No, I don’t believe in God in the sense of some invisible dood wrapped in a robe, rested atop a snow-capped mountain, seated thereatop a gilded throne of unsurpassed splendour and unimaginable regality, shining from his every pore as brightly as a million stars multiplied by a million xenon laser beams of pure omniscient and omnipotent power. After all, I’m not 7-years-old.
That being said, “God” is a markedly more useful and cross-culturally relevant abstraction that most atheists might care to admit. Saying “God only knows” isn’t to say that there’s literally only one person whom you’ll never meet and never could meet who knows the answer to your question or perhaps the best possible outcome to your quandary. Idem “God help you” doesn’t imply that only some eminent entity can be of any assistance whatsoever. What’s meant instead by these and other invocations of a single supreme deity is more akin to “It’s in the hands of the Fates” or “Should Mother Nature wish it” or “I sure as fuck hope so,” etc. Invoking “God” in this manner does not imply causation caused by a supernatural superbeing with supermegapowers, it’s invoking epistemic opacity – the unknown and the unknowable – not a bearded old spirit who speaks to selected men through unscorchable bushes.
So that’s God, but what about “God’s Work” ? Same story, really. It’s “Doing the right thing” or “Doing what needs to be done even if it’s in the trenches and grenades are exploding right next to you,” not doing whatever the thunderous voice of the heavens hath commanded thee. There’s a difference here, people.
In any event, it’s well known to readers of Contravex that Bitcoin Is A Big Fucking Deal. Knowing this more than I’ve ever known anything else before and may ever know hence, in my early days on the “Bitcoin scene,” at least such as I understood it at the time, I once spent some measure of time and energy with the local meet-up/conference/merchant/grassrootsy-bordering-on-redditarded crowd, trying to drill whatever sense I then had at my disposal into well meaning but largely doomed idjits who’d never experienced a regime change first-hand, were too young and naive to have read much about such historical events, and were therefore as unlikely to grasp the implications of Bitcoin as a caged monkey is to understand a zoo without an infinite supply of fresh bananas.
While hindsight made this particular endeavour as fruitless as le zoo sans les bananes, the strength of my conviction isn’t so readily tamed that a few lacklustre experiences are capable of materially tarnishing my resolve. As such, since leaving the tweetosphere and that little educational outlet, and always looking for more boundaries to push, I guess I’ve been in search of an extra-#b-a, extra-Contravex outlet for my accrued wisdom and knowledge, such as it is. It’s no wonder then that given my clear and present affinity for the blogosphere and its diamonds in the rough that I’ve come across Phil Greenspun’s homepage and taken quite a shining to it.
Blessedly, coincidentally, and through some unknown happenstance of chance, Phil’s been on a bit of a Bitcoin kick lately,i having just read “Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money”ii This has been remarkably well timed with the increase in my visits there, which has provided me with an opportunity to crack some eggs, establish a little hierarchy, and who knows, maybe even shine the light brightly enough that a few passerbys get their heads out of their own asses long enough to do something productive and meaningful with their all-too-brief lives. It’s a long-shot, sure, but it can’t be worse than the local meet-ups !
Needless to say, Phil’s a bright characteriii and as such,iv despite his infantile commenting policy,v he attracts a reasonable number and calibre of commenters, no doubt on account of his impressively regular activityvi and open-ended questioning style he frequently uses to wrap up articles. Don’t you agree ?
Anywho, after Phil finished reading the aforementioned “Bitcoin book” and wrote up his little post-read recap, I decided to open up a few more pores in the Bitcoin conversation. It’s one thing to teach random noobs what a hash is, but with this crowd, it figured I can start a step or two above that. Would my prediction prove accurate ?
Now if for no other reason than that you’re unlikely to see me take greater tact with randoms outside my WoT, I figured I’d reproduce the latest back-and-forth for you here :
I enjoyed Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money partly because it makes one question long-standing assumptions. Wences Casares, an Argentine Bitcoin pioneer, noted that “The reason gold itself had been used as money was not that it was valuable; it had become valuable because it was used as money. … We use it in jewelry because it’s very expensive. It’s not expensive because we use it in jewelry. … You put the ledger on your neck to show power and wealth.” Debt: The first 5000 yearsvii is referenced as the source of the idea that “barter was never common and money was actually an evolution of credit–a way of tracking what people owed to each other.”
