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Comment: Re:Rather than address the underlying problem (Score 1) 194

by Bob9113 (#47922443) Attached to: New Global Plan Would Crack Down On Corporate Tax Avoidance

How do you know what the growth rate in the 50s and 60s would have been had the tax rates in the US been lower?

I only deal in empirical evidence. The warnings about higher taxes killing GDP growth are demonstrably false by comparing observed results over the past 70 years.

What's that about being ignorant?

Imagining things that might have been does not count as presenting evidence.

Comment: Re:Rather than address the underlying problem (Score 1) 194

by Bob9113 (#47922393) Attached to: New Global Plan Would Crack Down On Corporate Tax Avoidance

It is stupid if you are paying credit card rates. The US government pays insanely low interest rates and a few times, they've been negative! If someone pays you to borrow money, you'd be stupid not to take it.

The problem is that those interest rates change; our debt is revolving. When the interest rates go up, we're going to have to have to pay down the debt while our interest nut is climbing. So either we'll be showing a higher risk of default or we'll devalue the dollar; either way, the interest will climb even more. This has been repeated dozens of times in history. Every time a country has tried it, with the possible exception of Japan right now, it has ended badly. And most economists think that in Japan is about to hit the wall -- they're going to be our canary in the coalmine.

Comment: Re:Rather than address the underlying problem (Score 1) 194

by Bob9113 (#47922349) Attached to: New Global Plan Would Crack Down On Corporate Tax Avoidance

Really? Doesn't seem that that far out of line.

Really? You're not very good at math. Average from 1950 - 1969: 17%. Average over the past five years: 15.22%. (17 - 15.22) / 15.22 = 11.69%. Twelve percent higher seems like a lot to me.

Now taxation per capita, adjusted for inflation, is way up.

So is income, which is why I, and the chart you linked to, and anyone who understands economics, uses percentage of GDP.

And spending is even growing faster...

By all means, cut spending. I'm all for it. Until we get there, though, we can't just not pay our bills.

Comment: Re:Rather than address the underlying problem (Score 0) 194

by Bob9113 (#47920131) Attached to: New Global Plan Would Crack Down On Corporate Tax Avoidance

instead of trying to preserve the high tax state?

Historically low total tax as a percentage of GDP in a very long time. Lower than most of the first world. What high tax state are you talking about? 'Cuz it's clearly not the US.

And, we are running a gigantic deficit. We have to pay our bills, because paying the interest on credit cards is stupid, period. So, cut spending, then we can bring taxes back down to the current level.

And may I repeat: Historically low total tax as a percentage of GDP. Far lower than during the 50's and 60's, when we experienced the fastest sustained GDP growth rate of any first world country *ever*. So any Laffer Curve argument you want to make would just make you sound ignorant.

Comment: False Headline (Score 4, Insightful) 155

by Bob9113 (#47919563) Attached to: Tim Cook Says Apple Can't Read Users' Emails, That iCloud Wasn't Hacked

Tim Cook Says Apple Can't Read Users' Emails,

No he didn't.

Apple previously said that even it can't access iMessage and FaceTime communications, stating that such messages and calls are not held in an "identifiable form." [Cook] claimed if the government "laid a subpoena," then Apple "can't provide it." He said, bluntly: "We don't have a key... the door is closed." He reiterated previous comments, whereby Apple has said it is not in the business of collecting people's data. He said: "When we design a new service, we try not to collect data. We're not reading your email."

He said they cannot read iMessage and FaceTime, and they are not reading your email. That is a very important distinction. It might be one he was hoping you would miss, and you did miss it, but he did not say they can't access your email.

And I'm not blowing sunshine up his skirt. I came here intending to kick him in the balls (metaphorically, of course) for lying, but he didn't.

Pro-tip: If any system includes a password recovery mechanism that allows you to get back messages, then the administrator of the password recovery system can read your back messages.

Comment: You Want to Help? Paid Development (Score 2) 48

by Bob9113 (#47917193) Attached to: Industry-Based ToDo Alliance Wants To Guide FOSS Development

"an open group of companies who run open source programs" who are seeking to "committed to working together in order to overcome" the challenges of using FOSS

If the megacorps want to get involved in the advancement of FOSS, they have an incredibly clear path to do so: Paid Development. They can fund it themselves, if they want to decide what gets built next. Or, to get a little creative, how about this: Put together some training materials for corporate legal departments explaining that companies can legally, safely, contribute code developed on company time back to FOSS projects. Put together a promotional campaign to convince corporate bean counters that contributing code back to FOSS is a worthwhile investement of company resources.

