Thursday, August 31, 2006
Seems so. Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS)'s last report reveals a nosediving decline in the fertility of the Arab woman. Arab GFR in Israel had always been around 8 or 9 children per woman, the world highest by far. But the rate in 2005 had declined to four children per woman (compared to 2.7 children per Jewish woman in Israel). Of course, 4 children is still 3 times the European average and double of American women. But demographic transition, once started, cannot be stopped. Arabs may be soon dying out at the rate of the Spanish, Italian, Japanese and other rich Western peoples.
The photo is from the Virtual Country website, named for a soon-to-be Virtual People.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
In yesterday's TV speech, Hassan Nasrallah said that he was surprised by Israel's violent reaction and if he knew it beforehand, he wouldnt have kidnapped our soldiers. Just a minute, bachurchik! If he says he lost and is sorry, that must mean that WE won the war!
Olmert, grimacing teatrically (he is a talented voudeville funnyman), said: Who won the war? Look at me. I am all over the place, Kiryat Shmona, Shlomi, Haifa. Where is Nasrallah? Two weeks after he is still in a bunker, afraid of sunlight.
This was Israel's the first war closely micromanaged by politicians, where bombing and military actions were finely tuned to the day-to-day, hour-to-hour demands of political negotiations. This really was a war that was conducted strictly subordinated to political dealmaking. Very well done.
And the political goals were achieved. As Olmert put it: If before the war I had promised that the Hizballah would vacate its frontier bunkers, that the Lebanese Army with 10,000 European soldiers would patrol the South, you would have called me a "fantasioner".
I am a born "oficialista", the person who always takes the side of the leader or the party in power. At least in my case, it has nothing to do with calculation or self interests, I always genuinely agree with the government. You can think what you want, as for me, I am totally sincere. So I see the truth of Olmert's position and it is very obvious to me that we won.
Israel's most important defense weapon is the irrational terror its name generates in the hearts of our enemies. This fear has been increased, we reacted in an unexpectedly brutal and out of proportion way and our leaders and pilots sleep well after bombing the shit out of our enemies, their women and babies included. As our flematic Chief of Staff answered when asked what he felt as a pilot when bombed a village where possibly hundreds die. I felt a small jump of the plane, he said. He has a sense of humor, I must admit.
In every confrontation, our infanty caused the Hizballah terrorists to run away leaving bunkers and equipment. We resist to declare victory because we do not want to hurt their feelings. We want Lebanese to be psychologically able to resign to our presence here and to live in peace with us. In fact, we want to be friends. In our hearts, we want to be loved like everybody else.
Aviation Week” reports that the IDF deployed armed Hermes 450 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), built by Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE: ESLT). “Aviation Week” says Israel Air Force squadron 200, based at Palmachim, operated the UAVs. Elbit Systems has supplied the Hermes 450 to the British Army for its Watchkeeper program; the company’s share in the contract is worth over $500 million.
There were reports in the foreign press that the IDF operated armed UAVs during the war. The impression was that these were Heron UAVs built by Israel Aircraft Industries Ltd. (IAI). One report claimed that a Heron attacked a vehicle on the Lebanese-Syrian border. A faceless official said that “the decision had not been made to arm the UAVs for political reasons.” (Como decimos en lunfa: Cheeeeeee, anda contale a Magoya.) Elbit Systems’s subsidiary Silver Arrow produces the Hermes 450 at its factory in Ness Ziona. The Hermes 450 is a tactical UAV with a flight capacity of 20 hours, weighs 450 kg, and can carry a payload of 150 kg, day and night optical systems.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Monday, August 28, 2006
Judaism allows, no!, advises, no! invites variety and experimentation. I know, one Rabbi, Johanan ben Dahabai, says that it is forbidden to "overturn the table" (practice unnatural intercourse or unusual sexual positions). But the rest of the Rabbis explicitly disagree with him: "A man may do whatever he pleases with his wife. A woman once came before Rabbi and said, "Rabbi, I set a table before my husband and he overturned it." Rabbi replied, "My daughter, the Torah has permitted you to him. What can I do for you?" (Nedarim 20b)
Our sages have also weighted the issue of unnatural sex (biyah lo kedarkah), such as oral sex, anal sex, or what the rabbis termed "threshing within and without" (premature withdrawal). Talmudic sources permit it with the proviso of avoiding wasteful spilling of seed, which Judaism abhors. However, it is not considered like the act of Er and Onan unless there is intention to destroy the seed and it is a habit to always do so. If it is occasional and it the man's desire to come upon his wife in an unnatural way, it is permitted. (Tosefot on Yevamoth 34).
