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Comment: Re:Obsession with robots (Score 2) 138 138

Some discoveries. Very slowly. With very limited flexibility and substantially reduced spinoff benefits.

And at a trivial fraction of the price-tag. If the Mars-mission roboticists had the same budget as it'd take for a good manned mission, things might look very different.

Comment: Re:Muon detector (Score 1) 388 388

Are there actually real plans and proposals for a system that could detect nuclear reactors operating with a network of neutrino detectors, and what that would entail? If so, can you link me to any of them? The physics is a little formidable, the things have notoriously weak interactions and there's a ~70 billion particles/cm^2/sec flux from the Sun to contend with.

Also, $10 billion for intel on Iran's reactors is a little expensive when you can probably just drop $10 million or so on the likes of Stuxnet and old-school espionage instead. (Of course, you don't get any scientific neutrino-astronomy observations out of that sum.)

Comment: Re:What an opportunity! (Score 2) 358 358

The historical evidence shows that Austerity causes demand contraction and often demand spiral, it has never in global history solved a budget crisis.

Austerity does cause demand contraction, but Greece is going to have to deal with it one way or another: there's no resources available for everyone to retire on a nice fat pension at age 55 anymore. It doesn't matter whether that comes out as a cut in euro-denominated pensions, or if that happens when people get drachma-denominated pensions: Greeks reliant on government funds must rely on less, because they're spending more than they take in, and it's pretty clear that lending money to Greece is less like lending and more like donating.

Now put a truckload of economic disruption on top of that mess.

The real way out for Greece was always securing a modicum of debt forgiveness and debt forbearance, plus enacting some economic reforms. The Greek economy is well-known as a sclerotic, over-regulated disaster area where you need to bribe corrupt bureaucrats to do anything and small-time rent-seeking plutocrats effectively own not just businesses but the right to operate important sectors of the economy. And the reforms were even going okay for a short while - real economic growth! - but the economic reforms proved unpopular with the leftists, and so this is what we get instead.

Glad it's not my country going through this.

Comment: Re:What an opportunity! (Score 1, Insightful) 358 358

To replace one deflationary currency they can't print (Euro) for another (Bitcoin). No my dear friend. It's fiat currency they need right now.

It's a completely arbitrary distinction in many ways. Forget the money: the problem is about stuff (goods, services, etc). The Greek government has been borrowing so that its people can have more stuff, and at this point It's not even about paying what they've borrowed so far, there's a substantial ongoing deficit that they need to deal with. As such, the people are poorer than they thought, and they're going to have to cope with it somehow. They can do that by accepting the poverty and choosing austerity: cutting benefits, raising taxes. Or they can respond to that with reforms in the labor market and other markets (working harder/smarter).

All you get by replacing the currency and then paying people in the new currency that's worth less is austerity by stealth, with a side of chaos and disruption. Which is what the leftists in charge of Greece will pick, since they ideologically reject the reforms and can blame evil outside influences for the chaos and disruption.

Comment: Re: You think Greeks want MORE electronic money? (Score 5, Interesting) 358 358

Gold fluctuates pretty wildly with mass hysteria, compete with massive deflation and inflation. Much like bitcoin. Prior to the 20th century, when communication wasn't quite so instant and pervasive, gold did a pretty good job because it was rare for *everyone* to panic more or be more confident all at once.

Eh. Don't oversell the old gold standard. For starters, a gold standard was typically a steady and persistent malaise of deflation, as economic output increased more steadily than the money supply. Second, this was punctuated by Fun Fun Fun bouts of inflation when something like a gold rush happened or someone colonizing the new world discovered new mines overseas. Third, the metallic standards' troubles were amplified when regimes inevitably tried to do something stupid like have currency in both gold and silver with the price ratio fixed, invariably leading to a straightforward application of Gresham's law where the overvalued money drove out the good (sometimes merely hoarding the good money, other times trading it out of the country for a better deal).

Comment: Re: You think Greeks want MORE electronic money? (Score 2) 358 358

But if you have just a few ounces of gold, how would you spend it? Shave it to buy a loaf of bread?

You take it to a dealer and they "make change" buy turning it back into normal-person money. There are well-known gold coins out there of regulated weight and purity. For instance, the US mint has issued 1oz gold eagle and buffalo coins. They're in the neighborhood of ~$1300 and $1100 each right now, respectively. You can look up the price up on the Internet ahead of time and not get scammed by the dealer like you would with jewelry.

Comment: Re:Stability (Score 1) 358 358

Something doesn't make sense.

The Euro is the go-to safe haven currency.

The problem is that any Euros stored in a bank are liable to be seized and replaced with drachmas (greece leaves the euro, "grexit"), or possibly legislatively forbidden to leave the nation ("capital controls" - likely to lead to grexit). As you can imagine, these threats has led to lots of people withdrawing real Euros while they still can, depleting Greek banks of deposits, requiring emergency bailout/loans from the IMF and ECB. Now that line of credit has been maxed, they're not being offered any more, so as of last weekend or so the banks are closed and won't let anyone withdraw money.

So one pitch for bitcoin here is that it's more stable than a euro contained in a Greek bank. Of course, that's not going to do you much good if you can't get the euros out of the bank to buy the bitcoins. I guess the other is that it could help you either circumvent (legally) or violate (illegally) any future capital controls (good old-fashioned black-market currency dealing, also popular in China sometimes). We'll see about that.

Comment: Re:You think Greeks want MORE electronic money? (Score 1) 358 358

Yes, you can. It's called derivatives. Sell silver you don't have, buy gold that nobody has, eat your heart out. They can send the price pretty much anywhere they like.

Poppycock. Even the legendary Jay Gould found that he couldn't corner the gold market.

Comment: Re:You think Greeks want MORE electronic money? (Score 4, Interesting) 358 358

Because the value of gold and silver is somehow less arbitrary than electronic bank balances.

Depends on who's running the bank, doesn't it? The value of gold and silver fluctuate with supply and demand worldwide. They have industrial and decorative uses and a widespread base of people willing to own them. In the absence of large-scale deep-space asteroid mining technology flooding the market with excess supplies, they're going to remain fairly valuable.

A well-run bank can do much better (the value of its currency remaining approximately constant over time) but once you start instituting capital controls and swapping out the nice currency for shitty drachmas then it's another matter.

Comment: Re:I'm surprised this made the front page (Score 1) 233 233

Citizens United is a very popular decision here on slashdot (even though the vast overwhelming majority of slashdot readers will never be helped by it).

Incumbents of any party in any political office hold massive advantages in winning re-election. Very few Americans think that this is a good thing, let alone say that the incumbent advantage should be strengthened.

The real question is why so many people wish to confer additional advantages upon incumbents by neutralizing their political opponents. You'd think that one would have to be some sort of Congressman to support the various campaign-financing measures that come through (*cough* McCain *cough* Feingold *cough cough*).

Comment: Re:Love the idea (Score 1) 163 163

The solution to this problem, if we could institute it, would be to fine the living fuck out of anyone buying rhino horn that they believe to be real... and vaporizing poachers

Good idea, sir. We'll be sure to get the World Police right onto that, right after we consolidate our New World Order by quashing the outbreak of ungoodthink in Eurasia. As for vaporizing the poachers themselves... What do you think of drones with M-388 rounds? Make a real pretty little crater.

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351

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