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Comment Re:Yeah (Score 1) 398

Two points to Hufflepuff for uninspiring use of wikipedia in a slashdot comment!

So, yes, the nominal tax rate is pretty high when compared with the nominal rates of other nations. The effective tax rate (that is, the one that companies actually pay) is nowhere near that. No company files their taxes and pays the full ticket -- there's an endless swath of depreciation schemes, ways to recognize revenue, corporate structuring, deductions and credits that get leveraged throughout.

Comment Re:... pretty much got what I expected ... (Score 1) 261

Not kidding. It's hard to know what tech blueprints are left, though, because you don't have any in-game list of them to refer to. I know I have all the ones for suit and ship and tool, but materials and some of the other ship components are more mysterious. Example: I had Atlas Pass 1 and 3, but not 2. I got 2 last night. You're right, I do have a lot of grind tolerance, and I do like crafting games. In a way, this game is a great grinder because there's a lot to see along the way, but grinding without an outlet (like making and selling) reaches a point of stale-ness. It might be cool if one could re-hab derelict spacecraft and sell them on the galactic market, maybe, as an outlet for the grind.

Comment ... pretty much got what I expected ... (Score 4, Informative) 261

I've got about 140 hours in on PC, and I may be at the crest of what I can do. I've got my suit and tool and ship maxed out for inventory, with suit and ship maxed out with upgrades. Some 20,000,000 units in the bank. Learned 2 of the 3 alien languages (halfway through the last one, by now). I'm pretty much down to achievements at this point, and jumping from system to system. Visually, it's got a lot of appeal. It's pretty soothing to play -- a bit like "Endless Ocean". I didn't really expect to get great spaceflight mechanics or anything like that. I pretty much grind out on burglarizing Operations Centers and Manufacturing Facilities, looking for new tech blueprints to make a handful of technologies and materials I don't already have ... and learn that last language. It's beginning to get a little dull.

So what's it missing?

  • Well, the NPC aliens are pretty much finger-puppets that iterate through a set of 4-5 interaction templates and then repeat them. They don't walk around anywhere or appear outside of the stock set of buildings.
  • The economy is pretty simple and even though it is nominally "galactic", you can't find or buy everything at trade terminals. There is seemingly no influence of supply or demand in it.
  • The animal life is kinda cool to watch and interact with. There ware some truly bizarre creatures out there. But, your only interaction paths seem to be feed and or shoot 'em. It gets tiresome just running around scanning them to 'collect them all'. I've only seen worlds with about a dozen or so animals, so it's not terribly rich.
  • The flora is pretty much static, but there are some grassy worlds where there's a lot of movement in the terrain, but it's simplified down to just the grass that moves, and everything moves together at the same time in a somewhat unsettling rocking oscillation that I can't handle for more than 5 minutes at a time. There are other games like Crysis where the wind will move leaves in the trees, or your shots will blow away branches on the trees, but we have no detail like that.
  • There's a flimsy-yet-huge quest string (Atlas) that is casually interesting, but it seems to crop up randomly to remind you that it's there. There's no notion of one thing or achievement or activity that leads you to seek out the next. There are no real side paths and the NPCs don't seem to be involved in any quest activity. It'd do well to have a bunch of quest strings, like a hundred per planet and a hundred per system (maybe rated by difficulty?) that you could sink into.
  • Each planet is a starter-world. That is, if you started the game afresh, everything you need to max everything out is pretty much right there on that first planet. Yeah, there are variations that force you to leave for other worlds (like toxic atmospheres and/or aggressive sentinels) to advance completely or get new materials, but once you have everything maxed out, 80 percent of all buildings and their loot or capabilities become so useless that they can be ignored. I don't even pick up random loot anymore to sell, because I don't have any way to spend the money and no use for the random crap, regardless. When you have all the upgrades, there's nothing left to build.
  • It just seems to lack a lot of rich creative content. I'd like to see more ship types, to have the ability to customize the appearance of the ships, too. I'd like to see and maybe build unique buildings. It would be great if I could build my own settlement or compound and be able to advertise it for visitors. Crafting for different types of suit skins and color schemes or ship types would be welcome .. anything you could sell as a finished thing. There just need to be more aliens, everywhere... outside walking around, harvesting resources, sleeping under trees, hunting creatures, visiting monoliths and ruins, shopping at trading posts, drinking in pubs, playing holographic monopoly or something. I've never run into a settlement that has more than three aliens and each one is confined to a different building. I get attacked all the time as I'm moving between planets in a system, but not once have I been attacked by aliens when roaming on foot (or flying over the surface of) a planet.

