I mention all of this to explain why it took a Tweet from a reader today for me to notice Pete D taking a reasonably solid crack at me almost a month ago.
The system works I tell you! It really, really works!!!1 The conversation – if it’s to be joined anywhere – is happening on blogs and IRC. Quod erat demonstrandum.i Between these two modes of communication, the bounds of the possible are so broad, the gravity of the possible so powerful, that’s it’s hard to think of anything more revolutionary this side of the socialist Schreckgespenst that is Bitcoin (but we’ll get to that).
So it is that I reached out to my good man and Twitter go-to-guy Dan P. on IRC so as to bring to Jack Baruth’s attention the aforequoted solid crack.ii And would believe it fucking worked ???! Perhaps I had too little faith in Jack’s interest in debating me, certainly in contrast to my interest in debating him, but his 1`700 word response published yesterday on his blog would now indicate that I sorely underestimated the appeal of my thrusting épée. Hooray!
His parry, unfortunately, wasn’t quite enough for me to miss his flesh and draw blood, but let’s first have a look at his sharper allezes before working our way to the missed ripostesiii :
Nor it is in any way certain that, in the absence of said Internet, I would find a D “equivalent” in Columbus, Ohio, any more than it is certain that he would find a “Baruth” in Canada.
Quite so. Pity the fool in computer times who knows of no conversational partner but the one he must meet face-à-face. How small and sad such a world would be.iv On this point, Jack and I are in absolute agreement. I know of no one quite so irreverently gentlemanly and so charmingly risk-addicted in meatspace, nor do I imagine that I might ever come across one such as he.v For this advent, that which brings together la crème de la crème and allows us to have a rollicking laugh both with and at each other, I’m forever grateful.
If Peter is saying that human nature is fundamentally the same whether we’re in the first century or the twenty-first, well then that’s something we can debate because there’s plenty of evidence on both sides. If you had a time machine that could kidnap infants from the time of Marcus Aurelius and bring them up in the modern day, I think you would end up with a person who isn’t that different from the people around him.
Right again, I believe. While technology might enable some of the people some of the time to do more than they otherwise could in other times and other places, and in doing so robbing some humans of their physical capital and redistributing it to those with greater mental capital, humans are humans are humans, even if our potential is only realised as products of our environments. After all, the maker of the wheat thresher wins when he has access to woodworking tools and the free time to experiment, but the negro slave wins everyday of the week and twice on Sunday until then. Just as the user of Bitcoin wins today while the 100-hour-a-week banker loses (but we’ll get to that too).
The yen had a shot at the dollar and it lost. The Euro had a shot at the dollar and it lost.
The rise and fall of the Yen as a global currency isn’t particularly my area of historical expertise,vi but the failure of the Euro was entirely that it failed to expand into the productive countries like Sweden and Turkey, and instead succeeded only in signing up some of the greatest leeches in Europe’s fabled history : the Mediterraneans (ie. Roman Catholic Latins and Orthodox Greeks).vii But were either of these ever true competitors ? Hard to say, but nor is it easy to say that the Euro has yet “lost” given that it still trades at a greater than 10% premium to the Almighty Dollar. Still, neither is “#1 world reserve currency,” so that’s a point for Jack.
In the long run, empires rise and fall based on the validity of their systems and the degree to which those systems are respected.
If we take “validity” to mean “power,” which probably isn’t a complete distortion here, then again we’re in complete agreement. And how.
Americans wouldn’t have the collective willpower to use the atomic bomb in 2016. We had it in 1945, but we don’t have it now. If we were invaded by a foreign country, we’d surrender before we’d use the bomb. Know how I know? Because we’ve been de facto invaded by Mexico and nobody’s done shit about it except suck up to the invaders in the hope that, like Cthulhu’s most ardent worshipers, they’ll be eaten last.
Too true. All because Mexico is outside the reach of the despicable, dishonourable, disgustingly insalubrious UAW/CAW. That’s why they’re pulling ahead and pushing north.
