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Obama Proposes One-Time Tax On $2 Trillion US Companies Hold Overseas

theVarangian Re:Two things (176 comments)

Thank God for #1. This is a bad idea--giving a Liberal more money for whatever "reason".

As opposed to what? Giving a conservative a pile of money which he uses to start a totally unnecessary war in Iraq that cost 4488 soldiers their lives? Look at what a success that turned out to be!!

20 minutes ago
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Obama Proposes One-Time Tax On $2 Trillion US Companies Hold Overseas

theVarangian Re:Two things (176 comments)

1.The Republican Congress will never approve this idea. Never. 2. Europe closing tax havens? Africa is ripe to be next with new tax havens and super cheap manufacturing centers.

Does it really matter if the Republicans will approve of this? Perhaps Obama knows that every single Republican congressman is now getting frantic phone calls from every rich Ayn Rand reading jerk that ever contributed to his campaign. Obama also knows that taxing the rich is probably not going to bother the electorate that much. The common working American like any other working class person derives a certain amount of 'schadenfreude' from watching rich people squirm. The is especially the case if those rich people are tax cheats who, unlike the ordinary working American, can hide their earnings in foreign tax shelters. When the Republican party rises up on it's collective hind legs and fight this tooth and claw they will once again be perceived as the party that exists mainly to defend the rich at the expense of the American people since this money would be used to improve America's decaying infrastructure which ultimately would benefit everybody including the rich (even if they are to short sighted and greedy to see it). If I was Obama I would spend the rest of my presidency luring the Republicans into fights that they are dumb enough fight but that also make them look like they only care abut the rich, thus preparing the ground for the 2016 elections.

about half an hour ago
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Ask Slashdot: When and How Did Europe Leapfrog the US For Internet Access?

theVarangian Re:Government Intervention (474 comments)

I think there's more going on here than just European "socialism" vs. American "capitalism". Demographics, for instance, are wildly different for the US.

Average population and population density for countries 1-15: 34 million and 193/km^2 United States population and population density: 316 million and 34/km^2

Yes, but if US capitalism is so superior to European socialism population density should be a trifling obstacle for private enterprise guided by the invisible hand of the free market. (Hint: that was more sarcasm).

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: When and How Did Europe Leapfrog the US For Internet Access?

theVarangian Re:Government Intervention (474 comments)

Yeah, who would have thought that European 'socialism' would be more effective at bringing the internet to the masses than American private enterprise? But sarcasm aside, here are the world's 16 most connected countries according to a study done by Harvard University for the FCC:

1 Sweden

...

15 Portugal

16 United States

Did you make a top-16 just so you can include US?

Well yes... Listing the top 16 countries is sufficient to show where the US stands relative to Europe in internet connectivity and since the topic is why US internet is so much worse than it is in Europe reproducing the rest of the list seemed pretty pointless and not including the US would be pretty pointless too don't you think?

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: When and How Did Europe Leapfrog the US For Internet Access?

theVarangian Re:Government Intervention (474 comments)

EU wide publically funded projects to bring high speed broadband across Europe?

We had plenty of choices for dial-up too, what we lacked particularly in the UK was free local calls, that made modem calls expensive compared to the US. Since then everything has been going our way.

Jason.

Yeah, who would have thought that European 'socialism' would be more effective at bringing the internet to the masses than American private enterprise? But sarcasm aside, here are the world's 16 most connected countries according to a study done by Harvard University for the FCC:

1 Sweden
2 Denmark
3 Japan
4 South Korea
5 Switzerland
6 Netherlands
7 Finland
8 France
9 Belgium
10 Norway
11 United Kingdom
12 Germany
13 Iceland
14 Italy
15 Portugal
16 United States

2 days ago
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At Oxford, a Battery That's Lasted 175 Years -- So Far

theVarangian Re:Oops (211 comments)

Actually the janitor changes it once a week when he cleans the room.

