Bitcoin vs. Coronavirus

It’s no secret that I am a huge bitcoin bull. For all my worries about risk and capital management with my financial investments, both equities and cryptocurrencies, I have thrown caution to the wind as far as bitcoin is concerned. I’d say that roughly two thirds of my total net worth is invested in either bitcoin or GBTC right now. Most of that is held directly in BTC in a hard wallet, and the rest via GBTC in my IRA.

About two months ago I started implementing a value averaging protocol to purchase GBTC. Each Monday, I would gauge the value of my GBTC holdings against a predetermined value, one-twentieth total capital times the number of weeks, and then place a buy or sell order, depending on whether I was above or below the target. The total capital that I planned for this deployment was about a third of my entire portfolio. I had set stops on several of my larger positions to gain cash, many of which triggered during the general market dip in 2019.

For the first fifteen weeks it was straight buy orders. I calculated the price that would trigger my max sell order, and on week eighteen, during the January run up, it triggered. Then the following week, I had a sell order. The last two weeks, as the price oscilated around the $10,000 mark, I was right on target, and didn’t have to place any large orders. During these few weeks, doubt began to creep and I found myself questioning the plan.

What if this was the start of the bull run to $50,000 or higher? Why would I sell? I questioned whether to break the plan and re-enter, or go even further and allocate even more than I had planned originally. I was able to squash this FOMO, and held firm. I had taken some profits, my position was up, and I would have at least another month to buy back in, as my profit taking had decreased my cost basis below my original target.

Weekly chart over the course of value averaging. Blue arrows indicate sell orders. Overall cost basis for period is 9.77/share.

And good thing I did. Effects of the Coronavirus caused a selloff in the markets, and bitcoin has fallen with it, about fifteen percent. I’m still holding to the plan, and will wait until Monday to buy back in. Patience, patience.

Also, I continue to accumulate BTC on a weekly basis, although on a much smaller scale. I’ve written a Python script to purchase a small amount through Gemini and transfer it to my hardware wallet. I’ve got one address for myself, and one for each of my children. The script alternates between them each week, placing buy orders and sending the proceeds to each of our addresses.

I plan on sharing this script via a Git gist or something shortly. It’s part of a larger trade planning library that I’m working on, and I’ve got to triple check that I’m not disclosing anything that shouldn’t be made public. I’ll do the same with the GBTC value averaging results, but that will be more difficult to scrub.

Firms I’m thinking about applying to

A recent Medium post on 2020 IPOs got me thinking about places that I’d like to work. Part of me has no desire to go back to work for a large company, I did four years with a Fortune 500 company, and while it was good for a while, the environment became toxic and I wound up self-destructing util they fired me. I haven’t had the best track record with any jobs up until my present position, to be honest. The place I’m at now isn’t ideal, but I guess I’d rather be a big fish in a small pond, so to say.

Now while I have no desire to go work for a retailer, or an exploitative company like Instacart, if I was to go back to work at a large firm and trade my freedom for a hefty package, these are some of the ones I would be interested in.


One of the first companies on the list was GitLab. I’ve been a fan of theirs and have been using them over GitHub for the past few months. My university has an internal instance, and I’ve been using it a lot, figuring out how to use their CI/CD pipelines. They apparently have a culture of radical transparency, and have all of their guidebooks up online. Their interview and selection critiera are there, along with job responsibilities and performance metrics. Based on the compensation calculator, it looks like even a basic support position would be a step up from where I’m at today. It seems really appealing.


Stripe has been doing very well in the payments space. They’ve got no plans to go public, but have a crazy valuation. They’ve got a lot of remote technical opportunities that could be interesting. On the downside, they recently discontinued support for Bitcoin payments, although the CEO remains optimistic about cryptocurrency in general.


Not on the IPO since they went public in 2016. (Man did I miss that one…) Another payments company with several remote positions, as well as jobs in Atlanta, Denver, and Austin. Several front-end positions that I could qualify for, even with my limited experience. And the Cash App does Bitcoin, so it seems like it may be a good fit.


I used to be an advocate for Asana, but stopped using their software in favor of Basecamp. I originally skipped over them in consideration but just took a look at their job board. Nothing remote. I have no desire to move to San Fransisco, but if I wanted to move the family to Iceland it might be worth considering. I like how they have their values listed on their job postings, as well as this Day in the Life featuring one of their engineers.


I’m not a customer — get IRAs already! — but have been following them for some time and respect the efforts they’re doing to make investing more accessible. Fractional shares investing is a really good idea. And they offer crypto trading as well. No remote jobs available, but Denver is starting to sound like a good place to live. Go Broncos!


Not on the original list, but I’m adding it here after hearing Junayna Tuteja, TD’s Head of Digital Assets and DLT on the On The Brink podcast. She makes it seem like a really great place to work. A quick look at their job board, however doesn’t match anything crypto-related. There’s a couple contract positions in Omaha and New Jersey, not two places I have any interest in moving to.

I have always been a ham

I had been playing guitar for a few years, a fact which was known around my high school during my junior year. I was mildly famous at school having impersonated Ross Perot during a mock presidential debate which aired on the school’s morning video announcements, and my Wayne’s World Garth costume for Halloween was a hit as well. But it was my lead performance in Death of a Salesman that brought me to the attention of our schools drama and chorus teacher, who approached me about putting together an ensemble of guitar players to accompany the chorus during a presentation of carols during the schools winter dance, called the Holly Ball.

“After we’re done with our performances, you and the others will have a chance to do a few songs of your own,” she told me, and of course I jumped at the opportunity. Word soon got round to all my friends and we soon had more than enough players. The plan was to have several of us accompany the chorus with our acoustic guitars, then plug in and rock out for a few heavier songs. I remember there was a bit of fighting over what those songs would be, as several people, myself included, wanted to be the front man for their fave songs. In the end, I believe we settled on Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Sprit, sung by a friend of mine, and also Today by Smashing Pumpkins, which was a fave of several others on the team. We chose Fire, by Jimi Hendrix, cause it was a classic that allowed several of us to show off our playing ability.

So we had several rehearsals the week or two before the show to work out the set, then we had the show. It was in the school’s cafeteria, with a small stage setup near the entrance; half of the tables had been cleared for a small dance floor. I don’t recall it being a big dance, but there were a few dozen people there in addition to my band mates and members of the chorus. I don’t remember much about that night, but I imagine that I was mostly focused getting through the choral numbers so that my boys and I could get to it.

Now I’ve never had the best stage presence when playing guitar, I tend to close my eyes, whether it’s from nervousness or concentration, but one memory that has stuck with me since that night was looking up during the guitar solo in Fire and seeing the crowd dancing. It was a brief moment of pure joy, seeing classmates losing themselves and tearing up the dancefloor while I busted out the music. Looking back at everything I did, music-wise, I think that was probably one of the greatest moments I ever had. And while it may sound sad to admit, I think it’s probably just a factor of nostalgia, childhood, and the familiarity I had with everyone involved.

I just happened to think about this memory when I was meditating earlier today, and time-traveled to that moment up on stage. I couldn’t help smiling.

More economic and political news

The big news today seems to be a three percent pullback in the stock market due to Coronavirus fears, or the threat of a Sanders presidency, depending on who you ask. I wrote yesterday that Trump’s obsession with a health economy leading up to the election was leading forcing the Fed to inject liquidity into the markets, and that efforts were likely to fail at some point and lead us into a recession. What goes up, as they say… I also noted that the Coronavirus might be a big monkey wrench that throws us into global recession sooner than later. And while I haven’t bought face masks for my family yet, I am thinking about it.

$250,000 BTC?

This interview with Bitcoin bull Tim Draper was really interesting. The first two minutes are slow cause he just keeps repeating that the market’s are “frothy”, but then he gets into talking about bitcoin for several minutes. At one point he repeats his $250,000 price target for 2024, and is asked how much of his net worth is in crypto and he refuses to answer.

His point about the credit card fees versus Bitcoin is well-made also, as well as his arguments about banks in general. He throws out OpenNode as an example. Taking a quick look at it, they charge less than one percent per transaction, and even process the first $10,000 free of charge. They also have plugins for Shopify and WooCommerce. Neat!

Social Democracy vs. Unfettered Capitalism

I’ve been using Basecamp for several months lately, and have been using it with several clients lately. One of the founders, Jason Fried, has been on the Peter Attia pod a couple times since he started and I really appreciated the approach they take to running a business, work-life balance, and success. It really seemed like a breath of fresh air and a really healthy outlook.

