The Bitcoin Bubble’s Bursting
Earlier this month people began noticing that Bitcoin, the digital currency, was exploding in value. This isn’t the first time. As the Wall Street Journal explained back in 2011, Bitcoin at that time the world’s fastest-gaining currency. They also provided a good explainer about how Bitcoin actually works:
If returns like those seem otherworldly, perhaps its because Bitcoin is a world unto itself. To recap, it’s is a purely online currency with no intrinsic value; its worth is based solely on the willingness of holders and merchants to accept it in trade. In that respect, it’s not so different from fiat currencies like the dollar or Euro, but whereas governments back such money, Bitcoins lack central control.
In another way, the appeal of the Bitcoin echoes the appeal of gold. Istead of a central bank, a computer algorithm dictates their supply. Today there are six million Bitcoins, a number that will grow at a steadily slowing rate until it approaches 21 million, but no more. As with gold, some see such limited supply as built-in protection against inflation that could result from runaway government budget deficits. Gold, of course, has been a store of value for thousands of years and has at least some industrial use, whereas Bitcoins are brand new and exist only on the Internet.
Back when the WSJ wrote this article, a bitcoin was worth $30. Yesterday, it hit $250.
Today, people are cashing in their chips and it’s tumbled (as of early this afternoon) back down to $190.
But let’s get to some good Bitcoin reading. Here are items that have have crossed my feed over the last few days:
- MIT Technology Review: Cryptocurrency — The bitcoin, a virtual medium of exchange, could be a real alternative to government-issued money—but only if it survives hoarding by speculators. James Surowiecki dips into the currency’s background and history. See also Joshua Davis’ New Yorker article, The Crypto-Currency, about the mystery behind Bitcoin’s creator Satoshi Nakamoto… if there really is, or was, a Satoshi Nakamoto.
- Slate: Will Bitcoins Make Me Rich? — A dispatch from inside the digital currency bubble. Farhad Manjoo withdraws $1,027.51 to buy himself a couple of coins.
- Felix Salmon, The Bitcoin Bubble and the Future of Currency. Written just last week, Salmon notes that although the value of all bitcoins surged past $1 billion for the first time, it is/was a classic bubble, but still had “fascinating implications for anybody who cares about payments, or currencies, or trust.”
- Business Insider: There’s Someone Called ‘The Bitcoin Billionaire’ Who’s Randomly Giving Out Thousands Of Dollars On Reddit.
- Quartz: Why Bitcoin “millionaires” could accidentally become tax felons. Hint: capital gains.
Image: Screenshot, Real Time Bitcoin Market Data, by Clark Moody.
How to cook Octopus:
Octopus is a vile fish of little worth: cook it however you wish
[Note that this remarkable pie is for amusement only]
Make a mould for a large pie, and in the bottom make a hole large enough that your fist can pass through, or even bigger if you wish, and the sides around it should be slightly higher than the common usage; fill it with flour and cook in an oven. Once it is cooked, open the hole on the bottom and remove the four, beforehand, prepare another small pie filled with good stuff that has been well cooked and seasoned and that has been made as big as that hole in the large mold: place this pie through the hole into the mold; and in the empty space that remains around the small pie, put some live birds, as many as it will hold; and the birds should be placed in it just before it is to be served: and then when it is served before those seated at the banquet, you remove the corner above, and the birds will fly away.
This is done to entertain and amuse your company. And in order that they do not remain disappointed by this, cut the small pie up and serve. I say one pie, but you can make more - as many as you wish. You can make tortes in a similar fashion, mixing ingredients and adapting them so the will go together well.
Skirrets of fish must be dregged in flour
You bear eggs well together
Most egg dishes require orange juice
The Lord’s Prayer is a measurement of time
Eggs Coddled in Their Shells
Place fresh eggs in cold water and boil for the time it takes you to say the Lord’s Prayer, or a little bit longer, and remove.
Belgian police fired water cannons to disperse striking ArcelorMittal workers in Namur yesterday.
The world’s largest steelmaker factory slashed more than 1,300 jobs by shutting down a cola plant & six finishing lines. Thousands of people have flooded the streets protesting job cuts & austerity measures throughout the country. Protesters have been met with riot police firing water cannons & pepper spray since Friday.
NEW RULE: If we must sit through a 30-second ad to see your Web site, you have to take down all of those banner ads, which no one has clicked on since 1997. Please — I’m trying to watch a video of a nipple slip from last night’s episode of “Real Housewives of Atlanta.” Let’s not cheapen it.Bill Maher: New Rules for the New Year (via nedhepburn)
Gordon Parks, Untitled, 1968
From the Cleveland Museum of Art:
Regarded as a major photojournalist, Gordon Parks has also earned considerable distinction as a writer, poet, novelist, composer, and filmmaker. In 1949, he was appointed a staff photographer for Life magazine. and produced remarkable photo-essays on a wide range of personalities, events, and topics, including Winston Churchill, Paris fashions, Harlem street gangs, the civil-rights movement, and South Africa. Photographed at an odd angle and through the bars of a bedframe, this poignant image depicts a young boy working on his homework in bed.
Argleton, the phantom settlement that mysteriously appeared and disappeared on Google maps four years ago, may have eradicated it’s digital footprint but it’s legacy remains.
First spotted by a professor at the local university, Edge Hill, the town is thought to have been a paper town; a place that is added to a map, but doesn’t exist, in order to keep other mapmakers from crossing copyright laws.
Although the fictitious village saw stardom via a minor media sensation in 2009, and was subsequently removed from Google maps, does inventing a place to catch copyright infringement negate our offline and online experience of place?
Positioned between Aughton and Town Green, the sprawling fields and various A roads which make up the village are non places, topographically speaking, but as various other sites struggle to keep up with Google’s errors, its legacy includes a fictitious bike ride, real encounters of walking the territory to redraw the map and being made the subject of a Radio 4 segment.
My next voyage on the Virgin Pendilino might have to include a trip to Argleton.