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Comment: Re:WHICH government did it? (Score 1) 404 404

We'd figure it out, close enough for government work. It's still a deterrent.

I'm not saying ISIS can't get a nuke. I'm saying that they can't use one without we knowing where it came from, and so it would be a really good idea for nuclear countries not to provide them with one.

Comment: Re:The consequences (Score 1) 1233 1233

Insanity is sometimes defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Greece has been going downhill steadily, and the austerity measures are really hurting the economy. On this course, they get their economy trashed more, and more debt to repay. The Greek voters saw no future for themselves in this scenario.

Instead, they voted to try something else. I don't know that they know what that "something else" will be, but they think it's at least not likely to be worse for Greece than what's going on right now.

The Greek economy is already trashed, and will not recover for a long time. What's going to be worse for Greece than this?

Comment: Re:Good (Score 1) 1233 1233

The reparations demanded after WWI were, while high, generally manageable, and the hyperinflation was a result of German actions. In fact, Germany came out of WWI in better shape than France did, even counting the reparations. (BTW, the Versailles treaty said Germany and its allies bore financial responsibility for the war, and German ally Austria-Hungary did start the war.)

The conditions imposed had the result of trashing the Greek economy by themselves, which was hardly useful.

Comment: Re:Good (Score 1) 1233 1233

Now, suppose that your neighbor put conditions on the loan that hindered your ability to get a decent job. The austerity measures imposed have crippled the Greek economy, destroying much of its potential ability to pay back loans. The situation cannot be adequately explained by a simple analogy, because it's complicated.

Comment: Re:How much electricity was used last month to min (Score 1) 177 177

Let's look at a real-world application: I want to pay a certain amount of money to somebody else. With Bitcoin, there has to be expensive computation to transfer them. With a credit card charge, or bank transfer, there may be very little computation. The idea of Bitcoin mining is not fundamentally to produce Bitcoin, but to encourage people to verify transactions.

Comment: Re:Shocked (Score 1) 177 177

Given real money, I don't have to trust where it came from. I have to trust that other people will want it, and normally other people will. It doesn't really matter whether I have money in my bank, or paper money in my pocket, or coins made of certain metals, as long as the people I deal with it will accept it for goods and services.

Comment: Re:Shocked (Score 1) 177 177

Banks can only lend out what they have, but they have more assets than were originally deposited.

Alice deposits $10K. Bob takes out a loan of $9K for a major purchase, give the money to Carol, and Carol deposits the money in the bank. That means the bank now has $19K in deposits, and can lend another $8K to Don, who pays it to Edith, who deposits it in the bank, so there's now $27K in deposits.

Even if the dollars were small gold coins, this would work, as Alice deposits 10K of the things, and 9K go out and return in the Bob-Carol deal, leaving the original 10K coins in the vaults. The bank will have a certain percentage of deposits available to pay out at any given time. With the listed activity as the only activity, Alice and Carol can't both withdraw their money at the same time, but with thousands of depositors only a few will want to withdraw their money at any given time.

Comment: Re:Shocked (Score 1) 177 177

Withdrawals are reasonably statistically predictable, and in practice this is not normally a problem, as long as everybody is confident that they can withdraw their money when they want to. Once people lose that confidence, they'll all try to withdraw their money before the bank goes bust, and so the bank runs out of money. That's called a run on the bank, and the big reason for guarantees for bank deposits (FDIC in the US, for example) is to maintain that confidence. Since I know I'll get my money back if the bank goes bust, I have no reason to withdraw more than I need just because things get shaky.

If there is no guarantee, such as the government not having enough money to issue said guarantee, things can get wild.

Comment: Computer Numerically-Controlled Machine Tools (Score 1) 373 373

Since I write software that writes software for machine tools, I have extra opportunities to break things.

There's a technology called Electrical discharge machining, which means putting stuff close together in a fluid, running current through them, and having sparks burn off little pieces of material until you've got what you want. One manufacturer makes machines that have sophisticated programming, but it's not at all safe. Once, with the support guy from the company we got these from looking over my shoulder, I made a slight mistake that caused the arm of the EDM machine to slam against the metal we were machining, for a $16K repair.

Another time, a variable contained a Z level (height) that was used for two different things, but for everything we'd done up to then the two different things shared the same value. I was the guy who made the change that made the difference significant, and so some of our CNC mills thought the metal being machined was significantly lower than it was, so the setup moves for the machining that assumed the endmill was moving through air tried slamming through the metal. Some of the results were spectacular, although I never did find the cost.

Fortunately, at least for my self-esteem, people more experienced than me were supervising each of these mistakes, so I didn't feel too stupid, and my colleagues were very understanding.

egrep patterns are full regular expressions; it uses a fast deterministic algorithm that sometimes needs exponential space. -- unix manuals