Wrangler Celebrates 70th anniversary with its Autumn Winter’17 Collection        

by Shrutee K/DNS


This year, Wrangler celebrates its 70th anniversary of producing perennial fashions with a global advertising campaign and a fresh anniversary collection, influenced by their iconic, revolutionary denim and authentic retro looks that took the 1970s by storm.

Wrangler was the definitive denim brand for teenagers back in this style-setting decade, and the anniversary collection has been artfully inspired by the brand’s notable archive finds: reinventing the most popular ’70s styles for today’s spirited youth with a passion for life and all of its adventures.
Trademark Wrangler basics are back and better than ever, as the label taps into’70s imagery for inspiration and relaunch the timeless vintage logo. The collection includes bold, colourful t-shirts featuring variations of the iconic ’70s Wrangler rainbow graphic, and signature staples in vibrant hues with retro seventies cuts. The rainbow symbolises confidence, exuberance and freedom: traits that are intrinsic to the Wrangler’s brand’s persona. Denim comes in authentic stone washes and brighter shades of blue.  Wrangler continues to be renowned and praised for being inspiring, progressive and always in tune with the ever-changing needs of its fashion-forward customers.
 Price Details: Tees: Rs.995/- Onwards & Denims: Rs.2995/- Onwards

Availability: Across all Wrangler stores in India.

About Wrangler
The heritage of Wrangler goes back literally 70 years when the brand first made an appearance. Wrangler was the first modern five-pocket jeans to be test-fitted and endorsed by real-life cowboys. Since then, Wrangler continues to inspire freedom, independence and self-reliance in its wearers.

The brand in India has come a long way, evolving to meet the needs of the ‘urban cowboy’ with a range of fashion apparel that is contemporary, fashionable yet rugged. 

A part of VF Corporation - the world's largest apparel company, Wrangler has found a loyal consumer base in the Indian youth that swear by this unique fashion brand. This stylish denim brand is available at exclusive standalone stores, leading apparel stores and major department stores Log on to wrangler-ap.com/in.

          Ambi Pur’s New TVC Focuses on Refreshing Monsoons        
Shrutee K/DNS

Mumbai, August 4, 2017:-Ambi Pur’s Smelly to Smiley campaigns have always challenged and conquered the toughest and most pungent odours in a real time set up with live experiments. The third edition of the Smelly to Smiley campaign focuses on yet another very relevant odour issue that most have us have encountered – the problem of the lingering monsoon odour that plagues all Indian households during the season. While monsoons have always stood for happy, fun times, growing up brings us face-to-face with monsoon-related issues. Akin to the advertisement format that has become synonymous to Ambi Pur, the new TVC is a real-life experiment at a real consumer’s home, where a unique sensorial challenge is conducted. After all, how often would you come across people with blind folds and pegs on their noses?

This interesting play on the senses reveals that a home, which may look immaculately clean, may, in reality, be perceived as unclean because it is doused with the damp monsoon odour. This TVC, conceptualized by Grey Group, features Brand Ambassador Boman Irani who presents a reality check in context to the damp, lingering odours that specially torment during monsoons. Launching nationally on August 03, the TVC positions the New and Improved Ambi Pur, with odour-clear technology, as the perfect solution to restore freshness to your favorite season. 

The recently released findings from a survey conducted by AC Nielsen, commissioned by Ambi Pur, unearthed the extent of suffering that these damp, musty odours impose on all of us. In fact, 9 out of every 10* women felt that monsoons bring issues within the household such as drying clothes inside, that lead to a musty damp odour.
 
Nidhish Garg, Brand Manager, P&G Home Care India, comments: “To drive awareness regarding the New & Improved Ambi Pur with patented odour-clear technology, we have launched the 3rdleg of the very popular Smelly to Smiley campaign. The brand stays with its ideology of putting the product to torture tests against relevant odour issues, and this time we take on the musty odour that all Indians face during monsoons. The TVC captures live reaction of a consumer who experiences the monsoon odour when visiting a friend’s home that looks perfectly clean. The same consumer sees Ambi Pur in action and how it completely eliminates the monsoon odour as opposed to temporarily concealing it with a fragrance. This format of communicating with our consumers through live experiments helps in building brand salience and credibility.”
 

Ambi Pur’s Brand Ambassador, Boman Irani further adds, “Monsoon is my favourite season but we all know the challenges that come with it, right from drying clothes inside to the rigorous cleaning regime. The new TVC shows that the house that looks clean may not actually smell clean due to the overwhelming moisture-heavy air giving out a feeling of lack of hygiene. It is always fun shooting for Ambi Pur ads, as well as extremely reassuring to witness the brand live up to toughest home odours in live experiments, year on year! This time too, Ambi Pur in its new avatar, truly eliminated the musty monsoon odour. So, it’s time to stop being enslaved by this moldy smell and refresh your monsoons with Ambi Pur.”

The New & Improved Ambi Pur uses a distinct formulation that focuses on odour removal, not just on emitting the fragrance. P&G has created a trademarked ‘Odour-clear technology’, which has been brought to India in July. The new technology fights odour at a molecular level, neutralizing it completely, and leaving behind a subtle fragrance, thus truly eliminating all tough odours.

All Ambi Pur fragrances, including the newly launched Sandalwood fragrance, are available across stores at a price of Rs. 299.

Agency Credits:
Lead Creative Agency: GREY Düsseldorf
Local Support: GREY Mumbai
Production House: Casta Diva Pictures, Mumbai

About Procter & Gamble
P&G serves consumers in India with one of the strongest portfolios of trusted, quality, leadership brands, including Vicks ®, Ariel®, Tide®, Whisper®, Olay®, Gillette®, AmbiPur®, Pampers®, Pantene®, Oral-B®, Head & Shoulders® and Old Spice®. P&G operates through 3 entities in India of which 2 are listed on NSE & BSE. The listed P&G entities are: ‘Procter & Gamble Hygiene & Health Care Limited’ and ‘Gillette India Limited’, whereas the unlisted entity (which is a 100% subsidiary of the parent company in the U.S) operates by the name ‘Procter & Gamble Home Products Private Ltd.’ In the last 12 years, P&G’s signature CSR program P&G Shiksha has built and supported 1000 schools that will impact the lives of 10,00,000 underprivileged children across the country by providing them with access to education. Please visit http://www.pg-India.com for the latest news and in-depth information about P&G India and its brands.

          '..If you can’t see this next crisis coming, you’re not paying the right kind of attention .. Financial politicians..' (no replies)        
'..If you can’t see this next crisis coming, you’re not paying the right kind of attention..'

'This Fed has already engineered the next crisis, just as Greenspan kept rates too low for too long, ignored his regulatory responsibility, and engineered the housing bubble and subprime crisis. If you can’t see this next crisis coming, you’re not paying the right kind of attention. The Trump Fed is going to have to deal with that crisis, but we still have many questions as to what a Trump Fed will actually look like or do.'

John Mauldin (Source, Jun 25, 2017)


'..Their empathy circuits get turned off.'

'Powerful people everywhere routinely make decisions that hurt others. We see it in central bankers, politicians, corporate CEOs, religious groups, universities – any large organization. The old saying is right: Power really does corrupt. And corruption is a barrier to sustainable economic growth. This is more than a political problem; it has a serious economic impact.

Recent psychological research suggests that powerful people behave remarkably like traumatic brain injury victims. Controlled experiments show that, given power over others, people often become impulsive and less sensitive to risk. Most important, test subjects often lose empathy, that is, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others.

..

Powerful people also lose a capacity called “mirroring.” When we observe other people doing something, our brains react as if we were doing the same thing. It’s why, when you watch a sporting event, you may unconsciously mimic a golf swing or the referee’s hand signals. Some portion of your brain thinks you are really there. But when researchers prime test subjects with powerful feelings, their mirroring capacity decreases.

You can see why this is a problem. The Protected-class members of the Federal Open Market Committee must feel quite powerful when they gather in that fancy room to make policy decisions. It’s no wonder they forget how their decisions will affect regular working-class people: Their empathy circuits get turned off.'

- Patrick Watson, The Wedge Goes Deeper, June 30, 2017


'..I now feel that it's highly likely we will face a major financial crisis, if not later this year, then by the end of 2018 at the latest..'

'Re-entering the news flow was a jolt, and not in a good way. Looking with fresh eyes at the economic numbers and central bankers’ statements convinced me that we will soon be in deep trouble. I now feel that it's highly likely we will face a major financial crisis, if not later this year, then by the end of 2018 at the latest. Just a few months ago, I thought we could avoid a crisis and muddle through. Now I think we’re past that point. The key decision-makers have (1) done nothing, (2) done the wrong thing, or (3) done the right thing too late.

Having realized this, I’m adjusting my research efforts. I believe a major crisis is coming. The questions now are, how severe will it be, and how will we get through it? With the election of President Trump and a Republican Congress, your naïve analyst was hopeful that we would get significant tax reform, in addition to reform of a healthcare system that is simply devastating to so many people and small businesses. I thought maybe we’d see this administration cutting through some bureaucratic red tape quickly. With such reforms in mind I was hopeful we could avoid a recession even if a crisis developed in China or Europe.

..

One news item I didn’t miss on St. Thomas – and rather wish I had – was Janet Yellen’s reassurance regarding the likelihood of another financial crisis. Here is the full quote.

Would I say there will never, ever be another financial crisis? You know probably that would be going too far, but I do think we’re much safer, and I hope that it will not be in our lifetimes and I don’t believe it will be. [emphasis added]

I disagree with almost every word in those two sentences, but my belief is less important than Chair Yellen’s. If she really believes this, then she is oblivious to major instabilities that still riddle the financial system. That’s not good.

..

Financial politicians (which is what central bankers really are) have a long history of saying the wrong things at the wrong time. Far worse, they simply fail to tell the truth. Former Eurogroup leader Jean-Claude Juncker admitted as much: “When it becomes serious, you have to lie,” he said in the throes of Europe’s 2011 debt crisis.'

- John Mauldin, Prepare for Turbulence, July 9, 2017


'..Market distortions – including valuations, deeply embedded complacency, and Trillions of perceived safe securities – have become only further detached from reality. And the longer all this unstable finance flows freely into the real economy, the deeper the structural maladjustment.'

'This week marks the five-year anniversary of Draghi’s “whatever it takes.” I remember the summer of 2012 as if it were yesterday. From the Bubble analysis perspective, it was a Critical Juncture – for financial markets and risk perceptions, for policy and for the global economy. Italian 10-year yields hit 6.60% on July 24, 2012. On that same day, Spain saw yields surge to 7.62%. Italian banks were in freefall, while European bank stocks (STOXX600) were rapidly approaching 2009 lows. Having risen above 55 in 2011, Deutsche Bank traded at 23.23 on July 25, 2012.

It was my view at the time that the “European” crisis posed a clear and immediate threat to the global financial system. A crisis of confidence in Italian debt (and Spanish and “periphery” debt) risked a crisis of confidence in European banks – and a loss of confidence in European finance risked dismantling the euro monetary regime.

Derivatives markets were in the crosshairs back in 2012. A crisis of confidence in European debt and the euro would surely have tested the derivatives marketplace to the limits. Moreover, with the big European banks having evolved into dominant players in derivatives trading (taking share from U.S. counterparts after the mortgage crisis), counter-party issues were at the brink of becoming a serious global market problem. It’s as well worth mentioning that European banks were major providers of finance for emerging markets.

From the global government finance Bubble perspective, Draghi’s “whatever it takes” was a seminal development. The Bernanke Fed employed QE measures during the 2008 financial crisis to accommodate deleveraging and stabilize dislocated markets. Mario Draghi leapfrogged (helicopter) Bernanke, turning to open-ended QE and other extreme measures to preserve euro monetary integration. No longer would QE be viewed as a temporary crisis management tool. And just completely disregard traditional monetary axiom that central banks should operate as lender of last resort in the event of temporary illiquidity – but must avoid propping up the insolvent. “Whatever it takes” advocates covert bailouts for whomever and whatever a small group of central bankers chooses – illiquid, insolvent, irredeemable or otherwise. Now five years after the first utterance of “whatever it takes,” the Draghi ECB is still pumping out enormous amounts of “money” on a monthly basis (buying sovereigns and corporates) with rates near zero.

..

Thinking back five years, U.S. markets at the time were incredibly complacent. The risk of crisis in Europe was downplayed: Policymakers had it all under control. Sometime later, the Financial Times - in a fascinating behind-the-scenes exposé - confirmed the gravity of the situation and how frazzled European leaders were at the brink of losing control. Yet central bankers, once again, saved the day – further solidifying their superhero status.

I’m convinced five years of “whatever it takes” took the global government finance Bubble deeper into perilous uncharted territory. Certainly, markets are more complacent than ever, believing central bankers are fully committed to prolonging indefinitely the securities bull market. Meanwhile, leverage, speculative excess and trend-following flows have had an additional five years to accumulate. Market distortions – including valuations, deeply embedded complacency, and Trillions of perceived safe securities – have become only further detached from reality. And the longer all this unstable finance flows freely into the real economy, the deeper the structural maladjustment.'

- Doug Noland, Five Years of Whatever It Takes, July 29, 2017


'..This whole episode is likely to end so badly that future children will learn about it in school and shake their heads in wonder at the rank stupidity of it all, just like many of us did when we learned about the Dutch Tulip mania.'

'While I've written about numerous valuation measures over time, the most reliable ones share a common feature: they focus on identifying "sufficient statistics" for the very, very long-term stream of cash flows that stocks can be expected to deliver into the hands of investors over time. On that front, revenues are typically more robust "sufficient statistics" than current or year-ahead earnings. See Exhaustion Gaps and the Fear of Missing Out for a table showing the relative reliability of a variety of measures. In April 2007, I estimated that an appropriate valuation for the S&P 500 stood about 850, roughly -40% lower than prevailing levels. By the October peak, the prospective market loss to normal valuation had increased to about -46%. As it happened, the subsequent collapse of the housing bubble took the S&P 500 about -55% lower. In late-October 2008, as the market plunge crossed below historically reliable valuation norms, I observed that the S&P 500 had become undervalued on our measures.

Again attempting to “stimulate” the economy from the recession that followed, the Federal Reserve cut short-term interest rates to zero in recent years, provoking yet another episode of yield-seeking speculation, where yield-starved investors created demand for virtually every class of securities, in the hope of achieving returns in excess of zero. Meanwhile, Wall Street, suffering from what J.K. Galbraith once called the “extreme brevity of the financial memory,” convinced itself yet again that the whole episode was built on something more solid than quotes on a screen and blotches of ink on paper..

..

..greater real economic activity was never the likely outcome of all this quantitative easing (indeed, one can show that the path of the economy since the crisis has not been materially different than what one could have projected using wholly non-monetary variables). Rather, Ben Bernanke, in his self-appointed role as Mad Hatter, was convinced that offensively hypervalued financial markets - that encourage the speculative misallocation of capital, imply dismal expected future returns, and create temporary paper profits that ultimately collapse - somehow represent a greater and more desirable form of “wealth” compared with reasonably-valued financial markets that offer attractive expected returns and help to soundly allocate capital. Believing that wealth is embodied by the price of a security rather than its future stream of cash flows, QE has created a world of hypervaluation, zero prospective future returns, and massive downside risks across nearly every conventional asset class.

And so, the Fed created such an enormous pool of zero interest bank reserves that investors would feel pressure to chase stocks, junk debt, anything to get rid of these yield-free hot potatoes. That didn’t stimulate more real, productive investment; it just created more investors who were frustrated with zero returns, because someone had to hold that base money, and in aggregate, all of them had to hold over $4 trillion of the stuff at every moment in time.

When you look objectively at what the Fed actually did, should be obvious how its actions encouraged this bubble. Every time someone would get rid of zero-interest base money by buying a riskier security, the seller would get the base money, and the cycle would continue until every asset was priced to deliver future returns near zero. We’re now at the point where junk yields are among the lowest in history, stock market valuations are so extreme that we estimate zero or negative S&P 500 average annual nominal total returns over the coming 10-12 year horizon, and our estimate of 12-year prospective total returns on a conventional mix of 60% stocks, 30% Treasury bonds, and 10% Treasury bills has never been lower (about 1% annually here). This whole episode is likely to end so badly that future children will learn about it in school and shake their heads in wonder at the rank stupidity of it all, just like many of us did when we learned about the Dutch Tulip mania.

Examine all risk exposures, consider your investment horizon and risk-tolerance carefully, commit to the flexibility toward greater market exposure at points where a material retreat in valuations is joined by early improvement in market action (even if the news happens to be very negative at that point), fasten your protective gear, and expect a little bit of whiplash. Remember that the “catalysts” often become evident after prices move, not before. The completion of this market cycle may or may not be immediate, but with the median stock at easily the most extreme price/revenue ratio in history, and a run-of-the-mill outcome now being market loss on the order of -60%, the contrast between recent stability and likely future volatility could hardly be more striking.'

- John P. Hussman, Ph.D., Hot Potatoes and Dutch Tulips, July 31, 2017


Context

(2017) - '..a deeply systemic debt crisis akin to the aftermath of 1929 .. the stage has now been set..'

(Banking Reform - Monetary Reform) - '..debt is our biggest security threat..'

'..the Next 30 Years: “Everything is Deflationary”..'

          (2017) - '..a deeply systemic debt crisis akin to the aftermath of 1929 .. the stage has now been set..' (no replies)        
'..But after a decade of unprecedented expansion of government debt and central bank Credit, the stage has now been set for a more systemic 1929-like financial dislocation.'

'June 27 – Reuters (William Schomberg, Marc Jones, Jason Lange and Lindsay Dunsmuir): “U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said on Tuesday that she does not believe that there will be another financial crisis for at least as long as she lives, thanks largely to reforms of the banking system since the 2007-09 crash. ‘Would I say there will never, ever be another financial crisis?’ Yellen said… ‘You know probably that would be going too far but I do think we're much safer and I hope that it will not be in our lifetimes and I don't believe it will be,’ she said.”

While headlines somewhat paraphrased Yellen’s actual comment, “We Will not see Another Crisis in Our Lifetime” is reminiscent of Irving Fisher’s “permanent plateau” just weeks before the great crash of 1929. While on the subject, I never bought into the popular comparison between 2008 and 1929 – and the related notion of 2008 as “the 100-year flood”. The 2008/09 crisis was for the most part a private debt crisis associated with the bursting of a Bubble in mortgage Credit – not dissimilar to previous serial global crises, only larger and somewhat more systemic. It was not, however, a deeply systemic debt crisis akin to the aftermath of 1929, which was characterized by a crisis of confidence in the banking system, the markets and finance more generally, along with a loss of faith in government policy and institutions. But after a decade of unprecedented expansion of government debt and central bank Credit, the stage has now been set for a more systemic 1929-like financial dislocation.

As such, it’s ironic that the Fed has branded the banking system cured and so well capitalized that bankers can now boost dividends, buybacks and, presumably, risk-taking. As conventional central bank thinking goes, a well-capitalized banking system provides a powerful buffer for thwarting the winds of financial crisis. Chair Yellen, apparently, surveys current bank capital levels and extrapolates to systemic stability. Yet the next crisis lurks not with the banks but within the securities and derivatives markets: too much leverage and too much “money” employed in trend-following trading strategies. Too much hedging, speculating and leveraging in derivatives. Market misperceptions and distortions on an epic scale.

Compared to 2008, the leveraged speculating community and the ETF complex are significantly larger and potentially perilous. The derivatives markets are these days acutely more vulnerable to liquidity issues and dislocation. Never have global markets been so dominated by trend-following strategies. It’s a serious issue that asset market performance – stocks, bond, corporate Credit, EM, real estate, etc. – have all become so tightly correlated. There are huge vulnerabilities associated with various markets having become so highly synchronized on a global basis. And in the grand scheme of grossly inflated global securities, asset and derivatives markets, the scope of available bank capital is trivial.

I realize that, at this late stage of the great bull market, such a question sounds hopelessly disconnected. Yet, when markets reverse sharply lower and The Crowd suddenly moves to de-risk, who is left to take the other side of what has become One Gargantuan “Trade”? We’re all familiar with the pat response: “Central banks. They’ll have no choice.” Okay, but I’m more interested in the timing and circumstances.

Central bankers are now signaling their desire to proceed with normalization, along with noting concerns for elevated asset prices. As such, I suspect they will be somewhat more circumspect going forward when it comes to backstopping the markets - than, say, back in 2013 with Bernanke’s “flash crash” or with the China scare of early-2016. Perhaps this might help to explain why the VIX spiked above 15 during Thursday afternoon trading. Even corporate debt markets showed a flash of vulnerability this week.'

- Doug Noland, Weekly Commentary: The Road to Normalization, July 1, 2017


Context (Banking Reform - English/Dutch) '..a truly stable financial and monetary system for the twenty-first century..'

'Unsound Finance gets to the heart of the issue.'

'..Like monetarists, Keynes held no capital theory .. the role time plays..' - Jesús Huerta de Soto

'..Loose financial conditions and record debt issuance..'


'..investors’ fear of missing out is looking increasingly desperate..'

'..a giant passive 'beta' bubble .. This may be the Mother of all beta bubbles..'

'..The same combination prevailed at the 1929, 1972, 1987, 2000, and 2007 market peaks..'


(Banking Reform - Monetary Reform) - '..debt is our biggest security threat..'

          '..another Cold War that may last even longer than the war with world communism.' (no replies)        
'..until Muslim scholars find a Koran key to the free world and lead their followers to an entrance.'

'Economists pondering about human action distinguish between four types of individual incomes; the Koran permits only two, which explains much poverty in the Muslim world. Economists speak of labor income which flows from services rendered either in self-employment or working for an employer; the Koran smiles upon this basic kind of income. Economists also discern interest income which, reflecting human frailty and mortality, flows from the differences between man’s valuation of present economic goods and future goods; the Koran condemns “riba”, that is, interest income, and threatens all creditors who may be tempted to demand “riba” with “the fire prepared for unbelievers.” Economists also like to wax eloquent about entrepreneurial income, commonly called profits, which may be earned through correct anticipation of economic changes; failure to anticipate changes correctly may inflict entrepreneurial losses. The Koran simply prohibits economic activity that involves uncertainty, risk, or speculation and may earn “ghara.” The prohibition obviously discourages and hampers economic changes, adjustments, modernizations, and improvements that are uncertain and risky.

..

Muslim clerics are the tutors and preceptors not only of Islamic theology but also of social and economic ideology. Surely, they may not descend to the level of envy but may fly into anger and passion about the sinful behavior of all non-believers, that is, Christians and Jews, who grow rich in market economies, engaging in uncertain, risky, and speculative economic activity and prospering on riba and ghara. For some clerics the United States is the “Great Satan” and Israel his little offspring. It cannot be surprising that faithful followers abhor, fear, and hate the Great Satan and wish him evil. When a few Muslim fanatics flew into the World Trade Center in New York, killing more than 2,900 men and women, and another hijacked plane hit the Pentagon, killing 189 employees, jubilant masses thronged streets across the Muslim world, celebrating and rejoicing about the destruction and massacre.

..

..Today, the United States is in the early stages of a long struggle with radical Islamism that has been waging war against this country for some thirty years. Radical Islamic states have been breeding, sheltering, and financing the terrorist armies and radical clerics are invoking divine favor upon them.

The Western world, and especially the United States, is facing the prospect of a long and bitter war with a fanatical enemy. It is a desperate enemy because powerful forces of change are eroding its very ideological foundation. Modern communication technology has opened the windows of the world and is allowing people everywhere to observe Western mores and living conditions. A network of communication satellites, for instance, is continuously receiving, amplifying, and rebroadcasting signals to earth. Western ideas are reaching the minds of people everywhere and changing social, economic, political, and educational institutions. It cannot be surprising that Muslim autocracies like to keep the windows closed by monopolizing and disallowing access to such technology.

It is doubtful that the U.S. military will crush and completely render inactive a desperate enemy consisting of an organized guerilla force of Allah-fearing men and women. A small army of suicidal fanatics, a diminutive percentage of one billion and three hundred million Muslims in 206 countries, may wear away the patience and resolve of the American public and its political and military commanders. Such a possibility does not in any way intimate a victory and sway of Muslim fanatics over the forces of the West. Its paramount strength does not rest on brute military might but on its free and open way of life, its private property order and individual enterprise system. Its windows are wide open and its busy subjects are at work all over the world, simple ambassadors or even missionaries of its order. Even if the United States should ever stumble and lose its way, the windows are wide open and the bright light of individual freedom and the private property order would remain visible in many other parts of the West. It is unlikely that it can ever be extinguished.

The U.S. military is not going to conquer many Muslim countries, but individual freedom and the private property order may in time..

..

We shall know the future only when it comes. But our thoughts like to live in the future, and what they see is another Cold War that may last even longer than the war with world communism. They see the Muslim world in a crisis which causes a few revolutionaries to strike at Americans. Insurgents may continue to lash out until Muslim scholars find a Koran key to the free world and lead their followers to an entrance.'

- Hans F. Sennholz, In Another Cold War, 2004


Context

'..the battle of ideas taking place in the Muslim world..'

(Bazaarmodel - To Heal - Teal) - '..is it possible to build a truly Evolutionary-Teal school?'

          PROSPEK GAHARU 2012        
GAHARU, AROMATIK TERMAHAL DI DUNIA


Gaharu adalah bahan aromatik termahal di dunia. Harga gaharu kualitas baik di tingkat konsumen di pasar internasional, sekitar US $ 5 sd. 15 per gram, (Rp 45.000,- sd. 135.000,-). Sedemikian tingginya nilai produk gaharu, hingga penjualannya menggunakan bobot gram. Bukan ons atau kg. Gaharu adalah bahan parfum, kosmetik dan obat-obatan (farmasi). Parfum diperoleh dari hasil ekstraksi resin dan kayunya. Gaharu sudah dikenal sebagai komoditas penting, semenjak jaman Mesir Kuno. Mumi mesir, selain diberi rempah-rempah (kayumanis, cengkeh), juga diberi cendana dan gaharu. Dalam injil, disebutkan bahwa kain kafan Yesus (Isa Al Masih), diberi Aloe. Istilah ini bukan mengacu ke Aloe vera (lidah buaya), melainkan kayu gaharu.

Itulah sebabnya kayu gaharu juga disebut sebagai aloeswood (kayu aloe). Nama dagang lainnya adalah agarwood, heartwood, dan eaglewood. Di pasar internasional, gaharu murni diperdagangkan dalam bentuk kayu, serbuk dan minyak (parfum). Kayu gaharu bisa dijadikan bahan kerajinan bernilai sangat tinggi, atau untuk peralatan upacara keagamaan. Serbuk gaharu digunakan untuk dupa/ratus, dan minyaknya merupakan parfum kelas atas. Serbuk gaharu sebagai dupa akan dibakar langsung dalam ritual keagamaan. Baik Hindu, Budha, Konghucu, Thao, Shinto, Islam dan Katolik. Kayu gaharu disebut sebagai kayu para dewa. Aroma gaharu karenanya dipercaya mampu menyucikan altar dan peralatan peribadatan lainnya.

Selain itu dupa gaharu juga dimanfaatkan untuk mengharumkan ruangan, rambut dan pakaian para bangsawan. Aroma gaharu akan digunakan sebagai aromaterapi di spa-spa kelas atas. Selain untuk ritual keagamaan, parfum dan kosmetik, produk gaharu juga sering dikaitkan dengan hal-hal yang berbau mistik. Baik pemanfaatannya, terlebih lagi proses pencariannya dari alam. Pengambilan gaharu dari hutan, memang selalu dilakukan secara tradisional, dengan berbagai ritual dan kebiasaan setempat. Pencarian gaharu di lokasi sulit, harus menggunakan pesawat terbang atau helikopter. Beberapa kali pesawat terbang dan heli pencari gaharu, hilang di hutan belantara di Kalimantan, hingga memperkuat kesan mistis produk gaharu.

# # #

Gaharu adalah getah (resin, gubal) dari pohon genus Aquilaria, yang tumbuh di hutan belantara India, Asia Tenggara (termasuk Indonesia) dan Cina Selatan. Sampai saat ini, Indonesia masih merupakan pemasok produk gaharu terbesar di dunia. Meskipun populasi tumbuhan Aquilaria cukup besar, namun tidak semua pohon menghasilkan gaharu. Sebab resin itu baru akan keluar, kalau tanaman terinfeksi oleh kapang (fungus) Phialophora parasitica. Akibat infeksi, tanaman mengeluarkan getah yang aromanya sangat harum. Getah ini akan menggumpal di dalam batang kayu. Para pencari gaharu menyebut kayu dengan resin ini sebagai gubal. Tanaman Aquilaria yang tidak terinfeksi Phialophora parasitica, tidak akan beraroma harum.

Genus Aquilaria terdiri dari 22 spesies: A. (Aquilaria) agallocha; A. apiculata; A. baillonii; A. banaensis; A. beccariana; A. brachyantha; A. citrinicarpa; A. crassna; A. cumingiana; A. filaria; A.grandiflora; A. hirta; A. malaccensis; A. microcarpa; A. ophispermum; A. parvifolia; A. pentandra; A. rostrata; A. sinensis; A. subintegra; A. urdanetensis; A. yunnanensis. Dari 22 spesies itu, yang bisa terinfeksi kapang Phialophora parasitica hanya ada delapan spesies yakni: A. agallocha; A. crassna; A. grandiflora; A. malaccensis; A. ophispermum; A. pentandra; A. sinensis; dan Aquilaria yunnanensis. Dari delapan spesies itu, yang paling potensial menghasilkan gaharu adalah A. malaccensis dan A. agallocha.

Gaharu yang sekarang beredar di pasaran, semuanya berasal dari perburuan dari hutan. Para pencari gaharu, kadang-kadang tidak membedakan, mana kayu yang ada gubalnya, dan mana yang tidak. Hingga semua pohon Aquilaria yang dijumpai akan ditebang. Akibatnya, populasi kayu Aquilaria terus terkikis dan makin langka. Dalam pertemuan ke 13 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP 13) di Bangkok, Thailand, 2 -14 Oktober 2004, genus Aquilaria telah dimasukkan dalam apendik II. Hingga pengambilan gaharu dari alam, sebenarnya dilarang. Tetapi karena tingginya nilai gaharu, maka pencarian gaharu dari hutan terus berlangsung tanpa bisa dicegah.

Genus Aquilaria adalah pohon dengan tinggi mencapai 20 m dan diameter batang 60 cm, yang tumbuh di hutan hujan tropika basah, mulai dari ketinggian 0 sampai dengan 1.000 m. dpl. Aquilaria bisa hidup pada berbagai jenis tanah. Mulai dari tanah humus, berpasir, lempung, berkapur, sampai berbatu-batu. Gaharu termasuk tanaman yang tahan kekeringan, dan juga tahan hidup di bawah naungan. Tanaman yang masih muda, memang memerlukan banyak air, dan naungan. Biasanya Aquilaria tumbuh di bawah tajuk palem atau pakis-pakisan. Aquilaria berkembangbiak dari biji. Buah Aquilaria berupa polong yang keras, dengan panjang antara 2,5 sd. 3 cm. Biji mudah dikecambahkan di tempat yang lembap dan hangat, tetapi terlindung dari panas matahari.

# # #

Dalam kondisi optimum, pohon Aquilaria akan mampu tumbuh dengan sangat pesat. Yang dimaksud dengan kondisi optimum adalah, suhu udara, kelembapan, sinar matahari, air dan unsur haranya cukup. Meskipun Aquilaria tahan hidup di berbagai macam tanah, tetapi dia akan tumbuh optimal di tanah humus yang subur, dengan topsoil cukup tebal. Tidak semua Aquilaria yang tumbuh di hutan merupakah penghasil gaharu. Produk gaharu, baru akan terjadi, apabila kayu Aquilaria terinfeksi oleh kapang Phialophora parasitica. Tumbuhan Aquilaria yang tidak terinfeksi kapang Phialophora parasitica, hanya akan menjadi kayu biasa yang sama sekali tidak harum. Beda dengan cendana (Sandal Wood, Santalum album), yang kayunya memang sudah harum.

Untuk mempertahankan diri, tumbuhan Aquilaria yang sudah terinfeksi kapang Phialophora parasitica akan menghasilkan getah resin (jawa: blendok). Resin ini akan menggumpal dan membentuk gubal. Proses pembentukan gubal berlangsung sangat lambat. Bisa puluhan bahkan ratusan tahun. Resin dan bagian kayu yang terinfeksi inilah yang akan menghasilkan aroma harum yang tidak ada duanya di dunia. Aroma gaharu ini sedemikian khasnya hingga hampir tidak mungkin disintetis. Pembuatan gaharu sintetis, hasilnya akan lebih mahal dibanding dengan gaharu alam. Proses pembentukan gubal berlangsung sangat lama, juga merupakan salah satu penyebab tingginya produk gaharu.

Kapang genus Phialophora terdiri dari delapan spesies aktif: Phialophora americana, Phialophora bubakii, Phialophora europaea, Phialophora parasitica, Phialophora reptans, Phialophora repens, Phialophora richardsiae, dan Phialophora verrucosa. Dari delapan spesies itu, yang berfungsi menginfeksi kayu Aquilaria hanyalah kapang Phialophora parasitica. Spesies lainnya merupakan kapang patogen, yang bisa menginfeksi manusia dan menimbulkan gangguan penyakit. Malaysia dan Indonesia, sudah bisa mengisolasi kapang Phialophora parasitica, untuk diinokulasikan ke pohon Aquilaria.

Di Indonesia, penelitian gaharu antara lain dilakukan oleh Balitbang Botani/LIPI, Badan Litbang Departemen Kehutanan dan Universitas Mataram di Mataram, Lombok. Universitas Mataram, malahan sudah melakukan ujicoba penanaman gaharu, dan menginfeksinya dengan kapang Phialophora parasitica. Sayangnya, tanaman yang belum membentuk gubal itu sudah dicuri orang. Para pencuri ini beranggapan, bahwa kayu gaharu sama dengan cendana. Padahal cendana pun memerlukan waktu paling sedikit 30 tahun agar meghasilkan kayu dengan tingkat keharuman prima. Gaharu yang sudah terinfeksi ini, masih memerlukan waktu puluhan tahun agar gubalnya bisa dipanen.

# # #

Mengingat tingginya nilai gaharu, dan juga kelangkaannya, maka budidaya gaharu sudah semakin mendesak. Membuat hutan Aquilaria, bisa dilakukan dengan mudah. Sebab tumbuhan genus ini relatif mudah dikembangbiakkan dan toleran dengan lokasi tumbuh yang sangat ekstrim sekalipun. Mengisolasi kapang Phialophora parasitica juga sudah bisa dilakukan di laboratorium Universitas Mataram. Menginfeksi tumbuhan Aquilaria dengan kapang Phialophora parasitica juga sudah berhasil diketemukan metodenya. Yang menjadi masalah, untuk mengembangkannya dalam skala komersial, diperlukan jangka waktu lama. Gaharu kualitas baik, baru akan terbentuk setelah proses selama puluhan bahkan ratusan tahun.

Para pemilik modal, akan berpikir ulang kalau investasinya baru akan kembali pada puluhan bahkan ratusan tahun yang akan datang. Para pejabat di lingkup pemerintah daerah pun, juga akan menolak untuk merancang proyek yang tingkat keberhasilannya baru akan bisa diukur puluhan bahkan ratusan tahun kemudian. Belum lagi gangguan masyarakat yang tidak terlalu tahu tentang gaharu. Mereka menganggap bahwa tanaman Aquilaria yang sudah diinfeksi kapang Phialophora parasitica, akan segera bisa ditebang untuk diambil gaharunya. Ketidaktahuan masyarakat ini, juga disebabkan oleh sedikitnya publikasi tentang gaharu. Para wartawan yang mengenal gaharu, jumlahnya juga masih sangat sedikit.

Dalam situasi seperti ini, pencarian gaharu di hutan menjadi satu-satunya alternatif. Di Papua, pencarian gaharu bahkan dilakukan oleh para pengusaha dengan cara yang sangat tidak bermoral. Para pengusaha tahu bahwa masyarakat Papua, sudah kecanduan minuman keras. Hanya dengan disodori beberapa kaleng bir, mereka sudah bersedia untuk mencari gaharu. Apabila gaharu sudah diperoleh, para pengusaha pun menawarkan perempuan kepada penemu gaharu. Perempuan-perempuan malang ini didatangkan dari Jawa, kebanyakan dengan cara ditipu untuk dicarikan pekerjaan yang layak di Freeport atau perusahaan HPH. Setibanya di Papua, mereka hanya dijadikan umpan memperoleh gaharu.
          Execution Specialist | Algo Services - Liquidnet Holdings        
New York, NY - New York
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Liquidnet?s Algo Services Group is seeking an Execution Specialist to service our Algorithmic and Trade Analysis offerings. This individual will serve in a consultative capacity, partnering closely with our sales team and Members
          OMG, he’s naked: Tom Middleton in ‘La Noche del Lobo’        

Actor Tom Middleton appears as a tattooed hottie in ‘La Noche del Lobo’ after the NSFW jump! Rough trade, honnay!
          Merry Christmas!        
I’ve been busy on all fronts the last month and have no posted here as I would have liked to. I really need to take a page out of CBWs book and do a stern 1 week update. It’s never that there isn’t anything to talk about. More an issue of, should some of it be spoken about in a public form. 

We’re trying to get a deal together on a building in Black Rock and the support from the community has been tremendous. I really can’t say how great they have been to work with and we’re only pitching some ideas right now. The actually negotiations on the building have not been progressing as I’ve like. Hopefully I’ll have better news on that front by the 6th of Jan. If not I’ll like be forced to put everything on ice until I get back.

Speaking of getting back, I’m leaving for a bit. The USAF finally have dates ‘set in stone’ for deploying to Afghanistan. They’ve told me that these ones are for sure so I will be out of the country for 10 of 12 months in 2012. Longer then original expected but it will help buffer some of the startup costs, and I should get allot less smack talk from the Army. (a value in its self). This will delay the start up by 9 months, why so much more? Winter, its allot harder to move equipment in, doing concrete work in the middle of winter makes things harder than it should be; so we’ll wait for spring of 2013. Not what I want to do but what is necessary to do. 

This week I also brought Dana Saylor of oldtimeroots.com to do some research. She has a pretty cool site and its interesting work. I haven’t seen the finished product so I can’t vouch for her as of yet, but I feel pretty good about it so far. 

Lastly I promised more book reviews. I read a handful on my last few trips across the country. Just for a quick notes on them I’ll say if I liked them or not.

Great American Ale Trail: Its just a list of bars and a couple of lines about them. It’s sort of a good reference and The Blue Monk in Buffalo was in the notable mentions section for NY. If you’re thinking about opening a beer bar up I would say it’s pretty good. Other than that I don’t know anyone with the time or money to visit 1000+ beer bars in the country. Once we get New Buffalo Brewing, I’ll have my beer books on site so if someone wanted to stop in and check for a place feel free.

The Story of the Irish Pub: The begging with a history of the licensed trade was good, so about 70 pages of the book are good, the remaining 150, not worth it. Just little notes of where a bar is and who owns it. Over all very disappointing. If your going to Ireland it might be fun to stop  into one, but that’s about it.

In the Classic Beer Style Series, I picked up and read, Porter, Brown Ale and Stout. This series has been pretty fun to read, and for a serious home brewer I’d recommend them They all are set up with a little history, some water information, a few home brew recipes and a list of examples that are current for the time it was published (the early ones are over 12 years old). This book are really great for someone looking to starting a microbrewer, to see how far the brewing world has come in a decade. Also as an American, to see how we have consistently tossed out style guild lines and made so many great new beers. 

Porter was a really weak read, maybe if I hadn’t already read the mild book it wouldn’t have seemed poor.

Brown Ale was very good, tons of information on the different sub sets of Brown Ale and good information all around. So many beers in this style and information about most of them.

Stout has been the best read so far, The writer has a clear passion for stouts and has offered an immense amount of information on it, the different sub-styles and many references to Guinness. I’d recommend this the most of any of them so far. I will put out the disclaimer that I too love stouts. If there is just one style of beer I could have it’s a thick cream stout.

This should have been spread out to a couple of updates, but with the holidays I don’t know if I will get around to many in the next two weeks. Also one last pitch for buying our sweet gear for someone over Christmas! 

http://www.kegworks.com/search/search.php?keywords=new+buffalo+brewing&x=0&y=0

          European Football Podcast - Episode 89: 16th September        
Alex Dunn, William Hill football trader Steve Harrison and In-Play Radio's Sam Norris look at the best of the European football this weekend.
          European Football Podcast - Episode 86: Thu 18th August        
The European Football podcast is back for another season and joining Sam Norris on week one is William Hill senior football trader Steve Harrison to discuss the opening round of fixtures in Serie A and La Liga. Enjoy.
          AT&T Throttles Users On Unlimited Data Plans Regardless Of Network Congestion        
AT&T Throttles Users On Unlimited Data Plans Regardless Of Network Congestion

AT&T has confirmed that it is throttling subscribers under its unlimited data plans, no matter how congested the network is. 

As reported by Ars Technica, subscribers who are using non-LTE 3G/HSPA+ handsets and are under unlimited data plans only get throttled when network congestion becomes heavy, and when the users exceed 3 gigabytes of data within a single billing period. But apparently, these same conditions do not apply to customers on LTE.

If a subscriber is under, say, a legacy AT&T unlimited plan and uses up more than 5 gigabytes of data on an LTE-compatible handset in a span of a month, the subscriber's data speeds will automatically be reduced for the remainder of the billing period, even if the network remains free of congestion.

Ars Technica further reported that data speeds slowed down from 23.5 mbps on average to just 0.1 mbps. When the subscriber's billing period is reset, only then are the data speeds returned to their normal levels. However, once the subscriber reaches 5 gigabytes, data speeds are automatically reduced again.

For its part, AT&T issued a statement defending its network management practices as legitimate. The carrier claims that the throttling was put in place in order to provide optimum network service for its subscribers.

AT&T further added that it is planning to address the data throttling concerns between its LTE and non-LTE unlimited subscribers sometime next year. The carrier says that it will be reducing data speeds for LTE users in congested networks as soon as that option is made available.

AT&T may be claiming that it is throttling data speeds for the benefit of all customers using its networks. But others see the throttling as a ploy to lead on long-term customers to more lucrative limited data plans. This tactic has been employed before, namely by Sprint for its Unlimited My Way and My All-In plans. Even Verizon Wireless thought of doing the same thing, but then the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stepped in and pressured Big Red to reverse its decision. 

Right now, fewer than 20 percent of all AT&T customers are under unlimited data plans. Those that are signed up for the plans because they were thinking they could stream and download without having to worry about high overage fees if they exceed their data allotments. But it appears that they are getting throttled anyway, rendering their data privileges useless. 

As for the network congestion claims, some may find it hard to believe, especially when the subscribers who are under more expensive data plans (up to 100 gigabytes each month) never get to experience throttled data speeds.

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          Comment on Episode 198- What’s Up With Licensed Games? by avi        
Hi all, great discussion. I think setting is really important and so I'm a little surprised that licensed products aren't more successful. I'm also surprised that there isn't more commissioned fiction to support established settings and that so much of what is produced seems of pretty poor quality. Perhaps it's just not how the creative process works (ooh, topic suggestion - interview Stolze about this). Getting everyone at the table to have a shared a vision of the fiction seems important to me and surely licensed games and commissioned fiction is great way of supporting that. As you discussed, an important element is producing mechanics that encourage the feel of the fiction. I think Mouseguard is a great example of this. When I played it everyone had read at least the first trade before we played our second session and the feel of the mechanics mirrored the feel of the comics.
          Vernon Subutex, Tome 1, Virginie Despentes        
Et voilà, j'entame la trilogie de Virginie Despentes qui fait tant parler d'elle. C'est appréciable d'ailleurs parce que du coup, on entend plus souvent madame Despentes et que j'apprécie ce qu'elle a à dire la plupart du temps. Et puis, ce Vernon Subutex, autant dire qu'il m'intriguait beaucoup, comme un peu tout les livres de l'autrice.

Vernon Subutex, Tome 1, Virginie Despentes

Editeur : Le livre de poche
Collection : /
Année de parution : 2016
Nombre de pages : 432

A lire si : 
- Vous voulez une sorte de cartographie des parisiens
- Vous aimez les romans à plusieurs voix

A ne pas lire si : 
- Vous cherchez le trash des premiers romans de Despentes

Présentation de l'éditeur : 

QUI EST VERNON SUBUTEX ?
Une légende urbaine.
Un ange déchu.
Un disparu qui ne cesse de resurgir.
Le détenteur d’un secret.
Le dernier témoin d’un monde disparu.
L’ultime visage de notre comédie inhumaine.
Notre fantôme à tous.

Mon avis

Virginie Despentes est connue pour un côté trash qui tend non pas à disparaître, mais plutôt à être plus maîtrisé. Disons que la colère de l'autrice me semble plus contenue, toujours là, mais contenue. On appelle ça la maturité chez certain, et j'aurais presque tendance à dire que pour Virginie Despentes, c'est bien cela, du moins dans sa manière d'écrire.Vernon Subutex n'est pas un livre à part dans son oeuvre. Apocalypse Bébé en été même, pour moi, une sorte de précurseur. C'est dans ce roman-là qu'elle a commencé à utiliser plusieurs voix pour parfaire son récit. Surement pas pour rien d'ailleurs que l'on retrouve dans Vernon l'un des personnages d'Apocalypse Bébé. Mais revenons au roman.

Alex Bleach, chanteur de rock, s'est suicidé. Avec lui part le loyer qu'il payait par amitié à Vernon Subutex, le disquaire qui lui a permis de découvrir la musique. Un Vernon qui a dut fermer boutique depuis un moment, qui n'a pas retrouvé de boulot et qui soudain, se retrouve à la rue, dans l'incapacité de payer son loyer. Vernon décide alors de squatter les lits et canapés de ses amis (anciens comme nouveaux), en inventa comme prétexte de revenir sur Paris après un passage à Québec. Tandis qu'il va de copains en copains, nous allons découvrir les portraits de ses parisiens qui ont pour point commun soit Vernon soit Alex Bleach.

Virginie Despentes essaie de "cartographier" la population parisienne et je suppose qu'elle y arrive pas mal (je ne suis pas parisienne, il y a des choses dans son roman qui me semble parfois carrément surréaliste pour la provenciale que je suis). Elle s'attaque, si je puis dite, à tous les niveaux, toutes les classes sociales. Et elle fait ça plutôt pas mal. Si j'avais trouvé dans Apocalypse Bébé (oui on y revient souvent à celui-ci, mais faut dire qu'ils se ressemblent assez dans la bibliographie de l'autrice) qu'il y avait trop de stéréotypes, je les trouve bien mieux gérés ici. Oui, nous en trouvons toujours (la bourgeoise qui pète littéralement son câble après s'être fait des films et s'être fait largué, le traders qui vit à cent à l'heure entre bonne affaire, drogue et baise...) mais par contre, on trouve aussi pas mal de personnages qu'on n'a pas l'habitude de voir et qui même si parfois, ils sont un peu clichés, ils permettent d'offrir de la visibilité.

Sur la dizaine si ce n'est plus de personnages que l'on va découvrir au fur et à mesure de l'avancée de la nouvelle vie de Vernon, il y a vraiment des personnages géniaux. On retrouve quelques LGBT, plus particulièrement lesbienne et trans. Et elle les traite parfaitement ces personnages-là, elle ne va pas dans le bon vieux cliché (même la Hyène est plus en nuance par rapport à Apocalypse Bébé). On sent l'authenticité dans ces personnages-là. Et ça fait du bien. Et ils ne sont pas les seuls comme ça.  

Et ce que j'ai particulièrement apprécié c'est vraiment le mélange de personnalités, les riches, les pauvres, les gens "normaux", les ex stars du X, les de gauche, les de droites, les des extrêmes et j'en passe. Vraiment, on croise de tout dans ce Vernon. Surtout qu'il est agréable de voir qu'elle les traite tous de manière presque égale. C'est à dire que même ceux qu'elle ne doit sûrement pas supporter, elle arrive à les rendre moins nauséabond que ce qu'ils sont. On sent bien l'ironie sous les descriptions, mais en même temps, on s'y attacherait presque.

Virginie Despentes a donc réussi avec ce premier tome une belle fresque de ce qu'on peut retrouver comme parisiens à notre époque. Elle le fait d'ailleurs avec une certaine douceur, loin de la colère de ses débuts. Une colère qui revient pourtant au fur et à mesure des pages mais qui n'explose pas autant. On retrouve aussi des moments un peu plus "trash" même si justement trash n'est pas le mot. Disons que lorsque ça parle sexe, l'autrice ne fait pas toujours dans la dentelle. 

Au final, c'est une fresque vraiment intéressante que nous lisons avec ce premier tome. Intéressante par son côté très humain et réaliste.  Et puis, il y a cette écriture, vive, colèrique et en même temps douce, bienveillante même parfois. Bref, une réussite qui je l'espère continuera avec les deux tomes suivants.

          Burn After Reading        

Who’s Who
What’s What

In the World of CIA Fronts, Partners, Proprietaries & Contractors




NEW BOOK:

The Almost Classified Guide to CIA Front Companies, Proprietaries & Contractors
By WAYNE MADSEN
ISBN: 978-1-365-11196-9


Cool Justice Editor's Note: Following are excerpts from author Madsen's introduction and the body of the work. Additional suggested reading: News story about Madsen's book via the Washington, D.C. based Justice Integrity Project [link at the bottom of this post].

EXCERPTS:

From the Introduction


One of the most pervasive uses of companies as intelligence partners was under the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD. During the Cold War, the CIA, often with the approval of corporate executives, infiltrated their agents to work as journalists in newspapers, radio and television networks, wire services, and magazines. The following pages in this book are rife with examples of this penetration of the Fourth Estate – all too many in the opinion of this journalist. The CIA admitted to at least 400 journalists on the agency’s payroll at the height of MOCKINGBIRD. The CIA traditionally understates its capabilities, especially when its covert activities become publicly known. Moreover, the end of the Cold War did not stop the practice of the CIA in infiltrating the media and slant news reports to its wishes.

*

An insightful look behind the veils of secrecy into the CIA’s use of fronts, proprietaries, and partners calls into question the purpose of the CIA. Created by President Harry S Truman to serve as a central collector and repository of intelligence, the CIA became much more than that. A few weeks after the United States witnessed the assassination of President Kennedy in the middle of downtown Dallas, Truman penned an op-ed piece that appeared in several newspapers around the country. In it, Truman shared his regret for having created the CIA in 1947:

“I think it has become necessary to take another look at the purpose and operations of our Central Intelligence Agency—CIA . . . For some time I have been disturbed by the way CIA has been diverted from its original assignment. It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the Government. This has led to trouble and may have compounded our difficulties in several explosive areas.

"I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations. Some of the complications and embarrassment I think we have experienced are in part attributable to the fact that this quiet intelligence arm of the President has been so removed from its intended role that it is being interpreted as a symbol of sinister and mysterious foreign intrigue.”

*

The 21st century’s CIA’s partners are more likely to be found among high-tech companies marketing the latest and greatest mobile applications and data mining programs than among banks, law offices, and advertising agencies. However, in the post-World War II era, the CIA’s top and middle echelons were normally found operating through cover as typewriter-pecking journalists, traveling Madison Avenue admen, corporate lawyers, and chain-smoking oilmen. In the 1970s and 80s, CIA contractors and partners began showing up in the high-tech field, with database, local area networking, and on-line information retrieval systems attracting the most interest by Langley.

*

As this book went to press, the smart phone game application Pokémon Go fad was sweeping the planet. Unbeknownst to many of the on-line game’s avid fan’s was the connection of the game’s developers to the CIA’s venture capital firm IN-Q-TEL. All users saw their geo-location and other smart phone data being swept up by a CIA partner firm.

SELECTED ENTRIES

Amazon, Inc. [CIA contractor]. Company provides cloud computing services for the CIA. Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos also owns The Washington Post.

American Historical Society. [CIA partner]. Many society officials were OSS/CIA officers.

American Press Institute. [CIA front]. Operating out of Columbia University, the institute’s director in the 1950s was a CIA officer.

AmeriCares. [CIA partner]. A non-profit organization that is often the “first in” at refugee situations. Founded by tycoon J. Peter Grace, a board chairman of the CIA front, the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD) and a trustee of another CIA front, the American Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism, AmeriCares was involved in funding the Nicaraguan contras. The group has also provided the CIA with recruiting opportunities at mass refugee sites, particularly in Latin America and Asia.

Bechtel Corporation. [CIA contractor]. Bechtel is a large construction company that has included former CIA director Richard Helms, CIA pseudonym “Fletcher M. Knight,” among its executive ranks. Bechtel was active in providing corporate cover for the OSS in the Middle East during World War II. Bechtel has been a consummate service company for various CIA operations, including support for the CIA-inspired coup against the Syrian government in 1949, the Iranian government of Prime Minister Mohamed Mossadeq in 1953, and President Sukarno of Indonesia in 1965. From the 1960s to the 1970s, Bechtel provided cover for CIA agents in Libya under both the regime of King Idris and his successor, Muammar Qaddafi. Sometimes called a “secret arm” of the CIA, Bechtel’s executives included those who would join President Reagan’s Cabinet, including Secretary of State George Schultz and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.

Before World War II, Steve Bechtel formed a military-industrial complex partnership with John McCone. McCone later became the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and later, director of the CIA. The CIA has used Bechtel to provide cover for non-official cover CIA operatives abroad.

Blackstone Investment Group. [CIA front]. With offices in Washington, DC and Moscow, arranged for the purchase of KGB documents following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Among the documents sought by the front company were any related to illegal CIA activities during the Cold War, including the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Bourbon and Beefsteak Bar and Restaurant. [CIA front]. Opened in 1967 in King’s Cross in Sydney, Australia. Served as a rendezvous point for CIA, Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), and organized crime figures. Its proprietor was Bernie Houghton, a CIA operative with links to Nugan Hand Bank, CIA weapons smuggler Edwin Wilson, and CIA clandestine services officers Theodore Shackley, Rafael Quintero, and Thomas Clines.

Center for Democracy. [CIA front]. Administered under the aegis of Boston University, the center maintained offices in Boston, Washington, DC, Guatemala City, and Strasbourg, France. Involved in CIA operations in eastern Europe, Central America, and Africa.

Colt Patent Firearms Company. [CIA partner]. Based in Hartford, Connecticut, provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating abroad.

Daddario & Burns. [CIA partner]. Headed by former OSS officer Emilio Daddario, a Democratic Representative from Connecticut, the Hartford-based law firm provided services to the CIA.

DC Comics. [CIA partner]. Worked with the International Military Information Group (IMIG), a joint CIA/Pentagon unit at the State Department, to disseminate propaganda comic books, featuring Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, in Serbo-Croatian and Albanian, to youth in the Balkans during the military conflicts in that region.

Disney Corporation. [CIA partner]. CIA agents who were adept at creating front companies and shell corporations in Florida, worked closely with Disney in preparation for the construction of Disney World near Orlando, Florida. OSS veteran “Wild Bill” Donovan and CIA shell company expert Paul Helliwell helped create two fake Florida cities, Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, as well as a number of shell corporations, to keep secret the plans for Disney World. This kept land prices low because real estate speculators were unaware of the prospective value of the land in a desolate area of central Florida.

Emory School of Medicine. [CIA partner]. Located in Atlanta, Georgia. Involved in the CIA’s MK-ULTRA behavioral modification project.

Enron Corporation [CIA partner]. Houston-based firm that was used by the CIA to provide commercial cover for its agents around the world. There were at least 20 CIA employees on Enron’s payroll. Andre Le Gallo, a former official of the CIA’s Operations Directorate, went to work as a corporate intelligence officer for Enron.

Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC). [CIA front]. Officially established by American Trotskyists, the group was penetrated by CIA operatives. The FPCC New Orleans office was a CIA front that provided cover for the anti-Fidel Castro activities of Lee Harvey Oswald, Clay Shaw, and David Ferrie, among others. The New Orleans FPCC office was located at 544 Camp Street and shared the same building entrance with Guy Banister Associates, Inc., a private detective agency, the address for which was 531 Lafayette Street and around the corner from 544 Camp Street.

In December 1963, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the FPCC ceased all U.S. operations.

General Electric Company. [CIA partner]. Based in Fairfield, Connecticut, provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating abroad.

General Foods Corporation. [CIA partner]. Advertising account at CIA’s Robert Mullen Company handled by an active CIA employee.

Google, Inc. [CIA partner]. Developed as a result of a research grant by the CIA and Pentagon to Stanford University’s Department of Computer Science. The CIA referred to the research as the “google project.”

Greenberg Traurig. [CIA partner]. Washington, DC “connected” law firm.

Guy Banister Associates, Inc. [CIA partner]. New Orleans private detective agency headed by former FBI agent Guy Banister. The detective agency coordinated the activities of various anti-Castro Cuban groups in New Orleans, including Banister’s own Anti-Communist League of the Caribbean, as well as the Cuban Revolutionary Council, the Cuban Democratic Revolutionary Front, Friends of Democratic Cuba, and the Crusade to Free Cuba Committee.

Banister and Associates shared office space with the CIA’s New Orleans front, the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, headed by Lee Harvey Oswald.

Hale and Dorr. [CIA partner]. Boston-based law firm that provided cover for CIA’s Independence and Brown Foundations.

Halliburton. [CIA contractor]. Based in Houston, it is the world’s largest oil service company. Recipient of a number of CIA sole-source contracts for services worldwide.

Harper and Row, Inc. [CIA partner]. Manuscripts submitted to the New York publisher that dealt with intelligence matters, particularly CIA operations, were turned over to the CIA for censoring edits before publication.

Hewlett Packard Corporation. [CIA partner]. Sold computers to Iraq for Saddam Hussein’s missile program with the knowledge and approval of the CIA.

Hill & Knowlton. [CIA partner]. Public relations firm that teamed with the CIA on a number of operations. Hill & Knowlton’s numerous offices abroad provided cover for CIA agents. One known Hill & Knowlton office that was a CIA front operation was in Kuala Lumpur.

Kerr-McGee. [CIA partner]. Provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating overseas.

Kissinger Associates, Inc. [CIA partner]. New York-based international consulting firm founded by former Secretary of State and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger. Former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft is a co-owner. The firm provided support to the CIA-linked American Ditchley Foundation and the Bilderberg Group. Much of the 1982 seed money for Kissinger Associates was provided by Goldman Sachs.

Knight Foundation. [CIA partner]. Also known as the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Based in Miami, the foundation provides funding for various CIA-connected media operations in the United States and around the world.

Kroll Inc. [CIA partner]. Founded in 1972 by Jules Kroll, who had links to both U.S. and Israeli intelligence. Based in Manhattan. French domestic law enforcement believed Kroll’s Paris office was a CIA front. Kroll handled the security for the World Trade Center after the 1993 terrorist bombing and continued to be responsible for security up to, during, and after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. Kroll employed former FBI assistant director for counter-terrorism John O’Neill, who died in the collapse of the World Trade Center.

Lincoln Savings and Loan. [CIA partner]. Based in Irvine, California and headed by notorious swindler Charles Keating, Jr., involved in laundering funds for the Iran-contra scandal.

Lone Star Cement Corporation. [CIA partner]. Based in Stamford, Connecticut and linked to the Bush family, provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating abroad. Involved in the Iran-contra scandal.

Mary Carter Paint Company. [CIA front]. A money-laundering operation for the CIA. Involved in casinos in the Bahamas.

Monsanto. [CIA partner]. The firm contracted with former CIA official Cofer Black’s Total Intelligence Solutions (TIS), a subsidiary of the CIA-connected Blackwater USA, later Xe Services, to monitor animal rights groups, anti-genetically modified (GM) food activists, and other groups opposed to Monsanto’s agri-business operations worldwide.

National Enquirer. [CIA partner]. The tabloid’s founder, Generoso (Gene) Pope, Jr., worked for the CIA’s psychological warfare unit and the agency’s Italy branch in 1950. In 1952, Pope acquired The New York Enquirer broadsheet and transformed it into a tabloid, renaming it The National Enquirer. This transformation bore the imprimatur of the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD media influence program.

Newsweek. [CIA partner]. Magazine reporters and stringers fed information to the CIA. Newsweek’s stringers in southeastern Europe and the Far East were CIA agents. When Newsweek was bought by The Washington Post Company in 1961, cooperation between the magazine and the CIA increased. It was a participant in the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD media influence program. Much of the staff of Newsweek was absorbed into a new online publication, The Daily Beast, which continues to disseminate CIA-influenced articles. See Washington Post.

Nieman Foundation. [CIA partner]. Located at Harvard University, the foundation awarded Nieman Fellowships, some on behalf of the CIA, for foreign journalists to study at Harvard. The journalists were subjected to CIA recruitment efforts prior to their returning to their home countries.

Pamela Martin & Associates. [CIA partner], Escort firm run by Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called “DC Madam.” During her 2008 trial for mail fraud, Palfrey attempted to invoke the Classified Information Procedures Act in order to discuss her relationship with the CIA. The U.S. Court refused Palfrey’s request and she was convicted and later said to have committed suicide before her sentencing hearing in Washington, DC. One of her clients was Randall Tobias, the head of the CIA-connected USAID. Another was Louisiana Republican senator David Vitter.

Paris Review. [CIA front]. Literary magazine edited by George Plimpton. Published works by Jack Kerouac and Samuel Beckett. The magazine’s co-founder, Peter Matthiessen, relied on his affiliation with the magazine as his CIA cover.

Quaker Oats Company. [CIA partner]. Worked with the CIA and Atomic Energy Commission to place trace amounts of radiation in breakfast cereal served to boys at the Fernald School for the mentally retarded in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Radio Corporation of America. [CIA partner]. Provided corporate cover for CIA officers operating abroad, particularly in Iran, Philippines, Japan, and West Germany. Provided technical assistance to CIA-financed clandestine and propaganda radio stations worldwide, including Radio Free Europe. RCA founder David Sarnoff was a major supporter of CIA operations, including propaganda dissemination around the world. RCA chairman and chief executive officer Thornton F. Bradshaw was active in the operations of the CIA-linked American Ditchley Foundation.

Reily Coffee Company. [CIA partner]. Also known as William B. Reily Coffee Company and based in New Orleans, this company employed Lee Harvey Oswald and a number of other U.S. government employees, many of whom were suspected CIA officers.

Robert M. Mullen Company. [CIA proprietary]. A Washington, DC public relations firm, it was used as a front for CIA activities. E. Howard Hunt, the CIA agent, worked for Robert Mullen when he was arrested in the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington in 1972. The Senate Watergate Committee reported that “the Mullen and Company has maintained a relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency since its incorporation in 1959. It provided covers for agents in Europe (Stockholm), Latin America (Mexico City), and the Far East (Singapore) at the time of the Watergate break-in.”

Rockefeller Foundation. [CIA partner]. Used by the CIA to direct scholarships and grants to the Third World and Eastern Europe. Rockefeller Foundation money was funneled to the American Committee for a United Europe (ACUE), created in 1948. The chairman of ACUE was OSS chief William J. Donovan and the vice chairman was Allen Dulles. One of ACUE’s board members was Walter Bedell Smith, the first CIA director.

Summa Corporation. [CIA partner]. Owned by Howard Hughes, Summa is believed to have skimmed gambling profits from the Sands, Desert Inn, Frontier, Silver Slipper, Castaways, and Landmark casinos in Las Vegas and Harold’s Club in Reno for the CIA and the Mafia. Provided financial cover for the CIA’s Glomar Explorer project.

Teneo Intelligence. [CIA partner]. Branch of Teneo Holdings, which is headquartered in New York. Teneo Holdings’s intelligence branch includes former CIA officials. Teneo is closely linked to former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. Teneo Intelligence has offices in New York, London, Rome, Brussels, Dubai, Bogota, New Delhi, and Tokyo.

Texas Commerce Bank (TCB). [CIA partner]. Houston-based bank founded by the family of James Baker III. Texas Commerce Bank was used to provide commercial cover for CIA agents. After serving as vice president for Texas Commerce Bank in Caracas from 1977 to 1979, Jeb Bush joined his father’s presidential campaign in 1980. Serving with Bush on the campaign was Robert Gambino, the CIA deputy director of security who gave Bush his orientation brief at Langley in 1977.

Kenneth Lay, the chairman of Enron, which had its own links to the CIA, served on the board of Texas Commerce Bank. Texas Commerce Bank was acquired by Chemical Bank in 1987.

The bank provided major loans to Howard Hughes’s Summa Corporation. See Summa Corporation.

