My best story about Bitcoin and cats, which isn’t even my story

17.44, Wednesday 24 Feb 2021

After mentioning Qarnot the other day, which repurposes waste heat from e.g. computer-heavy 3D graphics rendering to warm offices, I ran across this article: How I heat my home by mining crypto currencies, and it’s beautifully clear:

Never mind how it works on a technical level, the main takeaway is that you can put some device in your house that uses electricity and produces heat. In exchange you get shares of that crypto currency coins like Ethereum or Bitcoin which you can sell on a trading platform.

That device is called is a “miner.” It helps run transactions on the crypto network, it generates heat, and it makes money. In the old days, they were sensitive and buggy, so you would have alerts set up to let you know if yours had crashed (because it would no longer be paying out). They’re more reliable nowadays.

And, success. The author reports: I was able to lower my heat pump’s electricity needs by ~50% and half of the costs are also paid for by the mining earnings.

All of which is

  • wonderfully circular in that the heat is being used and not wasted
  • frustrating in that the heat should never have been created in the first place, because the “value” of cryptocurrency is not the $-value of one Bitcoin, that’s a fantasy value, I mean the actual intrinsic value, the useful work achieved which is the act of performing transactions for societal gain, that value in no way justifies the disproportionately huge heat and carbon expenditure of the existing cryptocurrency infrastructure

but putting that aside:

I am reminded

of a story

about Bitcoin


my friend’s cat

from 2014:

BB the cat figured out if he wants to go outside for a walk he just needs to sit on the bitcoin miner until it overheats and switches off and I come running down the stairs in a panic.

And there’s something about triggering a fault in speculative global financial services infrastructure, as a way of telling a watchdog system to fire an SMS (or whatever) to interrupt someone’s attention while they’re working so they come down to investigate and end up opening the door, because you’re too lazy to walk upstairs and meow which is just, I don’t know. Emblematic. I love it.

Thank you Warren Miller or rather thank you his cat, and here’s where I first tweeted his story (I checked I could share at the time).

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