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Comment: Re:Good ruling (Score 1) 136

I agree that zero tolerance is a bad idea, but what they've struck down is the "reasonable person" standard in any kind of criminal case. It has nothing to do with zero tolerance.

IANAL, but I suspect the issue is that to convict someone for a serious crime you generally have to show "mens rea" ("guilty mind") -- that the defendant had the intent of committing the crime in question. If so the ruling may be reasonable, but not for the reasons you suggest. If I'm right, what SCOTUS is saying is that the jury has to determine that the husband actually intended to threaten his wife.

As for the civil liberties implications, they appear to be more limited than most people seem to believe. Threatening someone is still a crime. It's just not a crime to say something someone would misconstrue as a threat, even if that person is being reasonable.

Comment: Re:Like the sailor that blow into his sail... (Score 1) 196

by hey! (#49819399) Attached to: Fuel Free Spacecrafts Using Graphene

Well, without actually reading the article itself I'll venture an opinion of course. If you carried the fuel and lasers yourself it wouldn't be like the sailor blowing on his own sail at all; it's be like the sailor facing the stern and blowing his ship forward. That's because the ship would still be powered by the rearward expulsion of electrons.

The advantage of the system with an external laser is (I presume) that even though it is no doubt very energy inefficient, since all you're expelling is electrons the specific impulse would be quite high. This allows you to apply small amount of thrust, but continuously for a long time without the bulk of your payload being fuel. If you are going to carry the fuel needed to power the thrusters you might as well go with compact ion thrusters.

Comment: WARNING: WOT still flags SF as "Trusted" (Score 2) 361

by FreeUser (#49815011) Attached to: SourceForge and GIMP [Updated]

This behavior should get SourceForge blacklisted as both cyber-squatters and adware, possibly malware vendor.

I agree 100%. 10 years ago sourceforge was a great site. Now it's basically a malware haven. Unfortunately, plugins like Web of Trust (WoT) seem to have been slow to catch up ... WoT is still marking sourceforge as green ("trusted"). Perhaps blackholing the site in DNS really is the best answer...

Comment: Re:A tax break isn't s subsidy (Score 1) 348

by swillden (#49811273) Attached to: How Elon Musk's Growing Empire is Fueled By Government Subsidies

Actually corporate taxes result in higher wages as they are a write off for the company and reducing the corporate tax to zero would mean less incentive to pay high wages as those wages can be profits instead.

This is a rather silly argument. Money out is money out, whether it's paid in taxes or in salaries, or in capital expenditures. Companies are always going to seek to minimize their expenses to the degree possible, and the fact that increasing an employee's salary by $1 comes at a marginal cost of only 80 cents doesn't make the company any more anxious to spend that 80 cents, and more than it makes the company want to spend more on raw materials, or real estate, or property taxes, or paper clips.

With lower wages and higher taxes on consumers the company is going to lose revenue as people won't have money to spend

There's no reason to expect wages to decline without corporate taxes. Most likely the new equilibrium point will be that wages will be slightly higher in the exact amount needed to cover the additional taxes paid by the employees.

But now the employee will know the tax they're paying.

remember that taxes on consumers is always paid by employers in one way or another.

You have that exactly backwards. Taxes are all ultimately paid by people, because only people actually produce or consume.

Of course on the plus side, we can all incorporate and reduce our tax burden.

Wouldn't work. Any money you take out of the corporation to live on, or any money the corporation spends on you (housing, vehicle, food, etc.) is personal income, and would be taxed as such. About the only thing you could achieve this way is to defer taxes on savings. But they'd still get taxed eventually.

Comment: Re:Not a discovery (Score 5, Interesting) 79

by swillden (#49809849) Attached to: Scientists Study Crime In Progress In a VR Simulated Environment

Burglars have been telling us this for decades. Nothing new has been learned simply by using a video game scenario. In this the psychologists are half a century behind law enforcement. But it probably makes for a good grant write up.

Similarly, there was no point in Galileo and Newton studying the way stuff falls because everyone has been watching stuff fall forever.

You don't seem to get science. Finding a way to systematically study a subject in a controlled environment is the first step to dramatically increasing knowledge in that subject, at a pace that non-systematic, anecdotal experience -- however broad and deep -- cannot touch. In the case of the psychology of crime this has been problematic for the reasons mentioned in the study. The discovery here is that simulation may offer mechanisms that enable previously impossible areas of study, not the lessons about how burglars search homes. It's no surprise that the findings of the initial tests didn't contradict law enforcement experience... in fact if they had contradicted that experience it would have been a bad thing, since odds are that the new methodology would have been at fault, not the old experience.

If they can manage to establish a solid research methodology, though, and outline clearly its strengths and weaknesses, then they can start using it to systematically explore the subject. Odds are that many initial findings will merely corroborate anecdotal evidence. That's fine, and contrary to common non-scientific wisdom, it does not mean that such confirmatory studies are a waste of time and money. It's worth effort to establish that what you believe to be true really is (or, more precisely, to increase your confidence that it really is; absolute "truth" isn't reachable). But it's also a near certainty that, given a good experimental methodology, researchers will quickly be able to learn things that traditional wisdom does not know.

But none of that can happen if the subject can't be effectively studied and, particularly in psychology, it's often the case that the real breakthrough is in devising a way to test and measure. After that, the rest is just grunt work.

Will this method really enable significantly better research into the psychology of crime? I don't know. But it seems promising, and noteworthy.

Comment: Re:A tax break isn't s subsidy (Score 1) 348

by swillden (#49809581) Attached to: How Elon Musk's Growing Empire is Fueled By Government Subsidies

I actually like the idea of abolishing corporate taxes to extend this benefit to all businesses

I like this as well, and for another reason that you didn't mention. I think government should be accountable to its people, including in the money it takes and spends on their behalf. This implies a need for transparency in taxation: People should know what taxes they're paying. The problem with corporate taxes is that although they are inevitably paid by the people -- in the form of higher prices to consumers, lower wages to employees and reduced return for investors -- washing them through the corporations effectively hides the taxes from the taxpayers. There's also a good argument (which I won't detail here) that corporate taxes are rather regressive, falling most heavily on the lower and lower middle classes.

Far and equitable taxation requires being open to taxpayers about what they're paying. Corporate taxes fail that test.

Comment: Re:Till they're not.... (Score 1) 175

Google is declaring that Google Photos lets you backup and store "unlimited, high-quality photos and videos, for free."

Thats until they're NOT.... Google has a VERY nasty habit of cranking up these spiffy services, running them for a while, getting everybody onboard with them, then turning them off.... Stay away!! STAY FAR AWAY!!


Google shut down a raft of lightly-used and virtually unused services when Larry Page took over as CEO. Google has never shut down a widely-used service (no, Reader wasn't widely-used), and also has a habit of providing plenty of notice and options for getting your data out of every service, especially those that are being shut down.

So what's the worst case? You get a nice service for a few years and then have to download your photos and move them elsewhere. On the other hand, if this really does end up doing to on-line photo storage and sharing what Gmail did for e-mail, it will go the way of Gmail -- become a core product that is not ever going away.

Comment: Re:Yes more reliable (Score 4, Informative) 100

by swillden (#49807433) Attached to: Google Calendar Ends SMS Notifications

And SMS is the most reliable because it involves the voice signaling channel and telephone companies are more or less required to reliably deliver them.

Not with newer phones; Verizon's new model phones all deliver SMS via the data network.

But your smartphone calendar can notify you even when you don't have service. That's a level of reliability SMS can't touch.

All constants are variables.