Tuesday, December 31, 2013

AGREE: Why Successful People Never Bring Smartphones Into Meetings. At the same time, I find myself using the off button more and more. Not just silencing it, but turning it off altogether.

GOOD: A Giant Awakens — Inside Africa's Economic Upsurge.

CONGRATS, HIPSTERS: The NSA has nearly complete backdoor access to Apple's iPhone.

CIBERSPACE'S ARCHAEOLOGY: 17 Ancient Abandoned Websites That Still Work.

Many more here.

Monday, December 30, 2013

WELL, I CAN — BUT THAT'S JUST BECAUSE I'M SO USED TO IT! Why Men Can't Take Compliments.

HOPE THEY'RE WORKING ON AN ANTIVIRUS TOO: “Google and Apple are both working on competing technologies that would bring apps, navigation and music together into smart dashboards for cars based on their own mobile operating systems

FINALLY! Independent Testing Of Rossi's E-Cat Cold Fusion Device: Maybe The World Will Change After All

Saturday, December 28, 2013

54 IMAGES among the best of 2013.

Friday, December 27, 2013

NINE huge government conspiracies that actually happened.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

ASTONISHING INDEED: Astonishing Pictures Of Afghanistan From Before The Wars.

Monday, December 23, 2013

PRICELESS: The Full Story Of The US Army General Who Replied Only 'Nuts!' When Asked To Surrender During WWII.

Friday, December 20, 2013

CNN EMAIL ALERTS have been left to an overenthusiastic editor, it seems. “Wow! The U.S. economy suddenly looks a lot perkier in the third quarter than originally thought, according to revised data released by the government today”, it starts.

“Wow”? Really, guys?

NO WONDER I'm in such a great shape: “Caffeine + alcohol keeps your chromosomes just right” Moderate doses of the latter, not so much of the former: the right formula!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

AN OPTIMISTIC TAKE, FOR A CHANGE: How Publishers Can Save Themselves.

RESEARCH SHOWS how MacBook Webcams can spy on their users without warning. It's on old models but could very well affect newer ones, as well as PCs. So if you want to be really safe, cover the camera with a piece of tape.

AT THE WASHINGTON POST, 40 maps that explain the world.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

LESSONS from the life of Casanova.

WHY DO LOTTERY PLAYERS think they can defy odds?

SOME TELLTALE SIGNS you've reached middle age.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


AN AMAZING IMAGE of the Great Sphinx of Giza covered in white. There had been no snow in Egypt for the last 112 years.

(via FB)

UPDATE. A reader tells me that the image is false. Well, rather than false, it's actually real — just that it comes from a Japanese theme park which has reproductions of several world's landmarks (link in Spanish). Please note.

Friday, December 13, 2013

THAT'S HOW THEY IMPROVE THE DISMAL FIGURES: Report: Less Than 15 Percent of Obamacare 'Enrollees' Are Actually Covered.

BUT DON'T FRET, he said he'd close Guantanamo: Air strike kills 15 civilians in Yemen by mistake: officials

HAPPY FRIDAY THE 13th! Collapse of the universe is closer than ever before:

Maybe it happens tomorrow. Maybe in a billion years. Physicists have long predicted that the universe may one day collapse, and that everything in it will be compressed to a small hard ball. New calculations from physicists at the University of Southern Denmark now confirm this prediction – and they also conclude that the risk of a collapse is even greater than previously thought.

STIMULUS AND QEs WORK, they said. And you can notice that in the job numbers, they said. Oh, wait: Jobless Claims in U.S. Surge in Week After Thanksgiving.

THIS SEEMS to come straight from 'Homeland', doesn't it? Ex-FBI agent who disappeared in Iran was on rogue mission for CIA.

FIVE life lessons from JFK.

WHAT THE TIME ‘Person of the Year’ award tells us about Time.

OBAMA THE EGALITARIAN: Gender wage gap in Obama’s White House: Female staffers earn less than 87 cents on the dollar compared to men.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Spain's operating budget is on track to swing out of the red a year earlier than expected, in 2015, potentially boosting the economy and allaying fears that the country's debt load will become unsustainable, Budget Minister Cristóbal Montoro said in an interview Tuesday.

Mr. Montoro said Spain's exit from recession in recent months has made it possible that the government will record a primary budget surplus, which doesn't include debt payments, by 2015. The picture Mr. Montoro painted Tuesday is brighter than the one his government described only two months ago when Spain told the European Commission that it might take until 2016 for Spain to record a primary surplus.

NYT: If a Story Is Viral, Truth May Be Taking a Beating

Truth has never been an essential ingredient of viral content on the Internet. But in the stepped-up competition for readers, digital news sites are increasingly blurring the line between fact and fiction, and saying that it is all part of doing business in the rough-and-tumble world of online journalism.

Several recent stories rocketing around the web, picking up millions of views, turned out to be fake or embellished: a Twitter tale of a Thanksgiving feud on a plane, later described by the writer as a short story; a child’s letter to Santa that detailed an Amazon.com link in crayon, but was actually written by a grown-up comedian in 2011; and an essay on poverty that prompted $60,000 in donations until it was revealed by its author to be impressionistic rather than strictly factual.

Keep reading.


A team led by Charles Holahan, a psychologist at the University of Texas [1] found that those who did not consume any alcohol appeared to have a higher mortality rate, regardless of whether they were former heavy drinkers or not, than those who drank heavily, the Independent reported.

The researchers, who followed 1,824 participants over two decades, revealed that 'moderate' drinking, which is defined as one to three drinks per day, was associated with the lowest mortality rate.

NATE THAYER: How Ted Koppel and ABC TV Tried to Steal my Life Work.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

IT'S FOUR YEARS OLD, but this piece on Mandela beyond the myth, written by a former supporter, is devastating. But a must-read, given the amount of accritical praise that seems a contest to prove who is sadder by Mandela's death and whose life was more touched by his example etc. Read it all.

ATTENTION, 99% OF INTERNET USERS: NSA uses Google cookies to pinpoint targets for hacking.

GENIUS: Feds sell remaining shares of GM…at a $10 billion loss to taxpayers.

I CAN UNDERSTAND THE DESPERATION: “Harassed boyfriend jumped to his death after his girlfriend insisted on going into another clothes shop”

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

13 VINTAGE PHOTOS Of Christmas In Boston.

REUTERS' Photos of the Year 2013.

Monday, December 09, 2013

THE EARTH AS SEEN from an International Space Station window:

THIS IS FRIGGIN' BRILLIANT: Star Wars/Bohemian Rhapsody music video mashup

800 YEARS OF GOVERNMENT BOND YIELDS: How 3 Countries Lost Their Position As The World's Dominant Financial Power.


Chinese company debt twice the size of Ireland’s economy will come due in 2014, spurring concern the nation is on the cusp of its first corporate bond default.

A record 2.6 trillion yuan ($427 billion) of interest and principal on securities issued by non-financial companies must be repaid next year, 19 percent more than this year and the most since China International Capital Corp. began compiling the data in 2008. Ten-year AAA corporate bond yields surged 89 basis points since Dec. 31 to 6.18 percent, touching a record 6.23 percent on Nov. 27. That compares with a 70 basis-point rise to 2.68 percent for similar-rated notes globally.

People’s Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan’s signal the central bank will act to prevent excessive leverage has contributed to the surge in borrowing costs and forced many firms to delay financing plans. Rising interest rates may cause a “partial debt crisis to explode,” the official China Securities Journal said in a Nov. 26 editorial.

“The probability of default will get much higher in 2014 as maturing debt reaches a record,” said Shi Lei, the Beijing-based head of fixed-income research at Ping An Securities Co., a unit of the nation’s second-biggest insurance company. “The central bank’s policy of controlling leverage, which may last a long time, will crowd out companies with bad credit profiles and, ultimately, help restructure the economy.”

THE SPANISH VC INDUSTRY has one big problem: it doesn’t exist.

According to a recent report by Telefonica on the Accelerator and Incubator’s ecosystem, Spain has had a massive influx of new startup programs in the past few years.

To be precise, Spain has 38 programs (versus Germany’s 31 or France’s 35). Such a scale isn’t supported by the country’s GDP, pointing out a more-than-probable bubble.

