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Comment Re: Islam's relationship to modern science (Score 2) 330

But nobody reads the Quran, any more than they read Numbers, or Leviticus, or Acts, or the Book of Mormon (which is a REAL hoot).

I've read Numbers and Leviticus. The first five books, really. Leviticus was interesting, somewhat, in an anthropological sense. Numbers, on the other hand, was painful. Like reading the census, in prose. Either way, I credit actually reading part of the Christian Bible (the Jewish Torah?) with helping me develop a healthy atheism.

But you wrote a fantastic post. I hope you're modded up.

Comment Re:Don't call it "ISIS" or ISIL" (Score 1) 318

You can, but you choose not to?

I followed your link, but it didn't really answer any of my questions. It did, however, provide an audio recording (14m33s in length!), so I gave you the benefit of the doubt and wasted some more time listening to it. It didn't answer any of my questions either, so perhaps I can clarify them by repeating myself.

How does “al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham” turns into "Daesh"? An acronym is generally composed of the a concatenation of the initial letters of a phrase or sequence of words. That would result in either "DIIS" or "ADAIFAIWAS", depending on whether or not the initial letters of definite/indefinite articles are included in the acronym. It would not result in "Daesh" based on any common system of generating acronyms. Indeed, the "a", "e", and "h" in "Daesh" don't correspond to the initial letter of any words in the original name of the group, and there is no explanation of why they are found in this supposed acronym.

Why is "Daesh" capitalized the way it is, and not as acronyms typically are? For example, let's look at other acronyms. ISIS, ISIL and NASA, but not Isis, Isil, or Nasa. A key property of acronyms is that they are expressed in all-capitals. If Daesh is an acronym, why is it always written as Daesh and never as DAESH (as we'd expect an acronym to be written)?

Why should people use a foreign language to refer to a concept which is adequately represented using their native language? Since Slashdot is an English-speaking site, it seems unreasonable to support conversation in other languages, including Arabic. Learning Arabic in order to participate in discussions about this organization is an unreasonable burden, and communicating in a language in which one is not conversational doesn't seem reasonable either. When English-speakers are discussing this group among each other, is there any benefit from using a foreign language instead of English? Does this benefit outweigh the benefit of using the native English instead?

[I'd also mention something about the inherent absurdity in trying to create a Latin acronym from Arabic script, but Slashdot doesn't care for my non-Latin character set]

Comment Re:Don't call it "ISIS" or ISIL" (Score 1) 318

Daesh: This is a term the militant group hates. French President François Hollande has used it since the attacks Friday, and first used it in September 2014. It’s an Arabic acronym for “al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham.” It can sometimes be spelled DAIISH, Da'esh or Daech, a popular French version. The hacktivist group Anonymous and President Barack Obama have used the term since the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris.

Can you explain to me how “al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham” turns into "Daesh" (and not DIIS or ADAIFAIWAS)? Specifically, where do the "a", "e", and "h" in "Daesh" come from (especially the e)? Additionally, can you explain why "Daesh" is capitalized the way it is, and not as acronyms typically are (i.e. DAESH)? Furthermore, since Slashdot is a predominantly English-speaking site, can you explain why you're encouraging people to use an acronym for an Arabic name that most people are not familiar with? Shouldn't you at least be encouraging the readers to learn Arabic before expecting them to embrace Arabic acronyms?

Comment Re:what good will this do ? (Score 1) 318

Their entire PR and recruiting operation works on twitter, facebook and other social network properties. You don't actually think they are calling people do you?

They don't do in-person recruiting? When a village is overrun and captured by ISIS, they don't just round up and indoctrinate everyone? They do this via twitter and facebook instead?


Comment Re:Of course they'd blame technology (Score 3, Insightful) 259

And when the police are 10 minutes away, there will be a body count identical to Paris or worse.

This attack killed 129 people [1], but let's get some perspective. France has a traffic-related death rate of 4.9 per 100,000 per year [2], and Paris has a population of 2.24 million [3]. A naive estimate suggests that roughly 110 people die a traffic-related death in Paris every year. That's comparable to the death toll resulting from this attack.

ISIS could commit an attack like this in Paris every single year and it wouldn't be significantly worse than the death caused by motorists. Let's keep some perspective, please. While this attack was despicable, it doesn't represent anything like an existential threat. Giving ISIS "incredibly easy access to their streets" is not significantly more dangerous than allowing people to drive cars. "Bordering on treason" may sound like a level-headed analysis of the situation to some, but I question how accurate it is.

Comment Re:Work for free!! (Score 2) 124

Yay! Nothing says "success" like working for free. Great job!

I'd say that Brendan Sudol, the winning bidder, may not have been compensated in dollars, but surely in notoriety. Now he's the first person to have won a contract with the GSA through this reverse auction system. Definitely a nice item in his portfolio.

Comment Re:TL;DR? (Score 1) 208

Hi. I'm an EE (who learned to code long before college) that's had a decent career writing code for almost ten years now, currently employed writing mostly Java and Python in the world of data analytics. Being a bit (but only a bit) of a hardware nerd, I've always hoped the EE background would help me land a job working with microcontrollers, coding assembly or C, maybe even on robotics or avionics projects, something my inner 12-year-old would appreciate.

