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Guest Editorial: Bitcoin explained

By Sherwood Burr, PhD

I’m sure you’ve heard of Bitcoin by now, but what is it exactly? It’s one of the more common questions I get from my students along with, “Are you really a teacher here?” and “Do you have to stand so close?”

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency which is drawn from the Latin words “crayupta” meaning “cold” and “curcia” meaning “ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZAP.” Cryptocurrency is decentralized digital money with limitless applications. Users transfer it through peer-to-peer networks and transactions are recorded on the internet. To access Bitcoin, you’ll need a blockchain. You can pick one up at Home Depot or, if you can’t afford one, you can make your own by filling up a spent milk carton with creek mud and attaching it to a chain, preferably the one used to restrain your neighbor’s Rottweiler. Then film yourself swinging that chain overhead while chanting “blockchain blockchain ooh aah!” and post it on social media. That lets people know you’re ready for the exciting world of Bitcoin.

One can obtain Bitcoin through a process called mining. No, you don’t need a pick axe, silly; the bedrock surrounding cryptocurrency is way too dense for humans to dig through. You’ll want to get some explosives. Talk to your TNT guy about what works best in your subterranean area and call the local fire department in advance. Most of them are cool with Bitcoin mining, but some can be real jerks. Or, if you’re like me and have a history of arson, you might consider nanomites – creatures too small for the eye to see that eat through rock at an alarming rate. Known as “underground bloodhounds” they’re born with a nose for Bitcoin. You can hire them on Craig’s List or if you want to avoid the brokerage fees, which can be quite high, you can just raise them like pets. They really are nice company. Sometimes I think they’re my only friends; well, them and the Chechen family I have keeping an eye on my summer home in Cape Cod.

Satoshi Nakamoto invented Bitcoin in 2008. Some people think that is a pseudonym, possibly for a group of people with ill intentions, but trust me, he’s a real person and one cool cat. “Sats” as I like to call him, once took me to his country club in Tokyo; it’s so exclusive that if you admit you’re a member you are immediately expelled. We hopped in his jet and went to his private resort in Miami Beach last weekend. He owns two homes there – a 14,000-square foot mansion where he spends four or five days a year and a 10,000-square foot bungalow where he keeps his jet skis. I’d show you pictures but Gojira, Nakamoto’s head of security, smashed my phone with the butt of his AK-47. He’s a nice guy; little high strung though.

You can exchange Bitcoin just like other currency. All you need to do is find a special ATM, distinguished by a capital “B” written in brown crayon next to the electrical cord plug-in. First, enter your PIN. The screen will then prompt “Who is Omega?” and you respond, verbally, “I am him and he is me.” Complete the exchange and put your cash in the special bag sewn out of old carpet samples that came with your Bitcoin membership package. Then run like hell before the FBI agents get there.

Though by far the most popular, Bitcoin isn’t the only cryptocurrency out there. There’s Gulch, Flonk, Johnnycash, Herp, Suss Bucks, and Ron’s Totally Legal Digital Currency. I’ve even started my own for small investors – Itty Bitty Bitcoin. I can cut you in for a grand, but I need it in real money.

Dr. Sherwood Burr thinks he teaches economics at Princeton but is actually a failed taxidermist who is not at all well.


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