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Comment False? (Score 5, Interesting) 632

Says you. Try having the IRS owe you a few grand. Still waiting on that check from several years back. In the IRS' defense, the mailman could have cashed it, since banks rarely do pesky stuff like read anymore. I've also had them unilateraly apply tax credits that I wasn't legally eligible for (thank heaven I can't be held liable for their mistakes... yet). That said, it was a big tax giveaway (making work pay act) in an election year so I can't say I'm too surprised. Their behavior can appear quite baffling unless you have looked deeply at the history of their actions.

Seriously, read a few Inspector General's reports before you defend an organization that you know little about. They regularly violate their own rules; especially the ones about not keeping an "enemies list" of tax protestors and not auditing because of RO's personal vendettas. Practically every administration since (and including) FDR have used them as a political weapon against their opponents. Judges and Jurors who decide against them get singled out for audit. Repeated studies by lawyers have shown the Revenue Code to be so self-contradictory that prosecution is effectively discretionary. As such "following the law" is basically whatever they feel like at the moment. Oh, and there's a special tax court that is exempt from due process if they so choose to subject you to it (usually reserved for aformentioned protestors).

But, you are right in saying it's not about the money. It's mostly about Revenue Officers and their self-aggrandizement. The way to get promoted is to maximize seizures, and that has been the case from the beginning. The money comes naturally with those incentives. The frequent strong-arm tactics they use to achieve said siezures (and the above bending of rules) is why they are considered little different from a private criminal organization running a protection racket. The things the tax money is spent on (international murder, political blackmail, crony arrangements) is also little different in practice, so you can forgive why a person could mistake the IRS for a mafia organization. Duck rule and all that.

Now I know some 'a youse are thinking -- "but the government does X charitable thing! They're not all bad, they're compartmentalized, blah blah..." Well, the Mafia runs charities too. Both organizations rely on the forebearance of their victims, so they gotta have some way to paint a positive image over the majority of their activities being rotten. And there will always be fools that believe they can join the Mafia to do good -- however, they will not achieve influence because of the incentive structure (the most rapacious get promoted).

Get over yourselves, people. It's a tough world out there, and a government funded by invoulntary contribution doesn't make any of that go away. Doing Evil that Good May Come (TM) doesn't work out in the long run, so either get used to doing things the hard way, or living in a world dominated by evil. By and large, we've chosen the latter, and we need to accept that rather than getting Stockholm Syndrome about the whole affair. Quit defending people who would kill you with your own money without thinking twice about it.

So, I hope you guys reading TFA realize what this is really about: A bunch of ROs got together and figured out a plausible enough justification to pull in more siezures (and hence more promotions/$$$). They win, the taxpayer loses, the Bureacracies doesn't really care because at the end of the day they have a printing press and whole lots of trigger-pullers. The politicians will continue to try and avoid the subject of the IRS altogether, as that makes people think too much about how the sausage is made rather than the delicious *free* sausage they want to offer up. The courts can be relied upon not to rein in the IRS, as they would prefer not to bite the hand that feeds them. The people (in general) cannot be relied upon because they are widely bamboozled that voting can somehow dislodge such ingrained corruption of incentives. The only person you can rely on is yourself -- If you want this to change, you have to be the change you want to see in others.

Comment Hopium Injection (Score 1) 2219

If I leave a story page open for a while, I expect the filters to update like a good little AJAXY wob 2.0 thingy that this appears to be. Yet in the time it took to write this post, I saw no 'funny' comments until I opened it in a new tab to check.

That said, I like the new filtering options, except that I can't filter for troll and flamebait comments. I mean, how else am I going to keep up with the latest GNAA spam?

I don't like not seeing UIDs -- how am I supposed to be bigoted against new users?

Also, I can only read the first page of comments for this story in lynx. Add some GET param that allows you to get the different filters/pages by default and have the links to see that stuff degrade gracefully. I also don't like not being able to middle-click a thread title and have the thread open in a new tab.

Wow, the style for p tags is wack. Way too much space between them; I'm having to be a dweeb and use double <br>s here.

Seriously though, I think it's a good sign that so many users are getting worked up about this. Slashdot's biggest danger isn't a boycott, it's being so boring that people wouldn't even care enough to boycott. Lord knows there have been some LONG stretches in the last few years where I couldn't care less about the topic discussed in this here tarted up IRC channel. Been picking up a bit lately though; otherwise I would have just lurked on by today.

The original slashdot interface was way crappier than this beta, folks. We used it because the stories were worth commenting on -- so I understand why the admins appear less than concerned about this whole 'fuck beta' business. If they can keep the post quality up, the quality of the software used for commenting is not really a deal-breaker.

Comment Re:Bitcoin features (Score 1) 535

One can make a similar argument about paper moneies, as they all have hyperinflations built-in. This conclusion is easily reached by simply looking at history; no fiat system has ever survived the abuses politics subject it to, not to mention fractional-reserves being abused to the point of fraud.

Bitcoin won't necesarily enrich the early adopters. It would be more accurate to say that it enriches savers at the expense of spenders. To be fair, unlimited monies (practically all fiat monies) with their inflations do the opposite; they reward spenders and borrowers by undercutting rates of interest, and punish savers by making their savings lose purchasing power. By this measure, if bitcoin is a ponzi scheme, then all other money is at least a pyramid scheme.

