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Comment Is this retroactive? (Score 1) 244

How ironic is that, because if it is, it would undermine one of the greatest achievements that Americans like to attribute to their country. Will this act from Obama cause Americans to rewrite their history books about who invented the Airplane, since the Brazilian Alberto Santos-Dumont filed first: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santos-Dumont_14-bis ?
Before Americans start to bash me, I would suggest them read this article: http://www.airshowfan.com/first-airplane.htm

Comment Re:Interesting approach (Score 1) 27

More importantly, as you pointed out before, smaller companies have the ability to reduce costs, particularly administrative costs. The thing that makes bigger companies inefficient is the administrative bloat. People like to deride NASA about cost bloats (with some reason), but private is not necessarily leaner. If one has ever worked for a large company like HP, Dell or IBM (I only have experience with computer companies, but I think this apply to other giants), the admin bloat is just as bad.

Comment Re:extradition cases (Score 1) 271

Besides the embarrassment to the government, which might be something most Americans will not care, one bad consequence for the general American public is that this undermines the credibility of American extradition requests, providing reasons for other countries to deny extradition requests, even in cases where the extradition might have been a fair one, e.g. a divorcee parent kidnapping a child to another country, white collar criminals escaping prosecution (assuming those are even prosecuted :-D), common criminals abroad, etc.

Submission + - Is there a new geek anti-intellectualism? (larrysanger.org) 1

Larry Sanger writes: "Geeks are supposed to be, if anything, intellectual. But it recently occurred to me that a lot of Internet geeks and digerati have sounded many puzzlingly anti-intellectual notes over the past decade, and especially lately. The Peter Thiel-inspired claim that "college is a waste of time" is just the latest example. I have encountered (and argued against) five common opinions, widely held by geeks, that seem headed down a slippery slope. J'accuse: "at the bottom of the slippery slope, you seem to be opposed to knowledge wherever it occurs, in books, in experts, in institutions, even in your own mind." So, am I right? Is there a new geek anti-intellectualism?"

Submission + - Facebook facial recognition raises concerns (sophos.com) 1

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook has rolled out new privacy options to millions of users, according to security firm Sophos, meaning that facial recognition software will be run over photos to make photo-tagging suggestions.

Many people dislike Facebook learning what they look like, and using that information without their permission when they have not opted-in to use the new feature, and sought advice on how to disable the functionality.

Comment Re:Politics aside ... (Score 2) 609

I feel really sorry for you if you have made this interpretation about my comment, despite all my explanations to ignore the politics of the matter. At no point in my comment did I make a judgement of value on Israel, nor did I state anything that was not factually true. I did not make a value judgement on the Israeli position to withhold tax money from the PA, but I did state that a logical consequence of this decision is that Palestinian Universities would likely be affected by their government collecting less money.
Of course it is hard to separate politics from everything else in this region, but my argument was that there seems to be purely economical reasons for this decision, and that other institutions in countries with a similar disparity in wealth (regardless of an ongoing ethno-religious conflict) could have reacted in a similar way.

If it was not clear, let me clarify further. If you replaced Israel and Palestine for, say, Brazil and Paraguay, which are two countries that border each other, and where there is some dependency between the two of them (since Paraguay is landlocked, it depends on its neighbour for many shipping routes), and both of them have very different living standards and investment in academia. If the poorest country invites somebody to come give a lecture and pay for the flight for a guy coming from across the globe to come, and the richer neighbour decides to take advantage of this trip to invite the same lecturer to come to their country right after without offering to help with the trip costs, would it not feel unfair from a purely economical point of view?

Comment Politics aside ... (Score 4, Insightful) 609

Well, opinions about the right or wrongness of Israel aside, it is a well known fact that Israeli universities are pretty well funded and staffed (especially if compared to Palestinian ones).
They already have top class academics working for them and plenty of funding to bring other academics to visit them pretty regularly. I have had the privilege to meet many famous Israeli academics, but I am yet to meet a Palestinian one.
If we just ignore the politics for a little while, I can see why an underfunded Palestinian university might feel cheated if they are paying for a guy to come from across the world to give a lecture, and the guys across the border who have lots more funding and better staff than they have tried to amortize Israeli costs of bringing a foreign academic by using Palestinian money. After all, they could have offered to split the bill or something.
On top of that, I'm not sure about the situation right now, but until very recently, Israel (which controls Palestinian borders and tax collection) was withholding tax money from the Palestinian Authority because they were in reconciliation talks with Hamas. Again, ignoring politics, but looking at a very real cashflow issue that their universities might be having, I can see why they might resent this move.

