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A part of the problem is sprawl. We've spread out and built separate infrastructure for each little area. That means more infrastructure and less taxes to cover each part. Then we drive between these little areas, typically living in one and working in another one, and shopping in a third. And we have massive and relatively expensive infrastructure for cars to facilitate this way of life.
Transportation, utilities, and housing are all more affordable if you have more people living in a more self-contained community. If you do it right, most people don't even need to drive that often, so that cost goes down too.
Check out strongtowns.org
Turn the volume up for this one, it's a quiet recording
More seriously: I think a big part of the the Fermi Paradox is that our RF signals fall below the noise floor well before they reach another star. Any similar communication from other star systems are not detectable from Earth. So when we look up and don't see any signals from other stars, that's not terribly surprising, because it would take a massive amount of power and/or a conscious effort to send a signal specifically to us.
As for why we haven't seen a Von Neumann probe? Well, we haven't looked very hard, for one. All we know is we haven't seen one on Earth or the moon or 1% of Mars.
I don't agree with opinions representing the holder's truth, at least not all the time. For most people, some of their opinions are more like part of their identity. Identifying with that particular belief lets them belong to some group or tribe, or lets them see themselves in a certain way. They see these beliefs as axiomatic, rather than a fact-based opinion (not that most people would ever admit this).
Attacking that belief, in their eyes, is tantamount to attacking them, because they see it as an attack on part of who they are. And to change that belief, part of them has to die. This can be useful to keep in mind when someone comes along who believes odd or even reprehensible things even in the face of bullet-proof logic and great emotional rhetoric.
My wife is vegetarian and is doing a kind of keto-lite. You can do it if you eat a lot of eggs, cheese, cream, and seeds. And a lot of high-fiber vegetables.
So an example meal would be something like cheesy baked eggplant. Or fried cauliflower rice. There's a vegetarian keto subreddit that has some recipes.
But it is harder than keto with meat, in my opinion.
My parents, for some reason, got me and my wife a 55" 4k TV for Christmas even though we barely watch TV. Planet Earth II is awe inspiring. Not only is the way it looks higher quality than anything else I've seen, the show itself is so entertaining. I never thought I'd get so invested in the drama of a nature documentary. Highly recommended.
There are five possible use cases for crypto that I see.
1. A black market currency
2. A low-fee, decentralized international payment system
3. An investment
4. A general-purpose currency
5. A secure, trustless information ledger
As A Black Market Currency
For use in the black market, we're going to want a way to hold the currency anonymously, and a way to send private transactions.
- BTC wallet anonymity is possible with a few hoop jumps, but private transactions are impossible. If address X has a transaction with a known black market address, this is public knowledge, and address X is forever associated with this shady exchange.
- XRP has the same problems as BTC, with the added risk of validators simply rejecting transactions with known shady addresses.
- ETH is currently no better than BTC, but they plan to implement technology borrowed from ZCash to allow private transactions, so ETH will be more private in the future.
Best alternatives right now for this use case: Monero, ZCash
As An International Money Transfer System
For this, any low-fee system will work. The lower the fees, the better. Right now this means everything but BTC, but what would the fees look like in the future, assuming widespread adoption?
- BTC "on-chain" transactions will only get worse, but they are working to implement Lightning Network. This will end up sort of like a "real" BTC wallet that you treat like a savings account, and a Lightning BTC wallet that you treat like a checking account that has low fees and fast transactions. The catch is that you have to pay the on-chain tx fee to transfer from your BTC wallet to your Lightning wallet.
- Same story for ETH, really. Widespread adoption of ETH will result in high transaction fees. Not as high as BTC, but high. Ethereum is working on several scaling strategies in parallel, but realistically they're a year or two away.
- XRP was built for this use case. It will scale, be low fee, and in the future, it may even be possible to use it through your bank. It's not super decentralized, but it's fast and low fee.
As An Investment
At this point I have no idea. I don't understand why the market caps on these coins are so high. Let's be honest, they don't do anything cool yet. As a general rule I'd say don't put in anything you can't afford to lose 100% of.
