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Wiser’s Wramblings-Coining the Bitcoin Phrase

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By Chuck Wiser, I write the words to share what my eyes see and my heart feels

After reading my article last week, a highly respected high school friend, and journalist, Rick Schwab reached out to me with some very meaningful plaudits about my article. Rick, a nationally known Journalist with a storied career, privately and gently, reminded me about the commonly accepted grammar rules about quote marks and their relationship with punctuation.

Rick, upon his graduation from Friendship Central School in the mid 60’s, Received his non-journalism related degree in Politics and Economics, from the University of Buffalo. However, Rick has been writing and “Editoring” anything news related since the age of 10 when he debuted his career writing for his Cub Scout den, and, actually worked in the Newspaper field, throughout  his college years and beyond.

Rick, as many have before him, pointed out the accepted standard for “punctuation as it relates to quotation marks.” I thought I had a winnable counter argument, which wasn’t, when I explained my modernistic rationale on my preferred poetic license regarding the “order of precedence”.

My “justification” was that, when the grammar rules were etched on their stone tablet, “air quotes” had not yet been invented. Unless being viewed in person or on TV, “air quotes” can’t be seen. Like irony and sarcasm, as written, “air quotes” aren’t obvious. Quote marks, as invented, where just that. They indicated a spoken, and/or quoted, comment, phrase or question.  The Grammar Rules for punctuation following a comment or question puts the period or question mark inside the quote marks. Rick feels, and probably with more validity based on his credentials and vast experience, than I, and as he noted: I “Just want to add, that punctuation marks outside end quotes always look jarring to me, like they are lost and don’t know where they should be…” (PS: I added a comma to his “quote”).
That sentence end begs the question I guess; does a “)” trump a grammar phase as it does a mathematical equation?

Last week I teased about my next Sun article regarding Crypto mining, Bitcoins and that whole recent phenomenon and so I will stumble into it and onward. First off, the whole concept is puzzling to me and is all wrapped up in what we are now living through, in which, perhaps, “coining a phrase”, I would call “Mining in the Digital Age”. Of course, the phrase “coining a phrase” predates Bitcoins but by some definitions implies that this is inventing or creating a new phrase.

A bit, in daily language is “A small piece or part, or quantity of something.” At the beginning of the computer and digital age, a bit “is the most basic unit of information in computing. “a Bit” is short for binary digit meaning it can only have one of two numerical values, either a 1 or a 0. The original computer “words” were limited to only 7 bits. Computer words were “written” by various combinations of 1’s and 0’s. Your Tandy 1000 computer was only capable of digital words with that limitation, therefore limiting its memory capability, and thus the limited memory of the computer. If I recall, my first computer only had 256 Kilobytes of memory. A “byte” is 8 bits or one computer word. A “Kilobyte” is a digital unit of memory or data consisting of 1024 bytes (2 raised the power of 10 (2¹⁰). So, one kilobyte is equal to 8,192 bits.

Does your head hurt yet? Can you imagine trying to explain this to an incoming college freshman.

I’ll bet that right about now, if you are in my generation. Or not, you have turned off your mind and quit reading, not necessarily in that order.

The term Bitcoin is a term generated by an anonymous source or group named Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, as part of Cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is an imaginary (my term) amount of digital data that became a form of currency that only exists as digital information. Cryptocurrency can be used between buyers and sellers to pay for or exchange goods and or services. This creates or allows for a currency that can be exchanged directly, between individuals, bypassing an intermediary like a physical bank, or online transaction like PayPal which, even though transacted digitally, have to eventually interact with your financial institution to collect their invisible, but still physically represented, by your actual “dollars”, stored in their digital vault.

As with our formal currency system of financial economy, Bitcoins can be “saved” and accumulated giving you bitcoin financial “holding”. Obviously, the more Bitcoins you accumulate, the richer, at least digitally, you are. There are Cryptocurrency billionaires just as there are financial currency billionaires. Many of them overlap with a leg or two in each currency pond.

Our currency system does have its potential for disruption and decline, and I guess even disaster, if the “value” of the dollar, the lowest foldable denominator of our currency system, were to collapse. Ignoring the unlikely disaster of the annihilation of our currency system, somewhere in our system you can go to your bank, draw out your cash, and then physically have “your dollars” to put in your sock, or sock drawer. With the “Cryptocurrency” system being completely without a physical, tangible commodity of exchange, the potential for catastrophic disaster is more feasible.

What triggered this whole topic was the recent problems being faced with the bludgeoning growth of the Cryptocurrency phenomenon and the impact of Data Mining. Data Mining is the “practice of analyzing large data bases in order to generate new information.” A positive aspect of this “mining” operation is the aspiration to “finding anomalies patterns and correlations within large “data sets” to predict outcomes and effects of various problems. My simplified example would be to suggest that they are data mining to determine how many possible combinations of cells and viruses that can mutate from the original Corona Virus genetics. Even more simplified would be to ask you to determine how many possible number combinations are possible using the numbers 1 through 10. Add to that how many combinations are available if you use all combinations possible between the number 1 and 1000?

Why and how this relates to recent political actions and reactions is the concern for the climatological vulnerability presented by the Greenhouse Gases generated by the re-opening of fossil fueled energy (electricity) generation plants required to provide sufficient power to operate these humongous computer data mining operations. A less understandable aspect of this, and I will not delve into that herein, is the current worldwide activity of competing to process calculations of complex numbers requiring millions of data bits of information to reach a final determination. The energy demand of the computers required to do this is mind, and atmospheric boggling.

My view of the Genesee in Summer and the dry spell effect, prompted me to amend and add a couple of verses to the original poem to reflect on the:

Gentle River in Summer

This gentle river, that flows by me

Is headed North, not toward the sea

A spring of Gold, becomes a stream

Who knows its fate, what would one dream?

Thru hills and valleys, its path to forge

That over time, becomes a gorge

Its scenic beauty is next to none

Its lore is known to everyone

Thru centuries, its storied past

Has Mem’ries made, that long will last

The Native tribes, would be the first

To taste its waters, quenching thirst

Now thru the years, its fame has grown

And passed to all, to call their own

Now Summer sun has dried the flow

The River now more room to grow

It will replenish with rain or snow

As to the North is still will go

Where once a bridge need be to cross

In spots you can just walk across

Where falls once fell to splash below

Trickles remain, but soon will grow

Roll on sweet river, for all to see

This gentle river, the Genesee

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