Hehe.. maybe he is. The municipal power company in Reykjavik, Iceland built a Focault pendulum in their HQ as a showpiece. Local urban legend has it that after it was first installed the thing would stop swinging at seemingly random intervals which caused the artist and the physicist who designed it a lot of head scratching. No amount of calculations, physics theory and modelling could explain these mysterious disruptions in the predicted workings of the pendulum so finally they set up a camera to observe the thing. The footage showed the pendulum swinging away for hours and hours until suddenly a member of the cleaning staff walked into the frame, stopped, looked at the pendulum, reached out, stopped it with his hand and then walked out of the frame. Mystery solved... dunno if the story is true but it made me laugh.

about a week ago
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Review: The BlackBerry Classic Is One of the Best Phones of 2009

theVarangian Re:Best of 2009? May be, but we live in 2014. Righ (132 comments)

that's the point of TFA. This thing would've been great in 2009. Now it's just serving a niche market of shrinking ex-crackberry users. Still, if it prevents RIM from disappearing from the face of the earth, that might count as a success.

The old style Blackberries weren't even very good back in their heyday. I got a Black Berry Curve 8320 in late 2007 and used it for about two years. The phones themselves, i.e. the hardware, was OK, I especially liked the Black Berry keyboard and the little trackball. However, I also concluded that the software and OS sucked ass big time if you wanted to use the Curve as a smart phone to surf the net or use apps to make your life simpler like we do with modern smartphones. And that is precisely what I have been buying large screen smartphones for since the early 2000s, to use apps. Even so I can see how the Curve was the perfect device for SMS and e-mail junkies since those were just about the only two things the Black Berry Curve series did really, really well. So I switched to iPhones the instant I could get my greasy paws on one back in 2009 and never looked back except to contemplate switching to Android a couple of times.

about a month and a half ago
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Google Should Be Broken Up, Say European MPs

theVarangian Re:EUgle? (237 comments)

Why don't the Europeans start their own search and ad engine?

Oh, because they would lose?

What I don't understand here is Google does not have a monopoly on search services. They're just damn good at it and the market, with several other choices including Bing!, votes with its clicks. I'm not sure I see what's wrong with that.

This isn't about a monopoly per se. The issue is that Google has got the same business unit that handles their web search operation also pushing Google services. The result is that Google is actively discriminating against competing services and since these competitors don't have their own search engine with a dominant market share to fall back they are proverbially stuck up shit creek without a paddle. It's a bit as if, say America Online, owned world's entire internet backbone and was preventing competing ISPS world wide from accessing that backbone on equal terms in order to gain a competitive advantage for their own ISP division. That being said Google has an 80% market share in the US/Europe and that pretty much makes them a monopoly in my book or at the very least something pretty close to a monopoly and monopolies are IMHO usually bad. Many of the people on this forum screamed their heads off in the past when Microsoft was doing something like this. Instead Googles army of fanboys is now out in force again trying to paint a big yellow smiley over the whole thing.

about 2 months ago
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Behind Apple's Sapphire Screen Debacle

theVarangian Re:Yes, go ahead...Blame Apple (189 comments)

Just a reminder GT did not sign on the dotted line, GT is not a real person not matter how many deceitful and disingenuous corporate types like to pretend it is, in order to shift responsibility away from themselves to other people and make them pay. So why would the corporate executives of GT sign, what kind of motivation would they individually need to risk their whole company in order to provide Apple the best deal possible. So how much money and risk could Apple save by investing in the executive team of GT, keeping in mind as per typical executive teams the one thing they always put in place for themselves is a golden parachute when it all fails. So how much would Apple have to shift from one offshore tax haven bank account to another offshore bank account to basically get corporate executives to stab their own company in the back, keeping in mind Apple could save hundreds of millions of dollars over the life of the contract or eliminate hundreds of millions of dollars of risk.

Strange things go on in the world of finance where investment companies routinely buy into doomed companies, that enable vulture capitalists like Mittens Romney to make huge profits. For some strange reasons those executive teams of say pension funds go stupid and buy all sorts of crap for billions of dollars and yet they all still retire rich no matter how much other people's money they lose.

It should be pretty obvious by now when it comes to corporations, psychopathic corporate executives always act in their own interest and whether or not that serves the interests of the company they work for is completely arbitrary.

This is a case of over eager executives at GT biting off more than they could chew and a bunch of over eager executives at Apple trying way too hard to maximise profits with the result that everybody ended up with egg on their face. So IMHO they are both to blame. GT had the option of not signing a deal that was "onerous and massively one-sided" and telling Apple to go jump in a lake. As regards Apple they should have known better than to offer GT that crappy deal in the first place. I mean saving costs by not to installing backup power supplies on the sapphire growth furnaces, really? Contrary to what some people in the business community seem think you CAN actually end up paying a dollar for trying to save a cent. Somebody at Apple got too greedy and they deserve being a laughing stock of the tech industry as a result.

about 2 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: Why Is the Power Grid So Crummy In So Many Places?

theVarangian Re:In Finland (516 comments)

Similar in Sweden, where I live there have been maybe 5 outages the last 15 years, none of them long enough to create any problems aside from having to set the clock radio again.

