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Comment: Re:diminished placebo effect (Score 4, Informative) 408

But won't telling the patient "the facts" diminish the placebo effect? What would maximize the placebo effect? Is using the placebo effect always bad practice?

My father was a village MD, and we talked at lenght about this, so here goes:

1. yes, and that's why the Placebo effect is largely ineffective on the medical professionals;
2.Sadly, increasing price is one of the things that correlates with placebo effects;
3. Emphatically no, but there is not a real need for specific "placebo"medicaments: lots of active principles help lower the symptoms, all the while not doing anything much, and they are mostly cheaper than "alternative" medicine.

P.S.: as to point 2, there is a solution: putting a reasonably big price tag on the box and telling the patient that 90% of it is borne by the insurance, since it's so effective.

Comment: Re:Solution: two license plates (Score 1) 405

by gadget junkie (#46509961) Attached to: Paris Bans Half of All Cars On the Road
Actually, this has been tried in Italy, and it works at 50%

The 50% not working: reducing pollution. statistics in the city where I live showed that the reduction was way below targets. people organized, and most of the people commuting had already organized before, using trains, metro and the like (they were pissed at the limitation nonetheless)

The 50% working: the powers that be decided that it was a huge success, and that it was a matter of scale (i.e., too few days of alternate plates), and anyway it was a symbolic gesture. Even this way, the measure was scrapped here for good two years ago.

Comment: Re:Not Obsolete At All (Score 1) 365

by gadget junkie (#46188635) Attached to: Do Hypersonic Missiles Make Defense Systems Obsolete?
Hypersonic missiles are mostly different from conventional, high mach number missiles for their operating height. they are the ultimate bombers or recon planes , not the ultimate missiles, since things like the SSN 22 sunburn are operational now, and can go mach3+ at low altitudes.
remember that in the last phases of the operational life of the SR 71 Blackbird, their payload was a high mach number drone.

Comment: It's not a tax to promote french content (Score 1) 314

by gadget junkie (#45807519) Attached to: France's 'Culture Tax' Could Hit YouTube and Facebook
This is not a tax to promote French content. If anything, over the world youtube has done more to promote local content than any government institution, simply by being there.
BUT, it is a convenient tax to promote government institutions, stuffed with well paid bureaucrats, that as an hobby and with no prospect of return on capital, spend money on politically approved content.
One convenient riposte could be "sure, we'll pay this tax. But let's do it this way. first year, you get the money you want. The year after, promoted content should gross on the open market at least the institution funding. if it does not reach the objective, all salaries will be capped at the median wage. if that's not enough to reach parity with gross sales,wages at the institution would be proportionally cut."

Italy has both government approved TV channels, and a similar institution promoting Italian film productions. This content gets rave reviews, especially by involved parties, and it never produced anything that any foreigner (or Italian, for that matter) would remember. BUT, If I whistle some Sergio Leone soundtrack in Tibet, anyone would recall the film.

Comment: Re:taxed as asset? (Score 2) 245

by gadget junkie (#45702875) Attached to: Norway Rejects Bitcoin As Currency; Taxes As Asset, Instead

Real-estate is already taxed in most places in America. Most European countries also tax cars based on their engine's size.

Same as before:tax authorities do NOT tax the car. they tax the buyer on the transaction, and there's some form of "possession tax". that's not a tax on assets. If it were a tax on the car, a car owned for example by a deceased penniless owner would still pay tax, and above all, it would be economically capable of paying such tax. but it does not: even taxes related on car possession tax the owner, not a car.

Bear in mind that these kind of stamp duties bear no relation of the use of public resources that using a car entails: If I want to tax for that, I'd tax the fuels, and that's exactly what governments do. when they do anything else, like "taxing cars based on engine size", they are simply meddling in people choices unrelated to use of resources and so on. I think that it's "politically convenient" to set up a labor intensive organization to collect and check a taxation which could and is more efficiently collected in another way, and above all it is unrelated to usage, income of the owner, efficiency gains and so on.

Comment: taxed as asset? (Score 2, Interesting) 245

by gadget junkie (#45702079) Attached to: Norway Rejects Bitcoin As Currency; Taxes As Asset, Instead
It's a common error in European fiscal policy that assets can be taxed. In reality only financial savings and income are taxed, and the final percentage applied is variously disguised as "capital gains tax", or other quibbles.
to clarify further: for an asset to be taxed, in my small world of financial analyst, it must either produce a taxable financial income, which is then taxed, or it must be an acceptable mean of exchange with no or negligible frictional costs. Houses are only an indexation parameter in taxes, since no tax authority whatsoever accepts a lien on 10 square feet as payment: they want hard cash. If the owner-occupier of a house had the opportunity or willingness to put the house in a separate company, it would be clearer still: the company would never make one cent, and it would be taxed on a fictional rent, which by itself is part of the owner's income. Therefore, the owner's income is taxed twice.
So, on bitcoins, the problem is magnified: if it is a mean of exchange, like banknotes, by itself it should not be taxed. the relevant transactions could be taxable, but not the means of exchange: after all, if I buy a car by bank draft or money transfer I do not pay either X or Y depending on how I paid. the effort of the authorities is to preserve the monopoly on fiat currency, that's it.

