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S DaggeX
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S DaggeX

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(Note: Since, irritatingly I can't seem to find a link to a post I made in another person's G+, I thought I would post this here publically, at the request of a friend.)

Since I think the only way to become stronger is to correctly define and/or attack weaknesses, I'm going to point out Bitcoin's current weak spots. If someone wants to attack it, here's how to do it:

Short Term:

. Immediately declare Bitcoin illegal. Your premise will be that the blockchain itself contains illegal information and thus propagating it via Bitcoin's P2P network is also illegal. (All transactions, from all blocks, must be globally, perfectly replicated or the system currently breaks for the inaccurate replicas.)

. Attack Butterfly Labs and freeze the money of all the pre-orders (now!) before any products can be delivered. Sieze all BFL equipment.

. Depending on how Boy-scout-ish you don't want to be, use the siezed equipment to perform disruptions in the network, with the premise that using criminals' own equipment against them is in fact legal. Overreaching and then letting the law limit you, after all, is SOP these days, right? And BFL currently has pre-orders for equipment which will TOTALLY DWARF ALL current hashrate by a factor of at least 30:1.

. As a two-pronged "Bitcoin is illegal" attack, immediately pass a law which bans Bitcoin; you can differentiate it from Second Life money, and other virtual currencies by defining the law as narrowed just to digital currencies which traverse international borders uncontrollably and invisibly. "All money transmission mechanisms which do not provably conform strictly to AML/KYC laws are hereby prohibited." Heck, you might not even have to make a new law. Just do an Executive Order and have the Secretary of the Treasury sign it.

. Use every means at your disposal to eliminate MtGox. Litigate in the U.S. Seek to declare the facilitation of an illegal currency, illegal. Convict, issue warrants, arrest, sieze international assets. Use signed trade and economic treaties to reach into Japan and extract MtGox operators and employees. The other exchanges are peanuts by comparison: they operate under the umbrella which MtGox has created and legally maintains, internationally. Without MtGox, people will be forced to use less reputable third-parties, or engage face-to-face trades.

. Immediately declare Bitcoin a currency proper. It is not a stock. It's not a bond. It's not any of these things. It's not some weird form that transcends money that makes it special and therefore not subject to money laws. It's money. Admit it.

. Immediately declare illegal, and ban the import of, FPGA devices with a Bitcoin mining bitstream pre-installed. Heavily tariff all parallel-computing devices which are in the judgement of customs, primarily useful only for cryptographic cracking purposes. (Low bandwidth communication, inexpensive, low-power, appropriately-sized FPGA with no other I/O or onboard devices available.)

. Immediately put all Bitcoin developers under semi-permanent surveillance. Any and all travel in/out of countries can immediately be used as a cover for equipment seizures and/or searches. Your premise is that they most likely have contacts that can be used to find criminals. The Freedom to Associate, after all, is no reason not to harass people at the border, right? Obtain secret search warrants, enter homes, clone drives, leave.

. For all people who have openly declared they are earning an income from Bitcoin, initiate immediate, sweeping audits. Confiscate equipment, view transaction records, legally compel wallet password revelation for auditing purposes.

. Challenge the current Bitcoin developers and force them into court to defend themselves. In the U.S., since winning there doesn't necessarily mean you are awarded costs. The Bitcoin developers are very poorly-funded overall, contrary to popular belief.

. Fill ALL online marketplaces with LE lures, and strongly publicize every bust made. Fear is a powerful motivator.

Long Term, Assuming Bitcoin Survives The Attack Legally And Technically

. Build a better software client, with commercial resources, a QA team, and proper release engineering. When people switch to you, you will have co-opted the software away from the current devs, and broken the mystic chain of authority from Satoshi. When you are the primary client developer, begin introducing changes that are incompatible with the old clients.

. Build worldwide mining farm operations and listening posts. It is trivial to monitor the relatively small number of Bitcoin nodes that exist, and to become the reliable infrastructure over which most Bitcoin traffic traverses. A diverse portfolio of Bitcoin nodes will guarantee that you can triangulate individual operators. Other people have already been detected to be doing this. Join the club. Piece of cake. Using this network to forensically analyze traffic, viciously prosecute every likely-internationally-sent and -received amount of money that violates AML/KYC law.
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The current biggest problems as I see them with Bitcoin:

1) Mining Pools and Transitions To Cartels Of Necessity

Normal random people are no longer long tail participants in the mining process, and usefully can't be except by making mining cartels stronger--contrary to the designed nature of the system. Meanwhile, the network is transitioning to high-end miners only, and is well on its way to being exclusive to them. This is not because the work of low-end video cards can't generate small amounts of coins (they can, as in a pool) but because they can't generate any regularly-appearing coins without a pool: the time between block generations is now years-long for all but high-end miners willing to spend at least $12k-$20k on equipment. People are in fact willing to accept enormously smaller rewards just to see those rewards more often.

1)a) Another sub-issue is that the current price, recovering slowly from the horrific speculative bubble/crash–itself fueled by disinformation from famous and non-famous people who both partly or in some cases, didn't at all, understand Bitcoin–is no longer profitable enough to fuel strong mining growth except for miners with multi-year plans in mind, or significant technological superiority.