United Fruit Company [CIA partner]. Involved in 1954 CIA overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz government in Guatemala. Published the Latin America Report, a publication that was a CIA front used for clandestine activities. The CIA transferred weapons to United Fruit employees in Guatemala who were involved in undermining the Arbenz government. The joint CIA-United Fruit plan was code named OPERATION FORTUNE. Company provided an airfield in Guatemala for the CIA’s training of Cuban exiles for the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.

U.S. Rubber Company. [CIA partner]. Headquartered in Naugatuck, Connecticut and later called Uniroyal, provided corporate cover to CIA officers operating abroad. Included those operating under the cover of the Dominion Rubber Company of Canada, a subsidiary of U.S. Rubber Company.

U.S. Youth Council (USYC). [CIA front]. Founded in 1945 and based in New York. Some 90 percent of its funds came from the CIA. USYC received funding from the Foundation for Youth and Student Affairs (FYSA), a CIA front. The USYC was composed of American Youth Hostels, Camp Fire Girls, 4-H, American Unitarian Youth, National Catholic Welfare Conference, National Students Assembly, YMCA and YWCA.

Wackenhut. [CIA contractor]. Wackenhut, a Palm Beach Gardens, Florida-based security firm, stood accused of providing the CIA with specialized services around the world, including Chile, Greece, and El Salvador. Its Venezuelan branch, Wackenhut Venezolana, C.A., was accused in 2002 of involvement in the CIA’s coup against President Hugo Chavez. William Casey served as Wackenhut’s outside counsel before becoming CIA director in 1981.

Wackenhut eventually merged into the global security firm G4S.

Washington Post. [CIA partner]. The Washington Post was part of the CIA’s Operation MOCKINGBIRD, the agency’s media influence project. Post publisher Phil Graham was a close friend and associate of MOCKINGBIRD chief Frank Wisner, Sr. and CIA director Allen Dulles. Wisner assisted Graham in acquiring The Washington Times-Herald and WTOP radio, creating a sizable CIA-influenced media operation in the nation’s capital.

W. R. Grace. [CIA partner]. Provided corporate cover to CIA officers operating abroad, particularly in Latin America. Provided donations to CIA front foundations.

  • News story about Madsen's book via The Justice Integrity Project



  •           Clippers-Hornets Talking Paul Trade, Again        
    The ceaseless on-again, off-again trade talks involving New Orleans Hornets All-Star point guard Chris Paul are reportedly back on. Monday night, round two with the Los Angeles Clippers commenced.
              Lebron James, Magic Johnson React To Chris Paul Trade Veto        
    Even with a flurry of moves around the NBA, the focus remained on the deal that didn't get done.
              Burning through the Desert         
    Dan Rielger & Ayala Moriel

    A few months ago (the last day of April, to be exact, which was also the first day of my Orientals week-long course), I had the pleasure and honour to host a special guest throughout the day: Dan Riegler of Apothecary's Garden - a purveyor of fair trade resins from around the world - especially frankincense and myrrh that are wild crafted in the traditional methods in countries such as Somalia, Yemen and Kenya. He also sources Cretan labdanum, and other rare raw materials, and sells resin-centrered products that he concocts himself, which you can find on his online shop. One of them being a highly fragrant moustache wax which basically surrounded him with a cloud of frankincense - so obviously he made an instant good impression on me!

    We started the day at the Baha'i Gardens in Akko (which deserve a full post dedicated to them) and then went to my studio to make incense - and burn a bunch too. Little did I know what I was signing up for. On top of the usual things I burn for this class (palo santo chips, sandalwood incense sticks, one type of myrrh and frankincense resins and my own rendition of Egyptian Kyphi) - Dan had a trunk-load of resins that he just imported from Africa, and was immensely kind and generous to share with us the most incredible incense resins with me and my class. We spent the afternoon burning rare myrrh, olibanum, and also some gums I never knew existed, namely Sandarac and Ammoniacum, the latter of which totally blew my mind.

    I learned so much from Dan, about the resins (and the other raw materials he curates and sells), how they are harvested and collected, the chemical makeup of the resins and how it affects the stages of burning (it turns out that incense resins also have top, heart and base notes) - and this post is just a little taste of all the beautiful resins we burnt when he was here. I'm looking forward to meeting him again on his next visits in Israel on the way to the African continent.

    Boswellia carterii
    Frankincense usually comes in "tears" shape as this Boswellia carterii - but not always. Below is a specimen of the less known B. neglecta that look more like a chunk of resinous granules. B. carterii has the characteristic, most unmistakable scent of frankincense - beginning with sweet citrus notes of lemon drops and orange candy and continuing into more resinous, woody and even balsamic, caramel-like nuances as the incense burns on the charcoal.

    While looking pretty much the same, other frankincense species provide further nuances and a whole frankincense burning comparative study (or incense games a-la Japenese Koh-Doh) can easily occupy half a day. Compare this to Maydi (Boswellia frereana) which albeit its slightly herbaceous (sage-like) opening, is more subtle, woody and perfumey. In fact, it smells almost powdery like violet and iris. Ethiopian frakincince (Boswellia papyrifea) is even finer with its suave, light perfume notes, slightly sweet and with notes of burnt sugar at the end of the charcoal burning process.

    Boswellia negoecta - black and white

    Boswellia neglecta is endemic to north Kenya and comes in white and black forms (as you can see in the photo) and is not widely known. The white and the black smell significantly different. The white begins resinous-green, piney and mysterious, surprisingly juice like crushed leaves with hints of parsley, galbanum and ammonia (smells a lot like amoniacum).  It has a hint of sweaty note, a little like coriander seed. The final burning moments bring to mind the smoke coming out of autumnal piles of fall leaves.

    The black neglecta smells completely different - you wouldn't think it came from the same plant: it smells dark and looming, like moss, mushrooms, decaying fall leaves, peat, forest floor and hints of campfire. It's surprising and magical that a resin can possess so many different facets.

    Sandarac
    Sandarac (tetraclllyris) comes from Malta and just like its pure milky appearance, burns clean with a woody-balsamic-resinous scent that is fine and very pleasant. It's a little bit like elemi, a little like mastic but not quite. There is a tiny hint of seashore to it that I only detected after many times of burning. It is quite lovely, even if underwhelming at first impression.

    Ammoniacum
    Ammoniacum is intense and pungent, like a mixture of galbanum, asafoetida, sulphur, greens. It it a very interesting odour but I suspect it would have better effect in magic and exorcism ceremonies rather than contemplative incense rituals.

    Commiphora confusa

    Commiphora confusa, as the name suggests, is a type of myrrh that is hard to identify, and for several reasons: the flowers look different on each plant, the resin looks different as well - and the most surprising of all: it smells more like frankincense than myrrh.

    Commiphora myrrha

    Commiphora myrrha (from Ethiopea) has the characteristic bitter, rubbery scent when burnt, and is what I'd imagine the Queen of Sheba to wear on her neck when seducing King Solomon.

    Commiphora karat

    Commiphora kataf (from Kenya) has pieces of wood in it (which would change the smell of the smoke depending on which chunk you burn). It has a strange, sulphuric-sweaty odour. I guess you could call it spicy, as it has a hint of cumin in it too. Overall it reminds me more of the smell of food than incense - barbecuing kebabs comes to mind.

    Commiphira holziana
    Commiphora holtziana does not smell like myrrh at all to me. It's more woody than C. myrrha, and a tad fresh to start with. Dan describes it as briny and sea-like but I'm not getting it.

    Arabian/Yemeni Myrrh
    Arabian/Yemeni Myrrh is by far the most incredibly beautiful myrrh resin I've ever burnt. Although it came in a strange looking chunk, containing pieces of the plastic bags used by the collectors, and even a piece of wool yarn, it has the most fantastic scent, like a perfume on its own accord. It reminds me of the unique "version" of frankincense that B. papyrifea offers. I would love to have this as an essential oil and create a perfume with it.


              Kobe Bryant Defends Stern, NBA        
    Instead of talking about his first practice under new head coach Mike Brown, Kobe Bryant was hit with plenty of questions about the NBA's decision to nix a trade that would have sent Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Lakers.
              Liquid Assets: Cincinnati drowning in water tech        

    The most recent statistics show the Tri-State has the highest concentration of water technology patents per capita in the United States. As of October, 2010, the number stood at 687, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office.


              Droid X360 goes for the KIRF prize, antagonizes Microsoft, Motorola and Sony at the same time (video)        

    Droid X360 PS Vita clone goes for the KIRF prize, antagonizes Microsoft, Motorola and Sony at the same time

    Can we establish a KIRF award for Most Likely to Invite Multiple Lawsuits? If so, Long Xun Software would have to claim the statuette for its Droid X360, at least if it dared set foot in the US. This prime example of keepin' it real fake is even more of a PS Vita clone than the Yinlips YDPG18, but goes the extra mile with a name that's likely to irk Microsoft, Motorola, Verizon and George Lucas all at once. That's even discounting the preloaded emulators for just about every pre-1999 Nintendo, Sega and Sony console. Inside, you'll at least find a device that's reasonably up to snuff: the 5-inch handheld is running Android 4.0 on a 1.5GHz single-core Quanzhi A10 processor, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of built-in space, a 2-megapixel camera at the back and a VGA shooter at the front. If the almost gleeful amount of copyright and trademark violation isn't keeping you from wanting this award-winner, you'll have to ask Long Xun for pricing and availability.


              GameStop Mobile launches as AT&T virtual carrier, gives us rare bring-your-own GSM in US (update)        

    Image

    Here's an expansion of mobile competition in the US that comes out of left field, even for us: GameStop as a cellular provider. GameStop Mobile, as it's called, is that rare bird of an AT&T-based MVNO that relies on a bring-your-own-device strategy. As long as your hardware works on AT&T's 850MHz and 1,900MHz bands and isn't locked to another carrier, you can bring any GSM- and HSPA-based phone (or data-only device) and use it contract-free: rates start at anything from a strictly pay-as-you-go $5 through to a $55 monthly plan with unlimited voice and text, if just an anemic 500MB of data. Tablet owners and other data-only fans can pay the same $55 for 1GB per month -- a bit stiff considering that those on AT&T proper can get 5GB of data for slightly less. No doubt this is to take advantage of iPad and iPhone trade-ins, PlayStation Vitas and the overall rise of unlocked devices. We're just wondering whether GameStop will catch a few customers subscribing as they pick up their Diablo III pre-orders or else face the uncertain future that befalls many MVNOs.

    Update: As our friends at Joystiq have pointed out, the GameStop Mobile website is no longer publicly accessible. Looks like someone may have pulled the switch a bit too early.


              2013-10-16 19:00:00 / City Talk bei vormat - Figur nach Maß        
    Thema: Das vormat™ 6-Wochen-Programm „Ballast abwerfen“ vormat™ unterscheidet sich von anderen Sportstudios. In elegant eingerichteten Trainingsräumen im schönen Altbau-Ambiente am Kurfürstendamm bietet das Gesundheitsstudio ausgefeilte Sportprogramme und modernste High-Tech-Trainingsformen. Lernen Sie die Spezialisten in Sachen Gewichtsreduktion und gesunder Ernährung von vormat™ persönlich kennen: ...

              2009-06-09 / City Talk TRADERS ateliers & fabrics        
    Sie kennen Ihre Größe! Aber kennen Sie auch Ihre Maße? Unter diesem Motto stand der CITY TALK am 9. Juni 2009 bei TRADERS ateliers & fabrics. Seit Oktober 2008 hat TRADERS sein Atelier in der Fasanenstraße 12 geöffnet. Als neues Mitglied der AG ...

              Three Including a Teenager Have Been Arrested Over Darknet Trade        

    Recently, there was a report that authorities have launched one of the famous Darknet chases leading to the shutting down of two of the leading Darknet marketplaces; Alphabay and Hansa market. The operation led to the arrest of many Darknet market vendors, among which most of them were teenagers. Authorities gave an assurance that they ...

    The post Three Including a Teenager Have Been Arrested Over Darknet Trade appeared first on Deep Dot Web.


              Dow Dogs May Be Barking Up The Right Tree        
    An investment strategy that has been derided by some money managers and academics as overly simplistic, once again, proved to be best in show last year. The Dogs of the Dow strategy produced a capital gain of 26.59% in 2006 plus a dividend kick of 4.77%, handsomely beating the Dow Jones Industrials gain of 16.3% and yield of around 2.2%. The strategy, popularized by Michael O’Higgins in his 1991 book “Beating the Dow,” consists of simply buying the 10 highest-yielding dividend payers in the Dow Jones Industrials, holding them for a year, and then buying the new crop of dogs. Proponents call it an easy way to handsomely outperform the average fund manager most years with an easy, do-it-yourself strategy. Critics call it an overly simplistic approach with hidden costs and risks that has outperformed only because of “data mining” - searching for statistical anomalies and then assuming they will work in the future. “The starched shirt and suspender crowd in New York are pretty savvy, and it’ll take a bit more to beat them than this,” said finance Professor Grant McQueen of Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management. “It’s a competitive world, and to think you’ll get rewards without doing homework is naive.” Source: Scottrade News, Jan 3, 2007
              VLO and Oil        
    VLO and oil in general are taking a hit right now because of the warm winter (see article below), but I think VLO and oil will do well in the long term. There are many variables in the price of oil, and warm weather is only one of them. The winter is not over yet, there's still a chance colder weather will appear. The middle east conflicts also affects oil prices. If there is a shortage in supply, oil prices will go up. Odds are, the the prices of oil will go up in the long term. I'll hold on my shares of VLO. Verdict: HOLD on VLO ----------------------------------------- Source: Scottrade News 1/2/2007 Oil Prices Face Warm Weather, High Stocks The new year began with a whimper, weatherwise, in the world’s biggest heating oil market. In New York City, temperatures on the first day of 2007 hit a peak of 54 degrees - 45% above normal and 10 degrees warmer than the first day of spring 2006. The current spring-like weather - in line with forecasts - looks likely to put strong pressure on heating oil and crude oil futures prices when trading resumes on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday. But there’s more afoot that can rile the market than just the warmest December on record in Boston, in the heart of New England, where heating oil inventories stand at their highest level since 1998. Latest revised data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show oil demand in October in the U.S. - the world’s largest oil consumer - was 2.7% lower than expected, though still 2.5% above a year ago. The new figures put demand at 20.757 million barrels a day in October - some 567,000 barrels a day below earlier indications - as demand figures for heating oil, gasoline and jet fuel were reduced. EIA’s preliminary data would have put October demand at 21.324 million barrels a day, the highest level since December 2005. The weakness at the start of the fourth quarter calls into question whether U.S. demand will manage to post even the modest year-to-year gain of 1.25% to 21.05 million barrels a day, which EIA forecasts would make it the strongest quarter of 2006.
              Status Update        
    I have been very busy lately with work and personal stuff but I am still very active in the stock market. I have made many short term trades but just haven't had the time to post. I hope to do a post about my stock performance later on this month. I'm considering a tablet laptop where I can do some scrap work to depict my investment plans and strategies. I would like some feedbacks on tablet PCs. I know Neville uses a tablet PC, and it looks useful. Another thing I had been wanting to do is move my blog to my own domain, because I want to be able to configure everything and host files, but I thought the move and maintanence would be time-consuming so I didn't do it. Future Posts Philly House Lease Renewal and Rent Increase Annual Stock Performance Review Student Loan Wipeout 2007 Financial Plans My "Safe" Short Trading Strategy
              SAIC Is Soaring        
    SAIC went public a few weeks ago, and I purchsed the stock at $18. Last week the stock jumped to almost $20. I sold a majority of my holding at $19.50. I made $1.50 per share, which is about 8.33%. Not too shabby for a two-week investment. My gains allowed me to buy a new digi-camera, the SD700 IS. Today, SAI broke the $21 mark before dropping back to $20.33 for the close. I'm still thinking if I should short-term trade it. Over the long run, I believe SAI is a good investment.
              Blogger Update        
    I haven't updated much recently because I've been busy with work and closely monitoring the stock market. I have done a lot of short-term trading lately, and I've been making some nice profits. I still hold some long-term investments, but I want to spice up my portfolio so I mixed it with some short term trades. I'll try to post some updates on my trading, but it's time-consuming. I hope I haven't lost too many readers. I'd like people to post their trades and investment strategies as well. I've also created a private investment group. If you would like to join, just put "Growing Money" in the comments and I'll sign you in. Initially, I created a Google group, but because I had a few complaints, I switched over to Yahoo group. Here's the Yahoo group link: http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/StockPickersElite/
              Eventi Marche – Estate 2017        
    Lasciatevi affascinare dalle tante possibilità di divertimento culturale che la nostra provincia offre: dalla lirica al teatro, dalle rievocazioni storiche ai momenti di ricca enogastronomia. I tanti piccoli teatri incastonati nei borghi medievali, il maestoso Sferisterio, le piazze e le strade dei nostri centri sono lo scenario ideale di eventi indimenticabili.  Evento speciale diffuso in […]
              Pain Management Through Integrative Therapies        
    A unique event immersing attendees in the world of the practicing acupuncturist. This two hour, one of a kind event is perfect for anyone curious about the internal workings of the art and science of acupuncture. Attendees will have a hands on opportunity to experience the tools of the trade, learn some of the medical […]
              Comment on Overkill: Lamborghini Aventador Replica for Sale at $55,000 by John        
    Hi I'm John Freeman I would like to buy on a trade right now for a 2012 Camaro SS2 and Cadillac EXT 2007 40,000 miles on the Camaro and what 209,000 on the EXC my numbers 361-215-5507
              Interesting forum on self-publishing at 2017 Outwrite LGBT Book Festival in Washington DC        

    Today I visited the 2017 Outwrite LGBT Book Festival in the DC Center office space and surrounding atrium at 14th and U Streets in Washington DC.

    This year I did not have my own table;  I’ll get into this elsewhere.

    The most interesting part of the visit was a presentation in DC Center’s largest room (on 14th Street ground level) from LGBT book publishers and literary agents.

    There was a discussion of what an author goes through if he/she wants to control the process.  It’s usually necessary to hire a copyeditor and a typesetter (who is often the same).  It’s necessary to find a book manufacturer, and prices can vary a lot (many companies exist in the Shenandoah Valley and down in the North Carolina Piedmont).  It seems that Milo Yianopoulos has controlled the production of his book “Dangerous” after Simon and Schuster dropped him after a controversy.

    There was discussion of “guerrilla marketing”, and of the tendency recently for trade publishers not to offer advances, which typically have to be recovered from book sales. 

    There was mention of the use of pseudonyms and pen names, and that in a real world some authors really need to keep their identities secret, usually for reasons other than just being  LGBT, like workplace conflicts or possible security concerns for themselves or others around them.  This is rather alarming.


    There was discussion of “sea turtle authors”, often introverts, who do not like to be pressed to sell aggressively, and are perfectly content to let their “eggs” lie dormant.
      

    I asked about print-on-demand publishers, like Author Solutions.  The group did not think well of this business model, and referred to it as a “shadow industry”  They felt money should go to authors directly,, but that only works if the author owns the publishing entity.  I did refer to the fact that POD companies have been pressing authors harder to buy copies of books and build their own stores and credit card operations, rather than depend on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 

    I did mention the SESPA bill from the Senate and the implicit threat to web speech, including eventually author websites. 

              Dean Koontz's "Moonlight": how a commercially prolific suspense novelist remains relevant as technology and politics change         

    During my first year of employment at USLICO in Arlington in 1990 (what would become my last main job, for 12 years and four owners), I read the Dean Koontz 1989 novel “Midnight”, and shared it (paper, Putnam was original publisher) with a few people in production control in what would become a coffee break book club.

    The novel is remarkable in its huge number of chapters, and organization into three parts each with its own chapter 1.



    The novel starts with a jogger running in a California beach town (Moonlight Cove  -- “In the Moonlight, Do Me” indeed) being attacked by a mysterious alien-like creature, and soon the mystery, somewhat in a “Twin Peaks” -like fashion, is examined from the viewpoint of various characters, whose narratives gradually connect.  (Irving Wallace had used this technique for building plots for Cold War spy novels back in the 1960s).  It seems as though people are getting converted into hybrid creatures and that a sociopathic computer scientist Shaddock is involved.



    I would have thought that this novel would make a good miniseries on a cable channel,, even today, as the premise has less dependence on political circumstances and even technology than most sci-fi suspense novels.  Koontz sometimes gets into Shaddack’s head, anticipating the psyche of a modern terrorist, deflecting the social issues (like gay rights in one passage) in surprising ways.
    I mention the novel because Koontz is often heralded in some circles as the ideal author who writes strictly to sell, and he indeed has a huge career of a long list of novels, divided into various subcategories of suspense.   Literary agents love his approach, because it is so commercial.  So do trade publishers.

    One problem with developing suspense novels is that sometimes they become very vulnerable to changes in world politics, which can come suddenly and be largely unexpected by suspense authors, like the fall of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991.  Today it’s not clear who is the biggest threat: North Korea, Iran, ISIS, Russia, China.

    I’ve had that problem, and my own approach to fiction has to start with my own narrative first.  I make no apologies, despite the disruptive advice and sales calls from others.


              Progressive Policy Institute: "Building a New Middle Class in a Knowledge Economy"         

    Harry Holzer, of the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University in Washington DC, has offered a position paper through “Progressive Policy”, “Building a New Middle Class in the Knowledge Economy”, a PDF with this link (34 pages).

    Holzer picks up on Donald Trump’s exploitation of the disenchantment of some groups, especially older white males without college degrees, with the job market and their earnings ability.

    He notes that the stability of jobs with regimentation but narrow skill sets has become less, as has the pay, not only because of foreign offshoring, but because of technology and automation. He says that families need incomes of at least $50000 a year to be middle class (possibly $40000 for smaller families) and notes the difficulties of single parents.



    The most effective measure would be to improve trade or vocational education opportunities at the community college level, especially in smaller communities or rural areas.  He also mentions the value of paid family leave.

    What I noticed after my forced “retirement” at the end of 2001 was the tendency for companies to resort to hucksterism to create jobs, and for the employment outplacement services and policy makers not to notice that this was happening so much. This has led to a culture clash:  aggressive attitudes in some communities about preserving telemarketing and door-to-door sales, versus resistance from consumers who see accelerating security problems. We need more manufacturing jobs to reverse this trend toward hucksterism.


              Same As It Ever Was        

    While we've all noticed some of the extreme and historic changes to the Commitment of Traders report over the past two months, the once/month Bank Participation Report belies the fact that nothing has yet changed. Whenever price rallies, The Banks are still quick to take the short side of the trade.

    read more


              Avoiding Death by A Thousand Cuts        
    By:  Andrew Johnson, Ph.D. Time.  You never seem to have enough of it and it is the great equalizer of companies of any size whether they realize it or not.  In a startup, you have a limited amount of time to get everything done so that you have a strong product launch before your funds […]
              Building a Powerful Contact List: Key Tactics for Making the Random Walk a Little Less Random        
    By:  Andrew Johnson, Ph.D. Building up a substantial contact list is crucial to any startup especially as they approach the commercial launch of their first product or service.  This list will be used by your commercial team to recruit alpha and beta evaluators, find strategic partners and of course uncover customers.  One of the key […]
              Get the Biggest Bang for Your Tradeshow Buck with These Tips        
    By:  Andrew Johnson, Ph.D. Tradeshows can be a great place to get the word out about your product and also to keep abreast of late breaking news, trends and opportunities.  However, they can also be very expensive.  Registration fees, travel costs, shipping and other logistical costs, not to mention opportunity costs by having your sales […]
              We Buy Active And Expired Business Licenses        
    We are leading business consultant in Dubai We are specialized in buying and selling of running business and expired and valid Trade Licenses. If you are willing to sell your trade license and running...
              Start Your Own Interior Decoration Business        
    We are specialized in setting up the INTERIOR DECORATION BUSINESS in Dubai. We are expert in arranging the all approvals related to trade license registration process from Dubai Muncipality, Dubai Eco...
              OGame        
    The universe is an endless ocean of space - but it is ready to be conquered! These powerful galaxies give you an endless amount of opportunities. Create your empire through colonisation, war and trade. Start your intergalactic conquest now!
              1 Year Old Technical Services License For Sale        
    It’s a 1 year old Technical Services Building maintenance trade license expired recently is available for sale. Trade License have no liability, its clear from Immigration office, Labor Office and ce...
              KingsAge        
    Return to the age of knights and castles: Grab the sceptre and lead your small civilisation into the glory of a mighty imperial kingdom! Win honourable battles or trade cleverly - the decision is all yours!
              Comment on What Fair Trade Means and Why You Should Care by Diana        
    Great info on coffee consumption!
              Comment on What Fair Trade Means and Why You Should Care by Vivian Dewberry        
    Wow! Great information. Thanks so much for sharing!
              New Resource for African-American Genealogy: IAAM Center for Family History        


    The International African American Museum (IAAM), opening in early 2020 in Charleston, SC, will include a Center for Family History dedicated to helping researchers trace African-Americans in their family trees.

    It sounds like a long time to wait, but the center's website is already available, with a growing collection of obituary, funeral and marriage records, as well as research tips in a Learning Library and a blog by professional genealogist Robin Foster.

    Toni Carrier, founder of the LowCountry Africana website, is developing the IAAM Center for Family History. Staff will assist researchers in finding resources about their families and help with DNA testing.

    The $75 million museum and research center will be located at Charleston's former Gadsden’s Wharf, where almost half of all enslaved Africans first arrived in America via the Transatlantic Slave Trade. You can see artist's renderings of the museum here.

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              Battle Of The Datafeeds        

    Which Futures data feed is the quickest? Today’s post is for futures traders. Specifically, I would like to talk about data feeds. Have you ever wondered what happens when you click the mouse to enter an order? Where does the order go? How long does it take to get there? Have you ever wondered if Broker A is faster than Broker B? When you open a futures trading account, and the broker gives you a choice of routing providers, which should you choose? Is CQG faster than Rithmic? Is Trading Technologies faster than everyone? And what about TradeStation? Or Transact,

    The post Battle Of The Datafeeds appeared first on Trading Schools.Org.


              TopStep Trader vs OneUp Trader        

    Top Step Trader vs. One Up Trader Today’s article is a good little piece of trader gossip. In the past couple of years, I have written various articles on the ‘hamster wheel’ known as Top Step Trader. For those not familiar, Top Step Trader is a “fake” proprietary trading company where futures trading newbies pay hundreds of dollars each month to trade on a simulator. Top Step Trader purports to offer funded trading accounts to whoever is lucky enough to escape the hampster wheel alive. Essentially, a trader must meet the minimum performance requirements in  something called “the combine.” If

    The post TopStep Trader vs OneUp Trader appeared first on Trading Schools.Org.


              Nonko Trading ***Update***        

    Thanks for reading today’s update of Nonko Trading. On June 20, 2015 I published a review of Nonko Trading. My allegations were simple and direct, that Nonko Trading was masquerading as a stock broker for underfunded day traders. That Nonko’s day trading platform, also known as Logix had no exchange connectivity, and was little more than a stock trading video game. Nonko Trading  was specializing on preying upon the naive and uninformed. Traders desperate to gain 20X leverage on initial deposits were induced into wiring their monies into third world banks with zero transparency, and zero recourse. Once the money

    The post Nonko Trading ***Update*** appeared first on Trading Schools.Org.


              Ballast P Peppermint Victory        
    Ballast Point Peppermint Victory at Sea

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              Snap shares tumble in volatile trade after another quarter of disappointing user growth        
    Snap's second-ever quarterly report as a public company comes at a crucial time for the ephemeral messaging app.
              The generic drug market ‘is at risk now’ from deflation, trade group says        
    An imbalance in supply and demand is the cause of recent pain in the generics industry, said trade group chief.
              Short-seller Andrew Left targets trader favorite Nvidia before earnings        
    Citron Research's Andrew Left issues another negative call on Nvidia.
              Donegal is calling me...        
    Saturday was such a beautiful day. Warm, sunny but there was a chilly breeze at times. Spring is most definitely here with warmer weather forecast for this week.

    OH and I had a rummage in Rushden and we also visited Emmaeus in Carlton on Saturday. Emmaeus is a charity for homeless people and is international in its scope. At Emmaeus they do furniture; household goods, electrical items, antiques and vintage items, bikes, garden equipment, clothes, shoes, bags. jewellery, craft materials, toys, books, DVDs, CDs and LPs. I bought a bangle and a ring, a small terrarium for plants, 2 succulent plants and a cafetiere for my daughter who's been after a small one for ages. I spent 6.50 in total.

    This is how I started out. I soon discarded the scarf and gloves - too warm!

    Everything except the handbag is charity shopped. Trousers from Monsoon; felted wool jacket by Paraphase; bought in the Donkey Sanctuary Charity shop in Ballyboffey in Donegal. Apart from the lovely embroidery on the jacket; it has golden bugle beads up near the neckline. It cost 10 euros, but I love this jacket and need to wear it more often. Boots from Red Cross shop winter 2015; for 1.99.


    I was getting a bit of practice in with my selfie stick. I'm off to Donegal on the 4th April for two weeks and OH won't be out for the first 8 days I'm there, so I'll have to take my own OOTD photos!

    The floral top is from the Red Cross 1.00 rail and the cardigan was bought in Barnardo's in Golders Green for 1.99.


    Both scarves charity shopped; watch, necklace, ring and bangles charity shopped. Earrings; a present from my friend Natalie in Cambridge. See my nice, clean, shiny kitchen? 4.5 hours it took me on Friday; my arms were aching on Saturday.

    In Rushden I bought a grey dress by East for 4.00 in the Salvation Army. I may not get any wear out of it now but it will be useful for next autumn and winter. East clothing is very expensive so I had to snap it up. I also bought a small wool picnic/lap blanket for 1.00; this will be taken to the caravan as it can be very chilly in the evenings. I also bought a lovely velvet patterned top in Cancer Research for 3.00. All in all a good day's rummaging. OH did well, too.


    I got up early on Sunday and walked 6.8 miles. With Wednesday's 6.7 miles my total for this week was 13.5 miles - 6.5 miles short of my target of 20 miles.

    Sunday afternoon was tea at the Swan Hotel in Bedford courtesy of my wonderful daughter. It was delicious and I was so stuffed at the end of it.



    This is the African print skirt I bought at the 3:16 charity shop last week for 3.50. The top is by Cotton Traders and the jacket is by Country Casuals; both charity shopped at he Red Cross for 1.99.


    Headscarf and all jewellery charity shopped. Boots; Christmas 2016 present from daughter.

    On Monday there was no Red Cross volunteering. The manager had rung me on Friday to say there was a flood in the shop from a leak upstairs and that the shop would be closed until Wednesday. It felt really strange not going into the shop but I had errands to run in town so walked past the shop anyway. There were buckets everywhere catching the drips! There was also what looked like a 1970s maxi dress on the model in the window! I decided to go back on Wednesday and see if it was my size.

     I had plans to go for a walk in the afternoon but the weather was so horrible I didn't bother. Cold and windy and grey...


    On Tuesday I was at the Food Bank and in the afternoon I walked 8.25 miles. It was a good day; sunny and warm but with a cold breeze and eventually the clouds got darker and it rained a little.


    Everything charity shopped except the loafers bought on sale at Tesco's outlet shop about 3 years ago.


    Earrings; a present from my friend Natalie. All other jewellery charity shopped.

    On Wednesday afternoon I went back to the Red Cross; wouldn't you flipping know it they had sold the dress from the window! I bought a brown patterned tunic and a Planet summer jacket in bright orange as a consolation prize; both 1.99 each. In the morning I walked with the group from Great Denham; we walked 7 miles and it was a a very pleasant walk. As we finished back in Great Denham I had a quick browse in Barnardo's and bought a white linen shift dress and a pair of navy blue leather loafers - both 99p each.

    It was such a gorgeous day on Thursday! It registered 21.5 degrees centigrade on my car barometer.  It felt like a summer's day so I dug a summer dress out of the chest where I store my summer clothes. I bought this dress which is by Studio from a 1.00/99p sale rail somewhere at the end of last summer when it was too late wear it, so this is its first outing.

    The jacket was one of the first things I bought at the Guildhouse when I started there; it's linen and made by an Italian company. I paid 3.50 for it. I wore tights and a long slip underneath the dress and the boots were a Christmas 2016 present from my daughter.


    Headscarf, bangles, necklace and watch all charity shopped. Earrings are from Jamaica and are made of copper in the shape of steel pans...present from OH.

    On Friday I went on a bus walk with the Ramblers from Kempston via Wootton and Bromham. We walked 8.75 miles culminating with tea and cake at Bromham Mill. The best way to finish any walk I think!  The weather was fine. By the time I got home I had to go straight to collect the grandchildren from school so stayed in my walking gear. My walking total this week was 24 miles over 3 walks.

    On Saturday I went to see my son and wore this:


    Everything is charity shopped except the loafers which were bought from the Tesco outlet sale about three years ago.



    Necklace was a present from my youngest Grandson's dad some years ago. All other jewellery charity shopped.

    I shall spend Sunday packing for Ireland; I've had the car checked, got my euros and the ferry's been booked for ages. I shall be taking a break from blogging and when I get back my lovely cousin, Linda is coming to stay with me. It will be her first visit to England and guess what she wants to do? She wants to come charity shopping! That can be arranged with no difficulty...

    I hope you all have a lovely Easter and if you don't celebrate Easter that you at least get a nice break. Take care everyone and see you on the other side!

              Senior moments...        

    A bit of catching up to do on the blog as last week I posted about the story of my brother in two parts.

    Spring is on its way! These buds were spotted on my next to last
    Sunday walk of 8.5 miles. I also saw banks of snowdrops, crocuses, primroses and some tiny daffodils - all seen in wild places and not in people's gardens.

    Here's a few of  the week before last week's outfits.

    Everything charity shopped except the boots - Christmas 2016 present from daughter.


    I wanted to show this necklace which I picked up at the Red Cross on Monday for £1.50. I also bought some bangles and a couple of books. All jewellery charity shopped.


    Pink corduroy shirt bought from £1 rail in the Red Cross a few weeks back.


    Everything is charity shopped except the brown boots - Christmas present 2015.


    All jewellery charity shopped.

    I walked Wednesday the week before last (6.2 miles) and on the Friday of the same week I walked 5.5 miles. A good week's walking for me; just on 20 miles which is what I want to do on a weekly basis. What else have I been up to?

    I finished my blanket...


    Thanks to Attic 24 here for the Granny Stripe pattern.

    Last Thursday I paid a visit to Barnardo's in Great Denham - I know - but I couldn't resist a quick peek to see if they still had their sale rail. They did. I bought 5 tops at 1.00 each. A yellow tunic; a brown waistcoat, two striped tops and a floral top.

    I paid a visit to the library last Saturday and got a pile of books - just what I don't need, more books to read, but I've been after a few of the titles for a while...

    This was last Saturday's outfit. Everything charity shopped except the top which was from Store 21 sale.


    I bought the waistcoat for £1.00 in the Red Cross two weeks ago. I think it's hand made as there are no labels. It has lovely embroidery on the pockets:



    Boots were also from the Red Cross but I can't remember where I bought the jeans.


    All jewellery charity shopped. I bought this unusual chain which I think looks very Art Deco in the Heart Foundation shop in Northampton.

    Last Sunday I went out early for another walk and did 5 miles.
    I've been asked to lead another walk for the Rambler's summer walks programme in May. I won't do a new route but reverse the route I used in 2016 when I led my first walk; it will be around 7 miles and hopefully we'll have decent weather...

    Monday's outfit.


    All jewellery charity shopped. I forgot to put my bangles on  - I was running slightly late.


    This is the yellow tunic I bought last week in Barnardo's for 1.00. It's from H&M; the top is from Cotton Traders and was also charity shopped.


    The tunic has pockets! Floral leggings, Store 21 sale and brown boots from Sainsbury's.

    I know memory worsens as you get older. I've certainly noticed a change in mine. I sometimes can't remember the word for something - for example a while ago it took me to two days to think of the word for 'brioche'! I never forget faces but often forget names. I start out to do things but I get easily sidetracked by other things and don't always finish what I started.  But this weekend I realised I had had a major memory lapse. For the past five months I've been driving around without an MOT.

    I'd got my car serviced in September and thought it had been MOT'd as well. It hadn't. I had to get to the nearest MOT place pretty sharpish on Monday; I can tell you. I'm just so lucky I didn't get gripped by the police; or even more serious have an accident. No MOT means invalid car insurance. Apparently, I should have had a text message reminder last September from the MOT centre but I didn't receive one. They've set one up now so I can't make this mistake again. Don't worry, I'm sure I haven't got dementia but am exhibiting typical memory changes as part of the ageing process...


    I remembered to go to the food bank on Tuesday morning! I missed my last session because I had the lurgy and didn't want to share it. It was good to be back. It's quite a physical role in the warehouse; bending and stretching and lifting and weighing boxes of stuff. I always come home with a pleasant ache in my back that tells me I've been challenging my body.


    I bought this dress on Monday at the Red Cross - a M&S navy blue sweater dress for 1.99. Everything is charity shopped including the striped tights which attracted a lot of comment. They're going to go in the charity shop bag because although they fit fine in the leg the pants part only comes just up to my hips and they roll down gradually...


    All jewellery, including watch, is charity shopped.

    I bought some lovely blue beads as well on Monday at the Red Cross and something for the OH.

    On Wednesday I set out to walk with the group. I never made it. I was putting my faith in my sat nav to find the meeting point and it sent me through a village and around the houses. I knew it was wrong when it told me to turn into Clophill village. but I was thinking "maybe it's a shortcut" it soon became the apparent the sat nav didn't know what it was doing!  Oh well, at least it was the sat nav's fault and not me having a senior moment! By the time I found a safe space to park up and reset the destination point I would  have got there too late.   One thing I've learnt about my Rambler's group,  in the three years I've been a member, is that they leave punctually at 10 am. I came back home and went for a six mile walk by myself...


    Here I am; hot and sweaty on the final leg...I was walking with poles so didn't have a free hand to carry my jacket in and so it stayed on.


    This is what I'd stopped for. Two swans resting in a huge field. I don't know about you but up until about a  year ago I had only ever seen swans on water or near water; canal side, riverside, lakeside. Then one day en route to Kettering; I spotted a wedge (flock) of swans resting in a water logged field. I began to see more and more swans in fields away from water. I don't know if this has always happened but I've only noticed it recently.


    I also spotted yellowhammers on my walk - brilliant flashes of bright yellow in and out of the hedgerows.


    This was Thursday's outfit.


    Everything charity shopped except the boots and blue tights - just seen. I bought the floral top which is by Wallis, from Barnardo's in Great Denham last week. I had my scarf on as I'd been out food shopping and forgot to take it off! All jewellery is charity shopped.


    Later, I tried some different earrings and a necklace...

    On Friday, I'm going for a walk with the group. I know how to get to the destination so won't be relying on the sat nav. It will be an 8 mile walk along the Greensand Ridge and I'm looking forward to it. I'll just need to add in a couple of miles walk on Saturday to reach my target of twenty miles this week.

    I hope you all have a lovely weekend; the weather's been remarkably pleasant the last few days; is it going to last, I wonder?

              Journalists' passion for their profession makes them the go-getters they are, says study        

    New Delhi: Many people are in the habit of consuming alcohol and smoking cigarettes, but a journalist-specific study turned out intriguing results.

    A research team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US have said that even though all the drinking and smoking can cause journalists' brain to function below par, their love and passion for what they do gives them the power of mental perseverance.

    "Journalist's brains compared to other groups showed a lower level of executive functioning – the ability of the brain to regulate emotions, suppress bias, switch between tasks, solve complex problems and think flexibly and creatively," said Tara Swart, professor at MIT.

    Swart recruited a group of 31 journalists to carry out a series of tests.

    Participants were required to take blood tests, wear a heart rate variability monitor, answer a brain profile questionnaire and record their eating and drinking habits.

    Researchers found that the highest functions of journalists' brain were operating at a lower level than the average population.

    This was driven by a number of factors including high levels of alcohol, sugar and caffeine consumption (41 percent of the journalist drank 18 or more units of alcohol a week).

    Researchers also found that dehydration affected brain function, as less than five per cent of journalists drank enough water.

    The job of a journalist is more often than not, a pressurising one, but that doesn't affect them, say researchers. Their ability to endure and bounce back from adversities in the long term is stronger than ever, because journalists believe that their work has meaning and purpose, giving them an edge over other professions by helping them cope with pressurised work and increasing their mental resilience, they said.

    Similar studies in groups of bankers traders, telecom and sales executives show that they are less able to cope with pressure than journalist are.

    "It's been great to see the role that meaning and purpose plays in achieving mental resilience. There is more that journalists can do to achieve peak performance – implementing a few really simple changes to help their brains perform even better," Swart said.

    (With PTI inputs)

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              2016: 122 journalists killed globally, 5 in India        

    New Delhi: As many as 122 journalists and media professionals were killed in 2016 globally, 93 of them in targeted killings and others in natural disasters and accidents, while India witnessed death of five scribes and was eighth on a list topped by Iraq, according to a new report.

    The targeted killings, including murders, bomb attacks and crossfire incidents, span 23 countries in Africa, Asia Pacific, the Americas, Europe and the Middle East and Arab World regions, said International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) in its annual report released Friday.

    The IFJ said the number (93 targeted killings) was down from 112 targeted killings in 2015 while Iraq still had the largest number of media killings with 15, ahead of Afghanistan (13) and Mexico (11).

    These were followed by Yemen (8), Guatemala (6), Syria (6), India and Pakistan (5 in both), according to the statistics published by the largest global federation of journalists' trade unions.

    In addition to the 93 targeted killings, 20 Brazilian sports journalists perished in a plane crash over the city of Medellin in Colombia, a country where for the first time in many years no killing was recorded this year, against three in 2015. Nine Russian journalists were killed in a military plane crash.

    Although the 2016 figures for targeted killings of media professionals are down from the previous year's, the IFJ has cautioned against complacency citing reports of rising threats, intimidation and self-censorship as evidence that attacks on freedom of expression remain at critical levels.

    In India, Tarun Mishra, Bureau Chief of Jan Sandesh Times, died on 14 February; Indradev Yadav, Journalist with Taaza TV, on 16 May; Rajdeo Ranjan, Bureau Chief of Dainik Hindustan on 13 May; Kishore Dave, Bureau Chief of Jai Hind on 22 August and Dharmendra Singh, Correspondent of Dainik Bhaskar on 12 November, the report noted.

    In 2015, India had reported targeted killings of six media professionals, including those from news channel Aaj Tak and Hindi daily Dainik Jagaran, the report states.

    Noting that India along with Yemen, Pakistan and Syria form a group which saw little or no change in the numbers of killings from 2015, IFJ President Philippe Leruth said, "Any decrease in violence against journalists and media staff is always welcome but these statistics and the continued deliberate targeting of media workers in many incidents causing loss of life give little room for comfort nor ground for hope to see the end of the current media safety crisis." 

    The IFJ, which claims to represent more than 6,00,000 journalists in 140 countries, has recorded at least 2,297 killings of media professionals in targeted assassinations, cross-fire incidents and bomb attacks till 2015.

    2016: 122 journalists killed globally, 5 in India
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              Gene Simmons Wants to Trademark His Horn-Hands Gesture        
    Of course, a variety of other rockers have made hand signals that were similar, or even apparently exactly the same. Continue reading…
              Kom og kast stein i glasshuset!        
    Blomsterstjernens nye fantasikontor i miniatyr       (Foto (CC): Seier)

    God jul & Godt nyttår!

    Eller har jeg allerede sagt det?

    Som noen kanskje har fÃ¥tt med seg har Blomsterstjernen lagt i stabilt blogg-sideleie, i form av et kunstig blogg-koma de siste 5-6-7 ukene..? Men det er tydeligvis livsfarlig Ã¥ hvile pÃ¥ laurbærene! Postkasse og faxmaskin har nemlig blitt bombardert med skjønne hatmeldinger, skittent herreundertøy og halvbrukte kinaputter fra forfjamsede Blomsterstjernelesere. Folk har mistet bÃ¥de matlyst og livsgnist. Langs hele Norges- (og Ghanas-) kyst har tusenvis av blogglesere sittet paralysert foran EDB-anlegget, fredag etter fredag. Frokosten ble liksom ikke det samme uten det faste blogginnlegget som skulle akkompagnere morgenkaffe & Baileys?

    Men det har jo strengt tatt heller ikke vært noe å skrive om i januar og februar? Ihvertfall ingenting som ikke allerede er blitt dobbeldekket av alle de andre bloggene som dag ut og dag inn presser frem blogge-stoff om nye lamper, nye servietter, avskyelige menn i bar overkrop eller innbydende fastelavensboller servert sammen med de herligste morkaker.

    Vinteren er og skal være hagebloggernes latensperiode. Det er vårt privilegie. Frøkatalog etter frøkatalog ramler inn døren, vi rikker ikke en muskel. Blikket vil bare ikke lokkes vekk fra bikini-sidene i H&M-katalogen. Men så! Plutselig en dag bråvåkner vi! Vi må ha frø! Nå! Med en gang!!!

    Febrilsk leter vi i papirbosset. Og helt til slutt. Nedenfor H&M-katalogen, aktenfor S&M-katalogen, bakenfor Ellos-katalogen, under et 20 talls syden-kataloger. Der ligger den! Zimtrade-katalogen... Puh. Ved første øyekast bestemmer man seg for å gjøre det enkelt. Hvorfor ikke bare bestille 1 pakke av hver frøsort? 987 frøpakker? Men så kommer fornuften inn i bildet og minner en på den miserable fjorårssesongen der kun ett av 9.000.000 blomsterfrø overlevde oppveksten.

    I Ã¥r bestemte Blomsterstjernen seg derfor for Ã¥ være ørlite mÃ¥teholden. Bedre Ã¥ være kjærlig med noen fÃ¥ utvalgte kandidater? 

    En og annen fargesprakende smårollinger falt visst oppi handlekurven:





    Men i år har Blomsterstjernen et spikka nytt og spikka spennende prosjekt på gang! Sånn går det ofte når man tukler for mye med kalkulatoren. Blomsterstjernen har nemlig derivert seg frem til at han faktisk bare tilbringer en brøkdel så mange timer i hagen som han tilbringer på jobb... Uholdbart! Dette tenker han derfor å gjøre noe med i sesongen som kommer...

    Neida, han tenker så absolutt ikke å skulke sin jobb. Langt derifra, snarere tvert i mot. Det gjelder bare å være konstruktiv og utnytte tid og premisser maksimalt. Det har seg nemlig sånn at Blomsterstjernens nye kontor formelig bugner av dagslys fra en 10 meter lang vindusflate med utsyn fra sørvest til nordøst. I praksis sitter han nærmest i et drivhus. Og nå er jo ikke akkurat Blomsterstjernen av den typen som er redd for å kaste stein i glasshus. Da er nok de som står rundt huset langt reddere... Årets geniale plan er derfor å dyrke opp en gjeng klorofyll-fulle kompiser inne på sitt eget arbeidskontor.

    Tenk så deilig? I harmonisk symbiose kan mann og blomst skinne om kapp med hverandre. Dag ut, dag inn. 37,5 timer pr uke, 47 uker i året! (Minus de 83 dagene man er hjemme med sykt barn)

    Men som dere vet. Som dønn ekte mannfolk gjelder det å begynne litt forsiktig... Spesielt når man har en sjef som ikke en gang liker plastblomster! Blomsterstjernens plan er derfor å diskret begynne med å dyrke grønnsaker som han jovialt kan dele av i lunchen, og på den måten sakte men sikkert bygge seg opp goodwill. Nesten helt ubemerket sniker han så inn den ene hageblomsten etter den andre i "grønnsakshagen".

    Ta vel imot førstereisguttene:






    Tomater, paprika, karse og stevia vil nok gli helt ubemerket inn i kontorlandskapet? Men hvilke blomsterfrø skal han satse på? Hvilke hageblomster vil klare seg innendørs, uten bier og uten direkte sollys (men med tonnevis av naturlig dagslys og unaturlig kontorlys)?

    Blomsterstjernen tar gjerne i mot tips fra leserne! Han drømmer om at noen der ute sitter med selvhøstede frø fra egen hage som absolutt bør utprøves innendørs i Blomsterstjernens kontor-klekkeri! Send frø til Stjernen. På den måten kan også du delta i forskningsprosjektet!

    Bli med og kast stein i glasshuset da vel?

    VÃ¥ryre hilsener fra deres hjemvendte,








    P.S. Dersom sjefen mot formodning skulle lese dette innlegget vil jeg bare forsikre ham om at alt det ovenfornevnte naturligvis bare er fiksjon og oppspinn. Selvsagt forholder vi oss kun til visne plastblomster i år som i fjor...





              All You Need to Know About The Sephora Return Policy        

    Sephora, without a doubt, is the best company in the cosmetic industry. Founded by LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, who also owns Sephora), a luxury goods trader, it’s no surprise. Who doesn’t love shopping for cosmetics? Even if you never wear makeup, it’s fun to pick up crazy lip colors and a tablet or two […]

    The post All You Need to Know About The Sephora Return Policy appeared first on All Salon Prices.


              It's Spud Time        

    The United Nations wants more people to appreciate the potato's potential to fight world hunger

    Food for Thought

    As 2007 winds down, thoughts naturally turn towards what might lie ahead. Meals rich in high-carb tubers, perhaps? That's what the United Nations would like everyone to contemplate throughout 2008, which it is designating the International Year of the Potato.

    Farmers now harvest more than 300 million tons of potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) worldwide. That makes it the fourth biggest food crop, trailing only corn, wheat, and rice.

    For 8,000 years, the humble potato has been a staple in the South American Andes, its homeland. Spanish adventurers encountered the New World crop roughly 500 years ago and brought various types back to Europe. Today, potatoes are cultivated not only throughout the Americas, but also from China's uplands to India's subtropical lowlands—even on Ukraine's arid steppes.

    A testament to the potato's Western roots, production of this crop in the States and southward leads the world. Fully 40 percent of the 2006 potato harvest came from North America, with Latin American farmers contributing another 16 percent.

    However, appreciation for this nutritious starch within developing countries outside of the Americas—especially in Asia—has been growing steadily, with production of the crop in those regions climbing some 5 percent annually. Indeed, 2005 marked the first time in recent history that production of potatoes in the developing world exceeded that in developed nations.

    Although most people think of potatoes as a commodity, in fact, more potatoes are processed to make fast foods, snacks, and convenience items than are sold fresh in the market place. Today, China is the leading producer of spuds, followed by the Russian states and India. International trade in potatoes—worth $6 billion annually—has also been growing within developing nations.

    You might then ask why, with all of this pre-existing global interest in potatoes, the UN feels compelled to devote a year of workshops, research contests, and other focused attention on this one particular food. And the reason, the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization argues, is that much of the spud's potential to feed the poor remains untapped.

    For instance, although Asians eat nearly half of the world's potatoes, per capita consumption even in Asia remains modest—just 25 kilograms per year, or roughly 45 percent of U.S. consumption and just 27 percent of what's typical in Europe.

    Even were potatoes to win greater respect for their nutritional attributes and ability to serve as industrial feedstocks, they couldn't necessarily make a big contribution in new regions of the world without significantly more research. The tubers are vulnerable to a host of major diseases—like the one that set off Ireland's 1845 potato famine. Some varieties of potato are especially resistant to particular diseases, but may not grow well in new regions of the world or taste that yummy.

    That's where potato scientists come in. They can identify the climate, soil types, day length, and native diseases with which any new potato crop would have to contend. Then they'll cross lines of wild or cultivated spuds to develop ones with traits that will allow them to thrive outside the Americas. The good news, the UN program notes: "The potato has the richest genetic diversity of any cultivated plant." So there's plenty of potential to tailor a new cultivar to meet the needs of farmers in most places on the globe.

    But the potato's biggest advantage, according to the International Potato Center, based in Lima, Peru, is that it yields more food, more quickly, on less land, and in harsher climates than any other major crop. Up to 85 percent of the plant is edible, compared to only about 50 percent for cereal grains. Moreover, the Center notes, potatoes "are ideally suited to places where land is limited and labor is abundant—conditions in much of the developing world."

    To help get this word out to agricultural agencies in parts of the world not already turned on to spuds, and from them to farmers, the International Potato Center will be sponsoring a March 2008 meeting: Potato Science for the Poor–Challenges for the New Millennium (http://www.cipotato.org/Cuzco_conference/). Those who attend will have the opportunity to explore the possibility of cooperating to fine tune existing potatoes into higher-yielding varieties.

    The International Potato Center's gene bank safeguards the largest biodiversity of potatoes—7,500 different varieties, of which 1,950 are not cultivated. Research on spuds, especially studies aimed at fostering food security and the alleviation of poverty, have become a focus for the center.

    With all of this talk of potatoes, are you hungry yet? The UN program has so far identified 172,000 web pages containing recipes for using potatoes. Stay tuned, it says: "We will gather the best of them" and share them on the Year of the Potato website.


    If you would like to comment on this Food for Thought, please see the blog version.

    Citations

    International Year of Potato (IYP) Secretariat

    Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

    Room C-776

    Viale delle Terme di Caracalla

    00153 Rome

    Italy

    International Potato Center

    Apartado Postal 1558

    Lima 12,

    Peru
    Further Reading

    Gorman, J. 2000. Novel sensing system catches the dud spud. Science News 158(Nov. 25):341. Available at [Go to].

    C. Graves, Ed. 2001. The Potato, Treasure of the Andes: From Agriculture to Culture. Lima, Peru: International Potato Center (208 pp). Available at [Go to].

    Raloff, J. 2005. Food colorings: Pigments make fruits and veggies extra healthful. Science News 167(Jan. 8):27. Available at [Go to].

    ______. 2004. How carbs can make burgers safer. Science News Online (Dec. 4). Available at [Go to].

    ______. 2004. Coming soon—Spud lite. Science News Online (June 19). Available at [Go to].

    ______. 2003. How olives might enhance potatoes—and strawberries. Science News Online (May 24). Available at [Go to].

    ______. 2002. Acrylamide—From spuds to gingerbread. Science News Online (Dec. 14). Available at [Go to].

    ______. 1998. Taters for tots provide an edible vaccine. Science News 153(March 7):149. Available at [Go to]

              Tag! You're It        

    Biologists catch and tag big sawfish in Florida waters

    Food for Thought

    Once a common top predator throughout coastal seas around the globe, sawfish have become remarkably rare. Indeed, today most populations are threatened with extinction. So spotting even one of these animals is reason to rejoice, notes Beau Yeiser of Mote Marine Laboratory in southern Florida. And this week, "we are nothing but giddy," he reports.

    He and colleague Tonya Wiley just returned from a 2-day sawfish-scouting expedition during which they tagged a 7-foot male on Oct. 16. At that size, the strapping youth may be 5 to 7 years old, Yeiser says. He cautions, however, that estimating age is challenging "as we try and piece together the life history of this species. We don't even know its size at maturity yet."

    These animals—essentially flattened sharks with wings—are members of the ray family. Only one species of this fish remains in U.S. waters, mostly off of Florida. Over the first half of the 20th century, this smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata) was fished to the brink of extinction—largely by accident.

    Although many cultures eat sawfish—the animals' fins are especially prized in Asia as the featured ingredient in a pricey soup—most of the animals in U.S. waters were landed and destroyed as bycatch, that is, nuisance species hauled in by commercial fishing fleets. The dire status of sawfish globally won these animals protection, last month, under a treaty banning international trade in endangered species (see Hammered Saws).

    So far this year, Yeiser and Wiley have caught just 14 sawfish, most of them less than 4 feet long. Those would still be little kids, considering that these fish are almost a yard long at birth. Then again, the pair had expected only small ones because they've mainly been cruising coastal shallows this year in hopes of running into newborns and youngsters.

    The scientists attach a numbered identification tag to the dorsal fin of every sawfish they catch—and then release the animal.

    But last week's catch was so big that it qualified for a second identifier: a pop-up archival tag, or PAT. These recording devices are so heavy that they're reserved for large sawfish—at least 7-footers. To date, only some dozen of these animals have received PATs. Costing at least $4,000 each, these data-storage systems collect information every minute, for months, on the depth at which its host is swimming, the water temperature, and light levels. The latter information gets plugged into a computer program that roughly gauges the animal's geographic coordinates at any moment.

    Researchers program a PAT to pop off the fish on a particular date. Once it floats to the surface, it sends its stored information in spurts, twice a day, to a satellite. That orbiting relay station then shoots those data back to Earth and the scientists' email addresses.

    Last week's sawfish encounter took place in a southern Florida national wildlife refuge, in very shallow water. Investigated as a possible nursery, Yeiser says "I was expecting any sawfish that I might catch to be perhaps 4 to 5 feet in length." Instead, he found a much older juvenile. "But that's the beauty of this [sawfish] project; you never know what you are going to get when you're scouting a species that has not been studied much!"

    Yeiser named the youth that he tagged last week Raloff. Hmmm—I like the sound of that. Its tag is programmed to pop off on March 15. Stay tuned for an update on my namesake's travels.

    If all goes well, that is.

    A 7- and an 11-foot sawfish each received PATs in May. Although the satellite tags had been programmed to pop off 3 months later, they actually surfaced within just a couple weeks, Yeiser says—and were never recovered.

    So, each time biologists deploy the pricey devices, he says, "we just cross our fingers that they won't pop up early—or get lost in the middle of the Gulf."

    Don't try this yourself

    The sawfish is an endangered species, so federal law forbids its capture—except by researchers who have been granted a waiver. And even they need to release an animal after measuring and tagging it.

    It's against the law to even harass the animals. Still, anglers may inadvertently snag one of the toothy marvels. When that happens, this species "should be released by keeping the fish in the water and cutting the line as close to the hook as possible," according to guidelines issued late last year by the National Marine Fisheries Service in St. Petersburg, Fla. "If it can be done safely, untangle the line if it is wrapped around the saw. Do not handle the animal or attempt to remove any hooks on the saw, except for with a long-handled dehooker," NOAA says.

    Biologists request that any anglers who sight a sawfish report their encounter to the Mote lab. Its scientists are maintaining a database to help them identify important habitat for these endangered animals.

    As interesting as these piscine oddities are, biologists would prefer that the public give the fish a wide berth. The primary reason: Approaching the animals can stress them, chase them from what should be waters safe from predators, or even interfere with their reproduction.

    But there's another reason to steer clear, according to Captain Harvey Lee Hamilton, who charters a fishing boat out of Pineland, Fla. "I've caught plenty of sawfish in my life, and I'll tell you: They're dangerous. I'm still scared to death of them." Their saws—which he terms blades—are edged with dozens of razor-sharp "teeth." The muscular animals slash those saws from side to side to kill prey or defend themselves.

    Says Hamilton: "Those fish get big, with blades that can go to at least 5 foot." And they slash those blades "so fast," he says, "that they could slice your feet off." Indeed, he told Science News Online: "I'd rather fight a shark than a sawfish."


    If you would like to comment on this Food for Thought, please see the blog version.

    Citations

    Beau Yeiser and Tonya R. Wiley

    Center for Shark Research

    Mote Marine Laboratory

    1600 Ken Thompson Parkway

    Sarasota, FL 34236

    Smalltooth Sawfish Coordinator

    National Marine Fisheries Service

    Southeast Regional Office, Protected Resources Division

    263 13th Avenue South

    St. Petersburg, FL 33071
    Further Reading

    2006. Mote scientists to help eBay identify species in new sawfish ban. Mote Marine Laboratory news release. Jan. 25. Available at [Go to].

    Mote Marine Laboratory. How you can help save the U.S. smalltooth sawfish. Available at [Go to].

    Raloff. J. 2007. Hammered saws. Science News 172(Aug. 11):90-92. Available at [Go to].

    ______. 2002. Clipping the fin trade. Science News 162(Oct. 12):232-234. Available at [Go to].

    Sawfish in Peril: Sawfish Education Program. Available at [Go to].

              Graphic novels that grab you        
    These new graphic novels — two fairy-tale retellings, a mistaken-identity high-seas adventure, and a magical-realism ghost story — will captivate intermediate and middle-school readers. At the start of Mighty Jack, young Jack, while visiting a flea market with his single mother and younger sister Maddy (who does not speak), foolishly trades the family car for […]
              Financial Reform in China: what next? [Audio]        
    Speaker(s): Howard Davies | Three of China's big four banks are now quoted on the Hong Kong exchange. Full World Trade Organisation membership is around the corner, but some in China are now calling for a halt in the reform programme. What can we expect in the next year?
              inFAMOUS Collection - Ultimate PS3 Combo Pack        

    inFAMOUS Collection - Ultimate PS3 Combo Pack

     

    • inFAMOUS
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              The Art of Reading Leads to the Art of Writing at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on the UCLA campus in Westwood! by Enilde Van Hook        

    When is a library, not a library? When it’s a Book Festival where the books come out to play! The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books celebrated its 13th year of book promotions on the UCLA campus with an estimated attendance of over 140,000 people who love to read books!
    Here is where the traditional library, once thought to be a stuffy, hush-hush, nerdy and quiet setting transforms itself into a megalomaniac fair of books and stories and documentaries just waiting to come alive. Books become the roller coaster of emotions, the merry-go-round of ideas, the bumper cars of change and the Ferris wheels of fiction.


    In this day and age, the traditional library has undergone a radical change in our culture…it has gone outside, yes outside the box, outside the building and outside under yonder shade trees to re-invent itself. Unlike the regular library, where one checks out a book and must return it within a specific amount of time, this type of literary environment goes beyond just borrowing a book. This activity steps into the realm of personal libraries. This is where the reader amasses his or her own library collection of favorite authors, books, books on tape, digital recordings of books, even recordings for the blind and dyslexic by going outside the comfort of indoor lighting and venturing into the elements of nature.



    The weekend of April 26th and 27th, under weather conditions reaching over 90 degrees in Westwood, the Pacific Ocean breeze quietly slipped in and around the leaves of Ficus trees, Great Oaks, Pines, and luscious landscaped lawns of one of our most prestigious institutions of higher learning; on the campus of UCLA, surrounded by noble buildings of great learning and ample gardens of exquisite greenery, what promised to be adventure at first, had indeed become an obsession for learning, an unquenchable thirst for more information about one’s world…who was in it in the past? Who’s in it now? Where’s the planet going? Who killed who? Or Whom? What artist leapt to his death from the bridge of misunderstanding? The answers were all there waiting to be revealed once you ventured out into the Festival of Books to bring home some new friends! This was my third year visiting the LA Times Festival of Books.




    As I came upon the first of the booths, I saw a long line of people, fanning themselves in the hot sun with only partial shade for some while others brought lawn chairs, umbrellas and water bottles or coolers and bared the heat while reading the LA Times or a comic book they’d purchased while sipping lemonades from the local vendors. “Get your lemonade!” a man shouted from the center of another line of readers waiting for an author. As I made my way down the narrow aisles of celebrity book fans I looked up in time to see that Valerie Bertinelli was about to emerge and I could already see a wave of nervous cameramen and camerawomen with their trigger fingers anxiously poised above their focused lenses. I felt in good company. I too was about to sign copies of my book today. The Kingdom Of Nuts and Bolts, was being released to the reading public and I was headed over to join the authors at booth 715 sponsored by THE GREATER LOS ANGELES WRITER’S SOCIETY.






    I was invited to join the Greater Los Angeles Writer’s Society recently and have discovered the treasures of its membership as well as the benefits to career and community. The Greater Los Angeles Writers Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to mentoring writers of all levels in the craft and business of writing. The society works to provide continuing education and a forum for the marketing of a writer’s work. The society is guided by a philosophy of “writers mentoring writers of all disciplines” and their website (www.glaws.org) details their variety of resources, welcoming writers from all over California and the country to learn more about the craft.















    I knew I had gotten to the right booth when I saw the buttons they were passing out. “What’s Your Story?” As I was about to take the hot seat of an author…I kid you not; the seat was hot because the sun cast its rays upon the storytellers’ table; I thought to myself again, ‘I’m in fine company!’ I had heard that Gay Talese, Julie Andrews and Tommy Lasorda were telling their stories and here I was, a humble little writer of my first fiction novel about to tell my own.
    I resorted to taking pictures to relax my own photo-happy-trigger finger. I always enjoy a good shutterbug moment and this was no exception. So, I took pictures of the authors I was with, while I signed a few books myself.








    I met Leslie Ann Moore, the author of Griffin’s Daughter, and I learned she wrote romantic fantasy (which I overheard her telling a reader that she had won an award). I visited her website at www.leslieannmoore.com and was inspired by her story that she is a veterinarian, writer and belly dancer too!