As Pete points out, we are rotten from the inside, obsessed with Feelsville navel-gazing and electronic Centrifugal Bumble-Puppy and casual sex. We might just collapse under our own weight.
There’s no shortages of articles along these exact lines on these pages. Anyways, those were the best of Jack’s glisés, now let’s take a look at some of his more notably missed touchés. There are some dubious constatations d’un fait :
Whatever happens, we have got
The undetectable-before-launch submarine-launched ballistic missile
And they have not
Or at least not as many of them. The United States has the power to reduce the world to a smoking cinder any time the man with his finger on the button feels like it. This is why the “world community” is so terrified of Trump, by the way. He might just decide to “negotiate” with this country’s enemies without tying the large-scale-force hand behind his back. The fact of the matter is that the United States would benefit hugely from a quick and overwhelmingly one-sided war against ISIS or, as they say in the rental aisle, similar. It would kick-start the economy a bit and it would produce another generation of combat-bloodied leaders for the military. But there’s also this:
Whatever happens, we have got
The world’s reserve currency
And they have not
Where to start… i) Those nuclear subs he trumpets as if this were still the 1950s are outdated, have been technologically defeated, and are no longer of any practical value other than as docked tourist trapsviii ; ii) The “world community” of libertards is terrified of Trump, sure, but they’re also scared of being cuckolded by their own shadows.ix And how about your daddy aka China ? They’re not quaking in the slightest, no matter how blatantly the business media lies to you. Russia idem ; iii) The US is incapable of a one-sided war against ISIS, at least one where they come out on top, in the same way and for the same reasons that Russia and Bush Jr. lost to the same Mujahideen : the soggy remnants of decades of Soviet-style inbreeding all but preclude bullets from being made out of their pressed shit for heads. You can’t push a wet noodle uphill and you can’t make a transmayo WoWhead into a ruthless killing machine. Yes, you can do some things, many things in fact, with children from birth onwards, almost regardless of background, but once they’re 10, much less 20, you’re better off just killing that one and finding another bitch to knock up. It’s cheaper (and more fun!) that way ; iv) If the US still had the unassailable world reserve currency, China wouldn’t be unloading T-Bills faster than you can say “What do you mean my credit card was declined ?” and making Yuan-denominated O&G deals with Russia. Not to mention that every private individual with two brain cells and a few cents to rub together has been pumping every spare nickel into Porsches, art, housing, Bitcoin, or ANYTHING BUT USD. So no, Apple can’t buy Russia and the US can’t print its way out of a death spiral, regardless of what hairstyle is fashionable in Washington.
Nor will Bitcoin ever be more than a plaything for people on the fringes of the financial world. Pete’s very knowledgeable about Bitcoin but just like the goldbugs and the silver hoarders he rarely looks very hard at the way that real people use money in the real world. The average sub-130 IQ person looks at Bitcoin as a technology indistinguishable from magic, assuming that it’s that kind of magic where people periodically compromise the blockchain and steal money. Believe me when I tell you that we will all go back to biting coins and cutting silver dollars into “bits” before we have any significant public adoption of any cryptography-based currency.
Of course, I’ve saved the best for last. Here, Jack has waded well beyond his depths and well into the shark-infested waters I lovingly call home. Just as I have no business opining on racing lines in a rollcage-equipped Dodge Neon around VIR, Jack fundamentally has no business opining on Bitcoin. It’s not for him, nor, despite his techy background, will it ever be. The calendar is sadly not in his favour and the barriers to entry are only getting higher.x Needless to say, Bitcoin needs “significant public adoption” like Obama needs a third term : in no way would this make either them or the world around them better. What makes Bitcoin so powerful is exactly that it’s a tool of oppression, a tool of the elite. It’s a tool that allows the fortunate few to rise above their humble, physical stations and to transcend the sticky morasses of Mordor, granting a libertyxi previously unknown and previously unimaginable, but one always inherently possible. People are people, after all, whether today or, as Jack mentioned, in the time of Marcus Aurelius. It’s just that the Internet allows for power laws to be realised on an entirely new scale today, revealing for the first time at the global level the gross and oftentimes frightening inequities between men. Even China, who loooooves gold but loves newness even more, sees this, which is why their exchanges are leading the recent price surge.
