Forum > General discussion > Judgment-free Q&A thread
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"Judgment-free Q&A thread", 24th Jun 2021, 5:09 AM #1
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Hi Everyone. This is a thread where you can ask questions and get answers about things you've always wondered. Yes, I know Wikipedia and search engines exist, but this is more fun and personal. Trust me.

Some ground rules:
-Ask a question you'd like answered. Anyone who knows the answer, please respond (and please quote the original question in your response, so we know which question you're answering!)
-Multiple open questions are allowed: you don't need to wait for another poster's question to be answered before asking your own.
-Please don't respond if you don't know the answer with a reasonable degree of certainty. If you know nothing about the Turnip Revolt of 1463, don't pretend you do. If possible, give a link or a source so the questioner can do further reading.
-For life advice and questions without clear-cut factual answers ("What is the meaning of life?" vs. "What color is green grass?") feel free to give your opinion, but be respectful and don't troll.
-If you can add more info to another person's answer, please feel free to do so!
-If your question goes unanswered or gets lost in the shuffle, give it a week before you re-ask it.
-You don't need to answer a question to ask one, and you don't need to ask one to answer one. But you can, if you like.
-If any of my rules are stupid, or if any need to be added, the moderators will correct my flaws.

I'll start:

What is the exact definition of "a ship" or "shipping?" (In the literary sense, not the nautical.) "I shipped characters X and Y" means what, exactly?
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24th Jun 2021, 5:11 AM #2
What a sucker
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Shipping is romantically pairing two characters together. Well, I say Romantically, but there's other, more adult variations. It's more of a fandom term than an authorial term.
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24th Jun 2021, 5:25 AM #3
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Is it okay to add onto another person's answer ? Or if someone answers, that's it?

I assume the former, so:

Yeah, shipping is something fans do, and it has been around since the dawn of time (aka since the original Stark Trek was airing) A book or a show or something might romantically pair two characters together, or not, but fans are the ones who ship them. It comes from the word "relationship." Shipping = expressing that you want to see two characters romantically paired, a ship = the pairing itself, nowadays often complete with fun pairing name. I think it can technically apply to any couple, but mostly I see people shipping characters who are non-canonically together, usually hoping that they will end up together in canon by the end, like Princess Bubblegum and Marceline in Adventure Time. Sometimes people get really mad if they meet other people who support different ships than them, like preferring Rey from Starwars with Finn instead of Kylo Ren (gasp) or something

Source = I don't participate in shipping or fandom or fanfiction myself but I'm a regular tumblr user B-)
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24th Jun 2021, 5:35 AM #4
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andygruba:Is it okay to add onto another person's answer ?


Yes! I enshrined your suggestion into the rules above.
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24th Jun 2021, 5:58 AM #5
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^rad :-D

And here’s a question:

Please oh my god can someone explain cryptocurrency to me?? The concept behind actual money already sounds fake to me so I for sure can’t wrap my head around fake money!!! I know it comes from like… computers? Is it computers?? But what is giving it its actual value, how is it spent, are you sure it’s not just a weirdly convoluted pyramid scheme, help
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24th Jun 2021, 3:40 PM #6
I can explain
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andygruba:Please oh my god can someone explain cryptocurrency to me?? The concept behind actual money already sounds fake to me so I for sure can’t wrap my head around fake money!!! I know it comes from like… computers? Is it computers?? But what is giving it its actual value, how is it spent, are you sure it’s not just a weirdly convoluted pyramid scheme, help


Okay so the basic concept behind cryptocurrency is something called a "blockchain". It's a way to have a database that everyone can see, anyone can add to, but nobody can alter afterward. With cryptocurrency, it's sort of a ledger of transactions - Alice sent Bob $5, Bob sent Chuck $3, Chuck sent Dave $14, and so on. Because everyone can see the full list, and because records can't be altered once something has been added after it, they can verify how much money any account has, and then they can refuse to accept additions that don't make sense (like if Chuck tried to send out more money than he actually had).

This is in contrast to how most other digital currencies work, which is to have a single centralized database somewhere that stores everyone's balance. That's how banks work, that's how credit cards work, that's how game currencies work, that's how gift cards work. It's a lot simpler, but you have to trust that central authority to keep accurate records and not futz around with things. If a central database goes down, boom, the currency is dead, nobody can do anything. With a cryptocurrency, as long as one computer still has the full record (and every computer processing transactions would), you'd be able to recover not just every current balance, but the entire transaction ledger, and know that it's correct and un-tampered with.

In theory, there's no reason a useful currency couldn't be built on a blockchain. It does everything a currency needs. It's just that it doesn't do it particularly well.

