Thursday, December 11, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting '...holy
sh*t ...what a ride!'
Enjoy the ride; there is no return ticket
George Carlin on aging!
IF YOU DON'T READ THIS TO THE VERY END, YOU HAVE LOST A DAY IN YOUR LIFE.
AND WHEN YOU HAVE FINISHED, DO AS I AM DOING AND SEND IT ON.
George Carlin's Views on Aging
Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is
when we're kids? If you're less than 10 years old, you're so excited about
aging that you think in fractions.
'How old are you?' 'I'm four and a half!' You're never thirty-six and a
half. You're four and a half, going on five! That's the key.
You get into your teens, now they can't hold you back. You jump to the next
number, or even a few ahead.
'How old are you?' 'I'm gonna be 16!' You could be 13, but hey, you're
gonna be 16! And then the greatest day of your life! You become 21. Even the
words sound like a ceremony. YOU BECOME 21. YESSSS!!!
But then you turn 30. Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad
milk! He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There's no fun now, you're Just a
sour-dumpling.. What's wrong? What's changed?
You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you're PUSHING 40. Whoa! Put on the
brakes, it's all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 and your
dreams are gone.
But! Wait!! ! You MAKE it to 60. You didn't think you would!
So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, and REACH 50 and make it to 60.
You've built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that it's a day-by-day
thing; you HIT Wednesday!
You get into! your 80's and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch;
you TURN 4:30; you REACH bedtime. And it doesn't end there. Into the 90s,
you start going backwards; 'I Was JUST 92.'
Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little
kid again. 'I'm 100 and a half!'
May you all make it to a healthy 100 and a half!!
HOW TO STAY YOUNG
1. Throw out nonessential numbers. This includes age, weight and height.
Let the doctors worry about them. That is why you pay 'them.'
2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.
3. Keep learning. ! Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening,
whatever, even ham radio. Never let the brain idle. 'An idle mind is the
devil's workshop.' And the devil's family name is Alzheimer's.
4. Enjoy the simple things.
5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath.
6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person, who is
with us our entire life, is ourselves. Be ALIVE while you are alive.
7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it's family, pets,
keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.
8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable,
improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.
9. Don't take guilt trips.. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next
county; to a foreign country but NOT to where the guilt is.
10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.
AND ALWAYS REMEMBER:
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments
that take our breath away.
Life's journey is not to
arrive at the grave safely
in a well preserved body,
but rather to skid in sideways,
totally worn out, shouting
'...holy sh*t ...what a ride!'
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Dudamel rinde tributo a Bernstein en el Carnegie Hall
El director dijo que Benstein era un hombre mágico y que le encanta interpretar su música (Bebeto Mathews/AP)
10:16 AM Nueva York.- Gustavo Dudamel rindió tributo a Leonard Benstein el domingo en el Carnegie Hall de Nueva York, al dirigir a la Orquesta Filarmónica de Israel en un espectáculo que terminó con una ovación de pie.
Dudamel dijo que lamenta no haber conocido a Bernstein. "Eso me entristece porque era una personalidad muy especial'', dijo el maestro venezolano en entrevista con The Associated Press. "Uno de los mejores, si no el mejor. Y es una inspiración para mí. Era un hombre mágico... me encanta interpretar su música, destacó AP.
El concierto comenzó con una cautivante ejecución de "Halil'', un concierto para flauta que Bernstein compuso en 1981 en memoria de un flautista israelí muerto en la guerra de 1973. Con su mezcla de disonancia y tonalismo, de pasajes violentos alternando con otros más serenos, la música describe los horrores de la guerra y el anhelo de paz. Eyal Ein-Habar ejecutó la difícil y casi ininterrumpida parte solista con destreza técnica y gran sensibilidad.
A ésta siguió "Jubilee Games'', compuesta por Bernstein hace 22 años para la Filarmónica de Israel, que dirigió en muchas ocasiones.
Fue una partitura ideal para Dudamel, que revolvió la olla de cacofonía caótica haciendo piruetas y agitando su cabellera ensortijada sobre el podio. Bailó durante los tramos jazzísticos y demostró la introspección de un rabino durante las partes más serenas.
El concierto terminó con la Cuarta Sinfonía de Chaicovski. Dudamel condujo esta pieza estándar del repertorio con nervio y garra, blandiendo la batuta como si fuera la espada de un matador. En algunos tramos la ocultó, para dirigir con la cabeza y los hombros. Sus pasos de baile sometieron al toro.
Tras la conclusión, la audiencia, encantada, se paró al unísono, rugiendo de place. En sus tres salidas, Dudamel invitó a los músicos israelíes a que recibieran sus merecidos aplausos, pero éstos los dirigieron al maestro.
Hubo dos bises: el intermezzo de "Manon Lescaut'' de Puccini y la popular pieza latina "Tico Tico''.
Cultura - EL UNIVERSAL <http://espectaculos.eluniversal.com/2008/11/18/cul_ava_dudamel-rinde-tribut_18A2133487.shtml> : "Dudamel rinde tributo a Bernstein en el Carnegie Hall
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Sin poseer la notoriedad del encumbrado alemán Oskar Schindler, pero habiendo quintuplicado por cinco la lista de judíos salvados por su accionar, Ángel Sanz Briz, el diplomático español que evitó la muerte de 5200 judíos húngaros durante la II Guerra Mundial, será objeto este lunes de un merecido homenaje por parte del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de España, que colocará en su recuerdo, una placa conmemorativa, en su embajada en Budapest.