Neither Pete nor I will live to see a world in which the United States is not a major player in international affairs, if not the major player. Go ahead and bet on that.
I wouldn’t give up on the United States just yet. Yeah, yeah, I know: the last guy who said “If there is hope, it lies in the proles” wound up crying into his Victory Gin. But American proles are different. I know; I’m one of them. And so is Pete, although we’re separated by a border. As Corinne says, “Don’t you recognize a fellow astronaut?”
In summa : I have incredible respect for Jack as a mature, wry, efficient,xii and laudably erudite writer. Specifically on the subject of cars, car racing, women, and fatherhood, he’s a pleasure to read. But at the same time, as he demonstrated hereabove, he’s too far inside the “USAUSAUSA” dogmatic doggie bag to see that while we might be fellow astronauts, I’m about as North American as the Doner Kepap is German : just because you find me here today, doesn’t mean this is where I’m from, nor does this mean that Canada is the only place you’ll ever find me. Jack, on the other hand, is very much an American, if, tragically, of a dying breed belonging to that generation just close enough to war, and therefore just close enough to death to have the accompanying appreciation for life and literature that makes the best minds thrive. Still, I’m not sure he’s even as much of an “American prole” as he inexplicably likes to pretendxiii – every action he takes, at least those he writes about, speaks to the contrary.
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- Despite various and sundry efforts directed towards creating the illusion of precisely the contrary, Twitshit, Lusergram, Facetard, and certainly whatever blackhole of worthless “public opinion” replaces the lot of ‘em when the Trump Train makes its final stop at the White House, are nothing more than vain attempts to bestow the appearance of value on the valueless ; to polish a turd, so to speak. This obviously has its limits, like trying to pass off a Lada Niva at Sotheby’s Monaco.↩
- All because Jack and his little bro have pingbacks turned off on their blog, which sorta kills the whole Internet thing imo. But hey, I’m persistent enough to work around this when the circumstances call for it.↩
- Hits and misses : Ted K. styles!↩
- Which is to say, blissfully content. What a plague!↩
- Not to mention that I could’ve never come across the world’s foremost hub of finance, technology, history, and politics : The Most Serene Republic. Not that it could’ve ever existed in the first place.↩
- Other than the successes of George Soros in betting on the Yen in the 80’s and against it a couple of years ago, both bets which he cashed out handsomely on.↩
- Strange that the Slavic Orthodox peoples aren’t nearly so lazy, eh ? Blame the climate. The industrious ant has to work hard all summer to store enough food for the winter, but the lackadaisical grasshopper can just lounge in the tall grass by the beach year-round.↩
- I give no credit to any theory of morality other than “if you can, you must.” That every nation state extant “agrees” that nuclear weapons are “immoral” only serves to demonstrate their respective irrelevance as forces to be reckoned with.↩
- Jack and I actually had a stellar little conversation a few months ago about exactly that.↩
- Pretty much anyone doing anything with Bitcoin, even something as simple as securing coins properly, is in their mid-20s to late-30s. Jack’s in his mid-40s even though, iirc, his kid is about 7yo.↩
- At the very least an intellectual and spiritual liberty, both of which unequivocally require economic liberty.↩
- It’s almost embarrassing how much more quickly he seems to be able to write than I can, a quality I greatly admire in every blogger I seriously follow (of which there are less than 5). Then again, Jack may just sleep a hell of a lot less than I do, as his frequent tales of through-the-night road trips to this track or that would seem to indicate is very much the case, and in doing so cram that many more printed letters into the 24-hour day.↩
- Maybe it’s Jack’s self-deprecating Jewish genes shining through ? Unless I just dreamed those up.↩