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Comment Re:Why be such morons? (Score 1) 420

What exemptions?

Are the same tax breaks not available to secular charities?

As far as tax breaks go, the basic principle should be that if it is an organisation that is supported by donations rather than commercial activity, or to which you can reasonably expect people to make donations, and it is structured to put all its profits/excess money into furthering its aims rather than making a profit for someone, then it should get tax breaks.

Comment Re:This has gone too far (Score 1) 420

If content producers know that anything they produce is "up for grabs", what incentive do they have to keep producing?

Exactly the same incentives they had before copyright was introduced.

There is absolutely no evidence that the benefits of the extra incentive provided by copyright outweighs its costs.

It is also obvious that the reason for copyright is not to provide an incentive. There is a negligible difference in incentive between a thirty year fixed copyright term and life plus seventy - but the latter hugely shrinks the public domain and increases costs to consumers in order to benefit professional descendants like Christopher Tolkein.

Comment Re:Ceylon? (Score 1) 623

Java and Ceylon are used as alternates in a line from a hymn:

"What though the spicy breezes Blow soft o'er Ceylon's isle Where every prospect pleases And only man is vile"

Probably not a deliberate reference, unless someone only knows the first sentence of it. That said, a language that pleases will attract some vile developers so it may be inappropriate.

Ceylon has a bit of an old fashioned ring to it - at least as seen from here in Ceylon.

Comment Re:Von Braun does not agree (Score 2) 542

Quite a lot of what is happening at the moment reminds me of the Foundation series or the decline of the Roman Empire - slowing technological advances, loss of interest in science, weakening governance.....

Roman civilisation never disappeared entirely. The Eastern Roman lasted until after the Renaissance started.

Comment Re:No. (Score 1) 1486

The author of the article makes a huge mistake about the nature of science and does not understand what religious people mean by faith .

The Slashdot comments above are slightly better in that they understand that science is testable: there is quite a lot of it you can test yourself easily enough (and a fair bit that is tested by children if you paid attention in school).

The Slashdot comments still do not understand what faith means in a religious context. It does not mean "believing without evidence". It is an attitude that only makes sense if you believe. "I have faith in God" is a very similar statement to "I have faith in Fred". The difference is that there is usually no controversy over Fred's existence, whereas there is over God's so the statement becomes a statement of belief in God's existence AS WELL.

In fact, people are convinced of the existence of God for one, or a combination of, a comparatively small number of reasons: philosophical argument, experience of God's presence ("religious experiences") and other people's and historical accounts of the latter. There is plenty of room to argue about the validity of these, but that does not make it "belief without evidence".

Of course there are people who believe in any given religion without having considered the evidence - but the same is true about belief in the truth of almost any contestable statement whether religious, scientific, or something else (the guilt of an alleged criminal, the validity of a political cause, etc.). Think of all the people who think Obama is not American by birth, or that homoeopathy works (placebo effect aside), of that all the world's problems would be solved if the proletariat owned the means of production. That some people believe something for inadequate reasons does not disprove it: it is irrelevant to proof.

Comment Re:Fail (Score 2) 350

They seemed to do quite fine for all those years we didnt support them.[/url]

When was that? Israel has always been a major recipient of US aid and was the largest recipient of US aid (something like a third of total foreign aid) for about 30 years.

You DO realize they are a first world country, with an incredible military, right?

An incredible military certainly, but a population barely larger than Hong Kong and an economy smaller than Ireland or Egypt. In comparison the UAE alone has a bigger economy and a bigger population.

There is no way Israel could have sustained its military without massive outside assistance.

Comment Re:April Fools (Score 1) 121

There is an interesting point though. The Vatican does own some porn.

1) They cannot destroy it because its historically valuable.
2) They cannot sell it because it would not exactly be appropriate to profit from selling porn.

Obviously serious scholars need access, which needs to be free (no taking money from porn), so the best solution would be to digitise it and release it for others to redistribute.

Comment Re:Just use the hardware you have (Score 1) 898

the laptop is 2.5 years old. The battery will be almost gone and there will likely be other HW issues developing.

The same age as my cheap consumer laptop (Lenovo 3000 N200). I bought a new (bigger battery) and there are no signs of any other hardware problems. GSmartcontrol says the hard drive is fine (although I might upgrade that as well) apart from two reallocations.

Why chuck money away as long as your old hardware does the job?

Comment Re:The work itself (Score 1) 732

What sort of work are you doing? Some kind of advisory of capital markets work?

How well would your arguments stack up if you were a foreign exchange trader, structuring CDOs, doing high frequency trading, or proprietary trading?

Finance covers a lot of different stuff, some socially useful, and vital to a capitalist economy, but some we could live without.

Comment Re:Mama don't..... (Score 3, Insightful) 732

This was true when the financial system was focused on directly investing in real businesses and better financial systems meant a better and less costly allocation of capital to those who could use it.

Increasingly however, the talent is being wasted on what are at best zero sum games against other similar players, such as high frequency trading. At worst these activities are actually harmful, and parasitical, on those that benefit the wider economy by profiting traders at the cost of investors (OK those groups are not well defined, you we both know what I mean well enough).

There is also the problem that even on the most optimistic "markets are always right" take on this, there is too much investment in the financial activity because the socialised risk together with privatised profit means that the level of investment no longer reflects the level of risk/

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