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Montana Lawmakers Propose 85 Mph Speed Limit On Interstates

nealric Re:American drivers are oblivious (525 comments)

I find very few drivers in the U.S. have any idea what the traction limits of their cars are, or have any idea what they should do if they are exceeded. Skid pad training for slide recovery should be mandatory.

about two weeks ago
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Montana Lawmakers Propose 85 Mph Speed Limit On Interstates

nealric Re:It won't stop at 85 (525 comments)

It's been my observation that there is a limit to speeds people are comfortable at. The speed limit on Highway 287 in Texas (Dallas to Amarillo) used to be 65mph. People would usually drive around 75mph and there were speed traps everywhere. Recently, the limit was raised to 75mph. People still mostly drive 75, but the speed traps have thinned out considerably. Road noise and wind buffeting mean that most (non sports) cars start to feel a little squirrely above 80mph. Above 90, most economy cars will be struggling just to sustain speed with the pedal floored.

about two weeks ago
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How the Rollout of 5G Will Change Everything

nealric Re: Seems like more marketing nonsense (216 comments)

Maybe everyone has to share, but Verizon determines the network capacity. It IS their problem to make sure their network can handle the data usage from the plans they have sold.

about two weeks ago
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Study: Body Weight Heavily Influenced By Heritable Gut Microbes

nealric Re:Energy in and energy out (297 comments)

I find a lot of people who claim to have "tried" diet an exercise haven't effectively done either. "Exercise" does not mean sitting on a recumbant bike for 30 minutes while reading a magazine a few times a week. Sure, it's better than nothing, but it's not going to burn significant calories or increase your basal metabolic rate much. Likewise, "diet" does not mean switching to the "low fat" or "diet" versions of the foods you usually eat.

Effective exercise involves BOTH cardio and strength training. Cardio 5x a week, strength 3x. Unless you have a diagnosed health condition other than weight, it should not be moderate- It should be vigorous. Cardio can be pretty much anything, but it should involve periods above 80% max heart rate. Endurance exercise (1hr+ exertion) at a lower heart rate should be mixed in as well. Proper strength training involves doing sets of major exercises (deadlifts, squats, bench press, rows) until or near failure. Things like dumbell curls and kettlebell swings are fine supplements, but you won't see much in the way of gains from doing endless reps of curls on a 5lb dumbell.

Effective diet involves eating whole unprocessed foods with a lot of micronutrients. Don't drink your calories (most caloric drinks get that way through sugar). While the exact components of an ideal diet are a matter of debate, it's pretty clear than anything that comes in a box or can or sealed bag is a lot less likely to be healthy.

If you do the above, you will burn significant calories from the cardio and significantly increase your basal metabolic rate by adding muscle. Your total calories will likely decrease without any conscious reduction efforts because fresh fruits and veggies will fill you up a lot faster than a bag of Doritos. None of this is rocket science, but sadly is ignored by most people looking to loose weight. Mostly because it involves a lot of hard work (it will take a year of consistent training for your strength efforts to be visible), and because there is no gimmicky product to sell. All you need is the produce aisle, a good barbell set/bench/power rack, and a pair of running shoes.

about a month ago
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The Great IT Hiring He-Said / She-Said

nealric Re:Some of the most successful companies (574 comments)

Re Lawyer compensation:

It's true that a partner at a large firm can make $500k (indeed, some make millions per year), but that's a tiny fraction of lawyers and they do work close to every waking hour. This is at most 1-2% of practicing lawyers. Very successful plaintiff's lawyers can make millions on one case, but have no steady income. Of highly paid lawyers, much more common are large firm associates (start at $160k and go to $280k or so), or in-house lawyers at large companies ($110-$300k depending on seniority). The in-house lawyers often get pretty close to 9-5 hours. That said, at least 50% of lawyers are fighting for table scraps and make much less. It's true that nobody does lawyer work as a hobby (you need a client, so you can't just do it for no reason), but plenty of lawyers do free legal work for the poor.

The bottom line is all highly paid jobs require significant expertise and the very top of most professions make very outsized salaries compared to the average practitioner.

about a month and a half ago
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Apple Pay Competitor CurrentC Breached

nealric Re:Competition (265 comments)

You are quite simply wrong. An attempt at a monopoly is illegal too. You don't have to have one. See section 2 of the Sherman antitrust act. No, shutting down the CurrentC app wouldn't be a slam dunk antitrust case, but it would absolutely carry antitrust risk- especially if Apple colluded with Google. IAAL.

about a month and a half ago
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Apple Pay Competitor CurrentC Breached

nealric Re:Competition (265 comments)

The antitrust laws are a bit more complicated than that. You don't need to have an actual monopoly to violate them (likewise, a monopoly alone is not illegal). Microsoft didn't have a monopoly on computer operating systems when it was attacked for antitrust law violations. Shutting down the currentC app would be anti-competitive behavior, which is always risky from an antitrust standpoint for a player with a dominant market position.

