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Oops! Let’s Try That Again

Pressing reset button on PS1 console

The following is a book review of COVID-19: The Great Reset, by Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret that I posted to Amazon.ca. I will link to it when it is live.

This is an odd review to write. While I think the policy prescriptions in COVID-19: The Great Reset are… misguided, to put it nicely… I do see some value in reading this book if only so that you can better understand the mindset of the man who chairs the World Economic Forum and is occasionally photographed dressed like some sort of Mortal Kombat character. Perhaps this is a book best borrowed for free from the library.

Once I moved past the alarming title, COVID-19: The Great Reset was more nuanced than I expected. Schwab and the other guy make a few interesting predictions about our post-COVID future, for example, businesses optimizing for resiliency over profit or “local tourism” becoming the king of the travel industry. However, readers don’t need to be particularly astute to pick up on the elitist, ends-justify-the-means attitude that underlies every page of the book. I’ll give you an example with one of my favorite(?) quotes:

“… a state emergency can only be justified when a threat is public, universal and existential. In addition, political theorists often emphasize that extraordinary powers require authorization from the people and must be limited in time and proportion. One can agree with the former part of the assertion (public, universal and existential threat), but what about the latter?”

(page 101)

Schwab hits an odd mix of both acknowledging globalism’s role in exacerbating the massive societal and economic upheaval brought about by COVID-19, while putting forth a solution that appears to be… to double down on globalism. And by that I mean to convince (if not force) national governments to give up sovereignty to supranational bureaucracies such as, well, the World Economic Forum.

“Problems that affect the entire world require the entire world to cooperate in order to fix them” is the gist of the book’s message. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of well-meaning people agree with that idea, but I would encourage those people to scrutinize a little more closely the track records and beliefs of organizations that claim to speak for all the world’s inhabitants before they surrender their rights, privacy, and livelihoods.

Final Verdict

I give COVID-19: The Great Reset two protein-rich insects out of five.

Number Go Up

Bitcoin/US dollar chart on January 5, 2020. Bitcoin is at 35198.76 USD.

Congratulations to all of my fellow rat poison enthusiasts who successfully held through the Dark Winter of Doubt (also known as “2018-2020”). Kennedy declared in 1961 that he would have a man on the Moon by end of the decade. Let me declare that bitcoin will be far beyond “the Moon” by the end of this decade.

I’ve lately become a lot less interested in evangelizing or defending cryptocurrency to the skeptics in my life. I’ve spent a solid half-decade casting pearls; at this point you either get it or you don’t.

Pictured: “not getting it”

Obviously there are still massive UX challenges in crypto. Exorbitant gas prices on the Ethereum network continue to intrude on the little guy’s ability to swap ERC-20s or interact with smart contracts. Last month I had to spend well over $100 in Ethereum gas fees to end a number of altcoin stakes that I set up the previous year. At each step of the process I questioned whether I was doing things correctly or whether I was recklessly burning through my gains in order to secure needlessly faster transaction speeds for myself. That experience sucks, and it won’t scale. But it’s not a death knell any more than ARPANET’s complexity was a harbinger of doom for Netscape.

We are still early. We are still early early. Did you see yesterday’s news that U.S. federal banks are now allowed to use stablecoins? We are so early you can’t even imagine it.

You shouldn’t expect the “financial advisor” at your hometown bank to recommend that you invest in crypto any more than you would have expected the store managers at Blockbuster to advise you to jump ship for Netflix. Every meteor is going to displace a few dinosaurs. (And until that day comes, nothing is preventing the dinosaurs from enjoying their 0.1% APY or whatever the CDs are paying nowadays.)

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that most people who regularly send and receive email cannot explain what TCP/IP or IMAP are, and yet every day they manage to successfully use technology that relies on those protocols. Why insist on understanding “what gives bitcoin value” before pulling the trigger on a provably resilient investment? Bro, you don’t need to understand blockchain in order for blockchain to take off.

My advice (this is not official financial advice; I’m not a licensed advisor; you must do your own research; blah blah blah) to anyone interested in crypto has always been to pick a safe project you believe in (read: BTC) and set up an automatic weekly buy on Coinbase. $10 a week. $50 a week. $5 a week. An amount that to you is negligible but non-trivial. Don’t even look at the price of one full coin when you do it.

