Archive for November, 2013

Bitcoin “Deflationary Spiral”: Any worse than Berkshire Hathaway?

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

When economists say bitcoin is at risk of a deflationary spiral (people hoarding the limited supply, having little incentive to spend today but always waiting until tomorrow), I wonder whether they are missing two key points?

Not a Monopoly Currency

When a country has an isolated economy and single official currency, the model is different from the environment of bitcoin.  (Economists love pure models that they can analyze, but that aren’t realistic, driving the old joke “reality is a special case”.) There will still be inflationary currencies in a world with bitcoin, just as there are still such currencies in a world where gold exists. Yes, gold acts funny when compared with currencies, and yes, people hoard it, but it still has function as just one of many ways to store wealth.

But gold is cumbersome and not very portable. All the bitcoin in existence could easily fit on a tiny micro SD card.

I guess I am saying that economists have a point, but is it a fatal flaw or just one property of bitcoin?

Slices into Very Thin Traunches

There is a feature of bitcoin that is unique in my knowledge of such things: it can be sliced really thinly.  As I write this 1 bitcoin is nearing a thousand dollars US.  This could be a cumbersomely large value for a more physical currency, but bitcoin can be used in really small fractions. The smallest transaction currently possible is 0.00000001 bitcoin (1 satoshi).  At today’s rough value, a thousandth of a US cent. If the value of bitcoin climbs a thousandfold, this is still just 1 penny.

If someday bitcoin gets to valuable that even this is too large, I am told the protocol could be changed to allow smaller fractions.

I know of no currency nor physical asset that has this property. Only artificially defined financial instruments can do this. (Imagine a derivative BRK.ZZ stock.)

What does this property do to the deflationary spiral, if one can always shave off a smaller and smaller slice to, well, maybe buy a shave?

-kb, the Kent who doesn’t own any bitcoin, yet.

© 2013 by Kent Borg

JFK: Conspiracy? Jackie is a Clue

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

I don’t know who did it.  But it wasn’t Lee Harvey Oswald. Previously I was doubtful, based on holes in the “single bullet theory”.  But today I realize it is much simpler.

As a kid I paid attention to hearings the US House held on the assassination, but since then haven’t been bothered to look deeper. Too many cranks.

With the 50th anniversary, I can’t help but look a bit more.  I remember the killing. I was only a very little kid at the time, but I knew who the President was: neither of us could say our Rs.

New York Times Lends Credibility, But Only a Teaser

The New York Times has a video on their web site with Josiah “Tink” Thompson, who points out that most murders are simple, and the simplest part is “what happened”.  In this case, there are basic disputes about what happened in Dealy Plaza that day.  This is odd.  He also points out that it was a very well documented event.  In addition to the infamous Zapruder film, there was another 8mm movie taken from the other direction, and numerous still photos.  Even an audio recording!  He said that the more he looks at it, the clearer it is what happened.

Frustratingly, the short film doesn’t include his saying what he thinks happened.  But he sounded reasonable, the New York Times was putting him up, so they think he is not a crank.  I looked around to see what his basic opinion is on the topic.

Not a Teaser

I watched another video of him giving a talk, on some assassination web site.  (Dangerous territory, lots of cranks, but I could see it was the same guy.)

He makes two points:

First, there was a red herring that has been confusing the whole thing for decades, making for confusion over the basic “what happened”, and it was his mistake. He worked for Life Magazine at the time and had access to the Zapruder film.  He analyzed the position of Kennedy’s head and concluded that it leapt forward over an inch from the frame before Kennedy is hit to the frame he has been catastrophically hit: An inch movement in one frame is a lot, the movement is to the front, therefore, the bullet came from behind.

But this was wrong, the error is that there was a jerk in the camera when Kennedy was hid (I would startle at seeing that), smearing the image, including the distance he was measuring to judge the position of the head.  It took decades for someone to notice this and get others to pay attention.

Second, people and motorcycles that were behind the car and to the left of it were splattered with blood and brains from Kennedy’s head: so the fatal shot must have come from the front and right.  It came from the “grassy knoll”.  Oswald was behind the car.  So there had to have been a second shooter.

Primary Sources

But there is still a problem here: I believed his assertion that blood and brains splattered behind and to the left, but I didn’t verify that, I haven’t read the primary sources. I wasn’t there.

But Jackie was.

We have all seen her leaping onto the trunk lid of the car, trying to retrieve a big hunk of her husband’s head that flew back and to the left.  And if you have watched the worst part of the film, you have seen the president’s head snap that direction, too.

The fatal shot was from the right front.  From the gun of a second shooter.


Either Dallas was so enraged with JFK that two murderers independently decided to try to kill him at the same place and at the same time, or there was some sort of conspiracy.  I don’t know what the conspiracy was.

Why does the official version conclude differently? I don’t know that either. I doubt they were part of the conspiracy–that is the fatal flaw in most conspiracy theories: too complicated. No, I think they decided early on that it would be better for the nation, and the world, if it was the work of a single madman, and they steered the investigation that direction as best they could.

But they were wrong. There was a second gunman.

-kb, the Kent who who was young, but who remembers it.

© 2013 by Kent Borg