Nacido en Zaragoza el 28 de septiembre de 1910, Ángel Sanz Briz, habiendo cursado Derecho, ingresó en la Escuela Diplomática en 1933 y finalizó sus estudios poco antes del comienzo de la Guerra Civil Española.
En marzo de 1944 ya se columbraba que la guerra estaba perdida para el Tercer Reich. Mientras los Aliados ultimaban los preparativos para el desembarco en Normandía, los rusos avanzaban decididamente por el este.
Ante ese sombrío panorama, el vesánico Hitler, decidió invadir Hungría, el único país de Europa central que hasta ese momento no había caído bajo la férula nazi.
Al nombrar al sanguinario Adolf Eichmann como Gauleiter (Gobernador) en Hungría, el régimen nazi patentizó su decisión de implementar la Solución Final, penoso eufemismo de aniquilación, con los judíos húngaros. Estos, integrantes de una centenaria y próspera comunidad, mientras eran saqueados y despojados de sus pertenencias, fueron obligados a registrarse, a bordarse en la solapa la estrella de David, para casi de inmediato ser transportados en trenes de ganado al sur de Polonia, al campo de concentración de Auschwitz, donde serían gaseados.
Dada la premura por acelerar el exterminio, a diferencia de otros países de Europa, en Hungría no hubo guetos, no fueron necesarios.
Mientras el Gobierno filo alemán de Miklos Horthy colaboraba con los invasores, los nazis húngaros de la Cruz Flechada, consumaban despiadados pogromos y persecuciones por las calles contra los judíos de Hungría, al tiempo que instalaban campos de tránsito para concentrarlos antes de su envío a la muerte.
El cuerpo diplomático destacado en Budapest, era testigo horrorizado de los acontecimientos.
En la legación española, que no era sospechada ni mucho menos, de simpatizar con los Aliados, el encargado de negocios, Miguel Ángel de Muguiro, escribió a Madrid, reportando escandalizado, las vejaciones, palizas, registros y otras aberraciones con las que se solazaban los miembros de las SS.
En Madrid, estaban absolutamente al tanto de las intenciones del "amigo alemán" en Hungría. Un año antes, según consigna en una excelente nota Fernando Díaz Villanueva, Federico Oliván, secretario del embajador español en Berlín, había escrito al ministerio de Exteriores, pidiendo permiso para ayudar a los pocos judíos que iban quedando con vida en el Gran Reich: "Si España se niega a recibir a esta parte de su colonia en el extranjero, la condena automáticamente a muerte, pues esta es la triste realidad". La colonia a la que se refería eran los judíos sefarditas, herederos lejanos de aquellos que fueron expulsados de España por los Reyes Católicos en 1492.
Tanto Oliván en Berlín como Muguiro en Budapest habían rescatado un viejo decreto promulgado por Primo de Rivera en 1924, en virtud del cual todos los que demostrasen pertenecer a aquella Sefarad errante, obtendrían de inmediato la nacionalidad española. Ocultaban que el efecto del decreto había expirado en 1931, pero en Madrid no se acordaban y los nazis, naturalmente, no lo sabían. Muguiro se agarró a él para solicitar a las autoridades húngaras la protección de los sefarditas. El problema es que en Hungría, sefarditas, lo que se dice sefarditas, había muy pocos. No daban ni para llenar un tren".
Sin amilanarse, informando a Madrid del futuro aciago que aguardaba a la comunidad hebrea, usufructuando su condición de diplomático, Muguiro, intercedió a favor de todos los judíos que pudo y engrandeció su obra al apropiarse de un cargamento de 500 niños, a los que les extendió visado y envió a Tánger, salvándolos de la inexorable muerte que les esperaba en Polonia.
Este hecho y otros análogos que trascendieron, fueron los que generaron la animosidad en su contra de los húngaros y alemanes, y los que determinaron, el cese inmediato de sus funciones.
La causalidad, en nombre de la Divina Providencia, hizo que el sucesor fuera su secretario, un joven de 32 años que se llamaba Ángel Sanz Briz, un zaragozano casado con una hermosa mujer, con la que tenía una niña recién nacida.
Sanz Briz, quien estaba consustanciado con la política de Muguiro, fue nombrado encargado de negocios de la Embajada de España. Junto a un italiano llamado Giorgio Perlasca, que había combatido en la Guerra Civil, refinó y perfeccionó los procedimientos de su antecesor. La premisa era hacer lo mismo, pero con mayor sigilo y menor exposición.
Para evitar elucubraciones y conjeturas, a Perlasca lo nacionalizó español y lo contrató para que trabajase en la Embajada, donde en lugar de su primigenio nombre Giorgio, se lo empezó a llamar Don Jorge.
Entre los diplomáticos acreditados en Budapest, hubo varios más comprometidos en la salvación de vidas. Con seguridad, fueron inspiradores de Sanz Briz.
En la Embajada de Suecia descollaba, Roul Wallenberg, quien fue la tabla de salvación de miles de judíos condenados a muerte. En la de Suiza, Carl Lutz, el inventor de los salvoconductos de protección denominados "schutzbriefe" , que significaron para los judíos, certificados de vida.
Imposibilitado de informar al Ministro de sus intenciones, para no correr el riesgo de ser cesado en sus funciones, al igual que Muguiro, Sanz Briz se limitaba a detallar las atrocidades que estaban perpetrando los nazis y los vernáculos Cruz Flechada en Hungría, contra la inerme población judía
Las denuncias de Sanz Briz, no tenían respuesta de Madrid. El silencio, interpretado por él, como haga lo que le parezca, pero no genere complicaciones, fue el acicate que necesitó para intensificar sus esfuerzos en aras de salvar la mayor cantidad posible de vidas.
