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Comment Re:If you live in a state with no sales tax... (Score 1) 392

What the sales tax pays for probably varies depending on where you are, but one of the things I keep seeing in these sorts of stories are the assumption that it pays for infrastructure used by businesses not paying the tax. Is that really the case? It didn't match with my recollection on the matter so I did a bit of research. Anybody interested in doing similar should be able to find the information in the comprehensive annual financial reports from their state department of revenue.

In Wisconsin, sales tax makes up about 30% of the general purpose revenue for the state (about 18% of total state government revenue). This is used to fund several programs, most notably school aids, shared revenue paid to municipalities, medical assistance programs, the University of Wisconsin system, prisons, property tax credits, community aids, tax relief to individuals, other public assistance, and WI technical college system aids.

Since a big chunk of that is money paid to local governments, I then went to the budget for my city to see where that was going. It's paying for public safety (fire and police department), public works (planning, surveying, mapping, city engineering, emergency management, building inspection, trash removal, snow removal, bridge and street maintenance, weed cutting, street lighting, traffic signs), parks, recreation, and cultural services (several area parks, community centers, a museum, the zoo), and general administration. That public works section is about 16% of the city budget and street maintenance is about 23% of that, or about 3% of the total city budget. Looking at revenue for the city, shared revenue from the state would fall under intergovernmental revenue, making up a portion of 42% of city revenues.

So, while it's certainly possible that some sales tax money ends up funding local roads, the vast majority of that is paid for from a different fund through, for example, fuel taxes. Don't misunderstand me. There's a lot of good stuff that sales tax money goes to, but the suggestion that it's largely going to infrastructure that out of state businesses rely on doesn't seem to be true, at least where I am. YMMV.

Comment Re:Literate Programs (Score 1) 329

I wouldn't hold it up as any kind of example of great code (so there are certainly opportunities to improve it and it is still under active development), but another open source (MIT licensed) literate C++ program you can add to the list is some software I've written for data logging/record keeping in commercial coffee roasting facilities. I've tried to keep the generated source documentation reasonably easy to read and understand and the program is used daily at several coffee firms throughout the world.


Researchers Debut Proxy-Less Anonymity Service 116

Trailrunner7 writes "As state-level censorship continues to grow in various countries around the globe in response to political dissent and social change, researchers have begun looking for news ways to help Web users get around these restrictions. Now, a group of university researchers has developed an experimental system called Telex that replaces the typical proxy architecture with a scheme that hides the fact that the users are even trying to communicate at all."
First Person Shooters (Games)

Duke Nukem Forever Demo Released 188 writes "Gearbox Software released the demo for Duke Nukem Forever today, though it's only available to preorders and other promotions for the time being. After more than a decade, it looks like this game will actually hit stores this month. After 12 years in development, will it live up to the hype?" Included with the linked article is DNF's launch trailer. This should go without saying, but just in case: NSFW. Seriously.

Chinese Boy Sells Kidney For iPad2 Screenshot-sm 210

aquabat writes "According to Shanghai Daily, a boy from the Anhui Province desperately wanted to buy Apple's flagship tablet but didn't have enough cash. Rather than waiting to save up the money for the Apple product when it invariably gets marked down, the lad decided to sell one of his kidneys for 22,000 yuan (roughly $3,400) so he could afford one. But, surprisingly, the scenario in which the organ was harvested wasn't in the best of conditions, and the boy isn't feeling very well."

Comment Re:Excellent (Score 1) 241

It seems as though at least some airports are moving away from these things anyway. (warning, anecdotal evidence coming up) A few weeks ago I flew from Chicago to Houston. When going through security on the way out I didn't so much as see a porn scanner (there was one for the flight out of that airport I had taken before, but I went through a different security line this time). I also kept an eye out when leaving the secure area on the way back and again failed to notice one. Flying out of Houston, the security line split in two and I was free to choose either the long slow line with the porn scanner at the end of it (which was scanning everybody who chose that line) or the short fast line without it. I chose the short fast line, didn't get a groping, and was rather amazed at how many people chose the longer, slower line (I suspect most didn't notice the other line was available).

The sooner we stop wasting money on these things (and better yet, get them out of the airports so we can have room for more fast lines to get through security) the better.


Chinese iPad Factory Staff Forced To Sign 'No Suicide' Pledge Screenshot-sm 537

An anonymous reader writes "Employees at Foxconn facilities in China, used to manufacture the iPhone and iPad, were forced to sign a pledge not to commit suicide after over a dozen staff killed themselves over the last 16 months. The revelation is the latest in a series of findings about the treatment of workers at Foxconn plants, where staff often work six 12-hour shifts a week, 98 hours of overtime in a month, and live in dormitories that look and feel like prison blocks."

Free DARPA Software Lets Gamers Hunt Submarines 213

coondoggie writes "If you have ever wanted to go torpedo-to-torpedo with a submariner, now is your chance. The crowdsource-minded folks at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency rolled out an online game that lets players try to catch elusive, quiet enemy submarines. According to DARPA the Sonalysts Combat Simulations Dangerous Waters software was written to simulate actual evasion techniques used by submarines, challenging each player to track them successfully."

Interpol Wants a Global Identity Card System 349

Orome1 writes "The head of INTERPOL has emphasized the need for a globally verifiable electronic identity card (e-ID) system for migrant workers at an international forum on citizen ID projects, e-passports, and border control management. INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said: "At a time when global migration is reaching record levels, there is a need for governments to put in place systems at the national level that would permit the identity of migrants and their documents to be verified internationally via INTERPOL." Issuing migrant workers e-ID cards in a globally verifiable format will also reduce corruption and enable cardholders to be eligible for electronic remittance schemes that will foster greater economic development and prosperity in INTERPOL member countries."

Engineering Election Debates With Subtle Cues 105

smolloy writes "A recent innovation in televised election debates is a continuous response measure (the 'worm') that allows viewers to track the response of a sample of undecided voters in real-time. A potential danger of presenting such data is that it may prevent people from making independent evaluations. Researchers from Royal Holloway, University of London, and the University of Bristol, report an experiment with 150 participants in which they manipulated the worm and superimposed it on a live broadcast of a UK election debate. The majority of viewers were unaware that the worm had been manipulated, and yet the researchers were able to influence their perception of who won the debate, their choice of preferred prime minister, and their voting intentions."

Cylindrical Rolltop Laptops 159

akshaynhegde writes "Germany's Orkin Design has proposed this fantastic concept of a futuristic laptop. The rolltop is a 'rolled up' laptop. By using the flexible OLED and touchscreen technologies, the created concept is a cylindrical laptop which can be rolled out when it needs to be used and can be rolled up again when not used." Something tells me it will be a little while before you will be unrolling your laptop on a plane.

Comment Re:Corporations (Score 1) 235

To be fair, it does make a lot of sense to do something like that if you're going to be getting a large number of small dollar amount donations. There are costs associated with processing a donation and it's a lot cheaper for the charity to process a single $2M donation than 1M $2 donations. A retailer collecting that along with a purchase will have most of those costs to make the sale anyway. Doing it this way also provides a way to do that charitable donation as something like an impulse purchase, probably resulting in a lot of people donating who might not have considered doing it otherwise.

Now, I'd also say no because I'm not a huge fan of * awareness charities and the dirty look is bad service, but I fail to see the problem with the rest of it.

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