Friday, 11 November 2011

EUI indignados y Don Quijote

The indignados movement has blossomed in different cities and continents. Its name follows from the protests that occurred in Spain , where the crisis hit the economy hard due to the burst of an asset market bubble. This was mainly due to little competent politicians, local credit and foreign one that jointly contributed to inflate the bubble for longer than a decade.

Among others, Joseph Stiglitz shared sympathy for the movement in the USA.

At the European University Institute (EUI) a research institution on the hills of Florence in Italy, the head of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy was also criticised by a bunch of Florentine indignados, as he participated in the opening ceremony of the 2011/12 academic year.

These guys questioned whether the European Union (EU) is run on a democratic basis and got some press coverage in Italy. Why would this be relevant? Would Joseph Stiglitz have joined them had he been in the area as he shared their views, or rather to challenge their views?

Why asking for more democracy to the EU, whose central bank has so far saved Greece, Italy and Spain from the collapse of their debt? Why not asking instead for a set of smarter EU policies that set the right incentives for the EU member countries to adopt virtuous fiscal policies and stimulate growth? This would help to relieve the burden of troubled households with mortgages to pay and poor job prospects all over the EU. Does this mean more or less democracy? Is it relevant? Delegating more power to the EU to intervene effectively would have helped its member countries to get the different medicines to treat their different problems.

One reads in the Italian press that the Florentine indignados who are based at the EUI call themselves collettivo prezzemolo , roughly "parsley movement", to emphasise their capacity to spread out, information I guess (the reason for using the word parsley is perhaps due to an Italian idiomatic expression that associates one's skill to establish several connections with the wide use of parsley in food recipes). Would these guys not be better off by instead sharpening their:
- arguments, thus avoiding to mix up democracy with the set of unpopular policies to face a financial crisis and little competent national governments in a number of EU countries, that may lead to a currency crisis and to the end of the Euro and of the EU?
- target, as the head of the European Council is hard to picture as the representative of an envil lobby?

Additional examples of the need for more clarity of thinking by the Florentine indignados are in a long long list of the ills of Europe in their blog, e.g. "Forgive the debt!", "This is not a clash of generations – defend pension rights!" or "The revolution will not be privatized!". Are these causes, consequences or something else? However, this is little surprising as elected politicians both right and left of centre in several EU countries genrally tend not to offer examples of clear-cut thinking, e.g. in the fight vs liberal evil in Italian left of centre parties and in the uneventful pre-election debate in Spain.

If parsley it is, let it season solid policy-relevant arguments, rather than ideologies that are hard to defend with logic and empirical evidence. Another way to put this: is Quijote facing monsters or windmills?

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Effective public policy to keep bike lanes free from cars

The mayor of Vilnius is a keen bike rider. His passion for this popular mean of transport has led him to design a sophisticated public policy intervention to deter car drivers from parking on bike lanes in the city.

Check it out by clicking here

Since the mayor of London is also a keen bike rider, will he consider implementing in London this example best practice that Vilnius has shared with the rest of the world!?

P.S. Did Mao Tze Tung's quote "punish one, educate hundreds" inspire a similar policy to keep bike lanes free in China!?

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Vincisgrassi vs lasagne al forno and chef Antonio Nebbia

Lasagne al forno are an Italian dish made of layers of egg pasta, tomato sauce with beef meat and besciamella sauce. Historians suggest that its origin dates back to the Roman Empire, and Cicero was very fond of it.

Vincisgrassi are a younger variant of lasagne that sprang out of poverty and ingenium in the region Le Marche, Central Italy. The main difference with respect to lasagne is the use of poultry meat, including offals, rather than beef, and the addition of Marsala wine or vino cotto to the pasta dough.

The chef Antonio Nebbia from Macerata offers to future generations a unique recipe of the dish in his recipe book "Il Cuoco maceratese". This is a milestone of Italian, and more broadly Mediterranean cuisine, as well as of food habits in the 19th century.

Why were vincisgrassi not simply called pasta al forno alla Marchigiana? They owe their name to Joseph-Niklas von Windisch-Graetz . He was a general in the Austrian Army who freed Ancona from the siege by the French Army in 1799 ca, although for a very short period of time before the French Army took the city back.

Wine tip: Rosso Conero and Lacrima di Morro d'Alba ;
Dessert tip: Cicerchiata .

