To demonstrate that Britain’s a thoroughly modern country, the Treasury has asked the Royal Mint to create a non-fungible token, better known as an NFT or a cryptoasset.
Nothing I’ve read says whether anyone involved understands what an NFT is–I sure as hell don’t, no matter how many times people explain it to me. The closest I can come is that it’s something that doesn’t exist but that people are willing to pay money for. Sometimes large amounts of it.
Fair enough. If you can get people to part with their money for questionable stuff–well, that’s the world we live in these days. Let the buyer beware. And you can see why the government would want to get in on the act. Hell, they sold us Brexit, didn’t they?
The Treasury tweeted that “this decision shows the forward-looking approach we are determined to take towards cryptoassets in the UK.”
That sounds almost as convincing as me claiming to be on the cutting edge of technology. Or of anything else. People who actually are on the cutting edge don’t bother mentioning it, although they do occasionally bleed a bit. Or at least, that’s my impression from back here in the cheap seats.
What non-fungible token is the government selling? We don’t know yet. Or I don’t, although as you can imagine I’m just panting after one so I can do whatever it is people do with them once they’ve parted with their money. I’ve been looking online for recipes, but whatever it is doesn’t seem to involve cooking.
Stick around. I’ll let you know all about it as soon as I figure it out.
Britain’s other Great Leap Forward into the–
Remind me. What century is this?
–into the twenty-first century involves appointing Michael Grade as the new chair of Ofcom, which regulates the country’s media. Grade doesn’t use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok, all of which he’s now supposed to regulate. That makes him the obvious person for the job. He’s also a Conservative, making him an even more obvious choice. And he has heard rumors about the internet and has kids–three of them–who use all of the above, so he’s more than prepared to deal with online safety and, you know, whatever the other issues are. I’m sure some aide will get him up to speed if his kids don’t.
Or an officeful of lobbyists. They’ll know what’s needed.
Another recent high point in British politics involves the defense secretary getting scammed into a video call with someone he thought was the Ukrainian prime minister, Denys Shmyhal.
No, I never heard of Shmyhal either. I’m guessing the defense secretary was roughly as well informed.
While we’re at it, do you know who Britain’s defense secretary is? Why, it’s Ben Wallace, of course.
Sheesh. The ignorance level around here is shocking.
So Ben told the alleged prime minister that Britain was running out of anti-tank missiles to send to Ukraine. Sometime after that he got suspicious, but by then he’d given the hoaxer, who turned out to be a Russian prankster, enough to make an embarrassing clip up on YouTube.
Whether or not he knew what YouTube was before, he does now.
Reports from the world of libraries
Some twenty years ago, two Charles Darwin manuscripts wandered out of the Cambridge University Library, presumably with a bit of human help. They’d been taken out of storage to be photographed and, um, yeah, they somehow disappeared. The assumption was that they’d been misfiled, and I hope you’ll join me in imagining the library’s entire staff tearing the place apart in mounting levels of panic.
Eventually, the library reported them as stolen, a worldwide appeal went out, and nothing more happened.
The manuscripts were worth millions of pounds. Or else they’re worth that now. Take your pick. It doesn’t matter since we’re not in the market, but I do have a nice non-fungible token you could buy for considerably less. And a bridge in Brooklyn.
Anyway, twenty years passed, as they will if you give them enough time, and then in early March a pink gift bag showed up outside the head librarian’s door, along with a typed note wishing her a happy Easter. The manuscripts were inside
They’re in good condition and the librarian is in even better condition, and the area outside her door isn’t covered by CCTV. So far, we don’t know whodunnit.
On February 6, when New Zealand celebrated Waitangi Day–that’s a national holiday which among other things closes libraries–a programming glitch meant that the doors of the Turanga Library opened up as if it was a working day, and 380 people came in, browsed, read, returned books, and did whatever else people do in a library, including borrowing 147 books using the automatic book-borrowing thingy, which also thought it was a working day. What they don’t seem to have done is steal anything. Or for that matter, damage anything.
They did leave messages about the lack of staff on social media and somebody sent in a security guard to shoo everyone out and lock up.
Meanwhile, from the car world…
Police in Spain stopped a driver for zigzagging across the road and using his mobile phone–that thing you folks in the US know as a cell phone–while driving. When they asked him for identification, he showed them a card issued by the Errant Republic of Menda Lerenda and said he was a member of its sovereign diplomatic service.
To which they said, “Uh huh. If you’ll just come with us–”
He didn’t invent Menda Lerenda. It exists in the same way that a non-fungible token exists, which is to say only online.
Sorry. This non-fungible thing has turned into a kind of unplanned theme.
The republic claims a physical existence by defining each person who buys its i.d. as an independent republic whose national territory is the place they occupy at any given moment.
That makes it, it says, a micronation, “an individual and mobile sovereignty recognised by other states capable of acting with complete independence in strict compliance with international law.”
The driver turned out to be higher’n a kite. He was fined for a variety of offenses and ended up with nine naughty points on his driver’s license.
In San Francisco, the police pulled a car over for driving without headlights and found nobody inside. Then the car left, only to pull over on the other side of the intersection.
Welcome to the world of driverless cars. An outfit called Cruise is testing out what the article I read calls technology for ride-hailing purposes. I’m reasonably sure ride-hailing purposes are usually called cabs, but we’ve already established that I’m not at the bleeding edge of new technology. If they need to call a cab a ride-hailing purpose, what can I do but make twentieth-century fun of them for it?
They’re offering free rides at night. (Here, kid, the first one’s free.) The local cab drivers all hate them. I know that without having to look for a source. I’ve been a cab driver.
Cruise later took to both Twitter and human communication forms to explain that the thing with the lights was due to human error and that the car left because it didn’t consider the place it had stopped to be safe.
If someone Black had been driving, she or he could’ve been shot for that.
No, I don’t think that’s funny either, but I did think it might keep things in perspective.
The car wasn’t ticketed, and neither was the company.
Meanwhile, back in Britain, the best brains in government–or at least some that are still relatively unaddled by Covid–are wrestling with the issues that driverless cars present. How will the Highway Code change to accommodate them if, as proposed, they’re allowed to operate at slow speeds on jammed motorways?
Motorways? If you life in the US, you call them highways or interstates.
Well, the non-drivers will (if the proposals go through) be able to watch movies and TV on the cars’ built-in screens but they won’t be able to use their phones. (Sorry. No idea. It made sense to someone.) They’ll have to be ready to take control of the car when it tells them to–for instance, when they’re coming to an exit.
And who gets the blame if something goes wrong? If the car’s in charge, then it’s not the driver, since the driver wasn’t driving. Financially, it would be the insurance company. For dangerous driving, it would be “the company that obtained the authorisation.”
You’re welcome to unravel the bureaucracy implied in that bit of verbiage if you have nothing better to do. Me, I’d rather vacuum the rug.