And we have underground wiring. Areas with above ground wiring sees more outages.

This is also what annoys me whenever I have been visiting the US - the air is filled with wires high and low, which definitely destroys the scenery of the otherwise picturesque towns that are common in New England among other places.

This is one thing I have never quite understood about the USA. Even in places where hurricanes and earthquakes are common they put electric lines on wooden poles with the result that when an earthquake occurs or a hurricane blows through the streets are literally covered with downed power lines. I live in an earthquake prone region where we almost exclusively use underground wiring. We've never had an outage because of an earthquake. Come to think of it we've never had more than minor damage to buildings as result of even the biggest storms the N-Atlantic has thrown at us while the power grid didn't even notice the storms. This brings me to my curiosity over why Americans keep building houses out of wood in these regions? In California for example much of the earthquake damage seems to be wooden houses although they have noticeably strengthened building codes Californians are still stuck with a whole lot of vulnerable older houses. I was watching a documentary on the reconstruction of areas around New Orleans and along the Mississippi and I was surprised to see that these houses that had been destroyed were simply being rebuilt as they had been before without any attempt to adapt the architecture such that the habitable areas of houses are not at ground level. I have travelled in South East Asia where they have similar flooding problems as the Americans have around the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi river and most of the houses there are built on stilts with the habitable area upstairs while the area under the house is used for storage. It takes a pretty massive flood to reach the upper floors of houses that are built like that. There are companies that specialise in house liftings in the US, I'm surprised the practice is not more wides spread than it seems to be. I suppose it's just to expensive?

about 2 months ago
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Top Counter-Strike Players Embroiled In Hacking Scandal

theVarangian Re:Various hacking tools? (224 comments)

I think the suggestion is that it requires *other* skills, namely hacking skills. However, since hacks would be wind up being distributed (after all, doesn't information want to be free, even if one person worked on it and everyone else is just freeloading?), the skill would be "researching hacks" rather than 'creating hacks".

Why bother with the hacks then? If you want unlimited wall hacks you might as well just hold your tournament in a flat open arena with no cover anywhere and disable all the equalisation algorithms. If you want a hacking challenge try hacking some major corporate network. This also has the benefit of being followed by a stretch of vigorous physical exercise as you try to run away from the FBI SWAT team.

about 2 months ago
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The EU Has a Plan To Break Up Google

theVarangian Re:In an unrelated news item... (334 comments)

Population count (507 mio. vs. 319 mio.) and GDP (18.4 trio. US$ vs. 16.8 trio. US$).

Given their superior regulatory environment, why does the EU only make less than 70% per-capita of what the US makes? Especially given that many US-headquartered companies are recognizing most of their revenue in Ireland.

Because the EU added several Eastern European nations as members who were, and to some extent still are, recovering from two world wars and 50 years as vassal states of the Soviet Union. Man of these countries are suffering through the usual corruption and political instability issues that plague all young democracies. Just try to imagine that the USA admitted a few dysfunctional South American countries with broken economies and a few tens of millions of poor working class citizens as new states of your union. The per capita economic output of the USA would take a bit of a nosedive. The reason that most US-headquartered companies are recognising their revenue in Ireland is because they are dodging taxes, the EU as a whole does not benefit from that because their corporate slime balls are doing the same thing. The only ones benefitting from the now famous 'double Irish' tax dodge are corrupt Irish politicians.

about 2 months ago
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The EU Has a Plan To Break Up Google

theVarangian Re:In an unrelated news item... (334 comments)

But this represents an existential threat - when viewed that way, it's a no-brainer to give up a market, even a huge market, if the price of admission is too high. Also, Google doesn't have to stop serving them, just stop doing business there.

Also, don't forget that Google pulled out of China, and China has a lot more population and will have the biggest GDP shortly. This is far more concerning than a little espionage.

