Category: Reviews

A Gutfeld! Feeling

If he was on any other network, their ratings would go through the roof. And then activists would hit the roof. There’d be public protests and calls for boycotts, and his ass would be fired before you could say, “there’s nothing good on the boob tube anymore.”

But Greg Gutfeld makes his home at Fox News. That’s where he thumbs his nose at the world, with a Fox-hole as his safe haven.

Late-night ratings have soared at Fox News, because of him. But there hasn’t been much outrage. That’s because activists seem to have given up on Fox News. It’s as if they’ve concluded the reprobates there will never share in any vision of their liberal utopia. So they’ve chosen to shrug their shoulders and ignore that network, hoping it will somehow go away.

Thus, Greg Gutfeld hasn’t been the target of any protests, boycotts, or employment terminations.

Gutfeld!” has been the name of his hour-long romp of politically incorrect banter. It debuted as a five-night-a-week, late-night talk show in 2021. But it prepared a long time for this debut, because from 2015 to 2021 it appeared only once a week on Fox, and was known as The Greg Gutfeld Show.

The show’s spartan stage setting and production make an art out of simplicity. Greg occupies the apex of a semi-circle of seated panelists, before a live audience, where he introduces issues for discussion. Usually these subjects cover the controversial or trending topics of the day, whether they be political, cultural, or matters of the strange and unusual.

Greg punctuates serious commentary with his wacky, satirical, and often irreverent sense of humor. He crosses lines with his humor that few comedians dare trespass, in this day and age of cancel culture and hypersensitivity. And he offends all groups equally, whether they be oppressed or oppressor. He even skewers other Fox News hosts.

And he attacks his rivals on other networks mercilessly. Late-night talk show hosts such as Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, and James Corden, are ripped apart regularly by the spears, arrows, and grenades lobbed from the tongue of Greg Gutfeld. He complains that they’re not funny anymore, due to their obsession with being politically correct, and their fear of cancel culture.

He may be right. When Gutfeld! debuted in April of 2021, critics predicted low ratings and an early demise for this uncouth experiment by Fox News. But TV audiences, hungry for meatier humor in their homily soup, abandoned the established shows, and flocked to Fox. Gutfeld’s ratings quickly took flight, and by August of 2021, he was sailing over his competition.

Gutfeld! has dominated the late-night ratings ever since. His rivals exclude him from mention, choosing to ignore this nemesis that reigns as the new king of late-night. Even those who rate late-night talk shows often ignore Gutfeld!, omitting it from their ranked lists. Perhaps this is because the show has a conservative political slant. Conservatism is treated like leprosy by many media outlets.

I watch Gutfeld! regularly. Sometimes I find it funny, but it often falls flatter than our economy during a pandemic. That’s because it’s primarily a serious program, that adds humor to its recipe to make its messages more easily digestible. But when it’s funny, it can be sphincter-dilating funny. So I’m always careful to put on a pair of adult diapers, before I switch the show on. In my opinion, it’s like no other late-night talk show these days, in its willingness to violate social taboos for a good laugh.

But what do I know? I don’t even watch those other shows anymore.

If you are a bleeding-heart liberal, or often feel oppressed, or identify with a group that claims to be oppressed, you’ll probably recoil from watching Gutfeld! But if your skin is thick enough to take a joke, and you delight in well-crafted sarcasm and satire, and the slaughter of sacred cows, I think you’ll enjoy the hour of viewing. In fact, I have a Gutfeld! feeling you’ll like it.

You can watch Gutfeld! on the Fox News Channel, weeknights at 11:00 PM, Eastern Time. Unlike other late-night talk shows, it does not adjust its air time to be in the same slot for each time zone. Thus, it airs at 10:00 PM Central Time, 9:00 PM Mountain Time, and 8:00 PM Pacific Time.

Here’s a recent clip from Gutfeld!:

Review: The Blockchain Code, Part 7: The Hype

This is the final installation of my 7-part review of the book, The Blockchain Code, by Dave Kinsey. To read the previous installation, CLICK THIS LINK. To start at the beginning, CLICK THIS LINK. Thanks for reading!

The Hype

Click book cover to find on Amazon.

In Dave Kinsey’s book, The Blockchain Code, he gets into all the hype that surrounds Bitcoin. And I’m not exaggerating, there really is a lot of hype!

When you go on the internet to search for information about Bitcoin, usually what you find are vague, mysterious explanations accompanied by lofty language extolling the virtue of cryptocurrency. That’s the omnipresent hype that accompanies nearly all explanations of digital money. It’s the bullshit that curious researchers have grown wearily accustomed to.

