Month: July 2014

Review: Bodum Insulated Plastic Travel French Press Coffee and Tea Mug

July 29, 2014 Incoherent ramblings No comments , , ,

 

This product is basically complete crap.  It appears to be made of non-heat resistant plastic, and will crack.

photo 1

In the picture above, the cup is empty, but because of the cracks, coffee cream and sugar has crept into the interior, and is now a very suspicious looking soup of some sort of possibly virulent bacterial soup that can probably leak back out into my coffee if I was to continue using it.

I have had two of these Bodum traveller coffee presses.  The first I bought and it cracked first along the seam above the threads, so that the inside separated from the outside.  I crazy glued it back together, but it then proceeded to get spiderweb like cracks along the base, like so:

photo 2

The second such mug I had was bought for me, since my other one had died.  I’d not have bought a replacement myself, and would recommend to anybody else to stay away from this product entirely.  This second cup never separated at the top, but also cracked along the base and up the sides like the original.

Note that Hudson’s Bay, where both of these products were purchased, no longer carries Bodum products.  Perhaps that was due to poor reviews?

A first bitcoin purchase, at Decentral’s ATM

July 24, 2014 Bitcoin 1 comment , , , , , , ,

 

I went to the bitcoin ATM today at decentral, in Toronto, on 64 Spadina Ave just south of King St.  It has the following awesome sign:

photo

I love their self description “Coworking Space For Disruptive Technology Innovation”.  I didn’t think of taking any picture of the ATM, but it worked nicely.  Here’s what was required.

First step to make a purchase was entering my phone number.  The ATM sends a text message with a verification code to the phone, and you have to enter that into the ATM once it’s received.  I am not sure how this would have worked should the battery in my phone have been dead, something happens too easily on my ancient phone these days.

Once the verification code from your phone is entered, you feed in a printout of your wallet’s QR code.  Something like:

photo (1)

I deposited $100 and the transaction appeared to go smoothly.  The ATM sends a receipt text message to your phone with your wallet and the amount that was deposited.  My phone is not a smart phone, something that a bitcoin using generation probably takes for granted, so I wasn’t able to login to blockchain.info and see the new bitcoins in my wallet.  The nice guy (who’s name I have now forgotten) at decentral showed me with an app on my phone that the transaction was on the blockchain.

He was able to do that by scanning my QR code, which was interesting.  I am surprised about the non-anonymous nature of that blockchain peek.  So, it appears that if you advertise your wallet address (which appears to function like a public key) so that you can accept payments, then does that mean somebody could sum the deposits to that address from info available on the blockchain.  The work required to do that could be significant, but if anonymity is what you are looking for, some additional steps must be required.

Note that decentral’s ATM does not (at least currently) have any sort of ATM transaction fees, however you still take a hit on the transaction, since the exchange is at a rate 5% greater than the cavirtex CAD/BTC exchange rate (conversely, bitcoin sales at the ATM are at 5% less than this rate).  For example, my purchase using $100 CAD was at a buy rate of $681.47/BTC.  I see that the cavirtex rate ranged from $636 to $659 today.  This must mean that I bought when the ATM believed the cavirtex rate to be $649.

The best way to obtain bitcoin appears that it would be direct person to person transactions for work done, but I don’t currently have any services that I am trying to sell.  The decentral “nice guy” suggested that I could potentially do contract work for bitcoin.  Since much of my free time has been occupied by studies for the physics courses I have taken, that doesn’t leave much time for moonlighting.  Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s much market for the course notes that I have prepared for the courses I have taken.  I’ve made all of those available for free.  Somebody could tip me bitcoin if they find it useful, but chances of that are pretty slim.  The market for this level of physics material is pretty small.  For example, when I did the relativistic electrodynamics course, I think there were about 13 people in the course by the time it was done (offered once per year).

Some Unix command line one liners

July 24, 2014 perl and general scripting hackery No comments , , , , , , , , , ,

Here’s a couple one-liner shell commands collected over the last couple months when it occurred to me to record them.  Each of these I thought were somewhat notable at the time I did so.

