Florida Bans Transgender Athletes 🔗

Andrew Atterbury, Politico:

The GOP-controlled Florida House on Wednesday passed controversial legislation banning transgender athletes from playing girls’ sports, shifting attention to the state Senate where final approval is needed to send the bill to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

House and Senate Republicans in Florida have seized on women’s sports as a priority in 2021, following the path of more than 20 other GOP-leaning states that are using the issue to limit transgender rights. LGBTQ advocacy groups like Equality Florida are aligned with the majority of Democrats in opposing the legislation, arguing it would lead to increased stigma and misinformation surrounding transgender students.

Democrats pushed back against that rhetoric, insisting the legislation is aimed at LGBTQ rights and not girls’ athletics.

This is a bad situation, and I don’t see a clear path for either side to “win”. Personally, I don’t think transgender athletes should be allowed to participate in sports with the opposite sex – unless the context is specifically co-ed. The reason for this is simple – men versus women sports are clearly determined by biological sex, not gender. A man who transitions into a woman is not a biological woman, and biological women are at a physical disadvantage to biological men when it comes to sports.

We have to draw the line somewhere. Banning transgender athletes from playing girls' sports is not a hate crime against transgender people. It’s a reasonable measure to preserve fairness in sports. If I wake up one day and decide to identify as disabled, it would be unfair for me to participate in a sports league for disabled people. Similarly, if I wake up one day and decide to identify as female, it would again be unfair for me to play women sports.

Unfortunately, America has progressed to the point where determinations based on objective biology (men versus women sports) are being called out as transphobic. I’m not sure where we go from here. In the current political environment, the people who respect biology as a determining factor to create a level playing field will be cancelled, while the people who are pushing for unrestricted transgender participation in sports – a flawed idea by design – will be amplified and praised. What a world we live in.

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Diversity and Inclusion in a Decentralized World 📝

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) in the workplace is something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. I think my views on D&I are not as liberal as many of my friends and coworkers. For a workplace that follows traditional corporate standards, I think designing a diverse environment is usually an overall net positive as long as it’s not performed through the lens of a rigid framework.

So, I think D&I is nice to have in a traditional workplace, but I’m not the type of person to push the idea on everyone I know. In the WordPress space, it’s common to see certain individuals go on and on (literally everyday) about diversity, underrepresentation, marginalization, and how white people should always keep their “privilege” in check (or something like that).

It makes me wonder if these people are taking the whole diversity thing a little seriously. Really, I don’t think talking about how marginalized and underrepresented you are every single day is good for your mental health. I’ll be honest – as someone who is apart of one of these so called marginalized and underrepresented groups, I’ve never come across a negative workplace scenario that was caused by my race or ethnicity. Does this mean I’m “privileged”, or is the whole D&I conversation just turned up to 11 right now?

My views on D&I are the way they are because I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not a necessity for every single workplace environment. D&I is not a requirement to be productive, and it’s not a requirement to build amazing products. Hear me out before you call me privileged or racist.

Working in blockchain is amazing. It’s what I spend all my free time on, and lack of purposeful D&I is one of the reasons why I love it so much. I’ve never met most of my colleagues in the blockchain space, and I don’t even know most of their names. We mostly communicate through Telegram, Slack, and occasional audio calls, and we get work done.

In this context, there is no D&I mental overhead because it’s completely abstracted out of the equation. It’s near-impossible to distinguish someone’s race from text-based communication. Since people usually prefer to stay anonymous in blockchain, “real” profile pictures are pretty rare. I’ve been working in blockchain for three years now. In that time, one guy who I thought was Asian ended up being a white dude from Amsterdam. Similarly, someone else who I thought was a white guy living in the USA ended up being an Asian guy living in the Philippines. Best of all, no one (including me) gives a s*** about any of this. People are judged solely based on their work ethic and the skills they bring to the table, and that’s how it should be.

