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Comment Re:Abandon their harmful behavior? (Score 1) 351

"Yeah, because we don't need an international diplomatic platform or UNICEF, eh?"

The flaws in the UN are many, various, and grievous.

UNICEF has done some good things. It's not enough to justify the bad things the UN has done.

I don't have any problem with them if they want to continue to exist. But I think we should stop giving them money to house it in the U.S.

Comment Re:Abandon their harmful behavior? (Score 3, Insightful) 351

"Maybe he should go work for the UN. They've been trying to get the US government to abandon various forms of harmful behavior for a while. "

The UN only wants to trade what it sees as bad U.S. behavior by its own brand of bad behavior.

Remember that not all members of the U.N. are equal. It was created that way.

While I deplore the actions of my government, and wish it would stop the foolish and damaging things it has been doing, I have reservations because (A) I don't think it will happen unless someone convinces Obama that he's not a king, and (B) I would be happy -- ecstatic even -- if the UN disappeared tomorrow.

Comment Re:Ignorant and Stupid (Score 1) 206

It's not that that statement makes me angry; it just makes me shrug. Even if it is true, it's utterly irrelevant. You don't give people powers that could easily be abused if you can help it because they will very likely abuse them.

And yet, if you give nobody any power, then you cannot prevent injustice. Government needs to be bigger than any individual or group that can be a source of injustice, or it will be powerless to prevent it. This argument is as old as civilization. Without laws, there would be chaos. So we struggle eternally with finding a way of balancing perfect order -- which is synonymous with tyranny and oppression, and perfect chaos -- which is mob rule and violence.

It's counterintuitive, but for a group of humans to be at their happiest and most content... there must be a measure of both extremes.

While we're telling other people how they think or feel, I will say this: You don't really believe what you wrote. You might say you do, but you don't.

That's the interesting thing about beliefs though. Social reality is like shining a bright flashlight on a rainy night. Wherever you point it, it creates a cone. The rain, which was random and disorganized before, suddenly assumes a specific shape. And this is how society is organized. Why does red mean stop and green mean go? We all agree on it, and thus it has value. If we didn't, then nobody would stop, or go... it would be chaos. Such as it is with much of our 'justice'. We arbitrarily separate things that are naturally in equilibrium so that we can create meaning.

Comment Re:Bad news. (Score 1) 206

Yeah, this is often true. However, there are some counterexamples, e.g. virtual goods and services. The point of the coin mixers is to disassociate all illicit activity from all legitimate activity, such that any real world names, addresses, or other PII are tied purely to legitimate accounts.

The accounts were legitimate to begin with. Money isn't inherently good or evil. It doesn't develop bad karma because it was used to buy drugs with, or a child for sex. And real world names, addresses, etc., are all what you need to complete a transaction for virtual goods and services. There is not a lot that you can do online that at some point doesn't require some form of identification. It may just be a username and password, or a cookie, or a data file somewhere that just points to an ip address... but everything you do online leaves a trace of you behind.

It's as Sherlock Holmes said: Nobody can enter and leave a room without taking something with, and leaving something behind. This is the foundation of all forms of forensic analysis... and running your money through a mixer doesn't improve your anonymity.. it actually harms it. It's like trying to go through a forest unseen... if you step on a leaf and crumple it, your attempt to put the it back the way it was before leaves an even bigger footprint than had you simply continued.

If I were to anthropromorphize the NSA, FBI, or [insert big bad here], it would probably grin contentedly at these crypto-anarchists attempt to create anonymity. The very act of attempting to anonymize yourself separates you from others. It provides a unique datapoint. It's like the leaf you stepped on. Find enough, and I can pick up your trail.

Comment Re:Ignorant and Stupid (Score 0) 206

I don't think government thugs harassing people is at all "reasonable."

I suppose it all comes down to which people they're harassing. Nobody's going to say too much if a terrorist gets shipped to Gitmo and spends the rest of his years being beaten for information. And maybe that isn't right -- maybe we should be less vindictive as a society. But nevertheless, who the government targets has a great degree of bearing on how much public resistance it encounters.

After 9/11, thousands of Muslims were attacked in public. There have been several mosque burnings and bombings, and the government has never identified the culprits. In New York there was, until very recently, a "stop and frisk" law that had been proven many times over to be excessively discriminatory towards black people. But nobody complained, because it only affected black people. To quote "First they came for the..." and you know the rest. Everybody knows the words by heart.

But they forget that it's human nature to look the other way, or even smile a little, when you see your enemy (actual or perceived) being hurt... and it doesn't much matter how justified it is. It's called the Just World hypothesis in the academic community... but basically; If we see somebody being hurt, we assume the must have done something to deserve it.

And for this reason... the government can harass lots of people -- just as long as they're the right people. And nobody will say anything. Whether it's reasonable or not... well, that really depends on who you ask.

To the NSA... we're all potential terrorists until proven otherwise. Innocent, guilty... doesn't really matter. To them, they're defending freedom. What's a little harassment in the name of freedom? And here's the thing that really pisses most people off: You aren't so different. So don't act like you are. Just like the NSA, you don't care so much about innocence or guilty (oh I know, you believe you do), not nearly as much as watching someone you don't like get their just desserts. It takes a rare kind of conviction to ideals to defend one's enemy; To put adherence to a belief above individual desire for vengeance. A very rare kind indeed; So much so, that only a handful of people have ever been possessed of it. And very often, those people either inspire us... or wind up dead.

Comment Re:Bad news. (Score 2) 206

Silk Road allegedly mixed some coins but, also allegedly, did so poorly. Not surprising given the amounts it was trying to mix. It did not, afaik, use the coinjoin method linked above. Also, the founder wasn't tracked down due to coin mixing or lack thereof anyway.

More to the point.. coin mixing did not prevent the Feds from identifying thousands of people who used the service and were able to match realworld transactions to their bitcoin equivalents. In fact, from what I can tell... it wasn't much more than a slight irritation to their forensic accountants.

The fact is that crypto-anarchists may be very good at code, but they're very bad at high level analysis. You (and the crypto people too) need to understand that if you take a hundred people, walk them into a room, and they all empty their pockets and record the cash they throw into a giant bin on a ledger, and when everyone has gone through, they line up again and take money back out... which is effectively what the 'perfect' mixer would do... you aren't improving the anonymity of your cash expenditures by that much.

Your anonymity is not dependent on where you got the money from but rather who you're giving it to. It's the spending of money that destroys your anonymity, not the acquisition of it.

Comment Re:Deceased owners (Score 4, Informative) 206

You can, therefore, expect an entire community of BTC "grave" robbers to develop, who will, instead of wasting CPU time on mining new blocks, waste it on reclaiming old blocks

Actually, that ordinarily would be a problem. However, you're not understanding that bitcoin isn't encrypting anything. It's hashing it. The bitcoin system doesn't protect against seizure and use of bitcoins; it protects against ledger fraud.

Think of it this way: It will always be hard (hopefully too hard) to undo, invalidate, or duplicate a transaction; The older it is, the more secure it becomes. But let's remove the idea of a bitcoin for the moment and instead say that everyone has a user account in this 'BT' system, and after supplying their login and password, can trade any coins they have with anyone else. Any transaction made is secure; until and unless you lose your password or someone else gets it. Then whatever bitcoins you have are now theirs, the end. But they cannot unspend your coins; they cannot change the transactions. They can only spend what's in your wallet now.

So these "grave" robbers can't reclaim old blocks... they can only decrypt the wallets the coins are stored in. Assuming they were ever encrypted to begin with.

The bit coin system is not secured against theft of coins. That's your job (either to steal or to protect)... all it guarantees is that transactions are permanent (and public).

Comment Re:Error. (Score 1) 95

Oh, I see. You were responding to the Slashdot summary which wrongly claims that "the first major effect of warming, about 1 billion years from now, will be a dramatic drop in atmospheric carbon dioxide as the oceans absorb more of it."

You were right to point out this error. The summary should say land, not ocean. Sorry for the interruption.

Comment Bad news. (Score 4, Interesting) 206

including a protocol called "trustless mixing" that combines users' coins together before encoding it into the ledger."

I got some bad news; The Silk Road tried the same thing. It failed. But I mean, whadda expect... the government likes getting paid. Kindof a lot. And so they have entire divisions of the government setup to make sure they can track down people who try to hide money from them and, well, make them pay.

But for the moment, let's ignore all that. Some crypto-anarchist hacked something together over the course of a few weekends and that's all solved. Great!

Next question: The NSA is evil and watching everything, except of course this, which is totally impregnable and would be pretty much the terrorist currency of choice... what compelling moral, ethical, or technical arguments can you provide that dropping my "money" into a e-blender and setting it to frappe will result in delicious privacy juices coming out in the same quantity as I put in, and is totally resistant to attack? I've learned in security that you can get either tamper-evident, or tamper-resistant... but trying to get both is enormously difficult. So I really, well and truly, want to know how you plan on having the necessary robust auditing and controls necessary to ensure that transactions are fair and correctly executed, while at the same time dropping the ledgers into your e-blender... while trusting the now-anonymized agents utilizing such a thing not to find some way to exploit the system... using the system itself to cover their tracks?

Comment Re:And this is why... (Score 1) 356

People can freely associate. They shouldn't expect their liability to be limited though. Any free association should be able to donate unlimited amounts, but limited liability is not a right, it's a privilege. When speech is filtered through a fiction which limits the liability of the speaker, they are no longer exercising their right to free speech, they are exercising their privilege of limited liability.

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