The falling price of oil is causing problems for Russia's economy, says Matt O'Brien of the Washington Post. The ruble is down 50% against the dollar this year. The Russian central bank raised interest rates from 10.5 to 17 percent in an attempt to prop up the value of the ruble, but this move will "send Russia's moribund economy into a deep recession."
The only asset, and I use that word lightly, that's done worse than the ruble's 50 percent fall is Bitcoin, which is a fake currency that techno-utopians insist is the future we don't know we want. And this is only going to get worse. Russia, you see, is stuck in an economic catch-22. Its economy needs lower interest rates to push up growth, but its companies need higher interest rates to push up the ruble and make all the dollars they borrowed not worth so much. So, to use a technical term, they're screwed no matter what they do.
The Finnish national broadcaster has partnered with Kryptoradio to broadcast the Bitcoin blockchain over the digital television network making it accessible over a non-Internet channel to 95% of the Finnish population.
"We are hoping, with the sale of Bitcoins.com, to provide some relief to the people impacted by the Mt. Gox bankruptcy,” said Mark Karpeles, founder of the failed Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, “and will be putting at least half of the sale amount toward that purpose.”
Heritage Auctions is expecting the high bid to be at least $750,000. Let's be generous and assume Karpeles gets $1,200,000 and gives half of that to former Mt. Gox customers. They would get 1/10th of a cent for every dollar they lost. For example, someone who lost $100,000 would get $100.
Security journalist Brian Krebs documents a string of escalating extortion crimes perpetrated with help from the net, and proposes that the growth of extortion as a tactic preferred over traditional identity theft and botnetting is driven by Bitcoin, which provides a safe way for crooks to get payouts from their victims.
Fuckin' cryptocurrencies, how do they work? Fans of ICP who are fed up with using actual US dollars to pay for all-you-can-slurp Faygo and ethanol cocktails at festivals can rejoice with the news of a new, bitcoin-y cryptocurrency. "According to juggalocoin.org, the currency is designed for the group’s substantial Juggalo community, and is available to purchase now." It was created by a juggalo named Papa Nutt. [Guardian. HT: Dean Putney]
In each episode of Gweek, Dean Putney and I invite a guest to join us in a discussion about recommended media, apps, and gadgets. Our guest is Andreas M. Antonopoulos. He has founded three bitcoin businesses and is currently the the Chief Security Officer of Blockchain. Dean and I asked him a lot of questions about bitcoin, and his answers were fascinating.
This episode is brought to you by NatureBox, makers of delicious, wholesome snacks delivered to your door. Go to NatureBox.com/gweek to get 50% OFF your your first box.
Davi Barker was flying from Manchester, NH when, he says, he was stopped by two men who identified themselves as "managers" for the TSA, who claimed they had seen Bitcoins in his baggage and wanted to be sure he wasn't transporting more than $10,000 worth. When he asked them what they thought a Bitcoin looked like, they allegedly said that it looked like a coin or a medallion. (via Hacker News)
Tsutomu Okubo, now a member of the Japanese parliament and a former banker at Morgan Stanley, told Ars that he had begun discussing new bitcoin-related regulation with the Financial Services Agency, the Ministry of Finance, and the Bank of Japan a year ago.
"However, their response is that Bitcoin is neither currency nor regulated settlement in Japan," he said by e-mail. "Regarding exchanges like MtGox there is no regulation now."
Above, a gentleman who was unhappy with Apple's decision to remove the Blockchain bitcoin wallet from the iTunes App Store shot holes through his iPhone with a rifle.
• Boing Boing presents a guest op-ed from the the Chief Security Officer of Blockchain, a Bitcoin wallet app recently removed from Apple's App Store.
On Wednesday February 5th, Apple yanked Blockchain, the last remaining bitcoin wallet from the App Store without notice, firmly establishing iOS as the bitcoin-hostile mobile operating system. In a terse email to the app’s developers, Apple cited an “unresolved issue”, without any further explanation. While Blockchain’s developers scrambled to get clarification, it appears the unresolved issue is that the application is a bitcoin wallet, something that cannot be “resolved.” Blockchain was the last of the bitcoin wallets, the others yanked months ago by Apple’s innovation gatekeepers.
Meanwhile, across the mobile market divide, Google’s Android OS is quite bitcoin friendly. More than a hundred bitcoin related apps, including a dozen different wallets, compete for attention in a crowded market. Clearly, Apple’s “unresolved issue” is not related to bitcoin’s legality, which has been firmly established in the US and almost all other jurisdictions. Presumably, Google’s lawyers arrived at the same conclusion as US law enforcement agencies and the Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in the United States, that the use of bitcoin is perfectly legal.
Some believe that Apple may be dumping bitcoin wallets because of the emerging, somewhat confusing international regulations surrounding bitcoin. But like others, Blockchain’s Cary argues that his app was pulled because Apple sees bitcoin as a potential competitor. “I think that Apple is positioning itself to take on mobile payments in a way they haven’t described to the public and they’re being anti-competitive.”
Liz writes, "I bet you never wished before that you had handmade soap with a glider from Conway's Game of Life, a doge, or the bitcoin logo on it. It's twee. It's vaguely punk rock. It's cryptocurrency soap!"
Some Bitcoin enthusiasts have announced a new project called Bitcloud. The idea is something like the old Mojo Nation P2P architecture, in which individual Internet users perform tasks for each other -- routing, storage, lookups, computation -- in exchange for very small payments.
The Bitcloud protocol uses Bitcoin-style accounting to allocate those microtransfers, along with Bitcoin-style proof-of-work (they call it "proof-of-bandwidth") and the authors suggest that the potential for profit by individual members will create enough capacity to replace a large number of centralized commercial services ("Youtube, Dropbox, Facebook, Spotify, ISPs") with "distributed autonomous corporations," that obviate the need for centralized control in order to supply anonymous, robust, free services to the public.
The idea is an interesting thought-experiment, at least. The idea of "agorics" -- using market forces to allocate resources on the Internet -- is an old one, and I remain skeptical that this produces optimal outcomes. That's because its proponents seem to treat market efficiency as axiomatic ("everyone knows markets work, and that's why we should make them the basis of network resource allocation") and their proposals are substantially weakened if you don't accept the efficient market hypothesis.