What you don’t want to do: wait for the “perfect” moment on the price chart and then dump a life-altering amount of money into it all at once. What you really don’t want to do: day trade.

Buy and hold. That’s it. That’s literally all you have to do.

“But when should I sell?”

Sell? Hahaha.

My Top Songs of 2020 (According to Spotify)

Justin Bieber wearing a pink hoodie

As I was deciding on my favorite songs of the year, the thought occurred to me, “Who would know my favorite songs better than Spotify?” So, after pulling up the “Your Top Songs 2020” playlist generated for me by Spotify according to, I think, simply the number of times I played each song, I have extracted my “official” top 10 songs of 2020. This means that I am only counting songs released in 2020. (If you take a look at the playlist, you’ll notice that many of my most played songs came out in previous years.) One more rule: only one song allowed per artist.

11. Billie Eilish – No Time To Die

Top 40 pop music can do a lot worse than Billie Eilish. I think she has a fantastic voice. The breakdown at the end of “Bad Guy” is really, really cool. But I haven’t listened to her much outside of that. This song was clearly an exception. There’s a perfect amount of the 007 twang to cap off an incredible vocal performance.

10. Bleed From Within – Night Crossing

A pattern that’s going to emerge quickly as we go through this list is that I’ve gotten deeply into metal music. Bleed From Within is a good entry point into the genre for fans of hard rock. I guess what I mean by that is the vocals are discernible and it’s melodic. “Night Crossing” has great riffs and strong energy throughout.

9. Rina Sawayama – XS

I am not the first person to observe this, but Rina Sawayama’s “XS” reminds me of the turn-of-the-millenium pop as seen in Britney Spears or the Backstreet Boys. The production really makes the track… pop… more than anything.

8. Suicide Silence – Love Me to Death

For me, it’s the scream. That “love me to DEEEAAAATTTTHHH!!!!” is so impressive. I think these vocals are as jawdropping as Billie Eilish’s, but I suppose you could say for a different reason.

7. Tokyo Incidents – 選ばれざる国民

Guys, you have no idea how happy I was to see Tokyo Incidents reunite out of nowhere. I’m sure they thought they would come back just in time to ride the clout of a likely Olympics performance, but COVID had other plans. The keyboard stabs in this song in-between the clapping beat are the energetic oddball fusion rock that we needed in 2020.

6. Machine Girl – Fully in It

Absolutely one of my favorite tracks from one of my favorite albums of the year. Relentless from start to finish. And that finish! It just builds and builds and builds and then fizzes out gracefully. I love it.

5. Bring Me the Horizon – Dear Diary,

This is only number 5? I guess this is what happens when I let the algorithms do the thinking for me. If it were up to me, “Dear Diary” would be my number 1 favorite song of the year. It came out so late in the year; that must be why it is only number 5 on this list. It’s Bring Me the Horizon sounding as heavy as ever, but with punk energy and strangely relatable lyrics about a man going insane because he’s quarantining from a virus (in this case a zombie virus). The bass riff at the breakdown is incredible, and when the full band kicks in… bro.

4. Protest the Hero – The Canary

I had mixed feelings about Protest the Hero’s latest album, Palimpsest, released this year. The vocals have always been either the best or worst parts of any Protest the Hero song. When Rody Walker finds the right mix of scream and non-cringe lyrics, he’s incredible. “The Canary” was definitely a standout track on the album. That being said, I did kind of hate it when I first heard it. Even now, I think the vocals try to do too much… too many words and melodies crammed into not enough space. But there is no denying that the opening guitar riff is addictive.

3. Satyr – Picayune

The standout track from my favorite album of the year. And it’s a debut album, no less. I adore the mix of melodic and harsh vocals over nonstop djent rhythms. So heavy and melodically addictive.

2. Caligula’s Horse – Slow Violence

A heavy chugger. Great riffs throughout with vocal melodies that reach euphoric heights. Like Bleed From Within, I think Caligula’s Horse is a perfect entryway for fans of rock to get a taste of heavier music.

