The Challenge(r) with Bitcoin


2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392


As we learned with Lira, my new Fiat 500, Bitcoin has already been a powerful force in my life.

Within days of my Eureka! moment, I’d booked flights to San Jose, CA for Bitcoin 2013, the first North American conference for the emerging payment system.

Being a diverse and resourceful lad, I decided to fly through San Francisco,  providing an opportunity to drive my favourite muscle car, the Dodge Challenger SRT8 392, on the Bay Area’s boundless roads.

I first fell in love with the 392 last summer during a weekend trip to our family’s country house in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. There, the broad-shouldered cruiser was a tight squeeze on the winding single-lane passes. California would provide more Lebensraum for the 6.4L V8 thirsty lungs. All around, this was shaping up to be a unique and memorable weekend.

Flying into San Francisco on Friday afternoon, I picked up the jaw-dropping Dodge from the Park ‘N’ Fly and confidently cruised to Union City to meet Jim Yu of Tamerlane’s Thoughts.

For those of you who don’t know, TT is my favorite blog in all of autoblogdom. Bar none. With his unusual and peerless blend of geopolitics, food, travel, and cars, Jim’s is the only blog I visit on regular basis. Far more than Jalopnik or TTAC, much less AutoGuide. Needless to say I was very much looking forward to the blogger extraordinaire/law-talking-guy.

We met at Tapioca Express, on the east side of the Bay Area, for the most popular bubble tea… in the world. The lineup was out the door, something I’ve never seen in a bubble tea shop on a Friday at 4:00pm.

We chatted for a good hour about our unorthodox backgrounds, our travels, and ultimately about the disruptive technology that had taken me 2,500km from home. If a bus company in Bolivia, Latvia, or Côte d’Ivoire starts accepting payments through the Bitcoin network, I fully accept Jim to hop aboard the very next day.

Our meeting was a convivial success and I look forward to crossing paths with Jim again soon.

Continuing my journey to San Jose and the conference, I clutched the pistol grip shifter and non-cryptographically hashed my way down the Interstate. That’s a Bitcoin joke. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Pulling up to the valet at the Westin San Jose, attached to the convention center hosting the conference, the smiles on the faces of the admiring young staff filled me with happiness. This is a car that brightens people’s days. It’s a rarer sight than the Mustang and Camaro, and better for it.

After meeting a few Silicon Valley developers in the registration line, one of whom had all his savings invested in Bitcoin(!), we shuffled into the main hall to take in the opening presentations. With the drinks flowing and the crowd buzzing, the Winklevoss twins took the stage as keynote speakers. As owners of ~1% of the current 11.3 million Bitcoins (there will only ever be 21 million), the brothers famous for their social media vision were bullish on Bitcoin’s potential. Their most memorable quote, borrowed from Mahatma Ghandi and repeated countless times throughout the weekend, was:

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

And where on this continuum is Bitcoin today? Transitioning from the first phase to the second, I expect. The fight is some ways away.

Following the Winklevii talk were two and a half days of sharing, connecting, and dreaming of a better world. Although I lacked the technical acumen of most attendees, I felt extremely at home with the culture. Unexpectedly so. But any group that can quote St. Thomas Aquinas, Marcus Arelius, and Aristotle in a single meal is hard for me not to love.

Another unexpected realization stemming from the conference was just how open and undeveloped the space is. Bitcoin is still geeky, confusing, and largely unknown to the mainstream, much like Twitter was when I started using it in January 2009.

Today, of course, Twitter is everywhere. You can’t watch the news anchor on TV or buy a hotdog at a mobile cart without seeing an @ symbol and “follow us” encouragement. Twitter has taken 4.5 years to evolve from something that only social media mavens used into the social media goliath it is today. Bitcoin, leveraging always-at-hand smartphones and even higher SM adoption, as well as an incented global community of innovators, will see widespread adoption more quickly than any technological revolution ever has.

Early Monday morning, I said goodbye to my Argentine roommate and sleepily checked out of our room. I drifted back onto the Interstate with the sunrise and floated to SFO on a cloud of exhaust and exhaustion. I’d slept less than 10 hours in 3 nights and the Challenger’s wide seats practically whispered to me. 40’s on 4 gently pulsed through the sublime Harman Kardon speakers.

Back at the airport, I relinquished the 392’s keys once more. Not for the last time, I hoped.

Much like Bitcoin, the SRT8 392 doesn’t make a lot of sense until you use it. Once you try either, you’ll see that they’re both faster, more fun, and just plain better than what you’re used to.

That’s the secret. That’s the revolution.


P.S. While a Challenger SRT8 would cost ~450 Bitcoins today, used ones will depreciate while Bitcoin continues to increase in value. I’m not ready to buy one yet, but I’d happily pick one up for 0.5 Bitcoins in a couple years… Then they laugh!

P.P.S. Visit to learn more about Bitcoin’s potential.

P.P.P.S. If you’re in the Edmonton area, join our (very casual) bi-weekly Meet-Up group to get connected with local Bitcoiners.

Special thanks to Chrysler for generously providing their vehicle for the purposes of this article.