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Comment Re:Tax plan-- please explain it to me. (Score 1) 698

It's amazing how few people have actually addressed your question.

You're right to point out that many high-income (and thanks for not conflating "high-income" with "wealthy") taxpayers earn most of their income from capital gains (and interest and dividends). But Romney's plan does not propose eliminating capital gains tax for high-income individuals -- that's only for taxpayers with AGI below $200,000 (citation here). It does keep in place the lower capital gains tax rates that were part of the 2001-2003 Bush tax cuts -- the rationale being that lower rates on money earned from investment *should* lead to more investment and growth in the overall economy.

Broadening the base means things like capping or eliminating the number of deductions that people can claim on their tax returns. High-income people would pay taxes on a greater portion of their overall income. Romney has refused to commit to a specific proposal on this part, so we're left to speculate. Harvey Rosen has an interesting analysis of how it *could* be mathematically possible to "broaden the base" enough to offset the lower rates -- even with very little additional growth generated via the lower rates. In a nutshell:

  • 1. Tax employer-provided health insurance as income -- could result in a lot of new tax revenue.
  • 2. Tax "inside buildup" -- a type of tax-sheltered life-insurance income.
  • 3. Keep the home mortgage deduction only for lower/middle-income earners. People in the top tax bracket might not get any of the usual deductions for medical expenses, charitable donations, or state and local taxes paid.

You can argue that a Romney administration would never go that far in eliminating deductions and loopholes, but that's different from "mathematically impossible". The Rosen paper puts all of this in a chart so you can compare the effects of different assumptions.

There's a pretty comprehensive round-up of people making the case that Romney plan could work here. (Yes, it's from a libertarian perspective. No, I'm not an economist or a libertarian myself.)


Submission + - Using lasers, researchers were able to take over the worm's brain (

An anonymous reader writes: In the quest to understand how the brain turns sensory input into behavior, Harvard scientists have crossed a major threshold. Using precisely targeted lasers, researchers have been able to take over a tiny animal’s brain, instruct it to turn in any direction they wish, and even implant false sensory information, fooling the animal into thinking food was nearby.

Submission + - The ball thing in the potato field (

decora writes: "One story that may have slipped through the cracks comes from Novaya Gazeta; it is the story of Gagarin's landing, not from a scientific or political perspective, but from the perspective of the old woman and the girl, working in their potato field, who were surprised, and a little afraid, to see a 'ball thing' come down on the end of a silk parachute."

Submission + - Google found guilty of patent infringement for usi (

elygre writes: A jury in the Eastern District of Texas found Google guilty of patent infringment by using Linux in its server farms. The suit claimed that many Linux kernel version infringe the patent, including 2.6.31.x and "beyond." Google here was a Linux end-user, and if this verdict holds, we should expect many more lawsuits over this one.

Submission + - Google Loses Bedrock Suit, All Linux May Infringe (

blair1q writes: cnet reports that Google has lost the lawsuit brought by Bedrock, is infringing on Patent 5,893,120 "Methods and apparatus for information storage and retrieval using a hashing technique with external chaining and on-the-fly removal of expired data," and has exposed the Linux kernel, in which the infringing code reportedly appears, to liability for patent-license fees. RedHat also participated in the suit, arguing that the patent was invalid, but the court decided otherwise.
The Internet

Bufferbloat — the Submarine That's Sinking the Net 525

gottabeme writes "Jim Gettys, one of the original X Window System developers and editor of the HTTP/1.1 spec, has posted a series of articles on his blog detailing his research on the relatively unknown problem of bufferbloat. Bufferbloat is affecting the entire Internet, slowly worsening as RAM prices drop and buffers enlarge, and is causing latency and jitter to spike, especially for home broadband users. Unchecked, this problem may continue to deteriorate the usability of interactive applications like VOIP and gaming, and being so widespread, will take years of engineering and education efforts to resolve. Being like 'frogs in heating water,' few people are even aware of the problem. Can bufferbloat be fixed before the Internet and 3G networks become nearly unusable for interactive apps?"

