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Comment: Re:What is the goal? (Score 1) 1799

by ispeters (#37675744) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Do You View the Wall Street Protests?

You are 100% wrong. I have lived abroad, and know this from personal experience. But don't take my word for it, ask the IRS:

If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, the rules for filing income, estate, and gift tax returns and paying estimated tax are generally the same whether you are in the United States or abroad. Your worldwide income is subject to U.S. income tax, regardless of where you reside.

What you're missing is that, since US income tax rates are so ridiculously low, your foreign income tax credit is going to nearly or completely wipe out any income tax you might have otherwise owed to the IRS, especially if you live in a civilized country with social services paid for by income taxes. It's a pain to file a form saying you don't owe any money just because you happen to have been born in the US, and that overhead isn't really free, but it's a far cry from being double taxed. If you paid taxes overseas and paid the IRS, you were almost certainly doing something wrong.

Ian

Comment: Re:Patents aren't helping (Score 1) 437

by ispeters (#37615848) Attached to: Neal Stephenson On 'Innovation Starvation'

Now where that doesn't work is, say, drugs. ... It takes ... like a billion dollars to get a new drug on the market, so you either need to find something that is going to sell a billion dollars in six months or you need long-term patent protection.

I wonder if that's true. I know that existing pharmaceutical companies that operate in the existing patent environment spend billions of dollars looking for new drugs and so, to sustain themselves, they need long-term patent protection. I've heard what amounts to unsubstantiated conspiracy theories that the drug companies are producing more symptom-controlling drugs for chronic conditions than they are cures. These conspiracy theories are appealing because a person that has to take expensive drugs to control a chronic condition for the rest of his life makes a lot more money for the drug company than someone that takes a cure for two weeks and is then cured so the theory "makes sense" regardless if it's true. I wonder, though, what sorts of drugs would be invented if the patent system were overhauled to shorten the monopoly? Maybe the next multi-billion-dollar penis pill for 70-year-old men won't be invented and, instead, we'll cure something. It'd be nice if it worked out that way, huh?

Ian

Comment: Re:Devs can now be more lazy (Score 3, Informative) 338

by ispeters (#37202272) Attached to: Java 7: What's In It For Developers

Are you trolling? You said:

There has got to be a performance hit for "extending" garbage collection to files, sockets, and databases. How hard is it to realise you no longer need a resource and free it.

They haven't "extended garbage collection", they've introduced syntactic sugar. Instead of this (with real indenting in real life because you're not limited by Slashdot's lame commenting system):

File file = null;

try {
file = openAFile();

// operate on file, possibly causing an exception
}
catch (IOException e) {
// do whatever you like with e, possibly rethrowing
}
finally {
if (file != null) {
try {
file.close();
}
catch (IOException e) {
// what the hell do you do here?
}
}
}

You can have something like this:

try (File file = openAFile()) {
// operate on file, possibly causing an exception
}
catch (IOException e) {
// do whatever you like with e, possibly rethrowing
}

// file is closed here because the compiler has inserted
// the right epilogue for you, saving you boilerplate, preventing
// you from inserting the wrong boilerplate, and not impacting
// the GC in the slightest

So either you're trolling or "The Dawn Of Time" is right: you have no idea what you're talking about.

Ian

Comment: Re:Could Someone Help Me Out With This? (Score 2) 844

by ispeters (#36948966) Attached to: Debt Deal Reached

What a vapid response.

...the government has no business in growing like companies do...

The government doesn't have to grow in terms of people employed, buildings built, or services rendered for the growth argument proposed by the GP to work. The government could, in theory at least, use the growth provided by borrowing to enlarge the economy for the benefit of all, for example. One way to do that would be to subsidize private investments of various forms to cause more employment, better infrastructure, and perhaps higher standards of living.

...the US government is supposed to provide some clearly defined services...

If "clearly defined" were actually true, this debate wouldn't be happening; the people involved could consult the clear definitions and act on them. One root problem in US society (and I'm sure it's a problem in every society) is that the definitions are not clear enough and so different people interpret them differently.

...government expansion sounds a lot like the road to communism...

"Big government" is not the same as communism, or even "the road to communism", whatever that is. In fact, quoting Wikipedia: "A communist society would have no governments, countries, or class divisions". You're waving "communism" around like a weapon, trying to scare people. It's kind of embarrassing.

Ian

Comment: Re:Well then, (Score 2, Informative) 780

by ispeters (#32692812) Attached to: SCOTUS Rules Petiton Signatures Are Public Record

You don't need a public record that person A voted for candidate 1 to be able to verify the vote, so I think the answer to your question is "no".

To verify a vote, you need a few things:

  1. Proof that all who voted were eligible,
  2. A count of all voters who voted,
  3. A count of all ballots cast,
  4. Some system to ensure that the ballots that are counted are the same ballots that were cast, and
  5. A mechanism for independent verification of the final tally of all ballots.

