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1  Bitcoin / Press / 2014-01-24 - This is What it’s Like to Be a Woman at a Bitcoin Meetup on: January 25, 2014, 01:56:15 AM

The other night my good friend & fellow cryptoenthusiast Ryan Shea suggested we head to a new Bitcoin meetup neither of us had been to before. I agreed to meet him there, and though the conversation was stimulating, much of the experience was pretty demeaning.  

I walk in and a group of people are already sitting at a long table. I say hi and hover for a second, determining where to sit. Entirely uninvited, and before I even have a chance to react, one guy proceeds to grab me by the waist and pull me into an awkward, grope-y side hug next to him on the bench. To reiterate, I’ve never met this man in my life. I try giving him the benefit of the doubt and make some quip about his being a friendly sort, but it gets uncomfortable pretty quickly when he puts his hand on my leg and leaves it there until I squirm uncomfortably.

Unsurprisingly, this type of treatment wasn’t specially reserved for me. The person who actually suggested the event to Ryan was another young woman (the only other woman at the event), a VC who was in town from San Francisco and was interested in checking it out for the first time. The aforementioned groper knew Ryan vaguely from other Bitcoin events, and greeted their arrival with a warm “Oh, nice to see you! I see you brought your girlfriend this time.” When the two of them try to point out that a) they are not together and b) she was actually the one who had brought him, they are cut off with a swift “Sure, sure, I just wanted to see what the dynamic was between you two.” Apparently that’s code for “checking if you’re ok with my hitting on her,” as that’s exactly what he proceeds to do.

The guy sitting on the other side of me turns and introduces himself. Turns out, he’s the organizer and leader of the meetup. He follows with a swift, “So, how did you find out about this?” I’m honestly not sure if he means the meet up group or Bitcoin in general, so I go with the latter and tell him I’ve been interested (ok, obsessed—my friend Sam Smith may or may not have nicknamed me Cryptoqueen) since around mid 2013, which is when I started buying some.

He then starts to look at me like I’ve suddenly morphed into a unicorn. Literally: bulging eyes, mouth slightly agape, the whole nine yards. Apparently the expected response would have been that I was Ryan’s  friend/girlfriend/sister who had somehow accidentally ended up there. “Seriously? You mean you actually own bitcoins? You don’t look like someone who would even know about Bitcoin!”

Err…thanks? It’s not a reaction I’m unfamiliar with (I usually get the same one when people hear I have a motorcycle-and no, it’s not a vespa) so I just smile it off and start explaining my interest in the international implications of widespread bitcoin adoption, especially in countries where currency manipulation by corrupt governments has caused rampant hyperinflation and a host of other economic woes. I conclude the thought, and he (again, staring like I’m some sort of extraterrestrial creature), goes, “Wow. Women don’t usually say that type of things”.

I mean, what do you even respond to that?

Undeterred, I try to sidestep it and go on with my argument, concluding that what I am describing is “much more effective and efficient” than the current system. “Well,” he says looking at me knowingly, “Women don’t usually think in terms of efficiency and effectiveness”.

A few minutes later he starts describing an app he is working on to someone else at the table. “You see, women don’t care about crypto currencies, so we don’t have to design for them”. When I tell him he’s wrong, he smartly replies, completely in earnest, “Oh ok cool, so if we start dating I can use the app with you!”

The irony here is that he actually meant these things as compliments. But what he was implying that the bar for women is so low that my entirely unremarkable comments put me lightyears ahead of the “average woman” (whatever that even means).

Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I’m pretty thick skinned. My self esteem remained intact throughout the exchange; if anything, it made me more determined to learn. I was not even made to feel unwelcome; these fellows were clearly thrilled at the presence of two women at the event. The problem lies in the conditions under which our company was desired. We were not treated as peers or individuals who might be able to contribute intelligently to the discussion. We were ogled and clearly assumed to be someone’s girlfriend, or someone’s potential future girlfriend.

Was either of us mistreated? Technically, no. But the conditions under which our presence was accepted were such that from the moment we entered the room, the other attendees’s preconceptions were at a distinct disadvantage. Perhaps this would be a good time to recall Warren Buffet’s comment that one of the reasons for his great success was that he was only competing with half of the population. We can view it as an opportunity. Being underestimated can be a surprisingly effective tool in the appropriate context, but perhaps that’s just me being overly optimistic. I know many women, many of whom are far smarter than I am, who would have felt seriously out of place there. Would they go back to the next meet up? I doubt it.  If the organizer of the meetup makes people feel so unwelcome, it sets the tone for the rest of the conversation.

I’m not bringing these comments up because my feelings were hurt, and the last thing I need is sympathy. I’m also not concerned that one particular guy thinks women couldn’t possibly know about Bitcoin, or that another grabbed at me, but unfortunately this is representative of a larger trend. The current generation of hackathon organizers (largely led by the singular efforts of Dave Fontenot —hellllllyeah) is making a concerted effort to encourage the participation of women at their events, and while I’ve still gotten my share of off-color comments, the situation is gradually improving. Since Bitcoin is still so new, we have the rare opportunity to get onboard before the ship has sailed, becoming knowledgeable before a vast majority of people have ever even heard of it. Learning about it now, instead of trying to play catch-up as it often seems like we are in terms of women in STEM fields, programming, or traditional finance, will surely reap great benefits.

