Too bad that government workers will not be allowed to find a freelance gig in the time that they are/will be furloughed. They need to get prior approval so that there's no conflict of interest. And since their supervisors are also furloughed, they wouldn't even be able to get said approval.
It appears that federal employees are not generally restricted from outside employment, and only need a waiver to engage in certain official acts which would affect the financial interest of an outside employer or entity with which they are in employment negotiations.
Yeah, the "generally" in my post was not decorative: there are certainly all kinds of special conditions where more than the rules applicable to federal employees in general apply, and security clearances certainly come with their own special rules.
I had an idea while listening to NPR the other day, but I don't know about its viability.
The NPR discussion was about the CDC having reduced capabilities to identify outbreaks of foodborne illness (since doctors have to send it sample data for analysis by experts). Then it occurred to me that maybe a sort of social mobile application might be able to help identify outbreaks.
The app would prompt the user for their symptoms, what they have eaten over the past several days (vegetables, meats, condiments, etc), and their relative location (locations services, postal code, or something) and the data is submitted anonymously.
The the database would have a public API for the data so developers could try to identify correlations and useful information (IIRC much like a game some developers made for identifying DNA mutations).
I don't really have the ambition to put in the research to see whether something like this is viable or not. There are obvious issues with this design since there's no way to identify molecular information until the iBloodTester is invented.
Google has shown that people run flu-related queries when they are affected by flu symptoms so that is a good method for tracking flu outbreaks in time and space.
I'd be a little afraid of volunteer science in this case because I think you might attract a population of hypochondriacs. (At my food co-op it seems 50% of people think they are allergic to wheat and rather than eating rice or beans or skipping the carbs, they buy triple-priced gluten free "breads")
I think something like this would be prone to witch hunts like the guys on Reddit who were looking for boston bombing suspects.
It's an interesting idea, but I wonder if people would expend the effort to accurately log their symptoms/recent behavior without some sort of reward. A paper published earlier this year investigated using machine learning with Twitter data to try to do something similar to what you suggested, though. (the paper: http://www.cs.rochester.edu/~sadilek/publications/Sadilek-Br...).
Somewhat relatedly how does unemployment insurance work for the furloughed? Can they collect it? If they get back pay later do they have to return the unemployment payments? Could they actually come out ahead?
"Are federal workers eligible for unemployment benefits? Yes. Federal employees who are laid off, including those furloughed this week, are eligible to receive unemployment benefits. In general, for workers to be eligible they must have lost their job through no fault of their own, not quit or have been fired, and must have been employed long enough to meet state qualifications.
If Congress votes to reimburse federal employees, will they have to repay their unemployment benefits? Most likely, yes. States say they’ll attempt to recoup benefits paid to federal employees if the workers receive back pay once they’re back on the job. (Congress will decide that when it ends the shutdown.) States would notify workers that they owe the money back. Officials in several states said that if workers don’t voluntarily repay, the state would garnish wages, tax refunds and deny future unemployment benefits to recoup the money."
Your reference to making lemonade from lemons seems to imply that the people who made it were furloughed. This doesn't appear to be the case. It seems to have been built by people working for a private company: http://www.blencorp.com/
This is really cool of OP to do. Given how shitty the terms of furlough are I'm really pretty proud of DC (used to live there) doing some cool stuff to help out the folks who were furloughed. Between Unfurlough and the heavy food/drink discounts (http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/dc-businesses-offer-helping-h...) I hope that furlough doesn't completely suck.
Hey now. Filibusters are an important check of the minority party on the majority's power. If they were utterly abolished, you should expect to see far more extreme legislative actions far more often than we have before. :)