Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Woman In Berlin, 4

Since there's only one electric cooker in the apartment, which is useless at the moment, the girls have built a kind of brick oven on the balcony and feed it with laboriously gathered fir branches. It takes forever for them to cook their bit of gruel. [...] Then the long march back home. A poster in German and Russian proclaims the imminent opening of a "free market." By whom? For whom? A "wall paper" -- a newsheet posted on a wall -- announces the new heads of the city -- all unknown dignitaries, presumably repatriated from Moscow. 
Monday May 21 1945

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Bitstuff

Of bitstuff, to get bitstuffed, etc., herein a collection of links to follow.

David Perry on Explaining Bitcoin
Eli again on Bitnodes per capita

This last link is an index of economic liberalization, it seems to me. Note how UK crown dependencies are 'ahead' of the UK itself.

Addenda: here's a good one from Richard Brown on Bitcoin's "irreducible core" and a post from Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin on his project
When the grand experiment that is bitcoin began, the anonymous wizard desired to test two parameters- a trustless, decentralized database enjoying security enforced by the austere relentlessness of cryptography and a robust transaction system capable of sending value across the world without intermediaries.
Brown's note on "digital scarcity" is the economic kernel, it seems to me. 

And, this report only confirms my distrust, so why not go trustless, as it were? Banks don't really have the money we think they do. See this post from Mish, for one.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The content of their character

Yesterday was MLK Jr Day. On that note, consider:
Coretta Scott King: There is abundant evidence of a major high level conspiracy in the assassination of my husband, Martin Luther King, Jr. And the civil court's unanimous verdict has validated our belief. I wholeheartedly applaud the verdict of the jury and I feel that justice has been well served in their deliberations. This verdict is not only a great victory for my family, but also a great victory for America. It is a great victory for truth itself. It is important to know that this was a SWIFT verdict, delivered after about an hour of jury deliberation. The jury was clearly convinced by the extensive evidence that was presented during the trial that, in addition to Mr. Jowers, the conspiracy of the Mafia, local, state and federal government agencies, were deeply involved in the assassination of my husband. The jury also affirmed overwhelming evidence that identified someone else, not James Earl Ray, as the shooter, and that Mr. Ray was set up to take the blame.
Was this reported by The New York Times? I doubt it. Did Obama mention it? I doubt it.

The quote above is taken from the trial transcript which can be found here.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

When money dies

I've read it once before, in a 'pirated' edition (out of print), but I came across the 2010 reprint of When Money Dies in my favorite local bookstore today and had to snatch it up. The new edition can be seen at the beginning of an interview with the author here.

On that note, there's a nice encapsulation of the purpose of a central bank, in this post at Acting Man:
One must not forget that the Fed was founded specifically for the purpose of cartelizing the banking system. One aim was to destroy the competition the New York money center banks were increasingly subject to, the other aim was to make it possible for the banks to inflate the money supply in unison without having to fear bank runs, as they could henceforth be bailed out by a 'lender of last resort'. Vast distortions of the economic system have since then become the rule, while the purchasing power of the Fed-issued scrip has utterly collapsed over the past century.
For more on purchasing power, see this site. Essentially a decline means that more units of currency are required to purchase the same amount of goods, which is OK for those with first access to money, hence the current asset bubbles which benefit the "1%". Mish excerpts the slides (PDF) linked to in the Acting Man post. See the graph under Where Did The Money Go?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Woman In Berlin, 3

Here the author is writing about the Soviet soldiers in Berlin. 
For the most part they have no ability to assess the value of things. They snatch the first thing they see and have no concept of quality or price -- why should they? They've always just worn what they've been allotted; they don't know how to judge and choose, how to figure out what's good, what's expensive.
Wednesday May 2 1945

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A Woman In Berlin, 2

Recently people have been running to the bank -- assuming they can find one that's still open -- to withdraw their money. What for? If we go down, the mark [German currency] goes with us. After all, money, at least paper money, is only a fiction and won't have any value if the central bank collapses.
 Saturday April 21 1945 2am

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Woman In Berlin, 1

So it's a new year and thus time for something new. To wit, I'll be jotting down excerpts from the compelling diary A Woman In Berlin. I should note that these excerpts are not reproduced for profit, save of the mental kind. 
Our radio's been dead for four days. Once again we see what a dubious blessing technology really is. Machines with no intrinsic value, worthless if you can't plug them in somewhere. Bread, however, is absolute. Coal is absolute. And gold is gold whether you're in Rome, Peru, or Breslau. But radios, gas stoves, central heating, hot plates, all these gifts of the modern age -- they're nothing but dead weight if the power goes out. At the moment we're marching backwards in time. Cave dwellers.
Friday April 20 1945 4pm
You can read about the presumed author here. Of special interest is the book's reception, noted by H.M. Enzensberger.