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Happy weekend Widdershins but early

I’m posting this early (Friday) because I’m feeling under the weather and that’s putting it mildly.

Discuss whatever is on your minds.

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Edited to add Happy Juneteenth.

 

Stay 6 feet apart

Good weekend Widdershins

So, here we are with a leaderless, rudderless, federal government that consists of a man who is the purported President*, who just reels off untruths and lies at a daily “briefing”, and then attacks a reporter for giving him a softball question.  I believe I agree with Rachel.  Don’t broadcast this bullshit live.  Tape those and show later if you must show them.

Currently we have seventy million Americans who have been told to stay home.  Illinois was the latest to do so but it surely won’t be the last one.  I expect Louisiana’s governor to do the same soon since we have one of the highest rates of infection on a per capita basis.

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Because why not a saxophone group called Nuclear Whales?

 

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Take the discussion wherever you wish to go with it.

Let’s talk about bitcoin. This was brought on by the news that the hunt for bitcoins is using as much energy as the entire country of Ireland now. And, at the current rate of growth one possible trajectory has it using all the world’s energy by 2021.

Which it won’t do, of course. People are going to insist on having a little bit of heat to cook and stay warm, but it does tell you how crazy the bitcoin path currently is.

What is bitcoin? The idea behind it is to have a cash equivalent when financial transactions are increasingly electronic. There is a value to having anonymous, untraceable money, just as there is value in anonymous, untraceable speech. It makes it harder for anyone to grab control over people. The downside, of course, is that it also makes it easier for criminals and hatemongers to do their thing.

Without going into the computerese of it all, you’re using processing power to do the calculations necessary to keep a transaction both secure and untraceable. (Although there’s some dispute about the perfection of the untraceability of it in all cases.) Secure untraceable transactions could actually be very useful in the case of, for instance digital voting.

A couple of points about bitcoin: there is a finite number of bitcoins allowed by the bitcoin system. I think the idea was that this was necessary for it to retain any kind of value. Obviously, if you can just “print” infinite numbers of bitcoins, they’re meaningless. It’s the same characteristic that makes gold valuable. There’s just so much of it and no more.

The second thing is that the closer you get to that limit, the more processing you have to do to get the computer to say it’s produced a secure untraceable transaction, a bitcoin. Producing a single bitcoin now takes as much energy as a US household uses in a month, very approximately. When this folderol started, I could have generated a hundred of them on my little laptop in minutes.

What is money? To understand what bitcoin actually is, I think it’s helpful to think about what money actually is. There’s a lot of dispute about the latter, so this is my view. (Which is right, of course. You at the back, pipe down.) It agrees with some of the Great Grandads of Economics (Keynes, for instance, unless I’ve totally misunderstood him), but not others.

At it’s most basic, money is a measure of value that allows us to exchange things that have real value — cabbages and houses and medical services and classes in Japanese flower arranging — without having to use barter. Barter isn’t bad, it’s just terribly inefficient. It depends on the buyer happening to have whatever the seller wants in exchange, and then both agreeing how much of A, say 5 cabbages, is worth how much of B, say on class on flowers. (And then, if you’re the teacher, what are you going to do with the 50 cabbages your students have given you?)

If money is a measure, then someone has to define what it’s measuring. With feet and meters that’s not a problem because we all know how and where to use yardsticks. But measuring value is a whole different ballgame.

There are fleets of economists who work on that sort of thing. And they can actually get reasonably close to what a given economy is producing. Money, at its best, then measures that and makes it easy to exchange things at sensible prices.

A lake high in the Chilean mountains

Wealth

The trouble comes in because money is also used as a store of value. You can put it in the bank and use your “rulers” of value later to buy things you need. People tend to confuse the storage function with the measuring function, even though storing value has to be (very) secondary to how money works. If not, you get the absurdity of people storing all the rulers, which are useless in themselves, and grinding the economy to a halt. In the case of real yardsticks, nobody would be able to make clothes or build houses or bridges or do anything else that requires measurement. In the case of money, too many people don’t have enough to keep the economy turning and depressions happen.

