Monday, June 22, 2009

Coin Clipping Gone Wild!

At one time in history when money was made out of gold and silver, clipping or shaving small amounts of precious metal from coins was regarded as a serious crime. In England the practice was even viewed as treason and a capital offense. Those convicted of coin clipping met gruesome public executions.

Although states frowned on individuals who clipped their coins some governments occasionally did the same thing by alloying their precious metal coins with metals of less value. It was sneakier method of achieving virtually the same type of fraud but on a far more massive scale. Rome frequently resorted to the sordid practice and often ran into serious economic problems as a consequence when the debased coinage would not be accepted as payment.

Today, of course, there is no precious metal left to either clip or alloy with cheaper metals. Every last fractional ounce of precious metal has been clipped away, so to speak. Stealing the intrinsic value of our money was never the end game but only a prelude. It was like being being given the keys to the safe holding the nations entire wealth. Money and credit could now be created out of thin air.

We rely entirely on money substitutes or digital equivalents with no intrinsic value. Small time coin clippers have been put out of business. It might make more sense to remove metal from roofing nails than from government issued tokens. Unfortunately, when governments are not limited to circulating gold and silver units of known weight and purity or paper notes backed by the same, they gain unlimited power. Economies and lives are placed at the mercy of career politicians and central those who control the money substitute printing presses.

Inflation, or a large increase in the supply of money substitutes, obviously steals value from what we are forced to use for trade and savings. Making the evil scam appear wholesome requires routine blessings from exalted high priests called economists. Blackboards are regularly filled with complex equations that few can understand proving that some inflation is always good. My high school math teacher had a good way to describe impressive looking but bogus proofs handed in by students. He said that they were filled with fudge factors.

We now rely on faith based money. Economists tell us that money with intrinsic value (sound money) is archaic and unnecessary. Americans have an abundance of faith - perhaps a little too much for their own good. A little healthy skepticism would go a long way to getting this nation back on track.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lobbyists Are A Better Investment Than CDs And Stocks

If you have no ethical problems with engaging in grand larceny then hire a lobbyist. The rate of return on this type of investment can be several thousand percent or more if AIG, GM, Fannie Mae and dozens of large banks are used as examples. GM's ten million dollar investment may yield more than one hundred billion dollars in returns within a single year! That is certainly a better profit margin than they make on the sales of their vehicles. Come to think of it, they make no profit on the sales of their vehicles.

Lobbysists are not for everyone, however, since a few million dollars are needed to get started. After that, they are self perpetuating. A small percentage of the taxpayer loot that is awarded will be automatically reinvested in the lobbying firm which will then "influence" (bribe) the appropriate congressmen to keep the ball rolling. One final note - a sob story is helpful. Something like "my business has lost billions of dollars (due to stupidity, incompetence and insanely high bonuses) but is too big to fail" will be helpful.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Nancy "Xena" Pelosi Fought The War In Iraq and Bush Too, You Know

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is having some difficulty explaining if and/or when she was briefed by the CIA about the waterboarding of prisoners. Her standing room only weekly press briefing did not do much to clarify matters. Apparently, the problem is excusable, however, because she was "fighting the war in Iraq at that point too, you know - and battling a Bush administration that was misleading the American people about the threat of weapons of mass destruction." Oh, really - one wonders why her self-proclaimed heroic battle against Bush administration lies did not stop her from taking impeachment off the table.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Flickr And QOOP Sites Will Be Updated This Summer

Hundreds of new high quality images will be added to my Flickr and QOOP sites sometime this summer.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Subjecting Others To Near-Death Experiences Falling Out Of Fashion As A Conversation Starter

Chatting about beating people senseless or subjecting them to near-death experiences for good causes is becoming less stylish. The trend is apparently not related to either a realization that cruel and unusual punishment is prohibited by the Constitution or that such practices are simply too barbaric and evil for an allegedly civilized people to seriously consider. It may have more to do with the recent better late than never major media pieces indicating that torture is a poor method to gather useful information.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Is Drink-Till-You-Puke The Only Inviolable Right?

Most Americans regard their country to be the best in the world. The reason most often given is that it is unquestionably freer than other nations which they are unable to locate on the world map. U.S. presidents, mirroring that boundless vanity, find it difficult to refrain from self-righteously reminding foreign leaders of that fact, sometimes as a prelude to and justification for initiating costly and senseless wars that kill and maim thousands of innocent people. Individual lives and monetary outlays are unimportant considerations when one believes in might for right and foolish ends justify violent means.

In truth, however, almost all of the precious substantive and procedural liberties enshrined in the Bill of Rights are routinely subjected to political controls, manipulation, debate, compression, stretching, massaging, warping, torture, neglect, misunderstanding, misinterpretation, contempt, infringement, loathing and violation.

It seems that the only popular activities which have not recently been subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques include the production, distribution and consumption of alcoholic beverages. In rare displays of wisdom politicians choose to leave those alone.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Motorcycles And Freedom

As children we are bombarded with messages from adults which usually have little or nothing to do with nurturing our talents and and individuality. On the contrary, they often relate to molding our ideas and influencing our behavior in ways thought beneficial and acceptable to artificial constructs called corporations, society, the nation, the church etc. Happiness is not regarded as a proper purpose or end. Worse yet, mindless consumerism is offered as a perverse substitute. Curiosity and the willingness or ability to question popular tenets and beliefs are stifled early on. Few are able to break free.