about a month and a half ago
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Apple Pay Competitor CurrentC Breached

nealric Re:Competition (265 comments)

Shutting down CurrentC out of the app store could open them up to an antitrust lawsuit.

about a month and a half ago
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Steve Ballmer Gets Billion-Dollar Tax Write-Off For Being Basketball Baron

nealric Re:Encouragement of entrepreneurship (255 comments)

Well, yes and no. A truly small business started by a single individual (or spouses) will be treated as a disregarded entity unless it elects otherwise or forms a corporation, which does not subject the business person to the full brunt of business tax complexity. It's more complex to run a small business, but mostly from an administrative standpoint (i.e. keeping all your receipts, etc.). The actual tax law that applies to such small businesses wouldn't expand all that much. But, in my experience, the people who really get into trouble with the IRS tend to be small business people. Big businesses have the technical and administrative resources to follow the law.

A VC funded startup will have tax planners on the VC side.

about 1 month ago
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Steve Ballmer Gets Billion-Dollar Tax Write-Off For Being Basketball Baron

nealric Re:Misleading- Good will is common accounting (255 comments)

I'm not ranting about average people at all. Just clarifying. Actually, the tax code for most individuals doesn't need to be all that complex. The U.S. could do what the UK does and have a pro forma tax return for W-2 wage earners and eliminate the need for 90% of the population to bother filing a return. However, that would require tax reform which has proven to be a near impossibility. You could simplify business taxation to a large degree with some key reforms, but as long as you make "Income" the tax base, you are going to have a complex tax code for large business enterprise. However, the large business enterprises aren't getting away with murder to the degree that most people suspect. Remember, corporations are just vectors. Ultimately a real human being has to pay tax, so corporate tax complexity can be a bit of a red herring.

As for the necessity of my profession... any time you have laws, you need someone who specializes in their interpretation or application. Name me a type of law, and I will name you a specialized practitioner. Doesn't matter whether the law itself is simple or complex.

about 1 month ago
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Steve Ballmer Gets Billion-Dollar Tax Write-Off For Being Basketball Baron

nealric Re:So the taxpayer pays for overage, got it (255 comments)

Hollywood accounting still has to be reconciled with tax accounting. You are required to use the tax rules for tax accounting, so using some exotic method for your private contracts doesn't help. Hollywood accounting exists only to screw the actors, not the IRS.

about 2 months ago
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Steve Ballmer Gets Billion-Dollar Tax Write-Off For Being Basketball Baron

nealric Re:that's fine for something important and necessa (255 comments)

It's not a subsidy. The federal tax code taxes income, but not spending. It's not really a subsidy when spending is not being taxed. Even if you made the leagues taxable entities, the actual tax paid would be near zero.

about 2 months ago
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Steve Ballmer Gets Billion-Dollar Tax Write-Off For Being Basketball Baron

nealric Re:Misleading- Good will is common accounting (255 comments)

It's actually a lot more simple than that. As currently written, the tax code preferences capital over labor because capital gains are taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income. All of the complexity is mostly a red herring. Increase the capital gains rate to match ordinary income, and the effective rate on the wealthy will increase substantially.

about 2 months ago
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Steve Ballmer Gets Billion-Dollar Tax Write-Off For Being Basketball Baron

nealric Re:So the taxpayer pays for overage, got it (255 comments)

This is a common misconception. The teams themselves are for-profit enterprises that get taxed just as any business would. Some of the leagues, however, do have non-profit status (NOT charitable status, which is different). This is because they are business leagues, just like the "Dairy Farmers of America" or other business groups. They are "non profits" because they are really just spending vehicles for the teams. For example, each dairy farmer that is a member of the Dairy Farmers of America might pay $100 a year to be a member of the organization, which runs "got milk" commercials in order to spur demand. No individual farmer could pay for those commercials, so they pool their money. Same thing with the sports leagues. The league exists to run joint advertising, license merchandise, run publicity, etc. on behalf of the teams.

about 2 months ago
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Steve Ballmer Gets Billion-Dollar Tax Write-Off For Being Basketball Baron

nealric Re:Don't hate the player (255 comments)

It's true that the tax code is extremely lengthy, but the portions that apply to individuals who are not running a business with other people would actually fit into a volume of around 100 pages. The other 29,900 pages cover things like employee pension plans, the rules governing non-profits, International business taxation, etc. The only people who need to know and understand these things can easily employ professionals to manage them. And it's simply false that the tax code is too complex to effectively audit transactions. There may be certain aspects of the code where complexity hinders compliance, but that does not mean a professional is unable to evaluate whether a given tax payer is in compliance.

about 2 months ago
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Steve Ballmer Gets Billion-Dollar Tax Write-Off For Being Basketball Baron

nealric Re:Misleading- Good will is common accounting (255 comments)

Thank you. I am a tax attorney. People who rant about "tax loopholes" rarely understand what they are talking about. When people talk about loopholes, they can describe any of the following:

1) A logical flaw in the wording of the code allowing very low tax for a transaction or allowing a transaction to "shelter" other income. This would be something like the way Subchapter K was worded (portion of the tax code governing partnerships) allowing the Son of BOSS tax shelter. I would consider these this a "true" loophole. However, when this happens, the IRS will (usually successfully) challenge the transaction under various anti abuse rules in the tax law.