But China was demanding a bit more than the EU who merely wants Google to break up it's operations in the EU into separate business units. China wanted Google to censor web searches and rat out Chinese citizens for regime critical utterances and activities. Pulling out of China in the face of those demands makes sense since Google's position as an information broker depends to a large extent on whether the public trusts them or not. If a large number of people get the notion that Google cannot be trusted, Google could easily see a collapse of it's share of the internet search market. Of course somebody will inevitably ignore this fact and go straight to pointing out that Google feeds information about it's users to the NSA as a matter of course (and as if that was a proven fact) to which I'll respond that I'm no friend of Google, I think they have become a dangerous monopolist, but I'll also consider them innocent of collaborating with the NSA until they are proven guilty.

about 2 months ago
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The EU Has a Plan To Break Up Google

theVarangian Re:In an unrelated news item... (334 comments)

It's among the worst nationalistic hogwash misconceptions ever, easily on par with North Korea rambling about its moon base.

Pretending that the EU is a singular nation in the way that the US or North Korea are is itself "hogwash".

Who ever made that claim and how is it even relevant? What matter to Google (and any other company engaging in anti capitative behaviour) is that far as anti-trust issues are concerned the EU is a single entity.

about 2 months ago
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What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

theVarangian Re:I'm quite surprised it wasn't (523 comments)

I was ignorantly assuming that they'd do everything they could to insure the accomplishment of the mission. I realize how foolish I was now.

Yes, that is a very foolish assumption. Even if they spent a quadrillion euros, they still could not do everything to ensure success. Real life involves tradeoffs. Most people learn this by the time they are adults.

Precisely, no plan in the history of planning has survived contact with reality undamaged. He should brush up on the concept of diminishing returns which is basically what you are talking about. There are other interesting places to visit and blowing your budget on one mission is dumb.

about 2 months ago
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Apple Disables Trim Support On 3rd Party SSDs In OS X

theVarangian Re:Why? (327 comments)

In my experience, mac laptops cost 20% more and last twice as long as alternative PC laptop manufacturers. That doesn't seem like a bad deal to me.

That is an interesting point, however I have owned 5 Mac laptops over the years. A G3 PowerBook, A G4, PowerBook, 2 Core Duos and 1 Core 2 Duo. I have owned about the same number of PC laptops. I have not seen any improvement in reliability over the macs except in the case of ultra cheap netbooks that Apple doesn't directly compete with anyway. Neither of our points matter much as they are totally anecdotal. Also, the 20% figure you list is arbitrary and varies over the years. The point I was trying to make you ignore. Why pay more for Apple to preinstall an SSD for you when you can buy the SAME BRAND if not identical model number they use and install it for usually HALF the cost or less than what they charge for the upgrade? Answer THAT. That is what the article is about after all.

About TRIM: I upgraded my MacBook with a 480Gb OCW SSD module myself. In the two years since I did that I have not given TRIM a second thought and I have not noticed the SSD performance taking a nosedive either. According to OCW the built in garbage collector on their drives is so efficient that there is no marked improvement in running TRIM on the drive and from what I have been able to find out this built in garbage collector actually seems to work pretty well. I suppose I lucked out when I bought that drive.

About the cost of storage: The price of preinstalled Apple SSDs is pretty outrageous although I'm not sure that your claim of equivalent PC drives costing half or less is quite accurate. Do you have any accurate information on what the spare parts prices of Apple brand SSDs are? I'd be interested to know. While I draw the line at paying for an Apple brand SSD a price that is 2-3 times that of an equivalent PC SSD like you are suggesting I'm still not going to skimp on storage. My MSc project advisor wrote a paper on the efficiency of SSD controllers and one of the things that came out of that research was that in many cases the onboard memory management system on these SSD drives is crap but generally you also get what you pay for which only confirmed what experience had taught me. Buying a budget SSD is like buying budget brake pads for your car on Alibaba, direct from China...

And that concludes my rant.

about 2 months ago
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When We Don't Like the Solution, We Deny the Problem

theVarangian Re:On the trickiness of words (282 comments)

From the dictionary definitions, one would think that "liberal gun-control ideologies" would mean to encourage as wide as distribution of as many guns as possible. But this is not the case. But "liberal gun-control ideologies" actually means as few guns as possible to as few people as possible.

Just a random thought from a Blue State (WA) where another freedom of action was circumscribed despite the Red Wave that swept the rest of the country. See I-594, specifically the definition of transfers. No more borrowing a friend's shotgun.