    I also met Mike Robinson the author of Too Much Dark Matter, Too Little Gray (which personally as a photographer, I liked the title.) I learned that Mike Robinson is the author of seven novels and two collections. Mike also sold a number of short stories to print and electronic magazines, anthologies and podcasts. Visit Mike’s website at www.freewebs.com and learn that he too is stalking BIG FOOT!






















    On Saturday, another author I had the opportunity to meet at the GLAWS booth was Matt Pallamary. We sat together as our fans lined up to talk to us about our books. (Maybe our lines weren’t as long as Valerie Bertinelli’s for her book “Losing it: And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time” but we had a following, nonetheless!) Matt has written his memoirs detailing his spiritual journeys to Peru where he worked with shamanic plant medicines. His most recent book is titled Spirit Matters and his website is www.mattpallamary.com. This was a serendipitous place to be sharing space with Matt Pallamary as I had the rare opportunity to discuss some of my own spiritual stories from my early childhood in Argentina. The Kingdom of Nuts and Bolts is a story about a five-year-old boy named Miguelito, who can see things that others can’t and this makes him special and extra inventive. He has a special magic friend named Hector (made out of nuts and bolts) who teaches him to fix things. The story, a comedy, is set in Buenos Aires, Argentina using the popular genre of South American writers, that of Magical Realism. The story explores an imaginative spirit world set in the 1930’s and is told from the perspectives of a fly, a witch, a seagull, an angel, a demon and two little brothers. The paperback version is available through www.enildeingelsvanhook.com.
    and coming soon to www.amazon.com so check the website in mid May for available stock.























    Several new, emerging and established writers joined us at the Festival of Books in the GLAWS booth #715. Among them was Joan A. Friedman, a Ph.D. who is an identical twin, herself, and has over thirty years of experience as a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of twin-related issues. Her new novel, Emotionally Healthy Twins is a comprehensive guide on how to raise twins who are self-realized and distinct individuals.





    Dr. Joan Friedman posed for a photo-op alongside two of the movers and shakers of GLAWS; Tony Todaro, one of its original founders (Sci-Fi aficionado) and an established strategic consultant (Todaro Communications) as well as John Weiskopf, the author of The Ascendancy.








    The Ascendancy is an appropriate story for today’s times, as John Weiskopf has created a new world mythology at a volatile point in history. His latest novel brings modern day imagination to the old story of Jack in the Beanstalk. The premise of this novel is that a beanstalk starts growing out of the rubble of the World Trade Center and the protagonist Jack Tott, a twenty-six-year-old musician, believes that if he climbs the beanstalk, he will somehow find the means to help save his dying sister. This book is available through www.johnweiskopf.com.
















    I met Sandra Walter, the author of The Creator State (www.sandrawalter.com) a story where actors discover a unique state of consciousness and art changes reality. Pictured here to the right is the author of Akira's Army by Keith Kowalczyk as he tells the story of Ray Quincy who becomes a prisoner of war while on his family vacation on a small South Pacific Island (a novel available through midnightpressbooks.com) Also pictured in booth #715 are Tony Todaro, Neil Citrin, and John Weiskopf.









    I also had an opportunity to talk to Robin Reed who was also releasing her first novel called Xanthan Gumm. Robin Reed writes in the science fiction genre about hard working creatures called ‘Humans’ who labor to make stories that are loved throughout the Galaxy. One young alien dreams of going to the ‘Forbidden Planet Earth’ to perform in the movies and wants to become famous like his idol, E.T. This book is available through www.barstowproductions.com.






    On Sunday at the LA TIMES FESTIVAL OF BOOKS, I had the distinct privilege of sitting at the author’s table with Film Educator and author Charles Domokos. His work in education especially in the cinema and film-editing field has a long history of contributing extremely technical post-production knowledge to film students at USC School of Cinematic Arts, Loyola Marymount and Los Angeles City College. His book titled: Non-linear Editing: The Cutting Edge provides the foundation for the college-level media student to make the leap into the world of film and HD-based professional post-production, as practiced in the Hollywood media community. His book is available through Amazon.com; Barnes&Noble.com or www.GoGardner.com.



    While sitting under the canopy of a nearby Elm tree, our booth enjoyed a little more shade and relief from the heat on Sunday, just enough to share our experiences and challenges of our publishing our first books. Charles and I also shared some of our inspirations to write and joked around that in our booth alone, we had the resources for taking my story of The Kingdom of Nuts and Bolts and turning it into a movie using stop-frame animation to create a Hollywood environment for my animated critter made of nuts and bolts and feathers named ‘Hector’. We figured we had a whole production team from writing the screenplay to filming, editing and strategic marketing with Tony Todaro!



    Speaking of Tony Todaro, one of the founders of GLAWS, I learned he is a prolific fiction writer as well. He is now working on a final draft of his next novel, “What Comes Around” a story set in a future city by the name of San Angeles, a metropolis divided by rivers and gangs after the ‘Big One’ (the big anticipated earthquake Angelino’s often fear, has already happened in this story) has rearranged the real estate and politics of the Southland. Just a little sneak preview of his upcoming book, finds Fed Corp Special Crimes investigator Major Xander Hunt in the midst of two murder mysteries to solve: the death of prominent physicist Allan Dunwharton, and after a series of battles and attempted assassinations, (perhaps even his own death). Hunt has kept his aging body alive with a concoction of drugs and nanobots, despite decades of damage as a black-ops agent, and the terminal cancer eating at his guts. (Imagine here the actor Sean Connery as the wise, aging officer in the Untouchables, though Hunt thinks of himself as the younger version of a Kevin Costner character.) Tony Todaro is a strategic marketing consultant with a long history in the music business and now shares his expertise with his fellow authors in GLAWS!



    With a philosophy of “writers mentoring writers of all disciplines” GLAWS holds monthly informative meetings, often with nationally-known guest speakers, offers critique groups, advice in the craft and business of writing, conducts special events including writers conferences and seminars, and promotes its vision through many businesses and social opportunities.
    In April I had the opportunity to attend one of the membership meetings to hear the science fiction and fantasy writer, Tim Powers, author of Anubis Gates and winner of the Philip K. Dick Award. He spoke at length about the essence of “plot” or what actually happens in a story. He encouraged writers to think of the question ‘why’ and then dig deeper and ask no, ‘why, really?’; ‘why really is the character motivated?’ He also gave us an overview of what it is like to be a writer at work. He stated that he had cultivated a sense of both guilt and fear. “Afterall, I play with the cat while truckers have jobs…” In a brief moment I had to talk with him before he got on the podium, he stated that I should write down imaginary bets… but not to do it in my head. He urged me to write thoughts down directly onto the keyboard. In his presentation, he also shared some of the advantages to writing down your ideas and character traits onto index cards and spreading them around your workspace. Maybe one day, if you are experiencing ‘writers block’; maybe the landlord comes around knocking, blows open your door and tromps all over the index cards mixing them up every which way; well, he said, ‘you never know when that might have helped your plot strategy a little!’ TIM POWERS chuckled.

    The headline of today’s blog stated that the Art of Reading leads to the Art of Writing. I strongly believe this because I can attest to the significant verbal, literary and visual growth that a child can attain while immersed in a supportive community reading program. That, in and of it-self is where the art of reading leads directly to the successful art of writing. Exposure to the arts at a young age in a person’s life greatly enhances the chances this experience will foster a love of story telling as well as an appreciation for the authors and artists of these works that influence the mind at a critical stage in our development.
    I am an example of an After School Reading Program child. My first exposure to library books came about at approximately the age of 8 when I stated participating in the Duarte Public Library After School Reading Program and simultaneously the Monrovia Public Library system in California.







    I personally see this important correlation between early reading and early writing because I began to keep a diary at the age of twelve after reading The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I went on to improve my reading skills by practicing my writing skills in my journal and reading even more each month until I had practically consumed all the books I could in the children’s section of the Duarte Library. I seem to recall that by the age of thirteen I was already into the adult section where I promptly fell in love with science fiction and The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. (At the time, I made no physical distinction between the right or left section of the Duarte Library but I did get into trouble with my mother who discovered one day that one of my books had an identifying label from the adult section of the library…I no longer remember what the name of that book was, because I didn’t get to read it…only that it had a harmless picture of a cat on the cover and I distinctly recall how disappointed and rather humiliated I was when I had to return the book to the librarian and admit that I had rules at home I had to follow that superceded library freedoms.)





    My consolation was that I was a rebellious child so after that, I no longer checked out the adult books to take home—I just spent my free time reading the contraband stories, sitting cross legged on the floor between the stacks by the light of a window where a beautiful oak tree cast intermittent sun, shade and childhood inspiration; Under these conditions, I finished reading Pearl Buck’s novel The Good Earth. I can’t stress enough the importance of reading in a young person’s life. I admired writers without even knowing what they looked like. Often I didn’t see pictures on the covers. I just knew their voices by the way they would write their sentences. I feel I learned about life, lived through the characters and had adventures I couldn’t even dream of having all through the art of reading a wonderful book.

















    By the time I was sixteen, I had obtained my first job away from home. The Duarte Public Library hired me to work as a ‘page’ part time while I attended high school. I was able to devote even more time to filing and flipping through the pages of my most beloved writers and fondest friends. I recall taking a whole summer to finish the novel Hawaii by James Mitchner. These books were my education and entertainment away from the classroom and the schoolyard. By the age of eighteen, I was working for the USC Bookstore during freshman year of college and the Doheny Library by my sophomore year of college.

























    Now fast forward to the present day in 2008. I have written and self-published five books of poetry and recently released my first novel, The Kingdom of Nuts and Bolts here at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on the campus of UCLA. Was it an accident that I developed into a writer? (In my particular case, I am also a photographer and an artist.) (www.gingervanhook.com) (www.enildeingelsvanhook.com) I don’t think this is a random event. I think there are no accidents in the universe. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. I believe in cause and effect. I believe that if you want to end up with a delicious cake, you need to prepare the recipe with proper ingredients. The ingredients leading to the successful art of writing requires nothing short of fresh time, young minds, good books and positive parental and community encouragement to read. The art develops naturally as the heat of age ripens the stories into cupcakes of our culture for everyone to enjoy!

    I attended the Duarte Festival of Authors in October of 2005 in Westminster Gardens, in Duarte California just to visit with and enjoy a moment listening to Ray Bradbury as the featured keynote speaker, presented by The Friends of the Duarte Library.



    We also support the Monrovia Arts Festival Association which is undergoing a change of name this year. In addition to the changes featured in Monrovia Library Park, with the new Library construction, Monrovia Arts Festival Association is about to be renamed the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts to better define the role of the arts in the community of Monrovia.
    The Monrovia Arts Festival Association will continue to serve the arts and artists as well as the after school art programs in Monrovia as well as surrounding communities and schools. I firmly believe, the younger a child is exposed to the arts, in terms of reading, writing, painting, sculpture, photography, film, digital media, comic book art and art history just to name a few of the variety of arts, the more creative a child will grow into adulthood and the more rewarding our communities will be to thrive in.
              Best Time To Invest in Art, NOW! by Ginger Van Hook        
    TV celebrity Jason Alexander supports the arts at the TAG Gallery in Santa Monica, California on August 18, 2007 for the CALIFORNIA OPEN EXHIBITION show juried by Peter Frank. Now showing NEW WORKS, painting, mixed media, sculpture, photography and video through September 1st 2007. Jason Alexander, an actor who played the part of "George" in the long running and popular hit TV show "Seinfeld",
    is pictured here beside sculpture artist Ali Alinejad.
    Photo by Ginger Van Hook

    Christine Owens, president of the Focus One Community Credit Union and sponsor of the
    Focus One Gallery in Monrovia, California is presented with the Renaissance Award
    by Monrovia City Councilman, Joe Garcia at the Monrovia Arts Festival Association Gala Black Tie Annual Fund-raising Event May 12, 2007. The Renaissance Award is given to honor and recognize a special member of the community whose contributions to their fellow citizens leads to the cultural enrichment of the community as a whole. Photo by Ginger Van Hook

    Artist, Photographer and Actor, David Newsom poses with his dog in front of his latest photographs (Thistle #1) being exhibited at the DCA Fine Arts Gallery, in Santa Monica, California, (June 1, 2007 through July 14th, 2007). Three miles of Idaho is an exhibit focusing on the landscape between his brother and his sister's properties in a unique and poignant family setting. David Newsom released large scale renditions of his work currently published from his best-selling book titled SKIP.
    Photo by Ginger Van Hook

    Peter Frank, Jurist, for the TAG Gallery, CALIFORNIA OPEN EXHIBITION,
    stands beside emerging Los Angeles based artist, Luke Van Hook, August 18th, 2007.
    The Painting in background, oil on canvas, "May", the study of Giotto's perfect circle.
    by Luke Van Hook
    (Investigating the legend that Giotto drew a perfect circle for the Pope)

    As the economy goes up and down, so do the trends in the arts and art collecting. This is an exciting time for the arts because we have many historical markers and world conditions that exist today that make it a good time to invest in the arts. For instance, instability in the stock market often releases money to make investments in art, that, like real estate, also goes up in value as the years progress. Additionally, there are wars raging around the world so instability in world economic markets are impacting the art market too. The best impact that market instability plays upon the arts is that it gives incentives to support artists in your local communities. These artists are here and now. Their work is presently available, and like property, it too can be insured, placed into a family trust or safety deposit vault and along with the family heirlooms, art can be bequeathed as a legacy or inheritance to members of your family. Both the housing market and the stock market have been riding a roller-coaster in recent years making a good piece of tangible artwork a far more solid investment than betting on governments, point spreads or Las Vegas Mega Slots.

    M
    y husband Luke and I have explored a number of fine art galleries and art communities that will interest the art lover, the art collector and fellow artists in the pursuit of great works being created in the NOW, as well as some works that have survived the test of time. In my Blog I intend to discuss some of the hot spots and hot artists in Sunny Southern California. I'll share photos with you of some of these exciting options available to the every day collector, the seasoned collector, the art aficionados, or the emerging collectors eager with new money to infuse into an already thriving and ripe harvest of works in Oil Painting, Photography, Sculpture, Conceptual works, Collage, Digital Photography, Digital Film and Electronic Visual Art.

    Through this summer we visited communities on the West side such as Santa Monica, West LA, and Culver City. In the inland areas, we visited some of the foothill mountain art communities such as Glendale and a little further inland, we visited Old Town Monrovia. Starting with the inland foothills we find the quaint town of Monrovia where I grew up and went to school at Immaculate Conception Elementary on Shamrock Avenue. In Monrovia, the City of Art and in Duarte, the City of Health, I grew up as a child. I volunteered about 300 hours as a candy striper for the City of Hope in my teenage years, went on to work for the Duarte Library and attended Alverno High School for girls in Sierra Madre. This is the place where I was raised marching in parades with the Brownies and the Girl Scouts and where I learned to tap dance, twirl a baton and where I rode a ferris wheel for the first time at the fiesta, (as well as ate a lot of cotton candy), I came back as an adult to find an incredible amount of support for the arts in local schools. The arts are not limited to crayons and pencils either. There is an extensive array of art mediums in which students, and some very young students at that, learn to hone their creative skills. For instance, at Paint N Play on Myrtle Avenue, they learn how to throw pottery. Also, with after school teacher, Rouzanna Berberian, children learn the art of drawing, photography and gallery showmanship as well. There are art lessons going on, on almost every street corner you encounter in the busy Old Town Center on Myrtle near the Krikorian Movie theatre. You'll find this charming section of town both soothing and exhilarating. You ought to try walking up and down the main street where there are sidewalk activities, new park benches to rest under shade trees, new lampposts and lanterns all reminiscent of a nostalgic time. Artists show their work on wide city blocks and inside cool and dim lit gallery spaces. The mountains loom in the distance and the afternoons yeild a light summer breeze in the early evening.

    We support the Monrovia Arts Festival Association in their endeavors to promote the arts to the children at a very young age. It is not uncommon for lots of families that are raised to appreciate art to blossom into artists later in life. MAFA is a nonprofit organization led by President Bill Beebe with a history of supporting local artists and local after-school art programs. Over the years, the Monrovia community has begun to expand its outreach of art by developing local talent through a number of venues: Focus One Gallery for instance, is located in the lobby of the Focus One Community Credit Union at 404 East Huntington Drive on the corner of California and Huntington Drive. The president of Focus One Community Credit Union, Christine Owens is known for her support of local artists and was recently nominated for and awarded the annual Renaissance Award by Monrovia City Councilman Joe Garcia at the MAFA Black Tie Fundraiser in May 2007. This is a prestigious award that goes to honor and recognize a special member of the community whose contributions to their fellow citizens leads to the cultural enrichment of the community as a whole.

    MAFA Marketing coordinator, (on left)Denise Daniels is pictured here with Christine Owens, President of Focus One Community Credit Union and Bill Beebe, President of MAFA at their annual Black Tie Fundraiser that occurs in May.


    Monrovia, California
    Foothill Mountain Communities
    Some Artists in Action...

    THE MONROVIA ARTS FESTIVAL ASSOCIATION otherwise known as MAFA, is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization and is dedicated to the cultivation and support of the arts in children's after school programs as well as educational awareness of the arts in the community at large. MAFA P.O. Box 92 Monrovia, CA 91017 (www.artfestivals.org) 626-256-3124

    Several galleries and art venues have developed over the years which participate and support MAFA. The following information is current as of August 2007: If your event or venue is not listed, please contact Ginger Van Hook, press liaison, for MAFA at (enilde@sprintmail.com).

    The AZTEK ART GALLERY, is located beside the Aztek Hotel at 305 West Foothill Blvd. Exhibits local artists work as well as holds art classes during scheduled times. The contact person is Bill Hyatt, (Hyatt2000@yahoo.com)

    California Wine and Cheese, LLC supports local artists. New Artist reception for Frank Zgonc, Photographer is scheduled for the evening of Friday August 24th, 2007. Frank Zgonc shares images from his travels through Europe, scenes from Bodie Flats, Nevada and local scenes in Monrovia along with his signature digital watercolor manipulations. California Wine and Cheese is located at 115 W. Foothill Blvd., Owned by Janet and Tom Dugan, their website can be located at www.cawineandcheese.com (Contact by phone 626-358-6500 for reservations.)

    The MONROVIA COFFEE COMPANY supports local artists and is located at 425 South Myrtle Avenue. Exhibits contemporary and emerging artists work. Next artists showing September 1 through December 30th, Ginger and Luke Van Hook Photography exhibit, Methusula in the Bristlecone Pine Forest. (Landscape photographs of some of the oldest pine trees on the planet. Some trees aged over 4,700 years, older than the Egyptian Pyramids.) (Additional digital photography of flowers and collage by Ginger Van Hook.) For artist schedules, contact person is Carol Curtis, (shutterbug@altrionet.com)

    The PAINT 'N PLAY ART GALLERY is affiliated with Monrovia Arts Festival Association in its' support of the arts by providing a meeting place for MAFA members to discuss and plan their upcoming events for the community on a monthly basis. Contact Lisa or Rachel at paintnPlay2@aol.com. Paint 'N Play is located at 418 South Myrtle Avenue. Paint N Play sponsors the SUMMER ARTWALKS in Old Town Monrovia along with several merchants who participate every year. KidsArt, Segil Fine Art, Oh My Goddard Gallery, Family Festival Productions, Scoops, Joy Print and Design, Box Jewelers and Baldwin's Baked Potatoes as well as the Outback SteakHouse- Arcadia and Trader Joe's also participate in art festivities that promote the education of art in schools through Summer Artwalks. For more information regarding Summer Art Walks and how you may participate, you may also contact Betsy Thurmond (626-358-7800) or kamonrovia@verizon.net. The next SUMMER ARTWALK is scheduled for Saturday evening, August 25, 2007 from 6:30 to 9pm.


    *********************************************************

    GLENDALE COMMUNITY
    ARTISTS EXHIBIT AT THE
    BRAND LIBRARY ART GALLERIES

    August 11 - September 28th, 2007.
    Glendale Public Library Associates of Brand Library
    1601 West Mountain Street Glendale, CA 91201
    818-548-2051 www.brandlibrary.org


    A group show Titled: PATTERN PLAY. Four artists demonstrate the variety of patterns available in color schemes, pattern originality, unique images in oil paints, sculpture, and graphic designs. Artist reception August 18, 2007. Artists featured are Patsy Cox, Yuriko Etue, Melanie Rothschild, and Jerrin Wagstaff. Definitely a great show for the entire family. You'll experience a great variety of brilliant colors and patterns that pop out of the walls, rise from the floor and reveal creative abstract patterns that draw you in, spiral you out and make you feel good.

    Artist, Melanie Rothschild

    Artist, Patsy Cox

    Artist, Yuriko Etue

    Artist, Jerrin Wagstaff


    **********************************************************

    SANTA MONICA AND COASTAL EDGES
    OF CALIFORNIA ART


    16:1 Gallery, Santa Monica, California Summer 2007

    MONGREL

    Kathryn Andrews
    Chris Lipomi
    Donald Morgan
    Stephanie Taylor
    organized by Kathryn Andrews

    Showing August 11 through September 8, 2007

    Sixteen:One
    2116 Pico Blvd., Unit B
    Santa Monica, CA 90405
    310-450-4394
    email: info@16to1.com
    www.16to1.com


    ************************************************************************************************************

    SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA

    DCA FINE ART GALLERY
    Delia Cabral, Gallery Director
    www.dcafineart.com
    delia@dcafineart.com
    3107 Pico Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90405
    310-396-8565

    From Exhibition, THREE MENDACIOUS MINDS, (The Return of Paris' New Pestilence School) David Schoffman, Currado Malaspina, Micah Carpenter July 23- August 31, 2007 310-770-2525
    Photo by Ginger Van Hook



    ******************************************************************************************************************

    SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA

    TAG Gallery
    TAGtheartistsgallery.com
    Elizabeth Sadoff
    Gallery Director
    2903 Santa Monica Blvd.
    Santa Monica, CA 90404
    310-829-9556

    Elizabeth Sadoff, Gallery Director, TAG Gallery
    handing out awards to the winning artists.

    Photo by Ginger Van Hook

    Jason Cimenski accepts award from Peter Frank and Elizabeth Sadoff
    TAG Gallery, August 18, 2007
    Photo by Ginger Van Hook


    First Place Winner, Artist, Jason Cimenski with his daughter "The Flooded Room" TAG Gallery, August 18, 2007 Photo by Ginger Van Hook

    Artist Kim Kimbro, TAG Gallery, August 18, 2007
    Photo by Ginger Van Hook


    Artist, Lorien Suarez,
    TAG Gallery August 18, 2007
    Photo by Ginger Van Hook

    Artist, Carlos Daub,
    TAG Gallery, August 18, 2007
    Photo by Ginger Van Hook

    Derek McMullen, Luke Van Hook, Dennis Treretola Three artists, oil painters, from the same graduating class at Otis College of Art and Design, 2004
    TAG Gallery, August 18, 2007
    Photo by Ginger Van Hook


    Artists, and fine art painters, Carlos Daub, Luke Van Hook, Dennis Treretola
    TAG Gallery, August 18, 2007
    Photo by Ginger Van Hook

    Artist, Carole Garland, "Midnight Mystery", oil on canvas
    TAG Gallery, August 18, 2007

    Photo by Ginger Van Hook

    TAG Gallery, Santa Monica, California
    August 18, 2007
    Standing room only at the popular show
    CALIFORNIA OPEN EXHIBITION

    Photo by Ginger Van Hook

    Peter Frank thanks the artists and their guests who have participated
    at the TAG Gallery, Santa Monica, California Open Exhibition,
    August 18, 2007
    Photo by Ginger Van Hook



              Comment on Why Philippe Dufour Matters. And It’s Not A Secret (Archive) by daiKel        
    Mr. Dufour is my favourite watch making master and every time I read about him (especially via your writing Gary) I couldn't help to feel the admiration and respect from bottom of my heart towards this legendary God-like figure. Not that I could ever afford his timepiece but if one would trade his Dufour Simplicity with me for my right arm I would do so in a heart beat (gotta keep my left arm to wear the watch hah!) I really wish to meet Mr. Dufour in person if I ever get a chance to do so! It would no doubt one of the most memorable day in my life!
              Durbhaagya Haider ka (Kashmir ka rajkumar)        
    ------------
    Note 1: It is after a long time that I want to write about an (Indian) movie!

    Note 2: Considering that Haider is adapted from a well-known (and arguably the most famous) Shakespearean play, The tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, I will go easy with spoilers and without warning. And for those unfamiliar with tragedies by Shakespeare, spoiler alert, everybody dies.
    ------------


    I knew Vishal Bhardwaj has a fetish for Shakespeare. Haider is the final installment of his trilogy spanning Maqbool (Macbeth) and Omkara (Othello) before this. Shakespeare's influence on him is also evident in his outings not based on plays, most notably in Matru ki Bijlee ka Mandola, and less visibly in 7 khoon maaf, and Ishqiya among others. But this is also a man who truly loves cinema and adores the medium. So much that the characters of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern from the original play are depicted as Salman and Salman, a duo which run a VHS rental store, idling their time away to the moves of Salman Khan, the rising superstar from the 1990s. It is a fitting tribute to the time and place in which Vishal Bhardwaj grew up as a filmmaker.

    I mention this because I wager this man is heavily influenced in his style by another man who adores cinema, Quentin Tarantino, a director famous for his revenge epics. With all the bloody gruesomeness that leaves its trail along a saga of revenge, the conflicts, the deliberations, the mess - how cool is it that our home-grown director does homage to Tarantino's trademark trunk shot and ends Haider with a sampling straight from his movies (edit: my bad. The sampling at the end of Haider is from Extreme Ways.)



    Set in the mid-1990s in Kashmir, the story embeds itself flawlessly in the setting, rather than it just being a background setup for the events adapted from the original play.


    Jhelum, jhelum dhoonde kinara
    Jhelum, jhelum dhoonde kinara
    Dooba sooraj, kin aankhon mein
    Sooraj dooba, kin aankhon mein
    Jhelum huya khaara



    This has to be Shahid Kapoor's highlight performance of his career yet. I was skeptical about this casting choice from the trailers, but boy was I wrong. The amount of preparation he put behind this role shows. The monologue scene in front of an audience at the town square is exaggerated just the right amount, and the execution of the play-within-a-play exposition scene from the original is neat. His costumes, makeup, body language, all fit together seamlessly as he owns his character.



    Hai ki hai nahi, bas yehi sawaal hai
    Aur sawaal ka jawab bhi sawaal hai.

    Dil ki agar sunoon to hai, dimaag ki to hai nahin
    Jaan loon ki jaan doon, mai rahoon ki mai nahin.



    And what a find Shraddha Kapoor is! Elegant, charming, poised, controlled, absolutely not afraid to let her eyes to the talking, and leaves you yearning for more. I wish I was there to see her keeping a straight face as she mispronounces 'loved' as 'love-edd' as they were filming it! I, for one, definitely want to see her do meaningful roles in the future. Irrfan Khan delivers a spirited punch during his meager screen time, playing the ghost from the play.


    But the highlight performance in the movie has to be Tabu's, arguably her career's best, atleast in a very long time. A delight she is as she sets the screen on fire bringing her character to life. There is a scene in which she is trying to convince Haider to leave Kashmir for a better future. With her teary, swollen eyes, and a gun pointed to her head, she ultimately gets her way. I cannot imagine another actress from around here who can pull that off with such elegance.


    "Vaishi bhediyaa ban chuka hai wo."
    "Shukr hai aasteen ka saanp nahi banaa."


    Vishal Bhardwaj, with his direction and music (for Gulzar's excellent lyrics), tops himself. Being true to the source material and still making it his own, he comes out triumphant. He is at the top of his game here. Kashmir has been shot so delicately! (I want to go there ASAP! And we we don't need foreign locations!) The gravedigger scene, in particular, is the crowning jewel, a scene which drips with his love and affection for his craft.


    Arre aao na, ki jaan gayi, jahaan gaya, kho jaao
    Arre aao na, ke thak gayi, hai zindagi, so jaao



    I might have profusely appreciated the movie thus far, but the movie is not without its gripes. I'll start with the anachronisms. In one of the best and most important scenes in the movie, the play-within-a-play scene, there is a mobile cellular tower prominently visible throughout in the background. Forgetting for a moment that we did not have cellular networks in the 1990s, its presence is distracting. I would have expected this to come up in post-processing/editing, especially when a viewer is able to catch it in first viewing. This is the kind of attention-to-detail I would expect from a director of his caliber. Then, to depict Bangalore, they used footage of the iconic Domlur flyover here. Again, its construction hadn't started as late as 2003, and the footage of sprawling flyovers plastered suddenly coming from the valleys of Kashmir moments ago is jarring to say the least.

    Also, in my opinion, the Oedipus aspects of the play were overplayed in the movie. It wasn't necessary. Not as much. But my major complaint is how they handled the character of Ophelia. Transforming it into a childhood love, and having scenes of brimming romance between Haider and Arshia feels out-of-place in a Shakespearean revenge epic such as Hamlet.

    But hey, the movie is probably a little too "heavy" already for Indian audiences, and removing the little romance might have aggravated it, so what do I know? I am sure it took enough courage already to deal with the Censor Board's scissors and to release this film pitted against the 24,000-screens-release of multi-starrer blockbuster Bang Bang.


    I can already read some negative Internet chatter around 1) The depiction of Kashmir; 2) It being a heavily political movie; and 3) "maa bete ka rishta". Please, folks, can we let art remain art? Pretty please?


    I cannot recommend this movie enough. Please go watch it, something like this comes rarely in our country. Thank you Vishal Bhardwaj for making Haider.



              Electrical Apprentice & Licensed Tradesman at Auzzie Industries Monto, QLD 4630        
    QLD-Monto, Electrical Apprentice & Licensed Tradesman at Auzzie Industries Monto, QLD 4630 Auzzie Industries Electrical Service are a small Electrical Company looking to expand our team with both an Electrical Apprentice and a Licensed Electrical Tradesman. Our company has been servicing the needs of the North Burnett for over 7 years and provide electrical solutions for residential, commercial and governmen
              NCR’s Innovative Restaurant Solutions on Display at National Restaurant Association Tradeshow in Chicago        
    PRZOOM - Newswire (press release) - 2017/05/19, Duluth, GA United States - Global technology company to demonstrate solutions that help restaurants transform their operations and build connected experiences - NCR.com
              Mass-Market Paperback Books Vs. Trade Paperback Books (Infographic)        
    Click image to enlarge. View the full post that goes with this infographic. Share This Image On Your Site Please include attribution to KunzOnPublishing.com with this graphic. Hashtags: #selfpublishing #bookmarketing Mass-Market Paperback Books Vs. Trade Paperback Books (Infographic) https://t.co/fxt4nsVLki @jckunzjr … Continue reading
              Mass-Market Paperback Books Vs. Trade Paperback Books: A Guide For Self-Publishers        
    Synopsis Here is an explanation of the differences between the two main types of paperback books: mass-market paperbacks, and trade paperbacks. As a self-publisher, these are the two formats that you will be typically dealing with most often. Therefore, you … Continue reading
              Australia first to introduce a solar energy digital marketplace        

    Australia is famous for its crazy inhospitable environment, but with the introduction of new technology, Australians might actually be able to make money off the burning hot sun. According to the Guardian, Australia will be the first country in the world to implement a network of “virtual” power stations. Instead of building actual power stations, the “virtual” ones will be made by linking rooftop solar panels and batteries of households together with a smart grid, bringing new additional energy into the system. Australian homeowners who have installed solar panels and batteries, will soon be able to trade their excess electricity in a digital…

    This story continues at The Next Web
              Comment on Weight Watchers: Healthy Snacks by Trader Joe’s Natural Unsweetened & Unsulfured Freeze Dried Fruit Healthy Snack        
    […] popular healthy snacks eBay […]
              The CA State GOP Caucus pushes back against Gov. Brown’s Cap-and-Trade        
    Cap-and-Trade Letter Stating Concerns Sent to Governor Brown SACRAMENTO, CA — After a whirlwind of discussions thanks to Gov. Brown’s legislative cram down, the Senate Republican Caucus...

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              TTIP y TPP, ¿los tratados gemelos?        
    Entrada procedente de la web de DRY Madrid que reproducimos por su gran interés en DRY Cartagena El TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, Asociación Transatlántica para el Comercio y la Inversión) es un tratado comercial que están actualmente negociando … Sigue leyendo
              Acura and Acura RDX win 2013 Residual Value Award        

    When purchasing a car, one shouldn't look solely at its current value, but also its value in the future - because more likely than not, it will be traded in at some point. Will the vehicle still be worth something, even though its been driven hard, or will you have to pay someone to haul it away?

    ALG, the leading provider of residual value information, has bestowed their 2013 Residual Value Award to Acura for being the Best Premium Brand for 2013, and recognizes the entire Acura lineup for "exceptional vehicle quality, strong brand desirability, and long-term reliability". And not only did Acura win as a whole, but the new 2013 Acura RDX ranked highest in the Premium Compact Utility Vehicle category, marking the 6th model win for Acura since 2000.

    Michael Accavitti, VP of National Marketing Operations for the Acura brand says, "We are honored by ALG's selection of Acura as Best Premium Brand for long-term value which helps demonstrate what's smart about our 'smart luxury' brand values." He goes on to add, "with RDX earning a best-in-segment award for Premium compact Utility Vehicle, ALG is confirming what our customers have been telling us by purchasing the all-new RDX in record numbers for the past six months."

    The ALG Residual Value Awards goes to those vehicles that are predicted to retain the highest percentage of their original price after 3-years. To do this, ALG carefully studies the competition, historical vehicle performance and industry trends, as well as overall vehicle quality, production levels relative to demand and pricing strategies.

    To check out Acura's newest lineup, including the 2013 RDX, visit your local dealers at Muller Acura of Merrillville. For quality and professional service, please call to set up an appointment.
              Mud marvels in Mali        

    It was a great feeling - one of exhilaration - as the 5am bus pulled away from the dark little side-street in central Bamako to start the 580km trip north-east to Djenne.

    I first visited Djenne 13 years ago, and I wasn't going to let coups, rebellions or ill-informed foreign office advice stop me from going back.  I'd checked and double-checked and Djenne is safe.  But with much of Mali currently so unsafe there are no tourists coming, and with the embassies advising against all travel to Mali even the business travellers are leaving as quickly as they can - so I knew that I would have Djenne all to myself.

    & so it proved.  Djenne is a UNESCO World Heritage site, an ancient city on the trans-Saharan trade route almost entirely built of mud, and with the largest mud structure in the world (its mosque), so tourism has been an important source of income.  But with the kidnappings in Timbuktu last year it pretty much dried up, and then with the coup this March it stopped completely.  So all those who make their money from tourism - those who run and work in hotels and restaurants, who make or sell masks, statues, jewellery and bogolan cloth, those working as guides (and their extended families) - all have suffered.  This meant, rather embarrassingly, that I was treated as some kind of messiah, with little old ladies coming and taking my hands and praising god that there was a white person in Djenne, finally.

    I hope I didn't raise any false hopes (please, readers, go to Djenne, and spend money there!) but it was nice to feel so welcome and wonderful to wander the streets and visit a couple of nearby villages without seeing another tourist.  The need for tourist $ also meant I was allowed inside the famous mosque, nornally off-limits to tourists (although to be honest the interior turned out to be far less impressive than the exterior).

    Djenne is a truly beautiful place, one of my favourite towns/cities in the world.  Buildings are built with banco (mud mixed with millet straw) in traditional styles maintained by a strict guild of masons, and are regularly replastered to counter rain damage.  Located in the Niger inland delta, the surrounding land is a floodplain, underwater for several months of the year.  During my visit the water had only partly receded, so the town was effectively an island reachable only by crossing a bridge or taking a ride in a pirogue.

    Sunday is one of the quiet days when I was able to wander the little backstreets enjoying the architecture.  Monday, on the other hand, is the day of the weekly market, with thousands of people arriving from the surrounding villages to bring fish, vegetables and bundles of firewood for sale.  It is a typical colourful African market - of which, of course, I have seen dozens - but looking out from the town at all the traders crossing the floodwater in little wooden pirogues was certainly worthwhile.


    In the afternoon I escaped the market crowds by taking a guide to visit two nearby villages, one inhabited by the Bozo (fishermen) and accessible only by boat, the other with a mixture of different tribes in different sections, each with their own small mud mosque.

    Then, unfortunately, the long and tiring bus ride back to Bamako.  It should take about 10 hours, but in a particularly old bus, and with a driver who seemed cdetermined to stop to pick up as many passengers (and their chickens) as possible, it took us 18 hours.  But for Djenne, it was worth it.

              Net-hunting with pygmies        
    The highlight of my holiday in the Central African Republic was not the wildlife, as I had expected, but a morning spent with the Ba'Aka.  This pygmy tribe are indigenous to the rainforest, still mostly living as hunter-gatherers in a lifestyle that will have hardly changed over thousands of years.  They are believed to be amongst the closest people, genetically, to the original humans.

    They really are very small, many with front teeth chiselled to points (which they consider beautiful), and with intricate little tattoos all over their faces.  Thye seem very innocent, almost childlike in their behaviour, which we saw clearly during our morning together.

    We accompanied them net-hunting: me, another tourist, a guide, and an interesting American man (Louis Sarno) who has lived with them for the past 27 years.  There were around 15 Ba'Aka going out on the hunt - men and women together as this like most tasks are shared equally - carrying their long, fibre nets, machetes and a couple of spears, and all quite excited as they enjoy the hunt.

    We followed them into the forest (as I constantly ducked to avoid branches and vines I could see the evolutionary advantage of their short stature) and they quickly set up the nets, hooking them up to the vegetation so as to form a long, metre-high barrier which curved round almost into a circle.  Then, inside the nets, they began to beat the vegetation with sticks, calling out with traditional cries, to flush out any animals into the nets.

    The first attempt was unsuccessful but on the second go they caught two blue duiker (tiny blue-grey coloured antelope), which would be shared out traditionally according to each person's role - who flushed it out, whose net it ran into, who killed it, etc.

    On the way out of the forest someone spotted some fruit ripening high up in the canopy, and before I could even switch my camera on one of the Ba'Aka had climbed maybe 30 metres up a tree trunk resembling a narrow telegraph pole, with no branches or anything to hold on to for support except for the trunk itself ... amazing.

    After the hunt the Ba'Aka piled into the backs of our vehicles.  Elated, they were like an excited bunch of schoolkids in the back of the school bus on a field trip!  They started singing and clapping - traditional songs, polyphonic and mostly just sounds rather than words, but occasionally with some high-pitched chattering sounds like a monkey's alarm call (apparently representing the spirits).  It was a magical experience being with them as they sang (not for we tourists but for themselves, to express their joy after a successful hunt), like being transported into another world.

    Sadly though it is a world which might not continue.  The American explained how Bantu poachers have entered the forest, with guns, killing animals in large numbers to sell to the bushmeat trade in the cities of the region.  Ba'Aka net-hunting is sustainable as they only take what they need to eat and as their population density is very low (average 1 person per square kilometre) the impact is also low.  Hunting large numbers of duiker and monkeys, with guns, is not sustainable and wildlife numbers have crashed.  He told a sad story of how he went out with an older Ba'Aka man to be shown the way they hunt monkeys - with bows and poisoned arrows - but that the man couldn't demonstrate his skills as they didn't find any monkeys. Later back on the road they met a Bantu man with a gun, carrying a sack full of dead monkeys.

    Indeed in the course of my week in the forest I saw only a troop of de Brazza's monkeys, a few balck-and-white colobus, and two solitary putty-nosed; apparently a couple of decades ago there would have been monkeys everywhere.
              WANT TO MAKE GOOD & EASY MONEY DURING THE HUNGRY GHOST FESTIVAL? TRY THIS!        

    As the Gate of Hell opened last night, scores of Singaporean began the age old tradition of burning incense and money to the deceased. But did you know, for the brave, desperate and foolhardy, this is also the time to strike it rich and make some serious cash.

    Rumour has it that selling salt in a cemetery is one of the easiest ways to earn fast money. Wanting to preserve their decomposing bodies/states, spirits roaming the Earth need salt, lots of it to maintain their presence. And when there's a demand, supplying this demand would make one loads of money.

    First, any prospective salt seller has to pack his salt into multiple packets such that his supply will never run out for the night. After that, just before dusk, make his/her way to a suitable spot in the cemetery and sit down comfortably while bowing your heads. Then comes the waiting game, the salt seller has to be patient and follow the rules of this trade.

    It is rumoured that the two important rules are: 1) Never look up at all times during his stint in the cemetery 2) Never fall asleep or leave the selected spot until the day breaks. If one violates any of these rules, your life would be in grave danger.

    If one is able to resist the urge to peep at the "customers", the buyers would put the money onto the seller's hands after taking the salt. When the morning finally arrives, quickly pack up and leave with your stack of money. According to those who tried it before, these are not hell bank notes but cold hard legal tender.

    Are you brave enough to try this out this 7th Month?

    Editor's Note: 

    Do you have a story to share? Please use our submission form or email us at editorial@allsingaporestuff.com. If not, why not give us a 'Like'?

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              Offer - Norton Setup install - USA        
    nortonsetup.org is an independent support provider on On-Demand Remote Technical Services For Norton Security products. Use Of Norton Name, logo, trademarks & Product Images is only for reference and in no way intended to suggest that nortonsetup.org has any business association with Norton.http://www.nortonsetup.org/
              Comment on Rally caps on: Bitcoin correction is OVER by CoinSpeak        
    I buy and hold Bitcoin. Most crypto traders have a goal to increase the stash of their preferred crypto. I trade alt coins to increase my Bitcoin stash. For that I use bittrex.com. Stay away from Poloniex.com there too many rumors about insolvency. I use 1broker.com to trade CFDs denominated in Bitcoin. I also have a traditional brokerage account which I often forget to check. Mostly I've been trading in and out of GBTC and building a position in MGTI...which is up over 20% today.
              Comment on Rally caps on: Bitcoin correction is OVER by velth        
    Do you trade Bitcoin thru a trading platform, or a wallet?
              Former DU star Rycroft traded to Jackets        
    I figured Mark Rycroft's time with the Avalanche was coming to an end, considering he wasn't among all the AHL callups from Lake Erie this season. And today, Colorado traded him to Columbus. I'm sad to see Rycer go. He's a gem, much like Ian Laperriere. Unselfish. Proud. All about the team. A great locker room [...]
              CD-i Emulator Cookbook        
    Just a quick note that work on CD-i Emulator hasn't stopped.

    I have some wild ideas about ROM-less emulation; this would basically mean re-implementing the CD-RTOS operating system. Somewhat daunting; it contains over 350 separate explicit APIs and callable entry points and many system data structures would need to be closely emulated. But it can be done, CD-ice proved it (although it took a number of shortcuts that I want to avoid).

    I'm not going to tackle that by myself; my current thinking is to make a start by implementing a high-level emulation framework, tracing stubs for all the calls (luckily these can mostly be generated automatically from the digital Green Book and OS-9 manuals) and some scaffolding and samples.

    One of the pieces of scaffolding would be a really simple CD-i player shell; one that just shows a big "Play CD-i" button and then starts the CD-i title :-)

    For samples I'm thinking about a few easy system calls like F$CRC, F$SetCRC, F$SetSys, F$CmpNam, F$PrsNam, F$ID, F$SUser, F$Icpt, F$SigMask, F$STrap, F$Trans, F$Move, F$SSvc (I may not get through the entire list) and a new NVRAM File Manager (NRF).

    It would be nice to do a minimal UCM with Video and Pointer driver so that the simple CD-i player shell would run, but that might be too much. We'll see.

    However, it's the new NRF that would be the most immediately interesting for CD-i Emulator users. It would intercept NVRAM access at the file level and redirect it to the PC file system (probably to files in the the nvr directory). This would allow easy sharing of CD-i NVRAM files (e.g. game-saves) over player types or between CD-i emulator users.

    To allow all of the above and clean up some dirty tricks that were needed for input playback and handling Quizard, I've done some internal restructuring of CD-i Emulator. In particular, I introduced a new "handler" class beneath the existing "device" and "memory" classes (which are now no longer derived from each other but from a common "component" base class). This restructuring isn't finished yet, but it will allow the input and Quizard stuff to become handlers instead of devices (the latter is improper because they shouldn't be visible on the CD-i system bus).

    The new "module" class (a subclass of handler) will be used to add high-level emulation of OS-9 and CD-RTOS rom modules. I want to preserve the interfaces between the modules and the public data structures as much as possible, because it will allow a gradual transition from "real" to "emulated" modules.

    To prepare for all of the above I had to do some fairly heavy design, which caused me to properly write down some of the design information and tradeoffs for the first time. This will be invaluable information for co-developers (if they ever materialize), hence the title "CD-i Emulator Cookbook". Well, at present it's more like a leaflet but I hope to expand it over time and also add some history.

    Pieces of the cookbook will be added to the CD-i Emulator website if I feel they're ready.

    I've also been giving some thought on a collaboration model for the ROM-less emulation. If there is interest I could do a partial source release that would allow other developers to work on the ROM-less emulation. This release would *not* contain any non-video chipset emulation but it would contain "generic" CD-i audio and video decoding. You would still need to use (part of) a system ROM (in particular the OS-9 kernel and file managers) until enough of the emulation is finished.

    I'm still considering all this, but I wanted to get the word out to see if there is interest and to show that I haven't abandoned the project.

    Potential co-developers should start boning up on OS-9 and CD-RTOS. All of the technical OS-9 documentation is online at ICDIA and links to the digital Green Book can also be found.
              Patch notes: version 1.0.3.276 (October 27, 2014)        
    A patch has been issued for Sid Meier's Civilization V. Here are the patch notes:

    EXPLOITS
    • Fixed tech overflow bug that could allow a user to get free tech each turn for multiple turns. The size of the maximum allowable science overflow is now set at 5 turns of science (about the same as a unmodified research agreement) OR the unmodified cost of the last tech researched, whichever is larger. AI also understands this adjustment.
    • Fixed a multiplayer bug that would allow a player to steal everything from another player when trading.

    GAMEPLAY
    • Allow Conquest of the New World achievements to be unlocked when playing the Deluxe version of the scenario.
    • Slight nerf to Tradition, and a boost to Piety (by adding one more prerequisite for Legalism and taking one away from Reformation).
    • Scale warmonger penalties by era (50% of normal strength in Ancient up to 90% in Industrial; 100% thereafter). Penalties for warmongering vs. City-States halved.
    • Added Cocoa and Bison resources from the Conquest Deluxe scenario into the main game.

    MULTIPLAYER
    • The autoslotting of human players when loading a saved game in LAN multiplayer was broken when trying to play round-to-round. This has been fixed.
    • Players now properly exit LAN games when they encounter a version mismatch.
    • Players can now set their nick name in LAN games.
    • Fixed an issue where player would get stuck on the joining multiplayer game screen if they used an incomplete IP address while attempting to join by ip address.
    • Notifications are no longer considered “broadcast” unless the player is connected to the game. This will make it easier to communicate information to players who were not connected when the message was broadcast.
    • Players now unready themselves if the host changes the game settings before the game started.
    • The number of player slots available was not updating for connected remote clients when the host increased the map size on the staging room.
    • Fixed an issue causing AI civs that used to be players to still have the player's Steam name after the player leaves in Multiplayer.
    • A player's name in the staging room chat panel no longer swaps if they swapped player slots.
    • Some multiplayer notifications can now expire at the end of the next turn.
    • Some multiplayer notifications will not expire until the player has network connected to the game.
    • Multiple hot-joining bugs fixed in Pitboss.

    MISC BUGS
    • The icon no longer changes to a spinning globe during diplomacy (this normally means the game is busy).
    • Don't show a third-party civ or City-State on the trade panel list to "Declare War" or "Make Peace" unless both players have met that civ or City-State.


              Tic-Talk Tonight: Elias Portwin        
    Welcome to the newest edition of Tic-Talk, the transcript that follows is the full interview as conducted by Indira Nooyi with our guest interviewee, Elias Portwin, captain and operator of the Bolide. Interview was carried out at the Central Advocacy Detention Centre in the Ferron system on February 14, 2947. Indira Nooyi(IN): Good evening and welcome to another edition of Tic-Talk, I’m your host for the evening Indira Nooyi and with me tonight I have the captain and operator of the mining ship, the Bolide. Thank you for granting us this interview, Mr. Portwin. Elias Portwin(EP): Uh… It’s my pleasure ma’am. It’s just good to be able to tell my side, you know? IN: Indeed and we are looking forward to giving you the opportunity to tell your side. Now… Mr. Portwin, please tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? How did you become a miner? A few personal details of that nature. EP: I’m from Tram, on Asura, here in Ferron. Things are tough there… but there’s still a lot of mining know how to go around.  My family were some of the lucky ones, still have a bit of money. My parents made a living off of refurbishing and selling used mining equipment. I worked with my folks until I had enough credits for my beautiful Bolide. IN: Thank you. For those folks unfamiliar with the events that have brought you here tonight. Could you in your own words give our viewing audience a little backstory on what happened? EP: Well, ya see, I’d had a few run-ins with the Chomper crew. They were always tailin’ me, because I actually know how to find the veins. They’re a gang of talentless thieves, they are. Anyhow, I had uncovered this beauty cluster of platinum asteroids here in Ferron and I was ‘bout to start up my drillin’ when along came the fuckin’... wait, can I swear? IN: Well, this is a live feed and would prefer if you kept it to a general tone in terms of language, please continue. You mentioned a vein of platinum... EP:  Yeah… yeah. I’d found some nice platinum asteroids out on the ragged edges of Ferron. Along came Chomper to try to push me out. Ya see, Orions have weapons. Not much a little Prospector like Bolide can do to defend a claim. I sure don’t have the credits to hire mercs. I had had enough, ya know? It’s hard enough gettin’ by out there in the black all by your lonesome without a monstrosity like that breathin’ down your neck. So I decided to do something about it. IN: I see, but Ferron is a system open to trades like miners such as yourself to scout and claim these precious resources. So the Chomper, Orion mining vessel, had equal opportunity and rights to chase the same veins of resources you yourself were. I guess my question would then be, did you consider what it would mean for yourself if you decided to take the situation into your own hands? EP: With all due respect Ms. Nooyi, I don’t think you know what it’s like out there. Code among miners is that if you discover a claim and are actively mining, that’s yours. Full stop. They just waltzed in there throwing their weight around… like they always do. Did I consider what it would mean when I ruffled their feathers? Honestly, not really ma’am. I was angry and fed up. IN: Such rash action has in turn brought you into Advocacy custody waiting to hear whether or not charges are going to be laid against you or more than likely what charges will be brought forward. So in your eyes, was it worth it in the end? EP: You don’t pull your punches, do ya miss? I… well, you know, at the time it was pretty rewarding to finally get a chance to stand up for myself.  But I know it was wrong.  And was it worth it, really? No… not in the end. IN: Just for the record, do you know of or are you acquaintances with the Chomper’s captain? I know in some of these industries you run across the same people from time to time. It wouldn't take much to build a small personal grudge if one was rubbed the wrong way on a prior occasion. EP: Yeah, I know him. As I said, we’ve had some run-ins. He’s always on me because I’m good… makes the life of his crew easy to use me as a dowsing rod. We’ve had words… many times. I was tired of bein’ used. IN: It would then not be much of a stretch to say that this was more or less a simmering pot ready to boil over. I can understand how frustrating this whole situation could have been for you and in the end I think you can probably count yourself lucky no lives were lost during this incident. Now that we heard your version of events in your own words, I would like to just get some clarification on how things unfolded. To my knowledge, it was stated that you maneuvered an asteroid into the Chomper which then caused significant damage. Could you please elaborate for me not only how you managed that but what gave you the idea in the first place? EP: Yes ma’am. Well, you see… I love the Bolide but she comes equipped with just the one set of small guns up front. Not much protection and completely useless to actually attack anything. So I had to come up with somethin’ more… improvised. I discovered awhile back that if you pour energy into your front shields and are very gentle with the initial contact, you can actually push asteroids with the Bolide. I settled her nose into an impact crater on an asteroid about half the size of the Orion. I poured my power into shields, engines, and a bit into the tractor to keep the rock tight to the shields… and I pushed it right into Chomper. Those Orions are like freakin’ space whales. They can’t move worth sh… uh… worth anything. It smashed right into them, wrecked their engines before they could do anything about it. I knew I want you to know… I knew it wouldn’t destroy them. I didn’t want to. I just wanted to push back a bit… stand up for myself. IN: Since you’ve now had a chance to tell your side of the story, what was your reasoning for accepting this interview? Aren’t you concerned the information you gave today can be used to incriminate you? EP: Ms. Nooyi, I haven’t hidden anything. The sensor data from Chomper, the sensor data from Bolide. It’s clear what happened. I’m not going to avoid punishment. I hope that the judge in my case will take into account the history involved but there’s no need to try and twist the truth. I’m glad no one was hurt. I just wanted a chance to tell folks my side of what happened. Thank you for giving me that chance ma’am. IN: Thank you for sitting down with me this evening, I do wish you the best of luck going forward. I’m Indira Nooyi and this has been another edition of Tic-Talk, thanks for joining us and see you next week.
              Vintage Barbie        
    Okay, I am going to start this post with a plea, to any one who has been kind and loyal enough to continue following me despite the fact that, recently, I have been so entirely rubbish and negligent. Here goes. Please remind me never to leave it this long before posting again. Not only have I a) neglected all the followers that I've been so happy, excited and, most of all, grateful to acquire over the last nine months since starting this blog, but b) my head has been so full of ideas since my last post over two months ago, that it is now near to exploding, and I feel like I don't even know where to start.  Nevertheless, I will start somewhere, because it is my intention to turn my full commitment back to writing Porcelain Princess, so prepare yourself for the cathartic, sequin-spangled avalanche of ideas, inspiration and probably slightly hysterical sounding style-related sentences that are to follow. 

    In my defense, I must explain that I started a three month internship at Groupon UK as a creative writer in May, and have now secured a permanent position (yay!) As great as this is, never before did I appreciate just how much having a full time job and lengthy commute into London zaps up pretty much all of your time and energy. Oh for the uni days of getting up at noon, dreaming up outfits all day long, writing whenever the moment took me and attending the occasional lecture or Zumba class...it would be pretty safe to say that leaving the house at 7.40 in the morning and not getting back until 7.30 at night has made it a little difficult to find the time for this blog. However, in my moments of rest, the ideas have been brewing, words have been dancing tantalisingly in my head and my pink lap top has been calling...and so I am determined to make time to get in at least one post a week, and to get back to doing what I love most: writing about fashion. In an attempt to spice things up a bit and motivate myself not to return to my blogging days of silence, I have given the blog a bit of a makeover, which I think is a little more fresh. Please let me know what you think :-) Anyway, that's enough rabbiting on about that, so here's a pretty picture to get things started, and then let's get on to the important stuff...

     MAC Barbie-themed ad campaign 

    So. Having reflected recently on my love for sequins, metallics and all things that sparkle, I have come to the conclusion that I perhaps lean a little towards Barbie-like tendencies of dressing. Now, don’t get me wrong - you won’t catch me wearing a vomit pink Big Brother contestant-style outfit complete with an OTT spray tan any time soon, but lately, I’ve been rather inspired by this whole notion of ‘Vintage Barbie’. It was actually a fellow Lookbooker and blogger (the very stylish Zee F from http://zizziswardrobe.blogspot.com/">ZiZi's Secret Wardrobe who I am going to credit for coming up with the phrase. After Zee very kindly commented on a photo I'd put up of myself in a black sequin vintage shift dress, over-sized doll lashes and bright pink lips, pointing out that the look was rather 'vintage Barbie,' the term stuck with me and I realised just how much it sums up the kind of style that is giving me the fashion goosebumps right now.

    As Barbie can be perceived as the very epitome of conventionality and even female objectification, it would seem odd that she is now a figure that I can draw inspiration from, given that her stereotypical, busty/blonde/skinny brand of beauty is one that the media constantly shoves down our throats, and which causes both women and men to aspire to a narrow-minded ideal of what it means to be beautiful. That said, there is simply something about Barbie and her mannequin-like perfection and overt 'girliness' that I belive can be used in an ironic sense to inspire, and to create something that is actually entirely fresh. Take Lily Allen in her ironic 'chav' get up, that she made her trademark when she first erupted onto the music scene, and which still inspires artists today like Gaga and Jessie J. Huge gold hoop earrings and thick ghetto-tastic chains fresh from the Argos catalogue may scream 'tacky' when teamed with a lurid-hued velour tracksuit or when adorning the lobes and neck of Vicky Pollard, but when taken and worn in the whimsical, fun, self-aware wat that Brits are so good at (in my opinion), it becomes something quite different indeed. Take Agyness Deyn, who arguably reinvented the whole 'bottle blonde' look, using her eccentric, urchin style to take it from page three glamour-model territory to the ultimate in quirky cool. You can't swing a beaten-up vintage satchel these days without knocking over sereval peroxide-blonde hipsters, who all manage to make the look contemporary with edgy hair styles, bold make up and nonchalantly thrown on faux-furs, battered leathers or studded denim jackets.  

    Speaking of bleach-begotten hair colours, I am currently obsessed with the idea of bleaching my hair blonde and dying it a pale, pastel pink. It is simply a fear of ruining the condition of the hair I have been painstakingly growing and caring for for the last four years that stops me (plus the fact that my hair is dyed bright red, and naturally brown.) However, I have never been more inspired by Polly-Pocket shades of softly falling curls and tumbling waves, and I highly suspect that by 2012, I'll be welcoming in the new year by finally succumbing to the bleach bottle.   

    Therefore, for all the above reasons, I am currently fascinated by the look of overtly girly, plastic-fantastic elements like bubble gum pink lips teamed with a vintage edginess that takes the look from WAG to cool. Think platinum blonde locks tied into a perky pony, teamed with luminous pale skin and the bedimmed glamour of a tarnished gold trophy jacket. If it’s inspiration you seek, look no further than blogger and Lookbooker Bonnie Strange from http://www.strangeambition.com/">Strange Ambition, whose stunning photography and crazy, sequin-spangled get-ups have me longing to raid her wardrobe and, well, just actually be her. Or, behold the dolly mixture-hued, glittery creations that are Miu Miu’s glitter boots. I kid you not when I say that never have I experienced shoe lust quite like this before. The pastel toned paillettes overlapping scale-like in Prada’s ad campaigns have got me feeling all mermaid Barbie, whilst the softly shimmering diamond-patterned knee-highs call to mind the teenage nostalgia of Clueless. That's not to mention the advert featuring a fresh-faced young model descending a staircase littered with cascades of candy-coloured glitter boots, which literally makes my heart flutter. So, it appears that irony is the key here folks; mixing up a bit of Malibu Barbie's unashamed girliness with a sprinkling of fun, tounge-in-cheek humour, 1980s vintage magic and all-out British eccentricity, Barbie can be allowed out of her dream house and let loose to wander the streets and catwalks ...                

    And here are the pictures: 

    The look that sparked my vintage Barbie fascination...

    Nicki Minaj- the embodiment of hip hop Barbie
    I personally think Patsy is a shining source of vintage Barbie inspiration

    Mac models exhibiting doll-like perfection and the Barbie and Asos collaboration from a few years back

    Marina Diamandis from Marina and The Diamonds, my official new style crush. Here she is at London Fashion Week looking like perfect vintage candy-floss 
    Photography from the AMAZING Bonnie Strange, taken from her photography blog:
    http://www.strangeambition.com/ If you haven't checked it out yet, do so immediately!
     Another of Bonnie's amazing pics- I want her blue hair so much!
    Picture from an unknown source, but one which I think perfectly demonstrates the vintage Barbie look.



    My own interpretation of 80s vintage Barbie (PS check out my new gold Toppers nail polish!)
    Below are some of Prada's ad campaigns featuring the adored glitter boots, diamond socks and pailette-covered dresses, as well as a random blue hair picture I found and a lovely picture of girls laughing and carrying clothes and balloons. To me, it captures the unashamed girliness of Barbie and the nostalgia of female adolescence.  I would actually wear that picture on a T shirt.







              The travesty that is Australia's asylum seeker offshore detention policy -"If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here."         

    It seems the truth will out.

    After the United States completes its vetting of asylum seekers held in overseas detention by the Australian Government it is not obliged to take even one of those individuals U.S. immigration officials have examined.

    In May 2017 the Department of Immigration and Border Protection confirmed 268 people had completed their second-stage security interview with US officials: 220 in Nauru and 48 on Manus Island.

    U.S. immigration officials halted screening interviews and departed Nauru on 14 July 2017, two weeks short of their scheduled timetable and a day after Washington said the US had reached its annual refugee intake cap.

    However, under the original agreement once that vetting is completed Australia becomes obliged to resettle between 20 and 50 people under a U.S. "Protection Transfer Arrangement" in Costa Rica set up to resettle refugees from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

    Prime Minister Turnbull verbally changed that undertaking to an open-ended number of people the Trump Administration might be “very keen on getting out of the United States”.

    There is no indication that the U.S. Government intends to complete its vetting of those detained on Nauru and Manus islands.

    The Washington Post, 3 August 2017:

    The Washington Post has obtained transcripts of two conversations President Trump had with foreign leaders: one with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and another with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
    The transcripts were prepared by the White House but have not been released. The Post is publishing reproductions rather than original documents in order to protect sources. The reproductions below also include minor spelling and grammatical mistakes that appeared in the documents………………


    JANUARY 28, 2017 FROM 5:05 TO 5:29 P.M. EST.

    TURNBULL
    Good evening.

    TRUMP
    Mr. Prime Minister, how are you?

    TURNBULL
    I am doing very well.

    TRUMP
    And I guess our friend Greg Norman, he is doing very well?

    TURNBULL
    He is a great mutual friend yes.

    TRUMP
    Well you say hello to him. He is a very good friend. By the way thank you very much for taking the call. I really appreciate it. It is really nice.

    TURNBULL
    Thank you very much. Everything is going very well. I want to congratulate you and Mike Pence on being sworn in now. I have spoken to you both now as you know. I know we are both looking to make our relationship which is very strong and intimate, stronger than ever – which I believe we can do.

    TRUMP
    Good.

    TURNBULL
    I believe you and I have similar backgrounds, unusual for politicians, more businessman but I look forward to working together.

    TRUMP
    That is exactly right. We do have similar backgrounds and it seems to be working in this climate – it is a crazy climate. Let me tell you this, it is an evil time but it is a complex time because we do not have uniforms standing in front of us. Instead, we have people in disguise. It is brutal. This ISIS thing â€“ it is something we are going to devote a lot of energy to it. I think we are going to be very successful.

    TURNBULL
    Absolutely. We have, as you know, taken a very strong line on national security and border protection here and when I was speaking with Jared Kushner just the other day and one of your immigration advisors in the White House we reflected on how our policies have helped to inform your approach. We are very much of the same mind. It is very interesting to know how you prioritize the minorities in your Executive Order. This is exactly what we have done with the program to bring in 12,000 Syrian refugees, 90% of which will be Christians. It will be quite deliberate and the position I have taken – I have been very open about it – is that it is a tragic fact of life that when the situation in the Middle East settles down – the people that are going to be most unlikely to have a continuing home are those Christian minorities. We have seen that in Iraq and so from our point of view, as a final destination for refugees, that is why we prioritize. It is not a sectarian thing. It is recognition of the practical political realities. We have a similar perspective in that respect.

    TRUMP
    Do you know four years ago Malcom, I was with a man who does this for a living. He was telling me, before the migration, that if you were a Christian from Syria, you had no chance of coming to the United States. Zero. They were the ones being persecuted. When I say persecuted, I mean their heads were being chopped off. If you were a Muslim we have nothing against Muslims, but if you were a Muslim you were not persecuted at least to the extent – but if you were a Muslim from Syria that was the number one place to get into the United States from. That was the easiest thing. But if you were a Christian from Syria you have no chance of getting into the United States. I just thought it was an incredible statistic. Totally true – and you have seen the same thing. It is incredible.

    TURNBULL
    Well, yes. Mr. President, can I return to the issue of the resettlement agreement that we had with the Obama administration with respect to some people on Nauru and Manus Island. I have written to you about this and Mike Pence and General Flynn spoke with Julie Bishop and my National Security Advisor yesterday. This is a very big issue for us, particularly domestically, and I do understand you are inclined to a different point of view than the Vice President.

