Jazz on a Summer's Day

First an aside.

I have struggled to find reasons for posting movie reviews, but such is the way of human wizards.  I can't figure 'em out sometimes.  Moving pictures?  Seriously?  And to make matters worse, it is - invariably - moving pictures filled with lies.  Actors.  Fakery.  WTF?  One enjoys to be tricked, apparently?  It's not bad enough that a gigabyte or so of holographic wetware is ravaged in the process of delegating one's imagination to the closet whilst the sensorium is hammered a là snowcrash.  In the end, the praise usually comes up something along the lines of "there was a conversation that was relevant to modern times".   Hmm.. 2 hours and you heard a relevant conversation?  Which you could have read in two seconds and without that disturbing imagery?  It seems like you got suckered.  That person's face is now burned in your mind.  Cause you didn't know to say no.

Well the answer must lie primarily in appreciation of art and craft, and secondarily in trying to have ones finger at the pulse of the stupigentia; both worthy efforts.  Lets look at the former.

Music.  Lets take for example The Blues Brothers.  Definitely one of the top movies of all time in a majority of people's lists, but why?  Well sure, destroying the entire fleet of Chicago Police cars is great eye candy, and the trickery is all in good fun, but the real reason is the music.  If your movie includes a real performance by one of: James Brown, John Lee Hooker, Cab Calloway, or Aretha Franklin, you have a classic.  All of the above?  Mythical supercult status.  Even something like "Lord of the Rings" or "Star Wars" redeems itself in the end by offering music.  It is always the music that sets the tone.  Hard to argue with that isn't it.

Craft.  Production, direction, cinematography.. all arts and specializations of some wizards.  Theatre is clearly a literary form, and therefore by extension, film can be one, and is worthy of attention for this reason alone.  The golden era of movies may be over, but we can be sure the content will continue to be produced and will likely continue to be of interest as craft as it evolves.

Another factor goes into my choices of films to watch: I watch what appears before me.  Which brings me to today's recommendation, which appeared before me at a house party I wound up in, on a large screen TV (large for my tastes, I had to move to the far end of the room to avoid the overload).

Newport Jazz Festival 1958

Jazz on a Summer Day

This movie is a cult classic for a few reasons.

The music will not be new to you, it is that which people all over the world dissect carefully today, but in the spirit of that day it was -- just another summer day.  That's part of the attraction.  Anita O'Day looks fabulous and very much has it.  A young Eric Dolphy looks fabulous, in a spooky number that will stick in your head as his harmonies often do, matched with a percussive riff that despite its simplicity does the same.  Satchmo and best friend, like you might see them in any other youtube video, but here - Oogle didn't register your eyeballs.  Things are more natural.  Art Framer and Jerry Mulligan just happened to drop by.  Monk, always photogenic and wise - and surprise surprise, playing Monk.  But some were more new to me: George Shearing I was not very familiar with:  The Brit brings the Cuban flavor.  Sonny Stitt I haven't heard enough from either.  Chuck Berry is there with his signature move and signature off-tune guitar, looking like he has something to prove (to offer) rather than already being the King of Rock and Roll his name would become synonymous with.  Great drumming in all tracks, I'll let you have the pleasure of identifying the responsible parties.

One gets the feeling that the cameras just happened to be on.

Of course, after being raped by moving pictures as many times as most of us have, one is likely to not believe a word of it.  Of course it was staged, right?  I mean, mostly the whole thing takes place on a stage.  Did the 50s even happen really?  It's all digitized and colorized, right?  People dressed like that and had those kind of facial expressions naturally?  No, they must be actors, right?  Certainly there are a few scenes that are -very- staged, but they are basically fun.  Smoking and drinking.. no characters forced on us - no names - no brands - no staged violence.

The whole thing is wholly inoffensive, generally educational, and doesn't hurt a bit.  Not many other movies exist that I can say that about.

Quite an enjoyable experience overall.  Highly recommended.

