Thursday, December 21

Catalan and similarities to past WA succession proposals

In Australia West Australians have been reported to have some sympathy for Catlin separatists as distinct from those in other states.  A brief history of both regions is helpful in demonstrate similarities. In the case of the Catalonians they no doubt rally around their countries past when Spain was the leading powerhouse of Europe during the 16thand mostly the 17th century. However in the latter half of the 17th century, Spain went into decline, surrendering territories to France and the Netherlands; with a diminished but still vast overseas empire until the beginning of the 19th century. The 20th century brought little peace. The Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, led by General Francisco Franco and supported by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.

It was only after a peaceful transition to democracy following the death of the dictator Francisco FRANCO in 1975, that economic and modernization proceeded. In 1986 Spain joined the European Economic Community, which became the European Union. Some would say this move was premature since it was still recovering from her dictatorship past. The country subsequently borrowed large amounts at low rates of interest and clocked up deficits accompanied by some reckless lending. What the Catalonians say is this reckless behaviour didn’t apply to them. The end result for Spain following the GFC was to expose Spain’s fragile position and to enter a severe economic recession from 2008.  The austerity measures have led to one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe.

Against this backdrop it is hardly surprising old loyalties by Catalonians boiled over in a desire to form a separate sovereign state. Catalonians claim they disproportionally contribute to the economic pie whilst receiving lower returns from the central government and were not responsible for the economic mess.   

But Secessionism was also on the minds of Western Australians just after British settlement in 1829 who raised the same sort of arguments.   Petitions emanating from the WA Legislative Council were presented to London in 1865 and 1869. This was granted in 1870 but maintained a Governor's veto.

1933 referendum
On 8 April 1933 a referendum on secession was held in conjunction with the State parliamentary election. The Nationalists campaigned in favour of secession while the Labor party had campaigned against breaking from the Federation. 68% of the voters voted in favour of secession, but remarkably at the same time the Nationalists were voted out of office. It was only the mining areas, populated by keen Federalists, voted against the move. Today some west Australians feel they disproportionally contribute to Australia’s wealth because of mining but get back unfairly a diminished proportion of GST. Past history indicates just how close they came to secession.

Friday, December 8

Understanding Cryptocurrencies and Block Chain technology.

Jamie Diamond caused a stir in September when he claimed bitcoin as a fraud although he did commend the block chain technology which facilitates not only the use of Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, but has many other applications. 

Block chain is regarded by many as a brilliant technology which will revolutionise the way business is conducted.

Someone asked me yesterday at a luncheon celebrated with former workmates how to explain it and although I am no expert here is how I would attempt a simple explanation.
Maybe the first thing you need to understand is how the age old universally accepted Double Entry Accounting concepts work. In a nutshell the principle of double entry recognises the reality there is always two sides to every transaction, so there is always a seller and a buyer, a receipt to add to one account and a corresponding reduction in another’s indebtedness and so on. 
Now replace that double entry principle with double entry block chain accounting.  That’s because block chain accounting at the outset facilitates transactions between two pairs, a buyer and a seller or a receipt and payment or one virtual wallet increasing whilst another deceases. It happens virtually instantaneously because those in the encrypted chain using cryptocurrencies to record the transactional effects at the same time. Think of it as giant ledger in cyber space where all the debits equal to the credits of the linked parties from the aggregate of parties’ transactions at any given time in the block chain.
The final seal of approval has led some to try and distinguish the process from double entry accounting by call this the third entry. 
Parties hold the Cryptocurrencies in so called wallets and the largest of these is Bitcoin.
Hence, there is no need for 3rd party clearing houses or back office staff to facilitate large numbers of bundled same type transactions for subsequent settlements which mostly occurs to day.  

What is mining Bitcoin ? Mining can be carried out by anyone who has invested in a very powerful fast computer, has the capacity to pay for the large energy bills and has a penchant or talent to solve puzzles. The system was predicated on the basis of each batch of transactional  data is encrypted by a formula that can only be unlocked after a  massive scale of trial and error guesses. As the first miners solve the puzzle, the answer is verified by others, so that the data is added to an existing linked chain of blocks of data. The miner in return  receives newly issued Bitcoin. One of the criticisms of the system is it uses up a lot of electricity.    

I think financial institutions will eventually begin to use more of the Block chain technology which will mean the adoption of either a digital cryptocurrency or a similar substituted means to do that. After all cryptocurrencies are no more than bits of code. But eventually such facilities will have to have some form of regulation for what it is as an alternative more efficient system of settling business transactions. But even given eventual regulation not everyone is going to be happy trusting in the integrity of a new technology and we all will have to have a new breed of technologically savvy auditors to check the integrity of the Block chain providers. 
In relation to Bitcoin there are currently several Hedge Funds which have bought large holdings which of course have gone up exponentially due to the rapid rise in this Cryptocurrency. Such rises are underpinned by pure speculation as no one can put a value on this Cryptocurrency which is responding to a rapid demand when there is currently only a limited supply.

But Cryptocurrencies are no different to traditional currencies which appreciate or depreciate according to supply and demand.   But the important distinction of course is currently they are unregulated by any central banks and have attracted criminal activity as it is much harder to ascertain transactional records.

The question of trading in Bit Coin is facilitated by on line platforms such as Coinbase which provides a market. The facility allows for buying, selling or transfer of digital currency between online wallets involving merchants or individuals. Currently the facility is free of charges and such facilitators claim they provide both security and backups.
Nevertheless there has already been some bogus websites where the holdings of digital currencies have vaporised without trace.  Since the arrival of Cryptocurrencies more than one billion has been stolen from wallets. 

On the question of Bitcoin being a bubble set to burst that in turn depends more on whether or not merchants will continue to accept them. Microsoft and Pay Pal already accept Bitcoin under their platforms.

The total size of the traditional market dwarfs that of the Cryptocurrencies suggesting it may well have further to run. But when it finally crashes don’t rule out another version rising from the ashes.  

Thursday, November 16

Britain's Got Talent 2016 ...Adiemus

Adiemus is the title to non-lyrical vocalization’s featuring a harmonized melody. It might be thought of as a made up language. It is the invention of Welsh composer Karl Jenkins who created this new age concept designed not to distract an audience’s attention by changes in pitch or timber so that syllables rarely end in consonants. Remarkably, it was first written to support an ad for Delta Airlines.

This welsh school choir would have had a lot of fun learning the music and what a great presentation. Just to illustrate how it works here are some extract of the Lyrics

A-na-ma-na coo-le ra-we
A-na-ma-na coo-le ra
A-na-ma-na coo-le ra-we a-ka-la...
A-na-ma-na coo-le ra-we a-ka-la........
A-na-ma-na coo-le ra-we a-ka-la.....
A-ya doo a-ye
A-ya doo a-ye

A-na-ma-na coo-le ra-we
A-na-ma-na coo-le ra
A-na-ma-na coo-le ra-we a-ka-la...
A-na-ma-na coo-le ra-we a-ka-la........

It’s quite easy to sing once you get used to it and sounds great in a big choir as you can appreciate. 

Wednesday, November 8

Getting under your skin

Should it be of interest Anglican Minster and scientist Rupert Sheldrake gives a fascinating interview on his very credible theory on Morphic Resonance hosted by Under Your Skin.

Dubbed “the most controversial scientist on Earth” Rupert Sheldrake joins the host to discuss the dogmas within conventional science, the evolving laws of physics, memory in nature, and how science validates and improves spiritual practices.

For anyone interested in an alterative to the materialistic mind set this is a must read.

However, I should make the point Morphic Resonance is not accepted by large sections of the scientific community who claim it is pseudoscience. Notwithstanding, I find his approach refreshingly engaging and his arguments are all well supported. It has long been my objective from the first time I began blogging to discover credible links between religion and science which were oft seen as having irreconcilable differences. These discussions help bridge that gap.
Increasingly his views, I believe, will gain traction because they represent a more credible philosophy than those predicated purely on a materialistic world.      

Saturday, October 14

Golden oldies

Our next concert for the aged care centre involving just the five of us will include medleys with a musical wild west theme whilst others have a repetitive chorus we hope will entice the residents to join in. It only seems like yesterday  I was in the Musical "Calamity Jane" (pictured above) nearly 40 years ago. 
The program is:
Oklahoma Medley
Calamity Jane medley
Walking in the Air
Darling Clementine
Campdown Races
My Bonnie lies over the Ocean


Saturday, September 9

Farewell to Scotland 

Today was our last day in Edinburgh visiting Holyrood Palace. Since we head home tomorrow morning, as a final posting, I thought it appropriate to attempt a brief history of the kingdom.

 Prehistoric  Scotland was dominated by the Pics which I commented upon in the post on St Andrews and whose people originally migrated from Central Europe. In AD 83 the Romans defeated the Pics but their rule was never consolidated and after their withdrawal Scotland reverted to tribal rule. The Pics ruled the Orkney islands and down to the Forth, whose current archeological diggings indicate a rich heritage and considerable influence as depicted in the earlier posting on the Island. But it was the Scots who emerged to shape the nation as it is now known. It was an Irish Scot, Columba,who brought Christianity to the nation and conversion of the Pics. But a battle ensued with the Dalriadic Pics until the warring tribes were finally united under the house of Alpin. 

Friday, September 8

Edinburgh Castle again -Crown Jewels, Royal Palace and Scottish Kings. 

The earliest historic reference to Scottish kings belongs to Kenneth mac Alpin who became king of the Scots in the ninth century. Inauguration was marked by placing his foot into a carved shape into a rock. There was no further information until 1249 when King Alexander 111 was entroned on the Stone of Scone bearing a crown, sword and sceptre. Hence it is assumed that these items were used at the coronation of King David 11 and the first Stewart King, Robert 11(1371-1390) who founded a dynasty which ruled Scotland for the next 300 years. 

Wednesday, September 6

Tuesday, September 5

Loch Lomond

The first 5 photos were taken at Hill House at Helenburgh which was designed by Architect-Artist Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) who took his inspiration from Scottish traditions and blended them with the flourish of Art Nouveau and the simplicity of Japanese forms. The next photo reminds us of our visit to a nearby Aquarium to see the marine life of the Loch. The last photo is the view from our room.

Sunday, September 3

Isle of Mull and Island of Iona

It was a glorious sunny today on the Isle of Mull when we visited Duart Castle which in addition to being an ancient fort, is the historic home of the Chiefs of Clan  Maclean. The Macleans acquired Duart in the 1350's in recognition of their support for the Lord of the Isles. The Castle has been the location for many movies inclusive of the 1969 movie "WHEN EIGHT BELLS TOLL" starring Anthony Hopkins.

Sir Lachlan Maclean and his wife currently occupy part of the castle and the trust created by the Clan have contributed significantly over the years to its restoration. Later we took the short ferry trip to the Island of Iona where we visited the ruins of Iona nunnery and the Abby which was the destination of large scale pilgrimages for 1200 years. The monastery was founded by St Columba in 563.

Pictured below in order are the Castle and on Iona the ruins of the Nunnery, the Abby and the beautiful colours of the bay.

Saturday, September 2

Isle of Skye 

From about 800 AD the Island was under the rule of the Norsemen whose names remain in the many villages. Prior to Scandinavian occupation the island was in the hands of the celts which is still evident today and about half of the population of 10,000 speak the Gaelic language. The Island is principally agricultural involving sheep, cattle, and fishing. Tourism is increasingly important as people discover its unrivalled peace and beauty. The agricultural system is crofting and there are currrently 2000 crofts on the island. A croft is just a small holding of between 1 to 50 acres or more but there are only about 100 large enough to support the livelihood of a crofter.

Wednesday, August 30

Inverness to the Wester Ross area of the Scottish Highlands.

We are currently staying at Archiltibuie which is a long linear crofting hamlet overlooking Badentarbet Bay and the Summer isles. 

Sunday, August 27

Lock Ness

Aberdeen to Inverness 

Currently we are at a B@B at Inverness which is practically on the banks of Lock Ness. Hopefully tomorrow, all being well, whilst enjoying a cruise we will catch a glmpse of the Lock Ness monster.   Notwithstanding should Nessie fail to raise her head we plan to step ashore and explore the ruins of the Urquhart Castle. Pictured is a view of our digs at Aberdeen, Lock Ness, Lindsay willing to save a life, the beach at Aberdeen and Anne standing amongst the heather on  the hill.