    TRUMP
    Well, actually I just called for a total ban on Syria and from many different countries from where there is terror, and extreme vetting for everyone else – and somebody told me yesterday that close to 2,000 people are coming who are really probably troublesome. And I am saying, boy that will make us look awfully bad. Here I am calling for a ban where I am not letting anybody in and we take 2,000 people. Really it looks like 2,000 people that Australia does not want and I do not blame you by the way, but the United States has become like a dumping ground. You know Malcom, anybody that has a problem – you remember the Mariel boat lift, where Castro let everyone out of prison and Jimmy Carter accepted them with open arms. These were brutal people. Nobody said Castro was stupid, but now what are we talking about is 2,000 people that are actually imprisoned and that would actually come into the United States. I heard about this – I have to say I love Australia; I love the people of Australia. I have so many friends from Australia, but I said – geez that is a big ask, especially in light of the fact that we are so heavily in favor, not in favor, but we have no choice but to stop things. We have to stop. We have allowed so many people into our country that should not be here. We have our San Bernardino’s, we have had the World Trade Center come down because of people that should not have been in our country, and now we are supposed to take 2,000. It sends such a bad signal. You have no idea. It is such a bad thing.

    TURNBULL
    Can you hear me out Mr. President?

    TRUMP
    Yeah, go ahead.

    TURNBULL
    Yes, the agreement, which the Vice President just called the Foreign Minister about less than 24 hours ago and said your Administration would be continuing, does not require you to take 2,000 people. It does not require you to take any. It requires, in return, for us to do a number of things for the United States – this is a big deal, I think we should respect deals.

    TRUMP
    Who made the deal? Obama?

    TURNBULL
    Yes, but let me describe what it is. I think it is quite consistent. I think you can comply with it. It is absolutely consistent with your Executive Order so please just hear me out. The obligation is for the United States to look and examine and take up to and only if they so choose – 1,250 to 2,000. Every individual is subject to your vetting. You can decide to take them or to not take them after vetting. You can decide to take 1,000 or 100. It is entirely up to you. The obligation is to only go through the process. So that is the first thing. Secondly, the people — none of these people are from the conflict zone. They are basically economic refugees from Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. That is the vast bulk of them. They have been under our supervision for over three years now and we know exactly everything about them.

    TRUMP
    Why haven’t you let them out? Why have you not let them into your society?

    TURNBULL
    Okay, I will explain why. It is not because they are bad people. It is because in order to stop people smugglers, we had to deprive them of the product. So we said if you try to come to Australia by boat, even if we think you are the best person in the world, even if you are a Noble [sic] Prize winning genius, we will not let you in. Because the problem with the people —

    TRUMP
    That is a good idea. We should do that too. You are worse than I am.

    TURNBULL
    This is our experience.

    TRUMP
    Because you do not want to destroy your country. Look at what has happened in Germany. Look at what is happening in these countries. These people are crazy to let this happen. I spoke to Merkel today, and believe me, she wishes she did not do it. Germany is a mess because of what happened.

    TURNBULL
    I agree with you, letting one million Syrians walk into their country. It was one of the big factors in the Brexit vote, frankly.

    TRUMP
    Well, there could be two million people coming in Germany. Two million people. Can you believe it? It will never be the same.

    TURNBULL
    stood up at the UN in September and set up what our immigration policy was. I said that you cannot maintain popular support for immigration policy, multiculturalism, unless you can control your borders. The bottom line is that we got here. I am asking you as a very good friend. This is a big deal. It is really, really important to us that we maintain it. It does not oblige you to take one person that you do not want. As I have said, your homeland officials have visited and they have already interviewed these people. You can decide. It is at your discretion. So you have the wording in the Executive Order that enables the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State to admit people on a case by case basis in order to conform with an existing agreement. I do believe that you will never find a better friend to the United States than Australia. I say this to you sincerely that it is in the mutual interest of the United States to say, “yes, we can conform with that deal – we are not obliged to take anybody we do not want, we will go through extreme vetting” and that way you are seen to show the respect that a trusted ally wants and deserves. We will then hold up our end of the bargain by taking in our country 31 [inaudible] that you need to move on from.

    TRUMP
    Malcom [sic], why is this so important? I do not understand. This is going to kill me. I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people and I agree I can vet them, but that puts me in a bad position. It makes me look so bad and I have only been here a week.

    TURNBULL
    With great respect, that is not right – It is not 2,000.

    TRUMP
    Well, it is close. I have also heard like 5,000 as well.

    TURNBULL
    The given number in the agreement is 1,250 and it is entirely a matter of your vetting. I think that what you could say is that the Australian government is consistent with the principles set out in the Executive Order.

    TRUMP
    No, I do not want say that. I will just have to say that unfortunately I will have to live with what was said by Obama. I will say I hate it. Look, I spoke to Putin, Merkel, Abe of Japan, to France today, and this was my most unpleasant call because I will be honest with you. I hate taking these people. I guarantee you they are bad. That is why they are in prison right now. They are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people.

    TURNBULL
    I would not be so sure about that. They are basically —

    TRUMP
    Well, maybe you should let them out of prison. I am doing this because Obama made a bad deal. I am not doing this because it fits into my Executive Order. I am taking 2,000 people from Australia who are in prison and the day before I signed an Executive Order saying that we are not taking anybody in. We are not taking anybody in, those days are over.

    TURNBULL
    But can I say to you, there is nothing more important in business or politics than a deal is a deal. Look, you and I have a lot of mutual friends.
    Look, I do not know how you got them to sign a deal like this, but that is how they lost the election. They said I had no way to 270 and I got 306. That is why they lost the election, because of stupid deals like this. You have brokered many a stupid deal in business and I respect you, but I guarantee that you broke many a stupid deal. This is a stupid deal. This deal will make me look terrible.

    TURNBULL
    Mr. President, I think this will make you look like a man who stands by the commitments of the United States. It shows that you are a committed —

    TRUMP
    Okay, this shows me to be a dope. I am not like this but, if I have to do it, I will do it but I do not like this at all. I will be honest with you. Not even a little bit. I think it is ridiculous and Obama should have never signed it. The only reason I will take them is because I have to honor a deal signed by my predecessor and it was a rotten deal. I say that it was a stupid deal like all the other deals that this country signed. You have to see what I am doing. I am unlocking deals that were made by people, these people were incompetent. I am not going to say that it fits within the realm of my Executive Order. We are going to allow 2,000 prisoners to come into our country and it is within the realm of my Executive Order? If that is the case my Executive Order does not mean anything Malcom [sic]. I look like a dope. The only way that I can do this is to say that my predecessor made a deal and I have no option then to honor the deal. I hate having to do it, but I am still going to vet them very closely. Suppose I vet them closely and I do not take any?

    TURNBULL
    That is the point I have been trying to make.

    TRUMP
    How does that help you?

    TURNBULL
    Well, we assume that we will act in good faith.

    TRUMP
    Does anybody know who these people are? Who are they? Where do they come from? Are they going to become the Boston bomber in five years? Or two years? Who are these people?

    TURNBULL
    Let me explain. We know exactly who they are. They have been on Nauru or Manus for over three years and the only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people to come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in. If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here.

    TRUMP
    Malcom [sic], but they are arrived on a boat?

    TURNBULL
    Correct, we have stopped the boats.

    TRUMP
    Give them to the United States. We are like a dumping ground for the rest of the world. I have been here for a period of time, I just want this to stop. I look so foolish doing this. It [sic] know it is good for you but it is bad for me. It is horrible for me. This is what I am trying to stop. I do not want to have more San Bernardino’s or World Trade Centers. I could name 30 others, but I do not have enough time.

    TURNBULL
    These guys are not in that league. They are economic refugees.

    TRUMP
    Okay, good. Can Australia give me a guarantee that if we have any problems – you know that is what they said about the Boston bombers. They said they were wonderful young men.

    TURNBULL
    They were Russians. They were not from any of these countries.

    TRUMP
    They were from wherever they were.

    TURNBULL
    Please, if we can agree to stick to the deal, you have complete discretion in terms of a security assessment. The numbers are not 2,000 but 1,250 to start. Basically, we are taking people from the previous administration that they were very keen on getting out of the United States. We will take more. We will take anyone that you want us to take. The only people that we do not take are people who come by boat. So we would rather take a not very attractive guy that help you out then to take a Noble [sic] Peace Prize winner that comes by boat. That is the point.

    TRUMP
    What is the thing with boats? Why do you discriminate against boats? No, I know, they come from certain regions. I get it.

    TURNBULL
    No, let me explain why. The problem with the boats it that you are basically outsourcing your immigration program to people smugglers and also you get thousands of people drowning at sea. So what we say is, we will decide which people get to come to Australia who are refugees, economic migrants, businessmen, whatever. We decide. That is our decision. We are a generous multicultural immigration nation like the United States but the government decides, the people’s representatives decides. So that is the point. I am a highly transactional businessman like you and I know the deal has to work for both sides. Now Obama thought this deal worked for him and he drove a hard bargain with us – that it was agreed with Obama more than a year ago in the Oval Office, long before the election. The principles of the deal were agreed to.

    TRUMP
    I do not know what he got out of it. We never get anything out of it – START Treaty, the Iran deal. I do not know where they find these people to make these stupid deals. I am going to get killed on this thing.

    TURNBULL
    You will not.

    TRUMP
    Yes, I will be seen as a weak and ineffective leader in my first week by these people. This is a killer.

    TURNBULL
    You can certainly say that it was not a deal that you would have done, but you are going to stick with it.

    TRUMP
    I have no choice to say that about it. Malcom [sic], I am going to say that I have no choice but to honor my predecessor’s deal. I think it is a horrible deal, a disgusting deal that I would have never made. It is an embarrassment to the United States of America and you can say it just the way I said it. I will say it just that way. As far as I am concerned that is enough Malcom [sic]I have had it. I have been making these calls all day and this is the most unpleasant call all day. Putin was a pleasant call. This is ridiculous.

    TURNBULL
    Do you want to talk about Syria and DPRK?

    TRUMP
    [inaudible] this is crazy.

    TURNBULL
    Thank you for your commitment. It is very important to us.

    TRUMP
    It is important to you and it is embarrassing to me. It is an embarrassment to me, but at least I got you off the hook. So you put me back on the hook.

    TURNBULL
    You can count on me. I will be there again and again.

    TRUMP
    I hope so. Okay, thank you Malcolm.

    TURNBULL
    Okay, thank you.
    END OF CALL

    * My yellow highlighting.

              The Trouble With Water: not a good look for the National Party of Australia        


    On 1 June 2017 former NSW Minister for Natural Resources, Lands and Water (23 April 2014 - 2 April 2015) and current Nationals MP for Barwon, Kevin Humphries, announced that he will retire at the next state election in March 2019.

    In the wake of the 24 July ABC “Four Corners” revelations of large-scale water theft under the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, Humphries has been referred to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) by the Labor Opposition.

    Hot on the heels of this program came another announcement on 31 July 2017.

    Former NSW Minister for Primary Industries (3 April 2011 - 2 April 2015) with responsibility for lands & water and current Nationals MP for Cootamundra, Katrina Hodgkinson, announced her retirement effective mid to late August 2017.

    Hodgkinson denies any connection between her sudden retirement and those Four Corners revelations.

    However it should be noted that it was on the joint watch of Humphries and Hodgkinson that the position of NSW Water Commissioner responsible for the overall management of the State’s surface water and groundwater resources was axed and the NSW Office of Water was reformed as part of the Dept. of Primary Industry maintaining overall responsibility for accepting and assessing applications to change water access licences and operating the Water Access Licence Register.

    High volume water theft appears to have become easier on the watch of these two National Party politicians.

    All that would be needed for a trifecta of retiring state politicians associated with water resource policy would be for the current NSW Minister for Primary Industry, Minister for Regional Water and Nationals MLC, Niall Blair, to announce an unexpected desire to spend more time with his family and pursue other interests.

    Any further scandal surrounding the management water resources in the NSW section of the Murray-Darling Basin and this may well be a distinct possibility - or even more media coverage like this perhaps?

    The Daily Telegraph, 2 August 2017:

    A NATIONALS minister is pushing Cabinet colleagues to change irrigation laws to retrospectively justify a decision by his department to give a major political donor and cotton farmer more rights over the precious Barwon-Darling River.

    The Daily Telegraph can reveal that Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair is behind a push to alter an element of the Barwon-Darling Water Sharing Plan.

    It comes after his department in 2016 overruled what it called “minor” error in the law to grant extra irrigation rights to Brewarrina cotton farmer Peter Harris.

    A department briefing, seen by The Daily Telegraph, said the error was impacting on “some users wishing to trade between river sections covered by the plan”.

    The briefing was written shortly after Mr Harris was given extra rights.

    Mr Harris gave $10,000 to the National Party prior to the 2011 election in combined personal donations and those made by his company.

    Its understood an internal Coalition fight has broken out between Mr Blair and current Water Minister Gabrielle Upton , who is resisting the changes. The revelations come as several inquiries have been launched into the alleged water theft on an industrial scale of precious resources across the basin…….

    The Daily Telegraph has obtained another document showing that the retiring Ms Hodgkinson changed the water sharing plan to benefit irrigators after lobbying. She was water minister at the time.

    In a 2012 letter to lobbyist and cotton farmer Ian Cole, Ms Hodgkinson wrote: “Following consideration of a number of WSP (water sharing plan) matter raised with me, I ­requested the Office of Water to make several amendments which I believe now present a fair and equitable outcome for all.”

    The Minister for the Environment and Liberal MP for Vaucluse Gabrielle Upton's obvious reluctance may be due to her appreciation of a change in wind direction within the national electorate on the subject of Murray-Darling Basin water allocations.

    The present Deputy Prime Minister and Australian Water Minister, Barnaby Joyce, is also in a somewhat precarious position – less to do with his manifest inadequacy as a federal minister and more to do with his stated motives for seeking to add the water ministry to his portfolio responsibilities.

    Cartoonist David Rowe at Financial Review


              Surprise, surprise - those Murray-Darling Basin water raiders have slithered over the horizon once more and are eyeing off the Clarence Valley river system yet again        

    With so little fanfare that much of  Northern Rivers region missed it, the NSW Berejiklian Government reopened the March 2016 inquiry into augmentation of water supply for rural and regional New South Wales on 28 May 2017, with Terms of Reference published in July 2017.

    This Upper House inquiry is chaired by Robert Brown MLC, from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party and its reporting date has been extended to 30 March 2018. 

    Current committee membership is as follows:

    Robert Brown MLC, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, Chair
    Mick Veitch MLC, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Chair
    Jeremy Buckingham MLC, The Greens
    Rick Colless MLC, The Nationals
    Scot MacDonald MLC, Liberal Party
    Greg Pearce MLC, Liberal Party
    Penny Sharpe MLC, Australian Labor Party
    Daniel Mookhey MLC, Australian Labor Party
    Paul Green MLC, Christian Democratic Party
    * Jeremy Buckingham MLC (Greens)is substituting for Dr Mehreen Faruqui MLC for the duration of the inquiry.
    * Matthew Mason-Cox MLC (Liberal)  is substituting for Hon Greg Pearce MLC for the duration of the inquiry.
    * Paul Green MLC and Penny Sharpe MLC will be participating for the duration of the inquiry.

    A poorly advertised public hearing scheduled for 1 August 2017 in Lismore (with details sent to media on 31 July 2017) excluded Northern Rivers residents from giving evidence unless they represented a small number of invited groups.

    It appears the committee had also determined that Clarence Valley Council was to be asked its view on diverting Clarence River system flood water.

    Given flood water is already diverted to the purpose built Shannon Creek side dam to ensure a sustainable water supply for the est. 125,103 residents (Census 2016) currently living in Clarence Valley and Coffs Harbour local government areas, there are no prizes for guessing where any additional water diversion would be allocated.

    Yes, that paragon of sustainable water mismanagement - the cluster of councils, industries, irrigators and water traders within the Murray-Darling Basin.

    It will come as no surprise that Griffith Council is still pursuing a Clarence River dam and divert scheme. North Coast Voices reported on its obsession in August 2016.

    This is what the Griffith City Council Deputy mayor, Dino Zappacosta of Zappacosta Estate Wines in Hanwood, told the inquiry on 1 March 2017:

    The issue that my committee, Build More Dams, has looked at is that we need more water because farmers are crying out for more water. We need new water. By "new water", I mean water that is not currently being used at all. We looked at various options, including the Clarence Valley area, where millions and millions of megalitres of water flow out into the sea for what seems to be no real benefit at all for the community of the Clarence region, other than for the natural farming land and the fishery industry there.

    It soon became apparent that, appart from the notion of free water at the expense of Clarence Valley communities’ social, cultural, aesthetic, environmental and economic values, Griffith Council knew little about how this dam and divert scheme would work.

    The Hon. RICK COLLESS: You have been talking about the Clarence River diversion scheme. Is it correct that that is essentially restricted to the Mann River subcatchment?

    Mr ZAPPACOSTA: To the best of my knowledge, it covers most of the tributaries—for example, the Boyd River, the Mann River, the Nymboida River and the Timbarra River. They are highlighted on map 2, which was provided to the Committee.

    The Hon. RICK COLLESS: I am a little confused about the way the map reads. It appears as though the water is coming out of the Mann River catchment, which is a subcatchment of the Clarence. The divisions appear to be above the confluence of the Nymboida and the Mann. You recommend a 23 per cent Clarence River diversion, but the question is: What percentage of is that of the Mann River flow and what environmental impact will that have on the Mann River below where it is diverted? We should keep in mind the history of the Snowy River and what has happened there over the past 50 years. Does anybody have any thoughts about that? Mr ZAPPACOSTA: I will have to take on notice exactly how much comes from the Mann River itself.

    The Hon. RICK COLLESS: What is the reduction in flow from the sub-catchment rivers below where the water is diverted from them? What environmental impacts will that have on those rivers?

    Mr ZAPPACOSTA: I appreciate the question. I think what you are asking is something we should dig into a bit deeper; there should be a study of it, preferably a feasibility study.

    The Hon. RICK COLLESS: There needs to be a lot of work done on this, as you would appreciate.

    While the Director of Utilities at Griffith City Council stated:

    As an engineer I see the great benefits of supporting a scheme such as the Clarence River diversion scheme, not only from a water augmentation point of view. My directorate covers water supply as well as the flooding impacts caused by rainfall run-off. The Clarence River diversion scheme is not only a supply scheme but a flood mitigation solution, as the general manager mentioned. In my research I have referred to the document entitled Lower Clarence Flood Model—Update 2013 produced by BMT WBM consultants. They happen to be the same consultants who undertook our flood study and provided our flood mitigation options. They work across the State and they are well versed in flooding, from the Northern Rivers down to our area.

    The Clarence River catchment on the far North Coast of New South Wales is one of the largest catchments on the east coast of Australia. It is approximately 20,000 square kilometres. It is above the towns of Grafton, Maclean and Yamba, and it is home to more than 20,000 people. The lower Clarence Valley has a long history of flooding, since settlement in about 1850. Bear with me as I read out the dates of the flooding events. I was just going to say a number, but it has more of an impact when you follow the years of flooding that the area has endured due to the large catchment that sits above it. Floods were recorded in 1863 and 1864. There was a record flood in 1890 in which two people lost their lives and there was extensive damage to the rural area. Further floods occurred in 1921 and 1928. Since 1945 the incidence of major flooding has been much higher, with floods occurring in 1945, 1946, 1948, 1950, 1954, 1956, 1959, 1963, 1967, 1968, 1974, 1976, 1980, 1988, 1996, 2001, 2009 and 2013.

    There is a regular occurrence of extreme flooding in the Northern Rivers catchment, below the Clarence River. Section 4.4 of the Lower Clarence Flood Model—Update 2013 acknowledges that "the river flows originating from upstream of Grafton dominate flooding in the Lower Clarence Valley". Diversion of the Clarence River flows for that area towards the west, and the 25 per cent or 23.8 per cent that will be captured, diverted and controlled, will be of great benefit to flood mitigation in the Northern Rivers area. The document further says that it will maximise the investment from the Government not only to help solve water augmentation issues but to reduce the financial and human impacts flooding has in the northern coastal areas. The Clarence River diversion scheme was documented in 1981 by David Coffey and he estimated costings back then. We have done a projection to a present-day cost of approximately $10 billion. There are statistics on the map that I have provided to the Committee.

    The Snowy Mountains scheme would have cost $10 billion in present-day money, so there are similar costings in the schemes. The 1,100 gigalitres diverted per annum from the Clarence River has generated $1.82 billion in agriculture. The scheme means that 23.8 per cent of the flows that would be heading down to flood people can be diverted. When you equate the $550 million a year in flood damages with the cost of a diversion scheme, 1,100 gigalitres can generate $1.8 billion a year in agriculture growth. The additional water means that 118,000 hectares of viable open country can be farmed. The offset of diversion and flood protection is that it is beneficial to all. That is where I will leave it.

    The public hearing in Griffith was reported thus by The Area News on 2 March 2017:

    HIGH-profile Griffith water users and city officials enjoyed a rare opportunity to sit face-to-face with Members of the NSW Upper House on Wednesday to discuss their handling of water….

    The Honourable Rick Colless, The Honourable Paul Green, The Honourable Matthew Mason-Cox and The Honourable Penelope Sharpe were on hand to hear the concerns of the community….

    Along with wanting to fix the water sharing plans, the other hot topic was the Clarence River Scheme, initially conceptualised by David Coffey in the 1970s.

    The plan outlined diverting river flows westward from high rainfall catchments in the Northern Rivers.

    According to Griffith City Council, the scheme will benefit lands south of the Dumaresq River while also providing flows into the Murray River, reducing the reliance for Murray-Darling Basin allocations to fill the original allocation to the basin. 

    “We have looked at various options and we look at the Clarence Valley area where there are millions of millions of megalitres of water flowing out into the sea for what seems to be for no real benefit,” Councilor Dino Zappacosta said.

    Griffith City Council general manager, Brett Stonestreet said it’s time the scheme is looked at again.

    “It provides new water to give this state another shot in the arm,” he said.

    “It also looks at potentially reducing flooding impact of the coastal communities adjacent to the Clarence by 25 per cent.

    “There is a huge amount of money that can be generated and inland communities rediscovered and regenerated through new water.”

    Mayor Dal Broi was pleased with how the inquiry was conducted and the feedback from the Senators.

    “Some of the questions that were asked by the panel members, we know now what they are thinking,” he said.

    “They were very receptive to the concept of new water so whether it's the diversion of the Clarence or lifting the wall on Burrinjuck Dam ... they were very receptive to that because we tried to make the point that the limited resources at the moment.”

    “We need new water if our regions are to grow and have a better long-term sustainable allocation.”

    Not content with bringing down the largest river system in Australia in order to line their own pockets, these wanabee water raiders just keep on coming after what they see as more 'free' water for the rorting.

    Clarence Valley Council gave evidence at the re-opened inquiry on 1 August and the only question of interest to the water raiders came after a few minutes of questioning at Page 26 of the Lismore public hearing transcript:

    The Hon. GREG PEARCE: Thank you for your submission. In your submission you talk about this idea of diversion of the Clarence River to west of the Great Dividing Range. Could you give us a bit of a background on that proposal and what your council thinks about it?

    Mr ANDERSON: I will start but Mr Mashiah might finish. Our council has resolved six times that they do not support the diversion of the Clarence, and each time that has been unanimous in regard to council's position. That is based on the fact that damage to the environment and the ecological systems that work within the Clarence River emerge from there. 

    The CHAIR [Robert Brown MLC, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party]: You probably cannot answer this, but that is an all-encompassing position of council?

    Mr ANDERSON: Yes.

    The CHAIR : I wonder what the council's position would be on the diversion of floodwaters only.

    Mr ANDERSON: Again, Mr Chair, like you said, I cannot answer that question.

    The CHAIR: What I am asking you is that I guess the council's resolutions were not burrowed down to that extent to be able to answer that question. We might ask Clarence council for an opinion on that.

    The Hon. GREG PEARCE: Are those decisions supported by an independent side to pick advice? How were they derived?

    Mr MASHIAH: There was a Healthy Rivers Commission inquiry into the Clarence in I think it was 1999, from memory, and part of the outcome of that commission inquiry was the importance of regular flood events in terms of the fishing industry and also the cane industry. I believe you have representatives from the cane industry here with us later.

    The CHAIR: This afternoon, yes.

    Mr MASHIAH: And also in terms of fisheries, one of the aspects that Clarence Valley Council has been active in for the past 20 years is trying to manage the floodplain to address issues such as acid runoff.

    The CHAIR: Solid sulfate soils.

    Mr MASHIAH: As the sulfate soils and particular acids run off. So we have done things like open floodgates and—

    The CHAIR: And you should be congratulated.

    Mr MASHIAH: Thank you, Mr Chair, for that. I will pass that on to the relevant staff who have been coordinating that. The regular flushing of those areas, which are fish breeding grounds, by floodwaters is very important. So if floods were diverted there are significant concerns from the fishing industry about the ongoing viability of the industry because the grounds where fish breed, according to the studies that have been undertaken, would then be adversely impacted. So that is one of the reasons that the fishing industry has very strongly opposed, through our estuary management committee in particular and through the estuary management plan, any diversion of water and we have tried to ensure that the fish breeding grounds are protected.

    The CHAIR: I just made the observation that most of those fish breeding grounds would not be the same areas of land that are subject to high residential development or business or commercial or other aspects. In other words, you are not talking about the township of Grafton itself, you are talking river peripheries, flooded-out areas, for breeding concerns?

    Mr MASHIAH: The challenge is that the urban footprint on the lower Clarence floodplain is probably about 1 to 2 per cent of the total surface area and all the urban areas are surrounded by rural areas. So it is very hard to work out how you manage that 1 or 2 per cent without adversely impacting the other 98 per cent, or vice versa, how do you manage the 98 per cent without adversely impacting 1 or 2 per cent of urban area?

    The CHAIR: The 2013 flood, you have described it as a major flood, correct?

    Mr MASHIAH: It was the flood of record at Grafton.

    The CHAIR: I am wondering how the 2013 flood would have enhanced the fishery on the Clarence?

    Mr MASHIAH: The main issue with the 2013 flood—I guess with any flood in the Clarence the flood behaviour in the upper river is a lot different to the flood behaviour in the lower river because of the tidal influences in particular and also how wet the floodplain is already. The 2013 event was actually three floods.

    The CHAIR: And they rolled up on each other?

    Mr MASHIAH: Yes, within a three-week period—quite distinct flood events.

    The CHAIR: So it was a prolonged flood.

    Mr MASHIAH: It was a prolonged flood and that meant there was significant inundation of back swamp areas, and I understand that there were some areas that effectively were areas that were flushed that had not been flushed in floods probably since 2001, so it is probably 12 years. So from an ecological perspective, talking to our environmental scientists, I understand that it was actually quite beneficial because the bigger floods only get into those areas once every 10 to 20 years.

    The CHAIR: Were there any concurrent blackwater events for the fishery?

    Mr MASHIAH: Not that I can recall, and I think that is a result of the management measures that have been undertaken on the floodplain because most of the farmers now operate the floodgates and so only shut the floodgates when there is actually a flood coming and open them fairly soon afterwards.

    The CHAIR: So it is their responsibility to operate their own floodgates, is it?

    Mr MASHIAH: That has been passed on to them, yes.

    The CHAIR: Do you have any oversight of that?

    Mr ANDERSON: Yes, we do, and we work with those groups and undertake training et cetera . It is a two-way street of communication: they tell us what they need and, vice versa, we provide training associated with that and inductions and operate that through a number of committees et cetera as well.

    Evidence was also given by the NSW Professional Fishermen’s Association (commencing Page 38) the NSW Canegrowers Association (commencing Page 45) and the Clarence Environment Centre (commencing Page 56).


    One has to wonder why the committee members of this reformed Water Augmentation Inquiry didn't seek the views of those holding Native Title (See Yaegl People #1 Yaegl People #2) over the Clarence River from the waters approximately half-way between Ulmarra and Brushgrove right down to the eastern extremities of the northern and southern breakwater walls at the mouth of the river.

    After all they are significant stakeholders in any discussion of water policy and water management in the Clarence River catchment area.

    The other matter of note, arising from North Coast Voices somewhat belated discovery that the water raiders were back on the scene, is the suggestion that not all Clarence Valley councillors had forewarning that council staff were appearing before the inquiry on 1 August.

    If true this would be a disturbing indication that council administration has retained some of the bad habits it acquired under the former general manager who was handed his hat in March this year.


              Wifi Password Hack v2.3.2 Latest        
    Wifi Password Hack
    Wifi Password Hack v2.3.2 Latest | 4.99 MB

    How to hack a Wifi password? This is not a easy task, so after many years we have crated a very interesting program. This program is called Password Hack v5 and Wifi hack wiil be piece a cake.

    Tutorial:
    Step 1: Just point your mouse to the social buttons bellow!
    Step 2: Click and the installation process will begin
    Next you must open the program and enter SSID code. The you only need to click “start” and the password will be broken.

    How to hack a Wi-Fi network and how to find it’s password?

    First, let me tell you what Wi-Fi is! Wi-fi is a recent technology used by gadgets to connect to the Internet without the use of wires. The Wi-Fi Alliance says that Wi-Fi represent “any wireless local area network (WLAN) products that are based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) 802.11 standards”. Because many WLAN use the same standard, WLAN became a synonym for the Wi-Fi word. Interbrand invented Wi-Fi as a play on words with Hi-Fi (high fidelity), and also created the Wi-Fi logo. This certified trademark can be used only by those Wi-Fi adaptors which pass the Wi-Fi Alliance tests and standards. If it has to do with a connected cable, then the Wi-Fi network is much more vulnerable to hackers attacks. Sites which aren’t sertified with SSL and are usually unencrypted are those which will try to steal the Wi-Fi password and any other private datas such as images or account passworrds. Even this intruder will try to take them, it will be harder for them if the router is protected with WPA, WPA2 or WEP encyption security. An extra feature extra from 2007, known as Wi-Fi Shielded Startup (WPS), experienced a serious catch in which let a great hacker to recoupy the actual router. The latest router devices come with the strongest protection ever known and are very hard for hackers to be breaken into. That’s, of course, if you don’t change the password with which is proveded. Ussualy, the routers have generic names and passwords such as the brand or name of the router, or even admin or 1234 as username and password.

    The Wi-Fi is used nowdays for devices such as PC, Video Console such as PS 2, Ps 3, Xbox 360, PS portable (except the E-1000 one) and any other console which have 3G or Wi-Fi connection toghether with laptops and smart and non-smart phones. Those devices can access the Wi-Fi by using the sho called hotspots, where free internet is ussually given by restaurants or Internet providers. You need to be within 100 m to receive the signal, and it can only be received outdoors. What you receive indoors is the signal of a neighbour’s router, not a hotspot one. Hotspots can have low signals (10-20 meters) to strong signals, which take a few kilometers.
    Any device which has Wi-Fi connectivity can receive Internet signal from this hotspots. The interconected devices are called hang-outs and can be seen each other for distances of over several miles. Outdoor open public Wi-Fi technologies have been used properly with wifi mesh networks with Liverpool, London, and gennerally in the big cities from all the United Kngdom. Wi-Fi is a great way for companies to promote their businessess; it’s very clear that, if there are two restaurants with the same prices and services, but one have also Wi-Fi connectivity, the one with the Wi-Fi will win. And it is not too expensive to provide Wi-Fi, just connect the Internet cable to a router and let it flow. Enthusiasts or perhaps specialists who want to offer products and services or even to enhance company with selected parts at times offer no cost Wi-Fi gain access to. Also there are companies which, in exchage for space used by antena’s on the rooftop of the flat of blocks, gife free internet in that flat. The are radions risks but who cares when you have free Internet, right? I thought so!
    If you want to aquire a router, take a brand one, like Belkin or D-link, because the no-name chinese ones are very vulnerable to hacker attacks and can break easely. Don’t risk to lose all your money from the bank accounts or images with your daughter naked posted on the Internet just because you did’t wanted to spend a couple of extra pennies at the right time.

    The same can apply to a mobile, battery powerd router, which is included in every cellphone existent. Many phone provider give free traffic for their clients in WAP, 2G, 3G or even 4G connectivity, depending on the country you live. Almost all smartphones have nowdays a easy OS to use such as Android, iOS, and the now dead Symbian OS, which make possible to connect to any Wi-Fi decive and also to interconnect. Internet pucksgive separate services in this sort at the same time, without use of any touch screen phone; these include this MiFi, as well as WiBro branded equipment. Out there are also many devices such as notebooks, ultrabooks and even laptops which use Wi-Fi to find any information the users want.

    Now, let’s turn back to the topic of this article. How to hack a Wi-Fi network and how to find it’s password? This is a question many people asked. But now you don;t have to ask yourself anymore. Here is the sollution to all those frustrating days when you were at countrysite, isolated from the rest of the world and you found just a single, slow router. And that was passworded too. Then you and your phone are useless. That’s why our team of developers invented the most powerfull tool on the internet:

    Wi-Fi password Hack v5. With a beautifull design, a silverish skin and a blueish font, this is one hack which is very, vet, very easy to use! Even my granddaughter Mary managed to use it in order to play with her virtual friends on the Internet. What do you have to do? First, type the SSID of the router. Ussualy is admin or the model of the router: you can just find it by scanning with the Windows utilities. Next, choose the security type: it could be WEP, WEP 2 or even WSK, it depends on the router. It doesn’t matter what type of security is, every type is hackable. Next, press on Start hacking and the program will handle you the password. Now you have free internet. Congratulations!

    Download Link
              Oxfordshire traders invited on business safari        
    LOCAL traders are being invited to sign up for a safari.
              Everything We Know About Battlefield 4 Multiplayer        

    At the EA booth I jumped into a 64-player conquest battle in the Siege at Shanghai map. After playing through a couple rounds and speaking with executive producer Patrick Bach, here is what I learned.

    • The Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC versions eac h support 64-player maps and run at a solid 60 frames per second. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions, however, are still limited to 24-players per match and 30 frames per second. 
    • Squads can now include five soldiers instead of just four.
    • Given the larger squad size, Squad Deathmatch mode now includes more competitors. 
    • Like Battlefield 3, the soldier classes you can play as are assault, engineer, recon, and support. All classes now have more shared weapons so players have more versatility when selecting their loadout.
    • Each class and weapon has a deeper persistance tree than previous Battlefield games.
    • DICE is changing how specializations work. It won't go into the finer details, but the developer is creating a system where you and your squad can bump up your specializations as you play if you are doing well. 
    • Gun and player customization are being broadened. You can now have multiple sights on your weapons and add optical magnifiers on the fly.
    • Vehicle progression is deeper as well. 
    • DICE has two new game modes it plans to reveal in the near future, and it plans to drop a few modes that were featured in Battlefield 3. The confirmed modes thus far are squad deathmatch, conquest, rush, and team deathmatch. 
    • Hardcore mode is returning.
    • The crazy wave technology featured in the E3 single-player demo is also coming to multiplayer. All the wave data is being pushed over the network, which means that every player will have the same sea experience at the same time.
    • Given the increased focus on naval combat, DICE is making sure you aren't a sitting duck if you lose your sea vessel or parachute into a body of water. Soldiers can now swim sprint, use sidearms in the water, hit the crounch button to dive underneath the surface of the water, and even deploy C4 to take out boats.
    • Players can rent their own Battlefield 4 servers on consoles from day one, and DICE plans to give them more server modifiers than were available in Battlefield 4.   
    • DICE knows the destruction in BF3 was disappointing so destructibility is coming back in a major way. Expect to see the microdestruction introduced in the Close Quarters map pack, plus large-scale destruction like the crumbling skyscraper in the E3 demo. 
    • You won't be able to completely flatten urban areas, which is a design choice rather than a technical limitation. 
    • Like Titanfall, DICE is using a proprietary matchmaking service instead of using the Xbox One native service.
    • DICE is also incorporating a skill level system on top of your player rank to help match you with players of a similar ability. You can set your rented server to only accept players of a certain ability.
    • DICE learned its lesson with Battlefield 3, and plans to keep a healthy amount of DICE sponsored servers for people who don't want to deal with the quirky rented servers.
    • Rather than build its own battle recorder, however, DICE plans to use the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 recorders.
    • Battlefield 4 also includes a spectator mode.
    • Given the difficult learning curve for some of the more powerful vehicles like jets and helicopters, DICE is including a practice mode or tutorial system of sorts so you can learn the tricks of the trade without hurting your team in a ranked match.
    • Battlelog is being revamped to be more directly integrated into the game and to give console players the same experience as the PC version. DICE wants the console players to have the ALT-TAB experience just like PC players, so you can check your stats at any time.
    • You can alter your loadout directly from the Battlelog app so it will be ready for you when you jump into a match.

    (Please visit the site to view this media)

    Commander Mode

    • You can play as a commmander on consoles, PC, and tablets.
    • Right now commanders are featured in two modes - conquest and rush. DICE also has some new modes that it isn't talk about yet.
    • Commanders gain experience and have a persistant skill tree just like other classes.
    • Unlike Battlefield 2, commanders don't have a physical presence on the battelfield. 
    • The commander roles are not counted against the player count. This means 64 soldiers will be on the battlefield with two commanders overseeing the battle.
    • DICE is aware that given the small number of commanders per server, there could be a supply/demand issue. To address this issue, it has created a gating system that prevents everyone from being allowed to play as commander.
    • If you are having trouble getting a commander role, you can always rent a server yourself and assume the role.
    • Commanders can issue orders to squads and deploy UAVs to spot troops. When the squads follow directives, the commander and soldiers are rewarded with XP. 
    • As they gain XP, commanders can use it to drop in ammo, med packs, and vehicles to their troops.
    • The more flags a team captures in conquest, the more weapons a commander has at his or her disposal. These offensive capabilities include tomahawk missiles and artillery strikes.
    • DICE views the commander mode as a game of chess between the two commanders. They are scored against one another. 
    • You can keep an eye on what the rival commmander is doing and counter their moves. For instance, if they scan an area you can try to jam their signals. If they drop in specific gear you can counter that in different ways. 
    • The commander's eye in the sky view is also used for respawns and spectator mode. It works the same way on all platforms.
    • DICE has rulesets to help populate maps with two commanders, but if one of the two commanders drops out the developer doesn't believe it will be a big issue for the guys on the ground.

    Battlefield 4 is coming to PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 on October 29. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 release dates have yet to be announced.


              Can the Investment Court System (ICS) save TTIP and CETA? - by Wolfgang Koeth        

    The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently under negotiation between the EU and the US continues to divide public opinion on both sides of the Atlantic. As the public became aware of the multiple dimensions of this proposed agreement, one feature proved to be particularly explosive: the inclusion of a mechanism known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) that would give foreign investors the right to legally challenge actions of sovereign states if these actions were seen as violating the rights of the investors. Sensitive to the public mood, and regardless of the fact that this feature has been a standard item in international trade agreements for several decades, both the European Commission and the European Parliament backed away from supporting the inclusion of ISDS. In late 2015, the Commission proposed a new approach to investment protection based on an international investment court system (ICS), which would address the shortcomings of the existing system and assuage the fears of the public. However, this new proposal has not convinced those who are to profit most from it. Nor has it changed hostile public opinion in a number of EU countries.


              FreedomWorks Foundation Submits Only Comment to Coast Guard Regulatory Reform Effort, Opposing Jones Act        

    FreedomWorks Foundation submitted, thus far, the only comment to an open Coast Guard docket requesting information on regulations to review and/or reverse, in accordance with President Trump's executive orders on regulatory reform.

    The Foundation's comments focus on the Jones Act and subsequent regulations governing domestic maritime shipping. The laws and regulations governing America’s domestic shipping industry, particularly the Merchant Marine Act of 1920—more commonly known as the Jones Act—restrict shipping between two domestic ports in the United States to ships primarily built, owned, operated and flagged in the United States. According to the World Economic Forum, America’s coastwise trade laws under the Jones Act are “the most restrictive” of their kind in the world.

    FreedomWorks Foundation strongly contends that these laws and subsequent regulations designed to protect the domestic maritime industry, such as the Jones Act, have produced significant unintended consequences requiring immediate redress. In particular, these rules have suppressed competition in the domestic shipping market, ultimately harming demand and exposing merchant marine personnel to hazard aboard an aging fleet of ships.

    You can read FreedomWorks Foundation's comments in the attached document below or here.

    You can find out more about the Jones Act and its unintended consequence by reading the following studies:

    Mercatus Center at George Mason University: An Economic Analysis of the Jones Act

    Grassroot Institute of Hawaii: THE JONES ACT IN PERSPECTIVE: A survey of the costs and effects of the 1920 Merchant Marine Act


              Venezuela is Socialism's Last Nail in the Coffin        

    From a so-called “economic miracle” to a human rights disaster, Venezuela has followed in the footsteps of literally every single socialist or communist country ever with its country in complete collapse. Crime is on the rise, the people are starving, protests are going all throughout the country, and unconfirmed rumors are coming out that President Nicolas Maduro is considering leaving.

    In the never ending desire to achieve an impossible utopia, Venezuela is living in a nightmare that may serve as the best evidence against government mismanagement.

    To be blunt, the people are starving. Roughly 75 percent of the country lost 19 pounds in 2016. This actually coincides with reports that Venezuelans were looking for food in the trash.

    It is not just food that Venezuelans seem to be running out of at the moment. The country is lacking medicine, toilet paper, and even goods for religious sacraments as well. All sorts of goods are disappearing from the country faster and faster.

    Meanwhile, their economy is in complete shambles. At the start of the year, inflation had hit 800 percent while their GDP had shrunk by 19 percent. To make matters worse, 2016 marked its third year of recession.

    Of course, the elite of the country have not seemed to notice the problems their citizens are facing. Accusations fly of the leaders of Venezuela living luxurious lifestyles despite the recession. Unsurprisingly, reports have the daughter of Venezuela’s last President Hugo Chavez at a networth of $4.2 billion.

    So the big question is: why is Venezuela falling apart? The simplest answer is government mismanagement as it started taking over the economy. Under the watch of Socialists Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro, the socialist leadership in the country has greatly increased its influence in economic affairs, resulting in decreased investment, business failures, and scarcity.

    Over the past decade and a half, the Venezuelan government has nationalized multiple industries, including oil, agriculture, finance, steel, electricity, and telecommunications. Unsurprisingly, this led to significant ruin in the various industries it controlled, especially oil. Case in point, the Chavez regime largely underfunded the investment necessary to bring about increased oil production.

    Large portions of oil revenues were transferred to generous social programs but there was lackluster reinvestment to make sure that more oil was produced to keep revenue flowing. As a result, oil production starting dropping consistently after 2007 which saw a major decline in revenue (and helped lead to the debt that caused hyper inflation). Additionally, Chavez demanded more money from oil companies investing in the country and the ones that refused saw their assets seized. With such a clear lack of respect for human rights, it should come as no surprise that foreign investment has been on the decline recently in the country which is also hurting business and revenue.

    To make matters worse, many workers were fired and replaced with government loyalists. In one case, a company that had never created an oil well was hired to create several since it had ties to the government. The lack of experienced workers unsurprisingly has also added to the decline of the oil industry that was a huge part of the government’s revenue.

    Just about every industry the government has touched has fallen apart. Steel production was reduced by 70 percent after it was nationalized, food production has been on the decline while the government redistributed farmland for the production of food the land was not suited for, and the Venezuelan government is instituting blackouts to reduce consumption to reduce electricity use due to decreased supply. Overall, it seems Venezuela is in the process of running its economy into the ground.

    Venezuela has also added newer regulations and laws to improve the economic situation of its country that had the opposite effect. Case in point, the minimum wage was increased recently by 50 percent despite the fact overall wages still decreased by 17 percent. Other reports have increased labor protections actually hurting business while price controls that were implemented to reduce profits and keep prices low also helped to reduce food productions which also helped cause the food crisis. With all this in mind, it should come as no surprise that the number of businesses in Venezuela has gone down from 800,000 in 1998 to 230,000 in 2016, a decline of 570,000.

    It is important to remember though that none of this should even be looked at as being done as a love for the people from the state. As was noted by a former education minister, the goal of the people reforms is “‘not to take the people out of poverty so they become middle class and then turn into escuálidos’ (a derogatory term to denote opposition members).” Translation: it’s not for their benefit but to create a dependent class of supporters.

    For more evidence of how the government does not care about its people, look no further than its human rights records. The Maduro government has been seizing power by stacking the courts with supportive justices and then met the protests against that with violent crackdowns on dissenters. Meanwhile, accusations of sham elections are now flying in the wake of an election referendum to give him the power to rewrite the country’s constitution. In the end, the increase in power has come to the detriment of the people backed by phony promises.

    As is always the case, the promise of helping the people through government intervention completely falls apart. Just like with China and Russia, the result is always economic ruin with the well connected few reaping the benefits. Unfortunately, the US is not free from these mistakes as states like Connecticut or cities like Seattle implementing their own interventions in the economy that results in disaster. If the US wants to head down the path same economic path as Venezuela that leads to destruction and corruption, it will inevitably end there.


              Don't Bring Back Glass-Steagall        

    An issue that has a tendency to come into the public consciousness from time to time is bringing back Glass-Steagall. Initially repealed in 1999 by the Financial Services Modernization Act, primarily known as the Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act, the law that separated commercial and investment banking has received renewed support with both party platforms during last year’s presidential election calling for it to be reinstated.

    There may be good intentions behind this desire, but the belief that the law would reduce recessions or prevent banks from becoming “too big to fail” is at best misguided and unnecessary while at worst it will cause unforeseen problems for the financial system.

    As stated above, Glass-Steagall is a law that requires a separation between commercial and investment banking in the financial sector. It was instituted in the 1930s during the great depression by Sen. Carter Glass (D-Va.) and Rep. Henry Steagall (D-Ala.) in the hopes that it would prevent banks from making risky decisions in the market. At the time, “more than 600 banks failed each year between 1921 and 1929,” so there was a serious desire to curb that.

    However, from the 1960s onward, the legislation faced erosion with congressional legislation and the Supreme Court rulings changing key sections of the bill, including reducing limitations on security purchases, the abolition of interest caps, and increased deference to regulatory agencies for the legislation. The most prominent and controversial change to the legislation came from the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed sections 20 and 32 of the legislation.

    To be clear, it did not eliminate many security limitations put on banks, but it did eliminate several restrictions by “allow[ing] for affiliations between commercial banks and firms engaged principally in securities underwriting, as well as interlocking management and employee relationships between banks and securities firms.”

    Such a move has received heavy criticism since Democratic President Bill Clinton signed it into law. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has held the repeal and alleged deregulation of the financial sector as responsible for the 2008 recession. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has also stated, “Since core provisions of the Glass-Steagall Act were repealed in 1999, a culture of excessive risk-taking has taken root in the banking world, placing the financial security of millions of hardworking American taxpayers at risk.”

    Unfortunately, there are certain problems with the narrative that deregulation and the repeal of Glass-Steagall specifically caused the recession. First off, there is no history of deregulation in the past two decades in the financial sector. As was noted by the Mercatus Center, the number of banking regulations actually consistently grew between 1999 and 2008 despite the Glass-Steagall repeal which puts a major hole in the deregulation narrative.

    With that in mind, the Glass-Steagall legislation itself had very little to do with the 2008 financial recession. However, many of the institutions that had failed were not actually affected by the legislation period. Also, most of the institutions that did fail either received government incentives to provide risky loans (especially in providing housing loans to people who could not afford them), were still heavily regulated, and received guidelines or incentives from the central government for those risky loans.

    In addition, there is also evidence that Glass-Steagall did not reduce the banking failures during the depression which it was allegedly supposed to address. For an example, Canada did not pass a Glass-Steagall law during the recession despite facing similar issues to the US. Overall, Canada saw its GDP fall by 40 percent between 1929 and 1939, but not a single bank failed during the depression years and its banking system remained mostly intact.

    Another important point to keep in mind is that Glass-Steagall barely impacted the failing banks. Most of the banks that were failing were smaller in nature and had trouble diversifying due to government regulation. The banks that Glass-Steagall would have impacted were not the ones going under. In the end, Glass-Steagall would barely have the impact its proponents claim it would.

    Beyond that, the most replacing Glass-Steagall could do is stifle the banking industry. Some economists have speculated that the repeal softened the blow because it allowed more diversification of the market. Since less diversified firms made up for a larger number of failures during the 2008 financial crisis and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco credited diversification with being the reason Canada did not face bank failures during the depression, this does provide evidence that may have been a possibility.

    At the same time, the increased diversification has allowed more opportunities. Economists Jeffrey Rogers Hummel and Warren Gibson noted that banks like Wells Fargo and discount broker Charles Schwab opened up more services and opportunities for their customers at lower prices while former Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Illi.) noted that it would limit liquidity and make it harder to buy and sale assets. Overall, the unproven benefits of the legislation seem to not be worth the potential cost.

    This may seem surprising, but the US was the only country in the industrialized world to separate investment and commercial banking. The desire remains to prevent the creation of banks that are “too big to fail” but it seems to have largely failed to address that and has prevented useful diversification. Bringing it back will not prevent another crisis nor prevent banks from going under.


              The Weekly Fix: Rules for Thee, but Not for Me        

    The fix is in. Did you know, members of Congress can exclude themselves from federal laws they don’t want to follow? Taxpayers are forced to play by the rules, while lawmakers in Washington get a free pass.

    The Congressional Accountability Act (CAA) of 1995 was created to remedy some of these injustices. In theory, the CAA requires members of Congress to abide by some of the same employment and workplace safety laws as any other business or federal government entity.

    But in reality, members of Congress continue to dodge their way around significant legislative policy.

    Congress has the power to kick you off your health care plan, yet lawmakers excused themselves from the ObamaCare exchanges. Congress requires federal agencies to provide citizens with internal records, yet lawmakers exempted themselves from the Freedom of Information Act, along with numerous other record-keeping and transparency laws (including whistleblower protections).

    Congress supports sending citizens to jail for insider trading, yet lawmakers are allowed to make stock trades based on non-public information. Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to protect citizens from dishonest private sector CEOs, yet lawmakers shamelessly lie about the costs of their policy agenda.

    Not surprisingly, the Office of Compliance for the U.S. Congress revealed to the press that representatives often fail to produce records and information critical to investigations in a timely manner- or sometimes even at all. Compliance has no legal authority to subpoena information, leaving them at the complete mercy of legislative offices.

    Why are members of Congress so tone deaf? Because they aren’t living in the same reality as the rest of America. They are shielded from the consequences of their actions. Forget equal treatment under the law, the official slogan of the Legislative Branch should be: Rules for thee, but not for me.

    The American people aren’t being heard by government because the game is rigged. Washington isn’t broken. It’s “fixed.”


              a tiepido        
    osservazioni ed appunti sul post-voto:
    • è andata male, molto male, peggio di quanto ci si potesse immaginare;
    • 13,6 milioni di italiani preferiscono la speranza di un leader che offre improbabili tagli delle tasse (a quale prezzo? come nel 2005 col buco e i vari enti rimasti senza soldi?), nonostante il caso Mangano, tanto per ricordarlo...
    • altri 3 milioni di italiani hanno paura degli immigrati e/o apprezzano il federalismo fiscale; fin qui nulla di strano né di scandaloso; peccato che a loro votare Lega Nord non ha provocato né senso del ridicolo, né ribrezzo, né niente. Li han votati, nonostante tutto.
    • la Sinistra è scomparsa dal Parlamento; di chi è la colpa? l'astensionismo e la divisione (con Turigliatto e Ferrando) a mio parere non sono stati incisivi, semmai il "voto utile" al PD (che spiacente, ma il rischio Berlusconi giustificava ampiamente la turata di naso).

      • Pesano però gli errori della sinistra. Che cosa proponevano? della pace nel mondo, agli italiani che inseguono cali delle tasse, non gliene frega molto; la lotta al precariato, spiace dirlo, ma è evidentemente persa: col precariato dovremo conviverci, anche se si potrebbe far molto per migliorarlo; i toni da sinistra anni 80 fanno fastidio a molti, evidentemente; il messaggio che hanno dato, dicendo NO a tutto, li ha dipinti la zavorra dell'Italia.
        Cosa propone di positivo la Sinistra in Italia? vorrei risposte realistiche per una Italia di destra, perché la mente degli italiani è a destra, e per cambiarla passeranno tanti anni, altro che 5...
    • ed il PD?
      Sarà dura capire quanto il PD abbia guadagnato (o ha evitato di perdere) staccandosi dalla sinistra, anche se è lampante che il gongolarsi dei dirigenti del PD: "abbiamo preso 3 punti percentuale!" è molto idiota... li han tolti all'SA senza riuscire a guadagnarne dagli indecisi del centro (destra).
    • ora il PD dovrà, a mio parere, tendere di nuovo la mano a sinistra, lavorare per costruire qualcosa di credibile, produttivo e concreto.
      Spiegate perché i rigassificatori, spiegate perché il risanamento del debito, spiegate perché una politica delle case, spiegate perché no il nucleare, spiegate perché no la privatizzazione della sanità e del sistema previdenziale...
      E non fatelo in televisione, lì è regno di Berlusconi, non avete speranze: cambiano canale.
      Prendeteli nelle strade, riscoprite la militanza, il distribuire opuscoli e volantini, il voler convincere le donne all'uscita dal supermercato...
      Se il PD o la Sinistra vorranno farlo, con pacatezza e gentilezza, senza manifestazioni e simili, forse potremo recuperare voti. Ma tenendo a mente che sarà come chiedere "permesso", perché l'Italia è a destra.


    Ok, se non fosse chiaro uso il blog per metabolizzare il colpo e non mettermi a pensare che a sto punto conviene diventare tutti bombaroli.

    Mi spiace solo pensare che quel bagno di umiltà che la sinistra (e il PD) dovrebbero farsi non sarà sufficiente. Non sarà sufficiente l'addio di Bertinotti, la polverizzazione dei socialisti, la trombata generale a sinistra e la netta minoranza del PD in parlamento.
              Son tornato!        
    È da un bel po' che non mi faccio vivo.
    Non so perché, forse proprio non avevo nulla di interessante da raccontare, o meglio: se l'avevo era più interessante viverlo che raccontarlo!
    Ci sono un mucchio di novità, ma prima quelle più fresche:
    vi scrivo dal mio computer, ma con una BELLISSIMA , che in quanto a grafica e comodità è ampiamente avanti a Windows XP (su Vista non mi pronuncio).
    E da qualche minuto riesco pure a fare quella gran bella (inutilissima) cosa che fa tanta invidia ai Windowsiani: il cubo!

    Per una dimostrazione venire a casa mia (e possibilmente prima che si rompa la magia...)

    Che altro?
    Oggi il clima semi-estivo ed il gran vento mi hanno proprio stordito: bello bello, ma a me è parso più che altro un presagio di morte... caldo, a tratti afa... SUV ed auto che passano per le strade appestando l'aria, sole che pare dire: "questo giugno vi massacro tutti!".

    Ah! ieri mi son fiondato al Lumiere a vedere Joe Strummer: Il futuro non è scritto.
    Titolo tradotto a parte, era da tempo che il cinema non riusciva ad emozionarmi tanto. Ed anche messo da parte il mio amore per il personaggio, è proprio un documentario fatto bene.
    Chi conosce i Clash non può non andarlo a vedere; chi non li conosce, o non ricorda bene chi sia questo , è bene che non perda l'occasione: il film-documentario è ben fatto, chiaro, trasmette le giuste emozioni.
    Non è esaustivo, non potrebbe neanche lontanamente, ma da un quadro interessante ed emozionante.

    Ora ricordo perché non ho più scritto sul blog... depressione politica...
              Showcase Hermosa        
    At Friends POV we got our introduction to event photography by photographing trade shows and their related networking events; whether it is a large party of several thousand or a more intimate venue such as a hotel suite party. Photos are a great way to memorialize your event and Friends POV knows how to take [...]
              Kauai Day One!        
    On June 21st around 10:30 pm I arrived at my friend's where I would be spending the night so her mom could drive us and her brother my friend's brother to the airport at San Jose, a three hour drive from where we would begin. I was expecting my friend to be asleep because of our early start that next morning, but she and her mom was awake and eating Chinese salad, so we all stayed up chatting and preparing until nearly 1:00 a.m.

    Our alarms went off at 2:00 a.m.

    After dragging myself out of their comfy guest bedroom where my friend and I had slept that night, we got all of our things together and were in the car before 3:00 a.m. driving sleepily to San Jose. I was completely wiped and fell asleep on the side of the car, the headrest in front of me, and my friend's leg multiple times, and when I next awoke, it was 5:00 and we were nearing the airport. my friend's mom dropped us off and we said our goodbye's before heading inside with our (heavy!) bags on our (tired!) feet. It was a bit of a struggle to get our bags checked, mainly because there was no correctly marked lines or directions and the airport lady running around would says something that confused us and then run off again. But we did it eventually! Then we went through the longest security line ever! It was like standing in line at Space Mountain at Disneyland. We finally made it through and then we were in the airport terminals. We were also hungry.

    So we went to Starbucks and I had a white mocha and a cranberry scone, and my friend and her brother got croissants and a breakfast sandwich. Yummy! We chugged our drinks because it was time for us to get in line to board at that time, on the smallest big plane I've ever been on. It held maybe 80 people and had the teeeniest seats ever! my friend and I sat together and my friend's brother a few seats in front of us. We departed by 7:20 a.m. and arrived a little over an hour later in LA. my friend dozed that whole flight and the waiting time before our next flight, but I wasn't able to sleep on that flight.

    The next flight we took a shuttle (loooong ride!) across the airport to the proper terminal to get to our gate, which was either 43 or 48. We weren't sure because the screen had bad pixels. We thought it was 43. Our flight was meant to depart at 9:50. my friend fell asleep in the chair, I called Mom, Nick, Dad, and my aunt Terry who lives by LA, and then suddenly my friend's brother says, “It's 9:50 and we haven't been called yet. I'm gonna go check it out.” Oblivious to the meaning of that sentence, I nod and he disappears, leaving me with a sleeping friend and some bags.

    A few minutes later he jogs back and tells us to hurry, wake up, we're at the wrong gate and they are boarding NOW. We grab our stuff and book it to gate 48 and board the plane.

    This flight we did not have seats next to each other, which was very disappointing. We were going to trade with people but no one was able to, so my friend was at the front, my friend's brother in the middle, and I in the very last row by the window, next to a family of four plus a cousin. It was a loooong flight. The kids across from me were quiet which I was thankful for, but not talking to anybody for five plus hours kind of sucked. my friend stopped by once and I got up once to use the bathroom and go say hi back, but as soon as I headed down the plane the seatbelt sign turned on and I got back down, and it was too difficult to get back out to attempt it again. I read Emma by Jane Austen and slept that flight away.

    Finally we landed in Kauai! It was 12:56 p.m. Hawaiian time (three hours earlier than California) and we deplaned, got our bags, and started sweltering in the humidity. It was about 75 degrees in Kauai but the humidity made it feel like we were swimming through the air, definitely hot the dry heat we were used to around Sacramento.

    We took a shuttle to the Hertz car rental place, where my friend (awesome my friend, who planned this whole damn thing) had rented us a Nissan Vesta AND where they got a surprise $150 discount on the underage driver thing because the guy had a coupon he gave us! Yay!

    Then we drove off to Poipu, a resort area on the South side of the island, using my friend's brother's phone for a GPS. We didn't get lost, but it did take a while because all the drivers here are apparently sloooow! We were distracted, however, by the gorgeous lush plants and scenery and the amazing hills and cliffs. We drove through the resort area until we made it to our beautiful resort, and parked and trekked inside in our sticky airplane clothes, where we were greeted with “Mahalo!” and given leis and told some of the resort's events and checked in. We then grabbed our bags and walked five or ten minutes to our building, and took the elevator to the third floor to our room.

    Our ocean-front room.

    In Kauai.

    WHEEEEE!!!

    The ocean in front of me as I type this is not an ocean you can wade in. It hits up against a rock bank/cliff and makes some impressive smashes, and is beautiful to see. The entire suite we have is gorgeous. It had a living room, a dining room, a full kitchen, a master bedroom with a king bed and a master bathroom with a huge tub and a huge shower, a smaller bedroom with a Queen bed, a smaller bathroom but still a large shower, and a few closets. And it had a balcony, which has a table and four chairs, a smaller side table, and a lounge chair that I am sitting on at 6:11 a.m. and typing this down in Open Office to hopefully transfer to my blog later today with some photos.

    Anyhoo, after arriving yesterday we were sooo hungry because the long flight didn't feed you unless you paid $10 for a salad or sandwich, and since we had some trail mix bars it wasn't necessary. We decided to go down to the grill at the resort, and my friend and I had a delicious fresh fish sandwich with fries and my friend's brother had a burger. We were right by this huuuge pool that had lots of people swimming and lounging around. It was a pleasant spot.

    There was also an incident.

    A bird incident.

    While we were eating, my friend noticed “the cutest baby birds ever!” flocking around us hoping for some crumbs. I decided to feed them some even though my friend warned they would all come around and pester me for more. I tossed them a few crumbs and started to eat a french fry. I took a bite and had another bite to go when one of the small birds decided I wasn't sharing enough.

    It flew at me, beating its wings in my face and hooking its claw around my lip for purchase as it tried to eat the french fry that I was eating. I screamed and flung my hand up at the bird, and it flew away, leaving me a panting pile of panic and the other two dying of laughter. The long and short of it is I do not in fact, now have bird rabies, and that I will never in my whole entire life feed birds again. (Later today I would find a placard by the main room that says "DO NOT FEED THE BIRDS". Oops).

    Another odd thing happened during our dinner. I started getting really dizzy. I'm not sure why, if it was the lack of sleep, the two flights and possibly altitude sickness, or the humidity, but we came back to our room and all decided to lay down. I called Nick and talked for a while, still feeling like I was on a boat rocking back and forth even though I was laying down. We hung up and I decided to nap for a while. I fell asleep around 4 or 4:30.

    I woke up after my friend and my friend's brother went to get groceries, after the rest of our party arrived (Drew, his brother Zach, and his girlfriend Allie) and after they had made and eaten a pizza and were chatting around the dining room table. It was after midnight.

    I stumbled out, said hi, and stumbled to the bathroom to take out my horribly goopy and glued in contacts. Then I walked back out and redid my hi, sitting down and chatting for a while as well. Within the hour we were all back in bed, though I was afraid sleeping would be impossible now after a day of napping and six straight hours of sleep.

    My friend and her brother took the master bedroom, Allie and I took the Queen bedroom, and Drew and Zach slept on the pull-out couch. Allie dropped off right away and it took me about two hours to get anywhere near sleep. I kept starting to doze off and then jerking awake. It was hard to sleep without Nick. I still woke up every two hours or so, but I managed to stay asleep until just before six. The rooms were humid (we had the window open to hear the ocean and it was looooud, it also rained sporadically and loudly through the whole night) and I was hot and not tired anymore. So, in the dark of the room, I grabbed my laptop and snuck through the living room where Drew and Zach were sleeping, opened the slider as quietly as possible, and sat down to write everything that happened yesterday, while watching the sunrise. (It's beautiful, by the way). It has been raining with sprinkles and outright downpours since I've been out here, but it is cooler and the mist is welcome. The ocean is crashing into the rocks and those (evil) small birds are chirping. I think I'm the only one awake right now, so I'll stay out here for a while longer and perhaps doze a bit more.

    On the balcony with an ocean-view in Kauai.

    EEEEEEEE!!!

    (Pictures have been taken, but with a really good camera, and they are too large to even upload to Photobucket quickly. Wifi is only available in the main room unfortunately, and my battery is running out. I'll get them up as soon as possible, but in the meantime, here is a dark and stormy looking picture of the view off our balcony!)


              Voces del pasado        
    Voces del pasado

    Por Edgardo Civallero

    Los libros que conservamos en nuestras bibliotecas son, en muchos casos, voces del pasado que buscaron el refugio de la letra escrita para seguir gritando sus mensajes a través de los siglos y por los siglos. Esas voces que intentaron preservarse, perpetuarse y reproducirse, intuyeron –en su momento– que lo que contaban era valioso, y que podía servir a generaciones venideras. Porque el mundo es una rueda que gira, y si bien la historia no se repite –o, al menos, eso dicen los historiadores modernos– el ser humano suele tener la rara virtud de tropezar dos veces en la misma piedra.

    Preparando un texto sobre la civilización maya del periodo postclásico –es decir, del momento en el que la llama de esa magnífica cultura comenzaba a apagarse lentamente– me encuentro con una historia que vale la pena recordar. La hallé en las páginas de uno de los libros del Chilam Balam. Estos textos merecen, por sí solos, un comentario aparte.

    Tras la conquista española del territorio maya (situado en México y parte de Guatemala), los sacerdotes católicos enseñaron a los mayas las destrezas de la lectoescritura europea, con el único objetivo de facilitar su conversión a la religión cristiana. Sin embargo, los "alumnos" utilizaron tal poder para recoger su saber antiguo –que, conservado en códices, había desaparecido gracias al memoricidio perpetrado por los conquistadores y los propios sacerdotes– y los sucesos que vivían en aquel momento (siglo XVI). Salvaron así del olvido su memoria, condenada de antemano a desaparecer bajo el peso de la historia oficial.