1. Justin Bieber – Yummy

Okay, this one caught me off guard. But Spotify has spoken. J Bieb’s lyrically barren single “Yummy” is apparently my most played track released in 2020. Maybe it’s the filtery, chill chords and hype trap beat or Justin’s soothing vocals, but this track definitely do got that yummy yum. I make no apologies. I never skip this song when it comes up on shuffle. Shallow as it may be, the production is fire and the melody is just plain fun to sing along to.


Here is the full playlist. As you’ll see, my most listened to songs of the year were not necessarily represented well by the above list.

Josh Anderson’s Guide to Cryptocurrency YouTubers

There’s no shortage of pundits in the YouTube cryptocurrency scene. Some investigate ICOs, others agonize over financial graphs, and others put their own spin on the news of the day. But it’s not – how shall I say this – the most egalitarian landscape in terms of intelligence (or entertainment value), so allow me to exhibit my “proof-of-having-watched-lots-of-YouTube” and tell you which ones are actually worth following.

CryptotubeSunny Decree
I respect Sunny’s hustle – the guy puts out content every day, but it’s hard to forgive him after he was exposed for being a paid ICO shill. While I never get the feeling that he really knows what he’s talking about, Sunny can be mildly entertaining depending on the topic.


Crypto Jedi
In the wake of the Bitconnect collapse, Crypto Jedi made some of the most thorough and entertaining takedowns of scammers like Craig Grant and Trevon James. Unfortunately, outside of that, his content rarely exhibits much depth beyond news regurgitation and “let’s look at CoinMarketCap today.”


tailopezTai Lopez
For all his talk of “knowledge,” Tai doesn’t seem to possess any technical know-how when it comes to crypto. That’s frustrating given his numerous interviews with legitimately smart people in the industry. Tai would do well to listen to his guests instead of butting in every 20 seconds to spout things like “you know what – we need to put PARENTING on the blockchain.”


cryptozombieCrypto Zombie
“K-dub” strikes me as dangerously naive (I can’t think of a single ICO he hasn’t described as “very cool”), but he’s got a friendly disposition and I enjoy leaving his voice on as background noise. Crypto Zombie is not technically knowledgeable in the slightest, but the kid’s got enthusiasm.


Doug Polk
Professional poker player Doug Polk has one of the most popular cryptocurrency YouTube channels due almost entirely to the fact that he edits jokes into his videos. Sure, most of his humor falls flat, but it’s the thought that counts. What bothers me about Doug Polk is how arrogant he can be when by his own admission he’s “not technical at all.” This is a guy who prints and sells shirts mocking CryptoNick for saying he doesn’t understand what a private key is, but I can almost guarantee if you sat Doug Polk down and asked him to articulate, say, the difference between a public key and a wallet address, Doug wouldn’t have a clue. In the words of Pulitzer laureate Kendrick Lamar: “Sit down, bitch! Be humble!”


cryptooracleCrypto Oracle
This guy focuses almost entirely on technical analysis, oftentimes buying what he must know to be shitcoins only because he believes the charts indicate they’ll appreciate soon. A smart kid, though.


boxminingBoxmining
A good entry point into crypto YouTube – Boxmining’s videos showcase moderate technical depth while remaining normie friendly. He’s amicable and stays out of drama. That said, if you ask me, his channel became less interesting when he decided to focus on daily news instead of in-depth analyses of altcoins…


datadashDatadash
Datadash has a large enough following to make a split-second cameo in John Oliver’s piece on cryptocurrency. Truth be told, I prefer Datadash less to other crypto YouTubers since his videos are often long slogs through charts and candlesticks, but he does have one of the more pleasant voices out of the people I’ve listed.


ryanxcharlesRyan X. Charles
I only recently started watching this guy’s content after seeing his face retweeted all over the place. A physics PhD dropout turned entrepreneur, Ryan has become perhaps the best Bitcoin Cash spokesperson out there. Unlike many on his side, his “big block” arguments are refreshingly free of name calling and hysterical rhetoric – and more importantly – rooted in the actual computer science. Definitely check out his channel if you want a nuanced understanding of the Bitcoin/Bitcoin Cash debate.


