Crypto revealed

• This is a nice interview of UC-Berkeley computer researcher Nicholas Weaver in Current Affairs.  He does a pointedly humorous takedown of what he labels “a giant self-assembled Ponzi scheme. You hear about people making money in Bitcoin or cryptocurrency. They only make money because some other sucker lost more.


So the stock market and the bond market are a positive-sum game. There are more winners than losers. Cryptocurrency starts with zero-sum. So it starts with a world where there can be no more winning than losing. We have systems like this. It’s called the horse track. It’s called the casino. Cryptocurrency investing is really provably gambling in an economic sense. And then there’s designs where those power bills have to get paid somewhere. So instead of zero-sum, it becomes deeply negative-sum.

Effectively, then, the economic analogies are gambling and a Ponzi scheme. Because the profits that are given to the early investors are literally taken from the later investors. This is why I call the space overall, a “self-assembled” Ponzi scheme. There’s been no intent to make a Ponzi scheme. But due to its nature, that is the only thing it can be.

2022-05-17T17:06:55-05:00May 17th, 2022|HomeRecommended|

Linda Greenhouse weighs in on the infamous leak

• Yet another masterful analysis by the wonderful (and incomparable) Linda Greenhouse, writing in the NYT; Justice Alito’s Invisible Women. A pertinent excerpt:

“In the wake of the mortifying breach that the leak represents, there has been much talk of the Supreme Court’s “legitimacy.” The court has a problem, no doubt, one that barriers of unscalable height around its building won’t solve. But if a half-century of progress toward a more equal society, painstakingly achieved across many fronts by many actors, can be so easily jettisoned with the wave of a few judicial hands, the problem to worry about isn’t the court’s. It’s democracy’s. It’s ours.”


2022-05-06T11:56:59-05:00May 6th, 2022|HomeRecommended|

As the world burns…


This time-lapse video captured by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite shows the white plumes of wildfires burning in northern New Mexico fueled by extreme drought and high winds, along with the brownish cloud of a haboob (dust storm caused by high winds) blowing south from Colorado.

2022-05-04T18:39:01-05:00May 4th, 2022|HomeRecommended|

Yes, I agree with Tom Friedman again

Tom Friedman, writing in the NY Times, I think has it right when he argues that the US ought to be more circumspect when speaking publicly about the war in Ukraine.  An excerpt:

“Our goal began simple and should stay simple: Help Ukrainians fight as long as they have the will and help them negotiate when they feel the time is right — so they can restore their sovereignty and we can reaffirm the principle that no country can just devour the country next door. Freelance beyond that and we invite trouble.”

2022-05-04T14:29:32-05:00May 4th, 2022|Home, Musings|

Unsettling SCOTUS leak

Absent the draft in a wartime footing, I can’t imagine the Supreme Court would ever consider forcing men to choose an option with 10-15 times the mortality risk to them of another option (as is the case in term pregnancy versus legal elective abortion). Yikes.  And to these eyes, Alito’s logic seems extremely flawed, e.g.:

“And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”

Um, what does he think having half the states outlawing abortion and half allowing it is likely to do to deepening national division, with a resultant crazy quilt of varying laws and some states already wanting to criminalize anyone merely assisting someone seeking an abortion?

It is odd to me that his arguments totally ignore the fact that in survey after survey, an overwhelming majority of Americans favor allowing at least some form of legal pregnancy termination.

Even Bret Stevens acknowledges “You may reason, justices, that by joining Justice Alito’s opinion, you will merely be changing the terms on which abortion issues get decided in the United States. In reality, you will be lighting another cultural fire — one that took decades to get under control — in a country already ablaze over racial issues, school curriculums, criminal justice, election laws, sundry conspiracy theories and so on….A court that betrays the trust of Americans on an issue that affects so many, so personally, will lose their trust on every other issue as well.”

Gotta love the fact that Mitch McConnell said the person responsible for the leak should face criminal charges, but would not vote to impeach DJT, who willfully and clearly attempted to subvert the results of a legitimately held presidential election and supported an insurrection.

2022-05-03T16:51:40-05:00May 3rd, 2022|Home, Musings|
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