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Comment Re:50% from tax dodges TANSTAAFL (Score 1) 147

Two things I came across recently on this topic: 1) Walmart has recently been taking right around the full corporate tax rate (31% is what they paid in the last year on record, iirc); 2) the guys and some expert types at Freakonomics or PlanetMoney or SomeOtherMoneyNerdBlog recommended reducing the corporate income tax rate to something like 20-25% AND closing loopholes. The consensus was that this would get corporations paying their taxes here, because it would be close enough to what they're saving by cheating, factoring in costs for legal liability and the PR hit. BUT they all agreed this would never happen because one side would fight the loopholes and the other side would fight the tax decrease and, well, it's not always election year but IS always fundraising time.

Submission + - Psychic dogs and enlisted men: the military's research into ESP (

v3rgEz writes: Government research often pushes the boundaries between science and science fiction. Today, the proud bearer of that mantle is often DARPA, experimenting with robots, cybernetics, and more. But in the sixties, during the height of the Cold War, this research often went into more fantastical realms, even exploring whether ExtraSensory Perception (ESP) was possible. Thanks to FOIA, MuckRock looks back on the paranormal history of American surveillance.

Submission + - Africa hit by major Internet outage (

An anonymous reader writes: Internet connectivity to and from South Africa and much of the rest of sub-Saharan Africa was undermined severely on Thursday after two cable systems experienced significant problems.

Submission + - California Bill Would Require Phone Crypto Backdoors

Trailrunner7 writes: A week after a New York legislator introduced a bill that would require smartphone vendors to be able to decrypt users’ phones on demand from law enforcement, a California bill with the same intent has been introduced in that state’s assembly.

On Wednesday, California Assemblyman Jim Cooper submitted a bill that has remarkably similar language to the New York measure and would require that device manufacturers and operating system vendors such as Apple, Samsung, and Google be able to decrypt users’ devices. The law would apply to phones sold in California beginning Jan. 1, 2017.

Comment Re:Nice troll (Score 2) 337

FWIW "In April [2005], the Washington-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a religious watchdog group, claimed that there have been numerous incidents of religious bias and official promotion of fundamentalist Christianity at the Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs, Col." "A 2010 survey found 41 percent of non-Christian cadets faced unwanted proselytizing, even as the religious majority felt that their freedom of speech was being infringed upon." "I am on staff at USAFA and will talk about Jesus Christ my Lord and savior to everyone that I work with.”

Comment Re:Welcome to the world of the future. (Score 4, Interesting) 66

I don't think it's just protecting against idiot users. It's also about shoving us into the "cloud" where we can be somehow monetized, either by network access, storage volume, or information collection. Why else would iPhoto drop local networking except to put your photos in Apple's servers? Or Android Marshmallow require you to allow MTP every time you hook up a USB cable except to make noncloud file exchange a little bit more of a PITA? Sure there's "curation" at the Apple Store, but there's also control, information gathering, the possibility of add revenue and so on. I guess I sound cynical, but I'm not sure you can actually be cynical enough about all this.

Comment Re:One word: (Score 2) 622

I wish I had mod points today. I study Modernist lit, but I came to it by way of medieval lit. It is absolutely unsurprising for parchment to be much older than the text on it. That sort of thing is extremely common. It's really troubling to me that the summary and so many posts here keep saying "paper"; parchment is an entirely different thing, and it was used much differently. It's quite hard to get a good animal skin free of blemishes, and then hard to get that animal skin down to a finished product. The resulting parchment is expensive and tended to be reused numerous times. It's not uncommon for a parchment to be 100s of years older than text on it. This news story is interesting but also really a nonstory. I hate to be this way, but the only reason it's a story is the sort of "gotcha" anti-Islam slant that's put on the science. I haven't seen the original research yet, but if it was at all couched in this sort of "bang, Islam busted" sort of way, it's really quite irresponsible. (NB: I'm a big old atheist, and would love to see debunking of any and all religions. But this ain't that.)

Comment Re:Stop charging for checked bag (Score 2) 273

My wife, a former stewardess for a European carrier, just suggested that this might, in part, be about safety. She thinks that decreasing the thickness of the luggage, but not the other dimensions to any significant degree, suggests that the European carriers may have been pushing toward underseat stowage of the carryons, which is much safer than the overhead bin. Basically the overhead bins are too flimsy to keep luggage from flying around. She also believes that this is a follow-on effect of charging for checked luggage. Anyway, not arguing against anyone's position, but her theory made sense so I was looking for a good place to share it.

Comment Re:...and here I was, about to buy an Apple laptop (Score 1) 100

I'm on the fence as to whether my next laptop will be a Macbook. I'm not up on messing with security certificates. It took me about 10 seconds to get from Anonymous Coward's tip to a blocked CNNIC certificate. I think that it's within the scope of regular users. My cousin just did it, and she runs a modeling agency and was trained in, well, modeling. Macs do have a pretty easy interface. Say what you will, but that allowed me to do my little thing and get back to wasting time on the internet instead of grading papers.

Comment Re:Slashdot Overrun by Luddite Barbarians (Score 1) 163

I understand your position, and I appreciate the references to Diamond Age. But, my kids have school teachers fishing for information on my family. You know, the usual stuff about "do mommy and daddy do drugs?" Our government and retail and other services have their noses so far up my butt, I'm burping their boogers. The cops are roaming around with stingrays and x-rays, and some airports are still using rapey scans. And my kids are always running up to me reciting their need for the latest tacky plastic crap that teaches really stupid things--or some garbage about how an adult or other child is teaching them about eternal damnation or Sky Daddy and Zombie Boy. And all this despite the fact that we don't watch commercial TV in our house. But they get enough at school. Anyway, point is: in a climate like this, it's hard for me to call any reaction to this sort of "cloud-enabled" toy an over-reaction. Burroughs was a nut, indeed, but he was on the money on "the paranoid man is a man who knows a little about what's going on."

Comment Re:nonsensical (Score 1) 667

"Nonsensical" seems a bit strong. The article describes language's real "rules" as conventional, coming from usage, and labels more pedantic approaches to rules as stylistics. That seems to me to be pretty accurate. The description doesn't approach registers of speech, and we do need to consider those. But there are lots of "grammar rules" that are really just elements of style best ignored and which are often misused. Some examples: don't end a sentence with a preposition, don't split an infinitive, "passive voice." That last one is a hoot because most of the people who complain about its use can't define it accurately and fail to recognize that it is often valuable. It's also a good example of how there are better ways to approach this sort of thing than applying these particular rules. People commonly attack the "passive voice" because it confuses the actor. So it's much better to talk to people about making agency clear in a sentence, or about why one might be trying to obscure agency. Anyway, that's all my two cents. (I am an English professor, and I've taught for almost 25 years, but I am not a linguist nor a composition expert. So, I'm offering an informed but not quite expert opinion.)

Comment Re:Misunderstanding of Higher Education Economics (Score 1) 94

I'm an assistant professor, the lowest rank. And I'm in the humanities My salary is just very slightly over $50k. I am paid more than most of my colleagues because my institution was bidding against another similar institution. A starting humanities prof will earn in the mid-40s, as of now. A few years ago it was the low 40s. I'm getting the numbers based on what I know about several R1s, one very, very well-endowed, and from lesser schools. Event at the highest rank, I--and my colleagues at peer institutions--will never see six figures. I don't have any polemical intent. This is just FYI because I hear crazy figures thrown around. In the humanities, you have to hold a quite well-supported endowed chair to hit six figures. I know it's different in STEM. At my school, which is more or less bankrupt, a lot of the STEM folks start in the mid 70s.

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