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Comment I developed tax software for 10 years... (Score 1) 780

and "tax avoidance" is a completely unfair term. The tax code is written with the assumption that taxpayers will take all legally permissible deductions and credits. If you take an allowed deduction, that's not a "loophole", and it's not "tax avoidance", it's just following the rules as THEY set them up.

Paradoxically, the more the laws are refined to "close loopholes", the more opportunities it creates for taxpayers to take advantage of the ripple effects caused by those very changes. Like a dog chasing its own tail, changes to the tax code begat yet more changes, and only the rich and powerful eventually can afford to truly leverage all the opportunities.

Simpler tax schemes such as a flat rate on retail sales are much, much more difficult to game. We could dispense with most tax accounting entirely with a simple, broad approach, but this is America. As the Brits know well, we can usually be counted on to do the right thing, but only after all the other alternatives have been tried and discarded.

Comment It's not about climate, it's about the humans (Score 1) 655

No one denies that climate changes -- no one. I can walk outside and show you the geologic evidence of our last ice age, and boy, has the climate sure changed since then. The climate has also been much hotter, much wetter, and with far higher levels of CO2 than today, and there is plenty of geologic evidence for that, too.

The question is whether people are causing warming, not whether the climate is changing.

Call me unconvinced. I have yet to hear any theory that adequately explains both the changes we see in the geologic record, and the changes reportedly caused by Man. It takes a huge amount of warming to move from an ice age to today. Where did that warming come from, if not from humans, and may it, not humans, be responsible for any warming we are seeing today?

These don't seem to be unreasonable questions to me, and telling me that 97% of climate scientists think the world is warming is irrelevant and doesn't answer the question.

Comment So, what if evolution turns out to be wrong? (Score 1) 783

If evolution is an absolute fact and can never be proved wrong (as some here seem to be implying), then it is no longer a theory grounded in evidence, but a statement of belief. Evolution is far from perfect as a theory. For example, it fails to explain the origins of life ("survival of the fittest" presupposes existence of both the fit and the non-fit.) Its mechanism of random mutation followed by environmental selection does a poor job explaining the development of systems, and poses really difficult chicken-and-egg problems around the order in which system components were evolved. And, there are difficulties with the almost vanishingly-small probability that life exists at all, again, a problem that classic evolution does little to help us understand.

Personally, I think it's way to early to call it quits on trying to understand the mechanics of life. Evolution seems more like a really good insight rather than a fully-formed "law" of science. I think there must be some natural form of self-organization at work, something not explained by random mutation and selection, but much more directed. What it could possibly be, I have no idea. But I'm pretty sure classic evolution is not there, yet.

Comment Re: Happy owner of an Elantra 2013 (Score 1) 238

My basic commute (90% local, stop-and-go traffic) bears little resemblance to the EPA drive cycle. I get between 24-26MPG, well below the rated 33MPG, exactly what I would expect given my drive cycle. When I take trips, I routinely exceed the 40MPG rating, no doubt due to the 6-gear transmission and low rolling-resistance tires.

In all other respects, the 2013 Elantra is a wonderful little car, very nicely designed and solidly built. Couldn't be happier.

Comment Let's have a paper trail for EVERYTHING (Score 1) 221

If paper is so great, let's use it for ALL our testing! Want to test that fancy new function you wrote. Here's how QA should really test it:
  • Write down a list of known inputs ON PAPER and known outputs ON PAPER
  • Run the functions while hand-typing in the parameters. Write down the outputs ON PAPER
  • Get our your No. 2 pencils and hand-calculate the correct answers ON PAPER. For every test.
  • Now manually compare your QA person's answers to the test results, tracking it ON PAPER, of course

I can't believe that on slashdot, of all places, people don't understand that we invented computing machines explicitly to remove people from doing mundane, repetitive tasks because people suck at it. They make mistakes. They get tired. The paper gets lost, mangled, or stolen.

Using machines isn't the problem. The problem is mis-applying a human-centric testing methodology (hand recounts) to a machine context. The proper way to test a machine IS WITH ANOTHER MACHINE.

Comment Re: (Score 1) 221

See page 20 of the report. I think they destroy their own argument there, showing that Romney was a back-bencher in 2008, and his slope was flat (like the others), and his slope isn't consistently flat even in all the 2012 races.

Also, the fact that they chose a primary election instead of a general election is very, very significant. The turnout for primary races is front-runner when turnout is that low. An extra 100 people showing up in a more-populated area would be enough to produce the "suspicious slope" effect is my off-the-cuff guess. I doubt this effect is repeated in a normal election.

Comment Re: (Score 1) 157

She didn't hate her censor, she was tired and disgusted with the system, and decided to not support it in any way. I've changed several jobs in my career for the same reason. For example, I wrote tax software for a decade, but eventually became tired and disgusted with how rigged "the system" is, and found work for a better cause. Perfectly understandable.

Comment Re:Looks like the AG actually read the law (Score 1) 817

What you're forgetting is that the supremacy clause doesn't trump the rest of the Constitution. Article 1, Section 4. A foreign treaty (which this is NOT, by the way) that over-rode the rights of States to run elections in the manner of their own choosing would not be legally binding because it is un-Constitutional. States are only required to follow laws that are Constitutional.

Comment One place I'd love vertical touch (Score 1) 377

What I'm waiting for is a full, wall-sized replacement for the humble whiteboard, where instead of drawing with a smelly, messy dry erase marker, we just draw with our finger and erase with a wipe of our hands. I want my screens in two sizes: small enough to carry, and large enough to fill a wall.

Comment Re:Theocracies (Score 1) 862

All points well taken (and well stated, too, which is even rarer.) Yet, even taking the Bible in its proper context, there is still quite a lot that it says about a theory like evolution. For example, according to the Bible, the universe is a created artifact. Yes, while the description of the universe as being "formless and void" before God said, "let there be light" is not a technical one, there is no mistaking the idea of God as the author and creator of everything.

It is on this metaphysical plane, not the physical, that the 19th Century worldview of evolution runs smack into the much more ancient worldview of the Bible.

Comment A united fund is what we really need (Score 1) 280

I'd be more than happy to contribute to a united fund that pools tax-deductible donations to OSS projects, like United Way does for its charitable causes. The key here is to make the donations recurring and automatic. It used to be that payroll deductions were the only way to achieve that, but now there may be more options. I don't want to give to just one organization, I'd like to spread the love around. And, I only want to be asked once a year, not every time I download something.

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