Comment Re:Definition (Score 1) 254

Profiling is only wrong (or at very least politically incorrect) if you do it on the basis of attributes over which the profiled people have no obvious control, like ethnicity and nationality. Law enforcement agencies have a long history of psychological profiling (which is, arguably, also not under somebody's control) that has been accepted by most people as effective, though I myself have no knowledge to ascertain that indeed is effective.

Comment Definition (Score 1) 254

What gives me solace regarding the danger posed by extremists (religious or otherwise) is that almost by definition these people are not terribly smart. If you induce yourself to believe some fairy tale about the afterlife, to the point that you are willing to kill people, you cannot be that rational. Of course the government needs to be watching out for these people (since they are dangerous), but I do not believe it takes all the powers that have been given to the government to keep track and arrest these loonies.

Comment Re:Does it surprise anyone... (Score 2) 249

You do know that this $1 a year is just a tax scam, right? The amount of money they use personally through the company to pay for anything from a private jet to mansions and other perks is far more than their salary would be, however. Not only do they not pay what they should in personal income tax, they also screw the American tax payer by using all sorts of loopholes in where the company declares its earnings.

Comment Re:Latin American is not part of the world, clearl (Score 1) 161

My bad about Asia, but in my defence at least in Japan and to some extent even China they are the gaming Mecca, they have games that will never see the light of day in the west. Many of my friends that are even more into gaming than I am have learned Japanese partly to be able to play some of those imports. And about English skill, most people who game have at least a cursory grasp of English, and in fact use games as an important tool to learn the language. I am myself a native speaker of Portuguese, and aside from very specific games where the localization was interesting (and I can only think of the Tropico games here), I would never buy a game localised to Portuguese. To me, it just feels weird. On a side note, thanks to Lucasarts for making the games that taught me a significant portion of my English vocabulary, and Amazon for shipping games to Brazil when I was growing up.

Comment Latin American is not part of the world, clearly (Score 1) 161

I think it's rather interesting that the OP is outraged that the game is taking so long to reach Europe and Australia, all righteous mentioning worldwide distribution, but he completely failed to mention Latin America, which is known to have (both in and out of Slashdot) gamers just as keen to obtain these new releases, and for which the piracy argument is hammered with a lot more gusto. On that same vein, shall I mention Africa as well? Last time I checked South Africa, for one, has a rather decent market size, and I'm not even mentioning other Commonwealth nations.

Comment Re:Repost (Score 1) 620

I grew up in southern Brazil, and what you say about Paraguay strikes a cord on me very much so. I bought my SNES there :-D like a month after the American version was released. But this whole free trade thing was not exactly a free ride for Brazil, you were not supposed to bring that much stuff back into Brazil. Still, where you could only buy things at 400% percent price as you say, even with the fines it was worth it. Back in the late 80s, some of these things were not even available legally in Brazil because of what they called "market reservation".

Still, even if things go through Miami, shipping from south east asia to north west America and then back south should be a major component in the price. And in Brazil, what skews things significantly is that one pays taxes over taxes. Last time I had the heart to calculate, you had 100% import tax, calculated over the price of the product including shipping (so not the value of the product itself), plus a federal 15% tax over industrialized products (even if they were not made in Brazil, on top of the price with the import tax), plus a 20% sales tax (on the price with both previous taxes), plus the margins for the person selling it.

By this time, the product is probably already out of reach for most people (at least in Brazil), and then of course, given what you said in your previous post, the rationale that this is a luxury item kicks in, and the people who went through the trouble of sorting out all the red tape in customs decides to ramp up the price of things. If you want to compare how this works, just go to the Apple Store in the US and in Brazil (since it's the same company, pricing policies should be consistent). A Mac costs almost 3 times more in Brazil than in the US.

Comment Re:Repost (Score 1) 620

In neighbouring Brazil, the price hike can be half attributed to taxes. But one thing that I noticed about many electronics companies that sell there is that they seem to ship stuff from the US (as a consequence of their physical presence in the country to be an extension of the North American office), even if they manufacture pretty much everything in China. That might be one of the reasons for the price hike (dumb logistics). I'm not sure if this is the case for Argentina, though.

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