Nested “backquotes”

I often have to run commands where it is convenient to have the parameters of the commands in a file.  A simple example is to edit all the files in a list of files, say:

vim `cat c`
# or:
vim $(cat c)

A useful variation of this is to do the same using the output of a command that also takes its input from a file. Here’s one to edit all the “ancestor” files in the version control system, assuming a command vcsancestor that produces such filenames

vim `vcsancestor $(cat c)`
# or
vim $(vcsancestor $(cat c))

Observe how two different methods of embedding shell commands can be combined into one command. In the past I often used for loops for something like this, say:

for i in `cat c` ; do vcsancestor $i ; done > f
vim `cat f`

(because backquotes can’t be nested). It only recently occurred to me that this isn’t a limitation if $() style subshells are used.

Batching commands with xargs

When working in a version control system, it’s often useful to do a batch checkout of all the files that have compilation errors.  Suppose that you made changes that produced the following compilation error output:

$ cat compile.errors
"satauth.C", line 978.30: 1540-0274 (S) The name lookup for "sqlorest" did not find a declaration.
"scrutil.C", line 142.52: 1540-0274 (S) The name lookup for "SQLNLS_SAME_STRING" did not find a declaration.
"testdrv.C", line 1146.16: 1540-0274 (S) The name lookup for "SQLO_OK" did not find a declaration.
"testdrv.C", line 183.15: 1540-0274 (S) The name lookup for "SQLO_OK" did not find a declaration.

Here’s a one liner to checkout all the files in this list of compilation errors (this is AIX xlC error output):

cut -f2 -d'"' x | sort -u | xargs cleartool checkout -nc

The cut command selects just the (first) double-quote delimited text, then dups are removed with sort -u, and finally xargs is used to run a command on each of the files in the resulting output

Looking for a subset of information delimited by markers on separate lines

grep works nicely for matching patterns that are constrained to a single line.  If you are using gnu-grep you can use the -A and -B options to find stuff after and before the pattern of interest.  As an example, in our stacktrace files (a post mortem crash dump format), we have output that includes:

<pre>

<StackTrace>
—–FUNC-ADDR—- ——FUNCTION + OFFSET——
0x00002AAAC74EF263 ossDumpStackTraceInternal(unsigned long, OSSTrapFile&, int, siginfo*, void*, unsigned long, unsigned long) + 0x06e3
0x00002AAAC74EFE89 ossDumpStackTraceV98 + 0x007f
0x00002AAAC74E5C5F OSSTrapFile::dumpEx(unsigned long, int, siginfo*, void*, unsigned long) + 0x04db
0x00002AAABA6EB313 sqlo_trce + 0x0a6f
0x00002AAABA9C52B5 sqloDumpDiagInfoHandler + 0x047b
0x00002AAAAABD5E00 address: 0x00002AAAAABD5E00 ; dladdress: 0x00002AAAAABC8000 ; offset in lib: 0x000000000000DE00 ;
0x00002AAAAABD30A5 pthread_kill + 0x0035
0x00002AAAB5D828DF ossPthreadKill(unsigned long, unsigned int) + 0x0053
0x00002AAABA9C6CA1 sqloDumpEDU + 0x0091
0x00002AAABED7A853 sqlzerdm + 0x149b
0x00002AAAB5D7D745 sqle_remap_errors(int, sqlca*, sqeAgent*) + 0x01c9
0x00002AAAB5DE8717 sqeApplication::AppStopUsing(sqeAgent*, unsigned char, sqlca*) + 0x10b1
0x00002AAAB5D46FF5 address: 0x00002AAAB5D46FF5 ; dladdress: 0x00002AAAAACE1000 ; offset in lib: 0x000000000B065FF5 ;
0x00002AAAB5D4073F address: 0x00002AAAB5D4073F ; dladdress: 0x00002AAAAACE1000 ; offset in lib: 0x000000000B05F73F ;
0x00002AAAB5D44F35 sqleIndCoordProcessRequest(sqeAgent*) + 0x3959
0x00002AAAB5DA8E55 sqeAgent::RunEDU() + 0x061b
0x00002AAABEDAC2C7 sqzEDUObj::EDUDriver() + 0x035d
0x00002AAABEDABBD7 sqlzRunEDU(char*, unsigned int) + 0x0053
0x00002AAABA9BFC62 sqloEDUEntry + 0x1460
0x00002AAAAABCE2A3 address: 0x00002AAAAABCE2A3 ; dladdress: 0x00002AAAAABC8000 ; offset in lib: 0x00000000000062A3 ;
0x00002AAAC7F376DD __clone + 0x006d
</StackTrace>