Thursday, 21 July 2011

A welcoming courtyard in Pinerolo along stage 17 in the Tour de France

Stage 17 in the Tour de France has been a very intense one, with riders crossing the Alps from France to Italy and reaching a summit at 2000m (picture on the left).

After three hard climbs uphill, the final sprint was downhill to eventually reach the end of the stage in Pinerolo (photo below).

Curiously, two riders: Jonathan Hivert and the holder of the maillot jaune Thomas Voeckler stepped out of the road on a difficult curve and entered the couryard of a house by the side of the road: perhaps to say hi to a relative or accepting the very welcoming hospitality by locals!?

An amateurial video seems to suggest that the owner of the house felt glad not to have parked the car in the courtyard that day!

Movie tip (from Check out a famous Italian b-series movie in which the main character and his colleagues engage in a clumsily ironic bike race in Pinerolo!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

A walk from from Vetta d'Italia to Finis Terrae and beyond

1600km from perennial snow on the Austrian border to Mediterranean sea life in Southern Sicily is how far Italy stretches North to South. A similarly stark change in landscape is what you get if you travel from the North Western border, looking onto France, to South Eastern one, looking onto Albania and Greece.

The geographical differences, and some of the socio-economic ones that spillover fro such different lands have been nicely collated in a photo album by Nat Geo

Headphone tips to complement the landscapes: Lou Dalfin , Agricantus , Abies Alba and Taranta Power

Friday, 1 July 2011

New Labour leader or CD album!?

Ed Milliband the Labour party leader in the UK has recently been interviewed about the strikes by public sector employees. In his attempt to revive the little harsh opposition by the Labour party lately and prepare it for the next elections in 2014, or earlier, he discussed in the interview a broad number of issues, ranging from economics to party politics and social challenges for the country.

Thanks to the editing of the interview, what may have gone unnoticed in his preparation for the interview is the low level of details that Ed was prepared to give on a number of issues, which a disappointed interviewer could not help disclosing.

This may suggest how hard it is for a politician to competently span in no time across Philosophy, Politics and Economics (not by chance a popular degree in Social Science in the UK), and the harder the younger and less experienced the politician is. On the other hand, not all interviews by a journalist, who may repeatedly interview a person over time, can be as abrasive as sandpaper!

Hat tip for both Ed and the disappointed journalist for future interviews: The Best of Jeremy Paxman !

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Britain Bike Week (18-26th Jun 2011): Everyday cycling for everyone!

What an "every-rich" motto for the Bike week initiative in the UK, which is held yearly in June all over the country!

While zipping to work this morning I bumped into a stall advertising the initiative in bike-friendly Fitzroy Sq. By the stall were an employee from Camden council and an officer by the Met Police.

In about 5' they kindly stamped on my bike frame an "anti-theft" unique ID with permanent ink, that the police officer ensured it has been tested against the latest bike thieves' "entrepreneurial ideas" and technology. My bike details, as well as my contact details, are now in a database by the Met police.
My dear old Pinncle also has a flashy sticker flagging thieves that my bike is tagged, and not worth their effort.

Most impressive of all the police officer confidently knows stat.s about the share of bike stolen out of the total no. of bikes in town, which the police adjusts for underreporting to the police w.r.t. all bikes that are stolen in town. This share is in the range 20-30%.

Two hat tips:
1) Go and get your bike tagged! You can search the closest stall by postcode in

2) Listen to London while you read top 10 bike maintenance tips !

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Top 100 books review & non winners' curse for economists

The Guardian has just published online an list of the top 100 non-fiction books, which its staff has compiled. While the books in it are thoroughly intriguing, and worth taking a sabbatical in one's job to read them, economics, the "dismal science" as Paul Krugman puts it in a book, has no entry.

To fill this gap, I thought I'd think about some titles, and email them to the Guardian, curiosly waiting for their reply.

The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith

The Great Crash, 1929 by John K. Galbraith

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

The Accidental Theorist: And Other Dispatches from the Dismal Science by Paul Krugman

I bet that I have forgotten some, hence hat tips are welcome!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Screws and bolts: the Italian prime minister and the opposition

In the latest issue of The Economist, an article is about the Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi . It starts with the following title: The man who screwed an entire country .

