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Comment Economic theory is sound, speculation isn't (Score 1) 352

There's a massive bulk of economic theory that explains the applied math of running a business. Can you figure out if $1000 now is more or less than $1100 five years from now given an inflation rate of 2%? The relations between price, quantity, marginal costs and profit are also quite sound. The thing is though, all this information is allegedly available and equal for all, so if everyone agreed to the same model there'd be no profit to be made. Sure, the future would be unknown but it would be like a lottery ticket being scratched, everybody knows at all times the exact value of all the possible outcomes so everybody prices in the same expected value of the future. If you can find a way to make arbitrage, you've found a flaw in the way the market works. For example if you discovered you could make money selling products in one currency and buying them in another, or transporting goods from one market to sell in another for more than the transport and insurance costs.

Speculation is all about betting on these flaws, but sometimes the market has priced in risks you haven't imagined. Or there are forces that only become dominant at a certain size. In this particular case it was more like you create a theory of chemistry and when the market goes to an extreme you have nuclear fusion instead. That doesn't make chemistry wrong, but at certain times it's irrelevant and you can't rely on it to always produce correct answers. Oh and just to put a nail in that coffin, no scientific theory is proven to be universally valid since there's still the future and it hasn't happened yet. There's no absolute guarantee gravity will work the same five minutes from now, if it suddenly starts behaving different it just will. In that case reality will be right and the formula wrong, no matter how correct and comprehensive it might have looked.

Comment Re:Hipsters fight over limited supplies of juice (Score 1) 522

ITYM "10 minutes out of your week." vs. 10 minutes out of each day finding a spot with charging near where "you're stopped for another reason anyway," getting the cable out, plugging, unplugging and stowing the cable. If that's an advantage, it's one for gasoline powered vehicles.

Most people - though I can't make any guarantees about the people in the article - will choose a car with at least twice the range of their commute distance, so plugging it in at home will do. If you need to get a charge at work or some other charger every day, you're pushing the limits of good sense. My guess is that there's two kinds of people charging, those who just use it as free electricity instead of plugging in at home and those who could really use it because they have been/will be driving far and needs the charge. And they're a bit pissed when all the spaces are occupied by people just saving a few bucks or just top up every day because they come early. Just because it's "green" you still have well-pissers who don't care how their use of a common resource negatively affects others.

Comment Re:Very Probably Wrong (Score 1) 262

There is an exponential amount of scientific research, but there's a diminishing gain. Over the last 40 years we've expanded average life span here in Norway with less than a decade and the trend is slowing. Healthcare is exploding with new and advanced treatments that is extracting the last bits of life at an exponential complexity and cost. The Concorde is still the world's fastest passenger jet and it's not because people don't value time anymore. Every 10 mph you want to increase road speeds with puts increasing demands on roads, cars, drivers and resource efficiency. Building a ten story building is not twice as hard as a five story building, it's harder.

Computers have so far dodged most of the physical limitations, but we know the sky is not the limit. Process technology can't get arbitrarily small, it can't run arbitrarily fast, batteries can't get arbitrarily powerful and the faster you want to go the more power, frequency spectrum and other resources you'll need. In 30 years I've seen a ~6 order of magnitude improvement in RAM, from 64 kB to 64 GB. I really doubt that in 30 years we'll have 64 PB and even if we did, the number of things you can't do in 64 kB is much larger than the things you can't do in 64 GB. Most of the electronic revolution is behind us, not ahead of us. But of course, we can always come up with more new things. That we'll always find major advances and not just hit a wall of marginal improvements is optimistic though.

Comment Re:Scammers (Score 1) 272

And you think either will survive the hoarding and looting during the early collapse? Anywhere that lots of people know about is going to be hit with well armed and/or desperate masses. The only way a modern city survives is through massive imports of food from the countryside, cut the supplies and the electricity so there's no refridgerators or freezers and mass starvation starts in less than a week as food is eaten and spoiled and not being replaced by anything. Even if you can survive the worst of it by stashing away some supplies, it's still not a sustainable place to be. I'd probably go with a rural farm at the end of the road, prep for 19th century-style living off the land. Nothing big or fancy, just far enough off the radar that you won't get hordes from the city - who'll soon run out of gas and be stuck where they are and not worth the trouble for the few stragglers that come by. With maybe a bugout bunker up in the hills with supplies if you meet heavier resistance than you can handle, a roving band needs to keep roving to sustain itself so they'll be on their way soon.

