Would you leave Earth to help colonize another planet? This might sound like an absurd question, but, according to many leaders of thought, its one we might have to confront sooner than later. Chris Campbell explores our journey from air to space, and ponders where we’re off to next. Read on…
If you’ve ever wanted to expose some heinous crime against humanity, here’s your chance. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell shows you how to make sure the world accesses to your leaks, even if something happens to you. Chris also shares why this is probably a terrible idea. Read on…
Over a century ago, a hidden energy war began. The bad guys won. For 100 years, man has been a slave to the energy monopolies. But now, miraculously, the good guys are throwing a punch -- and they’re inviting you to fight the good fight. Even promising riches if you do. Chris Campbell fills you in on the full story. Read on…
An ancient guide has been in hiding… until now. As it dusts itself off, some early adopters are calling it “the definitive text on self-discipline, personal ethics, humility, self-actualization and strength.” And, according to Chris Campbell, it could be the only thing you need to thrive in our day-to-day life of modern chaos. Embrace it, and become the hero of your own story. Ignore it, and risk living a whimper of a life on someone else’s terms. Read on…
“What… is… that?!”That’s what one colleague asked when she saw this on my desk…My face, according to 3-D printing“My face,” I said. “What does it look like?”“Uh…”OK, sure. It’s a rough depiction. Eh. It’s pretty choppy…And, as you can see, the glasses didn’t really take well… making for an eerie sunken eye look.Didn’t really turn […]
Where do great investors come from?I’m not sure what the hurdle rate for greatness is, but Guy Spier has put up impressive results. His Aquamarine Fund has returned 463% since inception in 1997, versus just 167% for the S&P 500 (a broad proxy for the market). Put another way, $1 million invested at inception is […]
Bitcoin has been pretty quiet lately. But that doesn’t mean big things aren’t taking place behind-the-scenes for the digital currency. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris Campbell pulls back the curtain and shows you how Bitcoin is quietly slipping into the mainstream. He also shows you why now could be the time to buy now, or forever hold your peace. Read on…
In an odd mix of fate, protesters and corporations are holding hands. They both have one common goal: save the Internet from the evil cable companies. We all have a common hate for them. But what if the cable companies aren’t as evil as once thought? What if there’s an even bigger evil lurking behind them? There is. Read on…
Want to get rich? Don’t listen to financial “gurus,” says Chris Campbell. In today’s Laissez Faire Today, Chris shares a Zen proverb and shows how understanding it is the only real way to get rich (and live a rich life). Read on…
Ben Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In today’s Laissez Faire Today, you’ll learn about one FREE website that has the potential to not only keep your family safe – but also open your eyes to what’s happening in your own neighborhood. Chris Campbell has all the details. Read on…
Next year is the 65th anniversary of the Peanuts comic strip. And Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and the rest of the gang will appear in their first full-length feature film in 35 years.One small company has the license to the Peanuts brand. The cash flow due to this company could be enormous. In late October, […]
All over the world, power is dying. The dictators and tyrants of the world are no longer able to wield it like they once used to. And they’re losing it to the “little guy.” Chris Campbell shows you how to be the king of your castle by taking advantage of this fact. Today, you’ll learn how to grab “power gaps” in the market and channel them into your product idea or project. Read on…
Chris Campbell got more than he bargained for during Sunday brunch. In a packed restaurant, he learned about a hidden sex boom that’s taking the world by storm. You won’t believe how much money ordinary Americans are making in this boom. It’s so much…you may even consider cashing in yourself.
Hundreds of pictures of nude celebrities were leaked onto the Internet last week. The mainstream is blaming twenty-something hackers, but according to Chris Campbell, everyone must’ve already forgotten what we learned about the NSA only a year ago. Read on…
The fireflies along the tidal rivers of Malaysia show "feats of synchrony that occur spontaneously, almost as if nature has an eerie yearning for order." Chris Campbell tells you where else this might occur in the world. Also, new technology may revolutionize the agriculture industry and what we think of as a farm.
Who can forget Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island? That map, marked with an “x,” is the stuff of high adventure.There is a modern-day equivalent of a treasure map, and it is just as coveted by those who seek reservoirs of oil and gas. It’s called seismic data.What are seismic data? In essence, they’re collected from […]
Jeff Davis is running for Governor in Hawaii and has an interesting campaign strategy. Also, what motivates hackers is revealed and the findings might surprise you. Finally, Ferguson is discussed in a new light. Chris Campbell has more...
When the government pumps trillions of dollars into the economy, they’re not actually printing the money. It enters as digital entries in banks across the country. It’s made the system fast, responsive, and, unfortunately, vulnerable. Now our money is no longer something we hold in our hands, but something that exists on a very susceptible network.
