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A bit crypto

November 12, 2014 8 comments

I’ve always believed that a large part of why Freemasons have the long history of secret passwords, etc., was because we (as a group) tend to be charitable, and when approached by people asking for some kind of charity, especially as Freemasons, we give what we can. Naturally, we give to other causes, but when you think that you are giving to a particular group – any group – you like to know that your gift, be it time or money, isn’t being diverted to other uses.

With that in mind, I’d like to mention something that has come up in the online Masonic world: GCoin.

First, I will freely admit that I don’t know enough about cryptocurrency to even hazard a bad explanation, so if you’re interested enough to research on your own, then by all means, start with Wiki and go on from there. Disclosure: I have some Dogecoin amounting to about 33 cents, and I haven’t done anything with it yet.

Earlier this year, someone posted to the Reddit subgroup /r/freemasonry, announcing an alternative to Bitcoin, calling it GCoin. He announced it as having been developed by Masons, and for the purpose of making charitable giving easier. Naturally, we joked that it was hard enough to get a lot of our brothers to use Facebook or email, so good luck in trying to explain how it was supposed to work.  Unfortunately, requests for more specific information from them was vague, when it was forthcoming at all.  More to the point, the person refused to give any actual proof that he was a Mason, or that other Masons were actually involved in the development.  We eventually forgot about it, as new cryptocurrencies are being introduced all the time.

This week, the same user posted another announcement that it was going to be officially released.  That recalled the original discussion threads, and again, the user was just as vague with the details. He claimed that anyone, not just Masons could use GCoin, and that coin users could vote for small percentages to go for various charities. Unfortunately, he again failed to specify which charities, or how the voting worked. For that matter, it appears that even if some Masons decide to allow some percentage of the interest to go to a charity, they might be outvoted by other users.

Again, I don’t know enough about cryptocurrency to understand how it works, or what differentiates this from others, such as Bitcoin or Dogecoin.  Since the link between GCoin and Freemasonry is so tenuous, however, I think that anyone – Freemasons or not – should approach this with caution.

That said, maybe it would be an interesting project for some of our brothers to develop a cryptocurrency (MasoniCoin, perhaps?) specifically for Masonic purposes.

 

 

 

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Blog Aggravate

February 9, 2014 3 comments

The “Golden Age” of Masonic blogging was probably from 2005 to 2010; Facebook and Twitter became the most used social networks, and most of the existing blogs lacked for readers, which in turn discouraged many writers.

I recently went through my own archives, and over the years I have subscribed to or listed just under 200 blogs by Masons. Most are now dead or dormant, but surprisingly, there are still a number of active blogs, and once in a while I’ll run across a new one that I find enjoyable. I’ve been trying to list them on my sidebar, or add them to my RSS reader so I can keep up.

More interestingly, some intrepid bothers will take the time to sit down with a microphone and some recording software, and put together a half to one hour program of discussion. While Masonic podcasts aren’t nearly as common, they are generally an enjoyable alternative, and you can listen to them in the background as you’re working on other things, or save them to mobile device and play it in your car on that long, boring commute.

I know that some of my readers are always on the lookout for new or interesting Masonic reading, so I’ve put together a new Masonic blog aggravate aggregate; a collection of links to the more active blogs that I’ve been reading, and that other people have kindly pointed out to me. These are blogs that have all posted articles in the last year. Right now there are about 2 dozen, but hopefully that will grow. And since blogs are not the only Masonic writings available, the sidebar will have links to podcasts, web sites, essays, and other bits of interest to Masons.

Ashlar to Ashes: An aggregate for Masonic blogs and writings

This is just a little project that I put together in an afternoon, but if people find it useful, then maybe we can keep this going. If you have a favorite (or your own) blog, podcast, web board, or website that you would like added, please leave a comment here or on Ashalr to Ashes so we can check it out.

The All-Seeing -i-

January 7, 2011 Leave a comment

First of all, I’m excited that Charles Tirrell of Masonic Renaissance has found the time and inclination to get back into blogging. Charles was my counterpart District Grand Lecturer in the New Haven part of the state, then moved on to be an Associate Grand Marshall, and I now see that in April he will be the District Deputy in that area. I extend my heartfelt congratulations, and I know that he’ll do an excellent job.

I like Charles; he’s young and progressive minded, and he’s the kind of person I have in mind whenever I hear the (sadly clichéed) expression “The future of Masonry.” Charles has consistently pushed for our Grand Lodge to adopt new technologies in order to reach — and be relevant to — the newer members of our fraternity. He’s bright, and well-spoken, and modest about his achievements.

And he prefers Apple computer products.

Apparently, I have so little going on in my own life right now that I have taken to ribbing friends about their choice of technology, much in the way many people poke fun at one’s favorite sports team, choice of automobile, or taste in literature. This ribbing is further driven by the fact that for the last year, my office and home networks have been plagued by more computer problems than I’ve ever seen; obviously I’m envious of anyone who is actually happy with their computer, and confess to some distrust at anyone who doesn’t have some anger, annoyance, or irritation with their gadgets.

To his credit, Charles has refused to take the troll bait; although for that matter, I don’t particularly think about Apple products except when I hear from him or a few other similarly inclined friends.

Until yesterday, that is.

Some of you may remember that last year I wrote a post that made light of the similarities between Freemasonry and the GNU/Linux community. I should have remembered that satire is based in reality.

Yesterday, while reading Lifehacker, I ran across a couple of articles about how Apple is introducing a new way to get software, entitled respectively, Why the Mac App Store Sucks, and Why You Might Really Like the Mac App Store In The Long Run. And suddenly, the pictures jumped out at me. Why?

Here’s the logo for the Mac App Store:

There's something oddly familiar about this design...

Umm… does this look familiar to you?

For reference, here’s a couple of random images from a Google image search.

A Past Master’s symbol from some areas of the world.

An older, lesser known version

I mean, of all the possible combinations that the graphic artists could come up with, they riff on the Square and Compasses?

Coincidence? I think not.

Although I’ve long explored the twisted logic of the conspiracy theorists, I don’t have any background with regard to the twisted logic of Apple users. I believe, however, that this bears looking into.

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