Friday, May 3, 2013

Fake money in the real world

So someone just made up some Monopoly money and is spending it all over town.   

Not only that, other people must think it’s cool or real money or something because now they’re hoarding it, stacking up this imaginary play dough in their fantasy bank accounts.   

According to Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal, this brand new currency is held mostly by speculators hoping to profit from price fluctuations, which have been especially volatile in recent weeks.   

Real people are watching market variations on make-believe money. 

Oh yeah.  Virtual currency – “Bitcoins.”   

I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry.  Bitcoins?!!  Somebody made this stuff up and now he’s going to make billions of dollars in real coins and nobody told me until it was too late.  

People are deep into buying, trading and even mining Bitcoins!   

Dad gummit! 

How can this happen?  How can it be that someone, “a pseudonymous developer,” named “Satoshi Nakamoto” can just describe a “non-existent digital cash-like currency” and start spending it and buying real stuff with it!?   

He made up his name and he made up some money and now he’s living in a virtual mansion on that famous “cloud” eating pie in the sky. 


“Bitcoins are exchanged peer-to-peer just like cash, making it the Internet’s trusted currency.”  What?  Says who? 

Why the Bitcoin community of course.  On the Bitcoin wiki, where you can go for all your Bitcoin information needs. 

Those folks are happy to tell you that Bitcoin is an “experimental, decentralized digital currency that enables instant payments to anyone, anywhere in the world.”  Translation:  They made it up!  They’re conducting an experiment.   

And it’s working!  They’re buying real jet skis with phony baloney. 

There’s more:  “Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate with no central authority: managing transactions and issuing money are carried out collectively by the network.”  Did you get that?  “Issuing money.”  Issuing money!  In cyber space.  Digitally.  With zeroes and ones.    

And with no central authority.  It’s not that the cat’s away.  There is no cat. 

And when I think how my mom told me about the money tree and that it doesn’t exist, quashing my fragile imagination.  My dad winched every time I looked at his wallet.  Whenever I needed gas for the jalopy or a donut, he assured me there was only so much money, you know.    

But now I’m learning how wrong they were.  Bitcoin, an implementation of a concept called crypto-currency first described on the cypherpunks mailing list in 1998, is crankin’ out the moolah. 

It’s a flippin’ concept.  It’s a spendable concept.  Crypto-currency?  Cypherpunks?  They probably wear saggy cyber-pants.   

But you have to give them credit, if you’ll pardon the pun.  Building on the notion that “money is any object, or any sort of record, accepted as payment for goods and services,” these guys created Bitcoin using cryptography to build their own virtual treasury. 

It makes me so mad.  Why didn’t I think of it?  After all, it’s only a step or two away from the persnickety self-righteous record of stars and demerits I awarded my brother according to his treatment of me.  It was an 8-year-old’s idea of behavior modification, but he could have traded it for goods.  I would have swapped my scoop of ice cream, for example, for some peace and a few stars off his chart.   

But no!  He had to twist it.  He just started popping me with rubber bands and saying, “Add that to your little book!”   

Thus ended my future as a visionary entrepreneur in the marketplace. 

You can see why I’m so frustrated to learn that eBay and PayPal may soon integrate Bitcoins into their networks of buying and selling.  John Donahoe, chief executive of eBay, says that within five years, Bitcoin could be converted to cash and used in retail.  It’s already accepted on a few sites like Reddit and WordPress, as well as 

See.  That’s just wrong, getting pizza for Bitcoins.   

And why isn’t it counterfeit?  How are they getting away with making up money and spending it?  I want some free money! 

I’m boggled.  And scared.  What’s going to happen to my crumpled up old dollar bills?  Who’s going to want them when you can get crisp, germ-free ether bucks?  

Dad gummit.