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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.

 

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.

I.T. Vendors, Do Your Jobs

I woke this morning to a series of panicked emails and text messages. A client has been hit with Crysis Ransomware. After orienting myself to the day, I got a handle on the situation and began restoring the client’s files, swept the infected server with malwarebytes, and am well on the way to having everything back up and running. Some people may remember that I was on Fox News a few years ago speaking about ransomware as an I.T. specialist, warning everyone then to back up their stuff, a sentiment mirrored by an FBI agent who participated in the same special. We are now something like four years later, and the link I provided a moment ago contains many people stating that their clients have been infected, and they want to know how they can go about finding decryption software.

Fucking ridiculous.

If you’re an I.T. vendor, it’s your job to know about ransomware. It’s literally your job to know about it, and to protect against it. For at least five years now, the only foolproof prevention is to have current backups. That’s why I don’t sweat it. A client panics and tells me they’ve been encrypted? No problem. Connect to the infected machine, identify the ransomware, google it, scan to remove it, restore files, done. This one might be more complex since it also encrypted programs and possibly some Windows features that no sane I.T. vendor would back up, but there’s absolutely no chance that the client is going to a) lose their files, or b) pay the ransom (currently $5100).

And just in the past 30 days, we’ve seen several “professional” I.T. vendors amateurishly asking about decryption utilities. I can’t blame them for not having found my website, to read my discussions about ransomware and the value of backups, or to read about my general indictment of I.T. people and their tendency to view security as an afterthought at best, but no professional should be caught with their pants down these days. As for decryption, no. It’s not happening. You have two options: pay the ransom, or lose the files. New variants are constantly being released–it’s a multi-billion dollar industry–do you really think that there’s any chance they’re going to let their encryption software be reverse engineered?

I know the hopeful feeling, the denial, of a first-time ransom attack. I was sure that I was always just a step away from the magical solution that would undo everything. Of course, through this I was also using Western Union to send $547 to Tel Aviv, Israel to buy Bitcoin and pay the ransom. Since the typical ransom is still “one bitcoin” and Bitcoin is currently at $5100, I’m not sure that the same client would go for it today. If they did, we’d be fired. That would be appropriate, I think, given that any I.T. vendor, at this point, should be aware of ransomware.

This is your job. This is what you do for a living. You’re supposed to be the experts. Your clients pay you to keep them protected from stuff like this.

Do your jobs.

If you’re hit with ransomware and you don’t have current backups for your clients, then you can go ahead and fire yourself. I’d fire you, especially if I, the client, googled things and found that ransomware has been around for several years, and that the solution is simply to back stuff up, and you couldn’t be bothered to do that. Make peace with it–your only options are to pay the ransom and hope that the people on the other end are honorable (they were in the case of CryptoWall, but that was a long time ago), or to say goodbye to all the files. They’re not recoverable and chances are that they never will be.

Just check out the full list of decryption tools that Kaspersky has available. Six. They have decryption tools for six (out of probably six thousand) variants of ransomware. CryptoWall 2.0, which released in 2014, still isn’t on there. Holding your breath for a decryption utility is like hoping to win the lottery. It requires tons of people to pay the ransom and receive the decryption utility, and for those people to provide those tools to Kaspersky, Bleeping Computer, or someone else, and for those people to laboriously reverse engineer the encryption algorithm. It’s called encryption for a reason, dude. That’s not easy to do.

To give you an idea of the task, start with your public key of “100.” Now, figure out the algorithm (the calculation) that I used to turn “100” into the private key of “2,114.” As you can immediately say, there are infinite ways to turn 100 into 2114. The larger your sample size–if you know that 300 also becomes 900, 52 becomes 1,433, and 91 becomes 30–the better your chances of finding the algorithm that will produce all of these results, but even if you have all of these public and private keys, the task is monumental. And that’s what you’re asking of Bleeping Computers because you can’t be bothered to do your job.

I have no sympathy for such I.T. people.

Why You Should Crypto

It didn’t take much thought for me to realize what changed between my initial crypto purchases and the more recent ones that turned me into a Cryptocurrency evangelist: Porcfest. By sheer coincidence, I happened to have my laptop with me, which gave me access to my meager amounts of crypto, but the drive had also been damaged in the drive, so I wasn’t actually able to use them (and will never be able to recover them). But I saw there something I didn’t expect: cryptos in use as currencies.

Since, I’ve been paying more attention to that, and I’ve noticed that we are not far from the threshold of widespread crypto acceptance. In Keene (to where I’m soon moving), many brick-and-mortar businesses accept it, for example. This all caused me to really consider them as viable currencies–ones that will ultimately shatter state power over us.

So why should you begin moving money into Cryptocurrency? There are many reasons, but let’s start with the obvious.

Profits

Are profits guaranteed? Of course not. Nothing is ever certain. But the indestructible and immutable nature of cryptos means that the wealth can’t be destroyed by any government or any coalition of governments. The internet unleashed a power that we haven’t really begun to harness, but one thing has been repeatedly made clear: the governments of the world can’t stop anything on the internet. Scientific research papers leaked and given away for free, software, The Pirate Bay–which is centralized and has been repeatedly and directly attacked by governments–continues to stand, undefeated. It has become a hydra, they learned; cutting off the head caused thousands of copies to spring up (of varying legitimacy). Now there is LBRY (tell me before you join, and I’ll send you an invite, so we both receive 3 LBRY credits, valued at 22 cents per presently), which is like a decentralized world wide web. It’s like Tor, except it has a built-in currency that rewards contributions. In all their efforts, the state never took down the Tor version of The Pirate Bay, because they can’t. Not without shutting down the entire internet, which would cause instant revolt. Ditto for cryptocurrencies.

So your wealth is imminently safe, as long as you don’t make stupid decisions. The government can’t and won’t bail you out if you buy Scamcoin. And while there’s no guarantee of short or mid-term profits, one is virtually guaranteed long-term profits.

Cryptos Inflate

Contrary to much confusion, almost all cryptocurrencies are inherently inflationary–to a point. This is because they are Proof of Work based (It’s not really important to know what that means), which means miners that verify transactions are rewarded for their intensive calculations by spontaneously-created coins. Each transaction, therefore, increases by some small degree the total number of coins in circulation. This is verbatim inflation, as no new wealth is created–only new tokens spread across the same amount of wealth.

However, people are adding value to cryptos in the form of Demand. As long as this demand, represented by people purchasing cryptos, is higher than the rate of inflation, the value of the coins increases. Say one new coin is created each day. This would make everyone’s currency less valuable unless people out there wanted to buy more than one coin each day. If people want to buy ten coins each day, then values will increase despite the inflation. That’s a bit simplistic, but the reason it works is that prices and values are generated dynamically by all these factors, not by a central authority making educated guesses.

However, each new block (basically, a set of transactions) involves a lot of complicated calculations, and these calculations are steadily becoming more difficult in labor-intensive. Additionally, hard-written into many of these currencies is a soft limit and a hard limit. As more coins are created, the number of coins created spontaneously by miners decreases, which obviously slows the rate of inflation. This decrease in supply increase means the Demand and Supply ratios change, allowing Demand to further overtake Supply. What happens then? Value increases exponentially. Once the hard cap is reached, there is no more inflation, so Demand causes even further value increases. This, of course, is years away for most currencies. Technically, they may never hit the hard cap for the same reason humans are unlikely to ever drill 100% of the oil on the planet–eventually it stops being cost effective to drill (or “mine”).

No one can predict what will happen around that time, but I expect that Bitcoin, like Blackcoin is and Ethereum is doing, will move to Proof of Stake. But given that Bitcoin can’t go through with a plan that nearly everyone signed, maybe such a shift is beyond its capabilities. Anyway, crypto values increase because more people are acquiring them with other money (work) than there are people spending them. Growth appears to be exponential, as well; Bitcoin took years to get to $600, but just a few months to go from $600 to $3,000.

Anti-War?

If you’re against war, then the best course of action is to begin defunding the war machine by diverting money from USD to cryptos. There is a strong libertarian and anarchist ideological dominance among cryptocurrencies, and it’s by design that they’re resistant to hacking, theft, corruption, spying, and centralization. Use of HD wallets such as Jaxx and Coinomi allow no one else to know how much you actually have, because “you” to outside observers are dozens or hundreds of random strings of characters, which are linked to one another only by the software itself and the local copies of your private keys. No one but your software can tie your many wallets together.

The Cusp of Change

It should be clear to anyone who has been paying attention to national and world events that we are on the cusp of change, and that changes have been happening for twenty years at a quickening pace. When personal computers first made their way into the home, it was revolutionary. Then there was the modem, which was revolutionary. Then the smartphone, which was revolutionary. Then torrenting (actually, BitTorrent came before smartphones, but it doesn’t matter), which allowed every single computer on the Internet to be a server. Then came the blockchain, a remarkable innovation the full scope of which I, a tech person, cannot fully grasp. It’s like the General Relativity of technology–yes, it’s that serious.