A little over a year ago I participated in my first startup competition, and Angel investor Jason Calacanis was one of the keynotes. Afterward I got a bit caught up in the prospects and started listening to his The Week In Startups pod, but quickly burned out on it due to the number of episodes they put out and some general antipathy to the culture in general. So when I saw Fried’s co-founder, David Heinemeier Hasson, was a guest on TWIS, I added it to my feed and listened to it earlier today. I was not expecting what I heard.

Hasson is from Denmark, and the conversation quickly went to discussion about how America can “get to Denmark”, this is, providing citizens with basic services like healthcare and education for free. And Hasson is a pretty strong advocate for social democracy, and a fierce critic of exploitative capitalism, especially gig economy firms like Uber, of which Calacanis is an early-stage investor in. This was a really interesting conversation, and one that I will be sharing quite a bit with people in the run up to the Democratic primary here next week.

President Bernie Sanders

So yesterday was the Nevada caucus, which Bernie Sanders won, solidifying his status as front runner for the Democratic nomination. And the pundit class is losing their shit. Between Chris Matthews’s fears about guillotines in Time Square and James Harville’s recent comments, it’s clear that the masks are off for the Democratic elites.

Sanders is clearly benefiting from Democratic moderates being unable to coalese around a favorite, and are splitting the vote between Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Bloomberg. It’s clear that they clear any kind of real systemic change, and some of them are wondering out loud whether they’d be better off with another four years of Trump than they would a President Sanders.

My take on the political reality in the United States has been influenced by this 2016 post, The Three Party System.

There are three major political forces in contemporary politics in developed countries: tribalism, neoliberalism and leftism. Until recently, the party system involved competition between different versions of neoliberalism. Since the Global Financial Crisis, neoliberals have remained in power almost everywhere, but can no longer command the electoral support needed to marginalise both tribalists and leftists at the same time. So, we are seeing the emergence of a three-party system, which is inherently unstable because of the Condorcet problem and for other reasons.

The Three Party System, by John Quiggan

To be a Sanders supporter at this point in time must feel similar to what Trump supporters felt during the 2016 GOP nomination, although Sanders is well ahead of where Trump was at this point in the process due to the fact that hes been at it for so much longer. Still, it is exciting to watch everyone losing their minds in real time. Obviously, we’re a ways away from Sanders locking the nomination, and there is a lot that the Democratic Party leadership can do to try and screw Sanders over, but we’re looking at a pivitol moment in American history, as a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist is leading the fray.


Elizabeth Warren’s evisceration of Bloomberg at last week’s debate was all anyone talked about for days after. It’s a bit early to tell if Bloomberg is done, but he still has a lot of money left in his war chest. The parallels between Bloomberg and Trump are just too much for me, but on the plus side, nothing has been better for Bernie’s anti-plutocrat message than an actual billionaire trying to buy his way into the Democratic nomination.

I’m not sure where I first picked this theory up, but it may be that Bloomberg’s campaign is just a giant money-laundering operation for the eventual (moderate) nominee. My understanding of Federal campaign finance laws may or may not be accurate, but my working theory right now is that Bloomberg will be rolling over his remaining campaign funds to whoever the moderate’s choice turns out to be when he does. My guess is Klobuchar. He rolls over a couple hundred million to her directly, bypassing the $5400 contribution limit and allowing her to use the funds directly instead of going through a super pac.

Biden’s support among African Americans

Sanders has a clear majority of support among Latinos and and most young people, but there is one demographic where Biden is still holding: older African American voters. Much of this is likely due to the connection to Obama. Also, the Cold War connotations of socialism still have much negative influence on older populations. This, combined with Bernie’s reluctance to talk about racial issues in anything other than class terms, has likely hurt his support among this demographic, and is one of the major challenges that needs to be overcome.

Sanders support clear among the youth

There is a clear plurality of support for Sanders among young people, many of whom have higher opinions of Socialism than Capitalism. Given the economic conditions of the past forty years, it’s not hard to see why. This dichotomy between the younger working class and the Boomer elite that has been in charge of the neoliberal power structure for the past decades is the source of much of the friction that we’re seeing today. Also, the younger generations have long recognized the threat of climate change and are willing to enact a Green New Deal to combat it, and this scares the hell out of the establishment.

Given the clear support for Sanders among these younger people, the question now becomes whether Democratic power brokers are willing to let the youth decide this election, or whether they’re going to try to eliminate a Sanders nomination via a brokered convention.

