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Comments

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Tribalism Is the Enemy Within, Says Shuttleworth

Grendel Drago Your naivete is adorable. (655 comments)

I would love to see these Tea Party guys share in some of the power to see if they live up to their claims.

They did. They're called Republicans. You know, the same way that a clown and a clown carrying an umbrella are the same thing.

about 4 years ago
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Nuclear Energy Now More Expensive Than Solar

Grendel Drago Or just a gravity-battery. (635 comments)

Some systems use pumped storage; you have a low reservoir and a high one. When you have extra incoming energy, you use it to pump water upwards; when you need to get the energy back, you let it run a turbine. There's transaction costs in the pump's inefficiencies, leakage, evaporation and so forth, but it's a pretty simple system and should be attachable to most any intermittent power source.

Also, that's Neal Stephenson, not Neil Gaiman.

about 4 years ago
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US Deploys 'Heat-Ray' In Afghanistan

Grendel Drago Agonizers. (406 comments)

Am I the only one who saw the rising popularity of Tasers and was uncomfortably reminded of the agonizers from all of those Mirror Universe episodes of Star Trek? "Your agonizer, Mr. Sulu." Clearly our world is the goateed, evil one.

This "ADS" thing is just more of the same. A remote-control torture device. Bah. How long until it's used on inconvenient crowds of hippies here? Boy, it would sure be convenient if those protesters could be made to go home and shut the hell up, wouldn't it?

about 4 years ago
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Crunch Time For IRS Data Centers

Grendel Drago Okay. (277 comments)

We are not "stuck here", not by any means.

I didn't say we were stuck here; I said that we're stuck here unless we want politically-infeasible tax increases or massive spending cuts. You're advocating the latter, which would, on the scale you propose, have hideous consequences for the nation, one of which I detailed above.

Sticking your fingers in your ears and claiming that--since you're not proposing anything, I can only conclude that this is your reasoning--magic Free Market Pixies will rapture the worthy off to Galt's Gulch if only we cut taxes and spending enough... that's not an argument. That's rote repetition.

The Federal government needs to be dialed back in scope, influence, money spent, money taken (in the form of taxes, fees, etc.), the whole nine yards.

That's a fascinating assertion. You made some claims up front along the same lines, then showed that you're tragically ignorant of the meaning of Marxism, the history or aims of progressive taxation, the proximate and ultimate reasons for the country's current state of financial affairs and the blindingly obvious consequences of the massive service cuts which have been the objective all along... and now you're just repeating yourself.

You might as well stop responding to me, although I see a point or two where I can agree with you, the rest I completely reject.

You're free to reject whatever you want; you're free to live in whatever kind of weird fantasy world hits your happy spot.

more than 4 years ago
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Crunch Time For IRS Data Centers

Grendel Drago Your ideas are so incoherent as to be meaningless. (277 comments)

The tax code should not be "progressive" at all,

You stated that the current tax code is bad, in that it leads to "stratification of wealth and social breakdown". The current tax system, when you count all the taxes people pay, is, on balance, relatively flat. Therefore, you're arguing against flat taxation.

Your idea to tax every individual at the same rate regardless of their income is the definition of a flat tax. (Actually, since one needs disposable income to contribute it to charity, your plan is somewhat regressive.)

You're arguing both for and against flat taxation. I can only conclude that you're rather confused.

stop with the Marxist based taxation rhetoric already!

The word "Marxist" has a specific meaning. Given that the intellectual history of progressive taxation can be traced back to Adam Smith, you're apparently using it to mean "things I don't like".

Unless you're willing to put forth the claim that the vast majority of economists are closet Marxists and that every democratic nation in the world is run by secret Marxist cabals, a progressive income tax is not a Marxist idea.

The U.S. government needs to be restricted, by Constitutional amendment, to stop spending more than it is making *and* to not spend more than 10 percent or so of the GDP. Those two things are necessary and vital to the survivability of this country.

