MARTY'S ɃENT A daily newsletter highlighting signal in Bitcoin

Issue #605: A messaging app on the Lightning Network


It was a low-key weekend for the Bent family. With the impending doom of the clock rollback, we decided to keep it close to home on Saturday. A nice stroll to the coffee shop in our old neighborhood followed by a trip to the local butcher to pick up some quality cuts before turning around and resigning ourselves to a day of leisure in our building. There I was, enjoying my day, when our boy Joost came out of nowhere and dropped this bomb of a project on the world. WHATSAT, “a fork of lnd that demonstrates how the Lightning Network can be used as an end-to-end encrypted, onion-routed, censorship-resistant, peer-to-peer chat messages protocol.”

You may be sitting there thinking, “So what, Marty? Another messaging app. Big whoop.” Well freak, this isn’t your average messaging app. This app, which is still just a prototype to prove a use case at this point, is like no other messaging app you’ve ever used before. The gif that is attached to the tweet above is a glimpse of what can be enabled using the Bitcoin/Lightning stack. The ability to natively attach easily readable messages to Lightning Network payments and incentivize their successful transfer throughout the network with microfees introduces a base functionality that I imagine can lead to some pretty cool applications.

Big corporations like Amazon, Facebook and Walmart, among others, are engaged in a race to replicate the success of apps like AliPay and WeChat, which have locked their users into a walled garden, one-stop-shop for all of their essential economic needs. Need to shop online, book a train ticket, coordinate with a family member, or pay a bill? All of this can be done via these applications. This all seems great until one realizes that these walled gardens are used as points of control by the State. In China, apps like AliPay and WeChat are surveilled and used to help implement the Chinese State’s social credit system. Is it so far fetched to believe that if any of the American companies listed above are successful in building their versions of AliPay and WeChat that the US government and the powers that be in our intelligence community may try to use these apps as points of control as well? Uncle Marty doesn’t think it’s THAT crazy.

Regardless of whether or not you think that scenario is likely or not, it’s the wrong framing to approach this situation. We should be aiming to build systems that cannot be easily coerced to cooperate with the State and their view of the world. The primitives on display above with WHATSAT are proving that we can build these systems without a central corporation or entity behind the application. We can build AliPay and WeChat for the people, by the people, without the long dick of the government up in your business.

After seeing the WHATSAPP demo, it’s not hard to envision people building apps and user interfaces on top of these primitives that allow users to send payable invoices with messages attached in a P2P fashion. Connecting with the nodes of their service providers to send payments directly without anyone else seeing, simply chatting without the ability to be surveilled or censored, or some other unique use case that we cannot even fathom at the moment. All in one place. All leveraging the assurances of the Bitcoin blockchain.

The race is on. What model will win out, at least in the West, is yet to be determined. What kind of future do you want?

Final thought…

My wife has perfected her vodka sauce.

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Issue #606: Do as they say, not as they do


The excerpt above comes from an article published in Sunday morning’s edition of The Wall Street Journal that explains why Boeing probably won’t be prosecuted for negligence in regards to the failure of the 737 Max to meet proper safety standards. The article highlights many things that are wrong with our current system as it stands today. In particular, it highlights the two tiered nature of our justice system and the proliferation of a too big to fail club from the banking sector to the military industrial complex.

Due to Boeing’s negligence and refusal to heed internal warnings that safety standards weren’t being met, 346 people experienced tragic, unnecessary deaths. When you look at the highlighted line in the snippet above, you’ll find the terrible incentives that underly the cause of this problem and the reason why justice will not be served.

“And there is a larger economic and political component:…”

The forces of a debt based economic system and the melding of the State with Corporations via military contracts, subsidies and the systemic nature of our financial system have created some perverse incentives. Since Boeing is a publicly traded company that also doubles as one of the largest US military contractors it is chasing two carrots on two different sticks. The need to please stakeholders and board members with good financial statements so that their EPS can be as profitable as possible and the need to satiate the government’s never ending demand for toys that blow up people they don’t like. A daunting task for any company, let alone one that builds the type of machinery that Boeing produces. Did Boeing overlook safety concerns to bolster their balance sheet? It seems as though that may be the case.

Despite this, it also seems that, if those quoted in this WSJ article know what they’re talking about, Boeing is going to escape any harsh punishment due to their importance in the military-industrial complex. Again, they are simply too big to fail. I’m not here to decide whether or not they’re bailout is righteous and best for everyone. I’m here to point out that it isn’t really surprising that trust in government is at all time lows. Do as they say, not as they do. You can get away with negligence, murder, and financial plunder as longs as you are well connected and considered integral to the State.

How long are people going to put up with these double standards and blatant injustices?

Final thought…

I need to not lay in bed for an hour after getting up

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Issue #607: In case you couldn’t tell…(6 NOVEMBER 2019 / MARTY’S ɃENT)

The Internet is abuzz at the moment after Ray Dalio, Founder of Bridgewater Associates, dropped a post on LinkedIn explaining why he thinks the monetary system we have erected around ourselves is broken beyond repair and that the only way forward is a massive paradigm shift. “Sound finance is being thrown out the window” and the loss of sound principles and economics has exacerbated inequality to the point that it is tearing at the fabric of society. And it only looks like it’s going to get worse as demographic trends play out and wreak havoc on state sponsored healthcare and pension programs.

If you read the note, Ray actually perfectly explains something we harp on a lot around these parts, The Cantillon Effect. Inequality is being driven by the mechanics of how money is actually created by this central banking system. Those closest to the spigot benefit the most, while those furthest away are actually harmed greatly by inflation. These benefits are exemplified by increased asset prices. Whether it be stocks, real estate, fine art, or the VC funded pasture of “unicorns”.

Look at that fucking chart. Doesn’t it look like there’s been an obscene flow of money into a particular “asset class”, VC funded startups that don’t make any money? If WeWork is a leading indicator, it seems as though a lot of these companies’ transitions to public companies is not going to be as smooth as previously imagined. I fear this will not end well.

It all seems so scary until you realize the VC funded “unicorn” bubble is, again, just ONE domino in this interconnected system! The combination of this misallocation of capital and pension + healthcare crises on the horizon makes this all seem like our world is being operated by an eight year old playing Rollercoaster Tycoon for the first time. Everyone’s about to start walking around puking on each other.

This is why we Bitcoin, freaks. One of the world’s most respected investors has officially called bullshit on the system and hopes we can shift to something else. Bitcoin IS the paradigm shift that Mr. Dalio seeks. The misallocation of capital and social programs funded by debt described above are punished much more severely or made impossible to begin with. The paradigm shift has been here for more than a decade. Most people just don’t realize it yet.

Final thought…

Cut my “laying in bed after waking up” down to 30-minutes today.

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