Tuesday, January 31, 2012

THE TWELVE most debilitating phrases to use in business.

THE EUROPEAN SUPERHIGHWAY OF DEBT: an infographic showing how much banks loaned to the PIIGS that will take your breath away.

ARE STOCKS about to collapse?

Friday, January 27, 2012

SOME CONSENSUS, HUH? Sixteen prominent scientists say in an open letter that there's no need to panic over global warming:

A candidate for public office in any contemporary democracy may have to consider what, if anything, to do about "global warming." Candidates should understand that the oft-repeated claim that nearly all scientists demand that something dramatic be done to stop global warming is not true. In fact, a large and growing number of distinguished scientists and engineers do not agree that drastic actions on global warming are needed.

In September, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever, a supporter of President Obama in the last election, publicly resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) with a letter that begins: "I did not renew [my membership] because I cannot live with the [APS policy] statement: 'The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.' In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?"

In spite of a multidecade international campaign to enforce the message that increasing amounts of the "pollutant" carbon dioxide will destroy civilization, large numbers of scientists, many very prominent, share the opinions of Dr. Giaever. And the number of scientific "heretics" is growing with each passing year. The reason is a collection of stubborn scientific facts.

Don't miss the rest.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Spain’s unemployment rate has jumped to nearly 24 percent in the fourth quarter, Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro said Thursday, confirming that the country is still in the throes of a long and painful economic crisis.

Montoro told a parliamentary commission Thursday that official figures due out Friday will show 5.4 million people were out of work at the end of December, up from 4.9 million in the third quarter, when the jobless rate was 21.5 percent.

APPLE'S DARK SIDE: this is how it manufactures its stuff in China.

THE BREATHTAKING hypocrisy Julian Assange:

How foolish of me it was to question whether Wikileaks founder Julian Assange really had a deal to distribute his new talk show to hundreds of millions of viewers. It turns out he does: with Russia Today, the English-language news network launched by the Russian government to massage its international image.

That’s right: Assange, self-styled foe of government secrets and conspiracies of the powerful, is going to be a star on a TV network backed by the Kremlin. The same Kremlin that has done suspiciously little to investigate or prevent the killings and beatings of journalists that have plagued Russia for more than a decade. The same Kremlin accused of blatant fraud in December’s parliamentary elections. The same Kremlin whose control of the country’s broadcast media allowed it to suppress coverage of the massive protests mounted in response to that fraud. The same Kremlin whose embrace of corruption led to Russia being named “the world’s most corrupt major economy” by Transparency International in 2011.

DAMN, it seems the danger I'm always in is real: you can really die trying to escape from five women trying to kiss you. However, unsure if the solution is to escape better or just accept your fate. I'll keep you posted...

WHEN 'ecochondrias' collide: "Woman Claims Neighbor’s Energy Efficient Windows Are Melting Her Toyota Prius"

GREAT MOMENTS in American newspaper's opinion pages:

Last week, Nicholas Kristof wrote a column about Americans losing faith in free markets and the financial industry. He described how he was startled during a visit to Swarthmore College, where a student asked him whether it was immoral to seek banking jobs. Using the student as a foil, Kristof worried that “America’s grasping capitalists are turning young Americans into socialists.” He advised liberals to “be wary of self-selecting” out of jobs in the financial industry, and cautioned students not to “mock their classmates who choose Citigroup over CARE.”

I’m the student who asked Kristof the question. He’s wrong.

MEGA-MAN: The fast, fabulous, and fraudulent life of Kim Dotcom. A must-read.


DAN KAUFMAN at the New York Times:

Yet Judge Garzón is now himself under legal attack for confronting Spain’s own dark history. He is on trial this week before the Spanish Supreme Court for daring to investigate crimes committed during the Spanish Civil War and the nearly four-decade dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco. The case against him is fueled by domestic political vendettas rather than substantive legal arguments and it could dramatically set back international efforts to hold human-rights violators accountable for their crimes.

Wrong. Wrong. Oh, and wrong.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

IS FRENCH PARENTING really superior?

AGAIN, in the coverage of the trials against judge Garzon in the English-language media (for example) we see an amazing display of distortion, if not ignorance.

He's was not tried last week for going against a corruption network, or this week for going after Franco's crimes, or soon for something related to both cases. No; on the first two cases he's being tried for abuse of power, and on the third for allegedly taking bribes, no less. So as not to repeat myself, let me redirect you to two posts I wrote some about this some time ago: one, two.

