Genesis Block Day 2022
The Bitcoin Wars Part V
"Convalescence is a sort of grown-up rebirth, enabling us to see life with a fresh eye." -Margaret Prescott Montague
On Saturday, January 3, 2009 at 12:15 PM Central Standard Time, the first Bitcoin block was mined by mysterious Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto. The first block of a blockchain, block 0, is often called the Genesis Block.
Happy Birthday! Bitcoin has rounded the sun once again. That's 13. Bitcoin is a teenager, now.
This is not primarily a Bitcoin newsletter (except that Rounding the Earth is all about whatever I think the most important topics around the world might be) so I will assume many readers do not yet know a lot about the underpinnings of what might be called the world's most ambitious technological project of any form, ever. And unlike most mythological origins stories of great achievement, there is no [publicly known] reason to believe it didn't just happen in some smart guy's basement.
I will write articles from time to time, and I will try to throw in some sort of basic lesson most of the time. Those who are motivated can jump into a world of resources across the web, of course. I even have a recently-wikified educational Bitcoin guide that will be chopped up into several articles at Campfire.wiki. As long as it is, it's highly incomplete, but tabling most of that work for the sake of development of this Substack was the right decision.
And yes, Bitcoin is related to the pandemic. While I haven't yet finished the second part of this story (sorry…having my home flooded and moving twice in November really was pretty disruptive), monetary policy certainly underlies why we should see such forceful unity among elites without evidence of conspiracy or organized force at the highest levels (which is not to say that there aren't a million small or mid-level conspiracies, but that's the chaos we find ourselves in the impossible task of sorting out completely).
What Comes Next?
In 2021, I joined the ranks of people who should not be trusted to make price predictions. Judging by previous cycles (Bitcoin has an approximately four-year mining cycle that will become clear once you start learning about it), I thought the price would exceed $200,000 at least for a few days prior to the end of 2021 based on certain upper bounds that were reached near the ends of 2013 and 2017.
The moderation of Bitcoin's price, however, could be extremely bullish. It means lower volatility and attention by a greater number of financial market professionals who trade in ways that keep the price in line.
During 2021, Bitcoin "survived" a mining ban by the nation in which most of the mining machines operated (China). You can read about the other 439 Bitcoin "near death experiences" at 99Bitcoins.com. The total power level (hash rate) of the system has already fully recovered. This is a rough measure of the security of the Bitcoin network, sort of like examining the vault and guards at the world's largest bank.
Meanwhile, in September, El Salvador made Bitcoin official currency, and distributed Bitcoin among its citizens. That experiment, designed at least in part to shield El Salvadoran citizens from the harms of using a banking system that drains earned wealth in several ways (not the least of which are remittances), will be telling. The world is watching.
Get Your Feet Wet
You've never handled digital currency?
It seems intimidating. Understanding the whole system is quite a task, like earning a college degree in a technical subject. But doesn't mean you can't take the basics course. You can learn to handle a digital wallet. And if you're thinking about how to transfer your wealth through the invisible portal to the other side of a rapidly shifting economic universe, taking small steps may be what you want to do.
Two ways you can get accustomed to Bitcoin and other digital currencies in simple ways that can earn you money:
Use a FOLD debit card. I use one and earn my rewards (closer to 7% than 2% given the way I use the card, so over $100/month in 2021) in Bitcoin. I can transfer that to a digital wallet outside their platform at any time, or spend it through them on gift cards.
Use the Brave browser. The browser itself is built much like Google's Chrome, but without the business model of collecting all your data. Instead, you get served some ads and are rewarded with a cryptocurrency called the Basic Attention Token (BAT). I think I earned $80 of it in 2021, but just keep it in what is called a MetaMask wallet, and plan to use it to tip online content producers.
There are many other low stakes ways to get your feet wet. The biggest hurdles are setting up a wallet and making a single first transaction. And you will find all manner of educators on any video platform showing you how that's done.