The end of the Democratic Party?

It’s clear that the GOP is now the party of Trump. Some long-time moderate Republicans have fled, changing their affiliations to independent, or even Democratic. What will happen after a Sanders nomination? Will we see a similar exodus of billionaire-friendly plutocrats flee? Will it spark a Randian-style capital flight?

The better question I think is what will happen if the neocons put their hand on the scale against Sanders, or even if there’s the appearance of interference. I can only imagine the ruckus that will happen. No doubt it will make the 1968 convention look tame. The widespread disillusionment among Sanders supporters in the general election would be significant. Of course it depends on who the alternative nominee is. Bloomberg would be a non-starter for most, including myself. Warren or Klobuchar might actually be the compromise choice that their campaigns are making them out to be. Not that I think there’s room for compromise at this state of late Capitalism.

Will elites crash the economy to spite Sanders?

I’ve seen lots of chatter in the finance space about irregularities in the repo markets, as well as additional quantitative easing by the Feds. It seems that there’s a lot of money being pumped into the system, most of which is going into the markets. This has continued the stock market’s rise in the face of other tepid economic indicators. Trump has been obsessed with keeping up these appearances, as a successful economic outlook is most critical to his success this November. However, with interest rates at such a low point and a good number of masters of finance warning about an impending crash, the ability of the Fed and central banks to keep the show going is questionable. A recession is likely, the question not if but rather when and how bad.

There are signs that the Coronovirus may be a black swan event that may already be precipitating this slowdown. Last week Apple announced that they were not going to hit production targets because of factory closures in Asia, and it is likely that other supply chains are going to be affected if the disease continues to spread. This could be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back and starts a new global recession.

A pullback before November would be disastrous for Trump, whoever is president in 2021 will have to pay the piper in some form or another. A Sanders presidency could have to deal with the threat of Capitalist rebellion. As Sanders begins enacting his reforms to decrease wealth inequality, those with wealth fill fight tooth and nail to stop him. Any economic slowdown, rather than being recognized as the result of four decades of neoliberal economic policies, will be blamed on Sanders socialism.

On the bright side

Jacobin magazine had an issue some time back called A True Story of the Future, looking back from the near future at how Sanders not only won the presidency, but managed to transform the country by instituting Medicare For All and a Green New Deal. Realistically, it talked about the fact that the real challenge for Sanders would be after he won, as the ruling class of wealthy elites will do everything they can to undermine a President Sanders and prevent his agenda from destroying the status quo. The authors of the Jacobin piece take a look at steps Sanders and his supporters can take to make sure that the movement keeps going and that we get what we’re fighting for.

Five things to do after college

Today I was supposed to be attending a bootcamp on the R programming language. I don’t really have much interest in R, per se, but need one credit hour to fulfil my computer science degree requirements. Python wasn’t being offered. The course was cancelled due to “lack of interest,” so now I’m left wondering what to do to fulfil that last credit. I sent a couple of emails last night inquiring whether I could run my own bootcamp on blockchain technology, as I’ve run several meetups and could easily spend a day or two talking about it.

That got me thinking about plans to hold a Mid-Atlantic Crypto Conference that had been shelved for the past year. The idea was first brought to me by BCause founder, Tom Flake over a year ago. BCause has since been forced to liquidate, and I haven’t talked to Tom since the news hit. I’ve been to several cryptocons, one in Pennsylvania, and another hosted at Virginia Commonwealth University, so I think I would have the resources to throw something together. Throwing it together in sixty days before graduation would be quite the challenge, though.

I’ve also been thinking about my post-graduation plans:

Work for a crypto exchange: blockchain and computer science are probably my two favorite things to do, this would make the most sense for me. I’ve been in the space long enough that it’s time to make a career out of it, and the money should easily be six figures. I worry about the time committment needed to go and work for someone like a Coinbase or Gemini, though. And the competition would be fierce. A more likely, and less financially lucrative opportunity would be to go work for one of the smaller, niche exchanges, like Safe.Trade, for example. Or…

Start my own crypto exchange: This would be very risky, and likely require a lot of time. There’s some open source exchange software out on Github; I’ve already been planning to take a look at it and see if it can be used with Cryptonote coins like the planned Pennycoin fork. What kind of income would that generate during the next bull run? And what kind of headaches would that entail? I can imagine.

