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Comment: Morons should read some economic history (Score 5, Insightful) 260

by mveloso (#48663067) Attached to: Serious Economic Crisis Looms In Russia, China May Help

Actually, you really don't get it.

The financial system is fundamentally held together by one thing: trust. The US Dollar isn't the key currency because the US was the largest economy, or because we have the most weapons - although those things factor into it. The US Dollar is where it is because the US has the political will and ability to support the world financial system when things go bad, even though those actions may cause severe short-term problems in its own economy.

Do you trust China to manage your currency? Even the Chinese don't trust their government when it comes to money. Russia? The EU?

Good luck with that.

Comment: Mirror neurons? Or just neurons? (Score 1) 323

by mveloso (#48652775) Attached to: Putting Time Out In Time Out: The Science of Discipline

The article sounds pretty ridiculous, but in reality studies have shown that imagining practice is almost as good as practice.

Those "mirror neurons" sound like neurons being used to simulate actions of others. Saying that they automatically reflect actions taken by another is a stretch in humans. In monkeys, maybe it's triggering a pavlovian-style neural pathway.

I would rather not try to base a whole philosophy of something or another on animal studies. Try it on some college students first and see.

"Watching porn triggered the same neural pathways as actual sex."
"When people see violent things it's like they're doing those violent things in their mind."

I think a more accurate statement which is consistent with humanity is:

"Kids model their behavior on what they see adults doing." That isn't the same as "mirror neurons" by far.

Comment: Penalties for unauthorized release? None. (Score 2) 209

by mveloso (#48566107) Attached to: Feds Plan For 35 Agencies To Collect, Share, Use Health Records of Americans

Great, my data is protected by federal laws.

So what happens when there's an "unauthorized release" of your data by a federal agency?

Nothing!

That's why the laws on "unauthorized release" are bogus when you're talking about the government. No penalty = no enforcement = no care.

The TLA agencies care about your data when they need to ensure your cooperation with an ongoing investigation.

Comment: Wrong conclusion: not "unintended consequences" (Score 5, Informative) 118

by mveloso (#48545119) Attached to: How One Man Changed the Ecology of the Great Lakes With Salmon

This is totally not a story about unintended consequences. If you read all three parts (which is a great read), you'll see that the cycle went like this:

Native fish taken out by alweifes
Alewifes taken out by Salmon
Salmon taken out by too few alewives (overfeeding)
Native species recover, because of no alewifes

The original guy did exactly what he set out to do: destroy alewives with salmon and build a fishing economy. That was pretty successful. After that population crashed they eventually discovered that the original fish came back, due to the lack of alewives.

The unintended consequences in this case are positive - marine biologists were able to learn something totally unexpected by doing experiments on a large scale.

The original goal was never to get the native species back; it was to make the lakes back into a commercial fishery. Is the state today "better" because the native species are back? Who knows. Just because things are status quo ante doesn't mean it's better. That population is just as vulnerable to a die off as it used to be.

That's why it's better to read the article instead of skimming it.

Comment: Not everyone should equal when it comes to voting (Score 1) 413

by mveloso (#48479875) Attached to: Mathematicians Study Effects of Gerrymandering On 2012 Election

Government purports to represent voters, but it's unclear whether that's the best solution. In the US, the government represent the concerns of people in a particular area, and that area happens to have voters in it.

The US Senate is designed to give equal representation to states, no matter how big or small. Puny states like MD or RI have as much voting power as NY and CA. Fair? No, if you count "fairness" by "representative based on population."

However, the Senate is fair if you count them as representatives of the States.

Likewise for Congressional districts. A Rep represents a district, and by extension the voters in a district.

By representing by straight vote count you will over-represent urban voters, which is exactly what's happening in most of the states today. That's bad for a number of reasons, the first being that concerns of urban voters are different than concerns of rural voters; the urban voters will always win on a straight up-and-down vote.

While this may seem great to the urbanistas, a bit of reflection should enlighten you as to why this would be a bad idea.

Comment: So, does water cost more? (Score 3, Insightful) 377

by mveloso (#48374589) Attached to: How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

What are the possible choices for farmers?

1. grow crappy crops with free seeds and lots of expensive water,
2. grow good groups with seeds that you need to pay for but use less water?

#2 will make you more money, so the cost of the seeds is a non-factor. #1 will make you poor, because when it doesn't rain your crops die.

So, what exactly is the issue?

Comment: Tor seismic analysis? (Score 5, Interesting) 135

by mveloso (#48356651) Attached to: Tor Project Mulls How Feds Took Down Hidden Websites

I wonder if they're doing their tracking by just sending traffic the servers in question from multiple places and with control over a few exit nodes. They'd basically be sending seismic waves through Tor and timing the responses. After a while and with enough exit nodes you could start figuring out where the other nodes are. With enough traffic analysis from ISPs or whatever you could find out where the TOR nodes actually are. At that point it becomes easier to figure out physically where they are.

This is theoretical, but it would be fun to try.

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