The final week of my annual February birthday month fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black has begun. I continue to be overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, including numerous donations and a surge of new subscribers willing to commit to donating anywhere from $2 to $25 per month. Wow! The numbers are too many to send out individual thank you’s, so please forgive me for thanking you all with this one announcement.


The campaign however must go on, especially because I have added more regular features to my daily workload. In addition to my daily never-ending reporting on space exploration and science, my regular launch reports, my monthly sunspot updates, the regular cool images, and the evening pauses I post each evening, I have now added a daily weekday post I have entitled "Today's blacklisted American." Its goal is not to discuss policy or politics, but to note the endless examples occurring across the United States where some jack-booted thug or thugs think it is proper and acceptable to censor, blackball, cancel, and destroy an innocent American, merely because that American has expressed or holds an opinion or is of a race or religion that is no longer considered acceptable to the dominant leftist and bigoted culture. I want to make clear to every American that a large number of your fellow citizens no longer believe in the enlightened concept of freedom of speech or the idea of treating each person by the quality of their character.


Instead, they wish to shut you up, and oppress you if you happen to disagree with them or have the wrong skin color. This evil must be exposed.


To continue to do this into the foreseeable future however I need your support. If you are one of those millions who read Behind the Black each month, please consider donating or subscribing. Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

Bitcoin-type crypto-currencies slowing SETI search for ET

The mad craze for crypto-currencies like Bitcoin is actually slowing the ability of SETI to obtain the computer chips they need, thus preventing them from expanding their search for alien signals.

Seti (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) researchers want to expand operations at two observatories. However, they have found that key computer chips are in short supply. “We’d like to use the latest GPUs [graphics processing units]… and we can’t get ’em,” said Dan Werthimer.

Demand for GPUs has soared recently thanks to crypto-currency mining. “That’s limiting our search for extra-terrestrials, to try to answer the question, ‘Are we alone? Is there anybody out there?’,” Dr Werthimer told the BBC. “This is a new problem, it’s only happened on orders we’ve been trying to make in the last couple of months.”

Mining a currency such as Bitcoin or Ethereum involves connecting computers to a global network and using them to solve complex mathematical puzzles. This forms part of the process of validating transactions made by people who use the currency. As a reward for this work, the miners receive a small crypto-currency payment, making it potentially profitable.

Crypto-currencies like Bitcoin remind me of the tulip craze of the early 1800s. They have no real value, are not tied to any country and its wealth, and thus are essentially a speculator’s fantasy. A lot of people playing this game are going to be hurt by it eventually.

Posted from Modi’im Ilit, the West Bank. See this essay by me for some background about this place from my previous visits.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.


  • Localfluff

    Bitcoin (or any block-chain currency) fulfills most of not all of the requirements of a currency, of a money. Its value is peaking so dramatically because everyone worries that their old monies will become worthless any day now, as real value takes over. Monies is not a measurement. Monies are real physical assets, as in zeros and ones with the crypto variation, or gooold as in the historical version. Gold mining also had costs. The production and distribution of any good is costly, money is no exception.

    I prefer gooold but that’s because I’m conservative. I’m pretty sure that something digital will take over some day. And this is not a recommendation to by any of it, volatility is more that totally crazy. You might as well invest in a bet on the roulette wheel. But current fiat monies have so many problems that I think (and hope) that they will be replaced by private monies again. Historically private monies have been commonplace. The 20th century was the century of the despots and the central government. We’re in a new century now, or maybe rather back to the old order.

  • wayne

    At least with Tulip bulbs, they existed and you could plant them.

    not a metal-bug, but do love my Peace Dollars, Walking Liberty 50c, and Standing Liberty 25c, pieces.

    “the Bitcoin network is consuming power at an annual rate of 32TWh—about as much as Denmark. By the site’s calculations, each Bitcoin transaction consumes 250kWh, enough to power homes for nine days.”

    (there is a difference between ‘mining’ a ‘bitcoin’ vs processing a transaction using bitcoin, but the total electric consumption is ridiculous. And that’s not coming from windmills. In contrast, I believe, actually mining physical gold consumes something like 180kWh/ounce, but don’t quote me on that.)