Kinsey suspects that most of the people who write about or give talks about cryptocurrency have a conflict of interest. He suspects they own cryptocurrency, and that it’s in their interest that the demand for it keeps increasing, so that the price will rise higher and higher. So they’re not likely to provide a clear explanation about how it works. That could give people an idea of its pitfalls, and lead to some uncomfortable questions.

According to Kinsey, when legitimate businesses grow interested in blockchain, they often find someone in their company who already owns cryptocurrency. And that person is usually easy to identify, because they’re the one everyone sees all the time, blabbing on and on about their cryptocurrency investment, using glowing terms.

By virtue of owning it and talking about it a lot, that person is chosen by their employer to be the resident “expert.” And so they’re tasked with conducting a study, or creating a presentation, on how blockchain can be useful to the company.

However, what the corporate heads may not appreciate, is that these “experts” have a vested interest in the success of cryptocurrency. They want everyone to get just as excited about blockchain as they are, because that helps lift the price of the cryptocurrency they own. And this leads them to hyping blockchain up, while ignoring its negative aspects.

It’s true that legitimate businesses can find uses for blockchain. For instance, financial institutions are attracted to its reputation for security, and seek to use it as a way to store sensitive financial data. And medical institutions have toyed with storing medical records on a blockchain-styled system.

However, Kinsey argues that they can accomplish their goals for security in a simpler, less expensive, and probably more secure manner by sticking with a centralized database, rather than using the complex web of peer-to-peer (P2P) networking of blockchain.

Remember, the whole purpose of Bitcoin is to keep participants anonymous, and their transactions untraceable. But a financial or medical institution has identifiable owners. And their customers are also identifiable. And any data storage and data access they perform must be traceable, in order to have accountability.

Plus, much of the data is sensitive, so a P2P network of data records would still require usernames, passwords, and multi-factor authentication. And these things are anathema to blockchain. Also, by storing exact copies of records on a vast, complex, P2P system of nodes, more targets are created for hackers. The protection of the data from hackers would only be as strong as its weakest node.

Blockchain doesn’t worry about hackers viewing transactions, because it displays its data in plain sight, making hacking irrelevant and unnecessary. This is how blockchain can get away with having so many copies of its records scattered throughout the world.

Using a blockchain to store the data of a legitimate business is like trying to mix oil with water. One was not created for the other. At best, it’s a waste of money for most corporations to use blockchain. At worst, it’s a serious security risk.

Government agencies are also trying to get in on the action of blockchain. And if the idiots in charge persist with this, then sensitive government data could become more vulnerable to skilled hackers.

But Kinsey notes that there are some practical governmental uses for blockchain. The idea behind the creation of blockchain is to destroy all governments on Earth. Thus, it makes sense that the Department of Defense and intelligence agencies would take an interest in researching it, in order to defeat it.

Kinsey points out one other practical use for blockchain. He says that a blockchain-style network for whistleblowers would help protect their anonymity. To that I would add that journalists might find it useful when judges order them to reveal the identity of their sources. If their sources are on a whistleblower-style blockchain, their identities would be impossible to reveal.

Blockchain can also be useful for those living under authoritarian regimes, such as in Russia or China. It can allow anonymous and untraceable communication and transactions, and help keep dissidents out of prison.

But in free societies such as the United States, there seems to be little practical use for blockchain, for the average, everyday, law-abiding citizen. Of course, there are many uses for criminals. Especially when it comes to money laundering. But even then, blockchain comes with many hazards. Kinsey advises that you had better be an expert in it, before trying to reap the benefits from the use of this technology.

I agree. If you work for the mafia, you might find yourself wearing cement boots if you lose your boss’s money to scammers. So you’d better be very sure you know what you’re doing.

I like Dave Kinsey’s book, The Blockchain Code. It provides an objective and fairly clear explanation of this technology, and of cryptocurrency. And it’s enough of an explanation to convince me to steer clear of involving myself in it. I give this book a 4 out of 5 stars, and I highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

That concludes this series and book review. I hope you learned a thing or two. And thanks for reading!

###

Review: The Blockchain Code, Part 6: Doing Business With Bitcoin

This is Part 6 of a 7-part review of the book, The Blockchain Code, by Dave Kinsey. To read the previous installation, CLICK THIS LINK. For the next installation, CLICK THIS LINK. To start at the beginning, CLICK THIS LINK. Thanks for reading!

Doing Business With Bitcoin

Click book cover to find on Amazon.

Let’s say you have no interest in mining bitcoin. You just like the idea of using Bitcoin to conduct business transactions away from government scrutiny. You could be an honest person, who hates the idea of Big Brother breathing down your neck. Or you could be a criminal. And let’s face it, cryptocurrency is a godsend for criminals. Especially organized crime. It’s great for stuff like drug deals, money laundering, hiring hitmen, and bribing public officials. That’s because it’s anonymous and untraceable.