Curiosamente, a Madrid, no le parecía del todo mal que los sefarditas retornaran a su patria, de la que injustamente habían sido expulsados los judíos cinco siglos antes. Los nazis incrédulos, no comprendían que la España de Franco, a la que habían auxiliado, se preocupara por unos judíos desterrados tanto tiempo atrás. Aún sin entenderlo lo toleraban. En un hecho sin precedentes, la Embajada de España en Berlín, logró sacar de Bergen-Belsen a 365 judíos que según el embajador, eran de origen sefardita, judíos de origen español.
Los nazis de Hungría, no conocían fehacientemente el número de judíos de origen sefardita, pero sabían que eran muy pocos.
Sanz Briz, conocedor de la propensión del asesino Eichmann a la molicie, le envío una carta en respetuosos términos, acompañada de una considerable suma de dinero, para que los descontrolados batallones de las SS no afligieran a "sus" judíos.
Los cuantiosos estipendios recibidos, lograron que el representante español, obtuviera el exiguo cupo de 200 personas, que eran la cantidad de sefarditas estimados en el país. Sólo podría emitir 200 pasaportes, ni uno más.
Sanz Briz aceptó sin protestar la dádiva y dio órdenes en la Embajada para preparar los salvoconductos, pero no los 200 asignados, sino todos los que fuera posible. Para ello, se valió de un ingenioso y arriesgado ardid. Ninguno de los pasaportes debía tener un número mayor al 200, pero tampoco debían repetirse. Para ello fue creando varias series que iban del uno al 200. Por ejemplo del pasaporte 80, había varios de las distintas series.
El truco era perfecto pero insuficiente. Para salvar a mil necesitaba cinco series, 2000 diez y así sucesivamente. Pasaportes con el mismo número y diferente serie eran entregados a los temerosos portadores.
A los efectos de disminuir las series, ideo aplicar el cupo otorgado por los nazis, no a individuos sino a grupos familiares, de modo que un pasaporte pudiese pertenecer a cinco o seis personas.
No obstante, el riesgo de ser descubierto por los nazis era muy grande.
Todo podía desmoronarse si un agente de la SS en un control de documentos, parase en la calle a dos portadores de un pasaporte con igual número pero de diferente serie. En virtud de ello y contemplando el hecho que los nazis advirtieran que había muchos sefarditas en las calles de Budapest, Sanz Briz, alquiló varias casas para cobijar a los judíos. Estos debían restringir al máximo sus salidas, salir un rato preferentemente por las mañanas, mientras que la Embajada se encargaría de proveerles comida y medicación, y fundamentalmente de tener alejados a los nazis de sus viviendas.
Para extremar los recaudos, Sanz Briz mandó colocar una placa en húngaro y alemán que decía: "Anejo a la legación de España. Edificio Extraterritorial"
Los judíos permanecían en sus casas hasta que Sanz Briz conseguía trasladarlos a Suiza, España u otro país en el que estuviesen a salvo.
Alrededor de 5.200 personas fueron salvadas de la muerte por Sanz Briz. Cuando regresó a España, no fue objeto de felicitaciones y tampoco de críticas. Prosiguió con su carrera diplomática siendo destinado a los Estados Unidos y durante 35 años representó a España en numerosos países del mundo y falleció el 11 de junio de 1980, siendo embajador ante el Vaticano.
En 1991 el Museo del Holocausto Yad Vashem de Jerusalén, en Israel, distinguió su acción y transfirió a sus herederos el título de Justo entre las Naciones, inscribiendo su nombre en el Memorial del Holocausto. En 1994 el gobierno húngaro le concedió a título póstumo la Cruz de la Orden del Mérito de la República Húngara.
En el acto en su homenaje en la Embajada de España en Budapest, estarán presentes dos refugiados salvados por Ángel Sanz Briz, el piadoso cristiano , el primer diplomático que apareció en un sello de correos de España, al que recuerdan usando su nombre de pila, como al "Ángel español en Budapest".
Fuente y distribución: http://www.porisrael.org
Monday, November 10, 2008
CONGRATULATIONS, GRINGOS DE M...
Humor en serio / Laureano Márquez
Yo no sé a ustedes, pero al suscrito las elecciones gringas lo que le produjeron es una cochina envidia.
Primero: ver a un negro en la Casa Blanca, a la que le esperaba un negro porvenir si ganaba el blanco, aunque –dice un periódico del imperio– que al votar por el negro, los americanos dieron en el blanco.
Segundo: ver al blanco llamar al negro "my President" y reconocer lo que esta elección significaba para las luchas de los afrodescendientes, para la idea americana de que todos pueden llegar en igualdad de condiciones y hasta darle el pésame por la muerte de su grand mother, en vez de mentársela, como nos resulta familiar en la política local. No se le ocurrió decir que el triunfo de Obama fue de m..., ni nada por el estilo.
Tercero: ver al negro decir que quiere ser el Presidente de todos los norteamericanos, incluidos, claro está, todos los que no votaron por él, a los que nunca mandó al carajo, ni a lavarse el paltó, ni a que se metieran su voto en el bolsillo. Tuvo, además, palabras generosas y respetuosas para su adversario: no lo llamó imbécil, ni desgraciado.
Tampoco amenazó con meterlo preso tan pronto llegue a la que ahora tendremos que llamar Black and White House.
