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Comment Re:And this is why... (Score 1) 356

I agree, primaries seem stupid and bizarre. It's quite the spectacle to watch as a non-American.

But, next you create a barrier to free speech to promote your Libertarian ideals. If I have a great idea that a million people like, but can only afford to pay $1 to support, I have $1 million for my campaign (and a lot of legwork to get it). If I have a great idea that 10 people agree with, and they can each pay $1 million to support, I have 10 times the money (and I may have only spent a tiny fraction of the time to get it). I'm sure this will lead to the campaigns being run in an equally good manner, and the will of the people will be perfectly represented.

I'd rather pay everyone who shows that they're serious about their desire to be elected a fixed amount than the alternatives of: put a low artificial limit on the spending, causing people to not have an an opportunity to hear about their options; put a high artificial limit on the spending, causing people without the funds to not be able to present their proposals to the people effectively; or having no limits on campaign spending, causing those with unpopular proposals (financially speaking) to be almost completely drowned out.

Comment Re:Ahh, another no-name two-bit "analytics" firm! (Score 1) 390

I know anecdotal evidence isn't valid, but I've always wondered where are the Androids? A few people at work have Android phones, and I see them around town, sparsely. As for tablets, I saw a Galaxy Tab last year and one this year. Other than that, I see them on the shelf at Best Buy. Almost everyone is carrying an iOS device. These reports of Android's crazy market share would be a lot more believable (to me) if they were consistent with physical evidence.

In my extended family, there is one Blackberry, mine, and I expect to be replacing it with an Android soon. There is one iPhone, formerly two. I expect the last iPhone will be replaced with an Android, but that isn't a discussion I've been a part of. The other iPhone was replaced with an Android in the last year. Everyone else uses Android or uses a dumb phone. Outside of my family, I really don't keep much track of phones. The two I know of are both Blackberries. So: 3 Blackberries, 1 iPhone, 8 Androids, 1 dumb phone, 1 that's either iPhone or Android so we'll say iPhone.

My anecdote says that about 62% smartphones are Android, 23% Blackberry, and as much as 15% iPhone. Which proves...that anecdotes aren't the same as data, and that small sample sizes can provide really skewed results. Also, that poorly-representative data can also skew results.

Comment Re:Apple made the same mistake (Score 1) 390

Apple made the same mistake with smartphones as in the 80s with the computers.

I don't think the closed ecosystem has anything to do with it : i have an iPhone, and while my teenage kids love it and wouldn't stop dreaming about one, they just CAN NOT AFFORD it. So they jumped ship and bought a cheap 150€ android. While their phone is inferior, it is "good enough" for all they need to do. Now that they bought it, they're stuck in the android world partly because of the apps they bought, partly due to pride in defending their choice, but mostly because they see that their cheap phone can do EVERYTHING my iPhone can do at a quarter of the price.

So...what you're saying is that it's exactly the same as it was in the 80s with computers.

Comment Re:Impaired Driving Abilities? (Score 1) 638

Highly trained and disciplined Pilots in the virtually empty air != drivers in SIlicon Valley

FTFY.

Nevermind the fact the sky is damn near empty; remember what your driving test entailed? Zero comparison between that and the training military pilots go through.

...or that plenty of cars come with built-in HUDs nowadays.

If Google Glass was only capable of displaying information directly relevant to driving (i.e, land speed, RPM, oil temp, etc), or you could look up your facebook profile on the cars built-in HUD, that would be an equal comparison. Plus, military pilots go through many months of training and simulation before they so much as see the cockpit of an actual aircraft. Class F MVO holders, not so much.

I don't see what most of the points you raised in response to my comment have to do with the points you raised in the comment I responded to. Also, I've never heard of any special training required for using the HUD systems already available in a variety of cars today. So, would you be okay with a version of Google Glass that had a verifiable car mode or not? And if there was such a thing, how would it be less distracting to have some information in a certain point of your field of view versus information that is specifically designed to be in same the field of view as the road you're driving on?

