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Joined: 2009-08-30
Columns on STR: 58
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Joe Blow is a privacy advocate with proven subspecialties in strategic planning.  Note: Pirate Poop is now a free newsletter, available by email only. Send all subscription requests to





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Columns by Joe Blow

The Invisible Pirate - Privacy Update
Joe Blow 2006-05-29 16:00
Exclusive to STR The eternal value of privacy by Bruce Schneier
Pirate Poop # 11
Joe Blow 2006-05-07 16:00
Exclusive to STR Selected poop follows; your mileage may vary. China Is Eating Our Lunch 'By creating demand for dollars, the steps should ease pressure for a further rise in the yuan generated by China's record trade surplus and investment inflows.'
The Cost of Living Is Cheap
Joe Blow 2006-04-30 16:00
Exclusive to STR The cost of living is cheap. How do I know this? The proof is everywhere, for those who will see it. Bag ladies prove it every day; so do the poor, homeless veterans, and street people of all ages. Many are living on the street by accident, others by choice, but somehow they still manage to survive for years, even in the harshest of climates. These people have no home, no food...
Pirate Poop #10
Joe Blow 2006-04-09 16:00
Exclusive to STR Here are some recent selected tidbits. Your mileage may vary. Workers Have Retirement 'Overconfidence' Americans' Rosy Retirement Outlook Full of Holes America's Pensions in Peril ' Or Gone
Pirate Poop #9
Joe Blow 2006-04-02 16:00
Exclusive to STR Gold Set to Become Even Scarcer
Pirate Poop #8
Joe Blow 2006-03-26 16:00
Exclusive to STR We the Sheep Must read essay for wannabe Pirates, if for no other reason than to remind you of what the alternative (remaining a sheep) requires. Palladium Maple Leaf
Pirate Poop #7
Joe Blow 2006-03-19 17:00
Exclusive to STR One Paycheck from Poverty The median family has about $3,800 in the bank, does not have a retirement account, has a home worth $160,000 with a mortgage of $95,000. No mutual funds, stocks or bonds populate their investment portfolios. They make (jointly) $43,000 and struggle to pay off their $2,200 in credit card debt. That means 50% of Americans are in worse shape than the...
Risk Management
Joe Blow 2006-03-16 17:00
Exclusive to STR "Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know." ~ Donald Rumsfeld ( February 12, 2003 )
Pirate Poop #6
Joe Blow 2006-03-12 17:00
Exclusive to STR How Much Does a Wheelbarrow Cost? Paraphrased questions from a reader, with my answers. Your mileage may vary. Q: Have you checked into Series I Savings Bonds?
Pirate Poop #5
Joe Blow 2006-03-05 17:00
Exclusive to STR Getting Started in Bullion
Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!
Joe Blow 2006-02-26 17:00
Exclusive to STR Paying Taxes on Gold Bullion Coins 'Q: Do I have to pay taxes if I sell my gold bullion coins for a profit? 'A: Yes, if you hold gold as an investment, and later sell it at a profit, you will have either a long-term or short-term taxable gain.'
Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!
Joe Blow 2006-02-23 17:00
Exclusive to STR My Wizard of Oz 2006 cast of characters includes: Lions (suspension of specie payments); Tigers (central banks); Bears (going off the gold standard); Munchkins (sheeple); Dorothy (you); Wicked Witch of the West (Federal Reserve); and the Wizard of Oz (Alan Greenspan). My contention: The U.S. has not been in recession for almost 200 years.
The Ultimate Stash?
Joe Blow 2006-02-14 17:00
Exclusive to STR Individual Pirates have individual needs and personal preferences, so the concept of an ultimate stash may be a bit of a stretch, but I'm going to give it a shot anyway. Your mileage may vary. Let's assume that you are planning to retire with a portfolio worth $300,000, of which 20% ($60,000 in cash) will be converted to precious metal coins. What would that stash look like?...