  • Edward

    wayne is correct. After the bubble popped, those holding tulips had decorative, bizarre looking tulips.

    With bitcoin all you end up with is … actually, no one has been able to explain to me just what a bitcoin is (definitions always end up being circular), why it is unique, what use it has other than as currency, or even why it is useful as currency — apparently it cannot be easily transferred from one person to another, as its existence must be verified in some way.

    If it is slowing SETI, what other science and innovation is suffering in order for this mysterious coinage to exist? It looks like the cost of bitcoin is greater than expected, and greater than the cash and coins in my pocket.

  • Laurie

    Maybe the ETs are busy mining crypto-currencies as well …

  • Cotour

    “(definitions always end up being circular),”

    Bitcoin itself is circular, pier to pier transactions with a register of transactions that go along with it in each transaction. And round and round it goes.

    Eventually it will probably serve some monetary function but I am unable to see how it will function as a currency at the moment. Not that I am any kind of expert on the subject.

  • wodun

    Near as I can tell, crypto currencies use of blockchain is just a way to prevent theft, trace transactions, and easily transfer currency. But something is worth what someone is willing to pay, regardless of what you think of it. Crypto currencies, or virtual economies in general, aren’t just used as traditional money is but to also create a system of exchange with their own values.

    An easy example is video games. There used to be a huge grey market in selling virtual items from video games for real world money. But people would also sell items for in game money. That relationship is essentially a crypto like currency with a means of exchange into real world currency. Why would you spend real world money on a fancy mount in a video game? Because people want the status. Second life is a great example of how real world money intersects with virtual currencies.

    The value comes from the desires of people, not just supply. This is why physical products come at different prices and that even though it might cost a certain amount of money to make something, you wont necessarily find people willing to pay that price. Its also why some rare things have no value while other rare things have immense value. You can point out all of the different things that people view as creating value for products but it still comes down to their desire creating the value.

    This is where things take a slight detour. Crypto currencies back other token based exchange systems. Let’s say you are rewarded for watching adds with tokens that can then be used in a video game or group of games. That can be taken further and reward people for doing things with tokens that they can exchange for bitcoins or other goods and services. The reward might be small, virtual, or just an appeal to vanity but the work done can be significant.

    There was a space show episode where the guest talked about setting up a token based system to reward people for helping out with a research project. This can be used in a lot of different ways. It just comes down to offering something people desire or value or being able to attain those things with crypto currencies/tokens.

    I’m struggling a little here explaining it but to sum it up. It isn’t just about creating a virtual currency but also virtual markets as well. And its extra enticing if these virtual currencies and markets also exchange value with the real world.

  • wodun

    It’s my understanding the crypto mining has mostly moved beyond GPU’s and now use specialized chip set ups specifically for mining. I might be remembering that but I think that is the case.

    Is this a problem for Seti? No, it is actually a blessing. There are more people interested in crypto mining than there are in searching for aliens. This is driving technological advancement in the equipment used by Seti. All Seti needs to do is buy some mining rigs and by thankful that they get such specialized equipment for far cheaper than if they had to develop it on their own.

    Something else for Seti to consider is the arms race for more powerful mining rigs means there is a surplus of used equipment that can no longer mine crytpos efficiently and could be bought at a discount.

  • wayne

    Ref “mining:”
    -Bitcoins are created by the algorithm on a set-schedule and there is a finite number that will be allowed to exist. (it was 20 million, but I do not know anymore. And I believe a bitcoin unit can be subdivided into 1,000 units.)
    -Those newly created bitcoins are allocated to “miners” in direct proportion to the amount of computational work they perform.
    Ref “transactions:”
    -There is a surcharge applied to moving around bitcoins, and a surcharge to convert bitcoin, into another currency. People that perform that function are also performing computational work, and are remunerated in bitcoin and/or other forms of payment.
    -There are 2 “branches” of bitcoin; after that massive fraud a few years ago, they split off the block-chain into two different branches.