Transaction fees can be high, and are negotiated through a complex auction process. Also, it takes about an hour (6 blocks in a chain) for a Bitcoin transaction to process to the point where it seems reasonably likely that the transaction went through. Six blocks are necessary, because sometimes more than one miner guesses the nonce at the exact same time. This results in a “soft fork,” where the blockchain develops two or more parallel chains. A process that can take about 6 blocks of transactions eventually results in all but one of the forks being “pruned” away.

As an aside, I’ll note that sometimes a soft fork is not pruned away. Instead, it is preserved to allow the development of a new blockchain, called a “hard fork.” The new blockchain allows for the creation of a new cryptocurrency, and effectively doubles the ownership of cryptocurrency for all who owned digital cash prior to the hard fork. This is how we got Bitcoin Classic, Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold, and many other spinoff cryptocurrencies.

But back to processing a Bitcoin transaction. One hour is a big difference to process, from the mere seconds that a credit card requires. So, coupled with the high transaction fees, Bitcoin is too expensive and inconvenient to use for routine, small purchases. You would want to reserve it for non-routine, significant transactions.

Most internet sources I have found, claim that only a very small percentage of bitcoin transactions involve illicit activity. Yeah, right. If you believe that, I have some swampland in Florida to sell you. I doubt these claims, and suspect the exact opposite is true. But it seems impossible to determine whether I’m right, or the cryptocurrency boosters on the internet are right. Due to the untraceable nature of bitcoin transactions, nobody on either side of this argument has the ability to prove their case.

But let’s go over to Bitcoin’s dark side for a moment, and have some fun. Let’s assume you’re a drug dealer, and want to use Bitcoin to buy a million dollars worth of crystal meth, from a supplier. One million dollars is about 52 BTC, these days (the price of one bitcoin has fallen from $24,000 to $19,000 since this series of posts began). So this means you have to have 52 BTC safely stashed away on the blockchain. To “safely” stash it away, you store it in something called a digital wallet.

A digital wallet stores your bitcoins at addresses. You can have them all stored at one address or you can distribute them among multiple addresses. The whole world knows your addresses, due to the public nature of the blockchain. But nobody knows that you are the owner of your addresses.

Each address is paired with a private key, and that key is not public on the blockchain. Rather, it is for your eyes only.

Any address that stores your bitcoin is a very long number (160 bits), and the private key that unlocks it is even longer (256 bits). In order to pay someone with bitcoin, you have to match your private key to the address in your wallet that contains the bitcoin. I don’t know the mechanics of how this is done, because I’ve never used Bitcoin software. But hopefully it doesn’t involve manually inputting the private key number. At 256 bits, that number is very long.

Here’s an example of a 256-bit number:

115,792,089,237,316,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

That’s 2 to the power of 256.

And here’s an example of a 160-bit number (2 to the power of 160):

1,461,501,637,330,900,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

Now there’s one thing to remember, that is very important. Technically, you don’t own the bitcoin in your wallet. Rather, your private key owns it. And if anybody discovers your private key, through your carelessness, through hacking, through a very lucky guess, or for any other reason, they can take your bitcoin from you. And since everything in blockchain is anonymous and untraceable, you won’t know who took it. And you’ll likely never see it again.

Once you pair your private number to the address that contains your bitcoin, you unlock the bitcoin. Now you can send any amount of it to any address of your choosing. In this example, you are buying a shitload of crystal meth for 52 BTC. Assuming you have at least 52 BTC at your address, you now input the sellers bitcoin address, and direct the 52 BTC to it.

Again, I’m not sure how you do this, because I’ve never paid for anything with bitcoin before. But I’m sure the Bitcoin program provides a way.

After this, it’s between you and the seller. If he wants to honor the deal he’s made with you, then you’ll have to meet with him and pick up your drugs. But if he decides to double-cross you, and gives you no drugs, you have no recourse. You are out 52 BTC, because you have no way to prove that you paid him, or that he received the money.

Not that you could sue him anyway, as this is an illegal drug deal. But even if it was legal, you could not prove your case in a court of law, due to the anonymous and untraceable nature of Bitcoin.

Kinsey doesn’t walk you through the process of buying something with bitcoin, the way I have just done. Which to me is disappointing. I’ve never conducted such a transaction, myself, so I’ve had to infer from bits and pieces of info in Kinsey’s book, how the process works. I think I have the basic idea right, but I’m sure there’s more to it.

And I’m sure anyone who hypes Bitcoin will agree with me, that there’s more to it than I’ve presented. I’ll introduce you to these propaganda artists tomorrow, in our final installment of this series. In that installment, I’ll point out the hype, as well as a few practical uses for blockchain and Bitcoin, that are not hype. So stay tuned. But be careful. Don’t get too hyped up about any of this.

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"Depths of Poison" Book 2

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