AND YET more Photoshop disasters...

Monday, January 23, 2012

EUROPEAN BANKS prepare for worst, hoard cash

IS the 'Proustian phenomenon' (smells triggering evocative memories) true? Maybe not, according to a study.


WHY labor is what's killing Spain economy: the divide between insiders (with fix long-term contracts) and outsiders (with temporary contracts). I agree except with one thing: introducing a single open-ended contract only for new hires, as the post suggests, does resolve the problem albeit too slow -- the country wouldn't have a single labor contract, in practice for its whole workforce, until all current insiders are retired. This will take years, and the country can't afford it. Somehow it needs the new regulation affecting everyone, both new and old contracts, already. Yes, this will mean some sacrifice from current workers with a fix contract but, after all, isn't everyone saying that to solve the crisis it's necessary that the haves give something to the have-nots in the name of solidarity? Or is that only for the financial haves?

CONFIRMED: Islamists Win 70% of Seats in the Egyptian Parliament.

Friday, January 20, 2012

"OUR PLAN for reviving Spain": Spain's minister of economy and competitiveness Luis de Guindos explains it at the WSJ.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

ALWAYS-CONTRARIAN Jaron Lanier distances himself from the anti-SOPA-fest:

The legislation has indeed included draconian remedies in various drafts, so I join my colleagues in criticizing the bills. But our opposition has become so extreme that we are doing more harm than good to our own cause. Those rare tech companies that have come out in support of SOPA are not merely criticized but barred from industry events and subject to boycotts. We, the keepers of the flame of free speech, are banishing people for their speech. The result is a chilling atmosphere, with people afraid to speak their minds.

Our melodrama is driven by a vision of an open Internet that has already been distorted, though not by the old industries that fear piracy.

WIKILEAKS AND ASSANGE'S 15 minutes of fame seem to be running off, writes Jack Shafer:

In late October, a deflated Julian Assange called a press conference in London to announce he may have to mothball WikiLeaks. The reason, he said, was money. Visa, MasterCard, Western Union and Paypal were preventing supporters from donating to the organization, Assange explained. He warned that unless the bankers’ blockade was lifted at once, the cash-strapped organization would soon die.

By then, however, the biggest problem WikiLeaks faced wasn’t financial. After all, the group had always operated on a shoestring, its leader famously sleeping somewhere other than at home or in a hotel most nights. The main concern was productivity: WikiLeaks and Assange, its 40-year-old provocateur, were out of scoops.

And oh, what a string of scoops it had run off in the previous 18 months. WikiLeaks’ 2010 posting of a classified video showing civilian casualties during an Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad, which Assange titled “Collateral Murder,” drew debate and viewers around the world. Then came its distribution of classified documents from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Guantánamo Bay prison camp files, and the classified U.S. State Department diplomatic cables to the Guardian, the New York Times, Der Spiegel, and other news outlets.

But after the diplomatic cable stories petered out in September, so too did WikiLeaks. Its slide into irrelevance after months of dominating the headlines should have been enough to humble even Assange. His five-year-old supranational group, with its hardened computer infrastructure and sophisticated encryption algorithms, was supposedly immune to government crackdowns and corporate retaliation. But instead of flourishing, as Assange had predicted, WikiLeaks all but vaporized in its 16th minute of fame: Its auteur was shackled with a security bracelet, fighting extradition to Sweden, where authorities want to question him regarding charges of sexual assault; WikiLeaks members and allies, alienated by the dictatorial Assange, had abandoned him; and leakers were no longer making their substantial deposits in WikiLeaks computers.

Keep reading.

ANOTHER great Star Wars-themed Volkswagen ad. Enjoy:

A PHOTO GALLERY of famous literary drunks and addicts, at LIFE magazine.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

THE MILKY WAY seen from the desert. It's from a Spanish blog, but the amazing pictures speak for themselves.

Monday, January 16, 2012

ON MLK DAY, a civil rights historical photo gallery.


Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul has been spending large amounts on airfare as a congressman, flying first class on dozens of taxpayer-funded flights to his home state. The practice conflicts with the image that Paul portrays as the only presidential candidate serious about cutting federal spending.