Staving off a second Great Depression was also necessary and vital to the survivability of this country. Massive tax cuts for the already-wealthy and optional military adventures abroad, on the other hand, were not. If you have a history of arguing against unaffordable tax cuts and spending increases on weapons, please do share it with me. I have a hard time believing that this isn't just the annual crop of people whining about how they don't like to pay taxes.

They are either incompetent or the financial ruin is something they are directly causing and planning to capitalize on. Which is it, smart guy?

Honestly? I think the folks who got us into this mess in the first place circa 2000 (not that the current folks seem terribly inclined to roll back the wars and tax cuts) did so out of a combination of naked self-interest and believing their own nonsense about the Laffer Curve or whatever bit of gimcrackery justified their neofeudalistic ambitions.

Of course, the game is rigged so that, without massive spending cuts (I don't think you've thought through your proposal to have millions of impoverished old people descend on their adult children for a place to live) or--perish the thought!--tax increases, for instance, to the insanely confiscatory levels we suffered through in the horrible dark days of the 1950s, we're stuck here.

I mentioned Grover Norquist before, but since you seem to have gaps in your understanding, I'll summarize his ideology, which has been shared by many of the movers and shakers on the right over the last few decades: You want to cut services, but people seem to enjoy them. So, you cut taxes and spend money, preferably on things that don't really benefit anyone (such as totally optional wars with no defined endpoint), in order to run up a gigantic deficit. Eventually, the government must spend every bit of money it can to service the resultant debt, and will, in the end, have no choice but to cut services.

So, to the extent that any one ideological group is responsible for this little pickle, I blame those guys.

more than 4 years ago
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Crunch Time For IRS Data Centers

Grendel Drago No, these ideas are terrible ideas. (277 comments)

I am aware of US history since the Great Depression, but I don't think you are.

Here's a chart of income inequality since World War I. Note that it begins to rise in the 1970s. Here's a chart of top marginal tax rates since the income tax was introduced. Note that the top tax on earned income drops precipitously in the 1970s.

So, yes, the current tax code is creating stratification of wealth (and therefore, societal breakdown), because it's insufficiently progressive. Your proposals make it even worse.

The U.S. government needs to learn to live on a lot less money, just like everyone else does when the economy goes sour, get it?

No. No, this is absolutely wrong. Basic macroeconomics states that the government can, when things go bad, take on debt and add money to the economy when it "goes sour", as you put it. The idea is that boom/bust cycle is smoothed out by the government filling its coffers during booms and emptying them during busts, spending against the cycle. (This is why blowing the early-2000s surplus on tax cuts for very, very rich people was a particularly bad idea.)

This is out of the Norquistian playbook--funnel cash to the very wealthy to empty out the treasury, then talk about how excessive government spending is and claim that the only solution is to cut services. An extra zero on a balance sheet is, clearly, more important than starving old people.

more than 4 years ago
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Crunch Time For IRS Data Centers

Grendel Drago Depends on your skills and preferences. (277 comments)

I do mine the medium-fashioned way, with a text file open in vi, a copy of bc running in another tab, and evince filling out the IRS's fillable PDFs. But I can imagine that some people really hate doing calculation or are terrible at it (a lot of people hate and fear mathematics), and the price is worth it to them in that it would cost them eighty or ninty dollars' worth of time and aggravation to do it by hand.

more than 4 years ago
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Crunch Time For IRS Data Centers

Grendel Drago Your proposals have some issues. (277 comments)

The tax return for the majority of Americans is a single side of one page; it's called the 1040EZ. But when you say that tax rates are to be capped, are you even aware that for the majority of wage earners, payroll taxes, not income taxes, are the majority of the federal taxes they pay, and that if you're making less than somewhere around $100k a year, they're 7.65% of your wages? (The EITC makes this considerably smaller, but that's part of the income tax code, so presumably you'd be eliminating that.) If you're self-employed, you pay your employer's portion of payroll taxes, so that's 15.30%. How do you make that square with a maximum tax rate of ten percent?