Abstracting away D&I completely is, of course, only possible in an anonymous or pseudo-anonymous work environment. So, this begs the question whether this kind of work environment is superior to the traditional corporate workplace where a huge amount of emphasis is placed on learning more about the backgrounds of your colleagues. Interestingly enough, I feel closer to my colleagues in blockchain than my colleagues at my day job. This makes me wonder whether concepts like HR protocols, fear of coming off as “privileged”, and other sorts of virtue signaling constructs actually prevent colleagues from forming strong friendships in an efficient manner.

It’ll be interesting to see if “anonymity in the workplace” spreads to other industries over the coming years. For this kind of workplace environment to become commonplace, there needs to be a huge shift in how people think about and design corporate structures. I think DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) are a step in the right direction.

The idea here is instead of motivating people to work via a “corporate ladder” backed by accepted rules and behaviors, give people a direct stake in the organization via a token and design the governance system in a way that incentivizes everyone to act in a productive manner.

I think the D&I trend over the past few years is the latest version of “social glue” that allows traditional companies to continue functioning with respect to current events. Social glue is important because the governance structure of most companies is not set up in a way that fairly rewards those who contribute the most, and punishes those who don’t do a good job – this is because social norms take precedence over everything else in a non-anonymous environment. Thus in order to keep a company together, tools like D&I need to be introduced to prevent the social fabric from tearing.

My grand thesis is that as we evolve into a society that truly values privacy, the inefficiencies of traditional corporate structures will become more and more apparent. At the same time, I think decentralized and pseudo-anonymous work will become more popular.

Let’s see what happens.

Seth Godin on NFTs 🔗

Seth Godin:

NFTs are a dangerous trap. Like most traps, they’re mysterious and then appealing and then it’s too late.

Oh boy…

CREATORS may rush to start minting NFTs as a way to get paid for what they’ve created. Unlike alternative digital currencies which are relatively complicated to invent and sell, it’s recently become super easy to ‘mint’ an NFT. I could, for example, turn each of the 8,500 posts on this blog into a token and sell them on the open market.

“Alternative digital currencies” are not “relatively complicated to invent and sell” at all. Just like how it’s easy to mint an NFT, it’s trivial to create an ERC-20 token (an alternative digital currency) on Ethereum in just a few clicks. After that, anyone can buy or sell the ERC-20 token via Uniswap.

Unlike some stocks, it doesn’t pay dividends or come with any other rights. And unlike actual works of art, NFTs aren’t usually aesthetically beautiful on their own, they simply represent something that is.

What if I said, “Unlike planes, bicycles can’t fly hundreds of people across the ocean”? That’s akin to Godin’s comparison between NFTs and stocks, which are completely unrelated in the context of this conversation. By the way, tokenized stocks can be traded on Mirror, and they’re super cool.

The comparison to “actual works of art” makes a little more sense because the primary use case for NFTs now is tokenizing works of art. However, Godin gives off a privileged vibe here. What constitutes an “actual work of art” and what does “aesthetically beautiful” mean?

If Godin thinks an “actual work of art” is physical and tactile, that would be an insult to all the digital artists out there. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would argue that digital art is not art. So, let’s assume that digital art qualifies as an “actual work of art”. Then what, specifically, excludes NFT artworks from being “actual works of art”? The impression that I get is Godin thinks an “actual work of art” can be physical or digital – as long as it’s not an NFT.

I think NFT detractors always miss a core difference between NFT art and physical art. NFT art has a discrete distinction between ownership and interaction – something that physical art doesn’t have. The interaction layer of NFTs is a digital primitive to build APIs on top of, which means it’s infinitely extensible. For example, a VR application can parse the NFT data and render a visual interaction experience in a VR world. I suspect part of the disconnect may be due to a generational gap. Just like how I don’t get the appeal of TikTok, I think Godin may not fully grasp the appeal of artwork with distinct ownership and interaction layers.

Lastly, statements like “it doesn’t pay dividends” or “it doesn’t come with any other rights” shows a fundamental misunderstanding about what an NFT is. An NFT is a scarce digital asset that is governed by logic embedded in the issuing smart contract. So, statements like “it doesn’t pay dividends” and “it doesn’t come with any other rights” are irrelevant because those features can be included in an NFT smart contract. In other words, those two statements describe a specific smart contract implementation with NFT characteristics (also known as a “token standard”), and says absolutely nothing about NFTs as an overall technology and asset class – it’s like saying all cars suck because a manual transmission car doesn’t have an automatic transmission.

THE REST OF US are going to pay for NFTs for a very long time. They use an astonishing amount of electricity to create and trade. Together, they are already using more than is consumed by some states in the US. Imagine building a giant new power plant just to make Christie’s or the Basel Art Fair function. And the amount of power wasted will go up commensurate with their popularity and value. And keep going up. The details are here. The short version is that for the foreseeable future, the method that’s used to verify the blockchain and to create new digital coins is deliberately energy-intensive and inefficient. That’s on purpose. And as they get more valuable, the energy used will go up, not down.

It’s interesting how NFT detractors never qualify their usage of the term “NFT” when bringing up the power consumption argument. The truth is, there is a huge difference in power consumption between an Ethereum (proof of work) NFT and an NFT minted on a proof of stake blockchain. Saying “NFTs consume a lot of energy” without specifying the host blockchain is like saying “cars consume a lot of gas” without specifying the make and model – it’s a completely pointless blanket statement that lacks contextual nuance.

Another point that “Ethereum” NFT detractors miss is the role of NFTs within the Ethereum ecosystem. Minting NFTs is one use case for Ethereum out of many. Other use cases include decentralized lending and borrowing, transfer of value without gatekeepers, tokenizing real estate, and more. To call out NFT minting as a worthless high energy activity without thinking about the potential energy savings of the host platform (Ethereum) is hypocritical. This point is really important because it completely changes the argument.

Why?

Calling out NFTs for high energy consumption without any additional context about the merits of the host platform (Ethereum) exists makes NFTs look bad. On the other hand, if you talk about NFTs from the perspective of Ethereum as a decentralized settlement layer that is much more power efficient than the legacy financial system and provides incredible yield opportunities to the average person through peer-to-peer lending and borrowing, then it’s highly possible that even with NFTs, Ethereum presents a clear path towards a more power efficient settlement and ownership layer for society.

By the way, Ethereum’s power consumption will drop dramatically once it switches to Proof of Stake consensus upon activation of Ethereum 2.0 (expected within the next 2-3 years).

It’s an ongoing waste that creates little in ongoing value and gets less efficient and more expensive as time goes on. For most technological innovations the opposite is true.

This is a lie. With EIP-1559 and the transition to Ethereum 2.0, Ethereum will get more efficient and less expensive as time goes on.

The trap, then, is that creators can get hooked on creating these. Buyers with a sunk cost get hooked on making the prices go up, unable to walk away. And so creators and buyers are then hooked in a cycle, with all of us paying the lifetime of costs associated with an unregulated system that consumes vast amounts of precious energy for no other purpose than to create some scarce digital tokens.

I agree that creators are hooked on creating these. That’s because a ton of them are making money, and there is nothing wrong with capitalizing on hype to make some money – as long as no one’s getting hurt. I mean, I suppose you could make an argument for how NFT minting is polluting the Earth, which in turn changes the toxicity of some body of water, which in turn poisons the fish, which in turn kills someone who eats said fish. However, if you have to jump through so many mental gymnastic hoops to make an argument, it’s probably not a very good one in the first place.

What’s really happening here is that NFT detractors like Seth Godin are forming opinions without taking time to understand the technology and the potential of the technology first – this is crystal clear based on the amount of misinformation in Godin’s post.

NFTs are undoubtedly a bubble now, but that doesn’t mean the technology is an “ongoing waste that creates little in ongoing value”. On the contrary, the idea of tokenizing the ownership of an asset in a blockchain-native way (able to be parsed and acted upon by smart contracts) is a powerful one – and it all starts with NFTs and SFTs (semi-fungible tokens).

I don’t agree with Godin’s statement about NFTs being a “dangerous trap”. The current state of the NFT market can manifest itself as a trap for certain market participants, but the market’s characteristics is not a reflection of the intrinsic qualities of the technology. NFTs provide us with a way to tokenize ownership of a creative work in a blockchain-native manner – a completely mind-blowing concept if you take a few minutes to actually think about it instead of jumping to regurgitation of energy consumption statistics.

If you know, you know.

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How to Use ICONFi to Accelerate Your Journey to Financial Independence

If you have a normal savings account from any major US bank, you’re mostly likely losing purchasing power bit by bit as you’re reading this post. You read that right, by the time you’re finished reading this post, the cash sitting in your savings account will be worth less than when you started. If that sounds fine and dandy to you, feel free to stop reading now. Otherwise, continue reading to find out how to take control of your personal finances with ICONFi.

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Transgender Kindergarteners 🔗

Jesse Thorn:

My daughter is nine. When she was born, we assumed she was a boy, gave her a boy name, called her “he.” We gave her all kinds of toys, she generally preferred the ones our culture associates with boys (like building toys, trucks and robots.)

When she started kindergarten, my wife was bathing her. An adult friend of ours had just come out as trans, and my wife mentioned that not all girls have vaginas and not all boys have penises.

Our daughter asked, “some girls have penises?” My wife said yes. Whether you were a boy or a girl wasn’t about your private parts.

I try to stay away from controversial topics on this blog. After all, this is my personal blog, which means there’s no degree of anonymity. 10 years ago, I don’t think public discussion about controversial topics was nearly as dangerous as it is now. In 2021, cancel culture seems to be the default strategy for approaching controversial topics, so let’s see what happens.

First off, I’m not morally opposed to transgenderism. I think it’s okay for a male to feel like a female, and a female to feel like a male. However, I don’t believe a male can be a female, and vice versa. Scientifically speaking, for 99.99% of people on this planet, the question of male or female is determined at birth (via inspection of genitalia), and this determination is not subjective – it’s 100% objective. In short, I have no opinion on how a person feels regarding their gender as long as they don’t forcibly compel me to use a pronoun that conflicts with science. I’ve followed this protocol when engaging with transgender friends of mine and it’s never been a problem.

Okay, now that we’ve established that I do not hate all transgender people, let’s dive into this Twitter thread from Jesse Thorn. To be transparent, I have no idea who this guy is. I don’t follow him, but his tweet showed up on my feed this morning. The thread talks about how Jesse’s son, whom he refers to as his “daughter”, began his transgender transition in kindergarten.

I’m a father of a two year old boy. I know firsthand that kids say things and do things they don’t mean. At the same time, kids are also extremely malleable, which means their knowledge and perspective on the world can be directly shaped by their parents with little to no friction. In other words, if someone tries to convince an educated fully-developed adult that the Earth is flat, they’d likely be met with some degree of pushback. If I went and told my two year old son that the Earth is flat, he would wholeheartedly believe me. With this in mind, it’s easy to see how a parent suggesting that “girls have penises” is manipulative at best, and abusive at worst.

I’m not going to lecture parents on how to raise their children, but I believe it’s irresponsible to lie to a child about objective biological truths. Girls don’t have penises, and boys don’t have vaginas – this is a scientific fact. To suggest otherwise is doing a disservice to thousands of years of scientific progress. I think it’s reasonable for a person who’s planning on transitioning to the opposite gender to have a concrete understanding of human biology. For most students, this usually happens between middle school and high school. So, if a high school kid who is 100% aware of the history of biology wants to go ahead with a gender transition, that’s fine – I support that 100%. With that said, I can assure you that kindergarteners do not have a concrete understanding of human biology, and that’s really my whole point here.

Kids are not equipped with the knowledge and mental capacity to understand the potential effects of transgenderism. What they are is infinitely malleable creatures who are programmed to listen to their parents by nature. In the case of Jesse Thorn (again, I’m not going to reach out and lecture him or engage with him on Twitter), I have a sneaking suspicion that his son’s transition was a result of parental influence. Again, a kindergartener does not have the mental capacity to decide to be transgender. However, a kindergarten does have the mental capacity to go along with parental influence, whether right or wrong. In this case, a child who may or may not have asked a question about human biology was fed a lie (some girls have penises), which then led to a feedback loop resulting in a gradual gender transition process.

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