Pirate Poop
Joe Blow 2006-02-12 17:00
Exclusive to STR Marc Faber: Gold Will Outperform Market Gary North: Buy Silver or Gold? Alec Hogg: Why You Gotta Have Gold
Pirate Poop
Joe Blow 2006-02-05 17:00
Exclusive to STR Here are some useful items that caught my Pirate eye this week. Enjoy! When the Taxman Freezes Your Bank Account Credit Agricole: Start Hoarding Gold Earth to sheeple'Hello?'Testing 1, 2, 3'Is anyone out there?
Pirate Poop
Joe Blow 2006-01-29 17:00
Exclusive to STR Readers from all over the world have expressed an interest in buying precious metals, obtaining a private stash, and all things Pirate. Several have asked me to make this a series of articles, a newsletter of sorts. While I don't need another job at the moment, I do have the time to collate some of my recent reading into a periodic compendium of Pirate Poop. If you would like to...
info_dude ?
Joe Blow 2006-01-23 17:00
Exclusive to STR As a dedicated Pirate and privacy advocate, I am always interested in ways to create an invisible business, along the lines of those recommended by J. J. Luna in his latest book, 'Work From Home at Any Age.'
Push the Blue Button
Joe Blow 2006-01-22 17:00
Exclusive to STR In the course of attempting to teach my high school students about the disastrous effects of inflation, I devised an easy way to explain it: push the blue button. This works for me, see what you think. Maybe you can use it with your own students or children. First, I explain to them the standard traits of money, including the two major differences between fiat currency and real...
Think Like a Pirate!
Joe Blow 2006-01-18 17:00
Exclusive to STR This is a follow-up piece to 'Strategic Self-Preservation.' It includes many of my replies to readers' questions and is tailored to those who are interested in buying gold or silver bullion coins as a part of their long-term financial plan, for the first time.
The Invisible Pirate - Big Brother on Steroids
Joe Blow 2006-01-14 17:00
Exclusive to STR You didn't learn this in high school and you won't learn it in any college. You also won't learn it from any popular self-help book. Even earning an MBA from Harvard Business School won't help you when it comes to strategic self-preservation, but I teach it to my public high school seniors.
The Perfect Storm
Joe Blow 2005-08-28 16:00
Everything seems to be coming along quite nicely. Iraq is now a civil war, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) is as good as over, New Orleans is about to be hit with a Category 5 hurricane, Louisiana and Mississippi were declared disaster areas in advance of the storm, and FEMA is on full alert. Even the Red Cross is leaving town.
The Invisible Pirate - Big Brother on Steroids
Joe Blow 2005-08-14 16:00
This edition covers digital IDs and an electronic monitoring system that will make your prescription history available nationally to thousands of strangers who will never be involved in your medical care in any way. If this isn't a recipe for abuse, unauthorized disclosure, and malfeasance, I don't know what is.
The Invisible Pirate - Anonymous/Secure E-Mail Services
Joe Blow 2005-08-09 16:00
This edition is a review of selected anonymous/secure email services offered by subscription. The good news is that there are plenty of these services available. The bad news is that most of them fall short when it comes to really protecting your privacy.
The Invisible Pirate - Privacy Tweaks for Firefox
Joe Blow 2005-08-08 16:00
This edition covers several methods of improving your privacy with Firefox. It includes selected extensions, a toolbar that you can use to manage your privacy, and it assumes that you are running Firefox with no privacy extensions installed. I also recommend checking for new Firefox extensions daily, either manually or by subscribing to the Firefox RSS feed. Install the following Firefox...
The Invisible Pirate - Tracking PCs
Joe Blow 2005-08-07 16:00
This edition covers two methods that Big Brother may soon be able to use to track any computer. The good news is that geospatial addressing is still on the drawing board and won't become a reality for most users for years. The bad news is that remote physical device fingerprinting may enable the feds to track your computer anywhere, no matter how or where you connect to the web, even if you use a...