Having 1 means that each of the votes should count. Having all of 2, 3, and 4 means that no extra ballots are included in the count (no ballot stuffing occurred), and that no one's vote was skipped. Having 5 means that you can ensure that the count is reported truthfully.

Step 4 is the hardest to get right because, at some point, you just have to trust. I think you can really only get 4 by enforcing transparency in the voting process. Note, though, that if you have all 5, then the vote can be verified without knowing who voted for whom.

Ian

Comment: Re:Be careful when fooling Mother Nature (Score 1) 260

by ispeters (#31510296) Attached to: Scientists Demonstrate Mammalian Tissue Regeneration

Nature does things for a reason.

Again, there is no evidence of this point of view.

I'm not sure how you got modded up. I can only assume the intelligent design folks somehow got points today.

First, I should make it clear that I think "Intelligent Design" is bunk, and I accept as fact that life evolves. Given that, my understanding of evolution permits "Nature does things for a reason" as an imprecise way of describing survival of the fittest. It's possible to imagine an ancient mammal or pre-mammal without this p21 gene that could regenerate. If a mutant showed up with the p21 gene and was fitter for it, then the gene would proliferate and nature's "reason" for the proliferation is that the gene is useful. Similarly, maybe salamanders "lost" p21 because of a useful mutation, and you could again interpret that as nature "having a reason" for the elimination of the gene from the salamander's gene pool.

I'd agree that "Nature does things for a reason" sounds a little like Intelligent Design because anthropomorphizing nature makes it seem like the speaker believes in an intelligent agent with motivations and "reasons", but it's a bit pedantic to assume that's the only possible interpretation.

Ian

Comment: Re:Can someone explain this to me? (Score 1) 192

by ispeters (#30686396) Attached to: Factorization of a 768-Bit RSA Modulus

I think I get your point, but I also think you've missed a point: a 1024-blade razor is probably incrementally better than a 1023-blade razor (for some value of "better"). On the other hand, a 1024-bit key is twice as good as a 1023-bit key. Unless I've forgotten my 3rd-year CS courses, factorization difficulty is exponential in the number of bits, so things get harder really quickly. Of course, Moore's Law is also exponential so, in theory, the time from "use 256-bit keys" to "use 512-bit keys" is about the same as the the time from "use 512-bit keys" to "use 1024-bit keys", but that sort of rebuts your comment. If Moore's Law continues to hold, then the arms race continues, but it remains easier to compute and store a key of arbitrary size than to crack a key of the same size. If Moore's Law becomes a wistfully-remembered relic, then the arms race is over and there's a well-known key size that's easy to generate and store but hard to crack. The only way for the cracking side to win is to find an efficient way to factor large integers. Quantum computing is a potential option, finding a general solution to NP-complete problems is another. Neither seems imminent.

Comment: Re:Hamiltonian path != traveling salesman (Score 1) 135

by ispeters (#28843953) Attached to: Bacterial Computer Solves Hamiltonian Path Problem

I didn't RTFA, and the other comments in the discussion make me skeptical anyway, but your post seems to contradict itself. If the Traveling Salesman Problem is NP-complete (which I know to be true) and the Hamiltonian Path Problem is also NP-complete (which I assume is true from this discussion), then solving one problem is isomorphic to solving the other and a solution to either can be transformed into a solution to the other in polynomial time. If you'd be impressed "if they found the shortest path on an undirected graph with variable length edges", then you should be impressed with this, too (assuming they have found a solution as the summary indicates).

Ian

Sci-Fi

+ - Author suggests sanity in online piracy debate-> 1

Submitted by
An anonymous reader writes "I just stumbled upon the Baen Free Library. I've never heard of Eric Flint before, but he's apparently a Sci-Fi/Fantasy author with views on copyright that match the majority position here on Slashdot. The Baen Free Library is a place for authors published by Baen Books to offer free, online, full-text versions of their books as a means of advertising. (Available formats include online HTML, downloadable HTML, a few eBook formats I don't recognize, and RTF.) Baen Books seems to be doing with the Free Library exactly what many Slashdotters think the RIAA and MPAA should be doing with sound and video recordings — embracing the internet rather than fearing it. The only author I recognized on the authors list is Larry Niven, but I haven't read much fiction in a long time, so I'm probably out of touch."
Link to Original Source
Privacy

+ - Death threats or freedom of speech?

Submitted by magman
magman (1036252) writes "Kathy Sierra, author of several java books, posted on her blog about death threats and sexual harassment from several named "prominent" bloggers. Is it easier to cross the line between freedom of speech and harassment online than it is in real life?

"For the last four weeks, I've been getting death threat comments on this blog. But that's not what pushed me over the edge. What finally did it was some disturbing threats of violence and sex posted on two other blogs... blogs authored and/or owned by a group that includes prominent bloggers. People you've probably heard of. People like respected Cluetrain Manifesto co-author Chris Locke (aka Rageboy).""

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