Bitcoin fervour turns evangelical

Despite heavy losses by investors who see their money evaporate overnight in what has been called a Ponzi scheme, the faithful never give up hope that cryptocurrencies will save us from the evil clutches of central banks.

image: NewsBTC

Devotion to cryptocurrencies has taken on the form of a new religion. One of the apostles is Conservative leadership candidate Pierre Poilievre.

He said that a government led by him would do more to normalize cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to “decentralize” the economy and reduce the influence of central bankers.

Poilievre wants to “restore sound money.”

“Sound money” is one of the tenets of the new religion of the Great Reset; when freedom is grasped from the hands of the tyrants who control the world.

The prophets of “sound money” have been around a long time. Sound money or hard currencies are ones that presumably don’t change in value over time, an example being currencies tied to value of gold.

Like all disciples of the Great Reset, Poilievre gets inspiration from the gospel of YouTube. He appeared on a cryptocurrency podcast hosted by a Bitcoin trader who has promoted COVID-19 conspiracies and has compared central banking policies to slavery and Nazi Germany.

Poilievre told the show’s host that he and his wife occasionally watch his cryptocurrency YouTube channel “late into the night.”

“I find it extremely informative and my wife and I have been known to watch YouTube and your channel late into the night once we’ve got the kids to bed,” Poilievre said. “And, I’ve always enjoyed it and I’ve learned a lot about Bitcoin and other monetary issues from listening to you.”

Bitcoin is a lousy investment. Billionaire Warren Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, says investment in Bitcoin has the potential to collapse, wiping out tens of billions of dollars in wealth for casual buyers.

“Bitcoin is ingenious but it has no unique value at all. It doesn’t produce anything. You can stare at it all day and no little Bitcoins come out. It’s a delusion, basically,” Buffett said in a 2019 interview with CNBC, adding it’s like “rat poison” for investors.

Even some of Bitcoin’s biggest advocates often characterize it, without any apparent shame: “Bitcoin is kind of a Ponzi scheme that starts with smart people,” says crypto investor Naval Ravikant.

The Great Reset faithful have contempt for Elon Musk, the erratic, interstellar oligarch who has betrayed Bitcoin by first championing it and then backtracking, tweeting, “We are concerned about rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions,” and saying that Tesla would no longer accept it as a valid form of payment.

Bitcoins are a dirty currency, not just because they are used to traffic children into the sex trade and to launder cartel money but because Bitcoin transactions, called “mining,” require huge amounts of fossil fuel energy.

According to the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index the carbon footprint of Bitcoin is equivalent to that of New Zealand, with both emitting nearly 37 megatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year.

But facts matter little to the faithful. As long as they can warm themselves in the glow of the omnipotent echo chamber of YouTube, they can be sure of the Truths that issue forth.

Coming next: Russia’s invasion of space

Russia is expanding its domain. Not satisfied with grinding Ukraine into submission, now Russia is threatening a war in space. President Vladimir Putin has demonstrated that he will use weapons to achieve his expansionary illusions on the ground and in the heavens.

image: iStock

Russia is threatening to take down Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites because they helped the Ukrainian army sink the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea fleet, Moskva. The sinking of the key warship has been seen as a humiliating blow to Moscow as the war rages on.

Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, tweeted: “Russia is starting a space war! Medvedev [an ally of Putin] announced a task is given to destroy @elonmusk Starlink satellites in a document by ‘United Russia [a party document].’ It says that firing on the Moskva was done with the help of Starlinks.”

It’s not an idle threat on the part of the Russians.

To demonstrate that they could take down satellites, Russia stalked an American reconnaissance satellite called USA-245 in January, 2020.  

Then the stalking Russian satellite, Kosmos-2542, split in two. In fact, the larger part spat out another, smaller craft. The smaller one moved even closer to the American satellite. Speaking later, in February, General John W. “Jay” Raymond, chief of the newly established Space Force, would describe it by saying, “The way I picture it, in my mind, is like Russian nesting dolls (Harper’s, November, 2021)”

After the two Russian satellites stalked the U.S. satellite for months, the smaller Russian satellite fired a projectile. While it didn’t hit the U.S. satellite, it was a clear warning shot.

Of course, Russia claimed that the projectile wasn’t a weapon at all but merely part of a “close inspection” and that “most importantly, it did not breach any norms or principles of international law.” The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the American assessment of the events “propaganda,” and responded that the U.S. accusation was hypocrisy: the United States and Britain, it said, “naturally keep silent about their own efforts” and “programs on the possible use of … counter-satellite weapons.”

We are extremely dependent on satellites. Not only for GPS location but hurricane tracking, search-and rescue locators, financial transactions, and emergency messages -all could go dark.

The military depends on satellites. American military reliance on space has been building since Operation Desert Storm, when U.S. satellites proved a tactical advantage: American troops navigated unmarked stretches of desert using GPS and blindsided the Iraqi Army, which expected them to approach by road.

The war in space is not limited to knocking out satellites. China demonstrated a “spoofing” technology, a type of interference where a satellite’s signal is mimicked by a fake. In July 2019, a U.S. container ship in the port of Shanghai received false GPS locations and notifications of phantom ships fast approaching. The spoofing was likely sent by the China military. The captain of the ship could see with binoculars that the GPS was wrong but without visual confirmation, the spoof could have been disastrous.

