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Comment: We get the IRS We Deserve (Score 2) 312

by nealric (#49373549) Attached to: Sign Up At Before Crooks Do It For You

It's convenient to complain about the IRS, but its flaws are a result of our own animus. Note the flaws of the agency are separate from those of the underlying tax code it has to administer, which it does not write (blame Congress for that).

We don't want to fund the IRS, so its budget keeps getting cut, while the list of demands placed upon it increases. Nobody likes the IRS, so it has difficulty attracting high-quality job applicants. Would you want to work for an agency constantly being berated for doing its job? The workers are forced to do without simple benefits private sector workers take for granted, such as free water coolers and coffee because of public stinginess. I recently read an article in a trade publication that states the IRS has fewer than 750 workers younger than 25 out of a workforce of almost 70,000. The figures aren't great for under 35s either. With that kind of recruitment, it's little wonder that they are a bit behind the times.

Of course, there are the scandals, but those have involved small subsets within the organization. If one subgroup of 5 employees in Exempt Organizations did something wrong, public opinion pillories the remaining 69,995 employees. One example of waste becomes an assumption that everything is waste.

To share a personal story as a tax professional: I applied to the IRS coming out of school out of an interest in protecting the public interest. The pay was just over 1/3 of what I was being offered in the private sector (albeit with slightly better benefits). The recruiters did not exactly exude excitement about their jobs. Ultimately, that was too tough of a pill to swallow. Now, I help companies minimize their corporate taxes.

Comment: Re:Amazing post (Score 1) 494

by nealric (#49355667) Attached to: Hacking Weight Loss: What I Learned Losing 30 Pounds
Even accepting your figures at face value, there's more to it than that. Gaining lean muscle mass also includes the calories required to build and maintain that mass (training requires regeneration of damaged tissues). Your muscle gains will go away if you don't train, but the fat stays there if you just keep eating. Here's a helpful calorie counter based on scientific research (it even lets you choose which research model you use):

Comment: Re:Move more, eat less (Score 2) 494

by nealric (#49328771) Attached to: Hacking Weight Loss: What I Learned Losing 30 Pounds
I can't find something like that funny. But it is instructive. When I see a morbidly obese person roll up to the checkout counter, their food choices are awful. EVERY SINGLE TIME. They are buying nothing but soda by the case, prepackaged meals, and bags of candy. I've literally never seen someone who was 100lbs or more overweight come to the checkout counter with a significant amount of fresh produce. The correlation is so strong I can estimate someone's BMI pretty accurately just by looking at their unattended shopping cart.

Comment: Re:Amazing post (Score 1) 494

by nealric (#49328539) Attached to: Hacking Weight Loss: What I Learned Losing 30 Pounds

Here's an NIH funded study that touches on the topic:

But there is a metric TON of bad diet and fitness research out there. It's mind boggling how many studies use slow walking as "exercise" and think "weight training" involves nothing more than a leg lift machine. It also seems like the vast majority work with "sedentary" subjects and follow them for a few weeks before pronouncing the study "done". Here's a critique of one such study that compared cardio to strength training:

Comment: Re:Amazing post (Score 1) 494

by nealric (#49328153) Attached to: Hacking Weight Loss: What I Learned Losing 30 Pounds
Yes and no. If you get very little exercise, it's going to be extremely difficult to have the self control required to eat few enough calories to not be overweight. Most people will be hungry all the time doing that, even with a high fiber/protein diet. On top of that, the end result of trying to lose weight by diet alone will be someone who is "skinny fat" with very little muscle mass. Once you build significant muscle mass, it becomes a lot easier to keep away body fat, as your basal metabolic rate is higher and you can eat many more calories without consuming a surplus.

Comment: Re:Dialects != Language (Score 1) 667

by nealric (#49277469) Attached to: Why There Is No Such Thing as 'Proper English'
No, but you generally need counsel to litigate in anything but small claims court. And "clearly did not mean" is rarely so clear. Just because someone uses "ain't no" doesn't necessarily mean they didn't mean to reference a statute (and if it's in their interest, they will argue that). Like I said, the courts try their best to look to the intent of the parties in whatever dialect they used, but in real life things get messy. Really, the legal profession does not intentionally go out and create opaque language or language that is outside the vernacular.

Comment: Re:Income a Poor Proxy for Spending Power (Score 1) 760

Right, which is why I mentioned that you can try to adjust, but someone will get hosed or game the system. It's just too complicated. It probably works better in Scandinavia than it would in the U.S. due to the more homogeneous population and more even cost of living.

Comment: Re:Dialects != Language (Score 1) 667

by nealric (#49274875) Attached to: Why There Is No Such Thing as 'Proper English'
Perhaps, but here is the problem: the redneck that is advantaged by the use of the "magic word" instead of the redneck definition is going to swear up and down that's what he meant, and it's going to be mighty hard to prove him wrong. The court can't just assume "aww that just a redneck, he couldn't be that sophisticated" because there are plenty of savvy rednecks who might very well have understood what they were putting in the contract. It's true that the courts are supposed to apply the meaning of the contract, but usually there would be no litigation in the first place if the parties agreed what that original meaning was. It may be the case that one party understood the significance of a "magic word" and the other did not. The advantage of this system is that, at least in theory, no matter what dialect you speak, if you are represented by competent counsel, you will be able to enter into and enforce contracts that are fair to your interests.

Comment: Re:It's NOT a scam, it's a semi-brilliant plan (Score 1) 169

by nealric (#49270345) Attached to: A Mars One Finalist Speaks Out On the "Dangerously Flawed" Project
I assume this comment was in jest, but over-population is unlikely to be a serious long-term problem for humanity. We've already solved over-population with reliable and safe birth control. The only thing that keeps the population growing is that many people in the developing world don't have access to contraception. That is changing rapidly. Accordingly, most projections of human population have it peaking within at least some of our lifetimes and slowly declining thereafter.

Comment: Income a Poor Proxy for Spending Power (Score 1) 760

This type of solution seeks equality, but in reality would have a difficult time achieving it. $100,000 a year allows one to live a relatively deluxe lifestyle if you are in upstate New York and own a house outright with no dependents. But someone making $100,000 a year with 5 kids in New York city has very little cash to spare. Besides location and dependents, other factors could greatly determine your actual spending power. Someone making $100,000 with student loans of $300,000 won't have much spending money. Or someone with cancer and crummy medical insurance. Sure, you can attempt to adjust for these differences, but in the end someone is going to get hosed due to a special circumstance. Far better to just do a flat rate. In the end, the real fine is from your insurance company anyways as your increased rates will likely go up several multiples of the assessed fine.

Comment: Re:Co'on (Score 1) 667

by nealric (#49267251) Attached to: Why There Is No Such Thing as 'Proper English'
I would add that even Shakespeare is intelligible to a modern audience. It can be a bit hard to read as literature, but when performed live, subtitles are seldom required. Obsolete words and constructions are sufficiently rare as as to be easily discerned from context if you are watching the action. You have to go back another 100 years to get to the point that written text requires translation for modern audiences. Even much of the Canterbury Tales can be understood by a modern speaker without translation (with considerable difficulty). You have to go back to the time of Beowulf for English to be completely unintelligible to a modern speaker.

Committees have become so important nowadays that subcommittees have to be appointed to do the work.