Cryptocurrency for Catholics

Here’s another impromptu conversation post with a new friend of mine from Facebook.  We talk about the fundamentals of cryptocurrencies, currency in general, certain economic issues related to cryptocurrency and then the Catholic Church’s relationship to cryptocurrencies and possible options for it to navigate the current political and economic climate.  All the really meaty material starts at the 13:10 mark.

Liberty Classroom: an Invaluable Tool

If you are reading this near the end of November in 2016, you can get some major discounts and provide a great deal of support to the Mad Philosopher project by going to Tom Woods Liberty Classroom and subscribing.  If you are reading this at any other time, you can still provide a great amount of value to the project by doing so.

Tom Woods Liberty Classroom is easily one of the most undervalued resources available on the internet, as it provides a legitimate PhD-level resource on a number of crucial subjects such as history and economics.  The term “legitimate” is important, here, as what most universities provide is only half-true and full of leftist propaganda.  This resource is the closest to comprehensive and the closest to unbiased as can be found.

Click Here to get some coupon codes and subscribe.  This affiliate program is definitely one of the best ways to support the Mad Philosopher project, second only to just sending me Bitcoin directly.

 

Here’s some free samples (the best stuff is behind the paywall, obviously):

the best way to fulfill the maxim “Carpe Veritas” is to subscribe to Liberty Classroom and take advantage of everything such a subscription provides.

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Shoe0nhead: a Manic and Funny Christina Hoff Sommers

Between Christina Summers (mother of one of my favorite podcast hosts) and Shoe0nhead, the camp of reason-and-evidence-based worldviews has been blessed with two shining counter-instances to the rare instance of “respectable” feminists: the older, calmer woman using facts to back up what are intuitively obvious claims, and the attractive, overly-made-up manic pseudo-comedian who manages to convey facts and evidence in a way that is entertaining.

If the state were a rapidly-spreading apartment fire, consuming all wealth and livelihood in its path, feminism (and the other leftist cults of feels and misanthropy) is the jet fuel being dropped from airplanes onto the building.  It is eminently helpful (if insufficient) to have a handful of firefighters and air-traffic controllers, like these two, trying to prevent the spread of destruction.

 

Also, I’m aware the site has been a little low-content the last couple weeks… we had an aborted attempt at moving to NH which presented quite a bit of opportunity cost and monetary expense.  Hopefully, starting Saturday, we will be back in full-force on this site.

Easy Bitcoin Access and Use

Bitcoin, as both a technology and as a currency, is an invaluable tool for the rise of freedom and decentralization.  There are those in governments (especially the US government) who understand this and are doing their best to smother it in its crib.  The remainder are ignorant and happen to be blundering their way into attempting the very same sort of abortion.

Fortunately, the government cannot regulate Bitcoin, they can only regulate the points of contact between Bitcoin and the legacy systems that the government controls.  This, of course, has made access through exchanges and more traditional methods of exchanging one form of money for another quite difficult and somewhat risky.  Fortunately, where there is a market demand, the market provides:

Purse.io is a simple solution to a ridiculous problem.  Much like Brawker, a previous endorsement of mine that has since gone out of business, Purse.io allows one to essentially use their credit/debit card to buy Bitcoins.

Basically, someone makes a wishlist entry on a site like Amazon and places an appropriate amount of bitcoin into an escrow wallet to purchase that item.  You then order that item form their wishlist.  When they receive the item, the bitcoin is released from escrow and sent to your account.  Congratulations! You’ve just got yourself some invaluable magic internet money.
The process works in reverse, as well.  If you want to spend your newly-acquired Bitcoin to buy something from Amazon (say the price jumps in value 600% again and your $50 in BTC becomes $300 in BTC overnight), You need only to make an Amazon wishlist entry and to place enough bitcoin to make the purchase worthwhile to another Purse.io user (people frequently get amazon products at a 5-25% discount buying in BTC) and just wait for someone to fulfill that wish.

I’ve only used the service once, but the UI was seamless and easy to use, the instructions were clear and simple, and I managed to get my Bitcoin right away, courtesy of same-day shipping on Amazon.  This is a great starting place for people who are bit-curious but intimidated by all the paperwork and regulatory bullshit associated with using fiat to buy crypto-assets on exchanges.

ProXpn and Virtual Private Networks

Virtual Private Networks, while not absolutely necessary or a complete defense in themselves, are the bast starting place for a privacy/security-minded individual on the internet.  I do not have the space and time here to do a full exploration of VPNs, but I can give a brief overview.