Comment Yeah, CloudFlare is a specialist of censorship (Score 0, Troll) 123

CloudFlare stands in the way between you, and more and more of the internet, and they don't like TOR: try to browse with TOR, and many, many sites suddenly become "protected" by unsolvable captchas that get served every 3 pages - practically making those sites unavailable.

CloudFlare is essentially passing judgment on who is allowed to access the site they front and how. So they sure don't have any lessons to give on free speech...

Comment I can't wait (Score 2) 71

to be able to watch Eastenders in Ultra HD...

To the Beeb's credit though, the Sky at Night in UHD would definitely be a lot more interesting, surely. But out of thousands of mediocre shows and movies released year after year after year, is it worth buying a new tv to marvel at a dozen really good programs? Somehow this don't seem to be a good value proposition.

Comment Not too hard (Score 1) 186

1. Detection
Pulses of prime numbers. Not natural phenomenon, same in all number systems. Simple beat with silence:

01111111111 111111111

2. Binary, you speak it
We repeat this in binary, which should be fairly easy to recognize as the previous information aligned to 8 bit = byte values.
00000010 00000011 00000101 00000111
00001011 00001101 00010001 00010011

3. Length of payload in bytes + payload
00000000 00000000 00000001 10110000 = 432
432 x ????????

4. Goto 1, rotate payload.

As for the actual payload.... You could for example send atom configuration from the periodic table.
1 - 1
2 - 2
3 - 2,1
10 - 2,8
11 - 2,8,1
18 - 2,8,8
19 - 2,8,8,1
20 - 2,8,8,2
21 - 2,8,9,2
22 - 2,8,10,2
23 - 2,8,11,2
24 - 2,8,13,1

It will be pretty obvious to any physicist this is the list of elements. Using that and a bit more you can explain the units of mass, time, distance and so on.

For math you can send a list of (input A, operator code, input B, result) and it will be obvious that this operator means addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and so on. Once you have subtraction, explain 0-1 and two's complement and you'll have negative numbers.

Then you can start making advanced concepts like C+O+O = CO2 and describe properties of that gas. I really don't think it's going to become a problem bootstrapping communication, if we could just find someone to communicate with.

Comment Re:A remarkable number of people are idiots (Score 4, Interesting) 364

Anyhow, if we were to reinstate some sort of poll test, it may not be used to disenfranchise according to racial lines, but you can be sure that whoever is in power will find a way to stop others from voting or to make their vote count less. It's probably impossible to design a system that couldn't be manipulated once you start disenfranchising people. Who gets to define the relevant "knowledge"? How do we measure " intelligence"?

And you must realize that political parties immediately get incentive to do this if the voters most likely to be excluded lean a particular way politically. Say party A is strong with the low income families and party B is more of a middle class party and that statistically if you make the test harder more low income families will drop out because they're already working their ass off making ends meet. Now one party has obvious incentive to set the bar higher, the other to set the bar lower. Here in Norway there's a campaign to lower the voting age from 18 to 16, you can compare the youth vote scores with the parties supporting it and it's obvious why. Voters who've mostly never had a real job, never paid taxes and never had to balance a budget because they live at home with mom and dad with an allowance tend to vote quite differently than people who've had to support themselves.

Comment Re:No free education for illegal aliens? (Score 1) 191

Citizenship has little to do with it since Plyler v. Doe, and I would imagine that ones legality in the country would not come into play with regards to qualifying for such a program while serving a sentence in prison... however the illegal alien may find themselves deported along with their degree after completion, while the citizen would be forced to go look for work with their degree and a local criminal record.

Comment Re: Good for them (Score 2) 191

You beat me to it.

Apparently the OP either works for a small company that honestly doesn't care, or didn't read everything they were signing/agreeing to when accepting the job.

Fun fact: These background checks often aren't just a check to see IF you've been convicted of criminal wrongdoing, but to make sure you own up to them.

I knew a guy who was offered a job at a rather large SW house, underwent the background check and because he failed to pre-emptily disclose a thing or to they found (nothing overly serious IIRC) they pulled the offer. Had the acknowledged the previous convictions up front there would not have been a problem.

The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.