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Comment: Re:Why Cold Fusion (or something like it) Is Real (Score 2) 335

by istartedi (#48174385) Attached to: The Physics of Why Cold Fusion Isn't Real

I think you're being a bit facetious; but what if it only works when 50% of the grains in the metal are a certain size, the initial temperature is 80.523C, +/- 0.3C, and the electrode is machined to a very high tolerance?

This leads to an interesting question: What's the most "finicky" chemical reaction, for lack of a better expression? I'm thinking of a starting point as seed germination. When you get a seed packet, you routinely expect some percentage of seeds to not germinate. What if the experiment were like germinating a single seed? Of course seeds are more complex than physics experiments are supposed to be... but what if each setup is like a seed? What if the "germination" is 10%? It wouldn't be useful for power generation; but it would still be interesting science.

Comment: Re:Why Cold Fusion (or something like it) Is Real (Score 2) 335

by istartedi (#48173125) Attached to: The Physics of Why Cold Fusion Isn't Real

What does he mean by a "cold fusion period"?

Does he mean a transient reaction in the test set-up that produces the byproducts of fusion, but not long enough to generate useful power? I'm hoping he doesn't mean a period in time when the experiments work, then stop working. That would imply periodic changes in physical laws, which is a much more far-fetched scenario. The idea that some physical constants are not as constant as we think has been proposed, but AFAIK no experiment has indicated that this happens.

Comment: Re:Problem with wealth tax (Score 1) 818

by istartedi (#48160999) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

We had real estate prices drop, and the world was miserable. That's because real estate investing works with leverage. Leverage allows you to buy more property, and as it increases in value you pay the lower long-term capital gains rate (if you decide to take a profit).

A sudden drop in RE prices puts a lot of people back "underwater". Massive deflation, with all the problems of a depression.

You're suggesting that we should re-create 2008 and then some. After the dust cleared, maybe it would be OK... but a tremendous amount of pain would be inflicted for... what now?

Comment: Re:Three things you can tax, and consumption is ba (Score 1) 818

by istartedi (#48160715) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

Property tax can be bad for some individual poor people; but doesn't create poverty in general. Let's be clear here--I'm talking about taxes on real estate only. The classic argument in support of tax on land and housing is that without it, the wealthy might horde the land and fail to put it to productive use. With a tax in place, you must produce some income with the property to justify ownership. That income-producing activity is generally good for the poor, because it employs them.

Property tax only tends to harm the poor when they can't afford the rent (because property tax is passed through) or can't pay the tax directly. You tend to think of retired people as getting "taxed off their land". This problem could be solved by better integration of income and property taxes.

As it stands, property taxation lives in a world of its own. It tends to be unaware of the income tax. If the two tax regimes were integrated, progressive income tax would include progressive property tax.

Imagine this: [X] Is your AGI less than $10,000? If so, you owe no property tax. If you made property tax payments in 2014, you may file for a property tax refund.

An integration like this would have solved some of California's problems with out of control property taxes in the 1970s. Instead, they went the prop 13 route and opened up a whole can of worms. We're still dealing with it.

Comment: Re:Three things you can tax, and consumption is ba (Score 1) 818

by istartedi (#48160353) Attached to: Bill Gates: Piketty's Attack on Income Inequality Is Right

Not just no. HELL No! Hell no to retirement accounts dropping 5% every year. OK, so you'd exempt that, right? Just tax the jewelry and the Bentleys? Uh-oh... there was a tragic boating accident. My yacht sank with all that stuff on board coughForeignRegistrycough.

The rich will evade such a tax. The rest of us will get agents knocking on our doors to inventory our stuff. I remember hearing about taxes like this from old timers, where you had to inventory stuff. This is like the "use tax", which is also impractical and evaded by just about anybody without even thinking about it. If you ever bought stuff on vacation, there's a good chance you're a use tax evader.

So. These kinds of property taxes aren't particularly enforceable, and aren't particularly fair. Also, they just sort of grate on me in a very peculiar "I thought I owned that, but no you don't" kind of way. The only property tax we'll sit still for is the one on real property; and that's because you can't move it..

Comment: Re:Art? (Score 2) 77

by istartedi (#48104183) Attached to: Indonesian Cave Art May Be World's Oldest

I think I see an animal in there. It's heavily obscured by fungus, bat guano or something. Look to the left and you see a couple of skinny legs or tree like things. Look to the upper right and you see a head. It might be depicting a flightless bird or something. Needless to say, it needs serious conservation since it's just been discovered. I don't know what if any cleaning was done in France.

What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying. -- Nikita Khruschev

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