further reading | financial times

A popular joke format over the past decade or two has been Deez Nuts. He explains Know Your Meme as “a setup prank that involves asking someone vaguely worded to ask a follow-up question in response [ . . . ] before shouting the said phrase in a hateful manner.”

It’s more of a joke than really a joke. The point of Deez Nutz and its variations (Ligma, Sugondese, etc.) is that there is an unwitting victim to laugh at.

In any case. You may have heard about the two Estonian nationals who were arrested for an alleged $575 million crypto and money laundering scam scheme. An unsealed indictment from the US Department of Justice and a story from the Financial Times provide all the background information, both of which come highly recommended.

Here’s a little curiosity:

In May 2017, [Sergei] Potapenko and [Ivan] Turõgin offered investments in a company called Polybius, which they promised would form a bank specializing in virtual currency. They promised to pay investors dividends from Polybius’ profits. The men raised at least $25 million in this scheme and transferred most of the money into other bank accounts and virtual currency wallets they controlled. Polybius did not establish a bank or pay any dividends.

Polybius is an odd name for a non-existent bank. It could be after the Greek historian, or it could be after a non-existent arcade game in the 1980s. In geek subcultures, Polybius (the latter) is an urban legend that has become a long-running joke. The game is said to have been a top secret government project linked to illegal gambling and capable of mind control.

We can’t be sure of course. But tricking people into putting their money into Polybius, a mythical chest with magical powers, would sound a lot like a Deez Nuts joke. The joke is on the victims — just as the joke was on those who didn’t discover the sex and drug symbol slated for funding rounds and $44 billion takeover bids.

The financial era of Deez Nuts was about a crowd laughing at squares invested in ignorance. And quite frankly, it’ll be a relief when it’s an update.

Elsewhere on Tuesday. . .

Which is worse: inflation or unemployment? (The Big Picture)

CME’s Terry Duffy talks about meeting SBF (Twitter/Apple Podcast)

How is “the world’s most advanced central bank digital currency” progressing? (LSE)

– Why do people talk to Isaac Chotiner? (Dreisner’s World / Substack)

How Apple Stores Went From A Geek’s Paradise To The Union’s Frontline (Bloomberg $)

Amazon is working on getting its own voice assistant (Business Insider $, with Ars Technica summary)

– How to Be Good (The Ruffian / Substack)

Twitter was great. But it’s time to leave (PwnAllTheThings / Substack)

Synthetic Jesus (Twitter)

– A veteran entered “combat mode” to disarm a Club Q gunman (The New York Times)

Is the wine fake? (star mag)