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Bitcoin is digital snake oil

Posted on November 28, 2020 By In Thoughts With no comments

Bitcoin is a good investment

Investments should create value. They should fund inventions, creations, discoveries or contribute something meaningful to humanity. Bitcoin is an environmental catastrophe, wasting massive amounts of electricity to enable trading computer bits back and forth producing nothing in the process. Bitcoin exchanges are almost exclusively used to speculate on the price of bitcoin. That’s not investing, that’s gambling. Many people can become skilled at gambling and consistently make money, that doesn’t make it investing.

Bitcoin is a free market

The price is highly manipulated by “whales” who own a disproportionate number of bitcoins and regularly use schemes that would be illegal on a regulated market to trick unsophisticated speculators into throwing away their hard earned cash.

“Bitcoin’s Gini coefficient is estimated at 0.88 & up, making Bitcoinlandia more unequal than any other human society, including North Korea, which enjoys a comparatively liberal Gini coefficient of 0.86”

Bitcoin is good for freedom

Every transaction is stored on every full node, forever. A public ledger is the dream of every tax collector because once they discover your wallet ID, they can track and trace every transaction you have ever made. So can your neighbor, boss and ex. A public ledger is the opposite of anonymous, it represents the end of freedom. Remember cash? Never forget.

Bitcoin is money

Yes it’s true, money is just a social contract. Money is whatever we agree should be used to facilitate trade, but there are many things of value we trade all the time: art, sports cards, classic cars, precious metals, jewelry… Yes, bitcoin is easily divisible which makes it a better unit of account than random collectibles, but no better than dollars. The ability to divide something by a billion is not a meaningful advantage, and even if it was, you can’t defeat the incumbent by only being 10% better. The reality is that very few people are using bitcoin to pay taxes, buy burritos or finance their homes. Calling bitcoin money isn’t enough to make it money.

Bitcoin will replace banks

There was a time we used to pay for long distance phone calls and text messages, then unlimited data on your phone happened. If one day bitcoin actually becomes a great way to send money across borders, competition from the banks will quickly render it obsolete as transfer fees disappear. Also, who wants to store their life savings on their phone? Ultimately, everyone who has a non-trivial amount of bitcoin will need to trust someone somewhere to guard their wealth, re-creating the bank. So much for de-centralization.

Bitcoin in secure

Even if the blockchain is secure, the company that maintains your wallet might not be. Bitcoin thefts have happened routinely and are irreversible — there is no FDIC insurance for bitcoin.

Bitcoin is revolutionary technology

Blockchains are proving to be terrible solutions for almost everything. They are just clunky, slow and unnecessarily complex distributed databases. A blockchain doesn’t guarantee data is correct or meaningful, only that it’s reproduced faithfully across nodes. Meaning, there is always a need to trust every system inserting data. In the real world, there are very few use cases for trust-less exchanges of data because trust is always necessary somewhere else in the process anyway, so what’s the point?

Bitcoin is good for refugees

Refugees fleeing war zones with coins that need electricity to function being a model use case is a stretch.

The Social Dilemma – Netflix documentary review

Posted on September 13, 2020 By In Thoughts With no comments

There are so many interesting things in this documentary to comment on, but I’ll focus on one — nuance.

If we are having a disagreement and our position is the one that lacks nuance… stop. If we find ourselves believing with conviction that something is definitely true or completely false, perfectly good or obviously evil… stop. If we find ourselves getting upset when someone doesn’t agree with us… stop.

We need to stop and re-evaluate everything that happened in our lives to arrive at that place. Re-evaluate everything we think we know and why we think we know it.

Reality is rarely absolute. We are likely a victim of propaganda and our own egos are to blame. I know that word triggers many of us to feel insulted or assume it only applies to everyone else, “If I believe it then it can’t be propaganda, because I’m so smart and informed” — and that’s the point — ego. We need to take some accountability for our own intellectual laziness. It took me a long time to find these convictions in my own mind and root them out. It’s work that never ends.

Self-awareness and self-reflection are skills humanity is losing because we have lost the ability to sit quietly and think. The opposite of meditation — using our minds, not clearing them. Skills require practice. We should make an effort to challenge ourselves. Make a conscious effort to burst out of our ideological bubbles and allow new ideas enough space and time to be thought about carefully rather than casually dismissed because they make us feel uncomfortable.