I think my experience at the meetup is worth sharing because Bitcoin lies at the heart of both finance and tech, two industries that carry tremendous weight and which have traditionally struggled to attract women. Given the events of the other night, this is hardly surprising. I am undeterred and if anything will be even more proactive about attending these events. In my mind, it’s a little preposterous that if I want to do so, however, I have to be ok with being felt up and indirectly insulted. If women fail to take an active interest in Bitcoin now, when it is still in its infancy and its potential is largely untapped, we will have yet another sector in which the gender is underrepresented and trailing. Bitcoin as a currency has the ability to revolutionize the banking and financial system, but the implication of Bitcoin as a protocol extend much further than that. I’ll write a post of my own on that soon, but in the meantime I recommend you check out Mark Andreessen’s excellent post on why Bitcoin matters.  

Anyways ladies, ignore the naysayers and get out to those Bitcoin meetups! If you want to attend a meetup or chat crypto anytime, shoot me a line on Twitter.
2  Other / Off-topic / What is the average processing fee for a credit card transaction? on: January 22, 2014, 03:06:15 AM

Long story short I got into an argument with a few friends over a beer last night and we had a disagreement over what the average merchant pays in transaction fees when they accept credit card payments.

I'm trying to figure out what the common perception is.

Reply to this post saying where you are
Argue for or against including chargebacks and other incidentals in the overall fee
Tell me what you think the average chargeback rate is (for a specific industry or in general)

Feel free to add anything else!
3  Bitcoin / Bitcoin Discussion / So what happened to Satoshi? on: September 27, 2013, 06:51:51 PM
Or should I say, what's your personal theory?
4  Bitcoin / Bitcoin Discussion / The BFL timeline: a collaborative schadenfreude project on: September 17, 2013, 09:29:38 PM
Good day,

I've been hanging out on these forums for a while, much longer than my registration date might suggest. I guess I should thank you guys, I've had (and shared) a lot of laughs and actually learned a couple of things along the way.

BFL has always been a favourite subject of mine, because let's face it, they are hilarious for so many good and so many more bad reasons. In celebration of their impressive body of work I would like to compile the most complete timeline of BFL events (read: shenanigans) out there, but I can't do it alone.

Please only submit factual information; while personal accounts and interpretations of events can certainly help, please don't descend into the usual bitchfest that accompanies BFL threads.

Please try to stick to things that have a specific time associated with them (be it a specific time where X said Y or the order period for X product stared on Y and ended on Z).

Most of all, let's have some fun!

To do list:
Forum account to mine for dates/comedy
- BFL (current task)
- BFL-Engineer
- BFL_Josh / Inaba
- BFL_Sonny (only 2 posts, really?)

External sources to rummage through
5  Bitcoin / Press / 2013-09-16: World’s Largest Bitcoin Exchange Out $10 Million on: September 16, 2013, 03:01:53 PM
If you think that keeping the world’s most popular Bitcoin exchange up and running is easy, think again.

Mt. Gox, the Japanese-run online trading floor that had $5 million seized by federal agents earlier this year, says that it’s out another $5.3 million, fallout from the company’s legal dispute with its former U.S. partner CoinLab.

At the end of February, Mr. Gox chose CoinLab as its North American agent. The idea was that customers in the U.S. and Canada would be able to use CoinLab as a gateway to the Mt. Gox exchange. But the relationship didn’t last long. By April, it had devolved into a messy $75 million lawsuit.

According to Mt. Gox, its customers deposited about $12,800,000 into CoinLab bank accounts, and while CoinLab has handed over most of that money, it’s still sitting on $5.3 million. CoinLab’s attorney Edgar Sargent declined to comment on the allegations in Mt. Gox’s filings, and Mt. Gox did not respond to requests for comment.

If the allegations are true, it means that Mt. Gox is out more than $10 million this year. The news is yet another reason to wonder about the future of Bitcoin, which continues to be squeezed by the country’s banks and regulators.

Ten million dollars is a significant chunk of the total revenues Mt. Gox is thought to have earned since it was founded in 2010. The company has earned between $8 million and $9 million in U.S. dollar trades, and another 250,000 bitcoins from digital currency transactions, says Greg Schvey, head of research with The Genesis Block, a Bitcoin analysis firm that has looked at Mt. Gox’s trading data. Although we don’t know how many Mt. Gox has retained, a quarter-million bitcoins would be worth about $32 million at today’s rates, by the way, more than enough to weather Mt. Gox through its current woes.