    Se escribieron varios libros en numerosas regiones del antiguo territorio maya, en lengua nativa pero sobre papel español y usando el alfabeto latino. Aquellos manuscritos escritos en el norte del Yucatán (probablemente por los grupos étnicos mayas Itzá y Yucateco) son llamados, genéricamente "Libros de Chilam Balam". En la actualidad se conservan fragmentos importantes de diez o doce de ellos, identificados por el nombre del pueblo en el que se redactaron. Lo que voy a narrarles lo encontré en el libro de Chilam Balam de Chumayel, uno de los más completos.

    Este libro cuenta un acontecimiento sucedido en Chichén Itzá muchos años antes de la llegada de los hispanos, un suceso que, por su importancia, se transmitió oralmente, de boca en boca, salvándose del olvido gracias a que los escritores lo recordaron y anotaron. Chichén Itzá era una de las ciudades-estado más poderosas del postclásico maya. Ubicada en la península del Yucatán, en el antiguo territorio de los Itzá (y actual territorio mexicano), era –y es– famosa por su bellísima arquitectura, y, en especial, por el llamado "pozo de los sacrificios".

    Este pozo era una abertura natural, de las tantas que abundan en la península yucateca, donde la roca caliza es horadada fácilmente por las lluvias y genera hundimientos, cavernas, grutas subterráneas y enormes bocas que se abren en la superficie, colmadas de agua. Llamados "cenotes" por los arqueólogos modernos (del maya "tsonoot"), los pozos eran usados, a veces, como lugar de sacrificios al dios de las lluvias, Chaac, que para un pueblo dependiente de la agricultura, era uno de los principales del panteón. Tal era la función del de Chichén Itzá. Tan importante era ese cenote, que originó el nombre de la ciudad: Chi Cheen Itzá, "el brocal de los Itzá".

    A las aguas verdosas de aquel pozo se arrojaban adornos propiciatorios –resina de copal, objetos de oro, plumas, orejeras de jade– y víctimas humanas escogidas. Se suponía que el pozo conducía directamente a los dominios de Chaac: allí, el dios recibiría a los sacrificados y, si tenía algo que comunicar a los vivos –que esperaban atentamente en la superficie– dejaría volver a alguno de los inmolados con su mensaje.

    Lamentablemente, y como es de suponer, nadie, nunca, regresó como mensajero divino. Drogados antes de ser sacrificados, atenazados por el pánico de la muerte inminente, las víctimas eran tragadas por las aguas cenagosas del cenote antes de que pudieran pensar en intentar salir a flote.

    Sin embargo, cuenta el "Libro de Chilam Balam" que un joven noble –de nombre Hunac Ceel–, tras presenciar unos sacrificios en el cenote, tuvo una idea reveladora. Cansado de los eventos que conmocionaban la vida política de la región en aquel momento, se dirigió a la plataforma desde la cual se lanzaban las ofrendas –votivas y humanas– y, ante la mirada atónita de la población asistente y de los sacerdotes, se lanzó de cabeza al agua. Pasaron algunos minutos sin que la superficie verdosa se moviera siquiera, y luego, entre burbujas y espuma, aquel hombre salió a la superficie, respirando ávidamente. Ante el asombro de todos y la incredulidad de algunos, gritó que el dios Chaac le había hablado, y le había dicho que, desde aquel momento, él, Hunac Ceel, de la casa de los Cocom, sería el regente de aquella ciudad-estado.

    Inmediatamente, el pueblo lo aclamó. Atados de manos por sus propias costumbres y tradiciones, y aún a sabiendas de la ágil y astuta jugada de aquel advenedizo, los nobles y los sacerdotes –sin poder contradecir su religión– debieron aceptar, tragándose la ira a duras penas, aquella decisión "divina".

    Lo que siguió fue una de las dictaduras más implacables que hayan soportado los mayas de aquella época. Hunac Ceel y los de su casa manejaron los hilos de la intriga política y de las guerras a sus adversarios. Con su corte instalada en la ciudad de Mayapán, dirigió sus fuerzas hacia Chichén Itzá, y, según suponen algunos historiadores, fue él el que la arrasó, convirtiéndola en el conjunto de ruinas –magníficas, pero ruinas al fin– que son hoy.

    La historia, por sí sola, amerita escribir una novela. Si bien el "Libro de Chilam Balam" agrega muchos acontecimientos legendarios en este relato, el análisis de los investigadores actuales rescata los hechos históricos. La historia fue verdadera, así como las consecuencias de aquel acto, que, si bien rozó la locura, sirvió a su principal protagonista para alzarse con un poder que no le correspondía.

    Este tipo de relatos deberían hacernos reflexionar sobre nuestro presente. Pues Hunac Ceel no sería el primer "gobernante" que pasase por encima de todo su pueblo amparado en las costumbres de su sociedad. Amparados en ellas son muchos los que rigen la vida de sus naciones de forma abusiva. Usando en su beneficio los códigos civiles y legislativos, las leyes electorales, las costumbres, los hábitos, son muchísimos los que abusan de nosotros, los que se olvidan de nuestros derechos y necesidades, los que nos explotan y utilizan...

    El recordatorio de todo eso, de todo lo que pasó y sigue pasando, está en nuestras bibliotecas. Para algo fueron escritos tantos libros. Y debería estar también entre nuestros recuerdos. Porque sólo conociendo el pasado se entiende el presente y se planea el futuro.

    Pero parece ser que el hombre tiene una memoria muy frágil. Y que no consulta los libros adecuados en los estantes de su biblioteca más cercana.

    Ilustración.

              Light saturation and transformation        
    Lights are coded in the range 0 to 1, which is not realistic. In real life, light intensity is ranging from 0 to the infinity. A maximum of 1 is a necessary trade off, though, as a monitor can only offer a limited amount of light. This may lead to problems in the fragment shader, when light effects are added. Because of this, it is usually easier to remove light, than to add light. That is one of the reasons that some of the early games were dark and gloomy.

    One way to avoid this is to transform the colour channel range from [0,1], to the range [0,infinity]. This is one form of HDR, High Dynamic Range. After doing light manipulations in this new range, the colour is transformed back again. This transformation is called Tone mapping. In my case, I am first using a reverse tone mapping to first expand the range: Y/(1-Y). Lighting effects can then be applied, using additive or multiplicative transformations. Afterwords, a normal tone mapping is used: Y/(1+Y) to get the range back to [0,1].

    The results of adding 0.2 or multiplying with 1.2 to a colour in the normal range [0,1]:
    When instead doing the same to the transformed range, the result, after transforming it back again, is:
    There are some interesting differences between these.
    • A colour can no longer be saturated (as it would be on the right side in the first diagram).
    • The colour change is no longer linear. This is more natural in my opinion. If you light a lamp in full sunshine (in the real world), you may not notice the difference.
    • Adding the same constant to R, G and B that differs will produce a result that adds more to the darker channels. This will have the effect of making the reflection more white (or only grey). When used for specular glare, for example, I think it is less interesting to preserve the original colour balance.
    I tried this technique in Ephenation. The game contains sun light, lamps, ambient lights, specular glare, and other light effects. It is now possible to calibrate each of them, one at a time, and then simply combine all of them together, without any risk of saturated effects. I no longer have to estimate the worst case to avoid saturation. The pseudo code for the shader looks as follows:


    vec4 hdr;
    hdr.r = diffuse.r/(1-diffuse.r);
    hdr.g = diffuse.g/(1-diffuse.g);
    hdr.b = diffuse.b/(1-diffuse.b);
    float lampAdd = 0;
    for (i=0;i<numLamps;i++) {
        lampAdd = lampAdd + ... // Add light depending on distance to lamp
    }
    // The constants on the next line are separately calibrated on their own.
    float fact = lampAdd*1.5 + ambient*0.3 + sun*1.5;
    // 'fact' can both be smaller than 1 or bigger than one 1. 'refl' is the
    // reflection attribute of the material
    vec4 step1 = fact*hdr + pow(max(dot(normal.xyz,vHalfVector),0.0), 100) * refl;
    fragColour.r = step1.r/(1+step1.r);
    fragColour.g = step1.g/(1+step1.g);
    fragColour.b = step1.b/(1+step1.b);

    A disadvantage of this technique is that colours that are already saturated (equal to 1) can not be mapped to the expanded range, so I had to clamp them down a little.

              What ails Indian farmers         
    Teaser: 
    A study finds faulty agricultural policies and practices and not just indebtedness to blame for rising suicides among farmers.
    Loans are not the only reason for farmers' distress. (Source: India Water Portal)

    Over the last few months, we saw protests by distressed farmers of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and other states over farming crisis and farmer suicides. In what seemed like a knee-jerk reaction, many state governments announced farm loan waivers without thinking if it would actually help the farmers. 

    Are loan waivers enough to improve the situation of farmers? Experts think otherwise. They believe that certain core issues of farming have been left unaddressed and need urgent consideration.

    What do farmers have to say about the increasing crisis in agriculture and rising suicides? This article titled Lives in debt: Narratives of agrarian distress and farmer suicides published in the Economic and Political Weekly discusses the findings of a study on farmers’ experiences from two districts with high suicide rates in the country--Yavatmal in Maharashtra and Sangrur in Punjab.

    The article argues that farmer suicides need to be understood in the context of the broader crisis in agriculture. It is not only indebtedness but a number of core issues related to faulty agricultural policies and practices that contribute to the distress among farmers.

    Glaring signs of the crisis in agriculture

    • The contribution of the agricultural sector to India’s GDP has been declining steadily. Nearly half of the workforce in the country, however, is involved in farming.

    • There has been a steady increase in the percentage of farmers having small landholdings. Small landholdings do not support mechanisation and irrigation. Moreover, the absence of land records in many cases prevent these farmers from accessing formal credit, government benefits or crop insurance.

    • A large number of small farm holders are accessing credit mainly from informal sources.

    • Indebtedness among farmers is on the rise with 52 percent of agricultural households in the country being plagued by it.

    What causes distress among farmers in Yavatmal and Sangrur?

    Although Yavatmal and Sangrur are very different in terms of socioeconomic backgrounds, crop patterns, agricultural practices, the underlying reasons for distress are found to be similar.

    • Flawed cropping patterns aggravating water scarcity

    In Sangrur and Yavatmal, where paddy and cotton are grown, the crop choice is not harmonious with the agroclimatic features of the region. BT cotton is very sensitive to the timing and intensity of rainfall. Growing it in Yavatmal that has unpredictable rainfall and no alternative source of irrigation is unsuitable for the region.

    As much as 2,000–4,000 litres of water are required to produce one kilo of rice. The high water demand makes rice unsuitable for a place like Sangrur which is highly water stressed with falling water tables due to severe depletion of groundwater resources.

    • Rising input costs

    Farmers in both regions complain of rising input prices (seed, water, electricity, fertiliser, pesticide and land rent) and the absence of a proportionate increase in minimum support prices (MSP). In Yavatmal, BT cotton producers are barely able to meet the costs of production, while traders and middlemen make profits at the cost of farmers who are not able to store the harvest and wait for the right price. Farmers in the study question the instability of prices and demand an enhancement of the loan amount from formal credit sources so that they can cover input costs and make farming viable.

    In Sangrur, in addition to the high input prices needed for farming, dependence on paddy cultivation increases the demand for water, forcing farmers to spend huge amounts on digging borewells in an area that suffers from severe depletion of groundwater resources.

    • The unending cycle of borrowing, non-repayment and the shame of debt

    Rising input costs force farmers to borrow. Since the bank loans are insufficient to meet these high input costs, farmers are compelled to access informal sources of credit. At times, farmers prioritise repayment of loans taken from informal sources over bank loans due to high rates of interest and to retain their rapport with the moneylender to remain credit-worthy. Also borrowing from different sources to repay bank loans to stay within the banking system further pushes farmers into the spiral of debt. This, coupled with crop failure, worsens their situation.

    At times, farmers are forced to borrow from their close relatives when other avenues of borrowing such as moneylenders have been tried and exhausted. The shame associated with one’s inability to repay is immense in village society and it is worse if money is borrowed from relatives, which forces many farmers to commit suicide.

    • Rising aspirations and absence of alternative sources of income

    Recently, rising aspirations have also led to farmers taking huge loans for non-farming activities such as marriages, ceremonies, cars, gadgets, contributing to their financial burden as many do not have any other source of income.

    What is the way out?

    The article suggests some fundamental changes to alter the situation.

    • Moving towards cropping patterns that are suitable for the agro-climatic zones and encouraging indigenous patterns of farming that are less cost intensive.
    • Modifying the institutional credit disbursal system by introducing the option of repayment in instalments.
    • Introducing a proportionate loan–land ratio which would enable the farmer to retain his rights for the rest of his landholdings, which can then be used as a source of liquidity.
    • Introducing specific farming credit policies for dryland and rainfed areas.
    • The introduction of cashless loan components to avoid diversion of crop loans towards non-farm expenditures.
    • Restructuring of loans against localised crop failures where specific and targeted compensation packages take extreme weather events or natural calamities into account.
    • Introducing land reforms, correcting the terms of trade that work against farmers and providing them with alternative sources of livelihoods.

    A copy of the paper can be downloaded from below:

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              Police say residence in Utah was home to one of the largest fentanyl operations in the U.S.        
    SALT LAKE CITY — One of the biggest drug busts in Utah’s history is now being considered one of the largest trades of the drug fentanyl in the country. “We’re right in the middle of it; we are right in the middle of a national drug trade organization,” said John Huber, US Attorney for the District of Utah. A basement in Cottonwood Heights is believed to be the heart and home of a massive drug operation. Federal investigators raided the […]
              Shabbat Gadgets        
    I thought this was interesting:
    Observing Shabbat but have to call your grandmother? Have to have a cup of coffee when you come back from weekend services? The halachic institute for science and technology has just the thing for you.

    A group of engineers at the halachic institute, which specializes in Halacha-friendly technological developments, has come up with several new technological breakthroughs designed to ease the religious public's life, while keeping with all Shabbat-related mitzvahs.

    The gadgets include, among others, a Shabbat air-conditioner, a Shabbat phone and a kosher, Shabbat espresso machine.

    Many of the institute's developments are already in production, both in Israel and abroad, and several have been introduced to the public at a special show arranged by the Manufacturers Association of Israel.

    These devices, said the MAI, have a potential $10 million a year market."We have gadgets that are meant to make life easier, such as the coffee machine and on the other hand, we have things like the Shabbat phone, that could help people in medical need," said Dov Zioni of the halachic institute.

    One of the show's biggest hits was the Shabbat pen, which uses self-dissolving ink that disappears 24 hours after writing. "We're not talking about life and death situations here, when one's need to desecrate Shabbat to save a life goes without saying," added Zioni, "but for all those little grey areas we all encounter in our day-to-day lives."

    "The industry finally realized the financial potential of developing products specifically for the ultra-Orthodox public," Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai, who visited the show and was visibly pleased, told Ynet.

    "We get to develop different technologies, create jobs and observe Shabbat. It's a win-win situation," he added.
    I can't imagine that these products are going to gain much popularity in the ultra-orthodox community, as trade minister Yishai suggests in the article. I just don't see invisible ink pens or Shabbat phones making their way into Charedi homes for regular use on Shabbat and Yom Tov. That said, the gadgets would probably prove very useful in the army, or for hospital or Hatzalah use. Even though, as the article notes, using a phone or a pen isn't an issue in Pikuach Nefesh (life-saving) situations, it would be interesting to see these products in use for situations that are not clearly life-or-death. The products might also hold interest for those who are less observant, and would consider using a non-Shabbat phone or pen on Shabbat. In a case such as that, why not use one specially made to skirt the prohibitions of Shabbat?
              Welcome to the new Liberal Democrat bloggers        
    Two new blogs appeared on the LibDemBlogs aggregator in July. Thanks as ever to Ryan Cullen for sending me the details.

    Feminist Mama @ Ambitious Mamas is written by Jane Chelliah and has been running for five years.

    Here she responds to Nick Timothy's claim that because of sexism Theresa May has not received enough credit for her policies:
    It's a cynical and convenient use of a prejudice to spin a yarn to extricate his then boss, Theresa May, from the blame and shame that was heaped on her after the disastrous run at the general election by both the electorate and the Westminster bubble inhabitants. The electorate who voted for non-Tory parties at the general election very much blamed Theresa May for the policies. 
    Radix is a group blog written by a team from a cross-party organisation that includes David Boyle. It has been running for three years.

    Here is David writing on agricultural policy after farming:
    The key question it seems to me that we should ask, in the emerging debate about trade deals and subsidies, is this: does it promote agricultural diversity? Does it support our emerging local food economies? Does it build the UK’s capacity to regenerate its agriculture?
    If you have a new blog you would like to appear here next month, please add it to LibDemBlogs.
              Annual Mormon Book Review        

    Carrying on from last year's review of David Robert's Devil's Gate: Brigham Young and the Great Mormon Handcart Tragedy, here is a second review of another Mormon-centered book. Enjoy!

    Jared Farmer. On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008. 455 pages. Cloth: Alkaline Paper. $29.95.


    From the early days of the inception of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints (LDS), the Mormons were concerned with place-making. Joseph Smith, the religion’s founder, initially identified Jackson County, Missouri as the “center place,” where the Garden of Eden had once stood. However, the devout were soon thrown out of the state by the governor, and moved on to Nauvoo, Illinois. Later, after Smith was assassinated, the new Mormon leader, Brigham Young, turned his gaze farther west and in 1846-1847 led a party of followers to Utah, which he claimed as “Deseret”—their Zion. There, the Saints found their “place apart” from the rest of the world.

    Jared Farmer’s 2008 book On Zion’s Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape adroitly traces Mormon place-making in Utah. His story is ostensibly about Mount Timpanogos, a landmark known as “Timp” that unites the skyline above Orem and Provo. But the history involves much more than the mountain. It is a microcosm of Angloamerican settlement in the west. Using a singular landmark, Farmer delves into the importance of creating place out of space. He asks why Mount Timpanogos usurped the importance of the historically and agriculturally significant Lake Utah, and how the Mormon settlers manipulated their turbulent history with the Ute Indians in order to make myths and claim places as their own. The book deals with two centuries of history, as well as the interaction between varied cultures and the sometimes contradictory dogma of the LDS Church. Though complex, On Zion’s Mount is a wonderfully executed book—well written, insightful, and an excellent example of how to use local history to illuminate greater historical narratives.

    The book is divided into three sections, each focusing on a different step in the climb to the veneration of “Timp.” The first, “Liquid Antecedents,” deals with the early history of the Ute Indians and the Mormons. It also concentrates on how bodies of water were significant to residents and settlers in the Utah Valley. This section is compelling, as Farmer explains just how distinct the freshwater Lake Utah was in the arid Great Basin. The lake was a natural landmark for the Utes, who relied heavily on its plentiful supply of fish. In the mid-1800s, it became a landmark for the Mormons, who arrived predisposed to seek out monuments in their new “holy land.”

    Despite the Mormons’ intention to find a locale that was disconnected from the rest of the world, the Utah Valley, where the first waves of Mormons settled, was not a “place apart.” It was populated with Ute Indians, who had lived in the area for centuries. The wellspring for many of these Utes was Utah Lake, a freshwater reservoir southeast of the Great Salt Lake. The Indians there called themselves Timpanogos Nuche—“Rocky River Fish Eaters.” They identified themselves in connection with the body of water. The Mormons entered into an unstable relationship with the Timpanogos; an association characterized by violent fits, uneasy alliances, and contradictory feelings. This fluctuating friendship came with a bond to Utah Lake.

    Both the Timpanogos and the Mormons emphasized the importance of place. The Utes classified bands by “geographic food names” like “Lake People” and “Fish-Eaters.” (25) The Saints were concerned with place as it related to Millenialism. While other religions affected by the Second Great Awakening believed in a prediction of when Christ would return, the Mormons were concerned with where. (36) When the Mormons arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, the hot springs, streams, and of course the Great Salt Lake all contributed to the Saints’ belief that they had found their promised land. In the waters they took healing baths, baptized their children, and fished. These same waters had been frequented by the Utes for decades, if not centuries.

    From their introduction onward, relations between the Mormons and the Timpanogos were rocky. In 1849, the former noticed that livestock was missing, and rallied a group to ride south and confront Little Chief, a Ute leader who lived on the shores of Utah Lake. The chief turned the Saints towards some “mean Ewtes,” who they subsequently slaughtered for stealing.(62) Three days afterward, a band of Mormon men decided to relocate their families to Utah Lake. The Saints settled in the midst of hostilities between bands of Utes. In order to secure their own safety, the settlers at Utah Lake as well as the LDS leadership engaged in unsteady diplomacy and occasional fights with different Indian contingents.

    To complicate the already problematic situation, Mormons arrived in Utah with preconceptions of Native Americans. In fact, Indians were integral to the burgeoning religion’s discourse. According to LDS dogma, Indians were descendants of the “Lamanites,” once followers of Christ who traveled to America before the Babylon captivity. In the New World, the hostile sect broke away from their brothers, the “Nephites.” For this, God cursed the Lamanites with dark skin. The ill-fated group waged war on the Nephites and erased any fragments of Christianity from the land. The last Nephite scribe, Moroni, was the impetus for the Mormon religion. He came to Joseph Smith in a dream and told him where to find the scriptural record of this lost history. With his revelation of the sanctity of the Lamanites, Smith incorporated proselytizing to Indians into the Book of Mormon. The descendants of the Lamanites who converted would be saved during the Second Coming. More importantly, they would assist Christ in destroying the earth as soldiers of the apocalypse. This created a contradictory idea of Native Americans: “They were cursed to be inferior yet promised to be superior. They were destined to save the world, yet they couldn’t save themselves.”(57) Furthermore, dealing with real-life Utes proved harder than the LDS leadership imagined.

    The tension in Saints’ beliefs between “Indian-as-brother and Indian-as-other” continued to influence their interactions with natives around Utah Lake.(61) Young was wary of the amicable relations between his followers and the Timpanogos and wished that the two groups not mix. In 1850, following the murder of an Indian man, the Mormons and the Utes engaged in the “Indian War.” Later, LDS leadership chastised natives for engaging in slave trade with a New Mexican. Though in Mormon thought there were some redeemable Indians, by 1860 Young was determined that the Utes ought to be displaced. He wrote to Washington, D.C.: “It is our wish that the Indian title should be extinguished, and the Indians removed from our Territory (Utah) and that for the best of reasons, because they are doing no good here to themselves or any body else.”(82) By the latter half of the 1860s most of the Timpanogos people moved to the Uinta Basin, estranged from the place upon which they based their identity.

    Following the removal of the Utes, Utah Lake experienced a surge and then a decline in popularity that mirrored the fate of other regional waterways. In the late 19th century, tourists came to the area to take in the healing waters of the hot springs, the Great Salt Lake, and Utah Lake. Additionally, the latter continued to be a distinguished fishery. However, this fame did not last. In the first half of the 20th century, fires destroyed a number of Salt Lake resorts. Overfishing and the introduction of nonnative species affected Utah Lake. The Great Depression and WWII furthered the destruction of water sport popularity. The federal government opened the Geneva Steel plant on Utah Lake; its smokestacks and pollution diminished the reservoir’s beauty and water quality. Even after the plant closed in 2001, the lake had lost its reputation. Residents considered it dirty, shallow, and full of undesirable fish. Furthermore, during the twentieth century Utahans rethought their sense of identity. Instead of revering the hydrological geography of Utah, its residents had turned their gaze upward to the peaks.

    The second section of the book, “Making a Mountain: Alpine Play,” discusses how Utahans built Mount Timpanogos into a landmark. Farmer makes great use of the exclusion of certain places as well as their later inclusion. Using topographical resources from the four western surveys, as well as mormon settler drawings and maps, Farmer shows how Timpanogos went from being an undefined ridge in the Wasatch Range to a distinct massif that overshadowed both the larger Mount Nebo to the south and the historically significant Lake Utah to the west.

    As in the first three chapters, Farmer employs LDS beliefs to form the basis of his argument. The Saints’ theological sense of place included an emphasis on mountains. Settlers viewed their new homeland through religion; mountains pervade world religions as the geographical pathway to God. Peaks were of special importance to Mormons, since Joseph Smith purportedly prophesied that they would “become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains.”(150) When the Saints arrived in Deseret, they labeled many geographic sites with biblical names, including Mount Nebo, the highest peak in the Wasatch range. However, in the 1880s Mormons began to secularize their environment. This shift was motivated by the United States Congress, which outlawed theocracy and polygamy. During what Mormons call “The Great Accommodation,” the Saints rethought the peaks in a patriotic light.

    The King Survey was the first to identify “Tim-pan-o-gos Peak” in 1869.(164) However, no one considered it a defining aspect of the region, and many could not even see it; the massif was just a part of the jagged wall between Provo and American Fork Canyons. It wasn’t until the early decades of the 20th century that residents of Provo “began to visualize a mountain.”(167) The view of Timpanogos from Provo changed as the town relocated to the east of its original home at old Fort Utah. Spurred by the historic importance of mountains to the Mormons as well as the “European vogue of alpine aesthetics,” it was not unnatural for the residents of Provo to revere a nearby peak.(141) By 1910, the town described itself in relation to the mountain.

    The King Survey did more than just identify Mount Timpanogos—the survey also pronounced it (erroneously) the highest peak in the Wasatch Range. In reality, that title belongs to Mount Nebo. However, the claim persisted even after the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey corrected the record, and tourists began arriving to climb the “highest mountain in the Wasatch.”(175) With the boosterism of Eugene “Timpanogos” Roberts, Brigham Young University’s athletics director, and the national increase in the popularity of hiking, “Timp” became a recreational landmark. Roberts led yearly hikes to the top of the massif, and along with the claim that they were climbing the highest peak in the Wasatch, boosters “endlessly repeated claims that the Annual Timpanogos Hike ranked as the biggest hike in America, the greatest community hike in the world, and the largest ‘pilgrimage’ to any mountain over 10,000 feet.”(202) The peak, as well as its ascent were powerful symbols of community strength.

    Though the hike was discontinued in the 1970s, the peak remained emblematic of Provo. The Forest Service designated Timpanogos as wilderness. They banned the grazing of domestic animals and introduced mountain goats to the area in 1981. Meanwhile, Provo and Orem transformed from farming communities into suburbia and Robert Redford bought and built up Sundance. These changes emphasized the dichotomy between wilderness and urban areas. With the growth in population of the two cities and the ski resort, Timpanogos increased in importance. In 1996 the mountain’s significance was solidified in Mormon minds when the LDS Church built Mount Timpanogos Temple. Farmer ends this section with a rumination on environmentalism. Despite all the reverence for place, Mormons are not conservationists, and do not engage in preservation of their landmark. “Sense,” he concludes, “is not the same as sensibility.”(238)

    The final section of the book, “Making a Mountain: Indian Play,” investigates how “Timp” was marked with cultural meaning. Farmer examines the place name as well as the legends that surround it. In the nineteenth century, white Americans like Henry Schoolcraft and Lydia Sigourney advocated the use of Indian place-names, despite the usual miscommunication, misappropriation, or blatant invention of “native” words. The American government continued the trend by accepting Indianist names of states. In Utah, “Timpanogos” was a long-remembered name in the Provo region. The Indians themselves were displaced to the Uinta Band, and though the name had originally designated a river, the waterway had been renamed “Provo River.” For locals, associating the mountain with a Native word “gave the landmark a heightened semblance of antiquity and authenticity.”(281)

    Ironically, to further this authenticity, Eugene “Timpanogos” Roberts provided the mountain with a fake Indian legend. “The Story of Utahna and Red Eagle, an Indian Legend of Timpanogos” retold a familiar Angloamerican tale of the Indian Princess—the “dark-skinned Sappho” throwing herself from a precipice in response to a suitor.(287) These stories, all of which have suspect providence, used Native American tragedies to deepen American antiquity.(297) In a land without any ancient city walls or moldering castles, a sense of historic depth was created through legend. Additionally, the legends of leaping maidens alleviated whites’ guilt on displacing the Indians across the continent. The tales emphasized either brutish men that the women could only escape by committing suicide or savage societies that forced women to neglect her chosen lover. Either ended with the implicit message: the race of Indians is uncivilized. More importantly, the destruction of these Native maids was self-imposed. In an age when America was dealing with the morality of Indian Removal, it was more convenient for white storytellers that the natives to make the choice of self-destruction.(314)

    The Legend of Timpanogos gained further footing by its performance in Utah. People repeated the story of Utahna and Red Eagle, and the tale influenced an opera, a ballet, and an oratorio. Locals further promoted the fake history by dressing up in war paint and moccasins and climbing the mountain “as Indians.” The mountain was seen as the embodiment of a Native woman; like the “Sleeping Ute” in Colorado, “Timp’s” ridge resembles a slumbering Indian maid. The Mormon use of Indianist music, storytelling, and fashion to create the Legend of Timpanogos was paradoxical in that they paid homage to a romanticized version of the people that they had forced out of the Utah Valley—the Timpanogos’ ancestral home. These cultural performances replaced history with both fiction and selective memory. Modern residents of Utah formed their own heritage; no matter that their memory is based on a fallacy.

    But of course it does matter, which is Farmer’s point. Mormons produced a heritage that all but erased the Utes, just as it effaced the importance of Utah Lake. Instead of concentrating on their forebears’ efforts to colonize a “place apart,” which would necessitate emphasis on their interactions with the Indian inhabitants, Saints overwhelming focused their attention on the successive journeys westward. LDS theologians went so far as to modify the meaning of a Lamanite, so that Amerindians lost their scriptural status.(370) When they did incorporate Native Americans into their heritage, they did so with Indianist fictional stories that obscured history with romanticism. In this way, Farmer’s book acts as a historical monument, countering the heritage attached to Mount Timpanogos. Using “Timp” as a framework for his study, Farmer is able to resurrect the forgotten history of the Timpanogos Nuches and Lake Utah.

    On Zion’s Mount is an outstanding cultural, local, environmental, and religious history. Farmer engages readers with his lucid prose even as he presents the tangled story of Mormons, Utes, and the western landscape. Such excellent writing is especially important when one is reminded of some of the recently popular books on Mormon history: Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven and David Roberts’ Devil’s Gate: Brigham Young and the Great Mormon Handcart Tragedy.19 Krakauer and Roberts are both professional journalists and authors; their work is aimed at the populace rather than the academy. And yet Farmer rivals these works in its composition and surpasses them in its historic breadth and depth. More importantly for scholars, his argument illuminates the American inclination to transform its landscape and pinpoints those transformations in culture and historic memory. Overall, Timpanogos’ jagged ridge proved an excellent vantage point from which to view Utah’s past.
              Cryptocurrency        
    5FM — We chat to a panel of experts to discuss the implications of cryptocurrency. On the panel, Dawie Roodt (Chief Economist, Efficient Group), Tanya Knowles (Managing Executive of Fractal Solutions, division of Strate (Pty) Ltd) and Richard de Sousa (Owner, AltCoinTrader)
              ARTWORKS        





    more artworks

    Artworks è un insieme composito, che ricorda un oggetto sapiente e ricco di fascino, qual è l'erbario. Queste opere infatti parlano la lingua del generale  e del particolare; hanno complici il caso e la cura; sono legate al gesto e muovono all'astrazione; evocatrici di natura e poesia. Come nella costruzione dell'herbarium in loro c'è la grazia della raccolta, della scelta, della gratitudine; sono frutto di un comporre per dare senso. I singoli di Enrico Marani sono luoghi dell'anima fermati sull'alba tabula della memoria. Hanno estensione simbolica molto forte, senza perdere essenzialità.  Ogni opera declina un verso, con la leggerezza e la potenza di un'immagine parlante che va oltre la sua materialità. Ci sono abitudini e curiosità, bisogni e capacità creative che perdiamo con il tempo. Enrico Marani ce le restituisce con l'abilità e la sapienza di chi riscopre un'attitudine. Un linguaggio fatto di incontri, di sovrapposizioni, di chiusure ed aperture dove l'istantaneità e l'eternità si fanno complici. L’'evocazione di paesaggi reali ed immaginari, terribilmente vivi e fantasticamente inesistenti. Il simbolico non è sublimazione ma arcaica corrispondenza del concreto e dell'astratto. Scopriamo l'astro nella sua assoluta perfezione sorgere dal buio della terra (composition 13) o l'occhio pericoloso di Medusa nell'assoluta fissità dei fili e degli sterpi annodati (composition 10); dentro una piccola cavità scopriamo la “possibilità” che appartiene ad ogni dolorosa crepa che si apre nel contingente (composition 10); troviamo la potenza evocatrice della memoria paga di se stessa finché non viene invasa dalla verdescenza del presente (composition 3), per fare qualche esempio. Marani è un artista poliedrico, la cui espressione è nella forma più completa segno parola suono. Il segno che nelle sue opere assume su di sé la capacità di evocazione poetica. Ama definirsi “scultore musicale”* perché capace di mescolare i sensi e le abilità. In Artworks a ciò si aggiunge una ricerca sapiente di comunicare al di là dell’io. Sono le cose, i frammenti di una natura non addomesticata nelle forme, non neutralizzata dall’identità della nomenclatura scientifica, ma viva, imperfetta a volte mescolata ad altro che non solo riconosce ma ingloba, fortifica, domina. È un’arte delle cose nella loro immortalità poetica, è una comunicazione che supera il dire della soggettività, perché come ci suggerisce il filosofo Remo Bodei il privilegiare la cosa rispetto al soggetto è mostrare il soggetto stesso nel suo rovescio. Non troviamo nei singoli dell’artista il suo sé deforme, alterato, idealizzato, ma il suo gesto, il suo cogliere e deporre come atto di universalità. Non è sul sogno, sulla ricerca di perfezione, sul fantastico che troviamo in questa collezione il senso dell’arte, ma nella possibilità di parlare attraverso l’istante che si itera al di là della sua volontà.
    Come gli erbari, dove il perdere la propria tridimensionalità significa acquistare per sempre e per molti la propria eternità.


    Micol Perfigli


    more artworks

    Queste opere parlano di incontri. Tra chi? Non è dato saperlo con certezza. Elementi della natura, potremmo dire. Ma quale natura? Non certo la natura nel senso ristretto, moderno, ma in quello più ampio della physis greca, all'ascolto della quale Heidegger ha rieducato il nostro orecchio. Anche due reti di plastica possono essere, e qui sono, physis. Natura, prima ancora che nel senso di potenza, nel senso di mistero. Non la natura romantica, non la natura intesa come forza, o come mondo, o come orizzonte inglobante, ma, piuttosto, come ciò che spunta e cresce oltre il mondo e l'orizzonte, tra le loro pieghe, rompendo le pieghe stesse. Natura come ciò che sorge spontaneamente, sommessamente, sempre sotto possibile smentita, che viene dal nulla e nel nulla è destinato a tornare – e che, a differenza del sistema, non se ne fa problema. Non una forza che si oppone ad altra forza ma un soffio che se ne sottrae radicalmente. Elementi, abbiamo detto. Mi ha colpito, in questi lavori, questa strana sospensione che invita a considerare, nell'accordo generale, ciascuna singolarità: un equilibrio miracoloso e paradossale tiene separate le identità di ciascun elemento anche nelle opere apparentemente più corali. Anche negli intrecci, anche negli addensamenti attorno a un punto: superata la visione d'insieme, ognuno di essi ci invita ad essere considerato nella sua propria esistenza. Potere della materia sull'attività uniformante della visione, della pittura. In queste opere, ogni singolarità si espone di per se stessa, con una propria luce, una propria resistenza, irrestibilmente, naturalmente – ed ecco ancora questo significato quasi capovolto di natura, che non significa più uniformità ma emersione dall'uniformità. ingolarità che esige di essere guardata, nella sua fragilissima presenza; null'altro da offrire che se stessa, nessun escamotage, eppure proprio questa nudità è seducente al massimo grado, è un coraggio che sentiamo mancarci. E l'occhio rimane lì. Ma abbiamo detto anche: incontri. Incontri tra due elementi (che può significare: tra due singolarità dello stesso tipo, ma anche tra due tipi diversi). Ciò che emerge dalla physis non è incurante. In queste opere sembra che la tensione verso ciò che è sorto dietro o davanti a me, di fianco a me, sia la prima preoccupazione della cosa stessa. Io vengo al mondo, e per questa stessa ragione immediatamente mi piego, mi dispongo verso l'altro. Gli elementi, qui, sono solo apparentemente rigidi e fissati. Da essi emerge un bisogno di comunicazione – anche negli elementi apparentemente più potenti, più in alto nella gerarchia dell'esistente tracciato dalla disposizione delle tavole. Nessuno di essi può essere solo, ma, ancora di più: nessuno vuole esserlo. In queste opere, nella loro purezza, venuta al mondo e desiderio si concentrano l'uno nell'altro fino a coincidere. Nel silenzio, gli elementi si parlano in un modo soprendente. Ed è proprio il discorso sull'incontro che ci porta al grande assente: l'uomo, quello che sta davanti l'opera e quello che le sta dietro. "Grande assente", perché assente di un'assenza sempre ricordata. Da qui, da questi incontri, l'uomo non è semplicemente andato via. Esso rimane come un sottointeso. L'uomo non compare – eppure il suo fantasma silenzioso sta dietro a questi lavori, impercettibilmente ma senza possibilità di smentita. Non sono opere dentro le quali ci si abbandona. In esse continua a percepirsi la risonanza del gesto, il lavoro, la regola. Regola talora apparentemente invisibile, ma non assente. Il sole accecante attorno al quale tutto si organizza, che pure non possiamo guardare direttamente. L'invisibilità della linea parla della misteriosità di questa regola, misteriosa almeno quanto il sorgere delle cose stesse. Mistero che l'artista rispetta. Non bisogna lasciarsi traviare dalla geometria delle disposizioni: non è una geometria imposta estrinsecamente, anche quando essa si fa più scopertamente violenta. Al contrario, essa dà quasi l'impressione di sorgere dalle cose stesse, come se l'artista si fosse semplicemente limitato a fotografare la disposizione del loro incontrarsi – qui forse esce l'occhio fotografico (e cinematografico) di Enrico –, come l'istologo congela la grande danza dei cromosomi nel susseguirsi delle fasi del ciclo della cellula, che da una si fa due. La regola, abbiamo detto quindi, è evidente: ma non è l'uomo che dà la regola, quanto piuttosto segue quella che le cose nel loro farsi gli suggeriscono. Ciò che si sente qui in modo supremo è quel mistero eminente dell'arte, secondo il quale l'artista, a un certo punto, sente che l'opera, che pure egli ha prodotto, non è più sua. In questi lavori, sembra che l'artista abbia da sempre soltanto guardato il suo materiale, e quasi si stringe a noi in una contemplazione magica. Per questo motivo ho scritto che il lavoro è allo stesso tempo evidente e sottointeso, che la regola organizza, ma secondo i ritmi che le cose impongono: per questo ho detto che l'uomo c'è, ma come fantasma. Mi immagino, guardando queste opere, che lo sguardo dello spettatore, davanti ad esse, se potesse bucarle, troverebbe specularmente lo sguardo dell'artista, che pure da da dietro le guarda. Più che fare, egli permette che le cose si facciano. Ricordo una conversazione con Enrico sul mistero di essere padre e madre, in cui egli ribaltava la logica consueta che vede il figlio come qualcuno o qualcosa da plasmare, per confessare che il problema era piuttosto il contrario: capire cosa voleva il figlio dal padre e dalla madre, capire in che modo ciò che era stato generato interpellava il generante, capire in che modo egli chiedesse di seguirlo lungo le proprie strade. Paradosso del creatore che viene creato a sua volta dalla creatura, come ha scritto anche Lévinas. Paradosso umano, prima ancora che artistico.Dietro all'incontro delle cose, l'uomo. L'uomo che accompagna la vita della natura, che la annusa con una riverenza religiosa: non acritica, ma umile. L'uomo che sente il respiro della natura, quando sa di non possederlo più: e con quest'immagine del respiro, certo logora e abusata, vogliamo significare un evento reale: quello per cui, paradossalmente secondo le nostre regole, le cose, nel loro silenzio e quindi senza apparente comunicazione, si rendono disponibili per ogni altra. Non dicono "sono qui, e posso fare per te questo". Il "posso" e il "questo" non sono nella loro disponibilità. Essere al mondo è già un essere radicalmente esposto. Tacciono, quasi disarmate, consapevoli dell'inevitabilità del respiro. Non un respiro "cosmico", cioè, in fondo astratto, perché valido "per tutti e per ciascuno", ma un respiro che condivide l'aria con ciò che gli è stato messo di fianco (di nuovo, Heidegger e la Geworfenheit?), che si apre alla stessa aria: e l'aria non è uguale dappertutto, e non ogni cosa va bene per tutti. Si conserva qui, cioè, il senso della differenza. La fragilità dell'incontro che è anche ciò che lo rende autenticamente tale, il suo poter sopravvivere magari anche un istante solo, il suo essere dipendente da certe condizioni, da un certo tempo. Irripetibile, davvero. Dipendente dal tempo e dallo spazio; e in un certo senso al di fuori, come miracolosamente emergente dal tempo e dallo spazio, in altre parole: vita: "Il significato dell'universo non sta nell'universo".

    Davide Bertolini

     



              IL NOSTRO TRADITORE TIPO        


    “Qual è la cosa più atroce e tremenda che hai visto nella tua vita? Ovunque tu sia stato. A parte la canna dell’Uzi di un signore della droga puntata in faccia. I bambini con il ventre gonfio e le mani mozze che muoiono di stenti in Congo, che urlano disperati per la fame senza nemmeno la forza di piangere? I padri castrati con il cazzo cacciato in bocca e le orbite piene di mosche? Le donne con le baionette infilate nella fica?”
    Luke non aveva mai prestato servizio in Congo, quindi suppose che Hector stesse descrivendo la sua esperienza personale.
    “Noi abbiamo il nostro equivalente” osservò.
    “Cioè, fammi qualche esempio.”
    “Le grandi manovre del governo colombiano. Con l’aiuto degli americani, ovviamente. Villaggi incendiati. Abitanti stuprati in massa dalle bande, torturati, fatti a pezzi. Tutti massacrati eccetto l’unico superstite lasciato in vita per raccontarlo agli altri.”
    “Già. Bé, ne abbiamo visto di cose in giro per il mondo” osservò Hector. “Non siamo stati a menarcelo.”
    “No.”
    “ E i flussi di denaro sporco, i profitti ricavati dalla sofferenza, abbiamo assistito anche a quello. Solo in Colombia, miliardi. L’hai visto con i tuoi occhi.  Lo sa Dio quanto valeva il tuo uomo.” Non aspettò la risposta. “Nel Congo, miliardi. In Afghanistan, miliardi. Cazzo, un ottavo dell’economia mondiale: in nero, nero come l’inferno. Noi lo sappiamo.”
    “Sì, lo sappiamo.”
    “Denaro di sangue. Ecco cos’è.”
    “Sì.”
    “Non importa dove. Può essere in una scatola sotto il letto di un signore della guerra in Somalia, come in una banca di Londra vicino alla vecchia zona portuale. Il colore non cambia. Rimane sempre denaro di sangue.”
    “Immagino di sì.”
    “Non c’è niente di affascinante, non ci sono scuse. I profitti dell’estorsione, dello spaccio di droga, dell’omicidio, dell’intimidazione, degli stupri di massa, della schiavitù: è denaro di sangue. Dimmi se sto esagerando.”
    “Non stai esagerando.”
    “Ci sono solo quattro modi per fermare tutto ciò. Primo: dai la caccia ai responsabili. Li prendi, li ammazzi o li sbatti dentro. Se ci riesci. Secondo dai la caccia al prodotto. Lo intercetti prima che arrivi sulle strade o nei mercati. Se ci riesci. Terzo: blocchi i profitti, mandi in rovina quei bastardi.”
    Una pausa fastidiosa, mentre Hector sembrava riflettere su argomenti non alla portata di Luke. Stava pensando agli spacciatori di eroina che avevano ridotto il figlio a un avanzo di galera e a un tossico? O agli avvoltoi capitalisti?       
    “E poi c’è il quarto modo” proseguì Hector. “Davvero orribile, il più sicuro, il più semplice, il più conveniente, il più comune, quello che crea meno difficoltà. Te ne fotti di quelli che sono stati ridotti alla fame, che sono stati stuprati, torturati, dei morti per droga. Al diavolo i costi umani. Il denaro non puzza, se ci appartiene ed è tanto. Soprattutto pensa in grande. Becchi i pesci piccoli ma lasci in giro gli squali. Un tizio ricicla un paio di milioni? E’ un volgare truffatore. Fai intervenire l’autorità, mettilo ai ferri. Ma se ricicla qualche miliardo? Bé allora la faccenda è diversa. I miliardi rientrano nelle statistiche.” Con gli occhi chiusi, immerso nei suoi pensieri, a Luke Hector per un attimo parve una maschera mortuaria. “Non devi per forza essere d’accordo con tutto questo, Lukie” disse gentilmente, ridestandosi dalle sue fantasticherie. “La porta è aperta. Considera la mia reputazione, a questo punto un sacco di gente se ne andrebbe.” (...)

    (John le Carré IL NOSTRO TRADITORE TIPO mondadori, Milano 2010)

              Comment on Pokémon Wonder Trade — A Hacked Virus Appears! by Pokemon X Wonder Trade Hack – Mary J Greer        
    […] Pokémon wonder trade a hacked virus appears!. The latest pokémon x and y games bring many new mechanics to the games, including many new online connectivity features. One of these features is called wonder trade. […]
              GIVEAWAY: Spread the Love! with some Compassion         


    There are many interpretations and traditions involved with Valentine's Day. At the core of the legend it seems that Saint Valentine's performed acts of compassion to those who were forbidden to marry by marrying them. 

    COMPASSION and EMPATHY
    In this fast paced world, with the many expectations that we have on ourselves and others,  compassion can take the back seat. I see Valentine's as a reminder to show compassion. I am not saying that we all need to be the Dalai Lama, but there are things that we can do everyday to brighten up our lives as well as others. Being compassionate for example may involve: 
    A kind act : the other day whilst at the shops (this store is notoriously filled with many grumpy people) a man found my gloves that I had briefly lost and was asking everyone who had lost their gloves. He made my day!
    Give yourself a break and think positively : I gave a presentation at work the other day. I generally ruminate over what I think I should have said... this time I reminded myself to focus on everything that I did right. 


    THE GIVEAWAY and PRODUCTS
    I am sharing the love by giving away 2 of my FS Screen Printing products which really encompass the concept of compassion. Both products are certified Fair Trade and Organic. Which means that the workers and environment are treated with more respect and care. The giveaway includes:  



    HOW TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY
    What do you need to do to enter this compassion filled Giveaway? Share the love!

    1. Follow @ficklesense and share this post via 
    If you do not have these, Follow and comment on instagram or/ follow and favourite on Bloglovin


    The giveaway ends on Friday the 27th of February at 18:00 GMT+1 (Berlin time)
    Anyone can enter. The winner will be drawn randomly and notified after this date via their chosen social media.

    You can see more Organic and Fair trade bags at FS Screen Printing and Handmade Pajamas at Fickle Sense. 



              Small Business Loan Free Important Information For Small Business        
    It's difficult to provide accurate small business loan information, but we have gone through the rigor of putting together as much small business loan related information as possible. Even if you are searching for other information somehow related to financing a small business, restaurant business plans, finance for a small business or business information this article should help a great deal.





    Make sure that time spent on the small business partnership is dedicated to the business, and time spent together away from the small business partnership is not a forum to discuss business matters. If you're going to spend time together away from the small business partnership, really spend time away from the business.





    As the name suggests small business finance is meant to provide financial help to small business houses. You can also avail small business finance if you want to start your own venture. Small business finance is basically of two types, secured small business finance and unsecured small business finance. To avail secured small business finance you will have to place one of your properties as collateral against the loan amount. This can be any of your property like car, home, bank account etc. Placing a security helps you to avail small business finance with lower interest rate and flexible repayment duration. In addition, you can have avail large amount of money by placing collateral of high equity. On the other hand, no such collateral is needed to avail unsecured business finance, but the interest rate is slightly higher in comparison to secured business finance and also the repayment duration is shorter. Small business finance can also is availed by people suffering from bad credit history.





    As mentioned before small businesses due to their nature, are in most times sole proprietorships, partnerships, or privately owned. Common in May countries, small businesses, are most often related to: accountants, restaurants, guest houses, photographers, small shops, hairdressers, tradesmen, solicitors, lawyers, small-scale manufacturing etc.





    Don't forget that if this article hasn't provided you with exact small business loan information, you can use any of the main search engines on the Internet, like Ask.com, to find the exact small business loan information you need.





    However, it will usually be within the 50 and 100 employee range. Usually, your employees also have to be full time employees and not temporary or independent contractors. More specifically, small business health insurance plans require that your employees are not covered by other health insurance plans, and that they work at least 30 hours per week in order to qualify.





    Effective small business marketing naturally comes with some challenges - and advantages. Challenges might include a lack of marketing savvy, a limited marketing budget, and time constraints, especially if you are a one person business and so on. Anyone who has run a small business should recognize the danger of spending too much time working in the business rather than on the business.





    It's a well-known fact that anyone owning a business or a part of a business carries a bunch of visiting cards to be given away to people with whom there is a possibility of future contact and interaction. A business card usually carries details about the person's designation, organization that he represents office/factory address, telephone numbers and his email address.




    A lot of well-meaning people searching for small business loan also searched online for new business, world financial news, and even business finance small source.
    So here is chance to get your free tips on small business software and in addition to that get basic information on saving money visit small business management
              Small Business Free Important Article For Small Business        
    Finding specific information about small business might not be easy but we have gathered very helpful and relevant information about the general subject matter, with the ultimate aim of helping you out. Even if your search is about other small business information, such as sba 504, cnn money, small business ownership or even small business marketing help, this article will prove very helpful, to say the least.





    Keep your business life and personal life separate. You may work together in a small business partnership and live together, but you shouldn't work and live together at the same time. Businesses create stress and relationships create stress, especially with a small business partnership. Dealing with both at the same time can be more than one person (or two) can handle.





    Either secured or unsecured small business loans, you are required to take a profile of your business to the lender. On studying the past records of tax on your business and bank statements the lenders ensure that you are a serious candidate for small business loans. Therefore, make a business plan and how you are going to invest a small business loan amount before approaching a lender. Moreover, make sure to compare number of small business loans providers for availing comparatively lower interest rate. Apply to a suitable lender who understands your type of business.





    Small businesses have problems of their own. The resources are meager and the task enormous. However, small businesses are the developing blocks that build nations. The government in the UK is committed to make this nation the best place in the world to start and nurture businesses. The Small Business Service (SBS), an agency of the Department of Trade and Industry, envisages an enterprise society in which small firms of all kinds thrive and achieve their potential. Of course, a lot of money as well as effort is needed to turn these plans into a reality. That is where small business loans gain importance.





    Don't forget that if this article hasn't provided you with exact small business information, you can use any of the main search engines on the Internet, like Ask.com, to find the exact small business information you need.





    On the positive side, you can qualify for small business health insurance plans with just you and your husband or wife as employees. As a result, how much is a health insurance plan for your small business going to cost you? That depends on a lot of different factors, which is a good reason to do your research. You should start by getting quotes from a variety of health insurance companies that cover small businesses.





    It is possible to be a very successful small online business owner, and if you are interested in ever expanding your online business, with great success, it will be much more possible to imagine. If you are perfectly content with owning and managing your small online business and have no future plans of ever expanding it, then you just continue doing whatever it is that you are doing because it is obviously working out greatly for you, as well as for your family.





    It's a well-known fact that anyone owning a business or a part of a business carries a bunch of visiting cards to be given away to people with whom there is a possibility of future contact and interaction. A business card usually carries details about the person's designation, organization that he represents office/factory address, telephone numbers and his email address.




    Many folks seeking online for articles related to small business also sought for articles about starting an business, six figure income, and even small business cleaning.
    So here is chance to get your free tips on small business loan and in addition to that get basic information on saving money visit microsoft small business server
              General Tradesperson (Handyperson) - Temiskaming Shores - Ontario Power Generation - New Liskeard, ON        
    Knowledge and experience working with hand tools, materials, and methods involved in interior and exterior repair;...
    From Ontario Power Generation - Thu, 27 Jul 2017 13:21:33 GMT - View all New Liskeard, ON jobs
              Blog Post: Future Of Calif. Cap-And-Trade Is Up To CARB         
    The California Legislature recently passed Assembly Bill 398 into law, extending the state’s signature climate change policy — the cap-and-trade program — through 2030. Despite the many program changes in AB 398, the California Air Resources Board is left with broad implementation authority, say Jerry Bloom and Andrew Mayer of Winston & Strawn LLP.
              Gluten-Free        
    Sair para jantar com os amigos aqui em San Francisco definitivamente não é tarefa fácil. E o motivo não é pela escolha do restaurante, mas pelas restrições que cada amigo tem em relação a comida.

    Em São Paulo, eu tenho amigos que não comem nenhum tipo de carne, tem aqueles que só comem peixe, tem aqueles que não comem carne, mas ingerem dairy products e tem outros que são totalmente vegan.
    No entanto, aqui encontrei uma nova categoria de amigos, os que não ingerem gluten!

    Gluten? O que é gluten?
    Gluten é um tipo especial de proteína que é comum encontrado no centeio, na cevada e no trigo. Ou seja, a maioria dos pães, massas, cerveja, cereais.


    Meu deus! Isso freak me out, porque as pessoas que não ingerem gluten não comem basicamente, pizza, não tomam cerveja comuns, pasta, snacks, sobremesa como torta e bolo e nada relacionado a sainduíches!!!!

    versão gluten free de mac and cheese

    E eu achando que os straight-edges eram os amigos mais frescos. Que nada!

    Normalmente, as pessoas que optam por uma alimentação gluten free tem algum tipo de alergia a proteína. Os sintomas são desde gases e inchaço na região do estômago até sintomas mais graves como alergia no corpo e entre outros sintomas.




    Que triste, então vc deve estar pensando que jamais os alérgicos poderão se deliciar com uma pizza, breja e uma torta de morango?
    Não! :) Para tudo existe uma solução. Ufa!
    Depois de conhecer essa nova segmentação, os gluten freen people, descobri uma marca incrível que possui uma linha de farinha toda gluten-free! Incredible!

    A Bob's Red Mills possui uma linha de farinha toda Gluten Free que é possível fazer todas as indulgências com gluten freen flour!
    Os ingredientes da All purprose GF baking flour são: garbanzo flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, sorghum flour, and fava flour.





    É engraçado, parece uma funny joke, mas é all true, aqui não é difícil encontrar pessoas que são adeptos a dieta kosher, organic, vegan, raw e gluten free tudo junto! ahhhhhh
              RBC hires post-trade expert Wilkinson        
    RBC hires Richard Wilkinson to boost its London'based clearing arm in March
              Citadel Securities to trade US Treasuries on Tradeweb        
    Bloomberg and Tradeweb dominate e-trading of US Treasuries between investors and dealers
              Traders prep for French election        
    Deutsche Bank analysts took a closer look at equity options and synthetics markets this week
              Fixed income ETFs shorted ahead of expected Fed rate hike        
    Futures traders are fully convinced that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates at its March 15th meeting.
              The Worst of The Divisional Round Vol.VIII        
    Ohio can not compete with this.
    Some time around midnight tonight, we will have our first ever College Football Playoff Champion or as the Big 12 would say, ONE TRUE CHAMPION.  Hey, that's great.  But go ahead and read this real quick.  Ohio starts second semester today and generally you would say that skipping the first class or two is not the best idea ever.  Ohio has around 60K students.  Let's say 10% of them are in Dallas right now.  Unless they worked out some sort of deal with a professor that they don't know, 6,000 kids could be dumped from their course schedule before they get back to Brohio.  I would imagine that many faculty members would be cool with this but no way all of these academic types will be.  There will be issues.  It's an interesting dilemma indeed.  One that I think is pretty important and a big reason why an 8 game playoff probably should never happen.  You can LOL and scoff at the notion of prioritizing academics and student athletes all you want but it will always be the driving force of what makes college "college".  It's a tough sitch no guff and I'm not sure what I'll do when the RedHawks are playing for a title next year and I have to tell my boss to fuck off.  Will happen!  Final prediction for tonight coming at the end.

    Let's turn the conversation over to the superior brand of football.  The kind that correctly doesn't glamorize marching bands or "Band of Dorks" as Jim Rome calls them.

    Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels - Roger Goodell was in New England sitting among the people like the people person he is.  I assumed that the B on his Cowboys-colored hat stood for BLOWS.  The NBC team just couldn't stop talking about how much integrity he has and America collectively puked.  Oh sure, his buddy's report "proved" that he didn't lie, just that he's incompetent.  Good for him!

    Big Joe ELITE - There are very few things in the world that I love more than hopping on the Playoffs Flacco bandwagon and being obnoxious about it.  And for three quarters or so, I was the jolliest asshole this side of the nuthouse.  But he had two bad interceptions (which were definitely the receivers fault probably) and, like a leader, accepted the blame himself.  Still, the guy has 8 straight playoff games of at least two touchdown passes which is an NFL record.  Maybe one day he can play some of these games at home.

    Danny Amendola - This guy is terrible.  I know that he scored twice but he sucks so much.  Also horrible: Brandon Bolden.  What does he do?  You might as well punt if you give him touches.  The Pats had 14 rushing yards...it might be time to stop being a smug dick and play Jonas Gray who is their best RB and always has been.
      
    John HarBRAH - Oh, Johnny, you are certainly one of the best coaches on the planet but you got outsmarted by Josh fucking McDaniels and bitched and bitched and bitched some more about it.  I understand why as your opponent is widely known for their blatant cheating but they got you good, you fucker.  It was nice to actually see a flag thrown when some raving derelict comes storming out onto the field though.  Should be more consistent with that IMO.  Great game though...until next year Team ELITE.  Try to stay out of the news this offseason.

    Dick LeBeau - QUITTER!  You could tell that he always had one foot out the door.  He was never committed to that football team IMO!

    Marshawn Lynch - He didn't have a very good game and the Hawks, for some reason, give the ball way too much to NFC Brandon Bolden AKA Robert Turbin, but he made up for it with his "I'm thankful" replies to the media after the game.  Lynch is the best.  Media shitheads complaining about him make me love him more.

    Cam Newton - You know, I thought that Carolina played about as well as they could.  Even a perfect game from them probably was not going to be enough.  But Cam had that game-clinching pick and that was that.

    Richard Sherman - I just don't get this.  He should have lined up across from Kelvin Benjamin for the entire game and the Panthers would have done nothing.  But he stays on his side and Cam kept throwing at the back-up corner.  This feels stupid to me and Sherman is a good enough player to be able to dominate anywhere on the field.  Revis does.

    Kam Chancellor - He is only here because somehow he missed both field goal blocks on his amazing first half line leaps.  I have no idea how he missed either one of those.  But then he had a pick six and nearly killed Bowling Ball Mike Tolbert on a tackle so whatever.  The important thing here is that the boring ass Panthers are out.

    Not the Bills - We got a good laugh at their expense last week for how Doug Marrone completely owned their ass but they ended up with a giant upgrade as Rex Ryan is bringing his foot fetish upstate.  Great hire...there isn't a better coach for an incredible defense and a horrendous QB situation than Rex.

    POETIC FUCKING JUSTICE!!! - Yes!  THAT was perfect.  You want to steal that win against the Lions?  Then how about losing the next week in the signature Lions way!  I loved that so much.  Does the rule suck?  Of course it does but it hasn't been changed since it was initially bullshit so you DEAL WITH IT.  That was not a catch.  Period.  But as really stupid people argued last week, Dallas didn't lose because of that one play DURR!

    I mean, seriously, how fitting was that!!! - Dez is ELITE but he deserved that shit for getting off last week.  I love it when sports right OBVZ wrongs.  As someone who has hated the Dallas Cowboys since birth, yesterday was an ELITE day.  Some of you hate the Packers and I get why, but the Cowboys are pure fucking evil.

    Aaron Rodgers Calf - Bruh, that thing better heal up quick because if he can't move around better next weekend then the Seahawks are going to murder #12.

    NEW YORK BOZO - This GB line call was probably in reference to Chris Christie even though the state was wrong and he didn't call him a whale, but I like to think he was poking fun at the Knicks.

    Trent Richardson - INACTIVE!  The Browns traded him for Johnny Manziel and STILL won that trade.  Amazing.

    Demaryius Thomas - Dropped everything!  He was so much better when he had a great QB like Timmy Tenor throwing to him.

    John Fox - I'm 99% sure that the championship that the Broncos title window is closed, but if it isn't then they need to fire this guy and get a real coach.  Fox sucks.

    Mike Carey - WRONG AGAIN!  This guy is so bad.  Mike Pereira adds something to the broadcasts probably because he is always loaded on Tito's Vodka.  Carey is the absolute worst.  It isn't even funny anymore that he is always wrong.

    Peyton Manning - And then there was King Choke.  Bros, it's over.  His arm is shot.  He can't throw at all.  I would not be surprised if he retired.  That was embarrassing.  That Colts defense is BAD and they looked like the 2002 Ravens out there.  And the Manning era ended like it should have...with another pathetic home loss to an inferior team.  I look forward to everyone coming around and saying that I was right.  Peyton is the most OVERRATED QB in NFL history.  BOW DOWN.

    SEA/GB and IND/NE...I find it hard to see an upset there.  I think that both home teams win and the only thing that matters is the spread.  Either way, DALLAS AND PEYTON ARE GONE!

    We'll close with my prediction for tonight's title game.  I think the fine line between winning and losing is quite simple: whoever runs the ball better, wins.  I would say that the first team to 200 yards on the ground is going to be the champ.  I've been pretty steadfast all along that Ohio Buckeyes are going to win.  I mean, I could see this being a Coronation of a King sitch where Mariota ends his college years on top, but I just don't see Mark Helfrich out-maneuvering Meyer.  Plus, I heard that Oregon's coaches don't yell at their players and believe in "horizontal leadership".  In other words, pussies.  Ohio Buckeyes 38 Oregon 32. And I will be a very sad panda tomorrow.  Still though...QUACK QUACK NOGG!
              Amendment of German Foreign Trade Law – Stricter Regulations for Non-EU Investors?        

              Directly Traded collection from Geert Vercruysse        

    Belgian chocolatier Geert Vercruysse creates a unique collection of ganaches using directly traded chocolate, just in time for the birth of new industry organisation, Direct Cacao.

    The post Directly Traded collection from Geert Vercruysse appeared first on Seventy%.


              DR Congo launches its National Investment Plan for Agriculture. Is anyone listening?         

    At around 2.5 per cent of the national budget, DR Congo spends the least on agriculture of all its neighbors, a figure made more minuscule given the great untapped potential of its vast arable lands. For comparison, the Republic of Congo spends close to 14%, Zambia 10% and Ethiopia over 20%.

    Following the 2009 Maputo Accords, NEPAD initiated the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (or CAADP), a continent-wide compact to reduce poverty and hunger by increasing state investment in agriculture over a ten-year period, with two basic metrics: raise public ag spending to 10% of GDP and raise ag growth rates to 6% by 2020. Participating countries were encouraged to tailor their growth strategies and investment plans accordingly, and solicit the views of farmers' associations, civil society and the private sector for an inclusive national approach with popular support.

    DR Congo announced its National Investment Plan for Agriculture (PNIA) last month in Kinshasa, with great fanfare and expense. A total of $5,730m is budgeted, but only $857m had been committed (93% from donors, 7% from GDRC) by the closing ceremony. So where were the investors? In interviews and public pronouncements, government officials are confident that their chosen path, the PNIA, will attract foreign investment and will modernize and monetize Congo’s vast agricultural potential, thus transforming the lives of the country's rural poor, nearly all of whom are isolated, subsistence farmers.

    Outside of government, skepticism regarding the PNIA is high. The primary criticism from donors and the Congolese private sector accuses the GDRC of failing to commit to sweeping infrastructural renovation (communications, transport, electricity, etc) as the foundation of national economic growth, and instead shifting that burden onto the international firms it assumes are lining up to invest. Yet no foreign firm would consent to such a capital outlay given the country’s dismal business environment. Serious investors would expect to see government planning and budgets to this end, yet beyond the PNIA the GDRC has no comprehensive plan to address the country’s deeply eroded infrastructure (piecemeal donor projects are the norm), or resolve its regulatory morass and lack of legal protection for private enterprise.

