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Comment Re:Taxes, taxes, taxes (Score 1) 762

Unfortunately they also pay for a buttload of useless waste.

I hear that a lot but I never see people being very precise about what they mean by it.

What do you mean by it? Personally I'm not jazzed about hundreds of billions of dollars going to drop bombs on foreign countries and pay war profiteers to run military bases, but other than that, most of the big-ticket expenditures are phenomenally useful things...

When I was stationed in Germany, a barracks was scheduled to be demolished. The barracks was ALSO scheduled to be repainted. So the crews came in and repainted everything, and then literally a week later the whole thing got demolished.

And the interesting thing is that the brilliant and efficient federal government BORROWED the money for this, at 5% interest (which was the interest rate on 10-year Treasurys at the time).

Comment Re:alternative (Score 1) 762

Sure, and what exactly are you going to cut? One man's waste is another's paycheck.

Just to give one example, here in Denver there is a perfectly fine road that was repaved because it was "scheduled," using federal DOT dollars. This sort of thing doesn't appear in official budgets. And the local authorities like it because it's "free" money from their point of view.

Comment Re:Internet Tax Freedom Act & Why Only Amazon? (Score 1) 762

New York came up with a workaround. Since Amazon lets people be "affiliates", they passed a law that says if you have an affiliate in the state, then that constitutes a physical presence, which means Amazon must collect sales taxes on all sales to New Yorkers.

Amazon responded by saying "fine, we won't have any affiliates in New York then" and cut them all off.

New York said "hey, no fair, you didn't cave like everybody else did, time for angry legal action!!".

That's the basic gist of it.

... actually you're confusing New York for North Carolina and Rhode Island. Amazon is collecting sales tax on NY sales, and has not cut off NY affiliates. It has, however, cut off RI and NC affiliates.

The unintended consequences for RI and NC is that they will now lose out on income taxes that they would have gotten from Amazon affiliates based in their states.

Comment What Noam Chomsky would observe about this thing (Score 1) 859

"It's extremely important to preserve freedom of speech, and not to grant the state the right to determine what is or isn't said. A sometimes conflicting right is privacy and protection against verbal or other forms of violence. Once the state is granted the right to prevent speech (writing, songs, etc.) that it claims might precipitate harm, we're on a very dangerous slope. That's why the Supreme Court, in 1969, finally reached the standard of protection of speech that was proposed during the Enlightenment (and I believe may be unique to the US): speech is protected until the point where it is part of imminent criminal acts. So if you and I go into a store to rob it, you have a gun, and I say "shoot," that's not protected speech. How far should it go? Very delicate questions, and my personal feeling is that one should err on the side of restricting state power, as a general rule."

Comment Re:Bubby? Is that you? (Score 2, Interesting) 859

Their sentence was handed out by a German judge and did not include being haunted for the rest of their lives. They are convicted murderers, but they also are human beings. If you think that last fact means nothing for you, then you are saying you have no respect for human beings. It is easy to respect the rights of someone you agree with. You show your civility in how you respect the rights of those you disagree with.

Ironic to hear that, given Germany's free speech laws. It's too bad these murderers weren't carrying swastikas, because then they'd really have gotten stiff sentences!

Comment Re:Maybe the 15 year old is a momma's boy (Score 1) 404

from her website, she's generally anti-freedom

opposes freedom to own "vicious" dog breeds opposes freedom to use "dangerous pesticides" to kill mosquitoes opposes freedom to use marijuana

and, from her actions, seems like she's kind of opposed to free speech. However, most telling are the comments in the local newspaper about her endorsement

What a bitch

This post is a good example of the "Appeal to motive" fallacy. See

The AC's argument basically boils down to saying "This woman has wrong beliefs about Issues A, B, and C because of her bad philosophy, and therefore her belief about Issue D must also be wrong. Move along now."

Comment Re:Amazing that Lectures Still Exist (Score 1) 467

Back in the days (appr. the seventies) we (the students) thought that it would be about time to abolish lectures, given that there were other means to get aquainted with the material (then mainly books). But today?

We're in the land of Clayton Christensen's 'disruptive innovations' here.

