There is no such thing as a bitcoin. When someone says “I own a bitcoin,” what they mean is “I know the code or codes that can authorize the transfer of up to one bitcoin.” If you buy a “loaded” physical token for 0.01 bitcoin on eBay, the token contains a code. Neither the token nor the code is “bitcoin,” but the code enables you to transfer amounts adding up to 0.01 bitcoin to other accounts.
Bitcoin’s foundation is a public transaction ledger called the blockchain. Every bitcoin transaction is recorded on the blockchain and anyone can inspect the transaction history going back to the creation of the first block of the chain. Because the blockchain is public, bitcoin transactions are not as anonymous as some people currently in prison had hoped. Every new account is anonymous, but that anonymity will probably be compromised by the first transfer of bitcoin into it because the bitcoins in the source account probably have a history–and there are companies whose business plan is to delve through the blockchain to link accounts to owners and sell the information.
Here’s how the blockchain works: people with codes that control bitcoin create transactions. Transactions can have one or more input accounts and one or more output accounts. Newly created transactions are sent to the cloud of computers running bitcoin protocol clients and added to a list of pending transactions. Anyone can download a bitcoin protocol client and run it on their computer, but running a full “node” takes a lot of disk storage space and Internet bandwidth.
Some of the computers running bitcoin protocol clients are “mining” bitcoin. To mine bitcoin, one selects transactions from the pending list and packs them together into a binary blob called a “block”. The block is then scanned to create a “hash” value. The last digit of a 16 digit credit card number is a hash value calculated from the first 15 digits. This is how web sites can automatically determine if you’ve mistyped a credit card number.
I’m not sure I get the whole thing. Somewhere in my IRA portfolio there are a few shares of a stock that trades in bitcoin futures, and it’s turned a modest profit for me, but that’s probably as far as I’ll go in dealing with the fiat-iest of fiat currencies.
It’s not at all clear to me how you pay for things with bitcoins, how you obtain them or how you store them. You can’t put them in a bank account – or can you? Can I use them to put a tank of gas in my truck? Can I buy guns with them?
Supposedly fortunes have been made by those smart enough to buy bitcoins when they sold for pennies apiece, or even a few dollars apiece. Now the value of a single bitcoin hovers between seven and eleven thousand dollars. If you had bought a thousand of them for a dollar each, you’d be virtually wealthy now – if you could find a buyer to take those bitcoins in exchange for a more tradable currency.
As a libertarian I love the idea of an untraceable currency that isn’t controlled by any government. As a child of the pre-Internet era, I can’t quite bring myself to engage fully with a currency that I just don’t understand.
Richard’s article answered a lot of my questions. But I still have more. I suppose I’ll keep looking for answers.
Hawaii has legal medical marijuana, but be careful, because if you’re a gun owner, and you legally use marijuana, Hawaii proposes to give you a good one right up the tailpipe. Excerpts with my comments follow:
Hawaii is one of 29 states that allow medical use of marijuana, but it is the only state that requires registration of all firearms. If you are familiar with the criteria that bar people from owning guns under federal law, you can probably surmise what the conjunction of these two facts means for patients who use cannabis as a medicine, which Hawaii allows them to do only if they register with the state. This month many of them received a letter from Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard, instructing them to turn in their guns.
“Your medical marijuana use disqualifies you from ownership of firearms and ammunition,” Ballard says in the November 13 letter, which Leafly obtained this week after Russ Belville noted it in his Marijuana Agenda podcast. “If you currently own or have any firearms, you have 30 days upon receipt of this letter to voluntarily surrender your firearms, permit, and ammunition to the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) or otherwise transfer ownership. A medical doctor’s clearance letter is required for any future firearms applications or return of firearms from HPD evidence.” (Emphasis added by me.)
Voluntarily? Voluntarily? Fucking voluntarily? My ass – the state of Hawaii is using the full force and power of the state government to confiscate the property of law-abiding gun owners. You know, in direct contrast to every pro-gun control prog who ever bleated “oh, we don’t want to confiscate anyone’s guns!” Oh, and “oh, registration won’t lead to confiscation! You’re just being paranoid!” Well, Hawaii is giving a huge upraised middle finger to those claims – aloha, my middle-aged butt.
As authority for disarming medical marijuana users, Ballard cites Section 134-7(a) of Hawaii’s Revised Statutes, which says “no person who is a fugitive from justice or is a person prohibited from possessing firearms or ammunition under federal law shall own, possess, or control any firearm or ammunition.” The relevant federal provision prohibits possession of firearms by anyone who is “an unlawful user of or addicted to any controlled substance.” Since federal law does not recognize any legitimate reason for consuming cannabis, all use is unlawful use, as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives makes clear in a boldfaced warning on the form that must be completed by anyone buying a gun from a federally licensed dealer: “The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized for medicinal or recreational purposes in the state where you reside.”
And yet 28 other states, in a rare display of Federalism, have decided not to give a rat’s ass about this particular Imperial restriction, since marijuana is legal within their borders. And in any case, that restriction applies to new sales of guns; it doesn’t give a state government license to confiscate the property of private, law-abiding citizens.
Most people probably do not realize how casually the federal government strips Americans of their Second Amendment rights, because enforcement of these longstanding rules is spotty and haphazard. Federal law notionally bars gun ownership by all of America’s 38 million or so cannabis consumers, along with millions of other unlawful users of controlled substances, including anyone who takes a medication prescribed for someone else or uses it for a purpose different from the one specified by a doctor (for back pain rather than tooth pain, say). But enforcing that ban is difficult because the FBI and the ATF generally don’t know who the unlawful users are. Hawaii has begun to lick that problem and therefore can give us a sense of what “enforcing the laws that are already on the books,” as the NRA frequently recommends, would look like in practice.
