Archive | November 2017

Cryptocurrency Check & the Bitcoin Silver Scam

After bitching repeatedly about how other people need to do something to help protect consumers from shitcoins and scamcoins before too many ICOs run off with people’s money (and seeing Bitcoin Silver do exactly that), I laid out a plan and got to work on Cryptocurrency Check / Crypto Check. I prefer CryptoCheck, which is the name I went with on Facebook (although the page URL is https://facebook.com/cryptocurrencycheck ). The website URL is https://cryptocurrencycheck.org.

What is this for?

There are a lot of scamcoins and shitcoins out there, and, as I detailed at length in my previous post, these pose a serious risk to the type of consumer that doesn’t look into things much before they buy them. I’m well aware that this won’t change simply because there’s a Wiki that explains cryptocurrencies in terms that ordinary people can understand, and if they’re not inclined to Google something before they drop $5,000 on it, then they won’t find my new project in the first place (note: I’m looking for help, because this is a massive undertaking). However, maybe we can get to a point where ICOs have “CryptoCheck Approved!” on their websites before they go live. Maybe we can get to a point where people responding to ICO news with “This ICO is marked as a scam by CryptoCheck” will prevent these ICOs from gaining traction in the first place. These people do it because there’s money in it. Bitcoin Silver ran off with nearly 400 ETH this month, and there is no indication that people who gave them Ethereum will ever see that money again.

I want the site to be useful. To that end, the main page features a list of currencies already investigated. As you see, I’ve yet to do Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Ripple, DASH, Bitcoin Gold, and countless others. This truly is a massive undertaking, because it involves actual investigation. At the very least, the whitepaper has to be examined, carefully inspected, and judged impartially. The website has to be inspected and investigated. The developers, if possible, have to be reached out to. And then they have to convince me that it’s not a scamcoin or shitcoin. I haven’t even defined on the site yet what “scamcoin” and “shitcoin” mean, because there’s so much to be done. I’m working on it, though, as you can see on the site. Not all of the links are dead! lol

I want an ICO to be announced and to have people across the world immediately tag CryptoCheck to look into it, and I want people saying “I’m not giving you guys a single Satoshi until you’ve been cleared by CryptoCheck.” And I want CryptoCheck to have a sterling reputation for being reliable, fair, honest, and diligent–and for erring on the consumers’ side when we make mistakes. Because “scamcoin” and “shitcoin” are judgement calls–this is stated on the site. It’s something you can only decide after digging deep into the currency and getting a feel for what you’ve learned. It’s an art, not a science, and there will be mistakes. But my goal is to protect consumers. I do not care one tiny bit if we cost a legitimate ICO 1,270 Ethereum in investors.

One too many cries of “We sank our life savings into something that turned out to be a scam!” will get the government involved, and everyone will suffer for it. We can say until we’re blue in the face “Caveat emptor, dude, you should look into things before buying them lol,” but it won’t stop the government from getting involved. Nor will it do anything to get people to start looking into things. We have to be more responsible. That starts with CryptoCheck and things like it. We already know that some people out there will blithely walk right into a scam.

And the other thing?

The site has two purposes wrapped up in one larger purpose. The larger purpose is to help and protect the masses in regard to cryptocurrencies. This is not limited to simply checking out potential scams. That’s not the biggest problem confronting cryptos today. No, today the biggest problem is a reckless overabundance of jargon, technical bullshit, and complexity that serves only to intimidate people and keep them from getting involved. The premier website for all things Bitcoin, https://bitcoin.com, has fallen into this; in a recent article, they repeatedly referred to Bitcoin as “segwit.” This is not only unclear, unhelpful, and inaccurate, it’s intimidating to people who would otherwise make their first Bitcoin purchase, because no matter how hard they look, they won’t find “Segwit” listed on any exchange, and Bitcoin.com knows this. This is nothing more than a continuation of their insistence that “Bitcoin Cash is the real Bitcoin,” which evidently leaves them unable to simply call Bitcoin “Bitcoin.”

That sort of thing isn’t helping. It’s hurting. If people Google “Bitcoin,” they will almost certainly land on Bitcoin.com, where they will be treated to confusing articles and technical jargon, none of which makes sense to a person who isn’t already knowledgeable about Bitcoin, and the only explanation is buried deep in the archives from several weeks ago. It’s an absolute disgrace, and they should collectively be ashamed of themselves for fostering confusion and intentionally raising the barrier of entry to keep people out of cryptocurrencies.

This past week on “The Call to Freedom,” we had on Peter Ver (we also had on Janko33, a developer of Blackcoin), who alleged that the Bitcoin Core team is actively trying to kill Bitcoin. That may be, but so is he, whether he means to be or not. Raising the barrier of how much knowledge is needed to enter the cryptocurrency market means demand will not increase, and this was his camp’s side sowing this confusion.

Nothing is ever presented in plain language for ordinary people to understand. They don’t really need to know about Byzantine Fault Tolerances, you know? They don’t care about that, and such language will only chase them away. They need to know why cryptos are safe, secure, and reliable. They don’t need to know why you think cryptocurrencies are revolutionizing the world. They need it explained to them in terms they understand.

It’s not because they’re stupid that people need the technical bullshit ignored in favor of realistic, ordinary terminology that they actually understand. It’s because they’re unfamiliar with the subject, terminology, and (often) technology. The only context they have for understanding what a “wallet” is… is the leather thing they fold and put in their purse or pocket. So when you talk about “wallet addresses,” you lose them. Their wallet doesn’t have an address. “Its address is my back pocket!” they might say, roll their eyes at the absurdity and unfamiliarity of what you’re saying, and walk away from cryptocurrencies. Explaining crypto wallets with the analogy of a debit card, with the card number being the Public Key and the PIN being the Private Key, will make infinitely more sense to them (and it will actually be more accurate, since crypto wallets don’t actually hold any currency–they just access the places where that currency is held). They understand a wallet as something they take out of their pocket, put money in, and put back into their pocket. Tell them to download a wallet, and they’re smart enough to extrapolate the basic idea (it will be something that holds money), but they’ll misinterpret and misunderstand, coming to the conclusion that the software on their phone or PC actually contains their money.

As a culture, we don’t want this. I promise you that we don’t want this. Those trying to overcomplicate the matter and keep it so technically confusing that laypeople can’t enter do not have cryptocurrency’s best interests at heart; they are more concerned with their ego and their feeling of how much smarter they are than everyone else. We have to fight this culture of arrogant elitism if we want mass adoption, and that means putting an end to the unnecessary jargon and the intentional overcomplication and obfuscation.

Bitcoin Silver

If you take nothing else away from this article, let it be that Bitcoin Silver is a scam. If anyone offers to sell it to you, do not accept it. For one, they will probably never actually have the tokens. The last thing we’ve heard from Bitcoin Silver is that the ICO is “ending soon.” It ended 3 days ago. Their Twitter account did not announce the end of the sale, which is a concern since their Ethereum addresses are still active and accepting coinage. Compare that to Airswap, who regularly communicated with users during their ICO, used an automated system to accept payments that rejected payments outside of the allotted times, and announced the end of each sale on Twitter. These unnamed, mysterious people responsible for Bitcoin Silver almost certainly took the 390 Ethereum they made and ran. They didn’t even bother to announce the end of the ICO, for fuck’s sake.

And look at them contradicting their own whitepaper right here:

But Bitcoin Silver isn’t what motivated me to make the site. I’ve been going on about this problem for weeks, if not months, and laying the responsibility on Jaxx and Coinomi to fix. That’s true–they certainly should do more to fix it. But I can do something, too. There is a Blackcoin QR on the main page (it’ll be buried in the site in a few days), and the site will only ever accept Blackcoin, because it has the lowest fees of all the respectable coins. Why Jimmy Wales needs millions of dollars to operate Wikipedia is anyone’s guess. I need I think $9 a month. But I’ll pay that myself as long as I have to, because this is something that needs to be done. Information about all of these coins needs to be in one place. A Cryptocurrency Users’ Guide, if you will. A catalogue, perhaps. What is the word I’m looking for? A Buyers’ Guide. There we go.

Needing Help

I’m looking for help, but not employees. All work will be voluntary, and not paid. Maybe one day CryptoCheck will have the resources to pay people, but that day isn’t today. But if you believe in the ideas I’ve outlined, help me do it. Get in touch with me at aria@cryptocurrencycheck.org or aria@anarchistshemale.com. They both go to the same place, so it doesn’t matter which you use. Cryptocurrency is what WE make it. So let’s make it something awesome.