All of the internet traffic you generate is sent from your machine, through your connection, directly to your ISP (Comcast, Century Link, Verizon, etc.), more or less.  At which point, their servers analyze that traffic and route it to the appropriate destination (more or less).  That destination receives your information and usually sends something back to your machine, via the ISP.  The method by which “they” know where to send your information is by way of IP addresses.  Your machine is assigned a special address that has all of your traffic and history tied to it (more or less).
Unscrupulous corporations, such as Google, the NSA, your ISP, and other more secret covens of crackers, can access and track that information sent between your machine and the rest of the world.  Using this information and access, they can do relatively minor things like look at your naked pictures, steal your credit card number, or break your computer.  With a little more elbow grease and smarts, “they” can plant any sort of evidence on your machine and ISP records to convict you of pedophilia, terrorism, or not liking the president, at which point you can expect modern-day ninjas to kill you in your sleep or disappear you into a black-site prison.

How does one protect themselves from such things without unplugging one’s computer and setting it on fire?  Enter Virtual Private Networks.

Essentially, a piece of VPN software such as ProXPN encrypts your data on your machine before sending it to your ISP.  It scrambles all of the data in a manner that only someone with the right secret code can un-scramble it, sticks it in what amounts to an envelope, labels the envelope “forward to this server over here”, and sends it to the ISP.  The ISP sees this envelope the same way it sees any other traffic, and routs it to the server in question just like in the scenario before.  This server, upon receiving the traffic from your ISP, then decrypts (un-scrambles) the information and sends it to the end destination.  This way, the site that you want to visit sees the server and thinks that it is you, and uses the VPN server as the end destination and IP address to send information back to.  The server then encrypts the data, sends it back to the ISP labeled “Forward to this guy,” and your machine decrypts the information on your machine itself.

This method makes your traffic essentially invisible to the ISP and makes most web-based cracker attacks.  Also, you can get a discount when signing up, using Bitcoin!

https://proxpn.com/

NonViolent Communication

About a year ago, I read “Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life — Second 2nd Edition”. I was very resistant to giving NVC a chance.  My introduction to it was some people on Free Talk Live talking about it, and it sounded like some sort of cult-y, Scientology-like, “if we all learn to pray and talk with hippie vibes, the world will be healed”.  Hearing about it from Stephan Molyneux next sealed the deal (he is a de-facto cult leader). Satya Nadella made this book required reading for Microsoft execs, which made me wonder if this was becoming a mainstream fad and made me even more resistant to the idea. Also, the name itself seemed off-putting to me.  I figured (and still do) that any language that didn’t consist of veiled or direct threats is, by default, non-violent.

Then, certain people that I don’t always agree with but always respect their opinion and degree of thought it takes for them to develop an opinion re-introduced me to the idea of NVC. Between Brian Sovryn explaining that it has less to do with non-violence, and more to do with empathy, I started to reconsider. Seeing Adam Kokesh put it to work on Christopher Cantwell, of all people, sealed the deal. I saw the way that Kokesh (someone whom I’ve always been suspicious of) managed to basically shut down the angry part of Cantwell’s brain and get a begrudging admission that NVC may be an effective tool. I still was very, very suspicious of the whole idea in general, but I knew I had to at least research it before dismissing it.

I bought the book on Amazon for something like $15 and read it in a few weeks, taking it a few pages at a time. The book is easy to read, short and sweet, and gives actionable suggestions. While the methods of NVC aren’t useful in every circumstance, (philosophical discourse, for instance), they are incredibly effective at smoothing out day-to-day interactions with people, especially adversarial people. I am, by no means, a peaceful parent, but I’m looking into that, as well. I can say this much, though, after giving NVC a shot, I’ve gotten incredible results with my middle child. It used to seem like her sole purpose in life was to antagonize me, but we’re making excellent progress in getting along, thanks to Rosenberg.

The way I understand NVC to operate is thus:
We, in our culture today, are addicted to counter-productive emotions. We have developed a habit of being outraged at things. The4 internet has proven to be instrumental in fueling this addiction to outrage, as there’s always something out there for anyone to be mad at. The way addictions work is in cycles. Stimulus, reaction, dopamine/adrenaline/etc, brain-drugs wear off, repeat. In the case of outrage, something touches on an unresolved need or desire within us, we get mad and lash out at at whoever or whatever touched on that nerve, we get a release of feel-good drugs in our brains, and we feel good about being miserable, repeat ad-infinitum. What NVC seems to do is interject itself between the stimulus and reaction and closes that loop prematurely. This is how addictions are broken, how good habits are formed, and how someone can talk down a 280 lb thug before getting their face punched in.
It is also a method of communicating that, in closing that loop prematurely, leads people into uncharted areas of their own human mental experience and opens them up to actually exploring alternative ways of seeing the world, which is useful when discussing crucial matters such as human flourishing.

As it stands now, I understand NVC in an almost entirely scholastic sense, but my early efforts at putting it into practice have already made family and work far more manageable. I recommend everyone read this book. I don’t think it’s some sort of silver-bullet to eliminating the state, as some do, but I do believe that this is a tool set that is irreplaceable if one wants to flourish in a post-state society.

 

Admittedly, the metaphysics in the book is very cloogy, but that’s to be expected.  Ignoring the metaphysics and treating the work as a rhetorical tool seems to be much more efficacious and fits well into other practices in rhetoric, such as the Trivium.

Educational Children’s Books!

Many time, I’ve been asked something along the lines of, “So, how much do you indoctrinate your kids about anarchy and religion?”

Today, I’ll address the “indoctrinating into anarchy” question.  For all my rhetoric on facebook and on this blog, I’m much more reserved in-person.  I still discuss philosophy and, necessarily, the philosophy of liberty… but it’s a lot less “Let’s all start killing cops!” and a lot more “Here’s an esoteric issue I’m having fun pulling apart and examining, wanna play too?”
The way this manifests itself in my child-rearing is interesting.  I have an extreme distaste for indoctrination (giving doctrines as brute facts and demonstrating intolerance for non-doctrinal beliefs), as my own indoctrination caused me no small amount of discomfort and crisis as I learned to think for myself.  It is important to me that my children be well-educated and have the greatest ability to wield their intellect (of which they have quite a lot, if I do say so myself) in this world that is quite inhospitable to people like them.

Enter today’s resource/review.  Anarchism is not something that requires indoctrination, as the only doctrine is the one preached everywhere, some variation of the golden rule: “Don’t initiate aggression against others, because you don’t want others to initiate aggression against you.”  All the rest simply logically follows from that premise; teach the kids the proper use of logic, evidence, and reason and they will naturally figure out the rest… at least that’s my experience so far.

A tool I’ve recently discovered in teaching kids how the world works (that’s the “evidence” part of the above toolset) is the Tuttle Twins series by Connor Boyack.  I heard about it through the Tom Woods Show almost exactly one year ago, but have not had the money to purchase a copy of one of the books until recently.  At the end of last year I received some site donations from a couple of my more dedicated listeners/readers and pounced on my chance to purchase a copy of The Tuttle Twins and the Miraculous Pencil so that I could review it on the blog.

As should be obvious to my readers, this book is a variation on I, Pencil by Leonard Read, adapted to be more entertaining to a younger audience.  After purchasing and making use of this book, I believe Boyack has succeeded: my older (3 and 5 years of age) kids are enjoying the book, and are learning about the wonders of the market (as evidenced by their questions and answers while my wife is reading).

Admittedly, the book is geared more towards an elementary-school age audience, but I couldn’t wait to give the books a try.  Besides, now we have something better than Disney princesses to read during storytime, and it’s really paying off.

For more information, I suggest listening to the interview I heard on the Tom Woods Show last year:

 

And, as always, you should check out Tom Woods’ Liberty Classroom.  Using my link supports my site, and this is a PhD-level education in everything pertinent to viewing history, economics, and ethics from the perspective of evidence, logic, and reason.

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Waze of Knowing

No, I’m not mocking cultural sensitivity classes (not today, anyway), I’m talking about a service I have touted many times on Facebook: Waze.

I don’t have a smartphone, nor do I particularly want one.  However, if “they” ever phase out feature flip phones, I may have to make the move to a dark android phone.  The first app I’ll be installing on that phone will be Waze.  If you are a smart phone user and drive a car, you should use it, too.  It’s an app that uses the crowd-source nature of the internet to connect all the users of the app as well as oracle data from the web in order to give real-time traffic and safety updates to drivers and gives real-time directions so as to get the safest, most efficient route.  This goes well beyond a mere GPS that knows to watch out for rush hour, though: it also tracks speed-traps and other criminal activities on the road that one may want to avoid.

In the interim, though, I want to point you to a Jeffrey Tucker article about the app as the resource suggestion for today.