Paul flew first class on at least 31 round-trip flights and 12 one-way flights since May 2009 when he was traveling between Washington and his district in Texas, according to a review by The Associated Press of his congressional office expenses. Four other round-trip tickets and two other one-way tickets purchased during the period were eligible for upgrades to first-class after they were bought, but those upgrades would not be documented in the expense records.

Paul, whose distrust of big government is the centerpiece of his presidential campaign, trusts the more expensive government rate for Continental Airlines when buying his tickets. Paul chose not to buy the cheaper economy tickets at a fraction of the price because they aren't refundable or as flexible for scheduling, his congressional staff said.

"We always get him full refundable tickets since the congressional schedule sometimes changes quickly," said Jeff Deist, Paul's chief of staff. Paul might have to pay out of his own pocket for canceled flights in some cases if he didn't buy refundable tickets, Deist said.

But records show that most of the flights for Paul were purchased well in advance and few schedule changes were necessary. Nearly two-thirds of the 49 tickets were purchased at least two weeks in advance, and 42 percent were bought at least three weeks in advance, the AP's review found.

SPAIN'S REGIONS need tough love treatment:

Spanish regions are like teenagers pushing their parents to the limit. The country’s 17 autonomous regions, which are responsible for education and health (over 50 percent of total government spending), missed their fiscal targets again last year, and caused the country to miss its own. Madrid faces the same dilemma as the European Commission when it comes to ensuring compliance of member countries with the stability pact: how to force the regions to follow the rules?

The government’s sticks so far haven’t been too effective. It has prevented some regions from issuing long-term debt and demanded rebalancing plans from overspending regions. But instead of cutting back, the regional governments have delayed billions of euros in payments to suppliers and issued expensive, one-year bonds geared to retail investors.

SPAIN vows to press ahead with reforms.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

VISIBLE TOM WAITS (click to enlarge):

UPDATE (July 30, 2012): I received a DMCA takedown notice, so I removed the image.

A MAP of Euro countries' S&P rating after yesterday monster-downgrade.

A MAP of a woman's heart: a rare vintage gem from the 1800s (click to enlarge)


Friday, January 13, 2012


THIS, and not whether S&P might downgrade France, is the real tragedy:

If you thought all the news reports that wine was good for your health were too good to be true, you could be right. Some of the research was faked, says the University of Connecticut.

After a three-year investigation, the university concluded that Dipak Das, a professor of surgery and head of the university's cardiovascular research centre, "is guilty of 145 counts of fabrication and falsification of data."

An anonymous tip of possible fraud in 2008 triggered the investigation. The result was a massive report, totalling nearly 60,000 pages, that documents the case against Das. The report was drawn from examination of more than 100 papers and a summary is available online.

The university has notified 11 journals in which Das published suspect papers and has begun dismissal procedures.

ROBERT BARRO: an exit strategy from the Euro.


ENTITLEMENT, the innovation-killer.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

DOES America really spend more than next 10 nations combined on defense?

HOW you think the world is when you're out drinking and partying and how it really is. Cleverly done (you have to hover the pointer over the video to see the effect).

COLOR me skeptical: "U.S. peace talks with Taliban to resume"

YOU GUYS deserve to know why I've been totally missing with no warning these last few days. Tuesday last week I checked in at a Barcelona hospital via ER. After extensive testing, it turned out I had an acute sigmoiditis. Bad news: it did hurt. Good news: it was inespecific, meaning that it just happened and was not, as it often is, a consequence of an underlying illness, some of which are really ugly (ulcerative colitis, Crohn, or cancer). I was sent home yesterday to follow treatment there. So here I am again, a bit weak because of all the antibiotics, but otherwise reasonably well -- and ready to rumble!

Monday, January 02, 2012

ZAPATERO my have left the country in even worse shape than thought:

Spain's public deficit for 2011 may be even higher than the above-target 8 percent of gross domestic product forecast by the new centre-right government on Friday, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said on Monday.

The target for last year was 6 percent of GDP, but the conservatives said last week that had been missed, giving it a mountain to climb to hit this year's already tough deficit-reduction goals in an economy on the brink of recession.

SO the evil speculators who are managing the hedge funds are attacking the markets because they make a killing when the stocks go down, eh? Before repeating the meme it's not a bad idea to take a look at the data...

A BIG PICTURE look at the Earth's temperature.