Introducing Coin-Vote

This post is available as a pdf file at [1] [2]

Coin-Vote

Version 0.1

Sunday, 21 June, Year 7

funkenstein the dwarf

Abstract:

Coin-vote is a voting system for establishing opinion and resolving disputes amongst willing participants. Rather than using a traditional method of trying to tally one vote per person, it relies on a one vote per coin tally. This enables votes to be counted with provable security, as there are no longer the usual issues of identity fraud, counting fraud, or polling bias, which have plagued traditional polling systems. This document is meant to explain our platform and database for conducting coin-votes. We outline here security procedures and motivation for using the coin-vote system.

Introduction

Attempts to tally public opinion date at least as far back as 2500 year old Athens, but doubtless further. We won't review here the history of voting, polling, and opinion gathering, other than to note that we are seeing today a remarkable change in some of our technical abilities to conduct polls. The communications revolution ushered in by Claude Shannon and electronic computer networks have enabled new weapons in this theatre. The proof of work network of a public coin is itself is a voting system of sorts, in which the ledger is decided by a plurality of hashing power.

Online polls are familiar to most internet subscribers today. These polls attempt to determine public opinion by requesting interested parties to perform some action (such as a following a link, performing a captcha, or otherwise registering their vote). The system we describe here is no different in that regard. The action required of the voter in our case requires using bitcoin. It is vastly different in one important regard: it is not falsifiable.

Procedure

A poll question and answer selection is initiated in the coin-vote system and established in our database. Now anyone can submit their opinion on the poll question. No login or identification is required: only that a certain amount of coin is selected as the coin which “votes” on the poll in question. A would-be voter selects the question to vote upon, and sees the current status of the vote. Then, the voter selects their choice. The voter is given a string unique to the question and the vote choice, which they must the sign using their key which controls one or more unspent outputs (UTXOs). The signature, performed with the digital signature algorithm of the coin just as a transaction is signed, is another string. The signature is submitted to the database, where the validity is checked, and if it passes the checks – the vote is registered and the tally altered to reflect its weight. The weight is the amount of coin. Votes can be made using the sum of all UTXOs present in a single bitcoin address, or with a single UTXO. The reason for allowing this freedom to the voter will be made apparent in the discussion of security concerns. In no case is any coin spent in the voting procedure; all vote submissions are free of charge.

Traditional security concerns

One common way that online polls are compromised is that a voter can return and place a bet again, using another identity. This is the Sybil attack. With coin-vote, every vote must have a fresh coin. Without real limited bitcoin, a voter is provably unable to vote, just as a person without bitcoin is provably unable to spend. Voting identity is in this case cannot be counterfeit in exactly the same way as the units of bitcoin cannot be counterfeit.

Another common way that online polls are compromised is that they are adjusted by their purveyors. There are many reasons a poll purveyor might adjust the results; the imagination of the reader is likely sufficient to determine them. For the case of coin-vote, the total list of all votes is available to the public and every vote can be verified. Therefore, the list cannot be compromised. There is no way to add votes to a poll, because every vote must be from a unique bitcoin UTXO. Removing votes could be accomplished, however if this were done the voter who's vote had been removed could easily divulge their vote and demonstrate to the public that the poll had been compromised. With coin-vote, there can be no hidden inside job.

Yet another common security concern in conducting a poll is intimidation. For this reason, all legitimate voting procedures allow the vote to be cast in secrecy. Otherwise, a voter might feel threatened or pressured into a particular action regarding the poll (see e.g.). For the case of coin-vote, a coin holder is able to hold coin pseudonymously, and so is able to vote in relative secrecy. In some cases however, this will not be the case. Holders of very large or infamous fortunes of bitcoin might be readily identifiable, including for example well known businesses that have made their addresses public. Secrecy is never a perfect affair. However in this case, the built in pseudonymous nature of bitcoin provides a good solution.

Yet another traditional security concern with polling is that votes can be bought. In this scenario, a wealthy individual might wish for a certain outcome and would pay voters to cast their vote in his favor. This is still in theory possible with the coin-vote system, but is much alleviated. A large coin holder might, or example, have no opinion on a certain poll. One who cares about this poll could then solicit the large coin holder to place one vote or another with their coin. A provable obfuscation of the vote in the record which nonetheless allows validation of the fact that it came from real coin could be used to thwart this kind of attack. However, this “poor man pays the rich man” scenario is less likely than in many traditional voting systems. Whether it becomes an issue in the coin-vote system as currently implemented remains to be seen.

