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Sunday, 28 April 2013

Eternal intellectual property is NOT a good thing

Bruce Heard former staff writer and editor for TSR's Dungeons & Dragons game, based now in France recently approached the current owners (Hasbro Inc, through their wholly owned subsidiary Wizards of the Coast, the company that bought us Magic the Gathering) recently approached the owners of the D&D world of Mystara with a view to additional creativity but the response was not favourable

"Some of you have known that for some time I've queried Wizards of the Coast for options to get some life back into the World of Mystara and the Princess Ark. Unfortunately, Wizards isn't interested in cooperating. This became clear when I began talking to their IP manager, who informed me that any arrangement regarding Mystara was out of the question at this time. There was no interest in anything involving a transfer of rights, a sale, a license agreement, a permission to publish, or any other option--as a matter of policy. From what I'd heard of WotC, I knew this going in.

What I really was interested in was writing new stories specifically for the Princess Ark, originally published in Dragon Magazine some twenty years ago. For a time, it sounded like an arrangement might be possible. Since Mystara wasn't available, it still would have involved stripping all related D&D- and Mystara-specific details. It would have left the ship and her crew completely bare of any background. However, WotC's IP manager decided that even this constituted an IP, and therefore wasn't available. I offered cash, free ads, efforts to coordinate and support the release of D&D Next (etc.), to no avail. That so many of you would be overjoyed to see any RPG release linked to Mystara or the Princess Ark didn't appear to be relevant in the least.

Although this development may appear heart-breaking, there is a silver lining. As the discussion developed, I became convinced that any involvement with WotC was a waste of my time and a future liability. Writing Princess Ark stories without her original background seemed bad enough, but in the event of a licensing agreement or a simple permission to publish, I would have been obligated to regularly submit any development for approval. This would have made the experience infinitely worse, provided anyone at WotC were available for the approval process--which apparently isn't the case. I was given to understand that WotC doesn't want to spare staff for this sort of work, even if they had anyone knowledgeable enough to do these old IPs justice. This seems to be the situation for most of the old TSR game settings--not just Mystara or the Princess Ark. The end result would have been a creative straightjacket at best, or more likely a nightmare."

As much of my teenage years was spent in the world of Mystara and I remember reading the original voyages of the Princess Ark in the pages of Dragon magazine I am somewhat disappointed but eagerly look forward to the future writings of Bruce albeit in a new world without any of the intellectual property of Hasbro. Still that is many years of creativity which has not seen the light of day (except for the numerous fan sites which transgress the internet) for over 15 years now. The publications of my youth which I steadfastly saved my £5 to purchase are now selling for £30 to £50 and those books which predate me are in the $1000's.

The success of Dungeons and Dragons (the top selling toy of all time) is that onto the framework provided every player can add their own level of creativity indeed it is necessary to play the game. Imagine if the IP had expired and everyone could now publish their own works based on the older works.

But there are other developments which have been withheld from humanity; the everlasting light bulb being an example of one which was never sold because too much money was made from selling replacement bulbs.

Intellectual property prevents anyone making further advancements on the back of developed ideas or products; recent developments in the US with Monsanto effectively owning the patent on natural reproduction of their genetically modified crops is a worrying development too, imagine if someone were to copyright the word.

The question then becomes how long should someone be allowed to have intellectual property on something that they no longer put to a commercial use? How long should these ideas be allowed to languish on dusty bookshelves and how much have we lost by not having these things in the public domain?

A Pirate Party?

I have talked previously about forming a political party as part of Jersey Reform Day.

Ideally any party would want to start from a base of ten members for each electoral district. Members need to be real people and not politicians, the strength of a party lies in the volunteers, it must be built from the bottom up and not, as has previously been attempted, from the top down.

The success of the A team in garnering a sizeable chunk of the vote in the recent referendum, shows the power of individuals working together towards a common goal; that the goal provided no personal gain for any of the campaigners can only restore hope for the future of Jersey.

Working together the people of Jersey can get the government they deserve, it would be a shame if the efforts recently made during the referendum could not be repeated in the general election.

It is one of the legal requirements of a registered party to endorse candidates during the election; the candidates do not have to have the name of the party or its logo on the ballot paper but if the party functions well and has a dedicated membership then candidates will want to seek the endorsement of the party knowing that not only will they have more votes than candidates not endorsed but the support and assistance of local people.

Do you have specialist knowledge or a policy idea then working as part of a party can ensure that your idea sees the light of day.

Discussions are now ongoing between the members who will be the signatories to the registration, who knows maybe they will be as revered as the signatories to the US Declaration of Independence in the time to come.

