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Comment: Re:Leverage the dealer network? (Score 1) 340

by T.E.D. (#46783089) Attached to: Mercedes Pooh-Poohs Tesla, Says It Has "Limited Potential"

Yeah, but how often do you purchase a brand new luxury car? Anyone who does that is essentially flushing $10,000+ dollars down the drain the instant they drive their car off the lot. What's a few thousand here or there after that?

This is a guy running Mercedes, so that's his point of reference.

Comment: Re:Had to do paper for a few years (Score 1) 385

by T.E.D. (#46766663) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

I have also heard that illegal immigrants get valid SSNs and pay taxes on them so that everything looks legit. IRS doesn't bother tracking them down ...

Well, they "pay taxes" on that SSN in that they have payroll, withholding, and Social Security taxes taken out with it, just like every other employed person (but they won't be able to actually get a refund or retire on that SSN). It can be a bit of a boon for the real holder of that SSN, as they get money put in their Social Security account that they didn't work for. However, if it were me I'd still want it straightened out. Bureaucracies and weird situations like that cause nothing but problems.

If I were IRS director though, rooting that out would certainly be bottom of my priority list. There's way too many people out there paying too little in taxes to spend limited resources tracking down people paying too much in taxes.

Comment: Re:is this seriously (Score 1) 297

by T.E.D. (#46760589) Attached to: Is Crimea In Russia? Internet Companies Have Different Answers

often get 90%+ participation. For example, just last month Putin has obviously orchestrated a non-binding independence referendum in Venice: 89% of participants voted for independence with

That's actually a very insightful (and it turns out informative) refutation.

You see, it turns out that Venice poll was not actually a proper plebiscite, but rather an online poll. Online polls aren't exactly famous for being accurate representations of popular opinion. I can't find any official number for participation, but it looks like they were "expecting" no more than half the electorate to vote.

So what would they have found in a real vote? Actual opinion polls on the question were apparently finding about 2/3 support for the idea. A 66% vote for a popular measure in a Democracy would be perfectly in line with what one would expect to see in a real vote.

But maybe you're right, and I should look at a real independence referendum. They are preparing to have one of those in Scotland soon, right? What are the predictions for numbers there? Well, current opinion polls seem to show the electorate running at about 50% to 33%, with the rest undecided. So we can expect that when election day happens, whichever side wins, it won't be by larger than 77%, and likely far less.

Or how about we look at actual numbers from an actual vote? Puerto Rico had a referendum on statehood/independence/etc. again two years ago. 78% of those eligible voted (so indeed high by western standards, but not ridiculously so), and the results were about 54% to 46%.

So I may have to grant you that turnout numbers may be a bit higher than normal during a referendum like this, but that's still worlds away from making the "results" the Russians reported from Crimea look anything like a real vote.

Comment: Re:Had to do paper for a few years (Score 1) 385

by T.E.D. (#46759647) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Do You Pay Your Taxes?

I tried to efile a few years ago and discovered someone had already submitted a tax return under my SSN. So I had to send in all my tax forms and all my proof of identity in paper, along with a statement of fraud or something of the sort. And I had to file paper again the next year since my SSN was blocked from efiling due to the fraud alert.

I'm hearing this is a popular new fraud. People file fake returns with someone else's SSN, and collect and cash their refund.

Personally I wonder what would happen in my case, as I actually owe $3,000. :-)

Comment: Re:is this seriously (Score 1) 297

by T.E.D. (#46759441) Attached to: Is Crimea In Russia? Internet Companies Have Different Answers

That's exactly what I'm saying. Despotic governments are not places where no elections happen; they are places where all the numbers in elections are up near 100% for whatever the current guys carrying guns want it to be.

If your "election" looks more like the numbers you'd see out of North Korea, it carries about as much weight as a videotaped "confession" from a guy with visible bruising.

