    Re:

    Or just tap the gear selector into neutral. Im not trying to downplay the issue or the people that have crashed and been injured or even lost their lives but at least have the where-with-all and wits about you to release the car has a mind of its own and just put the darn thing in neutral and coast to a safe stop.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 4:45pm

    Re:

    They do, but I think there's a problem: the advisors/experts they've been using are called lobbyists...

     

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  14.  
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    Gatewood Green (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 4:52pm

    Re: Re: neutral

    Well given that it is established that the gas pedal is not linked physically to the (gas) flow regulators and that the brake pedal is not physically, or hydraulicly, linked to the brakes, what makes you think the gear shift is physically linked to the transmission? Or that the key is a physical (break-the-line) off switch?

    Food for thought.

     

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  15.  
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    DJ, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 5:25pm

    Re: It's a language barrier

    Then how 'bout this:

    "The only way to credibly figure out why something fails is to attempt to duplicate the failure under observable conditions."

    Oh wait, someone already said that...........

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 5:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: neutral

    Except anyone who has driven a car should know that you can shift into neutral while stomping on the gas just fine (Park and Reverse are another matter) and same with killing the engine, in fact that is what has been suggested by most places:

    From Consumer Reports: "First, brake hard; don’t pump them, hold them down. Then put the car in neutral. When you come to a stop, turn off the engine.

    The engine may keep revving loudly while you try to stop, but don’t turn it off if you can avoid it. Turning off the engine means you lose power-assisted steering and brakes, and if you turn the key too far you could lock the steering wheel."


    It is a bit of common sense, and sad to see that so many people are too dumb to think of it. Then again, maybe this mistake is a case of survival of the fittest; those who are too stupid to live, don't.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 5:39pm

    Re: Obviously

    What, you don't remember they guys running the Vietnam War? They were the "whiz kids" engineers, accountants and programmers. They ran the war by the numbers, they knew it all and see how well that went.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 5:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: neutral

    Well given that it is established that the gas pedal is not linked physically to the (gas) flow regulators

    Okay...

    and that the brake pedal is not physically, or hydraulicly, linked to the brakes,

    Wait, where are you getting that?

    what makes you think the gear shift is physically linked to the transmission? Or that the key is a physical (break-the-line) off switch?

    And the hypothesis then is that all of those systems failed at the same moment, and furthermore that they all somehow repaired themselves afterward because later examinations showed them to be working properly.

    Food for thought? Indeed, and I know what it makes me think.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 5:49pm

    Re: Re: Obviously

    What, you don't remember they guys running the Vietnam War? They were the "whiz kids" engineers, accountants and programmers. They ran the war by the numbers, they knew it all and see how well that went.

    No, you've got your history mixed up and seem to be confusing the Apollo program with the Vietnam war. Although they both occurred about the same time but they were not the same thing.

     

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  20.  
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    John Doe, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 6:11pm

    Health care reform anyone?

    And these same guys want to take over your healthcare. I feel warm and fuzzy already.

     

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  21.  
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    MBraedley (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 6:13pm

    Re: It's a language barrier

    Our elected officials may be lay people when it comes to the sciences, engineering, and technology, but we expect them to be problem solvers. Guess what the primary skill of an engineer is. We also expect critical thinking out of them. Norton obviously wasn't thinking critically. What she should have asked is why does Toyota need to replicate the problem. Then she would have understood that in order to solve the problem, they need to know what caused it. This is why software developers and testers start the second paragraph of a bug report with three words: Steps to replicate. No, I don't expect elected officials to understand this when they first enter office, but if Norton had asked why instead of putting Toyoda on the defensive, everyone would have gotten a lot more out of the hearing.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 6:15pm

    Re: Re: Obviously

    You mean like the former Secretary of Defense
    Robert McNamara ?

    He graduated in 1937 from the University of California, Berkeley, with a Bachelor of Arts in economics with minors in mathematics and philosophy.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_McNamara

    Not what I would consider to be a whiz kid engineer.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 6:19pm

    Re: Re: It's a language barrier

    "but we expect them to be problem solvers."

    I expect them to consult those who do possess the required skills

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 6:23pm

    Re: Health care reform anyone?

