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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.

Comment Re:So? (Score 1) 599

That is simply not true. You can drop buoys directly into a moving water and generate electricity without first damming of the river. These buoys can be equipped with features that make them save for the fish and other river life. Google "hydro power without a dam" to find out more.

Comment Re:They ARE the memo (Score 1) 628

NK also has a powerful neighbor in the north who would object to further encroachment by US troops so close to its borders as it did in the past and who is the only reason why there is a NK in the first place.

If the US intervenes in NK without the (tacit) acknowledgement of China things will get really ugly really fast.

Comment Re:What? (Score 1) 450

Basically, the test in question was a bribery test. People from cultures more attuned to bribery (euphemistically referred to as "gift-giving" in the study) turned out to be faster to use it and more generous with their offers. Big surprise. The more developed your country is, the less likely you are to try to openly bribe a stranger with cash.

You missed the crucial part that the recipient of a large gift (more than a 50-50 split) also turned these gifts down more often than not. It is explained later on in the article by the mindset the generous offers lead to unwelcome burdens. None of this matches your bribery analogy.

Comment Re:Space program vs Welfare (Score 1) 421

And what was so special about the moon to create that brand value?

That's easy to answer. The moon has had a special place in the human imagination since time immemorial. It's been raised to the status of a deity by many cultures. Thus, it does not surprise me that the moon landing, i.e., the first instance of "man touching the moon" is such a significant cultural event. Conversely, I venture that even most educated people have a problem picturing the emptiness of deep space. This vagueness in understanding translates to putting somebody up there.

Comment Re:Just use Postgresql (Score 4, Informative) 336

There are one-click installers available for Windows and OS X. On Linux, you would obviously the package management version.

You also don't have to run PostgreSQL as root at all. I develop on OS X and typically run an installation from my home directory. (I also compile my own version, but you don't have to do that.)

Comment Re:Now see, it's hyperbole like this (Score 1) 462

even as the U.S. endures its warmest year on record (the 13 warmest years for the entire planet have all occurred since 1998)

on record: since 1850 (thermometers), or for the last 2000 years (tree rings, ice cores), or for the last 800.000 years (ice cores), according to Wikipedia. Doesn't really say which, but the Mesozoic era ended 65 million years ago, so it's not covered.

warmest years for the entire planet: if one considers global temperature averages. Note that local climate is not a good indicator.

But I've grown more than a little sick of Chicken Little, crazy-eyed alarmists preaching apocalyptic sermons with utterly ridiculous language that makes it sound like the fucking end is nigh if mankind doesn't abolish all industry NOW NOW NOW RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!

Straw man. Actually, the total opposite of what the article is about.

And spouting off laughably ridiculous "facts" like "the 13 warmest years for the entire planet have all occurred since 1998" only makes them sound even more like a bunch of religious zealots than they already do.

Pot, meet kettle.

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