There’s an obvious answer: The Imperial government should decriminalize, if not completely legalize, marijuana, as I’ve been saying for almost 40 years. It’s a stupid and senseless use of law-enforcement resources, for one thing; for another, marijuana was in fact legal until the 1930s, and somehow for all that time society as we know it didn’t end.
Then Hawaii’s gun grabbing state government could do the appropriate thing and fuck right off.
Judicial Watch strikes again, releasing another slew of emails from The Dowager Empress of Chappaqua, Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I. Excerpt:
Two heavily redacted emails marked Classified Confidential included a November 2011 exchange under the Subject: “Egyptian MFA on Hamas-PLO talks,” and a June 28, 2011 email from Clinton to Abedin in which Clinton writes “I have now promised the Kuwaiti PM 3 times that I will deliver an address at the Oxford Islamic Center. Pls be sure that’s on the list for next Fall/next year.”
On March 9, 2011, Sid Blumenthal emailed Clinton about the situation in Libya, with the subject line “H: serious trouble for Libyan rebels. Sid” The email discusses urging leaders of the National Libyan Council (NLC) “to consider hiring private troops (mercenaries) to support, organize, and train the rebel forces in Libya.” Blumenthal adds that “a small number of private troops could turn the battle against Qaddafi’s forces, particularly if they are equipped with sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons.” Clinton asks former aide Huma Abedin to “print for me w/o any identifiers”.
On October 6, 2009, Clinton’s then-Chief of Staff, Cheryl Mills emails “I am purposefully on gmail” to Abedin and Maggie Williams, former campaign manager for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. [Emphasis added] Mills was responding to an October 4, 2009, email from Clinton, most of which was redacted.
On January 6, 2012, Clinton can be seen “expediting” a citizenship request so the requestor can get a government job in policy or law enforcement:
I am told by Citizenship and Immigration (CIS) caseworkers that it may be at least another 8 months before they get to me, making the total time more than a year (they advertise 6 months total turnaround time).
Would you consider helping me by reaching out to DHS Secretary Napolitano or CIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas who reports to her on my behalf? The ask is to simply consider moving up my applications for review ASAP. My application is complete, straight forward and I have nothing to hide.”
Clinton responds: “I’m copying Huma [Abedin] and asking her to see if we can help expedite this for you because we want you to be a citizen as soon as possible! I’ve got my fingers crossed. Happy New Year–H”
How many times have I pointed out that Her Royal Highness is probably the most deeply and fundamentally corrupt political figure since Huey Long?
What’s staggering here is the chutzpah shown by Her Royal Highness in almost all of her dealings. She has comported herself as though appearances just didn’t matter a damn; she was going to have her private email server, she was going to engage in underhanded dealings with agents of foreign powers, she was going to underwrite shady dealings giving Russian interests control over a significant portion of American uranium production…
…and she just did not give a good Goddamn who knew it.
I’ve been saying since the summer of 2015 that Donald Trump wasn’t my first, second or third choice for President. But with his election, the country (as I’ve also been saying repeatedly dodged a major bullet, in that Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I will never sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.
This seems pretty intuitive, but too many folks are lacking this sort of intuition: Tighter Gun Laws Will Leave Libertarians Better-Armed Than Everyone Else. Excerpt:
The past week saw yet another invocation by the usual suspects of the supposed need for tighter gun controls. This time, we had a special emphasis from lawmakers on such “innovations” as banning people convicted of domestic abuse from owning firearms—which is to say, restrictions that are already on the books and have been in place for years, but which haven’t had the wished-for effect. Honestly, so many of gun-controllers’ preferred laws have been implemented that they can’t be expected to know that their dreams have already come true. But laws aren’t magic spells that ward off evil; they’re threats of consequences against violators, enforced by imperfect and often incompetent people, and noted or ignored by frequently resistant targets.
Gun controls then, like other restrictions and prohibitions, have their biggest effect on those who agree with them and on the unlucky few scofflaws caught by the powers-that-be, and are otherwise mostly honored in the breach. As a result, gun laws intended to reduce the availability of firearms are likely to leave those who most vigorously disagree with them disproportionately well-armed relative to the rest of society. That raises some interesting prospects in a country as politically polarized and factionalized as the United States.
That gun restrictions are widely disobeyed is a well-documented fact. I’ve written before that Connecticut’s recent “assault weapons” registration law achieved an underwhelming 15 percent compliance rate, and New York’s similar requirement resulted in 5 percent compliance. When California imposed restrictions on such weapons in 1990, at the end of the registration period “only about 7,000 weapons of an estimated 300,000 in private hands in the state have been registered,” The New York Times reported. When New Jersey went a step further that same year and banned the sale and possession of “assault weapons,” disobedience was so widespread that the Times concluded, “More than a year after New Jersey imposed the toughest assault-weapons law in the country, the law is proving difficult if not impossible to enforce.” That’s in states with comparatively strong public support for restrictions on gun ownership.
Read that line above again: “…difficult if not impossible to enforce.” That’s gun control legislation in a nutshell.
Imagine that gun-control fanatic describing their wet dream of confiscating millions, nay, tens of millions of personally owned firearms. It makes no difference whatever the particular gun-grabbers pet peeve is – “assault weapons,” handguns, “sniper rifles” (read that to mean any bolt-action, scoped hunting rifle) or whatever.
Ask the gun grabber who they expect to go around to millions of homes and confiscate tens of millions of weapons. And mention that oh, by the way, if one percent of the approximately 100 million American gun owners resist violently, that’s a million people in armed rebellion.
In no case will you find the gun-grabber willing to volunteer to be part of the confiscation effort. Problem is, I expect not many among the military or law-enforcement communities will be too willing to do this either.
“Impossible to enforce” is only scratching the surface.