That is why countries abandoned the gold standard. There’s a finite amount of gold. What happens when you invent steam engines and telephones and computers? You get into the stupid situation of not having enough gold to measure all that. (Or the even stupider situation of making a unit of gold near-priceless and bestowing vast wealth on people who happen to hold gold. Needless to say, the holders of gold preferred this alternative.)

So countries have gone to a system where the money supply is supposed to reflect the size of the economy.

What does this mean for bitcoin? You see where this is headed. Bitcoin explicitly measures nothing. Its whole function is to store some-kind-of-value but it’s finite. So, like gold, it cannot reflect changes to the underlying economy.

It has no means of defining value. No fleets of economists. The whole principle is “stuff costs what any fool will pay for it.” That does not work for a real economy and just gives all the “rulers” to the people who already have them.

And, finally, it has no means of enforcing legal trade. If someone rips you off, there’s zero recourse. As a subset of the lack of enforcement, it also facilitates extremely sketchy trading, such as trafficking, pedophilia, and counterfeit medicines. Much as I might like to stop the GOOG and everybody else from spying on my every purchase of deodorant, I don’t think facilitating pedophiles is an acceptable price to pay. We could, you know, just have regulation that outlaws tracking.

So, in conclusion, this is where bitcoin stands. It’s a fun idea. The computer process involved could be useful in things like voting. It’s not money, because it does not measure value. It’s a digital analogy for gold: an arbitrary something people have decided to use instead of money. It could have been (and has been in the past) conch shells. It the future it might be tobacco plants genetically engineered to grow stained glass leaves. You can’t base an economy on stuff like that.

An economy has to be based on actual value and money has to be something that measures that.

So bitcoin, and all the other cryptocurrencies, are not useful for the real economy and, as currently constituted, are using up so much energy that they’re cancelling out all the gains made by the shift to renewables.

You know what? That crap needs the shit regulated out it.

 

Crossposted from Acid Test

You see Widdershins, I told you previously that we would most likely be visiting this topic again, and here we are.  The latest antics of the “President” are surely the signs of someone who is either bonkers/batshit crazy/insane, or is sooo super smart (ask him about his IQ!) that he is playing three dimensional chess with Spock.  All things being equal above, I’m going with the former.

So…(sigh) once again, let’s take a look at some crazy songs.  Now as before, the songs can be about any form or variation of crazy; plain ole crazy, crazy in love…you know the drill.  My choices are below.

(1) All the Madmen~David  Bowie

(2) Back On My Feet Again~Randy Newman (concerns a patient in the mental hospital, whose sister absconds with a white millionaire wearing blackface)

(3) Delirium~Lacuna Coil

(4) Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment~Ramones

(5) Crazy~Patsy Cline (gotta have one “crazy” love song)

(6) They’re Coming To Take Me Away (ha-ha)~Napoleon XIV

(7) Insane~Korn

(8) Crazy~Gnarls Barkley

(9) Redneck Crazy~Tyler Farr (and here I thought it was just a given-
Redneck/Crazy)

(10) Madhouse~Anthrax

Okay Widdershins those are my selections and hope to see some of yours in the comments.  Also, after listening to all of these, you may feel a little bit anxious or crazy yourselves. In that case we have a fine selection of psychotropic meds at the Widdershins gift shop (trial sizes only).  So stop by to see if we have something that can help out.  Our list of meds literally goes from A to Z so we probably have you covered.

I’ll be around in the later afternoon/evening because, football.

 

 

 

Heh, my reaction to so many things lately

Good Weekend Widdershins!

I wrote that *some* of the dark times are over.  Of course I’m referring to my and dear chatblu’s favorite thing – football and especially college football.  For some of the other dark things, eh, not so much on the over part.

