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Comment Re:From irrelevant to obsolete in one fell swoop? (Score 1) 258

As far as assets go, it's one of the more liquid ones. By liquid, I mean "quick and easy to exchange", rather than "has a massive market behind it".

The value to BitCoins is that a) they're purely digital, and b) you can reliably exchange them without a central authority verifying the transaction. Sit and think for a minute why that might be useful. It's the analog of physical goods in the digital world.

Comment Re:morons (Score 1) 2288

I was born in Australia where everything is metric. I now live in Canada. Having just gone through a major renovation, I totally agree with you that imperial measurements in construction just "make sense", although it was a bit foreign to me at first. Everything lines up, things divide evenly and goods are purchased in convenient sizes to match building code requirements.

However, that's because the whole system is set up that way. Joist spacing, sheet sizing, lumber dimensions are all sized to fit into a building-block and match the building codes.

If you ever look at a metric building code, you'll find that everything changes (except the stupid Canadian ones where they just converted everything to metric). They don't keep the same actual dimensions and then just switch everything over to metric (although, that's what they did in Canada, probably why it's so confusing). 16" spacing becomes 400mm spacing, 24" spacing becomes 600mm spacing. Those are not difficult numbers to work with (compared to the 'exact' conversion of 406.4 & 609.6). Standard sheet goods come in 1200x2400mm (look at that, 1 sheet perfectly covers two 600mm spaced studs, or three 400mm spaced studs).

Point is, the argument that the imperial system "works better for construction" is a straw man argument. I agree, using the imperial system to perform construction work to a building code that's designed to use it makes perfect sense. However, a perfectly reasonable equivalent can (and has been) developed for metric systems and switching over to *that* is what metric conversion is all about, not just changing units. There's so much investment in equipment that matches the imperial-style building system that it's going to take a long long time for it to happen.

Comment Re:What? (Score 1) 422

Here's a short excerpt regarding wood-framed walls from the Alberta Building Code (Canada). Basically, a while back, the system here was "metricified", keeping the sizes of everything the same, but using metric to measure them.

Type of Wall: Interior
Supported Loads: No load
Minimum Stud Size, mm 38 x 38
Maximum Stud Spacing, mm 400
Maximum Unsupported Height, m 2.4

Basically, the same size lumber, but measured in metric instead. The vernacular amongst people actually *using* the system is still all in imperial.

Australia is quite similar. Wood is still sized according to the old imperial standards, but everything is measured in metric. At the hardware store, you buy a "four-by-two", "X metres" long.

Comment Launch unlikely anyway (Score 1) 167

There's an interesting talk given by Richard Rhodes a couple of months ago discussing the likelihood of the use of nuclear weapons:


In a nutshell, it probably doesn't matter if they were offline, they're unlikely ever going to get used.

Listen to the talk for some interesting takes on the "mutually assured destruction" situation.

Comment Cost centre vs investment centre (Score 1) 243

The excellent book "The Practice of System and Network Administration" has a chapter on this topic that would make very good reading. If I recall correctly, they assert that organisations usually structure IT depending on whether it's considered a "cost centre" or an "investment centre". "Cost centres" often simply end up reporting to the finance department. "Investement centres" can usually justify reporting to the head of the business.

Comment Re:Bullshit (Score 4, Informative) 446

Short term trading generally creates market liquidity, which is necessary for the market to function even remotely efficiently.

Without liquidity, we would likely see wild fluctuations in the prices of stocks, creating an even more unstable and unsure environment. Take a read of the wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market_liquidity) to get a better understanding. This behaviour can be seen today in exchanges where trading volumes are low and on stocks with low trading volumes (penny stocks, etc). The concept follows over to many things in life. Imagine if you were required to keep any object your purchased for a minimum amount of time before reselling it (house, car, iPod, etc). You would lose control of selling it at a time that works best for you. Very likely, you'd stop buying. This is fine for non-essential items, but the same applies for base needs like food, water and fuel. Crazy fluctuations in those items costs would likely lead to some pretty bad problems. Likely, strategies for flattening out the craziness would appear, and they would work by creating liquidity somewhere in the system that wasn't regulated.

If you crippled liquidity, you'd likely get *more* insane bullshit, not less.

