Laurie Penny (previously) got sent on the 2018 CoinsBank Blockchain Cruise -- a four-day cruise filled with "starry-eyed techno-utopians and sketchy-ass crypto-grifters" who solved the fact that there almost no women signed up using the "free market": they paid teen sex workers from Ukraine to ship out with them. Read the rest
Ohio has become the first state to allow businesses to use cryptocurrency – bitcoin, specifically – to pay their taxes. And the state doesn't plan to HODL, either. As soon as they receive it they will sell it off for US dollars. (With bitcoin plummeting over 40% over the last month, their decision not to HODL is a practical one.)
According to The Wall Street Journal, businesses can start registering this week on ohiocrypto.com for the chance to pay their taxes in bitcoin. And yes, it's only bitcoin — sorry ether fans.
"Under the leadership of Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, taxpayers are able to pay their state business taxes with cryptocurrency for the first time anywhere in America," explains the Ohio crypto website. "Ohio has become the first state in the United States, and one of the first governments in the world, to accept cryptocurrency."
So with bitcoin in a downward spiral and no plans to horde the cryptocurrency in hopes of a longterm gain, why would Ohio accept it in the first place? According to The Wall Street Journal:
The idea to accept the digital currency for taxes came from state Treasurer Josh Mandel, who has held the office since 2011 and started taking an interest in bitcoin several years ago. Mr. Mandel, 41 years old, views the new program both as a convenience for filers and an opportunity for “planting a flag” for Ohio in the currency’s adoption.
China-watchers observed the rise-and-rise of Chinese premier Xi Jinping with caution and sometimes alarm, but also held out some hope that despite his authoritarian tendencies and thin skin, Xi was genuinely committed to rooting out the rampant corruption that has plagued the country since its rapid industrialization under Deng Xiaoping: the creation of an untouchable elite and a hereditary princeling class immune to civil justice; looting by respected members of the business community; and a sense that the looters are exfiltrating their money, bypassing currency controls, and stashing the booty in apartments overseas, fueling both the Bitcoin and real-estate bubbles worldwide. Read the rest
As the price goes up and down, the generated audio tone changes in this interesting and insightful audio piece!
I'd been looking for a used video card over the last couple of weeks, but gave up despite the amazing prices being listed. The eBayers are unresponsive to questions and the Craigslist sellers talk like drug dealers. That $225 GTX 1070 you have your eye on is being pulled from a mining rig where it's spent months running 24/7, accumulating all the grease, fur and pain that will be its only friends in the bubble mailer it will be sent to you in.
A cop working for the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Intérieure (the French national domestic surveillance agency) used the darknet marketplace Black Hand to sell access to France's prodigious national surveillance apparatus to criminals: give him a phone number and he'd track its location; give him a name and he'd tell you whether that person was under police investigation and disclose the contents of the associated files; he'd also sell you everything you needed to forge papers and other official documents (he took payment in Bitcoin). Read the rest
Some things in life are obvious. The Pope's catholic, the sky's is blue, cryptocurrencies hawked by celebrities were bad investments, if not outright swizzes.
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Last year, the actor became the brand ambassador for the cryptocurrency called “Bitcoiin,” which was just one letter away from the original thing. This past March, New Jersey regulators sent the Bitcoiin founders a cease-and-desist order, saying the coin was never registered as a security in the state.
Soon after, Seagal and the anonymous founders parted ways with the coin. Since then, his Twitter account has been largely silent and so has his Instagram, except for a mysteriously incongruous post on Thursday asking for donations for a homeless shelter in Russia.
