Understanding Bitcoin, Ether, cryptocurrencies, blockchain and "distributed ledger"

Here is a PSA for anyone confused by Bitcoin this, Bitcoin that, "cryptocurrencies", "blockchain" and all that.

First of all, you do not need to understand what "blockchain" is any more than you need to understand how your iPhone identifies you by your fingerprint. It is underlying technology serving a purpose.

Second, you do not need to understand anything about currencies. Later, you may but to understand the fundamental concepts involved which you can explain to a 12 year old, you don't.

So in order to avoid that let's start with something that is not money at all. Imagine that there was a ledger (a book with records) in which ownership of every piece of land was recorded. Each parcel of land is uniquely identified and it says next to it who owns it. There is such a ledger - it is called "land registry" or "cadastral system" and just about every country has them. Many of you have bought and sold property and are familiar wit…

About North Korea

On merit based Immigration

There is this building myth in the media by the likes of Chris Cuomo that immigrants to North America were somehow all the "huddled masses" of the fundraising poem written on the Statue of Liberty.
That is patently untrue - it was not the least capable and down on their luck people in Europe who emigrated to America (and Canada) in the early parts of the 20th century. If you were homeless, stupid or had no self-motivation you could not get onto the boat to book passage to the New World. In many ways it was the best and the brightest, the people who had the gumption and the ability and the courage that decided to embark on such a challenge. Not the meek and the docile. You think the village idiots booked passage to the New World? Think again.
And no wonder they did as well as they did when they arrived there. A great many of them. They were entrepreneurial and smart and go-getters. If your grandparents were immigrants think of the family memories of them. Were they the peopl…

A brief review of recent political history of Russia (according to me)

So in the early 90s something happened in Russia - the USSR fell and the country rejected the ideal of communism. Pretty much "organically" - there was never any allegation that this was somehow prompted by or orchestrated by anyone outside of Russia. The people of Russia have had enough and Gorbachev cracked the door open through which Yeltsin stepped to be the first democratically elected President of Russia. He was a popular President elected with outright majority of 58% of votes, 4 times that of the next candidate. During Yeltsin years there were 3 loci of power - the government, business broadly speaking which went on to become the "oligarchs" and organized crime, broadly speaking. It was the Wild East in which state assets were grabbed at throwaway prices by businessmen and criminals fought openly in the streets for control of parts of territory or segment of criminal activity. It was at times hard to tell where one of those stopped and others began, the 3 g…

In 1977 President Carter made a call to America to use more coal for energy

It is always good to have a sense of perspective and without it we may repeat mistakes of the past.
Below is the link to an address to the nation by President Carter in 1977. A Democrat and some would say progressive at that. And a genuinely good person as evidenced by his life path after presidency. So he is by no means evil or a shill for corporate interests.
And in his 1977 address to the nation he calls for significant increase in use of coal for America's energy needs. He also says that by the end of 1980s, the world is going to run out of oil and gas in the sense that from that point on annual production is going to be on decline. He predicts solar and wind will become significant sources of energy for the US in the medium term.
So I repeat - he was not an evil person - this was the best information available to the President of United States at the time and certainly consensus of 97% of scientists too.
And yet, it was massively wrong. Nobody "predicted" the US sh…

Carbon-based life

As the sunset of fossil fuel era approaches perhaps we should give those (Fossil Fuels) their due and put things in perspective about Carbon.

With all the negative connotations around how "CO2 is bad, bad, bad" and that there should be a "tax on Carbon" (which I support), it seems that we have put aside the fundamental fact of life which is that carbon IS life. We are all carbon based lifeforms and until that first sentient computer emerges or we have a confirmed encounter with extraterrestrial intelligence (and if that life is not carbon-based), carbon means life. Without carbon, life would not exist.

And because we are carbon based lifeforms all, the formerly existing carbon lifeforms have given us, the current lifeforms, a gift of their own bodies concentrated into what we call oil and gas as energy resources. There is a beautiful Circle of Life at work here if you chose to see it.

We should appreciate this circle of life rather than wring our hands over how we hav…

We live in The Guilt Era

Everything seems to be about assigning guilt these days. Guilt must be seen as a motivating force or why else would it be held up so much as something that will presumably foster change? All these folks who traffic in guilt must think that this is effective.

If you are human, you are guilty already.

You are destroying the planet, causing other species to become extinct faster than ever. If you eat meat you are very guilty and even if you don't, plants apparently "know" that they are being eaten and besides, your agricultural practices are just causing permanent damage to things that you don't actually consume.

If you are older, you are certainly guilty for a whole lot of things - first of all, having lived for a while, you have accumulated a lot of guilt simply by virtue of being a human being and being destructive in that way. But also you are guilty of a lack of forethought in how you wasted resources and ruined the planet for generations to come. If you are over 50 y…