Get my masters: I could just keep taking classes. I love learning, but I’m not sure this makes financial sense, to keep taking on debt and keep taking classes for another four years (part time). I had joked about doing this just to delay repayment on my student loans, but I’m not really interested with any of the programs that are offered at my current university, and the prospect of transferring somewhere else doesn’t appeal to me right now.

Go work for a development firm: I’ve already been presented with one job opportunity via a recruiting agency, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find something, even if it’s a short-term contract. Doing so would mean cutting ties with my current job entirely, and although I’m pretty much done with the MSP model, and IT support in general, I don’t think I want to abandon the guy I’ve been working for the last seven years. I’d rather do…

Freelance development: This would be the dream, wouldn’t it? Pick up a few projects, knock out a few Django prototypes and voila! This could be very lucrative if done right, finding jobs could be hit or miss. I could pickup work through the local startup and coder meetups, pickup some OSS rewards on GitCoin. Wouldn’t even have to quit my day job, really. This really seems the most appealing to me, as far as the status quo goes, but is it just me being lazy?

Getting your money’s worth

Or, make sure you back up your 2FA codes…

I’ve been using the same iPhone 7 Plus for over three years now. In fact, I just finished paying my carrier the last installment plan for it a few months ago. Since my wife and I are focused on becoming financially independent, having the $40-50 a month back has given me some satisfaction, and I had no desire to upgrade to a new device. In fact, part of my mindfulness practice has been to spend less time on the phone, so I’ve taken a few steps to make the phone less appealing to use. In addition to keeping it in do not disturb mode most of the time, I’ve also turned the screen to greyscale via the Accessibility Options -> Color Filters. There’s also a Accessibility Shortcut that I can activate with a triple-click of the home button to turn this off, but most of the time when I see my icons in full color the vividness is almost unbearable.

Now I’ve had no shortage of accidents with my phone over the years. I dropped it while canvassing back in 2017, and rather than break the screen, it did something with the LCD substrate that caused black lines to creep in from the edges. They went away after a while before coming back, and I dealt with it for several months before they became so large that I couldn’t read things like the battery meter or other elements that I couldn’t scroll to a better part of the screen. So I reluctantly brought the phone to the local cell phone repair store and had it fixed for a hundred bucks. What took me so long, I said to myself, looking at my fully-readable screen.

The next time I broke it I decided to try my own repair. I ordered a kit for forty bucks off of Amazon, and pleased myself by repairing the phone myself in less than an hour. The repair didn’t last much longer than that, as I again dropped the phone and broke the screen again. The next DIY repair wasn’t so lucky.

The encryption for the Touch ID on iPhones are controlled by a small integrated circuit soldered onto the home button’s ribbon cable. This chip is paired to the iPhone’s motherboard and contains hardware keys that are part of the encoded fingerprint data. In the past, Apple maintained tight control over the repairing of the device with a new TouchID button, and it was not something that could be done outside of an Apple store. In fact, a whole market around repairing TouchID flex cables appears to have sprung up in Asia, as there are several how-to repair guides on these cables that involves sophisticated soldering techniques.

This was obviously beyond my ability and resources. My other option was to have Apple replace my screen for $160 or so. It seems that Apple just swaps the screen with the home button attached, to mitigate the risk of damaging the flex button during removal as I had done. That was still a bit much for me, and I relied on the on-screen Assistive Touch button for several more weeks. The most major downside for losing TouchID was that LastPass forced me to type in my full password, but it wasn’t the end of the world.

And then the final straw. The microphone died. I’m still not sure what happened, but at some point I discovered that I couldn’t complete calls. I couldn’t hear anyone, and they couldn’t hear me. But it was strange. Certain videos on Twitter would play, but not others. I couldn’t record sound in the memo app or in videos. I could complete calls via my car’s bluetooth or my iPad, but not using my bluetooth headset. And at first this was fine; I have a VOIP phone for work that I can use for important calls, and everything else went to voicemail. It was actually kinda relaxing for a while. At some point last week I decided enough was enough. I did an iTunes backup, wiped my phone to factory, and checked again. Still broken. I restored the backup to make sure I still had access to my 2FA accounts, and made plans to go to the Apple store for an assessment.