Coin-vote specific security concerns

When a vote is submitted to the system, two checks are performed on it to make sure of its validity:

  • That the signature is a valid one and is made with a key controlling at least one unspent output

  • That the unspent output is not tainted by coin previously used to vote in this question.

The first of these two is readily apparent from our description, that the vote must have demonstrated currently valid bitcoin at the time (block height) of submission. The amount of confirmations which an unspent output has received may be important, at the moment we are running with a single confirmation as enough to make a vote. There is always the possibility that a chain reorganization or double-spend could allow our system to be compromised. However we are generally protected from this by the fact that the coin itself is more valuable than the vote. The security of the vote tally is thus precisely the same nature as the security of the coin ownership.

The second validation is more subtle. It is necessary to prevent a voter from double voting, which is moving their coin to another address and voting with it once again. We must in the case of every individual vote check the history of all previously submitted votes to ascertain the cleanliness of the new vote. If any of the previously submitted and tallied votes have been spent in such a way that they wind up as value in the submitted UTXO, the vote is rejected.

There is a further concern which become apparent when considering our vote checking procedure above. A nefarious user might imagine that they could send some of their coin used for a vote to a third party, thus “tainting” the coin of the third party and preventing them from voting. Such a concept of taint is in fact does not exist. This is readily apparent when we realize that the fundamental spendable (and votable) coin is not the amount of coin controlled by an address but individual unspent outputs. Therefore, receipt of previously voted coin at an address does nothing to taint the existing UTXOs controlled by that address. All of them are still clean. However, the user who controls this address will be forced to vote with their existing UTXOs individually. A vote attempt made with the entire contents of the address will be rejected.

Other than verification of votes, there is very little operational security required in the operation of coin-vote. No funds are stored by the coin-vote server, and no account information exists to be stolen. The primary concern from a data security standpoint is to ensure the integrity of the database. It is important that the entire database of votes be available for confirmation by any party. A database dump in JSON format is the current method of distribution, and regular backups are made to ensure no voting information is lost.

General Utility

At first glance, the coin-vote system might seem somewhat unfair when compared to a traditional one-person-one-vote system. In the coin-vote system, a voter's say in the poll is directly proportional to their wealth. While one might complain about this, there is nothing one could do to change the fact. It could be argued that coin-vote's weighting of votes is actually a more fair reflection of the power structures of society. We will refrain from such philosophical arguments here. The system is dictated not by appeal to fairness or social concerns, but by the security and the architecture of the coin cryptography. A coin-vote is a coin-vote, it will not always be the proper poll to make in a given situation. However, we believe it will be of great utility in saving great time and energy going down paths which are not desired by the powerful. A coin-vote allows us to “follow the money”.

It is also the case that coin-votes represent another way that one can put their coin to work in exercising political power. It has always been the case that in spending one's money, one chooses to support one or another institution, and thus exercises political power. With coin-vote, it is possible to wield some piece of this power without diminishing one's holdings.

Further Considerations

It is to be noted that most all operational and business concerns are purposely not addressed in this paper. Being very new, the utility and security of coin-vote is still uncertain. We expect to levy a tax on those who wish to submit new questions, both to support the operation and to eliminate spam. Advertisement banners are also an option we explore. It is expected that use cases will emerge which were not planned, and that some use-cases will wind up being inappropriate for such a poll. The patience and assistance of the community of coin users, voters, and pollers, is greatly appreciated while the bugs are slowly removed from the system and the interface continues to improve.

 

The Stagularity Cometh

As you have undoubtedly noticed, the pace of advancement of knowledge, technology, and ability of mankind has shrunken to almost nil.  When the rate drops to dead zero itself, this is popularly known as:

The Stagularity

At this point, progress stops.  Time continues, but in a way difficult for us to contemplate.

Lets look at a few examples showing how close we are:

1) Aviation

The world fleet is run using planes some 30 years old.  "State of the art" is 30 year old tech with a few bells and whistles added.  Yes, this includes the top new military jets as well.

2) Software / IT

The only real change we have seen in the last 15 years or so is renaming programs as apps.  Otherwise, we are in the paradigm of the 80s, posting to bulletin boards and downloading proprietary binaries from company servers.  As to bitcoin, perhaps the one exception, the only real news or progress out there in the last seven years is:  it still works.