The Invisible Pirate - Defeating Spyware
Joe Blow 2005-07-27 16:00
This edition covers several recommended methods of defeating spyware. Surfing the web (anonymously or otherwise) should be a pleasurable pastime, not a tribulation that must be endured as your computer slows to a crawl, and finally becomes totally useless. If you can relate to the latter situation and would much prefer the former, this edition is for you.
The Invisible Pirate - Stealth Surfing for Dummies
Joe Blow 2005-07-27 16:00
This edition covers anonymous surfing for those who would rather not dig too deeply into the nuts and bolts of the issue. As a matter of fact, these two methods should both be classified as idiot-proof; it matters not if you are lazy, ignorant, or just plain stupid. Even the digitally challenged can easily master these methods. I recently spent over a week online, researching and testing numerous...
The Invisible Pirate - Information Security
Joe Blow 2005-07-26 16:00
This edition covers file encryption, secure passwords, cleaning your computer, and a very comprehensive system utility that will keep your computer happy so that you won't lose any personal files or information. I am amazed that some people religiously change the oil in their car, but they never conduct any maintenance on their computer. Inevitably, they end up with long faces after their young...
The Invisible Pirate - Surf Anonymously
Joe Blow 2005-07-25 16:00
This edition briefly covers several free methods of surfing the web anonymously. They include: anonymizer websites, high anonymous public proxy servers, JAP, and Tor. These methods will all slow down your surfing, but just like in the real world, TANSTAAFL online. (See Robert A. Heinlein's novel, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.)
The Invisible Pirate
Joe Blow 2005-07-24 16:00
This edition includes several easy methods of securing your email. I recommend trying them all. CoolFish and A-Lock allow you to continue to use your normal email client. AnonMail is a good web-based method. The Comodo solution is for those who just want a quick and easy method. The only method below that comes close to being truly anonymous is AnonMail, but all of these methods will provide you...
Freedom and Privacy: R.I.P.
Joe Blow 2005-06-05 16:00
I recently decided what I want to be when I grow up. I always knew that decision could only be made when I was finally ready, after years of pondering, reflection, and introspection. I determined that all of the roads I have traveled have led me to the same destination, a very natural selection, and the only one that makes sense for me. I am going to be a retired, invisible pirate. This may...
Privacy and Freedom Cost $100
Joe Blow 2004-10-24 16:00
As a thrifty individualist, I was recently shocked to discover the high cost of a piece of paper today. That's the bad news. The good news is that this particular piece of paper buys you both privacy and freedom ' for only $100. If that isn't a bargain, I don't know what is. If you don't have one of these magic pieces of paper, you need to get one, soon. Oddly enough, this magic piece of paper...
Get a Life
Joe Blow 2004-08-15 16:00
It has become increasingly obvious to me that many American adults today have no life. Legally, they may still be alive, but only at the most basic level of human existence, as hosts for the vampires of society. This situation allows very little time for a personal life. These adults are too busy catering to the whims, desires, demands, and needs of others to concern themselves with the truth...
Trust No One
Joe Blow 2004-07-26 16:00
'The X-Files' main message was correct; you ignore it at your peril. One of history's many lessons is that betrayal is a fact of life. Both individuals and collectives perpetrate betrayals, but by far the worst offender is the State, which includes the agencies that spring up to support it. State agents run State agencies. They not only believe in the State, they also stand to profit from it,...
Democracy and Schutzhaft
Joe Blow 2004-06-28 16:00
Democracy L. Paul Bremer couldn't wait to grab a flight out of Baghdad . Reportedly, he immediately headed for the airport upon transfer of partial sovereignty to Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. The surprise ceremony was over before it was even announced. In less than two hours, Bremer was airborne and homeward bound. That's the good news. The bad news is that nothing has changed and...
Time, Distance and Shielding
Joe Blow 2004-06-27 16:00
My previous article, 'Identities and Aliases', generated several concerns from readers. This article addresses some of those concerns and includes several very simple methods to protect your privacy, Hiibel and Terry notwithstanding. Disclaimer: I am not an attorney and this is not legal advice. If you have specific questions, I suggest you consult a competent attorney, if you can find one....
Identities and Aliases
Joe Blow 2004-06-22 16:00
The recent Supreme Court verdict in Hiibel regarding Terry stops raises some interesting questions that not only need to be asked, they need to be seriously considered and then answered on an individual basis in order to be fully prepared when the unexpected occurs. Sometime, somewhere a police officer may approach you, detain you, and ask you to identify yourself. What will you do? What will you...
Dubya: Herbert Hoover II?
Joe Blow 2004-03-30 16:00
I noted with interest President George W. Bush's recent call for affordable high-speed Internet access for all Americans by 2007. The resemblance to Herbert Hoover's 1928 slogan of a 'chicken in every pot' was simply too much to ignore. While these may seem to be unrelated issues, to those who know anything about American political history, this was a spooky pronouncement, with an ominous outlook...
Tribalism: Child of Diversity
Joe Blow 2004-02-29 17:00
What we are seeing in America is the emergence of tribalism, the child of diversity. The two-party political system of old is ancient history. The mold has been broken. We are seeing the first ripple of disaffection for politics, due to too many special interest groups, chronic overspending, no accountability, and the influence of big money. When you add the new dimension ' ideological...
Uncle Mike
Joe Blow 2004-02-26 17:00
Recently, I spent one class period discussing current events with my public high school students. This wasn't planned, but the scheduled event was rained out so I substituted an impromptu review of the news. We bounced around the world with me asking them questions, hoping that someone would know something about world events. As usual, most of them were clueless. After teaching for almost nine...
The Brian Finkel Case
Joe Blow 2004-01-08 17:00
The more I read about this case the more upset I get. It should be taught in private schools as a required case study of the end result of mixing humans with the devices of the State: democracy, voting, judicial tyranny, socialism, special interests, irresponsibility, and victimhood as a way of life. I haven't seen a more glaring example of what the State produces in years. If you are unfamiliar...
Congress to Jump-Start the IRS?
Joe Blow 2004-01-05 17:00
When the people fear the government, tyranny has found victory. ~ Thomas Jefferson John Cochran writes, 'Congress is concerned by a new report that indicates tax evaders no longer fear the IRS.' Apparently, some people have seen the light at the end of the tunnel. 'The result is billions of dollars are lost to the U.S. treasury ' billions that put more of a burden on honest people who do pay...
Wal-Mart: Immoral Monster?
Joe Blow 2004-01-04 17:00
Some sheeple are up in arms again, this time over low retail prices on everyday goods. If one listens to their pleas, you will hear that Wal-Mart is an immoral monster and all of its stores should be run out of town on a rail yesterday, if not sooner. Lower prices, great selection, ready availability, pervasive presence, a state-of-the-art ordering, delivery, and payment system, and a no-...
Rise of the American KGB
Joe Blow 2003-11-23 17:00
Richard Willing writes, 'DNA profiles from hundreds of thousands of juvenile offenders and adults arrested but not convicted of crimes could be added to the FBI's national DNA crime-fighting program under a proposed law moving through Congress. [Emphasis mine.]
Skype: Sliced Bread or Snake Oil?
Joe Blow 2003-10-13 16:00
Have you been Skyped yet? If you already have an Internet connection, there's probably only one thing keeping you from free, worldwide, computer 'phone' calls'a microphone to plug into your sound card. No worries, if you have a newer computer you may already have one without knowing it. Check inside your computer box; your mic may be just waiting for you to plug it in and start calling for free....
Chains of Slavery
Joe Blow 2003-09-28 16:00
Political parties ' comprised of incumbents, candidates, voters, agendas, special interests, and platforms ' are the tools that the State uses to forge the chains of slavery for its citizens. The popular fiction of differences between political parties also perpetuates the enduring myth that citizens have only one means of governing themselves ' by voting for a proxy. Not only is this notion...
