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Comment: Parent Post Semantic Content: Null (Score 5, Insightful) 261

by FreeUser (#49354007) Attached to: How Professional Russian Trolls Operate

It's only those damn Russians are doing this, all other countries are saint.

Yeah, because that makes it all OK then.

Your comment is designed to distract from the issue at hand, shut down intelligent conversation on the topic, and imply the wrongdoer is just fine because, by implication, "everybody else does it, too" (no evidence to said implication provided, certainly not proven, and probably not true), all without contributing a single creative or new thought to the discussion at all.

Nice job, (Russian?) troll.

Comment: Re: Linux? OS X? Chrome OS? Nope. OpenBSD! (Score 1) 167

by FreeUser (#49349361) Attached to: NJ School District Hit With Ransomware-For-Bitcoins Scheme

Until systemd is removed from a major Linux distro, I would consider that distro to be less secure than even a Windows system.

Some Poettering apologist will probably mark you as a troll, but for completeness there are a number of distros that default to non-systemd init architectures, including but not limited to

Calculate, Gentoo, Funtoo, Source Mage, Dyson, indeed all kinds of distros either default or support running a systemd-free system.

Comment: Speak for yourself; most of us DO have ethics (Score 2) 90

by FreeUser (#49294921) Attached to: Google: Our New System For Recognizing Faces Is the Best

Scientists and engineers are by definition not supposed to be ethical.

"I just invented the bomb. I didn't drop it."
        --Brice, Max Headroom Episode 1 "Blipverts", 1987

Reference (in particular, the third video clip):

Back then that line was meant as tongue-in-cheek humor, funny because of its ridiculousness Depressing that we've degenerated so far that you've actually said the equivalent with all seriousness. (The same could be said for many things in that once funny, now prophetic series.)

As engineers and scientists we do NOT check our humanity at the door, or our ethics. At least, good engineers and scientists do not.

Comment: Re:Yes. What do you lose? But talk to lawyer first (Score 5, Interesting) 734

by FreeUser (#49192407) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Should I Let My Kids Become American Citizens?

Yes. They don't lose anything by becoming citizens (there are tax issues but they are pretty minor), and being a US citizen has a lot of advantages, like the support of US consulate services.

I'm a dual citizen (born American, obtained British citizenship while I lived there), and while my default position would be "you should grant them US citizenship as that opens up more options to them if they ever want to live in the US" (and despite the many issues, there are still good reasons to want to live here for many people), it should be said that the tax bullshit really is onerous, and renunciation would be expensive. It is like the US congress has built a financial Berlin wall around the country ... sure, you're free to leave, if you can pay up (and pay for expensive tax preparers who specialize in filing US taxes for expats, as the forms are by no means easy), but good luck ever getting out from under our thumb.

It's not an easy question to answer, and as someone else suggested, I would involve your 16 or 17-year old child in the decision beforehand, with good financial and legal advice on the implications pro and con. Weighing the option of living here vs. the never-ending IRS headaches of living abroad--that's a tough one.

Comment: Intelligence is like money (Score 1) 366

by FreeUser (#48161843) Attached to: Scanning Embryos For Super-Intelligent Kids Is On the Horizon

Intelligence is a lot like money.

Those who've always had an abundance generally either think its no big deal, because they've never suffered the limitations of not having enough, or look down on those with less and consider them inferior.

Those in the middle have enough to see the benefits of having more, and want to improve themselves in order to get more.

At the bottom this analogy falters, but I think the point remains. It's easy to dismiss making the rest of the population smarter when you're already smart and not suffering the limitations imposed on those with less to work with. I find the notion that we shouldn't meddle and just leave those who draw the short genetic-straw to be cruel and self-serving. If the lowest common denominator is raised, chance are the whole society benefits, the world becomes a better, more thoughtful place, and the overall pie grows accordingly.

Comment: Go for it! (Score 1) 405

So it sits there. Unpublished by anyone. I'll never know if nobody likes it until I hit the go button. But I'm also scared to learn that I suck at something I enjoy doing.

