Wednesday, April 27, 2011

AN IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENT in the Middle East: reconciliation?
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement and its bitter rival, the Islamist Hamas, struck a deal on Wednesday to form an interim unity government and fix a date for general election, both sides said.

The deal, which took many officials by surprise because of profound Fatah-Hamas divisions over how to resolve generations of conflict with Israel, was thrashed out in Egypt and followed a series of secret meetings.

YOU WANTED evidence that political correctness is nuts? How about this: a pub singer in the Isle of Wight (UK) has been arrested for singing Kung Fu Fighting (a regular feature in his routine). Two Chinese customers in the audience took offense and reported it to the police, who arrested him.

I'd send him to Gitmo for his bad musical taste but for... racism?

Here's my show of solidarity with him:

ONCE UPON A TIME IN EGYPT: Beaches and bikinis from when Alexandria was Club Med. That was not so long ago.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

GOODBYE TO AN ERA: the world's last typewriter factory, in India, has closed.

UPDATE. It seems that , like Twain's, the news of the trypewriter's death have been greatly exaggerated. (via)

DO energy-saving bulbs cause cancer? That's what a group of scientist claim in a study:
Their report advises that the bulbs should not be left on for extended periods, particularly near someone’s head, as they emit poisonous materials when switched on.

Peter Braun, who carried out the tests at the Berlin's Alab Laboratory, said: “For such carcinogenic substances it is important they are kept as far away as possible from the human environment.”

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

THIS will leave a mark:
Even for an unwary western traveller, it was an avoidable pitfall.

Basking in the effusive warmth of the official welcome he had received in Beijing, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the Spanish prime minister, left the Chinese capital last week convinced he had secured the promise of billions of dollars of investment in Spain’s struggling savings banks.

Had not Wen Jiabao, China’s premier, said that Spain was “China’s best friend in Europe”? Had he not also said that “two countries know true friendship in adversity, as the greenness of the pine tree is revealed in the harshest depths of the winter”? Westerners love a good Chinese proverb.

Had not Mr Zapatero been equally fulsome, reciprocating the compliment by declaring that “China is Spain’s best friend” and stifling the urge to complain in public about human rights abuses or the arrest of the dissident artist Ai Weiwei?

And had not Xie Ping, a senior official of the China Investment Corp (CIC), a big sovereign wealth fund, spoken to Mr Zapatero of the €9bn ($12.9bn) available to spend on restructured banks and Spanish sovereign debt?

That, at least, was what euphoric Spanish officials breathlessly told their national media.

But in the cold light of the next day, the CIC denied any concrete plan to invest, and Madrid had to confess to “an error of communication”. It turned out that the CIC would never have considered such a big investment and that Mr Xie was not quite as important in the fund as the Spanish believed.

There are lessons for both sides in this embarrassing episode.
Keep reading.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

AND THE PRIZE for the best URL ever goes to... (drumroll)... UK's The Independent, for this page about the royal wedding.

UPDATE. Canceling the prize, because I've been told it's a trick: it doesn't matter what words you use in that part of the URL the page works just the same. To wit:

So even if it was clever, you lost the prize, guys...

LOL: how to fix any computer (PC, Mac or Linux)

Monday, April 18, 2011


F*CK, SH*T, YEAH: swearing helps relieve pain.

FASCINATING STUFF: in a 1939 broadcast from Cairo, the BBC played two trumpets that nobody had played for 3,000 years: the ones that Howard Carter discovered at Tutankhamon's tomb. The audio is at the link.


Friday, April 15, 2011

SOMETHING ELSE for the "If it had been Bush instead of Obama" folder: "Obama Eyeing Internet ID for Americans" It'd be the Apocalypse...

THE COUNTRY is in the best hands:
Madrid has been forced to make an embarrassing clarification after claims that Spain had secured from China up to €9bn in investment in its troubled savings banks were denied by Beijing.