Fascists Everywhere
Joe Blow 2003-07-01 16:00
You can't get away from these tyrants; no matter how hard you try. They are everywhere, they seem to breed like rabbits, and the sheeple of this nation are in love with them. Who are these people? Fascists. In the past five days alone I have encountered more of these episodes than I can stomach. The first started out innocently enough, but rapidly degenerated. My children asked me to purchase a...
1984 or Brave New World?
Joe Blow 2003-06-24 16:00
George Orwell, born Eric Blair on June 25, 1903 , would turn 100 this week had he not died in 1950 at the age of 47. On the anniversary of his birth, it seems fitting to briefly compare his 1948 dystopian warning of the future, 1984, to that of his one-time teacher, Aldous Huxley, who had written his own prophecy, Brave New World, in 1931.
New American Empire: Before the Fall
Joe Blow 2003-06-08 16:00
This is an attempt to peer into the future over the next 70 years, developed over several weeks in April 2003 in collaboration with JCN, who provided valuable insights into the EU dimension. It presents a very condensed version of an enjoyable series of extended online discussions. 'Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before the fall.' ~ Proverbs 16:18 Abstract
Whither Free Will?
Joe Blow 2003-05-29 16:00
free will n. 1. The ability or discretion to choose; free choice. 2. The power, attributed esp. to human beings, of making free choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances or by necessity. ~ The American Heritage Dictionary, Second College Edition, c. 1982
SOCOM: The New Waffen-SS?
Joe Blow 2003-01-19 17:00
I noted with interest Secretary Rumsfeld's recent announcement of the transformation of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM). This unified command'comprised of a small, elite group of highly trained operators'normally operates in the shadows, but it is suddenly not only very visible, it is also underfunded, undermanned, and overextended. Rumsfeld's recent announcement is a fundamental change...
Storm Clouds of the State
Joe Blow 2003-01-14 17:00
While searching for good material recently, I couldn't help but notice the storm clouds of the State as they thundered across our nation and around the world, creating havoc and criminals, drowning taxpayers in seas of red ink, while diluting our liberty and sinking our freedoms.
DNA Database Networks Will Be National ID Card System
Joe Blow 2003-01-08 17:00
The national ID card issue appears from time to time, lingers for several months, creates a flurry of controversy, and then moves to the back burner again. You might think that by now all of the arguments for and against a national ID card system have already been raised and thoroughly debated, but you would be wrong. My cursory review of the issue reveals that this issue is still very much...
Quantum Leap in State Socialism
Joe Blow 2002-12-02 17:00
The American Law Institute recently concluded its ten-year study of family law and has concluded that what America needs today is a quantum leap in State socialism.
Voting = Status Quo
Joe Blow 2002-11-04 17:00
Popular sentiment tells you that voting is a good thing. It supposedly punches your duty ticket as a citizen, makes you a decision maker, and gives you some sort of claim on your future'to be decided later by elected (or appointed) officials whom you trust implicitly with your property, liberty, and life'based on patriotic concepts of an omniscient and benevolent government. Nothing could be...
D.C. Sniper: The Good News
Joe Blow 2002-10-22 16:00
The 'sniper' shootings in the metro D.C. area can be viewed from several perspectives, most of them negative, but we are remiss if we overlook the positive aspects of this very public ordeal. Irrespective of who the shooter is or how many more citizens will be wounded or killed, there is some very good news: The truth has returned.
It's Time to Vote, With Your Feet
Joe Blow 2002-10-08 16:00
It's that time of year again. How do I know? My sample ballot and voter information pamphlet just arrived in the mail. As soon as it entered my apartment I threw it into the garbage pail where it will remain until it's taken out to the curb with the trash. A most fitting final resting place, don't you think? As the pundits pontificate and the talking heads blabber, the State is again doing what...
Slavery Is Alive and Well
Joe Blow 2002-09-30 16:00
Methinks it must be time to fight the Second War of Southern Secession. How else can you explain the fact that slavery is still alive and well in 2002? It's amazing'and one of the best-kept secrets around. I don't live anywhere near what most Americans would consider to be the South, so southern California will just have to suffice for the next phase of the American struggle to escape the...