    Yeah, that's right ... keep the government out of my Medicare

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 7:05pm

    So it's not OK when a politician gets engineering wrong, but we're totally silent on the issue of when engineers play armchair politician, then?

    Gotcha.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 7:14pm

    Re:

    "when engineers play armchair politician, then?"

    Who cares?

    What damage is done by someone sitting in a chair making snide remarks about the lineage of a politician compared to a politician making ill informed decisions about national policy.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 7:21pm

    Re: Re:

    Because they make the snide comments on the Internet, and they vote. If enough of them get together, which is increasingly possible with the Internet, terrible social ramifications can occur. Climategate, anyone?

    I know it's harder to hold lots and lots of people accountable for ignorance and bad behavior than a few, so let's just ignore the issue entirely and concentrate on the politicians.

     

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  28.  
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    Nick, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 7:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: neutral

    In a petrol engine the throttle regulates airflow, there is no such thing as a gas flow regulator. The brake pedal is hydraulically linked to the brakes, the gearshift is mechanically linked to the transmission and the ignition switch is a real switch, not an imaginary one. With technical knowledge like yours, you should be in congress.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 7:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Obviously

    You forgot the physicist, scientist, law professor, economist and even an engineer. McNamera called the shots but these guys were his go to guys

    You want to elect engineers because they understand engineering. What happens when you have a medical crisis, another fiscal breakdown? Do we have to anticipate the problems on the horizons. Its obvious that these politicians don't have access to adequate advisors. But who can pass up a chance to get some face time.

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 7:40pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Because they make the snide comments on the Internet, and they vote."

    and what's wrong with that?

    "If enough of them get together, which is increasingly possible with the Internet, terrible social ramifications can occur."

    This is just baseless scare mongering. If anything, allowing people to get together and communicate enables us to communicate viewpoints and news that the mainstream media ignores which enables us to make better decisions. The lack of such Internet communication has lead to terrible social ramifications, look at the ridiculous intellectual property laws that have developed over the years (ie: copyright length). Look at the ridiculous laws in place in terms of cableco/telco monopolies and even the post office gets a monopoly on who can put mail in your mailbox. Look at the terrible laws in place in terms of taxi cab monopolies. These ARE terrible social ramifications that have resulted partly due to the fact that the mainstream media is corrupt, outside the Internet the government regulates communication to our detriment in a way that prevents widespread communication like the Internet does, and as a result everyone suffers due to broken laws.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 7:41pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    ALso, there is no reason to suggest that engineers would make worse politicians than our existing politicians.

    "I know it's harder to hold lots and lots of people accountable for ignorance"

    Oh yes, because you're the only NON ignorant one, right?

    "and bad behavior"

    Oh yes, because making snide remarks that disagree with you constitutes bad behavior.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 7:47pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    and by holding people accountable for ignorance and bad behavior, what you mean is preventing those who disagree with you from being able to communicate their message. Sorry, you and those who agree with you shouldn't be the only ones who get freedom of speech, which is basically what the government and the mainstream media has ensured outside the Internet (and are working hard to ensure within the Internet). and the results ARE terrible social ramifications indeed. TERRIBLE ones. Just about every aspect of the U.S. government is corrupt as a result, from the FDA/CDC to the FCC, etc... they're all corrupt and non trustworthy. They pass laws that take away our freedoms, damage our health, all for one purpose, to serve the top one percent. These ARE terrible social ramifications, and you're just mad that the Internet might correct them. You can't defend our patent system and so you want critics silenced.

    What, you're afraid people will vote in a way that disagrees with you? In a way that helps the PUBLIC vs just special interest groups, perhaps like yourself. Can't stand the fact that most engineers are too smart to believe that patents are helpful and that's it's only math illiterate lawyers and politicians, who know nothing about engineering, who are able to make such determinations. Give me a break.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 7:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "This is just baseless scare mongering."

    Baseless except for the fact that it is happening with increasing frequency. Bet you're glad you're not the CEO of D&H today.

    "These ARE terrible social ramifications that have resulted partly due to the fact that the mainstream media is corrupt."

