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Comment: Re:What is or is not a religion? (Score 1) 700

by Xtifr (#49486961) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

So, for capital crimes, relying on people's judgement is ok, but not for money matters? I think your priorities may be a bit screwed up.

The simple fact is that the government is already making those judgements. As someone who has founded three religions (one of which had as many as five members at one point), I assure you my ability to write off church expenses is precisely nil.

I agree, "common sense" is not sufficient by itself for such matters, but since these judgements are already being made (see my earlier reference to the Mormons), why can't they be applied to Scientology? I don't know the gory details, but I'm pretty sure the criteria for becoming a tax-deductable church are rather more complicated than "just some guy who decides". I'm pretty sure there are laws and precedence.

If some random guy (like me) could just declare himself a church and stop paying taxes, and the government weren't allowed to decide whether that's a valid claim (as OP seems to think), I'm pretty sure the amount of taxes collected in this country would be pretty close to zero! :)

Comment: Re:They have been, but there's a snag (Score 1) 309

by Xtifr (#49483389) Attached to: NVIDIA's New GPUs Are Very Open-Source Unfriendly

As someone who has been using AMD Linux drivers (the built-in ones in the kernel) for the past year+, without noticing any of these problems you mention, I'm curious if you can document any of this. I'm certainly not going to claim you're wrong, since I don't push the drivers, and they may well have problems I've never noticed. But all I know is they've sped up incredibly since 3.9 or so, and now seem to do everything I ask of them. If there are problems I should be wary of, I'd really like to know.

Comment: Re:What is or is not a religion? (Score 1) 700

by Xtifr (#49480017) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

how are we deciding what is or is not a religion?

Using these things called "judgement" and perhaps even "common sense". The same tools used to distinguish Murder One from mere Manslaughter (fer example).

If there's no legal criteria to refer to, then you're setting a precedent for revoking the legal protections for any religion that you don't like.

There's already precedent: the LDS church was not considered a valid religion for a long time. Once they cleaned up their act, the decision was reconsidered.

Comment: Re:What? Why discriminate? (Score 1) 700

by Xtifr (#49479891) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

Actually, it's not that silly (though I admit it is silly). God is supposed to have miraculous powers, and, in theory, could accept some of the money thrown in the air, if He so desired. The poor, on the other hand, have no such ability. So the sillyness levels are not equivalent.

But yes, what he's describing is not what is formally known as a tithe, although the word has come to have a much broader meaning over the last century or so. And what he's describing is quite silly--a fact I'm sure he's aware of.

Comment: Re:Dark Matter? (Score 1) 59

by Xtifr (#49231359) Attached to: The Milky Way May Be 50 Percent Bigger Than Previously Thought

So if they haven't even accounted for a significant fraction of our own galaxy, what does that mean about dark matter?

As far as I can tell from a bit of quick research, absolutely zilch. Since dark matter is mainly hypothesized to explain the observed motion of galaxies, and most of the evidence for it comes from observing other galaxies and, especially, galactic clusters, the size of the Milky Way has no bearing.

Also, as someone else pointed out, this is about volume in any case; the actual mass of the Milky Way is probably not a lot different from previous estimates—but all estimates of the size and or mass of the Milky Way are necessarily rough in any case, since it's too close to see very well.

Comment: Re:The correct word is FEWER! (Score 1) 592

by Xtifr (#48848663) Attached to: Why Run Linux On Macs?

The article you link to, amusingly, contradicts the point you think you're trying to make.

"Less has always been used in English with counting nouns" (emphasis mine).

It may help you to understand that article if you realize that to actual linguists and lexicographers, the term "prescriptivist" has the same connotation as the word "creationist" does to a biologist. :)

Comment: Re:Debian on shiny Retina Macbook Pro (Score 1) 592

by Xtifr (#48848639) Attached to: Why Run Linux On Macs?

I don't know about OP, but for me, the main reason I avoid OSX is that I haven't found a way to turn on focus-follows-mouse and turn off autoraise. As far as I'm concerned, that alone is more than sufficient reason to avoid the system completely. Of course, there may be a way--I haven't looked very hard, since I don't actually own any Apple hardware. But more to the point--I'm familiar with and happy with Linux and my heavily customized environment, and don't have much interest in trying to learn how to duplicate all the things I like/want/need on some other system. So if I did get Apple hardware for some reason, I'd still probably run Linux, as the path of least resistance. But if I could find a way around the broken focus system, I'd at least begin to consider OSX as a possible-to-use system, rather than avoid-at-all-costs. :)

Comment: Re:Book Analogy (Score 1) 260

by Xtifr (#48343461) Attached to: Computer Scientists Ask Supreme Court To Rule APIs Can't Be Copyrighted

Except that only the names have been copied. Google provided their own story. (Which is proven by the fact that Oracle didn't allege copyright infringement on any of the actual code except one trivial function, which was dismissed as de-minimus, especially since it had already been replaced.)

