Gongol.com Archives: May 2013
Brian Gongol

May 29, 2013

Business and Finance Bad money chases out good
What's known as "Gresham's Law" states that if counterfeit money or "debased" currency starts to enter a market, people will hoard the valuable stuff and exchange the junk. It's easy to understand; if you have a 1964 dime, it's worth several times more than its face value for the silver content alone, so you'd be stupid to exchange it for something worth just ten cents. It's not a huge step to imagine that there's a digital corollary to Gresham's law: That in a "virtual" currency, bad transactions will chase out the good. The Federal government just clamped down on "Liberty Reserve", a digital-currency exchange that had its own virtual currency, which the government says was being used almost exclusively for money laundering and illicit exchanges. It's well-known that businesses with high rates of cash transactions are widely used for money-laundering. But if a digital currency exchange allows people to convert money more seamlessly and with a minimum of supervision, there should be no surprise that it attracts illegal activity. Legitimate consumers may not want the government tracking their moves, but they do tend to want Visa or MasterCard or PayPal to offer some kind of reassurance that they will back the security of the transaction and help the consumer in case of fraud. A totally laissez-faire digital currency exchange that does everything it can to avoid collecting information and details on its users offers no such reassurances -- and thus, the "bad" transactions will quite likely crowd out the "good".

Computers and the Internet Why is Facebook's stock not going anywhere?
One columnist speculates that it's because the company needs Mark Zuckerberg to start talking more like the head of Amazon, promising a big future in return for investment now. In reality, it's because Facebook was severely overpriced when it went public, and there are much better values to be found in the stock market for much more solid companies with much more certain futures.

Computers and the Internet Cedar Falls Utilities will offer gigabit Internet service
They've put fiber-optic cable all over the city and promise to turn on the gigabit-speed service the same day the customer requests it. They're the first community in the state to go with fiber to the premises. Not everybody needs it -- 1 Gbps is about 100 times faster than a typical cable Internet connection (running at 8 Mbps to 12 Mbps). But for those parties willing to pay for it, gigabit-speed Internet could be a fantastic service.

Agriculture Why we need to watch farm-land prices carefully
Interest rates are very low, so borrowing is attractive. Meanwhile, conventional investments like bonds look very unattractive to investors, so some of them have been switching from bonds to land, meaning there's more demand for the land that goes up for sale. Simultaneously, crop prices are very high. All of these things make for a recipe for high (and possibly inflated) land prices in the Midwest. The conditions are optimal for the highest-possible prices, really. That doesn't mean they won't rise further, nor that they will necessarily crash. But when you see that a market is firing on every possible cylinder, you have to assume that something about it is going to have to come back down to earth.

Iowa Michael Gartner sues Iowa Public Radio
Gartner can generally be expected to do or say something when he thinks people in government are trying to hide something

News Wrestling, baseball, and softball may still make the cut for the 2020 Olympics

Humor and Good News The Onion: "It's almost as if BuzzFeed doesn't respect my intelligence as a reader"
Original humor (like The Onion) beats hackneyed, copied content anytime

Computers and the Internet Why it would be a mistake for Microsoft to spin off Xbox or Bing
Just because the company doesn't dominate every market doesn't mean it should leave those markets

Computers and the Internet Yahoo's mission to become an Internet conglomerate
A writer for Wired echoes a theme echoed here on May 19th.

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