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Comment: Re:Wouldn't it be rejected? (Score 4, Interesting) 76

by alexander_686 (#47751917) Attached to: Whole Organ Grown In Animal For First Time

Maybe not.

One could grow organs inside a person's body or in a tube, but there are issues about blood supply, proper growth, etc. A possible solution would be to grow human organs in animal hosts. Transgenic pigs are often cited as a possible choice. They are about the right size for many organs and their immune system should be able to be tweaked so as not to reject the foreign tissue. Of course, this approach has other technical hurdles to overcome. I am not willing to bet on what the answer will be.

Still in the realm of science fiction but we are getting closer every day.

Comment: Re:which turns transport into a monopoly... (Score 1) 276

by alexander_686 (#47715337) Attached to: Helsinki Aims To Obviate Private Cars

It is not just "fun" things. Cities are more productive than rural areas. Bigger cities are more productive than smaller cities.

It is not because the more productive people move to larger cities – that variable has been controlled. Bigger cities offer economies of scale, allows deeper areas of expertise to developed, and networking effects. And if one wants to argue that in theory the internet can overcome the need for physical proximity, hard data argues otherwise. In the past 30 years, productivity and income has risen faster in larger cities than mid-tier cities.

Comment: Re:$4.30? (Score 2) 144

by alexander_686 (#47669999) Attached to: Telegram Not Dead STOP Alive, Evolving In Japan STOP

If I had to guess it is a quasi-legal thing. People probably want some type of assurance that their message had been delivered.

I worked in a US Bank and we were still sending out telegrams in 2002. The telegram served kind of the same function as certified mail. We could confirm that the message had been received on the other end. We were conducting "urgent" business (generally business that needed a turnaround time of 1 to 3 business day) with older cliental (e-mail was not assured).

Comment: Re:It's the twenty-first century (Score 2) 165

by alexander_686 (#47666941) Attached to: Why the Public Library Beats Amazon

You got me on the date thing – I am showing my age.

On to your point, I would agree that we need librarians and archivist. However you are off point. The topic at hand is about lending libraries and the most efficient way to lend out books, music, movies, etc. Almost everything you point out is in the domain of research, archive, and other special collection libraries. These libraries tend not to lend stuff out. Does it matter if a library or a historical society holds these archives? I can't think of one.

Comment: Re:The #1 reason public libraries are better (Score 1) 165

by alexander_686 (#47666739) Attached to: Why the Public Library Beats Amazon

Then I would suggest, and I do in fact encourage, reform of the copyright laws.

Clinging to yesterday's 19th century inefficient technology with some ill-defined nostalgia for the past is probably not the best way to ensure liberty in the 20th century. As a case in point, my library immediately deletes all borrowing history the moment a book is returned or the e-book lending period expires. Not exactly on point to what you are saying, but pointing out the type of things we should be doing. That being said, even if all libraries go DRM, there is nothing stopping you from walking into a bookstore and buying a hardback with a $20 bill.

Comment: Re:selection (Score 1) 165

by alexander_686 (#47666631) Attached to: Why the Public Library Beats Amazon

Libraries do carry books for "financial reasons", in the sense that library space is a cost and libraries don't have unlimited money. They do try to get the most bang out of their buck to server their "customers". Libraries routinely cull their collections. Most libraries have book sales where they get rid of their excess inventory, making room for new books.

That being said, most libraries tend to take a long and deep view. What was trendy yesterday and obscure today is the stuff of historical research tomorrow. This is particularly true for research and archival libraries. That being said, digital storage of media is getting cheaper and better every day.

Comment: Re:The #1 reason public libraries are better (Score 0, Troll) 165

by alexander_686 (#47666373) Attached to: Why the Public Library Beats Amazon

Not exactly true and kind of misses the point.

You say not everybody can afford Kindles? The point was to close down all of the libraries, and used the money saved to buy everybody a Kindle or some other type of e-book. If e-books and libraries were equivalent than society would win. E-books and libraries are not equivalent yet, at least the book lending portion. However, my local library does allow me to check out e-books and audiobooks via the internet so we are getting close.

Taxes could be cut, libraries could be redeployed to something more useful - like coffee shops that could be used for networking. I say the last bit half in jest. If you are interested in networking, community meetings, etc. then we should figure out the best way to delivery that. Maybe generic community centers could do better? Other people have mentioned internet access and tech support. Maybe free city wide wifi would be a better choice?

