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FCC Warned Not To Take Actions a Republican-Led FCC Would Dislike

theophilosophilus Re: Correction: (338 comments)

A government telco isn't a monopoly?

about 4 months ago

Tax Peculiarities Mean Facebook Paid No Net Taxes For 2012

theophilosophilus Re:Peculiarities? (307 comments)

"Buying bits of corporations" does not avoid tax on income. Income is taxed when it is recieved. Investing after tax income allows dividends to be taxed at capital gains rates. This rate is set to encourage investment in the economy and to recognize the corporation already paid taxes on money distributed to investors.

Placing income producing assets in a corporation will, however, cause income to be taxed at the corporate rate and avoid tax.

You should be "buying bits of corporations" every chance you get. Not because it avoids taxation but because your money is rotting with the high inflation created to artificially lower interest rates.

about 2 years ago

Tax Peculiarities Mean Facebook Paid No Net Taxes For 2012

theophilosophilus Re:Peculiarities? (307 comments)

This is normal - the rich don't pay tax.

The normal thing here is someone on Slashdot didnt read the TFA. The debate is about corporate taxation not "the rich". The individuals still pay the tax on wages.
It is fair (intellectually, not necissarily a correct posititon) to argue that income should be taxed twice, once at the corporation an once with the investor / employee. It is also fair (intellectually, not necissarily a correct posititon) to debate deductions. But it is knee jerk illogic to confuse a debate about corporate taxation with the debate whether "the rich" pay their fair share.

about 2 years ago

DARPA Seeks To Secure Data With Electronics That Dissolve On Command

theophilosophilus Re:Well, until I see it (163 comments)

There are some Slashdot articles I click through just to ensure an obligatory remark is made. Good job.

about 2 years ago

Monsanto May Have To Repay 10 Years of GM Soya Royalties In Brazil

theophilosophilus Re:Remove the yoke of Monsanto! (377 comments)

FYI the cleaning and planting in season 2 is an intentional act. The farmer that buys the Round Up Ready seed is well informed and actually signs an agreement not to clean and re-plant. The agreement actually requires practices to reduce cross-pollination. For example, in corn crops, detassling

The usual poorly informed Slashdot debate has focused on accidental cross-polination. That is not the issue. We can debate the efficacy of patents and other intellectual property protections in spurring innovation and I am not completely convinced either way. I know Round Up Ready is very effective but over used to the point of creating resistant weeds. But that doesn't change the issue at work here that Monsanto is targeting intentional conduct not accidental. Granted, accidental cross-pollination may occur.

Signed: A farmer's son.

more than 2 years ago

Monsanto May Have To Repay 10 Years of GM Soya Royalties In Brazil

theophilosophilus Re:Remove the yoke of Monsanto! (377 comments)

Technically wrong. A soybean, what you eat, is the seed. Pollination has nothing to do with it. A farmer buys seed from Monsanto in year/ season 1, harvests, cleans the soybeans to prepare it for use as seed, and plants in year/ season 2.

more than 2 years ago

Engineered Stomach Microbe Converts Seaweed Into Ethanol

theophilosophilus Is surplus corn good or bad? - make up your mind (226 comments)

"It grows in much of the two thirds of the planet that is underwater, so it wouldn't crowd out food crops the way corn for ethanol does. "

There is so much uneducated FUD about biofuel which only goes to show that the best of intentions among environmentalists and world hunger activists can have adverse environmental and social impacts. If use of corn for ethanol was an issue I would expect the vulnerable third world countries to be crying out for the US to sell them corn, but that isn't the case. The third world is attempting to curb the expansion of US production of corn. See e.g. http://prospectjournal.ucsd.edu/index.php/2010/04/nafta-and-u-s-corn-subsidies-explaining-the-displacement-of-mexicos-corn-farmers/ http://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/truth.pdf

If people want to solve a problem, at least decide what the problem is. What is the greater evil, too much or too little corn?