The short story is that the Apple tech couldn’t run the diagnostics. The Lightning dock diagnostic device that they use returned CATASTROPHIC FAILURE and the tech just shook their head. Since I was adamant about another $500-800 phone purchase, I went to file an insurance claim with my carrier, agreed to a $120 for a replacement device, and had a new phone via FedEx the next day. I ran a backup on my old phone, loaded the new one, swapped the SIM card and laughed to myself. What took me so long, I asked myself again.

I wiped the old phone, threw it in the box, slapped on the return shipping label and stuck it in the mail. Then today I went to open Google Authenticator and stared in shock at a blank screen. What followed was an hour of mild shock as I cataloged and prioritized what I had lost. Work accounts were the least of my worries, of course. I have crypto accounts. Thankfully Coinbase and Gemini were in Authy, which seems to use a cloud based storage protected by a key that gets backed up by iTunes. After some mild panic-Googling, I was able to recover one of my Google Auth account keys for another exchange from a note in my password manager, and started a two-week cool-off period on another. I provided some personal details in a ticket to a portfolio tracking site, and they had the account unlocked in less than 15 minutes.

Everything that I reactivated went into Authy. I’ve still got a few vendors that I’m going to have to contact to regain access, but nothing critical that is causing me any stress. I’ve learned a valuable lesson about 2FA.

And next time my screen breaks or my phone gets damaged, I’m not going to wait months for repairs. I’m just going to file the damn insurance and be done with it.

“If you think you’re enlightened, spend some time with your family”

Last night, I spent a couple hours working on a team project, trying to get our development environment setup for our team. I was using a Django Docker container that I had generated using Cookiecutter-Django, but I had forgotten to select the setting that checks in the local .env files. I had already deleted my local copy of the repo to test cloning it, so I had to start from scratch.

I wanted to have an answer file in case I needed to regen the project with Celery support or whatever, so that meant learning about Cookiecutter’s replay capabilities. After figuring that out I determined that the Git repo wasn’t setup properly, so I moved the old one on our uni’s GitLab and ran the whole procedure from one more time, pushing and recloning the entire repo down and deleting my Docker images and building the whole thing again to make sure my teammates wouldn’t have any problems running it themselves.

I popped into our team Discord channel to let everyone know, and found myself in a discussion about dropping Django and pivoting to Android Studio.

I was furious.

Not like annoyed, but actual rage. I felt my blood pressure go up and I had to try very hard to maintain my composure while I responded.

I’ve never been what I would describe as an angry person, in fact most of adult life I’ve been pretty good about not getting mad at people. Computers on the other hand… I’ve been able to deal with things pretty well, I’ve never been one of those guys who loses their cool, gets in fights or screams at people. The last few months though, I’ve been a bit more willing to allow myself to get mad, and I’m not sure whether or not it’s a good thing or not.

When I was younger, I did a great deal of holding things in. I had a lot of unrequited crushes; mostly they were unrequited cause I never let the other person know. But outside of issues around my sexuality, I don’t think things were ever a problem. Now I don’t know if my meditation practice has anything to do with it, or whether part of it is being a father and having young children, but I am definitely way more willing to let people know when I’m mad or upset. I’m sure part of it has to do with how I was raised and disciplined. I’ve probably internalized a lot of abuse — for lack of a better term — and have been struggling with how I deal with that and how I discipline my children.

While I was responding to the team, I made sure to voice my frustration without resorting to any personal attacks. I spent about ten or fifteen minutes trying to respond to a few points and finishing what I had came there to do, to let them know that I had redone the development repo. I said straight up that I was too mad at the suggestion that we drop our entire software architecture plan six weeks out from the end of the semester. I tried not to be snippy and sign off with some useful information, so I told them to let me know what they decide tomorrow.

I haven’t really been able to stop fuming about it since I signed off though. I woke up after an hour of going to bed and tried to read for a bit to go back to sleep, and still woke up an hour before my normal time. My sleep patterns have been a bit fucked and my wife is out of town, but it’s still an unusual pattern for me.

I don’t want to get into any more of the details of this, but want to close with a quote from the Dali Lama that comes to mind: “worrying is prayer in reverse”. Meditating on this incident and writing about it has already reduced some of the anxiety or stress that I was feeling. To circle back around to earlier about being more willing to experience the anger and allow myself to get mad, I want to close and note that it’s important that the anger doesn’t get bottled up inside, and flows out before it can do real harm.

I’m going to post this and move on with my day. Peace.