How Coinbase is Saving the Crypto Market

People like to talk shit about Coinbase. And, in a lot of ways, I get it. They certainly didn’t make it easy for people to retrieve their Bitcoin Cash (much less Bitcoin Gold–which may not be retrievable at all), but at least they’ve done better on that front than Jaxx. But there’s more to it than that. There’s also some elitism, which I also get. I have the same elitism, as a tech person, toward Apple users in general, but especially people with iPhones. I refused to watch Rick & Morty for a long time, simply because it was popular. And people who played Final Fantasy XI absolutely hated World of Warcraft players. There’s this whole “Our thing is more complex and cool than your thing. Our thing is for the hardcore, freaking noobs!” aspect to it. Then there’s the fact that Coinbase holds onto your private keys, but the only people who care about this also know how easy it is to get around–simply send the cryptos to another wallet.

A lot of these types would deny that Coinbase is doing anything good, despite how they are attempting to stand up to the IRS to protect their users from invasion by government goons. The government, predictably, doesn’t like that it has no idea who has crypto and who doesn’t, and the best way to find out that info is to break into Coinbase’s vault, steal their records, and create a database of known crypto users to watch. They’re actively attempting to do this, and Coinbase is attempting to stop it. If I was CEO, I would be preparing to close my U.S. operations and permanently wipe all our data before the U.S. government could get their hands on it. Coinbase is also attempting to bring in huge investors–people who would be dropping millions at a time on crypto purchases, and Coinbase has a phenomenal track record of security and protection.

But there’s one other thing they do that they’re often criticized for, when, in reality, it’s the best thing that they do:

Coinbase is notoriously unwilling to put new coins on its store.

This draws the ire of people who love Ethereum and the seventy-six million different bullshit Ethereum tokens available. I could create an Ethereum token right now if I cared to, and it costs almost nothing to do. Ethereum is a good idea, but there’s no gatekeeper to it, and anyone with a half-baked idea can create an Ethereum token, get some momentum going for it, and land it under dApps in Coinomi’s Ethereum wallet. If that wasn’t enough, there are thousands of entire cryptocurrencies that use their own blockchain and programming, some of them ridiculously niche and with less-than-half-baked concepts behind them.

Take Potcoin, for example. It’s a standard proof-of-stake coin long after Blackcoin proved that Proof of Stake is viable. So what is it? It’s a cryptocurrency that is essentially riding on the fact that it has “pot” in the name to be successful. It wants to be the primary payment method for the legal marijuana industry.

That’s stupid, and the exact opposite of what currencies are supposed to do. An Ethereum token would have been more suitable for this, but no. They went and created a currency. I don’t like the token idea anyway. I’ve long ripped into gaming companies like Microsoft and Nintendo for making you buy 800 Microsoft Points to buy a $10 game, instead of just buying the $10 game. They do this because they sell Microsoft Points in uneven packs. Maybe 1000 or 2000. The goal is for the person to have some “points” left over that are too small in quantity to use, forcing them to either pay more money to bring them up to a usable quantity (there’s nothing on the Microsoft Store for 100 points, after all), or to abandon the remainders as lost forever. This is an insidious way of charging people an extra $2 or $3 here or there, without their realizing it and without their noticing it. It’s a way of nickel and diming customers to death, and gaming companies are really nickel and diming their customers these days, with pre-orders, season passes, digital deluxe editions, Complete Editions, Definitive Editions, Collections, remakes, rereleases, and shitloads of DLC, not all of which is even covered by the season pass that players stupidly pay $30 for. But anyway.

So what they want to do, in effect, is bring that business model to the marijuana industry. There’s no other way to put it. That’s precisely what they want to do. They want to create “tokens” that customers have to use to buy pot. And since it’s Proof of Stake and they’re certainly holding half of that stake, every single purchase gets them more tokens–not to mention often leaving customers with quantities of tokens that can’t be used, just like Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo do. We’ve been down this game before. I play the browser-based game Tribal Wars, and it does exactly the same thing. Due to selling some in-game resources, I ended up with 5 Premium Points that were utterly unusable. This is by design. It is a principle that is built into such systems. They don’t care if you have 0.0002 tokens that you will never, ever be able to use. Actually, they do care, and they want you to end up in that position. Because that’s free money for them.

There are tons of these currencies. Potcoin is just the most obvious example, by trying to frame itself as a token when it’s defined as a currency, setting such a horrifically stupid role for itself, and calling itself “potcoin” on the hope that the stoner crypto people will go “Hur hurr hurr, I want to hold some potcoin! yeah! Pot is awesome!”

There remain to this day people who think the Tool song “The Pot” is about marijuana. In fact, it’s a reference to “the pot calling the kettle black.” Maynard did this on purpose, of course, using lyrics like “You must have been high” throughout the song. For whatever reason, “pot” is a word that gets people to love the thing, presumably still in that high school mentality where it’s cool to be dumb and nothing is cooler than pot.

Let me just whip up Coinomi and look at random coins that I know nothing about:

  • Bitsend
  • Belacoin
  • Britcoin
  • Canada eCoin
  • Cannacoin (with a pot leaf as its logo, naturally–good, we certainly needed two marijuana coins)
  • Digibyte
  • Digitalcoin
  • EDRCoin
  • Feathercoin
  • GCRCoin
  • Hempcoin (ooh, THREE of them!…

You know, finding the third mariuana cryptocurrency just proves my point better than anything I could write, and I don’t think I’m even running the latest version of Coinomi on the phone I’m looking at. This is a disaster waiting to happen. It is classic market oversaturation. We need only look to 1983 and the video game crash of the same year to see exactly how this plays out.

If I cited your coin as a shitcoin above and you feel that this is in error, reach out to me at aria@anarchistshemale.com, and I’ll interview you for my new show, No Gods, No Masters, and we can clear the air. However, the odds are against you. However much you might think otherwise, chances are that yours is a shitcoin. I excuse Blackcoin only because it’s the world’s first 100% Proof of Stake coin, and it has been around now for nearly 4 years. I’ll be surprised if half of these are still here four years from now.

Video game makers and console manufacturers of the 80s did nothing to protect their hardware or their software, which I’m okay with them doing as long as there are no laws against piracy. They have every right to attempt to protect their products from being copied. But we have every right to attempt to bypass that protection. Anyway, what followed was predictable. People began releasing clones of clones of clones of clones of inferior games, and the market was flooded with Pak-Man, Tax Man, Pac-Man, Capman, APacman, and so on, and, in a lot of cases, consumers didn’t know the difference. Like an average person looking at Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Bitsend, Bitcoinplus, Bitcoin Gold, and Bitcore. It confuses them, and I have to think some of this is intentional.

A flood of overhyped, bullshit games called E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial finally broke the camel’s back, but it was a long series of abuses and shitty products that led up to that. Consumers had simply had enough by the time Atari showed its own abject disdain for consumers by releasing that ungodly abomination as a completed game. By that point, they’d already been ripped off by Protector, which was a ripoff of Helper Jet, which was a ripoff of Laser Ship, was a ripoff of Defender. The consumer had already lost hundreds buying shitty games, and the overhyped E.T. was simply the last one–pretty much because it was so hyped (much like Bitcoin is becoming).

Everyday I see ads for “Don’t buy Bitcoin! Look at these 5 cryptos that are certain to pass Bitcoin!!!!!!11!11” bullshit. Have you been to Novacoin lately? They’re closing, but there seemed like thousands of freaking coins on that site, almost all of them junk. You could even see people in the chatroom call them out for being junk and scams. Novacoin and Coinomi’s standards are way too low, evidently.

Coinbase, thank goodness, is acting as the Nintendo of cryptocurrencies. They have tight and rigid standards for cryptos and whether they will or won’t add them, and we should all be on our knees thanking them for this. If Joe Plumber decides he wants to see what “all that thar Bittlecoon stuff is about,” he’s going to google it, and he’ll almost certainly end up on Coinbase. There, he will be introduced to three safe, secure, reliable, non-scam coins: Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin, in a safe and relatively risk-free environment. He won’t be flooded with a hundred different cryptocurrencies and left feeling like an idiot who picks one at random because he doesn’t want to feel like an idiot and wants to feel like he knows what he’s doing. He’ll see three.

Odds are, he won’t ever hear the words “Hempcoin” or “Belacoin” or “Cannacoin,” and thank God for that. Because most of these shitcoins are going to go under within a year or two, and do you know what would happen if the masses of people poured their money into these shitcoins, and then had the shitcoins vanish?

That’s right: a crash. And an enormous one.

In fact, due to Coinomi, Jaxx, Novacoin, Kraken, etc.’s looser standards, a crash is inevitable. Coinbase is merely delaying it. They can’t prevent it entirely, not when so many people want to create shitcoins that serve no purpose except to scam people out of money and then fade into oblivion because they never had more than a half-baked idea in the first place.

