Why Cryptocurrency is here to stay

Why Cryptocurrency is Here to Stay
Yes, it’s insane — but compared to what?

We can call it now; cryptocurrency is absolutely a part of our collective weird future, best to try to learn at least something about it now. Me, I’m trying to get over whatever you’d call post-FOMO, like I absolutely did miss out despite knowing about it well in advance. I remember reading papers about “bitcoin” and bitcoin-like tech IN COLLEGE. Woops.

Anyway, for context. For some time, and this still may be true, in certain countries it was profitable enough to play online-games for in-game “gold” to be traded to others over the Internet, even if there was no official market for doing so. That’s COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS and also quite sufficient to tell you that this stuff has a big future.

Couple this with the whole, undeniable, “The rich are getting richer” thing, which has well reached utterly *stupid* proportions. Absurd statistics on this abound – what, all Americans could get $3000 from the billionaires and still be richer than pre-pandemic? Perhaps one of the most telling things is watching our only human billionaire, Mackenzie Bezos, frantically try to give it away and can’t seem to fast enough.

So then. What happens in history is the stuff of government nightmares — when the main “money” is unable to do its job (which is to more or less be the lube of society, enabling actions and transactions and such) people begin to figure out ways to get things done amongst themselves with their own ways of trading.  (I have it on good authority that this is what Jesus flipped the tables over. I’m not kidding, but also I haven’t looked it up because I’m busy.)

To be fair: sometimes the society can’t figure out how to make this happen and you get inflation, but I’m relatively confident America isn’t this type at this stage. We are far too hustly to simply accept the idea that we can’t spend money, even if we don’t have it. We’ll make it, or use something else.

Like the weird Bitcoin thing. We mostly know about it, right? It’s a big bittorrented list of slot machine pulls and what people did after they “won” the pulls.  Yay me, I pulled 0000, now I will write down on the list that I gave half to you, and you can go give it to other people as well, and it will all be written down on the list.

Weird, but no weirder than soft useless yellow metal or dirty green pieces of paper. Some of the same characteristics, again, the biggest draw being that — no one can centrally know how much yellow metal is out there, but there’s not too much. Also, no one can watch all the dirty green pieces of paper.  With the Bitcoin (but actually perhaps not with some of the others) we can all see the list, but it’s not names, just numbers, and they can get lost in the wash, especially if you’re careful.

There is a question as to which of the cryptos will be the big one(s) we actually use as currency. Bitcoin has a big advantage as being the first, but it’s a bit clunky. Ethereum is basically second, and it better *works* as something like this, and also people are hacking it to do other things, like “contracts” and whatnot. And there are a ton of others as well, a whole lot of well meaning ones, a whole lot of stupid ones, a whole lot of utter scams, and everything in between.

True, we are still firmly in “lots of scams” mode (and I confess, I’m having some fun poking around in this space just to see what the hell is going on) but yeah, this stuff is in it for the long haul, it’s just too useful. More to come…

If you hate ‘cancel culture,’ you should LOVE Critical Race Theory

First off, cancel culture is just culture. True, many people are getting postponed, but very few are actually cancelled.

THAT BEING SAID, I too have a problem with how we do the conversation about “past racist behavior,” because it can be reactionary and unhelpful, and might I provide a solution.

Critical Race Theory.

As with many hot academic topics, CRT has likely hit that point at which developing a clear and concise definition is impossible, as it simply fits the intended mold of whoever’s talking about it. But the following idea I think sticks regardless.

For a good bit of this nation’s history, racism isn’t best viewed as an aberration from the norm; but as the norm itself; a cursory look at both laws and practices make this abundantly clear, and so now it is incumbent upon educators to oppose whitewashing and to tell this story honestly.

The problem. Often this: White person is found to have done or said racist things in the past, and as a result “cancellation,” whatever that entails. Frequently, if not always, this happens *despite* the other good deeds the person has been involved with since then. The subtext here is the implication that said white person was somehow “very willing” and “uniquely racist.” But, as Criticial Race Theory (or any black person who’s been through a sufficient number of metaphorical rodeos) will tell you — most of the time, nah, that’s just how things, and how people, were.

Not to excuse it entirely, of course — just the opposite. One most hold the “entire past” accountable in a productive way. And I’m not exactly sure what that way is — but I can tell you that what it isn’t is easily getting worked up over “sinning” individuals. It was healthy to have the conversation and good to bring up; but I think the pattern can be seen now.

Most of the time attacking that sort of person (especially when their “sins” are more incidental and cosmetic) isn’t serving justice; it’s providing momentary distraction and fodder for the right — something hot and unimportant to misdirect from much more pressing present issues — or worse, we get tricked into harming people who help us.

So yes, bring on the CRT, please.

Why is Videoconferencing such a mess?

You know the story; it’s the last day of class and the kids are excited to say their goodbyes and such. Some quirk happens and now all is chaos because control of the room has switched to one of the students, who has very little interest in anything besides CHAOS.

What we’re not going to do is blame the teachers here. What we absolutely are going to do is blame the creators — or more accurately, the pushers of the software; because they’re the ones pushing half-baked products out of the door onto us with little consideration or consent.

(As I write this, this is the first time I’ve used the phrase “pushers” here, but the more I think about it it’s absolutely perfect. As the old joke goes, there are only two industries that refer to the customers as users.)

The Big Z (yes, I’m starting to think I need to oddly censor here since I’ve started to push some of this stuff to social media) is probably our biggest offender. Like most widespread big time software projects, they start off with a good product for a particular use (here, small deeply hierarchal work meetings ) and then end up forcing it to goop out into other services and purposes that it is not well suited for (here, most everything else).

The thing with software and software-like services: Often, you can observe a phenomenon where a business can sign big contracts and get comfy– and service suffers as a result.  What’s remarkable in this realm; it happens in “internet-time,” nearly instantly.

The OTHER thing:  Software, having such low marginal and structural costs is *theoretically* always competitive — more specifically, for every bit of software like this, there are always quite a few competitors out there, and the others are better.

This is where it is actually fruitful to pay attention to your classic economics ideas about laziness and competition;  if you want to find quality software products; look to the situations which naturally weed out companies that are given the opportunity to slack through their guaranteed clients (pun somewhat intended?)  My go-to example is Discord; it got big through videogaming, which a moment’s thought will reveal is an *excellent* filter. While people might be forced to use other services through work or school and such — most everyone on Discord is there because they want to be, on their free time.

What to do? It’s tough, but a first start is to just look around, ask questions, push back if you can. There are lots of great alternatives ready to go.  An example, my go-to for quick setup is Jitsi, though that too is just one of many.