The Peripheral, by William Gibson

I am a huge sci-fi lover, especially stuff by Neal Stephenson, Charlie Stross, and Chia Mielville. So when I heard that William Gibson has a new novel out, a sequel to one of his other works that I hadn’t read yet, I immediately added it to my library list. The Peripheral is a novel based around a concept the Gibson describes in his acknowledgement as “third worlding alternate timelines” via remote controlled avatars and drones.

The novel’s short chapters flip-flop between the two main characters, a woman named Flynn Burton, who resides in our near future in an unnamed place referred to as the county, an Appalachian community beset by job loss and drugs. The other main character, Wilf Netherton, is a publicist in Flynn’s future, where eighty percent of the population was wiped out by climate disaster and other calamities. Some of the ones who survived this period, referred to as The Jackpot, are lucky indeed, as they have access to uber-wealth and amazing technology: nano assemblers that can build (or destroy) anything, and Peripheral technology, which allows them to control biological android avatars via remote control. What Wilf and his kleptocratic friends also have access to is a stub, a way to reach back to Flynne’s time and communicate with people there.

Flynn’s brother, a former special forces soldier, is hired by Wilf’s associates to run security in their future. Thinking it a video game, Flynn covers for her brother and witnesses a murder, and from there the novel takes off as Flynn’s world, in fact, her entire timeline, gets turned upside down. As Wilf and his friends try to uncover the mystery in their timeline, their adversary has found a way into Flynn’s time also, and the two sides engage in economic warfare, using AI to manipulate the markets, using the cash to buy up every corporation, crime boss and politician that gets in their way.

Flynn and her brother, as well as his combat buddies are soon given directions on how to build tech from Wilf’s time, and spend a good deal of the time in Peripherals in what would have been their future. By stubbing Flynn’s timeline, it has diverged from Wilf’s time, and they start taking steps to prevent the Jackpot from occurring.

I enjoyed the book, but almost gave up at the beginning because Gibson doesn’t explain much in Wilf’s future London from Wilf’s point of view. Things become more clear once we experience them through Flynn’s eyes, but the first fifty pages I could barely understand what I was reading and had to step away from it for a day or two before I could bring myself to come back to it. That said, Gibson is a great storyteller and futurist, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the sequel.

Not surprisingly, Amazon is working on a television adaptation of the series. Like Altered Carbon, and Dollhouse before it, the idea of consciousness transfer or remote control seems to be in the zeitgeist these past few years, and I wonder if this tells us something deeper about who we are today. Isn’t that the point of science fiction in the first place?

Single dad weekend

So my wife’s job in union leadership has lead her out of town again, this time by train to DC where she’ll be lobbying our local congressional representatives. I dropped her off at the train station early yesterday, and spent the rest of the day with the kids. Last night we broke open a copy of Shadows in the Forest, which wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. My oldest enjoyed it, but I was mostly bored by the second game. We’ll try again in a few weeks and see if I warm up to it. The rest of the evening was watching various live performance videos on YouTube. I think I may have overdid the head-banging to Enter Sandman, as my neck has been bothering me all day. I thought I had slept on it wrong before I remembered what happened last night.

After the kids went to bed I spent the rest of the night watching the final episodes of Bojack Horseman while refreshing TradingView and Twitter on my app. Of course the big news is that Bitcoin crossed $10,000, and of course CryptoTwitter lost their shit. There weren’t any big price moves like I was expecting though, just a slow and steady slog up to it on the 1-minute candle, bouncing a narrow range until it finally made it and everyone started congratulating themselves for making it through the bear market.

I did see mention that this time feels a lot different. Last time we were here, in November of 2017, there was so much excitement about it and everyone (myself included) seemed like they were going crazy. None of that this time around. I actually tried to talk about bitcoin to one of my neighbors earlier today, but for the most part I’ve barely mentioned it to anyone in real life the past few months. I’ve brought it up several times with others the past week, but no one has asked me about it. Perhaps it’s good to keep it that way for now.

I’ve been taking it easy this weekend, trying to keep myself sane for the next few days. I’ve got a busy week at work lined up, and I know it’s going to be busy, so for tonight I’m going to lay on the couch with The C++ Programming Language. I’m only a couple chapters in, but already learned a good deal that is going to come in handy with class. For an old nerd like me, there’s no better way I’d rather spend my time.