As a side note, seaweed biofuels may be a better solution to bio-fuels - or it may not. Treating the environment and problems of world hunger as questions with such a simple answer is dangerous.

about 2 years ago

Red Cross Debates If Virtual Killing Violates International Humanitarian Law

theophilosophilus Re:Mixing Worlds (516 comments)

The fundamental error here is a confusion about what a virtual world is and how virtual worlds relate to the real world. A virtual game world must, to be worth the name, and to be worth entering, be like our world: a world with physics and freedom of individual action. Any restraints on action of the players must arise via social organization within that world. If the characters want to create laws and build prisons, or apply peer pressure to others, fine. But for the human beings running the game to reach in and impose what amount to magical constraints from the in-world point of view, such as striking characters dead every time they commit certain actions, is deeply wrong and undermines the whole business. It's worse than playing God.

The appropriate response then, is a virtual Hague.

about 3 years ago

Icelandic MP To Challenge US Court Ruling On Twitter Privacy

theophilosophilus Due process has been afforded (132 comments)

"We have to have the same civil rights online as we have offline. Imagine if the U.S. authorities wanted to do a house search at my home, go through my private papers."

The right to free speech is not infinite. Especially when your speech infringes on the rights of others (try right to life of soldiers and CIA),

This woman would be subject to having her home searched and private papers viewed if she were physically in the US. Physical papers could be searched if they were in a US bank vault. The same rule applies when she stores her private papers here electronically. If you don't like a jurisdiction's policy calls on the lines drawn regarding speech and privacy - don't speak in that jurisdiction (servers located there).

Due process has been afforded and civil rights upheld. From TFA - the justice department followed the law and the use of the law was allowed to be challenged.

more than 3 years ago

Google Italy Execs Convicted Over YouTube Bullying Video

theophilosophilus Re:So basically... (391 comments)

That's the case I just settled. My client's didn't trust banks (go figure) and kept their cash in a safe. They got most of their cash from a legal action but they couldn't account for all of it because their job was tip based and they couldn't prove their expenses. Long story short, they went to make a large purchase, people got suspicious, and 90% of American currency has cocaine residue (either from being used to snort or simply going through money counters at a bank). Under a few states' laws and the former federal law, known as civil forfeiture, you are guilty until proven innocent. See e.g. USA v. $124,700. Only property connected with drugs is forfeited, but the raw deal is that innocent people must prove their innocence and guilty people must prove the proportion of their guilt to get the property back. Double Jeopardy does not apply and so the guilty person that proved his guilt to get his property back has proved the states' later criminal case.

My clients settled for less than their entire amount (like everyone does) because of the uncertainties of trial - they couldn't prove how much money they spent from their legal award and they couldn't completely prove how much they made in their jobs. Further, my clients were minorities and the case was venued in a minority unfriendly county.

more than 4 years ago

Press Favored Obama Throughout Campaign

theophilosophilus Re:Duh. (1601 comments)

>>>realize that the right of free speech comes with the duty to exercise it responsibly.

If you want balance, you do it through freedom and liberty, not control. If the Washington Post prints Obama-loving articles, than you counterbalance that with your own paper which prints McCain-loving articles. You then leave it to the People to decide, for themselves, where the truth lies. Not some authoritarian censor.

Excellent point.
I do have a 1st Amendment nuance to add. The Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire list (which has been shrunk). Things like yelling fire in a crowded theater and comments that create a "clear and present danger" (a test that has been narrowed significantly) can be regulated by the government. Further, damaging the reputation of a private citizen (and sometimes public figures) can also be the subject of government control.

However, the original poster does have a point if the comment was not intended to refer to the government, the 1st Amendment only protects speech from government regulation. We do have a social responsibility (ethical duty) to speak responsibly but it isn't any more of a duty to spend our money wisely or care for the environment. The media's duty is especially important. When no one trusts the media, they have failed society. The Framer's of the Constitution envisioned a special responsibility of the media in preserving democracy - hence the 1st Amendment Freedom of The Press. They believed exactly what the parent has stated, that truth will be discovered by the people in the market place of ideas.

The press does have responsibility in a democracy. When news sources stop auditing for truth, when there is no alternative that provides near 100% truth, then the system has failed. In doing a review of a newspaper's bias, they are acting responsibly. Now if only they had acted responsibly to begin with.

more than 6 years ago


theophilosophilus hasn't submitted any stories.