In short; help channel money into FOSS, either directly or by clearing the red tape that keeps us from creating and kicking back enhancements built for the benefit of our companies. Hey, maybe lobby congress for a tax write-off for code contributions to 501c3s.

Developers contribute to FOSS by giving of their greatest strength, development. If megacorps want to help, they should give of their greatest strengths; money and bureaucracy.

(and yes, I know, they think telling people what to do is their greatest strength, but they've got another think coming when it comes to telling FOSS developers what to do)

Comment: Because William Binney and Thomas Drake (Score 5, Informative) 191

by Bob9113 (#47907717) Attached to: New Details About NSA's Exhaustive Search of Edward Snowden's Emails

In 2001, William Binney, an NSA investigator, began blowing the whistle on NSA warrantless surveillance. He went through official channels to his superiors, then to Congress, then to the major media. He was harrassed and prosecuted by the government, and ignored and maginalized by the major media. He has kept at it for the past thirteen years.

In 2010, Thomas Drake started blowing the whistle. He was also prosecuted, harrassed, ignored, and marginalized.

In 2011, Ron Wyden began warning the public about the secret interpretation of the PATRIOT Act, as loudly as he could without violating his clearance to be on the Intelligence Committee. The major media ignored him.

In 2013, when Snowden released his docs, the major media finally started listening to Binney, Drake, and Wyden. The establishment's treatment of Binney, Drake, and Wyden is why Snowden had to follow the path he did.

The President of the United States has said that these programs should change. Programs that Binney, Drake, and Wyden tried to warn us about through official channels. Programs that we still would not know about if Snowden had gone through official channels.

Comment: Classrooms Are A Bug, Not a Feature (Score 1) 181

by Bob9113 (#47905817) Attached to: Oculus Rift CEO Says Classrooms of the Future Will Be In VR Goggles

Education? ... Yes! Why it's great for education! In fact, it's the future of the classroom! And don't forget, Oculus Rift is both a floor wax and a dessert topping!

But seriously:

And if we can make virtual reality every bit as good as real reality in terms of communications and the sense of shared presence with others, you can now educate people in virtual classrooms, you can now educate people with virtual objects, and we can all be in a classroom together [virtually], we can all be present, we can have relationships and communication that are just as good as the real classroom

Classroom teaching is a bug, not a feature. It is a side effect of the fact that our earholes and eyeballs are connected to our skulls, and until recently we had to put them in the same meatspace where the teacher was talking and showing pictures. Once you step into the no-physical-presence-required realm of using a VR headset, you can release the restrictions imposed by the simultaneous physical presence requirement.

One simple example: Lecture halls, with their tiered seating -- those are designed that way because we can't see through each other, not because it is better to be sixty feet away and at a thirty degree angle from the teacher.

And how about discussions? Hierarchical, collaboratively moderated, store-and-forward discussion threads are much better than "realtime whoever gets the teacher's attention before the bell rings." We've been using the latter because that's the best we had for thousands of years.

Comment: Re:Spurious Claim (Score 1) 228

by Bob9113 (#47903099) Attached to: School Installs Biometric Fingerprint System For Cafeteria

It certainly less risky than walking around the streets with huge money clip

Did you not even read the links about Home Depot, Supervalu, and Albertson's? It is not certainly less risky. For example, it is more risky if you live in an area that has very little threat of mugging, or if you are perceived as a bad target for muggers. I generally have a few hundred dollars in my pocket, and have never been mugged; but my card is for sale on the Russian markets right now because I used Home Depot.

You are as stubbornly ignorant as people who say self-driving cars will automatically be safer. Computers aren't magically endowed with perfection. Believe me; I'm a software engineer, and I've seen some really heinous bugs. I'm not saying electronic payments (or autonomous vehicles) are bad -- I'm saying software and networks have risks just like meatware and meatspace.

Comment: Re:just prepay for food (Score 0) 228

by Bob9113 (#47902809) Attached to: School Installs Biometric Fingerprint System For Cafeteria

in my kid's school in the USA the only way to pay for school lunch is to send a check once a month... no tracking

Interesting difference, there. There must be tracking in your kid's school's system, otherwise they wouldn't know who paid for lunch, but the tracking data probably doesn't get appropriated by an outside company. Presumably, this biometric company is not just making a buck on the scanners, software, and cloud-based management contract -- presumably they also have a plan for monetizing the data they are collecting about the kids.

Comment: Spurious Claim (Score 1) 228

by Bob9113 (#47902755) Attached to: School Installs Biometric Fingerprint System For Cafeteria

The benefits are that pupils are less likely to lose [money stored in the fingerprint system than money carried in their pockets]

That is a spurious claim. The security on money stored in pockets and exchanged by physical transfer of a monetary token is fallible, but so is the security on the cafeteria electronic wallet system. Home Depot, Supervalu, and Albertson's are very recent examples of major compromises, and the number of small scale compromises is enormous.

Fingerprints can be faked, networks can be cracked, databases can crash. Merely moving from physical currency to electronic currency does not make it more secure -- just ask Mt. Gox.

Comment: Re:define "customer" (Score 1) 287

by Bob9113 (#47888457) Attached to: German Court: Google Must Stop Ignoring Customer E-mails

from what i understand of the definition of "customer", a "customer" means "someone who is paying for a service". here, there's no payment involved, therefore there is no contract of sale.

The correct legal term for payment is, "consideration." The user's relationship with Gmail does involve payment in the form of consideration, and they are customers.

As a counter-example; if you download Free Software, or Open Source Software, and use it without making any promises to the developer, you are not a customer. Possibly if Gmail had no ToS or AUP, they could argue that their users gave no consideration. I'd be interested to see that argued.

+ - GamerGate May Have Been an Op

Submitted by Bob9113
Bob9113 (14996) writes "Casey Johnston at Ars Technica has a story on GamerGate: "A set of IRC logs released Saturday appear to show that a handful of 4chan users were ultimately behind #GamerGate, the supposedly grass-roots movement aimed at exposing ethical lapses in gaming journalism. The logs show a small group of users orchestrating a "hashtag campaign" to perpetuate misogynistic attacks by wrapping them in a debate about ethics in gaming journalism....""

Comment: Re:Excellent Question (Score 1) 191

by Bob9113 (#47861895) Attached to: US Rust Belt Manufacturing Rebounds Via Fracking Boom

While I get what you are saying as far as "research" it's kind of like saying; "We can't know how to treat Agent Orange damage if we don't keep spraying Agent Orange -- there won't be enough data."

While I get what you are saying, I think you are using a charged metaphor. We know how bad Agent Orange is. We genuinely do not know how dangerous fracking is. Try replacing Agent Orange with, for example, "the search for the Higgs Boson", or "artificial intelligence", or some other thing that has unknown potential to be disastrous.

Fracking is a transition tech -- it's getting the last bits of natural gas and that's fine. But if we spent more money pushing the alternative energy -- which WILL EVENTUALLY be cheaper, we speed the day and time when it's more viable.

I agree, completely, though I think that's not a problem with fracking. I think the right place for that is a tax on fossil fuels to generate some friction on fossil fuel use. If you want, the collected revenue could be targeted to stimulate alternatives, but I tend to want to keep governments hands off the stimulus side (since they're so good at handing the money to their friends instead of the most promising technology) -- though I'd be more OK with the money going to government funded research, particularly if the results were put in the public domain -- like maybe cellulosic fiber biofuel research... but I digress. :)

The environment and mankind will be better off on alternative energy so why are we dragging our feet on that while making excuses for the BAD STUFF somehow getting better? It makes no sense and that's not being "entrenched" on a point of view. Solar and Wind are the future -- there is no good excuse to wait.

I agree with where your sentiment is coming from, and I think it's a good place. But I'm not sure I completely agree that we, as a society, are entrenched and waiting. We have fossil fuel taxes in place, and we are doing stimulus of solar and wind. And it's going really well -- have you seen the prices of PV panels lately? They've dropped a lot -- when I first started looking in 2008, a 250 watt panel was about $1,000. Now you can get them for under $300.

And I'm not 100% against fracking -- I just recognize it as a stop gap measure.

Very agreed.

Comment: Re:Excellent Question (Score 2) 191

by Bob9113 (#47861717) Attached to: US Rust Belt Manufacturing Rebounds Via Fracking Boom

You'll notice that your "market failure" argument is completely based on a non-market "government chill-factor" driver?

No, I will not. The same short-term-orientation market failure would occur in a pure laissez-faire system. In that case, the failure to account for long-term risk combined with limited liability, bankruptcy, and shell corporations would result in the same public risk / private profit that is the primary economic failure with fracking now.

I will grant that it is exacerbated by the current government stance of "no regulation now, unknown-and-probably-stricter regulation in the future." Solving that hastening of the public risk, however, only requires that regulation remain approximately the same or become less strict over time. Combined with the fact that some level of regulation to offset public risk exposure (negative externality) is the GDP maximizing solution, starting with zero regulation is necessarily incorrect.

Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must be first overcome. -- Dr. Johnson

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