The porn extortion scam works like this: you get an email from a stranger claiming that he hacked your computer and recorded video of you masturbating to pornography, which he'll release unless you send him some cryptocurrency. Read the rest
David Gerard is a technically minded, sharp-witted, scathing critic of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies; his criticism is long, comprehensive and multipartite, but of particular interest is is critique of "proof of work" (an idea that is central to the blockchain, but which many cryptographers are skeptical of). Read the rest
By design, data placed in the blockchain is visible to everyone in the world and can never be removed; everyone who mines bitcoin makes a copy of the blockchain, and so any illegal content stashed in the blockchain ends up on the computers of every miner. Read the rest
Cynthia Lee, inspired by a tongue-in-cheek request by Christopher Mims, created a Chrome browser extension that replaces the word "blockchain" with the phrase "mulitple copies of a giant Excel spreadsheet."
WHAT: This is a Chrome browser extension that can help readers contextualize news stories with hype about blockchain technology, by reminding you that blockchain is, in essense, a giant Excel spreadsheet.
WHY: For fun.
I made a Chrome browser extension per @mims' suggestion below. Currently pending review in the Chrome store, but in the meantime manual install available from GitHub (quick and easy even for non-coders, I promise!). You're welcome, blockchain haters. https://t.co/5EDmrp091N https://t.co/FcrXARH2LA
— Cynthia Lee (@cynthiablee) March 1, 2018
The creation of "public ledgers" -- like blockchain, popularized by Bitcoin -- requires "consensus algorithms" that allow mutually untrusted, uncoordinated parties to agree on a world-readable, distributed list of things (domain names, transactions, title deeds, etc), something that cryptography makes possible in a variety of ways. Read the rest
Bryce Elder's epic Twitter thread finally reveals the one true tale of Bitcoin's genesis ("invented by Satoshi Nakamoto, a developer at Nintendo who mysteriously disappeared in the 1990s"); the environmental cost of Bitcoin ("whenever you give a hacker money he will upgrade his graphics card") and the story the mainstream media refuses to tell you ("You will have seen the recent plunge in the price of Bitcoin. This was triggered by Bolgakov last week upgrading to an NVidia GeForce® GTX 1080 Ti, which can play Quake III in max resolution at 60fps with all the lighting and textures enabled," which means, "Bolgakov has been playing Quake III and not buying any Bitcoin"). Read the rest
A common misconception is that bitcoin transactions are anonymous. The truth is, unless you are very careful about covering your tracks, your bitcoin transactions can be connected to you. And the transaction records on bitcoin's public database (the blockchain) can never be changed or deleted, meaning they will forever be searchable by authorities or anyone else. Andy Greenberg of Wired reports that researchers were able to "connect someone's bitcoin payment on a dark web site to that person's public account."
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[T]he Qatari researchers first collected dozens of bitcoin addresses used for donations and dealmaking by websites protected by the anonymity software Tor, run by everyone from WikiLeaks to the now-defunct Silk Road. Then they scraped thousands of more widely visible bitcoin addresses from the public accounts of users on Twitter and the popular bitcoin forum Bitcoin Talk.
By merely searching for direct links between those two sets of addresses in the blockchain, they found more than 125 transactions made to those dark web sites' accounts — very likely with the intention of preserving the senders' anonymity — that they could easily link to public accounts. Among those, 46 were donations to WikiLeaks. More disturbingly, 22 were payments to the Silk Road. Though they don't reveal many personal details of those 22 individuals, the researchers say that some had publicly revealed their locations, ages, genders, email addresses, or even full names. (One user who fully identified himself was only a teenager at the time of the transactions.) And the 18 people whose Silk Road transactions were linked to Bitcoin Talk may be particularly vulnerable, since that forum has previously responded to subpoeanas demanding that it unmask a user's registration details or private messages.
Blockchain transactions are recorded forever and indelibly, and that means that all the Bitcoin transactions on early Tor hidden service marketplaces like Silk Road are on permanent, public display; because many people who made these transactions later went on to link those Bitcoin wallets with their real identities, those early deals are now permanently associated with their public, identifiable selves. Read the rest
Technological limitations in the design of the Bitcoin system means that the network only processes about seven transactions per second, unless you pay someone with a lot of compute-power to log your transaction, currently at the rate of about $20/transaction. Read the rest