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Comment Re:Frankly, that's cool (Score 1) 312

~shrugs~ Cool is in the eye of the beholder. But no, you didn't miss anything. He could have changed the random number of characters to the length of one of Shakespeare's works so that one monkey would have to get the whole thing right in one shot to make it "cooler". Maybe even tracking to see which monkey got the highest percentile correct. But the project probably would have been a "run and forget" kind of thing due to the obviously low probability of it happening in his lifetime. :P

Comment Re:I'm skeptical (Score 1) 312

You're right, actually. I re-read it a few times to make sure I understood. Each virtual monkey "types" 9 characters. If those 9 characters appear anywhere in the works then that monkey "wrote" part of the book and that piece is taken off the list of needed pieces.He could have changed it so each monkey "types" the number of characters in one of the stories and then waited until one monkey actually randomly spit out the whole thing correctly. But he didn't. Most likely due to what you implied. It be extremely improbable and would likely take a very long time (years) even with a million virtual monkeys moving as fast as they can. It's still kind of cool though.

Comment Re:Honest Question (Score 1) 2115

I agree with you that we want to discourage stockpiling of goods. I will even concede the fact that property tax is a good way to deter that. However, I would argue that the cost of maintenance and upkeep of a house is a deterrent in itself. If a house isn't being used as a personal abode or a rental property then it is vacant. Vacant houses are a significant cost to property owners who find their property deteriorate or get vandalized. Most folks I know who own significant amounts of property as investments actually contribute quite a bit to the economy in maintaining those properties, paying staff to manage the properties, and using the income from those properties as a resource for further investment in other businesses. So I disagree with you to a point in that I don't believe property tax as a way of discouraging sitting on property and not doing anything with it is needed at all.

I think property tax is also an inhibitor for folks with smaller incomes to be able to plan for and purchase a home. People who own homes tend to take better care of their properties and tend to be more engaged in their communities. In my neighborhood we saw most of the home owners flee as more low income rental properties appeared. This caused a breakdown in the sense of community. We are starting to pull back together as a community as we help many folks with financial planning and reasonable home buying. So I would say all of these things are also good for the economy. I see a personal home as a form of insurance against sudden and extended income loss. I see property investment (commercial and residential) as a source of income tax for the government and income for property owners that can be reinvested.

Having said that, I am not necessarily opposed to a reasonable property tax. However, I think it has more negatives than positives and tends to be more of a burden on the lower middle class and lower income home owners than any kind of deterrent for property investors. Keeping in mind also that the cost of property taxes simply gets passed on to the renter of the property, who then pays it in the end anyway.

Comment Re:Honest Question (Score 1) 2115

Except that property rights are guaranteed by the Constitution. There is no requirement of a property tax for this. That argument aside, I'm not a theoretical hermit on a self-sustaining farm. I'm a city dweller who pays city income taxes for city services such as a police, etc. So let's keep the discussion to realities and not extreme case nut-job hypothetical situations.

OK, so by your argument then, renters do not deserve protection of law for theft from their homes. And the other commenter believes renters don't deserve building codes to protect their safety because they just rent. Or, is it the belief of both of you that I, as a home owner, should have to pay more towards those services than a renter because I own a home instead of renting? You see, all of these services can be covered by an income tax and/or a sales tax. That way, those who are making (or spending) money, and thus, can afford to contribute, do. Those who aren't making (or spending) money, and therefore may not have as much to contribute at the moment, don't. This is a built-in "safety net" against extended loss of employment. I believe this should be one of the benefits of investing in a property, maintaining it, and paying it off quickly. It's my own self-insurance against loss of income because I can use less food, water, electricity, and gas if I need to due to income loss. But I can't reduce my mortgage or my property taxes no matter what my financial situation.

So, although I understand your line of reasoning. I disagree with the logic of it.

Comment Re:Honest Question (Score 1) 2115

I understand where you are coming from and used to feel the same way. Let me share what changed my mind and let you come to your own conclusions about property tax. I own a home. The main reason I bought a home is that I don't want to pay rent for the rest of my life. It's not a financial investment, it's there to lower my living expenses when I get older. Last month my payment was $558.99. $137.70 went to pay down the debt. $182.16 went to pay interest. $228.28 went to pay taxes and insurance. About $200 of that was taxes (I don't have an exact amount for that portion). So, I'm paying close to the same amount for capital and interest as I am in taxes. I've already been taxed on the income that I earned to buy the house. Why should I continue to be taxed for as long as I own the house? If I want to give my children the house, they are going to have to have enough income to pay the taxes on it as well. Many families end up having to sell family homes and business when there is a death because if the value of the property is high enough, then you have death taxes on assets. This has led to the failure of many family farms.