See 'the Innovator's Dilemma':

The costs of in-person delivery of education have made the American educational experience extremely expensive for most (whether it be taxpayer or student). And the opportunity cost of spending 4 years in college is also very high.

The thing about disruptive innovations is that they are never as good, on the face of it, as that which they disrupt (the early PC against the mini or the mainframe, the Honda minibike against Harley/Triumph, etc.) but they do, over time, steal the market.

The incumbents are never well placed to address, because they serve their existing customers well and with great focus and attention to quality.

But the disruptive innovation transforms the market, and usually gets better, so eventually the incumbents have to notice it.

If you look at where the future students are, they come from lower socioeconomic groups who cannot borrow $200k for college. They come from overseas, and are blocked from entry into the US by tighter visa rules. They live in Emerging Markets and will never be able to afford the cost of a western university.

So eLearning and eDelivery is an inevitability, even if something will be lost in the process in the quality of education.

A Harvard or MIT degree will always carry an imprimature of quality that will make it valuable, but watch out if you are outside the top 100 institutions: the pressure is going to be on.

Comment Technology generally sucks in the classroom (Score 2, Insightful) 467

Just my personal opinion, but I think a reliance on technology for technologies sake can be an impediment to great education. Human interaction is an important part of communication and teaching.

Not only powerpoint, but some classes at my alma matter began having so-called laptop classes. I had one for calculus II. It was basically an excuse for kids to goof off. People were instant messaging each other or going on the internet. Laptop classes are a waste in most cases in my opinion, unless it is graduate work and complex programs are needed. It is like teaching from a powerpoint. If a lecturer just repeats exactly what is on the powerpoint it is extremely boring.

Give me a professor who wants to interact with students and really teach, and I will take that every time over any great online lecture, powerpoint slides, etc.

Comment Re:Original Firefox goals forgotten... (Score 1) 252

Instead of being a small, simple browser that just did one thing well; Firefox has become way too bloated and indeed the plans for the future seem to impart it with a ribbon-like interface and more nonsensical things. Doesn't sound too good for a nice well-loved product.

I agree. I've been victimized by the "upgrades" to a once-fast browser. Just one day I will open it and it will be upgrading itself. Wait, wait, must restart, etc. Now some ad-ons don't work anymore, gotta go look manually for up them, and so on. Hang on, did I say I wanted a Firefox upgrade? No, it just happens.

Comment Re:America? (Score 1) 462

I think you're confused about the English language! "In America" certainly includes any country in either North or South America. You're probably US American and went to a horrible "school" and therefore can be forgiven. ;)

No, the phrase that includes any country in North or South America is "en america" (saying it in Spanish, that is).

Comment Re:Hit'em in their wallets (Score 1) 462

Yeah, but a system that is still a pain. Lets see, if I'm unhappy about the level of service of my current utility what are my options? Not a whole lot. If I don't like my bank there are at least 5 within about 5 miles where I live. On the other hand if I don't like my utility company (and for the record I don't) my options are to either move far away and thats about it. Utility companies are inflexible, charge outrageous rates, have low standards of service, and have unexplained long blackouts. I'm confident that a Windows server can have a higher uptime than some utility companies... Just because the electricity is -mostly- on doesn't mean that its a great system.

A little talked-about advantage of having solar panels + battery backup at your home is that you get reliability and close to 100% uptime for your electricity needs. (The entire block could be in a blackout but you have your own power source.)

I'd definitely recommend looking into solar power.

Comment Re:Hit'em in their wallets (Score 2, Interesting) 462

Well, the energy sector has traditionally been heavily regulated, and works well compared to the huge mess the deregulated banking system made of itself. You do realize that the government took over the entire banking sector because certain bankers failed to run the companies they managed rather than let the companies go bankrupt so the assets could be put under better management?

There, fixed that for you.

Comment Re:Good luck with that (Score 1) 462

I'm suddenly curious at whether, statistically, this use of the word steal garners as much commentary as the copyright infringement use of the word steal does, on slashdot.

Since most /.ers are college students or live in their parents' basement (and in either case don't pay income taxes), probably not. :P

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