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Comment Orgmode (Score 2) 160

I wrote my thesis in Orgmode and converted it to LaTeX when finished. Orgmode is an outliner for Emacs which supports plain text formatting (e.g., *bold*, /italics/, etc.), lists, tables, images, code block, and everything else you could wish for.

Since the file is plain text it is dead easy to edit. On the other hand, you have to use Emacs, so your non-geek friends are probably still out.

Comment Re:good (Score 2) 616

[citation please]

It sounds to me like you've swallowed the American exceptionalism propaganda hook, line, and sinker.

Or did you mean that Americans have never made the right decisions? Ah, logic, it is such a confusing invention.

Comment Re:Translation is a copyright owner's exclusive ri (Score 1) 344

Exactly, you wouldn't want that. Which is why US publishers have always respected the copyright of UK publishers and paid them for their work. Oh, no wait, they didn't. In the 19th century, US publishers routinely republished UK titles without paying royalties. Only when US culture came to dominate the global market did they join in international copyright protection rackets^W schemes.

Comment Re: Done us all a favor (Score 5, Insightful) 629

To add a little information to what the parent poster has sad. The state collects church tax for the Roman Catholic Church and Lutheran Protestant Church. The reasons for this arrangement go back to the early 19th century when the state appropriated the land that formerly belonged to the church. This was meant as a compensation for losses incurred by the state when Napoleon occupied the Western Rhineland. Don't ask me how that makes sense.

So, if you belong to either of those two denominations, the state will collect a church tax from you and pass it off to the church. To get out of this you have to go to the Amtsgericht (local court) and declare that you're not part of the respective church community anymore. You don't have to declare that you're an atheist, though.

You right, this arrangement is stupid but it's almost 200 years old and not likely to change anytime soon. Those who have to pay the tax don't seem to mind. Interestingly, it was never meant to be permanent. We have a saying here in Germany: "Provisorien halten am längsten." Literally translated it means that provisional arrangements last the longest.

Comment If you have a question, just ask (Score 1) 212

Telling people to "do your utmost to avoid asking questions that you can find the answers to" is really bad advice. I've seen this sentiment a lot and Eric Raymond wrote an entire article (How To Ask Questions The Smart Way) that boils down to RTFM and is outright contemptuous of newbies.

Asking questions is a fast way to get a problem resolved and people should not be intimidated from doing that. On the mailing lists I frequent, newbie questions are asked all the time and answered fairly quickly. A nice side effect is that you learn something new by skimming posts that aren't relevant to you. So asking questions has a benefit to persons other than the one who's asking. Other mediums, like IRC channels, exist to get problems resolved quickly and how can you do that if you do not ask?

Now, I agree that you should do some research before asking, simply because it might be quicker to find an answer that way. But if after a bit of research you can't figure it out then go ask a question!

Comment Re:Good to know (Score 4, Insightful) 200

If you're referring to Mein Kampf, you're mistaken. Publishing excerpts of it is prosecuted in civil courts, but only because the Bavarian state claims the copyright. When Hitler killed himself, his estate went to the state, including the publishing rights of that book. The copyright is about to expire after which everybody will be free to print copies in Germany.

On the other hand, distribution and use of some symbols commonly associated with Nazi ideology is a prohibited by the law. If and how much freedom of speech is restricted by these laws is a matter of debate. Certainly, the US is more permissive in this regard, but one should not forget that these laws grew out of denazification regulations instituted by the Allied occupation forces after World War 2.

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