Imagine you have a spreadsheet that two or three people can work on. That’s a bit of a problem, isn’t it? Being a tech person, I know this problem well. Clients tend to throw the spreadsheet onto a shared drive and, oops, it turns out to be locked by another user who left it open. Different versions come into existence, one person overwrites another person’s data accidentally, someone’s computer crashes and there’s now an Auto-Saved version and no one is sure which is the correct and most recent… Take it from someone who has no less than thirty copies of Dancing in Hellfire on her harddrive–it’s a real problem.

The blockchain is like a spreadsheet that everyone shares, while it also solves the version difference problems. Imagine what this will ultimately mean. Take democratic elections, for example. The government should be at the forefront of this, because blockchain could be used to record votes. The data, the calculations are complete and stored in a block, is immutable and unhackable. It will remain in that block untouched until the end of human technology. It’s called a “chain” because each block points to the block in front of it and the one behind it–like if one spreadsheet ended 00003 and the next one began 00003, which ended in 00004 while the next one began 00004, only the “numbers” are much more complicated. So it’s a chain of these spreadsheets, really, and, once stored, they cannot be changed. This is what causes “hard forks” to happen. When a change is made to the protocol and technology, it creates a distinctly new thing–that “change” doesn’t apply to older blocks before the change, and it never will, because those blocks cannot be changed.

So if your vote is in 00003, it’s there forever–no changes to the vote process or anything else can ever change your vote. It’s permanent, immutable, fixed, and safe. And this is just one such application. There are countless others. One company is using blockchain technology to verify that all fish are safe or something like that. Another is using blockchain to monitor for ebola in realtime. The underlying technology that is the blockchain is the greatest breakthrough in technology since the invention of the Internet itself, and we’re still trying to fully incorporate the Internet, thirty years later.

Golem uses blockchain technology to share computing power for 3D rendering software Blender. I hate Blender. But it’s a proof of concept, especially for complex animations. Imagine being able to use five thousand processors all at once to compile your animation–Golem is making that happen, and Blender usage is its proof of concept. What further uses will we see this put toward? Password cracking? Probably–and hopefully, since that’s my only hope for getting into my encrypted backups that contain, I believe, a number of Litecoins (perhaps as many as ten, but I don’t recall, because I wasn’t really into it then, because I hadn’t seen… the proof of concept at Porcfest).

The world is changing. All throughout the world, people are deciding that they don’t want to be ruled by others, and, yes, this is even happening in the United States. The only thing holding us in our current system is our addiction to ruling over others. California won’t secede from the union because they are too eager to have the power once more, they are too eager to get a Democrat in the White House in 2020 and “make the Republicans pay” for four years of Trump. It is true that they don’t want to be ruled over by Trump and a Republican-controlled federal government, but they won’t secede, and they won’t demand decreases in state power, because they’d rather bide their time until they are, once more, the ones with the power, and can then make the GOP pay for the years of President Trump. Conservative states did the same with President Obama–that’s why we have Trump now, in fact.

We saw it with Brexit. We see it with Kurdistan, Catalonia. We are slowly reawakening to the reality that we don’t like being told what to do by governments who aren’t us and who don’t have our best interests at heart. Meanwhile, the American behemothian military machine is weakening, losing its grip, with its only hope of survival being continuous warfare–warfare that Americans (and the rest of the world) are losing their patience for. The USD will inevitably collapse (the national debt is already beyond twenty trillion dollars), and some politicians are floating the idea of making the raising of the debt ceiling an automatic process. That’s not much different from how it currently is, since the whole “Will they or won’t they?” question is a dog and pony show, but once that is erased, hyperinflation will quickly follow. And if the Democrats succeed in a national, socialized medicine scheme, that hyperinflation will be immediately necessary to pay those costs, because no American is going to submit to 80% taxes.

We live in interesting times. The state’s power is slipping away from it, and it can do nothing to stop it, because we aren’t fighting it with guns and tanks. We’re fighting it with ingenuity, creativity, and brilliance. We are, as the market always does, working around the state and its unlawful, immoral impositions. Anyone who has noticed the strange trends of the last several years should probably be investing in four things: themselves, gold, cryptos, and lead. The Age of the State is coming to an end.

Okay, I’m In. Now What?

The easiest way to transfer your wealth from United States Dollars into cryptocurrencies is via Coinbase. Some people have problems with them; I don’t. The people who dislike Coinbase are angry primarily because Coinbase, like all exchanges, keeps people’s private keys for themselves, so the user never actually owns the money in the wallet. It’s complicated, and we’re getting to that.

Think of a wallet (also called a “ledger”) as a bank account. It serves exactly the same purpose. It is a unique identifier that you, and only you, have, and comes in three parts: the public key, the private key, and the address. This is where the “crypto” part of “cryptocurrencies” comes in–encryption is heavy here. Every encryption has two pieces, the private and public key. Having the public key allows people to see the balance of the ledger and the transaction history, but they cannot send funds out of that wallet. It is the private key that is necessary for that. Coinbase and other Exchanges (places to buy cryptocurrencies) keep the private keys on servers, and you sign up to them with email addresses and stuff, and they match your email address and other information to the private key.

So you’ll need to create an account at an exchange like Coinbase. From there, you can use a checking account or debit card (some states prohibited, because fuck freedom, that’s why) to buy cryptos. Coinbase offers only Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum, but I’d still recommend using them primarily. It’s easy to get mixed up in a bunch of scamcoins otherwise. Coinbase locks in the value of your coins at the time you make the purchase, so if Ethereum is $300 each when you make a purchase of “1 ETH for $300,” it won’t matter if Ethereum has gone up to $900 when the purchase completes 5 to 7 days later–you’ll still get 1 Ethereum, not 0.33 ETH. This is a big deal. Be wary of exchanges that do not do this. Some of them will give you just 0.33 ETH, since that would be what $300 would get at the time the purchase completed. This also goes both ways–if ETH drops to $100 by the time the purchase completes, you’ll only get 1 Ethereum, not 3.

All of this is totally legal, and simple to do. Just go to Coinbase and sign up, link a checking account (the only option in many U.S. states), and start buying.

Once your coins arrive, though, you won’t want to keep them in your Coinbase wallet. Note that you can also use the Coinbase Android (iOS perhaps?) app. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever actually been to Coinbase’s website. With Coinbase, you don’t truly own your money, just like you don’t truly own your money when it’s in a bank account. Especially in the EU, the bank owns it, and legislation gave banks in the UK the “right” to take up to 35% of the money out of anyone’s accounts at any time. So yes, exchange wallets are very much like bank accounts. However, most exchanges won’t allow you to buy crypto and automatically deposit it into another wallet; you’ll have to have it deposited into your exchange wallet.

I would recommend Jaxx or Coinomi. I use Jaxx primarily, and Coinomi only for more obscure coins like LBRY and Blackcoin. For Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, DASH, Golem, and Ethereum Classic, I use Jaxx. Install the Jaxx application on PC or Android, open it, and copy your wallet address. Jaxx puts a “copy” button right by your address to make this easier. Go back to Coinbase, choose the “Send” option, paste your Jaxx Wallet address into the “To” field, choose the amount you want to send (almost all of it, minus about 0.001 or so, to pay for the transaction fee), and confirm it. A minute or so later, your funds will show up in your Jaxx wallet, where you and only you control it.

It’s really that simple. It used to be a lot more complicated. My first Bitcoin purchase was for a client who had been hit with ransomware. I ended up sending $548 through Western Union to freaking Tel-Aviv. It was an ordeal. It took an entire day to get that one Bitcoin. It’s no longer anything like, but that’s part of why there’s the delay in Coinbase. It’s all about liquidity, after all–in the grand scheme of things, if you want to buy, then you have to find someone willing to sell, right? Coinbase cuts out that labor by acting as the middleman. People sell their coins to Coinbase (more or less), which has given Coinbase a nice cache of them. But yes, that’s really all there is to it. Exchanges have made the process so much easier than it used to be.