    An even greater deterrent, the current Code Agricole stipulates that any private enterprise would require a 51% ownership stake by the GDRC. These terms are currently being revisited, but the compromise under discussion is 20% national ownership -- still untenable for obvious reasons, particularly given the country's long history of nationalization (viz., Zairianisation), expropriating private businesses, stripping assets and triggering massive capital flight. This legacy is still felt today among potential investors who see Congo as too risky (unpredictable and unstable), and in the Kabila administration's patrimonial, anti-entrepreneurial policies. 

    The other main deterrent for foreign investors is the cost of commerce itself which, after the endless hoops and ladders of business registration, is so high that local produce cannot compete with cheap imports. In the country’s urban centers, imported versions of Congo’s basic foodstuffs (palm oil, maize, beans, sugar, rice, and wheat flour) outnumber local varieties, except for cassava.  

    This wave of imported commodities began with a policy enacted in Mobutu's final years (1992-96, known as ‘Plan Mobutu’) as colonial infrastructure finally and irretrievably collapsed, interrupting the regular flow of local produce into Kinshasa and causing food prices to soar. Allowing cheap foodstuffs from outside to saturate the market was initially intended as a stopgap measure, but the challenge of infrastructure rehabilitation proved overwhelming and was postponed indefinitely. Now as then, local produce is uncompetitive because high transport costs and extortion rackets deter trade, production and investment. Specific to local farming, the impact of systematic rent-seeking on agricultural production and trade is another crippling deterrent to rural agricultural production and commerce. Detailed studies of these organized rackets abound, but have had no policy impact.


    Ambitious in vision and consistent with COMESA and AU policy frameworks, operationally the PNIA is unlikely to succeed. It is hostage to the government's general inability to address the country’s primary obstacles to economic growth—a chaotic business environment (legal protection, banking systems, transparent procedures/absence of corruption, and credit) and a very thin, highly unreliable infrastructure (power, transport, communications, etc). If in fact l'argent n'aime pas le bruit, then Congo's leaders need to concentrate on creating a law-abiding and responsive administration capable of reassuring investors that their entrepreneurism is welcome and respected.

              Seven Lessons of Sea Kayaking        

    I scurried around the banks of the Potomac River, burying canned food, clothing and jugs of water in the cargo hatches of my kayak. My launch down the US eastern seaboard was imminent, a journey I’d been preparing for over a year. Weight distribution was the preoccupation of the moment, as the lay of the ballast would determine my tracking ability. Fighting for a straight line over unfamiliar waters in the following weeks would waste time and drain my stamina.

    Dark cumulus crowded overhead, but a rainy departure didn’t bother me—a baptism of sorts and reminder that elemental immersion and climate exposure are a kayaker’s default mode. The East coast hurricane season was at its peak, and I’d be tracking storm developments on a weather radio. The draws of an autumn trip were cooler air temperatures and less solar intensity, with coastal waters retaining their summer warmth. The clouds of mosquitoes and biting flies would have thinned, the noisy summer beaches vacated. Raptors and Monarch butterflies had begun their southern migrations down the coast, and fauna would be fattening up for the winter—autumn is a time of preparation and epic distance. Deep winter with its quiet frozen landscape is my idea of perfection, but autumn offers clement temperatures, crisper air and favorable tradewinds for long distance kayaking. It was my final window before the big freeze.

    Read the rest of this story of my trip from near Washington DC to the Outer Banks here.



              New monkey species in Congo        
    Wonderful news from my friends John and Terese Hart, who've been working on the scientific literature behind this announcement for at least two years, with their own funding. As John points out in this Guardian article, this announcement will also hopefully draw attention to the precarity of all small range creatures in DRC, from the White Rhino (now extinct in the wild) to the Okapi.

    The bushmeat trade is widespread and the Congolese state lacks the means and will to combat poaching, whose growing militarization and network of international buyers were recently described in the New York Times (for which the Harts served as key sources).

    In the area where the Lesula was identified, the Harts are working with local authorities and villagers to demarcate a protected area, with negotiated access rights for specific uses. This work is hands-on, intensive and very political. Popular support is essential to its success. This work is also privately funded -- and your support is needed.

    I wrote a profile of the Harts and their work a couple years ago, back when the Lesula was still a zoological unknown. Their lifelong commitment to conservation in Congo, home of the last uncharted forests in Africa, is unmatched. In our cynical era we're expected to forego idols and heroes, but the Harts are doing incredibly important work in a country where conservation efforts and wildlife are constantly under attack.

    Please visit their website to learn more and consider donating. 

              The Power of Economic Inefficiency        
    I grew up in a time when long distance domestic phone calls from AT&T costed $0.20/minute off peak ($1.30 in today's dollars). I also grew up close to AT&T Bell Labs, a mecca that claimed more PhDs than any university many doing independent research. Now I get all the phone minutes I can use and Bell Labs is a tiny fraction of what it once was. Was it a good trade?

    Technology has helped eliminate many of the economic inefficiencies. Usually for the better but sometimes these inefficiencies has good side effects. For another example take airlines--we can now so easily compare airlines on price so they often compete on price at the cost of service. Don't even get me started on newspapers.

    Universities remain one of the institutions where technological change has not had the cost savings effect that we've seen in communication and transportation. That's one of the reasons that universities have become more expense. We can't keep raising tuition and being pushed to focus on eliminating inefficiencies, seeking new ways to deliver classes for example. Will the research university as we know it survive?
              Climate Change: The Evolution of the Deniers/Does Paul Ryan Hate His Grandchildren?        

    I went to the Mach for Science and then Drumpf pulled out of the Paris Accords. Causation or Correlation? I then posted about climate change (CC). That's caustation.

    1) Deniers:

      The deniers have gone through several phases:

    There is no CC

    There is CC but its not caused by humans.

    There is CC and its caused by humans but since China and India and other countries aren't doing anything about it, if only we do it will have no effect except to ruin our economy.
    (Counter argument: the effects of climate change are economically devastating- are insurance companies trying to pressure governments to do something about CC since CC's effects cause damage which hurts their bottom line?)

    Intermixed with these arguments have been:

    Just because 87% of all lung cancer victims  smoke, that's just a correlation. Maybe people the lung cancer gene is also the smoking gene. Correlation does not equal causation. OH, sorry, that's a flashback to the Correlation NOT causation arguments made by the Tobacco companies. Do they still believe that? Mike Pence does (see here). How can they stay in business? (here's how) ANYWAY, some are making the correlation NOT causation argument for why Polar bears are dying, etc.

    AND the classic

    Technology will bail us out. (This would be a better argument if it was followed by hence we will give lots of funding for such technology  which is NEVER what its followed by.)

    OKAY, so where are we in 2017?

    The economist had an argument about how Solar and Wind will soon be MORE cost effective than Oil and Gas- though we still have the problem of what happens on a cloudy, windless day- so we need technology to store (see here though its behind a pay wall). China and India ARE doing things about CC. How much? Effective? Hard to say- though both are really concerned with pollution.

    I predict the new argument will be:

    We're all doomed anyway so why take our economy down at the same time.

    Unfortunately this argument might be correct.

    (ADDED LATER- a commenter says that I conspicuously left out religious arguments to not do anything about CC.  I now conspicuously ask you to read his comment.)

    2) Take Paul Ryan. Please.
    Seriously-- I assume he KNOWS that CC really is a problem and the longer we put it off the worse it will be for his grandchildren, and perhaps his children. So why does he fight ANY attempt to even admit we HAVE a problem (And note there ARE some market-based solutions- a Carbon Tax, Cap and Trade.)  Some speculation

    a) Despite being smart he's in deep deep denial. Okay, but why is that? If you believe in small government then if something comes along that REQUIRES big government, you just DENY it since it does not fit into your world view.

    b) Paul Ryan hates his Grandchildren.

    c) Paul Ryan thinks that HIS grandchildren will be among the few people who survive and live in a VERY gated community. He's probably wrong about that as even those in gated communities will suffer the effects of CC.

    d) Paul Ryan is stuck. If he tries to do ANYTHING then it will not work AND he'll lose his speakership and possibly his seat in congress. And there are a large number of congressman and senators who feel the same way but they're all afraid to say. If they ALL said so then... they'd ALL lose their seat in congress. One of the downsides of politics is ending up STUCK on the WRONG side of history and KNOWING it. Well, at least there won't be much history left so he won't be stuck on the wrong side for long.

    3) Game Theory. I used to think that it was in NO countries SHORT term interest to do anything serious about CC (that is, do it alone) and hence we were all DOOMED! Doomed I say! And part of the problem is that if Country A emits greenhouse gases its bad for THE ENTIRE WORLD EQUALLY, and not for Country A in particular. But a few things make me more optimistic:

    Pollution is a here-and-now problem for China and India so they will tackle that. That somehow has to be part of the solution.

    Technology- as mentioned before Solar and Wind is catching up to Gas and Oil. (downside of technology- Fracking and oil extraction are also getting better and cheaper. Hubbert's Peak Oil Theory doesn't seem to be true) But the real advantage of Solar and Wind will be that you don't have to Extract and ship Oil (or Coal or whatever).

    4) I wrote that last positive point before President Drumpf. Having a CC denier in the white house means four more years of no action which sounds really bad- especially since the longer we put off doing something about the problem, the harder and more expensive it will be to slow down CC (Some ponders that Trump won't be that bad for the environment: here)

    5) Okay Bill, what would YOU do? Carbon Tax will give financial incentive for companies to curb Carbon emissions. And its simple. The Tax has to be high enough to have an effect. Another added bonus will be to help America pay down its deficit. ALSO more research into renewables. Oddly enough I would also recommend NOT forcing Gas to contain Ethanol- make Ethanol compete with Solar and Wind. (Recall that Ethanol is funded only because of the Iowa Caucus. If you don't know what I'm talking about, don't worry, its too stupid to explain.) Some may disagree and have other ideas. Thats FINE- I would rather be having a debate about what to DO about the problem rather than one about whether or not there IS a problem. Though even a debate about what to do about the problem should be SHORT so we can begin DOING something.


              My 10 Least Favorite Things About Living and Teaching in Korea        
    I've got a week left here in Korea before I go home to start grad school and say goodbye to the Sparkling Hermit Kingdom of Morning Calm for good. I've lived and taught here for two years, and it has been wonderful and terrible, glorious and excruciating, boring and exciting, eye opening and let-me-just-tune-out-the-world-and-watch-television-for-weeks-on-end.

    I thought I'd finish out the year with two last posts: my ten favorite things about living here and my ten least favorite things. So that we end on a positive note, here are ten things that I have found consistently, repeatedly, powerfully annoying.

    10. "Hello! Howareyou! Whereareyoufrom!" This is at the bottom of the list because in slightly modified form, it can actually be nice. When I pass an ajuma and her 4 year old granddaughter and the ajuma smiles and tells her granddaughter to say hello, it's really sweet. When I'm in the right mood, it can make me smile for a bunch of middle school girls to get over themselves and say hello and then giggle for fifteen seconds. But when I pass a group of college aged boys (or grown men!) across the street and one yells out "whereareyoufrom!" and the others start laughing uproariously, that's annoying.

    9. Auto exhaust. I like to run and I walk everywhere, so I spend a lot of time "with" cars, trucks and scooters. I don't know what it is that our exhaust tests in the states get off the road, but the majority of autos here put out a foul, noxious gas that I'm sure is just destroying my lungs. Of course the tractors and scooters are even worse.

    8. Sewers rising. Again, I don't know what they've done in the US to prevent the smells of sewers from rising into the streets, but they certainly haven't figured it out here. The national dish is kimchi -- rotting (er, sorry, fermenting) cabbage with garlic, fish sauce, shrimp paste and chilies. Unfortunately, that's what everyone shits and it smells even worse than you would imagine.

    7. Fan death and other insanity. A lot of Koreans (maybe a majority. really. even doctors.) think that if you sleep with a fan on in your room you will die. A lot of Koreans also think that Korea is the pinnacle of culture and accomplishment. Logic here is... to be culturally sensitive, I'll say different, though having studied symbolic logic, I feel pretty comfortable saying it's just either missing or gets beat out by antiquated cultural beliefs. Ignorance and delusion are everywhere.

    6. Logistical challenges. A lot of things are a lot harder in a foreign country. Often to buy something, I have to ask a Korean friend for help. I'm not going to miss feeling like a retarded four year old.

    5. Volume and style of speech. Korean men are much worse than the women on this, though plenty of women are plenty annoying as well. Fresh from the west, you would honestly think a discussion on where to go to lunch was a boiling blood feud. Koreans love to eat and drink outside (which I love), and there's a nice spot just below my apartment window (which I don't love). For hours on end two women will sit pouring soju (the Korean version of sake, except it's vile) for men talking and yelling and interrupting and gesticulating at volumes I thought impossible. No time of day or location is off limits for this manner of communication.

    4. Confucianism. Confucius mapped out social relationships to try to produce social harmony (the ultimate goal of Confucianism) in any situation. According to Confucianism, the younger, female or lower status should be deferential and obedient, which often seems more like meek and unquestioning. I think social harmony is an admiral goal, and I think deference and humility are lacking in westerners, but the rigid way Confucianism operates in modern Korea creates manifold problems. As my coteacher (a 31 year old woman) said when she learned we wouldn't be having a retirement party for our principal (a 64 year old man) because the government found out he has been stealing money from the school, "Why does he still have job? If I am stealing, I don't have job one more day!"

    3. The staring. Maybe now I know what it's like to be a gorgeous woman. No, not the same. I am stared at constantly. This was less true (though still common) in the big city, but in this rural little town, I'd say around half of the people I see on the streets just fix their gaze on me. I almost always look back, try to summon compassion and acknowledge them. Maybe one in ten gives me a nice smile and bows back (usually the older women), the rest look away until I've stopped looking at them, and then fix their stare right back on me. What really makes this hard is what's behind the stare:

    2. Xenophobia. Korea has long been called the Hermit Kingdom and with good reason. Throughout its existence, Korea has had to fight off domination from China and empires of the Japanese, Mongolians and others. Even in modern times, Korea has remained remarkably isolated. Besides the utter unfamiliarity with anything not-Korean, there is also a deep (and historically valid) antipathy toward foreigners. I once asked three wealthy, cosmopolitan middle school students from Busan if they would allow their children to marry foreigners and all three said absolutely not. I have received a tremendous amount of kindness and welcome from Koreans, but with a few notable exceptions, there is always an element of my being not quite the same, not quite human. What I'm about to write is completely unfair -- there are so many differences and what I have faced here doesn't even enter into the same arena -- but living here has given me emotional insight into what it must have been (and be) like to be black in many times and places in the United States.

    1. Missing events and holidays at home. All of the above end when I leave in a week. But one of my best friends got married this summer, and I missed two Christmases with my family, and those are gone forever. I wouldn't trade the experiences I've had for those that I missed, but without exception, the hardest days here have been the days I have most wanted to be home.


    What do you think waegookin seonsaengnim... what would you have included that I've left out?
              Igloo.com Partners with TLDtraders.com to Sell Notable Domain Portfolio        

    One of The World’s Largest Portfolios of Three-Letter .CO Domain Names Now For Sale

    (PRWeb March 31, 2015)

    Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/04/prweb12620777.htm


              Your Official 2010 Mets Preview Thread of Rock Bottom Expectations, Rogue Thyroid Glands, and RAGE RAGE RAGE        
    Because Rickey is wholly unable to discuss the New York Mets in commonplace prose format, we’re throwing this one up Q&A style, (now complete with superfluous cultural references!)

    So Rickey, I read that Vegas has the odds of the Yankees winning the 2010 World Series at a formidable 14/5 after the line opened at 3/1. Has anyone calculated the odds for the Mets?

    Uh, yeah, we’ll get Hank from accounting right on that little query… Dude’s not nearly miserable enough. Rickey heard that somebody actually tried to figure out the odds, but promptly committed seppuku when they learned that Luis “Meat Train” Castillo has another 734 games to go until he’s halfway through his contract as a New York Met.

    Well what do you calculate the Mets odds of winning the World Series to be?

    Haha, you’re cute. Rickey admires your doe-eyed tenacity. The odds are about as good as Mrs. Henderson successfully teaching Rickey how to correctly load the dishwasher. What? Why can’t Rickey place the dishes face down on the lower rack? The knives don’t get put in the utensil basket pointy end up? Wood objects don’t go in here? A thousand curses upon you and this infernal machine, you treacherous harpy!

    But you’re still going to attend a few games at CitiField, right?

    Let Rickey tell you a story. Last week, Rickey went into the office men’s room to relieve himself, opened an unlocked stall door, only to find a rather portly man (thankfully not a coworker) sitting on the john with no shirt on. Rickey bolted from the scene and has since avoided that bathroom like the plague. Why wouldn’t the door have been locked? Why did that rotund man feel the need to take his shirt off? What the hell? All Rickey knows is that there’s some seriously bad mojo going on in that bathroom and he hasn’t gone back in there since. The point of this story: Rickey feels pretty much the same way about venturing into CitiField this season. It’s like walking into what you thought was an unoccupied bathroom stall only to find a shirtless fat man sitting on the toilet.

    Aren’t you at least excited about the Jason Bay acquisition?

    Absolutely! And Rickey will be even more excited when he stubs his toe on opening day, blames his .198 batting average on that and sits out the second half of the 2010 season collecting millions of dollars!

    But we can still expect you to blog about the Mets from time to time, right?

    Uh, don’t count on it. Three years since the 2007 debacle, Rickey’s keen satirical eye has waned to tired exasperation. The challenge of mocking this team is gone. Want some amusement? You’re better off writing your own “Choose You Own Mets Adventure” book at this point. Turn to page 118 if Ike Davis gets traded for an injury plagued Orlando Hudson during the 2011 offseason! Turn to page 78 if Jose Reyes’ thyroid goes nuclear!

    What is Reyes’ deal anyway? Is he better now?

    Reports suggest that yes, his thyroid levels have normalized and he will be available for opening day. So that was an interesting little diversion. You know what’s fun? When a news story about the delightfully insane decision to place a shortstop with a .435 career slugging percentage third in the batting order actually gets dwarfed by an even more maddening news story about their thyroid acting up. But yes, Reyes is back, which is good, because as far as Rickey knows, the Mets’ two backup shortstops are Rey Ordonez and Corrado Soprano.

    What of Carlos Beltran? How’s he doing?

    More and more, his tenure as a New York Met resembles that of Rubin “The Hurricane” Carter’s jail stint. The poor guy is so terrified of the Mets’ medical staff that he had his own doctor perform knee surgery on his ailing leg. Not that Rickey doesn’t have the utmost of faith in the Civil War battlefield surgery level expertise of the Mets’ doctors… Ahem.

    So it’s safe to say that the Mets’ fanbase is a little disgruntled?

    Well yes, but that’s generally always the case. This year it’s just a little bit more pronounced. Also, it doesn’t help that 99.8% of Mets fans are completely out of their goddamned minds. It’s not unusual for call ins like this to transpire on Mike Francessa’s show on WFAN:

    “Hey Mike, tanks fuh takin' my cawl. What do you think of trading Beltran to da Cawdnuls for Wainwright and Pujols? I think it's a slam dunk fuh da Mets, why doesn't Omah make dat trade? I'm gonna hang up and listen to youah response.”

    Rickey’s always wondered, why do the WFAN callers always hang up so quickly? Those lunatics spend hours waiting on hold and then they hang up after spitting out 50 words of jibber jabber? Really?

    So what’s your final prediction for the 2010 season?

    If they make it over 76 wins, Rickey will be shocked. If they don't we've got the return of Bobby Valentine to look forward to. Now for that, Rickey will get excited.
              Trick Or Treat? First-Ever REO to Rental Securitization Deal Looks Spooky        
    It’s easy enough to see why the world’s largest private equity company, after spending close to $7.5 billion amassing a portfolio of 40,000 foreclosed single-family homes it intends to rent, wants to get money out of the “trade,” as Reuters calls the deal.
              Goldman Sachs: More Than A Travesty Of A Mockery Of A Sham        
    A look at the way Goldman sets up its trades.
              ZTE close to striking US deal over Iran sales        
    Reports claim the Chinese vendor is set to plead guilty to breaching strict US trade sanctions
              Solid Concepts to Show the Larger Side of 3D Printing at Pacific Design & Manufacturing 2014        

    Solid Concepts, a leader in custom manufacturing services, will be exhibiting applications not typically associated with 3D printing at MD&M West Pacific Design & Manufacturing tradeshow.

    (PRWeb January 21, 2014)

    Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/01/prweb11500686.htm


              The 'Mick Jagger' Of Art Auctions Shares Secrets From A High End Market        
    You may have seen the crazy amounts of money spent at high end art auctions: $81 million for a Mark Rothko, $179 million for a Picasso. Now, a new memoir called The Auctioneer dishes about the tycoons, rock stars and royalty who play in this high-priced game. Simon de Pury is an art world insider who has been called the "Mick Jagger" of auctions — he once even tried to compete with the two power houses, Christie's and Sotheby's. On a recent evening in New York, an army of waiters dressed in black buzz around tables of hundreds of young hipsters and older business-types. It's just the kind of crowd de Pury savors — a fundraiser for the New Museum in New York City. In his trademark, double-breasted suit, de Pury is known for bringing the rush of a sports event to the auction room. He's a theatrical, sophisticated salesman. As the bidding escalates, he points right, left, and center throughout the vast party room. He growls like a rock star when somebody ups the ante. At this particular
              La técnica de recolección de información mediante los grupos focales        
    Miguel Aigneren

    Artículo publicado en CEO, Revista Electrónica no. 7, http://huitoto.udea.edu.co/~ceo/

    ¿QUE SE ENTIENDE POR GRUPOS FOCALES?

    Hay muchas definiciones en la literatura especializada, sin embargo las principales están asociadas a la idea de grupos de discusión organizados alrededor de una temática. Todas ellas, de alguna manera, localizan metodológicamente hablando, el objeto y objetivos de los grupos focales en la contribución que hacen al conocimiento de lo social. En nuestro medio, esta metodología es asociada erróneamente a modalidades de talleres participativos, o a ciertas modalidades de interacción social al interior de grupos sociales.

    Korman define un grupo focal como: "una reunión de un grupo de individuos seleccionados por los investigadores para discutir y elaborar, desde la experiencia personal, una temática o hecho social que es objeto de investigación". Erróneamente, los grupos focales generalmente son considerados una modalidad de talleres participativos por lo cual es importante hacer una distinción entre ellos. Los talleres participativos implican la participación de un número de personas y el énfasis está puesto en el desarrollo de unas preguntas y unas respuestas entre los talleristas y los participantes. En cambio, los grupos focales requieren de procesos de interacción, discusión y elaboración de unos acuerdos dentro del grupo acerca de unas temáticas que son propuestas por el investigador. Por lo tanto el punto característico que distingue a los grupos focales es la participación dirigida y consciente y unas conclusiones producto de la interacción y elaboración de unos acuerdos entre los participantes.

    Robert Merton, en su artículo "La entrevista focalizada" define los parámetros para el desarrollo de grupos focales: "Hay que asegurar que los participantes tengan una experiencia específica u opinión sobre la temática o hecho de investigación; requiere de una guión de funcionamiento que reuna los principales tópicos a desarrollar – hipótesis o caracterizaciones - y que la experiencia subjetiva de los participantes sea explorada con relación a las hipótesis investigativas".

    Las entrevistas logradas mediante la estrategia de grupos focales tienen como propósito registrar cómo los participantes elaboran grupalmente su realidad y experiencia. Como todo acto comunicativo tiene siempre un contexto (cultural, social), entonces el investigador debe dar prioridad a la comprensión de esos contextos comunicativos y a sus diferentes modalidades. Esta modalidad de entrevista grupal es abierta y estructurada : generalmente toma la forma de una conversación grupal, en la cual el investigador plantea algunas temáticas - preguntas asociadas a algunos antecedentes que orientan la dirección de la misma, de acuerdo con los propósitos de la investigación. En este sentido, se diferencia de una conversación coloquial porque el investigador plantea, previamente las temáticas y, si es el caso, el tópico no se da por agotado retornando nuevamente una y otra vez ya que interesa captar en profundidad los diversos puntos de vista sobre el asunto discutido.

    Esto permite que la entrevista, bajo esta modalidad grupal, se convierta también un real intercambio de experiencias ya que habitualmente cuando un entrevistado percibe que su interlocutor tiene una experiencia o una vivencia similar o conocimientos sobre el tema reacciona positivamente; en síntesis, esta situación comunicacional retroalimenta su interés por el tema. La idea es que mediante esta estrategia, efectivamente se logre, la clave de una buena entrevista, la cual estriba en gran parte en que se pueda despertar-estimular un interés en el entrevistado sobre el tema.

    El desarrollo del grupo focal se inicia desde el momento mismo que se elabora un guión de temáticas-preguntas, o diferentes guías, según las condiciones y experiencias personales de los entrevistados; de esta manera se puede tener la posibilidad de efectuar una exploración sistemática aunque no cerrada. Las temáticas deben formularse en un lenguaje accesible al grupo de entrevistados y el orden o énfasis en las mismas pueden alterarse según la personas, las circunstancias y el contexto cultural. Si bien la estructuración de una entrevista puede variar, el investigador debe tener una posición activa, vale decir, debe estar alerta y perceptivo a la situación.

    De otra parte, es conveniente explicar suficiente y adecuadamente el propósito de la reunión, e insistir en la necesidad de que el participante utilice sus propios conocimientos, experiencias y lenguaje. Así mismo, se debe explicar el contenido y objetivos de cada una de las temáticas - preguntas. Se sugiere aclarar el sentido de tomar notas, grabar o filmar las intervenciones.

    Una buena sesión de trabajo debe generar una relación activa entre el equipo investigador representado por él que hace el papel de moderador y los participantes. Sabido es, que en el curso de la misma se pueden presentar diversos tipos de comportamientos, por ejemplo salir a luz actitudes y sentimientos (afectos, desafectos, prejuicios, hostilidad, simpatías, etc.) entre los interlocutores, fenómenos de transferencia o de contratransferencia entre los mismos. Unos y otros pueden influir considerablemente en los acuerdos que se buscan. Esta situación es prácticamente inevitable, pero bien manejada puede contribuir a conformar un clima favorable para lograr una mayor profundidad en la información.

    El moderador debe confrontar uno o varios de los participantes sobre un asunto previamente conocido, para explorar sobre cierto tipo de información o discutir en el grupo las posiciones de personas ajenas pero que tienen cierta representatividad o cuyas opiniones son dignas de tomar en cuenta.

    Esta modalidad de elaborar una información es la conocida como técnica de grupos focales que entre sus grandes logros permite una aproximación y discusión relativamente rápida y multidimensional de una temática. Por lo regular, un moderador conduce la discusión, mientras que otro que generalmente hace el papel de "relator" tomando atenta nota del comportamiento global del grupo, en términos de reacciones, actitudes, formas de comunicación no verbal, etc. En este caso, es posible que en el diálogo se teja una nueva versión que pueda contrastar con la que individualmente se presentaría al investigador.

    En síntesis, la investigación social que se apoya en la técnica de grupos focales requiere de la implementación de una metodología de talleres o reuniones con un grupo escogido de individuos con el objetivo de obtener información acerca de sus puntos de vista y experiencias sobre hechos, expectativas y conocimientos de un tema. Es un grupo de discusión teóricamente artificial que empieza y termina con la conversación, sostenida, o con la reunión. Estos grupos no son tal ni antes ni después de la discusión. Su existencia se reduce a la situación objeto del estudio, en efecto, realiza una tarea, Su dinámica, en ese sentido, se orienta a producir algo y existe por y para ese objetivo. El grupo instaura un espacio de "opinión grupal". En él, los participantes hacen uso del derecho de omitir opiniones que quedan reguladas en el intercambio grupal. Esto es lo esencial de su carácter artificial ya que el investigador los reúne y constituye como grupo. En un proyecto bien diseñado, un mínimo de una sesión con dos diversos grupos se recomienda. Esto elimina al sesgo, permitiendo comparaciones.

    ¿POR QUÉ UTILIZAR LAS TÉCNICAS DE GRUPOS FOCALES?

    El principal propósito de la técnica de grupos focales en la investigación social es lograr una información asociada a conocimientos, actitudes, sentimientos, creencias y experiencias que no serian posibles de obtener, con suficiente profundidad, mediante otras técnicas tradicionales tales como por ejemplo la observación, la entrevista personal o la encuesta social. Estas actitudes sentimientos y creencias pueden ser parcialmente independientes de un grupo o su contexto social, sin embargo son factibles de ser reveladas por medio de una interacción colectiva que puede ser lograda a través de un grupo focal. Comparada con la entrevista personal, la cual tiene como objetivo obtener información individualizada acerca de actitudes, creencias y sentimientos; los grupos focales permiten obtener múltiples opiniones y procesos emocionales dentro de un contexto social. Sin embargo, una de las ventajas de la entrevista personal, la de un mayor control sobre el informante, se convierte en desventaja para el investigador en un grupo focal, debido a que los participantes pueden tomar la iniciativa y la conducción de la discusión y ocultar esa opinión individual tan valiosa.

    Comparado con la técnica tradicional de la observación científica, un grupo focal permite al investigador obtener una información especifica y colectiva en un corto período de tiempo. Sabemos que la metodología de la observación tiende a depender mas del desarrollo de los acontecimientos, en cambio en el grupo focal el investigador recrea, genera o precipita una dinámica al desarrollar un guión de discusión a partir de las temáticas - preguntas. En este sentido los grupos focales no son naturales sino organizados.

    EL PAPEL DE LA TÉCNICA DE LOS GRUPOS FOCALES EN LA INVESTIGACIÓN

    Los grupos focales pueden ser usados en las etapas preliminares o exploratorias de un estudio, también son de gran utilidad para evaluar, desarrollar o complementar un aspecto específico de dicho estudio o también cuando se ha finalizado para evaluar su impacto o

    para producir nuevas líneas de investigación. Ellos pueden ser usados como una técnica específica de recolección de información o como complemento de otras especialmente en las técnicas de triangulación y validación.

    VENTAJAS Y DESVENTAJAS DE LA TÉCNICA DE GRUPOS FOCALES

    Korman, argumenta que la interacción social es una característica fundamental de los grupos focales ya que la dinámica creada entre los participantes permite resaltar y rescatar su concepción de su realidad, sus vivencias, su lenguaje cotidiano, sus valores y creencias acerca de la situación en que viven. La interacción también permite a los participantes preguntarse uno a otros y reconsiderar sus propios puntos de vista sobre sus experiencias específicas. Pero más que eso, consiste en traducir vivencias, experiencias, creencias y costumbres propias de una subcultura al lenguaje de una cultura total de la cual la primera forma parte.

    La principal ventaja de la investigación a través de los grupos focales es la de obtener una descripción global de los conocimientos, actitudes y comportamientos sociales de un colectivo social y la forma en que cada individuo es influenciado por otro en una situación de grupo.

    Otra ventaja es que permiten analizar y seleccionar la información de una manera tal que ayuda a los investigadores a encontrar cual es el asunto importante y cual no lo es, cuál es el discurso real y cual el ideal. Como resultado, la brecha existente entre lo que la gente dice y lo que hace puede ser mejor entendida. Sus múltiples comprensiones y significados son revelados por los participantes, en consecuencia las múltiples explicaciones de sus conductas y actitudes serán mas rápidamente reelaboradas y comprendidas por parte de los investigadores.

    La participación en un grupo focal tiene innumerables ventajas tanto desde el punto de vista cognitivo como desde lo psicológico. La oportunidad de ser parte de un proceso participativo, decisorio, de ser considerados como "conocedores" y la principal, ser parte del trabajo investigativo puede ser un elemento que favorece la autoestima y el desarrollo de un grupo. Si un grupo logra conformarse tanto en su parte funcional como social, podrá explorar interpretaciones y soluciones a problemas particulares que no podrían ser ni analizados ni solucionados por sujetos aislados, ya que individualmente puede ser muy intimatorio. Son extremadamente útiles, en situaciones cuando los participantes están comprometidos en algo que ellos creen importante pero que las condiciones objetivas no permiten, lo que facilita proceso de conciliación, de intereses comunes y búsqueda de soluciones negociadas.

    Los grupos focales son particularmente útiles para dirimir diferencias cuando existen fuertes discrepancias, por ejemplo, entre los participantes o beneficiarios y los planificadores o coordinadores de un programa; también lo son cuando es imposible prescindir del lenguaje cotidiano y la cultura de un grupo particular de interés para un estudio, e igualmente cuando se necesita explorar el nivel de consenso o de discenso en un contexto social dado.

    Tradicionalmente, la técnica de grupos focales, ha sido utilizada en estudios asociados con la medición de los niveles de satisfacción de usuarios, consumidores o clientes de servicios. En esta situación, los usuarios pueden convertirse en un medio institucionalizado para mejorar o cambiar los servicios. Por ejemplo, los pacientes de un servicio de salud fueron invitados a dar sus opiniones acerca de los servicios recibidos y a dar ideas de cómo mejorarlos. Posteriormente se hizo público que los cambios realizados eran resultado directo de las opiniones de los usuarios, lo cual generó una nueva y más amable atmósfera corporativa.

    Esta técnica es de gran ayuda en la fase exploratoria de generación de hipótesis en un estudio de mayor envergadura. La técnica de grupos focales es sin embargo, limitada en términos de su capacidad para generar resultados representativos principalmente porque el número de participantes es relativamente pequeño y no representativo.

    Aunque la técnica de los grupos focales tiene muchas ventajas, también tiene sus grandes limitaciones. Unas pueden ser evitadas mediante un cuidadoso trabajo de planificación y un habilidoso moderador, sin embargo, otras son inevitables y propias de esta técnica. El investigador en su rol de moderador en el grupo de discusión, por ejemplo, tiene menos control sobre la validez y confiabilidad de las conclusiones producidas que en otras técnicas de recolección de información. Es condición necesaria que el moderador deba crear un ambiente de comunicación entre los participantes que permita a los participantes hablar entre sí, hacer preguntas, expresar dudas y opiniones, el problema es como lograr, pese al limitado control sobre la interacción, mantener el hilo conductor sobre la temática y que la elaboración conceptual y operativa no sea desbordada por factores ideológicos, políticos o existenciales a los participantes interesados en la temática.

    Otra desventaja es que por su propia naturaleza la técnica de los grupos focales es de difícil planificación en lo que respecta a: el manejo del tiempo en el desarrollo de los tópicos a tratar y el logro de acuerdos o conclusiones colectivas representativas.

    Y, ya que estamos hablando de conclusiones colectivas, no se debería asumir que los individuos en un grupo focal estén expresando sus propios puntos de vista. Ellos están hablando en un contexto específico dentro de una cultura específica y por eso puede ser difícil para los investigadores identificar claramente cual es o no, el discurso individual y cual, el colectivo. Generalmente, las apreciaciones, opiniones y comportamientos sociales colectivos tienden a diferir de los individuales, es decir, surgen conflictos cuando se pretende identificar, diferenciar o especificar los puntos de vista individuales de los puntos de vista colectivos.

    Otra desventaja notoria está asociada con la organización y manejo de los grupos focales: El papel del coordinador o del moderador es esencial en esta técnica, pero lo que parece ser una ventaja en estos casos puede convertirse en una desventaja en otros, debido al gran peso que tiene su capacidad de liderazgo y de comunicación para coordinar y moderar exitosamente el accionar un grupo focal.

    EL MANEJO DE LA INFORMACIÓN

    La situación o "modus vivendi" de la discusión en grupos focales puede desmotivar a algunas personas a expresar una opinión, como por ejemplo, desconfiar en hacer publica una información que sea personal o "delicada o arriesgada". En tales casos, la estrategia sería combinarla con la entrevista personal o el uso de tarjetones o videos ilustrativos que permitan romper el hielo. Finalmente, la información que se maneja en los grupos focales si bien no es confidencial ni anónima ya que es compartida, generalmente puede ser contradictoria a la opinión individual (externa al grupo), por lo cual hay que resaltar que los acuerdos y conclusiones son colectivas y la responsabilidad de ellos es compartida grupalmente.

    Las consideraciones de tipo ético para el trabajo de los grupos focales son las mismas que para otras técnicas de investigación social. Por ejemplo, cuando seleccionamos y comprometemos a los participantes, los investigadores deben asegurar darles la mayor y real información acerca de los propósitos y usos de las conclusiones del estudio. Igualmente mantener a los participantes informados acerca de las expectativas del grupo investigador También se recomienda no presionar a los participantes a expresar obligadamente una opinión en un contexto que puede convertirse en algo peligroso para él. Un elemento importante de tipo ético que hay que considerar es el manejo de la información que se produce al interior del grupo de trabajo como la que resulta del análisis de los resultados, la cual debe ser mantenida como confidencial. Hay que tener en cuenta que cada uno de los participantes puede llegar a conclusiones que en un contexto externo al grupo pueden ser conflictivas o peligrosas para él o el resto de los participantes. Al comienzo de cada taller el moderador deberá clarificar que la contribución u opinión de cada uno de los participantes desde el momento en que es compartida con el resto del grupo, se convierte en una opinión colectiva así haya sido expresada en término personales. Es por eso que los participantes deben ser motivados a mantener la confidencialidad de lo que ellos escuchan durante el taller al igual los investigadores tienen la gran responsabilidad de mantener el anonimato y confidencialidad de lo expresado por los participantes.


    ETAPAS DEL PROCESO OPERATIVO DE UN GRUPO FOCAL


    1. DEFINICION DE LOS OBJETIVOS

    Como primer paso, se requiere de una definición específica de los objetivos del estudio, para que desde allí, se planteen:

    Un guión de desarrollo del Taller.

    La guía de temáticas - preguntas a desarrollar en el Taller.

    2. ESTABLECER UN CRONOGRAMA

    La programación y desarrollo de un grupo focal no se debe improvisar. Se sugiere comenzar a planear con antelación (cuatro o seis semanas). Con toda probabilidad, tomará por lo menos ese tiempo para identificar, analizar, formular y evaluar el problema de investigación; definir un marco de referencia teórico – metodológico; identificar, seleccionar y comprometer a los participantes. Localizar un sitio adecuado. Igualmente, diseñar y conseguir los materiales de ayuda para las sesiones, etcétera.

    A continuación, se muestra un listado de las etapas de un cronograma típico:

    1. Planteamiento del objeto y objetivos del estudio. 4 - 6 semanas antes de la fecha de la sesión de taller.
    2. Identificación y selección de los participantes 4 - 6 semanas
    3. Análisis de la información sobre los participantes 4 - 6 semanas
    4. Seleccionar un o moderador(es) 4 - 5 semanas
    5. Diseño de la Guía de Discusión temáticas - preguntas 4 - 5 semanas
    6. Desarrollar y validar una estrategia de taller a través de las técnicas de dinámica grupal. 4 semanas
    7. Reservar y preparar el sitio donde se van a realizar los talleres 4 semanas.
    8. Invitar, comprometer personal o institucionalmente a los participantes, mediante invitaciones escritas o verbales 3 - 4 semanas
    9. Verificar la asistencia y compromiso por otros medios tales como llamadas telefónicas o confirmaciones indirectas (Terceros) 2 semanas
    10. Organizar la adecuación del sitio y la logística de la reunión (Número y tipo de asientos, equipos, refrigerios, etc.) 1 semana
    11. Ultima invitación a los participantes 2 días
    12. Organizar los materiales didácticos u operativos que se van a utilizar en el Taller 2 días
    13. Desarrollo del Taller: Inducción, conducción, y discusión grupal.
    14. Clausura del Taller: Presentación de las conclusiones y acuerdos; entrega de un certificado.
    15. Proceso de validación de las relatorías, acuerdos y resultados por parte del equipo investigador
    16. Informe final.

    3. EL PROCESO DE DECIDIR QUIÉN SERÁ INVITADO:

    Al desarrollar la guía de la discusión es necesario identificar quién participará en las sesiones de trabajo grupal. Esto proporcionará a una indicación de cuanto es el número más adecuado los participantes. Un número adecuado está entre 6 a 12 participantes por sesión.

    El número de participantes por la sesión está determinado por el número potencial de participantes. Hay que establecer una población de participantes potenciales. Una vez que el número de participantes se haya determinado, es necesario establecer una población de participantes reales. Una estrategia es realizar un sondeo sobre posibles participantes. Existen varias ventajas al conformar estos grupos potenciales, por medio de un sondeo exploratorio. Este proveerá información general sobre los encuestados lo que permitirá una mejor selección y un conocimiento sobre disposición a colaborar o a participar. Esta metodología de seleccionar a los participantes ayuda ahorrar mucho tiempo en la selección final ya que a priori se sabrá si la gente esta disponible o no.

    De acuerdo a los objetivos del estudio desarrolle una lista de los atributos o características predominantes o principales para seleccionar a los participantes y de acuerdo a esos atributos haga una primera selección.

    Hay que asumir que algunos de los invitados no aparecerán, por esta razón, se recomienda seleccionar además una población de reemplazo (10 % de los invitados originales). Es posible, entones que debido a las ausencias de última hora, el grupo quede finalmente conformado por 9 o 10 personas. Lo cual lleva a considerar algunos mecanismos que faciliten la asistencia tales como lugares adecuados y bien situados, también se recomienda atraer a los participantes comprometiéndolos a través de terceros.

    Se sugiere que una vez seleccionados los participantes, estos sean invitados oficialmente, reiterándoles el objeto y los objetivos del estudio, la metodología de trabajo a seguir, su papel e incentivos por su participación.

    Con respecto a la selección de participantes de un grupo focal: no es fácil identificar el grupo de participantes más indicado, por ejemplo, si el grupo es demasiado heterogéneo en términos de edad o estrato o en términos de oficio o posición ocupacional, las diferencias entre participantes pueden provocar un impacto considerable en sus contribuciones. Alternativamente si el grupo es homogéneo con respecto a unas características específicas puede suceder que las diversas opiniones y experiencias no sean reveladas al no generar o provocar al interior del grupo una atmósfera de contradicción. Los participantes necesitan sentirse en confianza unos con otros reunirse con otros de los cuales ellos piensan que tienen similares características o niveles de conocimiento sobre determinado tema será mas atractivo pero improductivo. Es posible reunirse con aquellos que son percibidos como contradictores pero con un interés global compartido que permita una mayor riqueza de los resultados. Refinar el listado de invitados potenciales buscando "características comunes " o de "homogeneidad y de heterogeneidad" en los participantes potenciales.

    Una vez que se ha decidido el tipo de participantes que a van integrar el grupo el siguiente paso es conseguirlos. El reclutamiento de participantes puede demandar mucho tiempo especialmente si la temática a trabajar en el taller no tiene beneficios inmediatos o no es del gusto de los participantes. Es preferible que estas personas con intereses específicos sean reclutadas a través de informantes claves o a través de las redes sociales existentes (religiosas, educativas y económicas). También es sabido que el éxito del desarrollo de estos talleres está muchas veces asociado a algunos beneficios inmediatos que se les pueden ofrecer a los participantes.

    Los individuos que participan en una sesión de la discusión deben ser compensados por su participación. Al entrar en contacto con los participantes potenciales se recomienda utilizar un incentivo para animar o para persuadir a un individuo a que participe en una sesión de la discusión. Esto a menudo facilita la interacción dada la tensión creada por la conformación del grupo focal y hace a los participantes más abiertos a discutir el asunto.

    4. DISEÑO DE LA GUÍA DE TEMÁTICAS-PREGUNTAS

    Cuándo se está organizando la guía de discusión en el grupo focal hay que tener en cuenta varias consideraciones básicas: ¿Cuáles son las dimensiones del estudio? ¿Qué preguntas serán hechas?, ¿Quién participará?, y ¿Quién conducirá las sesiones?

    La guía de la discusión contiene las temáticas - preguntas que serán presentadas a los participantes durante las sesiones de discusión. No más 5 o seis temáticas - preguntas se deben utilizar para el trabajo en grupo. Hay dos elementos que deben ser considerados al bosquejar el guía. Primero, es necesario no olvidar quienes son sus invitados y en segundo lugar, qué tipo de información es la que usted desea obtener. Segundo, se recomienda, a partir de una lluvia de ideas, diseñar una matriz de dimensiones – temáticas – preguntas potenciales y proceder a seleccionar las definitivas a partir de una prueba piloto preliminar. Una vez que se tiene una lista de preguntas, trate de evaluar la concordancia de ellas con los objetivos del estudio otra vez. ¿Cuáles no se deben aplicar? ¿Cuáles son realmente importantes?

    No se debe olvidar que la capacidad de cooperación de los integrantes de un grupo focal no dura más allá de una o dos horas. En consecuencia, solo se dispondrá de tiempo para cinco o seis temáticas preguntas. Esto no es mucho, especialmente cuando usted considera que hay realmente dos clases de preguntas: preguntas introductoria o del calentamiento y preguntas que apuntan a obtener las respuestas de fondo del estudio. Puesto que las primeras dos preguntas son generalmente una inducción sobre la temática, esto le deja tres o cuatro o cinco preguntas para sondear sobre lo que se está investigando.

    Al desarrollar las preguntas, tenga presente que todos los grupos de discusión deben seguir la misma guía de discusión. Una pregunta por ejemplo "¿A quién beneficia el SISBEN?", podría recibir diversas respuestas dependiendo de sí los participantes son beneficiarios, o no beneficiarios. Usando un formato común, permitirá al analista hacer comparaciones entre las respuestas de los varios grupos.

    La secuencia y el tono de las preguntas son tan significativo como las preguntas mismas. Deben ser no solo concretas sino también estimulantes, las preguntas que se plantearán en el grupo focal deben ser ampliables y en lo posible hay que llevar la discusión de lo más general a lo específico.

    A continuación se sugiere, volver al listado de participantes posibles y preguntarse: ¿Qué preguntas podrían contestar? Se sugiere eliminar tantas preguntas como sea posible. Si la estrategia de formulación de las preguntas se hace a partir de "una lluvia de ideas" del grupo de estudio o de personal asociado, haga que cada uno seleccione, por ejemplo, las cinco preguntas más pertinente del total. Una vez que se hayan seleccionado las cinco o seis preguntas mas adecuadas y pertinentes, proceda a posicionar las preguntas en una secuencia que sea cómoda para los participantes, moviéndose desde lo general a lo específico, de lo más fácil a lo más difícil, y de lo positivo a lo negativo.

    Antes de usar las preguntas en una sesión real del grupo focal, realice una prueba piloto. Evalúe, con un grupo externo, su confiabilidad, es decir, si las respuestas logran la información que usted necesita. ¿Si son validas?, es decir, si en mediciones sucesivas, preguntan lo que se quiere preguntar y obtiene respuestas relativamente similares. Hay que averiguar si todos entienden de igual forma la pregunta etc.

    Según los públicos, la complejidad del tema y objetivos del estudio se pueden considerar la idea de enviarle previamente a los participantes un resumen introductorio sobre lo que se va a tratar en la reunión de trabajo.

    5. DESARROLLAR UN GUIÓN DE DESARROLLO DEL TRABAJO DE TALLER

    Se recomienda diseñar un plan operativo estandarizado que abarque todas las posibles etapas del taller. Esto tiene muchas ventajas desde el punto de vista funcional, por ejemplo, asegura que cada grupo focal se desarrollará con idéntica metodología haciendo los resultados más confiables. Además, este guión le ayudará al moderador o coordinador a manejar el problema del tiempo y especialmente si él es externo al proceso (un moderador profesional).

    5.1. LA LOGÍSTICA DE LAS REUNIONES DE LOS GRUPOS FOCALES:

    El guión de organización del Taller

    La guía de temáticas - preguntas

    Listado de Participantes

    Equipos de sonido, grabación y video

    Tarjetas de identificación o escarapelas

    Libreta de notas, lápices, marcadores

    Papelografos, papel y fichas

    5.2. Hay que planear el desarrollo del taller en un marco de tiempo no mayor a dos horas. Un mínimo de una hora se recomienda porque el proceso requiere un cierto tiempo para las observaciones de la apertura y de cierre del taller, al igual tener en cuenta por lo menos una o dos preguntas introductorias o de inducción. Se sugiere no exceder más de dos horas de duración. Después de este tiempo, tanto los participantes como el moderador comenzarán a "distraerse"; y es muy posible que las preguntas y la discusión subsecuente pierdan su importancia. La capacidad de concentración de un adulto es alrededor de 20 minutos, lo cual sugiere que no se debe gastar mas allá de 20 minutos por temática - pregunta

    5.3. Con respecto al lugar de reunión se recomiendan sitios o lugares "neutrales" que no sean asociados con los promotores ni con los sujetos del conflicto o con la situación problema de discusión. En síntesis, las reuniones de los grupos focales si bien pueden ser realizadas en diversos lugares, por ejemplo, en hogares, salones comunales o donde los participantes desarrollan sus reuniones regulares se recomienda utilizar espacios institucionales incluso, se sugiere utilizar aquellos geográficamente ajenos.

    Se recomienda que en el salón de reunión los participantes, en lo posible, rodeen al moderador (configuración en U). Si el equipo de investigadores esta presente en el salón se debe tratar que estos no interfieran y que su presencia sea lo más discreta posible.

    5.4. Equipos de audiovisuales: El equipo de investigación debe determinar cuales son más apropiados para facilitar la sesión de trabajo. Esto definirá si se requiere de grabadora, videocinta, o simplemente a las notas de la relatorías. Generalmente, las sesiones de discusión son grabadas. Grabar permite que el equipo de investigación recupere fácilmente los aportes más importantes y los comentarios que fueron hechos durante la discusión. Y registrar la información lo más exacta. Si la sesión de trabajo va a ser grabada en equipos de audio o video se recomienda que estos sean instalados y probados anteriormente. Su presencia debe ser igualmente discreta. Se debe determinar previamente qué equipos de ayudas audiovisuales son necesarios.

    Se recomienda, primero grabar las sesiones y segundo tener un aparato de televisión para presentar algún tipo de video que ayude a la dinámica grupal de la discusión. Si las notas son tomadas por el equipo de investigación durante la sesión, éstas también facilitarán el desarrollo del informe final para el grupo focal.

    5.5. Refrigerios: si se van a ofrecer, en un horario determinado estos deberán ser colocado en un salón diferente.

    5.6. Otras recomendaciones: escarapelas de identificación, de un tamaño tal, que permitan al moderador identificar fácilmente al participante.

    6. SELECCIÓN DEL MODERADOR

    Un elemento que distingue a los grupos focales de la técnica de la entrevista científica o de la encuesta social es que requieren de un Moderador con una cierta habilidad para desarrollarlos. Es necesario contar con alguien con un conocimiento y manejo de dinámica del grupo y un conocimiento sobre la problemática. En síntesis, un Moderador del grupo focal debe poder ocuparse no solo de mantener a los miembros del grupo atentos y concentrados, sino también mantener el hilo central de la discusión, y cerciorarse que cada participante participe activamente.

    El Moderador puede ser un miembro del equipo de investigación, o un profesional especializado en el manejo de taller. También se puede utilizar un equipo de dos personas, donde una persona modera la discusión y la otra lleva la relatoría o hace un trabajo de observación del comportamiento asociado de los asistentes. Se recomienda, en el caso de organizaciones complejas, considerar las características tanto personales como profesionales del Moderador para hacer más fácil la discusión grupal. Por ejemplo, un Moderador que venga de fuera de la organización puede verse como más objetivo y puede obtener respuestas más válidas y confiables de los participantes.

    EL ROL DE MODERADOR DE LOS TALLERES

    Una vez que la reunión ha sido organizada el papel del moderador o facilitador se convierte en algo esencial especialmente en términos de dar explicaciones claras sobre los propósitos del taller, ayudar a la gente a sentirse en confianza y especialmente, en facilitar la integración entre los miembros del grupo. Durante la reunión el moderador deberá promover el debate planteando preguntas que estimulen la participación demandando y desafiando a los participantes con el objetivo de sacar a flote las diferencias y contradecir las diferentes opiniones que surgen sobre el tema en discusión. Algunas veces los moderadores necesitarán llevar la discusión a los pequeños detalles o si es el caso impulsar la discusión hacia temas más generales cuando está ha alcanzado un rumbo equivocado o ambiguo. El moderador también debe mantener a los participantes atentos al tema en discusión, y es posible que en ciertas circunstancias él deba conducir la conversación hacia sus orígenes con el objetivo de reordenarla. El moderador también deberá de asegurarse que cada uno de los participantes tenga la oportunidad de expresar sus opiniones. En su papel de moderador se recomienda que no muestre preferencias o rechazos que influencien a los participantes a una opinión determinada o a una posición en particular.

    El rol del moderador es vital en el trabajo de taller y no solo requiere tener habilidades de comunicación sino también ciertas calidades personales tales como, saber escuchar asociado a tener una capacidad de adaptación y sentido común, todo lo anterior facilitará un dialogo abierto y confidente al interior del grupo.

    Finalmente, el grado de control y dirección impuesto por el moderador dependerá tanto de los objetivos del estudio como de su estilo. Si uno o más moderadores están comprometidos en un trabajo de taller con un grupo focal es necesario que exista una sola línea de conducción. Se recomienda que un moderador haga el papel de coordinador principal y que los otros hagan el papel de facilitadores o talleristas durante la reunión todo lo anterior hace necesario que exista una cuidadosa preparación con vista a definir los roles y responsabilidades de cada uno de los miembros del equipo de moderadores.

    7. LA SELECCIÓN DEL SITIO DE LA REUNIÓN

    Al elegir un sitio se recomienda tener en cuenta los siguientes criterios:

    El sitio debe ser lo más "neutro" posible con respecto a los participantes. Si no se logra acceder a un lugar que reúna tal característica la sesión de taller se puede realizar en un lugar de reunión usual del grupo.

    Las características físicas y ornamentales del salón deben crear la sensación de cooperación y familiaridad. El salón debe acomodar cómodamente de seis a quince participantes y permitir una relación "cara a cara" entre los participantes (una configuración en U). Hay que insistir en la accesibilidad al salón (considere la facilidad de acceso para la gente con inhabilidades, la seguridad, facilidad de transporte, el estacionamiento, etc.)

    8. MODERACIÓN DE UNA SESIÓN DE DISCUSIÓN


    1. El moderador debe ser una persona con el suficiente conocimiento del tema y experiencia en le manejo de grupos, de tal manera, que pueda conducir la discusión hacia los objetivos preestablecidos.
    2. Si es posible conseguir un moderador con conocimiento y experiencia en el tema se le sugiere tener en cuenta las siguientes recomendaciones:

    * Mantener el control de la discusión –que no se atrasen ni se adelanten los participantes
    * Tratar de mantener la discusión en un tono informal, incentivando a los participantes que digan lo que les viene a la cabeza.
    * Recordar que el moderador es un conductor que tiene el objetivo principal de lograr una información lo más confiable y válida.
    * La duración de los talleres: se recomienda que las sesiones de discusión no superen los 120 minutos.
    * Ser neutral: Una de las ventajas de una persona ajena tal grupo de interés es que este teóricamente no este involucrada en la problemática y cuales serían las soluciones posibles. Cualquier comentario o respuesta del moderador influenciaría a los participantes.
    * No permitir que el moderador sea interrogado. Recuerde que el principal objetivo de la sesión de trabajo es reunir información sobre qué y cuanto sabe el grupo sobre la
    * El papel del moderador no es el de informar o convencer al grupo sobre tal o cual situación o producto, su papel es el conductor de un grupo de discusión.

    El manejo y conducción de un grupo focal debe hacerse de acuerdo al "guión" previamente diseñado. Tanto el Moderador como los relatores o personal de ayuda debe organizar previamente el lugar, el material de trabajo y las tarjetas de identificación. Una vez que el grupo esta reunido, el Moderador deberá comenzar dando la bienvenida al grupo teniendo siempre en cuenta que debe combinar una metodología de trabajo de conducción de grupos aplicando en lo posible algunas herramientas de dinámica grupal. Al respecto tradicionalmente se recomienda

    LA DINÁMICA FUNCIONAL DEL GRUPO FOCAL COMPRENDE:

    1. La apertura: es el tiempo para que el moderador dé la bienvenida al grupo, de introducir el tema y sus objetivos y explicitar el papel del grupo focal, de explicar qué es un grupo focal y cómo funcionará.

    Defina cual es el objeto y objetivo de la reunión. Ponga en claro desde un comienzo quién dirigirá la discusión, cual será la metodología a seguir y lo más importante trate que los participantes se sientan importantes y cómodos con la temática.

    Asegúrese que cada participante sea visible, escuche y sea escuchado perfectamente (distribúyalos en una configuración en U.)

    2. La segunda etapa, planteará (a través de alguna estrategia preestablecida y probada) las temáticas "preguntas" que son el objeto del estudio.

    Se recomienda considerar si la presencia de algunos observadores externos, puede inhibir a los participantes.

    Evitar las respuestas ambiguas, las socialmente aceptables o las "muy abiertas". Hay que tratar que sean especificas a la pregunta y lo más exhaustivas y excluyentes posibles y mantener un cuidadoso control sobre el tiempo de desarrollo del Taller.

    3. La sección de Cierre: no solo debe incluir el llegar a un consenso en las conclusiones finales sino también la parte formal que incluye el agradecimiento a los participantes, insistiendo no solo de la importancia de su participación sino también en la forma cómo los datos serán utilizados.

    10. INTERPRETACIÓN DE LOS ACUERDOS Y EL INFORME FINAL.

    Se recomiendan tres etapas para redactar un informe final de las conclusiones del grupo focal:

    1. Resumir inmediatamente la discusión y acuerdos de la reunión. Es más fácil reconstruir lo sucedido inmediatamente. El Moderador deberá reconstruir con alguno de los participantes los acuerdos de mayor trascendencia al igual los detalles que pueden ayudar a enriquecer el informe final.

    2. Transcribir las notas de la relatoría o grabaciones inmediatamente se terminó la sesión de Taller. Lo anterior permitirá que se reconstruya no solo la atmósfera de la reunión sino también lo tratado. Analice las relatorías: comience por leer todos los resúmenes o relatorías, analizando las actitudes y opiniones que aparecen reiteradamente o comentarios sorpresivos, conceptos o vocablos que generaron algunas reacciones positivas o negativas de los participantes, etc.

    LA REDACCIÓN DEL INFORME FINAL

    Este documento debe incluir no solo los aspectos formales del estudio: planteamiento del problema, objetivos, estrategia metodológica y técnica sino también detalles acerca de la configuración del grupo focal, desarrollo de las sesiones de taller, resultados y conclusiones finales.

    Debe incluir los siguientes aspectos

    1. Planteamiento del problema, antecedentes y objetivos.

    2. Ficha técnica: temática, objetivos, moderador, participantes – características del grupo, criterios de selección- guía de temáticas – preguntas.

    3. Conclusiones y recomendaciones. Se sugiere presentar los hallazgos como respuestas a la hipótesis- preguntas llevadas a la sesión de trabajo.

    11. TRADUCIR LOS ACUERDOS EN ACCIÓN

    La mayor y más recurrente critica que se hace al uso de los grupos focales se expresa en dos áreas: Por un lado, se insiste que se olvida la premisa que la comunidad o grupo participante debe participar de la retroalimentación de los resultados obtenidos. Y, segundo, la incapacidad de aplicar los resultados a los objetivos por los cuales originalmente fueron convocados.

    Al respecto, caben algunas sugerencias operativas para traducir los resultados en planes y programas de acción:

    * Programar una reunión para revisar los resultados y discutir sus implicaciones.
    * Contextualizar la información lograda a partir de los objetivos. No olvidar de analizar las respuestas y aportes que el grupo focal produjo. Comparar, contrastar y combinar la información obtenida con otra lograda por otros medios tales como encuestas, entrevistas u observaciones o información secundaria.
    * Resaltar los temas, sucesos y preguntas principales que afloraron en la discusión al interior del grupo focal. En esta etapa es conveniente clasificar estos aportes de acuerdo a unos criterios o códigos preestablecidos.
    * Si la información es demasiada y compleja, se hace necesario definir unos criterios de prioridad y clasificación. Luego hay que decidir que acción será necesario tomar con relación a los temas prioritarios, por ejemplo, compartir la información con personas que alguna relación tengan con políticas comunitarias y con ellos decidir lo que es pertinente o no.

    CONCLUSIONES

    Hay que recordar que uno de los mayores beneficios de la estrategia de grupos focales es el hecho de la participación y compromiso de las personas en la problemática en estudio. Esta relación deberá ser permanente desde el momento que fue establecida; es recomendable informarlos desde el planteamiento del problema, la ficha técnica del estudio y mantenerlos informados sobre los procesos y resultados obtenidos y si es el caso, el uso que se le dará a la información obtenida.

    En la práctica los grupos focales pueden ser difíciles de organizar. De hecho no es fácil obtener una población o grupo representativo. El trabajo de los grupos focales puede motivar a cierto tipo de personas para participar, por ejemplo aquellos que tienen un gran espíritu de colaboración pero no tienen mucho conocimiento o práctica sobre el tema o aquellos que tienen problemas de comunicación o limitaciones o los que participan per se. (los llamados lideres históricos o profesionales). La organización de formas participativas a través de los grupos focales usualmente requiere más planificación que en otros tipos de participación.

    El número recomendado de personas por grupo puede variar entre seis y doce personas, aunque algunos grupos han trabajado exitosamente hasta con quince. El número de sesiones de trabajo de grupo puede variar de acuerdo a la temática, los objetivos del estudio o las circunstancias. En algunos estudios ha bastado con una reunión, en otros, según el tema han requerido de un número mayor. En relación con el tiempo necesario para desarrollar los talleres las cifras van de una a dos horas de duración.

    Como estrategia de recolección de información, los grupos focales permiten "sistematizar" una información acerca de unos conocimientos, unas actitudes y unas practicas sociales que difícilmente serían obtenidas a través de otras técnicas tradicionales. En otras palabras, creemos que los procesos sociales existen no solo en la mente sino también en el mundo objetivo y que hay algunas relaciones estables a descubrir entre ellos. Así, a diferencia de algunas escuelas de la fenomenología, consideramos importante desarrollar un conjunto de metodologías y técnicas válidas y verificables para aprehender esas relaciones sociales y sus determinaciones. Deseamos interpretar y explicar esos procesos y tener confianza en que otros investigadores, usando los mismos procedimientos llegarán a conclusiones análogas.

    Metodológicamente nuestra insistencia por el uso de un marco teórico metodológico estandarizado está dirigida a intentar superar aquel casi mágico enfoque del análisis de datos cualitativos según el cual éste es idiosincrático, incomunicable y artístico y que solo aquellos que han sido totalmente socializados en su práctica están autorizados para pronunciarse sobre ese enfoque. Tal posición - nos parece a nosotros - en gran medida, una mistificación"

    En síntesis este artículo bosqueja las principales características de la técnica de grupos focales poniendo particular atención en los beneficios de la interacción social y en la dinámica de grupos, como procesos de recolección de información primaria. Es posible que algunas de las consideraciones expuestas anteriormente sobre configuración de los grupos, tiempo, lugar y características de los participantes muestren a esta técnica como de difícil realización, sin embargo, aquellos que la han utilizado en forma combinada o complementaria con la técnica de la encuesta social la han clasificado de gran utilidad. Sin lugar a dudas, pueden convertirse en una valiosa herramienta para el tratamiento de problemáticas en ciertos ambientes sociales ya que otras metodologías de investigación no permitirían un mayor acercamiento a la expresión de conocimientos, actitudes y comportamientos sociales.

    BIBLIOGRAFÍA

    Flores J.G. and Alonso C.G. ‘Using focus groups in educational research’, Evaluation Review 19 (1): 84-101. Sociology at Surrey, 1995

    Galeano, Eumelia, et al. Curso Especializado en la Modalidad a Distancia sobre Investigación en las Ciencias Sociales, Modulo 5, La Investigación Cualitativa, Teoría. Medellín, ICFES, INER, Universidad de Antioquia. 1993.

    Gibbs, Anita. Focus Group. Social Research Update. Nineteen. Sociology at Surrey, 1997

    Hoppe M.J., Wells E.A., Morrison D.M., Gilmore M.R., Wilsdon A. ‘Using focus groups to discuss sensitive topics with children, Evaluation Review 19 (1): 102-14. 1995

    Kitzinger J. ‘Introducing focus groups’, British Medical Journal 311: 299-302. 1995

    Kitzinger J. "The methodology of focus groups: the importance of interaction between research participants", Sociology of Health 16(1): 103-21. 1994

    Kreuger R.A. Focus groups: a practical guide for applied research. London: Sage. 1988

    Merton R.K., Kendall P.L "The focused Interview", American Journal of Sociology 51: 541-557. New York, 1946

    Lankshear A.J. ‘The use of focus groups in a study of attitudes to student nurse assessment’, Journal of Advanced Nursing 18: 1986-89. 1993

    Pineda, Roberto, El Método Etnográfico, Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias Sociales. Universidad de los Andes. Modulo 5, La Investigación Cualitativa, Teoría. Medellín, ICFES, INER, Universidad de Antioquia. 1993.