The mysterious disappearance of dozens of Israeli kablanim (building contractors) and thousands of homes for young couples has been attributed to the emergence of secret cells of EcoKGB agents that have been surfacing lately in this country. A kablan said that "I am losing money", a standard statement voiced by kablanim of all times, but uncharacteristically he added that "We are feeling attacked by hidden unknown forces. These forces hate us."
The Tel Aviv District Court cancelled a building plan for 1,000 residential units in the area of the kurkar (sandstone) ridges in Ness Ziona. The Coastal Iris, as well as a wide variety of other flora, grows on the sandstone ridges.
The 1982 regional plan designated the sandstone ridges as a national park. Despite this, in the early 1990's, the Ness Ziona Municipality rezoned the area for residential construction. In 1994, the new mayor, Yossi Shvo, canceled his predecessor's decision. In response, landowners took their matter to the courts.
Parallel to the legal proceedings, residents of Ness Ziona created the Kurkar Ridges Forum. Every year the forum would stage events intended to promote awareness and to create public opinion in favor of the area's preservation. Events included kite-flying festivals, marches and so forth. Eventually, the court decided to cancel the plan.
The court decreed that the general good precedes individual benefits, and especially those of the developers. Although the owners can now claim compensation under clause 197 of the Planning and Building Law, the city will claim that the land is rocky (that is, uncultivated and unproductive) so there is no basis for compensation.
In other words, the area is useless unproductive sandstone for compensation purposes, but invaluable as one the many places this stinking and uneatable (even by famelic Beduin goats) weed prospers. The Iris is far from being an endangered species, it is a common weed in Mediterranean coastal areas.
On the other hand, the creation of a Nature Protection park in Ness Ziona will increase the value of the current residents's real estate. The 1000 young families will have to pay much more for their homes than the already astronomic prices in Israel's central (as yet out of reach of Hamas' and Hizballa's rockets) region.
As if it is not hard enough to maintain some Taharas Aynayim (purity of the eyes) during the year, the hot days of summer make it no easier. The general Hefker (abandonement to sin) feeling over the summer combined with the lack of clothing on the street breeds tayva (sexual appetite). AHHHHHH!
Here's the solution, we should have a national yom tefilla (day of prayer) by all the guys like us, and daven (to pray) for cold front, followed by a mid-july blizzard. That'll teach 'em!
There is a serious question to ponder: If a guy can not resist shichvas zera levatala (masturbation), does he give up on trying to fight it altogether and simply focus on the rest of his growth, accepting that it is a part of him that he will never overcome? Or does he struggle from one week to the next on a constant roller coaster ride of good days and bad days, beating himself up for his mistakes, and feeling a sense of overall spiritual worthlessness?
We are all trying to grow closer to Hashem (God) and to our families. Yet somewhere in our minds, we live a life that doesn't permit us to shake hands with women, but if given the opportunity to sleep with a gorgeous woman, we would do it in a heartbeat, without hesitation. That is the reality of the problem, whether or not it makes any sense.
Despite the fact that women think they know what it is like to have a strong Tyva for sex, in reality, they have no clue, and are unable to objectively offer sympathy and understanding.
Several men commented about thinking about sex every day, hour, minute or second of the day . . . women can not relate to that overburdening feeling, and the distractions associated with it.
We will never get any sympathy from our wives, because, generally speaking they are unable to comprehend it. It is important therefore, to be careful to work on these issues without airing it a spouse. Begging and asking for more sex at home will not likely help, rather make you look pathetic, and make her feel cheap and used. When then time is right, as we all know, it will happen. I actually love that my wife uses the Mikvah (ritual bath) on a monthly basis (even though we don't touch for 2 weeks) because when she does, it is a time that I can look forward to, without feeling like a pathetic pest.
Such are the sufferings of the Jews.