Comment Re:Impaired Driving Abilities? (Score 1) 638

Highly trained and disciplined Pilots in the virtually empty air != drivers in SIlicon Valley

FTFY.

Nevermind the fact the sky is damn near empty; remember what your driving test entailed? Zero comparison between that and the training military pilots go through.

...or that plenty of cars come with built-in HUDs nowadays.

Comment Re:Most of it is born (Score 1) 251

I wouldn't focus just on those who make breakthroughs, but also on those who just find it 'easy' or 'fun'. There could be two things at work here. Mathematical capability, and creative capability. I suspect they would be othogonal, with the pairing being truly powerful, but this also makes finding any genetic factors more difficult. In fact, it would be wise to test people with a spectrum and variety of mathematical abilities, and see what patterns and commonalities emerge, and who has them that they didn't expect to.

Comment Re:Can someone please explain ... (Score 1) 658

No, buddy, you seem to be under the delusion that terms can mean what you want them to, rather than what everyone else uses them as, that your particular concerns are the only important ones in the discussion, and that it's impossible to look at a single facet of a subject without addressing all the other facets without believing they don't exist.

The key difference between the economic impact and the environmental impact is that the environmental impact from polluting is on the order of centuries (perhaps millenia), and economic impacts of regressive taxes are pretty much immediate (years at most). Yes, we're likely at the tail end of the levels of pollution we can cause before we start having to pay for our actions. That said, I'll let you be the one to tell those who are living at the poverty line that they aren't important enough to be allowed to use their cars to get to work, or can pay 3 times what they now for the privilege of being able to survive (and thus being pushed below the poverty line). Sure, there might be a way to solve these problems without destroying the lives of millions of people who are probably the least able to afford or effect the changes needed to solve these problems, but why bother looking when we have this simple (and painful) solution right here?

Comment Re:Can someone please explain ... (Score 1) 658

First, you're confusing two issues: the effect of taxes on the economy, and the effect of taxes on the environment. The previous poster was discussing the effect of taxes on the economy, as was I, and you're talking about the effect on the environment. Yes, taxes can be used to do both. But using a regressive tax, which has greater impact on the poor, still sounds like a bad idea to affect the environment. These people are, after all, the ones least likely to have an effect in the first place, and the increase in cost is going to have little impact on the wealthier people's behaviour.

Comment Re:Bragging about torture (Score 1) 390

Let me help you with that.

First, draw a circle. Label it Christian. Next, draw a circle inside that one. Make it about 2/3 the area of the first one. Label it Catholic. Make a third circle inside that one (not sure how big it would be). Label it Roman Catholic. The third one is to differentiate between that small but not insignificant group of people who classify themselves as Catholic but do not recognize the Pope's authority.

The non-Venn version of that. About 2/3 of the current world population of Christians describe themselves as Catholics. Within the last 50 years or so, some groups of Catholics (Greek Orthodox, Lutheran, etc.) have once again recognized the authority of the Pope. Prior to that they didn't, and this state existed in a number of variations since not long after Jesus died. That is just one of the class of people that the Roman Catholics were hostile towards. In fact, whole wars were fought between various factions of Catholics, at times to determine who the next Pope would be.

Comment Re:the entire process is ridiculous. (Score 1) 1160

Capital punishment is derived from, and entirely indistinguishable in the 21st century from, biblical retribution. The idea that killing the killer will somehow make everything OK is nothing more than a laughably exotic attempt by the state to appease constituents clammouring for a reduction in violent crime.

While I've defended the Bible before, and I do believe it is defensible in many cases, I can't condone capital punishment, and I haven't been able to for years. But I'll ask you this. Which alternative would you suggest for dealing with a murderer 3500 years ago? And how much worse was the biblical standard compared to the contemporaries? The good news is, we have far more options now. Some of them could be considered better.

