Actually, why CAN’T I copy money?

Amidst all of the controversy over copyright and censorship, I think it’s important to look at the arguments FOR copyright–for example breaking down this argument for SOPA/PIPA:

…99% of the world does not have the time, the inclination, or the technological capacity to counterfeit money. By creating those techniques, raising the barrier to “sharing the government’s money”, the anti-copying instruments that are enforceable around the world, is that “censorship?”

Framed in that way, we see a different view of the debate.

Is it “censorship” if the US government undertakes action with allies to shut down printing presses that are printing US money or any other country’s money? Why is that not censorship but “obviously” about a defensible property right that cannot be shared?  Such questions change the debate and make us view it from a different angle.

I would like to counter this pro-PIPA/SOPA argument at its very root–the “‘obviously’ defensible property right that cannot be shared.” Actually , why CAN’T I copy money? The Federal Reserve is doing it–Ben Bernanke is certainly doing it! I came across an interesting article from the Dollar Vigilante today:

[In response to an article] “Feds Seek $7 million in Privately Made Liberty Dollars“.

The news story is only about 10 paragraphs long yet it has dozens of logical absurdities.  Even in the Headline is one.
According to the headline, part of the reason they want to seize these dollars is because they are “privately made”?  Yes, we wouldn’t want to compete with the private Federal Reserve banking cartel!

And I know the Constitution is passé in the US, nowadays, but how in the world can this man be in trouble for making silver coins?  The constitution states:

No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts

He is in trouble because he is making currency out of gold or silver yet, the Federal Reserve, another private organization, is not doing anything wrong by making paper currency NOT backed by gold and silver coin?

Apparently, the thing they “got him on” was the following:

Federal prosecutors successfully argued that von NotHaus was, in fact, trying to pass off the silver coins as U.S. currency. Coming in denominations of 5, 10, 20, and 50, the Liberty Dollars also featured a dollar sign, the word “dollar” and the motto “Trust in God,” similar to the “In God We Trust” that appears on U.S. coins.

Ignoring the fact that the dollar sign was originally used for Spanish and Mexican pesos and was stolen by the US to use for its dollars and the fact that the word dollar actually comes from the word thaler which was a silver coin minted in Bohemia, according to the Feds, he was trying to pass off coins, made of silver, worth more than $35/ounce, as quarters, which are now made from 92% copper and 8% nickel, and worth $0.06 in metal value.

Trying to “maintain” the right to counterfeit money is wrong–for any economy, government, or individual. I believe the same for any censorship. According to Steven Saville of The Speculative Investor:

Take the example of monetary inflation (creating new money out of nothing). Monetary inflation is institutionalised counterfeiting, which means it is a form of theft. Although it is (or at least should be) intuitively obvious that the economy could never, under any circumstances whatsoever, benefit from an increase in the amount of theft, it is unlikely that someone without a grounding in Austrian economics would be capable of understanding or explaining, in practical terms, exactly why this is so. After all, during a financial crisis it can seem as if a shortage of money is a large part of the problem and that ‘greasing the wheels’ with more money is just what’s needed to get us through the rough patch.

To fully appreciate why monetary inflation is always a practical problem rather than just an ethical problem, you have to understand the relationship between money-supply changes and the boom-bust cycle (“Austrian Business Cycle Theory”). More specifically, you have to understand that the most important adverse effect of monetary inflation is not the reduction in the purchasing power of money that it eventually leads to, but the distortion it causes in relative prices. These relative price distortions lead to widespread mal-investment and the large-scale destruction of wealth. Think of how much wealth was ultimately destroyed by the monetary-inflation-fueled boom in US residential real estate. The reduction in the dollar’s purchasing power is trivial in comparison.

Maybe the economy would benefit from all of us making our own money, just to take the “‘obviously’ defensible property right” away from the one percent holding it. Any censorship is not only wrong, but harmful.

Final food for thought–watch this video about the surprising history of copyright.

Design your Dream

The assignment I chose to do today prompts us to–

Take a recent dream or nightmare you’ve had and make a visual representation of it for others to see.

This is actually not based on my dream, but one that a friend had about me.

The process was time-consuming, but I had fun doing it. First, I painted the purple/red background color and drew the words “Insert sky here.” Then I took a picture of that, and did the rest on my computer–layering some geometric shapes, and adding the final text–I chose to do this because I wanted a computer font to contrast with the childish-looking painted lettering.

