#56 - Peter McCormack, LNM Fam, Lightning Ecosystem, and much more!
🎙️ Orange pilling with Peter McCormack
Should Peter McCormack be introduced at this point? Peter has established himself as a key figure in the Bitcoin community as the host of the What Bitcoin Did podcast and the chairman of the Real Bedford FC.
We sincerely appreciate him taking the time to respond to our few questions!
How would you explain Bitcoin to someone who has never used it? Any suggestions for them?
Peter McCormack: I used to explain Bitcoin by explaining what it is and how it works. More recently, I have started by explaining what is wrong with fiat money. Primarily I focus on two things, firstly, I ask them how they borrow money, for example, with a mortgage, and then I ask them what happens if they don’t make their payments. I then explain to them how the government borrows money, how they don’t have to make payments back, and how this growing debt burdens future generations.
Next, I talk about my experience with the banks, locally having my accounts closed down and why and internationally working with companies.
If these two topics spike their interest, I explain to them why the 21m hard cap and censorship resistance solve these problems.
Usually, the stumbling block is volatility, which is why I explain that even though Bitcoin is an investment, the revolution is more important: people should buy some Bitcoin and play with it, but not over-invest in money, instead in time, down the rabbit hole.
I finish by sending them to Vijay Boyapati’s The Bullish Case for Bitcoin.
You interview the top minds in Bitcoin in your podcast "What Bitcoin Did". Who have been your favorite guests and why?
Peter McCormack: I have been very fortunate to interview so many amazing people. I often talk about my first interview with Lyn Ulbricht four years ago. The podcast started as a hobby, but that interview made me realise that there are journalistic angles to my show and that I should consider the work seriously.
Other shows I tend to like are those where I have perhaps managed to land interviews others haven’t because it is an opportunity to explore topics they may not have discussed publicly. Nick Szabo and Nayib Bukele are good examples of this.
For your podcast DEFIANCE, you have had on-the-ground presence in nations like Turkey, Venezuela, or Colombia. Did you observe a bottom-up adoption of Bitcoin in these nations? How would you compare it to El Salvador's top-down strategy?
Peter McCormack: I did, particularly in Venezuela. Living in a relatively stable Western democracy, the value of your money is not something you have to consider as much as in nations with very high inflation. While inflation is high right now, it has been between 2% and 3% for most of my adult life. If you are conditioned to expect inflation, or you can beat it with interest rates or career growth, you can survive without any material impact on your life. When you are in countries experiencing high double-digit, triple-digit or even hyperinflation, you witness first-hand the value of your money melting in real-time. This impacts your ability to buy necessities for your family and businesses to import goods.
Traveling to places like Venezuela and Cambodia, you notice how the locals operate with multiple currencies; for example, people can switch between five currencies in Venezuela. People often use the dollar as a store of value and the Bolivar as a medium of exchange.
In these countries, it is very much a bottom-up approach where users adopt Bitcoin and share knowledge with their local communities. But even in Venezuela, the government recognizes the value of Bitcoin, confiscating miners to generate income. El Salvador itself started as a bottom-up strategy inside El Zonte but had spread to other towns before Bukele made Bitcoin legal tender.
The problem with a top-down approach is when people don't trust the government's intentions.
El Salvador has a long history of poor governance. Further, it creates an attack vector for the political opposition. Another issue with the top-down approach is that government incentives may lead to the wrong type of proposed infrastructure or best practices, from centralised custody to embedded surveillance in government-issued wallets.
What do you think of the Lightning Network?
Peter McCormack: I love it. It was in El Salvador where I truly appreciated how far it has come. I have been to the country five times now, and I would often withdraw dollars to pay for things while in El Zonte. With the entire town now orange-pilled, I no longer need dollars; I just load up my Blue Wallet and pay for everything in Bitcoin.
You’re a big music fan. Which bands best embody the spirit of Bitcoin?
Peter McCormack: Historically, Rage Against the Machine did, though their recent politics may not. The song Freedom opens with the line, "Solo, I'm a soloist on a solo list", kinda self-sovereign, right?
What are the best and worst things that happened to you thanks to the magic internet money?
Peter McCormack: There have been so many good things. I feel lucky and blessed to have built a career and life talking about Bitcoin. If I had to pick one, it would be acquiring my local football team, a dream that started nearly 30 years ago.
Not just because it is fun to own a team, but I can do something for my community in Bedford, something for people to get behind and hopefully create new economic opportunities for local businesses and kids to play football locally.
The worst thing is being in the public eye, which is very hard to manage. Words matter, and saying something publicly that you later regret is something I have had to learn to deal with, especially as it may come back to bite me. I have essentially been living an evolution of my understanding of the world in the public eye, which means I have held or continue to hold views that may be in conflict with how other people see the world. Covid was a challenging period as it peeled back my understanding of the state, media and institutions.
A lot of pressure comes with a platform. There is a responsibility for what information is disseminated and to listen to a balanced range of voices.
All I can do is continue to be curious, ask tough questions and admit when I am wrong. Apologizing in public is hard; I think there is natural inertia, but many people understand and ultimately make you easier to trust.
How did you become the owner of the Real Bedford FC? How are you doing this season? When merger with Tottenham?
Peter McCormack: It is a long funny story, too long for your newsletter. I told my Dad nearly 30 years ago I wanted to do it as we didn’t have a league team in Bedford. Many local kids pick the big teams from London, Manchester and Liverpool. I always wanted us to have a local team that kids would choose to support, a team to be proud of in Bedford.
The football game is expensive, so I never knew how to do it until the podcast grew; then, I realised I had an audience that might get behind the project and sponsors who might support it. Local football teams survive on revenue from local fans and companies, which limits their potential if they don’t have a wealthy chairman. A team with an international idea, such as Bitcoin, can tap into international revenue opportunities, making the team more competitive.
So I surveyed a few people and put together a plan. Initially, I tried to buy another local team, Bedford Town, but sadly they would not sell, so I bought the smaller local team Bedford FC, rebranded them and started our journey.
We have had such a great year. Not only have we lost just one game in the league, and we sit at the top of the table, but we have a growing support base, locally and internationally, and we are building a real community behind football. I am very excited about this project.
When local kids support a team such as Manchester, they and their parents send money to other parts of the country. I want them to circulate the money in our local Bedford economy. My dream now is to get us in the football league, wander down to a Saturday game and see the streams of people walking to the game in the orange and black of Real Bedford.
🤯 LNM's side note: According to Google, Peter McCormack also was an outstanding Australian football player in the 1980s. Impressive Peter!
⚔️ LNM Fam
And yet another fresh release on Mainnet, with even more cool stuff!
🔔 Notifications: keep track of all of your trading events in real-time, including take profit/stop loss activation, option settlement, limit order running, etc.
🧮 Calculator: a straightforward risk management tool for calculating your potential profit and loss on futures transactions based on the exit price, or which exit price you should aim for to achieve a particular profit level
✅ Several optimizations and bug fixes: take profit minimum levels, estimated margin computation before trading, etc.
📈 We launch a collaborative LNM Option Pricer spreadsheet with cool visualizations and additional risk indicators (Gamma, Vega). Use it and expand upon it as needed for your options trading tactics!
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⚡ Latest Strikes
A brief recap of what’s new in the Lightning world (full version here).
Wallets & Tools
No Big Deal
Zebedee launched No Big Deal (NBD), an open source initiative that already has given a lot of very cool and useful lines of code to the world. The very prolific fiatjaf is the main contributor, with a variety of project, including a Lightning wallet, a Core-Lightning plugin or a Lightning library, all of them centered around the support for hosted channels.
The fact that Zebedee only publicly talks about NBD now, with a lot of things already released, instead of having made an announcement of an announcement, speaks to the dedication and focus of the team.
Tony Giorgio announced LNsploit, a Lightning Network toolkit built on top of LDK. It can be plugged to a bitcoind instance with funds available to launch and manage a handful of Lightning nodes, from which to perform various possible exploits. Attacks include channel jamming, publishing old commitment transactions, balance probing, and even an exploit of the latest btcd/LND bug, where you can craft and publish a big enough Bitcoin transaction to prevent your target from reading the block this transaction is in. If this transaction is a closing transaction, or if you put a closing transaction in the same block, you can cheat on your out-of-date peers, granted they don’t use any watchtower.
River Lightning Services
River Financial announced their Lightning infrastructure service, named River Lightning Services (RLS). River has been quite early among financial institutions in adopting Lightning, and in the process gathered a real expertise in how to manage Lightning nodes at scale. They will now be providing this service to other entities (exchanges, financial institutions, payment processors, etc.), abstracting all the Lightning complexity, as they already have for the Chivo wallet for the past year.
The first edition of Lightning Halloween, sponsored by Fulgur Ventures, will take place in Italy right after the Plan B Forum in Lugano. It aims at gathering people and builders of the Lightning community, with talks and workshops. Everyone is welcome, but be aware that the discussions will be of technical nature, and the number of available spots is limited.
It has been a month since Bitcoin educator Ziya Sadr was arrested by Iranian Security Forces. The latest news aren’t encouraging. We must be his voice and relentlessly ask for his liberation.
✅ True dat
😅 Just picture the courage this demands
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