A reader of The Long Run Blog sent Brett an email asking what he thought about a site called BitCoin. His question:
I know you’all aren’t software engineers (I am), so you can’t comment on whether or not the underlying cryptography that makes Bitcoin work is solid (it is, as far as I can tell). But I would be curious to know what you think of the general idea: could a currency not backed by a government take off? What do you think of Bitcoin’s economic design (21million bitcoins total, created over the next 100 or so years, with more created in earlier years)? Read more »
One thing that seems to cheer up my American skeptical friends is when they discover Canadians have their fair share of wingnuts and loonies. I gather many Americans view Canadians as reasonable people and not given to the nastiness that has emerged from the so-called Culture War. So when Americans find out Canadians are as bonkers, it gives them hope that maybe the inmates are not in charge of the insane asylum.
One of the odder claims by some is the idea that income tax is unconstitutional. Wesley Snipes’ problems with the IRS have brought some larger media attention to the notion that some people have the odd view they can ditch out on paying income tax by simply asserting income tax is unconstitutional. This ghost-shirt type tax dodge strikes me as wholly silly. Sure you can direct people to things like the 16th Amendment but at the end of the day I think the most powerful argument that there is nothing to this claim is the fact that no major law firm has ever, ever, ever taken up a class action lawsuit. You would think if the unconstitutionality was so obvious and clear cut to a B-list movie actor and people who mint their own gold currency that it would be as clear cut to big time law firms always hungry for the next big money class action suit. That no group of powerful lawyers have ever, ever, ever taken up such a suit in the last 40 years, won, collected a 40% cut, and then bought France with the proceeds indicates to me that most sane, rational legal minds fully understand income tax passes constitutional muster. Read more »
My current city of residence is Toronto. That’s in Canada. Toronto, this weekend, will be hosting the G20. As has become custom since the Battle of Seattle, protestors like to turn out to these things and like to get violent. Starbucks, ATMs, Nordstroms Rack, they’re all fair targets for the mallets, bricks, and firebombs of these radicals who seem to think property damage is the most efficient method of remaking the world into whatever paradise they think they can make the world. Read more »
I would hope nearly all of The Long Run blog’s readers know instinctively the problems with pyramid schemes and their fellow traveler the “multi-level marketing” errr “opportunity”. The Internet is always adapted by the MMF (that is to say the “make money fast”, not “money market fund” or “male/male/female”) types. Back before the web, when USENET was the social media venue of choice for many, the scourge of USENET was the “make money fast” post. Wiki has a pretty good history of it. Cult animator Mike Jitlov did an enduring parody of it called “Big Money Now“. (Be sure to click the “hit space bar” links at the bottom to get the whole uber long work of art.) Read more »
Koreans, as in Koreans who live in Korea, are not the best drivers. Korea has some of the highest car fatality rates in the developed world. The first time I set foot in Korea, it struck me how almost every car on the road had some kind of dent. Road rules seemed Darwinian. If you had the biggest vehicle, you had the right of way. Pedestrians were 10th class citizens, even on sidewalks. Read more »
So Google threatens to pull out of China.
What does it stand to lose? The most obvious answer is it loses out on 1.3 billion people to click on Google ads. Like any business Google has to weigh the cost of complying with local regulation versus the profit or potential profit. Read more »
I used to write an Internet column for a daily newspaper in Toronto. I started writing it in 1995. Back then web browsers were new fangled ways to access the Internet, although I was certain the Web was just a fad and Gopher and FTP were the way to go. To toot my own horn, I was the first person in Canada to write a regular column about the Internet for a Canadian daily paper. Read more »
Toronto has a subway system. It used to be a pretty decent subway system. Clean, modern, fast, and reasonably priced. These days it’s dirty, has not kept pace with Toronto’s expansion, break downs are common, and the fare box price has been seeing big jumps in price, well above annual inflation rates. When prices jump way above inflation, that sounds pretty counter intuitive.
What’s going on? Read more »
A few months back The Long Run blog’s founder Brett Spurr was in Vegas and observed an interesting economic phenomenon: while hotel room prices were at all-time lows, food was now pricier. So a hotel room at a major hotel might run you $50 a night but the Coke machine on your floor is now charging double. The old “if you can’t make it in popcorn, make it in peanuts” strategy.
Brett cautioned his observations were purely anecdotal. I thought I’d follow up on Brett’s intriguing observation by wrangling my connection1 with Vegas local Michael Goudeau (former co-host of the Penn Jillette Radio Show and an occasional panelist for the yearly The Amazing Meeting) and get his observations about how the down economy is affecting what is surely one of the most interesting local economies on earth. Read more »
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