Thursday, March 27, 2008

Peace Now!

Recently I saw the words "Peace Now!" spray painted on an overpass near Springfield, MO. While I agree with this sentiment completely, I also had to wonder at the abilities of this anonymous genius wordsmith: in just two words, this artist's views on both war and vandalism were made crystal clear.


In contrast, it took me seventy-six words (counting 'West Memphis' as one, both times) just to tell you about it.


- Trevor.


West Memphis, AR


P.S. I would have said something about trombones leading a parade, but it wouldn't have made sense if I had to count those words. The postscript doesn't count because it didn't mention "Peace Now!"

P.P.S. I heard a great quote today, unfortunately can't remember who it was attributed to. From a Gresham College lecture by Michael Mainelli, it was: "I don't forecast, and I never will."


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Review of "Money as Debt"

To understand this post, you need to first view "Money as Debt" (the link is to Google video), a 47 minute animated feature by Paul Grignon. You can find out more about this video at

The Explanation

It is an  excellent, nearly perfect primer on how money is created, and what our money actually is, even though it misses a bit in the explanation.

It skips the details of how money is created, the issuance of government bonds and bills. That part of the story is not terribly important since they later point out the ridiculousness of the government borrowing its own fiat currency. So they do point out the big picture part of that point, and I suppose an animated short is not the place for a detailed examination of exactly how we're being ripped off, but I think it might make it more clear to a viewer, and thus easier to accept as truth.

The author either ignores or misses the idea that for money to be useful, it has to represent something that is useful to a consumer - goods or services. I see this as the main reason that people allow this debt creation to go on in the first place. Debt would likely not be so easily incurred if people equated each restaurant dinner, for example, to exactly how many hours of work, after taxes, it will require to pay back principle and interest.

The important point to understand when trying to make sense of these concepts is that money is not strictly necessary for a society to function. People can trade without money, money is just a tool that makes it easier. For a large, modern society to function with a high level of creature comforts, such as ours, money must exist. But separating the idea of money from the idea of products is why when this movie starts to talk about solutions, the viewer feels like they have still missed something.

They have missed something: when the bankers create that money, and receive the interest payments, it is not the money that we miss. We don't care if our money says 1, 5, 20, 100, or 100 million on the front of it, as long as the products we create, represented by our income, can buy us the products we want. What we miss is the spending power, or more specifically: food, clothing, shelter, entertainment, and the capital goods to make these things.

The point to be made here, and it wasn't entirely skipped even in this film, is that the bankers, and the government, are stealing those things from us.

It becomes clear why they omitted this point when they start to propose a solution. A solution that by their own arguments is worse than the problem.

The root problem

The crux of the problem this movie describes is that a small number of people are able to make the decisions about where and how capital is spent, to take a portion of the produce for themselves, and thus to keep people under their control, for the benefit of the small group.

The movie then says the correct solution would be to make that group smaller, allowing only the more powerful part of that group (the government) to make all of the decisions, and that if we do that, the group will suddenly decide that they don't really need very much of what we create, they will be happy to let us keep most of it, and if they don't we will rise up and stop them. There are so many problems with this idea it's hard to know where to start, but I'll try.

If we would rise up when the government started to steal from us again, why have we not done so now? Is it simply that the masses are ignorant? I think not, but if so, how would having a smaller group in charge make them more knowledgeable?  I can see how it would change the target of their ire, but the government is clearly responsible enough now (as mentioned in this film), and rising up against it would have as much chance of success now as then. A great man once said:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

If they do not rise up now, when things are facing crisis, what motivation will they have to rise up then? And even if we grant that they would rise up, their chance of success against such a power is no greater than the chance such an uprising would have today.

Leaving only the government in charge of the money supply doesn't fix any of the problems, it just changes the faces of the people in control, and even that is very limited because the people who are currently in control have the resources necessary not just to fight the government, but to become the government. To get elected all you need is money, and that is not something top international bankers lack.

