Archive for May, 2011

reasons against abortion

May 23, 2011

One opposed to abortion posts to me:

my point is that there is absolutely no reason to grant non-person status to the unborn except to justify killing them

My reply:

How can one bestow nothing yet call it something?

Do you mean, “There are reasons to grant the unborn the status of ‘person’.”? I’ve heard a couple (e.g. “life begins at conception” and “you are killing a soul”), but these are not convincing. Human life is meaningless without personhood. If however, one were to present a case for a “soul”, I would reconsider my thoughts on abortion law. And I don’t mean anecdotal “past lives” stories, I’m talking about verifiable evidence.

Another “argument” I’ve been given is the linking to pictures of a destroyed fetus. Another is pointing out other people (i.e. persons) while implying that we should feel upset because, “See? If he was aborted, he wouldn’t be here now!”. I’ve even had some try to convince me by bringing notice to the fact that I would not be alive if I had been aborted. These are appeal to emotion fallacies.

If you have other reasons I’m not listing, I would like to hear them if you’re willing to offer.

I think I’m missing some. What are other reasons commonly given?

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Dear God, can we find a win-win situation here?

May 20, 2011

All over the news is the claim of a rapture tomorrow, the 21st of May, 2011. If it is true, I beg you to take not only the Christians, but people of all organized religions so that the rest of us may die here in peace.

can someone destroy bitcoin?

May 19, 2011

In short, I don’t think it’s realistic even if technically possible.

One might argue that a person (or small conspiracy of people) might try to hoard/delete bitcoins in order to destroy the currency. Given that the quantity supplied of bitcoins is capped (by mathematical definition), one might imagine an attempt to buy it up and then delete it.

Let’s say a future multi-billionaire goes insane and tries to hoard all 21,000,000 bitcoins using his life savings. It’s not so easy. First, he would have to start bidding up the price. He must enter the market like anyone else but must offer the highest price – by far. Of course, he might succeed in buying a large percentage of bitcoins using the most attractive price. However, some sellers still won’t sell. Additionally, the currency can be broken down to the hundred millionths (i.e. make a transaction worth 0.00000001 BTC), so buying “enough” isn’t realistic either. Since the market won’t run out of money, an attempt to buy it all up will simply lead to massive losses on behalf of the buyer. A disincentive to even try is built in. This is why the rich man would have to be insane to make a go at it. It’s financial suicide.

A key factor that will determine the long-term viability of bitcoin will be supplier acceptance. If suppliers desire (and are permitted by governments) to accept bitcoin in exchange for goods and services, the currency has a future. It’s off to a good start in that regard, but broader acceptance needs to continue. The ability to pay one’s utilities for example, would be noteworthy progress.

5 interesting facts about bitcoin

May 18, 2011

I’ve been reading a little about Bitcoin lately. I installed the software, acquired some BTC (currency) by donation, and have tried mining. I think it’s an interesting project. Here are some facts about Bitcoin that caught my attention:

1. Bitcoin is available as free software and can run on GNU/Linux, a free software operating system. Therefore, publicly auditable source is available for a computer running Bitcoin and the software stack it runs on.

2. Bitcoin implements a peer-to-peer (p2p) architecture. It’s not easy for companies or governments to forcibly shut it down.

3. Though Bitcoin software is hard to shut down, governments and companies can choose to shun the BTC currency. For instance, Coinpal, a service to buy/sell BTC using Paypal was suspended. Apparently, Paypal accepted Coinpal for months and then put Coinpal out of business because it decided it was wrong to be involved in a “ecurrency” market. It didn’t appear that any reasons were forthcoming.

4. Quantity supplied of BTC is limited in a different way compared to a physical, nationalized currency. An algorithm to increase supply (“printing” through “mining”) of BTC is set and cannot be changed. Unlike currencies that are printed as deemed necessary by a central bank, Bitcoins are limited to 21,000,000. By the 2030s, BTC production will have slowed considerably.

5. Key pairs are used for trust between traders. Like a physical currency, BTC can be stolen or lost if the owner of the money is careless (i.e. they fail to encrypt/backup their wallet). The value in a wallet can be transferred to a newer wallet, in order to keep current in regard to security.

What else about Bitcoin/BTC is notable?

I have a CC bias, eh?

May 13, 2011

This post CC-BY-SA.

the problems with “cloud computing”

May 3, 2011

I’ve been discussing the issues around “cloud computing” in a class I’m taking. I think it is important to distinguish between using another’s technology as a storage unit for your information and using another’s technology to transform/crunch your information.

The implication of using X’s storage is that your data can be read by X unless you encrypt your data before sending it. If you use X’s application, you may get dubious results in your data. If X’s application is the only instance where your data can be read (as intended), then that can be extremely careless (as some might say) and therefore, potentially dangerous.

I see “cloud” storage as a solvable problem, but see many instances where “cloud computing” is truly careless computing.

android, ubuntu, firefox…help?

May 1, 2011

Set up an FTP server on an Ubuntu machine using vsftpd. A laptop client running Ubuntu (top) connects just fine through Firefox. An Android (Honeycomb) + Firefox tablet (bottom) however…

android, ubuntu, firefox?

I don’t get why the Droid doesn’t connect.