Freedom Through Agorism

The basic tenet of agorism is the belief that through simply disregarding laws and regulations, when coupled with technological advances that circumvent those laws and regulations, will be an effective tactic to either eliminate or escape from the clutches of the state.  I imagine that agorism, without violence and exodus, will not likely succeed.  This is a contentious area of discussion within the philosophies of liberty.

However, this is not a full-post concerning agorism and its strengths and weaknesses (that will have to come sometime next year).  Instead, today, I present to you something that both an agorist and a brutalist would shed a single tear of joy over:

3D printers are the means of production that Marx, Konkin III, and Bergmann each had envisioned as “the end (telos, reason for) of history”.  The AnCaps, also, have a particular place in their hearts for 3D printers, as they are the culmination of centuries of capitalist market forces.  More so than the internet, commercial space flight, or affordable quad-copters (all of which are excellent consumer products created by the free market), 3D printing is possibly the greatest contribution to society to-date.  Even though it is still in it’s infant stages as a technology, 3D printing is becoming increasingly affordable and more resilient.

Today’s resource suggestion is simply a website which showcases different 3D printer designs for things such as firearms.  It’s obviously mostly just an excuse to gush over 3D printers and an open endorsement of manufacturing firearms discreetly and outside the purview of law-enforcement.

Windows 10 Harassing You?

I’ve posted resource suggestions in teh past (you can see them in the archives) About windows 10.  However, I don’t think I’ve posted this handy resource yet.  If you’re a Windows 7 or 8 user, you’ve likely been plagued with this annoying little popup and icon in the system tray that keeps insisting you upgrade to Windows 10 “for free”.  Rather than dealing it it slowing my system down and increasing the odds that my kids will be clicking around on the machine and accidentally install Windows 10, I decided to get rid of it.  This source seemed to do the trick; I haven’s seen the popup or anything for about two months.

“But, What Can Bitcoin Buy?”

My family physician, due to the increasingly hostile banking and medical regulations, has begun encouraging customers to pay in cash and by check instead of by credit cards, starting a few years ago.  When I and a few other customers noticed this, we suggested he look into Bitcoin.  For a little over a year now, my doctor has been accepting bitcoin.

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I wanted to be the first bitcoin customer.  My copay is usually $25, so when I had two well-child checkups approaching, I went to Purse.io and got myself $50 in BTC.  Long story short, my insurance covers the entire checkup, so I didn’t have to pay.  It was the first time ever that I was sad a doctor didn’t want to take my money.

The price of bitcoin has been hovering in the mid-$200 range, but it sat lower than where I bought it for most of the time.  This made me sad, as I was hoping to use that bictoin to buy Fallout 4 when it came out (my bitcoin and silver is pretty much the entirety of my discretionary funds… everything in fiat is very tightly budgeted).
However, something weird happened yesterday, possibly another Willy Bot or weird government thing (like bitcoin XT or the Bitcoin Alliance doing something shady), and the price jumped up to the $400-$500 range.  I quickly took advantage of that price hike and pre-ordered Fallout 4 on Steam.  Man, I am so pumped right now… between bitcoin saving my gamership from the vicissitudes of poverty *and* having what promises to be an awesome game pre-ordered.

This whole anecdote is really just to cover one important tool for Bitcoin-enthusiast gamers.  Those of you who pay attention to steam and/or Bitcoin will know that Steam does not accept bitcoin yet, due to limitations of it’s interface with fiat money (AKA, government regulations).  So, how did I pre-order Fallout 4?  I used this awesome and easy-to-use service called SteamBitShop.

Their UI was simple, straightforward and self-explanatory, the purchasing process (which, for bitcoin, can be confusing at times) was easier than using a credit card, and the system seems adaptable enough to handle unexpected issues.

For example (warning: entering shop-talk area), I swept my paper-wallet into an electrum wallet on my desktop in order to have an easier time using the website (most websites are a pain to use paper wallets/unspent-outputs on, I’ve found).  I was kind of rushed, so I didn’t wait for the sweep to be confirmed on the blockchain.  When I made the purchase, it had a 15-minute payment period; I made the payment from the wallet with the unconfirmed transaction on it, and the website simply suspended the timer and waited for confirmation on the transaction, rather than not processing the payment despite receiving the bitcoin (which has happened to me in other places).

So, What can Bitcoin Buy?  “Steam Games” is officially on that list.

 

Edit: I closed the comments on this page because no-one was posting comments and I was getting 80+ spam comments a day.