First, because the way "nobody can change records once another record is written past it" is actually accomplished, is incredibly wasteful by design. Bitcoin, the earliest and most popular cryptocurrency, relies on performing very, very inefficient calculations to make it basically impossible to fake a transaction. Computers are burning literally gigawatts of power running the Bitcoin network. They've distorted the market for computer hardware because people are buying all kinds of processors trying to run cryptocurrencies - it's borderline impossible to buy a video card right now for less than quadruple its list price, and even that MSRP has been inflated. There are some ideas for how to make it secure without making it inefficient, but so far nobody's actually done it.

Second, that inefficiency makes them slow. That entire, massive Bitcoin network can process maybe 10 transactions per second, globally. I actually wrote a traditional centralized transaction processor myself, for a school's meal plan system. I was running >100 tx/s, on a single modestly-specced laptop. 10 transactions per second wouldn't even keep up with the dinner rush at a large cafeteria. So a lot of crypto is done by actually bypassing the blockchain as much as possible. People aren't storing their coins on their own computer, acting as a node in the network, they're storing their coins on some company's server, who keeps track internally and off the blockchain how much money belongs to each user, and then they can avoid the blockchain entirely for transfers between their own users.

So cryptocurrency isn't working super well for the general use case. The transaction fees are higher than even a bank transfer, transactions are super slow, and it turns out most of the time, the people running centralized account databases aren't fucking around with things, because the law would come down on them pretty hard if they did. (Though there are actually benefits to well-controlled fuckery - it's impossible to force a refund in a cryptocurrency, you literally depend on the person voluntarily sending back the money, which is ripe for abuse.)

Who's been using it? Well, criminals, a lot. It's the de facto way now to buy drugs online, or pay ransoms to hackers. While every transaction is public, they're also pseudonymous - you don't see that Eve sent Frank $2000, you just see that account 63556 sent $2000 to account 270131, so it's relatively safe. Safer than using a bank account, at least, since there's a lot more legal scrutiny on those than most people are aware of.

But a lot of it now is just pure investment. People saw a limited, scarce good that was going up in value, and started buying it so they could sell it later for a higher price. It's not a pyramid scheme in the strict sense of the term, but it's absolutely a bubble. It's a tulip mania. There's fucking thousands of cryptocurrencies being launched and basically none of them are being used to actually pay for things, the value ascribed to them is purely based on "I think I can sell it for at least this much later". Even the few that are in common use, like Ethereum or Bitcoin, they are in no way worth the ridiculous prices they've reached based on their utility. You can't even reasonably price things in Bitcoin, because the value is so volatile - people are pricing things in good old United States Dollars, and charging a Bitcoin amount equivalent to it when the transaction goes through.

I am generally disdainful of cryptocurrencies, for all of those reasons and a few more. Like for fuck's sake, I wrote a better transaction processor when I was an intern, don't act like Bitcoin is some technological marvel. Perhaps, in the future, someone will actually come along and fix those problems, but until then, I'll be firmly ignoring them.

I'm not even convinced that would help, because I think cryptocurrencies are solving the wrong problem. There are problems with fiat currencies being traded by entrenched, centralized processors, but they're not problems that blockchain can fix. You kind of want some central authority to be able to edit things, so you have someone you can call to say "hey my account says I paid $199.99 for a candy bar, pretty sure someone hit the 9 key a few too many times, fix plz". (I've seen firsthand how often an admin has to go in and fix things after someone fucks up, which is flat-out impossible in a blockchain-powered currency). You want to do better than the status quo, make transactions instant, make it harder to hijack than a magstripe card, make it easy to use without specialized hardware.
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24th Jun 2021, 5:13 PM #7
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^Hell yeah bro, thorough, clear, and insightful, what more could a girl want. That’s wild about the computer hardware, I had heard about prices on that stuff going up but had no idea it was related to crypto in any way, but it totally makes sense.

Earlier this year I went down a rabbit hole investigating a guy I went to high school with, he had been in a motorcycle accident while jet-setting in Thailand and suffered a life-altering coma a year earlier, but when I went check up on him again nearly all info about it had been scrubbed from the Internet and the more I looked the more I found out he was involved with some sort of cryptocurrency scam but I never found out to what capacity or how/if the coma thing was related, but honestly reading this piqued my interest again lol maybe I’ll put on my investigators hat again one of these days
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24th Jun 2021, 5:41 PM #8
Taking Names & Spitting Images
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andygruba:Please oh my god can someone explain cryptocurrency to me??


The less thorough but easiest to digest explanation of cryptocurrency that I've encountered is the viral tweet that says, "imagine if keeping your car idling 24/7 produced solved Sudokus you could trade for heroin"
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24th Jun 2021, 11:17 PM #9
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For @andygruba, I'd like to weigh in on the cryptocurrency thing. While I think Gman did a good job explaining how cryptocurrencies work from a technical standpoint, he also threw in a lot of personal opinion on its value. I'd like to offer another perspective.

