Polar Opposites

>> May 12, 2020

>> Blog Post #70

Not a day goes by without you hearing about the dramatic effects the COVID-19 pandemic has on people’s lives and on the economy. The economy has tanked in all countries as a direct consequence of people closing shops during the confinement.

I’ve actually suspected that this economic turmoil is a bigger factor in why many countries are currently getting out of their confined states and back to more normal working arrangements (read normal as in the “norm”) than the sanitary situation itself.

You’d think that the markets would tank because of this but I have actually been extremely surprised by just how fast they have rebounded since the initial – and very strong – crash that occurred between end of February and end of March.

The only reason I can think of, and it’s probably the right one, is that the insane amount of money that has been injected by governments around the world in liquidity has artificially supported markets that are no longer correlated with the real economy. At this point, I believe it is fair to wonder if this can’t just go on forever as no one really seems to care. But please take a look at it and try to spend just two seconds figuring out if you are the one benefiting from the “free” money and / or the stock “performances”. Chances are, you might say no in both cases. Just think about it.

On the other side of the spectrum, Bitcoin has just lived another day yesterday. And nothing has changed. Well actually nothing has changed in the value proposition. The hardest money the world has ever known, sitting on top to a very decentralized protocol and network, with unprecedented censorship resistance characteristics. You have to marvel at what bitcoin has accomplished since its inception.

Yesterday was another milestone in Bitcoin’s very short, yet tremendously rich history. Bitcoin went through its 3rd halving.

See unlike FIAT currencies which might just be inflated into oblivion, Bitcoin’s total market supply is capped. No more than 21 million Bitcoins will ever be produced. The supply is finite, and its rate of production is hard coded in Bitcoin’s consensus rules so that it gradually decreases over time.  Bitcoin’s protocol states that every 210,000 blocks, the block subsidy is cut in half.

Now, I won’t get into too many details on how this works, as it can get confusing fast depending on how much you know regarding bitcoin, but you have to understand that the block subsidy, is part of the reward that is allotted to the miners in return for the work they provide in securing the bitcoin network. Here’s me trying to explain this as succinctly as possible:

Transactions are created every day by the participants who send and receive bitcoin. These transactions are pooled together and included in blocks by the miners, acting as some sort of housekeepers of the network. The miners are compensated for their housekeeping tasks by receiving a reward every time they mine a block. The block reward consists of the block subsidy – the part we are looking at today – and the transaction fees that are included in every single transaction contained in the block that is mined. When mining a new block, the miner will include in the block a transaction paying himself that subsidy, effectively creating new Bitcoins in the process. This is the only way Bitcoin is created, until the total number of Bitcoin every created reaches 21 million, at which point miners will only be collecting transaction fees.

As I said, yesterday was the third halving. Initially, the block subsidy for miners was 50 new bitcoin per block. After block 210,000 the rate of issuance of new money was cut to 25 new bitcoin per block, with blocks being produced approximately every 10 minutes. Since last evening, we are down to 12.5 bitcoin per block, which means every day, approximately 1,800 new bitcoins are issued.

This is going to be a very – VERY – scarce asset, not artificially inflated by governments. Its value proposition is extremely different from that of US dollars or Euros for example. No matter what you think of any of these three currencies, or your home country’s currency, you have to realize there might be some benefit to holding some funds in bitcoin, just in case.

Police – Do Not Cross

>> May 6, 2020

>> Blog Post #68

Another week, another company that folds due to restrictive legislation. This time it’s the Dutch company BitKassa.

last time was end of April only… 🙁

Imagine you run a business and from one day to another you see the need to place this big red banner on your front page.

It must hurt so bad.

Here’s their post about why. 1st paragraph includes this:

« Main reason is we no longer want to commit to the excessive demands of the Dutch Central Bank, and the Dutch Ministry of Finance who does a great job serving the Dutch Central Bank in enforcing unreasonable regulation upon Dutch Bitcoin companies. »

Country legislation that protects government sponsored associations of non-elected officials to the detriment of hardworking, honest people who are trying to build for the future.

Makes me sad.

Building is important. Staying in the shade probably is too. It’s still early in the game. I learned early enough that you did not want to sit at the frontier of bitcoin to FIAT if you did not want to face issues. This is just another example of this. License fees, legal delays or costs and fines are designed to run you out of business and protect the establishment.

It Has Already Been Written

>> April 28, 2020

>> Blog Post #66


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly, all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

US Declaration of Independance – July 4, 1776

It is the right of the People to abolish it…

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

This tweet also went by today that I thought was interesting

What If It Got Worse?

>> April 23, 2020

>> Blog Post #63

The weather is gorgeous, we figured out our kids are better served when we are teaching them, we actually spend more quality time together, we have learned (let’s not get ahead of ourselves here – we are just learning) how to grow food for ourselves. Everything is going fine. We are actually looking ahead with hope that this whole COVID-19 crisis will help us take better habits and build a better future. But what if this pandemic episode just led us to even worse?

One of the first things that got me riled up was how the state started telling us what to do, what to eat, what to drink as if we were its babies. Then came the power grab, with those fascist-leaning laws.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg. What we as commoners have to deal with when we are confronted with central governing bodies. But let’s face it, the government doesn’t give a f… about us. To think otherwise would be stupid. So, what you have to do is take a look at what governments care about. Law, order – that’s the part you usually focus on as it has more direct impact on your lives – and outside warfare. This second part is your country fighting with other countries, for power. Look at this closely. Your daily lives have most probably been turned upside down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the other part has not paused for one second. There is a strong case to make that it has actually only exacerbated.

Beware, governments are going to fight tooth and nail for power and the monger this lasts, the harder they will cling on to it.

That’s why opting-out of this mess is probably the wiser thing to do, but I believe I have told you that already.

Where Do I Start?

>> April 15, 2020

>> Blog Post #58

So let’s say I really do build a citadel like I said I’m dreaming of recently, where do I start?

I guess there are two main elements.

1/ convincing my better half – tough one right there

2/ figuring out a game plan for something as big as a life choice…. – yikes

Ok, so tall order….

I’ll probably have to start with the game plan first. To try and figure out whether this is attainable, achievable, by me. I’ve heard and read several times already that you should start small and grow from there, at least as far is permaculture is concerned, as that has been one of the first topics I have dived into. The comment probably carries a lot of wisdom as it has been expressed by people who have tried and seem very humble in their approach to things. It might therefore be wise to heed that advice and remember it. Especially because I have a natural tendency to go too far too quickly.

So how do you make a plan?

  • You need land
  • You need to gather resources
  • You need to use these resources as efficiently as possible
  • You need to progressively tend towards more autonomy while understanding that it takes several years to build
  • You need learn new skills
  • You need help along the way
  • You need to survive the hardships as there will be hard times – that again seems to be a common comment of people who are willing to share some feedback on their personal experience.

I will probably split my studies along the lines of:

  • Land – choosing the best possible land to establish a citadel
  • Design – learning how to build a system, that is an ecosystem where things and animals (including us) live off of each other
  • Food – how to grow food, how to keep food, how to transform food
  • Shelter – learn how to build a house. Isn’t it kind of crazy that 99.9% of people do not know how to do this anymore?
  • Energy / Resources – Water, heat, electricity obviously, but also all the resources you can accumulate freely and transform into something useful for crops or animals. There is a ton of stuff to do there and this recycling, DIYing aspect is one of the most interesting to me.
  • Security – physical security, financial security, health considerations, risks, redundancies, etc. This is probably an understated theme but another one that I am very curious about
  • Network, social – finally this theme. You cannot do everything yourself, obviously. I will need help and support, and this is only possible with the help of others, to build, criticize, support, buy, sell, dream, joke, … Whatever it is people do. You need people.

This all sounds so crazy.

I must say though, that someone offered his help to me yesterday. I am 100% sure he doesn’t know just how crazy I am, but I do also believe, he was serious in at least considering there was some hard work to be done and I know he’s got the mind of a builder, just like me. Never know… 🙂

I Want To Build A Citadel

>> April 13, 2020

>> Blog Post #57

This is the crazy obsessive idea that I can’t get off my mind these days. I think it’s the project that I’m looking for. Something all encompassing, durable, a mix of a lifelong goal and a trajectory at the same time.

What is the citadel? The citadel is a physical space where you can exercise your liberty to its fullest. To do so, you need to be independent enough from the rest of the world around you. Independent from spying eyes as well as from material ties such as energy bills.

The citadel is a system, where all elements and components of the citadel have to work together efficiently as a whole. The system is designed to last and must evolve constantly in support of that objective. The goal is to constantly improve the citadel so that it can be transmitted to others down the road and that its value will have appreciated with time.

But a certain level of independence and autonomy do not mean that this is a solitary project or that there is no communication with others. Quite the contrary. I am convinced that a growing number of people are feeling the same urge to build for themselves in a way that is respectful to others but uncompromising with regards to their own personal freedom and well-being. These people can be friends, partners, customers, suppliers and the citadel has to be designed to be able to benefit from all these networks and relationships.

Finally, the citadel is both old and modern. It is respectful of history and wisdom while also having a strong appetite for science and the benefits of modernity. It is built to enjoy life at its fullest with all the best ideas of the past, today and the future.

Now I know very well that a citadel cannot be built in a day. I will have to conduct a ton of research, plan, choose a strategy, find partners, people who might want to contribute and enjoy the journey.

The Homeschooling Book – Part 3

>> March 27, 2020

>> Blog Post #48

I made some progress in the yard this week. I think I’ll be able to make a few posts about it next week. All I can say is that I really enjoyed these few moments spent in the yard working with my hands and spending time alone or with my kids.

This year we became friends with the parents of a kid who is in the same school as one of mine. The dad is a total nut. Super funny and bold as they come. He has had several entrepreneurial endeavors in the past but is currently working for a major bank in one of these high paying bullshit jobs. Talk to him two seconds and you’ll see just how futile he thinks this all is and he’ll tell you how desperate he is to find some project to work on and become an entrepreneur again.

Anyways, he called me a couple times this week and we talked about how we were both managing our respective households. He told me how he was keeping everyone active and busy at his house and then I did the same. Then at some point in the conversation, I said something – and I really have no idea what it was – that made say “yes that’s it, that’s what we could do”. He went on for 2 minutes super excited about how we should get into the business of starting some kind of alt school. It was funny, because we both appreciate each other’s humor and make a ton of jokes when we have these discussions, but it is true that there’s a little more to that than just getting excited by whatever project is just better than a banking job.

But what would a good alt school look like? I had often wondered without digging into the subject more, but this past few weeks at home led me to finally open a book I had downloaded a couple years back and titled “The Origin and Ideals of the Modern School”. (You can find a copy in The Anarchist Library). I am only halfway through it right now, but there is a passage that I liked and that fits perfectly well with my current gardening days.

Education like gardening

“This does not mean that we will leave the child, at the very outset of its education, to form its own ideas. The Socratic procedure is wrong, if it is taken too literally. The very constitution of the mind, at the commencement of its development, demands that at this stage the child shall be receptive. The teacher must implant the germs of ideas. These will, when age and strength invigorate the brain, bring forth corresponding flowers and fruit, in accordance with the degree of initiative and the characteristic features of the pupil’s mind.”

Excerpt From: Francisco Ferrer. “The Origin and Ideals of the Modern School”.

Does Anyone Else Feel Like Becoming Autonomous?

>> March 26, 2020

>> Blog Post #46

I feel the pull.

Running a few experiments on how to live, educate, and already I’m spending more and more time thinking and researching how I could gain even more autonomy.

I really need an off the grid space to build and shape to my liking. An autonomous zone. But I don’t want it to be temporary. I feel a wish to settle into something more durable.

Power Grab – Waging Wars on Ghosts

>> March 17, 2020

>> Blog Post #41

French President Macron went on television yesterday evening to announce that France had entered a war. He repeated the phrase “we are in a war” over and over again, to bash it into everyone’s mind and probably make viewers believe that this is inevitable or true…

I wanted to write about it last night, but I was too angry, my entire reaction to the whole speech was disgust.

You cannot wage war against a virus. A war if you look at various dictionaries is generally defined as a period of armed fighting between countries, states, groups, organizations. However, it has sometimes been used metaphorically to describe different realities.

The war on drugs. Established under Nixon, the war on drugs was an attempt by the US to meddle in the political affairs of Central and South American countries under the false pretext of fighting drug abuse back home. The policy lasted for decades and led to a lot of political instability south of the border and to some well documented racial disparities in prosecutions and prison sentencing in the US, with the African American community being the big loser on that front.

Then you have the war on terror. This one defies logic when you think of it. How can you go on television, make a false statement, start a war on that false statement, be responsible for thousands of deaths – on both sides – remain in office and then retire peacefully. That is exactly what happened when George W. Bush declared the “War on Terror” and decided to invade Irak even though the UN experts determined that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction….

How is it possible, that you – as people – will accept “leaders” to blatantly lie to your face, with terrible consequences – people died because of it – and stay silent?

The Macron discussion yesterday went something like this.

  • These are not normal times.
  • They are happening because you – the French people – are acting irresponsibly.
  • I personally blame you for your behavior.
  • You are actually the reason this virus is spreading, and I blame you for it.
  • So, I will punish you and send you to your room until further notice.
  • To do so, I will take decisions that have never been taken before in times of peace in this country’s history.
  • All these are based on discussions I have had with “the experts”.
  • I am declaring war – even though there is no enemy.
  • By doing so, I will be allowed by the powers I am now granting to myself, to take a slew of decisions that will not be in your best interest.
  • You have given me no choice.
  • It is your fault.
  • If you do not comply, you will be severely punished.

I am terrified at how easily democracies seem to be sliding out of the people’s hands.

People you are going to get fucked hard. New laws will be passed that will severely restrict your personal liberties, and they will never be rescinded once the virus disappears.

I hope some smart people start to take that declaration and document the choice of words and how they are used to manipulate the mass. This is the only thing Macron was doing yesterday and it is far scarier in my books than the virus itself.

Please, in these difficult times, remain safe. Take care of your loved ones and respect the basic hygiene rules to try and slow down the spread of the virus. But I also urge you to remain vigilant and critical of all the laws that are going to be taken very quickly by your respective governments.

You are a human being, you have no master, you have no owner. You are also capable of loving and caring for people. Stay safe.