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Comment Re:Stallman would have something to say about this (Score 1) 488

First, you're wrong on the facts. The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibited FFL dealers from selling at shows. That restriction was removed in 1986, under FOPA. But what we're talking about here is not FFL dealers.

The "gun show exemption" - good god, an angel on my shoulder is asking, why are you bothering - refers to two factual scenarios:

1) First, from the seller side, the law controlling who has to become an FFL dealer largely targets "do you have a storefront". This means that you can sell guns quite freely at gun shows without having to be (and keep records as, perform background checks as, et cetera) an FFL dealer. That setup imagines 'real dealers' as people with stores. But gun shows are now very large and very frequent events. You can, clearly, be very much in the gun dealing business - buying lots of guns from wholesale sources, selling lots of guns a week, doing it as your primary source of income - while operating only at gun shows and not having to register as an FFL dealer.

2) Second, from the buyer side, if you do your buying at gun shows you aren't "buying from your neighbor". Your experience is like that of going to a store; you have a huge selection, you can go practically anytime, and so on.

So, to summarize, the de facto gun show exemption is that in the drafting of the older laws regulating gun sales, legislators were presumably imagining "we won't apply normal regulation sales at gun shows, because we don't want to burden people engaged in piddly little private transactions with their personal property with the kind of rules we apply to dealers in stores." That's a pretty normal take in legislation generally - consider, for instance, the differences between how private party used car sales are regulated and how used car dealers are.

The massive growth in the size and frequency of gun shows, though, turned what was intended to be a pretty trivial loophole into a huge one. That's the 'exemption'.

Comment No, you're still wrong (Score 1) 497

First, those other contracts have continued - they didn't drop out of the total when the ACA was passed.

Even the ACA contract isn't for 'building a website', kids. It's for creating and running the 36 federal-based exchanges. The design of the web site you use to access the exchanges is a very, very small part of that.

I'm not saying the website wins any prizes, of course. But as far as what money is being spent on, everyone here is doing the equivalent of confusing the cost of, say, creating American Express' web site with the cost of running American Express. This is ridiculous.

Comment Re:never before. Reagan didn't, Clinton didn't (Score 1) 668


This seems to be widely believed in conservative-land - I'm not sure why - but it is not, in fact, true. See, e.g.,


"The World War II Memorial wasn't around in 1995-96, but the National Park Service shut down the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and other Washington tourist attractions during those shutdowns, keeping out an estimated two million visitors. That was on Bill Clinton's watch, but the practice is bipartisan: In the brief Columbus Day shutdown of 1990, George H.W. Bush shut down Washington's monuments and museums, too."

It cites a contemporary CRS report. What have you got?

Now, to try and clear this up a bit:

The lines around what the government legally has to do in a shutdown are certainly hazy. We're working off a very slim body of law, it's only been done a few times (and usually quite briefly), and so on. But there is nothing extraordinary about sensitive, valuable, highly trafficked property being closed when the owner is unable to supervise it. There are not always staff at the Washington Monument, perhaps, but there are always staff on and around the National Mall, not far away. There are staff at NPS offices able to respond to reported events, and more senior staff to administer those staff. There are staff who come in in the morning and clean up any messes from the night before. None of that is legally allowed to happen now. Similarly, the NPS is unable to collect rent from its private tenants or to respond to their problems should any arise.

As others have pointed out, as a legal matter this has nothing whatsoever to do with whether putting up barricades costs more than leaving things running; there are expenses allowed by the law, and expenses not allowed. I certainly agree that the shutdown is, ultimately, enormously expensive for government.

Beyond all that, what's really striking is the charge that closing some national monuments is some sort of stunt. The government has shut down programs that feed hungry children, that prevent massive environmental pollution, that conduct crucial scientific and medical research, that guard food safety, that watch for hurricanes and incoming asteroids - and you think putting up some fences around some marble is a way of making the shutdown hurt?

Comment Re:Basic Statistics Deception (Score 1) 400

It's business as usual in AGW-land. Yet another unforseen event? No worries, blame it on CO2 and add another complexity layer on the model.

It's interesting that this has become the default criticism of climate science on Slashdot, found many times in the comments below. "No matter what happens, they'll blame it on CO2!"

It's usually (always?) claimed without evidence, and often - as here - regardless of the details of the story. (I suppose that makes it projection-as-usual, come to think; it is itself the very thing it purportedly complains about. No matter what the climate story is, deniers will say "they'll blame anything on CO2!") Here, of course, what happened was pretty much exactly what was predicted. (I guess you have to read all the way to the second paragraph of the article to find that out, though.)

This isn't even a case of "global warming can lead to unexpected results or more extreme weather locally", where the "they blame everything on warming" line (though still untrue and unevidenced) at least makes some sort of intuitive sense. This is the most ordinary sort of phenomenon, a downward trend with random variations on top of it. Some years will be lower than other years, but the trend remains downward - in this case, so dramatically downward that this "up" year will still be among the worst handful of years on record.

This is eighth-grade statistics at best. If you can't understand it, you'd probably better stick to commenting on YouTube; you're out of your depth here.

Comment Re:Kind of innevitable and entirely reasonable (Score 3, Informative) 297

As far as cap gains goes, you don't have to convert your shares into money (i.e. sell them) in order to be subjected to the tax. You would also owe it if you bartered them for something else, or if any number of other "taxable events" changing the status of the shares occurred. The rules are complicated, but basically the idea isn't "money is magically the only thing we tax", it's just "we tax it when your ownership in the property ends or changes". I'm talking about the U.S. here - I don't think Canadian law is drastically different. It's possible to tax you, say, annually on the value of changes in your property, instead of waiting for it to be disposed of in some way as we do, but that's administratively very inconvenient (not all property is easy to value), and can be pretty unfair when property has frequent large price fluctuations.

Comment Re:Global warming (Score 1) 422

One of the oddities of this debate is that whenever something happens in weather and scientists point out it may be climate change related, this sort of objection comes up - 'you're using ANYTHING as evidence of global warming!' 'They're saying it's cold out because of global warming heh heh!'

Things like this aren't used as evidence of global warming, in the same way that measurements of plant respiration aren't used as evidence that the sun came up this morning. The evidence of global warming is, by and large:

a) we understand the physics of what's going on here, and we have since the 19th century;
b) we measure the planet's temperature and it's getting warmer; and
c) we can't come up with another explanation for b) that makes any sense.

There are other things, of course, but that's pretty much sufficient.

Unusual weather events are sometimes pointed at as 'evidence' in the sense of "if you people won't understand the science or just trust the scientific community, maybe that BIG HURRICANE over there will convince you", but in the scientific sense, they're of virtually no importance as "evidence global warming is happening." What events like this serve as evidence for (and most of what climate models are used to sort out) are the exact ways in which global warming will affect weather and climate - a much more difficult question, and one that undoubtedly still needs lots of work on the details, as anyone involved will admit. Knowing the planet is retaining more heat from the sun than it would with a different atmosphere is easy; figuring out how that's going to affect precipitation in Pennsylvania in March is more difficult.

To analogize, I'm virtually certain that the denialists on Slashdot will manage to misunderstand something in this post; but predicting exactly what that something will be is far beyond my capabilities.

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