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The Almighty Buck

A Real Life Cryptonomicon Gold Stash? 34

GeHa writes "ABCnews has a story about the possible recovery of a hidden Japanese gold cache. Remember Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon?" A search on google brings up several interesting stories on this Thai gold hunt, including one to a 1996 article which includes a photo allegedly showing the entrance to the cave holding this cache. Now I have to re-read Cryptonomicon;)
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A Real Life Cryptonomicon Gold Stash?

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  • This reminds me that the research Neil Stephenson does is fantastic. Before I read Cryptonomicon I'd have never thought of gold hidden in Thailand from WWII. I just wish I could remember which details of his books are fact and which fiction.

    (I just stayed up half last night reading Zodiac, and having an organic chemistry refresher. :-p)
  • I can't go (stuck doing taxes), so here's a tip for the rest of you: Look for the palm trees forming the letter "W"...


  • and not only that, but he had a couple more plot threads that he decided to separate out for another project.

    Neal Stephenson is a man who churns out miles of text as a matter of course.


  • I still haven't made it through the first reading....
  • Um, that's the same story. Note the "Reuters" tag. Crazy but true.
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  • I didn't know trolls could read!
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  • Yes, but how many motherboards could they make with all that gold?

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  • You might be interested to know that there is over 70 billion dollars in gold bars in the Federal Reserve Bank in NYC (10.5 tons). In 70 years, they've never been robbed, and not one single bar of gold is unaccounted for.

  • you thought snow crash had a plot? it was basically people running around the west coast almost randomly, with random jaunts into cyberspace.

    stephenson's real talent is in description of places, eras, and people. that's what really struck me about "snow crash". he paints an incredible painting of the future with phenomenal attention to details. as i was reading, i had vivid mental images throughout of the setting.

    he comes up with some really neat ideas, like the "gargoyle"s. i can honestly see some occupation like that of a gargoyle being created (at least for intelligence purposes) in the near future, especially given facial pattern-matching technology and wireless network availability.

    anyway, that's my spiel about stephenson. it's all about the descriptions.

  • If anyone is interested in knowing where the American gold is kept, check out the Fed's site [frb.org].
  • This is one of those books that I had to read half of, take a break for a month or two, then pick up and polish off. I liked it and everything, but by the end I think even Neal was tired of it, given the way he wrapped it up super-fast.
  • I'm warning you now: give up. Put the book down. I got suckered into thinking, "well, I'm only 300 pages in, but gee, he has 700 pages to work with. Maybe I haven't gotten to the good part, yet." Oh! If only I had known that the "good part" was the 24 years I spent blissfully not-reading the book. It must have taken me 6 months to finish that book! When I had about forty pages left, I actually considered not finishing it, because I knew those 40 pages were a waste of time. Stupidly, I plowed through the pages, and I think if I hadn't, I would have been much the wiser.
  • I still cannot see what the fascination is with this book! Offtopic, sure, but Cryptonomicon very nearly made me give up reading. It's long, pointless, and poorly written. I swear, half the time, I was thought Mr. Stephenson was getting paid by the word, because he had the worst habit of writing complete garbage for page on end, and discarding the entire thread in favor of "getting back to the plot." Which, I am sorry to say, is so diffuse as constantly changing as to be nonexistent.
  • that picture with the hole looks fake. why would there be a hole in the ground (the little hole above the tracks)? there is no gold
  • Copyright 2001 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Click here to print this page. Now that's a contradiction.
  • but I'm not sure. I bought Gravity's Rainbow (also set in WWII) and that took me several months.
  • Both news stories state that it was Thai booty stolen by the Japanese.
    The guy is not Japanese, and is not claiming it should be considered as Japanese property.

    You need to reread the link in the header, and get yourself moderated down as 'redundant' and 'misinformed'.

  • if i recall, though I did take my time with it.
  • Columbus wasn't even the first european to land in N. America. Indeed, Norse fishermen had been fishing off the coast of Northern Canada for centuries before Columbus even thought about sailing West.

    There wasn't much in the way of gold in the Americas anyway. And ironicly, the presence of the Europeans in the Greater Antilles was welcomed by the Arawak tribes that dominated the area at the time. Carib tribesmen from Brazil were moving steadily up the islands starting with the southern most island of Trinidad. The Caribs were a very warlike people, and among other things used canibalism as part of a ritual war rite.

    This is not intended to excuse the actions of the Spaniards, but rather to provide an explanation of why the Arawaks were so welcoming to the Spaniards. Columbus viewed the Arawaks in a typical European fassion, seeing them as fit for slavery. A "docile" people, Columbus assumed that they would be easily dominated and that their "primitive" tribal work structure would benefit from hard labor.

    The Arawaks were nearly wiped out in a generation.

    By 1661 the first Slave Act was passed, allowing the importation of "Nego" (I use this word for historical accuracy, not out of bigotry. These men and women were not yet "african americans" and, deprived of their culture, ceased to be "Africans" the moment they steped on the slave ship) slaves from the Africas.

    Well what's the point of all this you ask? I'm proving a point. It's an academic point, but it's a valid one. European explorers, or should Isay opressors, in the Islands were never really able to extract gold from the islanders. Columbus confined his explorations and explotations to the Antilles and the northern coast of Venezuela.

    Spanish mining efforts on the mainland are a better example of what you're talking aobut. Though slavery does not equate to genocide... neither is what I'd consider an action to be encouraged. Admittedly, the Spanish did massacre some 90 Million (maximum) natives. Most of these deaths were caused by smallpox and other diseases unintentionaly introduced by the Europeans. This isn't to say that the European conduct in the area was anything short of deplorable, but the actions of the Japanese in WWII were about a million times worse. I'm actualy not able to relate the actions of the Japanese in this message, they are simply to horrible to place on paper. Read The Rape of Nanking for more data.

    This has been another useless post from....
  • I just finished Cryptonomicon this morning.....My god it was awful! Long....No plot....Horrible writing! I was surprised it was so poorly written, cause I loved Snow Crash.
  • If it is true, it will be interesting to see what the Japanese government will do. Or even the UN. Because in theory the gold belongs to Japan even if they stole it from Thailand.
  • Why is this marked up as an insightful comment? It's patently obvious -- to any moderator who did their job and actually *read* the article that was linked -- that the commentator did not read the article.

    "Even if this guy does find the treasure, it doesn't even belong to Japan."

    Well, no shit, sherlock: it's been found *in Thailand*, by a *Thai senator*, and the *Thai PM* says that, if true, the discovery would sure help Thailand get outta the debt hole.

    Not a glimmer of a hint of a whimsy that anyone even remotely Japanese is thinking that they might benefit.

    I suggest that the moderator who was responsible for giving points to the comment *quit* being a moderator. If you can't be bothered to make even the teensiest effort to be competent, gracefully bow out.

  • You know, this reminds me a lot about the Yamashita treasure that was supposed to have been hidden in my country. I guess Ferdinand Marcos found it and it's now part of the stash the late dictator's family has in Switzerland. Most likely given the number of military dictators who've held rule in Thailand it's probably long gone by now.
  • "No gold, no bills, only red faces," [yahoo.com] crowed the Nation daily in a front page article saying the government had backed away from its earlier enthusiasm for the treasure hunt, which has become the subject of ridicule in the international media.

    On Tuesday, Latthasaksiri gave Thailand's finance ministry a document purporting to represent the 25 billion dollars in US bonds supposedly retrieved from the cave.

    But a regional US secret service official debunked the document as "fictitious", saying US treasury bonds had never been issued in denominations greater than one million dollars.

    "This in no way represents what a genuine US bond would look like," the official told AFP after examining a reproduction of the document.

  • If I was going to guard 10.5 tons of gold in Lower Manhattan, I'd put it below sea level with a big pipe coming in from the sea and the valve in an undisclosed location.
  • Are you going to kick the bucket now?
  • Yes, immoral, etc. But if you had bothered to read the article you would have seen where this goes to the government of Thailand. Perhaps they could be swayed to distribute some to claims, but from what I've read the occupiers, including on imperial prince, were more to the habit of melting gold, rather than carrying around the buddahs they pillaged and sacks of coins.


  • my experience with watching Thai politicians, says the truth is 180 degrees from what they say publicly

    "Read my lips, no new taxes."

    Treasure caches are reported to be in the Philipienes, although rumored that Marcos tortured the locations out of some captured japanese and pocketed large amounts. In mainland China, caches are still found, even today, of families or merchants wealth buried in the earth to hide it. Many never returned here's an example of some pieces which have been recovered. [dragonswest.com] I just bought another group, including spanish colonial 8 reales (Pieces of eight.) There had been considerable wealth in southeast asia, due to extensive trade with the old and new world. "Chopmarks" in silver coins were left by merchants and assayers.


  • And you'll get truncated by the 120 char sig limit?

  • Thats reminscent of Christopher Columbus, and Spain shafting the Native Americans, then claiming fame by so called Discovering America.

    How was it discovered when it already existed, and why do history books still not show his true actions during those times

    Whatever the claim on this stash, if someone found it, ethically they should return it, but if law allows, they did find it, why shouldn't they also have the option to keep it. Look at what Swiss banks did to the Jews, then again even some American companies.

  • Globe & Mail (Canada) has a strangely different story on their website.

    thai gold [globeandmail.com]
  • I've been following this story for a while now, and what Slashdot's article doesn't tell you is that the supposed treasure was stolen from the Thai people during Japan's occupation of Thailand during World War II.

    Even if this guy does find the treasure, it doesn't even belong to Japan. For him, or any Japanese citizen to lay claim to the treasure would be to justify Japan's actions during WWII. I hardly think that ill-gotten booty, obtained while your country was burning women, children, and villages should by kept by the opressors after the war has drawn to the conclusion. If the researcher in the story was to find the buried rail cars, he should take the moral high ground and return the loot to it's rightful Thai owners, and do his part to restore some of Japan's dignity that was shattered after the war.

  • by commbat ( 50622 ) on Saturday April 14, 2001 @07:22AM (#292002) Homepage
    Just a couple of weeks ago I submitted a poll suggestion about how long it took people to get through 'Cryptonomicon'.

    1) Less than one day.

    2) One to two days.

    3) Three to seven days.

    4) One to two weeks.

    5) You mean this thing actually ends?

    6) Cryptowhatnow?

  • by Anonymous Admin ( 304403 ) on Saturday April 14, 2001 @05:50AM (#292003)
    The Kanchanaburi area, famous for sapphire and ruby deposits, has been dug up and overturned, and searched in great detail for a very long time. This includes every cave, nook, and crannie. They have been searched even more thoroughly since the existing deposits ran out in the early 90's. I have serious doubts about trainloads of gold in that area. Also, my experience with watching Thai politicians, says the truth is 180 degrees from what they say publicly. for example, in the weeks preceeding the devaluing of the baht, the prime minister publicly proclaimed there would be no devaluing of the baht, and made this claim daily on national TV, right up to the day the devaluation occurred.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.