    Sure, and you'd like to hold them accountable. You're also happy to paint them with a tremendously broad brush. But it's OK because it's "the mainstream media." It's THEM, not US. Surely WE would never do anything like that. It's THEM who should be held to higher standards.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 7:49pm

    "Toyoda said that when his company gets a complaint about a mechanical problem, engineers set to work trying to duplicate the problem in their labs to find out what went wrong.

    Norton said: "Your answer -- we'll wait to see if this is duplicated -- is very troublesome.""

    Perhaps the point that he was trying to make was that the first line of action should be, recall the product (and continue to sell those products that are known to work instead) and THEN look into the problem with the potentially defected product. Yes, it might be economically inefficient but perhaps we value human life more than we value economic efficiency.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 7:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Just about every aspect of the U.S. government is corrupt as a result, from the FDA/CDC"

    Oh dear, I should have known, it's our good friend Bettawreckonize. Sigh.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 7:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Obviously

    "You want to elect engineers because they understand engineering. What happens when you have a medical crisis, another fiscal breakdown? Do we have to anticipate the problems on the horizons. Its obvious that these politicians don't have access to adequate advisors. But who can pass up a chance to get some face time."

    I don't want Engineers in charge because they understand engineering. I want engineers because they can think logically, have a high level of practical education, and their profession requires a highly developed skill in problem solving.

    To that end there are many other professions I would prefer instead of someone who was groomed to milk money and grandstand to get more votes. Those professions that don't fit the requirements would be consulted by people who realize that they are out of their specialty and proper reasoning would be used to reach a decision.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 8:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Baseless except for the fact that it is happening with increasing frequency. Bet you're glad you're not the CEO of D&H today."

    Translation: People are disagreeing with you with increasing frequency. This is terrible, I can't stand it. This will lead to terrible social ramifications for myself as the government starts taking away my unearned government sanctioned monopoly rents. Terrible for me, great for the public, but who cares about the public. I want my monopoly rents!!!

    "Sure, and you'd like to hold them accountable. You're also happy to paint them with a tremendously broad brush. But it's OK because it's "the mainstream media." It's THEM, not US. Surely WE would never do anything like that."

    and why should I trust the mainstream media or the government to know what's in the public interest better than the public? Are you seriously arguing that the public is worse at being able to determine what's in its own best interest than the mainstream media or the government? I call nonsense.

    "It's THEM who should be held to higher standards."

    No one is saying they should be held to different standards. What I'm saying is that they shouldn't be given government sanctioned monopolies on communication (ie: cableco infrastructure). They shouldn't be given an unlevel playing field. The problem is that the government grants laws that holds them to a LOWER standard. I'm saying they should be held to the same standard as everyone else, their ideas must be able to compete on a LEVEL playing field.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 8:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Baseless except for the fact that it is happening with increasing frequency."

    What's the matter, can't stand the fact that, with increasing frequency, the public has a voice now. That someone other than YOU has a voice. Your ideas can't compete in the free marketplace of ideas and so you want the government to pass laws that hold you to a lower standard? You're selfish, you have no regard for morality. Stop lobbying the government for unfair laws in your favor. What, can't stand the fact that you can't make the government pass unfair laws in your favor as easily? You might actually have to work for a living one day like everyone else, and compete in a FREE market, because the government won't grant you monopoly rents? You can't just be a lazy failure anymore? TOO BAD!!!!

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 8:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Betta, why are there so many of you and just one of me?

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 8:22pm

    Re:

    Perhaps the point that he was trying to make was that the first line of action should be, recall the product (and continue to sell those products that are known to work instead) and THEN look into the problem with the potentially defected product. Yes, it might be economically inefficient but perhaps we value human life more than we value economic efficiency.

    I would like to report that all automobiles have defective brakes. Please do not hesitate to recall all automobiles. Do it NOW! Do NOT wast time investigating my claim first! You can do that later.

    Oh, and all airliners have defective engines, too. Ground them all, NOW!

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 8:25pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You contradict yourself when you say, "Because they make the snide comments on the Internet, and they vote."

    If there are so few people who would disagree with you then you shouldn't be so afraid of their votes.