Your wacky idea about a minimum tax percentage derives, I think, from the "Lucky Ducky" meme, which states that poor people get away without paying taxes, and are therefore getting away with something. (Proponents seem reluctant to embrace the joys of poverty, but I'm sure they'll get around to it.) This is, as described above, entirely false; it can only be made true by defining payroll taxes as not being "real" taxes.

Regardless of the merit of your ideas, they don't have much to do with reforming the tax code; they're more about drowning the federal government in a bathtub. As they say, a social safety net, an imperial military, low taxes: pick any two. Historically speaking, we already have all three (top marginal income tax rates were far, far higher in the 1950s); the first and last are severely fraying around the edges as a result.

The tax code is the way that it is for a reason; flat taxation leads to stratification of wealth and societal breakdown. (Interestingly enough, the current tax system is pretty much flat if you count all kinds of tax.) Your ideas read like a mashup of Ron Paul talking points and a fifth-grade understanding of how taxation in the United States works.

more than 4 years ago
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House Passes Massive Medical Insurance Bill, 219-212

Grendel Drago That's a bit over-the-top. (2424 comments)

Nobody's going to eat your civil liberties if you don't buy insurance. You just get fined. There are subsidies to help out people who can't afford the premiums.

It's the same system they have in Switzerland, basically. It's certainly better than what we had before; at least it'll no longer be the laughingstock of the civilized world.

more than 4 years ago
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House Passes Massive Medical Insurance Bill, 219-212

Grendel Drago If only. (2424 comments)

It's about as likely as those whiners who threatened to "Go Galt" actually doing it, which is to say, of course it was an empty threat.

more than 4 years ago
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PA School Defends Web-Cam Spying As Security Measure, Denies Misuse

Grendel Drago Have you seen this? (364 comments)

Matt Skala's modest proposal was apparently written before this story broke. Yes, his satire is outpacing reality, but only just barely.

more than 4 years ago
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Operation Titstorm Hits the Streets

Grendel Drago It's perfectly natural. (458 comments)

College age is the maximum of two trendlines, taken together. As we grow older, we acquire responsibilities, take on power to decide our own actions. But this means that we become caught up in the details; our gaze falls from the horizon; we end up looking at our own feet and just trying to get by without rocking our precarious little boats.

The moment when we're most free to change the world, when the desire burns brightest in us, is that age. No wonder college kids do so much protesting and working--their sharp edges haven't been worn down yet.

more than 4 years ago
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Tech Tools Fostering "Mini Generation Gaps"

Grendel Drago Nonsense. IMs can be useful. (322 comments)

I'm sure folks said that about Usenet back in the day, and look--apart from the endless shit and spam, it's an excellent resource, containing a great deal which is useful reading even years later.

Similarly, I was absolutely convinced that instant messaging was nothing but a wasteland of lowercase misspellings and canned shibboleths. But like any form of communication, it's what you make of it. The people I communicate with over IM are generally like-minded, and type in complete, grammatical sentences, one thought to a message. It's a perfectly useful form of communication to use when hashing out ideas; if you log your chats, it can serve as an integral part of a project's development record.

more than 4 years ago
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Scientific Journal Nature Finds Nothing Notable In CRU Leak

Grendel Drago Oh, come on. (736 comments)

The "VERY ARTIFICIAL correction" you describe is never actually used. It's commented out. You can plot that array, but I'm not sure what you think you're demonstrating.

more than 4 years ago
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What Do You Do When Printers Cost Less Than Ink?

Grendel Drago Delicious laser printers. (970 comments)

My laser printer, an HP LaserJet 6P, was pulled out of a dumpster at some point in the distant past, and is still running strong after all of these years. I print a relatively light workload on it, but it's survived several moves and a lot of accidental nudging over its life. (It's currently eleven years old.) Would that all of my consumer goods performed so admirably.

more than 4 years ago
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Climatic Research Unit Hacked, Files Leaked

Grendel Drago That doesn't even make sense. (882 comments)

Other commenters have taken apart your weird assurances that if it weren't for the masses of dollars spent on the climate, we'd all be living on solar domes in platforms in space, as well as your handwaving-away of the economic costs of catastrophic environmental disasters.