That feeling shouldn’t be a trigger for rejection, it should be a trigger for engagement. That feeling is how we are manipulated. It is the reason the manipulation works. Once a technique is learned it will never go away, even if the social media companies do. If we continue to allow ourselves to be slaves to that trigger, we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

Conquering that trigger is the only path to liberation and we can start today.

The perfect place to live

Posted on August 23, 2020 By In Thoughts With no comments

We all want to believe in magic. As a kid, the whole world might as well be magic because we have no idea how anything works. But as we learn and experience life, the layers of fantasy slowly strip away. For most adults, looking back on childhood curiosity and wonder will always bring back fond memories.

Some people never grow all the way up.

Searching for perfection in life is a residue of magical childhood thinking. Nothing in life is entirely good or entirely bad, reality is always somewhere in the messy middle.

When it comes to where we live, the tendency to project our desires onto a city we haven’t experienced misleads us into confusing the ordinary and extraordinary. Most of life isn’t beaches, hikes, parties and restaurants. Most of life is sleeping, working, doing chores and running errands. Those other things in between are very important, but they make up 5% of your life.

Does your city obstruct 95% of your life?

When picking a location to spend 100% of your day, don’t focus exclusively on the extraordinary bits in between the ordinary. If your life is constantly being interrupted by weather, traffic, pollution, noise or inconveniences of any kind, that needs to factor into your decision.

Find a place that doesn’t require you to change your habits to suit its limitations. Find a place that let’s you live as you wish to live when you wish to live it.

For me, I always loved the idea of living in a dense city and walking to work, walking to the grocery store, hopping on and off public transportation to get wherever I need to go. Until I actually lived it… it’s awful. Sometimes I need food when it’s raining. Sometimes I need to get somewhere quickly. Sometimes I’m not in the mood to deal with crowds. Cars were invented for a reason, they are amazing. And parking lots exist for a reason, they are so convenient.

For me, the city is a childhood fantasy where the ordinary is hard, disruptive and tiring. The suburbs are where the ordinary is easy, effortless and calm.

How often do you really go to the mountains?

I love the mountains. I love the beach. I used to live near them both. But when I did the exercise of documenting my actual 5% activities — not what I thought I did, but what I actually did — I realized the amount of time actually spent in these places was minimal. Maybe, a few times a year. Why was I putting a premium on something my actual behaviors told me I didn’t value that much? People always want to pretend they are living the life they imagined they would live. You’re not that person you imagine in your head. Grow up.

These things are very personal, there will never be a single answer for all people, but I decided to find a nice suburb of a major city where 95% of my life is optimized for convenience and 5% is easily accessible a few times a year by airplane.

Life is beautiful.

Can a great entrepreneur exist without hate?

Posted on August 22, 2020 By In Thoughts With no comments

Starting and running my own company has been a dream of mine since I was a child. It has been the dream — you know what I mean — everyone has the dream. The one for which every choice in life is measured by whether it takes you 1 step closer or farther. 

Is wanting something enough to make it right, for you?

Yes, I could open a small business and check the “entrepreneur” box off my list, but that’s not the point. I don’t want the label, I want the achievement of conjuring something enormous into existence, something I manufactured in my mind, something other people find useful.

I have always been inspired by incredible skills and accomplishments. I love seeing people focus on a goal, struggle against all odds and succeed wildly. I admire those people. I want to be those people. 

But, I probably never will. I am slowly coming to accept that I’m a terrible entrepreneur. Not because I don’t have the skills, the drive or the resources to succeed… not for lack of effort over the years… but because my personality is too flexible and my life is too comfortable.

I am motivated to acquire all the tools needed to succeed (in fact, I may enjoy the idea of acquiring tools more than actually using them). I want to know everything. I want to do everything. That’s all great, but it’s not enough.

They say the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. In that case, what is the opposite of hate? I think the opposite of hate is acceptance. 

Great entrepreneurs become great because they create change and change doesn’t come from acceptance. Change requires the opposite of acceptance. 

Change requires hate.

The greatest entrepreneurs are driven not by love or ambition, they are driven by an internal demon that compels them to change something they hate about the world in some fundamental way. 

If you accept the world, why would you change it?

The side effect of too much stability in my life, my mind and my soul is that I have exorcised all hate from my heart, and by doing so, accidentally sabotaged my dream.

And you know what the most ironic part of this entire story is? I think I’m okay with it.

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