The potash fertilizer worldwide demand is growing while production is stable. The only country with production increase potential is Canada, and the Saskatchewan Potash (POT) company is the owner of that potential. Increasing scarcity means that the value of these deposits is growing, making POT and ICL very good long term investments.
Yeah, I convinced myself. Fortunately, ICL price is falling on TASE.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
An important part of my portfolio is in ICL but not because I put so much money in this company but becuase it price went up 200% in the last two years. Should I now buy more ICL shares, which gave me such a good result, or not, due to the low probability of continued success of the firm. Today its price went down 2% on TASE.
Israel Chemicals Ltd.'s second-quarter net income fell 9%, hurt by delayed potash sales and higher costs of energy and other materials. ICL earned $92.3 million compared with $101.2 million a year earlier. Sales rose 9.5% to $847.3 million from $773.9 million.
It was expected that second quarter would be weak, as led by POT's chief Doyle, the potash cartel delayed signing contracts with China and India. "After the quarter, new contracts were signed: with Chinese customers at terms similar to other producers, and with a major Indian customer till April 2007 at the price of previous contracts. This significantly increases the value of the group's large potash inventories." In addition, the shekel strengthened against the dollar at the end of the quarter, increasing the company's shekel-based post-employment liabilities.
Israel Chemicals is controlled 52.2% by the Ofer Brother's Israel Corp., a holding company with additional interests in TSEM semiconductors (42%) and shipping (ZIM). In addition, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan (POT : Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan Inc.
The mountains of potash mineral ready to be shipped should predict a very good third quarter. Dividends will be aplenty. To buy more ICL?
The illustration is from an Utah potash operation.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Tower Semiconductors is one of my falling investments, and my losses amount to about 15% and accelerating. Like the Ofer Brothers owners of the Israel Corporation, and the Poalim and Leumi banks, having no other choice, instead of ranting I try to enjoy the exciting falling experience.
The agreement for refinancing Tower's towering 527 million dollar debt was finally signed, with the Ofers injecting 100 million $ fresh money & receiving more shares, becoming owners of 42% of the enterprise. 30% of Tower´s debt to Bank Leumi and Bank Hapoalim will be exchanged for options to be redeemed at 3.04 $ (current price of the share 1.4 $). In addition, the rest of the debt will be charged a lighter interest, LIBOR+1,1% instead of LIBOR+2.5%.
Tower made a net loss of $43.6 million on sales of $ 44.6 million in the second quarter of 2006. Quite an achievement. Fab 1 and Fab 2 realized record shipments in Q2, at an utilization greater than 90 percent, with approximately 50 new revenue products and a total customer base of approximately 55.
The operation dilutes my holdings some 50% but the firm comes out strengthened and possibly more valuable. I knew it was a speculative investment, but I am in negative territory for a loooooooooooong a time.
I am buying MORE Tower. Crazy.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Sure, my family has its saga, its histories and its anecdotes, but the fact is I know little of it. In summer 1944, all provincial Jews of Hungary were collected in ghettoes and little after sent in locked cattle wagons to Auschwitz. They were met by Dr Mengele and the older generation was directed to the waiting gas chambers and their bodies cremated. I have four grandparents as everybody else, but they were all killed in Auschwitz before I was born, together with their Jewish neighbors and friends, and my uncles and cousins and relatives. After the war, when my father came back to Jaszbereny, he found strangers living in their homes, and some things had disappeared and other were returned to him, such as heavy Pessach silver plates, and other ceremonial silver objects which I remember adorned our home in Budapest. The gold objects were gone.
As a child, I had a violent dislike to intimate talking with my father (I was a "bad" son, in that sense) and specifically about the war and before, so now I know close to nothing. His grandfather had died of natural death a few years before the war. In the Jaszbereny Jewish cemetery there are many Klein graves, most are of children who died before ten and also a few old people, and since I dont know even my Great Grandfatehr's name, I couldnt recognize his grave. Only in one old family picture my father once pointed to an out-of-focus figure under a tree, with a black skullcap thing on his head, and said that was his grandfather. He must have been a religious Jew from the East, but who wasnt?