    In my view– this is all the height of made-up, phony-baloney, fiat, Vapor Money, of the highest order.

    (If that Ars Technia article is anywhere near close, “250kWh” per bitcoin is about $35 in electric cost.)

    In my opinion, the best form of untraceable-cash, is cash; small bills & American silver/gold coinage up to 1964.

    (One of my favorites, Peace Dollars; 90% silver, 10% copper, 0.77344 troy oz each.)

  • wayne

    These are some of the most beautiful coins we’ve ever made:

    “Walking Liberty” halve dollars
    (90/10 silver/copper, 0.36169 troy oz silver total)

  • Garry

    My greatest fear of cryptocurrencies is that one day one of them becomes universal, and the blockchain makes every transaction traceable, giving the New World Order government (or just the US government) complete knowledge of one’s purchases, thereby realizing an even more powerful police state. It’s not something I consider likely, but something to avoid.

  • Cotour


    Its exactly opposite of your fear as I understand it.

    The block chain is not controllable because it is pier to pier, the only ones concerned with the trans actions are the two participants. It is an anathema to a central banking system.

    If and when they figure out to do what you fear then it will be as you think, until then it will be wildly chaotic and mysterious to most.

  • ken anthony

    Currency is anything people will trade. At a border crossing the guards were alerted to a small time smuggler who would cross the border every day on his bicycle where they would strip search him each time looking for contraband but never found anything. It turns out he was smuggling bicycles.

    As Wodun points out, we just have to wait a bit for a supply of cheap powerful used graphics cards to flood the market. AMD has 2400g APU, but the Ryzen 5 is a better bet. Just put in a graphic card later for better performance and value.

  • Laurie

    The strength of SHA2 w.r.t quantum computing is dubious – this is why state-level actors will be moving to establish control over the digital ledgers, which are only “secure” as long as transaction finalization (mining) cannot be outpaced by a collective of antagonistic actors – but it will be before long.

    I anticipate the following:

    1. quantum based algorithms will demonstrate weaknesses in SHA-2 and other hash algorithms;
    2. bitcoin and other crypto-currencies will drop in value precipitously;
    3. international banking consortia will unveil a new, (super-) state backed currency;
    4. existing currencies will be redeemed at a fraction of their presumed value.

    Use of the new currency will be a de facto, and then a formal standard.

  • wodun

    Everyone see this one already? Russian nuclear scientists busted for trying to mine bitcoin with a supercomputer.

    Surely other people with access to high powered computers do the same. What is Watson up to when no one is looking?

  • Max

    Wikipedia says;
    The number of cryptocurrencies available over the internet as of 7 January 2018 is over 1384 and growing.

    Is very profitable right now to buy a super computer and put it to work mining bitcoins that will pay for the computer in a short time. Existing computers are being redirected for this purpose making SETI take a backseat.
    Here is an ad blocker that will drain your battery and make your computer run slow…

    We haven’t even touched the bitcoin wallets that allow you to perform your transactions. This will be the control mechanism in the future for governments to monitor your spending to heavily tax you. (Unless a highly incrypted conduit is created outside the current Internet like a space based satellite direct access system) (A space station or a moon base will probably be self-sufficient as a “Swiss type” New world order untouchable deposit reserve bank)
    It won’t be long until all currencies will be paperless, making our fake money more worthless than it already is. Trillions of dollars are created with the touch of a finger, they can be erased just as easily. Bitcoin’s also can be erased but they are harder to create therefore are worth more/trusted more. Until someone figures out a way to send gold and platinum through the phone line, bit coins are here to stay as the next best thing. In a world where personal bank accounts can be hacked, miss handled by the bank, identity theft, fake “power of attorney” over all your assets, or stolen by the government… This seems to be the preferred secure choice.