     

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  42.  
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    ..., Mar 8th, 2010 @ 8:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Obviously

    "You forgot the physicist, scientist, law professor, economist and even an engineer"

    And again, you missed the point.

    Having a physicist, scientist, law professor, economist and even an engineer fail at something (fighting a war is a bad example btw) does not prove that a politician can neglect their responsibilty to consult professionals in whatever field necessary

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 8:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You know, I do long for the days before the Internet in one respect: it used to be that if one had multiple people living inside one's head, they still only counted as one person.

    Ah, well, progress!

     

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  44.  
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    abc gum, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 8:48pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "If enough of them get together, which is increasingly possible with the Internet, terrible social ramifications can occur."

    - Let me guess, you would censor the internet in order to stop the "terrible social ramifications".

    "it's harder to hold lots and lots of people accountable for ignorance and bad behavior"

    - On what planet is this a crime, Bizarro World ?

    "let's just ignore the issue entirely and concentrate on the politicians"

    - That is the topic at hand afterall ...

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 9:06pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    What? How is that even an argument?

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 9:13pm

    Re:

    So it's not OK when a politician gets engineering wrong, but we're totally silent on the issue of when engineers play armchair politician, then?

    Let me guess, you've got a degree in "political science" and think you should rule the world as a result.

    Gotcha.

    Back at ya.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 9:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Obviously

    You forgot the physicist, scientist, law professor, economist and even an engineer.

    Hardly.

    McNamera called the shots...

    And please try to remember that.

    ...but these guys were his go to guys.

    And who would it have been better for him to consult for advice in those respective professional fields, "psychic advisers"? I think maybe you're confusing Robert McNamera with Nancy Reagan.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Obviously

    "And who would it have been better for him to consult for advice in those respective professional fields, "psychic advisers"?"

    MISS CLEO!!!

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:51pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Let me guess, you would censor the internet in order to stop the 'terrible social ramifications.'"

    No, but thanks for letting us know that's the most creative solution you can come up with to the problem.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 8th, 2010 @ 10:52pm

    Re: Re:

    "Let me guess, you've got a degree in 'political science' and think you should rule the world as a result."

    No, but I appreciate the hamfisted attempt to stuff straw down my shirt.

     

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  51.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Mar 8th, 2010 @ 11:27pm

    Re: It's a language barrier

    I'm not an engineer.

    If someone tells me he's "working to duplicate a problem", my brain doesn't turn into mush so that I can understand that he's "sitting on his lazy ass while the problem duplicates itself by magic".

     

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  52.  
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    Alan Edwards (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 1:07am

    Re: neutral

    >>and that the brake pedal is not physically, or >>hydraulicly, linked to the brakes, >Wait, where are you getting that? (How do you get the comments system to italicise quotes?) They're talking about the Toyota Prius, which only uses the friction brakes as a last resort. If it can it uses the electric motors for regenerative braking, and there's a computer between the brake pedal and the brakes that decides which to use. Same with the transmission - all you're doing is telling the computer you want to go forwards, backwards or nowhere, there's no physical link. A computer decides whether it's going to use electrical or mechanical power to do what you want. I've not driven a Prius so I don't know what it's reaction to dropping the selector into Neutral whilst it's moving would be. I do know in Renaults that have key cards and starter buttons you can't just press the button to stop the engine if you're moving, so it might just assume you've made a mistake and ignore you. Alan.

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    The Mighty Buzzard, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 1:23am

    Re: Re: Obviously

    Well, just under half of our electorate is below average intelligence. Logic is like kryptonite to stupid people. Apparently also to any woman I've ever argued with but that's another matter entirely.

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    The Mighty Buzzard, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 1:30am

    Re: Re: Obviously

    Exactly, if they'd had a bullpen full of people who were good at swaying public opinion, rather than paying attention to silly things like logic, we would have never been defeated by the hippies. Make no mistake, that's exactly what happened. By any metric that had even a passing acquaintance with reality, we were winning in Viet Nam when we pulled out.