Comment Re:Hangings (Score 1) 1160

And this is when you tell them that 300 people on death row have been exonerated by DNA evidence, which is a pretty big number when the total death row inmates this year is around 3000 (3146 in 2012). That's right, about 10% who were able to be cleared of guilt using one technique that may not have been around when they were convicted, and who were actually tested through the persistence of their legal advocates. Doubtless more could be exonerated if routine DNA checks were done on people convicted before DNA testing was possible or commonplace. "But what about all the people who were executed," they say. "What about those? Surely that reduces that percentage by some significant amount." Not really. About 1000 have been executed in the last 20 years. (1316 to be exact.) So, worst-case scenario, we're looking at about 6.7% exoneration rates. By one kind of evidence. In a society where the majority don't seem to want to try very hard to exonerate them.

With numbers like those, I'm not too interested in being the one to end a person's life based on their supposed crimes. Even if I could guarantee the person was guilty before execution was an option, I don't think there is any benefit to society.

Of course, I'm also not interested in condoning prison rape and other things that are routine. This probably puts me in the minority - most seem to think it's their just desserts. Personally, I'd love to see a prisoner make a constitutional claim that the government is engaging in cruel and unusual punishment by condoning such acts through the expedient of simply looking the other way. But, again, that doesn't support the sense of vengeance that so many seem to be driven by.

Death Row Inmates by Year

Executions by Year

300th Person Exonerated, approx. Oct. 2012

Comment Re:Hangings (Score 1) 1160

There was a BBC program, 'How To Kill A Human Being,' that examined various methods of execution. The presenter concluded that nitrogen was the ideal way. The idea was presented to the director of a pro-death-penalty campaign group, but he rejected it on the grounds that it was 'inhumane to the victim,' because a pleasant death did not satisfy the demands of justice.

And this is when you realize that the vast majority of people, even well-educated people, even people well-educated in the law, don't know the difference between justice and vengeance.

Comment Re:Can someone please explain ... (Score 1) 658

Taxes don't hurt the economy, that's a right wing furphy, taxes just hurt the insatiable greed of the rich, just like having to pay for stuff instead of being able to steal it. Taxes kick the economy along because the government spends the money rather than sitting on it. Growth comes from spending rather than clumping in stagnant pools where slime try to outgrowth each others obesity.

If Oregon is serious about better balancing the budget they should start shifting more responsibilities from local government back to state government and substantively cut back on administrative costs, policing, schools, fire brigade are all services that could save enormous amounts with just one point of administration versus hundreds. So property taxes could be divided between state and local.

So if we were taxed at 100% and got everything through the government (AKA communism), the economy would do better?

Alright, the long version. Taxes above a certain level will harm the economy. This will happen because, as you said in your post, governments are notoriously inefficient, and seem to have a poor ability to tighten their belts, ever.

More specifically, regressive taxes tend to hurt the economy. A regressive tax is one that increases the imbalance of wealth. This is because those with less money have to choose to spend less on other things due to the taxes, while the amount taken from the rich is negligible from their perspective. Therefore, the net effect on the economy will almost always be worse than not taxing. Times when it doesn't have an effect is when the overall tax level is so small that it's impact is negligible or when the average wealth is so high that no one is worried about a little extra tax.

On the other hand, progressive taxes may have a net benefit on the economy. A progressive tax is one that takes more from those who have more, whether due to being based directly on income or targeted at things that the wealthy purchase more. These are taxes which do what you said, take accrued wealth from those who have a lot of it, and re-inject it into the economy. This doesn't take into account just how good the government is at spending the money, how much of a tax burden the wealthy are already under (not really a problem in the USA), or what the wealthy were doing with that money in the first place (hint: most of them aren't keeping it under a mattress - they don't make them big enough). Of course, if a progressive tax is large enough, there is a good chance it will harm the economy, from tax evasion and all the burdens that entails, and other possible issues I can't bother thinking about right now.

Now for the final point. Which of those tax types do you think a gas tax falls under? That's right, regressive. Even more ironically, which end of the spectrum do you think you will find those who are buying electric vehicles and, hence, paying less of those taxes? Once again, those with more money than average.

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