Saturday, May 21, 2005

Episode 27: Attack of the Tree Vermin

Meryl Yourish blogs about squirrel troubles in Richmond.

I had the same problem. In my apartment, two squirrels started nesting in the living room walls, constantly scratching and burrowing. Our apartment people were delaying sending pest control out. The problem was that they were right where the cable jack was, which they were chewing on. We started losing reception for all our end channels: around 1-12 and 50-72.

At first I tried banging on the walls, which didn't help. Then I got from 7-11 a cigar and a long Big Gulp straw and tried to smoke them out, and that didn't work. Finally, after a very trying friday of a very trying week, I got fed up. I took the hammer and widened the hole they already made. The rest involves a carving fork, a carving knife, a fishbowl, and a scene that resembles what Anakin Skywalker probably did to all the Paduwan children. Killed one, mortally wounded the other after I tore its tail off and threw it off the patio.

These things are a complete nuisance and destroying thousands of peoples' property. I say have one year--just one year--of open season on these monsters. I'm sure the species would survive, and the city's pest problems would be eliminated for 5-10 years.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Your Money's No Good Here
Deflating the Legend of the Liberty Dollar

In my travels in the conservative blogosphere, and the blogads therein, I stumbled across this gimmick.

One universal desire of "The Right" is the return to the gold/silver standard and rejection of fed-issued greenbacks. Be they conservative Christians hoarding up for the end-times, a paleo-conservative Idaho militiamen rejecting the "Zionist" economy, fiscal conservatives worried about deficits/inflation/interest rates, or Rand-worshipping libertarians fawning over d'Anconia's monologue on the glorious nature of money, their common belief is that we'd all be better off trading in silver talents and gold shekels. This is one of the “conservative” viewpoints I don’t agree with, simply because it contradicts logic and observable fact.

First off, the NORFED/Liberty Dollar people are selling silver at $10.00/oz, when its market price is $7.00/oz. To their defense, NORFED/Liberty Dollar admits this markup. Their defense is that it’s selling transferable currency and not metals; they openly tell people to go elsewhere if they simply want to invest in specie. Despite some of the odd claims by "Mr. von Nothaus" on his website and the high possibly this could be an outright scam, I'm going to assume that this is a legitimate business. Any google due diligence shows only positive praise for the company.

However, NORFED/Liberty Dollar claim that their currency is not subject to the inflation that greenbacks are, and that their money will maintain it value while the dollar collapses. True, paper money is decreasing in value. True, our currency could collapse. But gold and silver are inflating just as fast, if not fast. Nor is the collapse of the greenback nearly as certain as the value of “precious metals”.

In 1975, silver was worth $5.25/oz. Now it’s worth about $7.00/oz—falling from nosebleed peaks in early 80s. A 35% return on a 30-year investment is paltry. But the investment is a complete disaster when you consider in the inflation you were trying to hedge against. In 1975, $5.25 would have bought the equivalent of $20.00 in 2005. Now $7.00 will buy the equivalent of what $1.87 would’ve in 1975. You lost 65%!

Granted, the “investment” hedged somewhat against inflation. The $5.25 would be worth $1.40 if you had left it under the mattress. But there’s good reason to believe that gold and silver could become base metals overnight, faster than any currency crash. Consider the famous wager between population-bomb eco-nut Paul Ehrlich and economist Julian Simon. Values for precious metals dropped across the board, even disregarding inflation. The possibilities for more gold and silver are limitless: sea-mining, space-mining, mining at the core of the earth, and sub-atomic generation are all possibilities. These possibilities are made more possible by our exponentially growing technology.

I don’t know the future of our dollar, but I confidently say that goods and services that the dollar chases are becoming more plentiful everyday. Our future will be wealthy one, regardless of the form in which that wealth manifests itself.

Friday, May 13, 2005

So Pretty He's Ugly?

Jeez! Even then he looked like an animated CGI image!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Zork of the 2000s

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I just spent the whole day playing this game and don't regret a minute of it. This is one of the best analytical problem-solving games I've seen in a long time.

This brings back alot of good memories of playing the old Infocom text-based adventures and the text/proto-graphic World Builder Mac games. I credit about 10 to 15 of my IQ points in adult life to playing those games between the ages of 4 to 12. (And yes, I've been able to read, write and type basic and not-so-basic english as long as far back as I can remember.)

Since then, I've worried that video/computer games with stunning graphics and complex player controls were going to crowd out these austere, yet complex and challenging games. Instead I see that IT, and those who utilize it, can expand these types of games to ever more levels of complexity. Notpr0n spans not only the game display, but the "gear and sprockets" behind that display. It utilizes not just set player commands, but the basic commands that the player uses to control his computer. It problems require no just interacting with the program, but utilize other files and applications to solve problems on the program.

In short, I'm really optimistic about living in a world with engineers who can create games like these, and make them available for only the cost of (maybe) closing the occasional pop-up ad.