I don't see bitcoin as being bad from an economic point of view. The people who want a store of value *can* use this (so long as SHA-256 is safe), as it would benefit them; though they'll probably hold on to their gold instead. They can then use the inflating government money for their loans, and get a good deal both places.

Also, don't be playa hatin' on the money launderers. It's a crime that doesn't exist without income taxation, which is to say not really a crime in the classic sense, as nobody is harmed; it's really just tax evasion -- which itself was not criminal until fairly recently (it was only a tort).

And good luck stamping out stores of value from existence. People have tried outlawing gold, silver, and nearly all other forms of capital; all it has ever accomplished is impoverishing the society that tries. Maybe that's why your post is so heavy on pejoratives, like "buttcoin".

Comment Re:Bitcoin features (Score 4, Insightful) 535

Yeah, but bitcoin is infinitely sub-dividable, so that argument is irrelevant. Everyone will always be able to get enough to transact. The instabilities in hard money economies are due to fractional reserves creating inflations, or centralized debasement (coin clipping, etc). In reality, all economies are difficult to grow. Inflationary economies just front-load the prosperity, which is popular, as we are impatient. The real weakness of bitcoin is that it is only as strong as SHA-256. When that is broken, your bitcoins become basically worthless.

Comment Re:A What Out of U and ME? (Score 1) 439

Or we could make the other assumption that most people happily agree on: That the people representing us in the government don't mean what they say, nor do they know what they are doing!
Fa fa fa!

...Unless they're in with the Federal Reserve, who I welcomed as my new overlords long ago, as they seem to be the only ones who have actually gotten things done for good or evil in some time.

Comment The fundamental problem. (Score 1) 301

It seems that the fundamental problem with financial mathematics is that most models rely on the 'efficient markets hypothesis' which assumes our market is deterministic. Until we find (which we have not) that the human decision making process IS deterministic, the results of EMH backed formulae will never produce consistent results at predicting market behavior. Some of the most interesting research into trying to predict things that normally seem nondeterministic (like markets, human behavior, etc.) was being done by Orlin Grabbe (with fractal modeling techniques), but unfortunately, he seems to have died too early to finish that work.

Submission + - Microfluidic Chips made with Shrinky Dinks

SoyChemist writes: "When she started her job as a new professor at UC Merced, Michelle Khine was stuck without a clean room or semiconductor fabrication equipment, so she went MacGyver and started making Lab-on-a-Chip devices in her kitchen with Shrinky Dinks, a laser printer, and a toaster oven. She would print a negative image of the channels onto the polystyrene sheets and then make them smaller with heat. The miniaturized pattern served as a perfect mould for forming rounded, narrow channels in PDMS — a clear, synthetic rubber."
United States

Submission + - US "has right" to kidnap foreigners (timesonline.co.uk)

laddiebuck writes: The U.S. announced its right in a British court to kidnap foreign citizens wanted for offences in America, even if the offences were not committed in America. The U.S. position was affirmed by their representative in the Court of Appeals, Alun Jones QC. He stated that "The United States does have a view about procuring people to its own shores which is not shared ... If you kidnap a person outside the United States and you bring him there, the court has no jurisdiction to refuse". When asked by a judge to be "honest about [his] position", he reaffirmed the position. This demonstrates that the U.S. position on "extraordinary rendition" applies to more than just terrorist suspects, but foreign suspects for any offence. The U.S. government has previously used "rendition" to abduct Humberto Alvarez Machain, a Mexican citizen, from Mexico in 1990, and attempted to abduct Gavin Tollman, a British citizen, from Canada in 2005, despite extradition treaties having been in place with both countries. The latter attempt failed after a Canadian judge ruled that "the US Justice Department had set a 'sinister trap' and wrongly bypassed extradition rules". The U.S. Justice Department has not commented.
United States

Submission + - Internet Thought Police Bill Before Congress (news.com) 2

eldavojohn writes: "A new bill is before congress that is expected to approved and will establish a new federal commission tasked with investigating Americans with "extremist belief systems" and those who may engage in "ideologically based violence." The article also mentions a chilling quote from the bill that has already made it past the House of Representatives (by 404-6):

The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.
"Extremist belief systems?" <sarcasm>None of that on Slashdot!</sarcasm>"


Submission + - Wal-Mart forcing Warner & Sony BMG to provide (billboard.biz)

PoliTech writes: "Acording to Billboard, Wal-Mart is alerting WMG and Sony BMG that it will pull their music files in the Windows Media Audio format from walmart.com some time between mid-December and mid-January, if the labels haven't yet provided the music in MP3 format."
United States

Submission + - U.S. Claims Right to Kidnap British Citizens (timesonline.co.uk)

boarder8925 writes: "The U.S. federal government has informed Britain that it has the right to kidnap British citizens suspected of criminal offenses. The Times continues: "A senior lawyer for the American government has told the Court of Appeal in London that kidnapping foreign citizens is permissible under American law because the US Supreme Court has sanctioned it.""

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