This will be a different weekend post because frankly the last few days have seen my fuse get shorter and shorter.  Right now I would put myself right up there next to the Arkema Chemical Plant in Crosby Texas.

I have just a few things that I had bookmarked for reference so this will be a good time to use them and then I can delete the bookmarks.

White Nationalist Richard Spencer and “the money”

Have you ever wondered how it is that White Nationalist, David Duke wannabe Richard Spencer can afford to traipse around the country stirring shit up wherever he goes?  Hard work?  Made a killing in the stock market?  Won the lottery perhaps?  Actually no, none of the above.

Richard Spencer gets his money partly from, ahem, the government and an old standby commodity-cotton.

Spencer likes to say that “murica” was built by white people.  In fact he was on (all of all shows) NewsOneNow with Roland Martin when he said “White people ultimately don’t need other races in order to succeed,”  I’m sure it was after he picked himself off the floor that Martin asked him “Didn’t slaves help build America? Wasn’t the nation’s 19th-century economic boom propelled by the slave labor that produced the world’s cotton on Southern plantations?”  Spencer was ready with a reply:

America’s rise was “not through black people” and “has nothing to do with slavery,” Spencer retorted. “White people could have figured out another way to pick cotton,” he said. “We do it now.”

And Spencer should really know because “Spencer, along with his mother and sister, are absentee landlords of 5,200 acres of cotton and corn fields in an impoverished, largely African American region of Louisiana”.  (it’s in north Louisiana)  Further: The farms, controlled by multiple family-owned businesses, are worth millions: A 1,600-acre parcel sold for $4.3 million in 2012.

Even better is this little tidbit:

The Spencer family’s farms are also subsidized by the federal government. From 2008 through 2015, the Spencers received $2 million in US farm subsidy payments, according to federal data.  (bolding/italics mine)

He has received lots of attention as a leader of the so-called alt-right movement—particularly after he drew Nazi salutes at an event celebrating Donald Trump’s election.  But he never did say how he was able to do all of this flitting about.  The finances of his nonprofit think tank, the National Policy Institute, are a mystery; the organization hasn’t filed a public report since 2013. The Los Angeles Times reported that the IRS revoked the institute’s tax-exempt status.

Spencer dropped out of the PhD history program at Duke University.  While in the program he said he ” was compelled by critiques of multiculturalism and political correctness and by demographic data indicating that whites are en route to minority status in the United States.”

As the MJ article says, ” the Spencer family’s business interests and geographic history suggest a different possible lineage for Richard Spencer’s racist politics. The family’s farm holdings are a legacy of its ties to the Jim Crow South, passed down by Spencer’s grandfather, who built the business during the turbulent civil rights era.”

“Spencer declined in an interview this week to discuss how much money he personally receives from cotton farming and government subsidies, and whether that income funds his political activities.”  Yeah because revealing that his money that lets him travel the country comes from the sweat and work of field hands in Louisiana might not be the image he wants known.  But he’s also been quoted as saying:

“I’m going to navigate the world as it is, and I’m not going to be a pauper.”

Well!  That sums it up pretty well.  “Yes I’ll take the money we get from cotton farms but no I’m not involved in such icky labor and stuff.”

There’s much more in the article such as this little morsel:
One Spencer family farming company, which holds title to 400 acres of land, is called the Poor Richard Partnership.

Ah I tell ya, sometimes these people, they just crack me up.  Just too clever by half.

This went longer than I meant but I have two other pieces for you to check out that will be eye-openers.

From Vox:

Psychologists surveyed hundreds of alt-right supporters. The results are unsettling

And from WaPo:

The road to hate: For six young men, Charlottesville is only the beginning

Oh and one last note:

 

Okay, after all of that vile crap we need a palate cleanser as chat would say.  So here is some lovely Ralph Vaughn Williams.  I’ve used this before but it is a calming and restorative piece to listen to. (I have no idea what that World Rose stuff is about, I just wanted a good version of the piece.)

Of course it’s an open thread so what’s on your minds today?

 

 


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