The first Jewish merchant settled in Jászberény in 1860, his picture is shown in the town's museum. My grandfather (see picture) Gyula, his Jewish name was Eliezer, came from the North after marrying Anna Grünwald. With the money she brought in he established a business of distributing raw materials to village house painters, but he failed. Then he started supplying leather and other inputs to village schoemakers, and he got rich. According to survivors I met later, my grandfater was very rich but no businessman, it was his wife and son Joska that managed the business.
According the Memorial Tablet standing in Jaszbereny Jewish cemetery that lists the town's 500 something Jews that were killed in Auschwitz, my Grandfather was 56 in summer 1944, so he must have been born in 1888. Since his brothers lives in other villages, I assume he must have arrived to Jaszbereny around the turn of the century, when the prosperity of the Hungarian part of the Habsburg Empire caused a massive migration of Galitzianers to Hungary proper. He served in the First World War and was distinguished with a medal, which later exempted him from the forced labour (Munkaszolgalat) that was imposed on Jewish males during the Second World War. My father observed that he would have better chances of surviving the forced labour than he had staying home and being deported to Auschwitz.
To conclusion of this first installment of this saga, our origin is lost within the mist of the history of the great masses of Eastern European Ashkenazi Jewry that are no more and whose physical vestiges and memory have been erased from the lands they lived. It is truer to say we emerged from this mass of humanity than searching for uncertain individual faces. Eastern European Jewry went up in fire, we are their remnants and inheritors of their memory as a whole.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
An Australian blog has a note titled: "Australian taxpayers pay to re-create a swamp". So what? Here in Israel we are paying through our noses to recreate the Hula swamp, I mean to create an idealized version of that putrid malarial swamp, i.e. a clean sterile secure Disneyland recreational plastic swamp ohne mosquitoes. Our neo-pseudo-swamp is ready and can be visited (the entrance ticket costs 15 US$, double on holidays). The infrared air picture shows the nice sqare form of our altneu-swamp.
The transformation of the Hula swamp into agricultural land was an epic Zionist enterprise at the beginning of the last century. Thousands of fanatical pioneers died digging mud channels to drain the fetid water, and thousands lived their lifes with recurrent attacks of debilitating "kadahat" - the malarial fever. The Hula became a productive agricultural center in the water rich Northern Israel, allowing the establishment of the a Jewish nucleus in the Arab Lower Galilee. It was an historical enterprise of Zionist sacrifice and conquest of the land. The area became truely habitable only in the fifties, with the invention of that wonder chemical, the DDT.
But now we live in the Post-Zionist era and the peopling of the Hula wasteland is considered not only a historical injustice against the natives (which were absent, but that is beside the point) but also a crime against Nature itself. Only restoring the swamp to its proper owners - the papirus plant, the frog, the snake, the bird - we may return to a state of peace and harmony with the universe. In the nineties, a large budget was assigned to this engineering project of trascendent spiritual dimension, and even my humble self may have added his grain of sand to the design. Generous water quotas were budgeted to allow for evaporation (and consequent salination of Israel's water resources) and evapotranspiration by its tropical wetland vegetation.
The problem Israeli do-gooders faced then was to define what they wanted. Not one of the idealists who made all this possible knew what a swamp was, how it looked and how it worked. It was out of question to recolonize the swamp with Anopheles spp., venomous frogs and snakes and other un-Disneylander thingies, notwithstanding their standing as ancestral citizens of Natureland. The idea they had in mind is some kind of Disneyland swamp, with boats and cute singing birdies and well-trimmed bright-green hybrid grass lawns. The rotting organic material would have to be disinfected and hidden from sight, and the methane gas collected and burned to generate green electricity at extremely expensive but ecologically correct installations.
Small problems appeared and were solved. The reintroduced birds did not sing as expected, so hidden loudspeakers had to be installed. Exotic plants invaded and had to be "controlled" by mechanical mowing. Mycocastor coypus (nutria), an exotic South American rodent, became feral. It grazed delicate aquatic plants such as Myriophyllum spictum, Utricularia australis and Nymphaea alba. Hundreds are hunted and killed each year. Voles also caused damage to crops that were artificially cultivated to feed the buffaloes, especially to alfalfa. The solution was poisoning and the introduction of common barn owls in cages.