2) Tax preferences. These are things that can be as common as the home mortgage interest deduction or as esoteric as the special dispensation for non-profits that host bingo games. The government is trying to encourage home ownership or VFW halls and writes something into the tax code. Tax preferences can also be the result of lazy budgeting by Congress, describing what is really a spending measure as a tax cut.

3) Provisions of the tax code that apply to certain complex business transactions. Things like the tax deferral for controlled foreign corporations, or as we have here, the amortization of goodwill. Business transactions can be really complex, which means the tax code tends to have to follow suit with complexity. Sometimes these provisions can produce really good results for the business. Often, they can produce very bad results if you aren't careful as a tax planner. When they produce favorable results (or what seems like favorable results) we call them "loopholes". But really, it's just an attempt to accurately measure and tax "income", which can be a very difficult thing to do.

4) Tax evasion. People talk about things like undeclared offshore accounts as a "loophole". It's not really a loophole. It's just tax evasion that is rather hard to catch.

about 2 months ago
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Lockheed Claims Breakthrough On Fusion Energy Project

nealric Re:Not another scam! Right on! (571 comments)

I work for an oil company. We will never "run out" of oil. What will happen is that oil will become progressively more and more expensive/difficult to extract until alternatives become more attractive. We would all be driving electric cars right now if oil was $500 a barrel.

Notwithstanding the above, we have a long ways to go before oil gets to that point, and it will not happen suddenly or overnight, as there is a huge amount of oil that is not being extracted purely due to political or environmental restrictions. For example, Libya has a lot of oil that can be extracted quite cheaply, but the political turmoil means it's only producing at a tiny fraction of it's capability. Additionally, there are plenty of prospective oilfields that simply have not been fully explored yet- especially offshore. Of course, that does not prevent price shocks due to political issues (such as the Saudi oil embargo), but that can happen with any commodity required to produce energy.

about 2 months ago
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Is It Time To Throw Out the College Application System?

nealric Re:Not One System (389 comments)

That's not really a separate system- that's a recruitment tactic used by some 3rd system schools.

about 2 months ago
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Is It Time To Throw Out the College Application System?

nealric Not One System (389 comments)

The post ignores that there are really three main systems of college admissions.

The first system is basically open enrollment, other than certain minimal prerequisites. This is the system employed by most community colleges, non-flagship state schools, and for-profits. There may be a state standardized test you have to pass or a very low minimum SAT score/GPA to enroll, but the system really just tries to weed out people with little likelihood of being able to perform college-level work (and lets in plenty who are in fact unable).

The second system imposes a fairly mechanical system composed of test scores/GPA/HS class rank and admits everyone who clears that hurdle. This is the system imposed by most flagship and near-flagship state schools. Want to go to the University of Texas? Be in the top x% of your high school class and you are in. These institutions are very large, and don't have the resources to go to deep. However, they have sufficient prestige that they want to try to select only brighter students.

The third system, which is the subject of the original article, is the system that attempts a holistic evaluation of the applicant, incorporating everything from essays, to portfolios, to community service, to minority status, to wealth. This is the system used by most elite private schools and is the one most people are really talking about when they talk about college admissions. Elite institutions use this system for two reasons: 1) it allows them to recruit a mix of students that fits with the school's culture, 2) it provides plausible deniability for favoring children of wealthy alumni and other groups the school wants to admit for financial or political reasons. These institutions could afford to go to the group interview/testing system, but they have little reason to, as they aren't necessarily looking for the objective "best", they are looking for the students that will benefit their institution the most. Often, there's an overlap- it's better for an institution's reputation to only admit kids with top grades and scores- but not always.

Under none of these systems is it really about finding the "best", and I think most applicants and members of the public would do well to understand that. Your failure to get into Harvard doesn't mean you weren't as accomplished a human being as the average Harvard admit. It means Harvard decided that you would not benefit the institution as much as the students who were admitted.

I should also mention that there is a parallel system for NCAA Division I sports, which cuts across different types of institutions. That is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Any Place For Liberal Arts Degrees In Tech?

nealric Re: Ya, but... (392 comments)

It may have more to do with the fact that most well regarded academic institutions do not offer "pre law" as a major.

about 3 months ago

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