  • Cotour

    The Coming Financial Crisis: A Look Behind the Wizard’s Curtain: John Truman Wolfe

    “Is there really a Global Financial Ruler? One that dictates policy to the Central Banks of the world? Is there a Central Bank of central banks, that is senior to the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, the Bank of England and the other national banks that control interest rates, inflation, deflation, prosperity and depression? Such a bank not only exists, but John Truman Wolfe exposed this heretofore unseen hand in the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 and their plans for the next one. No “conspiracy theorist” Wolfe names names, dates, places and actions. If you have ever wanted to know who’s behind the Wizard’s curtain of international finance and how to protect yourself, start at page one. And make no mistake, the events of 2007 and 2008 were a prelude: The next crisis, Wolfe predicts, will take the “bail-ins” used in the economic meltdowns in Cyprus and Greece and apply them worldwide, leaving depositors and consumers holding the bag, yet again.”

    I listened to Mr. Wolf being interviewed last night, he expects financial disruption in America sometime in 2018 to the point where our central bank will have to request from the “International central bank” (I am still looking for information on this bank) in Switzerland for funding. I have to think that crypto currencies figure into this in some way. I have to think that crypto is not a desired form of currency unless the central banks can own or control it all.

    If true will these disruptions be the result of purposeful market manipulations designed to counter Trumps America centric moves against the “Globalist” / “Globalism” push which is well under way agenda realization?

    Why did Obama double Americas debt? If part of your job is to deliver America into the hands of the Globalists and their banking what better way to accomplish that assignment then by further bankrupting the entity?

    Is this is how much of a threat that Trump represents to this long invested in agenda?

  • wayne

    “Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, the ‘Bank for International Settlements’ (BIS) is a bank for central banks.”

  • wayne

    I should have added– it’s all fiat, pyramiding, of worth-less paper.
    As long as the Federal Reserve loves to expand the monetary-base into infinity, everyone else is happy to inflate along with us.

  • Cotour

    Thanks Wayne, I could not remember the name, I will further investigate it.

    Want to see how the real world is adapting to “crypto” / app currencies?

    Go to Venezuela who’s economy has been devastated by hyper inflation and see how the people are adapting, this may well be a real world, real time electronic currency / payment experiment.

  • wayne

    highly advise you check out ‘central banking,’ at, (for one.)
    start with this:

    The Corrupt Origins of Central Banking
    Professor Thomas DiLorenzo

    also highly recommend anything from Murray Rothbard on “banking.”

  • wayne

    here ya’ go:
    (free pdf, epub, or on-line version)

    The Mystery of Banking
    Murray Rothbard (mises institute)

  • Cotour


    I seem to remember something about America never having a central bank by some old guys that wrote some ideas down on some piece of paper many years ago.

  • pzatchok

    The new trick with crypto coins is that websites are now running algorithums on your computer to get around having adds.

    The problem is that this sometimes locks up the visitors computer using 1005 of their CPU time.

    When they can better regulate the amount of CPU a website visitor will give up to this scheem watch for it to start be added to vidio games.

    Just how many coins will a game maker “earn”? how about if they add in all those phone app games?

    Crypto curencies are just representations of CPU work. The more CPU work done to “earn” them the less they are worth.
    Like Bitcoin. only 20 million were origionaly sceduled to be earned. but that limit was quickly reached so they either had to issue more Bitcoins or break them up into bit “pennies”.
    It took an estemated 1000 hours of CPU time to earn the first btcoin. Now it takes that long to earn a bit penny.
    They just changed the name and issued more.
    If the first bit coin was worth 1000 hours(like a doller) then they just changed its face value and called the old bitcoin (a doller) was now a thousand bit coin ( a thousand dollar bill)
    They didn’t issue more they just broke them into smaller pieces. next up is the thousandth penny.

  • Judy

    So what happens to all the “miners” when the max number of bitcoins are created? Should be able to get a supercomputer real cheap then.

    And if everybody stops mining, what happens to the transaction processing?

  • Cotour

    Like anything else that is in demand and only a known number / quantity of it exists the value will increase. When Bitcoin began it was a fraction of a cent, right not now it is valued at about $9600.00 per Bitcoin.

    When Amazon first went public it was $1.54, today it is $1451.00, and I think it split 3 times since 1997, 2 for 1, 3 for 1 and 2 for 1. If there were no splits (Growing the number of shares) Amazon would be priced at about $75,000.00 per share today.