En fin, da envidia ver que la política puede ser el espacio del diálogo y el respeto, que aun quienes discrepan son capaces de reconocer que el adversario comparte el mismo amor por el país y que hay un enorme terreno para el acuerdo y la cooperación.
Por lo demás, conozco a alguien que se va quedando sin culpables a los que endosar sus fracasos y hasta él se ve obligado a felicitar a los que, tan sólo un par de meses atrás, eran unos gringos de m... Como dirían nuestros hermanos cubanos: que manera de comerla, caballero.
NOTA A WALESA:
Sé que tiene toda la pinta de una maniobra más del gobierno para silenciar una eventual crítica en un foro sobre la democracia. Pero doy fe de que la excusa que le dieron, señor Walesa, es absolutamente veraz. El gobierno venezolano no puede garantizar su seguridad, ni la de ningún ciudadano de este país. Al menos en su caso lo ha dicho con sinceridad. Así que, más bien, usted tuvo una suerte que no tenemos los que cada día salimos a la calle sin escoltas ni guardaespaldas, ni círculos de seguridad, porque lo que a nosotros nos ha caído encima es una extraordinaria mala Lech, Walesa.
Monday, October 27, 2008
Oct 27, 2008 1:10 pm
The falling price of oil is about to hand Venezuela's president a jolt of reality.
Oil accounts for 94% of Venezuela's exports and about half of President Hugo Chavez's national budget.
The price of a barrel of oil on the New York Mercantile exchange recently fetched $63.22, down about 57% from the high of $147.27 reached in July.
At the same time, Chavez plans to boost state spending by about 22% next year to $79 billion, after nearly tripling Venezuela's budget since 2004.
Venezuela's state oil company has added about 11,000 workers this year, boosting the payroll to 70,400 as production declines. This will increase the drag on a sagging economy.
The government plans to cut the workday to 6 hours from 8, a move sure to hurt the private sector.
Chavez appears to have little room to maneuver, because it would be difficult to cut social programs, including subsidies for food and free education. Overall, the government payroll has grown to 2 million, or about 1 in every 14 citizens.
Chavez's handling of the economy could lead to future food shortages, especially if oil production continues to fall and the price per barrel continues to drop during the worldwide economic slowdown.
Venezuela is a net importer of food and durable goods, a situation made more difficult by the nation's current inflation rate of about 36%. There's no apparent effort to check inflation, which is likely to get worse.
However, Chavez's government appears to have about $100 billion in reserves, or enough to last 18 to 24 months. And then?
Gasoline now costs about $0.12 per gallon, and the government may soon raise the price, a move sure to be unpopular. Chavez may also reduce the Petrocaribe program, which allows Caribbean and Central American countries to buy oil below market rates. Venezuela has made over $2 billion in sales since 2005 to 18 member nations.
At $100 a barrel, Petrocaribe members paid 40% of the bill on delivery and cancel the balance over 25 years at 1% interest. If the price falls below $80 a barrel, the initial payment increases to 50%; it jumps to 60% if the price hits $50 a barrel.
Analysts say Venezuela needs to export oil at about $94 a barrel to offset current imports of goods and services. A drop below that price also means the country will take a bigger hit on the Petrocaribe program.
Despite the looming budget crunch, Chavez announced earlier this month that he plans to buy dozens of Russian tanks and armored vehicles, adding to more than $US4 billion in arms purchases from Moscow.
Chavez may gloat over Wall Street's troubles, but his revolutionary ways are about to confront Economics 101. This will create hard times for the people of Venezuela, but don't bet on the crunch changing Chavez's view of the world one bit.
After all, economics is just a club wielded by rapacious capitalists, right?
Copyright 2008 Minyanville Publishing and Multimedia, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Out in style...
Andrew Lahde, manager of a small California hedge fund, Lahde Capital, burst
into the spotlight last year (http://search.ft.com/ftArticle?queryText=lahde&aje=true&id=080115000297&ct=0 ) after his one-year-old fund returned 866
percent betting against the subprime collapse.
Last month, he did the unthinkable -- he shut things down, claiming dealing
with his bank
counterparties had become too risky. Today, Lahde passed along his "goodbye"
letter, a rollicking missive on everything from greed to economic
Today I write not to gloat. Given the pain that nearly everyone is
experiencing, that would be entirely inappropriate. Nor am I writing to make
further predictions, as most of my forecasts in previous letters have
unfolded or are in the process of unfolding. Instead, I am writing to say
Recently, on the front page of Section C of the Wall Street Journal, a hedge
fund manager who was also closing up shop (a $300 million fund), was quoted
as saying, "What I have learned about the hedge fund business is that I hate
it." I could not agree more with that statement. I was in this game for the
money. The low hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep
school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking. These
people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or
supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns
and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior
supporting the Aristocracy, only ended up making it easier for me to find
people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.
There are far too many people for me to sincerely thank for my success.
However, I do not want to sound like a Hollywood actor accepting an award.
The money was reward enough. Furthermore, the endless list those deserving
thanks know who they are.
I will no longer manage money for other people or institutions. I have
enough of my own wealth to manage. Some people, who think they have arrived
at a reasonable estimate of my net worth, might be surprised that I would
call it quits with such a small war chest. That is fine; I am content with
my rewards. Moreover, I will let others try to amass nine, ten or eleven
figure net worths. Meanwhile, their lives suck. Appointments back to back,
booked solid for the next three months, they look forward to their two week
vacation in January during which they will likely be glued to their
Blackberries or other such devices. What is the point? They will all be
forgotten in fifty years anyway. Steve Balmer, Steven Cohen, and Larry
Ellison will all be forgotten. I do not understand the legacy thing. Nearly
everyone will be forgotten. Give up on leaving your mark. Throw the
Blackberry away and enjoy life.