I went through a similar process to yours, with agents liking (but not taking) my novel. My wife has won literary awards for works agents wouldn't take because they couldn't see her stories becoming best sellers. Not just doing well (which they admitted they would do), but becoming best sellers! The entire publisher/agent thing is a bad joke on creative talent. These self appointed gatekeepers of our culture often miss the next big thing and are rarely looking for a new, different voice despite what they claim, but rather the next celebrity ghostwritten tripe where they can make a quick buck.

I can relate to your fear of rejection...I share it...but I'd encourage you to go for it. Make sure your book is professionally edited and proofread (this is absolutely critical, and far too many self-published authors don't do this). While you're doing that, figure out a promotional strategy. For example, line up bookstores in your area for signings, create a presence on goodreads, participate in book fairs, lit fests, and conventions applicable to your genre, etc.

Don't be too disappointed if you don't sell a ton of copies (it is very hard to get noticed), and don't measure yourself on that...measure yourself on how well people enjoy your work. That is the real metric on how well you write, and how good your work is. My novel Autonomy received all kinds of good reviews (from people I've never met!), but it's still not a "best seller." Just put your edited, polished work out there and if those who read it love it, then you don't "suck at something" you enjoy. Quite the opposite.

Comment: Banks deflecting attention from themselves (Score 2) 342

by FreeUser (#46683107) Attached to: Australia May 'Pause' Trades To Tackle High-Frequency Trading

High frequency trading isn't the issue. The banks are the real "insiders", and are pointing fingers at small, high frequency prop shops to deflect attention from themselves, and to get back to the bad old days when they could really gouge their customers with wide spreads.

High frequency traders make their money by having better pricing models, narrowing spreads in the market, and being able to execute and then get out of a position quickly to lock in their profits and eliminate risk. The banks like to be the middleman, with wide spreads, so that they can pocket the difference.

The net result of high frequency traders is that the rest of us can get a stock much closer to their actual value (due to narrow spreads). Yes, the high freqency traders make good money by selling the stock $0.005 off the "real" value to me and then immediately getting out of the position by reselling it a millisecond later and locking in that $0.005 profit, but I have only paid a premium of $0.005 instad of the $0.35 or worse the banks would love to gouge me for (and used to, a few short years ago).

We get rid of high freqency trading and we'll be back to the bad old days, when the real insiders really did gouge us, and we all paid far too much for our investments, and were able to sell at far too little, with the likes of Goldman Sachs pocketing the enormous difference.

As for the front-running nonsense on 60 Minutes, that's always been illegal (contrary to what we're being told), and it is not at all how high frequency trading works. If someone was in fact doing that, then they're in a whole world of hurt with the SEC (and rightly so), but this entire exercise appears much more like a distraction: blame small outsider firms who've made the marketplace more effecient and tightened spreads for problems created by corruption within the big banks, and hope no one least until the next bank-induced crash.

Comment: Re:Shooting themselves in the foot (Score 5, Interesting) 229

by FreeUser (#46487167) Attached to: Elon Musk Addresses New Jersey's Tesla Store Ban

If you want to register a vehicle that you've purchased out of state in NJ, you have to pay sales tax on it, unless it was previously registered at your former address in the state where it was purchased. So basically, if you live in NJ and want a Tesla, you have to pay sales tax (and possibly registration fees) in the state you purchase it, and then pay sales tax AGAIN in order to register it in NJ.

That's true in most states. I got lucky in that I'd bought my car ~7 months before moving from New York City to Chicago...had I bought it 2 months later, I would have been stuck with sales tax in both states.

That said, as egregious as this is, it is nothing compared to the bullshit New York City and New York State inflict upon their residents. When I moved out of the state, I had to pay a punitive tax for having the audacity of leaving New York state. I kid you not. At around $3k, it's enough to hurt, but just under the amount that would make a lawsuit overturning this doubtlessly unconsitituional tax financially worthwile. That said, after this experience I will never willingly live in New York state again.

Comment: The cost benefit analysis is quite simple (Score 0) 347

by FreeUser (#46334029) Attached to: NSA and GHCQ Employing Shills To Poison Web Forum Discourse

So: can anyone come up with a cost/benefit analysis, please ?