The articles describes the reasons why the prime minister is deemed unfit for office in Italy, an opinion that The Economist has put forward since 2001, and its consequences for the country. In 2003 the magazine also posed the prime minister 6 questions about the determinants of his past achievements as entrepreneur. Such question offer useful information to also assess why the entrepreneur turned to politics.

While the analysis in all such articles is accurate, its focus is 100% on the government coalition, rather than also on the opposition, thus omitting information that helps to explain the long survival in office of the controversial Italian entrepreneur, who firstly ran for elections in 1994.

In short, the reason why the centre-left parties or coalition party have only managed to win over Berlusconi, and the centre-right coalition party,  twice in elections is the lack of pragmatic focus on the ingredients to win democratic elections. One needs 50.1% of consensus by voters to buy a party and its candidate prime minister the right to rule a country. Sounds rather easy, hey!

However, adverse selection of member of parliaments and party leaders, the tendency by politicians to preserve (in)direct control over the public administration and firms in (little) competitive markets, and shifting the balance towards "political engineering", rather a balance of this and also grassroots politics, leave too little time for a busy candidate standing against Silvio Berlusconi in elections to also focus on counting the votes that one would get in exchange for pragmatic ideas that are spelled out simply, and tend to buy votes!

This problem leads to a double consequence for both end of the political spectrum in Italy: the centre-left coalition struggles to find a candidate that can deliver in elections, and instead focuses on little constructive criticism of the opponents. As per the centre-right coalition, it heavily depends on the entrepreneur-politician Silvio Berlusconi. Voters in the country face a similar problem to an agency problem in their support to either of party in a simplified 2-party system, and in delegating his preferences over what (not) do to in a country.

Voters are principals in their rights as citizens to delegate to a politician, who may or may not put all the effort in winning elections. Easier shortcuts than winning 50.1% of votes include quarrelling with colleagues over abstract ideas and plans (see Peoples' Front of Judea in Monty Python's Life of Brian !) The delegation problem is made even more difficult by the fact that the tasks that a politician carries out to win votes and elections are multidimensional in nature: competing with other politicians, campaigning by talking to households, firms or lobbyists, media coverage, considering alternative jobs to politics, fending corruption attempts, etc.  A way to describe this in words is that delegation is multidimensional in nature (see this link for a similar example that applies to managers in the private sector). This makes the game sound less easy, hey!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

rain in Spain and England sunland: Bermuda high!

"London at 24C (75F) will be comfortably hotter this weekend than Barcelona at 16C and Corfu at 17C" (source: )

Why? Check the intuition behind the Bermuda high, or Azores high, a weather phenomenon that "manufactures" good and bad weather in the Middle of the Atlantic, to then distribute it to the East Coast in the USA, as well as to Europe.

Happy Bermuda High Easter!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Piolets d'or: vertical sailing in Greenland!

An expedition of Belgian climbers in Greenland has been awarded the 2011 Piolets d'or, a prestigious prize for climbers succeeding in opening geographically remote and otherwise unknown climbing routes. 

Beyond their climbing skills, the  the recipients of the prize attract the attention as their expedition used a sailing boat as a base camp in Greenland.

In addition, the climbers carry musical instruments in their backpacks. According to them, music is very helpful to cope with such psychological challenges in climbing as forced bivacs on a mountain wall due to bad weather conditions.

Will the 2012 edition of the Piolets d'or perhaps focus its attention on horizonal climbing!?

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Dan Neil reviews Fiat's 500 in the WSJ

A recent review by Dan Neil in the WSJ is about the new Fiat 500 car: "the 500 makes the SLK look like Brock Lesnar", how flattery!

An earlier version of that car was originally planned and designed in the 1950s in Mirafiori, the first production plant by Fiat in Torino.

Sixty years later, a 21st century make of the same car shoots across the pond to challenge the US car market, one with little fuel efficient for European standards, but also solid cars for long-distance driving. Surprises in both markets may come in the next decade, also thanks to the partnership between Chrysler and Fiat.

The old Fiat 500 has become a symbol of the post World War II economic boom in Italy. Inter alia, this led the management of Fiat to make migration of workers to Torino attractive to keep up with demand for cars, as well as mailing job offers to entires classes of students completing high school diplomas in technology subjects, one of whom was my dad!