So this is it. With all due respect, I am dropping out. Please do not expect
any type of reply to emails or voicemails within normal time frames or at
all. Andy Springer and his company will be handling the dissolution of the
fund. And don't worry about my employees, they were always employed by Mr.
Springer's company and only one (who has been well-rewarded) will lose his
I have no interest in any deals in which anyone would like me to
participate. I truly do not have a strong opinion about any market right
now, other than to say that things will continue to get worse for some time,
probably years. I am content sitting on the sidelines and waiting. After
all, sitting and waiting is how we made money from the subprime debacle. I
now have time to repair my health, which was destroyed by the stress I
layered onto myself over the past two years, as well as my entire life --
where I had to compete for spaces in universities and graduate schools, jobs
and assets under management -- with those who had all the advantages (rich
parents) that I did not. May meritocracy be part of a new form of
government, which needs to be established.
On the issue of the U.S. Government, I would like to make a modest proposal.
First, I point out the obvious flaws, whereby legislation was repeatedly
brought forth to Congress over the past eight years, which would have
reigned in the predatory lending practices of now mostly defunct
institutions. These institutions regularly filled the coffers of both
parties in return for voting down all of this legislation designed to
protect the common citizen. This is an outrage, yet no one seems to know or
care about it. Since Thomas Jefferson and Adam Smith passed, I would argue
that there has been a dearth of worthy philosophers in this country, at
least ones focused on improving government.
Capitalism worked for two hundred years, but times change, and systems
become corrupt. George Soros, a man of staggering wealth, has stated that he
would like to be remembered as a philosopher. My suggestion is that this
great man start and sponsor a forum for great minds to come together to
create a new system of government that truly represents the common man's
interest, while at the same time creating rewards great enough to attract
the best and brightest minds to serve in government roles without having to
rely on corruption to further their interests or lifestyles. This forum
could be similar to the one used to create the operating system, Linux,
which competes with Microsoft's near monopoly. I believe there is an answer,
but for now the system is clearly broken.
Lastly, while I still have an audience, I would like to bring attention to
an alternative food and energy source. You won't see it included in BP's,
"Feel good. We are working on sustainable solutions," television
commercials, nor is it mentioned in ADM's similar commercials. But hemp has
been used for at least 5,000 years for cloth and food, as well as just about
everything that is produced from petroleum products. Hemp is not marijuana
and vice versa. Hemp is the male plant and it grows like a weed, hence the
slang term. The original American flag was made of hemp fiber and our
Constitution was printed on paper made of hemp. It was used as recently as
World War II by the U.S. Government, and then promptly made illegal after
the war was won. At a time when rhetoric is flying about becoming more
self-sufficient in terms of energy, why is it illegal to grow this plant in
Ah, the female. The evil female plant -- marijuana. It gets you high, it
makes you laugh, it does not produce a hangover. Unlike alcohol, it does not
result in bar fights or wife beating. So, why is this innocuous plant
illegal? Is it a gateway drug? No, that would be alcohol, which is so
heavily advertised in this country. My only conclusion as to why it is
illegal, is that Corporate America, which owns Congress, would rather sell
you Paxil, Zoloft, Xanax and other additive drugs, than allow you to grow a
plant in your home without some of the profits going into their coffers.
This policy is ludicrous. It has surely contributed to our dependency on
foreign energy sources. Our policies have other countries literally laughing
at our stupidity, most notably Canada, as well as several European nations
(both Eastern and Western). You would not know this by paying attention to
U.S. media sources though, as they tend not to elaborate on who is laughing
at the United States this week. Please people, let's stop the rhetoric and
start thinking about how we can truly become self-sufficient.
With that I say good-bye and good luck.
All the best,
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Some basic tech tips that will save you a lot of time...
Tech Tips for the Basic Computer User
October 2, 2008, 12:22 pm
Last week, I wrote an entry on my blog <http://nytimes.com/pogue> that began like this:
"One of these days, I'm going to write a book called, 'The Basics.' It's going to be a compendium of the essential tech bits that you just assume everyone knows–but you're wrong.
"(I'll never forget watching a book editor at a publishing house painstakingly drag across a word in a word processor to select it. After 10 minutes of this, I couldn't stand it. 'Why don't you just double-click the word?' She had no clue you could do that!)"
Many readers chimed in with other "basics" that they assumed every computer user knew–but soon discovered that what's common knowledge isn't the same as universal knowledge.
I'm sure the basics could fill a book, but here are a few to get you started. All of these are things that certain friends, family or coworkers, over the years, did *not* know. Clip, save and pass along to…well, you know who they are.
* You can double-click a word to highlight it in any document, e-mail or Web page.
* When you get an e-mail message from eBay or your bank, claiming that you have an account problem or a question from a buyer, it's probably a "phishing scam" intended to trick you into typing your password. Don't click the link in the message. If in doubt, go into your browser and type "www.ebay.com <http://www.ebay.com> " (or whatever) manually.
* Nobody, but nobody, is going to give you half of $80 million to help them liberate the funds of a deceased millionaire…from Nigeria or anywhere else.