The current system, as is accurately described by the beginning of this movie, has one major advantage that would not be present in the proposed solution: capital investment decisions are still made by investors who must repay loans or face dire consequences. Thus, business decisions currently are made by people who successfully forecast what consumers want, and supply it. Those who don't make the right decisions are drummed out of business by the bankers, thus preventing more capital from being spent where it is not wanted. In a system that has the government making those decisions, we've simply let the people who are currently cheating us have more power over us. Decisions will be made based on political concerns rather than for economic, social, or personal reasons.

We would have beautiful bridges to places no one wanted to go, parks with beautiful statues of the people who make the decisions, large well-lit grocery stores with shelves full of things no one wants, libraries with more beautiful statues but very few books, and certainly none that say anything bad about the people who bought them for us.

My inadequacies

Unfortunately, I'm not a very good writer. I never worked on it because I never thought I'd have anything important to say. I have something to say now, but the fundamental principles are so clear to me that I have trouble seeing the problem from the other side, the side many readers are on. I don't know your objections, or where I'm not making myself clear. Please leave comments telling me how horrible I am so I can address issues I've neglected.

The letdown

I can't find words to communicate how disappointed I was with this film. I have never found anything so close to mainstream that explained the problem so well. I was so excited. Then the proposed 'solution' came, and it's so much more horrifying than what we have now. Granted, what we have now can't last, but how is making the system worse going to make the symptoms better?

The Solution

I do have a solution to offer, and from the way the film mentioned legal tender laws over and over I thought for certain they were going to suggest the same solution I had in mind. I'm flabbergasted at how wrong I was. This film correctly points out over and over again that if it weren't for legal tender laws, we would not accept this worthless currency, and the system would not be able to victimize us any longer. Apparently, the problem is in that tiny misunderstanding: the writer seems to fail to recognize that money represents real wealth, but is not, in fact, the wealth itself.

Wealth can, and does, exist without money. The transition away from the fiat currency will be very painful no matter how it happens. Some people will lose everything. But wealth is created everyday, and it can be created everyday going forward from that point. People will need an easy way to facilitate trade, and they will use what seems best to them, and just as it happened before, money will be re-invented. Gold has inherent problems, but they are nothing compared to the problems of letting small groups make the decisions for everyone. The best part of a free market in money is that no one is forced to use money they don't trust, and systems can be easily put into practice that allow people who don't know each other, wouldn't like each other, and don't trust each other, or each other's money, to easily trade with each other.

It only takes one very simple piece of legislation, maybe one of the shortest ever, to make this possible. It has the added benefit of making the transition away from fiat currency as painless as possible. It has yet another benefit that is almost hard to believe, and that is that it has already been introduced into congress. It is simply a repeal of the legal tender laws. You may use fiat money, or you may use something else: shoes, wheat, gold, snowshoes, candy bars, or even the infamous widget.

The movie does make one telling point against this idea: it won't last forever. Someday, people will forget how bad fiat money is. They will forget how much of their earnings are stolen from them by governments and bankers when they're allowed to control the money. They will forget what we went through to give them sound money. They, like us and our forebears, will not even notice as evil groups again gain control of the people through control of the money. True. But it's not a reason to give those evil people complete control today. Let them wait.


- Trevor.


Jackson, GA

P.S. For more information, please visit: A non-profit organization devoted to reducing government harm through relentless pressure where the ballot box always fails.

The Ludwig Von Mises Institute. Advancing the scholarship of liberty in the tradition of the Austrian school.

A book: Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt. This link will take you to Amazon, if you're interested in the book but don't want to support my blog, please simply type the title into Amazon, as if you buy using this link I will receive a few pennies (fiat pennies).

