Bitcoin: less than eco-friendly


Amy, who wields a Sharp Little Pencil, writes:

bitcoinRoger, I’m sorry I didn’t capture the link for this. Wondering what your thoughts are concerning Bitcoin in general, as well as the issue of resources used? (You said I can ask you anything!)

According to the  Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index, a tracker created by Digiconomist — a platform that monitors “unintended consequences of digital trends” — executing a single Bitcoin transaction requires the same amount of energy that the average U.S. home consumes over a three-week period. That same single transaction has a carbon footprint that is the equivalent of watching more than 50,000 hours of YouTube.

A lot of layers here. First off, I’d be lying if I said I fully understand Bitcoin. Then again, I don’t really recognize the real implications of abandoning the gold standard 90 years ago either, though I know people who do. But Bitcoin is far more legitimate than it was even a decade ago.

Yes, I “get” the basic premise of Bitcoin, but it’s way too volatile for my taste. The very day you wrote me, January 25, I found this article. “Bitcoin’s dead-cat bounce? Here are the signs that may indicate price bottoms, analysts say.”

Or this one. “Bitcoin claws back from crypto crash, but one bear case sees $14K as a next stop.” Not to mention, this:  “Cathie Wood’s Ark Invest Predicts Bitcoin Could Exceed $1M by 2030.” Sounds like a lot of spitballing, but what do I know? Not much, as I said.

Carbon footprint

I had heard about the energy/carbon footprint problem of Bitcoin broadly. But the article Amy linked to really breaks it down. 1,449,125 “VISA transactions could be powered by the energy consumed for a single Bitcoin transaction on average (2153.84 kWh).” And as one subhead notes, “Limited scalability causes extreme transaction footprints.”

Is this fixable? If Bitcoin switched to a consensus algorithm, theoretically. “In proof-of-stake coin, owners create blocks rather than miners, thus not requiring power hungry machines that produce as many hashes per second as possible. ” And no, I have no real idea what that previous sentence is saying.

Speaking of energy use, there is a race to acquire lithium. Unfortunately, the process of mining is less than eco-friendly.  It’s ironic. “As the world scrambles to replace fossil fuels with clean energy, the environmental impact of finding all the lithium required could become a major issue in its own right.”

For example, South America’s “Lithium Triangle, which covers parts of Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile, holds more than half the world’s supply of the metal beneath its otherworldly salt flats. It’s also one of the driest places on earth.” So it takes 500,000 gallons of water to produce a ton of lithium.

Thus there is a paradox of “clean” electric vehicles being powered by the “dirty” lithium mining business.

Thus, the technologies we use to make life better and easier may not either.

The last damn COVID post for 2021

OM-i-cron? OH-mi-cron?

I was compelled to write one last damn COVID post this year. And it’s a function of an error on my part. A good friend of mine asked me an Ask Roger Anything question and I failed to reply.

I have a swollen tonsil, probably allergies, but it’s been hanging on. Contacted my doctor’s office. Nurse called me back and said, “It sounds like Covid. Go get tested ASAP.”

I had gotten a test (negative) two days before bc I had been to visit The [Adult] Child.

I’m thinking the automatic Covid test recommendations are a form of CYA (Cover Your Ass) for doctors’ offices. That would skew the aggregate for reporting positive cases, no? Would love your opinion.

The question might be different now. And the truth is that I’ve been quite unclear what the US policy has been in the past two years about testing. It seems to operate in fits and starts. It is now abundantly clear now that as we focused on the stubbornly unvaxxed, we spent way too little effort on finding out who’s already infected.

The plan, scuttled

Vanity Fair reported that Biden’s White House “rejected an October plan by COVID-19 testing experts to put some 732 million at-home tests in the hands of the public.” I certainly can’t buy one from my local drug store.

“Authored by the COVID Collaborative, a group of several COVID testing expert organizations said the country needed a ‘bold’ plan to send out some 732 million tests per month for the disease before the holiday season to reduce family gathering outbreaks.

The story notes that “The plan, in effect, was a blueprint for how to avoid what is happening at this very moment — endless lines of desperate Americans clamoring for tests in order to safeguard holiday gatherings, just as COVID-19 is exploding again.”

Not that is the reality for some people. The Weekly Sift guy describes The Emotional Roots of Political Polarization. “In South Carolina, we bought the instant Covid tests that no CVS back in Massachusetts could keep in stock. When we asked about a limit on how many we could buy, the clerk looked at us strangely, as if we didn’t understand that the whole point of retail is to sell as much as you can.”

15th letter of the Greek alphabet

Omicron: we can’t even agree on the damn pronunciation. Pretty much the only new people in the US who’ll get the jab – Boris Johnson’s favorite term for the COVID vaccine – will be people getting ill with the disease.

The head of the World Health Organization has again noted that getting a third shot – or a fourth, which Israel has proposed – will only lengthen the pandemic. Certain news media, Newsmax, e.g., have spun that to suggest that getting the shot itself is bad for the recipient. The point is that if an Israeli gets a fourth jab, and someone from, say, Burkina Faso, which has 2.1% of the population with one vax, and only 1.6% with two as of December 15, the disease will continue to spread and almost certainly mutate.

Faux News hosts have compared Dr. Anthony Fauci to someone perpetrating the actual Holocaust and recommended his assassination. Oy. And, oh dear, Trump got HIS third shot. He confounds me; after helping to create the vital vaccines, he seems to lead the opposition to them.

A Los Angeles Times story – COVID stole the heart of my family. It also divided it – is behind a paywall. “The death of [reporter Brittny Mejia’s] grandmother from COVID-19 this month made her reflect on the personal toll the virus has had on her family. ‘My grandma was not vaccinated – not of her own will – and I fear it is a decision that will haunt my family and evoke anger for years.”

I’m REALLY hoping I can stop writing about the topic. It’s boring me with the too same narrative. Some hospitals are at or above capacity. Didn’t we see that movie already? Or does this one finally have a happier ending?

A dozen Christmas songs (or more)

Chestnuts roasting

A dozen Christmas songs I had not linked to yet this season. These are among my favorites.

Wexford Carol – Alison Krauss and Yo-Yo Ma. Alison is one of my wife’s favorite artists. She’s one of her K Girls, along with Diana Krall, and they reside next to each other in the file cabinet. Naturally, the artists are in alphabetical order

Merry Christmas, Baby – Charles Brown. I was not really familiar with him, to be honest until I heard Bonnie Raitt had him and the unrelated Ruth Brown on a live album that I own.

Merry Xmas (War Is Over) – John and Yoko and The Harlem Community Choir. Always makes me sad, because John’s assassination was in December.

River – Joni Mitchell. I’m still mystified that my late friend Donna, who was a music buff and a Joni obsessive, failed to hear Jingle Bells as the motif of this song.

The Christmas Song – Nat King Cole. Likely my mother’s favorite singer. Whatever happened to all of her old 78s she owned?

The year the US entered WWII

Getting Ready for Christmas Day – Paul Simon. I was always taken that the sermon was from 1941, the year Paul was born. Simon is sampling!

This Christmas – Donny Hathaway. I miss Donny, though I have none of his albums, except the ones he did with Roberta Flack.

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love. I could have picked several songs from that Phil Spector Christmas album. But this song is the best of a great bunch.

The Mistletoe And Me – Isaac Hayes. From one of those Stax/Volt boxed sets. This deserves radio play!

Christmas Wrapping – The Waitresses. I have this on 12″ vinyl, but it’s seldom made my annual lists simply because it slips my mind.

What Christmas Means To Me – Stevie Wonder. One of my Top 5 favorite pop Christmas songs. I have it on both a Stevie album and a Motown compilation.

We Three Kings – Patti Smith. This is from A Very Special Christmas 3 in 1997. David Lose calls the rendition an unlikely Christmas carol, in a good way.

Wait, there’s more!

Here are a few from Sharp Little Pencil:

Snowman – Barenaked Ladies

Christmas Calling (Jolly Jones) – Norah Jones 

Kelly’s Daily Dose of Christmas
St. Olaf 2021 Christmas Festival – Almost two hours of song and orchestral accompaniment
Ken Levine: The Obscure Sounds of the Season
Coverville 1383: The 2021 Christmas Cover Show
1st RECORDING OF Blue Christmas – Doye O’Dell (1948)
Chuck Miller: The worst Christmas songs of all time

October rambling: Mental Misfires

tarot cards

Halloween not Xmas

Why Is Pentagon Spending Rising When “We Can’t Afford” Everything Else?

What to Make of the Pandora Papers?

Naming Climate Villains As the World Burns and  Indigenous People With Disabilities Are on the Front Lines of the Climate Crisis

Jan. 6 Protest Organizers Say They Participated in ‘Dozens’ of Planning Meetings With Members of  Congress and White House Staff; and Trump’s Cryptic Comment From 2017 May Have Foreshadowed His Coup Attempt; and [SATIRE] Trump to Skip 2024 Campaign and Go Straight to Claiming He Won

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Taiwan and Misinformationrelated to the latter

Don’t believe corporate America’s labor shortage. This is an unofficial general strike.

Did Texas Legislators Read the “Founding” Documents? and Reading While Texan

What did Thomas Jefferson Buy in October 1803?

North Carolina lieutenant governor calls transgender movement ‘demonic’

Christian Academies: Training the Next Generation of Rightwing White Nationalists? and ‘Great replacement’ belief correlates with Christian nationalist views

What Conservatives Tell Themselves About Critical Race Theory

It’s a camera shutter. It’s not a detonator

Black Children Were Jailed for a Crime That Doesn’t Exist.

What We Lose When We Lose Local News

How a newspaper’s collapse makes people feel: less connected, more alone.

Bez, the final frontier

DNA testing privacy resource

Diet soda may prompt food cravings, especially in women and people with obesity

MMP 25: New Zealand’s proportional representation officially became the way New Zealand was governed.

Hank Green: A Tool With No Blood On It

But wait! There’s more!

Kelly has even MORE links!

Loopy or Stringy: What would Einstein Say?

The nearly forgotten mystical artist who still foretells fates – Pamela Colman Smith might be history’s greatest victim of copyright injustice

The first major city in the United States passes a dark-sky ordinance

A lovely Shari Lewis story

Betty Lynn, the actress best known for her portrayal of Thelma Lou, Barney Fife’s sweetheart on The Andy Griffith Show, has died

Book review: Why We Swim

The Mental Misfires of Matt Amodio

Meet the Two Women Who Give Prescription Drugs Their Generic Names

Bell peppers are mangoes

Now I Know: A Great Example of Quiche Thinking and The Non-Profit That Gives Drivers Sticker Shock and The Accidental Pet Feeding Hero of 2016 and The Toddler Truce and  The Great Tattoo Cover Up

When you have “tall ZOOM energy” and show up to the office for the first time, it can get awkward.

Winnie-the-Pooh BEFORE Winnie the Pooh


The Bard by Jean Sibelius

Coverville 1375: The Paul Simon Cover Story III and  1376: The Snoop Dogg Cover Story

Lazy Sunday Afternoon – MonaLisa Twins

Farewell, Paddy Moloney and  Late Night with The Chieftains and Earl Scruggs

A Song For You – Donny Hathaway

Celtic Rock – Donovan

Paul McCartney:  on writing Eleanor Rigby and Band On The Run  BBC Documentary

Meeting my wife; hometown hangouts

Spring Forest Cemetery

Amy is looking forward to hearing my replies to two questions:

Where did you meet your wife? Always wanted to ask that one!

Meeting my wife was not that interesting a story, actually. Now getting back together…

I was going to my former church, the Methodist one, and sang in the choir. I was also chair, at different times, of the Administrative Board and chair of the Council on Ministries, which essentially provided for “planning and implementing a program of nurture, outreach, witness, and resources in the local church.”

When I was COM chair, I recruited her (I think) to be chair of the Membership Committee, even though she was a fairly new member herself. So when my previous relationship went south, we went out for about a year and a half. Then we broke up, for good and understandable reasons.

But we were still friends, even though we went out with other people. I even attended an intense 34-week Bible study called Disciple at her house in 1996-97. that was the last time I read the Bible all the way through, BTW.

It was a strange time. I was in her brother’s wedding in September 1996. Eventually, around August 1998, I decided that we should get back together, though she was apparently unaware of this until October 1998, when I kissed her; I think we were at Five Rivers.

Apparently, she had sought the opinions of her family that she should get back with me. And right after my win on JEOPARDY, we did. And since we were, er, older, we got married six months later, with her late brother John, who had always been a Fan of Roger, in the wedding party.

In my hometown

Also, what were your favorite places to go to in Binghamton when you were a kid?

Spring Forest Cemetery was very close to my grandma Williams’ house and only a block from my K-9 school. Sometimes, we would go sledding there, on the roads, not near the headstones, thank you.

And cutting through the cemetery was the shortest way to Ansco field, where we played baseball. I loved baseball, but I wasn’t that good at it. I didn’t even get to be almost competent until I was in college. As I mentioned, Valley Street Park and miniature golf were very near my home.

Movies! I went mostly to the Ritz on Clinton Street, and the Strand and Riviera on Chenango Street, very close to where my mom worked, at McLean’s department store. Occasionally, the Crest on Main Street. BTW, these are all defunct.

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