8-Year-Olds Publish Scientific Bee Study 174

flintmecha writes "A group of British schoolchildren may be the youngest scientists ever to have their work published in a peer-reviewed journal. In a new paper in Biology Letters, children from Blackawton Primary School report that buff-tailed bumblebees can learn to recognize nourishing flowers based on colors and patterns. The paper itself is well worth reading. It's written entirely in the kids' voices, complete with sound effects (part of the Methods section is subtitled, ''the puzzle'duh duh duuuhhh') and figures drawn by hand in colored pencil."

Scientists Propose One-Way Trips To Mars 839

vortex2.71 writes "Invoking the spirit of Star Trek in a scholarly article entitled 'To Boldly Go,' two scientists contend human travel to Mars could happen much more quickly and cheaply if the missions are made one-way. They argue that it would be little different from early settlers to North America, who left Europe with little expectation of return. 'The main point is to get Mars exploration moving,' said Dirk Schulze-Makuch of Washington State University, who wrote the article in the latest Journal of Cosmology with Paul Davies of Arizona State University. The colleagues state — in one of 55 articles in the issue devoted to exploring Mars — that humans must begin colonizing another planet as a hedge against a catastrophe on Earth."

Toy Robots Can Guard Your Home 151

Orome1 writes "Worried about burglars ransacking your house? Buy yourself some toy robots! It is what Robert Oschler, a Florida-based programmer, did. He bought a Rovio — a Wi-Fi enabled mobile webcam robot that can be picked up from toy sections of many stores — and modified it to suit his needs. The robot already has a camera, a microphone and speakers, but the improvements he made to the software allowed him to enhance the audio and video quality of this existing equipment, and to create specific routines for the robots. This way, every time he feels the need to check what's going on in the house, he simply goes online with his laptop and directs the robot through the house."
Classic Games (Games)

Typewriter Hacked To Play Zork 77

UgLyPuNk writes "Typewriters that can type by themselves are one thing. Typewriters that can type by themselves and play Zork are totally different — the stuff that dreams are made of (at least the dreams of little girls who spent hours in front of a Commodore 64 telling the machine to GO NORTH and such)."

Dying Man Shares Unseen Challenger Video 266

longacre writes "An amateur video of the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion has been made public for the first time. The Florida man who filmed it from his front yard on his new Betamax camcorder turned the tape over to an educational organization a week before he died this past December. The Space Exploration Archive has since published the video into the public domain in time for the 24th anniversary of the catastrophe. Despite being shot from about 70 miles from Cape Canaveral, the shuttle and the explosion can be seen quite clearly. It is unclear why he never shared the footage with NASA or the media. NASA officials say they were not aware of the video, but are interested in examining it now that it has been made available."
Wireless Networking

Ford's New Cars To Be Wi-Fi Hotspots 196

clang_jangle writes "Autoblog and others are reporting on Ford's planned extension to its in-vehicle SYNC multimedia systems — to enable SYNC-equipped Fords as rolling Wi-Fi hotspots. Customers would use their existing cellular USB modems, so for already equipped road warriers there would be no extra monthly charges. While there are other ways to get your car online (Autonet Mobile review here), the SYNC system does look especially simple and practical. Last year BMW made some noise about FOSS for their cars, but they seem to have since stopped talking about it. Will we see a FOSS option for automotive infotainment systems in the future?" The capabilities of SYNC even without W-Fi look potentially pretty distracting. Unless Wi-Fi is blacked out for the driver, the safety implications of this development are worrisome.

Aussie Scientists Find Coconut-Carrying Octopus 205

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from an AP report: "Australian scientists have discovered an octopus in Indonesia that collects coconut shells for shelter — unusually sophisticated behavior that the researchers believe is the first evidence of tool use in an invertebrate animal. The scientists filmed the veined octopus, Amphioctopus marginatus, selecting halved coconut shells from the sea floor, emptying them out, carrying them under their bodies up to 65 feet (20 meters), and assembling two shells together to make a spherical hiding spot. ... 'I was gobsmacked,' said Finn, a research biologist at the museum who specializes in cephalopods. 'I mean, I've seen a lot of octopuses hiding in shells, but I've never seen one that grabs it up and jogs across the sea floor. I was trying hard not to laugh.'"

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