Friday, June 29, 2007

Now for something a bit more high brow

Too much rank silliness, really. Coffee, safaris and the weather. Nope, today we are posting something a lot more intellectually stimulating. Allow me to recommend to your perusal and careful attention a fascinating article entitled “Why does Fiat Money seemingly work?”. Even if you passionately disagree with the rest of this article, it’s a interesting read.

Now some of you will be wondering what fiat money is. I can see you all now, squinting, head cocked, thinking extra hard, with a little thought bubble above your heads enclosing a picture of a $5 note with 4 wheels and a Fiat badge in the place of queen’s head. Nope. Fiat money or currency, is money which derives its value from the fiat or command of a government or other authority. The dollar bill is a great example of fiat money. As a piece of paper or plastic, pretty much worthless. But valuable because the government says it is.

The article recommended discusses both the origin of the fiat currency, its history, and most significantly, its fragility. In the view of the author it must eventually fail. Here are a few tantalising quotes to whet your whistle (or spike your spyglass if that’s more your thing).

“Since the central bank’s balance sheet is largely composed of government debt, it has an incentive to manage the public’s ‘inflation expectations’ and inflate the currency as inconspicuously as possible.”
“…free market tends to consistently lower the prices of goods and services over time. That is the logical result of increasing productivity. This is why the widely accepted tenet that we "need some inflation of the money supply to enable the economy to grow" is a complete lie.”
“In a nation of debtors, inflation is the politically most palatable form of monetary policy – after all, everybody is focused on the short term (politicians and bureaucrats on their terms of office, consumers on their debt and their desire to buy more things they don’t need with money they don’t have, and so forth). No one considers for a moment, that in the long run, this policy means ruin. Over time, the middle and lower classes will see their real incomes and living standards shrink ever more, while the true beneficiaries of inflation – those who get first dibs on every dollop of newly created fiat money – amass more and more of the wealth that is stolen from its producers by inflation.”
Have a read.

Now for the digression. For those of you who are not Christadelphians, this could be a little much. If so, leave me a comment, and I will either explain further or not. Anyways … I’ve always wondered about fiat money. The Lord, in the Olivet Prophecy, told us that the believers would be eating and drinking, buy and selling, oblivious till the very day they were taken away to the judgment seat of Christ. This language has, to me, always implied a time of incredible economic prosperity. Why would the believers be unconscious of the nearness of Christ’s return if the times were bad. Rather, in bad times, the faithful are watching and aware of the need for and the real nearness of Christ. It’s in good times that we forget.

Coupled with my view that Christ would return in prosperous economic times, I feel that the removal of the believers will be marked by the beginning of some very bad times for the world at large … a time of trouble such as never was will dawn. I think that this time arrives when for some reason, and I have no idea about the actual mechanics of this, the world realises that dollars (fiat money) are really worthless. Such a realisation, experienced simultaneously globally, could easily destroy the worlds economy in a matter of days. And the article above shows how this could happen. As the author states
“Government mandated fiat currency simply does not work in the long run. We have empirical evidence galore – every fiat currency in history has failed, except the present one, which has not failed yet.”
When then? Soon.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

All Quiet on the Wild Weather Front?

Not! I haven’t posted on this subject for some time, mostly because with the sudden hype storm around global weather patterns triggered by “An Inconvenient Truth”, it seemed a bit a bit of a moot point. Which brings me to another subject. What is a "moot"? I’ve always suspected it was a small but vicious type of canary, typically distinguished by its sepulchral colored plumage. Anyway (awkward pause), this weather we have been having. It continues to be unusual. I’ve be chronicling the strangeness of the weather for some time now (Sept 05, Aug 05, Oct 05, Mar 06, June 06 and, just to be confusing, Jun 06). Here are a few more to add the collection … More records falling.

OK, that’s enough for the time being. Surfice it to say that the weather is crazy … still.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Safari still all up the "WebURLProtectionSpaceProxyHTTP"

Apple have whipped up a new version of their Safari for Windows browser. This one supposedly resolves a bunch of security issues identified in the first beta release. However, it still doesn't resolve the issues that I am experiencing ... As mentioned in my previous post, the first release Safari asked for authentication to log into the WebURLProtectionSpaceProxyHTTP proxy for any page I go to. And then when I put something in it crashed in a rather ungraceful way.

Well, I've downloaded the new release, version 3.522.12.2, and given it another try ... and magically, with the smoothness and slick presentation I am coming to expect from all Apple software, it crashes again, giving me the following descriptive and helpful error messages (see image right).

To be fair, I notice that the Apple site does say that support for NTLM proxies is still coming.
All the same, for a company that prides itself on the slickness and the ease of use of it's products this is not impressive. And yes, I know this is in beta ... but depending on IE for proxy information when IE is the product you're product is trying to supplant is hardly a winning move. So far, F+. Must try harder.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Safari seems a little lost

OK, I'll be the first to admit that I'm a bit of a closet Apple fanboy. And so the first thing I did this morning on discovering that Apple had released a beta of Safari for Windows, was download and install it. On opening the app, I got the following screen.

Not the most encouraging of starts, but hey, I'm an optimist, so on we forge.

I did a search on the goog for "WebURLProtectionSpaceProxyHTTP" to find out what sort of a proxy server it was. Nothing comes up. Wow! The Interweb doesn't know about something!

So then, I put in a dummy username and password (yes, I know this probably is something to do with my local proxy, but given Safari wants to send my password in the clear, I want to know what's goi
ng on before I click "pwn me"). And here is what I get ...

A bit sad really. Sure, this is a beta. But beta is still the last software phase before a roll out ... The last gasp chance to catch any problems. I can't even get to a web page, let alone browse. One would have thought Apple would have handled the basics, like proxies and passwords. Anyway, let me know what you think and if you have a better experience, great, I'm jealous, now go away.

Other notes: See also this blog from Errata Security, this from Aviv Raff, problems also Slashdotted.

Update: gothick, a poster below, suggested that this might be something to do with an NTLM proxy. If anyone gets any closer to the truth with this, feel free to drop me a comment here. Another thing I've since noted is that when I checked the IP provided, I couldn't get it to didn't resolve.

Update 2: Sufferers ... you are not alone. Snowy_River writes of the same problem on MacRumours. Check out the comments below as well. Anonymous comments that changing the proxy settings in IE affects Safari on restart ... which if true has to be the weirdest coding decision ever ... Apple depending on Microsoft for it's security (proxy) info!