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Showing posts from May, 2011

Anonymity: The refuge of the frustrated immature

There are people who would have you believe that anonymity is somehow crucial to a functioning and civilized society, and that it's somehow essential on the internet.

It is not.

In the vast majority of my experience in real life and on the internet, anonymity is only ever abused.

In real life, people are much more likely to behave in ways that are harmful to others if they feel they aren't being watched.

It's the same way on the Internet. When people feel they are anonymous, they will do and say things they would otherwise never consider if they had to sign their names to it.

The vast majority of those things are harmful. Check any forum that allows anonymous posting. Under the veil of anonymity, people post things as if they have no capacity for self-restraint. Anonymous posts aren't thought out, they're overly aggressive, and are frequently meant to intentionally hurt others.

There's this movement, called "Anonymous", whose greatest achievement is that th…

The fate of anonymous digital currencies

I just recently found out about Bitcoin, a digital currency that strives to be anonymous and have no central authority.

Instead of there being a single, trusted, centralized issuer of the currency, the entire network of peer-to-peer nodes, formed by people who use the currency, acts as the issuer of currency, and verifier of transactions.

The technical overview sounds convincing, and while there could be glitches I'm not aware of, I have no reason to believe right now that the system is technically deficient. It is already used in practice and accepted as a currency by a few.

But here's the bottom-line issue.

In order for a currency to be useful, you have to be able to use it to buy bread and pay electricity. Virtually all local government prohibits such transactions from using anything but the locally mandated currency.

In order for Bitcoin or a similar currency to become more than a curiosity, it has to be perceived as reliably exchangeable to a local currency.

In order to …

Happiness gene identified

A gene has been identified which causes people who have it to report a higher degree of happiness than others. (The gene causes the brain to recycle serotonin more efficiently.)

I contend that it is now irresponsible and immoral to let a child be born without first ensuring that he or she has this gene.

Allowing children to be born without this gene is to create people who will be less happy than they could be.