2) Oddly Anaemic Development in Core

The current developers missed crucial problems like the encrypted wallet issue[2] before releasing them, and current bugs in the system (re: ArtForz' timewarp exploit[1]) are languishing without even a planned solution. Unit tests, continuous integration, and quality release engineering are just missing. The system handles millions of dollars in transactions and it is shocking, to me, that so many problems have needlessly slipped through the cracks since Satoshi left. I say needlessly, because Tahoe-LAFS manages to write enormous loads of unit tests, keep large numbers of buildslaves running, and they do it with what appears to be far fewer development resources. I'm not convinced this is an issue resulting from tight-lipped technological superiority complexes due to the monetary amounts involved.

There is a good reason to accelerate the pace: a young system is much easier to make changes in. The developers believe they are protecting the system by taking small, measured paces forwards. I'm not convinced this is wise right now. It will only get harder to make usability and large-ish bugfix changes going forward. The lead developer has already proven he's willing to make tough decisions by resetting testnet when it began to compete with the early Bitcoin network's mainnet fork. (Literally days after testnet coins were first traded, testnet was officially reset.)

3) Enormous (Unfortunate) Flood of Bitter Disinformation

To anyone able to understand Satoshi's original paper, and the code, it is beautiful. To 99.99+% of the rest of the world, core misunderstandings, Forbes articles[6], misinformed economists like Paul Krugman[5], and bitter journalists who "lost" money[3] in the $30USD/BTC speculative bubble are fronting an enormous wave of disinformation that will probably take Bitcoin years to fully recover from. The fact that Bitcoin people are boosting the system is precisely the reason, in my opinion, why the backlash exists. Bitcoin people made the mistake of promoting it. This was a terrible error.

4) Reputation Problems

Key people strongly associated with and typically attracted to Bitcoin at the moment have.. unfortunate.. past, undisputed histories that tend to colour the perception of Bitcoin. Meanwhile, the nature of Bitcoin and recent speculative bubble attracts psychopathic people who think they see enormous short-term benefit from behaving antisocially. Worse, organizations like Silk Road are bringing significant disrepute to an otherwise legal, interesting value-trading mechanism that honest people should and are embracing. Contrary to many peoples' beliefs, I strongly think that the stained presence of Silk Road is a strong deterrent to honest adoption of Bitcoin and is pushing back widespread adoption by many months, if not years.

5) Scaleability

The estimated point at which the network traffic utilization will remove Bitcoin from the average users' ability to participate due to bandwidth utilization is coming, and sooner than people think, and faster than users' home bandwidth plans are growing![4] Full supernodes with full transaction history will "soon" only be within the grasp of mid- to large-sized corporations, which means we're back to cartel-like behaviour of the backbone nodes in the Bitcoin network.

The cool part of all this of course is that most of the social problems around Bitcoin will evaporate. Bitcoin itself has achieved development immortality and therefore there's no reason it can't successfully survive indefinitely.

The time it takes to generate the first block after the difficulty level changes isn't used in the computation of how long the next 2016 blocks takes to compute. In some sense this is an artifact of ...
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NOTE to all people who keep visiting this post!

This is old, and many of the things I believe are problematic about Bitcoin have changed somewhat, especially with the new mining technologies emerging, the massive accrual of Bitcoin by a small number of people, the obvious ongoing market manipulation, and other things. I will update this post one day with a fresh one. For now, just keep in mind this is more than 8 months out of date at least.
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Hello Zooko,

These studies appear to suggest that diets with high levels of saturated fats (such as those found in fat-heavy steaks as you recommend) are associated with increased cardiovascular events. Can you point me towards studies which suggest otherwise or that propose or show confounding variables which contradict or invert this association? Specifically, these studies and other related ones I've been reading in my evenings suggest that high-fat caloric-unrestricted diets are effective for losing weight, but that a significant portion of calories from saturated fats in specific should be replaced with poly-unsaturated fats for a healthier heart.

1. Samaha F. Effect of very high-fat diets on body weight, lipoproteins, and glycemic status in the obese. Current Atherosclerosis Reports. 2005;7(6):412-420.

"Conclusion: In summary, the available prospective studies suggest that weight loss may be as successful with caloric restriction on a diet that allows a high proportion of fat as one with a low proportion of fat, at least over a 1-year period. Nevertheless, dietary fat composition yields significantly different effects on lipoprotein levels and on cardiovascular events. Diets high in saturated fat fail to decrease total cholesterol, even with significant weight loss. Both saturated and unsaturated fat increase HDL cholesterol levels. However, in clinical tudies, increased saturated fat consumption is still associated with an increased incidence of cardiovascular events. In contrast, substituting unsaturated fats for saturated fats yields the combined benefit of lowering total serum cholesterol levels and raising serum HDL cholesterol. This effect, together with favorable effects on markers of insulin resistance and inflammation, and potential antiarrhythmic effects of marine-based n-3 fatty acids, may partly explain why unsaturated fat consumption is associated with reduced cardiovascular events. Current guidelines from the NCEP now recommend increased proportions of unsaturated fat (25% to 35% total fat with less than 7% from saturated fat) [2]. However, a remaining question for future investigation is whether there is any beneficial effect of diets containing even higher proportions of unsaturated fat (eg, > 35% total fat with < 7% saturated fat)."