In the long term, I think any cryptocurrency that has a capped supply and a plan for scaling is a decent choice. I personally like the smart contract ones: Ethereum, Zilliqa, Eos, Cardano, RChain. Raiblocks is cool too. There are also some interesting ERC20 tokens. But those are all just opinions.
As A General Purpose Currency
For this use, we want widespread adoption, stable value, low transaction fees, and transaction verifiability. For this space, my favorite is USD.
Seriously though, a deflationary general purpose currency makes a bad currency, and so does a volatile one. Imagine buying something on credit and owing waaay more than you thought you would, or buying something when you could have bought two of it a month later. Deflation and volatility decrease the money velocity of a given cryptocurrency to the point that any economy based on it is much smaller that it would be otherwise. It makes the currency hard to spend and discourages its use. We already see the effects of this: Very very few businesses accept BTC directly because its value is so unstable. And it's a vicious cycle; less businesses accept it, so its utility is less, so less businesses accept it.
In the long term, I think something like Dai or OmiseGO has a chance of being useful. But it's not ready yet.
As A Secure, Trustless Information Ledger
This is the space that I think has been explored the least, and which I think has the post potential. It could disrupt a lot of industries, including certificate authorities, DNS, and, maybe someday, thinks like deeds, titles, stock ownership, and land registries. But all of this is years off.
- BTC and XRP cannot be used well for this purpose.
- ETH was built for this use case. Maybe in a few decades we'll see corruption in some countries being combated by registering things in an Ethereum or Ethereum-style blockchain.
Coinbase/GDAX is also FDIC insured.
I think you're especially right in terms of special effects. I don't think anybody had seen a movie that looked or sounded like that up to that point. Except for 2001: A Space Odyssey, but that's like the greatest film ever made.
I sort of disagree.
You're right, the things you mentioned are stupid. They're cheesy and they make no sense. Now, and this will be hard if you're a big fanboy/girl, go watch the original trilogy like you have never seen them before and know nothing about it. Preferably the Despecialized Edition so you can see the unruined versions. I think you'll find them pretty bad also. (Aside: I am in no way implying the prequels were good, or on par with the original trilogy. I hate the prequels so much I can't even convey how much without writing several paragraphs). Here are some nitpickings of the original trilogy, without even taking into account the bad acting and overall cheesiness that we let slide because of nostalgia reasons.
- Why didn't the Imperials shoot the escape pod? Did they not consider there might be droids with the information on it, while on a ship full of droids?
- Why use droids at all instead of sending transmissions to the base like they do for some other things? Too much data maybe?
- Obi Wan spent decades in hiding and made it very clear he wanted to remain inconspicuous in Mos Eisley. Oh look he just drew a lightsaber in the middle of a crowded bar and identified himself. Then talks to Han Solo like Solo won't know exactly why Obi Wan the Obvious Jedi would want to avoid the Empire.
- Why didn't Tarkin just blow up Yavin to get in range of the rebel base faster? I guess this one makes sense because they felt no danger from the rebel fleet.
- Wait, did the TIE fighter to Vader's right during the trench run just crash into him for no reason?
- Who is Tarkin and why is he above Vader? Oh I guess it doesn't matter, he's dead.
- That probe droid just sent a live feed over long distance. So why couldn't they transmit the Death Star Schematics again?
- Wait a minute, did Luke only spend like a day or two with Yoda before leaving? He got there when the Millennium Falcon was evading the Imperials and going into the asteroid field/space worm, and left soon after the Falcon arrived at Cloud City. Only a few days had passed.
- And how did the Falcon get to Cloud City in the first place? They didn't have a working warp drive at the time?
- Force users can absorb blasters with their hands?
- Force users can communicate with each other over long distances?
- Force users can see into the future???
- A lot of stuff. You get the point.
To be clear, I like all three of these movies. Especially Empire Strikes Back. But all three were full of pointless scenes, things that made no sense, and general cheesiness. It was part of the charm. I for one think Episode 8 fits in pretty well.