Thursday, December 29, 2022


When important parts of the cryptosphere collapse, such as Terra/Luna or FTX/Alameda, people often ask "is this the end of crypto?". The answer so far is no. But as the "crypto winter" continues, and contagion spreads from exchanges to miners and their financiers, the number of important parts still standing is decreasing.

Below the fold I explain why crypto will effectively end when there are no large, liquid exchanges, and look at the possibility that failures of major exchanges might happen.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Brio-Compatible "Big Boy" Model

One of the things our grandson is interested in is trains, especially steam trains. Via gifts from various friends and relations he accumulated a vast collection of the Brio wooden model trains and tracks; it is favorite plaything at our house. I added needed pieces to the collection by downloading models from the amazing selection of Brio-compatible pieces on Thingiverse and printing them using the Creality CR6-SE that I got via Kickstarter two years ago. These included switches, buffers, gender changers and long straight tracks.

E's & D's Adventures in Life
CC BY 2.0
Another part of his train interest is "Big Boy", Union Pacific 4014, "the biggest steam train there has ever been in the whole wide world". So my wife decided that a suitable Christmas present would be a Brio-compatible model of Big Boy. You can't buy one, and I couldn't find one on Thingiverse, so I flexed my Tinkercad muscles and started on what turned out to be quite the saga. Below the fold, the details.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

The Synchronous Delivery Problem

Parked at the end of the alley behind our house as I set out on my morning bike ride was a large pickup marked Nuro hauling a large trailer with some vehicle inside. I often see Nuro's "autonomous" Priuses in our neighborhood, so I assumed one had failed and was being collected. Near the end of my ride a few blocks from our house I passed another. At the end of the alley as I returned was this unfamiliar vehicle, so I stopped and took a picture.

As I watched it drove forward about 15 feet, paused, drove forward another 15 feet and stopped about 4 feet from the back of a parked SUV. It thought for a while then backed up, returning to near its starting point. I understand, I too think it is a problem that our streets are infested with parked monster SUVs.

Unlike Tesla's "Full Self-Driving" I don't think testing the Nuro-bot on our streets is a significant danger. They move slowly, make noise, are clearly cautious, and aren't being used by cult members. Below the fold I question not the technology but the economics.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

The Power Of Ethereum's Merge Revisited

Alex De Vries has published Cryptocurrencies on the road to sustainability: Ethereum paving the way for Bitcoin, a detailed review of the energy implicantions of Etereum's switch from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake. This analysis broadly concurs with mine from The Power Of Ethereum's Merge that while the power reduction of Ethereum's network is of the order of 99+%, the impact on the total energy consumption of cryptocurrencies is much less. Below the fold I discuss the details.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Well-Deserved Recognition

Molly White
CC BY-SA 4.0
This is just a quick shout-out to Molly White, who has emerged as one of the most effective communicators among the cryptocurrency skeptics, not just with the outstanding Web3 is Going Just Great, but also with a blog that provides a distinctive and valuable perspective, a newsletter, talks and excellent contributions to panels for the White House and Financial Stability Oversight Council.

She has received well-deserved recognition in this year's Forbes 30-under-30 list and with a must-read profile by Jeff Wilser entitled Molly White and the Crypto Skeptics as one of CoinDesk's Most Influential 2022. It ends:
We’ve been hearing, for years, that “crypto is the future.” That might still be true. But ultimately, says White, we need to “temper these really optimistic visions of the future with how the technology is functioning today.”
As someone who has been writing extremely skeptically about the technology for a long time I believe it is her ability to couch well-informed skepticism in such a reasonable frame that makes her so effective. I, and other critics, have a lesson to learn here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Foolish Lenders

From the "no-one could have predicted" department comes David Pan's Crypto Lenders’ Woes Worsen as Bitcoin Miners Struggle to Repay Debt. The TL;DR is that until recently companies accepted mining rigs as collateral for loans.
“There hasn’t necessarily been the best due diligence on whether a miner was credit worthy or not,” said Matthew Kimmell, digital asset analyst at crypto investment firm CoinShares.
These companies did so little due diligence that they didn't realize the collateral would be worthless in about 18 months, even if Bitcoin continued moonwards. Below the fold, the details.