</pre>

Here’s a one-liner to grab just the portions of these files within the delimiters (with some other filtering that isn’t of terrible interest to describe)

for i in *stack* ; do grep -A40 ‘<StackTrace’ $i | grep -v ‘(/’ | grep -B40 ‘/StackTrace’ | c++filt ; done | less

Unix to Windows path separator switching

Suppose we have some unix filenames

</pre>
$ head -5 f
/vbs/bin/AEDefines.pm
/vbs/bin/AEMacro.pm
/vbs/bin/bld_shared_lib_Darwin
/vbs/bin/chglibpaths
/vbs/bin/chglibpaths_Darwin

and want the Windows paths for the same
</pre>
$ head -5 f | tr / '\\'
bin\AEDefines.pm
bin\AEMacro.pm
bin\bld_shared_lib_Darwin
bin\chglibpaths
bin\chglibpaths_Darwin
<pre>

The tr command above looks a bit like ascii barf, and will translate forward slashes to backward slashes (perhaps for input that’s a list of files).

I didn’t understand the requirement to both single quote the backslash as well as escaping it, but Darin explained it for me:

Quotes allow the backslashes to go through the shell to tr.  And tr has its own backslash escape mechanism (so you can do things like transform \n into \r or something – where you’d then specify ‘\n’ or just \\n and ‘\r’ or \\r).

Vim: replace search results with contents from a file

Probably related to merging conflicting changes, I wanted to completely replace the implementation of a particular function:

void foo() {
 ...
}

This was an easy way one liner method to do that replacement, deleting the implementation of foo, and replacing it with the one that was found in the file ‘foo’

:,/^}/ !cat foo

file:line: delimited output for a single file

The grep -n command is very handy for producing file:line:content delimited output.  In particular, you can iterate over such output with vim -q.  When you want to do this for a single file, grep -n doesn’t include the filename, defeating a subsequent vim -q (since vim then doesn’t know what file to open).  Here’s an example

$ cat my_file_to_search
blah patternOfInterest hi
foo goo
patternOfInterest bye
blah patternOfInterest hi
blah patternOfInterest hi
foo goo
patternOfInterest bye
foo goo
patternOfInterest bye

$ grep -n patternOfInterest my_file_to_search | tee v
1:blah patternOfInterest hi
3:patternOfInterest bye
4:blah patternOfInterest hi
5:blah patternOfInterest hi
7:patternOfInterest bye
9:patternOfInterest bye

To get vim -q’able output, just include a second non-existent dummy file in the search

grep -n patternOfInterest my_file_to_search a_file_that_doesnt_exist | tee v
vim -q v

I usually use a very-short filename for the “does not exist file”, say, .u (which presumes I also don’t create little hidden files .u in my day-to-day work).

Some initial thoughts on a read of William Blum’s “Rogue State”

July 22, 2014 Incoherent ramblings No comments , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I have started reading the disgusting book “Rogue State, A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower” by William Blum.  It is disgusting not because it is poorly written, but because of the US government, CIA, and military atrocities it details.

It is also a discouraging book, and hard to stomach, and downright depressing.  It is, however, encyclopedic, thorough, and contains extensive references.  If you ever wanted a detailed list of US atrocities to counter arguments that governments, military, and intelligence agencies serve us positively, this book has everything on the shopping list.

There is a huge disparity between popular and media perception of the USA and what is presented in this book.  This disparity brings to mind the paradigm shift discussion of Kuhn’s “Structure of scientific revolutions”.  The perception of the USA (or its NATO and economic puppets like Canada) as freedom loving “democracy” is so indoctrinated into us that to accept the reality that exactly the opposite is true requires a complete paradigm shift.  It is too painful to realize that we have to totally discard our current world view, and be willing to accept the pain and discomfort associated with the mental revolution required to see the actual state of the world.  Kuhn also points out that such a revolution isn’t going to happen until people have a ready made alternative to the current paradigm.  The history of warfare and evil in our world is so pervasive, that I don’t think we have a ready made model of peaceful interaction available for this switch, and are therefore willing to overlook the errors of the current model.  I think that this book details enough of those errors that it puts the current world view on shaky ground.
I find this author to be is an extremely effective communicator.  A sample of his style can be found in this 2002 speech.

