Why You Should Own Some Bitcoin

If you've been following the news over the past couple weeks, it's been impossible to miss some of the goings on with Bitcoin. A number of high-profile arrests have been made of people at least tangentially related to the crypto-currency, a successful hack looted millions of dollars worth of Bitcoins, and one of the largest Bitcoin exhanges is teetering on the brink of destruction, sending Bitcoin into a freefall on that exchange while its price remains stable on all the others. In the world of Bitcoin, there's never a dull moment.

So why on Earth would you ever get involved?

Because you really can't afford not to. Seriously. Just on the off chance that Bitcoin changes the world in much the same way the Internet did, do you really want to look back and say to yourself, "Man, if I had only seen that coming." Of course, Bitcoin could be gone tomorrow. To be sure, many people in high places would love nothing more. And if volatility ain't your thing, Bitcoin can give you heart palpitations. But I'm forced to agree with the Wall Street Journal: Bitcoin is at a turning point and I just don't think you can afford to miss it.

What most people are only now beginning to understand is that Bitcoin is about more than just money:

How Well Do You Know Women & Money?

mod (Andy) note: "Blast from the past - Best of Eddie" - This one is originally from January 2010. If there's an old post from Eddie you'd like to see up again shoot me a message.

Here is a fairly infuriating quiz about how well you know women and money, put together by female personal finance guru Suze Orman. I scored 3 out of 10, underscoring my lack of knowledge of the fairer sex, despite several decades experience and tens of thousands in divorce settlements. See if you do any better.

Bonus Bananas February 21, 2014

1) Yes, the Wealthy Can Be Deserving (NY Times) - When's the last time you saw anything that was actually printed in favor of the 1%? That's why I thought I'd lead with this one this week.

2) Lending Where Banks Can't, Blackstone Thrives in Ireland (Dealbook) - Shadow banking at its finest. Make all the jokes you want about these guys being crooks (they make it pretty easy) but in reality these are really novel solutions to some sticky problems and ultimately they're saving jobs.

3) Having Control Over Your Time Is the Only Sensible Financial Goal (Motley Fool) - It's the age-old conundrum: people with all the time in the world have no money, and the people with all the money in the world have no time. Striking a balance is often difficult, but take it from your old Uncle Eddie: ultimately it's worth it.

Protect Yourself from CryptoLocker

So I was going to write a post about Tesla's big beat after the market yesterday and how the stock is off to the races today, but I came across a computer virus yesterday that was so nasty I wanted to make you guys aware of it so you don't get victimized.

I do a bit of IT consulting on the side for C-level guys who are technophobic. I was scheduled to do a training with one such CEO yesterday, when he asked me if I'd ever heard of CryptoLocker and was it some kind of service. In fact I had heard of CryptoLocker recently on the Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast, and the fact that this CEO was asking me about it could only mean one thing: he was infected. Sure enough, he said a timer had popped up on his desktop, his files had been stolen, and he had 72 hours to pay $400 through Bitcoin to get his files back or they'd be deleted forever.

Unfortunately, this thing is for real. It comes disguised as an email from UPS or FedEx with tracking information in PDF format attached, only it ain't a PDF. It's a double-extension executable file that installs itself on your hard drive, steals and encrypts all your files, and then demands a ransom for you to recover them. Because the ransom is paid with Bitcoin, it's impossible to track where the money is going. Up to now, the hackers have been true to their word and have returned the files once the ransom has been paid.

Private Jet Travel Becoming More Affordable

This is one trend I can really get behind. Those of you who've read my stuff on travel know that the thing I hate most in life is commercial air travel. I largely blame the knee-jerk reaction of the US to September 11 for most of the added misery, but the airlines are pretty awful in their own right for putting people on top of one another and refusing to take off before every plane is bursting at the seams. So I'm very encouraged to see the price of private jet travel coming way down. The following trip to Switzerland for my family would cost $2,000 commercially, so to think I could eliminate all the misery for only $6,000 more makes it really tempting. I wonder what all the poor people on RyanAir think of this:

Monday @Mentions February 17, 2014

Thread of the Week:

@"big unit" leads us off this week with his informative thread on all things credit entitled, Focus on the downside: brushing up on credit skills. The post got a whopping 21 Silver Bananas, as well as 2 Tweets, 2 Google +1s, and a Facebook Like.

