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Comment: Correlation != Causation (Score 5, Funny) 351

by Z34107 (#46701907) Attached to: Isolated Tribes Die Shortly After We Meet Them

Correlation is not causation. It's entirely possible that dying natives cause visiting Europeans. I'll admit I'm unsure as to the mechanism, but maybe Hernan Cortes was a misunderstood doctors-without-borders kind of guy.

It's also possible that a third confounding factor causes both dying natives and Europeans. Perhaps they both generate spontaneously from gold and oil, or perhaps from tectonic action within countries with hats.

Comment: Re:US dollar (Score 1) 192

by Z34107 (#46489981) Attached to: Recent news events re: Bitcoin ...

Why does the US dollar have value?

Same reason anything has value: supply and demand. The supply of dollars is essentially determined by the Fed, and demand is driven by its ability to buy things (think: why do you want money?). At the intersection of supply and demand, you have the "price" of a dollar, found just like the price of a bushel of corn or a neglected Beanie Baby.

So, how does a Bitcoin come to bear the price it does? Supply and demand again--except supply is controlled by an algorithm instead of the Fed, and demand is driven mostly by speculation and its utility in sending money without having it all stolen by PayPal. Increasingly, you can also buy things with it.

Comment: Re:Anonymous cryptocurrency, who to trust? (Score 4, Insightful) 228

by Z34107 (#46443921) Attached to: Hackers Allege Mt. Gox Still Controls "Stolen" Bitcoins

who can you possibly trust with something that can be so easily disappeared

No one, which is why you don't. There's no reason to keep your bitcoins in an "online wallet," or maintain a balance in an exchange, just like there's no reason to keep your life savings in PayPal.

Comment: Re:Economics (Score 2) 437

by Z34107 (#46031777) Attached to: You Might Rent Features & Options On Cars In the Future

Well, that's what makes it interesting. Nobody objects to selling a high-end model for a high price, and a low-end model for a low price. Under highly idealized circumstances, feature-keying would let us sell both models for less due to savings in manufacturing and supply chain complexity. Isn't that cost reduction a healthy sign, even if both cars are the same underneath and we've converted tangible, physical differences into pure price discrimination?

But, like you said, feature-keying implies it's still profitable to sell the high-end model at low-end prices, since the high-end model is the low-end model now. And, as you also said, we'd expect the price of the high-end model to fall if the auto industry is the least bit competitive.

However, if it now costs the same to manufacture the high- and low-end models, why manufacture the low-end model at all? Now, we've lost consumer choice: Before, if you were price sensitive, you could pick a lower-end model to save money. Now, there is no lower-end option, even if the higher-end is no longer as expensive as it once was. Sounds unhealthy, doesn't it?

To wit, the only company that made this work was IBM, and they definitely weren't charging market prices for hardware.

Comment: Economics (Score 2) 437

by Z34107 (#46030837) Attached to: You Might Rent Features & Options On Cars In the Future

This could, in theory, work out if producing a single model with all the features saves money over manufacturing every permutation of radio/seats/trim/etc. The high-end would cost less, while still allowing more spartan options for those who want to save money.

In practice, I suspect it's a way to jack up the cost of new vehicles and turn every "sale" into a rental. Not sure if this will help or hurt dealerships--if all the options are already in the car, how will the middlemen get their cut of the value-adds?

Comment: Re:rant from a gun nut (Score 1) 283

by Z34107 (#45769207) Attached to: Mikhail Kalashnikov: Inventor of AK-47 Dies At 94

So, ARs are universally "cheap." Their ownership needs to be "justified." They're "SHIT unless you need to kill people," which naturally makes them a terrible choice for "self defence." You either don't know what "semi-automatic" means, or you're appallingly ignorant of gun regulations.

What made you think you're "part of the gun crowd," or even qualified to have an opinion? If you actually do own a firearm, you should be ashamed of not knowing the laws you're supposed to be following.

Live within your income, even if you have to borrow to do so. -- Josh Billings