The CEO Sergio Marchionne has so far seized the opportunity of jointly exploiting Fiat expertise with that of colleagues at Chrysler, as well as reminding Rawlsian-type union leaders in Italy that unions need to innovate, beyond playing nostalgic revolutionary songs, to win workers' votes. Will he be so canny to tweak the "500 and economic boom" correlation into causation!?

20 years of Linux: long life to the penguin!

In 1991 Linus Torvalds released the first Linux kernel.

20 years later millions of desktop and server computers worldwide run open source operating system (see interview with Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of the Linux foundation). Without Linus, and the GNU project by Richard_Stallman, such computers may now process information far slower and less efficiently.

Recently, the apparent challenge that open source technology posed to the studies of intellectual property has been reconciled by documenting the following insights:
1) competition in the open source industry works similarly to any other market as ownership is limited to the product rather than to the general idea;
2) Open source software is a similar institution to a "local anti-trust" in the market for operating systems.

This may challenge Schumpeterian entrepreneurs and antitrust authorities, who after some pondering perhaps, will join me in wishing Linux Happy birthday!

Friday, 8 April 2011

A puncture in my tyre: Keynes, Smith and GDP in the UK

I've just fixed my bike, after the second suspicious puncture in the back wheel tyre. Suspicious as it occurs at night: romance, chance, or more likely cheap financing, as per recently surveyed by the Guardian?

Adam Smith wrote about the needle factory in 1776, perhaps similar sharp objects hit my wheels tonight. Just a coincidence or is a new Industrial revolution, the 3rd to date, forthcoming!?

I got my wheels punctured twice in less than three years:  you need to be street-smart and bike-street-smart in London!

If active bike thieves keep punching tyres at a sustained pace, how many bikes will they reap by so doing? How much money to bike shops, and any unintended actions there!? Enough to revive stagnating domestic demand (for tyres) in the UK? Would John Keynes agree on similar reasoning, and Mr Cameron?

Sunday, 27 March 2011

3 sisters adventure trekking in Nepal

3 sisters in Nepal have set up a tourist business offering hiking and climbing tours to mountaineers worldwide, thanks to word-of-mouth and to their website.

The initial reaction by the local community in the city where the business has its office, Pokhara, was a mix of surprise and criticism for such a business idea, as well as for their community programs to train women in Nepal as mountain guides. Putting some some of the most valuable and durable assets in the country at work: its beautiful mountains, in an environmentally conscious and sustainable way, is a smart idea. Are men in the community perhaps envious!?

What if the mountain guides that the school trains turn out to be more careful, precise and overall competent than their male colleagues!?

Spread the word and/or head yourself for a walk on an Annapurna peak!

Empathy and cruelty: a roaring tale of causality and emotions!

Zero Degrees of Empathy: A new theory of human cruelty is a recent book by Simon Baron-Cohen, professor of Developmental Psychopathology at Cambridge.

Its summary and a long review article suggest interesting food for thought in little explored realms on the border between social science and science.

However, it's hard to buy the proposition: black is to white similarly to what autism is to empathy, that seems to characterise the book.

To be read and then TBC!

Home delivery food and a psychiatrist

What's the difference between home delivery food, e.g. Pizza Hut, and seeing a psychiatrist? Surely the price per unit of quantity and a few additional details.

However, similarities seem to lie in the impatience with which your stomach and your head respectively expect to get some "food", so much so that "home cooking" of a pizza or certain thoughts is discarded from the menu.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Libyan airspace is closed: who opens Gaddafi's eyes, or simply the door to jail?

According to a note issued by Eurocontrol, Europe's air traffic agency, Libyan airspace is closed.

This follows a UN resolution approving a no-fly zone and additional measures to safeguard civilians in Libya: better late than never guys! The resolution was warmly welcomed in Bengasi and other areas in Libya in which rebels endure a strenuous fight against the regime.

I wish this opens Gaddafi's eyes and stops further violence in the country. Justice would suggest to trial Gaddafi's as any criminal. However, each additional day of fight and deaths may be averted by offering the "tyrant leader" an ad hoc deal. A thin line separates justice from a bright future for libya

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The Libyan Republic – The Interim Transitional National Council

While Gaddafi's troops were busy bombing cities that are controlled by the "opposition", the birth of The Interim Transitional National Council was announced online .

May the wind of democracy and peace in Libya blow by cable and on Libyan soil anon

Inspiring women: woooo, man!