For those who have broken free or would like to break free I suggest buying a motorcycle and seeing much of the country as possible. Few better ways exist to clear useless cobwebs from the gray matter. If you think that $20,000 is an appropriate purchase price and official Harley or BMW apparel are fashion necessities I suggest not bookmarking this blog.

Feel the wind in your face, smell the countryside, sleep under brides, get sunburned and soaked by rain and talk to people who you meet along the way. If possible, pack a camera equipped with a sharp lens, preferably a short telephoto. Remember to always ride defensively. Freeways are usually the safest roads to travel because one is separated from oncoming traffic and inattentive or drunk drivers are not able to suddenly pull out in front of you as they sometimes do on side streets and rural back roads. Life should be about exploring, learning and having as much fun as possible.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cheese Heads Allowed To Look Like Jesse James

Residents of the state famous for its cheese hats, high property taxes, forfeiture laws and trapping its own state symbol nearly into extinction have recently been granted the privilege to look like Jesse James, the Road Warrior and David Crockett in some public areas thanks to the passage of open (firearms) carry legislation. The small minority of Wisconsin residents classified as self-restrained and possessing IQs above mid-July temperatures have been told not to hold their breath with regard to the passage of concealed carry legislation.

The Day The Earth Stood Still For No Apparent Reason

For the last two decades or so I have droned on to virtually every person who I have met with the slightest interest in film that a movie based upon the acclaimed 1951 science fiction classic The Day The Earth Stood Still starring Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal would be a worthy endeavor and a likely box office success. Unfortunately, my wish came partly true. The new version is a frustrating disapppointment primarily due to to poor directing, mediocre acting, unbelievably terrible writing and incoherent sequences. That it could have gone so wrong with highly talented Kathy Bates, gorgeous Jennifer Connelly and perfectly cast Keanu Reeves in lead roles is truly unfortunate. The earth did "stand still" at the tail end of the movie with a universal electrical outage but is an entirely pointless act. In the 1951 version Kleatu (Michael Rennie) needed to catch mankind's attention in order to deliver a dire warning regarding the dangers of positioning atomic or nuclear weapons in outer space. In the new version the earth stands still after Reeves has given up on delivering any public message or warning to world leaders or the MSM.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Grow Your Own - Tobacco

The latest egregious increase in the federal tobacco tax has resulted in de facto prohibition for millions of users. Yes, I know that inhaling tobacco smoke may not be wise but it is probably far less hazardous than the nearly ubiquitous activity of living to eat and acquiring mounds of unsightly blubber, diabetes and heart disease as a consequence.

For the time being tobacco is still legal to grow for personal use. Do not try to sell the leaves to another party, however, because that is classified as a crime under laws that are somewhat similar to sixteenth century mercantilist codes thoroughly discredited by Adam Smith over two centuries ago.

The tobacco varieties grown for smoking are cultivars (manmade plants unable to survive on their own) requiring about ninety days to reach maturity depending on the specific variety. The seeds are very small and should probably be started indoors under growlights four to six weeks before the last frost in your area. Light is required for germination so sprinkle the seeds on the growing medium and keep the surface moist but not wet. After harvesting, the leaves need to be stored somehere airy and dry to cure. The longer that they cured, apparently, the better they taste. Both seeds and flavorings are available on the internet. If your first crop is successful it might be a good idea to save seeds for the following year.

I must give the tobacco companies praise for producing consistently high quality, flavorful and conveniently pachaged products. It is far easier to buy their goods than to grow and roll your own. Unfortunately, taxes have now reached a level where they are interfering with commerce.

Quest For Fire

Is your full or part time residence an RV, travel trailer or mobile home and wood is plentiful but unusable as a heat source due to safety concerns? You might find this article of mine posted at the answer to your problems. I think this link still works:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Another April 15

Another April 15 has come and gone with nothing newsworthy occurring other than a groups of disgruntled Republicans sprinkling small amounts of tea to onto surface water. Apparently, the so called tea parties did not brew up much of a stir in Washington.

As the number of American troops occupying Iraq is decreased the number of American troops fighting elusive and mostly unseen enemies in Afghanistan will be increased. Alas, perpetual war is a key nutrient required for government growth and one of its controlling appendages, the military-industrial complex. Both appear to be putting on an alarming amount of weight as the working class struggles to survive the economic nosedive.

Contrary to popular belief, stimulus programs do not work. They only prolong and intensify recessions and can even transform them into depressions. Japan literally blanketed its landscape with public works projects but the spending did not reverse its long recession.

It appears that the torture memos are going to be made public. Americans should not be debating whether the barbaric, evil and counterproductive practice might be useful under certain circumstances. The ticking bomb argument is bogus.

Is Uncle Sam going be the biggest stakeholder in GM along with the insurance giant AIG? I thought that state ownership of businesses or "the means of production" is defined as communism, an evil that Americans have spent half a century fighting tooth and nail. My, how things have changed - and mostly for the worse. I wonder how the thousands of Americans employed by more successful foreign auto companies feel about feel about how their tax dollars are being "invested". I strongly suspect that they were never provided an opportunity to express their opinions.

I have not had time to scan any of my own slides yet so there will be no images associated with this first post. I have, however, played with a few Hubble images which can be viewed by clicking my Flickr link. This blog is still in a rudimentary form but improvements are on the way.