Bitcoin Bites Back
In an earlier post, I tried, without success, to use bitcoin. Prior to writing that post, I was a believer in this new counterculture currency. Would this be something savings group members would like? Bitcoin seemed cool, subversive in a Height-Ashbury kind of way, and cost-effective. But I learned it was silly, mainstream in a technocratic kind of way, and expensive. No savings group members wouldn’t like it. But, maybe I should give bitcoin a break and try again.
This time, I surfed the web to get a bitcoin wallet. The landing page of Blockchain.info flashes transactions at a ticker-tape velocity - you feel like you are part of something exciting, futuristic even. Whole strings of searches emerge: block height, block hash, transaction hash, hash160, or ipv4 address.
Here are some faqs from the Blockchain site.
“Are there any fees?
No, it is a free service. You may be asked to include a “miner’s fee” to help support the Bitcoin network, which is mandatory for the use of Bitcoins.”
“Is it secure? Will another mybitcoin.com situation occur again?
Yes, it is, and no, we are protected from such situations [… ] “ (huh?)
So, the transactions are free, but not and are secure, but not. But, let us not worry about how expensive or vulnerable our bitcoins are – we did that already in A New Guest at the Roach Motel, Part 1 – let’s worry how we can get them. We got them for sure through a card, but could not spend them, but now is there a better way? Let’s try the laptop.
First, signing up for a bitcoin wallet on the blockchain.info is simple. You enter the usual things, if you can get past the captchas, an activity that does take considerable time - some are blurred to a fare-the-well. Then for reasons unknown a string of words pops up.
These words, explain the blockchain site, are your mnemonics (yes, mnemonics is the word the site uses in case you are worrying about bitcoin being accessible to the illiterate.)
You are told to physically print the mnemonic word-string (so much for going crypto), however, when you strike “print” the site jumps to the next page. As it turns out, you can’t print them, at least I couldn’t. I recall two of my words- barbecue and intonation - but the rest are gone, gone, gone. So much for bitcoin’s evanescent memory palace.
How do I get bitcoins into my e-wallet? You, dear reader, send them to me. Here is my bitcoin address:
Because we know bitcoin is safe but not, and free but not, maybe you should send them, but not.
I suspect deep down that Bitcoin, like collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps, and a hundred other derivatives and instruments (including, more controversially, carbon credits), are basically ways for clever people to get rich at the expense of less clever people. I don't say they were designed for that purpose - well, some were, some weren't - but only clever people are going to make money on, say, "Equity Volatility Swaps". And, since they don't create wealth, then less clever people will lose money.
Did you see the Today's Revolutionary about Dogecoin? Recommended - link below. When some Dogecoin folks got hacked and lost their money, the community pitched in to cover the loss. Dogecoin has a different feel than Bitcoin. I've gone to Dogecoin "faucets" and now have over two US cents worth of Dogecoin, infinitely more than I have in Bitcoin.
Mon, July 7, 2014 | Paul Rippey
NB: Originally published July 2014 but moved to a later date because... Bitcoin still exists. Doesn't it?