I’m not saying people who genuinely believe in Hempcoin shouldn’t be able to get it, and shouldn’t be able to store it in a wallet. Obviously, I’m not saying that. But I’m saying until your shitcoin has truly proven itself–I’d say that 2 years of survival should be the bare minimum requirement–you should be stuck using a coin-specific wallet.

Oh, look. Orangecoin no longer exists. I’m so surprised.

Buying shitcoins like Orangecoin and Hempcoin simply shouldn’t be so easy that stupid and careless people can do it accidentally. Careless and stupid people exist. We know they do. And if we don’t want government to step in and protect them from the consequences of being careless and stupid, then it’s on us to do so. It’s on Coinbase, Coinomi, Kraken, Novacoin, and Jaxx to do, and Coinbase is the only one stepping up to do it. I’m not saying bail people out. And I’m damned sure not saying let government get involved. In fact, I want you people (whoever is out there making bullshit currencies and bullshit ethereum tokens) to stop doing it so that the government doesn’t get involved. They will. They’ve done it before, man. And “Wah! We lost our money because we couldn’t be bothered to do any research before dropping our life savings into something!” has always been the excuse used for government power grabs. You think they won’t crush Coinbase if they get a good enough excuse? This is stuff that we can’t afford, in the long-run, to allow to happen.

We have to stop this. We have to prevent the crash. This means you, jackasses who made Britcoin, jackasses who made Putincoin, jackasses who made three separate marijuana coins. If you don’t have the self-restraint to not serve out bullshit, then Coinomi, Jaxx, et al. will have to step up and stop you. We need them to, and we need you to go away. And we need to be thankful that Coinbase’s extreme reluctance to add new coins is keeping cryptos accessible and relatively safe for the masses. Because if the ordinary person was presented with Coinomi’s massive list of coins the first time they went to purchase, we’d already have experienced the crash by now.

 

Shut Up, FFS–Arvin Vohra is NOT Why the LP Loses

First of all, before I get into this, it’s worth pointing out that the LP isn’t really losing. In fact, we just won a number of local and state elections. The LP has no national Congressional officials and has never won the White House, but Libertarians of all people should understand the power of local governments. Yet we seem to have the same fascination with the Federal Government that the Big Government Party has–it’s all that matters to us. “Meh” we say to LP victories in local elections. Anyway.

I’ve noticed that libertarian types lose perspective on popularity almost as badly as anime fans. There isn’t an anime fan out there who doesn’t think their favorite show is extremely popular, even though there may only be 23 people who watch it. Anime fans, of course, tend to obsess over their favorite show, steep themselves in its forums and discussion boards, surround themselves with merchandise and other fans. Just like libertarians do with our political obsession. And with our cryptocurrency fascination. It’s hard to keep in mind that, though a few people know what I’m referring to, when I say something like “lol, S2X just got rekt” on Facebook, less than 1% of my friends have any idea what in the world I’m talking about. Seeing people regularly blame Arvin Vohra for the party’s relative unpopularity reinforces this notion: libertarians generally have no perspective on our reach.

The Libertarian Party is a minor political force in the United States. Running against the two most controversial and despised candidates in living memory, the Libertarian Party’s candidates failed to secure a single electoral college vote, not even from New Mexico, which was the presidential candidate’s home state. When this happens to someone in one of the major two parties, it spells the effective end for their political career (see Marco Rubio losing Florida during the GOP Primary). Absolutely nothing was accomplished by the total selling-out of the party to Bill Freaking Weld and Republican Lites, during the most divisive election in my lifetime.

Many people are looking for reasons to blame for this failure. It’s all rather simple, really. We ran two milquetoast, unlibertarian candidates in an election that a foul-mouthed, uncouth shock jock reality show star celebrity won via social media and jarring tweets. Despite this, people continue to insist that foul-mouthed, uncouth shock jocks saying jarring things on social media are causing election losses. This is quite clearly bullshit, though. Those things caused Donald Trump to win the presidency. It’s for this reason that John McAfee almost certainly would have outperformed Gary Johnson, and likely would have brought in the mythical 15% to secure a spot on the debate stage. Arvin doesn’t need to be toned down. He needs to be shared and given a larger reach, because this is the Golden Age of Grotesque.

“Why didn’t people see this coming?” is a pretty good question, but “Why are people acting like this isn’t the case?” is a much better one. Did these “Arvin is destroying the LP” people not notice that Donald Trump just won the White House? Did they miss that development?

But even if all that wasn’t true, the idea that the vice chair’s Facebook posts are the reason people aren’t Libertarians is horrendously stupid. They’ve lost perspective on the kind of reach the Libertarian Party has. Quick, who is the Republican Party vice chair? Who is the vice chair of the Democratic Party? What is the vice chair of the Democratic Party talking about on Twitter? The only people who know the answers to these questions are politics-obsessed Republicans and Democrats. Even Libertarians, who are notoriously obsessed with politics, by and large can’t name the chair and vice chair of any of the other parties. And those are major parties that regularly bring in more than 40% of the votes.

The Libertarian Party’s reach is a tiny, tiny fraction of what the GOP and Democratic Party’s reaches are. And the vice chairs in these parties have tiny fractions of their parties’ reaches. The only people who pay any attention to what the vice chair of the party says are members of that party. John Q. Public has no fucking idea who Arvin Vohra is, nor does he give a shit what Arvin Vohra is saying on Facebook during a non-election year. We need to step back and get over ourselves. The core idea here is that the LP has a tremendous reach, and that Arvin Vohra, being the vice chair, has a nearly equal reach. This is stupid and incorrect. The only people who know who Arvin is are members of the party.

If we are so overestimating our reach and the reach of the vice chair that we blame him for our party’s failures, then we’re going to overlook and not address the actual problem. The problem isn’t Arvin, Gary Johnson, Bill Weld, or Nick Sarwark. The problem is obvious: a strong aversion to third parties, brought about by the fallacious myths that a vote only matters if the candidate its cast for wins, and that third party candidates can’t win. The latter is quite obviously a self-fulfilling prophecy–“Third party candidates can’t win, so I’m not going to vote for third party candidates.”

The former, of course, is equally stupid. A vote doesn’t gain value relative to the outcome, but relative to its effect on the outcome. If Donald Trump won by ten million votes and you voted for him, then your vote has much less value than if Donald Trump won by one vote and you voted for him. People understand this when you explain it to them. “The only vote that is wasted is the one that isn’t cast,” I said to a person once who said that she liked the LP but wouldn’t vote third party because it was wasting her vote. She agreed with the statement, said that she had never thought of it that way, and went on to vote for the LP.

If you voted for Donald Trump and he won by ten million votes, then your vote* was almost completely without value.

If you voted for Hillary Clinton and she lost by ten million votes, then your vote was almost completely without value.

If you voted for Donald Trump and he won by one vote, then your vote had extremely high value.

If you voted for Hillary Clinton and she lost by one vote, then your vote had extremely high value–you forced every single Trump supporter who voted to get out and vote. If even two of those had decided not to, your vote would have been the reason your candidate won. So while your candidate didn’t win, that doesn’t really matter.

LP Federal Fascination

As stated in the intro, Libertarians seem to focus almost exclusively on federal elections, seemingly forgetting that we’re a party that advocates that government, if it must exist, should be local and small, and this focus is so intense that many Libertarians continue to call the party a failure that doesn’t win elections despite having just won elections this very month. This is our Achilles’ Heel. We’ve let ourselves buy into the Federal Government Obsession.

We expect the Big Government Party to focus on federal elections–and they do. The Republicans and Democrats out there in the mainstream have no idea that an election just passed. I accidentally texted someone a few years ago telling her to vote in the election, and she replied, “What election?” I’d bet that most of the country has no idea that there was an election this month. But they’ll turn out in 2020, and they turned out in 2016. Why aren’t we taking advantage of this?

We know that they don’t pay much attention to local and state governments. Odd years should see Libertarians swept into offices in enormous numbers. Instead, I don’t know of many Libertarians who voted this month at all. If we play their Only Federal Elections Matter game, we will lose. We have been losing, and we will continue to lose, because they have an enormous aversion to voting third party. But they also don’t matter when it comes to state and local elections, not nearly as much. If everyone who voted for Gary Johnson had actually bothered to go and vote for Libertarians this month, we’d have won thousands of elections. Voter turnout during odd years is so low that it’s hard to even find stats on it.