Despite all the excitement and growth, one has to wonder whether the venture capital firms in Spain are up to the task, or lagging behind. I get asked this question quite often, and people get surprised when I tell them that there isn’t really a VC industry in Spain.

Yes, maybe I’m being too extreme, but it’s hard to argue with cold, hard data. The truth is, a quick glance at the 2012 numbers paints a pretty clear picture.

Spain saw 348 VC operations accounting for 158.8 million euros in 2012. Yeah, you read that right – that means an average operation of around 456,000 euros. Per deal. And that’s counting all industries, including foreign investments.

If we just stick to startups and exclude big deals in biotech, nanotech, etc. we’re talking about a mere 69.8 million euros. If we look at the deals tracked by Loogic, we get a similar number of 52 million euros in 2012.

If we compare the total volume achieved in 2012 with the ones reported in Q3 of 2013 across all European regions, the difference is astounding. The Nordic region moved the same amount of money in one quarter than was invested in Spain in all of 2012.

Keep reading.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

JUST FIVE FOR 100% IF YOU'RE A POL: One Million Chips Mimic One Percent Of The Brain: A Robot's Neural Network.

MIAMI'S NEW CONDO TOWER will be home to nearly 2 percent of the world's billionaires.

TRUE, MANDELA was a friend of Arafat, but that didn't make him anti-Israel at all. The letter in which he apparently compared Israel and the apartheid was a hoax. Widely quoted —even by Jimmy Carter—, but a hoax just the same.

JAMES JOYNER on Obama’s America Iron Bowl cartoon controversy: Irony is officially dead.

DUH: “Marijuana-fed pigs are bigger and 'more savory', farmers say”. Of course they're bigger / fatter. Ever heard of 'the munchies'?

72 YEARS AGO TODAY: the day of infamy.

REGARDING THE FAST FOOD SECTOR STRIKE, this seems to be relevant:

Arguably the most important thing in the debate about the minimum wage is that hardly anyone makes it. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics less than 3 percent of all workers take home $7.25 or less an hour and half who do are 24 years old or younger. And the vast majority—77 percent —of minimum wage earners belong to households that are above the poverty line. So when Fast Food Forward declares, “We can’t survive on $7.25!”, the good news is that very few people have to (and to the extent that they do, their income is supplemented by anti-poverty programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, food stamps, and housing subsidies). Staying at the minimum wage is also usually mercifully short-lived. For instance, between 1977 and 1997, two-thirds of full-time workers had moved on to higher pay within a year.

WEARABLE EXOSKELETONS will revolutionize manufacturing, healthcare, and the military.


Reagan appreciated that America is a nation of immigrants, but more than that, he understood that the great attraction of immigrants to America was not simply greater economic opportunity but the dream of freedom–the American dream–that the nation represents. The promise of America is not just a better material life but that you can become an American .

Becoming an American is much more than simply getting a legal document attesting to the bearer’s privileges of citizenship. Here’s how Reagan explained it in a 1988 speech:

“America represents something universal in the human spirit. I received a letter not long ago from a man who said, ‘You can go to Japan to live, but you cannot become Japanese. You can go to France to live and not become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany or Turkey, and you won’t become a German or a Turk.’ But then he added, ‘Anybody from any corner of the world can come to America to live and become an American.’”

A person becomes an American by adopting America’s principles, especially those principles summarized in the “self-evident truths” of the Declaration of Independence, such as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Carl Friedrich wrote that “To be an American is an ideal, while to be a Frenchman is a fact.

As an immigrant friend once put it to me: “I was always an American; I was just born in the wrong country.

I love that last bit.

A PAEAN to the shipping container, that 1950s invention that changed the world's economy forever:

As a child living in relatively close proximity to a port, the sight of these large metal boxes offered a sense of wonderment, both an aesthetic joy at their geometric simplicity, and bafflement at what was in there behind those heavy doors. The geographer David Harvey has argued that these objects play a critical role in the changing nature of our cities, our politics, our labor, as well as our shopping habits. Without the container, cities like the Port of London would not have changed in such a dramatic manner. Harvey calls this process deindustrialization—the removal of a region’s heavy industry. Likewise, without the container and deindustrialization, the availability of cheap imports from China and other emerging economies would not have been possible.

