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Comment Re:"essentially useless" (Score 1) 44

Can't say I've had the distinction of driving in Boston. But I have driven in various areas in over 20 US states and 10 Canadian provinces and territories. The traffic lights are "red yellow green" (left to right) or "red yellow green" top to bottom. For other configurations (turn arrows and such), there are nearly universally consistent variations.

Of course, what's really fun is trying to figure out the lights at 6+ way intersections.

Comment Re:"essentially useless" (Score 4, Informative) 44

Just pointing out that green is not the problem for me (red/green colour blind) because the green traffic lights have a markedly different lightness. Green traffic lights look white to me and red ones don't. Rather, I can't tell the red and amber lights apart because the lightness of red and amber is too close. But don't let that confuse you too much. You have noticed that the lights are always in the same order, right? Guess why.

Comment Typewriters are the right answer (Score 1) 325

Limited supply or not, manual typewriters are the right answer for several reasons:

1. From the submission, it seems that everything else that is not in limited supply is too expensive in either cash terms or electricity usage.
2. High technology devices are more likely to fail, and if they fail, are much more difficult (or impossible) to fix.
3. Even if the limited electricity supply goes away, a manual typewriter still works.
4. A decently constructed manual typewriter will outlast any electronic device.

Comment Re:Imagine a world run by librarians... (Score 1) 454

Imagine a world run by librarians...all information is free and uncensored but we all have to speak in whisper voices and women have to wear their hair in buns and sensible shoes and tearing pages out of library books would punishable by a year in jail.

Women would have to wear their hair in sensible shoes? That would be interesting to see.

Comment Re:Run your own NTP if it matters (Score 1) 290

The problem here is that there are two different words. "flame" and "inflame". "inflame" is not using the "in-" prefix. You can add "-able" to either one, with the usual meaning. That then gives "flammable" and "inflammable". You can then theoretically add "in-" meaning "not" to "flammable" which gives "inflammable". This is clearly an absurd situation since you now have two conflicting meanings which usually cannot be separated in context. (For the record, "inflame" does not have strictly the same meaning as "flame".)

In my part of the world, "inflammable" is generally thought to mean "not burnable" but there is enough confusion that it is better to avoid using the word altogether.

Comment Re:Receivers transmit (Score 1) 290

Those vans only find the "leakage" in local proximity. They can't, for instance, identify which house has a set if it were pointed at London from, say, Paris. And even if the *low power* GPS receiver circut is transmitting something receivable, it would only be retransmitting the signal already coming from the satellite, not the location information which never enters the radio circuitry.

Comment Re:To be fair.... (Score 1) 268

Not flaming here. However, how can you be sure that your visitor using his own device is not doing something illegal? The answer is that you can't know, especially if you, like the vast majority, are not a computer expert. It's too easy to hide a process that is sitting around cracking passwords or downloading movies.

And that doesn't even take into account the fact that even a reasonably secured access point is crackable in a reasonable time frame, mac addresses are generally trivially spoofable, and so on. Thus, because wireless is easilly accessed compared to hard-wired networks, it is a reasonable argument that even a consciencious home network operator may not be aware of the infringing activity which may not even be happening on his property where he can see it.

And finally, the insanely stupid argument: are you going to hold the homeowner responsible for a burglar using his network to download illegal files? After all, a burglar is clearly not authorized by the homeowner but he will also appear to come from the IP address. Thus it is reasonable that the person alleging wrongdoing should have something other than an IP address.

Comment Re:SVN for law (Score 1) 115

It's not clear that common law makes the situation any better. It may seem to do so when the relevant legal history is short but when you have many centuries of precedents, laws, and other confusion, it hardly makes things simpler.

Comment Re:It begins.... (Score 1) 473

Actually, it can. Let's use the $10 example. The bank lends $9 on the $10, which ends up deposited. Now the bank has $9 more in deposits of which it can now lend 90% ($8.10) which gets deposited. Now it can lend 90% of that $8.10 which gets deposited and then it can lend 90% of that, and so on. After the second iteration, the bank has lent $17.10 on the original $10 deposit. That is a convergent exponential series with a limit of about $90. Of course, if the first loan were taken in cash, there could be no further loan (no further deposit) so the practical limit is less than that since any amount withdrawn reduces the reserve. Also, I've assumed exactly one bank in the system but it works the same whether there is one bank or one hundred banks.

That repetetive process is that part that is glossed over when fractional reserve is explained. The multiplication effect is quite significant when reserves start to get down into the single digit percents.

Comment Re:It begins.... (Score 2) 473

I should have been more clear. The money from nothing is not a premise. It's a fact of fractional reserve banking which pretty much every country practices. Let's take a 10% reserve requirement - that means a bank with $1 in acceptable assets (varies some by jurisdiction) can "lend" $9. How is that not creating $8 out of nothing? Assuming they do "lend" that $9, that means for $1 in real money (federal reserve notes (cash) or deposits at the federal reserve in this case), there is an additional $8 in circulation (electronically usually). That means the real *usable* money supply is considerably more than the total cash in circulation. (I haven't shown the math but it's relatively easy to work out.)

Every country that does fractional reserve has a similar situation, regardless of local regulations or specific structure. Thus, United States, Canada, United Kingdom, etc., which all have quite different specific rules, still have the same problem with money being created by bank lending.

Incidentally, fractional reserve lending is exactly the same thing as renting a house to three different parties simultaneously except fractional reserve lending is legal and renting the house three times is fraud. In both cases, the same object is being let to different parties at the same time. It's clearly ridiculous to do so with physical objects so why is is okay with money? (And before you pounce, I am *well* aware of the way economics works and the history and reasons for fractional reserve. I still don't agree with it.)

Comment Re:It begins.... (Score 1) 473

It's not actually the central banks that are increasing the money supply. Its the *commercial* banks. You might not realize it but banks do not lend money they have on hand when they make a loan. They actually create the money they "lend" out of thin air. Thus it is *borrowing* that is increasing the money supply.

The central banks do contribute to this by buying government bonds (thus giving loans to the governments) but the vast majority of the money supply increase comes from things like mortgages.

It's not clear that a gold standard or similar would actually help matters. The reason for that is too complex to go into here but basically if you peg the currency to a commodity, you will either significantly limit or reverse inflation which will actually cause a complete economic collapse.

Check out for a decent explanation. (It's UK centric but the central bank structure is the same in most countries so the basic problem is the same.)

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