Bitcoin is Commoditized Waste
Ultimately, it was barely possible to identify a “beautiful” tab; we must instead speak of the least ugly.
Andy Baio discovered that the Bitcoin whitepaper has been squirreled away inside every copy of MacOS since 2018, apparently “as a sample document for a device called ‘Virtual Scanner II.’” At a tight nine pages with some graphics, math formulas, and special formatting, this may be the most useful the Bitcoin whitepaper has ever been. It sure beats using it to implement Bitcoin.
It’s a popular myth that a Bitcoin’s value is based on nothing, just pulled out of thin air by math. But that’s not true—Bitcoin is a way to commoditize energy consumption without accidentally producing anything useful. Other energy-intensive industries tend to convert energy into useful materials like aluminum or cement. Bitcoin converts electricity into waste heat and records its destruction in the form of numbers, which can then be traded for other numbers but not used to make anything people need or converted back into energy. In The New York Times, Gabriel J.X. Dance, Tim Wallace, and Zach Levitt investigated exactly how much energy the biggest U.S. Bitcoin data centers are turning into waste heat and useless numbers:
That is nearly the same amount of electricity as the three million households that surround them.
These data centers are also making money from electricity price arbitrage. Because they don’t do anything necessary, a Bitcoin mining data center can shut down almost instantly at any time, and they do so whenever they can make more money by releasing power back to desperate homes and hospitals than they could by wasting it to make numbers.
But is it clean, renewable energy? On the one hand, even if it were 100% renewable energy, it would be unconscionable to dump it into a system designed specifically to waste it. But on the other hand: no, of course it isn’t.
Using a technique known as marginal emissions analysis, WattTime examined each mine’s location and power use, identified which types of power plants had generated the additional energy needed, and estimated the resulting pollution. That method, and WattTime in particular, were recommended in a report by the Crypto Climate Accord, an initiative to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint supported by more than 200 cryptocurrency companies.
The analysis found that the 34 mines’ power use was causing nearly 16.4 million tons of carbon pollution each year.
Far be it from me to say that these facilities should all be blown up. That’s absolutely not a thing I would write or advocate. So, certainly, don’t do that. They do appear to be quite easy to find though, and the Times lists the location of thirty four of them.
In response, Texas’ Riot Platforms (450 megawatt, 96% fossil fuel powered, 1.9 million tons C02 emissions per year) released a video proving with a meter that computers don’t directly emit C02, because Riot Platforms thinks we’re fucking stupid and that no one will ever blow up their facility. Perhaps they’re right!
Also Today in Crypto: Molly White checked in on how the FTX bankruptcy is going. It’s going great, the debtors in charge of the bankruptcy are loving it. Everybody’s so creative!
Both Simon & Schuster are Havana good auction for Scott Andrews’ forthcoming memoir about how:
Shortly after returning from an overseas mission, he began to suffer from rare, life-threatening ailments that defied medical explanation. Rather than succumbing, he instead began to experience special, inexplicable abilities such as remote viewing, and his body began to heal, baffling doctors.
Low-key the best part are the multiple anonymous comments by people who definitely work in military intelligence and totally knew about all this stuff, which is extremely real.
Luke Winkie went in search of the most Millennial album ever made. MGMT? Hmmm. I’m not Millennial enough to judge this, but “Nostalgia, Ultra” was robbed.
Today in Science: “The scrotum: A comparison of men's and women's aesthetic assessments.”
Ultimately, it was barely possible to identify a “beautiful” scrotum; we must instead speak of the least ugly.
Dalai Lama apologizes via notes app “for asking a young boy to suck his tongue.” Every day we stray farther from 11-headed, 100-armed Chenrezig’s light.
Just Circling Back: Turns out yesterday’s lynch mob question-asker Michelle Tandler’s startup aimed to teach people how to boil water, but failed. “Has Michelle Tandler been kicked in the head by a mule or something” asks one fan. In a classic forum drama move, Elon spent yesterday tweeting and deleting Signal texts with Matt Taibbi. We love this for them both. Twitter meanwhile has been leaking private nudes posted to its hypothetically limited-view “Circles” feature and could shortly face fines in excess of its entire net worth from German regulators. Musk also managed to get owned by dimwitted amateur painter Paul Graham somehow. And I didn’t realize this yesterday but due to a quirk in the crowd equity fundraising laws, those dreadful 2020 and 2021 financials are all that Substack is going to release to the suckers who brought it $5 million of desperation capital. I’m sure the 2022 numbers are fantastic and they’re just keeping them secret as a nice surprise for us all.
#Longread: “The Gambler Who Beat Roulette” by Kit Chellel for Bloomberg gets the goods on enigmatic Croatian roulette prodigy Niko Tosa.
Today’s Millennial Song: “Infinity Guitars” by Sleigh Bells
Fyre Fest 2 is finally happening! If you plan to go, please let me know about it. Thanks to SotD Intern Sam Gavin and Millennials everywhere. Registered at the Post Office as “Not an ‘ow,’ a real scream. Pain.”