Such claims might seem somewhat farfetched given the apparent simplicity of the shipping container: a standardized steel box in lengths of 20, and 40 feet by approximately 8 feet square. But consider the number of these boxes circulating the globe (let alone those lying abandoned in yards): in early 2011 there was a global fleet of nearly 5,000 container ships each carrying roughly 14 million containers. We take shipping container for granted precisely because of the sheer quantity of them moving around us. They are so common as to disappear. And as with similar objects, it’s only when things go wrong that we begin to recognize their presence.

Read the rest; and while you're at it, don't miss this about pallets: “The Single Most Important Object in the Global Economy

Friday, December 06, 2013

THE ECONOMIST: The dirty secrets of clean cars.

LAST ONE OUT PLEASE TURN OFF THE LIGHTS: Millennials Abandon Obama and Obamacare. “A majority of America's youngest adults would vote to recall the president.”

ANOTHER GOOD RESPONSE to the anti-capitalist Pope: “He shouldn't bite the hand that feeds the church.”

EDWARD JAY EPSTEIN: Arafat's Death and the Polonium Mystery.

STRANGE and Improbably Animal Friendships! (30 pics)

Thursday, December 05, 2013

FOR THE ANNALS OF UNDERSTATEMENTS: “Fewer than one-third of young, uninsured Americans say they are leaning toward enrolling in a health-care plan under the new Obamacare exchanges, according to a new poll -- a number that, if it holds, would present huge problems for the new law.”


Historically, progressives were seen as partisans for the people, eager to help the working and middle classes achieve upward mobility even at expense of the ultrarich. But in California, and much of the country, progressivism has morphed into a political movement that, more often than not, effectively squelches the aspirations of the majority, in large part to serve the interests of the wealthiest.

Primarily, this modern-day program of class warfare is carried out under the banner of green politics. The environmental movement has always been primarily dominated by the wealthy, and overwhelmingly white, donors and activists. But in the past, early progressives focused on such useful things as public parks and open space that enhance the lives of the middle and working classes. Today, green politics seem to be focused primarily on making life worse for these same people.

In this sense, today’s green progressives, notes historian Fred Siegel, are most akin to late 19th century Tory radicals such as William Wordsworth, William Morris and John Ruskin, who objected to the ecological devastation of modern capitalism, and sought to preserve the glories of the British countryside. In the process, they also opposed the “leveling” effects of a market economy that sometimes allowed the less-educated, less well-bred to supplant the old aristocracies with their supposedly more enlightened tastes.

The green gentry today often refer not to sentiment but science — notably climate change — to advance their agenda. But their effect on the lower orders is much the same. Particularly damaging are steps to impose mandates for renewable energy that have made electricity prices in California among the highest in the nation and others that make building the single-family housing preferred by most Californians either impossible or, anywhere remotely close to the coast, absurdly expensive.

Keep reading.

THE MORE INTELLIGENT YOU ARE, the more you drink? “It’s the booziest time of the year, and also the most hung over: According to one study, 96 percent of Americans have been hung over at work after a holiday party, or know someone who has. Creative hangover cures like dried sour plums and poached duck embryos may ease (or exacerbate) physical symptoms, but here’s something that might help the self-reproach: You can blame your hangover on your high IQ, because studies show there might be a positive correlation between intelligence and alcohol consumption.”

THIS INPHOGRAPHIC Shows Which Sites Properly Encrypt Your Data.

THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF 2013, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.

NO, THIS IS NOT ABOUT OBAMACARE: As Online Ads Look More Like News Articles, F.T.C. Warns Against Deception.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A LIGHT BULB MAKES: People in developing countries are leapfrogging our 19th century technology.

There’s a simple technology that transforms our lives every day, and yet we rarely give a passing thought to its existence (unless of course it flares out at an inopportune moment): the light bulb. And yet for more than a billion people in the developing world who lack access to electricity, this simple device can make an unimaginable difference.

