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Comment: Re:What? Why discriminate? (Score 2) 698

by ultranova (#49478071) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

I would be ok with removing all tax exempt statuses from churches as long as charity work was deductible for them.

Why should charity be deductible, for churches or anyone? You want to give your money to the poor, go ahead; but why should that exempt you from paying your share of the rent?

Remove all special treatment for religions, so the state can get out of the business of judging the sincerity of anyone's convictions, which it is absolutely unsuited for. And stop letting people use "charity" as a tax dodge.

Comment: Re:Too early for criticism. (Score 1) 238

Wouldn't it be better to do things that help all business, like lower taxes and improve infrastructure,

No, because that's not possible. Infrastructure costs money to build and maintain. You can have low taxes or good infrastructure but not both.

Of course there's always the third option of inheriting decent infrastructure from your parents and refusing to maintain it, trusting it to last your lifetime without. That way you can have low taxes and civilization at the cost of screwing future generations.

Comment: Re:Stop trying to cure me. (Score 2) 137

by ultranova (#49462559) Attached to: UW Scientists, Biotech Firm May Have Cure For Colorblindness

This is only slightly funny. I've some colleagues with deaf children who came under enormous social pressure for getting cochlear implants for their children.

People develop subcultures over various real or imaginary similarities or differences, and once created identity with these subcultures. A deaf person who's part of "deaf subculture" would lose the part of themselves they've invested in it if they had their hearing fixed. The same happens if the subculture disappears for any other reason, for example because no new members enter. A solution is altering the subculture so it no longer requires continued deafness as membership requirement; maybe "ex-deaf" or "hearing assisted" could be viable directions?

AFAIK there's no similar colorblind subculture, so there shouldn't be a problem with treating it as a mere medical condition - which might still not make it a good idea to risk gene therapy to fix it, but that's a separate issue.

Comment: Re:better idea (Score 2) 165

by ultranova (#49456649) Attached to: UN To Debate Lethal Autonomous Weapons

War should be costly, difficult, and sap your resources. Otherwise you make mass killing far too easy.

So what happens when you do have a costly, difficult war that saps your resources? Why propaganda of course! And the effects of that propaganda don't simply go away when the war is done. Neither will the military-industrial complex which now represents a huge proportion of your GDP. A costly war requires the entire society to be reshaped around it, and thus acquires a life of its own, which lasts way beyond the cessation of hostilities. The ghost of World War I persisted and took shape again in Soviet Union whose economy was modeled after wartime Germany, then World War II, then in Cold War and its sub-conflicts, and is currently busy guiding Russia in Ukraine.

No, wars should be as cheap and easy as possible, because the less you have to worry about the economic or domestic political effects the more you can worry about things like casualties and global political effects. Also: "I do not personally regard the whole of the remaining cities of Germany as worth the bones of one British Grenadier." Well, with drones you can take the less ruthless option, since you're no longer risking your own troops but a soulless industial automat, and thus can minimize civilian - or even enemy combatant - casualties.

The less war disturbs a society, the less likely it's to become an essential part of the culture of that society. Just look at Israel-Arab conflict in the Middle East for a good example of a war that's basically chronic and can't end without the societies in question undergoing at least minor cultural revolutions, because at this point it's an essential part of their mythology - people's idea of what it means to live in Middle East.

Comment: Re: Definitions count! (Score 4, Insightful) 173

I bet if Washington state lowered it's tax rate to equal Nevada's MS would consider relocating MS licensing group back to Washington State...

And then Nevada lowers its tax rate to get it back, and then it's Washington's turn again, the end result being that Microsoft pays a nominal tax if any at all. And since that means other people and companies must pay more to make up the difference, their effective tax rate goes up, they do the same, and ultimately all tax burden gets concentrated on those too poor to move. But of course they can't pay, so the state must cut education, infrastructure maintenance, law enforcement, etc. And that, in turn, makes the state an even less attractive location for business.

It's simply another manifestation of the illness that's killing capitalism. But at least the process of decay is fascinating to watch, as pathological patterns become the norm and eat away the structure of society. Sooner or later it's frayed enough that some crisis launches the final domino effect of collapse.

How about it Washington state, do you want the tax revenues or the talking point against MS?

Washington state wants to survive, just like any living thing. Unfortunately, being a cultural organism rather than biological one limits its options, since it must be careful not to discredit the very mythology that justifies its own existence. And in the US, the mythology of the nation has been tightly coupled with the mythology of capitalism. Untangling them or altering capitalism to less toxic form is a job for the prophetic archetype; Washington state can do little but play for time and hope one appears before it runs out.

Of course, the whole reason prophets are so rare is because you always run the risk of being one of those things found wanting and cast out, but at some point the prevalent mythology of the society has been exhausted of its possibilities so there's little choice except to get a new one or die.

Comment: Re:Marijuana's capacity to REVEAL TRUTH (Score 2) 290

Society is ethically obligated to take care of its own, it's part of the social contract. So no, evolution won't take care of them, the tax payers will.

This might surprise you, but us taxpayers also want entertainment. Such entertainment has a cost beyond mere monetary; for example, I might get a concussion while skiing, and that might permanently affect my cognitive functions, and in any case it requires energy to move to and from the resort location and it makes me unavailable for work for a long while.

As it happens, the cost/entertainment ratio of cannabis is very low, so from the point of view of maximum efficiency legislating it is the right thing to do.

