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Comment: Re: Fiat Currency (Score 2) 692

by medcalf (#43472025) Attached to: Steve Forbes: Bitcoin Not Money
The Romans used money. This was accepted not because of taxation but because the coins were precious metals of known content and weight. The Roman hyperinflation came from adulterating the precious metals with base metals, and from altering the coins' weights. Hence the use in the later empire of scales and touchstones to establish the value of the currency. People reverted to barter after the fall of the empire because the legal infrastructure that it took to maintain relatively trustworthy money standards was gone.

Forbes is right that bitcoins are not money. Neither is the US Dollar any longer money. Both are, however, currency. And both are accepted for the same fundamental reason: people believe that they are portable stores of value with predictable behavior.

Comment: Re:Haters Gonna Hate (Score 4, Informative) 915

by medcalf (#43163811) Attached to: New Pope Selected
Your bigotry is showing. I'm not Christian and even I know the Christian answer to this, which is that the old covenant of Leviticus was replaced by a new covenant from Jesus. What is especially ironic is that the Catholic Church does not have anything against homosexuals per se, so long as they are celibate. Which, by the way, is why there are so many homosexual priests, since priests must also be celibate.

Comment: Re:And Yet... (Score 1) 522

by medcalf (#43046017) Attached to: How the U.S. Sequester Will Hurt Science and Tech
Technically, it's not at the PPA level. It's a level higher, so no, it's not every program in the budget, actually. There are some that will not have that cover (because they're small), but most of the cuts allow for a lot more flexibility in how they are cut than it would at first appear. As it happens, the President is using that flexibility to make the cuts as bad as possible, rather than as easy as possible. So I'm saying that nothing bad must happen, but that doesn't mean that nothing bad will happen.

Frankly, if we can't cut the budget back to where it was in the scary dark ages of, say, 2010 without the world falling apart, then we have way bigger problems than this sequester. But in actual fact, we are not talking about cutting anything, but about slowing the rate of growth in programs. So really, it's all crap political theater.

Comment: Re:House Republicans (Score 4, Insightful) 522

by medcalf (#43045799) Attached to: How the U.S. Sequester Will Hurt Science and Tech
I know, I shouldn't feed the trolls. But I do have to note that the Republican-controlled House has been passing budgets while the Dem-controlled Senate has not, which is why we've been running on continuing resolutions (and thus running up $1T per year in new debt). I also have to note that the Republican-controlled House has pushed through at least three bills to avoid the sequester, but the Dem-controlled Senate has killed all of them. I also have to note that the President and the Dem-controlled Senate have not put forward any plan except vague notions of raising more taxes on "the rich," which is their answer to every question, apparently, including "Where shall we have lunch." Moreover, I have to note that the President has threatened to veto all of the ways the Republicans have proposed to avoid the sequester. Which I must finally note was in fact the President's idea as a lever to get the Republicans in the House to agree to tax increases, not the last time that taxes were raised, but the time before that.

I don't trust the Republicans in government further than I can comfortably spit a rat, but take off your partisan blinders for a moment and look around. The world is both weirder and more wonderful than your blinkered view will allow in.

Comment: And Yet... (Score 4, Insightful) 522

by medcalf (#43045615) Attached to: How the U.S. Sequester Will Hurt Science and Tech
There isn't a single Federal department that will not spend more money this year even with the sequester than they spent last year. The $85B in cuts from the sequester is somehow magical: the whole government — every basic function — apparently falls apart without this sliver of money (in a $3.6T overall spending plan), again noting that they will still spend more money than last year, even with the sequester. Amazing, really.

Wait! You don't think.... No! Surely politicians wouldn't play games with government services for political gain? Say it isn't so!

Comment: As a Time Warner customer (Score 1) 573

by medcalf (#43038077) Attached to: Time Warner Cable: No Consumer Demand For Gigabit Internet
I'd just like the service they do provide (a decent 20MBit) to stay up and maintain low latency. I have experienced numerous periods where service just goes away, and even more where packet loss climbs drastically or the latency goes through the roof. I don't care about gigabit speeds as much as I care about reliability. Deliver the latter and I'll think about paying for the former.

Comment: Re:What global warming? (Score 1) 337

by medcalf (#43025273) Attached to: NOAA Report: World Labor Capacity Dropping Because of Increased Temperatures
I've never actually met or read anyone who argues that climate doesn't change. In fact, that was one of the original criticisms of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming as a hypothesis: climate changes, and the current/recent climate differences do not appear to be outside of normal ranges. But, you know, nice straw man and mockery and all.

Money can't buy happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you're being miserable. -- C.B. Luce

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