Cryptocurrency vs. Cryptography

Posted on November 7, 2021


Not too long ago I ran across an article on the Internet entitled “Crypto Explained.” I thought, “well, I should take a look, since I had to learn some cryptography back in 1964-66 while a young officer on a ship, the USS Donner (LSD 20) as we cruised the Atlantic, Caribbean and Mediterranean on various deployments.

In fact, all young officers standing watches at sea, especially those as Officers of the Deck underway, had to learn some cryptography when we stood watches in Combat Information Center, kind of like we had to learn some navigation also. We were, as I realized years later, jack of all trades. Crypto wasn’t too bad. Celestial navigation I failed dismally. Thank goodness for Loran. You old sailors who stood watches at sea will remember. It was kind of a proto-GPS for you newbies.

So, I started to read “Crypto Explained,” and found “The Beginner’s Guide to Investing, Selling, Storing, and Mining Cryptocurrency: The Understanding of Blockchain Technology and Making a Profit in the New Age of Digital Currency Paperback-September 22, 2021.”

Whaaatttttt? Am I inhabiting the same country that I was born in? Is this English? Cryptocurrency? What happened to the dollar, or to the pound in England, or maybe the deutschmark when buying a beer in the Hofbräuhaus in Munich?

It was early August 1966, and my ship was in Naples. I didn’t have to be in New Orleans until September to start graduate school at Tulane. I was invited by the Navy to sign on for another two or three years and “You will be in command of your own vessel,” was an inducement to stay in.

“Uh, that wouldn’t be the river fleet now being organized in South Viet Nam, would it?” I answered back, being somewhat familiar with the U. S. military in Vietnam as we slipped and slid further and further into that miasma. I’d already lost one of my best buddies from prep school as a Marine officer in Vietnam in 1965. He went to Notre Dame and I went to Duke and we both went into the service after NROTC. They still haven’t found his remains.

“Sure, you’ll be in command,” the recruiter for the River Fleet started to answer.

“Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll take my DD 214 and be gone,” referring to the famous document all ex-servicemen and women know about.

 So, I did what most gringo tourists did in Europe in those days: bought a Eurail pass which gave me unlimited rides for x number of months anywhere in Europe. I headed north, stopped in at Rome to see the Vatican, then Florence, checked out David, and then back on a train across the Alps at night and into Bavaria, and presto, Munich.

I am told that today the dollar is eventually going to vanish like the now extinct DoDo Bird. I looked up the DoDo and found there really was such a bird who once lived on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. A big flightless descendant of some lost pigeons who landed on the island thousands of years ago the DoDo prospered until man—Dutch and Portuguese mariners—came along and destroyed the poor DoDo by man’s usual predatory habits. I kind developed a feeling for the DoDo, reading about how he succumbed to the Europeans, their dogs, pets, and periodic clubbing the DoDo to death to eat him. The DoDo disappeared and has been a symbol of extinction in literature ever since.

Today the elephant appears on a number of endangered species lists as he is hunted down and slaughtered for his ivory tusks, just as he has been for hundreds of years. He was almost extinguished in the middle and late nineteenth century by Africans who enslaved thousands of their own countrymen to hunt down the elephants, whose tusks were then rendered into piano keys and the such.  The English—ugly white cruel racists as some portray them–tried to outlaw and eradicate slavery and the slave trade in the late nineteenth century in that part of Africa. They failed to do so in the face of African rulers who profited too much. So much for modern slavery being imposed solely by whites on blacks. We all share in this terrible form of servitude and humiliation.

Why do we sympathize and indeed have much compassion for those poor animals like the DoDo Birds and the elephants, and if I were a naturalist or even more curious, identifying all those who have perished by a quick search of the Web?  Baby elephants slowly dying of starvation because their mothers were slaughtered for ivory is a heart-rending image. It speaks of the unspeakable, the greed and evil in the hearts of man.

So, where are we here? The rise of cryptocurrency doesn’t sound so bad after all. It is like so many adjustments to the new world of the virtual, artificial intelligence, the explosion of the computer in our lives, and includes the invention of the GPS, a definite advancement.

We live in the present and for the future, but don’t forget the DoDo, elephants, and other victims of the modern world, like climate change. And good luck with cryptocurrency; may you get rich and do many good things for your fellow man.

Published as “Change with the times or risk becoming a victim of the modern world,” in The Tuscaloosa News, Sunday Nov. 7 2021.

Image of DoDo Bird, source:;_ylt=AwrJ61qwZIhheLcAVxNXNyoA;_ylu=Y29sbwNiZjEEcG9zAzEEdnRpZAMEc2VjA3Nj? =The+dodo+bird&fr=mcafee#id=2&

Tagged: ,