When’s the best time to invest in something? When everyone else is trying to get their money out of it. It might go against conventional thinking, but following the crowd usually makes you miss the real opportunities. At one monetary metal conference recently, the smartest guys in the industry sat down to discuss where these real hidden gems lay.
Say goodbye to your boring morning commute. New technologies are changing the way people drive their cars. It’s making them safer, more fuel efficient, and could reshape the way America builds its roads and cities. The only thing that could stand in the way...
I bet you use different kinds of money all the time, sometimes without even realizing it.In various online accounts, I currently have: some dollars, some pounds, and some euros. I have some air miles from two different credit card companies. I have some supermarket rewards points from three different companies. And I also have some […]
In a 2009 article, the Huffington Post went into considerable detail about the number of people with PhD degrees in economics employed by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. This is the government’s branch of the Federal Reserve. It is not one of the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks, all of which […]
When the NSA surveillance news broke last year it sent shockwaves through CERN, the particle physics laboratory in Switzerland. Andy Yen, a PhD student, took to the Young at CERN Facebook group with a simple message: “I am very concerned about the privacy issue, and I was wondering what I could do about it.”There was […]
Remember that correction we’ve been quietly talking about over the past couple of months?Well, it might be right around the corner. Stocks waited until the last day of the month to nose-dive. The S&P 500 posted its first 2% down day since April — and the Dow wasn’t far behind. Early this morning, futures continue […]
I was talking with one of my colleagues the other day, and he raised a very interesting question, one that deserves consideration by anyone worried about their digital privacy. He read an article that championed the idea that the more steps one took to protect their privacy by using anonymous Web-browsing tools like Tor, the […]
I’m sure you’ve seen the news. As if recent, past U.S. policy fiascos in Libya, Egypt and Syria were not enough, the wheels are now coming off the proverbial bus in Iraq, site of so much blood and treasure spent in the last decade.Radical Islamist armies are marching toward Baghdad, slicing through Iraqi government troops […]
Health care costs in the U.S. have been rising so steadily for so long that containment barely seems possible. Even optimists don’t dream of cutting the price tag. As its official name — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — suggests, Obamacare aims for affordability, not radical reduction.But at a time when we’re all […]
When you type a website address into a browser, you might have noticed that the letters “http” appear at the front. “HTTP” stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. In typing a Web address, you are actually sending an HTTP command to transmit that website to you. Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the means by which information is […]
Picture the scene. It’s 2020. You’re at the checkout in a convenience store with a carton of milk. But you’ve got no cash and you’ve left your cards at home. No problem. You scan your right index finger; the green light flashes. Purchase approved and you leave. Easy.Is this a realistic vision of the future, […]
After a week of reckoning about the American oil and gas boom… I’ve got to get something off my chest.I can’t stand it when a coworker takes credit for something I did.Whether it’s a special report I wrote or just a little investing trick I found on my own — if someone takes it and […]
In 1995, American agriculture underwent a profound, dangerous change.In that year, Monsanto and other companies pushed through approval for a handful of genetically modified (GM) organisms. These included canola oil tweaked to improve its flavor, potatoes modified to resist pesticide dousing, and tomatoes gene-spliced to delay ripening.“About half of all the crops planted on American […]
Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously used the term “forgotten man” in a 1932 speech to describe those at the bottom of the economic pyramid who, he felt, government should aid.But the originator of the phrase “forgotten man” had a whole different meaning in mind. He aimed to expose the seeming good intentions of government to reveal […]
I want to share some insight and give you a front-row seat to America’s next big shale play.Let’s get to it…Over the past 10 years, the U.S. has turned the ship around, quite literally.We’ve gone from a country that was expecting to import massive amounts of oil and gas — to a country that’s sitting […]
The government seems determined to turn out the lights on the digital age. And this is with or without SOPA or the other bills that were only this week shouted down by the global digital community on Blackout Wednesday. The very next day, after support for that legislation collapsed after an impressive mass protest, the FBI and the Justice Department demonstrated that they don’t have to pay any attention to all this silly clamor. Congress, legislation, polling, debates, politicians, the will of the people — it’s all a sideshow to these people.
The FBI and Justice Department, on their own initiative, shut down megaupload.com, the biggest of thousands of file-sharing sites online, and arrested four of its top officials. The FBI is hunting down three others who seem to be on the lam. They all face extradition and 20 years in prison. As part of the sweep, the feds issued 20 search warrants and arrived at individual houses in helicopters. They cut their way into houses, threatened with guns, confiscated $50 million in assets and outright stole 18 domain names and many servers.
And what is the grave crime? The site is accused of abetting copyright infringement, that is permitting the creating of copies of ideas expressed in media. No violence, no fraud, no force, no victims (but plenty of corporate moguls who claim, without proof, that their profits are lower as a result of file sharing).