First of all, I will say that I agree that a lot of these random cryptocurrencies that keep popping up are BS. I think some of them, such as Dogecoin, are basically just scams, and many of them will eventually fall by the wayside. I do know, however, that some of these new cryptos are attempts to improve on the weaknesses of previous cryptos, so they could be more viable as functional currencies in the future. Just because there's a bit of a bubble with people trying to get in on the game, it doesn't mean the concept itself is bad. I have a more positive view of cryptocurrency in general, and I think it offers possibilities that are worth considering.

As far as I can see, Gman didn't really address the issue of where crypto gets its value. The fact is, value is always subjective. The fiat currency we use doesn't have any inherent value beyond the trust people are willing to place in it. If people are willing to accept Bitcoin or Ethereum in an exchange, then that gives those cryptocurrencies value. The way cryptos such as Bitcoin are designed, though, there's a finite amount that can ever exist, so people can't devalue it by simply creating more of it. In that sense, it functions more like a hard asset, such as gold. While it's true that crypto can be used for illicit transactions, the main reason people invest in it is to have a store of value.

It's also true that it has limited utility in everyday life, but since it's relatively new, a lot of infrastructure for that type of usage isn't in place. Think of it this way: If you went to the grocery store and tried to pay with a block of gold, they wouldn't accept it. Does that mean the gold isn't valuable? No, it means that the store doesn't have the infrastructure to process that type of payment. Cryptocurrency is the same way: You can always exchange it for fiat money and use the fiat money for everyday transactions.

It's easy to scoff at cryptocurrency now, but I think those who have it will get the last laugh. People who don't want the government and international banking system determining how much their money is actually worth will jump at the chance to work outside the system, and the fact that many financial fat cats hate crypto tells me that they feel threatened by it. Given that those types don't exactly have a history of being on the side of the general public, I think crypto could be an opportunity for smart people to get a share of the action.

All these talking points about how crypto is just used to buy drugs, or how it uses tons of energy resources are, in my opinion, ways to weed out people who don't have the big-picture vision to embrace the possibilities of crypto. While crypto right now is still sort of a nerdy niche interest, I think it has the potential to be a game-changer. El Salvador recently announced that Bitcoin will be accepted as legal tender, so its possibilities are being recognized by more people every day. Where the technology and usage will go from here, no one can perfectly predict, but I think it'll be exciting to watch.
24th Jun 2021, 11:26 PM #10
Drum bum
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At risk of this turning into a cryptocurrency thread, I would just like to say a lot of cryptocurrency are pretty horrendous for the environment if I remember correctly and with that being the case I sure as shit hope they are not the future. We got enough environmental problems without that adding on to it.
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24th Jun 2021, 11:26 PM #11
Kev

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I've got an artesian well on my property and the water pressure is lousy. Any suggestions?
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25th Jun 2021, 2:37 AM #12
tells us a tale of e-bravery
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I mined Doge back in the day. I would've made an annual salary's sum if I'd sold at the peak. Keeping a bit for when it appreciates further in the future. I enjoy making a few bucks a day with crypto without lifting a single finger. It is also fun imagining if your investment will transform you into a rich person in a year or two's time. Yes, it is stressful to watch your money go down in value which is why you spend what you can afford to lose. Don't take my words as advice because I rebought Gamestop stock recently. Millionaire or bust LOL
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25th Jun 2021, 2:42 AM #13
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Sorry for perpetuating the cryptocurrency thing, but here's something I have wondered. As I understand it, whatever else a working quantum computer may or may not be able to do, it should be the most spectacularly effective decryption device ever invented. So, once quantum computing becomes viable, won't all the world's cryptocurrency become worthless?
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25th Jun 2021, 2:51 AM #14
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bobadventures:Sorry for perpetuating the cryptocurrency thing, but here's something I have wondered. As I understand it, whatever else a working quantum computer may or may not be able to do, it should be the most spectacularly effective decryption device ever invented. So, once quantum computing becomes viable, won't all the world's cryptocurrency become worthless?


In short, yes. Crypto just basically exists for money laundering and without encryption it's useless.


Is there someone here in need of a Canon Pixma 15 Black ink cartridge (BCL-15) 2-pack for sale, barter, or just desperate charity?

(How I got this is kind of an insane story involving me needing to add $15 to an order to get a rebate, a bundle deal and the stars aligning correctly for a couponing master coup.)
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25th Jun 2021, 3:16 AM #15
I can explain
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bobadventures:Sorry for perpetuating the cryptocurrency thing, but here's something I have wondered. As I understand it, whatever else a working quantum computer may or may not be able to do, it should be the most spectacularly effective decryption device ever invented. So, once quantum computing becomes viable, won't all the world's cryptocurrency become completely worthless?


Only certain types of encryption are vulnerable to quantum computers. Quantum computing isn't magic, it has limitations, and encryption algorithms can be designed to leverage those limitations. In particular, most symmetric encryption schemes are already resistant to quantum computing attacks. Blockchain requires an asymmetric encryption scheme, but there are some of those with no known quantum solution.

I must confess I'm not entirely sure what schemes are used by various cryptocurrencies, and I'm seeing conflicting information (or perhaps Bitcoin is using different algorithms in different places - blockchains involve a lot of encryption, they could very well be mixing them). From what I can tell it looks like Bitcoin and Ethereum, the two largest currencies, are both using elliptic-curve cryptography which is considered vulnerable to quantum attacks. Bitcoin doing so is understandable, it was designed long before there were serious efforts to make quantum-hard cryptography work. But Ethereum is doing it even in their upcoming 2.0 version, which seems rather shortsighted.

(PS: Do I need to do a point-by-point rebuttal of McLimmon's post, or are the errors in it sufficiently obvious to everyone?)
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25th Jun 2021, 3:23 AM #16
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Oh no sorry Firefly Jelly I didn’t mean to immediately turn this into The Crypto Thread xD but ty to everyone who explained it for me :3

Here’s another question: can someone explain the basic rules of baseball to me, I love baseball, I’d love to understand it someday
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25th Jun 2021, 3:26 AM #17
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What are the advantages and disadvantages of El Salvador adopting Bitcoin as legal tender, and what are some possible motivations for this adoption?
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25th Jun 2021, 4:31 AM #18
voted to be eaten first
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andygruba:
Here’s another question: can someone explain the basic rules of baseball to me, I love baseball, I’d love to understand it someday


Ok, so two teams of nine players take turns playing offense and defense during each inning (or round) for nine innings, with the home team being the first to play offense.

There are four bases, the first base, second base, third base, and home plate. The object for the team that's on offense is to reach each plate before arriving at the home plate. The team on defense has to tag the running player before they arrive, while having their foot on the base.

In the middle of the diamond, one defense player pitches the baseball at the catcher, who is behind home plate. Each team on the offensive side has to take turns batting. They have to hit the baseball using a bat as far as they can without it being caught in the air. If they miss, it's a strike. Three strikes and they're out. However, if the pitcher throws the baseball outside the boundary of where the batter would swing, it's called a ball. Four balls, and the player gets to go to the first base for free.

It rarely happens, but if the pitcher physically hits the batter with the ball, and the batter doesn't swing, then the batting player goes to the first base automatically.

There are foul lines, though. If the batter hits the baseball and it ends up past it, then it's a foul, and the first two are counted as strikes. If the player hits the ball and it flies within bounds, they have to reach a plate before someone retrieves it. If a defensive player catches the ball while it's in the air, then the batter is out. Once the running player touches the base without being tagged and stops, then they are safe. When that happens, the defense must pass the ball back to the pitcher.

When the batting player is either safe or out, the next player is up to bat. Rinse and repeat. If an offensive player reaches another base while the pitcher's back is turned, then it's a stolen base, and they keep it. If they are caught and tagged, then they lose their position, and they are out. It is a big risk, with a big reward.

Once a player on the offensive side reaches the home plate, then their team scores. If a batter hits the ball and it flies past the back wall, then it's a home run, and all of the offensive players on the field can hit each base all the way home, each adding to the score. This includes the player that hit the ball.

After three outs, then the teams switch sides. After both teams have reached three outs, then they switch again and the next inning starts.


Now for my question!
I would like to travel, but for now, nobody's okay with me flying outside the continent, and I have never been.
I am very interested in history, but colonial stuff bores me. I am also interested in the arts. Nature is nice, but I've been to so many different nature places so often, I would like a break from hiking trails.
What place sounds good in the States and Canada?
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25th Jun 2021, 4:42 AM #19
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ChristianRepass:

Now for my question!
I would like to travel, but for now, nobody's okay with me flying outside the continent, and I have never been.
I am very interested in history, but colonial stuff bores me. I am also interested in the arts. Nature is nice, but I've been to so many different nature places so often, I would like a break from hiking trails.
What place sounds good in the States and Canada?


Chicago is AMAZING for art and history.
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25th Jun 2021, 4:50 AM #20
😽😺Death is upon us😻😸
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How do people put on eyeliner... Doesn't it get in your eyes if you are applying it right up on the line... And furthermore when you wear makeup what are you supposed to do if your face get sweaty
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