     

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  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 1:47am

    Re: Re: neutral

    (before commenting, on the rest of your post, to make something bold, read here for a couple simple HTML tags: http://www.w3schools.com/html/html_formatting.asp I honestly don't want to take the time to type so you can see the tags on how to do it properly, but basically you just have an opening tag, the text you want, then a closing tag. w3schools has wonderful tutorials so you can teach yourself that and much much more.)

    Next, unless there is a completely separate issue that I am unaware of, the specifics of the recall were these:

    — The recall applies to these models: 2009-2010 RAV 4, Corolla and Matrix; 2005-2010 Avalon; 2010 Highlander; 2007-2010 Tundra; 2008-2010 Sequoia; and some 2007-2010 Camrys.
    The recall does not include any hybrids. Highlander and Camry hybrids are safe.
    — No Lexus or Scion vehicles are affected by the recall.
    — The recall does not apply to any cars built in Japan. You can tell if your car was built in Japan by looking at the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the driver’s side dash near the windshield; if it starts with a J, you’re safe.
    — About half of the cars on the recall list are still safe because their accelerator pedals were made in two different factories. You can feel the back of your accelerator pedal to tell if your call is part of the recall. If the back of the pedal is smooth, then you are in the recall. If the back has a honeycomb pattern, you’re not in the recall.


    as you can read, no mention is made of any prius, and hybrids are specifically excluded from said recall. So i am not sure that any of your points are valid.

    Second --whether or not your points are valid-- I seriously question those who did not at least think of trying to shift to neutral or turning off the ignition (which I point out in what the official advise was to do) and instead made a phone call. I mean seriously it takes how long to try shifting into neutral or killing the ignition vs how long to make a phone call?

     

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  56.  
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    Mr. Oizo, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 2:33am

    Re: Obviously

    Well, logic is one thing, but I already find administration 'too logical' and inhumane at many places. In computer science terms: it is impossible to build a sound and complete system and this is something that 'logical' approaches often forget.

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 4:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Obviously

    You mean like how the journalists, who don't know logic when they see it, have such a bullpen. Because, for some reason, you believe that YOU are somehow more logical than THEM. Therefore, only YOU should have such a bullpen. Give me a break, this is nonsense. If their logic is so bad then you are free to go on the same blog or whatever as them and correct them. One can not say this about mainstream media as it is entirely corrupt and the laws enable censorship.

     

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  58.  
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    Jake, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 4:48am

    Re: Re: It's a language barrier

    I'm sorry, but that won't wash with me. Have these people seriously never taken their car to the shop with an intermittent fault, or do mechanics in the States just spout some technobabble rather than admit they can't instantly diagnose the problem just from a description of the symptoms?

     

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  59.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 4:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Obviously

    The point is that an OPEN communication system, where everyone can criticize everyone else, is optimal. Giving any one group of people more communication than another will only serve that specific groups interest, be it journalists, industry, etc... The evidence is in the corrupt nature of the U.S. and the laws in place that give mainstream media more monopoly power (ie: copyright length). But now thanks to the Internet, people can finally speak against such atrocities.

     

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  60.  
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    yozoo, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 5:04am

    CORP BEING TOO NICE

    This Toyota thing really amuses me (its exactly like the Audi debocle of the late 80s). There is nothing wrong with Toyotas, there is no "unintended acceleration" (oddly thats exactly the same term used in the Audi debocle). This is a case of mob think, combined with lawyer greed and an unbelievably lazy media. Poor toyota, instead of doing the Audi thing and telling thier customers they are crazy and hitting the wrong pedal, they attempted to humor them and perform a search for a non-existant problem . . . big misstake (it only fed the flames). Like the Audi situation there is no engineering fix here (since there is no actual problem), but unlike Audi Im not sure Toyoya can just leave the country for a few years at this point, I think its just too late.

     

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  61.  
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    ComputerAddict (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 5:12am

    Re: Re: Re: It's a language barrier

    They don't get their cars repaired... If one breaks their auto industry lobbyist gets them a new one...

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 5:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Obviously

    Apparently, you are in the lower half.

     

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  63.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 5:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Obviously

    I'm fairly certain that was satire .......

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 5:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well excuse me for being presumptuous, as that is a common theme amoungst those who complain about the wild wild web.

     

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  65.  
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    abc gum, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 5:30am

    Re: CORP BEING TOO NICE

    citation needed.

     

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  66.  
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    Paul Yambor, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 6:24am

    Troubleshooting

    Engineers, professors and writers are undoubtably being rushed to solution.

    A university professor shorts circuits and produces acceleration without an error code. Please do not try this at home. Only professional lecturers should perform stunts involving jumper wires.

    Problem duplication requires the use of representative defects. Replace, Toyota's "When we get a complaint, we try to duplicate the problem", with "When we get a compliant, we acquire the respective vehicle and thoroughly examine it".

    Mike Masnick, Frank Ahrens and Akio are missing the point. Eleanor Holmes Norton shows no lack of technological expertice by her comments. She may be technologically adept or inept; we do not know from this rant. The problem, to which the Congresswoman correctly points, relates to process control, including the handling of inevitable defects and failure.

    To become famous, one may develop famous enemies. In a rush to do so, Mike and Frank may have overlooked the meaning behind the Congresswoman's words. Akio Toyoda did not explain what happens when engineers try to duplicate a problem and the problem does not recur. Eleanor Holmes Norton's question was appropriate; too much so for Mike and Frank, who chose to wallow in a thinly veiled opine about how boys/engineers know more than girls/Congress about technology. Of course, understanding doesn't sell articles - .

     

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  67.  
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    Jeff (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 6:50am

    Re: CORP BEING TOO NICE

    This is what you're looking for:

    Audi 1980s Scare

     

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  68.  
    identicon
    Anony1, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 8:23am

    She may be technologically adept or inept; we do not know from this rant...


    You're right. We know it from her public statements, educational backround, and choice of job as career politician. BTW, It's called a "post" or a "thread". Rant is what your self-rightous, egotistical blowhard BS posted above is. Do you see any articles for sale here smartguy?
    I was able to get past that digital newsguy houdning me for my monthly fee..thank GOD. (SARCASM). You also INTENTIONALLY or just FOOLISHLY MISQUOTED HER! SHE SAID:

    Norton said: "Your answer -- we'll wait to see if this is duplicated -- is very troublesome."

    So the woman said that the seeing of duplication is what is troubling. If the problem doesn't reoccur, it probably isn't a problem, but that's NOT the point. There was no "meaning overlooked". The meaning is quite clear. Perhaps you sir, need to work on basic language comprehension. Take your nonesense elsewhere. We speak English here, not politco-doubletalk spin.

     

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  69.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 9:21am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Obviously

    Shrug, read like sarcasm or possibly snark to me.

     

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  70.  
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    aguywhoneedstenbucks (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 9:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Obviously

    Call me now!

     

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  71.  
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    Alan Edwards (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re: Re: neutral

    (before commenting, on the rest of your post, to make something bold, read here for a couple simple HTML tags

    Ah, you just put HTML tags in, never thought of that.

    Next, unless there is a completely separate issue that I am unaware of, the specifics of the recall were these

    There was an earlier recall that affected the Prius, but I think you're right that the brake recall doesn't affect the hybrids. It was something to do with the accelerator.

    as you can read, no mention is made of any prius, and hybrids are specifically excluded from said recall. So i am not sure that any of your points are valid.

    What I said is true for hybrids, but not for the cars you list (as far as I know) that all have conventional brakes. I don't know where I got the idea that the recall that was being discussed affected the Prius.

    Second --whether or not your points are valid-- I seriously question those who did not at least think of trying to shift to neutral or turning off the ignition (which I point out in what the official advise was to do)

    True, if you've got long enough to ring someone before crashing you could at least try it. What I was trying to say was that in a hybrid it might not work because the computer second-guessed you, but as you say that's irrelevant as it wasn't a hybrid.

    Alan.

     

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  72.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 1:11pm

    Re: Re: neutral

    They're talking about the Toyota Prius, which only uses the friction brakes as a last resort. If it can it uses the electric motors for regenerative braking, and there's a computer between the brake pedal and the brakes that decides which to use.

    No, even on the Prius with its regenerative braking there is still a backup mechanical linkage to the friction brakes.

     

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  73.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Obviously

    Well, just under half of our electorate is below average intelligence.

    Well, just under half of our electorate is above average intelligence, too.

     

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  74.  
    identicon
    Andrew D. Todd, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 1:18pm

    Universal Data Recorders.

    Large aircraft crashes are not very mysterious anymore, not compared to, say, the repeated crashes of Lockheed Electras back in the late 1950's. The main reason is that modern aircraft are fitted with various kinds of recorders. After the crash, the investigators recover the "black boxes," and find out in considerable detail what was going on immediately before the crash. The recorded information is not perfect, of course, but it is still orders of magnitude better than the statements of (usually untrained) witnesses who may have been a mile or two from the crash site. Most flight data recorders do not go through accidents, of course. There is an increasing tendency to regularly download their data anyway, for routine anomaly detection. Admittedly, this does shade off into disciplining flight crews for inappropriate conduct in the cockpit.

    What one might validly ask, of course, is whether, with electronics becoming continually cheaper, it might be appropriate to install a sufficiently comprehensive recording system in every new car, rather than just in test vehicles. One has to strike a balance between information and privacy, of course. If the recorder erased its old data every five minutes, that would be long enough to get a fairly good idea of how the accident happened, but it would not be long enough to find out where the driver was going, who he was visiting, or anything like that.

     

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  75.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 1:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Obviously

    "But now thanks to the Internet, people can finally speak against such atrocities."

    And that must stop!

     

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  76.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 1:29pm

    Re: Re: It's a language barrier

    If someone tells me he's "working to duplicate a problem", my brain doesn't turn into mush so that I can understand that he's "sitting on his lazy ass while the problem duplicates itself by magic".

    Then you're probably not be a professional politician.

     

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  77.  
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    Overcast (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 1:57pm

    Re: Obviously

    We should be electing engineers. Seriously.
    If not engineers then programmers or scientists or somebody who understands little things like LOGIC, physics, math perhaps...


    Yeah, is we need any new law, it should be one that states not all politicians can be former lawyers.. Conflict of interest there, really.

     

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  78.  
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    Overcast (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 2:04pm

    Re:

    LOL..You expect fact driven analysis from this woman Eleanor Holmes Norton? Go look up her profile on Wikipedia.
    She was apparently so busy being "inspired to a life of social activism", and building up her "budding sense of feminism" that a basic science education was beyond her.
    You see people, this is why you shouldn't elect people who are you know, dumb as a brick ideoulogues. You get what you pay for D.C. Enjoy.


    I don't vote for half these clowns in office, and I highly suggest - more do the same. Don't listen to that 'waste your vote' rhetoric - just vote for the best person for office even if the chances are slim...

     

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  79.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 4:04pm

    Re: Re:

    Don't listen to that 'waste your vote' rhetoric - just vote for the best person for office even if the chances are slim...

    I think too many people view politics as a kind of "game", and they just want to be a "winner". Therefore they tend to just vote for whomever already seems most likely to win so that they can be on the "winning team" and say they "won", so to speak. They don't vote their conscience because they don't have one.

     

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  80.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 5:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Obviously

    "Apparently also to any woman I've ever argued with but that's another matter entirely."

    "Apparently, you are in the lower half."

    Obviously you are a woman ... or a democrat

     

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  81.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Mar 9th, 2010 @ 5:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Obviously

    "Well, just under half of our electorate is above average intelligence, too."

    Obviously ... GRIN

     

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  82.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 6:33pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Obviously

    Obviously, many people assume too much

     

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  83.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 6:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Obviously

    You assume that the data fits a bell curve ?

     

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  84.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 9th, 2010 @ 6:40pm

    Re: Re: CORP BEING TOO NICE

    Ahhh - no. Citation needed for these:

    "There is nothing wrong with Toyotas, there is no "unintended acceleration" "

    "they are crazy and hitting the wrong pedal"

    "Like the Audi situation there is no engineering fix here (since there is no actual problem),"

     

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  85.  
    identicon
    Job Searcho, Sep 19th, 2011 @ 12:56am

    I would say that only few of the celebrities turned politicians are capable of the job being a politician. It's not all about fame and charisma but genuine service for the people. They must be knowledgeable enough when it comes to government management.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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