3) Medicine

We continue our backwards slide here.  Nobody asks any important questions or points out the obvious solutions, as the power structure won't allow for such.  As "Bones" said, we are in the dark ages here, and not moving out in the foreseeable future.

4) Social Sciences

Mental illnesses like puritanism, kleptomania, and ancient traditions masquerading as religion still continue to plague us with no changes.  People still pretend "nations" exist as a real thing and the belief continues to hold us back and destroy capital at a horrendous rate.

5) Physics

Many struggle with the advances of 100 years ago and call them cutting edge.  Otherwise it's mostly posing, regurgitating, and basic pulling the wool over the eyes of the laymen and talented student alike.

6) Space exploration

Bainokur continues to have the most successful launching system in the world, running on decades old systems.  Voyagers from the 70s remain our furthest scouts, while nothing has come as close to the sun as Helios did a few decades ago.  So-called private "new players" struggle to even get above the troposphere, mostly in bids to defraud investors.

7) Agriculture

The wisdom of the ancient Americans appears still lost, as people continue to monocrop and NPK fertilize destroying their arable land.  Genetic techniques gave some promise 30 years ago when polymerase first came out but all they have been used for is to cripple various plants and destroy sustainable and efficient agriculture.

---

The stagularity is a hard event to plan for, because it is unclear what can happen after it.  All we can do is try to push through it.  It may seem impossible but in fact we will push through it into a totally new paradigm in which advances occur again.  It just seems like it will take forever.   And then one day it will suddenly be over.

 

 

Negative interest rates

Echonomists have been very busy lately talking about how somehow, somebody now has negative interest rates and how OMFGWTFBBQ!!!111!!! this means something or other and has totally surprised someone or other.  If you are confused by any of this, allow me to spell it out for you.

In point of fact, all fiat currency is issued at an effective interest rate of negative infinity.  What someone charges you to borrow currency from them is another matter.  When you borrow fiat, typically it is from somebody who borrowed from somebody else who also borrowed.  How much you pay for the new units roughly defines your status in a hierarchy of recipients of these units.  This hierarchy has also been described as "interest rate apartheid".

An example or two might as usual help elucidate things further.

If we browse the darknet for newly printed euros, shipped directly to your home, we find several purveyors.  Because we expect low quality (if anything at all) from these folks, they offer us the notes at a discount.  While a standard euro might go for four or five millies, these euros sell for one or two millies each.  And why not?  After all, these notes cost their manufacturers (a.k.a. counterfeiters) almost nothing to issue.  It makes sense they can still make some profit even passing discount on to us.  Thus for a shipment of 100 euros to our house, we repay with 50 euros.  The repayment in full, for an amount less than the original amount of the loan, represents a payment with an effective negative interest rate.  The business described here is exactly what is happening on a larger scale with all fiat currency purveyors.  They can still make really good money with a negative interest rate, because they are paying an original rate of negative infinity percent.  Why would anyone be surprised that they can charge a negative interest rate?

Recall the formula for the amount owed on a loan of principal P compounded continually:

 A=Pe^{rt}

Where A is the amount owed, P is the principal, r is the interest rate, and t is the time passed.  So for A to be zero, that is for you to not owe anything (at any time t and for any principal P), r must be equal to negative infinity.

So we can see, a negative interest rate is not so strange after all.  It's what the sun charges you for UV light.  An infinitely negative interest rate is how we say gratis in the language of usury.  And so we see clearly that all fiat currency is in fact issued at an infinitely negative interest rate.

Unfortunately this post is rather useless in the department of actionable advice.  If somebody is charging you 20% or 200% interest, and you are under contract, you are still going to be under that contract.  You will pay up or go bankrupt.  If somebody is charging you -10% and you are under contract, you will also have to pay up.  How much are people issuing to themselves at r=-\infty?  I don't have a clue.  However it looks like we will find out eventually.  That is another tale for another day.

Satoshi on academia

The list of things we can learn from bitcoin appears neverending.  This is a reflection not just of the genius of Satoshi or the current state of affairs, but also of the holographic nature of the world (or at least, of the tonal model of it).  In other words, we could learn almost anything about the world by studying just one thing in it.