* You can hide all windows, revealing only what's on the computer desktop, with one keystroke: hit the Windows key and "D" simultaneously in Windows, or press F11 on Macs (on recent Mac laptops, Command+F3; Command is the key with the cloverleaf logo). That's great when you want examine or delete something you've just downloaded to the desktop, for example. Press the keystroke again to return to what you were doing.
* You can enlarge the text on any Web page. In Windows, press Ctrl and the plus or minus keys (for bigger or smaller fonts); on the Mac, it's the Command key and plus or minus.
* You can also enlarge the entire Web page or document by pressing the Control key as you turn the wheel on top of your mouse. On the Mac, this enlarges the entire screen image.
* The number of megapixels does not determine a camera's picture quality; that's a marketing myth. The sensor size is far more important. (Use Google to find it. For example, search for "sensor size Nikon D90.")
* On most cellphones, press the Send key to open up a list of recent calls. Instead of manually dialing, you can return a call by highlighting one of these calls and pressing Send again.
* When someone sends you some shocking e-mail and suggests that you pass it on, don't. At least not until you've first confirmed its truth at snopes.com <http://snopes.com> , the Internet's authority on e-mailed myths. This includes get-rich schemes, Microsoft/AOL cash giveaways, and–especially lately–nutty scare-tactic messages about our Presidential candidates.
* You can tap the Space bar to scroll down on a Web page one screenful. Add the Shift key to scroll back up.
* When you're filling in the boxes on a Web page (like City, State, Zip), you can press the Tab key to jump from box to box, rather than clicking. Add the Shift key to jump through the boxes backwards.
* You can adjust the size and position of any window on your computer. Drag the top strip to move it; drag the lower-right corner (Mac) or any edge (Windows) to resize it.
* Forcing the camera's flash to go off prevents silhouetted, too-dark faces when you're outdoors.
* When you're searching for something on the Web using, say, Google, put quotes around phrases that must be searched together. For example, if you put quotes around "electric curtains," Google won't waste your time finding one set of Web pages containing the word "electric" and another set containing the word "curtains."
* You can use Google to do math for you. Just type the equation, like 23*7+15/3=, and hit Enter.
* Oh, yeah: on the computer, * means "times" and / means "divided by."
* If you can't find some obvious command, like Delete in a photo program, try clicking using the right-side mouse button. (On the Mac, you can Control-click instead.)
* Google is also a units-of-measurement and currency converter. Type "teaspoons in 1.3 gallons," for example, or "euros in 17 dollars." Click Search to see the answer.
* You can open the Start menu by tapping the key with the Windows logo on it.
* You can switch from one open program to the next by pressing Alt+Tab (Windows) or Command-Tab (Mac).
* You generally can't send someone more than a couple of full-size digital photos as an e-mail attachment; those files are too big, and they'll bounce back to you. (Instead, use iPhoto or Picasa–photo-organizing programs that can automatically scale down photos in the process of e-mailing them.)
* Whatever technology you buy today will be obsolete soon, but you can avoid heartache by learning the cycles. New iPods come out every September. New digital cameras come out in February and October.
* Just putting something into the Trash or the Recycle Bin doesn't actually delete it. You then have to *empty* the Trash or Recycle Bin. (Once a year, I hear about somebody whose hard drive is full, despite having practically no files. It's because over the years, they've put 79 gigabytes' worth of stuff in the Recycle Bin and never emptied it.)
* You don't have to type "http://www" into your Web browser. Just type the remainder: "nytimes.com <http://nytimes.com> " or "dilbert.com <http://dilbert.com> ," for example. (In the Safari browser, you can even leave off the ".com" part.)
* On the iPhone, hit the Space bar twice at the end of a sentence. You get a period, a space, and a capitalized letter at the beginning of the next word.
* Come up with an automated backup system for your computer. There's no misery quite like the sick feeling of having lost chunks of your life because you didn't have a safety copy.
What are your favorite basics-that-you-thought-everyone-knew? Let us know in the comments for this column at nytimes.com/pogue <http://nytimes.com/pogue> !
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
MONACO: Massimo Vilardi, an executive with Eurocopter, came to this year's Monaco yacht show to sell helicopters.
Helicopters? At a boat show?
Yacht sales have increased 10 percent to 15 percent a year in the last few years, and this year was no exception. Since everyone who is anyone has to have a yacht, and increasingly does, what buyers want most now, naturally, are accessories: minisubmarines and helicopters.
Olivier Milliex, head of yacht finance at the Dutch bank ING, summed it up best. "Today, a mega-yacht is indispensable," he said. "It's not like 15 years ago, when a yacht was a luxury item."
Stock markets may be in rough seas and oil prices exploding, but none of that put much of a blemish on the mood at the trade fair last month in Monaco. Europeans often watch boat fairs like the canary in the coal mine to judge the overall health of their economies. But Monaco may not be the best bellwether: if other boating fairs are prêt-a-porter, Monaco is, by design, haute couture.
The annual boating trade fair, hardly the largest in a series of fairs that go from Cannes to Genoa to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at the end of October, ran here from Sept. 19 to Sept. 22. Monaco limits the number of exhibitors to about 500; moreover, many yacht builders do not even show yachts. Their customers do not want off-the-rack yachts, they want boats custom-built to designs that will not be replicated.
One bauble that increasing numbers of big yacht buyers are asking for is a helicopter. Of course, that means adding a pilot and a mechanic to the yacht's crew, but for the people who buy these yachts, that is hardly a concern. So Vilardi, head of marketing in the business and private market segment of Eurocopter, a unit of the EADS aerospace group, has linked up with the British yacht broker Edmiston to meet their wishes. At Monaco this year, Edmiston showed a 60-meter, or 200-foot yacht with Eurocopter's smallest helicopter, which sells for about $2 million, perched atop.
