Denton Scratch November 22, 2021 9:12 AM

It also annoys me; but I’m afraid that train’s left the station. I’ve stopped going on about it.

In general, hip semantic transformations annoy me; I’m an old fart. These are some other examples:

  • “exponential” meaning “very fast”
  • “terrorist” meaning “people we disapprove of”
  • “literally” meaning “figuratively”, or just about anything that doesn’t mean “literally”

I am a prescriptivist, it seems; I think words have meanings, and if you use a word to mean something different from what it means, you are misusing it. Unfortunately most lexicographers seem to be of the descriptivist school; nothing is incorrect usage, nobody can be wrong, all shall have prizes.

Keith Douglas November 22, 2021 9:19 AM

This is not the only time our field has made me wish prescriptive linguistics had more clout: what’s with the use of “Cyber” everywhere? I’m no Greek expert, but to slice “cybernetics” in half, given its origin in “kubernetes” (!!!!), strikes me as awkward.

JUSTIN R ANDRUSK November 22, 2021 9:21 AM

They did the same thing with the term, “hacker”. Media droids that it sounded a lot better than cybercriminal and totally ignored its actual meaning as someone who enjoys exploring the inner workings of computer systems.

Doesn’t matter what you tell them, they won’t change how they use the term.

Szymon Sokół November 22, 2021 9:22 AM

Just remember the words of Humpty Dumpty:

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”

Freezing_in_Brazil November 22, 2021 9:31 AM

I rank with those who are displeased with this unfortunate confusion. I just fear for the overall public trust in cryptography when the Big Crunch comes for the digital currencies.

Jan Doggen November 22, 2021 9:32 AM

My pet peeve is ‘Responsive’. It use to mean quick-responding, than was hijacked to mean ‘fits all form factors’.

John November 22, 2021 9:40 AM

Welcome to the club. I’ve been annoyed for far too many years at the word “Hacker” being redefined as someone who performs malicious acts on a computer instead of someone who performs clever/elegant programming.

6449-225 November 22, 2021 10:08 AM

Just as it belongs to the educated mind to expect the level of exactness appropriate in each kind of subject matter, so also it belongs to it to discern what meaning is intended by words used equivocally.

Jokerstein November 22, 2021 10:18 AM

A similar thing happened (at least where I worked) with SQL. People started to refer to SQL Server from MS as “SQL”. Very frustrating for an Oracle guy…

Clive Robinson November 22, 2021 10:24 AM

@ Bruce, All,

I have long been annoyed that the word “crypto” has been co-opted …

You may renember years ago I had the same feeling about “hacker”.

I have for most of my life been under the original meaning a “hacker”.

I have however never been a “cracker” which is what first journalists and later prosecuters turned “hacker” into meaning in the public eye.

As has been noted by wordsmiths in the past the English language does not have two words that have the exact same meaning, it does however have words that have multiple meanings such as “minute”. Some have apparently compleatly unrelated meanings.

Take “filibuster” we assume these days it is what legislators do to “talk out” legislation they do not like.

However it originally (prior 1860’s) ment “Pirate”.

Interestingly in some older printed dictionaries “Procrastination” also had a Piratanical meaning, though I can not find an online refrence to it.

My fathers “half Morocan bound”[1] dictionary from the 1930’s has it in. But it also has “laser” in it which it indicats as being a small Indian bush.

[1] Hence the joke in a song, that has the lyric,

“Like Websters Dictionary I’m Moroccan bound”.

From the film “Road to Morocco” it is a song composed in 1942 by Jimmy Van Heusen, with lyrics by Johnny Burke, which was performed by Bing Crosby and Bob Hope.

Jasey November 22, 2021 10:24 AM

Language changes over time, whether we like it or not. Especially when we don’t like it, in some cases.

tfb November 22, 2021 10:36 AM

Here’s the thing: words in a natural language mean what the users of that language want them to mean. God did not hand down English on stone tablets on the top of a mountain: a very large number of people invented it, all on their own.

And the meanings of the words in a language as well as its grammar can and do change over time and from place to place. So you really think you understand Shakespeare’s English? Because you probably do not, really. And if you think you understand Chaucer’s English either you are a specialist or you are very confused.

No number of ex-cathedra pronouncements that ‘in English this word means that’ and ‘in English this bit of grammar is OK and this bit is not’ is going to make those things be true unless enough people agree with you. And what is true here and today will may not be true there and tomorrow.

Once ‘flux’ meant something that you died from if you were unlucky: now it does not mean that: it means, in physics the flow of some quantity across some area, or a state of change. Somewhere someone is cross about that change.

Once ‘hacker’ meant someone who spent long hours writing clever programs. Now it does not mean that. The person writing this comment is annoyed about that change.

Once there was a language (spoken by people who somehow managed to bargain enjoying watching other people getting eaten by wild animals into being regarded as the civilization we should all aspire to – perhaps that is what some of us aspire to) in which infinitives did not have particles. Hundreds of years later people vomit forth endless diatribes about how this means certain constructs are not allowed in a language (not a descendant of that ancient language, not even very closely related to it) which does.

Well, OK, why am I expending all this effort on an old man yelling at a cloud? He’s harmless, right, if foolish? No, he’s not harmless. Yes, he is foolish, people who seek to control the language spoken by others – and always to control it in such a way that the language they use is correct and the language various other groups use is incorrect are not harmless, not even slightly.

Aaron November 22, 2021 10:57 AM

English has always been a language built on context, not necessarily hardened definitions. “Love” has a one word usage in English but in Greek it has seven words; the context of the usage develops the meaning. Popularity often drives context, even more so in the information age. The issue comes up as an actual problem when the context does NOT fulfill the meaning because the definition has transformed TOO rapidly. (E.g. – “fully vaccinated”)

The additional shortcoming on English is that being based on context, it is often to the advantage of the speaker (not the audience) to use the least words possible to express the broadest message possible. In doing so we can unintentionally “cut ourselves off at the knees”. This is where not learning effective communication practices has failed English speakers; we assume we know what the other person intended to say without verifying with an request for clarification back to them: the “what I heard you say” response.

The world of people who use original Crypto is small and we all should know better then to get wrapped up in the miss-contextual reference to something far more popular and widespread… despite (probably) many people who are knowledgeable in original Crypto also being aware of, if not outright participating in Crypto currancy.

JonKnowsNothing November 22, 2021 10:58 AM


re: “Crypto” Means “Cryptography,” not “Cryptocurrency”

  • “Crypto” USED TO Mean “Cryptography,” NOW it means “Cryptocurrency”
  • “Cryptocurrency” is and will be “CRAPCurrency”

Probably a good time to find another name for “hiding secrets in secret places” cause there’s enough “CRAPCRYPTO” in software as it is, no need to get it connected with “CRAPMONEY”, “CRAPSCAMS” and “CRAPFUNDING” when they collapse.

We could go with “surety brings ruin”.

We could dress it up some or use the original spelling.

“`/// Ἐγγύα πάρα δ Ἄτα ///


h ttps://e n.wikiped

Three maxims were inscribed on a column in the Temple of Apollo at Delphi:

001 Γνῶθι σεαυτόν Know thyself
002 Μηδὲν ἄγαν Nothing in excess
003 Ἐγγύα πάρα δ Ἄτα Surety brings ruin

Samuel Johnson November 22, 2021 11:28 AM

Words can and do change meaning all the time. A stakeholder was neutral party who held wagers in escrow. Now it means the opposite. There an entire Wikipedia page on such antonyms.

Some changes and appropriations are, indeed, annoying.

“We will take off momentarily” eg.

“I hope not” I invariably reply or think.

John November 22, 2021 11:29 AM

I’m sympathetic but can’t get too worked about changing meaning for a prefix. Cryptozoologists are mad too, I’m sure.

Jeremy James November 22, 2021 11:34 AM

Crypto means hidden or secret, from Latin.

While we are at it, it drives me nuts how the US Military users Cyber to mean Information Security. Cyber comes from cybernetics, which derives from a Greek word meaning Governance. And of course, to those of us who grew up in a certain time, Cyber will always be interpreted as short for Cybersex.

EvilKiru November 22, 2021 12:44 PM

@Ted: I visited crypto (dot) com and was horrified to discover that Web3 is meant to be based on Cryptocurrency.

Clive Robinson November 22, 2021 1:23 PM

@ tfb,

Once ‘flux’ meant something that you died from if you were unlucky: now it does not mean that: it means, in physics the flow of some quantity across some area, or a state of change. Somewhere someone is cross about that change.

This might amuse…

The “bloody flux” or “middle pasage flux” happened on slave ships made mainly of oak. Once on board it would make it’s way through slaves and crew alike. It was a form of bacterial dysentery. However anorher member of the same bacteria family also attacked the blood vessels in organs. So even if you survived the first the chances were you would be permanently dibilitated by the second.

Ironically perhaps there is a disease still called flux. However not in humans, “slimy flux” kills oak trees…

Frank Hissen November 22, 2021 1:40 PM

I see this happening for years now. A lot of people reach me over LinkedIn because I have studied cryptography but request work about bitcoin and stuff. It it really annoying but reality.

Clive Robinson November 22, 2021 1:44 PM

@ , ALL,

… and was horrified to discover that Web3 is meant to be based on Cryptocurrency.

What was Web2 based on?

In fact what was Web2? other than overloaded protocols giving ever greater insecurity and near total loss of Privacy.

Based on the theory of “history predicts the future” Web3 should be an unmitigated disaster that colapses in on it’s self in very short order…

I’m just waiting for people to wake up and realise that “blockchain” is in reality fast becoming the new “Global Warming” driver taking over from coal and oil, call it GW2 or “Hot air 2”.

I must admit “Hot Air 2” does sound better than crypto-coin, and technically it’s more accurate to…

Ted November 22, 2021 2:28 PM

@ EvilKiru, Clive, ALL

Re: Web3

I am still trying to figure out what Web3 is. Upon listening to several videos, it sounds like a soft version of utopia. So I am kind of crying already.

Ted November 22, 2021 2:53 PM

@EvilKiru, Clive, ALL

Re:, a cryptocurrency exchange, and a very poorly-named one at that

Someone recommended checking out on a consumer review site called Trustpilot.

Spoiler alert: They have a 2.3 out of 5 star rating.

Here’s a beauty of a review:

My recently opened acct has been scammed. Several large charges to my bank account. And hI can’t get into my acct. Have emailed them twice and no response. I want to sell what I have and close this crappy account. If I don’t get a response soon I will be contacting an atty.

SpaceLifeForm November 22, 2021 2:59 PM


Matt Blaze will not disclose the price for the domain, but I’m sure it allows him to purchase the equipment he uses for testing Faraday bags.

Piston Broke November 22, 2021 3:08 PM

@ Denton Scratch

“I’m afraid that train’s left the station”

I know what you mean. The clueless hacks that serve as general purpose journalists still don’t know the difference between the Internet and the Web.

Another other crime against language they often commit is to use riff to mean improvisation when it means the complete opposite (ostinato vs extemporization). It makes my teeth itch.

Jesse Thompson November 22, 2021 4:55 PM

I feel like the Simpsons covered this issue with a greater level of thoroughness than anyone here is really plumbing today.

https: <space added to make visiting link more convoluted than it needs to be> //

6449-225 November 22, 2021 5:52 PM

@ Piston Broke

I don’t think ostinato (enduring precise repetition) excludes riffing (improvisation). Commencing internet search for a sophisticated jazz performance consisting entirely of riffed ostinati …

Clive Robinson November 22, 2021 6:44 PM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

Remember What the Dormouse Said[1]

Aggh the record that the BBC used as an excuse to sack a very popular DJ and comedian (Kenny Everett) back oh when Maggie Thatcher was PM.

He played “White Rabbit” just before the news and joked about Jefferson Airplane, in a fairly innocent leg pulling way as the newsreader was Peter Jefferson[2]. Unfortunately unknown to Kenny the first news item was breaking news about an airliner crashing with nearly 400 people on board…

However a story leaked that the real reason he was sacked was because he made a couple of jokes about the Prime Minister Maggie Thatcher and she ordered the boot to be put in.

Knowing now what she tried to have done to me, I’m inclined to believe it was Mad Maggie putting the boot in.

She went kind of doo-lally with all sorts of Official Secrets Acts trials and similar many of which blew up on her and brought a load of bad press her way. Eventually after a couple of resignations of Ministers her party conspired behind her back and sacked her.

[1] If you’ve watched Matt Groening’s “Futurama” –way better than the Simpsons– about a decade back, you will know they “take the micky” out of ex US President Nixon… They first portray him as a “head in a jar” in the “head museum” and later in another eppisode titled “A head in the polls” on the body of “Bender the robot” in one scene they have him with a guitar badly struming and singing this line before calling on the hippies to meet him half way,

Oh and they get him singing ABBA’s Dancing Queen whilst line dancing…

[2] Back then the way the BBC had set the studios up the DJ and the News reader were in seperate rooms and could not talk to each other on an EOW or similar just via live to air which was under the control of the studio engineer.

IanM November 22, 2021 7:10 PM

Talking of blockchains, as Bruce was, what do cryptographers put up at Christmas?

A Merkle Tree!

I’m here all week folks!

Etienne November 22, 2021 8:08 PM

I use the word as a pejorative:

When a politician who is a Republican and always sides with the Democrats in legislation, I call them crypto-Democrats.

Which comes from crypto-Jews or crypto-Judaism where the people claim to be Catholics, but secretly practice Judaism.

I hardly ever say the word to mean cryptography.

ResearcherZero November 22, 2021 10:36 PM

@Piston Broke

The clueless hacks that serve as general purpose politicians still don’t know the difference between the Internet and the Web. The same could also be said about some of crackers occasionally directing the agencies.

If you are ever feeling glum, read some of the Intelligence Committee Reports, they are a right laugh.

Alain November 23, 2021 2:33 AM

What about going new ways, say cipherology or cipherography?
Might take a few years until ciphercurrencies would pop up?

ResearcherZero November 23, 2021 3:25 AM

The Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act

It would make a backdoor into devices a legal requirement for anyone selling more than a million devices in the US.


Denton Scratch November 23, 2021 10:52 AM


So the device is manufactured overseas. The manufacturer doesn’t operate in the USA; rather, they appoint 100 distributors, all different US firms. Between them, the distributors can sell 99 million units, before the limit kicks in.

This kind of regulation goes in the file I call “Do something – anything!”. Legislators do this kind of thing because they are paid to legislate, and they can’t think of anything better to legislate about (possibly because they find thinking difficult).

I would support a party whose programme was to un-legislate everything that is a useless, unenforced or unenforcible statute. Skip the policy bit, it could even be a government of National Unity; imagine a 5-year program of un-legislation! Like, I believe it’s still the law that if you display a clock in public, it must either show the right time, or 12:00. I believe it’s still legal for a gentleman to urinate in public, provided he does it on the offside wheel of his carriage.

Charles November 23, 2021 12:01 PM

Maybe there is a silver lining inside the cloud; by which cryptocurrencies absorb the thunderbolts aimed at encryption protocols.

Chives November 23, 2021 12:10 PM

@Denton Scratch
Are there as many as 100 firms or will there be before a gigantic corporate blob absorbs them all?

Anonymous November 23, 2021 12:16 PM

From “”

crypto noun

(Entry 1 of 2)
1 : a person who adheres or belongs secretly to a party, sect, or other group
2 : cryptography sense 2

crypto adjective

Definition of crypto (Entry 2 of 2)
1 : not openly avowed or declared —often used in combination crypto-fascist
2 : cryptographic

Joseph Scott November 23, 2021 1:19 PM

It feels like this is a lost battle. Very much along the lines of what happened to “hacker”.

I’m disappointed, frustrated even, but not surprised.

Wannabe Tech November 23, 2021 3:48 PM

I’m just a wannabe tech guy,but it bugs me too. Just like what was done with hacker & even “hack”. Out of nowhere it seems,the term “hack” is used for some sort of modification. When did that happen? Perhaps I was sleeping.
Oh well, it’s all not gonna to go back.

go play with your wii NOT wwiii November 23, 2021 6:22 PM


Hackers only own what they bought with their own money.

For some odd reason, during the past 6 years, many became brainwashed to believe that everyone else’s gear belongs to them (the hackers) no matter now far away (or closeby) they are.

Somebody, please tell them, please!

“You break it, you buy it” mantra is also incompatible with hacker modernity.


“go play with your wii NOT wwiii”

V November 23, 2021 6:30 PM

“Cryptocurrency” = a form of monetary exchange which allows any sufficiently-interested three letter agency track every transaction you make.

Clive Robinson November 24, 2021 2:30 AM

@ ,

Long long before hack/hacking became associated with technology, it was associated with two things,

1, Coughing.
2, Horse Riding

So “hacking cough” is one that is usually caused by a throat infection and is often both wet and productive in that various forms of muck are brought up. In some cases it may need physiotherapy to loosen muck so it can be brought up. It’s considered one of the more worrying coughs.

Then “within the equestrian activity” of horse riding “hack/hacking” is commonly used to describe either,

1, A light excercise ride frequently taken for enjoyment.

Or less commonly,

3, Hackney/hack is a breed of horse that typically was used back in the early to late 1800’s for pulling pasanger carriages hence Hackney Cab”.

Obviously of the two the first makes,

“I’ve breen for a good hack in the woods”

Sound oh so less sinister (left field joke).

Speaking of “scary” I have a story about my “whole body coughs” one of which broke a Doctors chair, scared a medical student white, and got me rushed to hospital where they wound my chest up so tightly, I could have entered the “Miss Mummy Contest” but that’s how they treat three broken ribs…

Apu November 24, 2021 2:44 AM

…and the cloud means vaporized water in the sky
…and the net is a trap to catch fish
…and …

we are old and the language goes on — which doesn’t mean it shouldn’t annoy us 😉

Clive Robinson November 24, 2021 3:10 AM

@ Apu, ALL,

we are old and the language goes on — which doesn’t mean it shouldn’t annoy us 😉

On the contrary it should realy realy annoy us, it’s healthy.

Yes many of us fall in the “we are old” catagory, and we don’t get out as much as we used to because lifes little pleasures enjoyed by the young wane over the years and few things bring us the joy they once did…

But “getting a cob on” and being a “Grumpy Grandpa” gives us not just endless joy, it is almost the same as excercise it certainly has cardiovascular benifits…

Not only that, society accepts “Grumpy Grabpa’s” with a roll of the eyes and knowing looks, sometimes a shake of the head, or even a smirk. Not a hail of bullets that some dish out to the young for way lesser behaviours…

Dunmore Throop November 24, 2021 8:16 AM

re: Hack

In the old days, before robots, in a brick plant you had a conveyor belt carrying freshly extruded bricks. Along the conveyor you had teams of men on both sides who would reach down, pick up a brick in each hand, then turn 180 and stack the bricks on a kiln car destined for the furnace. This was called “hacking” and was a tough physical job. And those who couldn’t do the job, well, they couldn’t hack it.

Freezing_in_Brazil November 24, 2021 8:29 AM

If you liked crypto currencies, youll love the Web 3.0, where everything iscrypto`


(…) Blockchains — and also the services built on top of them — break this mold by nearly requiring up-front investment (or wild speculation!) to achieve escape velocity. This leads to a problematic dynamic: legitimate projects share many structural characteristics of Ponzi schemes or multi-level marketing. These schemes could well ultimately collapse; many early-stage blockchain projects probably will. But it’s not a certainty: if a protocol’s underlying economics are sound and there’s demand for the product, what might look like a Ponzi scheme at first could be the “go-to-market strategy” for a network that creates durable long-term value.

If it really goes that way, I have nothing more to contribute to the world, and my technological journey ends here. I refuse to live amongst crazies. To the hills I`ll go.

PS: It is clear to me that the web 2.0 social media is the hidden variable driving what I perceive as an increasing state of anomy hitting different world societies in the same fashion [the so-called democracy crisis], which [thankfully] hasn`t passed unnoticed by some.

(…) Then there is California, which in 2014 classified possession of hard drugs for personal use and the theft of up to $950 of goods as misdemeanor offenses. In the Bay Area, the results have been stark: San Francisco’s overdose deaths rose to 81 per 100,000 people in 2020 from 19 per 100,000 people in 2014.

In the meantime, shoplifting has become endemic, brazen and increasingly well organized, culminating in mobs of looters ransacking stores and terrifying customers in the Bay Area last week. Local shops are closing, neighborhoods are decaying, encampments of drug addicts have proliferated, and streets are befouled by human excrement


May you live interesting times! [which is actually a curse]

Winter November 24, 2021 11:36 AM

“If it really goes that way, I have nothing more to contribute to the world, and my technological journey ends here.”

I remember comparable comments on the Internet and FLOSS.

Blockchains allow distributed digital transactions in a global name space. That is a real technical innovation.

As for Ponzi schemes, the savings&loans, dot com and subprime bubbles did that without involving Blockchains.

The comment that Blockchains are a solution in search of a problem reminds me of lasers, personal computers, the Internet, email etc. Yes, that might be how it looks now. Meanwhile Bitcoin stores $1T in money, most of which is backed by actual fiat money.

Obviously, we can assume that wealth=theft but that is rather simplistic.

Freezing_in_Brazil November 24, 2021 1:42 PM

@ Winter

I`m in no way a luddite. You may be right, and I really hope you are.

Meanwhile, social media + crypto currencies are creating a world I don’t want to live in.

JonKnowsNothing November 24, 2021 10:09 PM

@ soothsayer

re: It’s the same way the word “Liberal” was stolen by communists

The same way “Neoliberal” and “Libertarian” were taken by the right wing to describe a restricted view of economics and how governments should omit any reciprocal support for the population they govern and which provides the foundation of upper tier wealth.

The same way “Republican USA” has nothing whatsoever to do with “Republican Anti-Monarchy” forms of government, and haven’t had anything to do with the ideals of Abraham Lincoln since Teddy Roosevelt was ousted from the then progressive Republican party in 1912.

In 1912 the Republican USA party changed to what their platform is today:

  No Progress for Nobody … But Us.

  • The more things change, the more they remain the same”
    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose


h tt ps://en.wi kipe

htt p s://e n.wikiped

h t t ps://en.wi kipedi

h tt ps://en. wik ipe

ht t ps:// en. w ikipedi

ht t ps://en.wikipe dia.o r g /wiki/Theodore_Roosevelt#Republican_Party_schism

h t t ps://en.w iki pedia.or g/wiki/Progressive_Party_(United_States,_1912)

Progressive Party (United States, 1912)

The party’s platform built on [T} Roosevelt’s Square Deal domestic program and called for several progressive reforms. The platform asserted that “to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day”. Proposals on the platform included restrictions on campaign finance contributions, a reduction of the tariff and the establishment of a social insurance system, an eight-hour workday and women’s suffrage.

SpaceLifeForm November 25, 2021 3:01 AM

@ Dunmore Throop

re: Hack

Nice. Thank you. You learn something new every day.

If one pays attention.

Winter November 25, 2021 5:30 AM

“It’s the same way the word “Liberal” was stolen by communists”

This is typical US parochialism. On a global scale, US Liberals are Right Wing Free Market politicians.

First, there is not a communist in the world who is not proud to call him/herself a communist. No Communist has ever revered to themselves as “Liberals”.

Second, there are quite a number of political parties and movements in the world who call themselves “Liberal”, e.g., the Free Democrats in Germany and the Dutch “People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy”. These parties are all located on the Free Market side of the political spectrum. They are considered, and consider themselves, Right Wing political movements.

What is remarkable is, that these other “Liberal” parties have the same political ambitions as the so called “Liberals” in the US: Free markets and Free culture. They also support social welfare. It is just that real “Liberalism” in the original, 19th century sense has become Left Wing extremism in the ultra-conservative USA.

Sumadelet November 25, 2021 11:37 AM

The prefix crypto- comes from the Ancient Greek word kruptós (κρυπτός) meaning ‘hidden’ or ‘secret’. Cryptography is secret writing, so cryptocurrency should be is secret currency, which doesn’t really describe proof-of-effort/proof-of-stake records in a blockchain. I have some sympathy with people who think cryptocurrencies should be described as Ponzis. When the merry-go-round stops, a lot of people are going to be unhappy.

Clive Robinson November 25, 2021 1:18 PM

@ Sumadelet,

When the merry-go-round stops, a lot of people are going to be unhappy.

True but sometimes the music plays on and the “dancers”[1] still madly twirl…

A Ponzi system is a “long-Con” that basically goes through a single cycle to build up the fiat-money pool, that then gets raided by the likes of the coin founders. It’s what the self denying Shills call a “rug pull”. The example of the Squid crypto-coin being on of the more recent.

What many crypto-coins effectively controled by the markets are, are “rolling-cons”. The aim is to keep things cycling up and down with a slow upward ratchet to keep marks throwing fiat-money in the pool so that you don’t touch so schills have lots to talk about… Instead you charge huge fees to get fiat-money back out of the pool. That way you can argue it’s not a Ponzi scheme as nobody has ripped the pool, just stiffed people on the fees which is what babks and the finance industry do as standard.

Both BitCoin and Ethereum fall into the “rolling-con” system.

Though I guess sooner or later someone is going to do a major pull on the Ethereum pool. If Ethereum survives or not depends on a number of factors, but till that day there are a number of people getting very fat on GAS…

[1] The “horses” on merry go rounds are known as “dancers”…

soothsayer November 25, 2021 1:19 PM

@ JonKnowsNothing

Your name tells it — keep it up.

Problem is not that you are wrong — problem is that you don’t seem to understand and ranting on irrationally — sign on an american liberal at play.

soothsayer November 25, 2021 1:48 PM


There is no other way to say it politely — but you are wrong.

Communists have been using different names to obfuscate the nothingness in their argument. Even Uncle Jo Stalin claimed first form of communism is socialism .. so don’t say communists are proud of it .. even Russia called itself as “… of socialist republics” not of ” .. communist republics” ..

In US the same communists/socialists started to use the term “Liberal” to hide their message – the word became such a baggage with democrats that they run away from it – and now have discarded it.
They now call themselves “Progressive” – Pray tell what is the economic theory of progressivism is ? I have not read a single economic theory/paper that describes this “new” evolution in economic thought.

It’s just a new diaper worn by soiled politicians who change their argument every few years because whatever they do turns out to be wrong ALWAYS because they don’t believe in individual rights only “common good” at the expense of everything else. This is why it fails — if you don’t see it tell me why they had to build a wall to keep people in (in Germany) and now we have to build walls to keep people out!!

The term liberal in it’s original use from Europe was economic laissez-faire — live and let live; the word described the idea that is so fundamental, precious and so easily understood that communists STOLE it.
Actually communists in Europe were not the thieves — the theft occurred in US only and it was done by the “enlightened press” who started describing the socialists policies as “liberal”.

Tell me Soviet russia was liberal or castro was or Mao was .. or Xi is… the list very long and tell me that Bernie Sanders never called himself liberal (only socialists) .. or another zillion democrats didn’t call themselves liberal while espousing the same policies as that of Stalin/Mao/Marx crowd?

It was theft of an idea .. and the ungrateful thieves threw it away as it really didn’t fit them, now they call themselves “progressives”. Just to show the bankruptcy of their intellect, they want to “undo” the progress of humanity and take it back to “conserve” the planet for future generations .. what a wonderful twist of roles and arguments.

MarkH November 25, 2021 1:58 PM

From the new South Park special (set 40 years in the future): an employee explains that payment must be in cryptocurrency because

“we’ve all decided that centralized banking is rigged, so we trust more fly-by-night Ponzi schemes.”

Winter November 25, 2021 3:51 PM

“Even Uncle Jo Stalin claimed first form of communism is socialism .. so don’t say communists are proud of it .. even Russia called itself as “… of socialist republics” not of ” .. communist republics” ..”

Stalin was head of the Communist party and the Communist International. You might never have heard that Communism was the ideal, to which Socialism was a interim stadium. So Communist parties tended to call their nations “socialist”.

“Actually communists in Europe were not the thieves — the theft occurred in US only and it was done by the “enlightened press” who started describing the socialists policies as “liberal”.”

There are very few communist in the US. Policy wise, US Liberals are exactly like European Liberals. Neither are social democrats and far far away from Communists.

But I see you really have no idea what Communism actually is. Which is quite common for an American.

Clive Robinson November 25, 2021 5:06 PM

@ MarkH, ALL,

From the new South Park special…

Just how long has South Park been going or should I ask how many times “They’ve killed Kenny”…

Southpark used to have cult status with the youngish 20 somethings IT croud at the end of last century.

I’m assuming if it’s still going it still has some “street cred” in the ICT sector.

If so them saying of crypto-coin,

“… so we trust more fly-by-night Ponzi schemes.”

May be the best “Public Service Message” on the subject to date.

I had a bad cringe moment a few weeks back I’ve changed my Doctor (called a “General Practitioner” or “GP” in the UK). One reason I changed them was that they anounced their private patients could pay in BitCoin…

I mentioned this was one of the reasons I had seen it as wise to move from my old GP to the new Doctor who looked puzzled. Then the Doctors 20something receptionist said she had bought some BitCoin through an agency…

What do you say at that point?

I just cringed and gave her my best sickly smile…

JonKnowsNothing November 25, 2021 5:20 PM


re: American Dummkopf

Unfortunately this is more true than ever. It stems from a concept that education is not needed by the manual labor class, the “My Cows Don’t Read” group.

It’s a long standing historical problem. There are still many religious groups that halt education at 14yo or so. Some stop at “No School For You” regardless of age.

Education is quite restricted and the US “Liberal Arts” smorgasbord educational system nearly guarantees no one will know anything by the time they graduate with a 4 year degree.

In some colleges an entire course covers 40 hours spread over a number of weeks. Many of these 40 hour classes are one time, set and forget, classes. In any discipline you may take several classes that cover different aspects but each ends up being a one working week tutorial. Hardly enough to warrant a pay check.

The topics are also highly restricted, there is a bit more room as you go up in grades but not much. If you exit around grade school your history will have ended somewhere in the Roman Empire (ending at Julius). If you exit at High School you might have reached the American Revolutionary War (George Washington is popular) but not the foundation of the country as in The Articles of Confederation or the US Constitution.

There will be nothing at all about other countries. French and Indian War or 7 Years War? World War 1 only the sing a longs.

As we cannot even find Europe on the map, it’s no surprise we have don’t know what’s In The Envelope.

Only Carnac the Magnificent knows.

“I hold in my hand the envelopes. As a child of four can plainly see, these envelopes have been hermetically sealed. They’ve been kept in a mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnalls’ porch since noon today. NO ONE knows the contents of these envelopes – but you, in your mystical and borderline divine way, will ascertain the answers having never before heard the questions.”

Ted November 26, 2021 12:16 AM

It is so frustrating to have more questions than answers. I got sucked in to a Sept. 2021 paper titled: “Crypto Currency Regulation and Law Enforcement Perspectives.“

What I don’t understand is if cryptocurrency, and bitcoin particularly, uses poorly-designed cryptography implementations?

A particular question is if the less-used secp256k1 curve was a deliberate choice over secp256r1 due to concerns about NIST curve backdoors?

Furthermore there was this from the paper:

Bitcoin and crypto currency developer communities have ignored many traditional rules of careful security engineering, and are in general very easy-going: ship it first, tell users this payment system is experimental, and hope that hackers and thieves do not have sufficient expertise to steal coins and exploit numerous vulnerabilities in existence.

Argh. To be on the cutting edge.

Winter November 26, 2021 1:23 AM

“What I don’t understand is if cryptocurrency, and bitcoin particularly, uses poorly-designed cryptography implementations?”

The paper seems to be to a large extent written from the perspective of law enforcement. If there is anything that the developers of cryptocurrencies unites, it is the desire to NOT cater to law enforcement.

As for the vulnerabilities of the cryptography used. Bitcoin stores over $1T in value. This is a price that has yet not been claimed. Therefore, I do not think Bitcoin’s security has yet been cracked. The same for Ethereum with a market cap of $0.5T.

Coins programmed on top of Ethereum are another matter altogether. They have been cracked at an alarming rate.

Over the past 12 years, the cryptography behind Bitcoin has largely held up. No one has found a hint of a method to take a shortcut over proof-of-work that would allow to outrun the miners in calculating the longest blockchain or to forge digital signatures.

But Bitcoin and Ethereum are NOT anonymous. That was not the problem these systems tried to solve. It is also not the use case that is currently advocated.

There are regulations in the works that will blacklist all coins that originate from transactions involving anonymous parties. This would divide Bitcoin in a legal part where money can be traced back to Know-Your-Customer accounts and can be handled by banks and companies. And an illegal part that will be refused by legit banks and companies.

Truly anonymous payment cryptocurrencies (Z-cash or Monero) try to solve a different problem. Whether their anonymization is strong and efficient enough to be useful is still an open question.

Ted November 26, 2021 2:35 AM


Re: Cryptography implementations in cryptocurrency

That was really a great response. Your baseline knowledge is impressive.

The paper provides some info on the cryptography used in Bitcoin. So I guess these protocols must be secure enough? (Please pardon any errors in my understanding.)

Bitcoin does not use AES, it uses SHA256, RIPEMD-160 and ECDSA with secp256k1. The last part is particularly controversial cf. [23].

As far as the paper being written from the perspective of law enforcement. I think there’s an extra layer here.

We found that the awareness of blockchain technology among our target audience (specialists with a wide array of law enforcement backgrounds: police, border guard, intelligence, counterintelligence, military, government and special services) is very low and vague.

I think it may be written from the perspective of a technologist for a law enforcement audience, but I haven’t dug completely into it. There are 3 authors.

One of the paper’s authors, Nicolas T. Courtois, has quite an extensive background. A Wikipedia page on the ‘XSL attack’ which was co-published by Courtois even mentions a comment from Crypto-Gram:

From Wikipedia: “The attack was first published in 2002 by researchers Nicolas Courtois and Josef Pieprzyk. It has caused some controversy as it was claimed to have the potential to break the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) cipher, also known as Rijndael, faster than an exhaustive search.”

Cassandra November 26, 2021 2:51 AM

I’m old enough to remember when David Chaum’s ecash came along. And when it failed. As he said, people in general don’t value privacy, so the concept of anonymous microtransactions did not really catch on.

GNU Taler continues the idea. It is supported by RMS, which, to my mind means that it is probably OK from a privacy and respects-your-freedom point of view, but gives no information on the merits of the technical implementation, as RMS is not known to me as a security expert.

But, rather than calling Bitcoin, Ethereum and the rest ‘crypto’, e-cash or e-money strikes me as a suitable generic term, where e- can be encrypted- or electronic-; or perhaps b-cash or b-money where b- is blockchain-. However, I suspect the battle for coining the generic name for such means of transfer of value is probably lost, and old timers like me just have to get used to it.

Clive Robinson November 26, 2021 3:07 AM

@ Ted,

Sometimes the route to understnding is a room with walls full of white boards.

You simply break things down into managable chunks on individual boards with the highest levrls to the left and lowest to the right. The back wall is for stuff you get random thoughts about.

You just sit or stand in the middle and keep looking around from left to right trying to pull stuff from right to left and when you’ve got a part nailed write it down on a piece of paper and remove it from all but the leftmost boards (kind of like a solo card game called “Madmans patience”).

It’s a method I use for unknown projects. Both for the project managment and the design. And if you use different coloured pens for Project managment (red) Hardware development (brown), software development (blue) etc you would be surprised at just how complex a project you can run this way.

It is by the way that Richard Branson used to do the project planning etc for the “fun stuff” for world firsts he used to be famous for.

Winter November 26, 2021 3:09 AM

“So I guess these protocols must be secure enough? (Please pardon any errors in my understanding.)”

I am an amateur in cryptography, so I cannot comment on the controversial issues.

Bitcoin security rests on three pillars:
1) A hash function: SHA256
2) Public Key Cryptography: Elliptic Curve Digital Signatures (ECDSA)
3) A good RNG is needed for key generation. That is the responsibility of the user.

ad 1) As far as I can see, there is no attack known of SHA256.

ad 2) The argument that AES is the standard and therefore better has its doubters. Clive Robinson has argued for ages that the efficiency of AES is its weak point. So, maybe, not using AES was a smart decision. There have been “doctored” elliptic curves standardized, so some suspicion of official curves might be appropriate here too.

ad 3) If your wallet has a bad RNG, then that is entirely your responsibility.

Is Bitcoin secure enough? Anything that stores $1T in plain sight and not getting looted looks rather secure to me.

Actual explanations:

Clive Robinson November 26, 2021 3:49 AM

@ Cassie,

However, I suspect the battle for coining the generic name for such means of transfer of value is probably lost, and old timers like me just have to get used to it.

No never give up, there is way to much fun to be had by not doing so. Tilting at windmills can be good excercise, especially on a calm day.

You can sail serenely through life in the comfort of your head, by confounding your adversaries with curmudgeony[1] behaviour. You hide little nuggets of “importance” in there, and when they miss it not only can you say “I told you so” you can “box their ears” with “You just do not pay attention do you?” or similar thus undermining their position as you see fit.

A friend calls a variation of this “UXB Managment”. That is the manager should adopt the manner of “undefused ordinance” just sitting there calmly and serenely letting progress go on around them. But every so often exploding at some happless random individual for something apparently minor or even trivial but without in any way making it personal. As another friend sadly nolonger with us used to say of teaching engineers “there are times when you have to throw the chalk around, just to wake them up”. Importantly though, the major things you always respond to calmly and supportively, they are your team, and you are their Captain not a tyrant, and at the end of the day it is they that make you look good. So “A Captain should always go out to bat for the team” even in the face of what looks like certain disaster.

[1] A “Curmudgeon” might be a person but it is actually about “Curmudgeonly” behaviour, so in no way does it have to be male only, young or old. Also importantly the behaviour does not have to be combatative, so this article,

Starts from a very wrong position, and thus “Battle Axe” is something all together different. Oh and it should be “caustic” not “crusty”.

However the points lower down are correct.

Ted November 26, 2021 5:05 AM


And the “FBI War Room” one (at 1:50 in) now that looks more like fun 😉

Oooh. Totally less messy! Me likes

Also the third author in the paper we were talking about, Klaus Schmeh, has a post on his blog called: “The role of cryptology in the Falkland War.” Did you already know about this?

About ten years ago, Otto Leiberich (1927-2015), the former president of the Central Office for Encryption, told me something that is not in the history books: cryptology played a decisive role in the Falkland War.

Clive Robinson November 26, 2021 6:45 AM

@ Ted,

“The role of cryptology in the Falkland War.” Did you already know about this?

I was aware at the time of part of the “intelligence war” that went on, as were many others. Apparently it was “an open secret” in London amongst journalists amoungst others.

But the author of that article you point to does not mention one of the most important things which was then –and still is– known and in the public domain,

There were no easy satellite or other high bandwidth communications links from the UK down to that part of the world. Just as there were no current maps[1]…

So information from the various types of intelligence put together in the UK or else where would often have been to late to be of any real use for anything on the islands.

But the UK has a reputation of keeping “crypto knowledge” not just “close to the vest” but tucked away inside untill death do it part.

That is even though it will be Fourty year next month that things started being known via intelligence we will not find out anything officially for another sixty years, and even then it will be “sanitized” in various ways.

Anyone involved with intelligence back then will have signed the same piece of paper I did, so in theory will take things to their grave and beyond[2], only… I suspect 2032 will see a lot of 50th aniversary books in which a lot will come out because the authors will be to old to fear the teeth of the Official Secrets Act, and setting the truth and their place in it properly in history will be more important to them (much to the anoyance of some North American entities).

Oddly perhaps we saw exactly that in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. To many they were a funny time with regards “secrecy” the US was starting to open up their WWII records which caused some issues under the BRUSA rules. Then those who had taken part in Ultra, Bletchley and quite a bit more, saw that the true history of what went on would be covered up and buried not to be known and others would grab credit (as with the oragin of electronic computers).

So autobiographical books came out, of note was Prof R.V.Jones “Most Secret War” and F.W. Winterbotham’s “The Ultra Secret” which were not attacked by the establishment so many others put pen to paper.

Unfortunately Maggie Thatcher became PM and she had some strange views and behaviour[3] with regards this which eventually gave rise to her being called “Mad Maggie” and her own party doing the night of the long knives / Et tu Brute on her. But that did not stop either Gordon Welchman or Peter Wright getting hounded and dragged through events where she tried to have them ruined.

The current UK encumbrants make “Mad Bad Maggie” look like a heavenly herald in comparison. So many can see toys being not just “thrown out of the pram” but viciously with significant intent to commit injury, harm and even death[4]. So don’t expect any significant revelations on the 40th aniversary next year.

[1] The story behind how the maps that were used came to be would all by it’s self make a fascinating book. Especially the work carried out in a supposadly “oh so secret” compound you could look down on from the north platform of Tolworth Railway Station.

[2] It gives rise to the ludicrous… For instance I know a number less than 100 that is as far as I am aware still to this day “secret” in the UK and it’s dependancies. Even though it has been published by various people and is in publically available maths text books, engineering textbooks and equipment manuals… That were never clasified in the first case for the text books abd the latter manuals are no longer secret in the North Americas and can be found on the internet.

[3] I have always had fairly strong oppinions about Maggie Thatcher and dislike is perhaps a too mild way to describe them. They have not improved with time, for instance I had confirmed not so long ago that she actually gave orders that I was to be persued and prosecuted over something back before the BT sell off. But it was my own “sixth sense” / “hinky fealings” from an inept approach by her minions that stopped it happening as I did not walk into what I now know was a trap, but strongly suspected at the time. Instead a little while later despite my warnings Robert Schifreen and Steve Gold got entrapped in her mad schemes by David Babski, for doing what we would now call “responsible disclosure” of BT’s distinct ineptness with regards computer security on their then prestigious Prestel service.

[4] Remember it’s not that long ago that Tony Blair PM and Co ended up in trouble over the claims of Iraq WMD that gave rise to the Bush War on Iraq so that the oil could be captured. Well one of the people who caused Tony Blair ended up dead in vary misterious circumstances. At the very least Tony Blair had him hounded to his death, many believe it was probably way worse. The current incumbents are upto their eye brows if not beyond in the persecution of what are journalists by any reasonable definition. Look up Craig Murray and Julian Assange if you want to see what is going on.

Ted November 26, 2021 8:14 AM

@Clive: “There were no easy satellite or other high bandwidth communications links from the UK down to that part of the world. Just as there were no current maps[1]…”

First off Clive, I know close to zero about this event. The Falklands War only rung a bell because I have heard it mentioned here and there on this blog. I really didn’t know if you would find this of any interest or what its value was.

Also I understand, even more so now, that the intelligence info around the war is to a large extent privileged, and may be for many years.

Though there may have been no high bandwidth communications from the UK to the islands, it is interesting that the UK had a ship there that could pick up radio signals long before the war – even if they could not decipher them at first.

Ted November 26, 2021 9:01 AM

@Winter, Clive, ALL

Is Bitcoin secure enough? Anything that stores $1T in plain sight and not getting looted looks rather secure to me.

Thank you so much for your links and the analysis of some of the protocols used in bitcoin. This part slows me down, as I am a few steps below an “amateur in cryptography.”

However, the paper has lots and lots of info that is fractionally more accessible, so I’m very pleased to have your thoughts and discussion on any of this.

One line I found to be good before I had a few spits and starts of naps was:

Hackers, cryptographers and coders have created a monumental new technology development movement, which is self-funded. It is somewhat funded precisely, by inflated investment expectations… and the unreasonable crazy ride which it offers to investors.

I don’t know if there’s anything in the paper that piques your curiosity, but it’s interesting to look at the section titles and see what it’s generally trying to discuss.

MarkH November 26, 2021 5:41 PM

We’ve been having some fun with the “Ponzi scheme” label.

However, in my mind the defining character of such a scheme is direct transfer of value from new investors to those who came in earlier, to create the fraudulent appearance of giant returns on investment.

“Cryptocurrencies” don’t fit that very closely at all.

Rather, BitCon (and its many clones) fit accurately to the definition of Pyramid schemes. Any profits come from the market, not the organizer of the scheme. Those in first can make huge profits, with averages dropping precipitously for later entrants, with the majority of participants typically having tiny profits or net losses.

The BitCon mining rules inherently guarantee a Pyramid scheme, whether or not that was the design intention.

Ted November 26, 2021 6:39 PM


Re: BitCon, Ponzi scheme or Pyramid scheme?

I was looking at that paper again and searched for both terms. I got directed to the section on Crypto Currency Related Crimes.

They were outlined as follows:

  1. Crypto Hacks
  2. Thefts
  3. Investment Fraud@Exchanges
  4. Exit Scams
  5. Software and Hardware Scams
  6. Web Scams
  7. Malware
  8. Ransomware/Extortion
  9. Law Enforcement Failures

Under investment fraud, they list (a) Pure ponzi schemes. For example with OneCoin, PlusToken and Wotoken and similar, several billions of dollars in deposits were collected from naive investors. cf. [18] and [11].

I didn’t see the words Pyramid scheme specifically, however that sure seems applicable.

SpaceLifeForm November 27, 2021 4:10 AM

@ Ted

The more things change, the more they stay the same

Note that the list of the 9 crimes all exist in their own place without any crypto currency required.

Ted November 27, 2021 7:06 AM


Note that the list of the 9 crimes all exist in their own place without any crypto currency required.

Yeah, I was kind of thinking there really isn’t a lack of financial crimes in general is there. Just to underscore that I found something related from FinCEN.

Apparently FinCEN issued their first ever list of priorities for anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) on June 30, 2021.

While virtual assets are only listed in the second point, cryptocurrency touches each and every one of the eight priorities highlighted by FinCEN.

Just again to reiterate what you said, cryptocurrency isn’t just an isolated ‘scheme’; we can see that it’s really threaded through a lot of other issues.

Clive Robinson November 27, 2021 10:36 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm, Ted,

Note that the list of the 9 crimes all exist in their own place without any crypto currency required.

Or when you think about it fiat-money either.

Worse some are still considered acceptable ways to trade…


4, Exit Scams

Microsoft once went to court to claim that in effect there were no “second hand rights” on their software…

Similar is occuring in the loss of “right to repair” oh and don’t forget those enforved “walled gardens” beloved by Alphabet-Google, Amazon, Apple and a few others…

But consider,

3, Investment Fraud@Exchanges

The use of “Investment” in the title implies “finance” of some kind in most peoples head especially when associated with the word “fraud”.

But think more about what “Exchanges” realy means it covers any “trade” so any of the very many “closed markets” where producers are forced to use an agent or intermediary who thus has a monopoly.

Then look at why some Banks with very bad reputations from the Financial Crises are buying up parts of the supply chain… For instance in the likes of Aluninium supply, then creating artificial shortages that appear to favour others “futures trades”…

It’s nothing new in fact there is a delightfully readable book “The Silver Bears” that was also made into an equally as fun movie. Whilst it was –I assume– fiction back when it was written in the early 1970’s by Paul Erdman, it accurately describes Swiss Banking and what some were getting upto. I’ve been told it may have a significant biographical element as it was “loosely based on the authors own banking career and long imprisonment without charge in Switzerland”… He also wrote another book “Billion Dollar Sure Thing” which I’ve not read so can not comment on that won several awards.

Two decades later he wrote “The Swiss Account” which provided such accurate information it is credited with providing a significant guide to helping track down the assets of many Jewish victims of the Holocaust (much to the anoyance not just of the “Gnomes” but quite a chunk of the corrupt Swiss Government).

Ted November 27, 2021 12:29 PM

@Clive, SpaceLifeForm, MarkH, ALL

Re: 3, Investment Fraud@Exchanges

I was thinking about what MarkH said about bitcon and pyramid schemes, so was pleasantly surprised when I saw this line in the web3 wiki article.

Others have expressed beliefs that Web3 and the associated technologies are a pyramid scheme.[10]

The [10] reference points to a NYMag article, whose last sentence is this:

But if it’s hard to separate out genuine commitment to the political and social vision of Web 3 from token-holders talking their books — well, isn’t that the whole point?

So I think there must be a pyramid scheme in here somewhere. Looks like the term ‘pyramid’ shows up 5 times.


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