As we eagerly anticipate the first day of Gheorghemas, we start your week with to two vastly different yet tangentially related topics, of equal interest to me (and on which I can write a post in under 10 minutes).
In March, the eagerly anticipated sequel to The Muppets opens in the U.S. As there's significant affection for muppetry in the G:TB community, I know you're all kinds of excited. I caught the trailer in a theater last week. You'll enjoy it, too:
Keeping with themes related to international criminal conspiracies and green-clad heroes, interesting news out of the Bitcoin community last week. For the uninitiated, Bitcoin is a virtual currency developed by a mysterious (frankly, anonymous) Japanese computer scientist who goes by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto. (Or as, Wikipedia describes it, "Bitcoin is an open source peer-to-peer electronic money and payment network introduced in 2009 by pseudonymous developer "Satoshi Nakamoto"). Though there are other virtual media of exchange, Bitcoin has generated the most public interest, with speculators bidding the value of a single Bitcoin over the $1,000 mark today. I've got a professional interest in the currency, given the substantial interest in it at the intersection of regulation, finance, and law enforcement.
A week or so ago, a pair of Israeli researchers published a paper linking Nakamoto to Ross Ulbricht, generally thought to be the man behind the identity of Dread Pirate Roberts, the founder and operator of and online exchange known as Silk Road. Ulbricht is in a spot of bother at the moment, as Silk Road is alleged to have facilitated millions of dollars in illicit transactions, including the movement of narcotics. Ulbricht is also alleged himself to have solicited no fewer than five murders for hire while operating the exchange. It's an engrossing mix of technology, greed, cloak and dagger, and dipshittery, if you have a few minutes to Google it.
Texas technologist Dustin Trammel quickly debunked the Israeli research, claiming ownership of the early Bitcoin account used to link Nakamoto to Ulbricht. (As an aside, if he was in on the Bitcoin phenomenon back at the beginning, he's sitting on a shit-ton of real, live cash money, even if it may be represented by ones and zeros at the moment. I've got a colleague who mines Bitcoins, and his several hundred dollar initial investment is worth north of $70,000 at the moment - and that's just what he's willing to admit.)
But while Trammel's unusually public response is interesting, it pales in comparison to the suit he's wearing in the picture below:
Which ties the whole thing together.