For the NSA/CIA, the Koch-brother sponsored right wing zealot groups, etc. the cost benefit analysis is quite simple.

Does it benefit the NSA/CIA/Koch Bro groups and their agendas, directly or indirectly, even a little? If so, do it. If not, don't. There is undoubtably a risk analysis component (how likely are we to get caught?) but the general pattern seems to be to do what they like and rely on their ability to destory the reputation of any people of good conscience who stand up against them, much less report their malfeasance.

What is particularly disturbing about this is the lengths to which they are willing to go, the degree of negative-sum activities they are willing to engage in (they don't mind engaging in massively destructive activities against others for very modest, even minor gains, where the negative impact to their oponents, society or the world dwarfs their own miniscule gains), and the degree of silence from otherwise "good persons" who nearly always opt to do (and say) nothing. It reminds me of the old post-WW II adage which concludes "and when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out" (paraphrased).

Comment: More accurately, for ubiquitous governance (Score 5, Interesting) 219

by FreeUser (#45891499) Attached to: Intel Puts a PC Into an SD Card-Sized Casing

These particular devices are not meant for human interfacing or running a UI, but for the Internet of Things(really hate that name) and ubiquitous computing.

I share your loathing for that name. The fact is, these are intended for ubiquitious governance, where everything from a baby rattle to your keychain is a governance device designed to monitor, track, and someday soon record your every action and movement.

The price at which we'll all be willing to sell out to this level of surveillance and control? The convinience of being able to find our car keys whenever we lose them, and monitor our babies without a baby monitor. Do it for the children, and to protect yourself from terrorists! Welcome to the future, where we are all chattel of the state, and there is no getting away.

Comment: Fine, I'll be happy take your money (Score 1) 469

by FreeUser (#45779195) Attached to: Is the World Ready For Facial Recognition On Google Glass?

I was a teen sereval teen-cycles ago, and the 1st idiot wearing Glass that I meet will need a good medical team, no discussion, period.
Tech is great, but in the current climate of mistrust this is a bad, bad idea and technology.

Do it to me, and your wages will be garnished for life. You'll be buying me a new airplane if you so much as touch me. It's a public place, they're free photons buddy, and I'm not the government. Get over it.

You want to go after someone, go after the NSA, or the credit bureaus, or the many, many assholes already selling every aspect of your life you think is secret. Don't go after your fellow citizens who now, at long last, are starting to get the technology that levels the playing field and allows them to in turn start watching the watchers.

Comment: Just give us one fucking sales tax rate already (Score 4, Informative) 293

Well, that is the current dream of many.. find ways to have all the benefits of operating in the US without paying for it. Taxes are something that it is in one's best interest to have other people paying.

I don't mind paying taxes, and wouldn't mind paying a standard VAT to sell anywhere in the US. But the local US sales tax laws are a complete clusterfuck. When I'm selling books in various locations, I have to dig up the tax rate for that location It's a hassle, but doable, but some states are really fucked up.

New York is one of them.

Sales tax varies depending on which county, in some cases which city or which part of the city you're in. Tax rates coded to zip codes don't work...some zipcodes span localities with wildly varying sales tax rates. I'lliinois is better, but still, rates vary depending on whether you're in Chicago proper, one of the suburbs, or one of the localities downstate.

Multiply this complexity by 50 states and you begin to realize what a complete clusterfuck it is for any small online buisiness to try and cope with. Shipping a package to Bumblefuck, Nebraska? What's the sales tax? How about Buttfuck, New York? Good luck.

Impose a national VAT of x percent, and kick back some or all of it to the states, and ban local sales taxes of any kind. This needs to be vastly simplified. Even if it were 50 states and 50 different sales tax rates that would be doable, but with many dozens of different sales tax venues with varying rates in New York alone, and plenty of states like Illiinois with a few cities that impose their own surtax to the state rate, figuring this crap out is a nightmare on the best of days. If every state is allowed to impose its taxes on all online folks, only the big players like Amazon will be able to cope. The rest of us, and most new startups, will crumble under the burden.

If a thing's worth having, it's worth cheating for. -- W.C. Fields