If you do want a riskier, more obscure coin (if you’re operating under the idea that any given crypto could shoot its way up to $50, so getting 100 of a currency for $0.15 is a great idea), you can instead use the Coinomi app instead of Jaxx. Jaxx and Coinomi both include a feature called Shapeshift (which is an unrelated, independent company) that, for a small fee (usually it’s a small fee, but nothing involving Bitcoin has a small fee anymore), will allow you to turn your Litecoin into Dogecoin or DASH or Ethereum Classic. Coinomi has more options, such as Belacoin, LBRY, and Blackcoin. So, to do this, here would be the basic steps:

  1. Create account at Coinbase, link a checking account (probably, unless you’re in one of the few states that will let you use a debit or credit card, you lucky devil).
  2. Purchase some amount of Bitcoin, Litecoin, or Ethereum. Litecoin has the lowest transaction fees right now.
  3. Wait for the purchase to complete. 4 to 8 days later, your coins will be deposited into your Coinbase wallet.
  4. Immediately send them to your Jaxx or Coinomi wallet. This will involve a small fee.
  5. Hit the fox head-looking thing. It will show you the maximum number of coins you can shapeshift, and will allow you to choose which currency you want to shapeshift them too. This will involve a small fee.
  6. The Shapeshift will automatically send your new coins to the corresponding wallet in whatever software you’re using. If you shapeshift Litecoin into Dogecoin using Jaxx (for some ungodly reason), it will automatically send the Dogecoin to your Jaxx Dogecoin wallet.
  7. Hold onto the currency until you’re ready to spend it or sell it.
  8. Selling it is basically these steps in reverse–convert it back into LTC, ETH, or BTC (be mindful of the relative values of these currencies! If Blackcoin goes up to $1 apiece but Bitcoin has gone up to $500,000, then Blackcoin relative to BTC will have gone down in value, even if it’s technically worth more in USD). Send the currency to the Coinbase wallet, and hit the Sell button.

So good luck out there. The state is going to come down. Bruh, do you crypto?

A Crypto Constitution

I made a joke post earlier making fun of scam ICOs, encouraging people to send Ethereum and Litecoin to me, in return for which they will receive an equivalent number of meaningless, worthless, no-shits-given Anarchist Shemale Coin, in a humanitarian effort to facilitate the divorce of money from those who lack common sense. But to be totally honest, I’ve been watching Bitcoin and Ethereum for a while (perpetually rooting for the underdog, I am), and I actually would like to launch a cryptocurrency. I quite obviously lack the technical expertise to do this–I fix computers and networks and do light programming. I don’t write communication protocols. I could have delved that deeply into the mechanics if I wanted to, but I didn’t.

The question is worth asking, though. Given that there are countless (at least five hundred) altcoins (seemingly a label that means “not Bitcoin cryptocurrency”), of what value would another be? Actually… I have a pretty good answer for that. Bitcoin is currently in the process of showing us why communism and raw equality generally fail, why flat hierarchies fail. There are too many cooks in the kitchen, many of whom refuse to compromise, all of whom have their own way of doing things. By December, Bitcoin will have hard forked and created at least three new currencies–Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, and either Bitcoin Classic or B2X–or some other acronym, depending on how November plays out. Regardless, it is splitting quite a lot.

On the one hand, this is good. If you owned a Bitcoin in August, then you suddenly 1 Bitcoin and 1 Bitcoin Cash once it forked. In that sense, it mirrors stock splits in a lot of ways–it doubles the amount in existence and splits the value across that amount. Someone who owned 100 Exxon shares 70 years ago now owns probably twenty thousand. Companies do this to drive down investment costs, which brings in more investment money. Bitcoin faces similar problems, because so many people are reluctant to spend $40 on 0.01 BTC when they can spend $40 and get 0.76 LTC. Ostensibly the growths and values are the same, but, psychologically, they are not. 0.76 LTC feels psychologically like a more substantive purchase. I would bet that more than 75% of this year’s newcomers to the industry purchased LTC, ETH, DASH, or another alt-coin before they purchased any BTC. Anyway.

The hard-forking appears to be a permanent feature of Bitcoin, and there isn’t really any reason to suspect that it’s going to die down as time goes on. After S2x there will be something else, some other point of contention. Markets don’t like unpredictability and uncertainty, and this is going to hurt Bitcoin’s value, whereas the primary thing keeping it popular these days seems to be that it was the first and is simply the most well-known. I wouldn’t touch it, even with the possibility of having my coins duplicated into several alt-coins. In fact, I converted my BTC into freaking DOGE, which is forever going to be worthless.

“White papers” are well and good, but you know what is really missing from the ICOs and the altcoins?

A Constitution

That’s right. A constitution.

See, we anarchists are not anti-government. We’re anti-state. Many of us have pointed out numerous times that the state is merely one form that a government takes, just as a truck is one form an automobile takes. If I hate trucks, that doesn’t mean that I hate cars or vans. In fact, I do hate trucks, because 98% of the people driving them in Mississippi have absolutely no need for them, and are just driving them because of cultural reasons, wasting copious amounts of gasoline and doing unnecessary damage to the environment (yes, I said that).

The White Paper would serve basically as the Constitution itself. I’d love to enlist people like John McAfee and other brilliant minds for such a project. Security, anonymity, and individualism would be the core tenets of the currency. Most importantly, however, would be that it would have amendments similarly attached to it immediately upon being adopted. First among those would be the requirement that, at any time, 5% of currency holders could request a vote (the blockchain itself could be used to store these votes, too), whereupon each member on the Board would be recalled with a simple 51% majority.

It’s anarcho-capitalist in the sense that it wouldn’t be the individual’s vote that mattered, but how much of the currency they actually held–voting with their wallet, so to speak, which is a more accurate imitation of the market. Someone with 1,000 of this currency has a much higher vested interest than someone with 0.01 of the currency, and it simply stands to reason that the person with 100,000 times the stake should have a much more powerful voice. They have more to lose, which will cause them to be more conservative and considerate. People don’t risk millions of dollars regularly in a free market (and they only do so in the United States because of the socialized losses / privatized profits system that we have).

It is necessary, all evidence suggests, to have some authority that determines the direction that a ship should go. Having 3,000 passengers attempting to decide a heading is bedlam, and there is too much noise for the system to be efficient. It is necessary, for the sake of productivity and progress, for there to be a hierarchy, a group of informed, knowledgeable individuals who make the decisions on how the ship should be sailed. The problem with the state, of course, is that we have no choice but to get on the ship. This system I’m talking about would be voluntary–no one would have to take part in it (thereby consenting to “rulership” of the board and its Executive Committee). It would be entirely their choice to submit to the board’s decisions by purchasing the currency. The Second Amendment would be that measures shall always be taken to ensure that the system is voluntary. This means it must have competition, even if this means that the board must hard-fork the currency themselves. Not that it would come to that, of course. The odds of one cryptocurrency overtaking all others are so low that it can almost be discounted entirely–but not entirely, not really. The protection must be written in as one of the first few amendments.

Competition is what’s important. When people are forced to participate in a system, then that system has no competition. The result is inefficiency, fraud, corruption, and direct abuses of people’s rights. Decentralization is not the goal, nor is a flat hierarchy. These are merely ways of ensuring that no small group or single person has the power to abuse in the first place. Another, more effective, method is to ensure that people only submit to this group voluntarily, and that market forces like competition keep this small group behaving in a way that ordinary people approve. Having a centralized cryptocurrency, even one offered up by the United States Government, isn’t really a problem, because we have so many better alternatives. It would only become a problem in the event that the United States Government used its state power to eliminate its competition (which it probably would try, honestly). JP Morgan Coin isn’t necessarily a problem for the same reason. As long as their is competition, the market will sort it out, and market pressures will ensure that JP Morgan doesn’t do anything too screwed up.

The right of users to not have any personalized information stored would be a critical tenet. Nothing but a long string of hex characters could be stored. The coin would officially boycott (even though it couldn’t prevent) any exchanges that required identifying information in order to make purchases. Even the P2P exchange Airwave (which hasn’t launched yet) asked me for my freaking government ID, are you kidding? Considering that its white paper states that its goal is to make exchanges resistant to government interference, that is a bizarre move on their part, but, given that it was to be whitelisted rather than simply accepted, I’ve chosen to ignore it and pursue it anyway.

Besides, the purchasing of crypto-currencies is not nearly as important as the manner in which they are stored. HD Wallets are a necessity. By using rotating wallet addresses, a particular user can have their true wealth made completely invisible by anyone watching the network–a feature of Jaxx that caused 0.63 LTC to temporarily vanish from my wallet yesterday, in fact. Once the coins are purchased, it is easy to tell the IRS and government officials that one was hacked, and all the coins stolen, and it’s upon them to prove that this didn’t happen in the United States. Wish them the best of luck attempting to prove that you were not hacked. Golly gee, I certainly was. Yeah. Definitely. All of my crypto vanished, IRS. Some clever hacker just got my phone, and, yep… All of it went Poof. Just in case any government agencies are curious about why “constitution” and “crypto” are being discussed on an anarchists’ website, they should know that. That 0.63 LTC I mentioned? Hacked away, almost as soon as it reappeared in my wallet. Alas, alas, que sera, sera.