The thing you seem to be overlooking is that functionality is something that is specifically excluded from copyright protection. (Which is why trying to make book analogies for software is usually a complete waste of time and highly misleading. Functionality is almost never found in works of fiction; in books, it appears mainly in "how-to" works and the like. And you can't copyright "telling someone how to install a door".) Google may have copied the functionality, but that's perfectly legal, as long as they didn't copy the code. Which they didn't, except for the names.

Comment: Re:I mean, aren't (Score 1) 260

by Xtifr (#48342157) Attached to: Computer Scientists Ask Supreme Court To Rule APIs Can't Be Copyrighted

More akin to words (or perhaps standard phrases). The programmer uses them to express something creative (a program), but they themselves are simply tools of creativity, not creative expressions in themselves.

This is why computer languages have been ruled non-copyrightable. And APIs are simply extensions of a computer language. In some languages (e.g. tcl), the boundary between language element and API is arbitrary and subject to change without notice.

Comment: Re:Number is irrelevant compared to severity (Score 1) 170

by Xtifr (#48320187) Attached to: NSA Director Says Agency Shares Most, But Not All, Bugs It Finds

The NSA's mandate includes both data penetration and data protection! For this reason, I suspect it's not the severity, but the obscurity that matters. A vulnerability that's easy to find is going to make government machines easier to penetrate, so they're likely to want to close them. A vulnerability that requires standing on one leg while juggling two white cats and wearing a clown nose is something they can keep to themselves, because it's so unlikely that anyone else will stumble across it.

Comment: Re:Barrier to entry (Score 1) 125

by Xtifr (#48295343) Attached to: It's Official: HTML5 Is a W3C Standard

It wouldn't stop working, but needing to develop new apps for multiple platforms currently acts as a barrier to entry to new video providers.

That's a reasonable argument for standardizing encryption/DRM, but not a reasonable argument for making it part of the HTML standard. Rolling your own encryption is indeed a crappy idea, but the solution is to create an encryption/drm standard, rather than hijacking some only-vaguely-related standard and trying to cram it in there. Especially since encryption/drm needs to work with more than just html.

Comment: Re:It's sad (Score 1) 427

by Xtifr (#48022701) Attached to: Google To Require As Many As 20 of Its Apps Preinstalled On Android Devices

Remember when simply bundling IE was a monopoly abuse?

Saying that MS "simply bundled IE" is like saying that John Dillinger "simply withdrew money from a bank".

Google is behaving in exactly the same way

Only in the sense that I'm behaving in exactly the same way as John Dillinger when I withdraw money from my bank. :)

(The difference, in case it's not obvious, is that when I withdraw money from my bank, I don't do it in a way that violates any laws.)

Comment: Re: Out of the frying pan... (Score 1) 192

by Xtifr (#48017721) Attached to: NVIDIA Begins Requiring Signed GPU Firmware Images

For older cards, the OSS driver might end up being better than crapalyst.

Actually, it's the newer cards that are reported to have better performance with the latest OSS drivers.

This is a pretty recent development, though. A little over a year ago, everything I'd heard was in line with what you're saying. But when I heard about all the improvements in the recent OSS drivers, I took a chance and bought a box with ATI, just a couple of months ago, and I must say that it's been absolutely smooth, effortless, and 100% hassle free. With a 3.12 kernel (now upgraded to 3.14). And no catalyst.

If your experience is older than that, then I think your information may be out of date.

Not that I'm saying you should switch or anything. No skin off my nose. Just saying your data may be out of date.

Comment: Re: Out of the frying pan... (Score 1) 192

by Xtifr (#48012749) Attached to: NVIDIA Begins Requiring Signed GPU Firmware Images

The 3d stuff does work, just not for the latest cards.

Are you sure? You may need a more up-to-date kernel than your favorite distro provides to support the latest cards, but I certainly had the impression that AMD is actively pushing code into the mainstream kernel. Southern Island and Sea Island chipsets are both supported in 3.16 (and possibly earlier).

3D performance on many ATI/AMD cards is actually better with the open source kernel drivers than with the proprietary drivers if you have a recent enough kernel, according to some reports I've heard.

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