some links for you

i read all of it so you dont have to - 2/7/2020

Elon Musk (finally) said something interesting about Bitcoin: 

“This sort of gets the crypto people angry, but there are transactions that are not within the balance of the law,” said Musk. “And there are, obviously, many laws in different countries. And, normally, cash is used for these transactions. But, in order for illegal transactions to occur, cash must also be used for legal transactions. You need an illegal to legal bridge. That’s where crypto comes in.”

He went on to clarify: 

“This is sometimes taken as being like I’m being judgmental about crypto, but it’s actually — there are a lot of things that are illegal that shouldn’t be illegal,” explained Musk. “I think sometimes governments have too many laws. They shouldn’t have so many things that are illegal.”

To me this is the essential point about advocating for censorship resistance. If every country had great laws, then I wouldn’t care. But it’s a sad fact that there are some horrible laws in the world. Maybe they should be broken. 

For more reading, this is something Jill Carlson occasionally gets yelled at for saying, even though she’s right. 


As China works to contain the coronavirus their authoritarian surveillance state is coming in handy

Using the country’s pervasive digital-surveillance apparatus, authorities were able to track—down to the minute—the sick person’s exact journey through the city’s subway system.

Officials then published those and other details of the person’s movements on social media and warned residents to get themselves checked if they had been in the vicinity at the time.

This is the kind of “for the greater good” type thing that you might expect to see in a case study on why surveillance works. Hopefully people around the world who choose to opt out of surveillance are not stigmatized based on this and other palatable uses of bad systems. Will people who take control of their privacy be treated like social deviants? 


There is now an uncensorable monument to Dr. Li Wenliang, the whistleblowing scientist who tried to raise the alarm about the coronavirus but was silenced by Chinese authorities.

Even before his death, Dr. Li had become a hero to many Chinese after word of his treatment at the hands of the authorities emerged. In early January, he was called in by both medical officials and the police, and forced to sign a statement denouncing his warning as an unfounded and illegal rumor.

His death poses a singularly delicate issue for the Chinese government. Even as officials have battled the epidemic, they have also tried to stifle widespread criticism that they mismanaged their response to the initial outbreak in Wuhan, a city of 11 million.

The digital monument exists on the Ethereum blockchain and would be nearly impossible for Chinese authorities to censor. This is not the first time Chinese netizens have turned to Ethereum to escape censors. In 2018, articles about vaccine and harassment scandals were circulated using this public blockchain

That letter remains available on the blockchain for all to look at, which is a stunningly rare occurrence for most documents expressing dissent in China.


Everyone hates landlords and brokers, which is why everyone is celebrating the sudden banning of broker fees in New York. I’ve always thought my friends were nuts for accepting the broker system in NYC. That’s all fine and well, but something about this story caught my eye: 

The new rule, buried in a legal guidance on last year’s rent laws, caught lawmakers, many landlords and brokers off guard. The Real Estate Board of New York, the influential trade group, immediately threatened to challenge the rule in court and urged its members to protest.

“This is a dire issue with our members, so we are literally going through every single avenue,” said Reggie Thomas, the board’s senior vice president for government affairs. “It’s an all-hands on deck thing because this came out of left field.”

A trade association that represents brokers, and presumably exists to prevent this kind of thing, dropped the ball. They were blindsided by a devastating rule change that was tucked away in guidance. Now this is an obviously self-serving observation, but, and I won’t be shedding any tears for this particular group, but it’s a reminder that the policy landscape you’ve gotten used to can and will get pulled out from under you overnight if no one is guarding the walls. 


Here’s the most tone-deaf tweet I saw this week: 

Lots of responses here


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