Reintroduced fish were eaten by ugly American mud fish, which grew to monstrous sizes. Frogs refused to return, so their extermination was invented. Maize and other crops are grown in un-de-swamped areas to feed migratory birds and walkways were asphalted with useful photo-opportunity stations. I visited the place with the children when great bird migrations were announced, and bought nice plastic made-in-China souvenirs in the Company for the Defense of Nature's shop.
The girls felt good about the excursion. Those bad people had destroyed the SWAMP and exiled Bambi and his little friends. But good people had restored it. We Israelis love our swamp.
This morning I took part in a meeting in Tel Aviv with the participants in a neighborhood commercial center project. I am in charge of designing the cold and hot water, sanitary and industrial wastewater and runoff drainage (30% of the rainfall has to be injected into the aquifer) systems. The entrepreneurs are a group of shadowy partners from the crime-ridden city of Netanya and the professional team is headed by a very professional but warm and sexy Tel Aviv architect.
I hate myself because I lack the courage of asking a signed contract and an advance down payment, so I am working on this project as an unpaid volunteer. I hate even the idea that I am doing so. When I murmured something about money, the chief partner said: Jaim, you know that money is no problem with us. Just do your work. I said, Yes Boss.
Another partner got a call during the meeting, and left the phone open for all of us to hear. It was a troubled Arab telling him that the lab report shows zero sperm count and... It appears that his mother is a famous folk witch doctor. She also puts money in the project. I felt like living in Die Dreigroschenopera, Bertold Brecht´s story of the raise of a London exploiter of beggars to respected capitalist businessman. I have no problem working with these people, they are honest and generous, but I need to receive money for my work.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
A month ago I was commissioned to make a drainage plan for a new large chicken enterprise. The chicken coop will stand on land gained to an inundated area in Moshav Re'em. The Drainage Authority demanded a plan against flooding, saying that they dont want to be sued if the chickens catch cold because of the wet conditions. They told me to get basic data from the Ministry of Agriculture.
After visiting the site with the skullcapped mulatto who was the active, working partner, I proposed standard river management measures such as improving the channel and a retaining wall. He said no pebbles nor stones nor vegetative cover nor anything - the only thing he knew how to do well was to build concrete walls and that is what he wants me to design. He and his partner dont care if other alternatives are cheaper or better. So I had to design concrete structures alone.
One thing I am is flexible, as well as versatile and fast. I have no unmovable engineering principles. In fact, shall do anything if the Client wants it and if it conforms to the laws of the natural world. So I finished the design with concrete but the agriculture GIS people is still in reserve duty and they were not advised that the war is over. So I have no data on peak flows, a basic design parameter. In the meanwhile, the entrepreneurs were forced to stop the work because of lack of the permit. Coco, the bagman, phoned me and told me I was causing him great economic damage.
On top of it, we have not signed a contract nor anything looking as an agreement. I never take care of my interests.
I am having nightmares and wake up with fear in the stomach. It takes me minutes to collect courage to stand up and start my day. It is a physiological feature, also noted in the Bible. Possibly a Jewish genetic feature. My father had it.
I dreamt I was stucked in zionist movement summer camp near the Mexican border and all the young people were starting to go home and I was still there. I had sex with one of the girls. I embarked on a trip towards the frontier but it was all confusion and purposelessness.
Out there there are people working for our extintion and no one is taking them seriously. Richard Hayes, of the Center for Genetics and Society: “Last June at Yale, the World Transhumanist Association held its first national conference. The Transhumanists advocate the breeding of 'genetically enriched' forms of 'post-human' beings. Other advocates of the new techno-eugenics, such as Princeton University professor Lee Silver, predict that 'All aspects of the economy, the media, the entertainment industry, and the knowledge industry [will be] controlled by members of the GenRich class... Naturals [will] work as low-paid service providers...'”
How long shall the GenRich class tolerate the existence of its biological subordinates? Here's Dr. Richard Lynn, emeritus professor at the University of Ulster, who supports human genetic modification: 'What is called for here is not genocide, the killing off of the population of incompetent cultures. But we do need to think realistically in terms of the 'phasing out' of such peoples....Evolutionary progress means the extinction of the less competent'.”
