Archive for December, 2018

The price of btc will be $13337 by the time you're done reading this.

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

This morning, according to the publicized fiat exchanges, bitcoin was trading at 3.8k USD. This price is up from 3.3k or something, which now appears to be the valley of some dip after a long stable 6k price.

When these fiat-reported major price shifts occur, a whole lot of technical analysis voodoo and faulty logic gets used to explain what happened that caused the change in price. A common explanation for a price dip is "X government banned bitcoin" or "the block size debate is causing doubts.” For a rising price, the explanation is some blah blah about how new X feature from the power ranger bitcoin team has caused increased confidence in the chain, upgrade your nodes today!

But the question of why and especially why now with regards to the price is generally too complicated to get answered. The last-traded-price is based off an equation with millions of variables, and for the lay person it is impossible to discover. Perhaps the DO”J” just seized a new batch of bitcoins, and the price goes down because they are dumping the stolen coins onto the market. Perhaps an exchange was hacked and their reserves were stolen, causing the supply to drop, and thus the price to increase. Perhaps there is a group psychology phenomena at play. No one really knows.

We can make statements about the price from recent trades, but the price of bitcoin for an individual is in something akin to a quantum superposition until the very moment when an exchange occurs. At the instant a transfer is made, that price superposition collapses to the value for the parties involved in the exchange. But until that moment, the price is a Fugazzi. "Fugayzzi? Fuggazi? it’s a wazy it’s a woosy it’s a .. fairy dust, it doesn’t exist, it’s never landed, it is no matter, it’s not on the elemental chart, it’s not fucking real."

Yet with a very real cap of 21,000,000 btc and no cap on the USD, there is little hope that the ability to buy btc for price P can stay at P <= C for any constant C when C is denominated in dollars. So when a company is saying that the price is at some peculiarly low value - $3.5k or so - an eyebrow must be raised in suspicion.

Coinbase selling btc for 4k is the same thing as children selling lemonade for less than the price of the supplies they used to buy the lemonade. The point of the kids selling lemonade is not to make money. It is to have social interactions and receive the dopamine hit from the smile on their customers’ faces. They are eating the cost to obtain an ulterior goal. Likewise, Coinbase, in typical SV fashion, is not concerned about turning a profit. And especially not a profit denominated in bitcoin. Their job is to sell btc at the lowest price to the greatest number of people. Preferably young ones just entering the work force. When a whale (i.e. someone with like >$10k dollars) comes to Coinbase and says, “$4k a btc? i’d like all the lemonade please” they are either turned away or are given bitcoin IOUs.

If Coinbase were really a profit oriented company, they would have taken their $100mil+ investment (read: access to write permission to the USD db) and used it to acquire more btc. They were in a better position than anyone to know that the price of btc was going to go up. Same thing with 21.co with their 116mil+ investment into hamster powered miners. (Does anyone even remember them?)

At the end of the day, you have to pay for the privilege of knowing what the price is for btc at a certain volume. It’s a world of lies out there - and the only thing that’s for certain is the real game is being played by high rollers off of the exchanges.

The Fundamentals of Learning

Sunday, December 16th, 2018

There is a rule of thumb that applies to nearly everything you are trying to learn.

For every skill, there is a finite set of fundamentals whose application and combination will allow you to perform that skill.

Thus to succeed at your goal you must:

1. figure out what those fundamentals are
2. figure out what is the correct way to execute those fundamentals
3. Devise and perform a training program to be able to perform said execution from (2) consistently
The usefulness of this advice relies heavily on a clear understanding of the word fundamental in this context. A fundamental is a technique in a finite -but possibly quite large- set of "the fundamentals of skill y." A fundamental is always something that can be trained or improved upon. So, while being tall may be quite important to succeeding at playing basketball, "being tall" is not by our definition a fundamental. In addition, a fundamental cannot be the combination of two or more different fundamentals. The pragmatic reason for this is that if a fundamental is the combination of two other fundamentals, it would be incorrect to train that technique. It would be better to isolate the the two distinct fundamentals that comprise that technique and train them separately. Needless to say, some fundamentals build upon each other in a way that you cannot learn fundamental b without learning fundamental a. Also, while the combination of two fundamentals cannot be a fundamental, the act of combining two fundamentals may very well be a fundamental in and of itself.

With that being clear, we need guidelines on how to perform tasks (1) (2) and (3). Step (1) is often the hardest.

(1)

To figure out the fundamentals of a skill, there are two principal methods that must be combined.

(A) Figuring out the authority on the subject. This is either the best person in the field you can be in contact with, or preferably a book. Then simply inquire from that authority what the fundamentals are.

(B) Reasoning must be used to confirm that a technique is indeed a fundamental of a skill. Of course if you the pioneer of a skill, then this is the only method you can use. This is much harder than simply "downloading" all the fundamentls from an authority, since it can be difficult to figure out the different elements that comprise a technique.

(2)

Once you know what the fundamentals are, then you can begin to judge what is the correct execution of those fundamentals. This is effectively the same process as step one. You consult an authority and combine their advice with rational analysis.

For the sake of example, let us consider the skill of playing tennis. Within that skill is the technique of a serve. We know that a serve, itself, is not a fundamental. This is because a serve is at least the combination of two different fundamentals - an overhead shot and a toss. So let's examine how we would determine the correct way to perform a toss, for our serve, using logic alone.

