[Cryptography] Get offa my lawn. (was Re: BitCoin bug reported)

Robert Hettinga hettinga at gmail.com
Mon Feb 17 13:01:13 EST 2014

On Feb 16, 2014, at 10:40 PM, Lucky Green <shamrock at cypherpunks.to> wrote:

> I say, let them and all of Bitcoin burn to dust.

Dang kids. Get offa my lawn.

It’s been interesting, I’ll say that much. I have people on their honeymoon here in .ai asking to see me, buy me and Mrs. RAH $30 hamburgers at Viceroy, etc.

Or “prove”, “stylometrically", on various Bitcoin fora, that I'm Satoshi. Heh. I’ll never get tired of braggin’ about *that* one. :-) I expect others here know where the stylistic clues came from, but I think Grigg has the right approach to that question. Leave well enough alone.

Being, even now, generally optimistic about the future, if not my own in particular, I can’t help thinking there’s a pony in there somewhere. I *do* find it annoying that the only time people wanna talk to me about this stuff is at the top of a bubble. I expect that it may be a hint from the Almighty I should pay attention to. 

At the moment, PayPal, which we all looked down the nose at back then, is still, um, printing money, and a cypherpunk gave me some BTC a little while ago, a kind of eating-the-dog food exercise for old time’s sake. Or something. The price has since fallen 40%, but it’s bouncing back, and will probably be fine. “You have to be *this* tall to take this ride”, as another friend said about Bitcoin prices last week. Meanwhile I can’t think of anything I want to spend it on anyway.

Even in its current form, Bitcoin makes rather short work of those speed bumps Mr. May used to tell us about, which *may* be the real point to the exercise.

Having to file several kinds of forms to get paid for a small consulting job as US citizen outside the US was enough to make me foreswear getting paid for much of anything anymore, anything small at least, and BTC solves several problems there quite handily, push ever came to shove. Besides, my passport is stamped “Employment Prohibited”, which, apparently, I’m evidently honoring even in the breach.

So, I think BTC, or something like it, would make a nice numeraire, temporary or otherwise, having gnawed at the edges of *that* problem when most of the Bitcoinners were, as Marc notes, in short-pants. Yes, even in its current volatile state. And contrary to the opinions of people who know better than I do about these things.

It wasn't quite what Dr. Fama got the Nobel for, but New Monetary Economics might be as good once as it ever was, and Bitcoin might be the camel’s nose under that particular tent, and given that it is the ultimate fiat currency that’s quite an assertion.

As someone whose stated goal, back in the day, was to securitize *everything*, debt, equity, cash, services, title to assets in storage, transit, or just sitting there with a house on it, cats, dogs, mass hysteria -- and all derivatives thereof -- using bearer-transaction financial cryptography protocols on a ubiquitous geodesic public internetwork, Bitcoin *is* a bit, oh, please let me say it, self-referent as a solution. I saw it blow by here on this list, said, “meh”, shortly had the magic smoke go out of most of my internet presence by a power-spike in a hurricane, and never got around to paying attention to either Bitcoin, or the internet, very much at all until various people frog-marched my attention back into focus recently with me muttering variously about being too old for this shit anymore...

So, Bitcoin, if it survives, makes a *nice* hack, by solving, what Barnes, and ultimately everyone else, called the “loading problem”. And, so far at least, it solves the “and then you go to jail” part of the book-entry transaction error-handler, something Barnes was also noted for saying. That, too, only if Bitcoin survives. 

"...any [network] architecture that can survive a nuclear attack can survive withdrawal of government subsidy...” Godwin said on Cyberia, long ago. I’ve jokingly called it his Second Law. I suppose the Strong Form of that hypothesis, speaking of Dr. Fama, is surviving not mere withdrawal of the implicit subsidy of monopolistic contract enforcement, and all transfer-priced assets and “externalities” appertaining thereto, but also active attack from the ostensible contract enforcer itself.

I hear of others, well, gnawing around the edges, actually, of securitizing other stuff with variants of the Bitcoin protocol, but, like predicting the end of the world, expanding the blockchain to other assets "has not been found agreeable to experience.” So far as I can see.

Meanwhile, Chris Odom, aka, “Fellow Traveller”, aka, “Lovedrop” (yes, *that* “Lovedrop”), is banging away on something called Open Transactions, which inserts an actual transaction protocol, among other much more interesting things, into the works to glue Bitcoin and other stuff onto, for starters, Wagner Blinding, using, for starters, Ben Laurie’s lucre code. I haven’t seen a code-stoke like the one I see Chris with, well, since the old days. Which is nice. Very nice. Big grins all around, down here in the elbow of the Caribbean. Apparently, like me, he noticed that he was delivering instantly-usable product now, and getting paid later, too much later usually. I discovered cypherpunks in late spring of 1994 looking for a solution to something Barnes (again) called the “latency” problem. Chriss bumped into the gold-silver-crypto list, I think, about 10 years later.

Mr. Odom has been been kind enough to involve me in testing OT a bit, and, ultimately, I’ve more-or-less bailed on iterative break-it-and-fix-it. Mostly because I don’t have the patience for testing — much less writing — code, if I ever really did. 

But here’s the rub, I also I have no *idea* what I, personally, would do with Open Transactions these days even if I could get it running in production.

I have lots of ideas in *general*, you understand, but they’re mostly of the “let’s you and him fight” variety. 

Many more people than *I* would have to be involved, they, and I, would risk much more than money, and, ultimately, I’m not sure any of it would work. It’s a drag to think that most of what I’m interested in doing requires the dissolution, or at least dissipation, of The World’s Only Remaining Superpower to happen. As someone who still, barely, calls himself mostly an anarcho-capitalist but still a patriot, that’s about the only thing worse than only being interesting to other people during the top of a bubble. Yup. A Mass of Contradictions, as usual.

"Let’s you and him fight" is only two or three steps removed from Mr. Briceno’s original observation, I figure.

Hell, even “set here next to the rockin' chair, sonny, and I’ll tell ya a story”, is, ultimately, not much more help than “get off my lawn”, when you get right down to it...


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