I’ve not given this the thought to actually put forward any serious white paper for any enterprising crypto-interested individual to consider, much less ten critically important amendments. That isn’t my point in this. I’m simply attempting to draw attention to a huge problem that crypto-currencies face, and the obvious solution to that problem. Bitcoin is proving that some sort of central leadership is necessary, and that having too many cooks in the kitchen just causes them to create too many freaking dishes, because Bob insists on using pepper, which would clash with the paprika that Janet is using, and Janet’s paprika would clash with the garlic in April’s dish.

Meanwhile, Ethereum continues on almost exactly as planned, with its hard-forks literally planned into the process for the beginning, and about to be implemented without devastating the network. But Ethereum, however well-intentioned and noble they may be, and however useful ether and the ethereum blockchain (separate from the currency) are, the fact remains that they are a standard company, and are far from incorruptible. This is the case with nearly every alt-coin. They are like people who seized government because they wanted government power, instead of seizing government because they wanted the people to be free. Obviously, because this last group requires such a high degree of principle that they are exceedingly rare, the Ron Pauls, John McAfees, and Daryl Perrys out there. They created crypto companies to make money, not to create a new currency and turn it over to the masses via democratic processes. No, the founders and creators want to keep themselves at the top.

We’ve seen the same thing with many of the new caucuses within the Libertarian Party, one of which I recently helped form before I became inactive in it because I observed exactly this phenomenon. The trick, it seemed, was that they wanted not to form a caucus that advocated and implemented a certain set of ideas independent of themselves while they were merely the ones who set it up, but wanted to form a caucus to be the heads of. It’s like the Libertarian Party county affiliates who wrote nothing into their bylaws about replacing the Chairperson. Imagine if Nolan and others had neglected to include any method of replacing them as the party leaders–it would have said quite a lot about their intentions, wouldn’t it? Props to the Audacious Caucus, however, for not doing this, and for having, from the start, bylaws that were about the principles, not the individuals who at that moment were advocating those principles.

And that’s fine that they created a crypto-currency and blockchain for the purposes of heading the company and being the ones with wealth and power. That’s fine, because Ethereum competes. But we badly need a structured crypto company to determine the direction of a currency that exists for the users, rather than for the company. What kind of person starts a new company and, before that company is even launched, writes into the very company’s constitution that the person who created it can be replaced and is not certain to lead it?

Such a currency would be successful, because it would be stable. It would remain successful because it would be competitive. It would offer people a place to store their wealth where they have a real voice to influence the direction, whether they were ignorant or wealthy, well-informed or poor, but where safeguards in the form of the “Bill of Rights” would ensure that, even if a vote did not go their way, there were constraints and limits on what could and could not be done with their wealth.

So someone do this. Be the next Satoshi. Do something not to be at the head of a powerful and wealthy company; do it to help the people of the world.

 

Let’s Clarify Something About Casino Hotel Bellpeople

There is a lot of confusion, misunderstanding, and downright stupidity going around these days regarding the tragedy in Las Vegas as well as the expectation that someone, specifically the bellpeople, should have noticed that Paddock was carrying far too many bags and that they likely contained weapons. Seeing as I used to work at Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall in Tunica, Mississippi, in the hotel as a custodian, and that I regularly worked as a bellperson because the bellpeople liked to leave early (and it was the only way for me to get regular tips) and I covered for them, I think it would be a good idea for someone to clarify a few things. So take this from someone who has literally been a bellperson in a casino’s hotel.

High Rollers

Rule one of any casino is that you don’t piss off a highroller. Once upon a time, a guest requested an ashtray. I don’t remember why, but I was in a tremendous hurry, grabbed the first ashtray that I saw, and took it. A few days later, I was called not to my supervisor’s office, nor to my manager’s office, but to the office of a casino host, whereupon I was handed a written referral, a formal reprimand, for taking a high roller a dirty ashtray. The significance of this should not be lost to other considerations, but I do have to defend myself and point out that this isn’t something that I regularly would have done. I have a much better work ethic than that, and the ashtray in question had a small, gray stain in the center from where someone had routinely put out cigarettes. Yes, I should have cleaned it first–there is no doubt of that. But given that it was a small stain and the guest was immediately going to stain the thing anyway, I weighed the choices and took the risk. That proved to be a bad decision, as the guest was a high roller who expected everything to be perfect.

So let me explain what a Casino Host is. These are personalized PR people for the most part. Each one is dedicated to perhaps a dozen or so high rollers, and it’s basically their job to be the high roller’s friend. They go golfing with them, will drink at the bar with them, and will do whatever else with them is necessary to keep them happy–and therefore coming to the casino. If you’ve ever seen the show Las Vegas or whatever it was called, then you know basically what these people are and what they do–if the high roller asks for a hooker, then you find them a hooker. You just don’t talk about it and tell people that you did it.

You don’t fuck with a highroller. This is why it was the casino host who lectured me and served me the write-up, to re-stress the importance of pleasing the high rollers. It’s not like they called and requested an ashtray, and said, “Oh, and I’m a high roller, so make sure I get good service.” No, in most cases, they expect us to already know that. The systems aren’t in place for that to happen (at least, they weren’t at Sam’s Town Tunica), and so unless the person was staying in one of the deluxe suites, there was really no way to know. Best to err on the side of caution, then, and assume that any and every guest was a possible high roller. Because if that high roller threatened to leave the casino and never come back, you were fired. No questions asked, no appeal. You were gone.

The Expectations of Bell People

Now, when a high roller arrives at the hotel, you generally know, usually because there will either be a casino host already with them, because a casino host will greet them, or simply because you’re familiar with the regular high rollers. Your job depends on you being familiar with the regular high rollers. If you arrive at an elevator at the same time as one of these high rollers, and you’re carrying something that would prevent them from getting on, then you wait, and you let them go. If you’re walking past them in the hallway, you step to the side. So it’s extremely important to learn who the main regulars are, and to respect that–failing to do so, after all, is a firing. You get ridden up over an ashtray–what do you think will happen if you accidentally bump into them? Or if you make them wait for the next elevator while they were heading up to their room or down to the casino floor? You’re gone.

#1/24-TREND#2/24-120V1BOX #3/24-120sp

It’s like people think bellpeople are treating guests’ bags like Christmas presents, shaking them around and trying to guess what is inside. This is absurd. It’s the job to protect and deliver the guest’s luggage, and you are responsible for it. You specifically undertake responsibility for it. We’re not tossing them around like a golf caddy in Happy Gilmore. We’re treating each and every single bag like it could contain a $4,000 bottle of wine, because any single one of those bags could, in fact, be containing a $4,000 bottle of wine. If you break it, you’re gone. You’re fired. And you might get your ass kicked on your way out to the parking lot while carrying your termination slip. It is, after all, the host’s job to deliver 100% satisfaction to the high roller. You don’t think shit like this happens? Then you’ve never worked at a casino.

I can tell you from first-hand, real experience being a bellperson that it never once occurred to me to even be curious what a guest was bringing up to their hotel room. If you shake that bag around trying to guess what is inside, and you break something, you’re done. Even if the guest isn’t a high roller, you’re likely to be fired for that. If the guest is a high roller, then you’re certainly fired. You load up the bags, push the bags on the cart, and unload the bags as gingerly as possible, because you don’t know what is inside them. If you hear anything inside clanking around, then you’re being too rough with the bags, and you’re going to be fired before the week is over. That “clanking” is far more likely to be a bottle of wine, perfume, or cologne than it is a gun, by a ratio of millions to one, and you’ll eventually break one by acting like a little kid a few weeks out from Christmas trying to guess what is inside.

And may the gods help you if you touch that zipper. Are you out of your mind? You unzip that bag and you might as well call the police to come arrest you. If you find something “suspicious” and get security involved, they absolutely will not under any circumstances search that bag without the guest present. So congratulations–here is your pink slip when that clanking turned out to be two bottles of cologne, and you caused a freaking high roller’s bags to be searched by freaking security. You will stand there looking like an idiot as the casino host, the security guards, and the high roller pull items out of the bag one by one–and if there is a vibrator or dildo in that bag, or anything sexual for that matter, then you caused the high roller so much embarrassment that nothing will save you from a firing. When they find nothing, as they will 99.999999% of times, and the 0.0000001% of times they find a weapon it will only be to endanger others 0.0001% of the time, you will stand there looking like a paranoid, nosy, suspicious liability to the casino and its ability to keep high rollers happy.

They don’t want an employee who poses a significant risk of disappointing or hassling their high rollers.