andreasAndreas Antonopoulos
One of the Bitcoin OGs. Seems to know as much about Bitcoin as any one person can. His videos are often deep dives into technical minutiae, but his maturity and passion make him an essential watch.


ivan on techIvan on Tech
I enjoy watching Ivan’s “Good Morning Crypto” news recap every day. He’s a smart, savvy kid with a great attitude. One of the few crypto YouTubers with actual blockchain programming ability.


richardheartRichard Heart
An eccentric weirdo who often arrives at moronic conclusions despite his clearly expansive intellect. From what I can tell, Richard Heart is a multi-millionaire hermit currently engulfed in some kind of nihilistic, blackpilled mental hellscape. However, he’s one of the few pundits who knows as much about technical analysis as he does about fundamental analysis. He’s not afraid to dive into petty drama, too, which is part of what makes his channel so damn entertaining. And unlike most crypto YouTubers, Richard Heart actually has the finance, economic, business and computer science chops to tear his opponents apart. Trust me, you’ll never THINK about buying IOTA again after listening to him.

Notes from ‘The Internet of Money: Five Years Later’ in Chicago

Music Box Chicago The Internet of Money

Photo credit

Back in 2013/14, when I first started learning about bitcoin, my go-to source of new knowledge on the topic was neither YouTube nor the dregs of /biz/, but rather a podcast called Let’s Talk Bitcoin. I have memories of listening to one episode after another, heading further and further into the backlog, excited about my growing understanding of cryptocurrency.

Eventually I began to feel that the conversations in the podcast were too technical, and essential details were flying right over my head. This, along with the sustained bear market after the 2013 crypto bubble burst, put a damper on my excitement for the topic. I unsubscribed from the podcast and let my Coinbase account languish, untouched for years…

But the last year has seen everyone’s interest in cryptocurrency – my own included – burn bright yet again. And this time I don’t feel like the passion is going to die down any time soon.

Andreas Antonopoulos never left my Twitter feed in all those years, so when the world-renowned blockchain expert and Let’s Talk Bitcoin co-host tweeted that his podcast was celebrating its fifth anniversary in nearby Chicago, I decided to buy a ticket right on the spot.

I entered the venerable Music Box Theatre donning my Litecoin hoodie. Part of me wondered whether that would be seen as provocative at the Let’s Talk Bitcoin show, but no negative comments came my way. The evening’s agenda was a potpourri, starting with a musical performance, followed by a talk by Andreas, and then concluding with a live recording of the podcast. That episode is live now, so I suppose you can listen to it yourself to glean some of the same knowledge in my notes below, but I figured I would share my notes from the night. Some of these are quotes from a speaker, and others are my own thoughts, inspired by what I was hearing.

Notes

  • You may find yourself confused and intimidated by the complexity of cryptocurrency, but to everyone you know, you’re the expert, says Andreas to laughs and nods of approval
  • People who invested in internet companies during the dotcom bubble may have gained or lost money, but the people who invested time and energy (instead of money) into learning how to become a web developer, etc. were/are definitely better off
  • Andreas is clearly more interested in Bitcoin than Bitcoin Cash, though he sees room for both to exist and doesn’t antagonize BCH
  • According to Andreas, “Bitcoin maximalism is centrality by another name”
  • Andreas mentioned how centralization is inevitable in everything, invoking the Pareto principle (aka the 80/20 rule)
  • Bear markets are when things get done. All Coinbase can do when tens of thousands of new users sign up every day is deal with the onslaught of customer support needs. Now that the hype has cooled, they – and other companies in this space – can return to building their products.
  • Asking if Ethereum will replace Bitcoin is like asking, “Will C kill HTML?” They are totally different things and excel at different tasks
  • No one coin will do everything. You can be the optimal payment coin but to make that happen you probably won’t ever be the optimal smart contract coin as well. The most optimally evolved sea creature is not also the most optimally evolved air creature.
  • Andreas is optimistic that someone will figure out how to make Proof of Stake work
  • Crypto is not “winner-take-all” but “winner-take-niche”
  • Learn to code for the blockchain! Contribute! Build something!
  • No, seriously, learn to code

Listen to the live recording of the episode for yourself below: