A real world use case for cryptocurrency exchanges

February 13, 2018 § 24 Comments

Every real world economy is filled with real people, and there are all kinds of people in the world. There are always criminals, grifters, scammers, market manipulators, thieves, frauds, and tax evaders.  There are always financially ignorant monomaniacal idealists: people who don’t grasp the difference between reality and their beloved simulations and fictions; people who believe that messy human authority and fallibility can be dispensed with and replaced by machines. There are always substantial numbers of naive gamblers and bagholders, lured into getting fleeced by their own avarice and ignorance.

Cryptocurrency exchanges may represent a natural economic evolution, nature’s way of attracting many of these elements out of the real economy and into a buggy, hackable, scammable, get-rich-quick speculative open source video game.

You can think of cryptocurrency exchanges as a heat sink.  A heat sink is a large thermal mass which carries destructive waste heat away from the parts of a system where that waste heat can do harm.

Cryptocurrency exchanges are like a heat sink, except for stupidity and vice rather than heat: they are economic stupidity-and-vice sinks.  The real economy is doing very well at present, despite what is technically a very long running bull market.  I wonder if that isn’t at least in part because a lot of the insanity which typically accompanies bull markets has voluntarily walled itself off in its own video game world.  A lot of the craziness that we saw in the dot com era has literally locked itself away from reality inside an electricity-wasting computer game, at a cost of less than six billion dollars taken out of circulation.

Some people predict that the price of cryptocurrencies will soon go to zero; that they will shortly be left behind in the dustbin of financial history.  Personally I have my doubts.  I think society produces enough stupidity and graft to keep cryptocurrencies running indefinitely.  They may well stick around for a long time, as the economy’s evolved way of avoiding sepsis from what amounts to an intestinal blockage of greed and stupidity.

 

Believe the man, not the woman

January 29, 2018 § 43 Comments

When a man and a woman meet privately they often come away giving different accounts, to the rest of us, of what happened in the encounter.

When this sort of “he said, she said” situation arises the important thing is to believe the man, not the woman; at least according to recent critics of Christendom College who favor a gossip-based approach to justice over an evidence-based approach.

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(HT Ian).

Free speech means editing my comments

August 19, 2017 § 50 Comments

Just for the record.

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UPDATE:  I cropped the screen grab in a bit to make it more readable.

UPDATE 2: Two days in, all of my chopped up and modified comments have now been deleted from the Orthosphere thread, and from the earlier “PC” post. Comments are (hilariously) closed on the Free Speech post.

They hate us for our unicorns

July 8, 2017 § 99 Comments

Define “unicorns” to be certain things we like about the politics of Country A, and only those things.

Define “not unicorns” to be certain things we don’t like about the politics of Country B, and only those things.

Declare that because “unicorns” as we have defined the term is perfectly coherent, a philosophy of government which pursues unicorns is perfectly coherent.

Declare that mass murder committed in Country A is not the result of pursuit of unicorns, even though the people committing the mass murder explicitly rationalize it by appealing to the pursuit-of-unicorns principle.

Have a good cry when Zippy points out that there are no unicorns.

Isn’t nominalism fun?

A journalistic own goal

November 22, 2016 § 13 Comments

Apparently top media executives and media personalities were invited to an off the record meeting with the President Elect.  In this off the record meeting the President Elect accused them of being unethical liars.  They proceeded to prove his point by publishing stories about the off the record meeting.

You should hear what the voices sound like _inside_ my head

October 27, 2016 § 9 Comments

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They are lighting their Arrow’s theorem

October 24, 2016 § 72 Comments

Critics of democracy sometimes point to Arrow’s Theorem as demonstration that it is rationally impossible in principle for any kind of democratic process to produce good political results.  That isn’t precisely correct: what Arrow’s theorem demonstrates isn’t that democracy cannot produce good results.  What it demonstrates is that democracy cannot produce results that anybody wants: Arrow’s theorem pertains to the achievement and ranking of preferences, not the achievement and ranking of objective goods.

One of the superficial objections that comes up from time to time is that in our elections we do not rank and choose policies: we rank and choose representatives.  But it does not follow that therefore Arrow’s theorem does not apply.  What follows is that no democratic process can successfully select representatives that we prefer from the available choices.

Reality seems to agree with Arrow’s theorem, if you observe the representatives we actually get.  Whether or not some technical objections to the application of Arrow’s theorem obtain here and there, the overwhelming empirical confirmation is difficult to deny.

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