None of this crap being directed at the hotel employees is realistic. Neither the hotel clerks, the valet drivers, nor the bellpeople are interested in finding out what is in the guest’s bags, especially not a high roller’s, and especially not a regular high roller’s. If you’re sitting there saying, “Well, clearly they should be! Because this could have been averted!” then you will never, ever own a casino or hotel–or, hopefully, have any position of authority to set policies. Because for every one random lunatic out there, you’ll end up with tens of thousands of people who are just going about their lives. Seriously, just start looking tomorrow for “suspicious behavior.” Consider each and every suspicious person you see to be a possible mass murderer just minutes away from murdering 59 people and wounding several hundred more. Do you feel like a raving, paranoid lunatic yet? Because you should. If you don’t, then consider calling the police on each and every one of those people and ensuring that they are hassled, searched, and questioned because you found it suspicious that the guy was standing around the side of the gas station for a strangely long amount of time.

That kind of rampant paranoia quickly gets you dismissed as a lunatic–as it should. It’s hysteria. Sure, it’s easy now to look back and say, “OMG, why didn’t anyone notice?” But if you think for one solitary second that, had you been the bellhop who delivered those bags, you’d have given even a moment of consideration to the possibility that he was carrying up dozens of guns and untold ammunition, then you are, without a doubt, full of shit. Because you wouldn’t have. It is lunacy to suggest that one would have been that attentive, that suspicious, that rough with the guest’s bags, that paranoid of a high roller, and that hysterical about the behavior of someone you saw fairly often. It is abject, hysterical lunacy.

And Another Thing

If you think that it’s even possible to ban guns of any time, then you are badly out of touch with the capabilities of modern technology. Guns can be 3-D printed now, and this has been true for a few years. It is not possible to ban something that can be created spontaneously by unskilled laborers from raw materials that are far too useful to ban. To ban guns in 2017 CE, you’d have to also ban 3D printers and aluminum. I hope it’s not necessary to point out to anyone that banning 3D printers or aluminum is a fool’s errand, and something that would never, ever happen. You can buy a 3D printer and the plans for a gun, and you can do it all in basically untraceable cryptocurrencies. Come join us in the future; the technology here is jaw-dropping.

And unstoppable.

Oh, and LITERALLY Hitler Trump?

If you think Trump is LITERALLY Hitler, then why in the name of sanity would you want to disarm anyone? You do realize that guns are literally (in the literal sense of the word, not the figurative sense of people who say Trump is LITERALLY Hitler) the ways that we resist fascism, right? If a fascist dictator actually took over, you wouldn’t be able to vote them out of office. You would need guns. Not just any guns, either–good ones. Assault rifles, at a minimum. Realistically, you’d also need tanks, drones, cluster bombs, and, yes, nuclear weapons. I can promise you this: an American citizen who owned a nuclear weapon would be the very last citizen to be killed by the American government. Why do you think North Korea wants one so badly?

The liberal position on this whole thing makes absolutely no sense to me.

  1. Trump is LITERALLY Hitler.
  2. The police are brutal murderers who unfairly target minorities and are unaccountable.
  3. We should let LITERALLY Hitler tell the unaccountable police to take all the defenses away from the minorities.

Am I missing something? Besides the emotional motivations that allow them to believe all these things because they want to really, really hard, and facts and logic be damned? Conservatives are no better, of course, and many are now stepping up to say that bump stocks should be criminalized (though half of them have no idea what a bump stock is, or only know because they read a hysterical lunatic article in USA Today about how they are responsible for 97.3% of all kitten murders). Hell, Ben Shapiro said that they should be outlawed while at the same time he admitted that this wouldn’t keep them from making their way into the hands of mass murderers. So… Um… What is the point, then?

If one puts the basic liberal position, as I’ve recounted above, into logical form, it creates an inescpable conclusion: liberals are racists who want minorities to be defenseless while they are murdered by police. In other words, liberals’ own positions suggest that they want a fascist dictator in power who uses the police to murder minorities:

  1. Trump is LITERALLY Hitler.
  2. The police unfairly murder minorities.
  3. The only defense against someone with a gun is a gun (hence, why we send armed police officers to take down shooters, not people wielding knives).
  4. Therefore, if we want minorities to be defenseless against LITERALLY Hitler and the police who unfairly target them, we must take their guns away.

But I’ve now let this derail the post away from the main point, which is that people are forming completely unrealistic expectations of what bellpeople do.

European or American Healthcare System?

While recently perusing topics that may interest me on the closest free market solution to peer review and peer accreditation that we currently have, I came across a question that asked Europeans whether they preferred the European/UK health care systems, or the United States’ system. Of course, the answer from the Europeans were varying degrees of snide and condescending, which I only note because my non-condescending answer was accused of such, in full disregard of how one of the Europeans’ answers began: “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA”.

Here is my answer. Enjoy the comments from Europeans who cannot freaking stand the suggestion that their health system isn’t perfect.

Expensive Now or Free Later?

The question about socialized medicine can easily be boiled down to one simple question: Would you rather have an expensive cancer cure now, or a free* cancer cure in eighty years? Despite fears that the United States is going to lose its technological and biotechnological edge, the numbers are in, and there’s actually been a 7% increase in the recent years. Beyond that, the United States alone is responsible for forty percent of all biomedical research papers. In fact, the United States produces more medical research papers than the next five countries combined.

One might be inclined to think that this is only possible if the United States is producing junk papers, yet this also is proven untrue by the numbers. American research papers are the most cited by an enormous margin, far outstripping even the 40% production line. While there isn’t a direct correlation between “medical research papers” and “medical advancement” there obviously will be some correlation, and it certainly serves as a valid metric for determining biotechnological research in the United States.

Take the Charile Gard case for example. This poor infant had a disease that was fatal. Doctors in the UK could do nothing but provide comfort for the child as he died. Doctors in the United States had a treatment–a long-shot treatment, but I will remind everyone that every new procedure initially begins as “a long-shot treatment.” Once upon a time, heart valve replacement surgeries were on the cutting edge of medicine and the last hope of the desperate. The first aortic valve replacement was done only 57 years ago, and I’ll give you one guess in what country this took place. If you said anything but “The United States,” then you might be out of touch with reality.

Even among the diehard European Socialists who jizz over their system, there is widespread admittance that medical care in the United States is top-notch. They simply add the caveat “if you can afford it.” Well, allow me to introduce you to a little device we call…. the television. Of course, the first television was demonstrated in San Francisco in the 1930s (yes, before Hitler attempted to show German might by making the first on-air broadcast). Adjusted for inflation, this television that cost $795 in 1948 with a 16 inch screen would cost $8,202.50 today.

That. For that. Can you imagine paying $8,202.50 for that? “Hell to the naw!” you might be saying. That’s what I said, so ridiculous is the idea. What sort of television will $8,000 get you today?

This bad boy.

Holy crap, it’s a computer, designed for music and with a 65 inch screen. It’s a technological marvel.

But you and I don’t have one of those, and neither do we want one. No, instead, we buy televisions in the $200 to $500 range. So what does a $200 television get you today? A standard 32 inch 1080p HDMI television. If we were to assign “Degrees of Awesomeness” to each machine, where the 1948 television was a 1 and the behemoth I just posted is a 100, then the ordinary television you have in your home is going to be around a 35 or 40.

Innovation & Competition Drive Down Prices

Why is it that, in 1984, you bought a tiny screen television for $650, yet today you can get a multitudes better television for merely a third of that price, and why is this almost exactly the opposite of what we see in the health care industry? Because the government didn’t really get involved in television manufacturing to grant monopolies to this coalition or that coalition. Many companies rose that wanted to sell you a television, and how could they entice you to buy theirs? By making one with better quality, by making it cheaper, and by selling it at a lower price.

Let’s rip on the Affordable Care Act for a moment. Even if you happen to live in a state that presents you with multiple options (Mississippi only has the one option), they’re all effectively the same. It doesn’t matter which you go with, because they are all required by law to offer the same things as the same prices to everyone. It’s obvious that this is bad for business. If this had been imposed on the television industry in 1948, we’d all be watching television on 16 inch black-and-white screens with monaural sound. There’s no competition in the health care industry today, so there’s no need to try to offer an enticing package to customers.

The Affordable Care Act: A Boon to Insurance Companies

Insurance is a relatively simple thing, although its formulae are complicated. The idea is this: you insure people against unexpected disasters. If those disasters happen, you pay for them. If they don’t, then you keep their money. It’s immediately obvious that, for this to be a viable business model, you need 100 customers who routinely go one month without any accidents if they pay you $1 per month and if the average cost of an accident is $99. We’re using simple numbers just to make the point. If the cost of whatever you’re insuring will be $100, and you have 100 customers each paying $1 a month, then if two accidents happen in a single month, you lose money.

This is the entire premise of insurance, and it’s why many rightly refer to it as gambling–it is identical to the casino industries. You might be that one person to actually go to the casino and win $1500, but if everyone went in and won that amount of money, they’d go out of business. It only works because most people lose money in system. Like gambling, insurance only works because most people don’t have vehicular accidents regularly. Some math people crunch the numbers and figure out how many customers they need at what monthly rates against x% of likely accidents in order to stay profitable.

Now imagine the absurdity of contacting your insurance company for the routine checkup on your vehicle. Imagine how broken the system would become if you invoked your insurance every time you had your tires rotated, or your spark plugs replaced. If the insurance company allowed these claims (they certainly wouldn’t), they would increase your monthly rates considerably. But imagine that the government has laws in place explicitly preventing them from increasing your monthly rates if you invoke your insurance too often, and other laws in place that will prevent insurance companies from denying your claims, no matter how mundane and predictable they are.

Within a few years, we’d have a completely broken auto insurance industry, with people clamoring for more government to fix it, when it was government that broke it in the first place. This is what has happened in the United States. People use their health insurance for every little thing: routine doctor visits, checkups, physicals, flu shots, penicillin prescriptions, you name it. And we do have laws on the books that prevent them from dropping people entirely for this, and from increasing their rates for such ludicrous behavior.

Moreover, you have people like me who exercise regularly and take pretty good care of themselves, are young and in good shape, and who simply have no need of health insurance. What can the health insurance company do to entice me to buy insurance from me? They could offer me lower rates and better benefits, right? Similar to how life insurance companies offer you things like “Pay us $12 per month for this $300,000 life insurance policy, and your monthly rate will never increase!” because they have calculated the odds, and they know that a person who does this every month, based on average life expectancy, will give them a profit. They’re not in this to lose money. Life insurance companies want you when you’re young, and so they offer you very low rates and offer to lock them in, no matter what.

Yet laws prevent them from offering me health insurance below certain thresholds. And even if they could do so, the system they have set up with doctors and hospitals ensures that, if I go in for a broken arm, I’ll be hit with 47 tests that I don’t need and be slapped with a $19,000 bill. Young and healthy though I am, they can’t profit from that. They created that bed, though. The horrific cycle began when insurance became common enough that doctors began running tests on everyone who had it, whether they needed it or not, producing huge markups for them and enormous profits. And the insurance companies didn’t really care, because they weren’t the ones paying for it–the healthy, young people who didn’t ever use their insurance were the ones paying for the $900 bag of saline. What did the doctors care? They could instead pocket the $870 profit. What did the insurance company care? The doctors were literally helping them by inspiring more people to get insurance in order to pay for these exorbitant costs. Hospital visits went from $200 a night to $4,000 a night, so many people sighed and said, “Well, I have no choice… I need to get health insurance, or I’m not going to be able to afford to go to the hospital.”

Bam! The insurance company got a new customer, thanks to the doctor, and the doctor got to run more tests, because now someone else had insurance. Everyone got to make more money.

What happened next was predictable. Tons of people like me–ordinary, healthy young people–saw this ridiculous state of affairs and decided that we had no reason to take part in it, because we were the ones being exploited to pay for this bullshit. If we refused to play, then they couldn’t be paid. And, again, what happened next was predictable:

The Affordable Care Act. A law forcing us to buy health insurance that the doctor/insurance company circle jerk could continue.

Europe & America

The American system has problems primarily because of government intervention. Contrary to what they believe, though, the European system has problems, too. If the two existed in bubbles, then by the year 2117, the United States would be, on average, eighty years ahead when it came to medicine. The only reason the European System has not stagnated entirely, as its research steadily slows, is that it is literally benefiting from research being done in the United States. We’re not selfish assholes, contrary to what the rest of the world thinks. When we finally cure AIDS, who is going to benefit? Everyone. We’re not going to refuse to teach the Europeans, Africans, and Asians how we did it. We don’t keep our ground-breaking research to ourselves. We share it with everyone, even those who demonize us and are too uninformed and too stupid to realize that the entire reason we have this ground-breaking research is that we allow our pharmaceutical companies to become very, very wealthy.

It’s true that if a cancer cure was developed tomorrow it would be extremely expensive, just as the television was in 1948. Almost no one would be able to afford it. But look around today! Most people have at least two televisions in their homes, and some people have a television in every single room except the bathroom. The microwave oven, the refrigerator, the cellular phone, the home computer… All technology follows that same arc where it begins very expensive, as a reward to the innovators who created it, and steadily gets cheaper as time goes on. Yet that reward, that possibility of hitting this tremendous breakthrough and the next Must Have item or medicine is precisely what motivates people to do these things in the first place! If you take that away, then… Well, you’ve taken that away, and the tech development stagnates. We’ve seen it time and time and time again.

Venezuela’s president recently put forward, no joke, the idea that the people of Venezuela should breed rabbits for food.

That’s the end result of eliminating competition and the profit motive. You get this Looney Tunes suggestion that even Trump would be embarrassed to admit he came up with as a legitimate and serious plan for addressing the starvation. This always happens. It has happened every single time the state has a monopoly over something. Monopolies are stagnation, and socialism is social stagnation, because it gives one group a monopoly on the whole of society. Medical stagnation is the predictable and obvious result of socialized medicine. Rationing is the first symptom, as too little supply is stretched over too much demand, like we see in the UK with its grave doctor shortage.

Even with our assistance, the European system will stagnate. It is already beginning to do so. The end result is inevitable: a drastic decline in the quality and quantity of health care. Who will they blame next? Ah, we know what they’ll say.

“It wasn’t real socialism.”

* Obviously, it isn’t free–it’s socialized. If everyone pays 10% of their wealth for the next 40 years for that cancer cure, then it was most certainly not free.

 

Net Neutrality

I’ve got a wacky idea. Let’s ask tech experts and economists about net neutrality.

— Me

And I happen to be a tech expert, with a college degree and years of network management. I am no economist, but I’m fairly well-versed in the subject, and, in the interest of laying it all out there, you should know that I advocate the Austrian School of free markets and liberty. My self-education in the field was sufficient for me to pass economics classes in college with As, too. So, with all that out of the way…

What is Net Neutrality?

A buzzword with decreasing value with every passing day. It stands alongside “fascist” and “patriotism” in the category of “words carefully selected and abused to advocate random things and make them sound like something else.” It’s a common tactic used to make a bad thing seem positive, like we saw with “The Patriot Act.”

This isn’t to say that everyone who supports Net Neutrality is trying to pull a fast one. However, it does mean that the term is almost impossible to peg down. To some, it means the government shouldn’t legislate anything about the internet. To others, it means the government should force ISPs to not do certain things. To yet others, it means the government should regulate the crap out of the internet until “everything is fair.”

The largest section of this group, however, wants the government to prevent Internet Service Providers from charging high-bandwidth websites money for “fastlanes,” and that’s what much of this article is going to be centered around. I have to agree that I don’t think it would be a good idea, but I’m not the one who owns the network infrastructure, so I’ve no place to determine what happens to it.

Net Neutrality is Already Dead

At least one mobile carrier is already not counting data usage from certain music apps against their costumers’ data caps, and this means that Net Neutrality, in the sense that these well-meaning but misguided people use it, is already dead. How can SoundCloud compete for your attention with Rhapsody if using SoundCloud consumes your limited data and Rhapsody doesn’t?

By offering better service that outweighs that advantage, and, let’s face it, music is small data-wise anyway. An average 4 minute song as an mp3 will require 4 MB to download; this is 60 MB an hour, and more than one gigabyte in 24 hours. That certainly sounds like a lot, and it is, but it’s also a problem with streaming, not the music or apps.

I don’t stream music or video, because doing so creates an instantaneous copy that cannot be viewed again without being downloaded again. That’s stupid. Even if you just listened to “Master of Puppets,” you’ll have to download the entire 8.6 MB song if you want to hear it again. Due to increased memory sizes and caches, you can probably get around this by rewinding the song to the beginning before it ends, but it still does you no good if you want to hear it again an hour later.

Again: this is stupid.

It’s convenient, sure, but it should never be anyone’s primary means of entertainment delivery. Figure out some way to download the music, shows, and movies you want permanently, and then they need be downloaded only once, after which you can watch and listen as many times as you want at no additional bandwidth cost.

We’re beginning to zero in on the actual problem, aren’t we? Yes, because the problem is that consumers act like bandwidth is an unlimited resource. Rather than buying an episode of a show on iTunes, or getting it free elsewhere, consumers instead stream content repeatedly. This works for shows, movies, and songs that will only be heard once, but anything streamed twice constitutes a net loss of bandwidth.

To be sure, the hard drive space on your computer is substantially less valuable than your bandwidth. Contrary to popular belief, having a bunch of stuff on your hard drive isn’t going to slow your computer down, and most out-of-the-box desktops come with terabyte hard drives (1,000 days’ worth of continuously streamed music). Additionally, most modern televisions have RGB inputs (The blue thing that you connect from your monitor to your desktop), and most modern computers have an HDMI output. There are also Season DVDs, which can’t be discounted.