    Bitcoin numerically is exactly the same.

  • Edward

    Thank you all, for your attempts to explain bitcoin, but I am still confused. At best I understand that bitcoin is used as currency because “Currency is anything people will trade.” We might as well trade Chuck E. Cheese tokens; at least there would be something tangible, like those tulips that wayne mentioned.

    I still do not understand what a bitcoin is or how I would know if I found one while mining.

    wayne’s comment suggests that a bitcoin is a reward for doing computational work, not something that is “found” by mining, but then that still does not answer the question of what a bitcoin actually is. Is bitcoin more like a bank that stores your crypto-currency in a ledger and records its change of hands, like a checking account?

  • ken anthony

    Edward, look at any bill in your wallet and notice it has a serial number. Think of Bitcoin as a specially coded serial number minus the fancy paper. There is also the weakness introduced with the blockchain that prevents duplicate use of that serial number.

    Currency can not be kept centralized but govt. doesn’t seem to know that. This is why you can trade tokens, but call them coins and govt. can take them and throw you in jail. You can buy silver blanks from a company in Denver, but stamp them too close to coinage and you’ve got govt. trouble.

    Govt. is lawlessness disguised as law.

  • wayne

    Out of my bailiwick. But, if you don’t readily follow this (bitcoin), that makes me even more concerned it’s all digital smoke-n-mirrors.!

    — you do have to perform specific computational tasks related directly to bitcoin, to ‘mine’ them. Its not just, random calculations. But you do have to be plugged into their network and trust them, enough, to transact business. (and ‘coins’ have went POOF, before.)

    At the start of bitcoin, it was possible for a single user with a desktop to perform the calculations in a reasonable amount of time to earn ‘units.’ (they like to say it was akin to the 1st people in on a gold-rush.) But that time has past, hence you have people with 1,000’s of processors rigged together, and the graphic-chips are ideally suited for the math.
    As noted above by others; there’s a finite universe of ‘coins’ that will be created, I do not however, know at what Rate they grow. The difficulty to compute, concurrently, rises as well.

    One of the key items in all this;
    If you can’t pay your taxes with bitcoins, they are just an intermediate good one is stashing their ‘wealth’ in for a time, eventually you have to convert them into Federal Reserve Notes, to pay your taxes. And central-banks can/do manipulate the monetary base. That’s why the Government has “legal tender laws,” as was touched upon above.

  • Edward

    ken anthony wrote: “Think of Bitcoin as a specially coded serial number minus the fancy paper.

    And now I’m confused again. Thank you for the effort, though.

    wayne says that Bitcoin is earned by doing calculations for someone (this seems to be the “mining”), but then what do I have? Apparently all I have is a serial number that has nothing to serialize. How do I know that I received the bitcoin, and where do I keep this non-existent non-entity serial number?

    As investment advisers recommend, never invest in anything that you can’t explain. I still have yet to find someone who can explain bitcoin. No wonder its value is so volatile. At least I can explain the dollars that I have in my pocket, invested in the stock market, and posted in the ledger at the bank.

  • Localfluff

    Here’s a good lecture explaining what bitcoins (block chains) are. By Martyn Thomas.

    The block chain concept is bigger than currency, Bitcoin is just the beginning. Block chains are physically unfalsifiable and automatically enacted contracts without any middle hand. Action in the shape of a physical object. A total revolution of society and the end of government.

  • pzatchok

    Bitcoins are nothing more than serial numbers.

    They are stored on your computer but can not be used transfered traded changed mangled folded or stapled without being hooked to the internet and their “block chain network”.

    Many people have lost their bitcoins when their harddrives crashed, someone stole their computer or dad came by and erased the blockchain software.

    There is NO cloud or record of who has what coins.
    There is no Bitcoin bank to store your coins in safely.

    When all the Bitcoins have been mined they can no longer be mined or earned. But lo just like regular cash the Bitcoin people came up with a great way to keep the mining going. They took all the bitcoins and split them into thousandths. If you had one you now had a thousand. So those last 100,000 coins out of 20 million that were not mined yet are now 100,000,000,million coins and the mining continues.