Comment: Re:Should be legal, with caveat (Score 1) 961

by gadget junkie (#45528553) Attached to: Why Scott Adams Wished Death On His Dad
went through that with my mother. she went through a bout of being insane, but not enough not to ask me to kill her. And I had to say I could not, while both she and I knew it was not the case. Thankfully, she passed away relatively quickly, but I do not think there are crimes bad enough to warrant this as a penalty.

Comment: Ultimate buyer of HDTV? (Score 2) 307

by gadget junkie (#45424616) Attached to: Alfred Poor Says HDTV Manufacturers are Hurting (Video)
Here in Italy, the only form of broadcast HDTV content is via pay channels. I see them stealing a page out of the mobile phone companies, and include the TV in their contract, so that the early exit penalty would be paying off the TV. they get more consistent revenues, and the HDTV producers "Eat" the retailing margin, or they split.
Only problem, as a consumer, would be if they get the producers to include the ability "brick" the TV remotely (for non payment, for instance) and/or include some proprietary encryption.

Comment: Re:If they're based in Ireland, why are they in It (Score 1) 175

by gadget junkie (#45422719) Attached to: Italy Investigates Apple For Alleged Tax Fraud

Well in this case, apparently not.

I think that's precisely why Apple is being investigated here, what's mere avoidance in other countries sounds like it may well be evasion in Italy.

that's exactly the case. the judiciary in Italy have given an enormously lax interpretation of abuse of law, to the extent that it is in the sole and retrospective interpretation of the tax authorities to say what the law actually intended years ago. Mind you, that leads to byzantine tax laws, since the legislator has no interest whatsoever to do it right the first time.

Comment: Re:italians (Score 1) 175

by gadget junkie (#45422699) Attached to: Italy Investigates Apple For Alleged Tax Fraud
I am italian, I am not a tax expert but have been involved in these things for professional purposes, and I think that this is the usual govvie blackmail.
Apple does not produce anything in Italy; the local subsidiary is involved in marketing, and own and operates a relatively small number of own brand stores. By "own brand", read:
1. the company selling the goods is really Apple;
2. it always will have its European headquarters in the most favourable tax place, and no, it will not be Italy. deal with it.

so, what is Apple really doing in Italy? practically nothing that it could not do on line: delivering standardized goods to customers. No personalizations, no customer service. So, in a pinch, Apple could leave Italy altogether, tell my daughter to buy the new Iphone on their internet site, free delivery to the home by UPS, and show Italian tax authorities the finger. Results? LESS tax revenues in Italy. Smart, uh?

For those not aware, the real swindle is in Ireland: profits of the Irish subsidiary, which would normally be taxed at an outrageous 12,5% Irish tax rate, are trasferred tax free to Bahamas. So the Irish would have two grounds to do something, because that's the de facto legal residence of the subsidiary, and because Apple would not probably get a better deal elsewhere.

Comment: Re: Good (Score 1) 1143

by gadget junkie (#45384833) Attached to: EPA Makes Most Wood Stoves Illegal

As a Washington State resident, there are many counties that are wood only heating. Pierce and Tacoma have large suburbs and are not exactly off the grid living. They are bigger and can force the smaller population to upgrade. The counties like Stevens, Ferry and Okanogan are mostly wood heated homes. I have no real numbers but out of the 39 counties in Washington, I'd say at least 1/2 have majority of wood only heated homes, we still are a big wild state.

My mothers county has many people that are wood only, and if they went around giving $1000 dollar fines for people burning, they would tar and feather and hold a recall election. Those urban counties are gray haired monsters who know each other and would put pressure to any elected official.

Those poor gray haired women are the Majority of voters, tell them they cant heat their homes. Most of these people live in urban areas that dont have fire departments, police or or trash pick up. Tacoma I'd say is much different, its urban sprawl.

I think that in some parts, the stoves would smoke cloudier for some days, and then they would not be seen again.

Comment: Re:Man i hate this game (Score 1) 288

by gadget junkie (#45079337) Attached to: Red Cross Wants Consequences For Video-Game Mayhem

in assassin's creed if you kill 3 civilians then the level ends. i think this is a fair approach. of course in GTA if you kill a civilian then you get his money and his car, although that's not a war crime so much as a regular crime. I don't play the CoD type games so I don't know how they address the issue.

in these games, you can dress up as a petty tyrant or rogue state and get to ignore any UN sponsored regulation, unless you have an hand in designing it.

"Life sucks, but death doesn't put out at all...." -- Thomas J. Kopp