What's up with embedded development? At least here in the NY/NJ area, there's a nearly total absence of embedded development positions, from what I've seen. I don't know if it's a saturated market or if the industry just tends to other areas of the country/world, but outside of the telecommunications industry, I've only come across a single open position anywhere near here in the last year. It was at a medical device company, which seemed interesting enough, but the pay was half of what I make just being a mindless Java/Python person. Do you have any familiarity with the industry, perhaps relevant to this region, that you could share? Are there any geographic hotspots for this type of employment where I might have better luck finding different sorts of opportunities along these lines (either US or EU)? Or, alternately, is embedded development even still worth trying to get into? It seems (to an outsider, at least) that a lot of this work may have left the West. Is that accurate, to any extent?

Comment Re: this is why we have crap for politicians (Score 1) 309

I'm not arguing that maintaining small family farms is a good thing, I think it's foolish. But sales of family farms forced by the owner's death can be hard on the heirs.

Forgive me for lacking the empathy to be able to say that inheriting over $5.43M in assets "can be hard" on people. They're getting a net gain. A huge net gain. Larger than most people can ever hope for. I'm sure it also "can be hard" on them that they can't just outright rob the poor too. First world problems.

Comment Re: this is why we have crap for politicians (Score 1) 309

Um, that's not the way it works... The estate total needs to be less than $5.43 million.

No, the estate tax is paid by heirs, not by the decedent.

That's a lot of cash, but it's not a lot of land, especially in an area near a city where land values have increased astronomically.

It's a lot of land by value. Estate tax is relative to value. There's no reason why someone inheriting a tiny 0.1 acre lot in Manhattan worth $10M should face a lesser tax burden than someone inheriting a sprawling parcel in flyover country worth $10M.

Most farms, (especially small ones) are land rich and cash poor.

What is the relevance of how someone's investments are allocated?

Even a modest estate tax as a percentage on five million of land is a pretty huge amount of money.

Indeed, and that's because five million [dollars] is itself a pretty huge amount of money.

There is no way to invest that land in a CD or do something else to prepare for a hefty tax bill.

If capital is allocated such that there is insufficient liquidity to cover expenses, that sounds like a personal problem. Perhaps selling the aforementioned $5M farm, buying a $4M farm instead, and saving the $1M to cover heirs' expenses would be a better approach?

So they will basically be forced to sell the land to pay even a modest tax. Now, it's true that they won't be suffering. They will each get a nice check for a cool million or so. But the family farm will be gone in favor of tract housing and a strip mall.

Why should it be the responsibility of the poor to subsidize the farms of millionaires?

Comment Re:FBI didn't detain him (Score 1) 318

The USA is "is a federal republic composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major territories and various possessions." (citation)

A federal republic is "federation of states with a democratic form of government." (citation)

A state is a political entity.

I think the problem you're running into is your conflation of a state with the population that lives under it. It's this type of unfortunate ignorance that causes the Ayatollah to explicitly clarify the distinction, in the context of the "Death to America" chants. This distinction may be lost on you, but it's not lost on those of use who are precise with our language.

Comment Re:drones (Score 1) 318

(Oh and let's not forget, nearly everybody, republican and democrat, supported the use of force in Iraq at the time, many of whom had full access to the same intelligence as the president.)

Bernie Sanders opposed the use of force in Iraq at the time.

"The question, Mr. Speaker, is not whether we like Saddam Hussein or not. The question is whether he represents an imminent threat to the American people and whether a unilateral invasion of Iraq will do more harm than good." -- Bernie Sanders (video and transcript)

He also lists five reasons why he was opposed to the use of force, each of which seem nearly clairvoyant in hindsight.

Bernie 2016.

Comment Re: this is why we have crap for politicians (Score 1) 309

You don't understand the situation. I own lots of Berkshire Hathaway shares and I understand the issue.

My estate may have a high valuation because BRK share prices have increased. However, my holdings generate no dividends at all, putting me way below the poverty line. I may appear to be rich or wealthy on paper, but that is only if I sell my BRK stock.

I may have inherited these shares, and perhaps my parents also inherited these shares. My ancestors may have sold their kidneys to buy these shares. They held these shares, were never rich or wealthy, and they passed the shares down to the next generation.

Now, because of the death tax/estate tax, the next generation is out of luck. The next generation is not rich and they will not be able to keep the BRK shares because they will be hit with a big tax bill. The next generation will not be able to keep the shares and pass them down to their kids.

The kids will get some cash from the forced sale of the shares but they will not be able to replace the BRK shares because the government confiscated more than 50% of the value of the BRK shares from them. This is not right.

Now do you see why your argument makes no sense?

Comment Re: this is why we have crap for politicians (Score 1) 309

And the result will be selling the family business to one of the very few agricultural conglomerates, furthering the wealth divide.

Selling the family business at market rate will not "further the wealth divide", as there would be no net change in wealth. Wealthy farmer woman sells her farm: she's down $21.72M in real estate, up $21.72M in cash. Agricultural conglomerate buys the farm: they're up $21.72M in real estate, down $21.72M in cash. Net difference: 0.

Unix is the worst operating system; except for all others. -- Berry Kercheval