Ryan X. Charles

Ryan X. Charles

Anti-aggression. Pro-bitcoin.

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Michael Pento and Bitcoin

| Ryan X. Charles


Since bitcoin is new and different than anything that came before, it takes a bit of time to understand what it is. For that reason it’s always interesting to hear what people think about it after they have, or haven’t, taken the time. Michael Pento, author of the book “The Coming Bond Market Collapse,” which I just finished reading, was, as of April 1st, clearly someone who had not taken the time to understand bitcoin, as we can see in this video. The fears he displays are, 1) bitcoin is not scarce, 2) bitcoin is destructible. Both of this fears are unwarranted since bitcoin is both scarce and indestructable. Additionally, Pento claims gold is superior to bitcoin, but he does not appreciate the localized nature of gold and delocalized nature of bitcoin.

The central technological advance of bitcoin is that it is a protocol for storing and transmitting value instantly between any two locations that does not depend on a trusted central authority. Such a protocol could have had any number of monetary units, or any supply function. However, the creator of bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, made a wise economic choice in limiting the number of bitcoins to 21 million, which provides people an incentive to adopt and hold bitcoin. This fact is ensured by cryptography and computational power. Because will never be more than 21 million bitcoins, bitcoin is therefore scarce. Pento apparenty had not done the simplest of research into bitcoin to understand this basic fact.

It’s not clear to me what Pento could possibly mean when he says that bitcoins are destructible. Possibly, Pento means that it is possible to lose your private keys. Although it is true that if you lose your private keys then you will lose access to your bitcoins, the bitcoins are still there, just inaccessble. This is analogous to storing your dollars or gold in a random location, and then forgetting where that location is, and then being unable to retrieve your dollars or gold. However, the dollars, gold, or bitcoins are not destroyed in this case, just lost.

Finally, Pento suggests that bitcoin is unnecessary because we already have gold, which is perfect money. Besides the fact that gold has many minor flaws such as being hard to carry, store, and divide, gold also has a fundamenal flaw: it cannot be sent quickly over large distances, and is therefore inappropriate and obsolete in the age of information. Bitcoin is superior to gold because it can be sent instantly over large distances, on top of being the same as or better than gold with respect to all other monetary features (especially being limited in supply and divisible).

Trace Mayer has a good article on Michael Pento's bitcoin stance. I’m not sure if Pento has taken another look at bitcoin since April, but hopefully, for his own sake, he will soon put more effort into understanding bitcoin so he can clear up his misconceptions and begin to take the future of money seriously. Pento argues in “The Coming Bond Market Collapse” that the bond market is a bubble that will soon collapse, and even the dollar is a bubble that may soon collapse. I completely agree with his assessment, but he has no appreciation of the role that bitcoin will play in this coming catastrophe. If I’m right, bitcoin is the number one best way to hedge against the destruction of the fiat currency financial system and should be present in every portfolio.

See also Jim Rogers and Bitcoin.


Hold More Bitcoins Than You Can Afford to Lose

| Ryan X. Charles


Every “reasonable” investor will tell you not to hold more bitcoins than you can afford to lose, since bitcoin is a risky gamble that may mysteriously and magically become worthless at any moment. Unfortunately this popular myth this is completely wrong, and it terrifies people about bitcoin for no good reason—even coming from the mouths of famous bitcoiners like Patrick Murck and Gavin Andresen.

First of all, it is unlikely that bitcoin will become worthless, thanks to the forces that monetize bitcoin. These forces are,

1) The unique featureset of bitcoin, which provides a base value upon which bitcoin can grow.

2) The network effect, which encourages users of bitcoin to proselytize for bitcoin, increasing demand further.

3) The first-mover advantage, which makes it unlikely any competitors will catch up with or overtake bitcoin.

4) The rational self-interest of bitcoiners, which in the event of any problems, ensures that these problems will be quickly fixed.

Instead of dropping to zero, bitcoin will probably continue to increase in value as more and more people adopt it, increasing demand, while the supply continues to remain limited.

The price is not the only reason to hold bitcoin. If you’re debating whether to hold bitcoin, ask yourself, what are you going to hold instead? Fiat currencies are deeply flawed financial instruments that cannot last in the long-run. If you have a lot of dollars stored in a checking account, this is not a good situation to be in. The spectacular amount of money printing ensued by the Federal Reserve will likely end in hyperinflation. Since bitcoin is strictly limited in supply, it can never be debased like the dollar, and is actually likely to increase in value, rather than guaranteed to decrease in value like the dollar. That is on top of all the other advantages of bitcoin over the dollar, such as 1) Not being someone else’s liability, 2) Being cheaper to transmit over long distances than dollars, 3) Not being subject to account freezes of seizures.

Furthermore, if bitcoin catches on, which it probably will, this will actually imply the probable hyperinflation of the dollar, completely independently of all the usual reasons the dollar is likely to suffer hyperinflation. In that case, you will want to be sure you own as many bitcoins as possible, which will be worth more, and as few dollars as possible, which will be worth next to zero.

How many bitcoins should you own? Don’t listen to fear mongering from terrified investors—use your own brain and do your own research. If you thoroughly investigate bitcoin, then I think it is likely you will gradually arrive at the conclusion, as I have, that bitcoin will replace the dollar, and then you will increase your holdings of bitcoins and decrease your holdings of dollars in proportion to your certainty.

See also this comment I made on reddit.


Jim Rogers and Bitcoin

| Ryan X. Charles


Jim Rogers is a well-known investor who originally made his fortune in Quantum Fund, but in more recent time has done well investing in commodities. I have been reading his book “Hot Commodities,” published in 2004, and find his arguments for commodities pretty solid (and informative), at least for 2004.

However, he vastly underestimated the bull market for gold, which he said was unlikely to surpass its all-time high of $850 unless there was some type of financial apocalypse. Well, we are now living in a slow motion financial apocalypse, and gold has reached over $1300 (which is actually down from its new all-time high of about $1900, reached in 2011). Naturally, I was curious about two things 1) What does Jim Rogers think about gold today? And, 2) What does Jim Rogers think about bitcoin?

Jim Rogers went from gold skeptic in 2004 to pretty much a gold bull today. He has given many interviews in the past year (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) which reveal his position, which is that the vast, unprecedented and historic money printing by the central banks of the world has created a an unparalleled crisis that will likely send the price of gold higher as people flee to it to protect themselves. That’s quite a change in stance from 2004, where he hesitantly recommended only owning a tiny amount of gold as a form of insurance against exactly the kind of ongoing catastrophe in which we are presently living. He now encourages people to buy gold at today’s “low” prices (which are far higher than the former $850 all-time high that in 2004 he said gold was unlikely to surpass).

And what does Jim Rogers think about bitcoin, which is better than gold, nearly guaranteed to be monetized, and likely to catalyze hyperinflation of the dollar? He has not yet taken the time to investigate bitcoin, which he reveals in this interview and this video. That’s unfortunate, but then again, at least he has heard of it and honestly admits that he hasn’t researched it. Just one year ago I would have been surprised if he had even heard of it, since bitcoin was so much further from the mainstream back then.

Jim Rogers is a respectable investor. Let’s see what he thinks when he does finally get around to investigating bitcoin in detail.


Bitcoin Will Catalyze Hyperinflation of the Dollar

| Ryan X. Charles


Many people have become, are becoming, and will become rich thanks to bitcoin. Most of this wealth is new wealth that did not previously exist but is being produced by bitcoin entrepreneurs. However, some of this wealth comes from other people, especially those that continue to hold US dollars. Since bitcoin is nearly guaranteed to be monetized, it follows that the hyperinflation of the US dollar is also nearly guaranteed, for these reasons:

1) People will realize that bitcoin is superior to the dollar and it’s in their interests to use bitcoin instead of the dollar in all cases (with one exception: the US government can continue to force US citizens to pay their taxes in US dollars, which provides some base value for dollars). This means bitcoin doesn’t just supplement, but actually replaces the dollar in almost all cases where the dollar is being used, especially as a liquid store of value and as an international payment mechanism.

2) The international demand for dollars will drop, and combined with the ever increasing supply, this implies that the price of dollars will drop (which means prices of things in terms of dollars will increase - that is inflation). This is rapidly happening before our eyes as the software infrastructure for bitcoin gets developed and rolled out (the hardware infrastructure is already in place), enabling people to switch over as soon as they realize it’s in their interests to do so.

3) As people continue to adopt bitcoin, further price-increase manias will occur, like the one in 2011 and the one in 2013, where people buy bitcoin out of euphoria because the price is going up. Eventually the total dollar valuation of bitcoins will become a substantial fraction of the total dollar valuation of dollars. When this happens, the dropping demand for dollars will actually start to become noticeable to ordinary people, and people will want to minimize their holdings of dollars specifically because their price is decreasing. People will sell dollars out of panic, and buy bitcoins out of euphoria. This is hyperinflation of the dollar (and the complementary hypermonetization of bitcoin).

This argument assumes that the Federal Reserve will not or cannot take steps to prevent hyperinflation. Since the Fed controls the supply of dollars, it is possible, in principle, for them to scale back the supply rapidly to account for the decreasing demand exactly such that the price of dollars remains stable. I doubt this will occur since the basic nature of the Fed always has been highly inflationary, and the interests that control the Fed (the US government and big banks) prefer inflation to deflation since they do not want to risk having to pay back more real value on their debt. Further, the Fed does not control the market, and even if the Fed had the capability to control the value of the dollar under hyperinflationary pressure, they could not prevent the market from adopting bitcoin over the dollar.

When the price of bitcoin is $10,000, the total dollar valuation of bitcoin will be more than $100 billion, which is about three percent of the dollar M0 value (the amount of cash plus bank reserves). A huge fraction of that value will come from people adopting bitcoin over the dollar. That would be a good time to exchange any dollars you have for something else.

Discuss this post on reddit.


Oh, the Missed Opportunities: BitFunder and Bitmessage

| Ryan X. Charles


In the bitcoin world, most ideas have already been had, but the ideas mean a lot less than the execution. I’ve had two ideas that I executed poorly on that went on to be successful projects when the right person took the idea and ran with it:

BitFunder: I purchased bitfunder.com in 2011 and began developing a crowdfunding website with a friend of mine. However, when the great crash of 2011 struck, I didn’t have enough money to continue funding my idea, and the our project died. I worked on other things and let the bitfunder.com domain name expire. In 2012, some enterprising individuals purchased the bitfunder.com domain name and then went on to make an incredible, successful crowdfunding website with it. I missed a great opportunity.

Bitmessage: In 2011 I developed the idea of a p2p communication network based on proof-of-work in order to have completely anonymous and secure communication. It was called Proofnet. As with BitFunder, I ran out of incentive to continue working on the project, and let it languish. In 2012, some enterprising individuals had a very similar idea and developed the now-successful Bitmessage, which is based on all the same principles. Another great opportunity I missed.

Both BitFunder and Bitmessage are extraordinary, successful projects, and I wish the creators the best of luck. These are examples of projects where I, and others, had the right idea, but only a small subset of those people both had the idea and executed.


People Who Look Like Criminals But Are Not

| Ryan X. Charles


A lot of services (Google, Facebook, Banks) prevent access to people who look like criminals (people who post the wrong things, or who participate in the wrong type of financial transactions). Some of these people are criminals, but some of these people are not. While I fully support punishing criminals by ostracizing them from our systems, it is a bad idea to also deny access to people who are not criminals. Systems that allow these people to operate will defeat systems that do not allow these people to operate, due to the network effect (the non-criminals who look like criminals can convince anyone to use these open systems, but you can’t convince anyone who looks like a criminal to use a system that won’t let them use it). Bitcoin is the first open financial system that lets value be transported between any two places. The fact that it is open is why it will replace fiat currencies (and the fact that it is location-independent is why it will replace gold).


Tie

| Ryan X. Charles


People think I work here. I don’t work here. I just wear a tie.


Bitcoin for Entrepreneurs

| Ryan X. Charles


In order to earn as much money as possible, it is better to invent entire new industries that disrupt and displace prior, obsolete industries than it is to develop products and services within an existing industry. Bitcoin is such a new industry, and it is the greatest industry disruption event in history since it disrupts money, half of every transaction. Everyone will be richer after bitcoin replaces the dollar, but early adopters have the most to gain. Some people will be made richer than anyone in history.

Bitcoin is a protocol, and, like the internet, email, and other dominant protocols, it will be the protocol that wins over its competitors due to, 1) the first-mover advantage, 2) the network effect, and 3) the self-interest of participants to fix any problems and make any worthwhile additions (like how the internet has evolved to include the larger address space of IPv6 or email has evolved to include file attachments).

The way the internet is the solution to the problem of information transmission, bitcoin is the solution to the problem of money. Bitcoin allows value to be stored (permanently and privately), divided, and transmitted (instantly and privately) between any two people anywhere in the world (where the security of the transaction is proportional to the length of time passed after the transaction). Fiat currencies, gold, and fish are the precursors to bitcoin the way the telegraph is the precursor to the internet.

Fiat currencies are the most widely used form of money at present. The way the internet disrupted the telegraph and democratized information transmission and made it harder for governments to censor people’s communications, bitcoin is disrupting fiat currencies and democratizing money and making it harder for governments to control people’s finances. This will be better for everyone, but it won’t happen without a fight, since most governments will fight to retain control of the money supply.

There are only 21 million bitcoins, but there are seven billion people. Once bitcoin is adopted by the entire world, bitcoins will be worth millions of dollars each. Right now they are selling for only about a hundred dollars each. Therefore the easiest way to profit from bitcoin is to buy as many bitcoins as possible and wait. However, you can earn more bitcoins by being an entrepreneur and putting time and effort into solving problems in the bitcoin economy. Bitcoin entrepreneurship is necessary to maximize the wealth you acquire from the bitcoin revolution.

Don’t waste any more time on the legacy financial system that is about to be obsoleted. Adopt bitcoin thoroughly and quickly, and, if you are not already working on industry-disrupting technology on the scale of bitcoin, solve the largest problems in the bitcoin economy thoroughly and quickly in order to maximize your profit of the bitcoin revolution. The sooner you do this, the richer you will be in the future.

“Ask not how to earn lots of money. Ask how to earn lots of bitcoin.” —Satoshi Nakamoto


The Forces that Monetize Bitcoin

| Ryan X. Charles


The monetization of bitcoin (becoming generally accepted as a medium of exchange) is nearly guaranteed for the following reasons:

1) The unique advantage of bitcoin as delocalized gold or, equivalently, intangible currency with no trust requirement and a limited supply or, equivalently, a decentralized ledger with limited space. Since such a thing did not previously exist but has some value on the market, bitcoin fills this niche. This provides the initial value of bitcoin and a foundation upon which to grow.

2) The network effect, which encourages users to proselytize for bitcoin since they get more value from it if more people use it. This ensures that bitcoin will grow beyond the foundation with an unlimited potential.

3) The first-mover advantage, or the fact that bitcoin was the first to offer its unique featureset. This ensures that competitors are unlikely to dominate over bitcoin since bitcoin already has much more momentum.

4) The rational self-interest of bitcoiners (in the Austrian sense). This ensures that any fixable problems will be fixed and any competitors cannot outpace bitcoin for long since bitcoin will quickly be made competitive in order to serve the interests of its users.

Combined, these forces mean bitcoin is likely to continue to grow in its use as medium of exchange until everyone on the planet is using it, with inexpensive and virtually free electronic devices, and cheap transaction costs determined by the market. It will also change in form along the way as it conquers any competitors that pose fatal threats.

Related: Hyper-monetization: Questioning the bitcoin bubble, The Case for Bitcoin, Bitcoin is the Economic Singularity.


Pseudonymity is the Only Option for Some Bitcoin Businesses

| Ryan X. Charles


Compliance with US regulations concerning money transmission for small bitcoin businesses is extremely challenging. It is so challenging that some businesses may find that compliance is prohibitive, while maintaining pseudonymity through cryptography, and simultaneously not complying, is not prohibitive because it is so much cheaper. Thus, their only option if they want to operate is to operate pseudonymously.


I Dropped Out Of Grad School To Pursue Bitcoin

| Ryan X. Charles


In a few months of dedicated effort writing my thesis, I would have a PhD in physics. However, I have converted to part-time, unfunded status in order to pursue opportunities in bitcoin. I may never finish my PhD. Why? Because any time I spend in graduate school is time I’m not capitalizing on bitcoin, and bitcoin is the more valuable opportunity.


Piano Money

| Ryan X. Charles


“This piano is fake,” she said. “I want my money back.”

“This money is fake,” he said. “I want my piano back.”

They laughed, but they were still pissed off.


Green Mustache

| Ryan X. Charles


I wore a fake green mustache around for a while. People smiled and said “great mustache.” No one said “ugly mustache.” People like green mustaches.


Personal Responsibility

| Ryan X. Charles


I didn’t want to take responsibility for myself anymore, so I assigned responsibility to my neighbor. I didn’t have to fill out any paperwork or even tell her, because she’s responsible for that now. I’m a bit annoyed that she hasn’t given me a status update or even communicated with me in any way, but I trust that she knows what she’s doing.


Father’s Eulogy

| Ryan X. Charles


About a year ago I decided I needed a gun.

One reason was self-defense: I wanted to be able to defend my home should I ever need to.

Another reason was hunting: I wanted to be able to be able to eat animals that I personally hunted.

And finally, I wanted to be able to go trap shooting.

So I bought a shotgun.

When I learned that dad died, I have to admit, it occurred to me that I guess this means I gets to inherit his gun collection.

I am going to have such an arsenal now!

My home is going to be so well-defended.

And my hunting options are basically unlimited because I have every kind of gun now.

...

I also just got a new car. This is the fourth car I've had that used to be dad's.

But it will be the first car I've had that I actually have to take care of.

I hope he left instructions because I don't really know what to do.

I wouldn't be surprised if he did!

“In the event of my death, remember to change the oil every three months. And check the air pressure in the tires!”

...

You know, there's one thing of his I'm never going to have.

I'm never going to have his mustache.

It comes in over here [side of face], but it doesn't come in up here [mustache]!

I don't know how that's possible. I thought I had his genes!

I guess my mustache genes come from my mom's side of the family.

Male pattern baldness, though?

That comes from both sides of the family.

But don't worry about it, it's all good. The intelligence? The good looks? That comes from both sides of the family too.

...

Dad was responsible. He took care of us. He devoted his life to his family.

The saddest moment for me was the day after he died, when we were making preparations for the funeral and taking care of financial issues.

I realized that we had to take care of this, because dad couldn't take care of it for us.

That was when I really understood that he was gone.

...

In dad's honor, I would like to propose that we all go to Red Lobster and eat fried shrimp.

But only one time! Don't keep going or you'll have a heart attack!


All Disagreements

| Ryan X. Charles


All disagreements are over definitions, where by “all” I mean some.


Changed My Mind

| Ryan X. Charles


I used to think it was a problem if I changed my mind, but not anymore.


New Law

| Ryan X. Charles


The government passed a new law today making violence impossible. Everyone is happy except the physicists, who will have to rewrite all their textbooks because of a few bad apples.


Imperfect

| Ryan X. Charles


“It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough,” said God.


Food Button

| Ryan X. Charles


I knew the button would give me food and therefore save me from starvation, but it was a bit far away, and I was feeling tired. So I died instead.


Diet

| Ryan X. Charles


Everyone knows the healthiest diet to keep you free from heart disease and type-2 diabetes is to eat lots of whole grains, some fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy sparingly, and stay away from fat and sugar. Except, like many widespread beliefs that a majority of people uncritically adopt from other people (everyone believes it, so therefore it must be true), this is actually false. Certainly, some people can eat such a diet and live long and be healthy. But for others, this diet will actually cause health problems, including heart disease and type-2 diabetes—exactly the problems it is supposed to prevent. For such people, a diet based on animal fat and vegetables—nearly the complete opposite of the mainstream diet—is necessary to prevent disease. After learning about nutrition, I have started eating such a diet. I call it the “Cyclic Ketogenic Paleo+Dairy Diet with Intermittent Fasting,” and what it means is that I eat a diet based on meat and vegetables plus moderate dairy (in particular, yogurt, kefir, butter and cream), with occasional periods of high-carb eating to refuel muscle glycogen and raise leptin, and frequent periods of fasting to promote autophagy, raise growth hormone, and maintain insulin sensitivity (amongst other health benefits). The diet includes various kinds of animal products including organ meats (especially liver, nature's multivitamin) and green leafy vegetables which contain healthy macro- and micronutrients, fermented foods which contain healthy probiotics, and raw foods which contain healthy enzymes. This diet seems to be appropriate for me, but although I believe it must also be healthy for all humans, I don’t encourage anyone to eat a diet they haven’t thoroughly researched, so rather than encourage anyone to eat this diet, I encourage people to research nutrition and decide for themselves what to eat. Here’s the story of the research I did that ended in this diet.

I used to occasionally buy a box of Oreos and eat the entire box in one day and eat nothing else that day. I knew this was quite unhealthy and I was probably shortening my life, but I didn’t know what foods would constitute a healthy diet. Around the time I was pondering this question, I discovered weight lifting, and learned that in order to get strong, I ought to be eating lots of protein. This initiated my years-long adventure in nutrition education. After eating as much food as possible, including lots of protein to fuel my weight lifting, and gaining lots of unwanted fat, and therefore realizing there was more I needed to know about nutrition, I discovered the paleo diet, which is the diet consisting of the sorts of foods humans ate for most of human history (basically, meat and vegetables), when humans were healthy and before they got short, fat, diseased and acquired bad teeth when they invented agriculture. The paleo diet has a logical appeal that no other diet has. It must be healthy, because it is the diet that humans evolved into existence eating. Humans are tuned to survive on it. There might be healthy foods that aren’t paleo, but it’s basically impossible that paleo foods are unhealthy. And so I began eating paleo. Except, I was never quite convinced there was anything unhealthy about dairy products (which aren’t technically paleo), and instead was convinced they are great sources of nutrition (if you can handle the lactose), and so I kept consuming dairy. Unfortunately, after I started the paleo+dairy diet, I did not lose any fat, and was still nowhere near my ideal body type. I didn’t have any detectable health problems (fortunately), but it was clear I needed to learn more about nutrition to improve my body composition. So I read.

Anyone who investigates nutrition today will eventually be lead to the book “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes. At this point, of all the books on nutrition I’ve read (I’ve read 13), this book has been the most life-changing. Taubes thoroughly debunks the mainstream diet, which although it has the image of scientific credibility, is actually a pseudo-scientific scam. Anyone who reads Taubes should be infuriated with government agencies (the Department of Agriculture, for instance), non-profits (the American Heart Association, in particular), university labs (the unscientific ones), and food corporations (like, say, Nabisco) for encouraging everyone to eat a diet that will likely damage the health of a significant number of people, and has actually caused the obesity epidemic and all the other diseases of civilization including heart disease and type-2 diabetes. Although there was some scant evidence at one time that eating saturated fat and cholesterol caused health problems, the evidence was never very significant or convincing, and modern evidence completely refutes this hypothesis. There is nothing unhealthy about saturated fat or cholesterol. Read that again. There is nothing unhealthy about saturated fat or cholesterol. The people who say there is have not actually read the literature or are lying. The mainstream diet is wrong. It is the excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates, including sugar but also including (advocated in huge quantities by the mainstream diet) grains, which cause the diseases of civilization.

The paleo diet has lots of saturated fat and cholesterol, and no grains. Humans and human ancestors survived on this diet for millions of years. There can’t possibly be anything unhealthy about this diet, and indeed the evidence suggests it is optimally nutritious. (It is worth noting that there is no single, specific paleo diet. Different groups of hunter-gatherers had very different diets. However, they had some things in common. They all ate meat and vegetables, cooked and raw foods, fresh and fermented foods. None of them ate cereal, flour or high-fructose corn syrup.) Because of this fact, I eat paleo.

On the order of ten thousand years ago, (some) humans made two significant changes to their diets: they started consuming grains, and they started consuming dairy. Probably due to phytic acid (bad for everyone), gluten (bad for celiacs and anyone with gluten sensitivity), and high-carb content (which is bad for people with insulin resistance), grains can be handled by a significant portion of the population, but not everyone. Due to lactose content, dairy can be handled by a significant portion of the population, but not everyone. Whether you consume grains or dairy ought to be informed by whether or not you can handle these foods. If you think you can, but aren’t sure, you should try removing these foods from your diet and seeing if your health improves. A lot of people discover they are sensitive to these foods and they never go back. Personally, I have not noticed any sensitivity issues, but I’ve decided that consuming gluten is not worth the risk, while dairy is. You will have to make your own choice after surveying the risks.

There are two types of food that are unmentioned in the mainstream diet: 1) raw foods, and 2) fermented foods. Raw foods, such as raw fruits, vegetables, and meats, contain enzymes that help you digest your food. Fermented foods, such as fermented dairy (kefir, yogurt) or vegetables (sauerkraut) contain probiotics (beneficial bacteria) that take up residence in your gut and translate food that you can’t digest into food you can. Both enzymes and probiotics are valuable additions to any diet, and therefore I regularly consume raw foods and fermented foods.

In order to promote low body fat and big muscles, I eat a low-carb diet most of the time (which helps to keep insulin sensitivity high), but occasionally refuel with carbs to restore muscle glycogen (basically, the carbs in your muscles that are used for high-intensity exercise), and to increase leptin (since carbs encourage fat storage, and fat cells then release leptin) which gives a feeling of satiety which encourages your body to maintain a high metabolism.

The final component of my diet is fasting. The most important benefits of fasting for short periods of time are: 1) increase growth hormone (good for weight lifting), 2) increase insulin sensitivity (good if you are obese), 3) promote autophagy (this is when your cells recycle worn-out components and rebuild them into fresh, new components, which will likely help you live longer). Therefore I regularly fast. The easiest way to do this, in my opinion, is to fast all day long, and then eat one giant meal in the evening. This fast is long enough that it has all the benefits of fasting, but not so long that it has any negative consequences (except often a bit of hunger during the day, of course, although it is not very noticeable).

In summary, I eat a Cyclic Ketogenic Paleo+Dairy Diet with Intermittent Fasting. I eat lots of meat and vegetables, raw and cooked food, fresh and fermented foods, low-carb most of the time and high-carb some of the time, and I fast a lot. This diet promotes health (disease-free), longevity, and athleticism. After eating this diet for a month, my body composition has improved (I have lost 15 lbs of, probably, mostly fat), and my health has remained high (I have never had any symptoms of any dietary diseases and so I can’t be sure of this diet has changed anything about my health). The diet is also delicious and fun, and I have no intention of ever changing. Surely there seems to be no reason whatsoever to eat the mainstream diet. I do cheat occasionally when people offer me food.

If you are interested in learning more about nutrition, I recommend these books, which are the books that I have read in the order I have read them:

  • “The Paleo Diet” by Loren Cordain
  • “The Paleo Solution” by Robb Wolf
  • “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes
  • “The Ketogenic Diet” by Lyle McDonald
  • “Eat Stop Eat” by Brad Pilon
  • “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living” by Stephen Phinney and Jeff Volek
  • “Catching Fire” by Richard Wrangham
  • “The Primal Blueprint” by Mark Sisson
  • “Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox” by Kate Rheaume-Bleue
  • “Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and a Longer Life” by Nora T. Gedgaudas
  • “Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food” by Catherine Shanahan
  • “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon
  • “Eat Stop Eat Expanded - 5th Edition” by Brad Pilon
  • “The Warrior Diet” by Ori Hofmekler

And these websites:


Some Properties of Non-Aggression

| Ryan X. Charles


The non-aggression principle states that it is immoral to initiate the use of force against people or property (in the context of property rights, people are their own property, and thus aggression can be thought of as against property, period). Defense is allowed. For instance, if Person A punches Person B in the face for no reason, then Person A is a criminal for initiating the use of force, but Person B is within their rights to defend themselves with force from Person A. In this article I explore some logical properties of non-aggression.

The Definition of Non-Aggression

First, let us clarify what the non-aggression principle is. The non-aggression principle states that it is immoral to initiate the use of force against someone’s property. If you believe in the non-aggression principle, you believe it is immoral to start fights with people, but not (necessarily) to defend yourself from someone who is attacking you. If you do happen to believe that the use of force even for defense is immoral (pacifism), that’s consistent with, but not a part of, the non-aggression principle. To be a pacifist you must be non-aggressive, but to be non-aggressive you don’t have to be a pacifist. (I believe that pacifism, defined here as anti-force under any circumstances, is unworkable, since it gives an enormous incentive to criminals since they will have so many defenseless people to prey on, and thus criminals will proliferate, defeating any attempts to create a pacifist world.)

Here are some examples. Defending yourself is not initiating the use of force, and does not violate the non-aggression principle. Employing violence against someone who has always been non-violent does violate the non-aggression principle. Putting up a fence around your property does not violate the non-aggression principle. Tearing down somebody else’s fence because you don’t like how it looks does violate the non-aggression principle. Helping to defend your friends from a violent aggressor does not violate the non-aggression principle, so long as your friends want your help. Attacking a stranger and their friends because you enjoy the feeling of their faces on your first does violate the non-aggression principle.

Non-Aggression and Peace

Non-aggression is necessary for peace. If any one person doesn’t live by the non-aggression principle, then new fights will break out every time this person initiates the use of force, and therefore peace does not exist. Non-aggression is also sufficient for peace. If everyone actually lived by the non-aggression principle (an unlikely scenario), peace would soon follow. That is because force would only be used as defense, and thus old fights would quickly come to an end, and new fights would not start. No violent exchanges would occur at all in society—the definition of peace. Non-aggression is therefore both necessary and sufficient for peace.

Non-Aggression and Win/Win, Win/Lose Exchanges

When Person A initiates the use of force against Person B, except in rare cases, Person A wins, and Person B loses. But when Person A and Person B participate in a voluntary exchange, except in rare cases, they both win. Since non-aggression is biased in favor of voluntary win/win exchanges, it seems appealing from a utilitarian point-of-view (which aims to maximize the good of all), except for those edge cases where initiating the use of force may be win/win. These hypothetical cases where aggression is win/win, which may or may not exist, are exactly the cases that statists use to argue in favor of aggression. However, it should be obvious to you that whenever you are the one being aggressed against, you are losing, because for it to constitute aggression, you must have determined, using your own information and mental effort, that this particular exchange is not in your interests. You may consider the possiblity that you are wrong about what your interests are, but your alternative is to trust someone else’s conclusions about your interests above your own, which is a contradiction, because you would have to trust your own conclusions about their conclusions, after having just admitted that your own conclusions are untrustworthy. Therefore, you have no choice but to trust your own conclusions about what your interests are. Therefore, it is impossible to perceive a situation where you are the one being aggressed against as anything other than not in your interests (if you are rational). Further, whatever you conclude your own interests are, say X, then your interests are X. (These are what I like to call “high-level” interests, which are beliefs that you arrive at, and are distinguished from “low-level” interests which are pleasure and (being averse to) pain. Also, don’t confuse your gene’s “interests” with your own interests. Your interests are calculated in your brain. Your genes’s “interests” are increased frequency in the gene pool, and this may or may not coincide with your interests, which may include, say, not wanting to have children.) By concluding that such an exchange is not in your interests, then it is not in your interests. At some later point in time, you may gain as a consequence of the exchange, but that does not change the fact that you have lost by being aggressed against. The utilitarian argues that a net-positive outcome that eventually results from initiating force is worth criminal action in the present, but that doesn’t change the fact that initiating force in the present is criminal in the present.

Non-Aggression and Rationality

Suppose that you are the one doing the aggressing. Although it can never be rational to accept force being initiated against yourself, it can be rational to initiate force against others. Perhaps you believe an exchange will be win/win if you initiate force, or perhaps even win/lose, where you are the one winning. It should be obvious that although it might be rational to do this, it can never be moral. The person you are aggressing against is either convinced you are a criminal, or they are brainwashed or irrational in some other sense. Initiating force against them, even if you passionately believe you are doing them good, they will passionately believe otherwise, and rightly regard you as being a criminal (if they are rational).

Further, if you initiate force, it is more likely to be win/lose than win/win, for the simple empirical reason that people do actually have a pretty good idea what’s good for themselves, since they have information about their lives that you never will. In practice, the reason why Person A initiates force against Person B is obviously because it is in Person A’s interests, irrespective of the interests of Person B.

Conclusion

The non-aggression principle states that it is immoral to initiate the use of force. We have demonstrated that non-aggression is the principle of peace, that aggression is never in the interests of the person being aggressed against, and although aggression can sometimes be rational, it can never be moral.


Strawman Arguments

| Ryan X. Charles


Everyone says that strawman arguments don’t work. But this strawman argument works. Therefore, everyone is wrong.


Libertarians Don’t Just Hate Government

| Ryan X. Charles


If you believe in the non-aggression principle (basically, don’t hit) and private property rights (basically, don’t steal), and you believe in the logical implications of these principles, which includes the conclusion that government is a criminal organization because it continuously aggresses and steals, then you are a libertarian. Because government has a monopoly on the initiation of force within a particular geographic area, and uses its monopoly on force to minimize non-government criminal activity in that area, and is therefore the biggest criminal organization in that area, and is therefore the biggest enemy of liberty in that area, libertarians focus a lot of their effort criticizing governments. However, some people think that libertarians are only opposed to government criminality and not other criminality. But this isn’t true. Libertarians are opposed to all violations of the non-aggression principle and private property rights. Government may be the largest and most sophisticated criminal organization, but not all criminals are in government.

Another myth about libertarianism is that libertarians care only about violations of the non-aggression principle and private property, but do not regard any other behaviors to be immoral. This is also false. There are many ethical principles one can add to libertarianism to arrive at a more complete ethical theory. For instance, a Christian libertarian may believe that going to church on Sunday is morally good. This is consistent with libertarianism because it does not violate the non-aggression principle or private property rights. Of course, there are plenty of “ethical principles” one could add to libertarianism that would not make sense because they would contradict libertarianism. Believing that anyone who doesn’t go to church on Sunday should be imprisoned contradicts the non-aggression principle, and thus could not be added to libertarianism in a logically consistent way.

Both myths are present in this criticism of Ron Paul by Noah Smith. Noah believes that libertarians believe that “if your freedom is not being taken away by the biggest bully that exists, your freedom is not being taken away at all.” I don’t know if any “libertarians” believe this or not, but if they do, then they are not libertarians as defined here, who by definition believe in the non-aggression principle and private property rights and the implications of these principles. Any violation of these principles, whether by a government employee or someone else, is a crime. Libertarians believe that big bullies and small bullies may be different in size, but they are all bullies.

The second myth in this article is that libertarians don’t care about any immoral behavior that is consistent with libertarianism. For instance, suppose Person A lives in a house, and Person B, a rich jerk, buys up all the property around the house of Person A, and then forbids Person A from walking across the property of Person B to escape. (This example is not given in Noah’s article but captures the essence of the examples he does give.) Person B has thus “imprisoned” Person A in a manner consistent with libertarianism. This is true. In this rare but possible scenario, the only way Person A can escape is to criminally trespass on the property of Person B. However, there is at least one libertarian, myself (and presumably many others), who regard the behavior of Person B, the effective imprisonment of Person A, to be immoral. This position is consistent with libertarianism. Further, there are many non-violent means Person A could use to escape that are consistent with libertarianism, such as convincing a lot of people to boycott transactions with Person B until Person B relents. So long as these means are consistent with the non-aggression principle and private property rights, then they are consistent with libertarianism. This basic strategy works with any immoral action that someone commits that is technically consistent with libertarianism. In response to any such immoral action, one can employ reactions that are also consistent with libertarianism.

Libertarians regard the government to be a criminal organization because it violates the non-aggression principle and private property rights. Government happens to be the largest criminal organization, and thus libertarians focus their resources on criticizing it. However, there are many criminals who are not in government. It is a myth that libertarians regard only the government to violate the principles of libertarianism. Further, libertarians are free to have ethics that extend libertarianism. It is another myth that libertarians believe all actions consistent with libertarianism are morally acceptable. There are many different ethical systems one can construct with libertarianism at the base that are consistent with libertarianism.


Mistaken Mistake

| Ryan X. Charles


I thought I made a mistake, but there was a mistake in my mistake. So I was right after all.


Disagree

| Ryan X. Charles


“I disagreed with nine people today,” he said.

“Make that ten,” she said.


Aggression

| Ryan X. Charles


“I think we ought to use aggression this way to solve our problems,” he said.

“I think we ought to use aggression that way to solve our problems,” she said.

They fought about it for a while.


Something I’m Not

| Ryan X. Charles


“You want me to be something I’m not,” she said.

“You mean you’re not a velociraptor?” he said. “Because that would have been cool.”

She actually was a velociraptor.


The Value of Argument

| Ryan X. Charles


When I think about things on my own, I often find myself arriving at conclusions that are outside the mainstream. And whenever this happens, explaining my thoughts to people seems fruitless, because 1) people are not very rational and do not respond well to rational arguments, and 2) even if they did respond to rational arguments, my arguments often have to be very long to unwind their misinformation and thus I do not have enough time to make my arguments. However, I’ve found that there is tremendous value in making arguments anyway, even though I seem to never convince anyone of anything. It helps me derive implications I may not have otherwise have thought of, correct mistakes I may not have otherwise realized I was making, and sometimes other people give me valuable feedback even if I didn’t change their mind about anything.