    Like a pyramid sceme only the guys first in are going to make any real money out of it and they have already cashed out for millions and have left the scene. Oh the system keeps running but they don’t care about it anymore.

    And yes your coins can be stolen. Just like any information can be stolen from your computer.

    Plus unlike Curency from governments there are no laws regulating them. At least with a government you have a chance.

  • Localfluff

    I don’t make any investment recommendations here, and Bitcoin certainly seems to be crazy volatile. Its demand is maybe driven by east Asians trying to hide their assets from their governments, and the same governments hiding it to avoid sanctions. So I wouldn’t buy Bitcoin without insight in what is going on there.

    But the technological concept of a Block Chain is most likely here to stay. It certainly is a much better money concept that the government fiat monies we have today are. That Bitcoin rushes to be worth tens of billions of dollars might very well be most rational and very good for society. It might replace all money. How much is all the monies in the world worth? But just like the internet bubble in the 1990s actually correctly foresaw how people communicate and shop today, we don’t use Netscape and AltaVista. Investing in them was not a good idea. Bitcoin or not, but I think Blockchain logic will be with us henceforth in some form, because it is a brilliant idea. And the politicians can’t do anything about it. They lose all control.

  • Localfluff

    I read that Bulgarian police confiscated some Bitcoins related to some economic crime. Now a couple of years later in the legal process, those Bitcoins are worth 5% of Bulgaria’s GDP! Just by accident they surpassed the Trump-growth level, thanks to one policeman being alert.

  • wayne

    pzatchok –
    Good stuff.

    Take a look at this image:
    –The key phrase on these Bills: “$1 in silver payable to the bearer on demand.”
    Now compare that to the Federal Reserve notes in your wallet.

  • wayne

    “Up until March 1964, silver certificates could be redeemed on demand, exchanged for silver dollars. After that date and until June 24, 1968, redemption was in exchange for silver bullion from the nation’s strategic silver stockpile. Passage on June 4, 1963, of Public Law 88-36 repealed the Silver Purchase Act of 1934 and confirmed the redeemability of silver certificates for silver dollars or bullion at the monetary value of $1.2929 an ounce.”

  • wayne

    ‘The Mystery of Banking’
    Chapter 11; Central Banking
    Murray Rothbard
    “The Process of Bank Credit Expansion”

  • wayne

    “Free Banking in Sweden 1830–1903: Experience and Debate”

    “Between 1830 and 1903, Sweden experienced one of the longest and most successful free-banking periods in history. During this period, private note issuing banks were allowed and prospered. This paper describes the rise and fall of the Swedish free banking system and shows that the system could be considered a true free banking system, in spite of legal restrictions. Finally, the paper provides a comprehensive summary of the critique raised against the Swedish free banking system.”

  • Edward

    Localfluff wrote: “It certainly is a much better money concept that the government fiat monies we have today are.

    The concept may be better (or maybe not), but the volatility makes it worse. The US dollar is considered the world standard, the Global Currency, because it is relatively stable. So far. The Euro and the Yen also seem to be popular as global currencies. Unless bitcoin becomes stable, it and its concept are unlikely to depose the US dollar or any other standard.

    From the Martyn Thomas video (thank you for that, LocalFluff, it was informative): “But the value of money depends on trust. We need to have confidence that the money we receive for something will be valued by somebody else when we want to spend it later.” This is why gold had been the standard for centuries or millenniums.

    It sounds as though these bitcoins, limited in number as they are, are only worth what I am willing to give or do for them (goods and services). I think that I will stick with US currency for as long as I can; it is as close to gold as I can get without actually getting gold, it is easier to spend, and I have confidence that this money will be similarly valued by somebody else when I want to spend it later. At least I can see it when I have it in hand. And I don’t have to worry about my hard drive crashing (can a bitcoin be backed up?), my laptop walking away (if it can be backed up, can I verify my backup as mine before the thief makes it his?), my father erasing my bitcoin software (my father would never erase my cash), or the value crashing like Dutch tulips.