If you’re interested in learning about the criminal mind, the book contains a detailed history of Silk Road and the government’s attempts to hunt down the operators. (Silk Road was facilitated by Bitcoin, though not related to the currency any more than street drug dealers using $100 bills are related to the U.S. Mint.)
There is a good explanation of Mt. Gox, a huge success despite the spectacular incompetence of its operators (you’ll hate Bank of America less after you read about what it is like when amateurs run a bank’s IT systems!). It is also kind of inspiring, in a way, because it shows that a huge factor for career success is to be in an industry with rapid growth.
Wences Casares gives a good explanation for why Bitcoin is important: “You can call someone in Jakarta on Skype. You can see them and you can hear them and there’s a synchronous connection with a lot of bandwidth. … And you hang up and you want to send them one cent and that’s not possible. … It should be a lot easier to send a cent than to see video and audio.”
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And I’m not done yet either, I intend to continue to hang around Greenspun’s blog for as long as my comments are approved and for as long as I see openings and opportunities to raise the level of discourse.
If this shit’s not God Work, I seriously don’t know what is !
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- See his Ashley Madison post, my comment there, and his currency debasement post, as well as my comment there. [↩]
- “Digital Gold” was written by some dood no one gives a shit about so his name doesn’t even bear repeating. I’m sure you can look it up. [↩]
- Even if he did violate one of the 5 cardinal rules for blogging and delete a discussion of his adventures with “expert VCs” ! Why Phil ? WHY ??! [↩]
- Or else Phil wouldn’t have catalysed not one but two articles, and neither of which I really roasted him on ! (These being Here’s how you circumvent those draconianly stupid minimum wage laws and Turns out you wanted Hitler after all.) Y’know how rare it is that I take what another blogger has to offer and build on it rather burn it to the ground and piss on the ashes ? Hen’s teeth don’t begin to describe. [↩]
- To quote :
Comments on this Weblog are moderated by volunteers according to the policy below. More than 90 percent of comments posted are link spam and therefore all comments are held for moderation before going live.
The most valued comments are alternative perspectives. If the posting is about a trip to Kugluktuk, Nunavut, a great comment would start “I took a trip there 10 years ago and my experience was …”. A link to an authoritative source of information not cited in the original posting is highly valued.
The least valued comments are reviews of the posting, good or bad. The reader has just read the entire posting. He or she doesn’t need someone else’s opinion that “this was great” or “this was bad”. Reviews make sense in the off-line world where consuming the book or movie happens after reading the review and takes a lot more time and effort. In the online world, the comments are usually read after the item being reviewed has been consumed. Keep in mind that other readers are likely to be just as intelligent as you. If there is an oversimplification in the original posting or a previous comment, they’re just as likely to spot it as you. Correct facts with a link to an official source; don’t try to correct someone else’s opinion or thinking.
Comments that attack another person’s motivation, intelligence, or character are bad because they degrade the quality of the discussion and discourage thoughtful comments by others. For some reason, human beings often are confident that they can discern the hidden motivation for another person doing or saying something. Trained psychiatrists and psychologists, however, do very poorly at this task, so what hope is there for a lay person?
Cute/clever comments that are off-topic should only be published if they are very cute and clever indeed. Off-topic content breeds more off-topic content.
Attributed/real-name content is preferred to anonymous content.
Not much better than the EconLog derps, really. I mean c’mon, worrying about degradations in the quality of the discussion by deleting comments is like living in a gated community and imagining that this solves homelessness or pretending that you’re still straight if you get head from a dude because, hey, a mouth’s a mouth. Fe real. [↩]
- To the agency goes the active ! [↩]
- You’ll note that Graeber’s finest work is on The Reading List. [↩]