February 24

posted Mar 15, 2015, 7:05 PM by Amherst Club
President Roger Webb called the meeting of the Amherst Club to order at noon on Tuesday, February 24th 2015, and welcomed us all with a promise of dancing girls – and out came Phyllis Lehrer, in costume, ready to wish us all Wilkommen to the Cabaret! Phyllis’ rousing song got everyone in the mood for entertainment, and looking forward happily to our upcoming event.

Barbara Freed reported that an excellent article about our Cabaret will be appearing in the upcoming Amherst Bulletin and other venues.  One hundred tickets have been sold! One important task remains to be accomplished: the handsome posters created for the Cabaret have not yet been widely distributed. Everyone possible should take a couple and display them in stores, churches, libraries and other places where people congregate. Bring your own push pins!

Larry Siddall urged the members to take some of the remaining requests for Silent Auction gift cards and bring them to stores, beauty salons and other places we patronize.  This is an easy way to help ensure the success of the Cabaret.


Ruth Miller announced that The Harp Irish pub in North Amherst is having an exciting free event on Thursday, March 12th. Several renowned musicians from Ireland and elsewhere will be gathering there that evening to rehearse for their upcoming concert. This is an opportunity to enjoy their traditional music without charge. However, it fills up early – be there by 5 p.m.!

And now for something completely different… Arthur Kinney reported that the Renaissance Center will be having a Shakespearean trivia bee on February 26 at 7 p.m. Come alone or bring a team & compete for prizes!

The Renaissance Center is also having a concert on Sunday, March 1 pm- 4 p.m. Ensemble Musica Humana performs a repertoire of Praetorius, Musae Sioniae, and instrumental Terpsichore dances. No reservations.

Ellen Kosmer announced that the Fiddlers Green Contra Dancers will be performing on Saturday, March 28th at the Munson Memorial Library in South Amherst at 7:30. The group has provided some tickets for Club members to attend, because the event is supported by the Amherst Arts Council. Contact Ellen if you are interested for this or future dates.

Raffle:  Honore David won the wine.  Paul Bacon won the $10.

Speaker: Roger Webb introduced our speaker, Gavin Andresen, Chief Scientist of the Bitcoin Foundation. An Australian native now living in Amherst, Gavin gave a very clear and lucid account of the origins and meaning of bitcoin.  Bitcoin was invented in 2009. It was designed to be “cash for the internet”, enabling users to make payments globally directly without any middle man. It saves people paying bills overseas a huge amount of money. It is now the tenth largest payment system in the world.  When it was started, a single bitcoin was estimated to be worth $0.01.  A couple of years ago, each bitcoin was trading for as much as $1,200. However, the value has since plummeted, and is now around $240. So anyone who bought bitcoin initially made a lot of money, but those who invested in them recently have lost a lot. As Gavin said, it’s a “baby currency – and messy like a baby!” The inventor of bitcoin, who has a Japanese name, limited the total number of bitcoin that can ever be created to 120 million. In order to buy bitcoin, you need a bitcoin wallet. These can be had from one of several Silicon Valley startups, including PointBase. The wallet is a small piece of hardware – Gavin wears his on a cord around his neck, with a paper backup. The wallet can also be on your phone.  Over 50,000 merchants accept bitcoin for payment, including Dell Computer and Overstock.com.  The IRS regards bitcoin as a commodity and taxes it accordingly.  Its transparency makes bitcoin convenient for illegitimate users – one of the most famous being the web site The Silk Road, which accepted payment in bitcoin from drug traders, money launderers and other kinds of gangsters. The Silk Road has since been closed down by the authorities.

Your scribe,                                                                                                                                                  
Linda Honan