In fact, 250,000 bitcoins would be worth more than $35 million on Mt. Gox’s exchange, where bitcoins cost about 10 percent more than the rest of the world. Observers say that bitcoins are at such a premium there because it’s currently so hard for customers to get paid out in U.S. dollars.

“People doing this trade are implying that there’s a one-in-10 chance that they won’t get their money back,” says Donald Marron, director of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. He blogged about this phenomenon a few weeks back.

For months now, it’s been next to impossible for Mt. Gox to get money into the U.S. Bitcoin discussion forums are filled with complaints by Mt. Got customers, who have been unable to get their money into the U.S. Banks don’t want to do business with the Japanese exchange — or bitcoin companies in general — because they fear the glare of regulatory scrutiny.

If the Bitcoin community seems remarkably calm about Mt. Gox’s problems, that’s because they’ve been through rough patches with the exchange before. In 2011, Mt. Gox was shut down briefly after it was hacked. “These are some of the difficulties of building a financial market from nothing,” says The Genesis Block’s Schvey. “If you’ve been around for awhile, you have tolerance for everything not going perfectly.”

Court documents and hilarious article comments above.
6  Bitcoin / Hardware / BFL current state of affairs on: August 14, 2013, 03:04:11 AM
So I did some math. According to and the BFL blog:

Jalapeno: 3575 ordered, 788 shipped, 2787 remaining, 22.04% fulfilled.
Little single: 1230 ordered, 87 shipped, 1143 shipped, 7.07% fulfilled.
Single: 2678 ordered, 233 shipped, 2445 remaining, 8.70% fulfilled.
Mini rig: 185 ordered, 25 shipped (to Josh), 160 remaining, 13.51% fulfilled.

Plugging in their current value to weight the total fulfilment, I come to 10.99% of the order book shipped out. This most likely excludes a much more significant amount of non declared miners at the tail end of the order queue, since the general public is less likely to have known about the website.

7  Economy / Scam Accusations / Scammer: Inaba on: May 18, 2013, 01:19:30 AM

You know the drill. An "untrustworthy" tag à la Matthew N. Wright could also be considered.
8  Bitcoin / Press / 2013-04-23 Ron Paul slams stability of U.S. dollar and Bitcoin in pro-gold rant on: April 23, 2013, 08:46:25 PM

In an interview with Bloomberg TV, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) said that he is concerned about the “erraticness” of the dollar, that Bitcoin is too complicated and that gold is still the standard by which the value of our currency should be measured.

Erik Schatzker and Sara Eisen, hosts of the show “Inside Track” asked Paul whether he’s concerned about about the recent drop in the price of gold after a ten year boom.

“I am concerned about the erraticness of the dollar,” Paul said. “The dollar is up, the dollar is down. We print a lot of dollars. The dollar gets devalued. That is really the concern. If people think the gold price up and down is a reflection of something wrong with gold, no, I say it is something wrong with the dollar.”

Paul, like erstwhile Fox News personality Glenn Beck, has been urging people to buy gold as a hedge against the inevitable collapse of the U.S. market for years. In 2012, he and attorney Lewis Lehrman financed the publication of The Case for Gold, a reprint of a Reagan-era study by conservative economists that said the price of gold is on a permanent upward trajectory.

Paul has urged the U.S. government to abolish the Federal Reserve and re-adopt the gold standard for the dollar, a proposition many economists find risible.

The conversation ranged over the Consumer Price Index as an indicator of national economic health, as well as whether or not the country is currently facing a high or low level of inflation. With regards to the collapse of the Internet currency venture Bitcoin, Paul said he wasn’t interested.

“To tell you the truth, it’s little bit too complicated,” he said. “If I can’t put it in my pocket, I have some reservations about that. But it has been designed in the free market. If it is a means of exchange, it would not ever be illegal. You shouldn’t regulate it in the free market, but I do not think it fits the definition of money, which has been around for 6,000 years.”

Which returned him to the topic of gold.

“The supply and demand of gold is very important,” he lectured. “That is why it is money, because gold is used elsewhere and it is commodity. The supply and money of paper is the culprit. That is the one that is causing all the trouble. People ignore the supply and demand of paper. Yes, paper goes up and goes down, but look at the long term purchasing power of the dollar. It has been devastating.”

Paul is one of many conservative media personalities who urge the purchase of gold. Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham, the late Charlton Heston, Dennis Miller, Fred Thompson, Mark Levin and others have all worked for the company Goldline International, which was investigated for fraud in 2010.

The company reportedly exploits fear of economic uncertainty to convince people to buy gold coins at a 90 percent markup, insisting that the shiny metal will prove valuable should the U.S. economy collapse.

One ad featured Beck urging, “Here’s the deal. Call Goldline, study it out, pray on it. If it’s right thing for you, then do it. But please study it out. Find the people that you trust. The people I trust are the people at Goldline.”

In 2012, Goldline international was ordered by a California court to refund millions of dollars to its customers and operate under a new, strict set of guidelines or face prosecution on 19 counts of criminal fraud.

So yeah, Ron Paul 2016 still?
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