Change is inevitable. No biological lifeform is forever, they are just ad hoc adaptations that were able to reproduce in its environment. There is nothing permanent or sacred about them. We should embrace change, and following Nietzsche, to promote it. But change is death, who can propose its own replacement?
Demobilized reserve soldiers back from the last Lebanon incursion are protesting in front of the Knesset demanding the resignation of the Chef of Staff. The reason is that they were went to the war without having breakfast and without Mama's food they are used to. A soldier interviewed on TV said that his Magad (commander), when asked about lunch somewhere deep in Lebanon, said that they had advanced faster than the logistics units, so they will have to eat in the local deli. And what if they dont accept Isracard?
In face of the growing public outcry against the management of the war, the Army asked the reservist to avoid airing our dirty rags in public, because of security reasons.
No wonder our enemies try once and again to defeat us. They cannot internalize (convince themsselves) that they cannot defeat these leytzes (yid. clowns).We are just not credible as a cruel occupation army.
Monday, August 21, 2006
The Tao of Jewishness
1. Wherever you go, there you are. Your luggage is another story.
2. The Tao has no expectations. The Tao demands nothing. The Tao does not speak. The Tao does not blame. The Tao does not take sides. The Tao is not Jewish.
3. Let your mind be as a floating cloud. Let your stillness be as the wooded glen. And sit up straight. You'll never meet the Buddha with such round shoulders.
4. There is no escaping karma. In a previous life, you never called, you never wrote, you never visited. And whose fault was that?
5. To practice Zen and the art of Jewish motorcycle maintenance, do the following: get rid of the motorcycle. What were you thinking?
6. Be aware of your body. Be aware of your perceptions. Be aware that not every physical sensation is a symptom of a terminal illness.
7. If there is no self, whose arthritis is this?
8. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Forget this and attaining Enlightenment will be the least of your problems.
9. The Buddha taught that one should practice loving kindness to all sentient beings. Still, would it kill you to find a nice sentient being who happens to be Jewish?
10. Be patient and achieve all things. Be impatient and achieve all things faster.
11. To find the Buddha, look within. Deep inside you are ten thousand flowers. Each flower blossoms ten thousand times. Each blossom has ten thousand petals. You might want to see a specialist.
12. Be here now. Be someplace else later. Is that so complicated?
13. Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkes!
14. Drink tea and nourish life. With the first sip, joy. With the second, satisfaction. With the third, Danish.
Yes, this war against Hizbalah was cut short by the Security Council ceasefire, but once worked up, we cannot stop fighting. Now, the Alexandroni Brigade, having been discharged, is showing its dissatisfaction with the situation by asking for the head of the Government Ehud Olmert and Perez and Halutz. The reserve soldiers are mobilizing themselves and trying to hang their generals.
This reminds me to Athenian democracy. After a successful campaing, Athenian generals were judged by the Assembly and mostly condemned, some of them to death. Thucydides, in the illustration, headed an Athenian fleet at Thasos. For his delay in helping out the beseiged city of Amphipolis, he was banished for twenty years. Democracy, that is what we are.
The most picant point is that residents of the northern towns like Kyriat Shmona are protesting why they were not evacuated in time. Why their municipal leaders failed in their functions. I happen to know personally many of these town majors, and they are the reflection of the people who elected them. It is true that the municipalities are a disaster, but so is the people.
Another lemon I put my hard earned money in is a financial organization called Enter Holdings formerly known as Solomon. This outfit had the intention of becoming a big investment bank, but it didnt happen. It lost 23% of its value from the moment I bought it.
The living spirit of Enter is one Amit Berger, a financial tightrope genius. He is now signaling that an IPO for supermarket chain Tiv Taam is on the way. Enter recently bought 50% of the chain, which was very cheap as it was an emergency salvatage: the TV made a documentary showing that this non kosher chain was selling putrid meat and ipso fact the chain was about to go broke. So the owners had to look fast for an angel, which appeared in the form of Berger.
The NIS 80 million debt will be secured by Tiv Taam shares. The money will be raised through a private placement of bonds convertible into shares in Tiv Taam. The bond issue is primarily intended to finance the acquisition of Tiv Taam, which was transacted at a value for the supermarket chain of $64 million. Apart from paying for its stake in Tiv Taam, Enter Holdings has also agreed to buy 33% of finance company Perfect for NIS 11 million, while it has cash and cash equivalents of about NIS 100 million only, most of which derives from a bond issue held earlier this year.