Of course we want to create the best possible angle for us to hit the ball into our opponents service area, which would mean we want to toss the ball as high as possible. We want to maximize the time the ball stays in the "sweet spot," i.e. the best position for us to hit our overhead shot. This is the highest point at which we can make contact with the ball, so that we can hit the ball at the moment it switches directions (i.e. when its velocity is zero) with the best angle. (etc, etc)

(3)

Once you are aware of what is the correct execution of the fundamentals, you must devise an efficient and regular training plan/schedule to be able to perform all of the fundamentals correctly. From our previous example, this may be something such as:

Toss the ball 10 times trying to hit the height as indicated by a line marked on a wall. Do this with a camera recording your tosses. Review the video and fix mistakes. Repeat 3x 4 days a week.

It is important to remember that when training, mindlessly repeating an action does not help you towards your goal. Only when you are self analytic, by doing an action like recording yourself with a camera and fixing your mistakes, do you make progress. Once again, consulting an authority figure on how to train is often wise. A secret code in the title of books that help you with this stage of learning is "training manual."

Back in NYC for one month

Friday, December 7th, 2018

Yesterday I arrived in NYC. Back to civilization, I guess, as far as NYC is civilized. Let's recall some events:

I go surfing in the morning before I head out, the swell is gone so it's more of a swim in a lake. However, two friends who have been living in Nicaragua are in the water, and we realize that we are taking the same flight back to the city. We drive to the airport together, and run into two more recent acquaintances who are also on our flight. The two new people are two ladies from NYC, who had a bad event the night prior that caused them to leave CR early.

Two men had cut their power from outside and tried to break into the house the ladies had rented on AirBNB in the middle of Tamarindo. Who would have thought nice CSS ontop of craigslist does not make craiglists any safer? Luckily they had some guy friends over and were okay.

But after leaving their AirBNB a day early, their "landlord" had the balls to ask them to leave them a good review. "Yeah we were almost raped and kidnapped in our own home, but hey the hot water was kinda working." - Four stars!

But here's what will likely happen: the two ladies will leave a horrible review on AirBNB, the landlords will have to create a new account, and the story of the breakin will disappear from AirBNB one way or another. How has trusting a central authority to manage reputation networks worked for you lately?

So back to the trip: the flight thing happens, we land and ten minutes of customs and twenty minutes of cab driving later i am back in my mother's home. The apartment is absolutely gorgeous, everything is clean and chiva and my home felt welcoming in the way only a mother could make it. My brother gave me a wonderful present, an old authentic Costa Rican soccer jersey. I put it on and look in the mirror - boy have I changed in the last year. Seeing myself in the mirror in NYC is much different then seeing myself in the mirror in Costa Rica.

When I look at myself in the mirror in Costa Rica, there is less of a sense of psychological contrast. In Costa Rica my sun-made blonde hair and tanned skin is normal and it's what I always see when I look in the mirror. Here I can contrast the way I look now with the memories I have of myself in the same mirror from when I was younger.

After a few minutes of hugs kisses and gift exchanging, I pull out my weapon and begin to tune it. I think that the act of tuning the guitar in front of my mother and brother had the same or more effect than my playing the guitar itself. I could watch their eyes widen as they heard the loud low E string rumble through my bedroom. After I played a few songs (Silent Night, Etude in C Major by Tarrega) I knew it was time to get off stage as my mother was tired and my brother wanted to talk instead of here me play.

I slept in that night, got up at around 11am and then started immediately getting the things I needed to get done, done. I scheduled an appointment with Apple to have them fix my broken laptop battery. This story goes back.. I committed the great sin of trying to fix my own Apple computer myself by taking out the battery and replacing it, which made Apple refuse t service the laptop since when I gave it to them I did not have the original battery. So I brought it back from Costa Rica, and now hopefully I'll be able to have The Company revive my laptop that just needs a new fucking battery.

After that was done it was off to lunch with my dad, we went Le Pain Quotidien to have a cup of coffee each, a waffle for him and a piece of salmon and an egg for me for $45. Yes you read that right: two coffees, a slice of salmon and an egg and a waffle for $45. Yes the salmon for some reason came with a huge stack of plain bread next to it, am i supposed to eat that? So I can look like the 50 or so hamplanets that are sitting in the restaurant? Yeah, no thanks.

Conversation at breakfast was the usual sort with my dad, we talked about my childhood and things that he wished he had done differently raising me. Primarily this was talking about wishing he had insisted that my Brazilian nanny growing up had taught me her native language, Portuguese. He told me that my pediatricians, who he described as isolationists, all insisted that it was bad for my development to have to process learning two languages. Off to the gallows with them...

The morning ending with a trip to Barnes and Nobles to overpay for some printed books. Yeah I can read on my kindle and yeah I can read anything for free on my computer, but I do like the feeling of real paper and paying for a book psychologically pushes me to read it. What can i say, as far as I can tell I have to play dumb tricks on myself to get myself to do what I want to do. The books I bought were: Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky and Portrait of a Young Man as an Artist and Ulysses by James Joice.

I walked home by myself after that, and being unsatisfied from breakfast went to relive an old habit of getting some shitty pizza. I bought two broccoli and chicken slices at Famiglia Pizza for $9, After I ate the two slices I nearly threw up. My stomach still feels quite uncomfortable an hour or more later as I write this post. I'll have to get to practicing making what I usually eat in Costa Rica - a $5 casado: fish, rice and beans, a salad, and a few plantain slices.

For what it's worth, it's nice to be back home in NYC. I plan to bring the Pura Vida here, hopefully I'll manage to get a few souls to stop staring at their dumbPhones for a few extra minutes. Having access to any item I want from thousands of stores, something not quite possible in Guanacaste, is quite nice. I'll try to stock up and make some good progress on Apollo with the extra time I'll have from not surfing.