    Further, my privacy remains intact, because my transactions are not published when I spend cash in order to ensure that I do not spend the same dollar multiple times.

    Yesterday, I bought a piece of plastic tubing for my model making hobby, and I pulled out a dollar (easy to spend), gave it to the seller (similarly valued by somebody else when I want to spend it), and no one will ever know that I skipped paying sales tax (my privacy remains intact — or did until I blabbed: — 22 seconds “Blabbed about Mars”).

  • pzatchok

    The simple fact is US currency is just as good as gold.

    Scoff at me all you want but are you restricted in exchanging it for gold? Or silver? or anything?

    Not not one restriction. And if someone will not take Dollars but will take Rubles I can walk into a bank and exchange them.

    Bitcoins not so much.

    Plus whats to say some country around the world doesn’t get its cut of the Bitcoin market and just shuts down the network?
    Without the network I can not exchange bit coins and poof they are worthless. Just serial numbers.
    But with something I can hold in my hand like dollars or gold you could shut down the internet and the banks and I will still be able to trade it.

    Sorry but bitcoins will NEVER beat that. in fact name the non government backed currency/money that has lasted longer than 100 years?

  • Localfluff

    Everything is only worth what people value it. It is necessarily subjective and potentially volatile. And temporary! Without humans there exists no values. And many humans, especially in macro economics and politics don’t seem to even understand the concept “value”. They advocate “economic activity” regardless whether it creates of consumes value, they just want to maximize “activity” as measured by the accountant bureaucrats who measure what’s easy to measure rather than what’s relevant to measure.

    Gold however has the physical properties that makes it the ideal money. Indestructible, easily divisible, compact and portal, easy to recognize by density and color. And 6,000 years tradition helps too. Gold has another intrinsic value in its beauty even when it is not used as money, so that’s hedge right there, one can never lose 100% with gold. The indians loved gold although they didn’t use it as money AFAIK. Btw, only in recent years has it been understood why gold and copper (and roentgenium I think but it’s nucleus is very unstable) are not silver gray like all the other 100s of metals. It’s some funny quantum mechanic phenomena. But in a digital economy a physical good has a disadvantage when it comes to portability, when one actually users the money. Gold for savings and a block chain currency for trade, no reason to not use multiple currencies for different purposes. Always safer with diversification.

    The Tulip Mania was inflation caused by the gold and silver imported (stolen) from America by the Spanish. Just like the FED has created trillions of dollars out of thin air. Inflation has to go somewhere and in recent times it has mostly gone into house prices. Tulips in Holland became a similar bubble because of deregulation of coinage there and then. That concentrated Europe’s inflation into Holland, and they happen to grow tulips there. Inflation and bubbles are not economical, but political, phenomena.

  • wayne

    good stuff.

    “Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”
    Charles Mackay 1852

    More up-to-date ‘popular delusions:’

    California Challenges & Responses –
    Victor Davis Hanson
    IIABCal Forecast Luncheon, February 12, 2018

  • Edward

    Localfluff wrote: “The Tulip Mania was inflation caused by the gold and silver imported (stolen) from America by the Spanish.

    Interestingly, at the time, there was not enough gold and silver in Europe to go around, and it was getting to be too rare to use successfully as specie. The influx of gold and silver from America by Spain “saved” Europe and helped its economy. This was, unfortunately, at the expense of those who no longer owned these metals, because it was not gained through economic means; the natives were not reimbursed through goods or services for their valuable metals.

  • Max

    I was looking for some videos placed on the Dtube because YouTube had scrub them from the Internet. I went to the site, but it would not load. I tried some alternative links, this is one that was interesting because it makes videos into bitcoin’s? So they cannot be scrubbed from the Internet? It is not centrally located and uses block chain technology. Perhaps someone can explain it to us. (Me)

  • Andrew

    Not really concerned.

