Show 42: We’re BACK with Failed Tech & Blockchain
12 September 2016 – The stars have almost fully aligned. Will and I are both fully functional this week. Sadly, we have no interview or Extra Mad, because we are both frantically catching-up at work, but the show is all new this week and next week, for our 1-year anniversary show, we have an interview I have been trying to get for a while so I’m excited.
At the top of the show I talk about the bankruptcy filing by South Korean shipping giant, Hanjin. Sea freight is a canary in the coal mine economic indicator and the sinking of Hanjin speaks volumes. Also, with Christmas on the horizon, the Toy Shippers Association (no joke, there’s clearly a club for everyone), is expressing deep concern. It is already apparent that the stranding of so many toys will be putting extra pressure on reindeer-based transport systems on the night of 24 December. Also during the top block, Will, as predicted/promised, gets into the appearance of Nigel Farage at a Trump rally in Mississippi. Fascism is real and it’s gone mainstream. The “Lauering” of the bar by the press has allowed it to go unchallenged for years and now we are all reaping the crop of hate so carefully nurtured by the AltRight.
In his block Will has some fun talking about the history of tech and projects that failed because they were too far ahead of their time. The Scottish efforts to build a canal across Panama, the Macon and Akron airships and the Apple Newton were all failures. Still, there is a tiny bit of Newton in every iPhone. Eventually, good ideas tend to take root. The photo below is of the USS Macon during a visit to new York City in 1933.
In my segment I answer the question, what is blockchain? Bitcoin, the first iteration of blockchain, is an interesting experiment but it has substantial limitations. Blockchain itself, however, will have a big future and be used in many applications. It will not replace currency, for reasons I will get into in more detail next week, but it is an important technology which is on the rise. I do spend some time on the technical limitations of blockchain including the Byzantine Generals problem. There are many serious descriptions of this hurdle as it has been an unresolved challenge, both for programmers and applied mathematicians, for nearly forty years but there was one genuinely short but funny article and I promised to link to it here.
Both Will and I thank you for sticking with us through the past few weeks. – Carrots! Arliss
Show 43: 1st Anniversary! Media, Money & Bitcoin
19 September 2016 – We are ONE! This is our first year podcast-aversary and we truly want to thank those at Netroots Radio who were so much a part of getting us launched. Also right at the top of the show I talk about where we came from and where we are going. We’re pretty excited about the future.
We do not have an interview this week. Alex Lawson, of Social Security Works!, had a family emergency and had to cancel at the last minute but we can all look forward to having Alex with us next week.
In his segment Will focuses tightly on a terrible article in New Republic which exemplifies one of the dramatic failings of the media during election cycles. Guess what, folks, most of the time it isn’t “both sides.” Most of the time it is facts and reality on one side and absolute make-believe fear mongering on the other side. What is amazing is how easy it is to slip lies into the public space when journalists, like Clio Chang, completely fall down on the job.
I get really wonky and go into the differences between money, sovereign currency, monetary instruments and commodities like Bitcoin. Bitcoin is no more a form of money than is a Beanie Baby. Both are commodities which only have value because the market has deemed it to be such and just like the infamous Pet Rock or, historically, tulips, that “value” can dry up and blow away at any time. Bitcoin is also not a cybercurrency. Thinking of it that way is Bitcoin Bro hype which has been accepted by
journalists sheep. These are the links to some of the articles I mention in the show.
Bitcoin is Not a Currency by Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism
Everything I was Afraid to Ask About Bitcoin but Did by Lambert at Naked Capitalism
Money & Banking Part 16: FAQs About Monetary Systems by Eric Tymoigne at New Economic Perspectives
Bitcoin’s Deflationary Weirdness by Dan Kervick at New Economic Perspectives
A note about the music in this show: I wanted to use some short snippets which fit with the themes of the blocks we were doing this week. As in the past this will not be a common thing for us, I just really love these particular songs and I thought you might want to hear them too. Selling the News, by Switchfoot, and and Channel 5 News, by Bo Burnham, both have dense and brilliant lyrics. The songs are well worth hearing in full and many times. At the very end of the show I slip in a tiny part of Cyndi Lauper’s genius acoustic reworking of her hit Money Changes Everything. It is seriously wonderful and a must-own piece of music.
Thank you to all of you and a huge thank you to Will. It has been such fun and I can’t wait for more. Carrots! – Arliss
Show 44: Social Security Works!, Charlotte & Banks
26 September 2016 – We are finally back up to full power this week and have a truly terrific interview with Alex Lawson of Social Security Works! Because our listeners already have heard me talk about the mechanics of how Social Security works, Alex was free to wade out into the weeds where the world gets really interesting. He went into a great deal of detail about the dirty underbelly that the lying liars are trying so hard to keep us from seeing when they promote the privatization of Social Security. He also recommended that we take a side trip to the link for Social Security Spotlight where the (excellent) website lays out the economic impact of Social Security state by state.
At the top of the show Will talked about the importance and joy of celebrating Bi Visibility Day. I was especially caught by his pointing out why it is that the largest group within the LGBTQ community is also the most ignored. For my opening section I was less cheerful in giving an update on the latest news from the protectors gathered on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation along the Cannonball River. Like Keystone XL before it, the Dakota Access Pipeline is an enormous environmental threat and its construction has already caused the bulldozing of burial grounds, sacred sites and the locations of historic villages. Pressure from around the world has caused the Obama administration to reconsider but the project is by no means stopped. We must join in demanding an end to this and all similar pipeline projects.
Will then really spent time time getting into the role that journalism is playing in the protests in Charlotte. That journalists have stopped operating as journalists and now are only feeding the clicks necessary to support advertising has destroyed one of the cornerstones of our democracy. When the people lose their voice, they lose hope and then where do they turn?
I spend just a few minutes talking about how banks create money and why new money is pulled out of central banks by private sector banks instead of being pushed out as is the common view.
One last note, if you haven’t checked us, ImHoppingMad, out on Instagram yet, the six Team Arliss bunnies are now there providing their own brief comments on politics, economics and, of course, carrots. Carrots! – Arliss