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Comment: Re:There's a lot of stuff (Score 1) 81

by mrchaotica (#49378837) Attached to: No Film At 11: the Case For the Less-Video-Is-More MOOC

This. The class I'm taking right now has videos that consist entirely (except for the intro) of the professor writing on the screen with a Wacom tablet. It's exactly like watching a lecture, except the whiteboard is a computer. By the way, I've previously taken an in-person class taught by the same guy [when I was an undergrad], so when I say it's the same I know what I'm talking about.

Comment: Re:I'm all for abolishing the IRS (Score 1) 308

by mrchaotica (#49378767) Attached to: Sign Up At irs.gov Before Crooks Do It For You

And no, if you want to make a consumption tax regressive, you don't have to make it complicated. You can exempt the first $X of purchases, where $X is some "living wage" line according to some politician's favored theory. You now have a progressive tax.

That's not progressive; that's regressive with a discontinuity. For example, assume the sales tax rate were 25%. In that case, a middle-class person making and spending 2*$X pays 12.5% (25% * 50%), which is a higher tax rate than a rich person who makes 10*$X and spends 5*$X, who pays 10% (25% * 40%). And the really rich person making 100*$X but who ran out of things he wanted to buy at 10*$X has a tax rate that's even lower than that: 2.25% (25% * 9%).

By the way, I wrote that example using easy numbers to illustrate my point. The actual difference in saving rates between normal people, the rich, and the very rich is large, but not quite that large (see the second chart on this page). However, even at realistic savings rates (2.5% for the bottom 90%, 15% for the top 10 to 1%, and 35% for the top 1%) the principle is still valid.

And since everybody would be helping to carry the load of the government they ask for, the big winners in this system are the upper middle class, who are currently getting screwed from both ends of the income spectrum.

On the contrary! As you can see from my example above, the middle class person making significantly more than $X, but not enough to easily save a large fraction of his income, pays the highest tax rate of all. The peak tax rate would occur somewhere around the 50th income percentile, while if the goal were to be progressive it should occur at the 99th percentile.

Comment: Re:software dev vs programmer (Score 4, Informative) 131

by mrchaotica (#49376759) Attached to: IT Jobs With the Best (and Worst) ROI

First of all, quit being obtuse.

Second, train engineers are not the "original" engineers. The original engineers were people who designed siege engines (hence the name) for warfare -- ballistas, trebuchets, battering rams, etc. -- as well as fortifications. Military engineers predate trains by several thousand years.

Third, the second-oldest type of engineering is "civil engineering," and is named such because "civil" is the opposite of "military." Civil engineering is also several thousand years older than trains.

Oh, and by the way: the word "engine" didn't originally have anything to do with internal or external combustion; the Latin root word translates roughly as "a produced thing," or an object created by ingenuity. So in the truest sense, an engineer is anyone who uses his ingenuity to build something.

The only reason railroad engineers are called such is because presumably the earliest ones built the damn locomotive as well as operated it. Besides, the US and Canada are the only places that call people who drive trains "engineers" anyway -- everywhere else calls them "drivers," "operators" or "pilots."

Comment: Re:I'm all for abolishing the IRS (Score 3, Insightful) 308

by mrchaotica (#49375645) Attached to: Sign Up At irs.gov Before Crooks Do It For You

Have you seen our tax code? When I took Federal Income Taxation in law school, I had to get a copy of the tax code, and it was about six inches thick. (I don't remember, or care, if or how much it was annotated.) That's a mighty long list of exceptions to consumption tax.

First of all, income tax is production tax, not consumption tax, so you've got your thinking backwards to begin with.

Second, just because the current implementation of the income tax is riddled with loopholes and power-grubbing statist bullshit, doesn't mean it has to be. A progressive income tax could be as simple as setting tax rate = f(income) where f(income) is a sigmoid curve such that f($0) = 0% and the limit as income approaches infinity is 100%. Politicians would fight over the parameters, of course, and most people would need a slightly fancier calculator to compute it, but the end result would fit on a page.