The speech above also contains a quote from the intro in “Rogue State” that I found particularly striking:

“If I were the president, I could stop terrorist attacks against the United States in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologize — very publicly and very sincerely — to all the widows and orphans, the tortured and impoverished, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism. Then I would announce that America’s global interventions have come to an end and inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the union but -– oddly enough -– a foreign country. I would then reduce the military budget by at least 90% and use the savings to pay reparations to our victims and repair the damage from our bombings. There would be enough money. Do you know what one year’s military budget is equal to? One year. It’s equal to more than $20,000 per hour for every hour since Jesus Christ was born.

That’s what I’d do on my first three days in the White House. On the fourth day, I’d be assassinated.”

Markham bylaws for private property maintainance.

July 16, 2014 Incoherent ramblings No comments , , ,

 

Markham can fairly oppressive in its bylaw enforcement.  For example, you aren’t allowed to park in front of your house overnight in the Cornell area, where there are cut-in parking spots off the main part of the roadway.  Such a tragic violation of city rules gets you $50 ticket.  There are also maintenance  enforcement officers that will measure the length of your grass and probably ticket you if it is too long.

Because of this enforcement, I was somewhat wary of the idea of creating a front yard vegetable garden.  I know that some cities have cracked down on such a vile practice, so it did not seem implausible that Markham would follow such a police state model of oppressive regulations.

I wrote the following to a Markham representative  to find out what the rules were:

“The sidewalks in my area of Cornell run really close to the house, so that most of the front yard lies in the boulevard area (by which I mean the space between the sidewalk and the road and/or the parking indent).

Most people appear to have left this space with some combinations of weeds and/or grass, sometimes ringing trees or building raised garden boxes.

I see that we have by-law requirements for keeping our property tidy, but don’t know what rules there are for the boulevard area.  Is this considered my space or is it the city’s space, and are there any limits for allowable landscaping and gardening in these spaces? “

I was careful not to give away my intent.  Note that my front yard is one of those with a ‘combination of weeds and grass’.  If I was to pull the weeds, something I tried vainly a couple times, there would be not much left.  I’d love to make that silly grassy weedy space (i.e. the boulevard) into a vegetable garden.

For reference to anybody else who may want to do this, here is the answer I received from the Markham representative:

“Thank you for contacting the City of Markham.

Please follow this link to our Keep Markham Beautiful (Maintenance) By-lawTo regulate and prescribe standards for the maintenance of private property and municipal boulevards within the City of Markham.

Have a look at the by-law and if you have any questions outstanding, please let us know and we will have someone from our By-law staff contact you with more information.

If you find that there are residents in your neighbourhood that are not following the by-law, please let us know and we can start an investigation and educate them on proper maintenance.”

This city representative probably thought that I wanted to rat out some poor neighbour (and included additional information detailing for me how I could go about doing that).  I assume that “educate them” actually means fine them and/or require proof of corrective action.

However, note that the attached document does not appear to prohibit a front yard vegetable garden, even in the boulevard area.  That is at least my interpretation.  I am moving and won’t end up enacting my original idea.  However, I thought that it was worthwhile to share the city response and the bylaw document in case others are thinking of doing something like this (especially in the Cornell area, where back yard space is tiny and all too easy to consume with a very small scale herb and vegetable garden).

Sum of digits of small powers of nine.

July 15, 2014 math and physics play No comments , , , ,

[Click here for a PDF of this post]

In a previous post I wondered how to prove that for integer \(d \in [1,N]\)

\begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:20}
((N-1) d) \text{mod} N + ((N-1) d) \text{div} N = N-1.
\end{equation}

Here’s a proof in two steps. First for \(N = 10\), and then by search and replace for arbitrary \(N\).