In sum, I think the framework is there onto which a lot of stuff can be built. The basics have been hung on that framework. More stuff needs to be hung on it, and quests that describe the lore and stories behind and with that stuff needs to be included. It's a big sprawling universe and it's too empty and quiet and dull once you've advanced through the basics. Level one has been great, but I'm done with the tutorial and I'm not seeing the next level. If the makers wanted the open universe to be a blank slate onto which I can make or live my own in-game story, the universe needs to have the tools for me to make that story and decorate the setting to suit... the models are out there... second life, the sims, StarWars Galaxies, EVE. They're such a small shop (less than 20 people or something?), and creative talent for story and artwork and the tools development to gird those efforts is probably not an easy reach. This is the cost of fast and light, I guess. I'm optimistic that it will fill in over time, or that a sequel will handle the next generation of the game, but I sense that I'm almost done with it.

Comment disappointing, but not surprising (Score 1) 203

I have had three Google reference phones, and all have performed pretty well. I like having bone-stock vanilla Android A LOT, and it eventually let me to adopting Project Fi (which has been pretty good, altogether!). So, naturally, I'm a bit bummed that the days of reference Andriod phones are coming to an end. I hope that there's still some kind of Google-preferred offering to upgrade to when my Nexus 6 gets tired, with a reasonably stock flavor of ANdriod. Since Google is my cell provider, I'll just go to whatever they are pointing to. All the same, I can see how having to keep competitive in the handset space was probably not something they were prepared to do, so I understand it.

Comment Re:Meh (Score 1) 413

Well, the VP role has evolved along with modern politics and foreign policy, too. The VP stands in for the president in ceremonial and diplomatic functions at home and abroad, and is usually the bridge to advice and consent in the senate. The VP frequently gets to say things that the president wants to say, but cannot. The VP is frequently the closest executive sounding-board for decision making that the president has. GWB relied very strongly on Cheney, in the first term for guidance, for example. The VP can (and has been, from time to time) be used as the more direct supervisor of the agencies (the bureaucracy) under the executive branch. Al Gore played that kind of role for Clinton, for example, and was able to make a lot of cost-cutting measures that helped create the projected surplus that we enjoyed when Clinton left the WH. What I'm getting at is the role can be fairly wide open to interpretation and has fewer constraints than that of the chief executive.

Comment Re:The DNC overlords always get their way (Score 1) 644

Funny, that "ramming" took 18 months, and I recall the GOP whinging about fictitious "death panels", "job-killing (didn't happen), "deficit exploding" (actually reduced the deficit) all along the way and for dozens of months afterwards... no constructive GOP contributions, no new or different ideas to add except "no change, not now, not ever" from the GOP. The PPACA was a total concession from the start to the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Inst, as an alternative to universal gov't health care. Obama stood back and let it happen and constantly invited GOP voices to the conversation. It's still a private health care system, but with some guard rails, some negotiated rules of cost and fair play and some requirements for infrastructure improvements. To this very day, the only GOP proposal has been to repeal the whole thing and no proposals have been made to address the problems the PPACA was passed to address. It's not perfect, by any means. My state has some real problems with making it work, but it can be improved, and it probably will be.

Pedantically, you cite Pelosi who said that "we have to pass the [health care bill] so that you can find out what's in it", and it's a great quote. Pelosi was trying to say that people needed to see it in action and how it worked in order to understand what it does in a practical sense. The neat thing about what people say and write is that we can each interpret the remarks from our own point of view. You certainly took what best fit your worldview, but Pelosi did a good job of clarifying her remark, so I'll take her words for what it meant, thanks.

Comment Re:Seems reasonable. Coming soon to USPS I hope? (Score 1) 183

I usually don't reply to AC posts, but something here needs to be cleared up. Bulk-rate "junk mail" is exactly what is keeping the postal service in the black, given that the number of letters has fallen off dramatically with the advent of electronic communications. Incidentally, bills go via bulk rate postage, too.

If you don't want junk mail in your box, you can contact the people that send it and get taken off their mailing lists. I do this every five years or so. It's a bit time consuming, but it does work.

Comment Re:USPS had its tyres slashed (Score 3, Informative) 183

I'm a little confused by your response. The postal service is written into the constitution, but the laws for funding of the pension obligations was written by Fedex and UPS and passed by the congress after a little campaign cash got passed around. I'm struggling to remember a law that the postal service got written on their behalf. Can you furnish an example?

The security and dependability of the mail was a big deal to the founding fathers, because it ensured privacy, facilitated commerce and provided the handling for unfettered communications between the people and the government. The logistical conditions are different, today, but those same elements still apply. It's the infrastructure of a free society, in gross terms. Voter information, tax forms, subpoenas, government invoices, correspondence with government agencies and branches of government, benefit payouts all need a dependable and timely way to get to people that is not influenced by or unduly affected by private industry. Everyone needs that stuff, so a basic foundation of affordable service for all citizens is necessary.

Postage actually used to be a tax when I was a kid, but they changed it to a service back in the eighties, if I remember correctly, and this opened up the private letter delivery market for UPS and Fedex and the rest. It's really the exact opposite of your contention that the USPS took over a commercial niche. The postal service can still be sued for liability, so I don't know what kind of immunity you're talking about. What offenses are you thinking about?

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