I swear if I had a nickel for every time someone has mentioned bitcoin to me in
the last month, I would be really, really rich.
Not Trump rich. But who wants to be that?
So on the last business day of 2017, I found myself buying into all the bit
A bit at a time.
I know about these things. I am a survivor of the beanie baby hysteria of the
’90s, where cute disguised the hype.
Beanie babies are not Bitcoin.
Bitcoin, however, is all math, solved by mostly Chinese computing power, fueled
by coal (unfortunately). And it has a purpose–decentralized money without
borders, defined by use, and totally transparent (at least it’s all there,
albeit in code).
So just so I can afford next year’s New Year’s celebration, I decided not to
be a blockhead about the blockchain.
I am now a proud owner of .004 bitcoin!
I officially declare myself an optimist in the future of the world, technology,
And all for the price of a modest lunch for two in a not-so-fancy New York City
hand-made noodle joint.
Nothing like a bit of symbolic bitcoin–my digital lottery ticket–to make one
feel energized, hopeful, and grateful for the digitized future.
We’re here. 2017 ends and a new year begins. AI hasn’t replaced us. We are not
And hopefully we don’t consume Big Macs and Diet Cokes indiscriminately like the
current White House resident. (As my mom used to say, “Your health is your
Before we get into it, let me say how much I’ve enjoyed you, dear reader, for
being here all these many years on the AALDEF blog. I am a refugee from the
mainstream media, and AALDEF has allowed me to continue to opine as an Asian
Please consider making a generous
donation to help fund
all that AALDEF does for the greater Asian American community. One of the things
the Trump tax overhaul did is make changes on the deductibility of charitable
donations. If you haven’t yet been hit by that impulsive charitable mood, I’m
pretty sure that if you make a donation before the clock strikes midnight, it
will be personally more beneficial.
And if it’s not, at least marijuana will be legal in California (not just for
“sickies”). If you live in the most Asian American state in the country, you
should be able to think about what the new tax code does to you while in a
You still can’t donate in Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Ripple.
But just wait. Remember when people balked at using credit cards on the
That’s what I think about when I see all the cryptocurrency stories you’re
likely to see in the news throughout 2018.
Do you recall all the news stories about something called Amazon in its first
iteration? Maybe you saw the site on your Radio Shack TRS-80 color computer? All
Amazon sold was books back then. And the story you read was likely in a
Look at the world now.
Many of the cryptocurrency stories in 2018 will be about scams and ne’er-do-well
promoters. But most won’t be.
They’ll be stories about the evolution and the future of money. Currencies in a
global world won’t be defined by borders or central governments. They’ll be
defined by “use” and solve problems, like Ethereum’s use of contracts. Or
Ripple’s use in solving complex payment exchanges. The lasting cryptocurrencies
will solve problems traditional money creates. That’s why cryptocurrencies are
here to stay, and they have nowhere to go but up, up, up.
But it’s not like it’s some darkweb fantasy of greedy elitists. Some like the
founder of Ethereum indicate what appears to be a sincere desire to do good for
society. Vitalik Buterin, the Russian Canadian behind Ethereum, tweeted
recently: “All crypto communities, ethereum included, should heed these words of
warning. Need to differentiate between getting hundreds of billions of dollars
of digital paper wealth sloshing around and actually achieving something
meaningful for society.”
See, even digital capitalists have a heart. But what does Buterin know–he’s an
Still, he’s one of the drivers defining the “New Money,” just like the online
and social media world have defined the “New Media.”
Unfortunately, 2017 and the digital world seem poised to evolve the “New
DEATH OF NET NEUTRALITY–2017’s REAL SHOWSTOPPER
If you are still in the dark about net neutrality, don’t be. Or you will be in
the dark without even a blue screen.
Just a few weeks ago, by a 3-2 vote along party lines, the FCC and the GOP did
the public a major disservice by killing the net neutrality rules.
Net Neutrality? It simply assured the internet stayed a force of democracy,
giving individuals the same rights to access as big corporate users.
Without net neutrality, expect to see the creation of tiered services and a
And then consider this outcome: When you lose your connectivity to the
cyberworld, do you really exist?
I mean, you can’t swipe left or right without it.
Not if you’re essentially off the grid. You can be in the middle of the city,
without access to the internet where the world increasingly does its thing, and
genuinely be in the wilderness.
People have talked about the digital divide since the beginning of the net (only
people with CompuServe accounts really know the beginning of the internet).
Ending net neutrality pretty much ensures a world that can freely discriminate
against those who can be on the web and those who can’t.
It may not be about race so much. But it will discriminate and make the digital
divide far more sinister.
Are you ready for net invisibility?
We’re talking about more than taking a break from social media. Or turning off
the devices for a week. That’s all quaint and your choice.
But as more of the world and what it does becomes digitized, what of those who
are shut out because of cost? Or can’t access the vast internet because reliable
high-speed service is unavailable?
Look who gets cut out of the modern world: The poor. People of color. Let them
do dial-up. Shall we bring back pay phones?
We may need a digital version of the Voting Rights Act in the future. Net
neutrality made sure it wasn’t needed yet. But its time has come if too many of
us are shut out of the modern digital world and left to subsist in the cold,
unenhanced real world.
They won’t even be able to ask, “Brother, can you spare me a Bitcoin?”
BYE-BYE 2017: OUR MOST READ COLUMNS AND STORIES
Surprisingly, our top stories were not about the Trumpster.
But your eyeballs really liked our take on Alex Tizon’s
It was one of my favorites too, written during Asian American and Pacific
Islander Heritage Month while I was giving speeches in Washington D.C. (Don’t
forget to book ahead!)
Look for more on Tizon’s Lola in an upcoming Emil Amok’s
Takeout. We’ve been on a podcast hiatus. But it’s
coming back, I promise.
Another podcast combo featuring Helen
writer, activist, and trustee of the Vincent Chin estate, also was one of our
most popular offerings in 2017.
Remembering the disastrous Chin case is a perennial for the AALDEF blog. We’re
braced for it.
We didn’t expect the heartache that came with all the natural and political
disasters of 2017.
But by the end of the year, we come away with what appears to be a real societal
change on sexual
#MeToo has emerged in 2017, and it’s about time.
Personally, it’s been a good year with the debut of my one-man-show, my “Amok
(Bring it to your town!)
And there were other family milestones that made my year. But I closed 2017 on a
sad note– the death of my disc-loving companion, Ross, the flying McNab Border
I never considered myself a dog guy. But doggone it.
And so we try to end the year and begin optimistically. With hope.
I’ve got .004 of a bitcoin. It’s volatile as all get out and moves like a
digital heartbeat all over the place.
But that’s what it’s like to be alive in 2018.
Everything is fluid.
As the fighter hero Bruce Lee would say, “Be
water, my friend.”