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Comment: Re:Overly broad? (Score 1) 409

by Wycliffe (#48185561) Attached to: Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres

Have you tried this? Pepsi now offers "throwback" where the pepsi/mountain dew is made with sugar instead.
I buy it about half the time. From my experience (and from the science I've read), there seems to be no
different in satiation. For that matter, there seems to be no difference in satiation between diet and non-diet
soda. I think that's one of the problems with soda. Soda doesn't satiate so those calories just end up being
EMPTY EXTRA CALORIES that you wouldn't otherwise consume. If you're short and need an extra 500
calories a day (i.e. mostly no one) then it might be a good thing but throwing 500 calories on top of your
regular meal is a bad thing.

**Diet soda has a host of other problems from being flat out poisonous and/or cancerous to triggering
some but not all pathways confusing the body's response and possibly leading to diabetes as well.

Comment: Re:Overly broad? (Score 2, Interesting) 409

by Wycliffe (#48183345) Attached to: Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres

It's not just that honey possible has more "flavor", it's that processed foods in general are playing multiple flavors against
each other to neutralize flavor. The FDA has recently outlawed caffinated alcohol because the caffeine and the alcohol
counteract each other's effects. Well, soda has been doing this for years. The salt and the sugar are designed to
counteract each other. Even the fizz is used to that effect. Ever notice how sweet "flat" soda is? If they took the salt
out of soda, noone could stand to drink it as it would be way too sweet.

Comment: Re:Damn (Score 1) 89

by Wycliffe (#48182987) Attached to: How Curved Spacetime Can Be Created In a Quantum Optics Lab

Green light + red light = black light.

How do you think we made the Jimi Hendrix posters on the walls of our rooms glow so brightly, back in the 70s, when UV fluorescent technology was prohibitively expensive for those of us in junior high?

Um, No, It's yellow. Also, you're referring to a UV light which is a specific frequency of light. Combining the visual attributes
of light doesn't change the underlying frequency. You can't create ultraviolet light by combining visible light.

Comment: Re:Let me get this right (Score 1) 832

by Wycliffe (#48171573) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

If the complexity was removed from the tax system, government would primarily be monitoring businesses for compliance (the vast majority of the tax income would come from withholding), rather than having to spy on every single individual, a far better situation from a civil rights perspective.

The vast majority of poor and middle class income comes from withholdings. So fixing the income tax
system would do nothing to stop the millions of rich people from dodging taxes.

One proposal I saw was to tax all financial transactions. If you taxed all financial transactions, you could
generate an enormous amount of tax revenue with tax percentages below 1%

Problematic though it is, an income based tax is the only sane form of general taxation for a nation that chooses to support large amounts of government spending.

I think it's nieve to say that the income tax is the best we can do. Surely we can come up with something better.

Comment: Re:Damn (Score 3, Insightful) 89

by Wycliffe (#48169809) Attached to: How Curved Spacetime Can Be Created In a Quantum Optics Lab

Stop making my brain hurt!

I think that's the point. It's too complex to model but if you have a playground that you can
play with you can explore interactions without having to do a ton of math.
Most people can't grasp certain complex stuff. Even something as simple as combining
green light and red light to make yellow confuses people as it goes against their grade school intuition.
Allow people to get a chance to play with it in a lab and then it just clicks.

Comment: Re:Let me get this right (Score 1) 832

by Wycliffe (#48168681) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

You obviously need some allowance for commercial entities like truck drivers. There are already
systems in place to give tax breaks for business expenses. The point is to shift from taxing income
which is hard to track and shift to consumption of goods which is easier to track and also is the
bigger concern as the consuming more than your fair share is really the problem, not the making
more than your fair share.

Comment: Re:Let me get this right (Score 1) 832

by Wycliffe (#48168641) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

There are plenty of ways to do that, from turning in receipts to get reimbursed to mailing out coupons, etc...
We have taxed plenty of stuff that's harder to track than gasoline. We're used to tracking income but for
alot of people (waiters, barbers, even farmers that sell locally), tracking income is really hard too. We're
just used to it. You could easily tax the car based on the odometer instead if tracking the actual fuel was
hard. My point is that there are plenty of ways to tax other things and just because we've taxed income
for the past 100 years doesn't mean it's the best and fairest way to tax stuff. The government does need
at least some money to run, the goal is to get that money in the fairest and least painful way. Taxing
food is not very progressive because a person's food bill keeps dropping as a percentage of income as
their wealth increases. Other items like housing cost, energy cost, transportation cost, entertainment cost, etc...
on the other hand keep going up with income.

Comment: Re:What? (Score 1) 48

by Wycliffe (#48163049) Attached to: Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon May Hide Subsurface Ocean

I think "rock" is synonymous with boring. We've pretty much concluded that the moon is boring which
is why we've decided to explore elsewhere. The opposite of "boring" is of course "exciting". What
makes something scientifically exciting is that it either is something we can't explain or helps confirm
something we already think we know. What makes something boring is if there is nothing new to
discover there. My backyard is scientifically boring. You're unlikely to discover something novel in
it. It's possible to find a new mouse that is unknown but it's unlikely. The interesting non-boring
stuff in our solar system are places that might harbor life or are most likely to help further explain
physical processes like the creation of planets or the solar system.

Comment: Re:Let me get this right (Score 1) 832

by Wycliffe (#48162083) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

How does inflation fund government services to the general populace? Genuinely curious. I like taxes, I get a benefit from them. I don't see much benefit from inflation (that I am aware of but I am ignorant of much macroeconomics).

