COLUMBIA, MISSOURI – Greetings from a Super 8 motel somewhere in Missouri…

My family and I are driving the 2,600 miles from Idaho to Florida.

We’re spending Thanksgiving with Kate’s parents in West Palm Beach. Then we’re driving 2,600 miles back to Idaho this weekend…

We just pulled over for the night to get some rest. The mattresses are thin. The sheets are scratchy. And our room smells of cigarette smoke. We’re paying $66 for the night. 

The kids are eating Burger King. I’m sitting at the little desk writing this note to you by hand. Here’s the view out of our window…


The view out of our Missouri motel room

I’m too brain-dead from driving to say anything insightful, so I’ll sign off here for the night…

– Tom Dyson

P.S. The ski hill opened on Friday. We had our first day on the ski slopes learning how to ski. We all had a great day. Here we are…


First day on the slopes

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In today’s mailbag, mixed opinions about Tom and Kate’s little libertarian school in the mountains

Reader comment: Tom, I am very concerned that you are teaching “Adam Smith” style philosophy to your kids. We talk with our kids about the duty of the better-off to take care of those who are struggling, the fantastic NHS, the difference between the left and the right, etc.

May I humbly suggest you add some Noam Chomsky and “the ragged trousered philanthropists” and Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm to the study list when age appropriate. Very envious of your winter ski plan. I recommend: “skiing with the whole body” and “Inner skiing.”

Reader comment: Tom, I have really enjoyed your Postcards from the Fringe. I love the fact that you are homeschooling your kids. My wife and I (mostly my wife) have homeschooled our four children. In that homeschooling, we have provided a better history education than most (if not all) public schools and your children are fortunate to receive the same.

In that vein of thought, looking at our U.S. Constitution, this 2020 presidential election could be decided in accordance with Article 2, Section 1. The U.S. Constitution is the most God-inspired document in human history. Admittedly, I only recently looked at the Constitution, besides the cursory overview from my public education from over 40 years ago. I have a feeling this country might just get a much-needed review in Constitutional law very soon. God Bless.

Meanwhile, the bitcoin controversy continues… and a self-proclaimed avid skier offers a tip for the Dyson family…

Reader comment: Tom, good luck in Targhee and Jackson Hole. Wish I could join you. I’ve been there and done that, many years ago.

I am sorry to hear that your enthusiasm for bitcoin is deflated. Your discussion whether bitcoin is or is not worth anything is fundamentally “academic,” because you frame it rather narrowly. Your valuation model is simply passé.

It sounds to me like a general discussion of the value of various types of weaponry based on his experience from the last war. The reality is, the value of anything is determined by the market. The value of Facebook is zero, if you calculate its utility in the world of an isolated island with few inhabitants. However, in today’s digital world, Facebook has a value: It sells information about its subscribers to the highest bidder and is paid in cash. Same with bitcoin.

Bitcoin is not that much different than fiat currency. Fiat works very well, except when it is inflated. So bitcoin can become a foundation of a new financial ecosystem, replacing banks and other institutions: brokerages, insurance companies, title companies, etc., and do it much more efficiently and user friendly. That is the utility of bitcoin. And the market will recognize utility and assign it a value.

I am guessing that you never wrote a line of computer code in your life. Much less designed a distributed system, which has a life of its own. You simply cannot bring yourself to believe what you cannot see and verify with your own eyes and palms.

Creating bitcoin is an achievement comparable to the highest accomplishments of human civilization. Its beauty can only be appreciated by the very few who understand the medium of software, distributed systems, and cryptography. Very few do. Yet, the value of bitcoin is not rooted in its beauty. It derives from its utility.

It is the hardest of all assets. Unbreakable. Unforgeable. Reasonably private. Sovereign. Global. Accessible to anyone with a smartphone. Bitcoin is not yet convenient to use. But that will be fixed in due time. A small army if very smart experts are working in it and making it more usable every day. Have fun skiing!

Reader comment: Hello Tom, I have been an avid skier for 60 years. One of my favorite days was skiing out of the Grand Targhee snowcat on a two-foot powder day with my 16-year-old son. I still have a picture on my wall to commemorate the day. Take lessons early and you will be ready for the “powder cat” in prime time, by February or March.

Tom’s note: Thanks for all the thoughtful messages. As always, please keep your questions and comments coming at [email protected], and I’ll do my best to answer them in our Friday mailbag editions.