With confidence in banks reaching an all time low in the United States and abroad, many are seeking an alternative to the age old banking system. Bitcoin, a peer-to-peer electronic currency, operates outside of control or influence from any single nation’s currency or central banks. Bitcoin is 100% digital, requiring no central system, such as the Federal Reserve, to mint coins or bills.
The origins of Bitcoin are as mysterious as its architect, Satoshi Nakamoto. A pseudonym for either one or multiple developers, Nakamoto is responsible for a published 2008 paper outlining a “peer-to-peer version of electronic cash [that] would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.” Think file sharing, but with money instead of music. Bitcoin ensures anonymity and lower transaction fees than traditional credit cards, a consequence of deleting the intermediate financial institution middle men taking their cut.
Simply put, Bitcoin works like this: transactions are secured by servers called “Bitcoin Miners,” which communicate via an internet based network, confirming transactions by adding them to a secured bookkeeping system which periodically updates, creating more bitcoins. The number of bitcoins created is halved every four years until 2140, when the maximum number of will reach 21 million and production will cease. As of May 19, 2013, there were 11 million bitcoins in existence, with the price of 1 coin lingering around $120. The estimated total value of all the bitcoin currency in circulation is over $1.3 billion US dollars.
Over the past year, as more investors worldwide learn about the currency, the value of bitcoins have rapidly inflated and deflated at a volatile rate. Following the April 2013 bank failure in Cyprus, the price of one bitcoin skyrocketed to $266. Even the Winklevoss twins (famous from the Facebook movie/lawsuit and those pistachio commercials) have started investing in bitcoins, buying up large amounts of coins in the hopes that the price will continue to increase. The twins gave the keynote speech in May 2013 at a bitcoin conference in San Jose, California.
Below the surface of the promising and rapidly expanding currency linger serious questions regarding bitcoin’s legitimacy and legality. Due to the volatile nature of bitcoin, investors often hoard the currency instead of spending it on actual goods and services. At its core, the purpose of money is to provide a steady value so it can be exchanged. If one bitcoin is worth the price of an apple tomorrow, but then the price of an Ipod next month (or vice versa) then there is little incentive to spend or accept the currency. Further, in May 2013 the United State’s Department of Homeland Security seized the accounts of the Japanese based Mt. Gox, the world’s largest Bitcoin exchange. The DHS claimed the “unlicensed money service” is in violation of the US law. Essentially, only Congress has the power to “coin money,” and regulate its value within the US. Although operating in a fairly unexplored region of the law, there is a strong possibility that bitcoin will be deemed illegal by the US government. At this point DHS is remaining quiet in regards to the investigation.
Only time will tell if bitcoin will be the next generation of banking or just another internet fad, forgotten as quickly as Pets.com and Gangnam Style.
By Adam McCormick
May 4th, 2013
Free Comic Book Day is the one day out of the year when superhero fans and dealers can come together for the love of comic books. Established in 2002, Free Comic Book Day takes place on the first Saturday of every May. All across the world, long lines of people gather to pick up a free comic book (or several!). Major publishers, such as Marvel and DC, print special comics for this day. Free Comic Book Day is definitely something everyone should attend at least once in their lifetime.
This year, the OUTLOUD team was lucky enough to spend it at Tate’s Comics in Lauderhill, FL. Arriving at 10 a.m., there was already a line trailing outside of the door. There were people dressed up as Stormtroopers, Finn from Adventure Time, Spiderman, Guardians of the Galaxy, Deadpool and many more.
This year Tate’s Comics celebrated 20 years in South Florida, but Tate’s is more than just a comic book store. Not only does it carry a wide array of comics, but also action figures, posters, vinyls, DVDs, and more. The second floor of the store is an art gallery. Anyone can ask to have their art put up there and hope someone will love it enough to buy it. The staff also proved to be friendly and knowledgeable. You can check out our podcast interview with Anthony from Tate’s Comics here.
Make sure to also take a look at our Street Talk video, where we asked guests which superhero would make a better president, whether hardcopy or digital graphic novels are preferable, and their thoughts on the rising popularity of superheroes.
Run For Your Lives
April 27, 2013
While everyone else was still moping at home because of how “The Walking Dead” ended its third season, devoted zombie fans poured into Hialeah’s Amelia Earhart Park to participate in the first of its kind: a 5K-marathon obstacle course called Run For Your Lives.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with the event, it combines the endurance aspect of G4’s Ninja Warrior with a gory, undead twist. Runners must brave a 5k obstacle course complete with water barriers, mud pits and mock barbed wire crawls. In order to be counted among the survivors, a runner must climb, slide, crawl, dodge, and sometimes swim away from zombies and cross the finish line with at least one health flag remaining.This new trend has turned the horrific image of the living dead into a catalyst for saving lives. In 2011, Reed Street Productions created the event as a way to spread awareness for Warware, a clothing line founded by an active duty service member with the goal of giving athletes and service men and women high performance apparel at more affordable prices.
As Run For Your Lives became increasingly popular, it transformed into a nationwide phenomenon, with their 2013 season beginning in Miami, Florida on April 27th and ending in Austin, Texas on December 7th. Its number of sponsors also grew. At the Miami marathon, a Technicolor brain-shaped tent on the grounds marked the sponsorship booth for the Kennedy Krieger Institute, an organization that prides itself on researching developmental disorders and brain and spinal injuries in children. As I walked into the park where the main event was held, I was blown away by how many people were willing to run for charity.
Upon arrival, I was immediately splattered with makeup and gore before being sent out to feast upon the living. Pulling the flags off of passing runners, I couldn’t help but feel like I was playing a live action game of “Left 4 Dead” or “Call of Duty: Nazi Zombies.” Despite the chaos on the course, or rather our section of it, the Apocalypse Party lacked much of an audience as two cover bands took the stage. Listening to Retro-Sky play Billy Joel’s “You May Be Right,” I watched an intoxicated individual attempt to mosh in front of the stage. The less zombie-crazed folks took to their lawn chairs to watch. Despite the lack of enthusiasm on the crowd’s part, the bands morale didn’t suffer. Lead singer Rob Fires did an amazing rendition of The Cure’s “Just like Heaven” – that definitely put a smile on my face. Andrew “The White Russian” Ramirez shredded every song flawlessly alongside Drummer Bill Gato and Bassist Joe Moreno. Despite the scorching heat and small crowd the event was a great success and I left feeling less corpselike than I had when I came in.
Check out our interview with Retro-Sky, one of the bands performing at the Apocalypse Party.