    MacIntosh J. ‘Focus groups in distance nursing education’, Journal of Advanced Nursing 18: 1981-85. Londres. Sage, 1981

    Merton R.K., Kendall P.L. ‘The Focused Interview’, American Journal of Sociology 51, 541-557. New York, 1946

    Morgan D.L. Focus groups as qualitative research. Londres, 2nd Edition, Sage. 1997

    Morgan D.L. and Spanish M.T. ‘Focus groups: a new tool for qualitative research’, Qualitative Sociology 7: 253-70. Londres, 1984

    Morgan D.L. and Kreuger R.A. ‘When to use focus groups and why’ in Morgan D.L. (Ed.) Successful Focus Groups. London: Sage. 1993

    Powell R.A. and Single H.M. ‘Focus groups’, International Journal of Quality in Health Care 8 (5): 499-504. Surrey: 1996.

    Powell R.A., Single H.M., Lloyd K.R. ‘Focus groups in mental health research: enhancing the validity of user and provider questionnaires’, International Journal of Social Psychology 42 (3): 193-206. Stony Brook at New York: 1996

    Race K.E., Hotch D.F., Parker T. ‘Rehabilitation program evaluation: use of focus groups to empower clients, Evaluation Review 18 (6): 730-40. Stony Brook . Nueva York, 1994

    Stewart D.W. and Shamdasani P.N. Focus groups: theory and practice. London: Sage. 1992

    White G.E. and Thomson A.N. ‘Anonymized focus groups as a research tool for health professionals’, Qualitative Health Research 5.(2): 256-61. NYU, New York, 1995

              New York City Love II        
    Was ich an New York so liebe? Hmm... schwer zu sagen. Da gibt es so viel. Für viele von uns wäre es wahrscheinlich die Mode - die Metropole der angesagtesten Trends und neuesten Entdeckungen. Für mich persönlich ist es die Stadt an sich mit all ihren Facetten. New York wirkt einfach so riesig und ist doch so klein, dass man sogar alles zu Fuß erreichen könnte, wenn man es denn wollte und wenn man die Zeit dazu hat. Und zwischen all dem Trubel gibt es so viele tolle grüne Flecken, die zum Entspannen und Durchatmen einladen. Grüne Wiesen und Blumenbeete zwischen all den Betonklötzen und hupenden Autos. Grüne Oasen bremsen einen immer wieder ab und lassen einen für einen Moment verweilen. Der High Line Park gehört zu eben diesen Plätzen, die mich an New York so faszinieren.


    Im Westen von Manhattan erstreckt sich der über 2 Kilometer lange High Line Park nahe des Hudson Rivers. Von der Gansevoort and Washington Street im Meatpacking District schlängelt sich der Park in Richtung Norden vorbei an Chelsea bis hoch zur 34th Street. Es ist wirklich total sehenswert, sich einmal die Zeit für diese Strecke zu nehmen. Vor allem bei Sonnenuntergang ist es wunderschön! Es gibt auch eine Stelle mit fließendem kühlen Wasser, die wie gerufen für angeschwollene Füße kommt, die einen den ganzen Tag über harten Beton tragen mussten. Der Ausblick, der sich einem bietet, ist wirklich toll und ist ein netter Begleiter auf dem Weg in die nächste Skybar. Auch auf dem Weg in Richtung 9/11 Memorial and Museum nutzten wir diese Strecke und spazierten dann noch ein wenig am Hudson River entlang. 


    Der Weg ist wirklich ziemlich lang und man sollte sich Zeit nehmen, aber bei so schönem Wetter war es einfach unumgänglich, auch ein wenig die Sonne zu genießen, sich auf der Wiese zu sonnen und dabei den Blick auf den Fluss zu genießen. Was kann es schöneres geben, als sich dabei mitten in Manhattan zu befinden? Mit direktem Blick auf des höchste Gebäude. Umgeben von Ruhe und Lärm. Besonders süß fand ich all die Kindersportgruppen, die an dem Tag unterwegs gewesen sind. Ob auf dem Weg zu den Spielplätzen mit den Kleinen oder in Richtung Basketballplatz für die Großen - alle trugen sie ihre Warnwesten oder speziellen farblich abgestimmten Shirts, an denen man sie leicht erkennen konnte. Selbst am späten Nachmittag waren sie noch gemeinsam unterwegs und hatten ihren Spaß. Während wir uns auf den Weg zu einem ernsteren Thema in der Geschichte der USA begeben haben - 9/11...


    Direkt vor dem One World Trade Center befindet sich das 9/11 Memorial. Unglaublich riesige quadratische Löcher befinden sich mitten in New York tief im Boden und erstrecken sich über eine gewaltig große Fläche. Literweise stürzt das Wasser wie Millionen von Tränen hinab in die Tiefe. Ganze 9 Meter sind die Becken tief, an denen einst die beiden Twin Tower ihren Platz hatten. Ich kann das Gefühl leider kaum beschreiben, das man empfindet, während man dort steht - all die Namen der Opfer, dieses gigantische Ausmaß und die Tatsache, dass all das Wirklichkeit gewesen ist, egal, wie weit es doch von Deutschland entfernt schien. Wenn man dann ganz plötzlich dort vor Ort ist, wird einem das zum ersten Mal wirklich bewusst und lässt einen ziemlich schlucken. 

    Jeder der einmal die Möglichkeit hat, sich dieses Mahnmal und das dazugehörige Museum anzuschauen, der sollte dies unbedingt tun! Das Museum ist so unglaublich interessant eingerichtet, dass einem ziemlich oft einfach der Atem weg bleibt. Videos, Zitate, Sprachnachrichten der entfürten Passagiere, Bilder des Einsturzes und viele verschiedene Gegenstände, die einst einmal den Opfern gehört haben, selbst eingeknickte Stahlträger, die riesige Antenne eines der Gebäude und Feuerwehrautos werden im Museum ausgestellt und regen zum Nachdenken an. Ich stand einfach nur sprachlos mitten in all den Erinnerungen tief unter der Erde. Genau an dem Punkt, über dem sich das Unglück vor knapp 14 Jahren ereignete. Gänsehaut, Traurigkeit und Unmengen an Respekt gegenüber den vielen Helfern und Familien der Opfer nahm ich von diesem Ort mit nach Hause. Unbeschreibliche Gefühle. Und ein Kloß im Hals.


    Den letzten Tag verbrachten wir noch einmal in Uptown. Der Central Park darf bei einem New York City - Besuch natürlich auf keinen Fall fehlen. Und so machten wir uns trotz des schlechteren Wetters auf den Weg um den größten der Seen. Wir pflückten Himbeeren (ob man das überhaupt darf?) und fütterten Eichhörnchen auf Bäumen und Schildkröten im See, kamen am Soft Field vorbei begegneten Joggern, Pferden mit Kutschen und vielen Radfahrern und Spaziergängern. Der Park ist immer so voller Leben und macht einfach nur gute Laune. Leider haben wir es nicht mehr geschafft, uns (wie eigentlich ursprünglich geplant) ein paar Fahrräder auszuleihen, um uns einmal den gesamten Park anzuschauen - denn auch das wäre in unserem the New York Pass inbegriffen gewesen. 


    Denn von New York muss man wissen, dass es eigentlich gar nicht so wirklich die Stadt ist, die niemals schläft. Und auch keine Stadt mit unbegrenzten Möglichkeiten - denn spätestens 17 Uhr schließt eigentlich so ziemlich jedes Museum, das man sich eventuell noch angucken wollte. Auch die Hop on - Hop off - Busse fahren nach 17 Uhr nur noch für spezielle Nachtfahrten und -strecken. Fahrräder lassen sich dann leider auch nicht mehr ausleihen und überhaupt scheint 17 Uhr eine ganz magische Stunde zu sein. Also versucht in New York (und auch in vielen anderen Städten der USA) einfach früher aufzustehen, um ab 9 Uhr Morgens auch wirklich alles nutzen zu können. Und habt vor allem wirklich immer die Öffnungszeiten im Blick! Es ist halt ärgerlich, dass es in dieser Stadt eigentlich so viel zu sehen gibt, man aber zeitlich einfach ziemlich eingeschränkt ist. 

    Allerdings hat New York auch wunderschöne Gebäude mit den tollsten Verzierungen. Architektur spielt dort eine wirklich wichtige Rolle und zwischen all dem Beton und den verglasten Fronten finden sich immer wieder wahrhafte Schätze. Vor allem auch bei der Fahrt mit the Ride wird man immer wieder auf die tollen Bauwerke hingewiesen. Und man bekommt ganz nebenbei noch eine ordentlich Portion Entertainment geboten, bei der man lachen, tanzen und Spaß haben kann. The Ride ist eine extravagante Stadtrundfahrt für den etwas größeren Geldbeutel - denn mit 74$ ist diese Fahrt dann doch etwas überteuert! Doch natürlich ist auch diese Attraktion wieder im New York Pass enthalten, wodurch sie der Kauf dieses Passes erst Recht immer mehr lohnt! Der Bus in dem ihr fahren werdet ist kein gewöhnlicher Bus, denn die Sitzreihen sind wie im Kino angeordnet und man schaut zur Seite hinaus und nicht nach vorn. Durch die abgerundeten Fenster, die sich bis zur Hälfte des Daches erstrecken, hat man den perfekten Blick auf die Stadt und kann all den Überraschungen folgen, die einem mitten auf der Straße begegnen werden - eine Fahrt, begleitet von Schauspielern, tanzenden Ballerinas und singenden "Passanten" vereinen sich Broadway, Entertainment und Quizshow mitten in einer Stadtrundfahrt. Mitmachen sollte man dieses einzigartige Erlebnis auf alle Fälle einmal. Aber man sollte hier schon etwas mehr Englischkenntnisse mitbringen, damit man dem Ganzen besser folgen kann. Wer dann noch einmal ein wunderschönes Gebäude von innen bestaunen möchte, sollte vielleicht einmal einen Blick in die New York Public Library werfen. Sie befindet sich direkt am Bryant Park in Midtown. 


    Ihr wollt am Ende eurer Reise dann doch noch - ganz wie einst Ted Mosby - wissen, wo es denn nun den besten Burger der Stadt gibt? Tja, also - wie schon die New Yorker in How I met your Mother schwärmten und ihren Sieger kürten, so kann ich ihnen bisher nur zustimmen - das Corner Bistro hat einfach so unfassbar gute Burger! Das kleine unscheinbare Bistro befindet sich in der 41st Street im Greenwich Village nur ein paar Blocks von Carry Bradshaws Apartment - Eingang entfernt. Dieser kleine Laden hat sich seine viele Auszeichnungen eindeutig verdient! Und trotz der Plastikteller schmeckt der Burger einfach traumhaft gut - medium gebraten und so unglaublich saftig und lecker! Das Bier wird in ordentlichen Bierkrügen gereicht und alles in allem ist es da so schön familiär und gemütlich, dass man sich gleich willkommen fühlt. Natürlich ist das Bistro auch oft recht voll und bietet aufgrund der Größe auch nur eine geringe Anzahl von Plätzen - aber wer etwas Geduld mitbringt und einen Augenblick warten kann, der darf sich auf einen fabelhaften Imbiss freuen! 

    Übrigens... sind alle Restaurants in New York mit Buchstaben an den Eingängen oder in den Fenstern ausgestattet - um Restaurants, die mit C gekennzeichnet sind, würde ich lieber einen Bogen machen. Auch von Restaurants mit einem B nimmt man lieber Abstand. In Restaurants mit einem A als Kennzeichnung kann man jedoch bedenkenlos essen gehen!

              Showbiz Sandbox 361: Forget Release Windows, CinemaCon Proves the Screen is the Future        

    Cinema operators gathered in Las Vegas last week to attend the annual CinemaCon trade show where they were able to preview upcoming film releases and learn about some of the new technology on offer for their theatres. Naturally, box office was a big topic with global ticket sales (barely) hitting a record $38.6 billion. Even […]

    The post Showbiz Sandbox 361: Forget Release Windows, CinemaCon Proves the Screen is the Future appeared first on Showbiz Sandbox.


              Showbiz Sandbox 359: Entertainment Workers Put Faith In More Perfect Unions        

    Trade unions and guilds are not a new concept in the entertainment industry, yet they seem to be making headlines lately as more niche craftspeople elect to join them or have them negotiate their contracts. Last week the largest employer of Spanish-language performers in the U.S. voted to join SAG-AFTRA and the United Scenic Artists, […]

    The post Showbiz Sandbox 359: Entertainment Workers Put Faith In More Perfect Unions appeared first on Showbiz Sandbox.


              Tina Fey’s Little Stranger Inks First-Look Deal With Universal        
    Universal Pictures has signed Tina Fey’s Little Stranger, Inc. production banner to a two-year first-look production deal with the company. “With her trademark wit, unparalleled voice and business acumen, Tina has found success on nearly every platform — both in front of and behind the camera,” said Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Pictures. “We are... Read more »
              THE ART OF THE (TRUMP AND PUTIN) DEALSay you’re Vladimir Putin,...        


    THE ART OF THE (TRUMP AND PUTIN) DEAL

    Say you’re Vladimir Putin, and you did a deal with Trump last year. Whether there was such a deal is being investigated. But if you are Putin and you did do a deal, what might Trump have agreed to do for you? 

    1. Repudiate NATO. NATO is the biggest thorn in your side – the alliance that both humiliates you and stymies your ambitions. Trump seemed intent to deliver on this during his recent European trip by bullying members about payments and seemingly not reaffirming Article 5 of the pact, which states that any attack on one NATO ally is an attack on all. (He’s backtracked on this since then, under pressure from Congress.)

    2. Antagonize Europe, especially Angela Merkel. She’s the strongest leader in the West other than Trump, and you’d love to drive a wedge between the United States and Germany. Your larger goal is for Europe to no longer depend on the United States, so you can increase your influence in Europe. Trump has almost delivered on this, too. Merkel is already saying Europe can no longer depend on America.

    3. Take the United States out of the Paris accord on the environment. This will anger America’s other allies around the world and produce a wave of anti-Americanism – all to your advantage. You’d also love for the whole Paris accord to unravel because you want the world to remain dependent on fossil fuels. Russia is the world’s second-largest exporter of oil after Saudi Arabia, and biggest exporter of natural gas. And the oil and gas industry contributes about half the revenues to your domestic budget. And, hey, there’s also all those Arctic ports that are opening up now that the earth is warming. Trump has delivered on this. 

    4. Embark on a new era of protectionism. Or at least anti-trade rhetoric. This will threaten the West’s economic interdependence and loosen America’s economic grip on the rest of the world. Trump is on the way to delivering on this one.

    5. End the economic sanctions on Russia, imposed by the United States in 2014. Oil production on land is falling so you want to tap the vast petroleum and gas reserves offshore in the Arctic. In 2011, you and ExxonMobil’s Rex Tillerson, signed a $500 billion deal to do this. But the sanctions stopped it cold. Trump has promised to lift them, but he hasn’t delivered on this yet, because he has got to cope with all the suspicions in America about his deal with you. Once it dies down, he’ll end the sanctions. In the meantime, he’ll give you back the two compounds that were seized by the Obama administration when the U.S. intelligence discovered you’d interfered in the election.

    And what might you have agreed to do for Trump in return? 

    Two things: First, you’d help him win the presidency, by hacking into Democratic Party servers, leaking the results, sending millions of fake news stories about Hillary to targeted voters, and tapping into voter lists. 

    Second, after he was elected, you’d shut up about your help so Trump wouldn’t be impeached and convicted of treason.

    In other words, if you did a deal, you both still have every incentive to fulfill your side of it. That’s the art of the deal.


              UMaine Extension to celebrate farming at Maine Agricultural Trades Show, through publications        

    This month, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension will celebrate farming in the state at the annual State of Maine Agricultural Trades Show.

    Residents are encouraged to visit the UMaine Extension booth during the show, Jan. 10–12 at the Augusta Civic Center.

    UMaine Extension offers a variety of farming resources, including several publications:

    Maine Family ... Read More
              100 Multi Use Wonder Wipes        
    100 Multi Use Wonder Wipes

    100 Multi Use Wonder Wipes

    Wonder wipes are the first choice wipe of the nations builders and tradesmen. Specially formulated to clean hands, tools and surfaces and also semi-cured paint, sealent, adhesive, bitumen, expanding foam, oil, grease and even silicone. Useful when there is no water on site.  Contains a powerful adhesive that is tested by an indipendant labroratory to BSEN 1276:2009 and PREN 12054:1995. The standards for killing bacteria on dirty surfaces and hands. These wipes are active against most common bacteria found in the home and workplace.  100 wipes per tub Technical


              300 Multi Use Wonder Wipes         
    300 Multi Use Wonder Wipes

    300 Multi Use Wonder Wipes

    Wonder wipes are the first choice wipe of the nations builders and tradesmen. Specially formulated to clean hands, tools and surfaces and also semi-cured paint, sealent, adhesive, bitumen, expanding foam, oil, grease and even silicone. Useful when there is no water on site.  Contains a powerful adhesive that is tested by an indipendant labroratory to BSEN 1276:2009 and PREN 12054:1995. The standards for killing bacteria on dirty surfaces and hands. These wipes are active against most common bacteria found in the home and workplace.   300 wipes per tub Technical


              42mm Plastic pipe cutter 2645T        
    42mm Plastic pipe cutter 2645T

    42mm Plastic pipe cutter 2645T

    Plastic Pipe Cutter Strongly made with ratchet for most plastic pipes in the plumbing and electrical trades. (42mm) Very effective on PVC, polybutylene, MDP, polyethylene, HEP2O®, plastic overflow pipe, plastic electrical conduit, supertube, mini trunking, rubber hose, pneumatic pipe, electrical sleeving Max cut size 42mm Ratchet action Effective on PVC, polybutylene, MDP, polyethyleneelectrical sleeving Easy to use Plastic coated handle sleeves Display pack


              500 Monster Multi Use Wonder Wipes        
    500 Monster Multi Use Wonder Wipes

    500 Monster Multi Use Wonder Wipes

    Wonder wipes are the first choice wipe of the nations builders and tradesmen. Specially formulated to clean hands, tools and surfaces and also semi-cured paint, sealent, adhesive, bitumen, expanding foam, oil, grease and even silicone. Useful when there is no water on site.  Contains a powerful adhesive that is tested by an indipendant labroratory to BSEN 1276:2009 and PREN 12054:1995. The standards for killing bacteria on dirty surfaces and hands. These wipes are active against most common bacteria found in the home and workplace.  500 wipes per tub


              580010 Curvo Basic-Pack Electric Pipe Bender 10-40mm (Formers Not Included)        
    580010 Curvo Basic-Pack Electric Pipe Bender 10-40mm (Formers Not Included)

    580010 Curvo Basic-Pack Electric Pipe Bender 10-40mm (Formers Not Included)

    Universal, compact electric tool for cold bending of pipes and tubes upto 180°. Can be used anywhere, without vice. For trade and industry. For the building site and the workshop. Hard, half-hard, soft copper tubes, also thin wall 10-35mm, 3/8"-13/8". Coated soft copper tubes also thin wall 10-18mm. Stainless steel tubes of press fitting systems 12-28mm. Coated steel tubes of press fitting systems mapress C-STAHL 12-28mm. Soft precission steel tube 10-30mm. Steel pipes EN 10255 (DIN2440) 1/4"-3/4". Elctric conduit DIN EN 50086 16-32mm. Multilayer composite tubes 14-40mm. Universal for many pipes and tubes. Instant use without setting. Fast and creep speed operation for precise bending. Quick change of bending and back formers. Formers not included.


              75 Heavy Duty Wonder Wipes        
    75 Heavy Duty Wonder Wipes

    75 Heavy Duty Wonder Wipes

    Heavy duty wonder wipes are a textured wipe specially formulated for the building, engineering and allied trades to clean ingrained dirt from hands, tools and surfaces. Contain lanolin and a powerful anti bacterial additive. Contains 75 wipes Technical


              Culvert of Abyss [Quest]        


    Culvert of Abyss
    More Info: http://ro2.playpark.net/game-info/culvert-of-abyss-2/


    Well, you still need to do some quest before you can enter the Culvert of Abyss.
    You only need to find Brueghel and the rest is cake.

    Quest Starter

    Rising Treat - [Reward: 5 Refining Whetstone V or 5 magic Oil V] 
    Location: Divided Plains
    NPC: Brueghel [Gold Hunter]

    Secret of the Lord - [Reward: 12 Red Potion (V) and 10 Blue Potion (V)]
    Location: Alberta
    NPC: Trade Master Onasis

    The Tight Doors of the Abyss - [Reward: 5 Tiger Embroidery V or 5 Dragon Embroidery V]
    Location: Verta Delta
    NPC: Heinz Stobere [Alberta Guard Commander]

    A Key To Open Darkness
    Location: Sogratt Desert
    NPC: Gongurat

    [Daily] The Hardest Metal In The World - [Reward: Refined Brygan and 6 Red Potion (V) and 6 Blue Potion (V)]
    Location: Sogratt Desert/Road of Bless/Anywhere?
    NPC: Alex [Repair Expert]

    Just defeat some Hard Mode Final Boss and you're all set. ^_^

    Key Delivery - [Reward: 5 bear Embroidery V]
    Location: Sogratt Desert
    NPC: Gongurat

    [Dungeon] Test of Will - [Reward: 18 Red Potion (V) and 16 Blue Potion (V)]
    Location: Verta Delta
    NPC: Heinz Stobere [Alberta Guard Commander]

    And I'm In.. and it hurts inside 0_0



              Road of Bless        



    Character Level: 50
    Profession Level: 50
    Achievement: Goblin Leader and Wanderer


    Map Location:
    --------------------------
    Road of Bless

    Quest List:
    --------------------
    Road To Blessing
    A Man Fallen in the Middles of Desert
    No Water
    Oasis Water - [Reward: 3 Wind Elixir]
    Request From Cook - [Reward: 5 Red Potion (V) and 5 Blue Potion (V)]
    Odd Palm Tree
    Poison of Desert Fugu
    A Medicine To Detoxify
    Heal Palm Tree
    Missing Saintess Case - [Reward: 3 Wind Elixir]
    Finding Lead for the Case
    Collecting Desert Goblin Mask - Beginner - [Reward: 10 Red Potion (V)]
    An Order of Desert Goblin
    Finding Goblinish Dictionary
    Translated Order - [Reward: 3 Wind Elixir]
    Leader of the Goblins, Damian - [Reward: 9 Blue Potion (V)]
    Damian's Diary Translation - [Reward: 7 Purple Potion (V)]
    A Misunderstanding (1)
    A Misunderstanding (2) - [Reward: 3 Wind Elixir]
    Sweeps Invader Goblin
    Desert Goblin Mask (1) - [Reward: 10 Red Potion (V)]
    Desert Goblin Mask (2) - [Reward: 10 Red Potion (V)]
    Desert Goblin Damian's Mask - [Reward: 3 Wind Elixir]
    Goblin Sweep (1) - [Reward: 9 Red Potion (V)]
    The Captain of Invaders, Garbong - [Reward: 9 Blue Potion (V)]
    Request for Translating Memo Pad - [Reward: 6 Purple Potion (V)]
    Munil's Little Sister - [Reward: 9 Blue Potio (V)]
    Garbong's Mask - [Reward: 8 Red Potion (V)]
    Invader Goblin Mask (1)
    Metanyang Lost His Clothes
    The Lady Who Lost her Clothes - [Reward: 9 Blue Potion (V)]
    Runaround Lumber Cat
    Metanyang's Trade Condition
    Metanyang, The Underwear Thief
    Tyranny of Scratch Thieves
    Thieves Extermination
    Cactus Eaters, The Wanderer Eater
    Desert Cactus Seed
    Valuable Ingredients
    Criminal to Break Carriage
    Back of Invader Goblins
    To Moroc Mine
    Rare Skull Collecting
    The Soul of Sandstorm Bandits
    Investigate 4 Points - [Reward: 3 Wind Elixir]
    Adhesive Clay Collecting
    Preparation For Cultivating Desert - [Reward: 3 Wind Elixir]
    Cactus Than Water
    Find My Grandchild
    To Find Child's Phantom
    The Reason of Phantom
    The Thing To Show Phantom
    Phantom Stone
    The Cause of Destroy the Equipment
    Tiresome Hunter Fly - [Reward: 3 Wind Elixir]
    Attack Freyjans!
    Poisona Punishment - [Reward: 7 Red Potion (V) and 7 Blue Potion (V)]
    Investigation of Poisona's Base
    Sacrifice Aione
    Saintess Pursuit - [Reward: Goblin Horn]
    [Dungeon] Chase Russil To The Sandarman Fortress - [Reward: 5 Prontera Warp Scroll and 5 Alberta Warp Scroll]
    Request: The One Thing Polluting The Oasis
    Request: Plunder The Plundered
    Request: Egg Thief Punishment

    Quest Starter Items Found:
    -----------------------------------------------
    None Yet

    Items Found:
    -----------------------
    Split Piece 1 [Bring to Irmumoa Aro2] - Desert Fugu Bebe, Desert Fugu, Wazel, Desert Goblin Fighter, Desert Goblin Warrior, Highway Robber, Desert Goblin Guard, Desert Goblin Spearman, Invader Goblin Scout, Invader Goblin Guard, Invader Goblin Patroller, Wanderer Eater, Desert Peco Baby, Gold Powder, Desert Scorpion
    Split Piece 2 [Bring to Irmumoa Aro2] - Desert Fugu Bebe, Desert Fugu, Wazel, Desert Goblin Fighter,  Desert Goblin Guard, Desert Goblin Spearman, Desert Goblin Monk, Invader Goblin Scout, Invader Goblin Guard, Invader Goblin Warrior, Desert Peco Baby, Gold Powder, Deathfly, Freyjanity Warrior
    Split Piece 3 [Bring to Irmumoa Aro2] - Desert Fugu, Wazel, Desert Goblin Fighter, Sand Stalker Baby, Gold Powder

    Materials Items:
    Earthly Trace (I) - Desert Fugu Bebe, Desert Goblin Attacker, Poisona
    Firmament Essence (I) - Desert Fugu, Desert Goblin Warrior, Sand Stalker Baby
    Root of Life (I) - Hazel, Invader Goblin Scout, Wanderer Eater, Freyjanity Warrior
    Spirit of Ruin (I) -  Desert Fugu Bebe, Highway Robber, Invader Goblin Commander, Sand Wind Thief, Gold Powder, Hunter Fly
    Monster Fragment (I) - Desert Fugu Bebe, Looter, Desert Goblin Spearman

    Other Items:
    Blue Hood - Highway Robber, Looter
    Cry Mask - Invader Goblin Guard
    Fugu Venom - Desert Fugu Bebe, Desert Fugu
    Glossy Thorn - Sand Muka
    Half Mask - Freyjanity Apostle, Freyjanity Illusionist, Freyjanity High Apostle, Freyjanity High Illusionist
    Hard Claw - Sand Stalker Baby, Sand Stalker
    Holed Wing - Wanderer Eater
    Horrible Chonchon Doll - Deathfly, Hunter Fly
    Leftover Worm - Desert Peco Baby, Desert Peco
    Nectar - Gold Creamy, Gold Powder
    Petty Mud Mask - Desert Goblin Fighter, Desert Goblin Warrior, Desert Goblin Attacker, Desert Goblin Guard, Desert Goblin Gladiator, Desert Goblin Spearman, Desert Goblin Healer, Desert Goblin Magician, Desert Goblin Monk, Damian
    Pesky Mud Mask - Desert Goblin Warrior, Desert Goblin Attacker, Desert Goblin Magician, Damian
    Rabbit Ear - Wazel, Hazel
    Refined Bone Piece - Sand Wind Thief
    Rusted Tether - Freyjanity Warrior, Freyjanity High Warrior
    Smile Mask - Invader Goblin Scout, Invader Goblin Guard, Invader Goblin Patroller, Invader Goblin Commander, Invader Goblin Fighter
    Venom Sting - Desert Scorpion

    Recipes and Fomulas Found:
    ---------------------------------------------------
    Formula: Maestro Artisan's Red Potion - Desert Goblin Magician
    Recipe: Chewy Antenna Noodle - Sand Stalker Baby
    Recipe: Screw Fin Cocktail - Sand Stalker Baby

    Bags Found:
    ----------------------
    Small Bag - None
    Medium Bag - None Yet

    Food and Drinks Found:
    -------------------------------------------
    Instant Crab Soup - Desert Fugu Bebe
    Instant Creamy Broth - Desert Fugu Bebe, Desert Fugu, Desert Goblin Warrior, Looter, Desert Goblin Spearman, Desert Goblin Monk, Wanderer Eater, Freyjanity Warrior
    Instant Doganitang - Desert Fugu Bebe, Wazel, Desert Goblin Attacker, Invader Goblin Commander, Sand Stalker Baby, Sand Muka
    Instant Fried Crab - Highway Robber, Freyjanity Apostle
    Instant Goblin Barbeque - Desert Peco
    Instant Soy Sauce Marinated Crab - Hazel, Highway Robber, Desert Goblin Warrior, Wanderer Eater
    Instant Seoleongtang - Invader Goblin Scout, Wanderer Eater, Sand Stalker Baby
    Instant Steamed Crab - Desert Goblin Guard, Invader Goblin Scout

    Potions Found:
    ---------------------------
    Red Potion (V) - Desert Fugu Bebe, Wazel, Desert Goblin Attacker, Desert Goblin Guard, Desert Goblin Gladiator, Invader Goblin Warrior, Sand Muka, Deathfly, Hunter Fly
    Blue Potion (V) - Hazel, Desert Goblin Attacker, Desert Goblin Fighter, Desert Goblin Spearman, Desert Goblin Monk, Invader Goblin Patroller, Desert Scorpion, Freyjanity Warrior
    Purple Potion (V) - Desert Fugu Bebe, Desert Peco Baby, Sand Wind Thief, Desert Scorpion, Poisona
    Dexterity Potion (V) - Sand Muka, Freyjanity Warrior
    Health Boost Potion (V) - Invader Goblin Commander
    Health Potion (V) - Hazel
    Intelligence Potion (V) - Sand Muka, Freyjanity Apostle
    Strength Boost Potion (V) - Desert Fugu, Desert Goblin Fighter
    Will Boost Potion (V) - Desert Fugu Bebe

    Cards Found:
    ------------------------
    Desert Fugu
    Grooming Thief x3
    Freyjanity Warrior
    Hunter Fly x2
    Poisona x2
    Damian
    Scratch Thief x(lost count)

    Weapons and Armors Found:
    ----------------------------------------------------
    Ascetic Boots of Resignation - Garbong
    Barren Coat Bottom - Looter
    Barren Plated Boots - Freyjanity High Illusionist, Freyjanity High Warrior, Looter
    Barren Plated Gauntlets - Looter
    Barren Shield - Invader Goblin Patroller, Looter
    Bow of Resignation - Poisona
    Chain Boots of Rascal Judgement - Looter
    Chain Gauntlets of Resignation - Freyjanity High Illusionist
    Claw of Resignation - Poisona
    Earrings of Agony - Garbong, Damian
    Earrings of Purity - Looter
    Necklase of Agony - Wanderer Eater
    Necklase of the Warrior - Sand Stalker Baby
    Ornament of the Wise - Desert Fugu
    Ornament of Agony - Desert Goblin Fighter, Poisona
    Ornament of Corruption - Looter
    Plated Visor of Resignation - Highway Robber, Looter
    Ring of Agony - Desert Peco, Garbong, Damian

    Khara Quest:
    ------------------------
    I Am The Real Rabbit
    Don't Press My Stomach! It Will Burst!
    Spin The Spear
    Goblin's Healing Is Good
    I Will Protect You
    Goblin Likes The Battle
    Scheme of the Invader Goblin
    Stopping The Strange Behavior of Desert Goblin
    I'm Happy Because I Have Something To Protect
    Do Not Peep!
    Don't Ignore For Small
    Nobody Knows Where It Comes From
    Shadow Overshadowed By Sandstorm
    Fly of the Death
    Expert Illusionist of Freyanity
    Believe in Goddess
    Shining Butterfly
    Scary Freyanity's Warrior
    Winner of Death! - [Reward: Title - Weak]
    [Dungeon] I Come Here! The Peak of God's Age! - [Reward: Title - Sandarman Invader]
    [Dungeon] The Final Fantasia That Informs The End of Battle - [Reward: Title - True Knight]
    [Dungeon] Unveiled Executer! Prolusion of Fina Match - [Reward: Title - Apostle Executer]
    (Rare: A) Goblin Leader (Party Recommended) - [Reward: Title - Goblin Leader]
    (Rare: A) Wanderer (Party Recommended) - [Reward: Title - Wanderer Hunter]
    (Rare: A) RSX-0806 (Party Recommended) - [Reward: Title - Robo Hunter]

    Others:
    -------------
    Small Gold Ore
    Medium Gold Ore
    Large Gold Ore

    Blacksmithing:
    --------------------------
    None Yet




              Sogratt Desert        




    Character Level: 47
    Profession Level: 47
    Achievement: Sandial


    Map Location:
    --------------------------
    Sogratt Desert

    Quest List:
    --------------------
    In Memory of the Child
    Thirsty Thirsty
    Lost Request Document
    Cat on the Tower - [Reward: 3 Wind Elixir]
    The Timid Cat
    The Cooking Cat
    Lamp Incident: Case Closed - [Reward: 3 Wind Elixir]
    The Whereabouts of the Lost Lamp
    Angry Ruti Cereno
    Worrisome Scirocco
    Delicious Meal (2)
    Could the Anger be Melted Away by a Delicious Cuisine?
    What's The Matter?
    Smooth Sand
    Gift Wrap Material What Women Want
    Burning Lover's Gift
    Stupid Cupid Luket!
    Relationship Between Hasut Village and Grooming Thieves - [Reward: 3 Wind Elixir]
    Finish the Job
    Souring Through the Skies
    Requested Products From Thieves
    Nothing To Eat!
    Need Firewood!
    Soup Delivery! (1)
    Soup Delivery! (2)
    Making Up With Barret - [Reward: 3 Wind Elixir]
    Afraid of Payback
    Amazing Reward
    Disturbed Froebel
    Negotiation
    Edze's Weapon - [Reward: 3 Wind Elixir]
    Ruti Cereno's Greeting
    Letter from Ruti Cereno
    Information of the Black Arms Dealer
    Difficult Arms Dealer
    Kind MC Salle
    Hysteric Ruti Cereno (1)
    Hysteric Ruti Cereno (2) - [Reward: 3 Wind Elixir]
    Faster Than Any
    Ruti's Advanced Information
    Oops! I Slipped - [Reward: Forgotten Thief's Sword]
    Drooping Salle
    Who Ordered The Chakram?
    Isabella's Keepsake (1)
    Isabella's Keepsake (2)
    Loyal Scirocco
    Lost Child In Desert (1)
    Lost Child In Desert (2)
    A Child Who Wants To Become A Thief (1)
    A Child Who Wants To Become A Thief (2)
    A Child Who Wants To Become A Thief (3)
    A Child Who Wants To Become A Thief (4)
    A Child Who Wants To Become A Thief (5)
    A Child Who Wants To Become A Thief (6) - [Reward: 3 Wind Elixir]
    Weapon Investigation
    Confused Salle
    Archaeologist Gongurat
    Grumpy Archaeologist
    Secret Trade (1)
    Ruti Cereno's Precious Item
    We Deliver Within 3 Hours
    Grooming Thief Leader (1)
    Grooming Thief Leader (2)
    Grooming Thief Leader (3)
    Grooming Thief Leader (4)
    Grooming Thief Leader (5) - [Reward: 3 Wind Elixir]
    Froebel's Weak Staff
    Fix The Staff
    Fixed The Staff
    The Legendary Fortress of Assassins
    Assassin's Pendant
    An Assassin Dropping By Desert
    Open Fortress Entrance
    Ruti Cereno's Summon - [Reward: 2 Alberta Warp Scroll]
    Ruei Cereno's Favor - [Reward: Cat hat]
    [Dungeon] The Name Mustafa
    [Dungeon] Darkness Shadow Is In Danger
    [Dungeon] Is There A traitor
    [Dungeon] True Enemy - [Reward: Sogratt Desert Weapon Statue]
    [Dungeon] Traitor Guile - [Reward: Sogratt Desert Top Statue]
    To The Road Of Blessing
    Request: The Cause of the Sand Storm
    Request: Treasure Buried in the Desert
    Request: New Research in the Desert!
    A Key To Open Darkness
    [Daily] The Hardest Metal In The World - [Reward: Refined Brygan and 6 Red Potion (V) and 6 Blue Potion (V)]
    Key Delivery - [Reward: 5 bear Embroidery V]

    Quest Starter Items Found:
    -----------------------------------------------
    None Yet

    Items Found:
    -----------------------
    Split Piece 1 [Bring to Irmumoa Aro2] - Big Dianatic, Armor Phoenix, Bright Sandy, Desertmole, Sandfrog, Dash Sandfrog, Speedy Phoenix, Sunscourge, Desert Poet, Firadillo, Silent Mettler, Anacondak, Sneaky Anacondak, Gerbil Worker, Sand Spider Baby
    Split Piece 2 [Bring to Irmumoa Aro2] - Sandy, Dianatic, Armor Phoenix, Bright Sandy, Desertmole, Desertmole Leader, Sandfrog, Dash Sandfrog, Wild Sandfrog, Regular Member, Shaman, Leprechaun Robber, Sneaky Anacondak, Gerbil, Sand Spider Baby
    Split Piece 3 [Bring to Irmumoa Aro2] - Gloomy Sandy, Petite Dianatic, Desertmole, Silent Mettler, Gerbil

    Materials Items:
    Earthly Trace (I) - Sandy
    Firmament Essence (I) - Sandy, Gloomy Sandy, Shaman, Sand Spider Baby
    Root of Life (I) - Dianatic, Regular Member, Firadillo, Slip Firadillo, Gerbil
    Spirit of Ruin (I) - Sandy, Bright Sandy, Dianatic, Petite Dianatic, Desertmole, Firadillo, SIlent Mettler
    Monster Fragment (I) - Phoenix, Shaman, Sand Spider Baby

    Other Items:
    Assassin's Crest - Ancient Assassin
    Broken Violin - Mettler, Silent Mettler, Giant Mettler
    Crest Feather - Phoenix, Speedy Phoenix, Armor Phoenix, Desert Traveler
    Dirty Fur - Gerbil, Gerbil Worker
    Elastic Tounge - Sandfrog, Dash Sandfrog, Wild Sandfrog, Sand Big Eyes
    Hard Claw - Desertmole
    Leftover Carrot - Dianatic, Petite Dianatic, Big Dianatic
    Magic Wand - Sandy, Bright Sandy, Gloomy Sandy
    Red Hood - Shaman, Regular Member, Edze
    Rusted Pickaxe - Leprechaun, Leprechaun Looter, Leprechaun Robber
    Soft Shell - Firadillo, Slip Firadillo, Iron Firadillo
    Venom Fang - Anacondak, Sneaky Anacondak
    Web Bundle - Sand Spider Baby, Sand Spider, Sunscourge

    Recipes and Fomulas Found:
    ---------------------------------------------------
    Recipe: Chewy Antenna Noodle - Big Dianatic, Iron Firadillo
    Recipe: Salty Antenna Stick - Iron Firadillo
    Formula: Potion Pitcher (750cc) - Petite Dianatic

    Bags Found:
    ----------------------
    Small Bag - None
    Medium Bag - None Yet

    Food and Drinks Found:
    -------------------------------------------
    Instant Crab Soup - Big Dianatic
    Instant Creamy Broth - Sandy, Speedy Phoenix, Regular Member, Leprechaun Robber, Silent Mettler, Anacondak, Sneaky Anacondak
    Instant Doganitang - Sandy, Dianatic, Sandfrog, Dash Sandfrog, Regular Member, Speedy Phoenix, Gerbil Worker, Sand Spider Baby
    Instant Fried Crab - Phoenix
    Instant Goblin Juice - Gloomy Sandy
    Instant Seoleongtang - Sandy, Bright Sandy, Gloomy Sandy, Big Dianatic, Desertmole, Regular Member, Silent Mettler, Sneaky Anacondak, Gerbil Worker, Sand Spider Baby
    Instant Steamed Crab - Phoenix

    Potions Found:
    ---------------------------
    Red Potion (V) - Sandy, Dianatic, Big Dianatic, Desertmole, Sunflow, Shaman, Speedy Phoenix, Firadillo, Sneaky Anacondak, Gerbil Worker, Sand Spider Baby
    Blue Potion (V) - Sandy, Gloomy Sandy, Wild Sandfrog, Regular Member, Leprechaun Robber, Sneaky Anacondak
    Purple Potion (V) - Sandy, Gloomy Sandy, Desertmole, Speedy Phoenix, Slip Firadillo, Mettler, Leprechaun Looter, Sand Big Eyes, Anacondak, Sneaky Anacondak
    Health Potion (V) - Desert Poet
    Intelligence Boost Potion (V) - Dianatic, Armor Phoenix, Iron Firadillo
    Strength Boost Potion (V) - Dash Sandfrog, Silent Mettler
    Will Boost Potion (V) - Sunscourge
    Will Potion (V) - Sandfrog

    Cards Found:
    ------------------------
    Grooming Thief
    Phoenix x3
    Firadillo
    Gerbil

    Weapons and Armors Found:
    ----------------------------------------------------
    Necklase of Denial - Sunscourge
    Plated Gauntlets of Twisted Revenge - Armor Phoenix
    Ornament of Denial - Gerbil
    Ring of Denial - Desertmole Leader
    Ring of Ridicule - Bright Sandy
    Rod of Battlefield - Leprechaun Looter

    Khara Quest:
    ------------------------
    Burning Armor
    Attack to Gloomy You
    I Guess It Was Poop
    Rabbit Cannot be Changed
    Skin of Wild Man
    Leap-leap-leap
    Alley Cat
    Sh! No Spell Allowed!
    It's Burning
    It Can Be Used For Bawling Game
    Sleeping In The Desert Will Kill You
    Desert Desperado
    A Guy Who Stole My Stuff
    Silent Artist
    Solemn Artist
    I Hate Even A Tiny Spider
    Outlaw of Sograt Desert
    The Tricky Will Survive
    I Hate A Rat
    Opening Act of the Flowing Sand War
    [Dungeon] Figuring Out The Truth About Assassin's Guild
    [Dungeon] Follower of Legendary Assassin
    [Dungeon] Existence of Assassin Cross
    [Dungeon] The Day Sand Storm Passed..
    [Dungeon] Tomb of Assassin - [Reward: Title - Assassin Cross]
    (Rare: A) Willow Worker (Party Recommended) - [Reward: Title - Willow Hunter]
    (Rare: A) Sandial Queen (Party Recommended) - [Reward: Sandial Hunter]

    Others:
    -------------
    Small Gold Ore
    Medium Gold Ore
    Large Gold Ore

    Blacksmithing:
    --------------------------
    None Yet


              Alberta        




    Character Level: 40
    Profession Level: 40
    Achievement: None Yet


    Map Location:
    --------------------------
    Alberta

    Quest List:
    --------------------
    Secret Message From Grandmaster Knight - [Reward: Helm of Volition]
    Denial from Lord of Alberta - [Reward: Wind Elixir, Refining Whetstone V and Magic Oil V]
    Alberta's Trade Master
    Trade Master Onasis - [Reward: Alberta Warp Scroll]
    The Butler's Mistake
    Special Fruit
    What Came from the Ocean
    Wine Aging (1)
    Wine Aging (2)
    Wine Aging (3)
    Rare Wine
    Fragrant Tea Leaves
    Lord Grupazh,s Summon
    Like Father to Child
    Suspicious Activity
    In Memory of the Child
    The Truth of the Lord?! (1)
    The Truth of the Lord?! (2)
    Keep the Promise of Ship Wreck! (1) - [Reward: 3 Wind Elixir]
    The Boy Who Speaks With th Furseal (5) - [Reward: Magic Oil V]
    Alberta Alliance (1)
    Alberta Alliance (2)
    Alberta Alliance (2)
    Low Burn Fire (1)
    Low Burn Fire (2) - [Reward: 3 Wind Elixir]
    A Chat With Ruti Cerano - [Reward: Flower Imitation Hairband]
    Secret of the Lord - [Reward: 12 Red Potion (V) and 10 Blue Potion (V)]

    Quest Starter Items Found:
    -----------------------------------------------
    N/A

    Items Found:
    -----------------------
    Split Piece 1 [Bring to Irmumoa Aro2] -
    Split Piece 2 [Bring to Irmumoa Aro2] - Sandi Slipstar
    Split Piece 3 [Bring to Irmumoa Aro2] -

    Materials Items:
    N/At

    Other Items:
    N/A

    Bags Found:
    ----------------------
    Small Bag - None
    Medium Bag - None

    Food and Drinks Found:
    -------------------------------------------
    N/A

    Potions Found:
    ---------------------------
    N/A

    Cards Found:
    ------------------------
    N/A

    Weapons and Armors Found:
    ----------------------------------------------------
    N/A

    Khara Quest:
    ------------------------
    N/A

    Others:
    -------------
    N/A

    Blacksmithing:
    --------------------------
    N/A





              Divided Plain        




    Character Level: 40
    Profession Level: 39
    Achievement: Scoler and Merem


    Map Location:
    --------------------------
    Divided Plain

    Quest List:
    --------------------
    Track Down Escaped Freyjanity
    Potemkin Hunt
    Where Did the Thing Potemkin is Rolling Came From? - [Reward: 5 Blue Potion (IV)]
    Looking for the Solution
    The One Who Created Potemkin's Thing
    Contaminated Fountain of Youth (1)
    Contaminated Fountain of Youth (2)
    Contaminated Fountain of Youth (3) - [Reward: 6 Red Potion (IV)]
    Stop It from Growing
    Wild Breath - [Reward: Assassin's Creed - Conceal]
    Rough Wild Tank - [Reward: Bear Embroidery IV]
    Report from Henson
    Let the Biologist Know
    Looking for Ravislo
    Nothing Happened - [Reward: Wind Elixir]
    Looking for Master Hunter
    For A Friend
    Ravislo's Request (1)
    Ravislo's Request (2) - [Reward: Erosion Items]
    Master Hunter Rindberg Started to Act - [Reward: Erosion Plated Gauntlets]
    Medicine for Grandma (1) - [Reward: Dragon Embroidery IV]
    Medicine for Grandma (2) - [Reward: 5 Purple Potion (IV)]
    Medicine for Grandma (3)
    To Recover Lost Livelihood - [Reward: Erosion Items]
    Flying Bug Nightmare - [Reward: Erosion Plated Boots]
    Wild Pig Skin - [Reward: 6 Blue Potion (IV)]
    Flower That Blooms on Cliff - [Reward: Tiger Embroidery IV]
    I Want A Cute Pet
    Desolated Plains - [Reward: 5 Red Potion (IV)]
    Hunters of the Plains
    Hunter's Test - [Reward: Refining Whetstone IV]
    Hunter's Letter
    Lucrative Business
    Illusion of Campsite
    Joy's Greed - [Reward: Magic Oil IV]
    Done With It
    Chance to Recover - [Reward: 4 Purple Potion (IV)]
    Shiny Jewel - [Reward: Wind Elixir]
    Secret Message From Grandmaster Knight - [Reward: Helm of Volition]
    Familiar Fellows
    Hellbug Blood Sample Investigation (1) - [Reward: 5 Red Potion (V)]
    Hellbug Blood Sample Investigation (2) - [Reward: 5 Blue Potion (V)]
    Search for Sonrein - [Reward: Wind Elixir]
    Sonrein Found
    Missing Sonrein
    Collector Sonrein
    Whetstones to Reindy
    Search for Via - [Reward: Erosion Items]
    Search for Venom Sample - [Reward: Erosion Sword]
    Lord Grupazh's Summon
    [Dungeon] Whereabouts of Rindberg
    [Dungeon] Source of Deadly Poison - [Reward: Divided Plain Top Statue]
    [Dungeon] Ruler of the Underworld - [Reward: Divided Plain Weapon Statue]
    [Dungeon] To The Deep Inside The Hell of Deadly Poison
    [Dungeon] Battle of Grief - [Reward: Divided Plain Bottom Statue]
    Request: Main Culprit of Water Polution
    Request: Disruptor of Geological Investigation
    Request: A Grass That's Good for the Back
    Rising Treat - [Reward: 5 Refining Whetstone V or 5 magic Oil V]

    Quest Starter Items Found:
    -----------------------------------------------
    None Yet

    Items Found:
    -----------------------
    Split Piece 1 [Bring to Irmumoa Aro2] - Heavy Savage, Snailer Baby, Wild Savage, Wild Savage Bebe, Leafcat, Emerald Leafcat, Warm Leafcat, Warm Sapphire Leafcat, Male Wild Deer, Female Flowdeer, Female Boa
    Split Piece 2 [Bring to Irmumoa Aro2] - Potemkin, Troublemaker Savage Bebe, Heavy Savage, Snailer Baby, Mischievous Wild Savage Bebe, Leafcat, Warm Leafcat, Warm Sapphire Leafcat, Little Pereiz, Male Wild Deer, Big Male Wild Deer, Pereiz, Male Flowdeer, Female Flowdeer, Big Female Flowdeer
    Split Piece 3 [Bring to Irmumoa Aro2] - Potemkin, Heavy Savage, Mischievous Wild Savage Bebe, Wild Savage, Male Flowdeer, Smelly Potemkin, Big Female Flowdeer

    Materials Items:
    Earthly Trace (I) - Potemkin, Warm Emerald Leafcat, Little Pereiz
    Firmament Essence (I) - Mischievous Wild Savage Bebe, Emerald Leafcat, Pereiz, Male Flowdeer, Super Female Boa
    Root of Life (I) - Troublemaker Savage Bebe, Wild Savage Bebe, Wild Savage, Big Wild Savage, Emerald Leafcat, Warm Emerald Leafcat, Male Wild Deer, Big Male Wild Deer, Smelly Potemkin, Super Male Boa
    Spirit of Ruin (I) - Troublemaker Savage Bebe, Heavy Savage, Warm Sapphire Leafcat, Little Pereiz, Smelly Potemkin, Castoff Hellbug Worker, Super Female Boa, Lonely Traveler
    Monster Fragment (I) - Snailer Baby, Mischievous Wild Savage Bebe, Smelly Potemkin, Big Female Flowdeer

    Other Items:
    Boar Mane - Savage, Heavy Savage, Wild Savage, Big Wild Savage
    Dried Dung - Potemkin, Smelly Potemkin, Lonely Traveler
    Elastic Flank Meat - Savage Bebe, Troublemaker Savage Bebe, Wild Savage Bebe, Mischievous Wild Savage Bebe
    Flower Leather - Male Flowdeer, Big Male Flowdeer, Female Flowdeer, Big Female Flowdeer
    Harts Horn - Male Wild Deer, Big Male Wild Deer, Female Wild Deer, Big Female Wild Deer
    Large Tree Leaf - Leafcat, Emerald Leafcat, Sapphire Leafcat, Warm Emerald Leafcat, Warm Sapphire Leafcat, Grooming Scratch
    Long Antenna - Little Pereiz, Pereiz
    Sharp Antenna - Castoff Hellbug Warrior, Hellbug Guard
    Sleeky Scale - Male Boa, Super Male Boa, Female Boa, Super Female Boa
    Sticky Mucus - Snailer Baby
    Waist Guard - Castoff Hellbug Worker

    Bags Found:
    ----------------------
    Small Bag - None
    Medium Bag - Leafcat

    Food and Drinks Found:
    -------------------------------------------
    Instant Bacon - Snailer Baby
    Instant Creamy Broth - Little Pereiz, Big Female Flowdeer, Castoff Hellbug Worker
    Instant Doganitang - Little Pereiz, Female Flowdeer, Big Female Flowdeer, Super Female Boa
    Instant Goblin Barbeque - Male Flowdeer, Female Flowdeer
    Instant Goblin Juice - Female Boa
    Instant Lettuce Geotjeori - Wild Savage
    Instant Lettuce Salad - Big Wild Savage
    Instant Lettuce Wrap - Heavy Savage, Warm Emerald Leafcat
    Instant Seoleongtang - Little Pereiz, Male Flowdeer, Female Flowdeer
    Instant Smoldering Heart Skewer - Potemkin, Troublemaker Savage Bebe, Heavy Savage, Warm Leafcat, Smelly Potemkin
    Instant Smoldering Heart Soup - Potemkin, Troublemaker Savage Bebe, Heavy Savage, Mischievous Wild Savage Bebe, Wild Savage, Leafcat, Emerald Leafcat, Sapphire Leafcat, Warm Sapphire Leafcat
    Instant Smoldering Heart Steak - Troublemaker Savage Bebe, Big Wild Savage, Warm Sapphire Leafcat, Smelly Potemkin
    Instant Steamed Crab - Big Male Wild Deer

    Potions Found:
    ---------------------------
    Red Potion (IV) - Savage Bebe, Mischievous Wild Savage Bebe, Big Wild Savage, Warm Sapphire Leafcat, Little Pereiz
    Blue Potion (IV) - Savage, Troublemaker Savage Bebe, Heavy Savage, Wild Savage Bebe, Wild Savage, Warm Sapphire Leafcat, Warm Emerald Leafcat, Smelly Potemkin
    Purple Potion (IV) - Savage, Heavy Savage, Mischievous Wild Savage Bebe, Wild Savage, Big Wild Savage, Warm Emerald Leafcat
    Red Potion (V) - Big Male Wild Deer
    Blue Potion (V) - Female Wild Deer, Female Flowdeer
    Purple Potion (V) - Little Pereiz, Big Male Wild Deer
    Dexterity Potion (IV) - Big Wild Savage
    Health Potion (IV) - Heavy Savage
    Intelligence Boost Potion (IV) - Troublemaker Savage Bebe, Warm Emerald Leafcat
    Will Boost Potion (V) - Female Flowdeer
    Will Potion (IV) - Troublemaker Savage Bebe

    Cards Found:
    ------------------------
    Leafcat x3
    Male Flowerdeer
    Lone Traveler x2
    Grooming Scratch

    Weapons and Armors Found:
    ----------------------------------------------------
    Desperate Plated Visor - Warm Sapphire Leafcat, Lonely Traveler
    Sweeper Leather Vest - Savage
    Sweeper Shield - Savage
    Necklase of Pleasure - Tyrant Rush-Tank
    Ornament of Pleasure - Death Pereiz

    Khara Quest:
    ------------------------
    Heavy Gangs
    Scatterbrained Pig
    Dedicated Card Lover
    Eliminating the Menacing Lead Cat
    What You Eat So Did You Grow?
    Look As Though Will Do Traveling Trade!
    Bald Envy
    Dangerous Insects
    I Abandoned Got
    Luxury Bag of Materials Maybe
    Threats of the Cracked Plain - [Reward: Title - Plain Hunter]
    Who Protected Peace of Eastern Midgard
    Dungeon Explorer
    [Dungeon] Despair Special List
    [Dungeon] Operation Disturb Hellbug Worker's Work
    [Dungeon] Effect of Thousand Year Old Bug Toward Frozen Shoulder - [Reward: Title - Venom Slayer]
    [Dungeon] Ungoliant Slayer - [Reward: Title - Legendary Bughunter]
    [Dungeon] Pit Of Venom Human Persticide! - [Reward: Title - Deadly Poison]
    (Rare: A) Scoler (Party Recommended) - [Reward: Title - Scoler Hunter]
    (Rare: A) Merem (Party Recommended) - [Reward: Title - Merem Hunter]

    Others:
    -------------
    Small Silver Ore
    Medium Silver Ore
    Large Silver Ore

    Blacksmithing:
    --------------------------
    None Yet




              Star Wars and why we don't have partners (Repost)        
    Wil and I have been blogging stories for almost 10 years now. This is still one of the best posts I've ever read and it's still true 5 years later. Thought I'd share it again because not only is it humorous (especially if your a Star Wars fan)- it also has a great lesson.

    Here it is....

    In 2009 Wes and I went to the National Restaurant Association's annual trade show in Chicago. We'll never go again for these reasons. But while we were there, a very interesting thing happened. A guy we had never seen spent quite a bit of time hanging out at the booth directly across from us. He didn't work for that company, but he is a consultant and liked to bring his customers by their booth to introduce them to that particular exhibitor.

    He would typically have four or five people with him, and he would linger behind them as they listened to the exhibitor, which meant he was lingering very close to our booth. In fact, since the isles aren't very wide (at least not in the way back bowels of the smaller of the two exhibit halls, where we were stationed), he was lingering pretty damn close to our booth. Close enough that traffic was clogged up and quite a few folks turned and walked in the other direction.

    Anyway, not far along into the first day, we overheard the group mention something about "scheduling" and our eyes lit up. "Hey, sounds like they're going to speak with us next." But the annoying, lingering, traffic clogging consultant promptly mentioned our competitor's name, and told the group to follow him. They disappeared around the corner.

    It was as rude and disrespectful of a gesture as was possible. Wes and I stared at each other in total disbelief, and we had to hold each other back from following the guy and telling him to go ... well, I'll save the profanity. But you get the point.

    Needless to say, we remembered that guy very well and we hoped to never see him again. But alas, just a few months later, I was invited into a meeting about a potential partnership with some folks here in Charlotte, and as I walked into the conference room and looked up, this scene from "The Empire Strikes Back" quickly flashed through my mind...



    That's right, our buddy was seated at the table already, awaiting my arrival. I literally thought my jaw was going to hit the floor when I saw him sitting there. Like Han Solo, I wanted to escape but I was trapped. I sat down and listened to what these folks had to say, though I'll confess that since I already knew the meeting wasn't going to lead to anything for us, I spent the hour imagining how I was going to be frozen alive and then eventually rescued by Wes, Tyler and Charles. Then we would strike down our foe...


    Joking aside, and I'll spare you why he was there and what the meeting was all about, this story leads me to one of several reasons we don't like the idea of partnerships: you never know what your potential partner's true agenda is.

    I got lucky because I knew at least one of the people in that room did not have our best interests at heart. I have no idea what would have happened had we pursued that partnership. Would that guy have tried to sabotage us? Would he have passed along sensitive information to our competitors? Or would he have come around and been a true advocate for us? Anybody's guess is as good as mine, but thankfully we got lucky and never had to find out.

    This post is long enough, so I'm going to make it Part I of "Why we don't partner with anybody." More to come.

    Wil
              Today our customers are leading the movement        
    In 2007, Wes wrote the first lines of code for Schedulefly. That was the beginning of a movement, a movement to lead independent restaurants to a new place with staff scheduling and communication. Back then all restaurants were using pencil and paper or Excel, and Schedulefly was launched to give them a better way.

    The problem was figuring out ways to get restaurants to follow us. We tried all sorts of things to spread the word, from email campaigns, to exhibiting at trade shows, to cold calls, to mailing flyers, to going door-to-door, to hiring a PR firm, to offering customers $100 for every successful referral they made, to using Twitter. You name it, we tried it. Yet when our free trial sign-up forms came in and we read how people found out about Schedulefly, we saw they had either searched online or they heard about us from a new employee, or a friend in the industry, or through some form of natural, organic referral. Online searches and referrals. That was our bread and butter. No matter what else we tried, the evidence was clear that our outbound efforts were a waste of time and money.

    That meant we needed to do two things well: 1) make sure people that found us through search were clear when they visited our web site about who we are and what we offer, and make it easy for them to get started with a free trial; and 2) live up to the expectations of people that heard about us through a referral, which meant a focus on straightforward, reliable software and exceptional customer service and ease of doing business with. We payed enormous attention to those things, and decided to take a patient, long view of our business, focusing not on finding ways to get people to come to our site, and instead on what happened once they got there.

    Today, 250,000 people at over 6,000 restaurants use Schedulefly. They come to us partially by online search, but mostly by referral. Referrals from friends, new employees, new managers, etc. We see it every day on our trial signup forms. It never ceases to amaze me how many of the trials come in from good old fashioned word-of-mouth.

    At this point, we are no longer leading the movement we started. Our customers are. We have 300 free trials going at any time, and a large majority of them came in because one of you told somebody about Schedulefly. It's breathtaking to watch it happening, and all five of us feel grateful to be a part of it. We will keep waking up each day and doing our part, making sure the software is straightforward and reliable, and making sure any time one of you needs something, we take great care of you. Otherwise, you are taking this thing wherever it's going to go.

    Thank you for taking us this far. It will be fun to see where we wind up.

    Wil
              Brown Fixing Plugs Trade Pack 1000        
    Brown Fixing Plugs Trade Pack 1000

    Brown Fixing Plugs Trade Pack 1000

    Pack of 1000. For use with a 7mm drill bit. 7 x 42mm.


              About Jackie Robinson        

    Who was Jackie Robinson?

     

    Jack Roosevelt "Jackie" Robinson (January 31, 1919 – October 24, 1972) was the first black Major League Baseball. Robinson broke the baseball color barrier when he signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. As the first black man to play in the major leagues, (aside from the 1880s, before the MLB was organized) he is most known for bringing social justice to baseball, which had seperate leagues for blacks (the Negro leagues) and whites for six decades. His character and skills are what helped him challenge the traditional basis of segregation, which was prevalent in all areas of American Life, and was a catalyst to the Civil Rights Movement. Robinson was not just any other baseball player, he strived for success and achieved it, as he helped the Dodgers get to six World Series' and win it all in 1955. He was Rookie of the Year in 1947, MVP in 1949 and a six time All-Star from 1949-1954. He was then inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1962 followed by all of MLB retiring the Jackie Robinson Jersey: number 42, in 1997, an honor reserved solely to Robinson. 

    Pre Baseball Life

    Jackie was born on January 31, 1919, in Cairo, Georgia, to a family of farmers during a Spanish flu and smallpox epidemic. He was the youngest of five children, after his brothers Edgar, Frank, Matthew, and Willa Mae. He was named "Roosevelt" as a middle name, in honor of former President Theodore Roosevelt, who died earier that month. The Robinson's moved to 121 Pepper Street in Pasadena, California after their father left them in 1920. Their mother worked various jobs to support them as they grew up in relative poverty even though Pasadena was considered an affluent place. They attended Washington Junior High School followed by Muir Tech High School. The Robinsons were superb athletes. Matthew was a silver medalist in the 1936 Olympics and he and Frank inspired Jackie to seriously pursue a career in sports. Jackie played on the Muir Tech football team as quarterback, basketball team as a guard, track team as a jumper, tennis team and baseball team as both a catcher and shortstop. In 1936, he won a Tennis Tournament and played in the Pomona baseball tournament all star team with fellow future Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Bob Lemon. 

    After High School, Jackie went on to Pasadena Junior College where he continued his involvement in sports. He also was elected to the Lancers, a local organization responsible for helping patrol school activities. In 1938, Jackie joined the All-Southland Junior College baseball team and was selected as that years MVP. He also received honors for his outstanding community service, even though he sometimes acted against those around him who seemed racist. While playing football for PJC, Jackie broke his ankle. A few days before Jackie's 19th birthday he was arrested for vocally disputing the arrest of a black friend of his. He quickly earned a reputation for being one who won't shy away from beligerrance in the face of racism.

    After graduating from PJC, Jackie's brother, Frank, was killed in a motorcycle accident which helped Jackie make a decision to move to L.A. where he could console Frank's family. Jackie decided to attend UCLA where he met is future wife, Rachel Isum, and won varsity letters in all the major sports. He won the 1940 NCAA Mens Outdoor Track and Field Championship in the Long Jump,jumping a whopping 24 Feet 10.5 Inches. Ironically, in that year, robinson batted .097 for the UCLA baseball squad. In 1941, he took a job with the NYA as an assistant athletic director, as it would have been impossible for him to get a job as a proffesional athlete due to the color barrier. Later that year he traveled to Hawaii where he had an opportunity to play for the racially mixed semi-pro Honolulu Bears' football team. After that season he would move back to L.A. to play for a local football team, not realizing that the US involvement in World War 2 would sidetrack him for a little while and end his short football career.

    Robinson was drafted to the Army in 1942 and was stationed in Fort Riley, Kansas. Throughout his 3 plus years in the Army, he was always treated as a subordinate by the White controlled military. He still managed to become a second lieutenant in 1943, and joined the Black Panthers Tank Battallion, the first Black tank unit to see combat in WWII. However, jackie was never in combat. After getting engaged to his College sweetheart, Rachel, he was sidelined after injuring the same ankle he hurt back in high school. He would finish his army service as a coach for army athletes until 1944 when he was discharged. While in the Army, Robinson made close ties with boxer, Joe Louis, as they helped each other struggle in the white dominated Army.