 Congressman Ron Paul's web site

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The Fake 'FeedBurner Revisited' Post

I wrote this post yesterday, Saturday, March 8th. While I was writing it Blogspot's servers had some sort of problem. You can probably read all about that elsewhere in the blogosphere. Anyway, I tried to post this 5 or 6 times yesterday, and luckily, it didn't work all of those times. If you're reading this, it worked this time. I will finish this post, but I have no idea when. I now use Windows Live Writer, so I can write blog posts while offline and upload them when I get a connection, but for this particular post I need a connection just to write it. I'm in Oak Grove, KY right now, delivering in Clemson, SC in the morning, then picking up in Jackson, GA going to somewhere in Wyoming. No idea if I'll have time. Stay tuned ... or don't, whichever works best for you.

I wouldn't post any of this until it's done, but the previous post promised this one. This one actually spawned that one. And while I think it's funny to have a post entitled 'One Post Leads to Another' and have only the other and not the one, it does look kinda weird.

Speaking of spell check, this spell checker says that 'kinda' is not a word. I know that, but I kinda like it anyway. :-)

- Trevor.

Oak Grove, KY



This post is unfinished due to circumstances beyond my control. Please do not read it. Pretty please?


Since I added FeedBurner email subscriptions to my blog, I've had hundreds of requests from readers asking how they can add subscriptions to their own blogs. The first thing I'll say to them is that exaggeration is very important on blogs when you're trying to build up a reader base. For example, if your sister asks you how to add FeedBurner email subscriptions to her blog, you should say something like, "I've had hundreds of requests from readers ..."

The next thing I'll say to them is how to do it, to answer those dozens of requests I've had.

To accomplish this I'm going to add FeedBurner email subscriptions to another blog of mine,, and write about it as I do.

This means that you may have to set up a FeedBurner account on your own (Google has acquired FeedBurner, so maybe you can sign in with your Google account by the time you're reading this). But once you've done that, the steps should be the same for you as they are for me... so come along ...

  1. Go to, and sign in if necessary.
  2. Enter your blog address in the box they provide. For the blog I'm adding this is I guarantee yours is different.
  3. FeedBurner automatically identifies feeds found on the web page, and since mine (apparently) has two, it has asked me to choose. I need to choose between atom and RSS. I know what RSS is, and have no idea what atom is. I bet I could find out since I am hooked to this Internet thing, but for now I'm just going to select it and see what happens as I'm beginning to be in a bit of a hurry. :-) If you have a similar choice you may wish to make a more informed decision. My guess is that either one will work perfectly.
  4. Now you give your feed a title (which you probably already know) and an address at FeedBurner (the one FeedBurner has chosen for you will likely work just fine). Then click "Activate Feed".
  5. The next screen should say, "Congrats! Your FeedBurner feed is now live. Want to dress it up a little?" If it doesn't, go find a blog from somebody who knows what they're doing and read that. If it does, read the rest of the screen and proceed to step 6.
  6. Click 'Next'.
  7. On this screen you may choose to spend money. I like FeedBurner, and I think you probably should. But I'm not going to (yet), so I'll just click 'Next' again.
  8. Google, which runs Blogspot, appears to be having server trouble. Hooking up with FeedBurner is not working at the moment, but I promised that this post would follow very soon, and who knows if I'll get back to this in the next day, week, or month... so I posted it like this, and I will edit it when I can. If you feel like you just got interrupted in the middle of doing something and it annoys the hell out of you, then you did everything right, and we both got to exactly the same place!

So, I hope that (eventually) answers the person (alright, it really was just the one, ok?!?)

- Trevor.

Springfield, MO


Saturday, March 8, 2008

One Post Leads to Another

While writing the FeedBurner post (to follow soon, I promise), I spelled FeedBurner correctly in the title, but forgot to capitalize the 'B' in the first line. The Windows Live Writer spell check caught both words, because 'FeedBurner' was a new word to it (my previous post about FeedBurner had been composed directly at Blogger). Unfortunately, I clicked on the misspelled word and clicked 'Add to Dictionary'. This set me on a quest that took almost an hour. I finally found a blog post that gave me the answer I needed: Changing Windows Live Writer Dictionaries at Grand Stream Dreams.

The Windows Live Writer dictionary files are stored in: C:\program files\windows live writer\dictionaries which makes perfect sense. However, the user customized dictionary file(s) is stored elsewhere. It's actually stored in a decent location, just not one that I guessed!