Anyway, the latest predictions I heard of our holy climate priests were an increase of 2 degrees centigrade in 2100. (no, not 2010).

The temperature changes aren't evenly distrubted around the globe. This doesn't mean that, for instance, on a day where it would have been 20 C, it will now be 22 C in my neighborhood. Relatively small changes in average global temperature can have large effects on the environment; two degrees' increase leads to a significant chance of ice sheets falling off Greenland (thus raising sea levels), the Gulf Stream ceasing to run (thus freezing Europe), and massively more intense hurricanes.

If the global temperature was a random walk with a delta of -0.1, 0 and +0.1 every year, we can and will obtain much greater deltas just by chance alone.

Why must you make me invoke Morbo?

GLOBAL TEMPERATURE DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY!

It's not a random walk. If you have some reason to believe that it is, or that a random-walk model would make an accurate model, I'm all ears, but so far as I'm aware, this is utter handwaving bullshit. It's not even accurate as a model of any sort. It's as though I decided to model my weight as a random walk and concluded that I might end up with negative mass, and am thus a valuable resource for physicists.

more than 4 years ago
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CERN Physicist Warns About Uranium Shortage

Grendel Drago Yes; the waste becomes safe quicker. (581 comments)

Waste from slow-neutron reactors (pressurized-water types, the current standard) is dangerous for something like ten thousand years. According to this article, the waste is as safe as the original uranium ore after two centuries, and there's about 1.7 kilograms of it produced per megawatt-year.

Every time I read about this, I headdesk a little bit more that the advanced liquid-metal reactor project was cancelled back in the mid-1990s.

more than 4 years ago
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Landmark Health Insurance Bill Passes House

Grendel Drago But... wait. (1698 comments)

But... nobody's forced to be a doctor. This isn't even like Britain's National Health Service, where doctors are employed by the state. (Even Britain may have doctors who work for themselves.)

Doctor's aren't forced to work for the government. I'm not aware of any requirement for doctors to see patients on government insurance. How on earth is anyone forced to do something by a government-run health insurance plan that they aren't forced to do by government establishment of firefighting services?

more than 4 years ago
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Some Early Adopters Stung By Ubuntu's Karmic Koala

Grendel Drago Yeah; I'm glad I'm waiting the month. (1231 comments)

Intrepid Ibex caused the use of my integrated wireless (an Aironet on a Thinkpad T40p) to eventually lock up my laptop. I eventually gave up on trying to git-bisect it after the tenth kernel recompilation, as older kernel versions caused *X* to crash instead. Jaunty Jackalope contained a version of PulseAudio which shit all over my sound setup, such that I cannot play a goddamn MP3 in Rhythmbox on my idle desktop (a bog-standard Dell with ICH5 audio) without the sound skipping. (Party like it's 1999!) At least mplayer works if I pipe things through its esd module... even though that's just a frontend for pulse. I don't even want to know.

I cannot wait to see what happens when I inflict the Koala on my systems. If the audio is unfucked on my desktop this time, maybe I'll actually try it on my laptop.

Seriously, though, I wish I could be surprised when incredibly common commodity hardware is horribly broken on the most popular linux distro. I just wish it would eventually get *less* broken.

more than 4 years ago

Submissions

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Ogg Theora 1.0 Released

Grendel Drago Grendel Drago writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Grendel Drago (41496) writes "Four years after the bitstream format was frozen with 1.0alpha3 in mid-2004, Theora 1.0 has been released. The developers are hopeful for things to come: "Theora development does not stop with the 1.0 release. With sponsorship from Red Hat Inc., Xiph.Org has been working on a next-generation encoder, codenamed 'Thusnelda', which has already demonstrated substantial quality improvements without breaking backward compatibility. While Theora is already the preferred format for applications where freedom, CPU consumption, and cost are important, Thusnelda will make Theora more attractive for applications where quality and bit-rate are the only considerations. The new encoder is slated for inclusion in the upcoming 1.1 release of Theora.""

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