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This week I ‘ave been mostly studying blockchains

Capt. Kneesup

Capt. Kneesup

Capt. Kneesup was the former Racing Correspondent of various BBC regional radio stations and was the gossip columnist on the now-defunct Odds On magazine. He now runs Nick Boyd's large, privately owned reputation, which is widely regarded as a sporting, not-for-profit endeavour.
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Much like the Fast Show’s Jesse, he of the notorious diets and wardrobe of filthy muck-spreading clothes,  I feel mentally dishevelled – and I blame it all on Bitcoin.

Thanks to Elon’s actions this week, I realised that my knowledge was thin, that time had moved on and that I had better refresh the little that I knew and jeepers, you cannot rest in the current techno world. Time has not only moved on, it had patently lapped me. So this week, I read copious papers and articles. I watched and listened to enthusiastic, surgically-enhanced men, whose beards reminded one of a Tudor portrait of a Spanish courtier in the reign of Philip I. All this because a couple of years ago, I provided a US-based digital entrepreneur with a UK marcomms service, focussing on his cryptocurrency assets which I had assured him was my lead subject.

Several intermediaries existed between the great man who was aged about seven, and myself,  and for all the personal interaction we had, he might have been a figment of the ether’s early attempts at AI. It matters not, because the point of this ramble was that in order to make sense of our collaboration, I felt obliged to try and learn very quickly. The quickest way to understand any subject – witness spread betting on the NFL or Pakistani cricket matches – is to lose money. So, I bought some Bitcoin and something called Ethereum which sounded pretty Spacey and Now, investing just north of £40 in the two “currencies” and tried to learn how the trading platforms worked and how the land lay in marketing, socio-economic and political terms.

At that time, the early Bitcoin trading platforms made online banking in the 1990s look hypersonic and were about as incomprehensible as a menu written in a Cantonese restaurant in Krakow, with the translations in Polish. It had all the whiff of grubby schoolboys smoking behind the shed while discussing the bazookas on Ms Brown the French teacher. The chat room squabbles, the community (in Bitcoin’s case a truly abused word) forums, the sheer sense of going nowhere, while nerds constantly over-egged the global importance of what they had unleashed – despite the inability to pop to the shops and spend it. However, the more one learned, the more one realised that this was something important – but I couldn’t work out what the end destination might be.

The mistake I was making was as old as time. I was looking at the product, not at the manufacturing.

This week, Elon Musk and BNY told us that they had worked it out and that it was good, and that one day on Mars, Elon Musk would sell cars and their batteries but only for Bitcoin. So far so good. Very rich people approve. Some institutions approve. Harry and Meghan may even own some – I don’t know – I haven’t spoken to her father. (Whose personal stock must have taken a bit of a plunge this week!). But the bit of Bitcoin I was forgetting,  (the manufacturing), and which some admirably clever people have not, is that Bitcoin only works because of something called Blockchain technology. In their guide to Blockchain, tech publisher Wired said in 2019: “Depending on who you ask, blockchains are either the most important technological innovation since the internet or a solution looking for a problem“.

After my research this week – and ignoring the bearded ones – I am now convinced that Blockchain is very, very important. Much like Microsoft creating Windows out of DOS and Facebook mastering the Internet, several people will create something seismic on a blockchain base and will become very rich.

A very brief scan of the interweb will tell you that:

  • Blockchain is being integrated across many government agencies.
    • South Korea has been successful in bringing more than a million driver’s licenses on a blockchain-based system.
    • Thailand is planning on a blockchain-based judicial record-keeping system.
    • Vietnam has successfully adapted the use of akaChain, a dedicated blockchain platform, to oxygenate the digital transformation of the country.
    • China is preparing to issue a completely virtual cryptocurrency.
    • A blockchain voting system in the House of Commons is being investigated and will be a notable trend in the future of blockchain.
  • Blockchain will become integrated within the Retail chain.
    • The Food Trust blockchain emerged from a partnership between IBM and Walmart, as the solution for tracking food products. More recently, IBM has introduced a trade solution for freight management known as Tradelens in 2018 in partnership with Maersk.
    • Nestle, Amazon, Volvo, and Ford, all have blockchain integration projects in place and the latter pair have created a tracking system for the supply of cobalt used in lithium-ion batteries. Nestle is using blockchain to tracking the origin of baby milk and coffee. Amazon has created a blockchain supply control management system which is for their wine department.

You probably knew all this anyway, so forgive me. That was my week, but you now want to hear about the racing, so let me give you some racing news.

In brief Hollie Doyle – how stupid. Anyone who has ever seen her interviewed will know she has one subject and one love – horses. I haven’t heard the tape, but I guarantee you’d hear a shy, very nervous lass sounding a bit frightened. Talking over her and interrupting her is a pointless exercise. She kept trying to explain that she knew she had made a mistake, but that in her defence the horse was amongst the biggest she had ever ridden and she had twice tried to adjust her style so she could hit him in the right place. Right punishment, wrong delivery, poor form.

Shadwell out of the Southern Hemisphere – possibly another victim of Covid. It would be too simple to say all good things come to an end, but if the boss can’t get there with a combination of being locked out, and not having the time to quarantine, combined with a dollop of anno domini and Tempus fugit, then he ain’t going to go there.

WellDone Cheltenham for WellChild. Ramifications aplenty, but now is not the time to discuss racing’s parlous financial state, and besides I have expressed my opinions on some of the dangers racing faces before.

Breeders Cup trial races to go Lasix-Free… Hmmm. Might have been a slightly more heroic announcement (and really simple and easy to do) if Lasix and Bute were banned for all races from 2022. Then you can talk about World Champions.

Finally on racing, at 3:00 am on Saturday morning Sir Ben Ainslie will take to the water to try and beat the Australian Pitbull who captains Luna Rossa for the Italians, in the Prada Cup and thus earn the right to meet New Zealand in The America’s Cup.  These two skippers will go at it hammer and tongs and the first four races happen this weekend. You can see it live, or recorded at various times. I shall watch it with a bacon banjo, a cup of tea and it will be gripping.

Let’s hope for better and dry weather this coming week.

Pip Pip

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