Republicans and Democrats do not care about odd year elections. And they only partially care about non-presidential even year elections. Those are our times to shine, because we’re supposed to be the party that doesn’t care about the Federal Government, and that cares about local elections. Combine all of these things together, and the reasons for the LP’s failures become obvious:

  1. Mainstream voters have an extreme aversion to third parties.
    1. This is because they think their vote’s value is derived from the recipient’s victory,
    2. And because they think that third party candidates cannot achieve victory.
  2. Mainstream voters don’t care about odd-year elections, and only kinda care about non-presidential even years.
  3. Libertarians have almost fully adopted the same mentality, caring only about the Federal Government and outright ignoring local and state elections during odd years and non-presidential even years.

It’s got nothing to do with Nicholas Sarwark, Arvin Vohra, Gary Johnson, Bill Weld, John McAfee, moderates, centrists, anarchists, socialists, or anyone else. It’s the fixation on the Federal Government, where competition is extremely tight, and almost total ignoring of state and local elections. We shouldn’t need to win Federal Elections, because we should have taken control of local and state governments to such an extent that we could resist all efforts by the federal government to tyrannize the states and localities.

Want to achieve liberty in our lifetime? That’s how. Ignore the presidential elections entirely. We probably have to run a candidate, sure, but it should be a quarter-hearted effort at best. Instead, save our energy, money, and resources for odd years and non-presidential election even years.

 

* Ignoring the intricacies of the electoral college and the fact that the mythical popular vote doesn’t strictly determine the election outcome, but the electoral college does nothing but give your vote more value by creating the possibility of you being the one vote that flips your state from Red to Yellow, or from Blue to Red, or from Red to Blue, or from Blue to Yellow.

A Literal Lesson on Literally

If there is any single word that is horrifically over-used and incorrectly used, especially among millennials, that word would be “literally.” In perhaps the best piece of evidence that the ironic hipster culture has gone way too far, it is probably literally the word most often used figuratively rather than literally.

And it makes me figuratively sick.

It makes me metaphorically disgusted.

It makes me feel like I’m allegorically surrounded by morons.

These people are analogously comparable to zombies.

I would say I’m fancifully part of an age group that literally doesn’t know what “literally” means. And I haven’t even broken out the thesaurus yet.

No, Trump is not LITERALLY Hitler.

No, you are not LITERALLY dying.

No, you are not LITERALLY sick of Trump.

No, you are not LITERALLY rolling in cash.

And, as a reply to the post that inspired this one, Limewire was not LITERALLY LIKE having unprotected sex on the Internet.

Let’s reflect for a moment on that phrase. The statement was that “[Limewire] was literally like having unprotected sex on the Internet.”

At a glance, we can see that this is not, in fact, a literal statement. It’s a simile. As we learned in the second grade, a simile is an analogy that uses “like” or “as,” for the most part (in reality, it’s slightly more complicated than that, but let’s keep it simple for these people who evidently literally don’t know what “literally” means). As a simile, it is an analogy, which means it isn’t literal. This is because “x is figuratively true” is directly contradictory to “x is literally true.”

“X is literally true” means that x is true. It means the value of x is “true.” It means that whatever we’re describing as “x” is actually, seriously, and literally true.

“X is figuratively true” means that x is not true. It may be “true in spirit,” but not in actual fact. For example, the statement that “Trump is figuratively Hitler.” Quite obviously, this means that Trump is not Hitler. This is plain as day to anyone who knows that Hitler has been dead for 70 years (conspiracy theories aside). It is equally transparent to anyone who knows what it means for two distinctly different people to exist. So it is literally impossible for Trump to be LITERALLY Hitler–even if Hitler was still alive, the two are quite clearly different individuals, and it would require the warping of spacetime for them to be the same person.

Literal statements are observations–facts.

Figurative statements are assertions–opinions.

“Trump is literally Trump,” in addition to being a tautology, is an observation and a fact. Trump is Trump because “Trump” is the person we mean when we say “Trump.” The statement defines itself as true. This is the first of the Logical Absolutes–“x is x.” We don’t need to make an argument to show people that Trump is literally Trump. At most, we have to simply explain that Trump is the person we are referring to when we say “Trump.” “He is Trump,” we might say, pointing to him on the television. We don’t need to provide evidence (under normal circumstances*) that the person we are pointing to is Trump, because “Trump” is defined as the person we’re pointing to.

Contrast this to a statement like… “Taxation is literally theft.”

It is.

“Taking money or property from someone without their permission” is the definition of “theft.” That a government does it, instead of a random thief, changes nothing. Although doublethink and cognitive dissonance permeate American society, the fact remains that taxation is “literally” theft. The only escape from this is on an individual basis, with the individual who says, “No, because I gladly consent to taxes!” but even that isn’t the entire story, because they couldn’t deny consent if they wanted to, so they aren’t actually choosing to consent. “Taking money or property from someone without their permission” being the definition of “theft” isn’t an opinion; it’s what the word means.

Having now dealt with a statement that is not literally true and one that is literally true, let’s move on to a figurative one. As stated before, there is no fact here, so there is no “true” or “untrue” figurative statement. There’s a statement that one person believes or doesn’t believe. Let’s examine the statement that “Trump is figuratively Hitler.”

Is he?

It depends on what you think represents the essence of Hitler. I would say that extreme nationalism coupled with white supremacy, intense hatred of non-white people and GSM people, willingness to conquer, an unyielding desire to rebuild the “glory days” and take them further than ever before, and a remarkable ability to inspire passion in people (Hitler was probably the greatest orator of the 20th century, according to many people) is what really constituted “Hitler.” In literal terms, Hitler was a dude who lived in Germany from the late 19th century to around the mid 20th century, formed the National Socialist party of Deutschland, dissolved the Germany Parliament, took control of the government, successfully rebuild the German economy, started a bit of unpleasantness, and then killed himself. Seeing as Trump is none of those things, we can see, once again, that Trump is not LITERALLY Hitler.

Maybe what you mean by Hitler is “scary white leader who may or may not be racist and who sometimes says mean things.” If that’s what you think represents the essence of Hitler, hey, that’s your opinion. I would absolutely ask someone who made the statement with sincerity, however, that Trump is figuratively Hitler, to explain how they came to that conclusion, because I don’t see the connection. He could be somewhat analogous to Mussolini, but let’s be honest here… Millennials don’t know anything about Mussolini. To be clear, when people say that Trump is LITERALLY Hitler (and they mean that he is figuratively Hitler), I have a pretty good idea of what they mean: they mean that they think Trump is an extreme nationalist, white supremacist, anti-LGBT, warmongering, MAGA-spamming tyrant who is going to put everyone into the ovens.

Don’t believe me? They most certainly do think that. It has calmed down a lot, but I’ll never forget the day after the election talking to a Hispanic woman who confessed to be cowering in fear with her family in her home, crying. Teachers throughout the United States cried with their black students. No, this actually happened. Don’t forget that. One guy wrote an article with the headline “I’m disabled–imagine what Donald Trump will do to me!” They sincerely thought that the Holocaust was upon them, and they refused to listen to suggestions otherwise. They were fully hysterical, and firmly convinced that Trump was the second coming of Hitler. A year later, I would love nothing more than for these people to openly and publicly acknowledge how absurdly hysterical they were, to take it into consideration in the future, and to take measures to ensure that they are not so swept up in lunatic paranoid and political rhetoric again. Keep crying wolf, and when an American dictator actually rises, no one will take the claim seriously.

But this isn’t meant to be about Trump–figuratively or literally. Whether one believes Trump is figuratively Hitler or not isn’t the point here; the point here is that he is most LITERALLY not “LITERALLY Hitler.” Taxation is literally theft. You are not literally dying (except in the philosophical sense that everyone has an expiration date).

* Presuming some idiot is not making the argument that Trump is an imposter reptilian overlord wearing a Trump Suit.

 

 

Did Bitcoin Supporters Just Get Played?

I think they did, and I think that it’s entirely possible–even probable–that Shrem and other Segwit2x supporters did it knowingly and intentionally as a way of driving up the value of Bitcoin, selling off, making their announcement, and shifting into Bitcoin Cash, which has already solved the problems that Segwit2x was supposed to partially address. So let me give you the rundown of what I’m thinking.

I noticed a few weeks ago that Bitcoin.Com wrote an article saying that they would refer to the Segwit2x chain as “B2x” and the other chain as “Bitcoin.” This makes sense, really, though I did take note of it at the time, because just a few days later, a phrase started appearing regularly in their articles in regard to Bitcoin Cash: “the REAL Bitcoin.”