Libya: 1, 2 and 3


days before democracy and peace

Women's (every) day

Women's day is everyday
Every day is a woman's day
A woman or a man
A rose or a fist
The man or the woman
The myth or the gist
Lesbian and straight
Allegories and vibes
Gay and straight
Ideas and no jibes
Pretty and handsome
Ugly and bad
bribe and ransom
fog and fad

Friday, 4 March 2011

Gaddafi, German Defence Minister, LSE, PhD

Recent turmoil in Libya may eventually result in the fall of a non-democratic regime headed by army colonnel Gaddafi that has been in power for decades.
Such course of history has been crossed by two minor though equally interesting ones. Gaddafi's son Saif has recently gained his PhD at the London School of Economics (LSE). In addition, a Libyan foundation which Saif manages donated funds to support research at the LSE. The dubious source of the funds and alleged plagiarism by Saif in his PhD thesis has eventually led the Head of the LSE, Howard Davies, to resign with a short but persuasive letter.

On a parallel short course to cut corners, the German Defence Minister was caught cheating in his PhD thesis, thus leading him to resign.

Two recommendations ensue:

1) If your dad is a dictator and such "scholarship" funds your PhD, or if you are about to be appointed minister, check online whether you've blatantly cheated before handing in your PhD!

2) If you are an old style, vintage dictator, e.g. Chavez, Gaddafi, Kim Jong-il or Mugabe, or such a modern one that you look like a prime minister or president, e.g. Berlusconi or Putin:
2a) Proofread your children's PhD before they submit,
2b) Why don't you resign and do a PhD yourself!? You'll have plenty of time and will not need to cheat in a rush to finish!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Indios de Gerona, Barcelona, Arizona


Tres rios

Romanos, Visigotos, Francos, Moros, Franceses y Españoles los cruzaron

Un borracho tertullia enfadado con un rio por la noche




Dulces Pirineos nevados

La virgen Maria en las esquinas, santos y progresistas

Los Indios de Barcelona, son mas Indios que los de Arizona ...

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Gender, identity and (dis)orientation

Today I filled in an application for a job at a uni in the UK. Come the equality of opportunity section, the applicant is prompted with 3 questions:

1) What's your gender? Female/Male

2) Is your gender identity the same as the gender you were assigned at birth? Yes/No

3) What's you sexual orientation? Straight, Gay, Bisexual etc

A number of non-mutually exclusive thoughts come to my mind:
- is this a hidden test to check the logic consistency in the applicant's answers!?
- Who assigns gender at birth? And gender identity?
- The implicit assumptions are:
-- gender orientation is discovered or revealed in life, one may scramble and unscramble it or, more simply, experience deep disorientation when filling such applications for jobs!
-- identity and orientation may not necessarily coincide and neither of them may coincide with gender

John, I'm Only Dancing ... Job, I'm only Applying ... lallallala!

Monday, 21 February 2011

2011 NBA All Star Game: Griffin can dunk jumping over a car!

Blake Griffin is a basketball player in the Los Angeles Clippers. He won the slam dunk contest in the 2011 NBA All Star Game.

He likes to dunk: check this out!

The dunk that won him the contest consists in jumping over a car , perhaps not the British way to skip queues, though well dunk!

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Gaddafi, the British government and the LSE

Muammar Gaddafi has been in power in Libya for longer than fourty years.

The US and the British condemned Gaddafi's regime. However, the oil wells in Libya were too appealing to US and the British firms to miss such an opportunit. The "Oil for us and regime for you" program that was tolerated internationally sounds like a less noble trade than the more popular oil for food UN program. Hard to conclude whether this was the best world possible or additional diplomatic effort may have anticipated the home made "oil for democracy" plan that Libyans are ready to put forward by themselves now.

The recent uprising in Libya follows one that led Mubarak to stand down in Egypt. However, Gaddafi's regime sounds determined to stay in power for longer. Will he succeed? Differently from Mubarak's son Gamal who did not manage to take over from his father, Gaddafi's second son Saif has been actively involved in non-for-profit activities in Libya. He has also recently contributed to tame the protest in a televised message. The message is skillfully pitched by blending popular Arabic norms and values with notions from international relations. No surprise, Saif studied at the London School of Economics (LSE) and also made generous donations to finance research there as his profile suggests.