[...] Many of the communities without access to regular electricity are now leapfrogging our ancient 1800s technology. The ubiquitous incandescent bulb, the one perfected by Edison more than a century ago, basically works via a filament that, when electricity passes through, burns hot enough to emit light. But about 95 percent of that energy is wasted as heat. As a result, incandescents are being phased out by many governments; the U.S. slowly began phasing them out in 2012. Compact fluorescent lights, or CFLs, were invented in the 1940s and are significantly more energy efficient. But for decades their cooler tone turned off many consumers (though the color has gotten warmer, and CFLs have been replacing incandescents).

Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are the top new technology in lighting. When electricity is applied to an LED, electrons jump from one layer of material within the diode to another and give off light. They’re hardy, they last for years, and they’re incredibly energy efficient. The problem is that white LEDs are pricey. Americans might weigh the options and decide: Why shell out around $10 to $20 for an LED, even if it will last perhaps 25 times longer than the cheap incandescent?

But nearly unbreakable LEDs are easily paired with solar power, and so in poor communities, what seems excessive to us becomes a long-lasting investment that bypasses both inefficient incandescents and the lumbering power grid.

FIVE SIGNS your dog loves you.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

OUCH: “All aspiring writers should read Slate’s Matt Yglesias. There’s no better way to stress the importance of not writing like Matt Yglesias.”

THE BIGGEST Oil Discovery In 50 Years?

In a virtually uninhabitable section of South Australia, a discovery has been made which could rock the world. Some are calling it the biggest discovery of oil in 50 years. Earlier this year, a company called Linc Energy announced that tests had revealed that there was a minimum of 3.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent sitting under more than 65,000 square kilometres of land that it owns in the Arckaringa Basin. But that is the minimum number. It has been projected that there could ultimately be up to 233 billion barrels of recoverable oil in the area. If that turns out to be accurate, the oil sitting under that land is worth approximately 20 trillion dollars, and it would be roughly equivalent to the total amount of oil sitting under the sands of Saudi Arabia. In essence, it would be a massive game changer.

SCIENCE IS SETTLED: Newly found weather records show 1930′s as being far worse than the present for extreme weather.

HISTORY RETWEETS: How Ancient Romans Created Social Media.

DUH: That Armpit Odor Says a Lot About Who You Are.

Do you really need a study to know that?

NEWSWEEK will be back to print early next year.

SHARIA Threatens All Women, Muslim and Non-Muslim.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

SPOTIFY spills the beans:

Spotify on Tuesday unleashed a load of data, revealing that each time a user pays for a song, rights holders are paid between $0.006 and $0.0084. Over the course of 2013, the company says it will have paid $500 million in royalties, representing half of the $1 billion Spotify sent to rights holders since setting up shop in 2008.

[…] Spotify has been a lead player in the growth of streaming music, with revenue more than doubling in 2012 to $590 million and its user base growing well in excess of 24 million, at least 6 million of which are paying clients.

[…] Last year, the Brooklyn band Grizzly Bear complained on Twitter that they received on $10 for 10,000 plays of their tracks. The math Spotify published suggests the total pay-out for a track over 10,000 plays is actually between $60 and $84.

[…] Spotify’s new data suggests there is money for hit makers. The company says, for instance, an unnamed “global hit” album generated $425,000 in revenue from Spotify during the month of July, while a Top 10 album generated $145,000.

Spotify pointed to an unnamed “global star” to which it paid $3 million in individual royalties over the past year, a sum it expects to double in 2014. It added that this particular artist wasn’t its most played artist and that there other stars were paid more than $3 million in 2013.

[…] When the whole group of paid and unpaid clients is tallied up, Spotify says it generates an average of $41 per user, higher than the $25 that Spotify says the average U.S. adult pays for music in a given year.

As Spotify has grown, it has taken on an increasing amount of red ink. Last year, the company lost nearly $80 million. About 70% of the money taken in, Spotify says, goes right out the back door in the form of a payment to rights holders.

[…] Spotify said its own service offers better returns to right holders compared to alternative digital music services. One million listens on Spotify generates between $6,000 and $8,400, which compares to about $3,000 on video streaming such as Google Inc.’s YouTube and between $1,300 and $1,500 on radio streaming services like that offered by Pandora Media Inc.

ANOTHER RESPONSE TO THE POPE, this time by Greg Mankiw.