Over and over again for the last month, Bitcoin.com referred to Bitcoin Cash as “the real Bitcoin,” and even went as far as writing an article and including a diagram about how Bitcoin Cash is the most uninterrupted continuation of the Bitcoin blockchain. I found this very odd, especially given all the controversy around Segwit2x and Core, that this major Bitcoin site–the one who owned Bitcoin.com for fuck’s sake–would suddenly start bashing the two major Bitcoins in favor of this offshoot that had existed for months with very little support. In fact, I’m almost certain that I recall reading an October article from them about how Bitcoin Cash was doomed to failure because it lacked support.

Something weird has happened, my friends, and, if I was a statist, I would probably be calling for investigations of fraud. And if Shrem (whose first name I don’t recall) sold even one hundredth of a Bitcoin before he made his announcement about the cancellation of S2X, then I think fraud is almost certain, so let’s refer to a few facts.

  • Regardless of where one stood on the matter, the New York Agreement never came close to a genuine consensus, as notable people were not invited at all, and, among those who were, it was not even possible to bring in 100% of the Bitcoin user base, the only way a consensus can truly be taken.
  • Despite this ambiguity, the “unanimous agreement” of the Segwit2x agreement was touted for months. Segwit was implemented, at which point Core and others, in a perhaps related venture, pulled out of the 2x part.
  • Bitcoin.com released its naming conventions for the coins as “Bitcoin2x” and “Bitcoin.”
  • Bitcoin.com began calling Bitcoin Cash “the real Bitcoin.”
  • Despite the rising contentiousness of the fork, Segwit2x proponents–among them Shrem–continued stating up until about a week ago that the fork would go ahead as planned, because “the community” had spoken and had agreed to implement the upgrade.
  • Seeing as this is the cryptocurrency equivalent of a stock split, lots and lots of people got into Bitcoin, driving the values up to record levels. It peaked at $8,000 at one point, and there is no doubt among crypto users that fork hype was the reason why. Whatever Bitcoin you had at the time of the fork would effectively be doubled–just in different currencies. One of these could easily and quickly be sold off, or converted into something stable like Ethereum. This is what I intended to do to both, in fact, using Shapeshift or Changelly–send one Bitcoin into Ethereum and the other into Litecoin. That way, it became irrelevant to me which was successful. Lots and lots and lots and lots of people who otherwise avoid Bitcoin (evidently I’m not alone in this regard) did the same.
  • Then, with Bitcoin basically at its peak, Shrem took to the world to announce that the fork was cancelled.
  • Immedate sell-offs began, because all of these people like me who just wanted in for the fork wanted back out, into our preferred cryptos (for me, Litecoin, Ethereum, and Blackcoin).

My Tentative Accusation

Elements within the Bitcoin community laid the groundwork for Bitcoin Cash to replace Bitcoin altogether, both Bitcoin and Bitcoin2x. I have no idea if the information can be gained or not, but I would be extremely fascinated to learn which S2X major players sold off Bitcoin before or shortly after the announcement, and I would throw a red flag on the play if even a single one of them converted 0.00001 BTC into Bitcoin Cash.

I’m not accusing anyone of anything, not really. I’m just saying that it’s all very, very suspicious. Given that Bitcoin Cash had already solved the problems that Bitcoin2x was supposed to partially solve, it’s not hard to see a connection between the two cryptos. Let’s face it: Bitcoin Cash’s main features at this point are that it’s the most uninterrupted Bitcoin blockchain, and that it already handled blocksize increases (up to 8 MB, instead of Segwit2x’s 2MB), and significantly lowered transaction fees in the process. These are the biggest problems Bitcoin faces.

These people who openly admitted to supporting a way of partially solving these problems with S2X cancelled at the last minute, while others were literally laying the groundwork for Bitcoin Cash to become accepted as “the real Bitcoin.” I don’t know, man. That’s fishy as hell. And I’m out 0.015 Bitcoin–which is a lot of money for me, honestly, it is… It’s taken me about 3 months to put that much money into cryptocurrencies–because of it. Not only that, but if I ever do get my Bitcoin back (see my coinomi complaint below), Bitcoin has fallen so much and BCH climbed so much that I won’t get anywhere near the BCH that I should have gotten if this shit went through yesterday. So what am I really out? Right now, 0.15 Bitcoin and 0.1 Bitcoin Cash. That’s pocket change to some people, but for me it’s my savings. It’s money that I can afford to lose, but it’s all my savings. And the reasons for this are two-fold: the cancellation of S2X and Coinomi’s failure to manage transaction fees as any ordinary user would expect them to.

Which brings me to a complaint I have to level at Coinomi.

Coinomi

I’m a pretty smart chick, you know? I saw the writing on the wall almost as soon as I woke up yesterday morning and looked into what had been going on. So what did I do? I immediately attempted to use Changelly to shift my Bitcoin back into Litecoin and Ethereum, and stated openly that, after doing so, I was going to shapeshift/changelly half of the ETH and half of the LTC into Bitcoin Cash. If I had done this, I would have gained more than $200 in the last 24 hours. This is why it has me so angry. $200 is a lot of money to me. As it is, because of this fuckup with Coinomi, I was forced to convert my Blackcoin into Bitcoin Cash (only $44 of it), which still has gained me $10, allowed me to purchase 0.01 LTC, and allowed me to rebuy 9 Blackcoin (I have no intention of getting out of Blackcoin–being the world’s first 100% proof of stake coin, I have very high hopes for it).

We normal people use Coinomi because we don’t want to calculate mileage and transaction fees. That’s one of the main freaking appeals of using these multi-currency wallets, in fact. They do all that background stuff for us. If I wanted to do that, i would exclusively use Parity (which I use for Ethereum to some degree, and, obviously, for Airswap Tokens). I don’t want to look up the current average mileage fees, calculate them, and do that work. No one does. That’s why we use these apps.

The last thing I ever expected was that Coinomi would use a Bitcoin transaction fee with its built-in Changelly function that was so low that the transaction would go unconfirmed for more than 24 hours. At the time of writing, the transactions are still unconfirmed, and the Bitcoin network is more congested than ever. There’s no chance the transactions are going to be confirmed. At best, it will take months. My only hope is to download the Bitcoin -QT software, sweep the wallet, and double spend them. This requires downloading the 200 GB blockchain, which I’ve got someone doing for me. But, even then, this might take days to complete. Keeping in mind that I’ve already missed out on doubling my money because of this, how much will I have missed out on by the time I finally get my Bitcoin back? Fuck, man, at least Coinbase automatically cancels unconfirmed transactions after 24 hours! The evil Coinbase!

I even considered contacting John McAfee and asking him to use his miners to confirm the transactions, but I doubt that he actually has 12 independent ones that can do it, even as a favor to me, this chick that he has never met and doesn’t know. I’ve contacted Coinomi support, and they should get back to me “within the next 24 hours.” By then, I expect BItcoin Cash will be over $2000, and I’ll have lost out on even more money. And that’s if they can help me resolve the issue right then and there, which is exceedingly unlikely. They’ll ask me more questions, and then tell me there is nothing they can do about it and send me a bunch of links to information that I’ve already read.

We’re talking a lot of money here–at least for me. And there’s presently nothing I can do about it, because my Bitcoin is lost in the ether, probably never to be confirmed. Double spending is the only option, and the Coinomi app intentionally prevents that (most apps do). I’m hoping they have some sort of override, can take control of my phone directly, and use some developer commands to force the app to allow doublespending. If not, my only hope may be to decompile the software and have a friend go through it and see if he can modify it in a way that would allow doublespending. See how grave this problem is? And it’s not my fault. It’s Coinomi’s fault. Sure, if you go to their website–their website for this app that only supports mobile devices in other words why in the world would you ever go to their website–they will tell you to make sure to increase your transaction fees when processing things for Shapeshift and Changelly, but that’s buried in their site. And no one will even go to look for that until they have already had this happen.

And I’m a tech person! I can’t imagine what a non-tech person would do if faced with this.

This sort of thing has to be worked out for cryptocurrencies to survive. Yes, the blockchain must be immutable, but there must be some changes to the code that allow for transactions to be cancelled and removed from the cloud if they aren’t confirmed even once after 24 hours.

A Comedy of Censorship

The irony of opening my daily subscription email from Rational Review, a libertarian news digest, and seeing an item from Newsweek about how Russia is planning to ban Facebook from its country unless Facebook stores the data for Russian users inside Russia, which critics are deriding as an attempt to censor and control the Internet, was almost too much hilarity for my brain to take before I’d ingested any caffeine. On the surface, the law actually makes a fair bit of sense (though I’d obviously not support it). Requiring companies not to store user for Russians outside of Russia is a protective measure–surely we can all see why we Americans wouldn’t want the user data of Americans stored, as a matter of routine, in Russia (especially given the anti-Russian hysteria, which is what I’m getting into).

Of course, Newsweek couldn’t help but stoke the coals of aforementioned hysteria by adding at the end of their article:

Facebook representatives told U.S. lawmakers that 80,000 posts from 470 fake Russian accounts disseminated information on its network and that it shut down 5.8 million fake accounts in October 2016.

Alas, we almost made it through one entire article that mentioned “Facebook” and “Russia” without playing it into the anti-Russian propaganda being peddled by lunatics across the United States. To give you some perspective on this addled stupidity, because, only counting photo uploads, there are three hundred million Facebook posts a day. If we include text-only posts, there are two hundred, ninety-three thousand (293,000) every single second. Eighty thousand in one month versus the nearly three hundred thousand made every second is a ludicrously low ratio–enough that it’s not worth mentioning and, indeed, Facebook should be ashamed for mentioning it.

I don’t care for the word “disseminated,” either. The media is notoriously no longer neutral. As I observed in an unrelated article about the mythical “popular vote,” bias in the media takes a number of forms, and the most subtle and insidious is the deliberate choice of loaded words. “Disseminated” is one such word. Almost any word would have been more neutral–perhaps “shared?” Or “posted?” Clearly, the journalists themselves only constitute half the problem; no editor who is good at what they do should have allowed that statement through. Not only is it loaded heavily, but it’s also stated poorly. Briefly, I’d have edited it to:

Representatives of Facebook reported to Congress that 80,000 posts from 470 dummy Russian accounts posted to its network, and that Facebook shut down 5.8 million fake accounts in October 2016.

I’d rate their version as a 4 / 10 (-4 points for blatant bias, -1 point for reuse of “fake” in a single sentence, and -1 for violating parallelism, which is far more important than people think).

Anyway, Newsweek in their article also failed to note who these “critics” are, but one has to give the benefit of the doubt and assume the critics are Russian. After all, it would just be silly for Americans to be accusing the Russian government of censorship when our social media titans are being compelled to report to Congress on what measures they are taking to censor their networks.

Recently on The Call to Freedom, of which I am a co-host with former libertarian vice presidential candidate Will Coley and recovering Republican Thom Gray (live every Sunday night at 10pm EST, and the encore airs Tuesday at 3pm EST at https://www.lrn.fm), I asked Thom Gray what the problem is with Russians posting on Facebook for either presidential candidate, a sentiment with which Will agreed, because it works just like anything else. If Russians, English, the French, the Spanish, the Catalan, or anyone else wishes to post to Facebook, then they’re basically allowed to do that*.

Maybe Facebook should implement a tool where users will never, ever see posts from people who live in countries other than their own.

Sounds horrific, doesn’t it?

This is the Global Age. In half a second, I can chat or play chess with someone in Russia, China, or Pakistan right now. We should be using this technology to communicate with one another, to learn what the other cares about, to learn what motivates them, and to learn that they’re people, just like us. That enormous ocean that once prevented people in the United States from recognizing that the Japanese circa 1940CE were real people was bridged by the Internet and World Wide Web, and we should be rejoicing in this, not freaking out, panicking, and seeking the isolationist approach. And let’s not mince words about this: what people are proposing is effectively isolationism.

In hindsight, I suppose it was always inevitable for the kneejerk reaction. We’ve seen it in countless other ways. Diversity and peace champions celebrate when LGBT people are allowed to exist in peace, but become regretful and remorseful when LGBT people start moving into their neighborhoods and in the vicinity of their children. Of course, similar things happened when black people began moving into certain neighborhoods, too, and when Mexican began coming into the United States. Satirical comedy South Park has drawn attention to this on at least two occasions, in the episodes “Goobacks” and “Here Comes the Neighborhood.” So it’s something we should all be familiar with.

Being able to communicate and interact with people on the other side of the planet instantly sounds great… until they post things you don’t like that allegedly influenced voters, who in turn voted in a way that you don’t like. So, once again, it absolutely must be said: the entirety of this Russian fiasco is the allegation that Russians influenced American voters. The contention has not been that “Russians influenced the election” since the audits of a few states in December of last year showed no irregularities. American voters voted for Trump. The allegation is that they voted for Trump because they were duped by Russians. So even if all the allegations are true, it changes nothing, because an American voter can take information from any source that they like and use it to cast their vote for any person that they like for any reason that they like.

Let’s imagine that the raving paranoids get their wish. Not only does Russia ban Facebook from its country (doing significant damage to the Russian people’s ability to communicate in the process, which, granted, the hysterical lunatics don’t care about anyway), but Facebook implements some sort of stern measure to keep Russian posts, where they might still exist, from appearing to the delicate, confused, sensitive, and gullible American masses. But oh no! Trump doesn’t run in 2020, and instead Ted Cruz wins the Republican nomination, whereupon he finds himself running against Joe Biden (the only standing Democrat that would have a realistic shot of winning the presidency). Unfortunately, Cruz wins the White House.

There are no Russians to use as a tool of challenging the legitimacy of Cruz’s victory and as a method of undermining his presidency. Who else might have such capabilities? The Chinese. I have very little doubt that the Chinese would be the next scapegoat. A few audits would show the voting results are more or less accurate (one has to wonder why they aren’t 100% accurate, though, given that they’re almost all electronic now), which would leave people unable to say that the election was rigged. They’ll resort to the tactic of saying that voters were misled, and it was the Chinese who convinced all the stupid, gullible people to vote for Cruz. Or perhaps the Democrat would win, and Republicans would try that tactic–with the “Obama is a Kenyan Muslim!” thing, they’ve certainly got a history of doing so.

We might go through this entire charade again, and it might culminate in the widespread elimination of China from Facebook. At that point, we could say, “Congratulations, America. You’ve effectively isolated yourself from 25% of the world’s population.” What would happen in 2024, when someone else inevitably won the White House, and the other side picked, perhaps, Brazil as the scapegoat? Or the European Union–unlikely though that is, since we have an enormous blindspot for Europe–see how Spain has invaded Catalonia and denied its right to self-governance, the most anti-democratic thing to happen in the last few decades in Europe, and yet we’ve done nothing to defend the Catalans from the occupying forces of Spain, and many people don’t even consider this a violation of democracy. Let’s face it, if Georgia declared independence from Russia and Russia invaded Georgia, Americans would be yelling and screaming about the invasion and violation of Georgian rights, and… Wait a minute.

See? It doesn’t matter how tyrannical and undemocratic Spain’s actions are. We can’t see them in the proper light, because they’re “western society,” too. So even though they have done to Catalonia exactly what we condemned Russia for doing to Georgia (and going even further, in fact, since Spanish police actually attacked people who were trying to vote, destroyed ballots, and other atrocious things), we don’t call them out on it. We also know that people in the UK, Italy, Germany, and other nations were posting on Facebook about the 2016 presidential election, and that they, too, were “disseminating information,” but we’re not freaking out about that, are we?

Russia is only our enemy if we make them our enemy. There is absolutely no reason we can’t get along with Russia as well as we do with Germany. In fact, we should get along better with Russia, seeing as Russia has never caused a world war–in fact, we once allied with them to fight those world wars–and I don’t think we’ve ever actually been at war with Russia. What is really our problem with Russia? It’s the same problem we’ll have with China in ten more years. They’ve committed two grave sins for which we cannot forgive them:

They refuse to bow to American supremacy, and they aren’t western.

That is the heart of American foreign policy. That horrible, racist, arrogant, entitled, and condescending attitude is the heart of all that the United States does on a global scale. The United States’ position on any country can be deduced by answering three basic questions:

  1. Do they bow to American supremacy? This includes taking no public issue with the USD, of course. There is almost no recovering from this–anyone who doesn’t bow to American supremacy is almost immediately an enemy, unless…
  2. Are they western and mostly white? Although we won’t seriously entertain the possibility that Greece, Germany, or the UK are truly “equal” to us, we will, for the most part, allow the European Union as a whole to consider itself equal to the United States. Individually, however, each country is considered inferior to the U.S., and we wouldn’t tolerate any suggestion otherwise. If 1 and 2 are both false, then #3 doesn’t even matter.
  3. Do they give us oil? Sadly, this is still an important consideration, although it’s not the greatest any longer. It is, however, the reason we’re always kissing Saudi Arabia’s ass, even though they don’t really bow to American supremacy.

If they don’t have the audacity to not be any color other than white European and don’t have the audacity to refuse to bow to American supremacy, then we will tolerate them in much the same way that we handle cats and dogs. They’re quaint and cute little things that exist for our pleasure, and nothing else. If they do have the audacity to not be white European, to not bow to American supremacy, and to not sell us oil, then we don’t care much for them unless we can exploit them in some other way (like how we import cheap goods from China)–and even then we don’t like them, and merely tolerate them.

Our entire foreign policy is built on American supremacy. This is alarming, since the United States is almost certain to be removed from the #1 spot technologically, economically, and military within the next twenty years.

The Russia hysteria can be briefly summarized like this:

How dare Russians act like they have freedom of speech or something, by posting things on the Internet that gullible American voters might believe!

* Let’s not spend four thousand words clarifying that statement, k? You know what I mean.

Your Chance to Win 10 Blackcoins

Win 10 Blackcoin!

I’m currently running a challenge where the winner will receive 10 Blackcoin (BLK). Granted, that’s just over $2 right now, but Bitcoin also used to be 20 cents each, and I’ll point out that, being the first 100% Proof of Stake coin, Blackcoin stands excellent chances of climbing very high. Hold onto them for five years and that may be a $500 reward. Or it may still be $2, no one knows.

Anyway.

Whoever makes the best photoshop of Augustus Invictus in an extremely compromising position wins. “Best” is completely subjective, and I couldn’t tell you what criteria I would find “best.” Something like Augustus giving head to a goat, making out with the Crying Nazi, or something like that. Bonus points if he’s making out with the Crying Nazi and they’re both dressed like the Village People. Be creative.

Obfuscating Stupidity & the IP/MA Game

In his seemingly unlimited capacity to #trigger people, Arvin Vohra, Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party, recently posted this on Facebook:

“Guys, we shouldn’t speak badly of rapists. Many people rape, and they vote. If we attack them, they might not vote libertarian!”

That’s how some of you sound when you suggest we pander to public school “teachers” and members of the military welfare complex in order to not lose their votes.

Without going further, I’m sure readers will accurately assume the most common response to this. Of course, the widespread was one in which the commenter pretended to be excessively stupid by pretending not to understand metaphors and how they work. In fact, every time I think of this and how common it is, I’m reminded of Christ saying, “It is harder for a rich man to get into Heaven than it is for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle.”

I suspect Americans today would ask, “Jesus, are you saying rich people are camels?!”

We saw exactly the same thing when Donald Trump, Jr. made his analogy using Skittles over immigration and refugees, when he said that “refugees are like a bowl of Skittles [or M&Ms?] where some of them are poisoned. Would anyone out there really help themselves to a handful?”

Predictably, the widespread response to this on Twitter was “Are you saying we should eat refugees?” The sentiment was so common that a news site, doing its typical crap of taking samples of tweets and compiling them into an “article,” used several different tweets that expressed that confusion.

The alarming possibility is that there are people out there who sincerely don’t understand how metaphors work. This is more plausible than it should be, given how few American adults actually read (anything more than Facebook posts and tweets]. The ability to read and process information is indisputably helped by reading (hence why people’s reading levels tend to increase the more they read), and Reading Comprehension is similarly helped by exposure. However, the ability to reason is also critical to understanding analogies, and I’m not sure that reasoning can be taught. One either knows how to think or one doesn’t.

Cue Joshua Smith, who fancies himself qualified to be the Chair of the national Libertarian Party (despite having no more qualifications than I have, and I’m imminently unqualified):

Wow, you just compared school teachers to rapists.

Just when I thought there wasn’t possibly any way you could get edgier and drive more people from the party.

Can’t wait for June 30th.

Joshua Smith was not alone in this idiocy. I called him out on this directly, of course:

You’re over here (at best) pretending not to understand a basic metaphor and how metaphors work. That is 100% worthy of condescension. Don’t obfuscate stupidity if you don’t want people to think you’re an idiot.

At worst, you legitimately don’t understand how metaphors work, which is more sad than funny. But I think I’m okay with being condescending of a grown ass man who claims to read philosophy but doesn’t know how metaphors work.

…and earlier, when he attempted to change the subject to “being an asshole”:

Don’t change the subject. This is about you deliberately feigning ignorance over something you know damned well that you understood.

Joshua continues to this point denying that he’s simply pretending not to understand how metaphors work. This is, as I’m sure you’ve observed, very common. It’s almost impossible to use any kind of metaphor in conversation with people these days, because they either knowingly pretend not to understand, they have convinced themselves that they don’t understand, or they actually don’t understand. There’s not much that we can do about the latter, except aknowledge their apparent mental handicap and stop trying to reason with them.

The middle group–those who understand how metaphors work but who have convinced themselves that they don’t, because then they can be outraged at the non-meaning they extract from the statements–are caught up in doublethink, and I think the logical absolutes are the only way to break people out of doublethink. They know that they understand, but they have forgotten that so that they can feign ignorance. I suspect Joshua falls into this group. They know that Arvin was not comparing teachers to rapists, but it doesn’t matter; they have forgotten that and convinced themselves otherwise.

The first group are those who deliberately and consciously pretend to be stupid, again because this allows them to be outraged and triggered over the meaning that they imagine.

Who can blame them? Outrage works. It’s a method of putting the speaker on the defensive. Instead of the point they’re trying to make getting the focus, they instead end up spending the entire conversation defending what they said and trying to explain that they did not, in fact, compare rapists to teachers.

So let’s break Arvin’s down. What is Vice Chair Vohra referring to? The actions of people in response to teachers and rapists.

On the one hand, we have the fictionalized hypothetical response of someone to rapists as effectively defending them, saying that we shouldn’t antagonize them because then they won’t vote for us. It’s not rape or the rapist who is the focus of this, but the person responding to the rapist. The person acting in this metaphor is the person responding to teachers and rapists; neither the teacher nor the rapist are acting here. They are not, therefore, the subjects of the metaphor, since they are not the ones acting.

Then Arvin pointed out that this person’s response is just as stupid when it is teachers to whom they are responding. There is no quantitative assessment of how “bad” rape or teaching are; there is just the assumption that both are bad, and this is not presented in any comparative sense. There’s no comparison at all in Arvin’s words to the act of rape and the act of teaching in a public school. The comparison is entirely about the way people react to rapists and to public school teachers. So in its most basic form, Arvin’s metaphor is quite clearly not comparing rapists to teachers; it is comparing how people react to teachers to how people react to rapists.

Understanding Metaphors

The first step to understanding any metaphor is to determine what, exactly, is being compared, and what it’s being compared to. “Cat is to mouse as bird is to worm” is a simile, and what is it comparing? Is it saying that cats are birds? Is it saying that cats and birds are the same thing, or that mouse and worms are the same thing? In fact, the relationship between the cat and the mouse is being compared to the relationship between the bird and the worm. None of the animals are being compared. Their relationships are being compared.

Now that we have determined what’s being compared, we have to identify that the comparison is. This can be difficult, and is dependent on the reader’s knowledge. Here, we are comparing the cat’s predatorial relationship with the mouse to the bird’s predatorial relationship to the worm. Presumably, we are doing this as an attempt to explain to someone that birds hunt and eat worms. So we’re using this analogy (a simile, though it contains neither “as” nor “like”) to clarify to someone the relationship between one of the two. As long as we understand cats’ relationship to mice, we can understand birds’ relationship to worms; as long as we understand birds’ relationship to mice, we can understand cats’ relationship to mice. Through this simple analogy, we have communicated a lot of information about the animals and their habits, and the listener can extrapolate their knowledge of one of the relationships to figure out the nature of the relationship.

So How Do We Respond To These People?

First, don’t let them take the offensive, as Joshua attempted to do by feigning stupidity, and then attempting to change the subject to whether it’s necessary to be an asshole. Their tactic is a weak, intellectually dishonest one of shifting the conversation onto their outrage (the poor little snowflakes), and it shouldn’t be allowed. At this point, there are two ways to handle the stupidity, and both need to be done. First, the metaphor needs to be fully explained. Sadly. Secondly, the person needs to be called out for acting stupid or being stupid, neither of which is acceptable for an adult. My seven-year-old nephew would understand the metaphor without somehow coming to the conclusion that we were directly comparing two things qualitatively. Have fun with these points, though, and combine the two together: explain the metaphor like you would to a five year old.

Don’t let up on this. Be ruthless. Keep in mind that this is a grown adult (and in this case, someone who fancies himself qualified to lead the national Libertarian Party!) who is pretending not to understand a basic and simple metaphor, unable to even figure out what is being compared. Reasons for doing this are complicated. The most obvious, as I said, is that doing so allows them to be outraged, which snowflakes love. But there’s more to it than that, I think–perhaps remnants of the high school attitude that it’s uncool to be smart and cool to be stupid continue on into adulthood. I know we can find examples of this on YouTube.

When Joshua went on to criticize me for being arrogant and condescending, I rightly pointed out:

Don’t obfuscate stupidity if you don’t want people to think you’re an idiot.

These are people are acting like idiots. They deserve scorn, ridicule, and shaming. We should not mock and belittle those with handicaps that prevent them from understanding simple metaphors, but that doesn’t come close to describing the bulk of these deliberate morons. Most of them aren’t stupid. They’re just pretending to be stupid (often with doublethink thrown in, because they want to convince themselves that their outrage should be directed outwardly, at Arvin, instead of inward, at their own past). For this, they should be laughed at, mocked, ridiculed, memed, shamed, and scorned. This scourge of people pretending stupid so that they can be outraged must be stopped. Our ability to communicate takes too severe of a hit if we can no longer use metaphors and analogies.

There’s a reason that Christ, the Buddha, Nietzsche, Plato, and so many other great people in human history communicated primarily in metaphors–they are unrivaled in their ability to clarify things for people. Losing the ability to use parables and metaphors so severely hinders our ability to communicate that it could very well be enough to send us into a second Dark Age. See? That’s a metaphor. It compares the dangers of the Dark Ages to the dangers posed by feigning stupidity so much that everyone becomes stupid and believes in their own stupidity. Someone responding to that with “Are you saying we’re going to experience famine?” would be appallingly moronic (another metaphor). Metaphors are extremely common.

Allowing people to be outraged because they’re getting away with pretending to be stupid will only exacerbate the problem. Why would Joshua pretend to be stupid? To be outraged. But why would he want to be outraged? What does he gain from that? Victimization. Typical of snowflake behavior (Don’t act like a snowflake if you don’t want to be called a snowflake, and being outraged over imaginary offenses is the modus operandi of snowflakes), he seeks and latches onto any possible offense he can find. It’s a way of playing the IP/MA (Identity Politics / Micro Aggressions) Game, because we reward victims so heavily and love them so much. It’s simple psychology and positive reinforcement. People see “victims” being rewarded for being victimized with adoration, “respect,” pity, and other positive things–often money and gifts, too.

Don’t let it stand. Always challenge it.

Libertarians and America-centrism

If there is one thing that nearly everyone who has studied the matter agrees on, it’s that United States global dominance is on the executioner’s block and cannot last forever. This has been said by Ron Paul, who repeatedly pointed out that the militaristic propping up of the USD is unsustainable, but libertarians are not the only people saying such things. It’s well-known that, around 2030, China will have passed the United States economically, and by 2040 technologically and militarily. Regardless of the angle we take–whether internal collapse or external excellence–the conclusion is inevitable: the U.S.’s enjoyment of its time as “the world’s only superpower” is coming to a close.

Earlier today, I defended points made by Libertarian Party Vice Chair Arvin Vohra (who routinely #triggers people who want to call themselves “libertarians” without actually abiding libertarian ideology, as well as those who cry “Muh marketing!” and threaten to take their ball and go home) by asserting that it really doesn’t matter whether Americans find Arvin’s statements palatable or not. He’s right. And the consequences of everyone else being wrong (e.g., the collapse of the USD and American military dominance) will happen whether people find his message agreeable or not.

In fact, the most common whine directed at Arvin is that he’s right, but they wish he would be more diplomatic in expressing it. They assert (without evidence) that statements like his are the reason the LP isn’t taken seriously, are the reason the LP doesn’t win elections, and are the reason the party’s membership is waning. These statements are made entirely without evidence and in full disregard of the obvious facts that the LP didn’t win elections long before Arvin came along.

The most glaring omission from such stupid statements like “This is the reason liberty will never be popular–Arvin is making unpopular statements” is probably the most American-centric thing a person can say. It’s true that Arvin’s statements are not typically popular among Americans, but Americans make up less than five percent of the world’s population. It’s absolutely stupid to act like that five percent is “all there is” or that the 5% are the only people who matter. It’s exactly that kind of attitude that makes people hate Americans–that horrific short-sightedness that cares only about what other Americans think, so much so that the speaker apparently isn’t aware that most of the world’s population isn’t American.

Are Arvin’s statements about the military unpopular? In America, maybe. We really don’t know. There’s been no study of that, so it’s impossible to make any credible analysis. Not much of the American population even pays attention to Arvin, and, of those who do, roughly half seem to be supporters. The other half, strangely, seem to follow him just to argue with everything he says. Being extremely generous, no more than 5% of the American population even knows who Arvin is, so even if we assume that half of those vehemently oppose Arvin, what we’re left with is half of 5% of 5% of 7,000,000,000. So even with unrealistically high numbers, no more than 8,750,000 of the seven billion people on the planet could possibly turn from libertarianism because of Arvin. And, again, since we’re using stupidly generous numbers, 8,750,000 of the seven billion people would also be turned to libertarianism because of Arvin.

And this is only in the United States. How do you think people in Pakistan react when an American political leader boldly speaks out against the crimes committed by the American military in Middle Eastern countries? How do the people of Russia react? The people of China? Half of Americans might get deeply upset that Arvin dared point out that the American military murders people, but the vast majority of Earthlings fiercely nod and agree–having seen and felt the sting of American bombs falling on their cities.

We can’t just zoom in on the United States and pretend like the rest of the world doesn’t matter–it most certainly does. And I know people would say, “But the American Libertarian Party isn’t running for election in the rest of the world! So it doesn’t really matter what they think in this regard!”

That’s wrong, though.

We are running for election with the rest of the world, and it’s an election for survival, peace, prosperity, and forgiveness.

The United States doesn’t exist in a bubble. And while it currently doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks, every indication is that we have only two or three more decades of this being the case, after which it won’t matter what America thinks. It’s hard to overstate the impact that being overtaken militarily, technologically, and economically will have, but, for the first time since its inception, the United States will truly be vulnerable to foreign aggression. And we won’t have the infrastructure, money, technology, industry, or military might to do anything about it.

The rest of the world is watching us put our vast industrial and technological might to use by picking on countries that can’t possibly pose a threat to us. They’re not happy about this. Even our oldest allies, like Canada, Australia, and the UK, aren’t happy with American hegemony these days. Saudi Arabia may be the only country in the Middle East that isn’t deeply pissed off at the United States. China certainly isn’t pleased with us, and neither is Russia. In fact, Russia drew a line in the sand around Assad and refused to let us topple him as we had done to so many in the past. That’s how fed up Russia is with our bullshit.

We have created lots of enemies, and many of them are eagerly waiting on the edge of the darkness, hungrily licking their lips and hoping for our defenses to fall, wishing to see us taken down a peg. And here’s the bad news: that is going to happen. There are only two ways of avoiding it, and we won’t pursue either course of action.

The best way of avoiding it is to stop the hegemony. Let cryptocurrencies thrive, withdraw all of our troops, and, at the very least, return to being a Constitutional Republic of limited government and pro-liberty. It would be even better if we went the Minarchist route, beyond classical liberalism, and best if we went full anarchism. All of these actions would create genuine prosperity, which would make us excellent trading partners, and which would in turn drastically reduce people’s reasons to want to see us destroyed. Because, of course, the thing about using might to enforce one’s position is that might fades, and, when it does, the previous ruler is overtaken and defeated. Look at Rome, Mongolia, the British Empire, and countless others, and know, without a doubt, that their people once thought that it would be impossible for their place as the rulers of the world to be challenged. We have the chance–but maybe not the time–to stop ruling with might, and to instead rule with peace, friendship, and liberty. We can lead the world not by bombing everyone and fighting countless indefinite wars, but by being loving and peaceful, and inspiring people to come to our land and enjoy the most freedom to be had anywhere on the planet.

The other, more immoral, way is to pre-emptively attack China before they can overtake us. I fear this is the route that we will ultimately go, probably around 2024 or 2026, when it is painfully obvious that, if nothing is done China will overtake us. I don’t think most Americans will be able to tolerate that, not when so many Libertarian Americans view the world in such American-centric terms that they don’t understand that “popularity in America” isn’t the same as “popularity.”

The United States is part of the world. It isn’t above the rest of the world, it’s not greater than the rest of the world, and it has no right to bully the rest of the world. We need to come down from our high horse now, not when we are knocked from it by competing countries that have overtaken us. The criminal who stops committing his crimes and apologizes before he is caught is forgiven to an infinitely greater extent than the criminal who only stops and apologizes after he is apprehended. And by the standards of almost everyone, the United States’ actions especially of the last 60 years have been indisputably criminal. Bombing hospitals, weddings, and the like…? We cannot hide from this. And one day–very soon–we will be punishable.