Perpetual E-Motion

theophilosophilus theophilosophilus writes  |  more than 6 years ago I'm going to use this post for a collection of Slashdotter posts that demonstrate that division in the ranks of energy alternatives advocates is a vote for environmental chaos. There is no one magical alternative energy source. Until advocates recognize that, we all will waste time rallying against the other alternatives rather finding how they fit into a comprehensive reform plan. I've also started using the friend modifier to flag people that care as much about the issue as I do, whether I agree with them or not.

Rei (128717) on hydrogen.
by SacredByte (1122105) on nuclear. by SacredByte (1122105) on wind.


UNReal - UN against biofuels AND farm subsidies

theophilosophilus theophilosophilus writes  |  more than 7 years ago In a recent demonstration of the continued idiocy of the U.N., the AP is reporting that a U.N. sociologist is calling for a halt on biofuel production because it is cutting down on available food sources and driving up prices. The sociologist, Jean Ziegler, even went so far to call biofuel production "a crime against humanity." The idiocy comes in when we discover that the same sociologist has been calling for a moratorium on farm subsidies because they increase production and drive down prices. I'm confused. Which is more devastating to humanity, high production and low prices or low production and high prices? The UN needs to stop letting sociologists do economic research.

Economics works by the maxim, "the greatest way to solve a shortage is a shortage." This maxim holds true as long as there is untapped production. This world has tremendous untapped production. For example, one area is improved efficiency of crop production in third world countries. Increased prices will encourage producers to adopt improved methods of farming in order to capitalize on the new wealth equation. Improved prices will encourage a move from the hard life of subsistence farming in the third world.


The threat from China

theophilosophilus theophilosophilus writes  |  more than 7 years ago I've been doing research on the Dormant Commerce Clause for a paper in Constitutional Economic Rights and have been reading a little Adam Smith to get a feel of what the Framers had in mind when they drafted the Constitution. Smith is still relevant today.

Something that irks me is that a lot of people I talk to about economics is the misconception about trade deficits. First, there is not limited money. We are no longer on the gold standard. When we need more money (deflation) or have too much (inflation) the Fed simply raises or lowers interest rates which essentially creates more money on paper. Money is no longer even physical, its just a entry in a collection of computers. Second, a dollar is a promise to provide goods or services in the future. Money has no intrinsic value of its own, its just paper. The only value a dollar has is its capacity to be traded for goods or services. A trade deficit emerges, by definition, when we are getting more goods from a foreign country than they are getting from us. Incorporating our newfound understanding of money, a trade deficit means that we gave a foreign country worthless paper for their goods. Remember, the only time that worthless paper called the U.S. Dollar has any value is when it is redeemed in the U.S. If the foreign country was not cashing in the dollars we gave them then that would mean we are getting free stuff and that a trade deficit is actually a good thing. Unfortunately, trade deficits are a neutral thing. A trade deficit arises when a foreign country does not trade for U.S. products. The foreign country is obviously not stupid enough to refrain from cashing in their dollars, they simply buy services or invest in U.S. assets (foreign ownership of U.S. assets like stock, debt, or property is a different concern). Or a country could trade the dollars to another country for something in return, the result is the same because the dollars eventually need to be redeemed in the U.S. to be worth anything. As Smith said

Money, therefore, necessarily runs after goods, but goods do not always or necessarily run after money. The man who buys, does not always mean to sell again, but frequently to use or to consume; whereas he who sells, always means to buy again.

Third, the reason that the Chinese are not buying U.S. products is that they can't afford them. Products are generally purchased by individuals while companies buy assets. Therefore, its easy to see why the money from trade flows the way it does. The Chinese workers cannot consume U.S. consumer goods because their wages do not allow it. Therefore, in the short run, U.S. manufacturing suffers. However, as Chinese workers specialize the available pool of workers will eventually (in the long run) be constrained. The result will be increased wages and an increased desire for consumer goods, some from the U.S. As Smith said

The desire for food is limited in every man by the narrow capacity for the human stomach; but the desire of the conveniences and ornaments of building, dress, equipage, and household furniture, seems to have no limit or certain boundary.

