Tim Swanson’s useful new guide, Great Chain of Numbers, came out this morning. In it, Swanson explores emerging developments that are taking us beyond cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin into the broader world of “smart property.”
The book is available on Tim’s website for free or on Amazon.com in a Kindle version for just 99 cents.
If you’re wondering what the heck smart property is and how it’s going to change our world, you could do worse than to start with the foreword to Swanson’s book, by Adam B. Levine:
The physical world has an intractable problem; things exist.
Whether a bar of gold or a bus pass, left to their own devices these valuable objects will not move or act of their own accord. Furthermore, if you want to sell such an item, you have the unenviable task of finding someone who would like that item from you, is willing to pay you in the thing you desire and is local enough to make such a deal Beyond Bitcoinlogical.
Money used to have this problem; we used antiquated systems that move promises for dollars around the world at 1960 speed. Bitcoin changed the equation, introducing the distributed ledger technology that allows value to change owner with no regard for where the transacting users are geographically located.
Bitcoin is to money what Smart Property is to ownership. A fundamental reinvention of how things should work, and a better way. The problems are not new, and the solutions enacted to this point were designed with that liability of physical existence in mind.
We are no longer constrained by this liability.
Great Chain of Numbers, now available for free right here.
We’re delighted to reveal the ebook version of Lawrence Reed’s new Are We Good Enough for Liberty?
Download the MOBI ebook (for Kindle)
Download the EPUB ebook (for everything else)
Lawrence Reed is of course the president of the Foundation for Economic Education, the author of innumerable articles, and a very prominent speaker for radio, TV, and conferences around the world.
This beautiful book includes, not only Dr. Reed’s own writing on character and liberty, but also the famous “I, Pencil,” by Leonard Read, the founder of FEE.
It’s available for free in ebook form here, and in PDF and print form here.
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For the myriad of small issues that come up in each book (comma placement, ebook file structure, exact print-book gutter margins, etc.), we generally just produce the book the way extensive experience tells us it should be — and then we ask you to review it and make sure you like what we’ve done.
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Any time you wonder about (or dislike) the way we handle those small issues, we’ll be happy to separate out the advice and explain the decisions on those details. But if we explain our thinking, and it doesn’t fit with your vision, or you decide you’d like something done differently for any reason, you still get #1: your book the way you want it.
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President Obama recently remarked that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol (a sign of more lax federal enforcement?). But former Rep. Patrick Kennedy has now countered, saying,
In fact, today’s [marijuana is] modern, genetically modified marijuana, so its much higher THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] levels far surpass the marijuana that the president acknowledges smoking when he was a young person.… He is wrong when he says that it isn’t very harmful, because the new marijuana is not the old marijuana.
Kennedy believes, of course, that the government must crack down on pot smokers to save them from this deadly modern marijuana. But why exactly did pot get so much stronger? Well, for that you might want to check out BK Marcus’s Freeman article from last year, where he hit it on the nose:
If you prohibit a drug, the potency of that drug on the black market will increase.
In other words,
It was the War on Drugs itself that had made the pot more powerful.
For the full story, and the economic laws that made the rise in weed potency inevitable, read BK’s “Why Rhett Butler’s Weed Is So Strong.”
Our own BK Marcus is in the Freeman again today, with a post on the latest wave of great TV shows.
As he explains,
TV dramas now are cinematic in their production values, carefully edited, and serial in their narrative structure. In the first golden age, mistakes by the actors and mishaps in staging went out live to the TV audience—and the best remembered dramas were complete, single-episode stories, written and directed as stage plays for the camera.
Perhaps most significantly, the shows that stand out today—Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Homeland, Breaking Bad, and Spacey’s own House of Cards—are produced for cable networks, premium channels, and private subscription services, where advertising is minimal or altogether absent.
In contrast, the era that first became known as the Golden Age of Television was arguably pure advertising: sponsors not only attached their names to the TV shows they sponsored—Kraft Television Theater, Goodyear TV Playhouse, The US Steel Hour—they developed shows, produced them, and paid the networks to put them on the air.
What really makes great TV? Read BK’s complete article to find out.
Hedwig Kiesler (Hedy Lamarr), Ekstase (1933
Over at the Foundation for Economic Education, BK Marcus has a neat piece up about a beautiful actress, an inventor of torpedo technology, and a misguided idealist — and they’re all the same person: Hedy Lamarr.
His article begins
Hedy stands naked in a field. She looks off-camera in dismay as her horse gallops away with the clothes she had draped over its back so she could take a dip in a woodland pond.
She is not called Lamarr yet. That name will come later, in Hollywood. For now she is still Hedwig Kiesler, a Viennese teenager in Prague, playing her first starring role in a feature film, Ekstase (“Ecstasy,” 1933). The controversial Czechoslovakian film will become famous for Hedy’s nude scenes and its sex scenes (which show only her face, in close-up, in the throes of passion).
The film will give Hedy her first taste of fame. She will be known as the Ecstasy girl. An Austrian director will tell the press, “Hedy Kiesler is the most beautiful girl in the world.” Later, MGM movie mogul Louis B. Mayer will repeat the claim, using the name he insisted she change to: Hedy Lamarr.
But while the world of her time will remember her for her photogenic beauty, history will remember her as the inventor of frequency hopping, the foundational technology of today’s mobile phones and wireless Internet.
How a Hollywood starlet invented the means of secure wireless data transfer is fascinating, and there are thorough accounts of the story in recent books and television shows. What is less thoroughly addressed is why an invention from World War II didn’t see widespread use until the turn of the century.
Read the full story at FEE.org.
BK Marcus writes in the Freeman on the statue that inspired the protests in Tiananmen Square. She looked like the Statue of Liberty, but the protestors called her the Goddess of Democracy …
To American eyes, she looked like a Chinese version of the Statue of Liberty, her torch of freedom held aloft over Tiananmen’s huddled masses. The art students who had quickly assembled the foam statue over a bamboo scaffolding had deliberately avoided creating something that seemed “too openly pro-American”—even basing the style on the Cold War art of the Soviet socialist realists—but even with her Chinese features and a two-handed grip on the torch, the comparison with Lady Liberty was unavoidable.
But while the statue in New York Harbor represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, the protestors in Tiananmen Square were worshipping a different deity. They called their statue the Goddess of Democracy.
The tanks rolled in and crushed the goddess beneath their treads, but her symbolic power remains, and her likeness now appears in the form of commemorative statues throughout the world.
The authoritarian state may have won the battle, but the war for freedom lasts longer than our history textbooks would have us believe.
To read more about liberty, democracy, and the mismatch between them, see the complete article over at FEE.org.