Archive for August, 2019

Localbitcoins cracked corn, and I don't care.

Sunday, August 25th, 2019

On June 1st, localbitcoins silently switched off the ability to select "cash in person" as a bitcoin trade option on its site. Unsurprisingly, it "temporarily disabled" its forum at the same time. I know this, or at least, I knew it as quickly as I did, because various members of the WoT I built there over the years wrote to me to decry the fact and point out that they were still available for cash trades; I've only to say the word.

I've been trading on localbitcoins for about five years. I've used it on four continents and in more than thrice as many countries. If you looked at my profile, you wouldn't know any of the foregoing. Why? That's implicit in the word used above. I don't give a shit about some dorks and their wanna-be website, or about what they think are good criteria for trading. That's *my* call, and the kinds of people I want to trade with in the first place are also the kinds of people who rely on their own damned research. That means absolute bullshit in the vein of "verified accounts" is more of an anti-signal than a real one. Always has been, always will be. The very idea that a third party, not in my WoT, with unknown incentives1 can do the work of verifying someone for me, is antithetical to Bitcoin itself. What do I care how many trades some anonymous randos (for all we know, and likely so, bots, or as close to bots as humans get) say a trader under my consideration has done? Why would I take some website's word on the matter, even if I were interested in the foregoing; why wouldn't I talk to those randos myself?

And therein lies perhaps the most damning aspect of the use of sites like localbitcoins as the maintainers themselves would propose it be used --just like every other such layer of obfuscation, it attempts to separate you, the user, from what is a potential member of you WoT. It attempts to exploit your natural disinclination to talk to people you do not know, to automate and opiate the uncomfortable, so all you have to do is click here or there, compare one and two. I would very much like to live in a world where everyone already knows, consciously, that giving in to such a thing is tantamount to selling oneself in the worst way --that is, selling one's willingness and ability to think, to decide-- but I know I don't. It's too goddamned tempting to walk the "easy" route and let someone else do the dirty work of uncomfortable interaction for you. But you're giving up control, and while it's easy now it'll be a damned sight harder later, when you're older, when you need the fruits of your control that much more, and you haven't the ability to wrest it back.

So no, I'm not especially concerned that localbitcoins is handing itself and its users over to the forces of evil2 The people who will be negatively affected are either attempting to "be involved with bitcoin" in ways that directly oppose what bitcoin is, or else belong to that sad group that was however slowly attempting to figure out how it ought to be used, correctly. They built relationships, but kept them on-site. They traded when they absolutely needed it, but didn't trade for the sake of WoT-building. They acted, in one way or another, out of hesitancy and avoidance of their duty, which is to be responsible for their connections.

The necessary corollary being, of course, that making strong, exhaustive connections isn't optional! That state wherein you need an intermediary to tell you when you may and may not access "your" money, and how, and how much, and you can rot on your couch ordering ramen to your doorstep and making friends/masturbatory fodder on okcupid is called Unified Silly Dosidoe banking. Bitcoin isn't it, and it doesn't matter how many "regulatory agencies", "trading platforms", "websites", or ads masquerading as media try to proclaim otherwise.

Do your work, use tools as a human uses tools. Anything else is slavery.

  1. We can imagine their incentive is to part me from at least some portion of my money, and that their hope is I'm the sort of fool towards whom this sort of incentive works. []
  2. If turning off the one desirable trade option without notice while denying easy access to discussion thereof isn't enough for you, consider Jeremias Kangas and family took the further step of confiscating all coin in wallets not verified to The Great Old Ones' satisfaction on August 1st. []

Impression of Minsk, July 5th

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

Minsk is gray sheets of rain worse than the moods it provokes. Sideways, stinging, down the broad avenues flanked by hollow concrete giants, the rain finds a way into your eyes, into your packages, wherever you'd least like it to go, whenever is least opportune.

In a bout of moving apartments across the hruscheba courtyard to the better place1 the rain returns, heavier than before, somehow thirsty for suitcases and the shopping bags full of milk, nectarines, bread, and Georgian (read: undrinkable) mineral water.

The atmosphere in July is twice the Januaries of my childhood; twice as cold, twice as gloomy, twice the daylight hours, twice the misery. I misspeak at every other corner, and fail to smile at all in between. All my pleasures here are inward, in private jokes, in stolen glances, in imagined pasts that did not and can never now exist.

Minsk is an egg abandoned, without a nest to keep it warm, or eyes to watch over and wonder at what sleeps inside. Were the place not so subject to the volatile whims of the gods that go scuttling by on their way to someplace else, perhaps the beast could be coaxed to come out. Perhaps something more than surface could wink into being, bare between the birches, wind in the feathers of gliding gulls.

Perhaps if it were winter, and Minsk was in her element, not forced to pretend about sun and smiling, perhaps then it would be still enough to show itself. If all the idiots were made to stay indoors, and the big soup pots were brought down from imaginary attics, if the noise of traffic ceased and the buskers went home to practice more...if the playgrounds were empty for an obvious reason and the fact I came here without a coat would be a death knell and not an uncomfortable inconvenience...then perhaps she could break from her shell and I would know her.

Until then, I sit on the wide kitchen windowsill waiting for the rain to stop, or admiring the cartoon baked-potato man2, watching old buses like wheeled cinder-blocks streak slowly down the street. It is not yet, here. Simply not yet.

  1. That place I dismissed on the first pass because six of its seven pictures featured the same purple couch --a nice couch, but by then far too conspicuous, as though it were hiding some darker secret among its deep purple brocade. []
  2. Kroshka Kartoshka! []