Fourth, [I will discuss the lessons of the luddites - 19th century workmen who destroyed labor saving technology out of fear of unemployment. The analogy between 19th century fear of technology and 21st century fear of free trade is unmistakable. Slashdotters would do well to recognize their contribution as supporters of technology (like the wheel) to unemployment].
Fifth, [I will discuss the relationship between competition and prosperity. Overall buying power of a worker is not increased by protectionist policies. Take the simple example of a TV assembly line worker. The worker who cannot afford what he produces will remain unable to afford the fruits of his labor under a protectionist regime because his wage will rise in proportion to the product. Now multiply that simple example across every product in the economy under a comprehensive protectionist plan. The advances from a protectionist plan come at the expense of a country's consumers. Workers are consumers and at best any increases in wages or employment can only offset the increase in consumer prices leaving a worker in no better position.]
Sixth, [I will discucss the experiences of Japan and Taiwan and the relation to the new round of 3rd world industrialization and the "catch-up affect"]


Free Speech vs. Trademarks

theophilosophilus theophilosophilus writes  |  more than 7 years ago As a computer scientist who has crossed over to the legal field, I am greatly interested in that place where technology meets the law. In fact, interest in that subject is why I went to law school. Currently, my interest has focused on the relationship between intellectual property law and First Amendment free speech protections. Last semester, I wrote a paper for my First Amendment Rights class entitled Free Speech Post Rumsfeld v. FAIR. FAIR appears to have redefined what symbolic conduct is worthy of First Amendment protection. The relation to technology in the paper came in my discussion of whether DeCSS t-shirts could now be protected from copyright challenges under the First Amendment. I don't believe they would because FAIR imposes a "would an ordinary person understand what's being communicated" test.

Similarly, I was intrigued by the First Amendment issues presented by Google's Ban of an Anti-MoveOn.org Ad. I'm astonished that a large number of Slashdotter's could not comprehend how the policies of Google could impact free speech. Generally, this community is viciously protective of "Your Rights Online". In fact, this community has greatly influenced my stance and interest on the issue. However, Google's ban on use of trademarks is inconsistent with this community's values and the law.

Political advertising is very powerful. These ads are a means of garnering attention to the information view-holders wish to emphasize. There is an incredible problem when one viewpoint is able overemphasize its point. In fact, this danger is at the heart of campaign finance reform. I don't necessarily advocate a equality-in-advertising standpoint but I do believe that ads should not be rejected because of the target of their discussion/debate/attack. The "market place of ideas" that the Framers of the Constitution envisioned is broken when one viewpoint is prevented from being heard by a legal loophole. In this case, a blind adherence to a simplistic policy is just such a loophole. Put in terms that Slashdotters will understand, this policy is analogous to one where videos are removed from YouTube automatically (i.e. based on a mechanical algorithm rather than the merits) simply because they might violate copyright law. I realize that in legal circles a "parade of horribles" argument is mocked, however, take Google's policy to the logical conclusion. Trademark and Copyright holders can use trademark and copyright law (DMCA) to stifle criticism because Google has a easy to implement policy. Keep in mind that Google is by far the largest source of information on the internet (at least the gateway to it). Further, for a certain demographic, it may be the only source. Google will only get bigger in the future and its targets are set on control of all information beginning with advertising. Again, I am astonished that any Slashdotter would not think that Google's policy is a problem.

Finally, Google's policy does not have any basis in the law. Trademarks can be used when that is the only way of identifying the organization. The purpose of trademark law is to prevent market place confusion when there are two organizations in closely related industries operating under a similar mark. That is not the case here. Any suit by the trademark holder against any advertiser using their mark would also fail on First Amendment grounds.

In conclusion, Google is a private business and can do what ever it wants. It can filter the ads it runs and it can even filter the search results it displays. Google's reasoning for censoring information can be political, economic, convenience or whatever. The major point that Slashdotters have missed is that Google's market position has given it unmitigated power over speech. There are no Constitutional limitations on Google's censorship of speech. It is up to the market place to provide the checks and balances in this situation. Slashdotters are ignorant of their duty to be skeptical in this situation. Whether this be blind devotion to a corporation or a blindness caused by the political actors under this situation's facts I dare not say.

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