9-19-15 Hodgepodge

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Bitcoin as a "Commodity"

If you use a Bitcoin exchange, the feds now have their eyes on you:

Virtual money is officially a commodity, just like crude oil or wheat.

So says the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which on Thursday announced it had filed and settled charges against a Bitcoin exchange for facilitating the trading of option contracts on its platform.


"While there is a lot of excitement surrounding Bitcoin and other virtual currencies, innovation does not excuse those acting in this space from following the same rules applicable to all participants in the commodity derivatives markets," said Aitan Goelman, the CFTC's director of enforcement, in a statement.
What's inexcusable is how free Goelman feels to speak about innovators as if they are criminals, and his rules as if they are proper business for a government. So long as too many people view everything as common property -- which seems to be how the feds define "commodity" -- functionaries like him will remain drunk with power.

Weekend Reading

"[Horse betting is] actually similar to the analysis of the gold and silver markets." -- Keith Weiner, in "Gold, Silver, and Horse Betting Report 13 Sep, 2015" at SNB & CHF

"What's true for mankind is equally true for individuals: In order to accomplish something we want, we have to take chances." -- Michael Hurd, in "Life Without Risk Is Not Life" at The Delaware Wave

"Though some health professionals (and more than a few crafty lawyers) want to see uncontrolled anger classified as a physical disease, could it really be just a lack of self-control?" -- Michael Hurd, in "Self-Control, Self-Respect and Managing Emotions" at The Delaware Coast Press

"The problem is that the inequality alarmists are the enemy of the only kind of equality that matters: political equality." -- Don Watkins and Yaron Brook, in "Turning the Tables on the Inequality Alarmists" at Medium

A Must-Read

Watkins and Brook, who are also authors of Equal Is Unfair: America's Misguided Fight Against Income Inequality, make an argument that anyone interested in America continuing to be a land of opportunity should consider: That today's agitators for "equality" are anything but noble crusaders confused about means. Inequality alarmists are fighting for injustice and must be stopped.

No Need for (Heh!) "Whole-Kale Panic?"

I made note of a scientist's finding that kale and other related vegetables may be "hyperaccumulators" of thallium, which is poisonous. Debunkery site Snopes has since weighed in and, as of this writing, calls Ernie Hubbard's claim "unproven". Among other things:
Headlines claiming kale is dangerous are not a new phenomenon. Articles circulating in July 2015 generally stemmed from a single profile in a magazine about craftsmanship, not a medical journal or a new, specific scientific finding. And while research in 2006 identified a possible tendency for all cruciferous vegetables to accumulate heavy metals, that research in no way suggested kale specifically was making people sick. It's possible further study of kale could reveal such a link, but the suppositions referenced above were based on the untested observations of a single molecular biologist described in an article in a non-medical, non-science-based publication.
Neither liking kale nor forcing myself to eat it as a health food, I never felt alarm. But since I passed along this idea, I feel obliged to mention the skepticism of the folks at Snopes who, although they are not experts in nutrition, know how to ask intelligent layman's questions about such claims.

-- CAV

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