In contrast, to make a sales tax progressive it must be complicated, because somebody has to decide which goods people at each income level should be "allowed" to afford. In contrast, a simple sales tax where all goods are taxed at the same rate would be inherently regressive because low-income people spend 100% of their income buying stuff while high-income people don't.

Comment: Re:I'm all for abolishing the IRS (Score 2) 308

by mrchaotica (#49373653) Attached to: Sign Up At irs.gov Before Crooks Do It For You

Georgia makes such a distinction. If you go to a supermarket and buy the ingredients to make a sandwich they'll be taxed at something like 2%, but if you have the people at the supermarket's deli counter make you a sandwich it'll get taxed at something like 7%. If you buy both, your receipt will show the 2% tax applied to the subtotal of the sandwich ingredients and 7% tax applied to the subtotal of the prepared food. (In GA, taxes rates are also set on a city and county basis, so the actual numbers may vary.)

IMO, the categorization does get kind of arbitrary and capricious. For example, what about a pre-made sandwich in the deli's refrigerated case? What about a sandwich made in a factory instead of the deli? What about a doughnut made by the bakery vs. a boxed doughnut from the junk food aisle?

You could say "all the food bought at the grocery store gets taxed at the lower rate," but then the grocery store's deli has an unfair advantage over the likes of Subway. Or you could say "everything that's a processed dish (rather than a raw ingredient) gets taxed at the higher rate," but lots of things (e.g. cheese) can be either depending on how the customer intends to use them.

I dislike the IRS as much as anyone, but I think taxing income is a lot simpler to make progressive than trying to categorize all the different kinds of products available would be.

Comment: Re:I'm all for abolishing the IRS (Score 3, Informative) 308

by mrchaotica (#49373409) Attached to: Sign Up At irs.gov Before Crooks Do It For You

Progressive income taxes have resulted in the largest debt in the history of mankind.

On the contrary, irresponsible tax cuts without commensurate decreases in spending have resulted in the largest debt in the history of mankind.

We could talk about the "coincidence" that said tax cuts disproportionally favored the wealthy (i.e., they made the tax less progressive), and that spending actually increased and most of that increase was for war.... but you don't really want to admit that, do you?

It's such an inconvenient fact that deficits tend to drop due to the policies of liberals and rise due to the policies of [neo-]conservatives, when [neo-]conservatives desperately try to lie and claim it's the other way around...

Comment: Re:Disincentivized (Score 1) 400

by mrchaotica (#49357247) Attached to: Millennial Tech Workers Losing Ground In US

I would include all of those, except UTA, in the "and so on".

It's a bit disingenuous to list out the Ivys while only implying the public schools, considering that the point you were trying to make was that going to a good CS school is expensive and the schools you selectively omitted disprove it.

Georgia Tech has 8 tracks. Pretty much the only hirable ones are the "Devices" and "Systems & Architecture" track. If you too CS4210 and CS4220 as electives on the "Theory" track, you might also do OK. I typically don't mention it because of the low percentage of people who opt for these tracks, compared to the other tracks at this school, so you have to be picky.

I went to Georgia Tech just long enough ago that my degree plan predated the "threads" curriculum. However, I think you're being excessively narrow in your opinion of which ones are worthwhile. Specifically, 5 of the 8 threads (all except "People," "Media," and "Intelligence" require CS2200, which is a computer architecture course that uses C for the assignments and teaches not only memory management, but threaded programming too. "Intelligence" requires CS2110, which sounds from the course catalog description like it's a less-rigorous version of the same. "Media" requires CS 2261, which is also a low-level systems programming course, but is more focused on graphics and sound.

Most of those threads also have 3000- or 4000-level classes (other than 4210 and 4220) that reinforce low-level programming skills: CS3451 (Computer Graphics) uses C and OpenGL, many of the "Modeling and Simulation" classes (e.g. CS4225) surely focus on low-level stuff since that thread is really about high-performance computing, "Information-internetworks" people are probably going to take either CS4420 (database implementation) or CS4251 (computer networking 2) which are very likely low-level, and I'm sure almost everybody in the "Intelligence" thread is going to take some kind of robotics or computer vision class.

In fact, the only "thread" where people could escape without learning C is the "People" thread, and considering that you have to complete two threads to get a degree, you're going to have to learn C to graduate no matter what you do.

I'm not saying that you should hire somebody who picked the "Intelligence" and "People" threads and took the least-rigorous classes possible (and thus got a glorified psychology degree) to do embedded device programming, but I am saying that even that guy should be competent enough to understand pointers and therefore be employable by the vast majority of Silicon Valley companies that aren't actually writing OS kernel or firmware-level code.

Comment: Re:Define "Qualified" (Score 1) 400

by mrchaotica (#49355301) Attached to: Millennial Tech Workers Losing Ground In US

I'm 30 and also consider myself to be among the oldest "millennials." I could have had a 5-digit UID, but lurked for a few years before joining.

(Back then, I was skeptical about joining web forums for some of the same reasons people don't like Facebook now. <hipster>I was a privacy nut before it was cool</hipster>)

Comment: Re:Disincentivized (Score 1) 400

by mrchaotica (#49355095) Attached to: Millennial Tech Workers Losing Ground In US

Sadly, You can no longer take a C++ class at most universities in the United States. You can take a "Databases using C++", and be expected to learn C++ on your own, but of course, that's much more likely to be "Databases using Java" these days.

If you're trying to learn pointers and memory management in a databases class, you're doing it wrong. An operating systems class is the right place to cover that topic.

Currently, ABET accreditation is "Outcome Based", a criterion which has been abandoned as hopelessly flawed in primary education for both math and reading:

General Criterion 3. Student Outcomes" ...

No where does it require proficiency in a programming language or other language, and in fact, it goes so far as to limit the requirement to reading about them - "exposure" - in section II:

Program Criteria for Computer Science and Simililarly Named Computing Programs ...
Student Outcomes ...

Students must have the following amounts of course work or equivalent educational experience:

a. Computer science: One and one-third years that must include: ...
2. An exposure to a variety of programming languages and systems. [CS]

WTF? The very next requirement after your quote says "3. Proficiency in at least one higher-level language. [CS] ."

The bad news is that there's only a handful of places that have these programs, such as Brown, Rice, Stanford, MIT, CMU, and so on.

The good news is that if you attend one of these handful of universities, AND you opt into the degree program that actually forces you to learn to use the tools, and use a computer as a tool, in more than a theoretical, abstract way, AND you do well, you are practically guaranteed a job at a top tier company, like Google, Facebook, Apple, etc.. The bad news is that these places tend to be a heck of a lot more expensive than a community college.

Bullshit. While there are some expensive good CS undergrad programs, there are also good (relatively) cheap ones at public state universities such as University of California - Berkeley, University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor and University of Texas - Austin (and those are just schools in the top 10 -- ranked above the Brown and Rice you mentioned!).

Comment: Re: finger pointing (Score 1) 400

by mrchaotica (#49354879) Attached to: Millennial Tech Workers Losing Ground In US

Ridiculous. Actually, part of the problem is that due to wealth transfers (Welfare and tax credits), government handouts to unions (especially federal union jobs), etc, have made it so that engineering take home pay gets held down through taxes, and some other jobs get paid more than they should.

Yes, I agree that wealth transfers (corporate tax credits, reducing the highest marginal tax rate from 84% (in 1950) to 40% (today), having a very low capital gains tax rate) have made it so that all salaried job take home pay gets held down through taxes, while owners make much more profit than they should.

panic: kernel trap (ignored)