There's a pretty good explanation of why liquidity is generally a good thing to have in the lecture given here: http://www.gresham.ac.uk/event.asp?PageId=45&EventId=640/p

Comment Re:This is how it's done where I'm from... (Score 5, Interesting) 613

I had the same problem when I worked in 3 different countries in the space of 18 months. What made it even worse was that each required you declare your "overseas income" for their tax year, and none of the three countries had tax years that lined up (some when from July->June, some when from October->September, the other, Jan->December). And on top of that, there were tax treaties between each that allowed for special rates for certain types of income. You'd get totally screwed if you didn't take advantage of the treaties, but it also required reading said treaties. Fortunately, many tax treaties are structured the same otherwise it'd be damn near impossible.

I couldn't find a tax professional prepared to help out either. Most accountants like to keep things within their own borders.

Comment Re:Cheap energy is social justice (Score 2, Interesting) 404

Unfortunately, it seems that the only way to halt growth in most biological systems it to balance supply and demand.

Right now, food and energy production around the world outstrips demand. Thus, population continues to increase.

The 3 major governors of biological systems seem to be raw materials, energy and space. To some degree, they're convertible. If you remove "energy" as a limiting factor, we're just going to hit a wall with one of the other two at some point.

Hitting any resource barrier is painful. Wars happen, things die. Right now, we're living in a blessed time of growth and relatively little competition for resources. Sure there are a few spats, but it's not an all out war for survival.

Ever seen the movie "Soylent Green"? That's the image that comes to mind if we "fix" the energy problem. Billions of people with enough to eat, but no room to move.

Comment Re:I came, I saw, I left (Score 3, Insightful) 757

I mirror this situation. My wife and I had the opportunity to work in San Francisco for a couple of years. We're Australian.

The experience was great, but in the end, all the little things (health care, racism, homeless, political opinions, the ongoing wars, etc) added up and San Francisco is pretty liberal and open-minded compared to most of the rest of the US. We now live in Canada where the quality of life is great and we have public health care, so we don't worry about going bankrupt if we get sick. Don't underestimate how important that idea is to a lot of people.

For those Americans that are afraid of the whole spectrum of "socialist" political ideas all I can say is "don't knock it till you've tried it." While complete freedom is a wonderful idea, it often appears not to be practical when attempting to maximise the quality of life of a large population. There are certain freedoms that appear to be worth giving up (in countries like Australia and Canada, we haven't felt oppressed and it's nice not having to worry about people exercising their freedom to carry a concealed weapon).

In more socialist countries, it appears that the general concensus is that everyone gives something up to improve the quality of life for the whole. In the US, the general concensus seems to be that no-one should give anything up (even if they never use it), fuck you commie bastards. I always found discussions with that kind of attitude difficult. The "Team America" movie is hilarious because it's all so true to life.

Fair enough, I guess, but it doesn't suit everyone.

Data Storage

Online Storage For Lawyers? 287

alharaka writes "I have a relative that has been a lawyer for over two decades. In passing conversation, he revealed to me that he has a great deal of his data stored on floppies. Naturally, as an IT guy, I lost it on him, telling him that a one-dimensional storage strategy of floppies was unacceptable. If he lost those files, his clients would be enraged. Since I do not know much about online data storage for lawyers, I read a few articles I found on Google. A lot of people appear to recommend CoreVault, since a few bar associations, including Oklahoma, officially endorsed them. That is not enough for me. Do any Slashdotters have info on this topic? Do you have any companies you would recommend for online data storage specifically for lawyers? My relative is a lawyer with recognition in NJ, NY, CA, and DC; are there any rules and regulations you know of regarding such online storage he must comply with? I know IT and not law. I am aware this is not a forum for legal advice, but do any IT professionals who work for law firms know about such rules and regulations?"

Science Unlocks The Mystery Of Belly Button Lint 161

After three years of research, including examining 503 pieces of fluff from his own belly button, Georg Steinhauser has discovered a type of body hair that traps stray pieces of lint and draws them into the navel. Dr Steinhauser's observations showed that "small pieces of fluff first form in the hair and then end up in the navel at the end of the day." Chemical analysis revealed the pieces of fluff were not just made up of cotton from clothing. Wrapped up in the lint were also flecks of dead skin, fat, sweat and dust. Unfortunately, further study has failed to yield a hair or fiber that would give Dr. Steinhauser the last three years of his life back.

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The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford