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Cool!

UK High Street store takes Bitcoin

Well, this is interesting. The UK operation of CEX, the used DVD/videogame/etc. retailer, has started accepting Bitcoin. In its brick-and-mortar shops.

We’re proud to be first national UK retailer adopting Bitcoin, adding it permanently to webuy.com. Yes, you can now buy with Bitcoin and sell your old gadgets, phones and games for Bitcoin on webuy.com in the UK.

To celebrate the online launch we have turned our Glasgow Sauchiehall Street store into a pound free zone from 13 to 15th May and introducing Scotland’s first Bitcoin ATM, only the 4th in the UK. We’re excited to run such an innovative trial. Like you, we live and breathe technology so it’s only natural we looked at Bitcoin as a choice to offer you when you buy and sell games, phones, gadgets and films.

I actually stumbled across this when I wandered into the Sauchiehall St. branch this afternoon. (Should’a taken some pictures. Damn.) The “Pound-free zone” thing is, as they say, a temporary promotional gimmick, and all the price tags were still in Sterling, with GBP/BTC rates plastered liberally around the place. I’m not sure how well it’ll work, since the rate can still fluctuate quite a lot over the course of a day, but it’s fascinating to see a national retailer commit to the e-currency so wholeheartedly.

(Not sure why their blog post is dated next Thursday, mind you…)

Why I am Moving to California

I’d say $ 10,000,000 in gold coins is a good reason…wouldn’t you?

Couple who found $10 million in gold coins may have to pay half to taxman

A couple who unearthed America’s biggest buried treasure trove may have to split their jackpot with the tax authorities

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One of the coins, a so-called 1866-S No Motto Double Eagle, is said to be valued at $1 million on its own Photo: AFP

By Nick Allen, Los Angeles

2:43PM GMT 28 Feb 2014

A California couple who discovered $10 million worth of gold coins while walking their dog on their property, the greatest ever buried treasure find in the United States, could lose nearly half of their windfall in tax.

[SNIP discussion of tax situation]

In the latest find, 1,400 mint condition gold coins, dating to the mid-to-late 1800s, were discovered in eight decaying metal cans in Northern California’s so-called Gold Country, where the 1849 Gold Rush took place.

The finders want to remain anonymous amid fears of having their property swamped by treasure hunters.

One of the coins, a so-called 1866-S No Motto Double Eagle, is said to be valued at $1 million on its own.

The couple took their find to Don Kagin, a renowned coin dealer near San Francisco, who said about 90 per cent of the coins would be sold on Amazon.

In an anonymous interview released by Mr Kagin, in which the couple were called “John” and “Mary”, they told of their shock.

Mary said: “I was looking down in the right spot and saw the side of the can. I bent over to scrape some moss off and noticed that it had both ends on it. John used a stick to dig up the first can. We took it back to the house, it was very heavy.”

John added: “Heavy enough that we needed to take a little breather before getting back to the house. It was getting towards evening and the light was fading. I said to Mary ‘Wow, this thing is heavy. It must be full of lead paint’. I couldn’t figure out what in the world would weigh that much.

“Right after making the comment about it possibly being paint, the lid cracked off and exposed a rib of a single gold coin. I knew what I was looking at immediately. I looked around over my shoulder to see if someone was looking at me. I had the idea of someone on horseback in my head. It’s impossible to describe really, the strange reality of that moment.

“I clamped the lid back on. I had found a can of gold coins and I thought there was a zero percent chance of Mary believing me. When I told her, there was a look of bewilderment. Her mouth was so wide open flies could have flown in and out several times.

“Of course, it was a very surreal moment. It was very hard to believe at first. I thought any second an old miner with a mule was going to appear.

“Like a lot of people lately we’ve had some financial trials. I feel extreme gratitude that we can keep our beloved property. I dug a hole under the wood pile and got a slab of green board to cover it, put the coins in plastic bags, then put them in a box inside an old ice chest and buried them. Yeah, the old-timers had it right – it’s safer than in a bank.”

Mary said: “We went back to the site and a foot to the left of the first can we broke into another can. In the process we used a small hand shovel and a few coins scattered. It was so decomposed only half of that can was left. It was like looking at a pocket of coins. It was like finding a wonderful hot potato. It took us awhile to get the guts to Google what coins we had.

“Whatever answers you seek, they might be right at home. The answer to our difficulties was right there under our feet for years. Don’t be above bending over to check on a rusty can.”

Craftsman of the Century: Louis Chenot and His Duesenberg

Louis Chenot

THOUGH Louis Chenot of Carl Junction, Missouri has produced several outstanding projects over the years, his finest effort to date is his recently completed 1:6 scale 1932 Dusenberg SJ. Some say this may be the finest and most complete model automobile ever built. Correct down to the smallest detail, even the tiny straight eight, 32-valve engine runs. Due to the significance of this achievement, the Joe Martin Foundation’s Metalworking Craftsman of the Year award has been renamed ‘Metalworking Craftsman of the Decade’ this year in Lou’s honour. Lou is the 15th person to receive the annual award, which was first presented in 1997. The award includes an engraved medallion and a cheque for $2000.00 that will be presented at the North American Model Engineering Society Expo in Southgate. The public is invited to see Lou and the Duesenberg at the show April 30 – May 1, 2011.

About Louis Chenot

Lou spent his 40-year working career as a mechanical engineer, with the last ten years as Director of Engineering for Leggett & Platt Corporation Automotive Group. He has restored full-size vintage cars including a 1930 Cadillac Convertible in the 1960s that was shown on the classic car circuit for years.

[SNIP of much more information. Here are some of the photos:]

And here are sme of the photos of the project with explanations, some the same, some different, from another site:

Inside the straight eight engine are all the correct parts custom machined to scale from steel, cast iron and aluminum. Here we see the block and crankshaft at the top. Arrayed below the block are the cast iron cylinder sleeves, pistons, wrist pins and assembled connecting rods.

Here is the engine removed from the model and sitting on its test stand. The transmission is in the foreground. Most running models are built at larger scales like 1/3 or 1/4. Working in the smaller 1/6 scale magnifies the problems caused by miniaturizing certain parts. Remember that scale parts are 1/6 as long, 1/6 as high and 1/6 as deep as real parts, making them 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 or 1/216th of the volume of the original part. Further complicating the prospect of building a running engine at that size is the fact that fuel molecules and electricity don’t scale. It is very difficult to get tiny carburetors and little spark plugs to work like the big ones. A video of Lou starting and running the engine for the first time can be seen at http://videos2view.net/Duesenberg-run.htm .

This is the dashboard and interior with the body primed but not yet painted.
Note the detailed instruments and engine-turned finish on the dash.

And more at this second site …. Enjoy!

Good News…

Canada’s Senate has passed a Bill striking down the use of “Hate Speech” as a weapon to silence critics of… well whatever.

Now can we see something similar in striking out Section 5 of the Public Order Act iDave? You potato two-faced twat?

No I will not be holding my breath.

Quote of the day

Joss Whedon rocks.

Boyd:[After handing Echo a gun]Do you know how to use this?

Echo : I’ve got four brothers, none of them Democrats.

Echo (Eliza Dushku), Episode 2. Season 1, Dollhouse

Shiny

Heroes of the Day…

In a daring raid intended to boost the morale of the French [hmm...], Wing Commander Ken Gatward flew just feet off the ground to put the wind up the Germans.

After dropping a huge French flag on top of the Arc de Triomphe, the British pilot headed towards the Gestapo headquarters which he raked with 20mm shells.

The attack sent the German SS troops running for their lives [and crying like girls], to the delight of Parisians.

Just read the whole thing. It’s awesome.

It reminds me oddly of this.

Something for the Weekend…

Surfing goats!

Saturday night smile

One from the Brits:

Look at her, she’s loving it.

And one from the Yanks:

Lets hear it for the rednecks*, Gods favourite creation.

*Even if these ones are Czech.

Real Football

Whilst Septic Bladder of FIFA was holding hands with a vicious tyrant real football happened in Augsburg.

Alas FIFA (who else?) have claimed copyright over most of the Youtubes of this but the BBC has it online here. Now that is a hell of a goal by any definition. Note the way White turns to celebrate just after she’s struck it. She knows the Japanese keeper hasn’t a chance.

Compare also that whilst Step Ladder flew to see another despot on his private jet and that last year the overpaid (and in the case of Wayne Rooney) over-pied “stars” of the England men’s team got humiliated in South Africa (after a lacklustre campaign the Germans delivered a 4-1 coup-de-grace) this…

To avoid a repeat of the troubles across the Atlantic when the Women’s United Soccer Association – the first fully professional women’s league – folded, the eight clubs in WSL can pay no more than four players wages of £20,000 a year.

That means the top eight women’s clubs in England are wage-capped to twenty-grand a year and only for their very top players. A top Barclays Premiership player is looking at (in wages alone – there are also sponsorship deals*, book deals** and all sorts of other income streams) a minuscule quantity. Assume all eight WSL clubs pay top whack a year to all they can. That is for 32 players making £ 640,000 per anum between all of them. Not long since Wayne Rooney pissed and moaned to get £250,000 a week (allegedlyy ManCity were offeringg £288,000 a week. And he looks like Shrek without the charm. And just by the by here. When he demanded that from Manchester United I felt deeply sorry for Alex Ferguson who had covered Rooney’s many forays into Homo habilis territory*** and now had to deal with a surreal pay-demand from the obstreperous wretch. Ferguson, who is paid nothing like as much but is the real reason for the success of Manchester United was visibly upset.

So the England Women’s Team are into the quarter finals with France after monstering Japan 2-0. I don’t know if the BBC will broadcast it or I’ll have to watch online but from what I saw of the performance against the much fancied Japanese

* You’d think on that money they’d be able to buy their own boots…
** Apparently an Alan Shearer “auto”biography contained the line, “I saw we were twelve points clear in the league so I decided to celebrate by going out and creosoting the fence”. Shearer retired a few years back and is currently available for terminally dull after-dinner speaking.
*** Anyone who decries Darwin’s “The Descent of Man” ought to be presented before Wayne Rooney’s compound in Chester Zoo where he will fling his own faeces at you. Unless you’re female and over 65 and and then arguable much worse. You think this is me having a go at the underclass? No. Rooney looks like a pie-monster. He was sweating like a Bangkok lady-boy rapist in the last World Cup. You know, for roughly 500 times median salary you expect a little more.

B.A. Baracas goes to war…

Muammar Ghadaffi: Have we crushed the rebels yet Colonel?
Colonel al Deqhar: We have them in a secure facility awaiting interrogation, sir!
Muammar Ghadaffi: Excellent! Tell me you haven’t locked them in the vehicle service area with all the welding equipment again Colonel?
Colonel al Deqhar: Err…

Cue the tune…

NATO may not officially have boots on the ground in Libya but there is someone there who has a heck of a lot of gold jewellery. Has anyone seen the A-Team since that dreadful movie? Apart from B.A. in the Snickers adverts but those were an obvious subterfuge.

Yeah, that is the turret of a BMP-1 Soviet infantry fighting vehicle mounted on the back of a “technical” (probably a Toyota Hi-Lux) and that’s a 73mm cannon. As Defense Tech mentions the gunner’s seat is a standard office typing chair much the same as the IKEA one I am now sitting on. DT also suggests (needlessly – by which I mean obviously) that the accuracy has got to be very dubious at best but for anyone who watched the A-Team (and I pity the fool who didn’t) that is not really the point is it?

Not shallot of people have heard this…

… Yes it’s the Vegetable Orchestra of Vienna.

Spoilers…

Last night we found out who River Song is.

I have updated because it has come to my attention that BBC America shows this a week later than we get it. So spoilers sweetie, spoilers…

(more…)

Lets see

Fact free Check
Appeal to authority Check
Assertion Check
Ad hominem attacks Check

They’re right, they have to be climate scientists.

I guess the obscenities are just added bonus.

H/T Andrew Bolt

Something nice from the mainsteam media.

As early moring Fox News does not presently exist in Britian (it has been taken over by Sky News for Royal Wedding reasons – errr if we wanted to watch Royal Wedding stuff could we not just turn on Sky News…..) I have been watching the financial stations.

I can not get Fox Business (“if you provider does not offer it, DEMAND it” – I have tried Neil Cavuto, I have tried. But my provider is Sky and they will only provide competitors to Fox Business not Fox Business itself), so I have been watching Bloomberg and CNBC.

Of the two CNBC is the less bad (Bloomberg basically thinks that the sun shines from the backsides of Comrade Barack and Fed Chairman Ben B.) and one even (just sometimes) gets a nice story (my apologies if the following story was really from Bloomberg the two stations are so similar, and I station hop, so I may be making a mistake)….

A gentlemen (a guest on the show) claimed he could still buy a gallon of gasoline for 13 cents – just as he could have done in 1931. And he had the coin to prove it.

Of course it was a silver coin (a 1931 90% silver coin – a quarter, 25 cents, if my memory serves).

I remember thinking “but that was before the Roosevelt regime….”

Almost as if he had heard my mental question (for the studio team asked him no such question) the gentleman went on….

“And the govenrment went on producing these basically silver coins till 1964-5 when the modern coinage was introduced – made from materials that have little value” .

That is true, I thought to myself, the Roosevelt regime launched its unholy war on gold – not on silver). Future archaeologists (if there are any) may not date the decline of American (and Western) civilization from what we call the “1930s” at all (as most of the coinage appears to be still sound), they may well date it from what we call the mid “1960s” when the coinage suddenly goes like that of the late 3rd century Roman Empire – base metal “washed with silver” (if even that).

“This buying of silver and gold is a very American thing…..” said someone on the studio team (he did not get round to saying “a very Glenn Beck, stroking your rifle, paranoid thing…”).

“No” replied the gentleman guest – “actually European investors buy twice as much physical gold and silver (per person) than Americans do.”

His company, of course, sells physical gold and silver – but it is worth noting that other forms of gold and silver are just PROMISES. One can not buy goods with promises that gold or silver will be delivered at some future time – not in a time of crises, which is the only time one would be trying to buy food or other goods with gold or silver anyway. So what is the point of “nonphysical” gold or silver?

At this point the various studio people (both employees of CNBC and other guests) started to agree that physical gold and silver was a “good hedge” (we do not buy it out of paranoia – we buy it as a rational hedge, an insurance policy….. BUT YOU DO BUY IT).

And the CNBC lady who was helping the gentleman with his coins suddenly seemed to get very attached to a silver coin (it seemed to get stuck to her hand), as she gazed longingly at the other silver and gold coins (American, Canadian – the nationality did not matter, only the physical content). The other people in the studio had similar expressions.

These people (both the journalists and the guests from other lines of business) regularly see bits of paper (or computer screens) with X zillion Dollars (or Pounds or Euros) written upon them. But I have never seen such looks on their faces before – only when they were looking at these physical objects.

The Future is the Past.

On this day fifty years ago Yuri Gargarin slipped these surly bonds…

Fifty years ago…

It’s like black and white movies of the Battle of the Somme because it is history now. It is something that happened and mattered but not something that is still happening.

Fifty years ago.

Around that time my teenaged Dad was watching a band he rather liked called The Silver Beatles at a dingy gaff called “The Cavern Club” in Liverpool playing covers of American songs. And yes, the cloakroom attendant was a Miss Priscilla White.

We still had the death penalty, homosexuality was illegal, we still had shillings and such. Kilograms were just something mysterious and filthy the French did. Flying to America was a big deal and not something almost everyone can now afford. Wearing a black polo-neck jumper and saying, “That’s cool daddio” after reciting terrible beatnik poetry was, well, cool and could get you laid rather than beaten which is what should have been the case.

My wife once tried to explain to her teenage cousin Pong. He didn’t get it. It was a world away from his Sony PSP. A friend of mine has just had a kid (couple of months ago). How, ten years from now, could I explain Halo to him? Luke will grow up in world where all TVs are panels and have a thousand channels. I recall them with tubes and the start of C4 being a big deal. I also recall as a young kid watching in black & white which is a concept which will truly scare the kiddies. They just won’t believe it! Will they though believe that when my parents were half the age I am men went into space? Will they believe and see where it all went wrong? Will they see that technology is about more than how slim your phone is?

I don’t have any children (a cat is more than enough) but I’m 37 so I could easily have teenage kids of my own which means that Yuri’s excursion easily places that within the realm of teenagers of that time who are grandparents now.

So what happened? Where did it all go wrong (and why is there a Vauxhall Corsa in the drive and not a jet-pack in the cupboard?). Well, obviously there was the absurd dick-swinging contest that was the Cold War that accelerated in the wrong way such non-market driven space-silliness. Well, I say “silliness” but the glory of it is impossible to dispute.

But there is another way of looking at it…

Historians have worked out that from having a vague idea to first flight the Wright brothers spent $1000. I have seen a reconstruction of the Flyer in the Smithsonian in DC (they also have the watch with which the first controlled powered flight was timed). I have seen the command module of Apollo 11 there too. 66 years separates Kill Devil Hills from the Sea of Tranquillity. 50 years separates me from Gagarin and then what? My Tal-Mizar enables me to view the transits of the ISS but that is no further from me than London is. 50 or 66 – the difference is the age of a teenager who probably likes music their parents regard as cacophonous. As ever.

We have not gone any further than Orv, Will or Yuri. But there is hope. At roughly the same time the bicycle engineers from Ohio invented flight as we know it there was also Samuel Langley. He was director of the Smithsonian. And this is what he spent $50,000 of US government money on:

It was launched from a boat via a catapult that alone cost $10,000 (the Wrights launched from a rail made from wood from a local dealer that cost the eye-watering sum of $4! The Wright aircraft was spotted on the ground by the local life guards (it was December – who’s swimming?) and (amongst others) a “curious teenager” who happened by. Now if you think from the photo Samuel Langley’s ‘plane took an early bath you’d be right (not Wright). The “pilot” of the “aerodrome” had to be fished out of the Potomac.

Langley of course had the press out. That epic (but very expensive) non-event was photographed (and rightly mocked by the press). For the Wrights…

…this was the real thing

The first powered and controlled flight ever. Can you imagine the tale the “curious teenager” had to tell? There are many images that could be seen as defining the twentieth century but for me that is the one. We took off and where will it end? Nietzsche had earlier opined something like, “The railway, the electric telegraph are postulates for which the 1000 year conclusion has not been written”. Quite. Neither has flight, neither has space and does not that scare them? Oh, it’s safe enough when it is in the context of super-power confrontation which can be fitted into the political box but when it is about more…

Which to me it is. It is about everything.

Anyway, salute Gagarin! For that was magnificent.

Fifty years… wow!

Back in 1995 my tutor at Nottingham asked what I want to do after graduation. I wanted (and did get) a fully funded (yes, six places in the country, but then I was good) MSc in Astrophysics from London (QMC). Why? I was offerred a number of postgrad berths including one – at Nottingham – in – I’m not joshing – chocolate*. He used the phrase (he was into wave-guides) that astrophysics was the “engine room”. Oh, hell it is! It is the fire and the fire we must touch. Or we are nothing.

Yuri we salute you (even if we’ve been a bit tardy since)! And when (not if) I get my holiday home by the methane seas of Titan it’s gonna be umbrella drinks all round!

And there shall be attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.

Because we are the dust of supernovae and we just need to go home.

*That included 3 grand a year in “consumable lab supplies” which I assume would have meant I was well set up for shagging any fat bird I might meet – in the East Midlands anyway – so that’s a lot. But no!

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