Once you know to look here: C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Roaming\Windows Live Writer\Dictionaries\userdic.tlx fixing your dictionary is as easy as running a text editor.

On my Vista system, I just right click on the file and click "FastEdit." You probably can't do that on your system unless you download this wonderful little (3 kb) app by Nicola Viganò, called, of all things, Fast Edit. It's worked beautifully for me since Windows 95, through 98 and XP, and now on Vista. You just right click on any file, and FastEdit will be an option. Click it and it simply opens the file in Notepad. Depending on the file you selected you won't always be able to read the data, but you'll see it represented on your screen. :-)

- Trevor.

Springfield, MO


Danielle Likes Microphones

A long time ago, I learned that it was possible to record sound in digital format by hooking a microphone to a computer. I thought it would be nice to have some recordings of my children to listen to later. Boy was I wrong!

Click on the video below to see what I mean:


Thanks, Danielle, it was a wonderful and beautiful song, and I think Brian Regan stole this song to make his bit about the businessmen who make too big of a deal about their computers when flying. He probably wasn't even funny until he heard this song, and now he's the funniest man in the world (probably, I haven't met everyone), and the 'Best Christmas Present Ever'. How he heard the recording, which until now existed only on my computer and some old backup discs, is a mystery to which we may never find an answer.


- Trevor.

Springfield, MO


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Hablo Inglés Ahora

Another embarrassing story:

Years ago I pulled a reefer trailer for a few months. One place I delivered was a potato chip factory in Kansas City, KS. It was actually kind of cool in the end because to unload the potatoes they had me drop my trailer on a platform, open the doors, and watch while they tilted the platform way up into the sky to dump all the potatoes out the back. Too bad I didn't have a digital camera back then (somewhere around 1998 or so).

But when I first got there, I couldn't find anybody I could talk to. Everybody spoke Spanish only, and maybe sign language, but not any signs that I understood. So I kept wandering around getting more and more confused, and finally I decided that I was going to try to remember some Spanish. Two or three years of Spanish classes in high school and a month spent in Spain should help me out of this tight spot, right?

So I decided I was going to tell the next person I met, in Spanish, that I didn't speak much Spanish, but could they help me? So after a minute a guy, who looked Mexican, drove up to me on a lift truck, and like everyone else had that day, just kind of looked at me. I said, "No hablo Inglés."

He said, "You don't speak English?!?"

And I've never tried to use my Spanish in public since. :-)

- Trevor.

Branch, MI.


P.S. I am learning Spanish again, through the wonderful new(ish) technology of podcasting, and an excellent program called Coffee Break Spanish. Check it out if you're interested. Maybe someday soon I'll work up the courage to say something stupid in public in Spanish, instead of the normal routine of just saying stupid things in English all day.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Trucker Talk

I said a long time ago that I was going to put some trucker talk in this blog. Well, here's some:


Skateboard: n. A flatbed trailer, or a truck with a flatbed trailer. "Come on over skateboard, you missed me."


Here's a license plate spotted in Denver, Colorado:


Here's the truck it was on:



- Trevor.


Branch, MI

P.S. I'm working with Windows Live Writer, which allows you to compose wysiwyg posts offline to be posted whenever, and so far I'm liking it. If my posts seem to be formatted slightly differently, that's why.

Austin Loves Mom

A couple weeks ago while talking to Lisa and Austin on the webcam, Lisa and I were involved in a conversation about bills or money or some other stupid thing like that. Austin kept saying, "Dad... Dad... Dad... Dad..." until I said, "Austin, your Mom and I are talking right now, and you're interrupting. You need to wait until we're finished and then we'll ask you what you wanted to say." He said ok, but he didn't sound happy. We soon finished up whatever it was we were talking about and I said, "Austin, it's your turn now, what did you want to say?"

He said, "Dad... I love... Mom."

Cute kid.

- Trevor.


Branch, MI