How safe is the dollar?
Jul 31st, 2011 by Ken Hagler

I’ve observed that some people have the idea that the US dollar is a safe store of value, and that if you buy $10 million worth of US treasuries, “you can assume that the money you put into the US is going to still be there when you need it.” I couldn’t reconcile this idea with my own memory of changing exchange rates, so I decided to do a bit of digging into historical exchange rates.

Suppose a hypothetical rich European has €10 million that he wants to keep safe as of July 31st, 2001. He puts it all into Dollars, which at the time gives him $8,752,050. Now, ten years later, he decides to convert his dollars back into Euros, and he gets €6,137,480.09.

If our hypothetical European had instead decided to store his money in Swiss Francs (given their reputation as the least worthless fiat currency), his €10 million would have gotten him 15,127,900 Swiss Francs ten years ago. Converting those Francs back into Euros today gets him €13,249,166.10.

Finally, let’s suppose I had €10 million on July 31st, 2001. I had to look elsewhere for the gold price in Euros ten years ago, but found that this would have gotten 32,559.71 ounces of gold. Today, that would convert back to €52,544,860.

I think it’s pretty obvious that if you’re looking for a safe place to store your wealth, the US Dollar is emphatically not it. In fact, attempting to safely store wealth in anything other than gold is a good indicator that someone either knows nothing at all about economics (which is actually the norm for Americans) or else is profoundly stupid.

Good Lion article
Jul 31st, 2011 by Ken Hagler

Managing Mac OS X Lion’s application resume feature. [MacFixIt]

This article has some very useful information on how to control Lion’s resume feature, including how to disable it on a per-application basis and how to create a specific unchanging resume state.

The best legal system money can buy
Jul 21st, 2011 by Ken Hagler

Feature: A pound of flesh: how Cisco’s “unmitigated gall” derailed one man’s life.

High-tech entrepreneur Peter Adekeye's yearlong nightmare began after he dropped his wife off at the Vancouver International airport and headed downtown to The Wedgewood, a posh boutique hotel. Inside a tasteful boardroom adorned with gilt-framed mirrors, the US District Court for Northern California, San Jose division, had convened a special sitting to hear Adekeye's deposition as part of a massive antitrust action he had launched against his former employer, the computer giant Cisco Systems. An official court video camera recorded the proceedings on May 20, 2010—Adekeye affably answering questions in an elegant black suit accented with a pale blue shirt and a coral tie.

At 5:15pm, however, two plainclothes women—the shorter one brandishing a badge—and two uniformed police officers entered the room. Adekeye was confused, as were his two Wall Street lawyers and the special judicial master conducting the hearing. But the four lawyers for Cisco knew exactly what was going on.

“I’m from the RCMP,” the taller woman said, “I’m sorry I have to interrupt your meeting here.”

[Ars Technica]

From this article we learn that if you annoy Cisco, by bringing a lawsuit against them for example, they can get the KGB’s immigration people to keep you out of the country (and away from the courtroom), and if you find a workaround for that they can get a prosecutor to charge you with a phony “crime” and arrest you in the middle of testifying for the lawsuit (thus keeping you from being heard). Clearly Cisco is getting their money’s worth from their bribes “campaign contributions” to elected officials.

In the end their use of blatant corruption didn’t help Cisco, as they still lost the lawsuit, so apparently their bribes where misplaced–it seems like it would have been more effective for them to bribe the judge in the lawsuit. Still, this case provides an example of how corrupt the US legal system is, and how it can be subverted by an organization with a lot of money.

Donating to WikiLeaks
Jul 15th, 2011 by Ken Hagler

The Evil Empire has done everything it can to shut down donations to WikiLeaks, and it’s been pretty successful. I decided to try making a donation of $100 using one of the alternative methods available: Bitcoin. This was a multi-step process. First, I had to transfer money from my checking account to Dwolla, which took four days. From there, I transferred the money to Mt. Gox, which took another day. Once it was there I purchased $100 worth of bitcoins, which was about 7.14 at the time. Finally, I sent those bitcoins to the donation address for WikiLeaks. The last two steps took just a few minutes, most of which was spent dealing with the Mt. Gox interface.

Overall, this was rather inconvenient due to the hassle involved in actually getting the bitcoins. I expect this will only get worse in the future, as Bitcoin is something of a competitor for Dwolla. Paypal has a long-standing policy of cutting off businesses which are in any way involved with alternative currencies (stealing their balances in the process)–we saw that with e-gold well before they were attacked by the Evil Empire. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Dwolla either adopted an anticompetitive policy themselves, or else were ordered to by Gestapo agents.

The good news that once I actually got my hands (figuratively) on the bitcoins, it was trivial to bypass the blockade on WikiLeaks.

Quote of the Day
Jul 12th, 2011 by Ken Hagler

If you get writer’s block, just let the cat walk across the keyboard, and debug the result.

Learning Perl

The state of the dollar, in simple terms
Jul 10th, 2011 by Ken Hagler

The Imminent Dollar Collapse, Explained To An 8-Year-Old. It’s the elephant in the room. The United States is utterly bankrupt and has been living off of borrowed money since 1971, when it defaulted on its loans — though of course, it wasn’t worded like that. Not even an income tax of 100% is enough to cover the expenses, and the US is about to go the way of the Soviet Union. [Falkvinge on Infopolicy]

I came across this nice simplified explanation of the current state of the US Dollar a while back. It was originally written in Swedish, so it doesn’t have the “Amerika über alles” viewpoint that pretty much anything written in the US does. I thought it was relevant today given the current fuss in the mainstream media about whether the government will have to “default” if they can’t borrow yet more money.

Be afraid! Be very afraid!
Jul 2nd, 2011 by Ken Hagler

Anime Expo 2011 Special Guest Appearance: The LAPD Bomb Squad! [LAist]

The cops love these phony “bomb scares,” as they get an excuse to throw their weight around and bully people, while also terrorizing anyone gullible enough to take them seriously. Not too long ago I had the opportunity to take an up-close photograph of a terrorist attack in progress (as defined by the LAPD). Caution: if you are a cop, the following image may cause shortness of breath, heart attack, loss of bowel control, and general hysteria. Run away!

Terrorist attack

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