Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Taxation of illegal income in the United States

The Supreme Court held that an embezzler was required to include his ill-gotten gains in his "gross income" for Federal income tax purposes.

While embezzlers, thieves, and the like are forced to report their ill-gotten gains as income for tax purposes, they may also take deductions for costs relating to criminal activity.

No business deduction is allowed "for any payment made, directly or indirectly, to an official or employee of any government [ . . . ] if the payment constitutes an illegal bribe or kickback
Taxation of illegal income in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Friday, April 25, 2008

Sex Drive: 7 Reasons Your Boss Should Send You to Sex Conferences

When it comes to technology, it's the great unfulfilled needs that matter most. That's where the next fortunes will be made. But if you're in the tech biz, how do you know what users want if you're hanging out with techies all the time?You turn to sex. Here are seven reasons why your tech company should send you to sex conferences like Sex 2.0, Arse Elektronica and Sex in Video Games rather than to mainstream events like this week's Web 2.0 Expo.

2. Tech adapted for sex has applications outside the bedroom.

A tech conference exposes you to ideas people have already had. A sex conference exposes you to people who aren't afraid to ask for what they want, no matter how technically improbable it seems. You can use your tech-savvy brain to adapt these desires for general usage and present them to your boss. Meanwhile, you can create a sex-specific application on the side, knowing you have a willing user base waiting breathlessly for your next release.

3. Social-media platforms are built for sex.

If an application becomes crucial to lovers, they will have no problem coming up with genuine reasons to integrate that tool into their work flow. And once corporate users are on board, the paper millions are just an IPO away.

4. Young people -- your future customers -- do it with tech.

There's money in bridging old-school romance with new media, and the sex-positive community knows how to make that leap better than anyone. When today's youth get out of school, they're going to remake the world the way they want it -- and that means tech will be an essential ingredient in courtship, romance and sex. It's so essential to young people's communication now that they don't even realize they're doing it. And this is at a time when they're still spending most of their time surrounded by their peers. Just wait until they're out of school and in the workforce.

Sex Drive: 7 Reasons Your Boss Should Send You to Sex Conferences
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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

To pee is to be | Hard News

So what was wrong when a Dutch embassy official said that Delhi looks like a garbage dump? Why did our patriotic instincts get so aroused that we almost condemned this frank, free speech? Delhi is a non-biodegradable, backward capitalist, semi-feudal, patriarchal, uncultured garbage dump, why shy away from that? Not only that, Delhi has turned into a vast, sprawling, ever, macho public urinal, a shit hole, a faceless ghetto, an architect’s black-hole nemesis, an octopus without a soul or belonging or sensitivity or civic sense. So what is so Mera Bharat Mahan about Delhi being a damned garbage dump? Can’t you see it all over the place, from the posh, palatial south zones to the twilight zones of the east and west, with the demolished slums in between? Surely, even tinted windows of swanky cars are transparent, aren’t they? So why hide the gaze?
To pee is to be | Hard News
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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Open source on bug patrol

24. Open source on bug patrol

An open source tool is being readied for release this year that its creators say could dramatically speed software development and improve software quality.

Computer scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Texas at Arlington credit the use of "combinatorial testing" for their breakthrough.

The trick is being able to quickly test interactions of up to six variables. The work stemmed from research into what really causes bugs in software. The researchers found that it is more often caused by problematic interactions between a few variables rather than a bunch even if a program, such as an e-commerce application, features hundreds of variables.

Findings of this latest software debugging research are described in several presentations, one by NIST researchers and another by University of Texas researchers

Developers interested in getting your hands on code should contact NIST's Raghu Kacker.
25 leading-edge IT research projects | Community
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25 leading-edge IT research projects | Community

5. The Fluid Project

A handful of universities, including the University of Toronto and the University of California, Berkeley, is working to build a software architecture and reusable components that can make Web applications easier to develop and use. The Fluid Project's work focuses on user-centered design practices. Vendors such as Mozilla Foundation, IBM and Sun are also taking part.

The latest news out of the project is that a grant has been awarded to the Adaptive Technology Resource Centre at the University of Toronto from the Mozilla Foundation to promote DHTML accessibility and the adoption of ARIA (the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative's Accessible Rich Internet Applications specification).
25 leading-edge IT research projects | Community
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Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand - New York Times

The administration’s communications experts responded swiftly. Early one Friday morning, they put a group of retired military officers on one of the jets normally used by Vice President Dick Cheney and flew them to Cuba for a carefully orchestrated tour of Guantánamo.

To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.

Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.

The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.

Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants. The companies include defense heavyweights, but also scores of smaller companies, all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administration’s war on terror. It is a furious competition, one in which inside information and easy access to senior officials are highly prized.

Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.
Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand - New York Times
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An Unpopular Position on Net Neutrality | Stanford Center for Internet and Society

My reasons against--different from those of the broadband providers in many respects--haven't really changed, but let me summarize them before I'm labeled a terrorist:

1. The problem doesn't exist yet - always a bad idea to legislate a future (even if a likely future) breakdown in market forces, especially when the breakdown involves rapidly evolving technologies and, consequently, unstable market dynamics. No provider is currently offering non-neutral pricing, access, or priority.

2. Discriminating may be necessary to optimize network performance - Uses for broadband infrastructure are emerging rapidly, and it isn't entirely clear that discriminating based on content wouldn't be the best way to optimize network performance, whether doing so would add to profits or not for the provider. The cable networks already "discriminate" in favor of programming over Internet traffic for subscribers who get both from the cable company, because the programming needs priority. Content providers are worried that if broadband providers aren't banned from discriminating, they'll someday (soon, perhaps) extract premiums from content providers to get their stuff delivered, or give competitors that option. But some kinds of content should get higher or lower priority as a matter of optimization, and blanket bans on prioritizing may end up making a mess of traffic overall.

3. The federal government is a poor choice for any of this - From defining what is required of a provider to satisfy "neutrality," to developing the rules for enforcement, to operating those rules, the federal government and in particular the FCC are poor choices to solve the problem, assuming the problem exists in the first place. Maybe the Internet has worked so well because neutrality has been a persistent part of the architecture. Maybe it's worked so well because there has been minimal government regulation of its design and operation. Maybe both. More of the latter to shore up the former is a dangerous trade-off.
An Unpopular Position on Net Neutrality | Stanford Center for Internet and Society
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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Adults Too Quick to Dismiss Educational Gaming?

Educational methods that revolve around memorization, be it in games or anything else, are usually very ineffecient. Teaching facts is along the lines of giving a man a fish instead of teaching him how to do so. Once you learn that fact, it does little to nothing to your overall education in other areas.

The most effective teaching methods involve giving students the tools to be able to learn how to learn. Most learning will be done on a student's own through exploration, even if much of it is passive.

That's where video games come in. Legend of Zelda may not teach you Mayan history, it might not show you, directly, how to do algebra, but it develops problem solving and creative thinking skills in fairly complex ways that will make a student's job in learning those things FAR easier. Zelda isn't even an "education game" but its innate problem solving is more involved that almost any story problem you'll encounter in HS, and kids play Zelda in grade school. The problem is, it's not easilly quantifiable because there are no hard-and-fast facts being learned, but as I said, fact learning is one of the least inefficient educational methods. Sure, facts must be taught, but there should be much less emphasis on fact learning and more emphasis on critical thinking skills.

Meanwhile, over the course of Zelda, or even an adventure FPS, RPG, or most other modern games, you're reading a lot of on-screen text, you're doing mathmatical computation for stats, puzzles, and the like... and all surrounded by various time limits that act as drill. And to top it off, it's fun and doesn't FEEL like work. What more could an educator ask for?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Media Blackout Against Ron Paul

It was OK for the MSM to cover Ron Paul's campaign as long as there was no voting taking place. After all, they have to have SOMETHING to talk and write about, and all the other candidates sing the same old boring tune. But once the voting started there has indeed been a complete MSM blackout.

Economists William Meckling and Michael Jenson, formerly of the University of Rochester, offered an explanation for the extreme statist bias of the media some thirty years ago, and I think it applies to the MSM's current blackout policy. If you are a national news reporter, you must always keep in mind that news must be new. You must cultivate numerous "inside sources" of news, and in today's world those sources are overwhelmingly in govenment. If you report on defense issues, your main sources are Defense Department bureaucrats or political appointees. If you are an environmental reporter, your sources are EPA bureaucrats and political appointees. If you are a crime reporter, you rely on the FBI bureaucracy, etc., etc.

This is why the media are never very critical of government bureaucrats -- unless the bureaucrats are being insufficiently interventionist. They pretend to be critical from time to time, but not really. The regime must be defended at all costs, for it is the regime that is the source of the journalists' human capital. Strip away parts of the regime, as Ron Paul wants to do, and you strip away jobs and careers for "journalists."

It's not Ron Paul who is the target of the blackout, but his ideas of peace, freedom, free enterprise, and limited constitutional government. After all, the MSM never, ever write anything about him without saying, "but of course, he has no chance of winning." They don't believe he could ever win, but his ideas could, which is why they must be hidden from public view at all costs.

It will be interesting to see how much longer it takes the internet to break up this monopolistic political conspiracy.