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Comment It is based on the experience in Canada and the UK (Score 1) 943

The idea that people hold more dollar coins than dollar bills is based on what happened in Canada and the UK when they replaced their lowest denomination bills with coins. Those countries wound up issuing 1.6 coins for every 1 bill that had been in circulation.

The GAO is predicting that the rate in the US will be about 1.5 coins for every bill.

Comment Re:read what you cut and paste (Score 1) 783

His wife, who was a Christian, would rather he hadn't said that, but he did. And even aside from that particular line, he repeatedly and explicitly says that he no longer believes in Christianity, denying both the Old Testament and New Testament. There is no need for debate about what he might have believed. He speaks for himself.

Comment Darwin on Christianity: "damnable doctrine" (Score 1) 783

During these two years [October 1836 to January 1839], I was led to think much about religion. Whilst on board the Beagle I was quite orthodox, and I remember being heartily laughed at by several of the officers (though themselves orthodox) for quoting the Bible as an unanswerable authority on some point of morality. I suppose it was the noveltry of the argument that amused them. But I had gradually come, by this time, to see that the Old Testament from its manifestly false history of the world, with the Tower of Babel, the rainbow at sign, etc., etc., and from its attributing to God the feelings of a revengeful tyrant, was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos, or the beliefs of any barbarian. The question then continually rose before my mind and would not be banished, -- is it credible that if God were now to make a revelation to the Hindoos, would he permit it to be connected with the belief in Vishnu, Siva, &c, as Christianity is connected with the Old Testament. This appeared to me utterly incredible.

By further reflecting that the clearest evidence would be requisite to make any sane man believe in the miracles by which Christianity is suppoted, -- that the more we know of the fixed laws of nature the more incredible do miracles become, -- that the men at that time were ignorant and credulous to a degree almost incomprehensible by us, -- that the Gospels cannot be proved to have been written simultaneous with the events, -- that they differ in many important details, far too important as it seemed to me to be admitted as the usual inaccuracies of eyewitnesses; -- by such reflections as these, which I give not as having the least noveltry or value, but as they influenced me, I gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity as a divine revelation. The fact that many false religions have spread over large portions of the earth like wild-fire had some weight on me. Beautiful as is the morality of the New Testament, it can hardly be denied that its perfection depends in part on the interpretation which we now put on metaphors and allegories.

But I was very unwilling to give up my belief; -- I feel sure of this for I can well remember often and often inventing day-dreams of old letters between distinguished Romans and manuscripts being discovered at Pompeji or elsewhere which confirmed in the most striking manner all that was written in the Gospels. But I found it more and more difficult, with free scope given to my imagination, to invent evidence which would suffice to convince me. Thus disbelief crept over me at very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress, and have never since doubted even for a single second that my conclusion was correct. I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother and almost all of my friends, will be everlasting punished.

And this is a damnable doctrine.

(source)

He did count himself a theist as he believed in the necessity of a First Cause:

Another source of conviction in the existance of God connected with the reason and not the feelings, impresses me as having much more weight. This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capability of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look at a first cause having an intelliegent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a theist.

But it seems his preferred term was Agnostic, with a capital A:

I cannot pretend to throw the least light on such abstruse problems. The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble to us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic.

Comment Re:Worthless (Score 1) 409

Obviously if a place has twice as many Obama opponents it's also going to have twice as many racist Obama opponents.

That doesn't follow. Suppose there are two states: Redstate and Raciststate. The two states have roughly the same population.

In Redstate, the normal political inclination in a year with two white men running is 60-40% Republican. 10% of the population is racist and won't vote for a black man no matter what. Let's assume these racists are equally divided by party.

In Raciststate, the normal political inclination is 50-50% split evenly between the parties. However, 30% of the population is racist and won't vote for a black man. Again, let's assume they're evenly divided by party.

So what happens when a black man runs as a Democrat? In Redstate, the Republican will pick up 4% (10% of the Democratic vote) to win 64%-36%. In Raciststate, he'll pick up 15% and win 65%-35%.

So even though the two states have roughly the same number of people voting Republican that year, you can tell Raciststate is more racist because of Democrats who voted based on race. What's more, if you took the ratio of racist voters relative to the Republican vote, rather than the whole population, you'd be get an inflated estimate of racism in the whole population in both states.

Comment Re:Virtualbox (Score 3, Informative) 361

I ran a command line tool to increase the size of the disk image, but this didn't show up as extra disk space inside the OS.

Likely this only increased the size of the virtual disk, but not the partition that the OS lives on. Partition resizing is file-system-dependent as it requires understanding the FS layout. gparted can do the job if you boot from a live CD, but it'd be simpler to just start over since the OS is screwed up anyway.

BTW, VirtualBox defaults to dynamically sized disks that only take up as much physical space as is actually used by the guest OS. The allocation size is more of a maximum size, so you can safely set it higher than you think you'll need and not waste space.

Comment Re:LOL (Score 3, Insightful) 185

The electors are picked by the state parties. They're die-hard partisans who've drunk more of the campaign kool-aid than anyone. It's not like people who have been working to elect Obama for years are suddenly going to change their minds and vote for Romney or vice versa.

In the rare instances when electors have switched their votes, it's usually been for someone else in the same party and wouldn't affect the outcome of the election. For instance, there's been speculation that some of the Romney electors might cast votes for Ron Paul, but obviously that wouldn't change Obama's numbers either way.

Comment Re:Morons. (Score 2) 458

The supply was already scarce due to the supply chain being broken (most ports closed, roads impassable) and widespread demand

If the price goes up, that provides a massive incentive for suppliers to find alternate routes, including routes that wouldn't be economical under normal prices, or fix existing routes quickly. When the road's blocked, it becomes worthwhile to put in the labor to clear the road yourself because there's a payout waiting for you. If you can't charge anything extra, maybe you wait for the government to come in and clear the road, which could take days or weeks.

Comment Re:Avoiding the real question (Score 1) 350

It's not as if we have a shortage of online content. The supply has actually increased tremendously and thus the effective market price of any individual piece has gone down. That sucks for the content producers, because their business is less profitable than it used to be, but no one said they were entitled to a certain level of profit. If they want to make more money, it's up to them to figure out how, preferably by innovating and contributing something new to society rather than rent-seeking.

Comment Re:Kinda Subjective but... (Score 1) 479

No, this just means you (and/or the people you work with) are using tabs in the wrong way.

Which is inevitable in a team of any significant size. People aren't aware of the distinction, they have their editors set incorrectly, or they're just "rebels" who refuse to conform to what The Man tells them to do. You're going to end up with code that only looks right with one tab setting or the other anyway, sometimes mixed together in the same file. The only enforceable standard is just to ban tabs altogether, which can be an automated check at submit time.

Comment Re:Drive a car? (Score 1) 62

The use case is obviously something like Fukushima, responding to an industrial accident no one was expecting. Even if you can deliver a self-driving car to the site, it might not be useful in the particular environment you're facing. Odds are, you're going to have to cope with the equipment that's already on site, which is primarily designed for humans.

Comment Re:Why bother without IRV (Score 1) 221

I would jump at the chance to use even the *WORST* "IRV" solution over what we currently use.

Don't you think that's a problem? As bad as plurality voting is, it's always possible to make things worse, so maybe we'd better talk to some statisticians and subject matter experts before we jump at anything.

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