    In early 1945, after working some part time coaching jobs, Jackie received an offer from the Kansas City Monarchs to Play professional Baseball in the Negro Leagues. He signed a contract worth $400 a month as he played for the Monarchs for 1 Season. He played 47 games at shortstop batting .387. The Negro leagues were'nt for Jackie as he didn't like their unorganized style. Luckily he received a secret offer from the GM of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Branch Rickey, to come to NY and play for their Minor League team. They offered him $600 a month on the condition that he would be able to take abuse from other players for being the only black, but contain himself from fighting back. Jackie accepted, and immediately left the Monarchs for NYC where he would marry Rachel Isum, who was in NY studying to be a Nurse. Jackie would start with the Dodgers' AAA club in Daytona Beach, FL that next season.

    Baseball Career

    In 1946, Robinson arrived at Daytona Beach, Florida, for spring training with the Montreal Royals of the Class AAA International League (the designation of "AAA" for the highest level of minor league baseball was first used in the 1946 season). Robinson's presence was controversial in racially charged Florida. As he was not allowed to stay with his teammates at the team hotel, he lodged instead at the home of a local black politician. Since the Dodgers organization did not own a spring training facility (the Dodger-controlled spring training compound in Vero Beach known as "Dodgertown" did not open until spring 1948), scheduling was subject to the whim of area localities, several of which turned down any event involving Robinson or Johnny Wright, another black player whom Rickey had signed to the Dodgers' organization in January. In Sanford, Florida, the police chief threatened to cancel games if Robinson and Wright did not cease training activities there; as a result, Robinson was sent back to Daytona Beach. In Jacksonville, the stadium was padlocked shut without warning on game day, by order of the city's Parks and Public Property director. In DeLand, a scheduled day game was called off, ostensibly because of faulty electrical lighting.

    After much lobbying of local officials by Rickey himself, the Royals were allowed to host a game involving Robinson in Daytona Beach. Robinson made his Royals debut at Daytona Beach's City Island Ballpark on March 17, 1946, in an exhibition game against the team's parent club, the Dodgers. Robinson thus simultaneously became the first black player to openly play for a minor league team and against a major league team since the de facto baseball color line had been implemented in the 1880s. Later in spring training, after some less-than-stellar performances, Robinson was shifted from shortstop to second base, allowing him to make shorter throws to first base. Robinson's performance soon rebounded. On April 18, 1946, Roosevelt Stadium hosted the Jersey City Giants' season opener against the Montreal Royals, marking the professional debut of the Royals' Jackie Robinson. In his five trips to the plate, Robinson had four hits, including a three-run home run. He also scored four runs, drove in three, and stole two bases in the Royals' 14–1 victory. Robinson proceeded to lead the International League that season with a .349 batting average and .985 fielding percentage, and he was named the league's Most Valuable Player. Although he often faced hostility while on road trips (the Royals were forced to cancel a Southern exhibition tour, for example), the Montreal fan base enthusiastically supported Robinson. Whether fans supported or opposed it, Robinson's presence on the field was a boon to attendance; more than one million people went to games involving Robinson in 1946, an amazing figure by International League standards. In the fall of 1946, following the baseball season, Robinson returned home to California and briefly played professional basketball for the short-lived Los Angeles Red Devils.

    The following year, six days before the start of the 1947 season, the Dodgers called Robinson up to the major leagues. With Eddie Stanky entrenched at second base for the Dodgers, Robinson played his initial major league season as a first baseman. On April 15, 1947, Robinson made his major league debut at Ebbets Field before a crowd of 26,623 spectators, including more than 14,000 black patrons. Although he failed to get a base hit, the Dodgers won 5–3. Robinson became the first player since 1880 to openly break the major league baseball color line. Black fans began flocking to see the Dodgers when they came to town, abandoning their Negro league teams.

    Robinson's promotion met a generally positive, although mixed, reception among newspapers and white major league players. However, racial tension existed in the Dodger clubhouse. Some Dodger players insinuated they would sit out rather than play alongside Robinson. The brewing mutiny ended when Dodgers management took a stand for Robinson. Manager Leo Durocher informed the team, "I do not care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a fuckin' zebra. I'm the manager of this team, and I say he plays. What's more, I say he can make us all rich. And if any of you cannot use the money, I will see that you are all traded."

    Robinson was also derided by opposing teams. Some, notably the St. Louis Cardinals, threatened to strike if Robinson played. After the threat, National League President Ford Frick and Baseball Commissioner Happy Chandler let it be known that any striking players would be suspended. Robinson nonetheless became the target of rough physical play by opponents (particularly the Cardinals). At one time, he received a seven-inch gash in his leg. On April 22, 1947, during a game between the Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies, Phillies players called Robinson a "nigger" from their dugout and yelled that he should "go back to the cotton fields". Rickey later recalled that Phillies manager Ben Chapman "did more than anybody to unite the Dodgers. When he poured out that string of unconscionable abuse, he solidified and united thirty men."

    Robinson received significant encouragement from several major league players. Dodgers teammate Pee Wee Reese once came to Robinson's defense with the famous line, "You can hate a man for many reasons. Color is not one of them." In 1948, Reese put his arm around Robinson in response to fans who shouted racial slurs at Robinson before a game in Cincinnati. A statue by sculptor William Behrends, unveiled at KeySpan Park on November 1, 2005, commemorates this event by representing Reese with his arm around Robinson. Jewish baseball star Hank Greenberg, who had to deal with racial epithets during his career, also encouraged Robinson. After colliding with Robinson at first base on one occasion, Greenberg whispered a few words into Robinson's ear, which Robinson later characterized as "words of encouragement." Greenberg had advised him that the best way to combat the slurs from the opposing players was to beat them on the field.

    Robinson finished the season having played in 151 games for the Dodgers, with a batting average of .297, an on-base percentage of .383, and a .427 slugging percentage. He had 175 hits (scoring 125 runs) including 31 doubles, 5 triples, 12 home runs, driving in 48 runs for the year. Robinson led the league in sacrifice hits, with 28, and in stolen bases, with 29. His cumulative performance earned him the inaugural Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year Award (separate National and American League Rookie of the Year honors were not awarded until 1949).

    Following Stanky's trade to the Boston Braves in March 1948, Robinson took over second base, where he logged a .980 fielding percentage that year (second in the National League at the position, fractionally behind Stanky). Robinson had a batting average of .296 and 22 stolen bases for the season. In a 12–7 win against the St. Louis Cardinals on August 29, 1948, he hit for the cycle—a home run, a triple, a double, and a single in the same game. The Dodgers briefly moved into first place in the National League in late August 1948, but they ultimately finished third as the Braves went on to win the league title and lose to the Cleveland Indians in the World Series.

    Racial pressure on Robinson eased in 1948 as a number of other black players entered the major leagues. Larry Doby (who broke the color barrier in the American League on July 5, 1947) and Satchel Paige played for the Cleveland Indians, and the Dodgers had three other black players besides Robinson. In February 1948, he signed a $12,500 contract (equal to $120,914 today) with the Dodgers; while a significant amount, this was less than Robinson made in the off-season from a vaudeville tour, where he answered pre-set baseball questions, and a speaking tour of the South. Between the tours, he underwent surgery on his right ankle. Because of his off-season activities, Robinson reported to training camp 30 pounds (14 kg) overweight. He lost the weight during training camp, but dieting left him weak at the plate.

    In the spring of 1949, Robinson turned to Hall of Famer George Sisler, working as an advisor to the Dodgers, for batting help. At Sisler's suggestion, Robinson spent hours at a batting tee, learning to hit the ball to right field. Sisler taught Robinson to anticipate a fastball, on the theory that it is easier to subsequently adjust to a slower curveball. Robinson also noted that "Sisler showed me how to stop lunging, how to check my swing until the last fraction of a second". The tutelage helped Robinson raise his batting average from .296 in 1948 to .342 in 1949. In addition to his improved batting average, Robinson stole 37 bases that season, was second place in the league for both doubles and triples, and registered 124 runs batted in with 122 runs scored. For the performance Robinson earned the Most Valuable Player award for the National League. Baseball fans also voted Robinson as the starting second baseman for the 1949 All-Star Game—the first All-Star Game to include black players.

    That year, a song about Robinson by Buddy Johnson, "Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?", reached number 13 on the charts; Count Basie recorded a famous version. Ultimately, the Dodgers won the National League pennant, but lost in five games to the New York Yankees in the 1949 World Series.

    Summer 1949 brought an unwanted distraction for Robinson. In July, he was called to testify before the United States House of Representatives' Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) concerning statements made that April by black athlete and actor Paul Robeson. Robinson was reluctant to testify, but he eventually agreed to do so, fearing it might negatively affect his career if he declined.

    In 1950, Robinson led the National League in double plays made by a second baseman with 133. His salary that year was the highest any Dodger had been paid to that point: $35,000 ($338,091 in 2012 dollars). He finished the year with 99 runs scored, a .328 batting average, and 12 stolen bases. The year saw the release of a film biography of Robinson's life, The Jackie Robinson Story, in which Robinson played himself, and actress Ruby Dee played Rachael "Rae" (Isum) Robinson. The project had been previously delayed when the film's producers refused to accede to demands of two Hollywood studios that the movie include scenes of Robinson being tutored in baseball by a white man. The New York Times wrote that Robinson, "doing that rare thing of playing himself in the picture's leading role, displays a calm assurance and composure that might be envied by many a Hollywood star."

    Robinson's Hollywood exploits, however, did not sit well with Dodgers co-owner Walter O'Malley, who referred to Robinson as "Rickey's prima donna". In late 1950, Rickey's contract as the Dodgers' team President expired. Weary of constant disagreements with O'Malley, and with no hope of being re-appointed as President of the Dodgers, Rickey cashed out his one-quarter financial interest in the team, leaving O'Malley in full control of the franchise. Rickey shortly thereafter became general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Robinson was disappointed at the turn of events and wrote a sympathetic letter to Rickey, whom he considered a father figure, stating, "Regardless of what happens to me in the future, it all can be placed on what you have done and, believe me, I appreciate it."

    Before the 1951 season, O'Malley reportedly offered Robinson the job of manager of the Montreal Royals, effective at the end of Robinson's playing career. O'Malley was quoted in the Montreal Standard as saying, "Jackie told me that he would be both delighted and honored to tackle this managerial post"—although reports differed as to whether a position was ever formally offered.

    During the 1951 season, Robinson led the National League in double plays made by a second baseman for the second year in a row, with 137. He also kept the Dodgers in contention for the 1951 pennant. During the last game of the season, in the 13th inning, he had a hit to tie the game, and then won the game with a home run in the 14th. This forced a playoff against the New York Giants, which the Dodgers lost.

    Despite Robinson's regular-season heroics, the Dodgers lost the pennant on Bobby Thomson's famous home run, known as the Shot Heard 'Round the World, on October 3, 1951. Overcoming his dejection, Robinson dutifully observed Thomson's feet to ensure he touched all the bases. Dodgers sportscaster Vin Scully later noted that the incident showed "how much of a competitor Robinson was." He finished the season with 106 runs scored, a batting average of .335, and 25 stolen bases.

    Robinson had what was an average year for him in 1952. He finished the year with 104 runs, a .308 batting average, and 24 stolen bases. He did, however, record a career-high on-base percentage of .436. The Dodgers improved on their performance from the year before, winning the National League pennant before losing the 1952 World Series to the New York Yankees in seven games. That year, on the television show Youth Wants to Know, Robinson challenged the Yankees' general manager, George Weiss, on the racial record of his team, which had yet to sign a black player. Sportswriter Dick Young, whom Robinson had described as a "bigot", said, "If there was one flaw in Jackie, it was the common one. He believed that everything unpleasant that happened to him happened because of his blackness." The 1952 season was the last year Robinson was an everyday starter at second base. Afterward, Robinson played variously at first, second, and third bases, shortstop, and in the outfield, with Jim Gilliam, another black player, taking over everyday second base duties. Robinson's interests began to shift toward the prospect of managing a major league team. He had hoped to gain experience by managing in the Puerto Rican Winter League, but according to the New York Post, Commissioner Happy Chandler denied the request.

    In 1953, Robinson had 109 runs, a .329 batting average, and 17 steals, leading the Dodgers to another National League pennant (and another World Series loss to the Yankees, this time in six games). Robinson's continued success spawned a string of death threats. He was not dissuaded, however, from addressing racial issues publicly. That year, he served as editor for Our Sports magazine, a periodical focusing on Negro sports issues; contributions to the magazine included an article on golf course segregation by Robinson's old friend Joe Louis. Robinson also openly criticized segregated hotels and restaurants that served the Dodger organization; a number of these establishments integrated as a result, including the five-star Chase Park Hotel in St. Louis.

    In 1954, Robinson had 62 runs, a .311 batting average, and 7 steals. His best day at the plate was on June 17, when he hit two home runs and two doubles. The following autumn, Robinson won his only championship when the Dodgers beat the New York Yankees in the 1955 World Series. Although the team enjoyed ultimate success, 1955 was the worst year of Robinson's individual career. He hit .256 and stole only 12 bases. The Dodgers tried Robinson in the outfield and as a third baseman, both because of his diminishing abilities and because Gilliam was established at second base. Robinson, then 37 years old, missed 49 games and did not play in Game 7 of the World Series. Robinson missed the game because manager Walter Alston decided to play Gilliam at second and Don Hoak at third base. That season, the Dodgers' Don Newcombe became the first black major league pitcher to win twenty games in a year.

    In 1956, Robinson had 61 runs, a .275 batting average, and 12 steals. By then, he had begun to exhibit the effects of diabetes, and to lose interest in the prospect of playing or managing professional baseball. After the season, Robinson was traded by the Dodgers to the arch-rival New York Giants for Dick Littlefield and $35,000 cash (equal to $299,192 today). The trade, however, was never completed; unbeknownst to the Dodgers, Robinson had already agreed with the president of Chock full o'Nuts to quit baseball and become an executive with the company. Since Robinson had sold exclusive rights to any retirement story to Look magazine two years previously,[165&91; his retirement decision was revealed through the magazine, instead of through the Dodgers organization.

    Legacy

    Robinson's major league debut brought an end to approximately sixty years of segregation in professional baseball, known as the baseball color line. After World War II, several other forces were also leading the country toward increased equality for blacks, including their accelerated migration of to the North, where their political clout grew, and President Harry Truman's desegregation of the military in 1948. Robinson's breaking of the baseball color line and his professional success symbolized these broader changes and demonstrated that the fight for equality was more than simply a political matter. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that he was "a legend and a symbol in his own time", and that he "challenged the dark skies of intolerance and frustration." According to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Robinson's "efforts were a monumental step in the civil-rights revolution in America ... [His&91; accomplishments allowed black and white Americans to be more respectful and open to one another and more appreciative of everyone's abilities."

    Beginning his major league career at the relatively advanced age of twenty-eight, he played only ten seasons, all of them for the Brooklyn Dodgers. During his career, the Dodgers played in six World Series, and Robinson himself played in six All-Star Games. In 1999, he was posthumously named to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

    Robinson's career is generally considered to mark the beginning of the post–"long ball" era in baseball, in which a reliance on raw power-hitting gave way to balanced offensive strategies that used footspeed to create runs through aggressive baserunning. Robinson exhibited the combination of hitting ability and speed which exemplified the new era. He scored more than 100 runs in six of his ten seasons (averaging more than 110 runs from 1947 to 1953), had a .311 career batting average, a .409 career on-base percentage, a .474 slugging percentage, and substantially more walks than strikeouts (740 to 291). Robinson was one of only two players during the span of 1947–56 to accumulate at least 125 steals while registering a slugging percentage over .425 (Minnie Miñoso was the other). He accumulated 197 stolen bases in total, including 19 steals of home. None of the latter were double steals (in which a player stealing home is assisted by a player stealing another base at the same time). Robinson has been referred to by author David Falkner as "the father of modern base-stealing."

    "I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me ... all I ask is that you respect me as a human being." —Robinson, on his legacy

     

    Historical statistical analysis indicates Robinson was an outstanding fielder throughout his ten years in the major leagues and at virtually every position he played. After playing his rookie season at first base, Robinson spent most of his career as a second baseman. He led the league in fielding among second basemen in 1950 and 1951. Toward the end of his career, he played about 2,000 innings at third base and about 1,175 innings in the outfield, excelling at both.

    Assessing himself, Robinson said, "I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me ... all I ask is that you respect me as a human being." Regarding Robinson's qualities on the field, Leo Durocher said, "Ya want a guy that comes to play. This guy didn't just come to play. He come to beat ya. He come to stuff the goddamn bat right up your ass."

    Post-baseball life

    Robinson as ABC sports announcer in 1965

    Robinson retired from baseball on January 5, 1957. Later that year, after he complained of numerous physical ailments, his doctors diagnosed Robinson with diabetes, a disease that also affected his brothers. Although Robinson adopted an insulin injection regimen, the state of medicine at the time could not prevent continued deterioration of Robinson's physical condition from the disease.

    In his first year of eligibility for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, Robinson encouraged voters to consider only his on-field qualifications, rather than his cultural impact on the game. He was elected on the first ballot, becoming the first black player inducted into the Cooperstown museum.

    In 1965, Robinson served as an analyst for ABC's Major League Baseball Game of the Week telecasts, the first black person to do so. In 1966, Robinson was hired as general manager for the short-lived Brooklyn Dodgers of the Continental Football League. In 1972, he served as a part-time commentator on Montreal Expos telecasts.

    On June 4, 1972, the Dodgers retired his uniform number, 42, alongside those of Roy Campanella (39) and Sandy Koufax (32). From 1957 to 1964, Robinson was the vice president for personnel at Chock full o'Nuts; he was the first black person to serve as vice president of a major American corporation. Robinson always considered his business career as advancing the cause of black people in commerce and industry. Robinson also chaired the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's (NAACP) million-dollar Freedom Fund Drive in 1957, and served on the organization's board until 1967. In 1964, he helped found, with Harlem businessman Dunbar McLaurin, Freedom National Bank—a black-owned and operated commercial bank based in Harlem. He also served as the bank's first Chairman of the Board. In 1970, Robinson established the Jackie Robinson Construction Company to build housing for low-income families.

    Robinson was active in politics throughout his post-baseball life. He identified himself as a political independent although he held conservative opinions on several issues, including the Vietnam War (he once wrote Martin Luther King, Jr. to defend the Johnson Administration's military policy). After supporting Richard Nixon in his 1960 presidential race against John F. Kennedy, Robinson later praised Kennedy effusively for his stance on civil rights. Robinson was angered by conservative Republican opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He became one of six national directors for Nelson Rockefeller's unsuccessful campaign to be nominated as the Republican candidate for the 1964 presidential election. After the party nominated Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona instead, Robinson left the party's convention commenting that he now had "a better understanding of how it must have felt to be a Jew in Hitler's Germany". He later became special assistant for community affairs when Rockefeller was re-elected governor of New York in 1966. Switching his allegiance to the Democrats, he subsequently supported Hubert Humphrey against Nixon in 1968.

    Protesting the major leagues' ongoing lack of minority managers and central office personnel, Robinson turned down an invitation to appear in an old-timers' game at Yankee Stadium in 1969. He made his final public appearance on October 15, 1972, throwing the ceremonial first pitch before Game 2 of the World Series. He gratefully accepted a plaque honoring the twenty-fifth anniversary of his MLB debut, but also commented, "I'm going to be tremendously more pleased and more proud when I look at that third base coaching line one day and see a black face managing in baseball." This wish was fulfilled only after Robinson's death: following the 1974 season, the Cleveland Indians gave their managerial post to Frank Robinson (no relation), a Hall of Fame-bound player who would go on to manage three other teams. Despite the success of these two Robinsons and other black players, the number of African-American players in Major League Baseball has declined since the 1970s.

    Family life and death

    After Robinson's retirement from baseball, his wife, Rachel Robinson, pursued a career in academic nursing—she became an assistant professor at the Yale School of Nursing and director of nursing at the Connecticut Mental Health Center. She also served on the board of the Freedom National Bank until it closed in 1990. She and Jackie had three children: Jackie Robinson Jr. (born November 18, 1946), Sharon Robinson (born January 13, 1950), and David Robinson (born May 14, 1952).

    Robinson's eldest son, Jackie Robinson Jr., had emotional trouble during his childhood and entered special education at an early age. He enrolled in the Army in search of a disciplined environment, served in the Vietnam War, and was wounded in action on November 19, 1965. After his discharge, he struggled with drug problems. Robinson Jr. eventually completed the treatment program at Daytop Village in Seymour, Connecticut, and became a counselor at the institution. On June 17, 1971, at the age of 24, he was killed in an automobile accident. The experience with his son's drug addiction turned Robinson, Sr. into an avid anti-drug crusader toward the end of his life.

    Robinson did not long outlive his son. Complications of heart disease and diabetes weakened Robinson and made him almost blind by middle age. On October 24, 1972, he died of a heart attack at home in Stamford, Connecticut, aged fifty-three. Robinson's funeral service on October 27, 1972, at New York City's Riverside Church attracted 2,500 admirers. Many of his former teammates and other famous black baseball players served as pallbearers, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson gave the eulogy. Tens of thousands of people lined the subsequent procession route to Robinson's interment site at Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, where he is buried next to his son Jackie and mother-in-law Zellee Isum. Jackie Robinson Parkway also runs through the cemetery.

    After Robinson's death, his widow founded the Jackie Robinson Foundation, of which she remains an officer as of 2009. On April 15, 2008, she announced that in 2010 the foundation will be opening a museum devoted to Jackie in Lower Manhattan. Robinson's daughter, Sharon, became a midwife, educator, director of educational programming for MLB, and the author of two books about her father. His youngest son, David, who has ten children, is a coffee grower and social activist in Tanzania.

    Awards and recognition

    According to a poll conducted in 1947, Robinson was the second most popular man in the country, behind Bing Crosby. In 1999, he was named by Time on its list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. Also in 1999, he ranked number 44 on the Sporting News list of Baseball's 100 Greatest Players and was elected to the Major League Baseball All-Century Team as the top vote-getter among second basemen. Baseball writer Bill James, in The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, ranked Robinson as the 32nd greatest player of all time strictly on the basis of his performance on the field, noting that he was one of the top players in the league throughout his career. Robinson was among the 25 charter members of UCLA’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 1984. In 2002, Molefi Kete Asante included Robinson on his list of 100 Greatest African Americans. Robinson has also been honored by the United States Postal Service on three separate postage stamps, in 1982, 1999, and 2000.

    The City of Pasadena has recognized Robinson in several ways. Brookside Park, situated next to the Rose Bowl, features a baseball diamond and stadium named Jackie Robinson Field. The city's Human Services Department operates the Jackie Robinson Center, a community outreach center that provides early diabetes detection and other services. In 1997, a $325,000 bronze sculpture (equal to $470,522 today) by artists Ralph Helmick, Stu Schecter, and John Outterbridge depicting oversized nine-foot busts of Robinson and his brother Mack was erected at Garfield Avenue, across from the main entrance of Pasadena City Hall; a granite footprint lists multiple donors to the commission project, which was organized by the Robinson Memorial Foundation and supported by members of the Robinson family.

    Major League Baseball has honored Robinson many times since his death. In 1987, both the National and American League Rookie of the Year Awards were renamed the "Jackie Robinson Award" in honor of the first recipient (Robinson's Major League Rookie of the Year Award in 1947 encompassed both leagues). On April 15, 1997, Robinson's jersey number, 42, was retired throughout Major League Baseball, the first time any jersey number had been retired throughout one of the four major American sports leagues.

    As an exception to the retired-number policy, MLB has recently begun honoring Robinson by allowing players to wear number 42 on April 15, Jackie Robinson Day. For the 60th anniversary of Robinson's major league debut, MLB invited players to wear the number 42 on Jackie Robinson Day in 2007. The gesture was originally the idea of outfielder Ken Griffey, Jr., who sought Rachel Robinson's permission to wear the number. After receiving her permission, Commissioner Bud Selig not only allowed Griffey to wear the number, but also extended an invitation to all major league teams to do the same. Ultimately, more than 200 players wore number 42, including the entire rosters of the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, and Pittsburgh Pirates. The tribute was continued in 2008, when, during games on April 15, all members of the Mets, Cardinals, Washington Nationals, and Tampa Bay Rays wore Robinson's number 42. On June 25, 2008, MLB installed a new plaque for Robinson at the Baseball Hall of Fame commemorating his off-the-field impact on the game as well as his playing statistics. In 2009, all uniformed personnel (players, managers, coaches, and umpires) wore number 42 on April 15.

    At the November 2006 groundbreaking for a new ballpark for the New York Mets, Citi Field, it was announced that the main entrance, modeled on the one in Brooklyn's old Ebbets Field, would be called the Jackie Robinson Rotunda. The rotunda was dedicated at the opening of Citi Field on April 16, 2009. It honors Robinson with large quotations spanning the inner curve of the facade and features a large freestanding statue of his number, 42, which has become an attraction in itself. Mets owner Fred Wilpon announced that, in conjunction with Citigroup and the Jackie Robinson Foundation, the Mets will create a Jackie Robinson Museum and Learning Center, located at the headquarters of the Jackie Robinson Foundation at One Hudson Square in lower Manhattan. The main purpose of the museum will be to fund scholarships for "young people who live by and embody Jackie's ideals."

    Since 2004, the Aflac National High School Baseball Player of the Year has been presented the "Jackie Robinson Award".

    Robinson has also been recognized outside of baseball. In December 1956, the NAACP recognized him with the Spingarn Medal, which it awards annually for the highest achievement by an African-American. President Ronald Reagan posthumously awarded Robinson the Presidential Medal of Freedom on March 26, 1984, and on March 2, 2005, President George W. Bush gave Robinson's widow the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by Congress; Robinson was only the second baseball player to receive the award, after Roberto Clemente. On August 20, 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, announced that Robinson was inducted into the California Hall of Fame, located at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts in Sacramento.

    A number of buildings have been named in Robinson's honor. The UCLA Bruins baseball team plays in Jackie Robinson Stadium, which, because of the efforts of Jackie's brother Mack, features a memorial statue of Robinson by sculptor Richard H. Ellis. City Island Ballpark in Daytona Beach, Florida—the baseball field that became the Dodgers' de facto spring training site in 1947—was renamed Jackie Robinson Ballpark in 1989. A number of facilities at Pasadena City College (successor to PJC) are named in Robinson's honor, including Robinson Field, a football/soccer/track facility named jointly for Robinson and his brother Mack. The New York Public School system has named a middle school after Robinson, and Dorsey High School plays at a Los Angeles football stadium named after him. In 1976, his home in Brooklyn, the Jackie Robinson House, was declared a National Historic Landmark. Robinson also has an asteroid named after him, 4319 Jackierobinson. In 1997, the United States Mint issued a Jackie Robinson commemorative silver dollar, and five dollar gold coin. That same year, New York City renamed the Interboro Parkway in his honor.

    In 2011, the U.S. placed a plaque at Robinson's Montreal home to honor the ending of segregation in baseball. The home is located at 8232 avenue de Gaspe south of rue de Guizot Est and near Jarry Park and close to Delorimier Stadium, where Robinson played for the Montreal Royals during 1946. In a letter read during the ceremony, Rachel Robinson, Jackie's widow, wrote: "I remember Montreal and that house very well and have always had warm feeling for that great city. Before Jack and I moved to Montreal, we had just been through some very rough treatment in the racially biased South during spring training in Florida. In the end, Montreal was the perfect place for him to get his start. We never had a threatening or unpleasant experience there. The people were so welcoming and saw Jack as a player and as a man."

    Career statistics

    YearTeamGABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOAVGOBPSLGTBSHSFIBBHBPGDPE
    1945 Kansas City 47 163 36 63 14 4 5 23 13       .387                  
    1946 Montreal 124 444 113 155 25 8 3 66 40   92 27 .349                 10
    1947 Brooklyn 151 590 125 175 31 5 12 48 29   74 36 .297 .383 .427 252 28     9 5 16
    1948 Brooklyn 147 574 108 170 38 8 12 85 22   57 37 .296 .367 .453 260 8     7 7 15
    1949 Brooklyn 156 593 122 203 38 12 16 124 37   86 27 .342 .432 .528 313 17     8 22 16
    1950 Brooklyn 144 518 99 170 39 4 14 81 12   80 24 .328 .423 .500 259 10     5 11 11
    1951 Brooklyn 153 548 106 185 33 7 19 88 25 8 79 27 .338 .429 .527 289 6     9 10 7
    1952 Brooklyn 149 510 104 157 17 3 19 75 24 7 106 40 .308 .440 .465 237 6     14 16 20
    1953 Brooklyn 136 484 109 159 34 7 12 95 17 4 74 30 .329 .425 .502 243 9     7 12 6
    1954 Brooklyn 124 386 62 120 22 4 15 59 7 3 63 20 .311 .413 .505 195 5 4a   7 13 7
    1955 Brooklyn 105 317 51 81 6 2 8 36 12 3 61 18 .256 .378 .363 115 6 3 5b 3 8 10
    1956 Brooklyn 117 357 61 98 15 2 10 43 12 5 60 32 .275 .382 .412 147 9 2 2 3 9 9
    TotalsBrooklyn13824877947151827354137734197 740291.311.409.47423101049772113107
     Career155354941096173634267161867248   .316    97   

    a The sacrifice fly (SF) as a unique statistical category did not exist in Major League Baseball from 1940 through 1953. Any pre-1954 sacrifice flies by Robinson would be reflected in the sacrifice hit (SH) category.

    b Likewise, the intentional walk (IBB) category only became a unique statistic beginning in 1955. Any intentional walks issued to Robinson before that year would be reflected in the walk (BB) category.

     


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              BrokeAss Gourmet: Eggless egg salad        
    I attended elementary school in the early heyday of the Lunchable, AKA the ultimate cafeteria lunchtime trade item. Tiny plastic cartons with dividers separating a stack of cheddar cheese, a stack of golden butter crackers, and some slimy pink lunch meat (usually turkey or ham) were the Hidden Valley Elementary School fourth grader's ticket to trading her way to an optimal lunch.…
              The Hafa Adai Study Tour at the Valley of the Latte        
    Hafa Adai Study Tour at the Valley of the Latte Guam's Adventure Park The Guam Daily Post KUAM News Pacific Island Times   130 travel trade professionals attend Håfa Adai Study Tour (Wednesday, July 5, 2017 – Tumon, Guam) The Guam Visitors Bureau (GVB), along with the Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association (GHRA), Japan Guam
    -> Continue reading The Hafa Adai Study Tour at the Valley of the Latte

              E commerce = jack of all trades        
    We're moving along, getting closer to putting our beautiful draperies up on the website, but the learning curve is mighty steep.  A LOT of time has been spent photographing the fabrics, trims and drapes.  We shoot pictures, then look at them on the laptop, see all the mistakes we've made, shoot more, look at more, see more mistakes, and on and on.  Photography is definitely an art.  And a skill that I do not have.  But I'm learning.  And trying to enjoy the process.

    So I've got to get back to work, but will leave you with this photo I took of one of our drapes.  There are a lot of mistakes here--wrong ISO setting, wrong focus, wrong exposure.  But it's still kind of pretty.


    Ciao,
    Anne


              How to Make Money in World of Warcraft Doing Daily Quests        
    Not too many players know how to make money in World of Warcraft by questing. Many players buy directly from the gold farmers on real money, which can be a very risky business, the trade can be intercepted and then the account banned. There are many ways to make wow gold and in this article I will concentrate on the daily quest method.
              How to Monetize Flash Games Efficiently        
    It seems like you see a title like this at every conference and on every website. And they all indirectly state the same thing. Go ahead and take a guess.

    Give up?

    Quantity, not quality.

    Yup, that’s the key. You will make a lot more money if you focus on pumping out small generic games than large original games. Which is preferable: $2000 for a 2 week project or $6000 for a 3 month project? The choice is fairly obvious here. Unfortunately, the more preferable choice usually requires “selling out” or sacrificing artistic integrity, which a lot of artists value over financial reward, especially when the financial reward generally isn’t much more than an average salary.

    There’s a few people who manage to make decent money without selling out, or while still making quality flash games (Dino Run, Auditorium, and Brad Borne) but those are few and far between.

    In march I attended the first Flash Gaming Summit before GDC. It was nice meeting people I’ve known online for a while, and seeing adobe show off my game to promote a flash player 10 feature, but other than that literally every single talk was about the business aspect of flash- how to make money and how to attract players. Nothing about how to make good games, just how to make profitable games. There’s actually surprisingly little overlap between the two. Nobody even bothered to mention the games themselves at the talks, it was ALL how to market it.

    Now I don’t mind learning a bit about how to market a game, but you know there’s something wrong when the marketing completely obscures the product being marketed.

    I have not made much money at all from my work. I’ve made flash games for 5 years, and barely earned the equivalent of half a year’s average salary. I didn’t need much money though, I was in high school.

    Anyway, I’m sick of seeing talks and articles about monetizing flash games like there’s some sort of secret hidden money button. There is no secret, all of those articles and talks say the exact same thing but worded differently.

    Nobody ever seems to discuss how to make a good flash game, it’s all about what tradeoffs you can make to make more money. Sure I can make one simple dart throwing balloon popping game and release it 50 times with a different number next to the title and make 50x more money than had I left it at one, but do I want to? I can clutter up a game with video mochiads at the beginning and between levels (and during timed gameplay while the timer keeps going). I can offer DLC where you buy the upgrades to the zombie shooter with real money and alienate all but a few players, but profit tremendously from those few players. I can even do all of the above.

    But, I don’t want to. I use flash as a medium for getting my ideas out there, experimenting, and testing out new concepts using relatively quick development cycles. I know there’s other people like me, a lot of other people like me, yet none of the presentations at the FGS, GDC, or anywhere else reflect that.
              Must-see: Two of the four new Timberwolves uniforms have been revealed        
    It’s the moment a lot of you have been waiting for (and, yes, the moment some of you could not possibly care less about): The new Timberwolves uniforms, made by Nike, are here. The team released two of the four primary designs Thursday morning. The “Icon” edition is the darker one, while the “Association” edition is the lighter one. And yes, the Fitbit logo is on it, as promised. If you followed the leaks of the jerseys that trickled out in recent days, the designs shouldn’t be a surprise. They look pretty much exactly like what Karl-Anthony Towns was wearing in a leaked video game image. There will be two more primary uniforms released in the coming months, as the NBA is going to four total uniforms — with no home or away designation — in this reboot with Nike. It’s interesting to note that the new jerseys won’t be available for purchase until Sept. 29. Also, if you are one for reading a lot into a small detail, it should be noted that Andrew Wiggins’ jersey is included in both the video and still images released by the team. I’m not sure they would do that if he was under consideration to be traded for Kyrie Irving … though I suppose it would look even more conspicuous if he was left out. You can get more details on the jerseys and the history right here. Here’s a look at the full Icon look, including shorts. I have to say — and I’m not just saying this because Glen Taylor owns both the Star Tribune and the Timberwolves — I really like the new look. Plenty of you probably agree. Maybe just as many of you disagree. Let’s hash it out in the comments.
              Hangin’ with my Little Brother        
    *Cross posted from my website chrisnorbury.com * http://chrisnorbury.com/2017/08/10/hangin-little-brother-ethan/Filed under: Castle Danger, General Interest, Writing Tagged: Big Brothers Big Sisters, Castle Danger, Central Park Coffee, Chris Norbury, Minnesota Twins, Owatonna MN […]
              A Book Club Discussion with a Twist        
    *cross-posted from chrisnorbury.com * http://chrisnorbury.com/2017/08/01/book-club-discussion-twist/Filed under: Book Reviews, Castle Danger, Writing Tagged: beer tasting, Book clubs, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Castle Danger, castle danger brewery, Chris Norbury, India Pale […]
              Thank You, Book Clubs        
    *reposted from my website chrisnorbury.com * http://chrisnorbury.com/2017/07/20/thank-book-clubs/Filed under: Castle Danger, Writing Tagged: book club discussion questions, Book clubs, Castle Danger, Chris Norbury, Straight River
              BELONG TO A BOOK CLUB? CONSIDER CASTLE DANGER FOR YOUR GROUP’S NEXT READ        
    (reposted from chrisnorbury.com ) http://chrisnorbury.com/2017/07/03/belong-book-club-consider-castle-danger-groups-next-read/Filed under: Castle Danger Tagged: Book clubs, Castle Danger, Chris Norbury, discussion questions, Dr. Beth
              Castle Danger Wins a B.R.A.G. Medallion        
    B.R.A.G. MEDALLION HONOREE I’m proud to announce that on June 7, 2017, Castle Danger was awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion from the website indieBRAG.com. BRAG Medallions honor independently published books that […]
              Another Successful Book Signing        
    (reposted from chrisnorbury.com) http://chrisnorbury.com/2017/06/12/another-successful-book-signing-2/Filed under: Castle Danger Tagged: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern MN, book signing, Castle Danger, Chris Norbury, Grand Rapids Herald-Review, Grand Rapids MN, Jean Healy, Terry […]
              Adventures with my Little Brother        
    (Originally posted on chrisnorbury.com) http://chrisnorbury.com/2017/06/11/adventures-little-brother/Filed under: Emotional, Intellectual, Neo-Renaissance, Physical, Spiritual Tagged: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern MN, Castle Danger, Chris Norbury, mentoring, Straight River, volunteerism
              My First Book Award        
    (cross-posted from my website, chrisnorbury.com) http://chrisnorbury.com/2017/06/09/my-first-award/Filed under: Castle Danger, Writing Tagged: book awards, BRAG Medallion, Castle Danger, Chris Norbury, indieBRAG.com
              Grand Rapids, MN Book-Signing Appearance on Sat. , June 10        
    Good morning, everyone. Don’t forget, if you’re Up North at the cabin this weekend to fish or swim or relax, and the fish aren’t biting, or the water’s still too […]
              JUST ANNOUNCED–BOOK SIGNING APPEARANCE AT THE VILLAGE BOOKSTORE & GIFTS IN GRAND RAPIDS, MN        
    (cross-posted from chrisnorbury.com) http://chrisnorbury.com/2017/06/01/just-announced-book-signing-appearance-village-bookstore-gifts-grand-rapids-mn/Filed under: Castle Danger Tagged: book singing, Castle Danger, Chris Norbury, Grand Rapids MN, Village Bookstore and GIfts
              Baseball’s Biggest Trades Begin Today with 2014 Donruss Baseball Wrapper Trade-In        

    Although baseball’s Opening Day is still more than a month away, some of the biggest trades of the 2014 season start taking place . . . now. With today’s hobby release of Panini America’s 2014 Donruss Baseball, collectors can begin participating in the 2014 Donruss Baseball Wrapper Trade-In Program. While supplies last, collectors can exchange 24 wrappers of 2014 […]

    The post Baseball’s Biggest Trades Begin Today with 2014 Donruss Baseball Wrapper Trade-In appeared first on Legacy Sports Cards Blog.


              Sucden Financial Limited: Global FX Option Sales Trader        
    £80,000 - £90,000 per annum: Sucden Financial Limited: The company, a financial services and commodity brokerage business, seeks a fresh approach to the OTC business. London (Greater)
              Emerald Resourcing Limited: Research Analyst - investment banking        
    40000.0000: Emerald Resourcing Limited: Highly reputable city based investment bank are looking to recruit a highly numerate, analytical and results focused individual. You will work as part of a team and provide a high level of analysis and recommendations of future trades to investment banker Liverpool, Merseyside
              Burning Man 2014 … Got Yurt?        
    This year Burning Man celebrates “Caravan-sary:” For centuries, Silk Route travelers crossed paths in caravansaries, bustling caravan stops offering more than just shelter from the desert wilderness; they were vital centers of cultural exchange, bringing together traders, pilgrims, monks, nomads, traveling entertainers, and wild-eyed adventurers from all points of the compass to share their stories around a common fire. http://www.burningman.com/ HELLO! That is just a new term for yurts!! Our 12′ and 14′ diameter Sparrow yurts are very popular with the “burners” because they are easy to put up, yet strong. Portable yet re-usable and provide an excellent shelter solution for out in the desert. Shelter, privacy, and serenity! We make each order by hand with the same quality as our Eagle and Raven yurt models. The Sparrow is available in both 12′ and 14′ diameter and because it is compact and transportable, it is designed for short-term use. The best part – the Sparrow does not have to be set up on a platform! You can put it right on the ground or we even have a optional vinyl floor that is perfect for Burning Man conditions. If the heat is a concern for you we even have an insulated option to ward-off solar gain; available in the roof and side wall.  Every Sparrow comes with a wood door that has a full-light plexiglass window and three additional windows. Built with a quality frame, a door, and three screed windows for ventilation the 12′ Sparrow offers 113 sq ft and the 14′ Sparrow creates 154 sq ft of living space. That’s the size of a 10′ x 15′ bedroom (larger than most bedrooms). Get your order in now…the early bird gets the Yurt ! Orders after July 15th cannot guarantee delivery by August 20th.   If you are a returning “burner” – this is a must! Check them out at: http://www.rainier.com/yurts/products/ Enjoy the journey!
              [urls/news] The Global Grid: China's HPC Opportunity        
    Thursday, November 11, 2004
    Dateline: China
     
    For this posting, I'm using an annotated urls format.  Let's begin.
     
    The Global Grid
     
    Grid computing.  HPC (high-performance computing).  Lots of trade press coverage.  Lots of academic papers.  Generally, this is a GREAT convergence.  Didn't hold with AI (artificial intelligence), but the coverage of grid computing is much more pervasive.  Also, it's an area where I believe that systems integrators (SIs) in China can play with the globals.  It's new enough that there are no clear leaders.  Okay, maybe IBM is a clear leader, but it's certainly not an established market.
     
    It's also a market where Chinese SIs can leverage work done for domestic applications for Western clients.  This is NOT true in areas such as banking applications; the apps used in China are very different from the apps used in the States.  Fundamentally different systems.  But a lot of grid work is more about infrastructure and custom development.  There's also a lot of open source in the grid sphere.
     
    I've selected some of the best papers and sites for review.  This is certainly not meant to be comprehensive, but simply follow the links for more info.
     
    One last note:  Clicking on any of the following links will likely lead you to an abstract and possibly to some personal commentary not included in this posting.  You may also find related links found by other Furl users.
     
    The "Bible" of the grid world.  The home page will lead to many other relevant papers and reports.  See also The Anatomy of the Grid (PDF).
     
    Hottest journal issue in town!!  Papers may be downloaded for free.  See also Grid computing: Conceptual flyover for developers.
     
    One of the better conferences; covers applications and provides links to several excellent papers and presentations.
     
    Well, the link has been replaced.  Try to get a hold of this paper.  It WAS available for free.  SOA meets the grid.  The lead author, Liang-Jie Zhang, is a researcher at IBM T.J.Watson Research Center and chair of the IEEE Computer Society Technical Steering Committee (technical community) for Services Computing. Contact him at zhanglj@us.ibm.com .  Ask for his related papers, too.
     
    Several excellent papers; recent conference.  Middleware:  Yes, middleware is the key to SI opportunities.
     
    Conference held earlier this month!!  See who is doing what in China.
     
    Want a competitive edge in the grid space?  This is it!!
     
    NOTE:  A search for "grid computing" in my Furl archive yields 164 hits (and most are publicly searchable).  See http://www.furl.net/members/goldentriangle .
     
    Other News
     
    Outsourcing & Offshoring:
     
    I don't agree with this, but it's worth reading, especially considering the source.  I agree that China shouldn't try to be a clone of India, but the arguments in support of the domestic market don't consider margins.
     
    I'll be writing a column for the AlwaysOn Network about the disconnect between China's foreign policy initiatives and the realities of the IT sector.  Suffice it to say that SIs in China should NOT chase after the EU.  Again, do NOT confuse foreign policy with corporate policy!!
     
    More of the same.  Read my comments about Romania by clicking the link ...
     
    Google is coming to China, too.  Think MS Research in Beijing.
     
    Another great move by IBM; they're clearly leading the pack.
     
    This article is a bit confusing.  I suspect that TCS is simply copying the IGS China strategy.  But it's worth noting that they're moving beyond servicing their American clients with a presence in China.
     
    Yes, yes and yes.  Expect a lot more of this.  I wouldn't be surprised to see China's SIs forced to move a bit lower on the U.S. SI food chain for partnerships.  Move up the chain by thinking verticals!!
     
    BPO:
     
    No need to click; it's all about security.
     
    No, not really a new model; more about a new certification!!  Just what the world needs ...
     
    Enterprise Software:
     
    The title says it all.
     
    Maybe the "P" in "LAMP" should stand for "Plone"?
     
    A strategy for USERS, i.e., SIs in China.
     
    Marketing & Management:
     
    Product Management 101, courtesy of the Harvard Business School.
     
    Spread this throughout your organization ... and then ramp up with some paid tools.
     
    SCM (supply chain management) meets marketing, but with a general management and strategy slant.
     
    G2 planning strategies.  A wee bit mathematical, but still fairly easy to follow.
     
    Expect the next original posting in two or three weeks; my next column for the AlwaysOn Network will be sent to this list.  Off to HK/SZ/ZH/GZ next week.
     
    Cheers,
     
    David Scott Lewis
    President & Principal Analyst
    IT E-Strategies, Inc.
    Menlo Park, CA & Qingdao, China
     
    http://www.itestrategies.com (current blog postings optimized for MSIE6.x)
    http://tinyurl.com/2r3pa (access to blog content archives in China)
    http://tinyurl.com/2azkh (current blog postings for viewing in other browsers and for access to blog content archives in the US & ROW)
    http://tinyurl.com/2hg2e (AvantGo channel)
     
     
    To automatically subscribe click on http://tinyurl.com/388yf .
     

              [news/commentary] Building ISV Relationships: Targeting SMEs - Part I        
    Thursday, September 16, 2004
    Dateline: China
     
    New column on the AlwaysOn Network.  It's on the potential downside of offshoring (the downside for the States, that is).  For the next five days, see http://www.alwayson-network.com ; the permanent link is at http://tinyurl.com/4e4q4 .  It got the ire of a lot of readers and a lot of views (I'm projecting nearly 500 in less than one day).  The article which was the basis for my column is getting a lot of attention in the States.  Worth reading.
     
    Building ISV Relationships: Targeting SMEs -- Part I
     
    First, a bit of commentary.  One thing all smart SIs (systems integrators) do is develop partnerships and alliances with ISVs (independent software vendors, i.e., software publishers/software companies in a broad sense).  Of course, it's difficult to be the 1,000th entrant in the game and expect to get any traction/assistance from your ISV partner.
     
    SIs in China ALWAYS use the approach of offering localization services and OFTEN offer to help push an ISV's product within the domestic market in China.  Frankly, this is what the (usually American) ISV wants, too.  Does this strategy work?  Well, sometimes.  However, even in the case of high profile alliances such as some of those Microsoft has in China (and I won't name names to protect the innocent), it's really nothing more than window dressing.  Everything looks good on paper, but the reality is something quite different.
     
    Regardless, this does NOT address the need and desire for SIs in China to build their market in the States.  And when this issue becomes center stage, ISVs frequently respond with something bordering on contempt.  Some ISVs are getting clued that their American channel partners absolutely need partners in China and other low(er)-cost development areas in order to win bids.  Let's face it, it's all about closing deals.  And if an ISV's competitors have channel partners which can put together winning bids, perhaps in part (and perhaps in LARGE part) due to an offshoring component with their channel partner's SI partner(s) in China, then the ISV with an indirect link to China has a competitive advantage.  I don't view this as a sufficient condition to winning bids, but it's increasingly a necessary condition.
     
    Clued ISVs want their American channel partners to have an offshoring option, but this requires that their channel partners have relationships with SIs in a country such as China.  But ISVs tend to focus their channel development efforts on their American partners and might develop a couple/few relationships in China, but usually NOT tied to their channel development efforts in the States.  Goofy and shortsighted, to say the least.
     
    But how can SIs in China get traction with American ISVs, especially since they're almost always late to the game (in other words, the American ISV already has a well-developed channel)?  The answer (or, at least one answer):  Focus on servicing the needs of SMEs (small and medium enterprises, which is also referred to as "SMBs" -- small and medium businesses).
     
    There's another reason this makes sense:  Most of the SIs in China are already focused on servicing SMEs/SMBs in China.  It might be nice to bag a large SOE (state-owned enterprise), but the reality is that most firms in China, especially the burgeoning number of privately-held firms, are SMEs by definition.  Hence, the experiences gained by SIs in China is already within the same market, although I'd be the first person to warn than company size and even similar domains does not necessarily equate to directly transferable skills.  Fact is, things in China are often quite different from the way they are in the States, especially in a "hot" ITO (IT outsourcing) market like financial services.  More about this in a forthcoming postingBottom line:  Give serious thought to targeting the SMB/SME market in the States.  (Part II of this commentary might be a while in coming.)
     
    IT Tidbits
     
    Lots of tidbits this week.
     
    Controlling project costs.  My favorites:  Scope creep, not understanding project financing, "big-bang" projects, overtesting (although I'm not sure I agree with this one), poor estimating.  Good stuff, with recommended solutions.  See http://tinyurl.com/6rfkg .
     
    Challenges for China's SIs.  Adapted from a Forrester report.   For starters, how about:  Improving account management (are there really any account managers in China, or at least any who can manage accounts with U.S. clients?   ), moving away from technology-centric messages that often alienate business buyers (better yet, moving away from messages in Chinglish), investing in vertical-specific skills (how many times have I said this?) and becoming more multicultural organizations (yes, and let's start with learning English!).  See http://tinyurl.com/4avfo .
     
    "Yee Haw" as an outsourcing option.  Forget India.  Forget China.  Forget the Philippines.  Let's go to Arkansas!!  See http://tinyurl.com/7ya9p .
     
    American start-ups go offshore.  Try Corio (is Corio really a start-up?), CollabNet, Aarohl, Infinera, and many others.  See http://tinyurl.com/3wm3o .  Another good article with a BPO spin in Venture Capital Journal, http://tinyurl.com/4rfsa .
     
    Offshorings mixed results.  "Vietnam and Myanmar were also in demand ..."  Really?  See http://tinyurl.com/647ap .
     
    Looking for SI partners?  Kennedy ranks the largest firms.  As I've said in the past, I like their reports.  (No, I don't get a cut.)  Satyam and TCS didn't make the grade, though.  See http://tinyurl.com/4s965 .
     
    Another challenge to conventional outsourcing and offshoring "wisdom."   "Services-driven development models, such as the one at work in India, broaden the global competitive playing field.  As a result, new pressures are brought to bear on hiring and real wages in the developed world - pressures that are not inconsequential in shaping the jobless recoveries unfolding in high-cost wealthy nations.  For those in the developed world, successful services- and manufacturing-based development models in heavily populated countries such as India and China - pose the toughest question of all: what about us?"  For more, see http://tinyurl.com/4acm4 .
     
    Forget the Golden Triangle.  How about China + India vs. the world (or, sans the world)?  "Newspaper headlines portray China as the world's manufacturing base for low-cost goods, like clothing and shoes, and India as the global IT monopoly-to-be.  Unfortunately, media outside Asia have failed to acknowledge the growing partnership between the two giants."  "Given the complementary nature of their economies and the size of their markets (nearly 2.2 billion people in total), the nascent cooperation between the two holds the potential to dramatically alter the world trade balance.  A perusal of the Shanghai technology corridor reveals a hint of the countries' industrial interconnectedness.  Walk through one of the main complexes in Shanghai's Pudong Software Park, and you will see a prominently displayed sign for Infosys, one of India's most respected IT firms.  The same complex also holds Satyam, the first of India's software service companies to set up offices in Shanghai.  Nearby are the headquarters of the largest software services company in Asia, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), which currently runs an outsourcing center for GE in the town of Hangzhou.  TCS is owned by the Tatas, one of India's most prominent business families.  Across the river is NIIT, the principal software training center in India's private sector.  NIIT, operating in China since 1998, now runs an extensive two-year course in 25 provinces, training around 20,000 students to be software professionals.  There is widespread speculation that Wipro, India's only giant IT firm without a presence in the city, will establish a Shanghai office very soon.  It is no surprise that Indian software companies are setting up in China. They, like everyone else, sense great opportunity in one of the largest, fastest-growing economies in the world."  (Bold is my emphasis.)  All true, and they even forget MphasiS.  See one of my must-read sources, YaleGlobalhttp://tinyurl.com/6ltaz .
     
    The partnering wave of the future.  I've talked about this many times in previous postings.  This time CTG dances with Polaris Software.  See http://tinyurl.com/5tbqd .
     
    CMMi:  The key to success.  A little simplistic and uses incorrect definitions, but still worth reading.  See http://tinyurl.com/4gp9u .
     
     
     
     
     
    How about Microsoft vs. China in an AO "Grudge Match"?  See a lengthy article in CFO titled, "Does Microsoft need China?"; link at http://tinyurl.com/476bo .  China: The champion of open source!!
     
     
    Business creativity 101.  "A new book from Wharton School Publishing, The Power of Impossible Thinking by Jerry Wind and Colin Crook prompts you to rethink your mental models and transform them to help you achieve new levels of creativity. In this book, the authors give a set of guidelines on how to see differently."  Examples:  Listen to the radicals; embark on journeys of discovery; look across disciplines.  See http://tinyurl.com/6fvo8 .
     
    The innovator's battle plan.  "Great firms can be undone by disruptors who analyze and exploit an incumbent's strengths and motivations.  From Clayton Christensen's new book Seeing What's Next."  GREAT stuff (although John Dvorak won't like it).  What about asymmetric warfare theories applied to the realm of corporate innovation and creativity?  Just a thought ...  See http://tinyurl.com/6mbcy .
     
    Your next competitors?  Have you thought about Senegal, Uganda, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, especially in the BPO space?  See http://tinyurl.com/5h93z .
     
    Message to product companies: go sell services!!  Interesting take from a VMI perspective.  See http://tinyurl.com/5tqrt .
     
    Don't know much about bloggin'?  Good take on the various types of corporate blogs.  See http://tinyurl.com/6my29 .
     
    Urls as web services?  You have to read it to get it.  Might be a bit too much for the uninitiated ...  See http://tinyurl.com/563gm .
     
    Joel is back and blogging!!  Joel takes on Jakob Nielsen in "it's not just usability."  See http://tinyurl.com/6msmm .
     
    How about open source software for HPC?  See http://tinyurl.com/5qzleWARNING: Geek alert, geek alert!!
     
    Saving the best for last: a piece on Woz.  See http://tinyurl.com/4szjf .
     
    TTFN.  Expect a urls update before I go back to the States.
     
    Cheers,
     
    David Scott Lewis
    President & Principal Analyst
    IT E-Strategies, Inc.
    Menlo Park, CA & Qingdao, China
     
    http://www.itestrategies.com (current blog postings optimized for MSIE6.x)
    http://tinyurl.com/2r3pa (access to blog content archives in China)
    http://tinyurl.com/2azkh (current blog postings for viewing in other browsers and for access to blog content archives in the US & ROW)
    http://tinyurl.com/2hg2e (AvantGo channel)
     
     
    To automatically subscribe click on http://tinyurl.com/388yf .
     

              [news] Grudge Match: China vs. Europe + "It's Malaysia Time ..."        
    Tuesday, September 7, 2004
    Dateline: China
     
    This week marks the debut of my bi-weekly (or so) column for the AlwaysOn Network, Silicon Valley's premier online social networking venue (and unofficially linked to Silicon Valley's premier in person social networking venue, the Churchill Club; I'm a member of both).  I will be sharing "Letter from China" columnist duties with Paul Waide, the head of Pacific Epoch, a Shanghai-based boutique consultancy that advises hedge funds on alternative investments in China.  My first column is on Shanghai and a couple/few forthcoming columns will examine cultural differences between Chinese Nationals, Chinese-Americans and Anglo-Americans, especially within the context of IT and IT marketing.  I will post my AlwaysOn "Letter from China" columns to this blog/e-newsletter, although please be advised that my intended audience are readers based in Silicon Valley.
     
    Grudge Match: China vs. Europe
     
    Staying on topic, I'd like to make a comment about a recent "Grudge Match" on the AlwaysOn Network.  See the item marked "Grudge Match" for 08.05.04 (5 August 2004) at http://www.alwayson-network.com/polling/index.php .
     
    In the referenced "Grudge Match," China was pitted against Europe.  China received 45% of the votes in contrast to Europe's 55%.  Frankly, I'm surprised that China did so well.  I've found that the AO "Grudge Match" results tend to indicate sentiment more so than reality.  For example, a recent match pitted SpaceShipOne against NASA and SSO absolutely clobbered NASA (besides, perhaps most of the votes for NASA came from either Ames or the Blue Cube).  Of course, SSO is a high school science experiment compared to what NASA is doing, but I believe the results accurately reflect sentiment. 
     
    But what is amazing (to me, at least) is that China was pitted against Europe in the first place!  Let's face it, this is a rather goofy "grudge match."  For Europe to include First World nations such as Germany, France, the U.K., Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark (yes, some countries are intentionally left out) -- and to compare the collective whole of First World Europe (a.k.a. "Western Europe") to China is absurd.  If this was First World Europe vs. China circa 2020, okay.  But TODAY?  Yet, the sentiment indicator showed a strong vote in favor of China.  Europe "won," but barely.
     
    I propose the following "grudge match":  China vs. "Eastern Europe" (i.e., the former Soviet Bloc).  Look, if China can do so well against Europe as a whole (including First World Europe), I'm sure China would absolutely kick Second World Europe's butt!!  And a China "grudge match" against Eastern Europe more accurately reflects current "history."
     
    But even this is a bit misleading.  The real "grudge match" is this:  China + India vs. Second World Europe.  And given this choice, only someone stranded on Mars for the past decade might choose Second World Europe.  Yet, this is the real so-called "grudge match."  First World Europe is in descent, to be sure, but it's descending from a high altitude.  It will take at least a decade or two for China (and/or India) to truly match First World Europe.  But China ALREADY is superior to Second World Europe.  And don't rant about NATO and EU memberships; this is simply window dressing.  Then combine China with India versus Second World Europe, playing into my "Golden Triangle" theme, i.e., it's all about the U.S., India and China.  This is where the action is, ESPECIALLY in IT.
     
    "It's Malaysia Time ..."
     
    I must be getting punchy since I'm borrowing a theme from a beer commercial, but it seems that Malaysia is experiencing its 15 minutes of fame.  The Philippines has recently been "hot," and several articles of late have been touting Malaysia (see, for example, an article which appeared in Space Daily).  Frankly, I'm getting tired of all this nonsense.  Look, when it comes to ITO (IT outsourcing) in East Asia, there are just two choices, i.e., India and China.  And, it's not really a competition; both have their strengths and weaknesses.  A few crumbs to Singers (Singapore), maybe even a few crumbs to the Kiwis (New Zealand).  The Philippines deserves notice, albeit passing notice, and Malaysia might be okay for some BPO.  But ITO?  Come on, give me a break!!  See my Furl archive for more links.
     
    The only thing I recently found interesting regarding Malaysia was an article on Satyam's IT boot camp in Malaysia.  This isn't really unique, after all, IBM has been doing this sort of thing for decades.  So does HP.  Kind of like training plus a bit of brainwashing, but the brainwashing is acceptable since it includes political survival skills -- and said skills are essential, especially in F500 corporations.  But I like the idea of SI (systems integrator)-based training:  This way SIs can focus on "real" versus theoretically perceived needs.
     
    IT Tidbits
     
    Which certifications have the best ROI (return on investment)?  Playing off the idea of SI-based training, which are the most important certifications?  Well, Cisco leads with three out of the top five, although Microsoft picks up a couple of "wins" when looking at fastest-growing ROI, with RedHat and Oracle getting one win each.  SIs in China may also want to benchmark how much U.S. employees are paid given a certain certification, e.g., Microsoft DBAs receive an annual average salary of US$80,600.  Think about how much SIs in China pay for a certified Microsoft DBA.  For example, what do they get paid in Jinan -- or even in Dalian?  Compare this to US$80,600.  Spot any opportunities?  See http://tinyurl.com/3nvpz and http://tinyurl.com/6r2s5 .
     
    ITO in the news.  Two particularly noteworthy items.  First, ITO got Slashdotted.  The Slashdot links are worth a review.  Probably some good insight into what American software engineers are thinking and feeling.  The second is a review of Lou Dobbs' new book on ITO and BPO.  Mr. Dobbs is a well-respected host on CNN; his views shouldn't be taken lightly.  A couple of excerpts from the review:
     
    "GE, as Dobbs makes clear in abundant detail, is only one of many companies outsourcing high-tech and professional jobs to India and other parts of the world where wage expectations are lower.  Among the others spotlighted by Dobbs for outsourcing jobs to India, the Philippines, Romania, Ireland, Poland and other countries are IBM, SAS Institute, Intel, Microsoft, Perot Systems, Apple, Computer Associates, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Sun Microsystems."  My comment:  Romania is the Changsha of Third World Europe, i.e., their programmers are about as cheap as programmers come.
     
    "'India can provide our software; China can provide our toys; Sri Lanka can make our clothes; Japan make our cars.  But at some point we have to ask, what will we export?  At what will Americans work?  And for what kind of wages?  No one I've asked in government, business or academia has been able to answer those questions,' Dobbs writes."  See the review in the Tallahassee Democrat or my Furl link .
     
    So-called infrastructure vendors beat out app vendors in terms of their ability to meet expected ROI and TCO (total cost of ownership) levels.  I don't really like the way infrastructure and application vendors are defined in this article and related survey, but top honors go to IBM and Microsoft.  There's a lot being written between the lines, but in general this plays into my "build-to-a-stack" strategy, albeit Oracle is left behind.  See http://tinyurl.com/3tpjo .
     
    Speaking of Microsoft ...  A good, quick review of the various IBUs (independent business units) at Microsoft.  (See http://tinyurl.com/5rjtk .)  For a take on MBS, see http://tinyurl.com/6k4dp .
     
    New marketing technologies.  Interesting article from the premier issue of CMO (Chief Marketing Officer).  There are two ways to view this:  1) which marketing technologies can be used by SIs in China for their own marketing endeavors, and 2) which marketing technologies will likely be adopted by retailers, e-commerce sites, financial institutions and numerous other sectors -- and which in house skills does an SI in China need to implement these new technologies (all of which are IT-related)?  See http://tinyurl.com/57wvp .
     
    Looking for partners in the utility computing space?  For a start, try the top 25 vendors.  (See http://tinyurl.com/48s9j .)  Yankee gives a quick look at utility computing ROI (see http://tinyurl.com/5fw88 ).  HP chimes in with their take, too (see http://tinyurl.com/58mhg ; it's a PDF).
     
    The battle of the SI globals.  Two related articles both based on the same Forrester report.  (See http://tinyurl.com/6tfrn and http://tinyurl.com/5tljq .)  Issues being considered include scalability (i.e., handling US$100+ million accounts), the need for broad offerings (e.g., strategy consulting) and expanding geographical presence (hey, where is EDS in China?).   "(T)he (Forrester) study finds that Infosys and Wipro have melded together a mix of CMMI, P-CMM, Six Sigma and ISO 9000 to create a culture focused on consistent and repeatable processes and value-added tools."  For China's SIs, mostly food for thought -- and a bit of dreaming.
     
    ... and how to battle the globals.  The article was a bit silly, after all, G2000 firms joining forces to battle Accenture or Infosys doesn't really fit the notion of smaller firms joining forces.  But I believe that they're on the right track and that a myriad of partnerships will be formed to most effectively capture new business and battle the globals.  However, ISVs (independent software vendors) have to walk a very fine line.  SIs need to carefully consider ISV responses and existing alliances.  See http://tinyurl.com/7xj82 .
     
    "Infosys to set up second outsourcing facility in China."  The article states that Infosys is running out of space in their Pudong facility and that they're scouting for additional digs.  Come on, guys, running out of space?  There's not enough space in the Shanghai Pudong Software Park?  I don't think so ...  The reality is that Infosys needs to find lower cost developers.  As my column on Shanghai for AO's "Letter from China" notes, developers in Shanghai are a bit pricey compared to other places in China.  Infosys China is primarily servicing their global customers in China and looking for high-end integration within the domestic market.  However, this is a tough nut to crack and Infosys will need another development center to lower their overall costs -- and this is why they are looking for additional space IN ANOTHER CITY.  The idea that they're running out of space in the SPSP is ridiculous.  (I've been to their Shanghai digs ...)  See http://tinyurl.com/6nz8d .
     
    Zensar gets broader press coverage.  Kind of like watching a meme, a couple of non-Indian