\(N = 10\)

Let

\begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:40}
x = 9 d = 10 a + b,
\end{equation}

where \(1 \le a, b < 9\), and let \begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:180} y = a + b, \end{equation} the sum of the digits in a base \(10\) numeral system. We wish to solve the following integer system of equations \begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:60} \begin{aligned} 9 d &= 10 a + b \\ y &= a + b \\ \end{aligned}. \end{equation} Scaling and subtracting we have \begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:80} 10 y - 9 d = 9 b, \end{equation} or \begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:100} y = \frac{9}{10} \lr{ b + d }. \end{equation} Because \(y\) is an integer, we have to conclude that \(b + d\) is a power of \(10\), and \(b + d \ge 10\). Because we have a constraint on the maximum value of this sum \begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:120} b + d \le 2 ( 9 ), \end{equation} we can only conclude that \begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:140} b + d = 10. \end{equation} or \begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:160} \boxed{ b = 10 - d. } \end{equation} Back substitution into \ref{eqn:numberGame:40} we have \begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:200} \begin{aligned} 10 a &= 9 d - b \\ &= 9 d - 10 + d \\ &= 10 d - 10 \\ &= 10 \lr{ d - 1 }, \end{aligned} \end{equation} or \begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:220} \boxed{ a = d - 1. } \end{equation} Summing \ref{eqn:numberGame:220} and \ref{eqn:numberGame:160}, the sum of digits is \begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:240} a + b = d - 1 + 10 - d = 9. \end{equation}

For arbitrary \(N\)

There was really nothing special about \(9, 10\) in the above proof, so generalizing requires nothing more than some search and replace. I used the following vim commands for this “proof generalization”

:,/For arb/-1 y
:+/For arb/+1
:p
:,$ s/\<9\>/(N-1)/cg
:,$ s/\<10\>/N/cg
:,$ s/numberGame:/&2:/g

Let

\begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:2:40}
x = (N-1) d = N a + b,
\end{equation}

where \(1 \le a, b < N-1\), and let \begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:2:180} y = a + b, \end{equation} the sum of the digits in a base \(N\) numeral system. We wish to solve the following integer system of equations \begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:2:60} \begin{aligned} (N-1) d &= N a + b \\ y &= a + b \\ \end{aligned}. \end{equation} Scaling and subtracting we have \begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:2:80} N y - (N-1) d = (N-1) b, \end{equation} or \begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:2:100} y = \frac{N-1}{N} \lr{ b + d }. \end{equation} Because \(y\) is an integer, we have to conclude that \(b + d\) is a power of \(N\), and \(b + d \ge N\). Because we have a constraint on the maximum value of this sum \begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:2:120} b + d \le 2 ( N-1 ), \end{equation} we can only conclude that \begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:2:140} b + d = N. \end{equation} or \begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:2:160} \boxed{ b = N - d. } \end{equation} Back substitution into \ref{eqn:numberGame:2:40} we have \begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:2:200} \begin{aligned} N a &= (N-1) d - b \\ &= (N-1) d - N + d \\ &= N d - N \\ &= N \lr{ d - 1 }, \end{aligned} \end{equation} or \begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:2:220} \boxed{ a = d - 1. } \end{equation} Summing \ref{eqn:numberGame:2:220} and \ref{eqn:numberGame:2:160}, the sum of digits is \begin{equation}\label{eqn:numberGame:2:260} a + b = d - 1 + N - d = N-1. \end{equation} This completes the proof of \ref{eqn:numberGame:20}.

Pick a number between 1 and 10

July 14, 2014 math and physics play No comments , , , ,

I saw the following on mathfail.com, and thought about it a bit

Facebook math fail

Notice that the +4 here is entirely misdirection.  This is really just a statement that the sum of the digits of any integer power of 9 up to 81, is 9.

It also appears to be true that, for integer a in \([1, N+1]\)

\[(N a) \text{div} (N+1) + (N a) \text{mod} (N + 1) = N.\]

This is demonstrated in the following Mathematica Manipulate

[WolframCDF source=”https://raw.githubusercontent.com/peeterjoot/mathematica/master/misc/sumOfdigits.cdf” width=”600″ height=”528″ altimage=”http://peeterjoot.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Capture.png” altimagewidth=”536″ altimageheight=”363″]

However, I’m unsure how to prove or disprove this?