The admission committee at the LSE must have had a hard time when screening the application by Gaddafi's son beyond his academic credentials. Rejecting the application would not do much as the next top school in the UK or elsewhere woul admit him. By admitting him instead the training that the LSE offered Saif a chance to return home to do one of two things. Either take over the "Gaddafis family business" when his dad retires or, more bravely, make a U-turn and pay back Libyans in the streets by making their dreams about democracy a reality.

Odi et amo: from Catullus to Lady Gaga

odi et amo. quare id faciam, fortasse requiris? is one of the masterworks by Catullus, a gem of synthesis and vibrant feelings. These words were written for (one of) his partners Lesbia. This is a nickname for a woman he was fond of, perhaps also for her liberal views on gender issues about 2000 years ago, hence the nick.

A fil rouge in my thoughts has been recently going from Catullus, through chats with friends, to:

- Lady Gaga's latest single "Born this way" which offers light as well as heavier food for thought.

The range of audit that may benefit from such inputs spans from Lady Gaga's fans to busy policy-makers who campaign pro or against sensitive ethical issues full of enthusiasm but lacking critical thinking. The few exceptions I know of are Germaine Greer, Deirdre McCloskey , Kevin Hague and Nichi Vendola . However, the list is far from being exhaustive and I welcome contributions.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Viewpoints on the compass & course on of the Italian government

I have recently read several articles in the press about the (mis)behaviour of the italian government. One of them is by an ex-phd fellow on the dark and sunny sides of Italy . A colourful viewpoint by Germaine Greer is also worth reading. Such ideas are nicely complemented by research showing simply and neatly how a rich elite, headed in Italy by the current prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, can cling onto power and scramble democracy, not hugely, but enough persist there for a long time.

Thanks to Wikileaks, the opinions by the US Department of State about italian prime ministers in the last decade are also public knowledge. What one learns is that the government is unfit to do the job. The opposition party instead is less corrupt but uncapable to win 51% of consensus by voters.
To sum up, the centre-right party is bad but it is in power while the centre-left one is good but can't get to power so far. A dedalus worth pondering about: how bad do you need to be to secure a democratic majority but no more than that!?

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Attached as a mussel to a rock or a snail shying away from your partner? A test

A recent book "Attached" by a psychiatrist and a psychologist in the USA describes a variety of possible combinations in a couple in a relationship between individuals with different profiles, e.g. anxious, avoidant and secure. Whether each possible combination in a couple leads to a long-term relationship is carefully described in words by using evidence from empirical studies.

Thrilled about learning whether you and your partner will happily retire together? Here's a test "attached" to the book.

Nice idea though what if I am anxious on Mondays (back to work), avoidant on Wednesdays (to go climbing with my best pal) and secure on Fridays (I look fwd to weekend!)!?

A nice study builds on a similar intuition and it also offers rich predictions about the tradeoff that a policy-maker may face: either a lot of marriages for money, efficient marriages investments and few females in the labour force or more romantic dating, more females at work and greater productivity, wow!

Monday, 14 February 2011

St. Randomness & St. Valentine!

Once upon a time, St. Valentine was a celebration with little technology involved other than a present and perhaps a meal out. How thrilling was to meet the beloved other, hoping to have chosen the right suit or dress or restaurant.

The recent contribution from science for a flawless St. Valentine is unparalleled: colour of your suit or dress, present, restaurant or fragrance, you'll get everything right!

Pondering slightly, is the randomness that led to such pathbreaking scientific contributions aimed at avoiding randomness in love? The science of love!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

A seed of peace in Egypt

What a peaceful sign of joy between civilians and army officials!

The contrast between the role of the army in the post-Mubarak regime and in the regime which is now over reminds me of the contrast between friendly police in the UK and the "unfriendly" police in the military dictatorship in Brasil in 1965-85 about which Caetano Veloso sang in the song London while in exile in the UK.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Mars500 ‘arrives’ in orbit around Mars!

The voyage to Mars has begun! However, only a simulation has been undertaken so far by Mars 500, a project by the European Space Agency. Its aim is preparing austronats for the challenges of long exploration missions.

This initiative may precede the development of the technology that will fly austronats to Mars is, thus perhaps setting an incentive to deliver such technology and also boosting expectation until then. Conversely, such technology may have already been secretly developed in a new "space race" and one may soon buy returns flights to Mars with a few clicks online!