Comment: Re: Energy storage in the grid is 100% efficient! (Score 1) 279

by ultranova (#49452053) Attached to: The Myth of Going Off the Power Grid

Solar is also doomed because eventually it will have to scale up to the point where enclosing the entire sun simply isn't enough.

Enough for what? A quick back-of-envelope calculation seems to suggest total solar output works for 1W/10kg of nonsolar matter in the Solar System. That's enough to, for example, nanomotors and slow microchips, or several classes of living organisms for that matter.

We are currently having problems because we've used stored energy that's running out to boost our output for a given technological level, and consequently haven't learned to pace ourselves, not because there's an inherent shortage of energy in the Solar System.

Comment: Re:Hits Home (Score 1) 210

Yet, what I do know is the powers that be will do everything to keep it going. [...] It could come crashing down any second now, but at the same time, they could simply keep this system chugging along.

The problem is, for all their might the Powers That Be are still just the institutions of a particular society. They draw their justification for existence from its mythology, and so are bound by it. And that means they can't, in fact, spend endless amount of money they don't have since that violates the assumptions underlaying our concept of what money is. Nor can those assumptions be altered without sparking an outright revolution, since that would reveal the entire game of masters and servants as what it is: just an option amongst many, not an unalterable law of nature.

So, what happens is the various Powers do their best to keep the system chugging along, but as it evolves further away from a stable equilibrium their means fail catastrophically one by one. We're currently seeing the effects of one such failure, that of consumer credit. Of course banks could simply continue extending credit ad infinitum without expecting it to be paid back since it's all just numbers, except not really, because that would ultimately reveal money to be nothing but a bookkeeping fiction. So they stopped, cheap credit failed to mask the real situation anymore, and now economy is going through a shock.

There's going to be more such shocks as more instruments fail in turn. They'll get worse each time, since the already-failed ones are no longer there to help arrest the fall, until finally too much of superstructure is gone to keep the system standing and the crisis turns into death convulsions. In the meantime, expect all the usual trappings of the end of an era, such as various types of fundamentalists and their increasingly desperate struggle for power.

Comment: Re:Is negotiation a skill required for the job? (Score 2) 892

When was the last time you didn't negotiate prices on a house or car? And which is selecting an employer more like, buying you milk and bread for the week or a major purchasing decision?

Neither. You aren't a buyer but a seller, and you can't afford to wait for a better price because every second that goes by unsold (unemployed) is lost forever with zero profits but non-zero upkeep costs. Your position is like a landlord who must pay a constant mortgage from his property and can't get rid of it (except via suicide), so he can't afford to wait for high-class tenants. Also, there's far more rooms for rent than tenants, so realistically he's stuck with the shitty situation for the rest of his life.

Comment: Re:Hits Home (Score 5, Interesting) 210

I am well compensated at my job, but dislike the idea that they are aware of my activities outside of work.

You dislike it and the employer likes it for the same reason: it makes you position on the job market worse. And since they already have a stronger position, there's little you can do about it short of unionizing. But unionizing makes above average talent relatively - though not necessarily absolutely - worse off, and everyone likes thinking they're better than average. That combination of ego and selfishness is easy to turn into a weapon to make people act against their own best interests: all you have to do is tell them they deserve it better than someone else, and will get their due if they only forget solidarity with them. And when it's their turn to be eaten, there's none left to stand with them, so they fall.

Not that it really matters. The revolution of the proletariat failed, but it seems the bourgeoisie is perfectly capable of destroying the entire superstructure their might depends on without anyone's assistance. You can't have a business without customers, you can't have customers if people don't have money, and they can't get money without wages or social security. The only real question is: with communism discredited, what happens when the downward spiral reaches the point of no return? You can't maintain social cohesion without any kind of ideology when bread and circuses stop coming. Will we see the return of fascism, will someone come up with something entirely new, or will civilization simply collapse?

Comment: Re:Is negotiation a skill required for the job? (Score 1) 892

How about calling it the ability to negotiate well or successfully?

We are talking about a simple number. One party wants to maximize it, the other minimize. There isn't any room for anything except a game of chicken there.

If Reddit is too naive to see past this or they truly have a problem with aggressive/bullying negotiators then they need to become tougher negotiators themselves or stop hiring aggressive people.

Or they can take advantage of their vastly stronger position and simply refuse to indulge the candidates. Sure, they might miss out on "top talent", but it doesn't take that to maintain a message board.

Comment: Re:only government? (Score 3, Insightful) 370

by ultranova (#49423013) Attached to: How the Pentagon Wasted $10 Billion On Military Projects

the real kicker though is how ungrateful the greeks are of the money loaned to them. it's like they're totally oblivious to it being greeks who spent the money.

Grateful for being scammed and conquered?

Eurozone is a brilliant trap, nothing more:

1. Create a free trade zone with a single currency, so weaker economies can't balance their imports and exports through the exchange rate.

2. Mandate that every nation must have a positive trade balance, which is of course impossible since they trade mainly with one another and every credit on one nation's balance sheet is a debit on another's.

3. As all economies weaker than your own fail one by one, "rescue" them with loans who's terms destabilize their society and further cripple their economy.

4. Enjoy your new colonial empire. Deutschland uber alles!

In case of injury notify your superior immediately. He'll kiss it and make it better.