When the Federal Reserve decides to boost the money supply, it buys Treasury bonds. i.e. our national debt. So yes, inflation does
help fund government services to the general populace.

Comment: Re:Let me get this right (Score 1) 832

by Wycliffe (#48161977) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

The only people particularly worse off than the poor in a consumption tax system are those who engage in conspicuous consumption. Plenty of middle class people do it to pretend they're rich enough that such consumption is a trivial expense to them. And that's precisely it: once you reach beyond a certain point in income, your proportionate needs and wants to your income become increasingly smaller. Hence, the richer you are, the less you're proportionately taxed.

What do you think the "rich people" do with all their money? Stick in in a shoe box? Rich people consume more resources and if they
don't, what does it matter, as money is just paper until actually spent on something. A consumption tax is already progressive but
it's easy to make it more progressive by slowing increasing the tax as consumption increases. A middle class person can't possibly
consume $200k worth of goods if they're only making $100k while someone who owns a $50M house probably consumes more than
that just in upkeep of their house.

 

Comment: Re:Let me get this right (Score 4, Insightful) 832

by Wycliffe (#48161825) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

who decides what is a bare necessity? that's the problem. Fair tax removes the government from deciding what is a bare necessity and leaves it to the household to decide what it considers a bare necessity.

I don't see why this is so hard. We can solve the tax problem and the global warming problem in one shot.
The average person in the USA uses about 400 gallon per year of gas. The average gas tax is about 50 cents per gallon.
Cut that number in half and say that noone pays taxes on the first 200 gallons of gas and everyone pays $1 on the next 200 gallons.
That matches the current usage and pays the current bills while encouraging everyone to save a little gas.
Now multiply that up and say it's $2 for the next 200 gallons, and $4 for the next 200 gallons, etc...

Repeat the above with electricity, water, alcohol, etc... and you've both saved the environment and created a great solution for the tragedy of the commons.
The tax burden then falls on the stereotypical rich person that lives in a 10k square foot house, drives a hummer, and flies around in their private jet
while everyone else has incentives to conserve earth's limited resources. It's probably about as fair and as transparent as you can get with taxes.

Comment: Re:Let me get this right (Score 1) 832

by Wycliffe (#48159681) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

We charge the people doing the labor (income tax) and then *also* charge them on consumption? The people least able to pay?

This will end well.

The point is to STOP taxing labor and only tax consumption but also to do it progressively.
Luxury taxes and sin taxes are great examples of this. There would be plenty of other
ways to do this. Taxing private jets, taxing first class travel, taxing electricity or water
usage progressively, carbon taxes for the individual, taxing gasoline progressively, etc..
Inequality isn't a problem because rich people MAKE more than poor people. We should
encourage people to create as much wealth as possible. Inequality is a problem because
rich people (or countries) CONSUME more than their fair share. It's the consumption of
wealth not the creation of wealth that you want to control via taxation. If someone has
billions of dollars and never consumes anything (like warren buffet), then that money will
eventually be returned to the system when that person dies. Stored wealth isn't a
problem, using up our limited resources is.

Comment: Re:I hate to say it... (Score 1) 363

by Wycliffe (#48158913) Attached to: Scanning Embryos For Super-Intelligent Kids Is On the Horizon

The current method where the people at the bottom are reproducing faster than the people at the top and the
jobs at the bottom are being increasingly replaced by machines is probably not sustainable unless something
changes. Eugenics has a terrible history and I doubt we're better than mother nature at picking desirable traits
but if nothing else, we should probably try to prevent a slide. Maybe a good strategy would be to pick embryos
for maximum diversity but any strategy would probably be better than the defacto strategy we're currently
deploying.

Comment: Re:It only takes one ... (Score 1) 381

by Wycliffe (#48158003) Attached to: How Nigeria Stopped Ebola

This ain't no zombie apocalypse, son. Until the epidemic somehow makes the victim want to infect other people, e.g. people like you becoming cold-hearted enough to refuse food or health care to the infected, your scenario is pretty silly.

No, maybe not directly want to infect everyone but if everyone around you is dying, you're going to want to go somewhere that they're not.
So you get out any way possible. You might even see that you have a slight fever but you think, maybe it's not ebola, and anyways,
it's better to get to someplace that still has hospital beds available. For instance if mexico had a 30% infection rate of ebola, there is no
way you could stop the flood of people crossing the border (short of shooting them)

Our best bet at this point is to start vaccinating all the health care workers and require the ones that get the vaccination first to be available
for blood donations for the ones that don't. We are going to quickly run out of "ebola survivors" to draw blood from.

Comment: Re:Just tell me (Score 1) 463

by Wycliffe (#48152461) Attached to: Positive Ebola Test In Second Texas Health Worker

There might be plenty of people lining up to take those jobs but that doesn't mean it's not underpaid.
I know plenty of people who love to teach, I also know plenty of people who have abandoned teaching
because the pay was too poor. My experience going thru public education in the US was that
teaching was dominated by two groups of people. Group 1 was people who loved to teach so much
that the stuck with it despite being underpaid. Group 2 was people who did it because it was the
best paying job they could find. If people are lining up around the street to get a job then they need
to increase the quality bar until everyone in Group 2 is eliminated. Thousands of people apply for
jobs at google when there is a job opening. Does that mean google should reduce their pay until
only a handful of people apply? Not unless they only want poor or mediocre candidates. Same
applies to teachers, cops, nurses, etc.... If there are that many applicants it's much better to raise
the bar.

Those who do things in a noble spirit of self-sacrifice are to be avoided at all costs. -- N. Alexander.

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