While it didn’t turn out exactly like I had envisioned, I had a lot of fun making this project, and would like to try it again in the future.

早く俳句: an early ds106 assignment!

So, I decided to get started on this section’s assignments early for a change! The things that a Thursday-free-of-school-AND-free-of-work does to me…

Anyway,  I did a writing assignment for last section, had a ton of fun with it, and decided to do another, different, one: Haiku it up! I know it’s incredibly pretentious to be living as a foreigner in Japan and write haiku, but… the assignment looked like fun (x^.^x) what can I say~?

The prompt says to

take a random Dailyshoot photograph and create a haiku using that image. Let the image inspire you to create a poetic haiku. Don’t know what a haiku is? The most common form for Haiku is three short lines. The first line usually contains five (5) syllables, the second line seven (7) syllables, and the third line contains five (5) syllables. Haiku doesn’t rhyme.

This is the photo I chose from a lovely photoblog:

Shallow depth of field–

Fashion’s horde caught your feathers’

dull iridescence.

Of course, the haiku actually has nothing to do with the bird, but I feel like the photograph’s focus and depth-of-field, and the crow’s golden eye and muted color, captures a mood that I’ve felt many times since coming to Tokyo.

Finally, I feel obligated to give you a chance to read some real haiku  here (just so you don’t make the mistake of thinking mine’s anything like it 😉

Final DS106 assignment!

So… this is late >< and there’s a really long story for why, but I won’t get into it.
The prompt for this assignment is to

Take two photos of the same subject from slightly different angles. Merge the two photos into a single looped, animated gif to create a wiggle stereoscopic image that simulates 3-D.

This was a ton of fun! I chose this assignment because I saw Danny’s version of the same assignment and loved it. It’s not at all hard to do–especially if you find a little bit of software to help you out!


This is the info-graphic that group 6 (<3) is analyzing.

We each chose three or four sections of this graph to look into individually– I got assigned to analyze the statistics for Flickr, Ning, Deviant Art, and Bebo.

First I want to look at Deviant art, and it’s the only site of the four that our info-graph claims is gender-balanced.

50/50 male female, our info-graph states. Looking into the source of data that this info-graph used, which can be found at the bottom of the large chart, both google ad planner and Brian Solis are listed. First I went to the Brian Solis site, but couldn’t find deviant ART’s data there, so I got a google account planner account and found this data. The actual statistics are 48/52 with a female majority. A little off, but I don’t consider 2% to be a huge change to the graph, so I would still say that it could be considered accurate.

Next, Flickr!

This was easier to analyze, because I didn’t have to find the data myself on google ad planner–it was all on Solis’s site. Accurate-seeming data (which he states as belonging to google ad planner as well), and the numbers matched exactly this time. I would say that this provides sufficient support for our info-gram.

Third, I looked into the data for Ning.

Ning is listed as one of the more matriarchal of all the sites, with a 59% female majority. This info was also gathered from google ad planner by Solis, and matches perfectly with what is represented on the graph.

Finally I looked at Bebo.

Bebo represents the most matriarchal of all the sites I analyzed, with an 68% female presence. I looked this one up on google ad planner as well, and found that the current statistics are actually 66/34, with a female majority. Again, not far off, but in 2-of-2 times comparing with google ads there has been a 2% inconsistancy rate.

All-in-all, I believe that the info-graph that our group analyzed is basically accurate, with a small percent of discrepancy, probably due to the fast rate of change of the statistics that google ad planner uses.

For more information about the other sites analyzed in this info-graph, take a look at Eri’s blogpost, Ren’s BlogpostNana was also in our group, and so was Ekhlami, and I had a wonderful time working with all of them 🙂


Moody ds106

Today I chose this DS106 assignment, which requires us to

change the mood or tone of a photograph by altering the contrast, brightness, hue, saturation, exposure, etc.

I enjoyed working with Gimp, and feel for the first time that I used it rather successfully (it’s about time!)

Below is the image I started with– tulips in the park by Ontakesan Dorm. I took this photo during my first semester in Tokyo.

I wanted to make it feel older, and a little more nostalgic, so I began by increasing the contrast and lowering the brightness. After that I changed the color balance, bring out the yellow and muting the red a bit. Below is what I ended up with.

Nothing fancy, but I feel like it changed the mood a bit, and I’m looking forward to playing with some more images in Gimp.