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

Ani­mé 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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