Megaupload had millions of happy users. It was the 71st-most-popular website in the world. Only 2% of its traffic came from search engines, which means that its customer base was loyal and collected through the hard work and entrepreneurship of site owners. For its users, it was a wholly legitimate service. For the owners, their profits were hard earned through advertising.
But the government saw it differently. And contrary to what many people believe, the already-existing law permits the government to do pretty much whatever it wants, as this case shows. The government relied on a 2008 law to make criminal, instead of civil, charges. A newly created IP task force is the one that worked with the foreign governments to seal the deal.
In the end, it was a presentation of exactly the nightmare scenario that anti-SOPA protesters said would happen if SOPA had passed. It turns out, as the deeper realms of the state already knew, that all of this was possible with no congressional action at all. Congress doesn’t need to do anything. We can watch the debates, go to the polls, elect people to represent us and perform all the rest of the rituals of the civic religion, but none of it matters. Power is here, active, oppressive, in charge and permanent, regardless of what you might believe.
Might it be that some of the users’ shared content on Megaupload was copyright protected? Absolutely. It is nearly impossible not to violate the law, as shown by SOPA sponsor Lamar Smith’s own campaign website, which used an unattributed background image in technical violation of the law. The leading opponent of piracy might himself be a pirate!
But the trendline with Megaupload was clearly toward using the space to launch new artists with new content — not piracy, but creativity. As Wired.co.uk wrote, this crackdown:
“came shortly after Megaupload announced music producer Swizz Beatz — married to Alicia Keys — as their CEO. They had rallied a whole host of musicians, including Will.i.am, P. Diddy, Kanye West and Jamie Foxx to endorse the cloud locker service. Megaupload was building a legitimate system for artists to make money and fans to get content.”
What‘s this all about? It is some powerful corporate lobbyists trying to prevent the emergence of an alternative system of art and music delivery, one powered by people, rather than merely the well connected.
The Internet’s great glory is its seemingly magical capacity for distributing information of all sorts universally unto infinity. The idea of the state’s regulations on information — instituted by legislators in the 19th century — is that this trait is deeply dangerous and must be stopped. So it is inevitable that the powers that be will try to shut it down; copyright enforcement is only the most-convenient Taser of choice.
This is the battle for whether the digital age is permitted to exist in an atmosphere of free speech, free association, free enterprise and real property rights or whether it will be controlled by government in conjunction with aging media moguls from monopolistic corporate oligarchies. The lines are clearly drawn, and the battle is taking place in real-time.
Example: Within minutes after the officials of Megaupload were arrested, a global hacker group called Anonymous shut down the Justice Department’s website and the sites of the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, Universal music and BMI — the major lobbying forces in Washington for restriction and reaction against the Internet.
In another stage of the great battle over information freedom, the Supreme Court, on the very day of the SOPA protests, handed down a decision that could have a devastating effect in the months and years ahead. It permitted the re-copyrighting of works that are already in the public domain so that the domestic law accords with the international law. If that sounds like no big deal, consider that many local orchestras have already changed their season lineups to remove some major works from their repertoire because they can no longer handle the licensing fees.
It’s hard to know what to call this but cultural masochism.
Regardless of how the legal struggles turn out, a culture of rational and irrational fear has gripped the Web. I’ve noticed this growing over the last months, but just this week, it has become worse, to the point of paranoia, and even mania. The successful protests against SOPA ended up only causing the censors to redouble their efforts, and the message is getting out: Almost everything you want to do online could be illegal.
A small sample of what I mean… Just this morning, I received the following email: “BBC Four recently broadcast a stunningly beautiful documentary called God’s Composer (Tomás Luis de Victoria), hosted by Simon Russell Beale. A friend in Rome sent me a link to it, but I’m not sure I’m free to share it. Have you seen this documentary? It is stunning both visually and musically.”
Not free to share a link? What? To be sure, I don’t know whether he intended to send me to the BBC or some other site that is hosting an additional copy of it. Regardless, this is what it has come down to: a belief that every email is traced, every site is monitored, every act of individual volition on the Web could be a crime, every website is vulnerable to an overnight takedown, every domain owner could be subject to arrest and jail.
The battle between power and freedom dates to the beginning of recorded history, and we are seeing it play out right before our eyes in the digital age. It’s as if at the beginning of the Bronze Age, the leading tribal chieftain made smelting ore illegal; or if at the transition from iron to steel, the ruling elite put a cap on the temperature of refining ovens; or if at the beginning of flight, some despot declared the whole enterprise to be too risky and economically damaging to the industry that depended on land travel.
In the current version, the issue of “intellectual property” is at the forefront of this battle. The first most people heard of this was on Blackout Wednesday, when Wikipedia went black. This is a foretaste of the future in a world in which power achieves victory after victory, while the rest of the world cowers with fear in darkening times.