In my country gun control means you don't get to own a gun if you have a criminal record, you don't get to own a gun unless you first learned to use it properly, you don't get to own a gun unless you have demonstrated knowledge oft the relevant laws, you don't get to own a gun unless you have a certified firearms and ammo storage locker, you don't get to own an gun without registering it with the police and you don't get to sell your gun without first informing the police. However, as long as you aren't a former bank robber or something like that and you are willing to put in some time and effort to do a course in the proper use of firearms and the relevant laws, anybody can own a gun if they want. The one thing that pisses me off about gun laws in my country is how hard it is to import guns. Just the shipping charges can be higher than the value of a weapon and you get one extortionate bill for "secure transport" per weapon. Paradoxically the country that puts up the biggest barrier when it comes to importing weapons from there is the USA. It seems that if you are in the US you can buy guns by the crate off the back of a pickup on the parking lot outside of a gun show no questions asked. On the other hand if you happen to be from outside the US and to want to buy, say, a hunting rifle you can't get through a dealer in your country you have your work cut out for you due to US regulations on arms exports to foreign civilians. Many US exporters are very reluctant to fulfil orders to private individuals overseas even through an licensed overseas gun dealer. I'm told this is because they are afraid to get sued.

about 3 months ago
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Netropolitan Is a Facebook For the Affluent, and It's Only $9000 To Join

theVarangian Re:Blatant slashvertisement (178 comments)

Nope. But you can start your own version of Slashdot, and ask $9000 to join.

He did that already, the only member so far is Larry Ellison.

about 4 months ago
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Europeans Came From Three Ancestry Groupings

theVarangian Re:Fair and darker skin (85 comments)

Did you read the original article rather than just skim over it? One of the surprises is that there is a third component in European ancestry. Another surprise is that the blue eyes apparently came with dark skin and the lighter skin colour came with brown eyes.

The third interesting thing is that two of our lineages are very old, but a third contribution came in around 7000 years ago, just at the same time as agriculture. It makes sense, IMO - agriculture meant that this particular group became dominant and thus contributed disproportionately more to the gene pool in a relatively short time.

I did and it is interesting, especially the part where it says that Northern Europeans are more strongly related to the original European hunter gatherers who presumably were the population that absorbed the original eurasian Neandertahl and Densiovian populations. It's gotten me even more interested in getting my DNA analyzed for archaic human ancestry. It would be ever so cool to find out I'm in the high range with 4-5% or more Neanderthal DNA or perhaps even coolest of all, Neandertahl mtDNA.

about 4 months ago
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DNA Reveals History of Vanished "Paleo-Eskimos"

theVarangian Re:Today's (57 comments)

Because scientists require more than a good story, they require evidence that a good story might be waiting in the wings, and then when they get enough of this evidence together, they start to reconstruct the story.

The reason the ideas above aren't taught has little to do with ego, scientists have huge egos in the sense of wanting to strike virgin ground in the realm of knowledge. If they had access to the evidence, they'd be climbing over each other to be the first to publish. The reason it hasn't happened isn't due to personality, it's due to lack of evidence.

Also, keep in mind that any evidence isn't good evidence. It has to be evidence that differentiates one theory from another, as outstanding claims require outstanding evidence. Likewise, lack of evidence doesn't imply it didn't happen, it's just not something to be considered as we have nothing to back up our statements. Without the proof to back up statements, there would be little difference between science and some forms of science fiction.

They're not 'ideas', there is now actual DNA evidence for the presence of a Native Americans in Europe before Columbus. The same goes for Polynesians visiting America there is enough evidence to warrant further investigation. Polynesians found tiny little islands but missed two ginormous continents? Really? I'm no scientist but I do know enough about navigation to know that this suggestion is just plain stupid. It's a bit of a catch 22, if you are unwilling to investigate anything without evidence than you never find any evidence because you never investigate anything. People like you is the reason we need nutty scientists who go out on a limb. Sometimes they actually discover something that runs contrary to everything their more conservative colleagues held to be unchallengeable truths and often these colleagues are people who dominate a field, i.e. the 'great egos'. My favorite example of this is probably the supposed impossibility of there being Neanderthal DNA in modern humans. There were a number of great scientific egos who dominated the field of paleontology who ended up with egg all over their faces over that one, especially Ian Tattersall. Tattersall never went looking because there was no evidence, Svante Pääbo went and did something that was supposed to be impossible and then he actually went looking for something despite having no evidence and lo and behold he found found it.

about 4 months ago

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