Spanish officials said an “error of communication” had led to reports that China Investment Corporation – one of the country’s sovereign wealth funds – was considering a €9bn investment after José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Spain’s prime minister, met Chinese leaders this week.
This guys must lie even to their doctor...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

ON THE IMPOSSIBILITY of minimizing your "environmental impact":
To the real point: environmental activists are asking the impossible. The only way to minimize your environmental “impact” is not to be born. Any other option, including your mother exercising her right to “choose” after you have been conceived, will see you have some “impact.”

Every breath you take is an “impact” on the environment, even those breaths you take in the womb. Even stronger, in order to live you must have food, which means you must kill. To live is to kill: your life necessarily causes the death of many. Thus, the longer you live, the more “impact” you will have.

Given that you are not dead now, the only possible way to minimize your future “impact” is to fall upon your sword forthwith, taking care to tumble naked into a hand-dug shallow grave far from any water shed. There is no other choice—except that a sword may be swapped with a sturdy sharp stick.
Keep reading


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

FLIP-FLOPPING on a Catalan independence vote.

YEAH, because the economy is booming, right: "Spain PM rules out more austerity measures"

UPDATE. CNBC: "Spanish Prime Minister Jose Zapatero is on a tour of Asia this week playing up the fact that key investors like China are more than willing to buy his government’s debt, despite Portugal’s decision to ask the European Union for support. The big question for Spain remains whether it can avoid the same fate as Portugal."

GOOD THING they're on a cease-fire...: "Spanish police on Tuesday discovered nearly one
ton of explosives in an arms cache of the armed Basque separatist group
ETA, police said."

MORE on the male-female wage gap: "A study of single, childless urban workers between the ages of 22 and 30 found that women earned 8% more than men."

WHAT HAPPENED to the 'climate refugees'?
In 2005, the United Nations Environment Programme predicted that climate change would create 50 million climate refugees by 2010. These people, it was said, would flee a range of disasters including sea level rise, increases in the numbers and severity of hurricanes, and disruption to food production.

The UNEP even provided a handy map. The map shows us the places most at risk including the very sensitive low lying islands of the Pacific and Caribbean.

It so happens that just a few of these islands and other places most at risk have since had censuses, so it should be possible for us now to get some idea of the devastating impact climate change is having on their populations. Let’s have a look at the evidence.
Keep reading.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

CRUSADING JUDGE GARZÓN has been indicted by Spain's Supreme Court over illegal wiretapping of conversations in jail between corruption suspects and their lawyers. Regardless of what you think about him on other issues, this breach of the client/attorney privilege is a very serious matter, and it's shocking how many people who denounce minor breaches in terrorism cases are now willing to give Garzon a pass, just because of partisanship.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Liberty may be endangered by the abuses of liberty, as well as by the abuses of power … Yet, who would reason, that there should be no liberty, because it had been, or it might be, abused? Tyranny itself would not desire a more cogent argument, than that the danger of abuse was a ground for the denial of a right." – Justice Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833

(via Scott Ott)

Monday, April 11, 2011

THE WORST movie soundtrack performance. Ever.


UPDATED. Reader Pablo Turing alerts me that the video above is a recording from Jostiband, a Dutch band whose members are mentally handicapped; this is their website. I didn't know that, and it obviously changes the story.

EUROPE must realize Spain will be the next domino to fall, writes Wolfgang Münchau at the Financial Times. (to read without registration, just search the title, " / Comment & analysis / FT Columnists - Complacent Europe must realise Spain will be next", on Google and click the link there).

Sunday, April 10, 2011

THIS INTERACTIVE AD on YouTube is spectacular.


SO MUCH for the worlds breath of fresh air in politics, eh? Zapatero announces he won't seek reelection, and his party immediately halves the 16 points he was trailing behing its rival in the polls.

AT LAST: mathematical proof that girls are evil... (click to enlarge)


Saturday, April 09, 2011

SPAIN'S BIGGEST EXPORT? Young people. It's back to the 60s!