THE OTHERWISE INTERESTING piece on the WSJ about how Franco's legacy “rattles Spain” contains a glaring error:

In 1977, Spain's parliament passed an amnesty law that protected officials of the dictatorship and those involved in Civil War-era crimes, including supporters of anti-Franco forces, from prosecution.

And it's not the first time they make that error. Allow me to self-quote what I wrote back when the “crusading judge Garzón” was in legal hot water:

Fourth, the 1977 amnesty approved by the Spanish parliament at the beginning of the democratic transition after Franco's death did not clear "atrocities linked to Gen. Francisco Franco's four-decade-long dictatorship," as the Wall Street Journal states (it's not the only one doing so). The amnesty had been a rallying cry even before the transition, but not by the right seeking to absolve themselves for their crimes but by the left, in order to being able to start from scratch and being able to participate openly in the political process. It was also a demand from Basque and Catalan nationalists who at the time often took the streets with slogans like "Libertad, amnistía, estatuto de autonomía" (Freedom, Amnesty, and Statute of Autonomy). The 1977 amnesty was not aimed at the 'heirs of Franco' because those guys at the time still enjoyed strong links to the military. The army's tanks and guns were enough protection against any temptation to go after them (the situation completely changed after the 1981 coup attempt: the modernization and cleanup of reactionary elements in the army was thorough and masterly done, with impeccable democratic methods by the Socialist government of Felipe Gonzalez; but we're talking about an earlier time now). The amnesty benefited not just leftist parties and politicians, which were illegal until then, but also political prisoners and most notably, also those convicted for terrorism and other crimes. It was passed by a big majority of leftist, centrist and right-of-center parties. The only ones against it were a handful of right-wing lawmakers who opposed it precisely because the amnesty set free all Basque ETA terrorists with blood crimes, including those who had killed scores law enforcement officers, servicemen, civilians, even those who killed Admiral Carrero Blanco, whom Franco had appointed as his successor, in 1973. To summarize: the 1977 amnesty was a law to benefit the left which was still outside the institutions, not the right who had inherited them from Franco.

If you don't believe me, look at these pictures.

WHAT THE POPE Gets Wrong About Capitalism (Hint: Just about everything).

GOOD: Human Stem Cells Converted to Functional Lung Cells.

I'M LITERALLY IN TEARS FROM LAUGHING: The 28 Most Flawless Responses To A Wrong Number Text...

DON'T OVERINDULGE, but don't be shy either: Here's How Often You Should Eat Red Meat.

TRAVELER'S DIGEST: Cities with the World’s Best Looking Men (2013 Edition). They're wrong on #2, Madrid: I live in Barcelona…

Monday, December 02, 2013

WOULD YOU RATHER BE BORN SMART OR RICH? “A recent Brookings paper gives reasons for optimism. Over the long term, it finds, smart kids earn more than rich kids. But sadly, there's a big catch.”

THE 'BACK TO THE SEVENTIES' VIBE is not just about music, it turns out: Scientists increasingly moving to global cooling consensus.

AND IN OTHER ORGANS TOO… “You know in your gut if your marriage will be a happy one, study suggests”.

MORE YEARS they can pass on all your info to the NSA: “Google as recently embarked on a series of high profile hires for its new venture Calico, a company which wants to extend human life by up to 100 years.”


NO! REALLY?? WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT! Lust: Sexual Desire Forges Lasting Relationships.

FUKUSHIMA RADIATION In Pacific Tuna Is Equal To One Twentieth Of A Banana, which is one of the standards scientists use to measure radiation.

JP MORGAN ECONOMIST responds to the Pope's criticism of capitalism.


My dear friend Luis I. Gomez and his team have developed an innovative technique to detect colon polyps indicative of colorectal cancer. The key point of this technique is that it’s made by a blood test, ie it is not an invasive technique, an obvious advantage In this kind of cancer because might imply an improvement on early diagnosis rates. Another step in the fight against this terrible disease.

Luis is also a friend of mine, so this is double good news! Read the rest for the paper in which the study was published.

AMAZON plans to deliver packages via drones within the next 4-5 years, Jeff Bezos himself announced on Charlie Rose last night. I thought it was some kind of joke at first, but it doesn't look like it was...