No, I did not randomly get $80,000 worth of bitcoin sent to me. This phishing attempt wasn’t sent to me at all. A client got this text message and sent me a screenshot not knowing what to do. Not surprisingly, malicious actors are targeting potential Coinbase users, to serve them a fake login, take their credentials, and steal their crypto candy.
Don’t falling for this,
Don’t assume you would never be the recipient of Bitcoin accidentally.
Don’t keep your funds on an exchange, use a hardware wallet like Ledger.
And don’t click bunk links sent from unknown numbers.
The First Amendment does not require Berkeley to protect Robles against the actions of others.
I found that this quote was used in several articles relating to the #MiloAtCal situation in Berkeley. After reading this, I have to ask myself if any of us understand what free speech means.
This post is my strongest effort to be as sober and moderate as possible in attempting to understand the concept of free speech.
Its my understanding that free speech is the government protected right that allows all individuals to express themselves freely, without government interference. It’s the mechanism by which the people, and our culture, decides which direction progress is.
Here I’m going to make a serious attempt to address the arguments against free speech, and what the reasonable limits of free speech should be.
Act 1, Scene 1 - Where is it Written?
The First Amendment as it reads,
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
The perspective I hear from liberals is that conservatives have weaponized the free speech.
That free speech is specifically the standard which allows individuals to express themselves without government interference.
Liberals claim to believe that free speech doesn’t apply to private companies, social media, or people universities campuses.
I can’t imagine any of them really believe this. Since it is a long cry away from Mario Savio’s Free Speech movement, “To me, freedom of speech is something that represents the very dignity of what a human being is. . . .”
But let’s walk down this road and see where it goes.
Act 1, Scene 2 - Who is The Government?
In the United States, most public universities are state universities founded and operated by state government entities. Public universities generally rely on subsidies from their respective state government. They are treated as state entities for tax purposes. And even though the word “education” doesn’t appear in the U.S. Constitution, we have The United States Department of Education, a Cabinet-level department of the United States government executive branch.
Since the Fourteenth Amendment, the first amendment has been enforceable against the states and not just the federal government.
Still, the government is an abstraction of documents, buildings, and the people that compose it. So who exactly is the government?
Is it federal and state employees? Is it professors employed by a state university? Is it Trump criticizing journalists on Twitter?
It depends on your perspective.
Act 1, Scene 3 - At Universities, Who is it for?
The ACLU and Fire are organizations that defend free speech rights on college campuses. They list a number of cases in the supreme court that have settled the fact that the First Amendment applies on the public university campus as law. Two of the five cases provided by Fire are instances that protect professors, three out of five cases protect left-leaning communist groups, and one reinforced protection for a religious student group.
Theoretically, free speech is for everyone: professors, students, communists, and religious fundamentalists.
But Trump supporters?
Act 2, Scene 1 - The Hecklers Veto
The First Amendment does not require the government to provide a platform for anyone. The government is only prohibited from discriminating against speech on the basis of the speaker’s viewpoint. The Supreme Court requires the government to provide substantial justification for the interference with the right of free speech where it attempts to regulate the content of the speech.
The problem is, when police are faced with the choice of protecting speakers or going down with them, it can always be viewed as the police taking sides.
If the police protect the speaker it is viewed as supporting their speech.
In the opposing view, if the police shut down the speaker, fail to protect them, they’re viewed as siding with the hostile mob.
To what extent are the actions of a hostile mob allowed to interfere with constitutional rights?
There is no easy solution to the problem of the hostile audience. How much money is too much money to spend on defending a culture of free speech?
Act 2, Scene 2 - How Hostile is too Hostile?
What is the price of order?
There has to be some limit, otherwise every person shouting obscenities would demand protection from the mob they provoked. When rioters hit the streets of Berkeley, police had to be pulled in from other districts in northern California. The cost of defending far right-wing provocateurs is not sustainable.
That’s one argument that became the focal point of contention from the staff at DailyCal.org and Berkeleyside that year following the Free Speech week and Ben Shapiro events on UC Berkeley campus.
Still, it’s not obvious to me that price should be the primary concern here. In the case of “slut walks“, the argument of feminists has been that under no circumstance is it ever okay to violate a woman’s free speech or freedom of expression. When it comes to a woman walking in public every arm of the government should be levied to protect women no matter how they want to express themselves sexually.
The first amendment doesn’t read, “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, unless it’s too expensive to protect peaceful protesters from a violent mob.”
By being hostile enough, rioters can use the arm of the law to silence any speaker of whom they don’t approve of.
Alternatively, we can ask the same question another way.
What is the most hostile mob the government is not able to protect against?
If the government supports free speech and by extension the speaker, it is in the government’s interest to continue to protect the speaker at all costs and disincentivize violent protesters in the future.
If the government does not support the speaker, and by extension free speech, it is in the government’s interest to spend as much as possible not protecting the speaker and demonstrate an insurmountable cost while simultaneously discouraging that kind of speech because of the violence that is incited by it.
The more hostile the mob, the more expensive it is for the police. By claiming insurmountable costs, we incentivize violent protesters to shut down any speech they disagree with.
And this is what I believe happened at UC Berkeley.
Act 3, Scene 1 - UC Berkeley, Prove it.
Professor Robert M. O’Neil has said:
The ultimate issue has never been decided in any court. That is if the speaker is perfectly willing to risk injury or even death, as the price of going on, do the police have the power to protect him by cutting him off when they cannot ensure his safety by controlling the crowd?’
What constitutes reasonable efforts to protect free speech?
This is obviously an extreme example. And I’m not acting as if the university ought to call out the armed guards, although administrators on campus might be acting that way.
In the case of Antifa, we’re not dealing with an armed militia. We’re dealing with passionately confused teenagers.
In clothes their parents bought them, attending one of the most, if not the most prestigious public universities in the country. If the police can’t protect against them who can they protect against?
What would demonstrate a reasonable effort to protect free speech?
Prevention: allow the event to be held in the day & enforce a no mask policy.
Consequence: create a policy that states: students who are found violently protesting will be suspended, expelled, and the standard adult criminal charges will apply.
Did they do either of these things? No. The university out right refused to do so.
Free speech is the mechanism by which we orient ourselves in the world, and it is the function of the government to preserve that tool, to safeguard it from angry mobs, and its use as a political tactic.
I believe that free speech should exist on university campuses, I’m not claiming that it doesn’t but I’m saying it should.
I believe that it would be in the best interest of the students, community, and country at large to do so.
I believe that it is the responsibility of the institution to demonstrate that they’ve done their best effort in defending opposing political views fairly.
I believe that spending in the short term will reduce spending in the long term by discouraging heckler’s veto and hypersensitivity to ideas in the long term.
I believe that doing this would make for a less politically correct but ultimately more sane political climate.
Most importantly, I believe that any attempt by the government to cite cost in protecting free speech should be viewed with extreme skepticism. It is their first most important and primary function, to protect all speech in service in the ascertainment of truth.
Especially on University campuses, and even for Trump supporters.
Ackoffs problem-solving approach is about asking why instead of how.
From this video alone I made the shift from thinking “things” as static objects to thinking about things as systems. Then I applied the mental model to the Bitcoin Systems-Thinking approach.
The first thing people do when they want to learn about Bitcoin (or any complex system) is they rush into taking it apart. They think they need to learn how to code or learn elliptic curve math. It’s not a terrible way to waste your time, but unless you’re willing to spend 5+ years on the subject it’s not going to get very close to the target.
Systems can’t be understood by taking them apart.
The book is a beautiful collection of stories, like the ones in this video that get you to think bigger, more creatively, and develop more robust mental models to better visualize the assumptions you’re making about perceived problems and solutions.
In the future, you’ll be resurrected from the data dump from your social media posts. The superficial selfies, the iconic cynicism, your post-cool hipster nihilism. You’ll be used an NPC character to advance the storyline, and determine if any protagonists were playing in this world.