Some thoughts about bitcoin, money and anarchy

July 11, 2014 Bitcoin 2 comments , , , , , , ,

Recommended reading: Ellen Brown’s “Web of Debt”

You may think that you do not care to understand how debt based banking and associated currencies work. Many of us probably think of money as nothing more than a means to an end. The mechanism that allows governments and banks to create money does not seem important in day to day life. Provided we get our paycheck, in day to day life, we only care that we can use it to pay our bills, buy our groceries, provide clothes and shelter for our kids, entertain ourselves, and so forth.

To help explain both the mechanisms of debt based currencies, and some of the implications and history of the current system, I would recommend the book “Web of Debt” [1]. This book explains many subtle details of modern debt based monetary systems, and has a few elements

  • The mechanism that allows money to be created from debt.
  • A historical (and very unconventional) narrative of warfare from the viewpoint of banking manipulations.
  • A history of the United States “Fed”, its history, its backers and the sorts of manipulations that it allows.
  • A discussion of alternative currencies and possible solutions.

You will also find lots of details about how the world financial system got to be in such a mess. I found that learning the extent of this mess was almost physically painful, a response that makes it easy to understand why so many people put up with the status-quo. It is easier and more comfortable to just not know.

In the unconventional historical narrative in this text most warfare is framed as motivated by banking interests. That perspective is so different from conventional history that many people will probably it flat out unbelievable. The author did not help that believability by framing it as self evident. A more scholarly presentation as a thesis with supporting arguments and documentation would have helped lend that history more credence.

A number of possible alternative monetary schemes are considered. The most weight is put on nationalization of banks, with debt free creation of money used instead of government borrowing the money that they print from private banks. It seems implausible that enough people will learn the mechanics of our monetary system to force a grass roots movement that could wrest control of money creation from the private banking industry. If such a paradigm shift is unlikely, reform would probably require some of the smaller scale local monetary ideas catch on, or the invention of alternate currencies (this is where I think bitcoin would fit nicely).

There are a number of such alternative currencies discussed in this book. These include local (municipal) currencies, currencies based on barter and time expended to provide services. I do not think that many such specialized currencies will ever find wide spread acceptance. Something that is widely tradable in a variety of circumstances is required to break the widespread dependence on the current central banking system. This book does mention some electronic currencies, but I believe that it predates bitcoin slightly. Perhaps bitcoin and/or alt-coins will make it into a future edition.

Are these topics that would motivate the average Joe into learning how money is created and manipulated? Not likely.

Why do I think that this is worthwhile? I think that this is worth knowing because so much of your money is being spent without consent by the governments that are nominally but not functionally our representatives. It is very informative to gain some historical perspective of the abuses that are enabled by financial manipulation. When fifty percent of your hard earned money is stolen from you, and you face fines, imprisonment, and confiscation of property if you object to that stealing or how your resources are consumed, it is clearly worthwhile to understand some of the mechanics involved.

However, most people are content with the status-quo. Most people accept the delusion that we live in a functioning democracy. Most people go through their day to day lives believing in the stability of the financial system. A switch to a monetary system that deviates from our current central bank scheme has so many implications, they are hard to enumerate. Without some sort of catastrophic motivation the resistance to such a change would be extreme. If the history of the author is accepted, such a change is likely to starts wars.

What is money?

Money ought to be nothing more than a mechanism to facilitate exchange. Goods or services that have value to both the buyer and seller should be exchangeable either directly or using some form of currency. Currency in such a context is just something that has an agreed upon value that can be used to facilitate multiple party transaction where not all of the goods or services offered are of interest to all parties at the time of the transaction.

Does the currency have to have any intrinsic value? Except for coins, it has been a long time since the monies that we use had any sort of intrinsic value. Through our laws we have the strange situation that we authorize “special” institutions the power to create money on our behalf. That is either done directly by central banks or indirectly by regular banks when debt is issued, or still more indirectly by companies that issue tradable stocks. Banks essentially have the power to issue money because they give themselves this power by controlling the financing of the puppet politicians that write the laws that give them these powers. It is a truly bizarre system that we have grown up accustomed to, and due to that acclimatization, do not question in our day to day lives.

