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Comment: Guilty Pleasure (Score 2) 44

by DumbSwede (#49388105) Attached to: Madman: Proximity To Black Hole "Not a Big Deal"

Despite the outcry of many, I find this year’s April 1st theme enjoyable. Black Hole is one of those films that is bad on many levels and yet still an enjoyable viewing experience. Perhaps it is just the strange repetitive Yah-Yah-Yah-Yaaaaah-da-da-da background music that makes it so borderline creepy and memorable -- very un-Disney like.

It gets all weird and religiously allegorical at the end while at the same time paying an homage to 2001 a Space Odyssey’s final scenes. I usually just quit insisting the ending make any kind of scientific sense and just accept it as a Deus Ex Machina.

To be honest, I was a bit surprised that it apparently it must be considered essential for nerd viewing (else it wouldn’t be skewered in this year's collection). Still hoping for a clever Blade Runner entry.

Comment: Re:I'm all for abolishing the IRS (Score 1) 321

by mrchaotica (#49388073) Attached to: Sign Up At Before Crooks Do It For You

You see taxes as a weapon to punish the wealthy and successful.

On the contrary, taxes are a way to maintain the stability of society and thus save the wealthy and successful from their own shortsightedness. Without progressive taxation to maintain a middle class, wealthy elites will eventually end up being lynched by rampaging hordes of serfs. History has shown it to be pretty much inevitable.

If you're a member of the wealthy elite, your choice is not between being taxed or not being taxed; your choice is between being taxed and having your head forced into a guillotine.

Comment: Re:As long as it's not windy (Score 1) 125

by mrchaotica (#49385865) Attached to: World's Largest Aircraft Seeks Investors To Begin Operation

The only reason why airplanes often use more power in a headwind, is because the pilot may elect to fly faster to (partially) compensate for the wind. An 80 kt airship in a 40 kt headwind will only have a ground speed of 40 kt, so the pilots may well choose to increase power to get a higher ground speed.

The other reason why airplanes use more power in a headwind is that the pilot still wants to get from point A to point B, which are fixed relative to the ground. If he has a headwind, it means he needs to cover more "effective distance" (relative to the air) to get there and thus use more fuel even if he doesn't increase his airspeed.

Comment: This is bullshit (Score 1) 82

Not the post, but the clickbait title. I mean, c'mon, can't we have a proper headline anymore?! When extraterrestrials really are discovered I want to read "ALIENS DISCOVERED!," in all caps (and imagine it spoken in a 1940s-newsreel voice), not this ridiculous "click me to read the thing I could have just told you right now, but didn't" crap!

Comment: Re:Woop Di Do Da! (Score 1) 210

Is there any other technology, besides renewable energy, that makes certain Slashdot readers so darn mad? It's like they would prefer that it just didn't exist.

If you say Apple has 13% of the personal computer market, they're popping corks and doing the peepee dance. If you say a newer technology, solar energy, has reached 5%, while facing enormous geo-political resistance and the enmity of the most powerful corporations in the world, it actually pisses you off for some reason.

I'm curious. What is it about solar energy that spurs such surprising anger among this segment of Slashdot readers? What did solar energy do to you?

Comment: Re:Not so fast (Score 2) 125

by Rei (#49385153) Attached to: World's Largest Aircraft Seeks Investors To Begin Operation

Most people's perception of how airships should behave from holes is wrong, and it's based on their experience with party balloons. The reason for the differences are:

* Party balloons are pressurized - the skin is stretched taught. The skin on airships are loose.
* Skin area (and thus leak rate) scales proportional to the radius squared, while the volume scales proportional to the radius cubed. Airships are many, many orders of magnitude larger than party balloons. Consequently the rate in which gas can leak out of a hope is drastically lower.

Even large holes in airships don't take them down quickly. Even a moderate sized airship can generally continue flying to its destination and then fix the damage and refill there.

Comment: Re:I'm all for abolishing the IRS (Score 1) 321

by mrchaotica (#49382003) Attached to: Sign Up At Before Crooks Do It For You

You're mixing income tax with consumption tax. If you want to tax income, tax income. But if we're taxing consumption, then those who consume more pay more than those who consume less, and those who consume least because they have the least to spend pay the least in taxes because of the baseline exemption. The upper middle class guy who's busting his butt to pay off his student loans, and who saves as much as he can, is not going to pay a disproportionate amount in taxes.

The only reason the particular middle-class guy in your example isn't paying a disproportionate amount in taxes is because he took out a bunch of loans before he became middle class, and thus shifted his spending backward in time to qualify for the exemption.

Or, another way of looking at it would be to say that the guy with student loans isn't really middle-class yet, because $0 income for 4 years plus $75K income for one year averages out to be "equivalent" (in some sense) to a guy making $15K each year. And if the guy had $60K in loans to pay back, and they had to be paid back in one year, then it pretty much would be equivalent.

But I digress: even in the case of somebody with student loans, there are only two possibilities: either the loan payments are a large fraction of income such that the person is "poor" after paying them as in the example above, or the loan payments are a small fraction of income such that the person is still "middle class" after paying them and is inflating his lifestyle and thus paying a disproportionately tax rate anyway.

If he pays off his student loans and still chooses to live modestly, he continues to pay a low tax rate. If he instead decides to start living large, then he'll start paying more in taxes. Either way, he essentially chooses his tax bracket, because he chooses every day what to buy, and how much to spend on it.

Here's the problem: on average, nobody does that! Did you see the graph I linked? The average savings rate, across the entire bottom 90% of the population, is about 2.5%. To say "just save more" is a non-solution because it ignores human nature.

Now, you're right that some people -- weird people -- would save a large fraction of their income and thus make out like bandits. As one of those weird people myself (I'm a big fan of and plan to be wealthy enough to retire at age 45 or so), I completely agree that it's entirely possible to do. However, I also realize that, when considering society as a whole, people like me are a negligibly tiny fraction. What's advantageous for me and what works for society are very, very different things.

This tax is progressive in that people who choose to live modestly or who cannot afford to live extravagantly pay very little in taxes. Those who are able and choose to live extravagantly pay much more in taxes.

You're ignoring the third category, which is "people who can afford to live comfortably" (but not extravagantly). (And by "afford" I mean "live paycheck to paycheck, saving very little" -- which is a poor definition of "afford," but nevertheless the one most people use.) That category describes pretty much the entire middle class (again, except weird people). Unless you make the exemption cutoff so high that only true "luxury" goods are taxed, they are screwed by your plan.

Finally, although up to this point we've been avoiding discussing why it's important for taxes to be progressive in the first place, I'd like to reiterate that is is indeed important. Money is power, and without a way to siphon off and redistribute excessive wealth, runaway compound interest allows the most wealthy people to become so obscenely powerful that it destroys the political system (and eventually society itself). It happened before the French Revolution, it happened before the Soviet Revolution, and it's happening in the US right now. Insufficiently progressive taxes are dangerous.

Comment: Fails to really make its point (Score 1) 361

by DumbSwede (#49379527) Attached to: Why America's Obsession With STEM Education Is Dangerous

I started to read TFA, but it started to ramble and loose focus. Something, blah, blah, critical thinking, something, something, poor standing on international tests in the STEM fields – it seems to whiplash back and forth contradicting itself.

Teaching is hard. Sure education needs to be well rounded.
That said, STEM will be more and more important going forward for the majority wanting a good paying job. Guess that sucks for the humanities majors. Life’s not fair sometimes. I suspect we can put an emphasis on STEM, give them a well rounded education that includes some humanities, like, oh I don’t know, like EVERY Bachelor of Science degree I know of. I doubt very much our nation will suffer a lack of critically needed non-STEM majors. From what I hear non-STEM fields have stagnant wages – so de-emphasizing them should increase wages for those that really wish to peruse these as their passion.

Comment: Re:So What (Score 1) 322

by Marxist Hacker 42 (#49379395) Attached to: Poverty May Affect the Growth of Children's Brains

2nd potential mechanism. Due to competition for rare leadership positions, serfs showing leadership potential are killed outright, leaving behind only those with brains enough to do the job that the lord wants them to do. Once a dynasty and traditional economy are established, eight nor nine generations of this and you'll end up with a genetic separation between "noble blood/highborn" and "serf/lowborn" populations.

For an extreme comedic version of this, see, these English actors portrayed the four class English system perfectly, complete with simulated IQ levels.

The tao that can be tar(1)ed is not the entire Tao. The path that can be specified is not the Full Path.