"Our motto is, 'To create what money can't buy,' " Vilardi said. "You're looking at a global offer: a car, a yacht, a helicopter, maybe a plane." And, maybe, a submarine?
Across the fair from Edmiston, the Dutch company U-Boat Worx was showing its colorful two-seater submarine, whose bulbous shape makes it look like Mickey and Minnie Mouse would drive it, with a list price of $246,000. The minisub, said Erik Hasselman, U-Boat Worx's head of sales and marketing, is ideal for stowing on a yacht, but for safety reasons can only dive to about 50 meters, where there is still surface light. "It's only for recreation," he said.
The banks at the trade fair, said Milliex of ING, were doing cross-selling: offering tax and finance advice to the same people who they serve as private banking clients.
Some wealthy customers, for example, prefer a mortgage for their yacht, taking advantage of low interest rates, rather than tying up cash in a yacht purchase. Others need advice on creating a company to buy their yacht, rather than purchase it directly, to save on taxes, or on registering their boat in a foreign country to enable them to pay lower social security contributions for crew members. Many of the yachts parked in Monaco were registered in George Town, in the Cayman Islands.
"Anyone who is in the oil business, naturally, is going to be motivated to build a yacht," said Hans-Erik Henze, senior vice president for yachts of Germany's Blohm & Voss, a division of the ThyssenKrupp steel group. "And that's where we do a lot of our business."
Blohm & Voss had the largest yacht at the show, the 105-meter Lady Moura, but it was moored offshore, not for visiting, being too large to fit Monaco's narrow harbor. Henze said the company's three yards had 15 yachts under construction. "Once, 100 meters was thought big," he said. Now we have several projects above that."
Despite the ostentation of Monaco's yacht shoppers, some bargain hunters come here, and they, in turn, are attracting shipbuilders from low cost countries. One of those was Timmerman Yachts, a Russian-Polish enterprise with yards in Moscow that is named for the Dutchman who introduced Czar Peter the Great to the art of shipbuilding. The yards build yachts in five sizes, from 25 to 47 meters, and there are 12
Asked why someone in Monaco would buy a Russian yacht, Irina Bogatyreva, a company official, replied unabashedly: "The price is cheaper, and the quality is the same as in other countries."
Curiously, some of the world's biggest yachts are owned by Russians. Roman Abramovich, the Russian tycoon, owns at least three, and has another under construction, the 165-meter Eclipse, which according to Monaco newspapers, will be outfitted with twin helicopter landing pads, and a submarine.
The high price of oil, which yachts burn as fuel, did not seem to worry anyone.
"I would say this market can withstand a lot of fluctuations, as the economy worsens," said Diane Byrd, executive editor of Power & Motor-yacht, the trade publication. "It's a small group of owners, a handful of people, and it's still growing."
Nor did the anemic U.S. dollar appear to be having much influence on the flow of orders. Westport Yachts, which showed a 50-meter, $29 million yacht, said that of five 35-meter yachts it would build next year, all were sold, and of five 40-meter yachts, three were sold.
What did seem to be creeping into the business is an awareness of the environment. In a narrow stand, Lance Sheppard hawked a foam and fiberglass product that replicates wood, like teak, hence sparing the forests.
"These days it's hard to get all types of veneers," said Sheppard, marketing director of Digital Veneer, a unit of the SMI Group, of Whangarei, New Zealand. "A lot of teak is illegally lumbered, some by the Chinese, in Burma and Nepal."
But the boat that dripped green, in spirit if not color, was a 50-meter yacht built by the Italian yard Mondo Marine. Renato Polo, a company official, listed the yacht's environmental assets: devices to recuperate its used water, filters on its twin diesel engines to capture particles, a hull covering that is benign to its marine environment, filtered glass to diminish the heat on board and hence reduce the need for air conditioning.
The $34 million yacht was built for Luciano Benetton, of the clothing chain whose ads always promoted social causes, for instance, against poverty or for education, and Benetton named it Tribu, Italian for Tribe, for his large family. Benetton gave the yacht five spacious bedrooms, each with its own bath, plus two exercise rooms and a sauna. Asked how much the environmental features would add to the bill for such a boat, Polo replied, "On a boat of this size, the difference in cost is laughable."
In this sense, here is a piece by Richard Russell of Dow Theory Letters on the perfect business.
This piece is by Richard Russell of Dow Theory Letters.
It's excellent, nothing to add!
The Perfect Business
AH PERFECTION: Strange, but the most popular, the most widely-requested, and the most widely quoted piece I've ever written was not about the stock market -- it was about business, and specifically about what I call the theoretical "ideal business." I first published this piece in the early-1970s. I repeated it in Letter 881 and then again in Letter 982. I've added a few thoughts in each successive edition. But seldom does a month go by when I don't get requests from subscribers or from some publication or corporation to republish "the ideal business." So here it is again -- with a few added comments.
I once asked a friend, a prominent New York corporate lawyer, "Dave, in all your years of experience, what was the single best business you've ever come across?" Without hesitation, Dave answered, "I have a client whose sole business is manufacturing a chemical that is critical in making synthetic rubber. This chemical is used in very small quantities in rubber manufacturing, but it is absolutely essential and can be used in only super-refined form.