2. Jakobsen MU, O’Reilly EJ, Heitmann BL, et al. Major types of dietary fat and risk of coronary heart disease: a pooled analysis of 11 cohort studies. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2009;89(5):1425-1432.

"Results: During 4–10 y of follow-up, 5249 coronary events and 2155 coronary deaths occurred among 344,696 persons. For a 5% lower energy intake from SFAs and a concomitant higher energy intake from PUFAs, there was a significant inverse association between PUFAs and risk of coronary events (hazard ratio: 0.87; 95% CI: 0.77, 0.97); the hazard ratio for coronary deaths was 0.74 (95% CI: 0.61, 0.89). For a 5% lower energy intake from SFAs and a concomitant higher energy intake from carbohydrates, there was a modest significant direct association between carbohydrates and coronary events (hazard ratio: 1.07; 95% CI: 1.01, 1.14); the hazard ratio for coronary deaths was 0.96 (95% CI: 0.82, 1.13). MUFA intake was not associated with CHD. No effect modification by sex or age was found. Conclusion: The associations suggest that replacing SFAs with PUFAs rather than MUFAs or carbohydrates prevents CHD over a wide range of intakes.
Am J Clin Nutr 2009;89:1425–32."

3. Astrup A, Dyerberg Jã¸, Elwood P, et al. The role of reducing intakes of saturated fat in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: where does the evidence stand in 2010? The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2011;93(4):684-688.

Current dietary recommendations advise reducing the intake of saturated fatty acids (SFAs) to reduce coronary heart disease (CHD) risk, but recent findings question the role of SFAs. This expert panel reviewed the evidence and reached the following conclusions: the evidence from epidemiologic, clinical, and mechanistic studies is consistent in finding that the risk of CHD is reduced when SFAs are replaced with polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). In populations who consume a Western diet, the replacement of 1% of energy from SFAs with PUFAs lowers LDL cholesterol and is likely to produce a reduction in CHD incidence of 2–3%. No clear benefit of substituting carbohydrates for SFAs has been shown, although there might be a benefit if the carbohydrate is unrefined and has a low glycemic index. Insufficient evidence exists to judge the effect on CHD risk of replacing SFAs with MUFAs. No clear association between SFA intake relative to refined carbohydrates and the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes has been shown. The effect of diet on a single biomarker is insufficient evidence to assess CHD risk. The combination of multiple biomarkers and the use of clinical endpoints could help substantiate the effects on CHD. Furthermore, the effect of particular foods on CHD cannot be predicted solely by their content of total SFAs because individual SFAs may have different cardiovascular effects and major SFA food sources contain other constituents that could influence CHD risk. Research is needed to clarify the role of SFAs compared with specific forms of carbohydrates in CHD risk and to compare specific foods with appropriate alternatives. Am J Clin Nutr 2011;93:684–8."

Also, I think you would like the following paper:

4. Hite AH, Berkowitz VG, Berkowitz K. Low-Carbohydrate Diet Review. Nutrition in Clinical Practice. 2011;26(3):300-308.

"The shift in metabolism that occurs on a LC diet heralds a shift in our current dietary paradigm. Changing the macronutrient content of the diet changes the metabolic profile. Although increasing fiber and decreasing saturated fat intake may be of concern to those whose diets are high in carbohydrates, they may be of less concern to those whose diets are not. Increasing vegetable consumption and decreasing consumption of foods low in nutritional value is a dietary goal cited numerous times in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommendations.87 Reducing dietary carbohydrate can accomplish this goal while improving glucose control, insulin response, atherogenic dyslipidemia, and other cardiovascular risk factors, in
addition to reducing caloric intake without hunger. This makes carbohydrate reduction a sensible dietary approach to achieving and maintaining health."
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I love aesthetic pieces from people who are inspired by video games. :)
Matthew Attaway originally shared:
Half-life fan videos are like pizza to me; even the bad ones are pretty good. But this one is actually good. Ish. The credits make up for some of the overblown effects.

Half-Life: Origins (Live Action)
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Hey Zooko:

I was browsing through some journal articles I'd been meaning to read when I stumbled across the following article:

1. Hernandez TL, Sutherland JP, Wolfe P, et al. Lack of suppression of circulating free fatty acids and hypercholesterolemia during weight loss on a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2010;91(3):578 -585.

This study compares two groups: a high-carb/low-fat and a high-fat/low-carb.

From the study: "In conclusion, our data indicate that a high-fat diet, instead of a calorie- and fat-restricted diet, increased LDL-cholesterol concentrations over 6 wk, and that this effect related at least in part to the lack of suppression of both fasting FFA and FFA measured hourly for 24 h. Despite this adverse effect, weight loss was not greater in the High Fat group. Thus, these data suggest that a high-fat diet may have adverse metabolic effects during active weight loss."

Have you seen this already?
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