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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Senator on Trial: Bitcoin "Ideal" For Crooks

It's disturbing and revolting to the justice system when suspects on trial, and especially elected public officials, "find ethics" when they're about to be indicted, convicted or sentenced.

These courthouse confessions are efforts to evade the consequences of bad acts. As such, they're consistent with prior behavior.

Such is the case with Senator Robert Menendez (D-Hoboken), who's currently on trial for numerous bribery charges. His trial is about to go to the jury. Today, Menendez said

"Because of the anonymous nature of bitcoin transactions, the digital currency is an ideal choice for criminals..."

On the contrary. The blockchain, the foundational technology underlying bitcoin (which is a protocol), acts as a public ledger. As such, it is an immutable library, a data warehouse or marketplace where information is preserved in its original state.

That makes it an immutable evidentiary chain. Ideal for criminals? More likely? Ideal for investigators.

Sounds like the Senator has regret.

Regret, because he doesn't understand distributed ledger technology and thinks he could have used it to avoid detection.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

How Warren Buffett Is Dead Wrong On Bitcoin

The Oracle of Omaha, legendary investor Warren Buffett, recently said about bitcoin:

"You can't value bitcoin because it's not a value-producing asset."

Buffett is undervaluing, or entirely discounting, the value of information which has been passed on, or verified, by an algorithmic-based consensus reached among users as to items or events listed in a public ledger in a decentralized network.

The value of verified information, or data, should be increasingly apparent to followers of current events who have become increasingly accustomed to "fake news" or other, more subtle forms of data degradation. 

The utility of the best data is apparent to market participants in virtually every industry, in virtually every marketplace whether an international, borderless marketplace or a local or regional market.

The value of that data is demonstrated time and time again, because the savviest market players compete to get that information first before their competitors. 

The savviest market players. Men and women, like Warren Buffett.

Buffett may be making the mistake many casual observers have committed, in viewing bitcoin and other "cryptocurrency" protocols solely as media for exchange and for commerce.   

That outlook would tend to focus on the protocol's utility and convenience for clearing transactions, and the most common application would be to verify transactions the same way as credit card transactions are cleared. Bitcoin and other protocols have yet to solve the transaction processing bottleneck problem while preserving the framework for data integrity. 

If that is indeed the impetus for Buffett's remarks, he would not be entirely wrong in that regard. However, he appears to sharply understate and underappreciate the value of correct, verified data. 

When the protocol governing bitcoin is numerically limited such that scarcity is the primary driver of the larger value of data integrity, the ability to verify your data becomes subject to the limited supply of the bitcoin. The growth in an information-driven world economy may outlive Buffett, but the trends should already be apparent to most observers. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Investigations and Secrecy

Why are investigations -- some investigations, that is -- so open, so widely reported on?

I am troubled by this.

Not because of the targets of the investigations, and it doesn't matter whether it's a government investigation, an internal investigation (e.g., by a company of an employee) or in connection with possible lawsuits.

It's because the more "open" and "known" an investigation is, the less likely it is that real useful information will be retrieved. 

I also suspect another result: The more likely it is that real useful information will get hidden, obscured or outright destroyed.

So if you're worried about getting to the real truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, remember Dixon's Thirteenth* Law: 

The more you hear about an investigation, the less likely you'll hear the truth; the less you hear about an investigation (and maybe you'll hear speculation that an investigation has "stalled"), the more likely it is that the investigation will be effective!

( * - This means you've missed out on the first 12.) 

Effectiveness, of course, is measured as getting to provable conclusions, not in an outcome that's desired (e.g., someone's indictment). 

Unfortunately, many investigations involving people in the public eye -- politicians, or entertainment figures like Harvey Weinstein -- spur observers to take sides and root for an outcome. 

It's very hard to keep an open mind as a neutral factfinder, which is the appropriate approach for an investigator. 

However, that's the mature approach. No matter whether the sides battling each other in courts of law or the courts of public opinion like it. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Name Confusion On Suspected New York Bomber

In all legal matters but most especially in criminal trials -- and extra especially in trials involving suspected terrorists -- the name of the accused matters.

The alleged terrorist behind several bombings in New Jersey and midtown Manhattan over a two day span last September is now on trial in Manhattan federal court. 

One of the bombs was placed in front of a Manhattan art gallery called King David Gallery. Draw your own conclusion regarding the intent. 

However, in exclusive proprietary research I did last September (and posted hours before CNN), the bomber's name (now reported everywhere as Ahmad Khan Rahimi) was found to be: Ahmad Khan Rahami

That's R-A-H-A-M-I. Not Rahimi, the name he currently goes by and which was first reported three weeks after he was apprehended.

And Rahami has family in Elizabeth, New Jersey with -- you guessed it -- the spelling that I reported. 

Not the entirely bogus spelling which the defendant now claims (probably in a bid to spare his family trouble) and which is, in an appalling deception on the public, being indulged by both the courts, the authorities and the complicit news media. 

Want proof? Look at the defendant's name in the caption on the front page of the federal criminal indictment, which I found and post here

(Counterpoint: How different is this from the case of the convicted spy once known as Private First Class Bradley Manning, who "transitioned" to Chelsea while in the brig and got released after doing less than four years for espionage for WikiLeaks?)