The West has avoided direct war with Russia, despite Russia’s bloody invasion of Ukraine. If Russia’s expands its war into space, we will have no alternative but to respond. In a race to destroy each other, there will be no refuge.

Basic income in the new world order

A basic income has been promoted from the left and right for years but nothing has come of it. Maybe new leaders and a new world order will change that.

  image: Steemit.com

Sometimes called a guaranteed annual income, it has been supported by progressives and neoliberals alike. Progressives argue that a basic income would help reduce poverty. Neoliberals say it decreases government bureaucracy by combining a number of social services like welfare, child benefits, employment insurance, and Old Age Security into one.

What politicians have failed to do, the leaders of technology may accomplish. They clearly see the loss of jobs due to automation. Innovators such Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and Space X, says:

“There is a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation,” Musk told CNBC in an interview last year.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg sees it differently. A vital society depends on everyone having the opportunity to create new ideas. That’s why billionaires like him should pay for a financial safety net that allows everyone to find their purpose.

“The greatest successes come from having the freedom to fail,” said Zuckerberg. “Now it’s our time to define a new social contract for our generation. We should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone a cushion to try new things.”

Zuckerberg is on to something when he suggests a new social contract. The failure to implement a basic income takes place in an old world order that values industrial jobs and resource extraction above those of human interaction. Industrial jobs have been reduced and more automation is on the way. Resource extraction is pushing the limits of what the earth can deliver, and pushing the conditions under which humans can live.

Jobs that involve human interaction, such as child and elder care workers, have been low-paying. What kind of crazy world order invented a system where monotonous, often dangerous, planet-threatening, industrial jobs pay more than jobs that nurture our future in children, and care for the frail and elderly?

A new world order would include Zuckerberg’s transfer to the poor through a new social contract and much more. Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis envisions an end to globalization and the start of a new era in which a basic income would be part:

“And we need a universal basic dividend that would be administered by the New Bretton Woods institutions and funded by a percentage of big tech shares deposited in a world wealth fund.”

By Bretton Woods Institutions, he means the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. They helped rebuild the shattered postwar economy and to promote international economic cooperation.

Varoufakis is leading the post-globalization era in Europe with The Democracy in Europe Movement 2025. President Trump (don’t laugh) is leading the post-globalization era in the U.S.

Trump’s grip on reality may be somewhat tenuous but he does understand turmoil; he thrives on the thrill of the circus. His constituents have had it up to here with the existing order. Trump is tearing globalization apart with a world tariff-war.

These are exciting times. Where politicians failed, maybe tech leaders, global visionaries and clowns will excel.

 

Germany pays customers to use electricity

German power companies paid customers to use electricity on one hundred occasions in 2017. Companies paid customers a lot relative to what they normally receive -1,720 times more per kilowatt hour.

   photo: CleanTechnica

The reason why power companies were so eager to pay customers had to do with the wind. Wind turbines were generating too much power on the grid and they had to dump it quickly. Surplus electricity is a dangerous problem that has to be corrected quickly.

While wind turbines can be switched off quickly, fossil fuel and nuclear sources can’t. Power grid managers have to agile to compensate for gusty winds.

The problem with surplus electricity is that voltage quickly rises and that can damage equipment. Power grid engineering is complex but one thing is simple: power in equals power out. Managing the grid requires a balance in the production and consumption of electricity. The sum of all the power used by your TVs and toasters, and all that of your neighbour’s, equals the power produced by generators. If the power produced is more than what’s used, something has to give.  What gives is a precipitous rise in voltage.

Christmas Day, 2017, was pleasantly warm in Germany and the wind was strong. As well, demand was abnormally low being a holiday when factories and offices are shut down. Suddenly, the wind blew and power companies had to shed a lot of power from the grid. So the plea went out from power companies to start wasting electricity. Turn on your electric heaters and all the lights in your house. Open the doors. We’ll pay a lot is you do.

Too much wind power is not unforeseen. Germany spent $250 billion to develop wind turbines and they now produce 20 per cent of the country’s power. The remainder of Germany’s power comes from fossil fuels and nuclear.

Germany has obviously solved one part of the greenhouse gas problem by investing heavily in renewable sources but the other side remains unresolved –how to store surplus energy. Battery technology doesn’t have the capacity to store huge amounts of power. If it did, surplus wind power could have been stored.

Batteries will work on a smaller, household scale. Elon Musk sells his Tesla Powerwall battery for $7,000 and it holds enough power to run your house for about 3 days. Imagine being paid to store electricity and then to use it to supply your energy needs for days? In Germany, you’d be doing yourself and the power company a favour.

If you live in B.C., not so much. British Columbia has the enviable position of generating power by hydroelectricity; 95 per cent of it with the remainder by natural gas plants.

B.C. can’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions substantially by switching to wind and solar. Small scale installations in houses can reduce the cost of electricity for homeowners. Because dams hold stored power, storage of surplus electricity is not a problem.

Germany has reduced the burning of fossil fuels with wind and solar. Now, if they could only find some way to store the surplus electricity.