The problem here is that consumers have treated bandwidth like an infinite resource, and it’s scarce.

Let Me Tell You a Story

I used to fall asleep watching AVGN’s season collections. I’ve fallen asleep with a television on for decades, and that habit isn’t about to change. When I had Sprint and unlimited data, I simply streamed the show from YouTube every night. When I had to switch to Verizon, I realized that I couldn’t keep doing that, because–gasp!–I no longer had unlimited data. I immediately reinstalled a YouTube Downloader and downloaded the seasons I watched regularly (2, 3, and 4). This is precisely the mindset that infects the average American consumer: “I’ll just stream forever, why not, it doesn’t cost me more.”

How To Work Toward a Real Solution

Remember when cell phone carriers offered plans that had 250 Anytime Minutes, free nights and weekends, and free mobile to mobile? No one was screaming for Phone Neutrality then. In fact, no one disputed that T-Mobile had the right to not deduct from customers’ minutes if the customer called another T-Mobile line and, during part of this growth, “Free mobile to mobile” was often limited by carrier. Sprint did it, too, where you could call any Sprint costumer without using up your precious and limited minutes.

“But that isn’t fair to rural customers!” people might say. “They don’t have access to different carriers in the first place!”

Yes and no. Everyone has access to dial-up. I’m sorry, but it’s true, and we can’t pretend like that’s not the case. Anyone unhappy with Comcast or Verizon or any other ISP can use dial-up; it’s simply false to say they have no other options. Prior to the availability of 3G coverage in rural areas, I used dial-up primarily–as recently as 2011 I had dial-up internet. I played World of Warcraft on dial-up. Similarly, those people who had coverage by only one carrier still always had their landline they could fall back on. We don’t have the right to cell phone service, and neither do we have the right to DSL. You have the right to not have a government-forced monopoly thrown on you, but that’s where your rights end.

The same things that saw mobile phones through their difficult periods of growth will see ISPs through: We already have data caps on many services. It would be easy for ISPs to waive the data usage after 9:00 pm, or from 6:00 am to 3:00 pm, to encourage people to use heavier traffic during those hours. This would also motivate them to download rather than stream, since they can download something at 7:00 am and then watch it at 7:00 pm. Even if they’re only watching it once, the bandwidth cost will be the same.

Netflix could get in on it, as well, which they already are doing, by allowing users to pre-download shows to watch later. This further frees consumers to use bandwidth outside of peak hours.

And there are still more solutions that companies could come up with, but one thing is sure: this isn’t anyone’s fault but consumers. Consumers are the ones treating bandwidth as though it is infinite while they chase after offered services. That is what has to be fixed, and it’s going to cost consumers one way or another. If it doesn’t, we only harm the internet by making it less profitable to the people who provide the stuff we like.

UBI 3: Fallacious Silliness From America’s “Brightest”

Predictably, I was asked via email, in response to my first article about the UBI (which was actually picked up by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Public Service in their newsletter) whether I was so dedicated to the principle that I would watch someone starve to death. While the question was asked without malice, it still reveals the underlying confusion that goes into the classic knee-jerk response to libertarianism: if I don’t want government to do x, then I must be okay with no one doing x.

In the second article, I mentioned that the UBI seems to have its roots in the idea that a person can’t possibly find anything else productive to do when technology sends them into the unemployment line. So here we see two basic ideas that no one would seriously attempt to argue, being used as assumptions to bolster the statist quo. First, that a person can’t do anything except what they already do. Second, that if someone is doing something, then no one else can do it.

The question asked is unfair, because it’s too generic and vague. Why is this person starving? Are they handicapped? Insane? Ill? Lonely, without any friends and family? Lazy? Only I can choose when and where I use my resources, and if someone asks me for help then it’s my responsibility to assess their worthiness. But we can’t pretend like giving the ill person a meal is the same as giving a healthy adult who just doesn’t want to work a meal.

There exist today charities that provide food to those who can’t otherwise acquire it, and the panic over the possible defunding of Meals on Wheels is yet another example of how government isn’t necessary to the process. When people were worried that Planned Parenthood would be defunded, they opened their wallets and donated en masse, often making the donations in Mike Pence’s name. It was clear on both occasions that, if the government stopped funding these places, then individuals of conscience would pick up the tab.

The question morphs. “Are you happy with Meals on Wheels being defunded?” is no longer the question. “Are you happy that the responsibility for funding Meals on Wheels has shifted from the government to individuals who choose to take up that responsibility?” is what the question becomes, and it’s a very different one from what was initially asked.

Libertarians have long pointed out that it isn’t necessary to have the government doing things like that, and resistance to the idea is prominent in America, not just among ordinary citizens but also among those whose alleged loyalty to empirical data should lead them to reject such nonsense. Yet Neil Tyson recently asked if we really wanted to live in a world without art! As though without the government none of the people who paint, make music, write, make video games, and make movies and television would continue. It’s an idea that is silly in ways that are positively embarrassing to our species, that the people capable of splitting the atom could engage in such demonstrably false, fantastical thinking. And in a world where the atom has been split, some scientist once said, the dangers of continuing such fantastical thinking are far too great.

It should be readily apparent to anyone and everyone that Broadway is supported primarily by ticket sales. Video games are supported primarily by game sales. Movies are supported primarily by ticket and DVD sales. The assertion that, without government, all of these would just Poof! stop existing is alarmingly unconsidered.

Before abortion was subsidized by the government, there were abortions. Ditto for art, science, and everything else. Government subsidies have never created anything, and the farmers of Mississippi who grow corn year after year show the subsidies do more harm than good. I live just miles from a place where, every single year, the owners grow corn in soil long stripped of its nutrients. They don’t care, because they’re being paid to plant the corn. They don’t need to harvest it to be paid, and so they simply report to the Department of Agriculture each year that the crop died–as it does, because this is Mississippi, so it isn’t a very good climate to grow corn.

Do I want art to cease existing? No. Why would I? I’m a musician and writer. I enjoy lots of music, plays, video games, and television shows. This is why I give my money to the people who make those things, and those people make those things because they’re reasonably sure that someone will give them money to. This is why they spend lots and lots of money making movies and video games, and then they spend lots of money advertising those movies and video games: it’s an investment. They estimate how much they can afford to spend on production and advertising, and they compare it to how much money they can expect to earn. They do some complicated math involving subtraction, and this gives them an idea of how profitable the endeavor would be.

Mistakes in these estimates is why Pink Floyd notoriously made almost no money from their tour of The Wall, and why the only person who made any money on it was the keyboardist who had been kicked from the band and hired as an instrumentalist. The shows were extraordinarily expensive, so much so that there was no way for them to recuperate the costs and make any serious money. However, the long-term effects of The Wall ring to this day, catapulting them onto a plateau that even Dark Side of the Moon hadn’t accomplished.

And on that plateau, they made lots of money.

Anyone who gives the matter any serious thought will realize almost immediately that we certainly do not need government subsidies to fund Planned Parenthood, Meals On Wheels, arts, sciences, roads, education, health care, or anything else. The question “Do you want people to not have food/get abortions/enjoy art/drive on roads/have health care/be educated?” are all examples of one question that simply takes on different forms:

“If the government doesn’t do it, who will?”

Literally everything I just listed can be handled by individuals who choose to handle it voluntarily, and we’ve got countless examples of it happening. The evidence is in: people don’t give to charities for itemized deductions, a reason that ranks in the 11th spot, with the #1 reasons being “to help a good cause” and “personal satisfaction.” Now imagine if everyone was wealthier because the government wasn’t stealing 15-35% of their money. Furthermore, we have Meals on Wheels, where donations surged after the media reported that Trump may cut its budget, in exactly the same way that donations to Planned Parenthood surged just from the threat that the subsidy was going to be lowered. All of the evidence is in, and it’s right there for anyone to take a look at. The implications are clear, and the conclusions are inescapable.

The same idea makes its appearance in discussions of the UBI and all other forms of government welfare. “So you want to eliminate food stamps? You just want poor people to starve?”

It’s an obvious straw man, and someone with the clout of Neil deGrasse Tyson should withdraw from the public eye until he is capable of presenting arguments that don’t rely on such fallacies. “We can have food stamps, or we can have starvation!” goes the argument, exhibiting a shocking ignorance and lack of imagination, as though things like Meals on Wheels don’t even exist, and as though there aren’t charities that provide food to the needy. One of my friends with a broken spine is confined to a wheelchair, and a nearby church regularly brings him food. People act like this sort of thing doesn’t exist and doesn’t happen, as though, without food stamps, there’s simply no conceivable way that this friend could acquire food.

Is it a lack of imagination? Or just hesitancy to cast off the statist programming?

Because there’s no doubt: the government wants power, and therefore it wants people to believe that it’s the solution to all problems. What is the problem? It doesn’t matter! The answer is “More Government!”

Rothbard hates you, Mr. Tyson and Mr. Musk, and so do I.

Murray Rothbard was scathing in his criticisms of pseudo-intellectuals who run defense for the state, proposing fallacies and weak reasoning exactly as you have done. Just as the state needs a military to protect itself, so does it need intellectuals in its employ. Solely for its own self-preservation, it will offer you a chance to partake of its boons and gifts, if only you will prostrate yourself before it and become a priest of its church, much in the same way that the federal government does with money to states and cities: “Fall in line… Do as we say… Put forward the arguments we want you to put forward… Bow and comply… Or we won’t give you money.

Surely someone as intelligent as you two men realize you’re nothing more than modern Thomas Aquinas, offering up terribly weak arguments in favor of your religion, so brainwashed by the religion that you might very well believe what it says and merely find yourself in the unenviable position of trying to present rational arguments for irrational ideas. This is always going to be impossible, and not very many people have the intellectual honesty to simply say, “I can’t present a rational argument for it. I don’t care. Beliefs don’t have to be rational.”

Finding yourselves unable to say that, you rely on the perpetuation of silliness that you have the intellectual rigor to dismiss, parroting these ideas to the masses who generally lack that tendency to scrutinize and the information that needs to be scrutinized. The average person doesn’t care at all whether their belief that only the government can fund the arts is based on reality or silliness, and they will typically be resistant, if not outright hostile, of any attempts to show them otherwise, leading to borderline aggressive statements like “OMG SO YOU DON’T THINK WE SHOULD HAVE ART IT’S A GOOD THING THAT YOU AREN’T PRESIDENT, BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO LIVE IN SUCH A BLEAK AND DREARY WORLD!”

But you? You’re supposed to be better than that. Isn’t that what you’ve based your entire careers on? Isn’t one’s refusal to do that precisely what lends them scientific credibility? Isn’t that why Einstein’s insertion of the Cosmological Constant severely dampened his scientific credibility? And don’t give me the nonsense that Einstein was ultimately right, because he wasn’t, and any physicist knows it. The basic idea wasn’t incorrect–there is a force countering gravity–but Einstein stated that we live in a static universe, and he used the cosmological constant to achieve that in his equations. He most certainly was not ultimately right.

Tyson and Musk are living examples of what Rothbard discussed in Anatomy of the State [free download]:

Promoting this ideology among the people is the vital social task of the “intellectuals.” For the masses of men do not create their own ideas, or indeed think through these ideas independently; they follow passively the ideas adopted and disseminated by the body of intellectuals. The intellectuals are, therefore, the “opinion-molders” in society. And since it is precisely a molding of opinion that the State most desperately needs, the basis for age-old alliance between the State and the intellectuals becomes clear.
It is evident that the State needs the intellectuals; it is not so evident why intellectuals need
the State. Put simply, we may state that the intellectual’s livelihood in the free market is never too secure; for the intellectual must depend on the values and choices of the masses of his fellow men, and it is precisely characteristic of the masses that they are generally uninterested in intellectual matters. The State, on the other hand, is willing to offer the intellectuals a secure and permanent berth in the State apparatus; and thus a secure income and the panoply of prestige. For the intellectuals will be handsomely rewarded for the important function they perform for the State rulers, of which group they now become a part.

The truly sad thing is that the state apparatus doesn’t have to approach you and directly offer you such prestige and gifts; a CIA agent doesn’t have to appear at your home one evening and tell you, “Hey. You’re going to start telling people that they need government, or we’re going to break your legs. Play along, and we’ll give you lots of government grants. Don’t play along, and you’ll never walk again.”

We don’t live in such a Hollywood world. Their manipulations are much more subtle than that, and they’ve had the run on education for decades, using their control over the education system to subtly influence people into believing that the government is a force for good and the solution to all life’s problems, in flagrant disregard of what caused the United States to come into existence in the first place: the awareness among the founders that government is, at best, a necessary evil. Shall I offer you an endless series of quotes about the government being, at best, a necessary evil?

Nothing has changed since then. We didn’t suddenly get better at ruling over one another because we started voting instead of shooting [arguable]. Our politicians and rulers are just as corrupt, single-minded, power-hungry, and idiotic as the most pernicious of ancient kings. I should think that President Trump would have left such people painfully aware of that. Democracy doesn’t assure any specific quality of our rulers except the quality that they are willing to do, say, and promise anything if it means they’ll win the election.

All of this applies fully to the UBI, as well. The original questioner wanted to know if I would be alright if someone starved to death because there wasn’t a UBI. It’s an asinine question. Would I be alright if there was no art because the government wasn’t funding it? Would I be happy if there were no charities because the government wasn’t funding them? These questions are ludicrous, setting up the entire world and all its nuances as a simplistic and false dichotomy: either the government does it, or no one does.

After all, a person can only do one specific thing, and if they lose the ability to do that one specific thing, then that’s it. They can never do anything else.

And if someone is doing a specific thing, then no one else could ever gain the ability to do that specific thing, so if that someone stops doing it… That’s it. It can never be done by anyone else.

Anyone with any kind of intellectual honesty realizes how absurd these two ideas are, and they comprise the basis of every argument for big government. So is it a terrifying lack of imagination, or is it deliberate dishonesty?

I don’t know, but I know this: they’re not valid assumptions. I think we’d be hard-pressed to find assumptions that are more invalid, to be honest. In part 1, I pointed out that it’s ridiculous, because someone will have to put in the effort to turn soil and seeds into edible food. I pointed out that I provide my cats with a UBI, and the contention is basically: if I don’t provide my cats with food, then they’ll starve. While this might be true for domestic house cats who have been served food their entire lives, if humans can truly become so dependent on hand-outs that they would lie in the floor and starve to death because they can’t figure out how to do the human equivalent of going into the field and catching a mouse, then I don’t know what to tell you. But I don’t think humans are that bad off, and this is from someone who repeatedly points out that humans are animals who live by the same rules as all other animals.

The second dealt more specifically with the other assumption, that if a person is doing something and loses the ability to do it, then that’s it, game over, they lose–a condition that allegedly will be brought about by the widespread enslavement of a new lifeform we’re creating to be the perfect slave. It would always at least be the case that we need AI experts to design, enhance, and repair AI, even if AI-controlled robots actually did all the other work. But if there ever came a time when the AI was designing, enhancing, and repairing itself, then the whole thing becomes moot anyway, because humanity at that point is a few years away from extinction. That’s a scenario that should be avoided at all costs*.

So what do we have here? Excuses for people to be lazy masked by silly assumptions that don’t make any sense and that certainly don’t stand up to scrutiny. Even in their wet dream of technological progress, with AI firmly enslaved and doing everything for humans, there remains at least one question: “Well, you could learn to work on AI.” Don’t give me that bullshit that there just won’t be anything to do. You’re still talking about robbing or enslaving a productive class to give resources to a non-productive class, whether that productive class consists of hard-working humans or hard-working robots. There isn’t a rational argument that can be presented for such a terrible idea.

* I’m actually of the mind that there are a few technologies that we shouldn’t go anywhere near. First among those is AI. Sure, it would be extremely useful. As a tech expert–with an actual degree and everything–I’m more predisposed to like AI than most, and I don’t think there’s any way we’d be able to control it, while our attempts to control it would lead it directly to animosity and hatred of us. I don’t think that we should attempt to control it; I think we should decide now that we are going to treat all non-human animal life–organic or synthetic is a meaningless distinction–as equals, with the same rights as we have. But I also know I may be one of six whole people who think that.

As a matter of curiosity, another technology we desperately need to avoid is mind-reading. It may sound like science fiction today, but it’s already not–technology expos regularly feature new gadgets that allow people to control virtual devices with their minds, like rotating cubes and so on. That’s a Pandora’s Box that we do not need to open. But we, stupid apes that we are, won’t stop long enough to ask ourselves whether it is really a good idea to pry open the brain like that and develop technologies that allow us to see what other people are thinking. We can amend the Constitution all we want to say that the brain is off-limits and that a person has the right to the privacy of their own thoughts, but it’s inevitable that this right will be discarded, either openly or secretly. You can’t expect me to believe that a government that gave us the Patriot Act wouldn’t eventually abuse this technology. And what about jealous boyfriends and girlfriends? It’s gonna be a disaster, and I’m genuinely thankful that I’ll be long dead before the technology reaches that point. Humans can have that easily avoided nightmarish catastrophe without me.