In the interests of making next year’s Federal Election a little more entertaining for myself and other Bitcoin users I have returned to the Bets of Bitcoin site and made a couple of statements on the outcome.
It is ninety-nine point something ridiculous percent guaranteed that one of these being true will guarantee the other being false. Since there is an almost insignificantly tiny chance that both could be true or both could be false, I decided to make both bet statements.
For both statements to be true the Coalition and ALP would need to form an alliance against minor parties and independents. For both statements to be false a minor party (probably the Greens) would need to form government in conjuction with a massive number of independents and face off against both the ALP and the Coalition. While that would be quite entertaining, I don’t expect to ever see it. Both statements deal entirely with the results of the election for the House of Representatives, so even if an election is called prior to the 3rd of August the results of these statements are not affected.
This time I bet both for and against each of my statements, so even though I will receive a percentage of the winnings in addition to my successful bets, I don’t expect to actually come out ahead in this. The main reason for making the bets is to add more than just bets on American elections to the site and make things a little more entertaining for Australian Bitcoin users. There’s also some interesting aspects with the weighting being based on the dates I put in which are the latest possible date for the election. So the weighting will never be reduced to zero, which is a bonus for any bet made, even if an early election is called.
Betting on both sides of each statement effectively just seeds the pot so that people betting on either statement in either direction are guaranteed something if they win. While I can’t break even unless there is a total of 8.00 BTC in the winning pools across both bets. Half of that would cover the statement fees and the other would half cover my inevitable losing bets.
The most unlikely outcome, of course, is that something really weird happens and both statements are declared a draw. If that happens I’ll just be down 0.2 BTC, but on the plus side Australian politics would be a very weird and interesting thing.
What will be really interesting with both bets is the social experiment. Since the bets are effectively the opposite of each other, except for weird results, will people prefer to vote for a party or against one? Although as more people bet on one statement or the other, an estimate of likely winnings is more likely to determine which way a bet will be placed and on which statement.
Hopefully this will provide a shade more entertainment in the election for some people.
Yesterday I discovered the Bets of Bitcoin site, which is a simple yet entertaining betting site. It’s a pretty simple idea: people sign up, make a statement and then people bet on whether they agree or disagree with the site.
The statements can be anything from whether Barack Obama will be re-elected as the president of USA to whether the existence of extraterrestrials to be officially confirmed by US government by the end of 2012. For people with a few spare Bitcoins the site can be quite entertaining. Especially with some bets having an outcome that is so obvious it’s ridiculous.
So I created an account and threw a single Bitcoin in there to have a little play. Obviously I bet against the US government officially confirming the existence of extraterrestrials. In the unlikely event that I’m wrong then I’ll be more entertained by space aliens than worried about the lost bet.
Then I started trying to think of something for other people to bet on and which could be more entertaining and debated than a host of political bets (although they’re always fun). So I came up with something that I was sure would divide opinion and it was announced as live a short while ago.
— Bets of Bitcoin (@betsofbitcoin) September 20, 2012
The bet is whether or not the darknet site Silk Road will be closed by July 1st, 2013. Those who agree with the statement are betting on either a major success by law enforcement, the pseudonymous entity known as Dread Pirate Roberts retiring without passing the site on to another person (or people) or simply scamming all the users and running off with the cash. Those who disagree with the statement assume that the Silk Road staff will be able to stay one step ahead of the police for the next nine months and are in their business for the long haul.
Depending on how you look at these things, this kind of bet really could go either way. My initial bet is in the disagree camp, mainly because I think the people behind the site are pretty clever and probably can maintain a technical advantage, plus an ongoing income is much better than a quick, but large scam. That said, it could really go either way and a lot can happen in nine months.
Regardless of whether I’m right or wrong, though, I expect to get a bit of entertainment out of this site by the time the bet deadline is reached. As long as the level of entertainment is worth at least ฿0.2 BTC to me, then it’s well worth it (and at the current exchange rate that seems likely).
I’d still like to see the denizens of law enforcement put their money where their mouth is and bet on agreement with my statement, but I’ll never see where the other bets come from.
Getting back to the rest of the site, it’s a nice, simple design; very clean and easy to use. I only have one technical concern with it, which I’ll be taking up with the developers. Other than that, I think it could be quite entertaining. Especially when Australian Bitcoin users start making bets on Australian politics, such as the outcome of elections and whether Kevin Rudd makes another tilt for leading the ALP.
Yesterday’s news that Paul Freebody, a candidate for the Queensland seat of Cairns, has been expelled from the Liberal National Party (LNP) highlights the need for the greater adoption of email encryption and digital signatures.
As with the OzCar Affair of two years ago, the issue here relates more to the verification that an email has not been tampered with rather than protecting the content from prying eyes. Thus it is a digital signature which would have been of use to Freebody in this case. Had he already been using OpenPGP compliant software to sign his emails, such as PGP or GPG, Freebody could have proven that the change to his email after signing and sending it was made by someone else, without needing to identify or, in this case, embarass that person.
The reports regarding the case of Paul Freebody are a little unclear as to whether the modified email had been sent from his computer or whether a family member who had received the email modified it and then forwarded it on. Regardless of which of those two alternatives it was, the regular use of a digital signature would have helped.
If the email had been modified on Mr. Freebody’s computer before it was sent, the prompt to sign the message would have prevented message from being sent without the relevant passphrase. If the relative had removed the signing option then Mr. Freebody could have pointed to the lack of the signature as a certain level of proof that he did not send that email.
Had the email been signed and a recipient modified the content before forwarding it to others, the signature would not validate for that message and Mr. Freebody could then have pointed to that as proof that the message had been altered. In this case Mr. Freebody could have provided a copy of the original message with the valid signature for comparison.
This is the second time in as many years in which a forged or modified email has resulted in a scalp being claimed in Australian politics; yet the tools to prevent it have been available for two decades and standardised since the late 1990s. Since that time the ease of using email encryption and signatures, particularly with the combination of Thunderbird, GPG and Enigmail, has been improved considerably.
Until people in public life start using at least this aspect of cryptographic technology, even if they don’t actually encrypt their email, these kind of scandals will continue to occur.
On the 15th of June Mr. Stuchbery posted an article about a graphic novel, Man Hunters published by ACCESS Publishing International, a division of ACCESS Ministries. The original article included several images from the graphic novel and a link to a PDF of the complete article.
On the 17th of June Mr. Stuchbery received a letter from Moores Legal stating that the post of the graphic novel and any part of it was a breach of copyright. The letter demanded the removal of the graphic novel PDF, the deletion of any copies of same, the removal of any images from the PDF and the deletion of the entire article which included this content. The letter, which Mr. Stuchbery posted, included a deadline of 5:00pm on June 22nd.
Mr. Stuchbery complied with the request to remove the PDF and all of the images, except for a single panel. The other panels were replaced with transcripts of the dialogue. He cited the “fair use” (actually it is “fair dealing”) provisions of the Copyright Act 1968 for the purpose of the critique which comprises the remainder of his article.
In spite of this compliance, Mr. Stuchbery’s posting access to his site was disabled by WordPress.com before the deadline set by Moores Legal. This indicates that the purpose of this action is not simply to protect the material published by ACCESS Ministries, but to silence one of their critics. If it were purely concerned with the copyright issue then the deadline would have been honoured, as would the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright Act 1968. Instead moves were made to report Mr. Stuchbery’s site for copyright infringement to his hosting provider before that, the result being suspension of updates well before the deadline. According to Mr. Stuchbery he discovered the suspension more than nine hours prior to the deadline.
This type of use of copyright law by organisations, especially religious organisations, to stifle dissent is nothing new. The Church of Scientology is well practiced at using precisely this tactic to silence their critics and have done so to great effect for many years. Now ACCESS Ministries are taking their turn at using copyright law to censor their opposition. This case is a little different from many of the Scientology ones in one crucial respect; the criticism of ACCESS Ministries and their teaching material does not relate purely to their internal policies and behaviour, as much of the Scientology criticism does, it relates to material used by ACCESS Ministries chaplains in a government funded program for secular schools. As such, criticism of the policy and of any content used in the delivery of that policy should be protected by the implied right to free political speech. This relates to both the High Court rulings regarding freedom of political speech inferred from the Australian Constitution and various international treaties which Australia has ratified, most notably the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
With this action ACCESS Ministries have proven their complete disregard for the civil rights of those who do not agree with them. They have shown their willingness to resort to any means available to silence any and all opposition and criticism.
Over the course of the better part of the last couple of decades I have developed certain skills which have helped (or tried to help) various friends through the trauma of sexual assault and rape. Most of these skills stem from little things like listening and not judging. Not to mention reigning in the temptation to go off half-cocked, as it were, and form a possé to go rapist hunting. After all, who would that really benefit?
I would like nothing more than to never have the need to use these skills again. That’s why I support SlutWalk, even though I was a little too ill to attend today’s one.