Making a zip gun from plastic tubing is, however. And that's what a 3-d printed gun barrel is.
Over the weekend, I got a lot of spurious charges on the credit card I use for my Linode account. Charges from several different countries, for various amounts that looked like automated "is this card valid?" type probes. The bank shut it down, but not before I got paged a bunch of times.
Then again, the odds are just as good that a waiter at some restaurant uploaded my number to some IRC channel to get back at me for my guest's order being too complicated or something.
I've tried and tried to wrap my head around this, but it makes no sense to me. How can you have fractional-reserve banking if the coins have to match a digital signature? Fractional-reserve banking creates money out of thin air. How can you create bitcoins out of thin air?
1: It's "wealth", not "money." Fractional reserve banking doesn't create more US dollars, it just creates a debt from one part to another and formalizes the transfer of debts instead of the physical exchange of bank notes.
2: Annuities and futures. If I loan you 500 bitcoins to buy a car, with terms that you pay me back over 12 months with interest, I have ~500 BTC as an asset I can promise to others.
but what I have not seen is a technical discussion on how Bitcoin is going to be shut down.
Assuming for the moment as a given that the feds describe to shut down BitCoin (let's say Congress passes a law banning it), I'd wager that the implementation would not be not dissimilar to the approach they take against child porn. Ban the practice outright, impose punitive sentences for dealing with it, and employ police officers to track down those engaging in the practice.
And if that happens, I wager domestic bitcoin usage would just shutter rather than deal with persecution. Bitcoin 2 would be written to concur with the law, and likely overtake its predecessor due to simple market weight.
In the United States, people cannot
That's not what "legal tender" means.
I could set up shop today in New York State and accept only bitcoins if I wanted to. The government wouldn't stop me, and in fact they'd back up my right to set my prices as whatever my little heart desires, in whatever strange currency I want.
But as soon as I ask the police to force a shoplifter to pay, I'll wind up having to deal with dollars, because that's all the government will force anyone to pay a debt in. And if I am on the other end of that transaction, I might wind up having to convert some bitcoins to dollars at a sub-optimal time when the bill comes due.
(That I'll also have to pay my taxes in dollars and likely pay my vendors and suppliers in the same means I'll have to deal with some local currency regardless. but that's a different issue.)
For every $1000 in deposits, that means they can lend $10,000 at 5% above their costs and payouts, or more, yielding a $500 profit... wow!
1: It's $1,000 in assets. That includes a whole bunch of things beyond deposits, such as certain bonds.
2: That's $500 in revenue, not profit. From that revenue, they need to pay for all of their bills, and their payroll, and account for losses due to uncollectable accounts and outright thievery.
This $500 is spent by them eventually, and helps dilute the value of your original $1000 by inflation... so your "savings" loses value, as they leverage against it in multiple manners....
3: Inflation is a feature, not a bug. The work you did picking tomatoes last year is less valuable to the species than the work you did picking tomatoes today. The species would be better served if you used that same frugality to horde useful items instead of tokens, which is why the market rewards investment over savings.
My money is a few bits in my bank's private datacenter.
Your liquid wealth is a properly formatted record and data trail at your bank's private data center. (more than a few bits. At least a few integers for value and date/time for each transaction you've ever had.)
I don't know about you, but these days I have very little money. If i want some I just redeem some of the debt that my credit unit owes me for some, although most merchants I deal with will accept an electronic debt assignment instead of requiring money.
Bitcoin does have an intrinsic value: the computing time it takes to mine a bitcoin.
Stop. Bitcoins have an intrinsic COST. The computing time that goes into producing a bitcoin is comparable to the paper and ink used to print a physical US dollar, or the wages and electricity cost of the "creation" of purely electronic dollars. (Which are really debts, rather than currency, but that's an entirely different boneheaded idea that the one you're postulating.)
Once a bitcoin is produced, it cannot be redeemed for an equal amount of computer time. In fact, using a bitcoin requires SOMEONE ELSE to pay for the verification chain that makes this electronic currency at all feasible.
(you're right that it's a bubble, and I'm not here to argue the system's inherent merits or flaws.)
Having said all that: the dollar, in contrast, really does have no practical intrinsic value. Ever since 1971, when Nixon threw the last vestiges of any standard away. (And defaulted on U.S. debt in the process, by the way. People who said the "fiscal cliff" would be the first time the U.S. ever defaulted on debt simply don't know their history.)
The US dollar is backed up by an almost non-intuitive fact of modern society. It's legal tender for payment of debts. As in, if you don't pay your employees or pay for that meal in a restaurant, or if you just wrong someone more generally, the courts will denote whatever judgement is finally ordered against you in US dollars, and if your wealth is denominated in some other currency, you'll be subject to whatever market exchange rate you can manage to produce sufficient dollars to pay the debt.
Or, in short, "people who say the US dollar isn't backed up by anything don't know what they're talking about."
On a different note, though, I'd be interested if you could point to a US debt that was denoted in a weight of precious metal and not redeemed for sufficient value to satisfy the bond-holder. Just because in 1971 the President of the United States stopped offering gold for dollars doesn't mean the US "defaulted" any more than Wal-Mart selling out of ammo means they "defaulted' on that gift card you bought. (The phrase "Redeemable in gold on demand at the United States Treasury, or in gold or lawful money at any Federal Reserve Bank" was gone from bank notes decades before. And still did not specify the amount of gold.)
And an especial win for those of us who are skilled in the arts of video editing and compositing...
How can you possibly cast an informed ballot before the first debate?
You don't serious think that the "debates" are actually debates, do you? If that's where you got your information about the candidates, you're going to be just as ignorant as the people basing their votes on TV News and other scripted sound bites.
Your only reasonable way of assessing a candidate is to look at a) voting records and/or legislation sponsorships as applicable, b) primary campaign funding sources, and c) all the other spin. This gives you some insight into what (if anything) they've done, who they're beholden to, and, lastly, what they want you to think they represent.