Billionaires in Bitcoin

Bajillionaires are offering their thoughts on Bitcoin. Not because they have anything interesting to add, but because they pretty much have to. If you’re still a Nocoiner in the year 2021, you’d better have some darn good reasoning to spin to your shareholders. Putting bitcoin in your corporate cash reserves is like buying IBM in 1970. You don’t wanna be the guy who gets fired for buying a UNIVAC.

Some years ago, JP Morgan built an enterprise version of Ethereum, and I joked that having JP Morgan support your blockchain is like receiving a presidential endorsement from David Duke.

But here we are. BNY Mellon announced plans to provide bitcoin custodial services; Citi thinks Bitcoin is At the Tipping Point; now Goldman Sachs has restarted its crypto trading desk and will begin dealing bitcoin futures. Having Goldman Sachs support your blockchain is like receiving a glowing eulogy from the Washington Post 🤮.

Maybe the revulsion is unfounded. We reject the banking system and Wall Street because they have a monopoly over the money supply, and anything that can be monopolized can be manipulated. Money begets power. See also: Cantillon Effect

When it comes to Bitcoin, disproportionate wealth does not translate to disproportionate influence over the protocol. BlackRock may be “dabbling” in Bitcoin, but it won’t be appointed by a central bank to manage a bailout.

So, fine. Welcome billionaires and legacy banking. Fossil fuels may be dirty, but they provide the propulsive force to send our rocket to the moon.

Generic Bitcoin Headline

Okay, Bitcoin needs to stop going up. I am living proof that free money turns people into lazy degenerates.

(Or maybe I was born a lazy degenerate, and it was only the threat of poverty that made me get out of bed every morning.)

Since I’m too lazy to produce new content, here is some old content.

Other Crypto Stuff

Clubhouse is Awesome

Why is Clubhouse so awesome? Because you’re not there. And by “you”, I mean me, the normies and the riffraff, and most importantly, the journalists.

I wouldn’t want to belong to a club that would have me as a member. –Groucho Marx

Here’s a former attorney who’s made it her mission to invite as many journalists as possible to Clubhouse. For “accountability”.

It reminds me of 15 years ago, when some Facebook exec said, “Hey, TheFacebook is fun and awesome, but you know what would make it even better? If we invited all our Moms to sign up!”

Clubhouse is an invitation-only voice app where Silicon Valley people talk about tech trends, and journalists are mad because they aren’t in charge of the conversation.

Why is there so much animosity between journalists and VCs? Because both groups fancy themselves the arbiters of new trends.

VCs talk about picking successful startups like it’s a passive exercise, but the biggest determinant of success is a lead investor from Sand Hill Road. It’s not just the money, it’s the network. Anyone can make a social iPhone app, but only an a16z portfolio company can seed the app with Marc Andreessen and Felicia Horowitz.

Here’s NYTimes tech reporter Taylor Lorenz:

VCs dismiss this comment as self-important hogwash, but Lorenz is not completely wrong. Except that journalists don’t identify emerging trends, they create them.

Everyone in MSM knows that endless bleating is a sure way to shape public opinion: “Mostly peaceful protests! White supremacist armed insurrection! Clubhouse is full of Nazis!” They want to get more journalists on the Clubhouse app to amplify their own opinions.

Would we have had all those BLM protests if NYT hadn’t spent a whole year pounding the 1619 Project into our brains? (Speaking of which, has the NYT been charged with inciting a riot?) I mean, we were all a little stir-crazy from the lockdowns, but maybe we could have protested something more productive, like Universal Healthcare.

It’s the new Eternal September. An internet community does not die when the college freshmen show up, but when the Karens do.

Aside: This investor offered to donate $1000 to St. Jude for every VC that boycotts Forbes’ Midas List, but it looks like he got zero takers?

Snitch Culture

I’m thinking about taking up cockfighting. Sure it’s illegal, but who isn’t these days. The Founding Fathers were into it, as were the ancient Greeks and Romans, and they seemed a classy bunch.

Roman rooster money, AD 138

Cockfighting ceased to be an aristocratic pastime around the same time gentlemen stopped settling personal conflicts with a duel, and opted to take their opponents to court instead. The new high society preferred sports with rules and referees, where the loser doesn’t die, but goes home and has the opportunity to redeem themselves in the next match.

The progression mirrors our cultural shift from one of honor to dignity. Honor Culture arises in lawless societies, where people rely on their buddies to get their back. Violent retribution demonstrates your value as an ally, and deters future attacks.

In Dignity Culture, the state has a monopoly on violence. Vigilante justice is not tolerated, thus the desire to punch the guy who insulted your mother must be sublimated into a stiff upper lip. Society values thick skin and self-restraint.

In the 60s, a new phenomenon emerged where sports players pretended to suffer a foul inflicted by the opponent. In basketball it’s known as a flop, in soccer it’s a dive. The goal is to feign injury so that the ref will issue a penalty to the other team.