If you are interested in helping us to form the constitution then e-mail me dariuspearce @yahoo (take out the spaces)

The first challenge is to select a basis upon which to build a constitution; I have spent some time looking through them and the one which appeals most to me is that of the Swedish Pirate Party. But you may have better ideas.

Sweden is I believe a good jurisdiction to look at. It is one of the most economically sound in Europe. It is socially liberal. It is very egalitarian in outlook.

The Pirate Party is most popular party for the young voters in Sweden and as it is the young in Jersey who are most at risk from the impending financial collapse it is vital to politicise them as young as possible. Like all parties which appeal to younger voters it is Libertarian in outlook.

You may well have a better idea and we would love to hear it!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Is Government a Trust or a Company?

For those of you who have been following this blog the one remaining point of contention in an otherwise worryingly free of litigation life that I lead is to do with whether or not the States of Jersey can charge GST on the rents in the Central Market.

The main law regarding the public markets is a very old one (written in 1885) and the 'style' of laws from that time is markedly different from today. Back then laws were written to minimise government and particularly the cost of government sadly in the modern age there has been a reversal of this and now most laws aim to generate the maximum amount of money and work for the bureaucracy (it's the only way to ensure continued 'economic growth' as the real economy is not and has not been growing in Jersey for a considerable period of time).

The matter has passed through all the various departments and today I have received confirmation from the Law Officer's Department that the matter will have to be adjudicated by the Court.

Someone has to ask the questions which no one wants to answer and so in the not too distant future we should hopefully have the Court's answer to the question... is the Government a Company or is it a Trust?

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Bankrupt banks make a killing, who cares if it is legal?

So, if it wasn’t abrupt change in the fundamental story in the various separate markets that were hit to the downside yesterday, then what the heck accounted for the steep declines in price? Stated differently, what was the common denominator present in the markets that plunged? The most visible common denominator was that the various big price declines occurred on the NYMEX/COMEX markets owned and run by the CME Group. But the most important common denominator was the nature of the buyers and sellers across all the markets that got smashed. Without exception, in any market that declined significantly, the big net buyers were the traders classified as commercials and the big net sellers were those traders classified as non-commercials, largely technical trading funds. Not only was this true yesterday, it has been true on every single big price decline throughout history, according to US Government data (COT reports).

This may seem elemental, but I ask you to contemplate this anew. In the highly-charged emotional state of significant price declines, it is tempting to accept fabricated stories as to what may be the cause of the declines. Because of that, it is more important than ever to rely on the known facts and only that which can be substantiated. COT data have and will show without question that the commercials are always the big buyers and the technical funds are always the big sellers and there was no exception this time. Once you know who the big buyers and sellers are (which is the beauty of the COT), only then can you proceed to the how and why of the big price declines.

Armed with the certain knowledge that in every market that declined substantially the big buyers were the commercials with the big sellers as the technical funds, how and why fall into place. Why is real easy – in order to make money. The way one makes money is by buying low and selling high, although not necessarily in that order. For instance, JPMorgan the big concentrated short seller and manipulator of silver and other markets, has made a boatload of money, many hundreds of millions of dollars, by short selling at higher prices than the prices they have been buying back at. I don’t begrudge JPMorgan for making large trading profits if they were doing so legally, but that is not the case. The trading profits being made by JPMorgan and the other commercials are as far from legal as is possible. That’s the only plausible conclusion a reasonable person could reach when answering the last open question – how do they do it?

Knowing who the buyers and sellers are and why, all that’s left is the how. Simply stated, JPMorgan and the commercials have captured control of the mechanism that sets short term prices, by means of High Frequency Trading (HFT), which dominates modern electronic trading. Whenever JPMorgan and the commercials wish to set prices for any market sharply higher or lower, they can and do set those prices. That is an incredibly powerful trading advantage. Since the technical funds, which are always the counter parties to JPM and the other commercials, rely on price changes to initiate their buying and selling, these funds are, effectively, controlled by JPMorgan and the commercials.

Sunday night was a classic example in that JPMorgan and the commercials kept setting lower and lower prices in the NYMEX/COMEX commodities mentioned to induce more and more technical fund selling so that JPM and the commercials could and did buy. The commercials knew there was residual margin call liquidation for Monday morning, following Friday’s rout, so rather than let panicky margin call sellers out with additional losses of 50 cents in silver or $20 in gold, the commercials rig prices lower in thin Sunday night Globex dealings by $3 in silver and close to $100 in gold. This is similar to the May 1, 2011 Sunday night $6 massacre in silver. The only difference is that this time the commercials took all other important NYMEX/COMEX markets down with silver.

The proof that this is how the market operates can be seen in current and historic COT data in that on big declines in price the commercials are always big buyers and technical funds are big sellers. In fact, I don’t know that there can be an alternative explanation based on actual data. Of course, there is no way a small group of large banks and financial firms could be continuously pulling this trading scam off without prearrangement and collusion. And of course, this collusion and price control is against the law and any sense of fair trade. We actually have in place a federal regulator, in the form of the CFTC and a self-regulator in the CME, specifically created to combat the trading operations I just described, who both refuse to end the ongoing scam.

Clearly, the main impetus behind Monday’s price decline is margin call liquidation by those holding long futures contracts. Although I’ve always warned not to hold silver on margin, at times like this I kick myself for not having warned more forcefully. The $200 gold and $5 silver move over the past two days has resulted in most holding long gold and silver futures contracts to be forced to immediately deposit $20,000 to $25,000 for each contract held or be sold out by their brokers. These demands for such large amounts of money have resulted in an avalanche of panic selling. And it matters little if you believe, like me, that there was an intent behind the extreme price declines or if the margin call selling was spontaneous and beyond intent. In the end, there can be no question that gold and silver (and copper, platinum, palladium and oil) are down today due to extraordinary trading activity on the NYMEX/COMEX, led by margin call selling.

If you accept the premise that massive margin calls are at the center of today’s price decline, the next question is when will the margin call selling end? We know from market history that such selling must burn itself out fairly quickly. This is particularly true in COMEX gold, copper and silver, since there was not a large relative speculative long position to begin with, following months of speculative net long liquidation and new short selling. I don’t think that technical funds are adding aggressively to short positions today since current prices are so far below the popular moving averages so as to make the normal stop loss points above too excessive for prudent risk taking. This looks like plain-vanilla leveraged long liquidation in which the selling pressure has reached a climax and, therefore, must soon end. Prices will stop going down when the margin call liquidation, principally on the COMEX, ends.

We’ll have to wait until this week’s COT report, but there appears little doubt that it will indicate more record net commercial buying as has been the case for weeks and months. Since I’m convinced beyond question that the price of silver has been manipulated by the big commercials on the COMEX, watching them buy aggressively suggests they could let the price rip to the upside with the same intensity that they’ve orchestrated to the downside.

With the record-setting trading volume Monday and on Friday, I would not be surprised if JPMorgan had eliminated its concentrated silver short position. I think it obscene that the CFTC and the CME have stood by and allowed JPMorgan and the other crooked commercials to disrupt the orderly functioning of the markets, but this is nothing new. The reality is that JPMorgan and their collusive partners are better positioned for a price rally in silver and other markets like never before.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Retail Sales Survey Q1 2013 - What doing away with employees has done for me

So it is that time once more when I report the statistics to the States Statistician and it has come as something  of a shock this quarter, sales are up 130% on last year.

And for those of you statistically minded that refers to just sales in the Central Market Store, excluding repairs and other services (which were down 17%) and does not include internet sales (which were up 50%).

So what does these numbers say? Well with so much of Jersey's jewellery having been scrapped in the past five years (it is well over 5,000 kilos of 9ct gold which has been scrapped and that is just in local jewellers, some people prefer to get ripped off by the UK companies who come over but such is their right) there simply is not so much being repaired. It is simply not wise to scrap your gold unless you have something to spend the money on, gold is going up in value and money is going down, but that does not mean that no gold gets scrapped.

Gold jewellery is now of course as expensive as it should be; it is a major purchase but fortunately it is one which will have a prolonged value; unlike electronics which within five years will be valueless.

Gold faced another assault with a naked short by two banks which amounted to 112% of global gold production sold on the market within a 24 hour period; big banks desperate to clear their short position forcing the price down by overwhelming the market which has led to a spike in demand for physical gold which sees most worldwide dealers out of stock of physical metal.

Once these big banks clear their short position and go long then we can expect to see gold go parabolic and prices of $5,000 do not seem unreasonable.

There is a lot of people in Jersey still with a lot of increasingly worthless paper money looking to purchase things which are going to hold their value...

The future is bright, the future is golden.

So what has actually changed in the past 12 months well only two things... the shop has been redecorated oh and of course I no longer have any employees.

The difference can only be that self-employed people are more focussed, motivated and deliver better results. Employment is an outdated concept which does deliver what is intended, I am never going back.