Comment of the Week:

No contest here. @"TurquoiseHexagon" wrote one of the heaviest comments in the history of WSO in response to UPenn Suicides - What's Going On Here?. His comment described the feelings one has before writing a suicide note (I can only assume this was written from the standpoint of personal experience, which makes it even more powerful) and why we all need to be more sensitive to mental illness. The comment brought in 15 Silver Bananas and much respect.

Caption Contest Winner:

This week's Caption Contest winner is @"pphi" with her zinger directed at our pal Brian DeChesare of M&I. Well done. Here's your shirt.

Bonus Bananas February 14, 2014

1) The Vampire Squid Strikes Again: The Mega Banks' Most Devious Scam Yet (Rolling Stone) - When is a bank no longer a bank? Matt Taibbi does it again. His analogy about letting the guys who run a Vegas sports book coach NFL teams on Sunday is right on the money.

2) Stock traders move into the laser age in pursuit of lightning-fast deals (The Verge) - The quest for zero latency has officially gone laser. You know what's cooler than 4 milliseconds latency? 3 milliseconds.

3) Soros Ex Got Violent During Deposition: Lawyer (FIN Alternatives) - Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned who sold her ass to a decrepit billionaire for a sweet pad and then got hosed when he met somebody hotter. Evidently Big George's ex-girlfriend lost her shit during a deposition last week and came across the table. She smacked Soros's lawyer, called Soros an asshole and a piece of shit, and then took her own lawyer apart. Ain't love grand?

Comcast & Time Warner Join Forces to Provide Worst Internet Service on Earth

Did you feel that? The Internet just got a hell of a lot slower. After more than a decade of battling each other for the honors of worst Internet experience, Comcast and Time Warner are joining forces to suck harder together than any single Internet service provider ever has in the history of the World Wide Web. Until now, most areas of the US have only had to suffer either Comcast or Time Warner. Now everyone will get to suffer both. Meanwhile, South Koreans will soon be able to download an entire movie in ONE SECOND.

Under the terms of the deal, Time Warner Cable shareholders will receive 2.875 shares of newly issued Comcast common stock for each of their shares, people briefed on the matter said on Wednesday evening. Based on Comcast's closing price of $55.24 on Wednesday, that values each Time Warner Cable share at about $158.82 each.
For Comcast, the deal, extending its leadership in the cable industry, is another transformative step in the evolution of what is now America's most influential media company. It comes less than a year after Comcast completed the acquisition of NBC Universal And it will further extend Comcast's lead as the nation's largest cable operator.

Enraged Bitcoin Users Smash Their iPhones

(Disclosure: I'm long Bitcoin, no position in AAPL at the moment)

I found the following pretty amusing and thought you guys might as well. I'm a big supporter of Bitcoin because I see the amazing potential (beyond even currency) in it, but some Bitcoiners are downright evangelical about it. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised to see the violent reaction by some in the Bitcoin community to Apple's removing the Blockchain app from the App Store for no apparent reason last week. Many think it's because Apple is about to introduce a competing payment processing platform, but who really knows? I happen to think buying Bitcoin at this moment is akin to buying shares in the Internet in 1994. It's entirely possible that I'm wrong, but I won't risk not capitalizing on lightning striking twice. I just think it's ironic that Apple is making a conscious decision to alienate the very demographic that brought them to the dance: early-adopting technophiles who think they're something special (no better definition of the Bitcoin crowd). At least they were good enough to video themselves smashing their iPhones:

Monday @Mentions February 10, 2014

Thread of the Week:

How cool is this? The Thread of the Week is actually a former comment on another thread! Mind...blown. Of course I'm talking about @"Marcus_Halberstram"'s epic takedown on mediocrity entitled, "Laziness and the Merits of Hard Work". He made the comment way back in 2010, but it's just as poignant today. The post earned him 21 Silver Bananas, 6 Facebook Likes, 3 Tweets, and a LinkedIn Share. Once again Marcus delivers the goods.

Comment of the Week:

@"big unit" scores the comment of the week on last Friday's Bonus Bananas. His mini-screed pointing out the hypocrisy of a young woman who decided not to work at Goldman after Goldman decided she didn't make the cut was both spot on and hilarious. The comment earned him 4 Silver Bananas. Tied in the Silver Banana count was @"Hugh Myron"'s comment on I F@#$%^ up my lunch run, help me fix the damage! wondering which was the more prestigious hot wing: boneless or bone in? You know what? I just put him over the top with another Silver Banana because his username cracks me up. You bet your ass I'm mirin.

Caption Contest Winner:

This week's Caption Contest winner is @"animalz" with his riff on both Rihanna and @"bankerella". Well done, sir. Have a t-shirt.