Someone asks, “What was the price of your freedom?”
You’re conscious but you have no agency, no purpose, or abilty roll your eyes.
These are a few questions to test for consciousness and free will in a human:
What do you value?
What do you do with your money?
What is the price of your freedom?
I can’t even ask what you’ve done with your freedom because most of you have never bought it yet. You serve in The Empire of Comfort, stacking pillows, playing dress up with your collection of masks.
The average life of a slave is so “good,” the only contrast exists in envy.
Hate Mondays, wish it was Friday. Hate your body, wish you had a better one. Hate your car, wish you had theirs. Wishing is for whim worshipers.
I write about Bitcoin because I believe it is a tool for freedom.
Freedom to do what? Freedom is just the first step in building the new empire.
My mission is to destroy illusions and see in raw vision.
The only two things that are truly scarce in the world are Bitcoin and time.
This man is a carnivorous beast. The Bitcoin Standard by Saifedean Ammous is the standard for Bitcoin/Economics books.
If you’re new to Bitcoin or The Austrian School of economics, The Bitcoin Standard is the tool for understanding the industry from the perspective of some of its most ardent believers. If you’re a student of the Austrian School already, there is more to learn still. Most notably is the idea of how money relates to your personal time preference.
It’s no secret that modern societies are built on credit, low interest rates, and a regularly printed currency to keep the masses spending. But what people don’t realize is the effect cheap money has on them. Fiat money is turning wolves into sheep. This is the single frame of mind that makes the book so eye-opening for me.
Everyone is fixated on working for the weekend, the next iPhone, or the next vacation. And why not? Why save money when you’re holding money that is worth less in ten years than it is now, why save it? The incentive of fiat money tilts users towards spending now and selling the future of the present.
Cheap money, and cheap souls; the psychological significance of cheap money, is the weakness of the modern era.
I’ve said it before. Money is an economic container for time. And you’ve been sold a leaky bag. Bitcoin and other hard forms of money is one cure. When you hold real assets, you go from the consumer to the investor mindset. The perspective shift happens goes from short-term thinking to longer-term thinking, to generational thinking, and lasting wealth.
People get the general idea that, “if decentralization is the key property of the blockchain we ought to measure it, so we can compare decentralization across chains.”
You’ll see people try and measure decentralization in two ways:
Failed Attempt #1: People try to measure the number of full nodes running in a geographical area.
Another measure of decentralization is to determine what the node distribution is across countries for Bitcoin and Ethereum.
The data shows that the Ethereum nodes are both in the latency space, and also geographically more distributed round the world. Ethereum nodes tend to come from all sorts of places, smaller networks, and homegrown entities, as opposed to Bitcoin nodes, which tend to be located in data centres.
The number of nodes in the network don’t meaningfully add to network propagation or decentralization. The only full node that matters is your own. Even if the number of full nodes mattered, you can’t count them and you can’t prove where they’re running from.
Failed Attempt #2: People make ‘feel good’ pie charts to show how distributed the hashrate of any given network is.
You can’t prove who is really mining on what pool.
It’s true that centralization of hashrate can increase your risk of censorship on the blockchain. The problem with this is that all identifiable information that people use to measure hashrate on miners is self-reported and can easily be faked.
Decentralization may be the most important feature of Bitcoin, and there is no empirical way to measure it.
The lack of trust required or the “trustlessness” of the blockchain is a common way to tell the story of Bitcoins architecture. People hear that there is “no trust required in Bitcoin” or that the “blockchain is redefining trust” and they freak out. And reasonably so, because trust is the basis of every business relationship. Trust itself is the currency of business. The concept of trust in this context is seriously misunderstood.
Decentralization is the property that allows you to use Bitcoin without having to trust a third party like banks or payment processors.
Removing the requirement of trust in favor of decentralization is the most dangerous feature of Bitcoin.
Heard this way, decentralization is “anti-social, stupid and immoral,” as Charlie Munger has said of Bitcoin.