If money has no intrinsic value, what is it? Oxford dictionaries [2] includes the following definitions

  1. A current medium of exchange in the form of coins and banknotes; coins and banknotes collectively.
  2. The assets, property, and resources owned by someone or something; wealth
  3. Financial gain
  4. Payment for work; wages

The first definition is clearly dated. Most of the money that changes hands these days has no corresponding coin or banknotes associated with it. Paychecks are directly deposited into our bank account. We can pay our bills online, or write cheques that represent banknotes, but in the vast majority of cases never see any physical monies that represent either what we receive or distribute. For all intents and purposes our monies are electronic already, but the electronic transactions are in the control of special institutions that have been granted exclusive privilege to profit by handling these transactions.

The second definition has broader applicability, but has no connection to the concept that money is a mechanism of exchange.

The third definition describes stock market and debt based creation of money nicely, but is also not a very broad definition.

I happen to like Ron Hubbard’s definition of money [3], “Money is an idea backed by confidence”.

There is a level of abstraction in this definition that describes the utility of money as a mechanism for barter. Confidence that money will be accepted by all parties regardless of what exchange it happens to be used for at any point in time is what makes it valuable. The debt based “Fiat currencies” (a popular term used to describe our central bank created monies) have value because we all agree that they do, and have confidence that they can be used in future exchange. If that confidence is lost, the money becomes worthless.

Should we wish to use currencies that are not under any sort of third party control (i.e. financial institutions and governments), the main hurdle is the requirement that people using any alternate currency will be confident that such an alternative currency has value.

This is a bit of a catch 22 for the adoption of any new currency, including bitcoin. To give it value, people have to start using it.

My anarchist rant. Why I like the idea of bitcoin?

It seems to me that bitcoin or something like it could easily provide a currency that is both widely tradable, and is also not controlled by coercive, warmongering or generally abusive governments and their associated banking systems.

We live in a world where the products of your time and work are taken from you by force to be spent by authorities who know better than you how your money should be spent. We do not have the option of vetoing spending on things that we find morally objectionable or damaging. Ironically the only reason that the guys in blue with guns can haul you away for not paying your taxes is because you pay them implicitly with your taxes to do this job, like it or not. These are the same guys that routinely break the same rules they enforce.

When so many wars are funded by debt, imagine a world where we have the possibility of anonymous person to person transfers of money are possible without the intervention or even monitoring of third parties, and without those third parties taking a cut without providing any valuable service. Imagine a world where coercion and threats of governments are not possible, because we stop paying them to threaten us. Imagine a world where consent is required.

That is why I like the idea of bitcoin or a bitcoin like electronic currency. If it is ever accepted for widespread trade, it provides a decentralized infrastructure that allows for direct and anonymous person to person transfers. It could facilitate a paradigm shift to a more barter oriented and localized culture that bypasses government power, undercutting the institutions that we fund to keep us underfoot. It has the potential for eliminating warfare by eliminating the coercive collection of the monies that are used to finance it. It has the potential to eliminate the banking and financial scum that sucks the life out of the people that actually work for a living, and profits from keeping them underfoot.

I am surely a naive dreamer, but I wake up thinking that I have good dreams.

References

[1] Ellen Hodgson Brown. Web of debt: The shocking truth about our money system and how we can break free. Ellen Brown, 2008.

[2] Oxford dictionaries. Oxford dictionaries, money, 2014. URL http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/money. [Online; accessed 11-July-2014].

[3] L. Ron Hubbard. Barter System. HCO PL 27 Nov 71, Barter System, 1971. URL http://www.b-org.demon.nl/scn/tech/admin-dic-1-4.txt. [Online; accessed 11-July-2014].

Acquiring bitcoin in Canada?

July 9, 2014 Bitcoin No comments ,

 

I tried out coinbase.com about a month ago, at which point, adding a credit card that had a Canadian credit card address didn’t work.  They have Canada in the country drop down, but only allow USA states to be entered in the “Select State” dropdown for “Add a Billing Address”.

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It initially looked to me that you could use it outside of Canada (if you use a credit card instead of a bank account), but that should also say “U. S. only” as the site is currently implemented.  This is my second time trying this site, which I’d heard mentioned on the ‘let’s talk bitcoin’ podcast.

I’d be interested to find out what bitcoin vendors are used by others in Canada?

Update:

I found the SE thread how-can-i-get-bitcoins-in-canada. This pointed me in a few different possible directions: