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Comment Re:Not just Microsoft (Score 1) 650

Local sales taxes are still pretty high in many areas of Washington state. In Seattle, the rate is 9.5% on most things, 10% on restaurants. Various special excise taxes are relatively high here too. Two examples are liquor and cigarette taxes. The liquor taxes are the highest in the nation once you figure in the markup by the state liquor stores ($16 bottle of vodka at Costco in CA is like $42 in WA). Property taxes are relatively low (although maybe not as low as California in terms of real dollars collected with the Prop 13 caps). The tax breakdown is roughly one-third for each of sales/excise, property and B&O. A lot of the disparity is probably made up by B&O, which is a particularly weird tax that's not seen outside of WA as far as I know. It's a gross revenues (as opposed to income) business tax.

Comment Re:To be replaced by...? (Score 1) 342

All Microsoft had to do was implement a store in addition to the previously-open nature of Windows Mobile, clean up the GUI a bit (the GUI was always the weak point of PocketPC/Windows Mobile/Windows Phone) and they would have a serious contender. Instead, they took the most attractive features of Windows Mobile and threw it away, and turned it into yet another would-be iPhone contender: too much too little too late.

What you describe is exactly Windows Phone (formerly known as Windows Mobile) 6.5 and it has not done well in the market. Its main features were a massive cleanup (as opposed to complete redesign in the case of 7) of the UI to make it more "finger friendly", Windows Marketplace for Mobile (i.e., an app store) and My Phone for backup/restore/find my phone. The lackluster sales of 6.5 have really shown that Microsoft had little choice but to undertake the massive backwards incompatible rewrite that is WP7.

Comment Re:I don't understand (Score 1) 366

The reason WM has been such a failure is because clueless management refused to recognize that iPhone was radically changing the smart phone business. Microsoft was really one of the first players in the smartphone market, going back to the WinCE PDA days. For most of its history, the business was entirely about selling to business people at large companies. iPhone changed all of that rather quickly in the summer of 2007. People like Pieter Knook (SVP of mobile up to that point) refused to change the direction of the product towards the rapidly growing consumer market. Eventually, upper management cleaned house by firing Knook et al and brought in new leadership (Terry Myerson and Andy Lees, in particular) to completely turn Windows Mobile around. The plans for the next version were substantially reset, massive reorgs happened--basically house was cleaned. Only now are the results of that being seen with the new Windows Phone 7 stuff.

Comment Re:The Law of Unintended Consequences (Score 1) 1364

Ballots, while anonymous, are generally public records that can be examined by anybody. For example, here's a link to a letter from the Florida attorney general answering a question about ballots in that state being public record. Here's another one in Ohio. Including ballots as part of public records means that outside individuals or groups are free to verify that ballots were counted correctly. In fact, I think several newspapers did just that in Florida for the 2000 Presidential election. Ruling that petitions are confidential would make them less open than actual votes.

Comment Re:Wait a minute here (Score 1) 1364

Who would decide whose marriages are "in the best interest of society" and what criteria would be used?

It would be hard to nail down fair, clear criteria unless it was something very simple like couples can only be married if they are currently raising minor children. Study after study ( has shown that kids raised by 2 gay parents fare about as well as those raised by 2 straight parents. The more significant component seems to be having two actively involved parents raising a child, rather than their specific gender or sexual orientation. Even then, there are plenty of single parents who do a much better job of raising their children than many couples, even married couples who are the biological parents of the child.

Most importantly though, it's undeniable that people (straight, gay, single, coupled) are going to continue having children regardless of their ability to marry. Don't those children deserve the protections conferred by the parents raising them being able to marry?

Even taking children out of the equation, there is a clear case to be made for supporting marriage. I mean, nobody's ever worked hard to ban or dissolve the marriages of people who either could not have or chose not to have children, right? Married people tend to fare better than those who are single with regard to happiness, longevity and health.

Comment Re:still 85% are offered full-time jobs (Score 1) 293

Actually, an intern position cannot even be hired unless there's sufficient full-time headcount available when the student is supposed to graduate. After completing an internship, the question becomes "do we want to keep this person?" because the position had to be available in case the intern was a keeper. Hiring interns is really nothing more than a "try before you buy" way of hiring.

Comment Re:How do you buy an apartment? (Score 3, Informative) 242

From Wikipedia:

A condominium, or condo, is the form of housing tenure and other real property where a specified part of a piece of real estate (usually of an apartment house) is individually owned while use of and access to common facilities in the piece such as hallways, heating system, elevators, exterior areas is executed under legal rights associated with the individual ownership and controlled by the association of owners that jointly represent ownership of the whole piece. Colloquially, the term is often used to refer to the unit itself in place of the word "apartment". A condominium may be simply defined as an "apartment" that the tenant "owns" as opposed to rents.

The difference between a condominium and an apartment is purely legal: there is no way to know a condo from an apartment simply by looking at or visiting the building. What defines a condominium is the form of ownership. The same building developed as a condominium (and sold as individual units to different owners) could actually be built someplace else as an apartment building (the developers would retain onwnership and rent individual units to different tenants).

"Condo" really refers to the legal arrangement, although it has taken on a meaning of "apartment that you own" in recent years. Condominium laws didn't even come into effect in the US until the 60s really. In cities with older dense urban housing stock, older apartment buildings are still often owned through a cooperative instead.

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