Where it was once a point of pride to take your knocks with dignity, now it’s more rewarding to collapse and go into death throes.

Scholar‘s Stage describes this as Victim Culture. The purpose of a moral culture is to come to consensus when resolving disputes, but as industries grow, people spend more time interacting with faceless bureaucracies than other humans. Conflicts that once settled with a face-to-face chat now now require an appeal to authority. More administrators are hired to deal with complaints, and people are conditioned to become whiny and helpless in the face of an amorphous blob. Competitive victimhood ensues.

The Original Karens

But Victimhood is only half of the equation.

Remember the first lesson we learned on the schoolyard? Don’t snitch. If the class bully just gave you a beatdown, that’s a normal part of sorting the pecking order. Tattling to the yard teacher is a betrayal, not just of the bully but of the entire class tribe.

In a culture of Honor, the only thing worse than losing is being a snitch. Snitches get stitches. That’s how drug lords and crime bosses avoid being outed by captured henchmen. Detainees know that any punishment meted by the criminal justice system is nothing compared to the retaliation that awaits. (That’s why CIA interrogators resort to torture.)

Cops have the Blue wall of silence; the mafioso have Omertà. Even in the corporate world, silence was self-enforcing. Employees who expose their boss’s dirty laundry would never find another job, because no one wants to hire a traitor.

TIME magazine promotes the sexist “Karen” stereotype

In modern society, we’ve dressed up snitches and deemed them whistleblowers. White House leakers used to get prison time; now they get book deals. Disgruntled tech employees used to end up in the unemployment line; now they take their grievances to the New York Times and get diversity offers. The SEC has paid out $330 million since the pandemic started, for people to rat out their bosses. This should be a sign of serious dysfunction, but the result of societal atomization is that no one is loyal to anyone, except perhaps the State*.

Feeling left out? Join the #CitizenArmy where you, too, can help doxx your seditious friends.

In short, we’ve adopted the moral values of a middle-aged spinster, pretty much the paragon of social isolation. The good news is, other countries have been through this and managed to recover. The bad news is, there was a lot of death and destruction along the way.

*Don’t get me wrong — Edward Snowden is a hero and martyr. Objectively, Snowden did betray the trust of the American Empire, and exile to Russia is pretty much what you’d expect from a vengeful State.

Guilt by Association

Guilt by association is a relatively modern concept. Back in the olden days, people were free to fraternize with criminals and terrorists, as that was our First Amendment right.

This was primarily a consequence of the unreasonable burden of trying to police such activity. A self-interested government tries to maximize economic output, to generate more tax dollars to pilfer. A ban on doing business with Bad Guys imposes transaction costs, as every business would have to conduct a background check before accepting a customer.

In fact, the government was so adamant in prioritizing free-market trade that even social justice warriors were told to stand down. In 1966, the NAACP tried to organize a boycott of racist businesses in Claiborne County, Mississippi. The merchants sued for tortious interference (the boycott interfered with the merchants’ business relationship with their customers) and won in the Mississippi Supreme Court1. BUT! In 1982, the US Supreme Court reversed that decision.

A lot happened between 1966 and 1982. Information moved from filing cabinets to IBM mainframes. Businesses began collecting vast quantities of location data, spending history, and demographic information, all in a conveniently searchable database.

By 1970, it was no longer unreasonable to expect banks to record the source of customer funds. So money laundering laws were invented to create Guilt by Association. It costs nothing to deputize the banks, and the War on Drugs is more important than our First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights.

The internet further changed our notions of indirect liability. Lack of knowledge has always been an affirmative defense to possession of illegal contraband (“These aren’t my pants, officer. I had no idea there was a sack of freebase in the back pocket!”).

But that doesn’t work if you’re an internet service provider with activity logs. If illicit data passes through your servers, you knowingly possess that data. By 1998, “I had no idea my customer was downloading Metallica bootlegs” was not an affirmative defense2.

Even if Googlebot comes across child porn when crawling the web, it has a legal duty to report3. Indirect liability may violate our Fifth Amendment rights, but you want to stop Child Porn, don’t you?

Anything that can be deputized will be deputized. We take it for granted that businesses know about every criminal that uses their service. But wait — Big Tech companies have made a business of predicting exactly what people want. It’s no longer unreasonable to expect companies to detect when people are wanting to do Terrorism.

That was the justification for the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping after 9/11. We were outraged when word first got out, but now it’s accepted as a part of life. In fact, we literally demand that social media platforms police people who think Bad Thoughts.

Laws are a codification of social norms. If technology changes those norms, then it’s inevitable that laws soon follow.

“Federal law enforcement is currently working to identify any suspected extremists who may pose a threat at the planned armed demonstrations.”FBI Bulletin, January 12 2021

Preemptive policing! Lock up those criminals before they even commit a crime. You want to stop Domestic Terrorism, don’t you?`

References:
1. NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co.
2. Digital Millenium Copyright Act
5. 18 U.S.C. § 2258A