    SETI has a problem. That problem is quantum entanglement. Recently the Human Race has demonstrated that two “quantum entangled” sub atomic particles will react to each other INSTANTLY, in apparent disregard for time or space. Thus it would be a fairly simple engineering problem to effect one, and hence the other, from a “0” state to a “1” state, thereby creating FTL digital communications that can NOT be intercepted.

    Given the time frame of telecommunications on Planet Earth, Marcony in the 1800s to modern radio wave based coms of the present. It looks very much like any given civilization might well only be “hearable” on the electromagnetic spectrum for a few decades! This GREATLY reduces the likelihood that anything usable or even all that interesting would ever be found by SETI.

    If, by phenomenal luck, SETI happens to be listening at just the right time and place to “hear” and alien civilization electromagnetic communications all that will done is to establish that ONCE, however long ago that communication originated, an alien specie achieved sentience and a degree of technology sufficient for them to generate a spark generator.

    So, I am not enamored of SETI anymore, and am leaning more and more towards the idea that SETI is a gigantic waste of time and money.

  • Localfluff

    Whatever one thinks about SETI, it is not “gigantic”!

    How stupid wouldn’t we be if we didn’t spend bread crumb monies on listening for copies of what we are ourselves? What else should listen for, nuclear weapons on Mars? SETI has a doable real assumption for what they are looking for. We know that what they are looking for exists in the universe, because we do. I’d call that a pretty good alibi if I were the judge.

    We should do what we can. This is just the beginning. It is hopeless in our lifetime (sorry Seth Shostak, you will soon owe me a coffee), but we are at least getting started. As human technology and economy evolves, so will the SETI effort. In ten thousand years it might bear unfathomable fruit. And they will look back at us and say that we were among the ones who once started it all.

    Maybe there exists something out there that could objectively measure our subjective consciousness! Imagine the consequences of that! Where could it exist if not in space? Suggestions are welcome.

  • Edward

    Robert wrote: “The mad craze for crypto-currencies like Bitcoin is actually slowing the ability of SETI to obtain the computer chips they need, thus preventing them from expanding their search for alien signals.

    In my comment of February 14, above, I wondered “If it is slowing SETI, what other science and innovation is suffering in order for this mysterious coinage to exist?

    According to Adam Draper, founder and managing director of startup accelerator Boost VC, not only are the computer chips not getting to scientists and engineers but investment money is not going to industry, either. Specifically, space startups are finding it harder to get investment finances than it should be.
    “’I actually think money is moving away from everything else in early stage right now and moving to crypto,’ [Adam Draper] said.”

    The author, Jeff Foust, concluded the essay: “‘Right now, I don’t think space is going to take off this year,’ [Draper] said. ‘I think we need to lay the groundwork to get ready for it to take off in three to five years.

    It is a mad craze indeed, misallocating scarce resources and reducing actual economic activity in order to replace currency with speculative investment in a different medium for trade for the remaining economic activity.

  • Cotour

    The painful journey to becoming a real currency?

    Lack of government control, one of the alluring elements of crypto currency, is disappearing and thus is in the process of the legitimizing the concept? If the IRS recognizes it and a court warrants that records be turned over then maybe it is a currency?

  • Localfluff

    Screw the IRS and the FED!
    A currency is simply a good that people use (repeatedly) as exchange for other goods and services. In the wars of the 20th century cigarettes were used as currency (won’t work today when so few are smoking, but marijuana maybe?). In prisons where the inmates aren’t allowed to hold dollars, canned mackerels are used instead (google it if you don’t believe it). Already, our everyday currency is mostly some code somewhere in a “cloud”, an electromagnetic wave that disappears in a power outage. Or by government decree, like in Greece/EU just a few of years ago when the ATMs were simply put out of use, or the US “bank holidays” (what a shameless euphemism!) in the 1930s.

    Gold doesn’t work as a currency either anymore in the Western world (I’ve linked to this before, I recommend Mark dice’s youtube channel overall):

    I suppose that sexual services always sell. One doesn’t even have to be human to figure that out. It might not work on an interstellar scale though, since sexual reproduction might be pretty unique to Earth due to a random evolutionary accident 1.2 billion years ago.

Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *