Blockchains, or why Bitcoin is not a Tulip

Skeptically, but with some audacity, I took five thousand dollars out of my savings account and bought a fraction of a cryptocurrency, the popular Bitcoin. I became owner of 0.42625601 bitcoins. After one week going through clearance to complete the transaction at CoinBase, my broker of choice, I looked at the value of a Bitcoin. In one week, I had made a two thousand dollars profit, exactly 40% of my original investment. Surreal. The twenty-first century version of the Ponzi scheme that overwhelmed the Dutch with their Tulips in the sixteenth century. “It is a bubble just waiting to burst”, all bank portfolio managers I spoke to have argued. Had I caught it just before doom? Or is it months or years away and, in spite of so much volatility, I had been a winner that week.

Continue reading “Blockchains, or why Bitcoin is not a Tulip”

Soy Cuba

A 3m22s cut-less shot by the Soviet director Mijaíl Kalatozov, from the movie Soy Cuba (1964). A brilliant piece of cinematography, and a wonderous imagination of what Cuba looked like before the revolution. Notice the shot is taken on two different buildings, with the famous Habana Libre on the background. Notice it is blocked. Must click Watch on YouTube to see it. Still worth it.


The Dumb and the Numb

A story about how an insurance company paid a Painkiller.

Everybody has a doctor, and everyone needs health insurance in order to see one. A case in which means defeat their end. One spends one hour at a regular visit to his primary physician, yet one might spend three or four times as much time making sure he will spend only a copay for that service. Matching providers and health insurances they accept is another nightmare. In network, out-of-network. Go figure. You will pay anyway. Continue reading “The Dumb and the Numb”

Does one have the right to vote?

After twenty years abroad, sporadically voting at presidential elections at the American Consulate, yesterday I received through the mail my voter I.D. card. Local elections for several local offices have just gone by, but I would not have had a clue on who to vote. A blessing, a delay, in disguise. My next vote can only be cast on the primaries in September next year. Until then, all that is left is to comment on the bizarre American political landscape and wait.

Continue reading “Does one have the right to vote?”

The Roadrunner dilemma

A coyote crossed our lawn three times this Fall. The red-tailed hawk who made a habit out of staring down from the top of the willow seemed unphased. The noisy birds of the region, particularly the crows, silenced in what seemed to be a sign of respect. The deers and their fawn were nowhere to be seen. Smaller animals, chipmunks, rabbits and squirrels, could be seen dashing towards their hiding spots. Each time the coyote walked across, he kept the same pace and seemed uninterested by anything around. Did not turn his head to check the surroundings, did not seem to be hunting; simply walking across the lawn. Headphones playing a bass beat over rap lyrics would have suited him well. He looked bad. His rhythm was more suited to a big cat’s calm sight-seeing when hunting for prey, than that of a big dog, jumping all over his owner in search of love. Continue reading “The Roadrunner dilemma”

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