Here's another way to think about it. During all of this crisis with people losing their jobs. Pretend, for a moment, that someone owned their house. Does it not seem reasonable that they should be able to keep their home until they find work again? Because they might lose their home as it is now because they have to keep paying taxes on the value of the house. Property taxes force people to continue to find ways of making money in order to keep the things they already bought. It puts great hardship on the middle class and on the lower class who are trying to improve their financial position.

Now, I realize we can look at larger corporations and see how they misuse land they buy and sit on it but they will afford to do so regardless. When we look at taxation we need to be careful that we don't unintentionally build our own walls between the classes and make it impossible to move up.

Comment Re:MOD PARENT DOWN! (Score 1) 228

~shrugs~ No problem. There are things others do that annoy me too. But I will say that most of my life is full of non-trivial things. Sometimes, I need to talk about something completely useless, pointless, and irrelevant (like a Yahoo/Facebook social experiment) to remind myself that not everything in life needs to be important. It's OK to do something whimsical once in awhile. I find that a little frivolity goes a long way in making me a more bearable and less wound-up person. So, there you have it. It takes all kinds I guess.

Comment MOD PARENT UP! (Score 2) 228

I actually signed up for it because I'm like that and it turns out you have to provide the information you want to share and you have to send a message to a Facebook friend you think might get you closer to the end target. You do have to let the Yahoo app have access to your basic information on Facebook to sign up for it. If you want to be a target you have to let the app have more access to your information and provide some additional details. So basically, I doubt this will go anywhere specifically because it's not automatic or in the background. It takes actual intentional steps on the part of the participants.

Comment Re:Common Sense, anyone? (Score 1) 788

Actually, according to a NASHP study http://www.allhealth.org/briefingmaterials/nashp-medicaidreimbursement-1277.pdf - "Dentists cite three primary reasons for their low participation in state Medicaid programs: low reimbursement rates, burdensome administrative requirements, and problematic patient behaviors." So, it's not that doctors will leave the profession. High overhead costs and low reimbursement rates simply cause them to choose to not serve that population. Your doctor friends likely think that the reimbursements will go up, and they may. However, I doubt it will be as much as they think, or need, to provide good service. Low reimbursement rates cause an "assembly line" kind of medical service. I am for medicaid and medicare. However, I believe expanding it beyond those who absolutely "need" it and incorporating more middle class income families will cause the service to degrade beyond what it is now because the government can't afford to increase the numbers served and keep the quality at the same levels. But, we'll see what happens.

Comment 3 Week Vacation in Canada (Score 5, Informative) 270

I'm a Canadian living in Cincinnati and drove home to Edmonton, AB for a few weeks. I called my local cellular provider (Cincinnati Bell) and asked them for an international data roaming feature to be added to my account. There were multiple data caps available. I went for the mid-range and paid $30 per month for, I think, about 5 GB. It was turned on over the phone immediately and I turned it off when I got home by calling them up and telling them to turn it off. I also recommend getting international voice roaming if you are going to do that. Otherwise you can get hit with serious roaming charges just for making or receiving a call Internationally. I figured not a bad expense for the convenience. Hopefully your current cellular provider offers something similar.

Comment Re:Rare earth minerals? (Score 1) 358

... and that's not likely to change any time soon. So far as I know, there isn't any way to mine for them without doing some pretty significant ecological damage to region where you mine. China has gotten away with it by pretty much ignoring the health hazards to the workers and the surrounding area. That's not as likely to fly in the U.S. This also brings up the dramatic drop in cost predicted. Seeing as how China pretty much controls the market, we can't predict future prices without asking them what they intend to charge us in the future. We're just changing one foreign dependence for another.

Submission + - Doom creator: Direct3D is now better than OpenGL (bit-tech.net)

arcticstoat writes: First person shooter godfather and OpenGL stickler John Carmack has revealed that he now prefers DirectX to OpenGL, saying that 'inertia' is the main reason why id Software has stuck by the cross-platform 3D graphics API for years. In a recent interview, the co-founder of id Software said "I actually think that Direct3D is a rather better API today." He also added that "Microsoft had the courage to continue making significant incompatible changes to improve the API, while OpenGL has been held back by compatibility concerns. Direct3D handles multi-threading better, and newer versions manage state better."

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