"My client is the only one who manufactures this chemical. He therefore owns a virtual monopoly since this chemical is extremely difficult to manufacture and not enough of it is used to warrant another company competing with him. Furthermore, since the rubber companies need only small quantities of this chemical, they don't particularly care what they pay for it -- as long as it meets their very demanding specifications. My client is a millionaire many times over, and his business is the best I've ever come across." I was fascinated by the lawyer's story, and I never forgot it.
When I was a young man and just out of college my father gave me a few words of advice. Dad had loads of experience; he had been in the paper manufacturing business; he had been assistant to Mr. Sam Bloomingdale (of Bloomingdale's Department store); he had been in construction (he was a civil engineer); and he was also an expert in real estate management.
Here's what my dad told me: "Richard, stay out of the retail business. The hours are too long, and you're dealing with every darn variable under the sun. Stay out of real estate; when hard times arrive real estate comes to a dead stop and then it collapses. Furthermore, real estate is illiquid. When the collapse comes, you can't unload. Get into manufacturing; make something people can use. And make something that you can sell to the world. But Richard, my boy, if you're really serious about making money, get into the money business. It's clean, you can use your brains, you can get rid of your inventory and your mistakes in 30 seconds, and your product, money, never goes out of fashion."
So much for my father's wisdom (which was obviously tainted by the Great Depression). But Dad was a very wise man. For my own part, I've been in a number of businesses -- from textile designing to advertising to book publishing to owning a night club to the investment advisory business.
It's said that every business needs (1) a dreamer, (2) a businessman, and (3) a S.O.B. Well, I don't know about number 3, but most successful businesses do have a number 3 or all too often they seem to have a combined number 2 and number 3.
Bill Gates is known as "America's richest man." Bully for Billy. But do you know what Gates' biggest coup was? When Gates was dealing with IBM, Big Blue needed an operating system for their computer. Gates didn't have one, but he knew where to find one. A little outfit in Seattle had one. Gates bought the system for a mere $50,000 and presented it to IBM. That was the beginning of Microsoft's rise to power. Lesson: It's not enough to have the product, you have to know and understand your market. Gates didn't have the product, but he knew the market -- and he knew where to acquire the product.
Apple had by far the best product in the Mac. But Apple made a monumental mistake. They refused to license ALL PC manufacturers to use the Mac operating system. If they had, Apple today could be Microsoft, and Gates would still be trying to come out with something useful (the fact is Microsoft has been a follower and a great marketer, not an innovator). "Find a need and fill it," runs the old adage. Maybe today they should change that to, "Dream up a need and fill it." That's what has happened in the world of computers. And it will happen again and again.
All right, let's return to that wonderful world of perfection. I spent a lot of time and thought in working up the criteria for what I've termed the IDEAL BUSINESS. Now obviously, the ideal business doesn't exist and probably never will. But if you're about to start a business or join someone else's business or if you want to buy a business, the following list may help you. The more of these criteria that you can apply to your new business or new job, the better off you'll be.
(1) The ideal business sells the world, rather than a single neighborhood or even a single city or state. In other words, it has an unlimited global market (and today this is more important than ever, since world markets have now opened up to an extent unparalleled in my lifetime). By the way, how many times have you seen a retail store that has been doing well for years -- then another bigger and better retail store moves nearby, and it's kaput for the first store.
(2) The ideal business offers a product which enjoys an "inelastic" demand. Inelastic refers to a product that people need or desire -- almost regardless of price.
(3) The ideal business sells a product which cannot be easily substituted or copied. This means that the product is an original or at least it's something that can be copyrighted or patented.
(4) The ideal business has minimal labor requirements (the fewer personnel, the better). Today's example of this is the much-talked about "virtual corporation." The virtual corporation may consist of an office with three executives, where literally all manufacturing and services are farmed out to other companies.
(5) The ideal business enjoys low overhead. It does not need an expensive location; it does not need large amounts of electricity, advertising, legal advice, high-priced employees, large inventory, etc.
(6) The ideal business does not require big cash outlays or major investments in equipment. In other words, it does not tie up your capital (incidentally, one of the major reasons for new-business failure is under-capitalization).
(7) The ideal business enjoys cash billings. In other words, it does not tie up your capital with lengthy or complex credit terms.
(8) The ideal business is relatively free of all kinds of government and industry regulations and strictures (and if you're now in your own business, you most definitely know what I mean with this one).
(9) The ideal business is portable or easily moveable. This means that you can take your business (and yourself) anywhere you want -- Nevada, Florida, Texas, Washington, S. Dakota (none have state income taxes) or hey, maybe even Monte Carlo or Switzerland or the south of France.
(10) Here's a crucial one that's often overlooked; the ideal business satisfies your intellectual (and often emotional) needs. There's nothing like being fascinated with what you're doing. When that happens, you're not working, you're having fun.
(11) The ideal business leaves you with free time. In other words, it doesn't require your labor and attention 12, 16 or 18 hours a day (my lawyer wife, who leaves the house at 6:30 AM and comes home at 6:30 PM and often later, has been well aware of this one).
(12) Super-important: the ideal business is one in which your income is not limited by your personal output (lawyers and doctors have this problem). No, in the ideal business you can sell 10,000 customers as easily as you sell one (publishing is an example).
That's it. If you use this list it may help you cut through a lot of nonsense and hypocrisy and wishes and dreams regarding what you are looking for in life and in your work. None of us own or work at the ideal business. But it's helpful knowing what we're looking for and dealing with. As a buddy of mine once put it, "I can't lay an egg and I can't cook, but I know what a great omelet looks like and tastes like."