Of course one can construct apparent exceptions.  Trying to learn about the history of Japanese literature by starting to study the interior structure of a lump of granite is not the best way to go about things. The connections there are very tenuous.

One place the connections are not as tenuous is the connection between bitcoin and academia.  In particular, lets take a look at HOW Satoshi told the world about bitcoin.  Sometimes, the method of speech can convey a lot of meaning.  In this case, it's really a whole lot.  There are other connections between bitcoin and the future of academia, relating to politics and finance, but we will leave those aside for now.

In particular, Satoshi provided a solution to the longstanding academic problem of distributed consensus, a.k.a. the Byzantine General's problem.  This was established by many authors as an important and perhaps impossible problem of computer science, networking, and information theory.  He did so in a post to a public forum.  So what, you might say.  Person has information, person conveys information.  What's the big deal?

The big deal is that this is basically saying "fuck you" to all of academia.  There is an established protocol of conveying new advances in knowledge, and it typically involves:

1) Established journals
2) Establishing personal reputation
3) Referencing the existing literature
4) Collecting the rewards

Satoshi said "no thanks" to all of this (that's a little more polite isn't it).  He didn't use an established journal, so none of his choices of words were shaped by institutional editors.  He used a pseudonym; this was not about his academic reputation in terms of landing that professor job or editor position later.  He didn't make a lot of references, to friends and colleagues of the editors and reviewers, which is de rigueur in academic publications.  He didn't collect his impact factor or his citations for use in furthering his career or establishing himself as future curator of what gets to go in this or that publication.

So, why do you think he did it this way?  I can't put words in anyone's mouth but the way I see it this is a demonstration.  He was telling us, hey, not only is it possible to use money which is well defined, but also it is possible to speak the truth and make advances in intellectual pursuits without obeisance to ancient traditions and outmoded social structures.

Wow!  That is some heavy shit, wouldn't you say?  And similar to the state of world currencies prior to the arrival of BTC, this is a message the world absolutely is ready for.  Very few experts, when questioned in person, put much stake in impact factors and academic titles when it comes to identifying other experts.  Reputation built up by direct interaction is much more important.  Sure, at first one might look at publication record and citations, but most people recognize that a few words from a trusted colleague will trump those almost always.  Most fields of knowledge, however arcane, have a few people who are recognized by those in the know as crème de la crème, and often they are not the big names in publication, academic position, or citations.  That's just the way it is.  Today I wouldn't be surprised if more people read Vixra than Nature.  Seriously!  [edit: well probably false but closer to truth than many realize]  Even though it's 99% garbage.  A lot of people are more interested to hear even potential advances than rehashed establishment ideas, even if it means wading through the sewers waist deep.  There is some serious rot in the tree and Satoshi is not the first person to suggest a shakeout.

So what happens next?  Many of the authors active in coin forums are disgruntled former or not-quite-made-it academics.  After all, bitcoin is the currency of choice for the world's literate people.  Literate here implies intellectually curious, which implies likely some experience with academia.  These folks are upset because their genius was not recognized, and they didn't want to be the round peg shoved into the square hole.  So, they were filtered out by one of academia's many filters.  These folks will get together, and immediately start repeating the same mistakes again (They only look like mistakes to an objective view.  Becoming an oppressive dictator, after deposing the previous oppressive dictator, might not look like a mistake to for example the new dictator blinded by the same blinders he took from the head of the previous dictator).  New open forums like Arxiv.org, will become more and more exclusive, while the new "open discourse" will slowly start to reference the same few new leaders.  New filters will be put up to "keep out the riffraff".  Some of this will be reasonable and necessary, while others of it will be purely the sad behavior that makes today's child abuse victims into tomorrows child abusers.

Anyhew, posers gonna pose, readers gonna read.  Perhaps Satoshi didn't give a shit enough to even raise the middle finger, and I am putting way to much import on the choice of publication style.  There are those out there who just want to learn and contribute, and don't really care about some of the politics.  Here's to those folks, it's you that shape the world (though it may take some crazy time to filter down, if indeed you can get your thesis out of the prison at all).  The rest of us will stand around with our dicks in our hands, talking shit about your work until it reaches critical mass at which point we will claim credit for it.  Count on it.