Comment: Re:is this seriously (Score -1, Troll) 297

by T.E.D. (#46757907) Attached to: Is Crimea In Russia? Internet Companies Have Different Answers

You are just proving everyone else's point. In a real Democracy, people feel free to stay home and not vote. In a real Democracy, really popular issues or politicians win with something like 60%. The biggest win I've ever seen for a local issue here in my hometown (probably roughly the size of Crimea) is 75%.

Where do you see participation numbers over 85%? Where do you see issues getting approved with more the 93% of the vote? Not in free countries. You see that in places like North Korea, the worst Arab Despotistims, and banana Republics. You see it in history here:

...on 12 March 1938, Austrian Nazis took over government, while German troops occupied the country.[50] On 13 March 1938, the Anschluss of Austria was officially declared. Two days later Hitler (an Austrian by birth), announced what he called the "re-unification" of his home country with the "rest of Germany" on Vienna's Heldenplatz. He established a plebiscite confirming the union with Germany in April 1938.

Parliamentary elections were held in Germany (including recently annexed Austria) on 10 April 1938. They were the final elections to the Reichstag during Nazi rule and took the form of a single-question referendum asking whether voters approved of a single Nazi-party list for the 813-member Reichstag as well as the recent annexation of Austria (the Anschluss). Turnout in the election was officially 99.5% with 98.9% voting "yes". In the case of Austria, Hitler's native soil, 99.71% of an electorate of 4,484,475 officially went to the ballots, with a positive tally of 99.73%.[51]

If you want to fool yourself about what went on, that's fine. But we are generally smart people here on Slashdot. Don't insult our intelligence by acting like we will believe this. We are not stupid.

Comment: Re:is this seriously (Score 1) 297

by T.E.D. (#46757405) Attached to: Is Crimea In Russia? Internet Companies Have Different Answers
I neither said they were, nor implied it. Was I really that confusing?

Let me try again. I'll use a operating system analogy, so perhaps your geeky minds can understand better.

Much like an OS like Linux has levels of security organized into rings, there are essentially four "rings" of interest in this matter.

  • Ring 0 would be Crimea. Its their lives being directly affected.
  • Ring 1 would be Russia and what's left of Ukraine (assuming any still is left by the time you read this). They are the former and existing countries squabbling over it.
  • Ring 2 would be all of Russia's neighbors. This isn't the first time Putin has marched his troops into the ethnic Russian portions of a neighbor who's government was getting too uppity. Clearly its been working for him, so he's got no reason to quit doing it. They all have ethnic Russian minorities as well. It doesn't take a prophet to figure out the rest out.
  • Ring 3 would be anyone pledged to defend one of the countries within Ring 2. Since some of Russian's neighbors are NATO members, that means all of NATO (including Western Europe, Canada, and the USA).
  • Ring 4 would be anyone pledged to defend one of the countries within ring 3. (for simplicity's sake, we'll make this transitive)
  • Ring 5 would be everyone else. They can probably afford not to care (assuming things don't escalate to a point where large amounts of nukes are a real possibility)

If you think the idea of things escalating out to a Ring 3 or 4 problem is ridiculous, I highly suggest you take a hard look at how the last two World Wars started, and ask yourself what's completely different this time.

Comment: Re:is this seriously (Score 5, Insightful) 297

by T.E.D. (#46756569) Attached to: Is Crimea In Russia? Internet Companies Have Different Answers

The current government there is a party that got less than 10% of the vote in the last Crimean regional election, and was essentially appointed by Putin after his troops moved in. So it owes its entire political existence not to local support, but to the support of some guys in Moscow.

Its possible that if you had a completely free plebiscite on the issue, without Russian troops and "militias" backed by them standing around with guns, the people of Crimea would have willingly voted for something similar to what they have now. Its also possible they wouldn't. We'll never know now, because it doesn't look like there will be anything like a free election there again for quite a while.

Comment: Re:is this seriously (Score 2) 297

by T.E.D. (#46756411) Attached to: Is Crimea In Russia? Internet Companies Have Different Answers

If you are a Polynesian, perhaps it is a trivial detail. If you live in the area itself, a country bordering one of the principles (eg: Most of Eastern Europe), or a country pledged to militarily protect one of those countries (essentially all of Europe, Canada, and the USA), then this ought to matter a great deal to you.

This is essentially a story of an ongoing propaganda effort. Try as we might, there is flat out no way to classify any part of what a year ago was Ukraine without making a political statement. When you make a political statement, you are serving the purposes of one side or the other. These "sides" run countries with hundreds of millions of people in them, who might one day come to blows over the issue. There's no getting around that either.

There are still mobilized military units moving around in both the former and rump remainder parts of Ukraine. We honestly don't know if the country will exist at all two months from now. Getting their story out about their view of the status of these areas is just another ongoing part of the war (or whatever you want to call it), and websites like Wikipedia are bound to get caught in the middle.

Comment: Re:Not just the Declaration (Score 1) 147

by T.E.D. (#46746369) Attached to: 'weev' Conviction Vacated
That was essentially England's argument in sending colonists over there for trial. Its tough to get a lot of convictions out of a colonial jury that thinks the law itself is stupid (and they had no say in it). Parliment also passed laws taking both the appointment and salaries of judges out of the hands of the colonies. That showed up as a grievance everywhere too.

Comment: Not just the Declaration (Score 3, Interesting) 147

by T.E.D. (#46727795) Attached to: 'weev' Conviction Vacated
He wasn't kidding in the slightest about venue being a big issue in our break with Britain. You can find the issue at least alluded to as a grievance in just about any pre-war document. My favorite is Franklin's sarcastic Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One

This King, these Lords, and these Commons, who it seems are too remote from us to know us and feel for us, cannot take from us ... our Right of Trial by a Jury of our Neighbours. ... To annihilate this Comfort, ... let there be a formal Declaration of both Houses, that Opposition to your Edicts is Treason, and that Persons suspected of Treason in the Provinces may, according to some obsolete Law, be seized and sent to the Metropolis of the Empire for Trial; and pass an Act that those there charged with certain other Offences shall be sent away in Chains from their Friends and Country to be tried in the same Manner for Felony. Then erect a new Court of Inquisition among them, accompanied by an armed Force, with Instructions to transport all such suspected Persons, to be ruined by the Expence if they bring over Evidences to prove their Innocence, or be found guilty and hanged if they can’t afford it.

(emphasis his)

Comment: Re:Fuck the politics. This sucks regardless (Score 1) 86

by T.E.D. (#46704885) Attached to: Stem-Cell Research Funding Institute Is Shuttered

There are diseases where the only known effective treatment at this point in time is stem cells. And those are/were in the trial stages.

Fuck politics.

This is the thing that frustrates me the most about the current political situation. A few nihilists who have taken over one of our parties (the "Republican" one), are able to screw over the whole system so that nothing productive can get done. But that's not the worst part; any gamer can tell you that the world is full of griefers. The worst part is that they are getting away with this behavior because nobody blames them directly. So here you're clearly ticked, but you blame "politics". Why aren't you blaming the actual greifers causing the problem?

Hell, we're about to have an election this year, and both houses are likely to get more of these greifers. If voters don't make the responsible individuals pay for this behavior, where does it end?

Comment: Meh (Score 1) 146

by T.E.D. (#46704163) Attached to: Born To RUN: Dartmouth Throwing BASIC a 50th B-Day Party

Yeah, I've got a box full of old Creative Computing mags in the attic, and yeah, BASIC was my first programming language. But celebrate its birthday? Meh...

The language certainly has its place in history, but frankly I moved on a long time ago, and for damn good reason. To me, this would be like celebrating the birthday of the Hustle or Electric Slide. I might occasionally pine for the days of wall-to-wall shag carpeting, but that doesn't mean I'm about to install it in my living room again "for old time's sake". It died for a very good reason. Let it go.

Contemptuous lights flashed flashed across the computer's console. -- Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy