Monthly Archives: June 2016

Cameron loses his bet!

And so David Cameron has lost his bet, and the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. He wanted to heal a rift in his party and instead will have provoked probably the end of the United Kingdom.

Yes, the vote was close, but in the end the difference between the two camps was over a million votes, and so the people have spoken clearly.

What strikes me in this decision is that the United Kingdom is anything but united now. Among themselves, the younger generation voted to remain in the Europe while the older voters voted to leave. Furthermore, Scotland has said that a new vote for its independence will probably be held soon. Wales might also decide to move out.

The real winner of this mess is Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London, rumoured to succeed David Cameron. The other loser of this affair is the leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, whose leadership in this whole affair was less than stellar. Already there is a push to move him out.

What could happen now is that other countries in the E.U might decide to leave the union. Already some in France, notably the far right, want a vote on leaving. Nothing good can result of this and of course, we can expect turmoil in the markets for the next two years.

There is no question that some in the British press have some responsibility for this result. They continuously picked on small incidents in the European union that affected the U.K as if the sovereignty of the British were always in question. Some British politicians also defended Europe in a lukewarm fashion. I cannot see how the United Kingdom will be richer by being out of the European Union rather than in. In the long run, people will rue this ill-advised decision and they will blame spineless politicians who were only trying to advance their political careers.

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Disaster strikes a digital currency.

This article from the New York Times really caught my eye. It seems that a new digital currency that was about to be launched was siphoned off more than 50 million of digital money. It was a crowd funding venture that was deemed very successful. They wanted to prove the safety and security of digital money. So much for that.

Experts had already pointed out some vulnerablities in the code in late May but nothing was done it seems. The only good thing is that the money is not really gone, only frozen in something called a digital version of an airtight double door. The real debate now it seems is to write code that would retrieve it or leave it there. But some purists believe that human meddling should not happen. Debates about whether to fork or not as they say is still raging.

The other famous digital currency called Bitcoin as also suffered from such an attack. In 2014 half a billion dollars worth of Bitcoins were lost. But it is interesting to note that Bitcoin has bounced back every time such thefts have occurred. It is resilient if nothing else.

The beauty of theses digital currencies is that governments do not control them, but individuals or groups do. At the heart of the matter is trust, who can you trust to operate and control such a currency.

I was reading a few days ago that even the Bank of Canada is presently experimenting with software that would create a digital currency. I am not sure that I would consider using it, although I would trust a central bank more than some anonymous groups or people. As far as I can see, only those called early adopters would embrace such a risky scheme. Only when more safeguards exist will people embrace it and not before as the risks are too high.

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The carbon problem.

By now most people will agree that solutions are needed to the solve climate change. Solutions exist but up to now trying to lock the carbon in the atmosphere safely and for long periods of time were not successful.

But now, scientists in Iceland have been able to turn the gas into stone and so lock it away in a permanent way. The gas is dissolved with water and the mixture is pumped into certain rocks. The reaction of the mixture with the rocks means that the mixture forms a mineral called calcite.

For the process to work some stones are better than others. Volcanic rocks called basalts are the best for this process as they are rich in calcium, magnesium and iron reacting with CO2 in an ideal way.

The great advantage of this process is that 95% of the carbon dioxide is converted into calcite and this happens very quickly, in less than two years. As the conversion is rapid so will be the monitoring of the process.

The negative about this new technique is that the scale of the projects would have to be larger than the ones being experimented right now, and a lot of water would be needed as well as the right kind of rock.

The best solution according to scientists would be to use the ocean floors and the margins of the continents to safely store the CO2. It seems as well that using sea water would also work well with the process.

Of course more testing still has to be done, nevertheless if this technique works perhaps the consequences of climate change could be mitigated to a large degree, giving us a chance to better be prepared for the unpredictable consequences of such a major upheaval.

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The gorilla and the little boy.

By now everyone has seen the video; a 3 year old boy falls into a shallow moat at the Cincinnati zoo where a 400 pound gorilla named Harambe resides. The gorilla at first treats the boy gently it seems but then, no doubt spooked by the cries of the onlookers, takes the boy by the foot and drags him in the water to another area. Luckily, the zoo officials were notified and they did the only thing sensible, they shot the gorilla to save a human life.

Incredibly, instead of praising the zoo for the quick action some people were against the shooting. Twitter was all over the place with this one. A lot of Monday morning quarterbacking in my opinion. Had the zoo decided to use a tranquilizer it could have enraged the gorilla and would have taken too long to act, endangering the boy in the process.

Of course, it was an accident. Some people were blaming the mother for letting the child out of her reach. Please, let us give her the benefit of the doubt here. A 3 year old can be quite a handful and no doubt he was very quick to escape detection. Other people in the area saw the boy and tried to stop him but were too late. One witness said it all happened too quickly.

I still think that the larger issue here is whether we really need to have zoos. But at least gorillas are on the endangered species list. Perhaps we should have less zoos and put more money directly in countries who suffer from bandits who kill animals for their tusks as elephants or kill wild animals for its meat. I think that it is time to re-evaluate if a life in a zoo for a wild animal is proper, and maybe if a zoo is more for our entertainment than anything else. A wild animal should be found in the wild, and if you want to see one, take a trip or be content with viewing nature documentaries. We can’t have it all.

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