Friday, April 08, 2011

TEN QUESTIONS for 9/11 truthers.

SIX SCIENTIFIC REASONS why people drive like assholes. I've always thought that #6 is key explaining the younger generations behavior at the wheel.

NO, it was not the government who created the internet.

SOEREN KERN on how and why Spain has ended in such a mess.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

THAT'S CREEPY: would you keep the ashes of your deceased in a personal urn with the shape of his or her head? Ugh.

SUFFOCATING the planet in order to save it:
I call it my tourniquet theory and it goes like this: if you are bleeding to death from a severed limb, then a tourniquet may save your life, but if you have a nosebleed, then a tourniquet round your neck will do more harm than good. This metaphor can be applied to all sorts of scares and their remedies, but it is climate change that I have in mind. Over the past few years it has gradually become clear to me that climate change is a nosebleed, not a severed limb, and that the remedies we are subsidising are tourniquets round the neck of the economy.
Keep reading.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

GOOGLE EXODUS: this is what would have happened if Moses had Facebook:

Monday, April 04, 2011

SPAIN'S DEFICIT FIGHT faces a possible setback with Zapatero as a lame duck, says Bloomberg. It's certainly going to be strange year, and it's unclear whether it'd have been more juidicious to call for a snap election. He might still call it if the defeat in the regional and local elections on May 22 is as catastrophic as it looks it's going to be.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

SPAIN SOCIALISTS need a quick fix after Zapatero: "Spain's ruling Socialist Party needs to resolve its leadership succession soon to dispel any market doubts over the government's commitment to reforms to meet European Union deficit targets, analysts say."

Saturday, April 02, 2011

DOCUMENTS show that Spanish police tipped ETA terrorists about an imminent raid against then, and later apologized for not having stopped it:
Aiding and abetting a terrorist group is a serious crime in Spain, punishable by jail terms of up to ten years. So if it should turn out that the country’s very own interior minister gave terrorists advance notice of an imminent police raid, and later apologized to them for not having aborted it, then it stands to reason that the government — which has since elevated the minister in question to deputy premier and political heir apparent — is in big trouble, and it is time to think about a vote of confidence and have the courts prepare indictments and the media raise all kinds of hell. But will any of that actually happen?
Seems unbelievable, eh? Read the rest.

GOOD GRIEF: "Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said he will step down before elections next year, triggering a succession contest as the government tries to steer Spain out of the sovereign debt crisis."

Good riddance!

Friday, April 01, 2011

WHILE CONDEMNING ISRAEL, many Arabs prefer life there:
For example, Israeli ID cards have been sought by senior PLO and Hamas officials and their relatives, such as the three sisters of Ismail Haniyeh, the top leader of Hamas. They married Israeli Arabs and migrated from Gaza to Tel Sheva in Israel's Negev. Two are already widows, but prefer to remain in the Jewish State, and the son of the third sister serves in the Israeli Defense Forces.

Akrameh Sabri, the top Muslim religious leader in eastern Jerusalem, who delivers anti-Semitic and pro-terrorist sermons, retains his Israeli ID card as do Hanan Ashrawi of the PLO, Muhammad Abu-Tir of Hamas, Jibril Rajoub's wife, etc.

Some 150,000 non-Israeli Arabs, mostly from Judea and Samaria, married Israeli Arabs and received Israeli ID cards between 1993 and 2003. In addition, scores of thousands of illegal Arab aliens prefer Israeli – over Palestinian – residence.

A significant wave of net-emigration - 30,000 Arabs from Judea, Samaria and Gaza annually - since 1950 was substantially reduced in 1968, as a result of access gained to Israel's infrastructures of employment, medicine and education, and of Israeli construction of such infrastructures in these regions. The level of annual Arab emigration subsided during the peak years of Aliyah (Jewish immigration to Israel), since Arabs were heavily employed in constructing the absorption infrastructure.