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Comment Exchanges Can Buffer You From Fluctuations (Score 1) 240

There are exchanges that automatically eat fluctuations in Bitcoin value, so they adjust your account so you don't lose anything. The downside is that you don't gain anything on an upturn, either. I recommend YiD MOX (Yugioh: Duel Monsters Online Exchange) but in case the feds raid them or something you might want to hedge your bets with TNAP SOX (Totally Not A Pyramid Scheme Online Exchange) just to be safe.

Comment Re:And PI == 3 (Score 2) 158

For a reasonable amount of other-people's-money, they could execute a 51% attack. Or, flood the network with transactions so that the transaction time becomes impractically long, effectively DDOSing it. Or, imprison the core developers (for tax evasion or whatever) with a strong warning that anyone working on such a system will get the same. Or, forbid converting Euros or other currency to bitcoins, and punish any person/business that does so or uses a 3rd party to do so. Or, instruct all ISPs to block the ports the protocol uses, or the protocol itself, or any IP that runs a bitcoin server.

Comment Re:Okay, let's play Devil's Advocate (Score 1) 158

Just like the annual dollar cost of such-and-such can be estimated, such a thing could be expressed in lives per year lost due to X. However, lives lost due to encryption is indirect, as encryption doesn't directly kill people. I'd say that informants being exposed due to inadequate encryption kills more people than successful encryption leading to successful execution of deadly plots; so arguably, we need more and better encryption rather than less, if we want to minimize deaths.

Perhaps someday software will be security-hole-free, and encryption will actually be bulletproof and easy for laymen to use. Even assuming this, are there plots that could ONLY be uncovered by breaking the encryption? Are there people who are so above reproach that they would never be suspected by anyone unless their encrypted communications were intercepted? Someone who is a suspect can be tailed, staked out, have their residences searched etc.
Hypothetically, someone who manages to evade suspicion could use encryption to avoid raising suspicion; however, the flipside of this is that becoming suspicious of someone via unencrypted data is only possible if there is already a data dragnet in place. Thus, a prohibition on encryption is most desired by the same people who want a data dragnet. The real question is, how many lives are saved by these dragnets? It reaches an equilibrium with an arms race between the hiders and the seekers. The only ones hiding who can only be found this way don't communicate enough to tip off informants, so they're either a tiny group (and thus not sending much data to one another), minimizing communication (and thus not sending much data to one another) or an individual (and thus not sending any data). These small groups are basically lone wolves or unconnected sympathizers, and can only do so much damage in isolated incidents. Assuming encryption is forbidden, let's say they avoid suspicion by sending steganographic unencrypted messages, so the analysis would need to understand the hidden message; good luck forbidding steganography, so it'd have to be analyzed. Let's say that some deep learning system can perfectly do so, though.

I don't know about you, but I don't think throwing away a society's privacy is worth being able to stop small isolated incidents.

Comment Re:Captital Controls. (Score 2) 158

Nonsense. Capital flight is trivial to a rich person, via countless methods: wire transfer, more obscure forms of electronic bank transfers, bearer bonds, stocks, hundreds of obscure financial instruments even the expert regulators have never heard of and won't for decades, precious metals, antiques and artwork, investing in a foreign business that you control, and on and on... Of course, each of those options has countless permutations which are unlikely to be broadly prohibited. Freezing bank accounts can work but that's about it.

Comment Wow (Score 1, Interesting) 229

What a great achievement for the Obama administration. Hopefully we won't piss it away with the coming wave of rising Islamophobia. I could imagine some politicians *cough*Trump*cough* reinstating the sanctions with the justification that their theocratic regime is inherently evil.
On the other hand, the handling of the Iranian protests after the sketchy election isn't doing them any favors in that regard.
The real question is, did the strikes against nuclear scientists, and sabotage of centrifuge SCADAs help contribute to this deal.

Comment Re:Oxford no longer uses the Oxford comma (Score 1) 311

To my mother, Ayn Rand and God.

This can then be interpreted as saying that Ayn Rand and God are the author's figurative mother.
If the line were "To my parents, Ayn Rand and God." it could imply immaculate conception.
One could leave familial relationships until the end of the sentence, however.

Comment It's a Data Budget (Score 4, Informative) 81

Reading the article (gasp!) didn't elucidate things much beyond the summary, although it mentions infectious disease spreading as a possible application while maintaining privacy for unrelated health issues.

In essence the idea is to use artificial scarcity via technological means to create a 'bit budget', where those who access a database of personal info are only allowed a certain amount of flags to search for; this encourages more efficient searching and thus less retrieval of extraneous data. This could be used so that private entities could try to find suitable targets for medical research or advertising, while revealing as little info about as few people as possible; and it might work in that situation. However, there are two big problems with this idea:

1) It assumes the data is only accessible through this one database and can't be accessed in another, more privacy-invading way. If any analysts even suspect that the full dataset will be more useful, then they will use the full dataset if they can and this scheme will be useless. "More data better" seems to be the motto of Big Data despite the well-known haystack problem.