I love libraries, but let's not try to justify their existence with a bunch of ad hoc ad ons in ex post facto rationalization of logic.

Comment: Re:From Finland (Score 1) 54

by alexander_686 (#47574797) Attached to: Nokia Buys a Chunk of Panasonic

No insult intended (seriously) but you were pretty much the only one who thought that.

IIRC there was a joke in the first Michael Bay's Transforms movie along those lines.

I think part of the reason is that it sounds kind of like Japanese and Finnish and Japanese are kind of in the same language group. Not saying there are kissing cousins like the romance languages, but as languages go they seem to be orphans which share a common great grandparent.

Comment: Re:Anti-monopoly behavior? (Score 1) 110

It is not about the NSA, it is about Windows XP. Windows XP (the pirated version) dominates the market. Microsoft has withdrawn support, which leaves China in a bit of a pickle. I am sure this will all go away if Microsoft would just start supporting XP again or China bought a couple of million of Windows 8 licenses.

Comment: Re:Can we just recognize it as currency and be don (Score 1) 172

by alexander_686 (#47558343) Attached to: US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

Here is an analogy. I don't consider Klingon, Esperanto, or Latin to be real, living languages. They fill all of the requirements of being a language but people can't live their daily lives using these language and they don't think in these languages. Books may be translated into these languages, but few books are written in these languages. Native speakers are rare. Latin may be an edge case.

Yes, you can do a lot of things with BitCoins. But form the posts that I see on Slashdot, these retailors are immediately converting the BitCoins to the local currency. That suggests to me that the BitCoin economy is a mile wide and an inch deep.

As for BitCoin, I am not rooting it to fail but I think it will. From a technically aspect, it has many virtues as a currency. However, anything that acts like money is money. In good times, many things can act like money but in bad times the amount of money can contract rapidly. Hence monetary policy. BitCoins lacks that flexibly. I personally feel there is going to be a crisis and the whole thing will collapse. Now, on the flip side, hard money types will tell you this inflexibility is a virtue.

Comment: Re:What about my rights? (Score 0) 172

by alexander_686 (#47554765) Attached to: US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

I too would be interested in know if there are legitimate BitCoin banks out there. I suspect not for 2 ½ reasons.

First, I don't think anybody is audacious enough to do that. At the very least it implies one has a solid back office. It also implies that one has a government issued charter (with the regulation, fees, and oversight that goes with that). If a loan goes south, how do I collect? These are not unsolvable issues. I suspect that some of the ponzi sachems out there that promised a fat return or interest rates pretended to have some type of fractional reserve going.

Second, you can break banking down into 2 parts. One is the “cash handling” aspect. I have a negative opinion on BitCoin but this it does well. The second part, the fractional banking part, is to allocate capital by transmuting short term deposits into long term loans. I have a hard time imagining anybody needing a long term loan in BitCoins. Because the price is volatile, we would need to find a business that needed a big upfront loan in BitCoins for capital and was expecting to do business in BitCoins for the future.

Which takes me to my ½ reason. BitCoin users tend to be hard money types who hate loans. While I look aghast at the amount of leverage in the current system, I do think some lending (or to be more precise, some time aspect of investment) is necessary. I personally don't think BitCoin will be a real currency until we start seeing loans being made.

Comment: Re:Can we just recognize it as currency and be don (Score 1) 172

by alexander_686 (#47553405) Attached to: US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

You need to strike the first two since they are both pegged currencies, Tuvalu to the Australian dollar and Barbados to the US dollar. That is, their value is derived from the underlying currencies.

And what makes a currency a currency is not how many people hold them or the might of the military. What really matters is I can live my daily life using that currency. Can I buy a loaf of bread or pay my rent? When I do any mental accounting, to I think in BitCoins, dollars, or cigarettes?

Comment: Re:Extra-double illegal because it's digital!!! (Score 1) 172

by alexander_686 (#47553313) Attached to: US States Edge Toward Cryptocoin Regulation

But we don't have to declare anything - it is already illegal. You can't trade in illegal goods. Period. If a good is illegal on one side of the trade, it does not matter what is on the other side. The government does not have to create a list of thing where it is. A criminal can’t say –"ha – but I used blue whales while trading cocaine – and blue whales are not on the probation list of tradable goods – ergo I can sell all the cocaine that I want".

The number of computer scientists in a room is inversely proportional to the number of bugs in their code.