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Comment: It makes sense to me (Score 1) 404

by Z8 (#46898741) Attached to: Rand Paul Suggests Backing Bitcoin With Stocks

Can someone explain how this isn't silly? He wants it backed by intrinsic value, which I think may be missing the point of Bitcoin, and his example of the perfect thing with intrinsic value is "stocks"?

Stocks do have intrinsic value because owning a stock is equivalent to owning a company, and all the company owns (factories, farmland, guns, whatever). Bitcoin, on the other hand, has no intrinsic value.

Partly because of this, stocks are also much less volatile than bitcoin and are better at being a store of value. For instance, compare this recent bitcoin chart with this S&P500 chart over the same period. As you can see, the difference between the min and max stock is about 4%, while bitcoin is about 40%. That's 10x worse.

Is there a way of transferring stock (for instance an S&P500 ETF) as easily as bitcoins can be transferred? I don't know, but it would be very cool, and definitely much better than Bitcoin. So anyway, his idea is probably unworkable, but it's not silly or ridiculous IMHO.

Comment: Owning a stock means you own part of a company (Score 1) 404

by Z8 (#46898667) Attached to: Rand Paul Suggests Backing Bitcoin With Stocks

Stocks have no more intrinsic value than our paper currency.

A stock means that you own part of a company. The company itself may own land, computers, factories, etc. (It could even own guns and gold! yeehaw!) Those have intrinsic value, so the stock does also.

This is why stocks are recommended for people concerned about inflation. A fall in the value of paper money typically does not affect stocks as much as most other instruments.

Comment: Re:Holmes (Score 2) 206

by Z8 (#46120851) Attached to: It's Not Memory Loss - Older Minds May Just Be Fuller of Information
Below is the Sherlock Holmes quote for people that don't know what OP is referencing. My personal favorite quote of his.

I consider that a man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.

Comment: We can learn a lot from NK about ski park design (Score 4, Funny) 101

by Z8 (#46017575) Attached to: US Geneticist Discusses North Korea Trip With Dennis Rodman
From TFA:

I then kept moving in the tube and five other Korean men also were knocked to the ground in their effort to stop my tube from going off a 100 foot cliff that was located at the bottom of the bunny slope.

Let me guess, the water park slides all end in shark tanks?

Comment: Re:golden age of SF/Fantasy paperback is so over (Score 1) 83

by Z8 (#43865847) Attached to: Writer Jack Vance Dead At 96

When the price of paperbacks went over $5 in the early 1990s, rising at more than double the rate of inflation, it seemed like sheer greed to me.

Not saying your wrong, but it seems funny to me that $5-$10 for a full novel would seem greedy. I guess I'm just on the other side of the scale. I'm always amazed at some level when I read a good novel—it feels like I should have had to have paid $1000 for the experience because of the hundreds of hours of talented work that went into it.

Comment: Know stuff AND be a good manager (Score 1) 161

by Z8 (#43755603) Attached to: How To Talk Like a CIO

Untrue. Let us take a car example. I as CEO want to move our product from place A to place B. I also want to move myself from place A to place B.

You're picking a case where you're assuming that transport is independent of everything else. If everything were like that then, sure, managers wouldn't have to know anything, and MBAs might actually make the best executives.

In many real cases, parts of the business are all connected and there aren't necessarily dividing lines. For instance, if you're having labor trouble, perhaps a fleet of trucks will be more vulnerable to strikes than rail. But perhaps your product will spend more time sitting in a hot car with real, which could be an issue if it's heat sensitive.

These are just example to fit in with your car analogy and may not be plausible. But in real life there are often cases where there aren't clean interfaces between problems, and a CEO who knows the details can ask better questions and better anticipate problems.

And that is often the problem: People who think they know something about the technology will ask for the wrong things and then are surprised they get the wrong answers.

Maybe you are right about the psychology in some cases, but there seems to be a simple response to this. The ideal is to know (not just think you know) the techology AND ask the right questions.

Very few CEOs get this. Very few are able to let go and just trust the people in their team to be qualified in their field.

Trust should be rational. If you have no idea what your people are doing it'll be harder to trust them.

Comment: Re:Why not have a petition for something USEFUL? (Score 1) 205

by Z8 (#42584407) Attached to: Nuclear Rocket Petition On White House Website

There is basically no inefficient way to generate heat. It's just energy. One hundred 10 watt speakers are the same as ten 100 watt lightbulbs are the same as 1 kilowatt heater. The only way you lose energy is if it leaves your home. This is basic stuff.

But there are inefficient ways of heating your home with electricity. Excess heat from lighting has a coefficient of performance (COP) of only 1, compared to 2-3 for many practical alternatives.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heat_pump

Comment: Re:Bad Statistics (Score 1) 361

by Z8 (#41365853) Attached to: Why America's School "Lag" Has Never Mattered

Sorry to reply to myself, but this CDC report says that the main reason the US does poorly is that it has a larger proportion of preterm births.

Why does the US have more preterm births? This article mentions a few factors: a greater percentage of mothers may be teenagers or older than 35, mothers may have worse preventative health care, and/or mothers have higher risk factors like diabetes and obesity.

So anyway it seems like a complex situation; I'm sure there's plenty in here anyone can cherrypick to support their political views.

Comment: Re:Bad Statistics (Score 1) 361

by Z8 (#41365751) Attached to: Why America's School "Lag" Has Never Mattered

The normal quoted newborn survival statistics are in fact from the CIA world fact book [cia.gov], which is quoted as "the number of deaths of infants under one year old in a given year per 1,000 live births in the same year", thus not really warped at all.

All statistics are warped in some way. The issue isn't whether the baby is 100 days old as GP said, but what counts as a "live birth". This page has some discussion of the complexities. Apparently some, but not most, of the US's poor record is due to these issues.

Comment: Re:Except (Score 1) 85

by Z8 (#40702905) Attached to: Small, Big-Brained Animals Dodge Extinction

As other people have pointed out, this isn't necessarily a good measure. If two animals have the same brain size and one is smaller, it doesn't mean the smaller one is smarter.

A better measure may just be the number of neurons in the cerebral cortex. See this list for example. Humans come out on top by this definition, even though whales have much bigger brains.

Comment: Re:Functional languages - whats the point? (Score 1) 93

by Z8 (#40360411) Attached to: Erlang and OpenFlow Together At Last
This seems to conflate dynamic vs static typing and functional vs procedural. The problem you discuss comes up in procedural languages all the time:

if (TEST) return bar(); else return baz();

That's more a "problem" with dynamic typing. Statically typed functional languages like Haskell or the ML family use type inferencing systems to detect these types of problems at compile-time. There's been a lot of progress made on type systems since C/C++ were developed. As the previous poster mentioned, Haskell has a particularly nice type system that can catch at compile-time issues that would generate run-time errors in C-like languages.

Comment: Re:Just read proposed legislation (Score 1) 115

by Z8 (#39796655) Attached to: Hacking the Law

Wow, thanks for the thoughtful and constructive post that is a refreshing change from the kneejerk cynicism/fatalism that is the usual Slashdot groupthink.

I once was on a plane and sat next to a state legislator. I brought up the concept of gerrymandering electoral districts, and argued that it's unfair to moderate voters and creates a less responsive, more divisive political culture. I think he honestly hadn't thought much about these issues before and I hopefully influenced his opinion a bit. Also it's not hopeless—quite a few states have moved to a fairer process recently.

But anyway, if I can be the typical Slashdot cynic for a moment, how do we know that the politicians actually pay attention to these letters or conversations? Do you have any specific stories or evidence which let you to believe you made a difference?

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