December 29, 2017

Okay, here's what you actually need to know about how much I hate headlines like this.

"Okay, Here's What You Actually Need to Know About Bitcoin."

As we used to say back when we lived in the real world: La la la I'm not listening!

Is there any reason that headline begins with "Okay"? To my eye, it reads: We're visualizing you already irritated at having to see another article on this subject, but we're going to cater to your impatience and give you something dumbed down to the level of stupidity where your ridiculously low attention span has taken you.

Ironically, they're reminding me that I have no patience at all for this sort of thing. And frankly, I think all I actually need to know about Bitcoin is nothing. In fact, I believe I'm better off knowing nothing than just a little something, especially something served up by somebody who tells me this is all I need to know.

40 comments:

Bob Boyd said...

Okay, this post is way too wordy. I couldn't get through it.

You could have just said, "Bitcoin? Seriously? Yuck."

Ann Althouse said...

But it has to make people click through. It can't be just: Here's an article you don't want to read. They're trying to leverage your aversion into a click somehow. That's often the case, and teasers use different strategies. I'm just particularly irked by the ones that try to connect by acting like they already know how I feel. It's so pathetic.

MikeR said...

"Simply put, they do this by grouping every new bitcoin transaction made during a set time frame into a block. Once a block is made, it is added to the chain, which is linked together with a complex cryptography."
Simply put, they do this by grouping every new bitcoin transaction made during a set time frame into a ferful. Once a ferful is made, it is added to the zeek, which is linked together with a transduct.
Good to know!

Michael K said...

I checked my junk file on my e-mail account last night and it looks like I have missed out on millions from Kenya and other wealthy places.

Should I read that article.

AllenS said...

complex cryptography

Ya, sure.

James Pawlak said...

The "Bitcoin" rage reminds me, very much, of the like Tulip bubble in The Netherlands. "Investors" might study that history---And, the resultant financial ruin of many.

EDH said...

The tease is that they will bring you up to date on a discussion now raging at a level beyond what would be a fair introduction and has kept you, the casual reader, from participating.

Like what you need to know if you start watching the Sopranos or Game of Thrones in the fifth season.

320Busdriver said...

Bitcoin for Dummies

Yeah..it's a "thing"

Tim at large said...

I never could understand it either, and I am betting it is in a bubble by not buying any, but think about it like chips at a casino. What intrinsic value do they have? There is apparently a large number of people in the world who don’t mind putting money into an amorphous “bank” while retaining markers(bit coins) that they can later cash in or anonymously and untraceably transfer to others. From that point of view it makes perfect sense. It’s a way to reliably manage ownership of your share of a bit untraceable pot of money that everybody in the system contributes to. They guys “mining” the bitcoins are providing a valuable service to the people who want to move money around outside of the eye of the government.

I just find it hard to believe, with the kinds of network surveillance that is going on today, that it is really that untraceable.

robother said...

The "Bitcoin" rage reminds me, very much, of the like Tulip bubble in The Netherlands.

Except, like, tulip bulbs could be planted after the bubble burst. Whaddya gonna do with a virtually worthless Bitcoin?

rehajm said...

I had it up to here with headlines like this. You won't believe what happened next.

AllenS said...

If you are a gigantic drug smuggler and you have millions of dollars, finding a place to invest the money is going to be problematic. Bitcoin might be your best bet. So, there's that.

AllenS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AllenS said...

If you are a money manager at the Clinton Foundation and Massage Parlor, and you are afraid of the Feds auditing your scam, bitcoin might look pretty good.

Luke Lea said...

Block and chain.

Tim at large said...

As long as there is a huge mass of money out there that doesn’t wan’t to be seen, it will remain a thing, until governments figure out how to watch it closely.

I guess it increases the money supply, in the same way that checks written and presented, but not cashed against the original account increases the money supply.

Tim at large said...

Blockchain is just a technical detail. It doesn’t explain why you would want to do it, anymore than a piston explains why you would want to make a powered vehicle.

If you think of it as a untraceable checking account that dis-intermediates the bank, and where the checks can’t bounce, you it makes sense too.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

And there is something else you'll notice about how they're writing now, even as Trump's keeping tweeting and that's how much they're writing like they're talking and it's something we've been seeing even in major newspapers, that sentences're getting longer and they're packed with contractions that're sometimes confusing, even as writers're misplacing modifying phrases and using "and" and even "even as" for that purpose, as silly as those Trump tweets are.

And even sentences and even paragraphs're beginning with "and" and even with "but." And if they'd've spend more of they're time reading classy ligature 'n' not 't those jabbering TV people that're all the time interrupting they'reselves' then they'd be easier to understand, and not like that Donald Trump.

Tim at large said...

I guess if you think of each check as a share of the pot of money, as money goes in, the value of each check would grow, and as the “miners” who are printing new checks, effectively, print new checks, the value goes down, holding bitcoin amounts to a bet that money will come in faster than new bitcoins are made.

Sorry for going on like this. I am just thinking through it myself.

rehajm said...

If you are a gigantic drug smuggler and you have millions of dollars, finding a place to invest the money is going to be problematic. Bitcoin might be your best bet.

Bitcoin transactions leave traceable fingerprints that may make Bitcoin a bit too transparent for bad guys to use as a store of value.

DavidD said...

That headline sounds like an automated voice-response unit.

The ones that *won’t let you* respond via the numeric keypad are the worst.

Caligula said...

" Much like gold, it can have monetary value while also being a commodity ..."

Apparently bitcoin is a commodity because it can be traded as a commodity; that is, one can buy futures and other options related to it. That, and U.S. regulators seem to regard it as such, perhaps because they don't care to consider it a currency.

Yet, an obvious difference is that gold and other commodities actually have intrinsic value. Traded commodities are mostly foodstuffs and metals, and these (yes, even gold) all have practical uses.

Of course anything (even bitcoin) can be used as currency, because anything can be used as currency, at least as long as enough people retain belief that they'll be able to trade it for goods or services that have intrinsic value.

All currency that lacks intrinsic value (which today is practically all that is in circulation) is essentially a con game, something that's worth something because everyone (well, almost everyone) thinks it is. Until/unless they don't, of course.

Gahrie said...

All currency that lacks intrinsic value (which today is practically all that is in circulation) is essentially a con game, something that's worth something because everyone (well, almost everyone) thinks it is

This is a major focus of the Economics class i teach in high school. ( I do a similar, more concise lecture in U.S. History)

I begin with Monopoly money...I ask if anyone would accept it as payment, or attempt to spend it. Everyone says no of course. I rip some up...no reaction. Then I pull out a real $100 bill and rip it up into eight pieces. The kids freak out. ( I save the pieces and turn them in for a new bill later) Then I explain to the kids that the only difference between Monopoly and "real" money is a shared delusion. I pass around a silver certificate and a gold certificate and discuss fiat currency. Some of the kids never get the message, but a few do...

rhhardin said...

"Okay," is adopting a manspaining attitude. Actual knowledge is not usual, however.

Actual mansplainers do it out of interest in stuff they know.

What's feigned is that interest, which is why there's a the lack of knowledge.

n.n said...

Bitcoin is a transactional media that has no intrinsic value, backed by the full faith and credit of an individual or minority. Its security comes from the community which regulates auditing and distribution.

rhhardin said...

Currency isn't wealth. It looks like it to an individual, but it's not.

It's a ticket in line to say what the economy does next, presumably something for you.

The Fed creates and extinguishes these tickets all the time, so that the number of tickets matches what the economy is capable of doing at once.

All that's needed for it to be such a ticket is that everybody accepts it or you can exchange it for something they do accept.

That's what has to back it. Since the government accepts its currency for paying taxes you owe, you always need some. That's the foot in the door of certainty.

David said...

Here's hoping you are correct that all you need to know about bitcoin is zero.

That's what a lot of people thought about collateralized mortgage debt pools.

David said...

I like that teaching style, Gahrie.

David said...

"Except, like, tulip bulbs could be planted after the bubble burst. Whaddya gonna do with a virtually worthless Bitcoin?"

The tulip bubble involved contracts for delivery at a price. Actually possession of tulip bulbs was not required in order to play.

rcocean said...

I don't know anything about Bitcoin - and I never will.

And I'm happy about that.

rcocean said...

Its obvious that a small group of people are jacking up the price in order to make a killing.

Its like penny stock. And not subject to SEC "insider trading" regulation.

Lem said...

One of the top WIRED most read stories of 17 was about a guy who couldn’t remember his password to $30,000 locked in his computer.

Crippling crypto.

rehajm said...

This is a major focus of the Economics class i teach in high school.

First I'm thrilled economics is being taught in high school at all in this day and age. I learned over Christmas my niece is taking a high school econ class and LOVES it!...

I love the students' reaction to fiat money. For me what is even more shocking is the nearly universal human acceptance of fiat money and that it is not even a relatively modern concept.

I bet Rai stones will really freak the kids out!

rehajm said...

There's a Wired UK story about the guy who has 7,500 Bitcoins on a hard drive he threw away, but is sifting through the garbage dump to find it. It's worth over $109 Million at the moment...

Ralph L said...

I think all I actually need to know about Bitcoin is nothing
The Dutch Empire is too busy digging up tulip bulbs to eat to reply to you.

Humperdink said...

Bitcoin reminds me of the investor who searches out Ponzi schemes. You know, the promise of the usual 50% (or more!!!!) return on your money in a short time. He gets in early and gets out early. Takes his 50% and never looks back.

Gabriel said...

@Tim at large: but think about it like chips at a casino. What intrinsic value do they have?

Fat Tony owns the casino that issues the chips. When he and his goons come around your business, they pay for what they take with chips, which can be redeemed at his casino for food, drinks, or cash--cash that was spent there by people who bought chips, probably people from out of town.

But you and all the other locals who pay Fat Tony for protection might well use these chips as currency if there's a lot of them around.

The difference between Fat Tony and a modern government, is that Fat Tony does not accept his protection racket payments in the form of chips, he takes it from your till in the form of cash. When Fat Tony's racket gets big enough, he might be willing to do all his business in the form of chips, since he can issue them when he wants, and if all the businesses he deals with to support his lifestyle accept his chips than what does he need cash for? At that point Fat Tony is a government, economically speaking.



Gabriel said...

Bitcoin, on the other hand, is more like the Rai stones rehajm mentioned. Bitcoins carry their oral history with them, that documents who owned what coin when and to whom they traded it. Like the Rai stones, they are difficult to make. Like the Rai stones, physical possession of them is not needed, because it's the documentation that establishes possession (some of them are at the bottom of the ocean, yet they have a legal owner and may be traded).

"In 1871, the Irish-American David Dean O'Keefe was shipwrecked near Yap and was helped by the natives. Later, he assisted the Yapese in acquiring rai and in return received copra and trepang, which were valuable exports in the Far East. O'Keefe provided the Yapese with iron tools. As a result, a form of inflation set in and rai stones acquired with his help were less valuable than more ancient ones." Which is why Bitcoin is "mined" by solving difficult computations.

CuznDon said...

Bitcoin Commercial: What Is It and How Does It Work? on late night / funny https://youtu.be/aeMv9uKpAZg via @YouTube

stlcdr said...

Reminds me of people buying Facebook stock as if it has value.

Currency, be it dollars, gold or dirt, only has value if one is willing to give you something of value for it, and visa versa. People tend to over complicate currency. It’s simply an intermediatary for trancing something of worth for something else of worth; for example, trading a chicken for a Mercedes.

These bitcoin people focus on the technical aspects of it (and the anonymous aspect, but they are trying to argue that’s a feature, not a bug) when all they are really saying is you you can’t forge bitcoins, like you can potentially forge dollar bills as if that’s a major problem for currencies.

One of the other issues is that it’s being treated in some areas as an investment -get rich quick - commodity, rather than a currency. You can’t have both.