Decentralized in a computer science term, meaning that the system can operate with the information from different points. Instead of framing the discussion in terms of trust, another way to frame decentralization is from the perspective of reliance or power.
Framed this way, decentralization is the removal of a central power. It’s the shift from relying on those in power to relying entirely on yourself. Centralization comes with censorship-risk, seize-ability, freeze-ability. These are all versions of a similar thing, the power to get in between you and your funds.
A decentralized currency is protected against inflation and seize-ability.
A decentralized payment platform is protected against censorship and payment freezes.
The value of Bitcoin is not in the decentralization itself, but in the emergent properties of decentralization.
In Bitcoin, the property of unseizeability is enforced with direct ownership of your private key.
The property of censorship-resistance is enforced with a decentralized distribution of hash power.
Bitcoin is a vehicle for your individual freedom.
In modern democratic governments the people these properties protects might be whistleblowers or foreign dissidents. In more totalitarian governments the users it protects might be sex workers, porn stars, or average citizens.
Historically, governments, corporations, or other large, faceless organizations have used their power to get in between users and access to their funds. The ability for third parties to seize assets guarantees that it will occur. Bitcoin is a tool for circumventing moralizing centralized powers, protecting individual privacy, and resisting censorship at large.
Bitcoin’s decentralization removes centralized power structures, by shifting the associated responsibilities on to the individual. Part of that responsibility are localized costs. Mining burns resources, running a full node costs money, and key management can be the users biggest burden. Decentralization makes people self-reliant, not anti-social.
Your seat in The Decentralized Empire will not be tokenized on some cheap app.
Everyone whats to run and go do something ”blockchainy,” or live in a world of ÐApps. But how many of those people have run a full node?
Finder published that nearly 8% of Americans own Bitcoin. (The number seems high to me, but if its close..) With 327,000,000 Americans, that makes 26,200,000 Bitcoin users, and a high estimate of 8000 running full nodes, at most only 3% of Bitcoin users are running full nodes.
What is a node?
In computer science, a node is a basic unit used to represent a device, a personal computer, a phone, or generic machine that connects to the larger network. In Bitcoin, any computer that connects to the network is a node. Nodes that fully verify all of the rules of system are called full nodes.
When people are new to Bitcoin and looking to “join” the network in some way, the tenancy for them is to focus on mining. For the obvious reason that miners get paid to mine. People vastly underestimate the work involved in mining, and overestimate its profitability. The result is that most people who try at mining fail. Still the allure of mining overshadows running a full node, and most don’t even consider it a possibility.
Why don’t people run full nodes?
People don’t understand their power. They run after shiny objects like mining bitcoin or the “decentralized appstore” in other parts of the blockchainy industry.
A mistake even high profile experts make, is to think the number of nodes some how adds to decentralization, which is misguided for a number of reasons. Nodes don’t meaningfully contribute to the decentralization of Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency. What people don’t understand is that nodes serve their operator more than the network.
Nodes are misrepresented in a number of ways. People believe that running a full node relies on altruistic do gooders, or that its too difficult for most people to do themselves. No one is expecting grandma to run a full node, but its not beyond the reach of anyone seriously interested in using Bitcoin to its full capacity.
You can look at nodes in two ways: how node serves the system, and how your node serves you.
Nodes as Consensus Validators and Payment Broadcasters
Full nodes are servers that propagate transactions through out the network and validate consensus rules. When a transaction is made from a node, it checks it against the rules of the network, chooses a subset of eight nodes its connected to and propagates the transaction throughout the network.
But instead of thinking about full nodes as consensus validators and payment broadcasters in the system you can think of them as your vehicle to validate and broadcast transactions yourself.
Full Nodes as Your Seat in The Decentralized Empire
Your full node is key to unlocking the properties of privacy and trustlessness within the system. Its a tool for you to seize a seat in the decentralized empire.
The unique property of full nodes are that if you run your own, Bitcoins properties of greater security and privacy are transferred to you directly. Build the blockchain up from the genesis block, validate transactions on your hardware, and live as an autonomous ruler in the decentralized empire.