2) Governments are always saying that barriers need to be broken down for their investigators, that they need more/new powers, so there's no way they'll stick to their bit budget. They're gonna ask for more, enough that they have effectively full access to the full dataset, and that's in the unlikely event that they're somehow limited to this access scheme. They're one private 'request', subpoena, or NSL away from full access, anyhow, and political pressure or tax/import/regulatory pressure would make most for-profit entities like Facebook cave in. If this database were maintained by some international nonprofit then it might stand a chance of resisting this.

Comment Who's On Our Side? (Score 3, Interesting) 78

Step 1: Privately encourage companies to utilize 'govt. compliant' encryption routines 'for security purposes', implied to be tied to govt. contracts.
Step 2: Hire everyone you can who has the education needed to understand said cryptographic schemes. No amount of money is too high.
Step 3: Enjoy the brain drain. Every person who works for you is a person who doesn't work for those you want to surveil (i.e. everyone else).
Step 4: Watch public and private sector security researchers be overwhelmed by the sheer number of ways and places to be compromised, and realize you don't have to backdoor everything your targets use, merely ONE of the things they use. Of course, very few researchers who can understand the cryptography involved, aren't on your payroll.

TL;DR: the attackers outnumber the defenders so overwhelmingly that the latter can't keep up with the former.

Comment Coinage Winddown Program (Score 1) 702

Our currency only has fiat value, so replacing the coins with base(r) metals is sensible. A program can be enacted by the govt. to buy up all of the existing coinage. Even poor immigrants don't care about pennies, so they should be eliminated. Nickels aren't in much better shape. Dimes are the smallest unit people care about, yet only slightly given how often I find them lying around unmolested. Quarters are the only way to pay in certain coin-op machines (e.g. laundromat washing machines), so they have value there.

Therefore, we should retain the quarter for legacy machine purposes, and make new $1 coins in addition. Two coin denominations, that's it, keeps it simple. Round the retail sales values down to the nearest quarter dollar; merchants have enough overhead with credit/debit card transaction fees that 12 cents average isn't that bad. The big question is what size the new coin should be, larger than the quarter makes sense yet it should be trivially distinguishable from the quarter's size, while not being so large as to be bulky in the pocket.

In practice, I know what will happen: absolutely nothing. The govt. wants to make cash increasingly difficult to use to encourage usage of more-traceable forms of payment. They won't outright ban the $50 and $100 bills, but will pretend to ignore the problem instead. When people don't pay with cash, inflation is easier to obscure, as well.

Comment Re:Frequencies (Score 1) 311

Those are examples of ad-hominem attacks, however the poll is about logical fallacies. In order for ad-hominem to be a logical fallacy it has to be used in a logical statement e.g. "Because person A is a fool, his ideas should be ignored." Someone can state that person A is a fool without that being a fallacy. I'll grant you that the attack form of ad-hominem is much more common than the fallacy version, however. The listener may interpret an attack as having an implied fallacious conclusion but then it's arguably the listener creating the fallacy; if taken at face value, the attack isn't necessarily fallacious. Probably a pedantic distinction in most scenarios.

Comment Frequencies (Score 2) 311

Ad hominem isn't used in earnest as often as the others mentioned, since most people aren't wholly convinced by it per se. One non-fallacious usage of ad hominem is to point out a potential conflict of interest. It can be convincing if used in a "he's a dirty [outgroup membership here]" way, to certain people.

Appeal to authority is used an average amount, often in quotation wars, but frequently devolves into an argument of which authority is more authoritative. Likely to lead to ad hominems against the authorities.

Appeals to emotion are probably the second-most-used fallacies on the Internet, due to the wide variety of emotions to appeal to and ways to appeal to them, some of which people can't even name ("think of the children!" etc.). They can be combined with nearly any other fallacy, as well.

Bandwagon isn't intentionally employed that often, since most people learn it's fallacious by adulthood. In any isolated groupthink environment it's likely to be implicitly in effect, perhaps with a "side with your friends rather than the outsider" angle.

Correlation vs. causation is only really in play when discussing statistical studies which don't involve controlled experiments; studies and even experiments are generally accompanied by appeals to authority ("ivy-league scientists say...") and bandwagon ("scientific consensus says...").

Slippery slope is likely the rarest, since it doesn't apply to historical discussions (if society slipped down the slope or not is a matter of fact) or binary decisions with no arbitrary cutoff. There has to be a slope to slip down, and many issues don't have one that would make sense.

I'm pegging Strawman arguments as the most common Internet fallacy (listed), by quite a bit, due to how easy it is to employ completely accidentally, even if one is wary of strawman arguments and tries to avoid them. Merely by failing to properly understand a position, one is likely to make a strawman argument in an attempt to clarify the issue under discussion. Trying to take a devil's advocate position for something you disagree with, without employing a strawman argument for it, is HARD. It's so easy to try to boil down the opposition to save time and mental energy, even if it loses the crux of their arguments, that one is likely to do so.
Perhaps, making my case for this, I'm strawmanning the other fallacies; even if true, wouldn't this prove my point? :P

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