This man Berger is a financial artist. Is it a good investment? Unproven till now.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Six months ago, after reading Greenblatt's book How to be a Stock Market Genius, and being convinced that I knew more on successful speculation than the experts, I invested in this Bank. Since then, it went down 35%. I reasoned that since all the big banks were being sold at that time, Igud would also be sold at a premium. But it wasnt and its price went south. In fact, it gained 2% from 1/1/06 but I bought at the peak, when its sale was debated.
Bank Igud (in Hebrew) is profitable, with 1.6 Bill.US$ sales a year, 20 mill. US $ profits, with a multiplier of 11.57. But it has not paid dividend in many years. Its book value is higher than market value. The profits are increasing nicely. In this situation, it may be an attractive investment.
The blogosphere is full of success stories. For a change, ecce homo. I am not selling.
The illustration shows a Phoenician shekel of the Holy City of Tzidon (Tyre).
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Grand hopes were pinned on llamas: They would carry the heavy equipment of the soldiers who penetrate into Lebanon. The llama, which chews cud and belongs to the camel family (Camelidae), has no hump and is smaller than the camel. It lives in the Andes and is used to transport heavy goods. This beast of burden seemed ideal for back-breaking work on Lebanon's mountainous, cleft terrain. But the Israel Defense Forces' planners overlooked the llama's intelligence and intuition; not surprisingly, the animals refused to cross the border. All efforts to persuade or prod them, whether with a small or big stick, proved futile.
Friday, August 18, 2006
TSEM (Tower Semiconductors) is a chip foundry I am invested in and its price is howering around 1.4 $ during the last year. Projected sales for 2006 are 300 M $, debt 550 M$ and a market value of 130 M$. EBIDTA is positive. The new manager has caused a revolution and in the short period of a year he has doubled sales and reduced indebtedness.
People is saying that a fair value of the stock should be around 3 $ and in a year 6 to 8 $. No analyst is following the stock, since the whole business was about to go to hell only a year ago. I thought and think TSEM is a good investment opportunity, but it has not moved. A mystery.
BTW what is the meaning of the Tarot card above?
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Dan Halutz is Israel´s Chief of Staff, the man who managed the last war. Yesterday, the media unanimously called for his head: Halutz must go! Just a minute, what happened? All in all, the war was successful, today the Lebanese Army is taking up positions in the South and an international force is going to guard Israel's northern frontier and possibly even disarm Hizballah. Even those terrifying German warriors - who in the past did us so much harm - are coming here to protect our safety. That were the war's aims, all achieved.
Of course no good deed goes unpunished and in the ferocious "man eat man" environment in Israel, you dont even have to do any good deed to be punished. Poor Halutz, a decent if limited Persian pilot, has some 100,000 dollar savings in Bank Leumi. Some journalist wrote that Halutz had sold all his portfolio a few minutes after being informed of the Hizballah's kidnapping of two soldiers in the North, the incident that triggered this war. Instead of being concentrated in the war, he was thinking about saving his portfolio from the coming crash, and in fact made of use of "inside" information to make a stock exchange profit. And if the public knew that Halutz has sold his shares, in the ensueing panic the whole TASE would surely crashed. Halutz, therefore, was unsuited for his post and had to go.
Now things are calmer. It appears that Halutz is a rather weak investor, he bought when everybody was buying (at the top) and sold when everybody was selling (at the lowest prices). He lost a lot of money on the TASE. His rather obtuse selling on the first day of the war, was in fact done a few hours before the kidnapping, so he has been cleaned of the suspicion that he was exploiting inside information for personal profit. Moreover, his portfolio contained mostly foreign, emerging market mutual funds, independent from Israel's security situation.
Two things can be learned from this pseudo incident:
(1) Halutz is a very weak investor, dominated by rumors and crowd sentiment. If that means anything, he is like everybody else, lacking a leader's spiritual unmovability.
(2) In Israel, everybody is out to get everybody else. People is bad, evil, wishing unfortune to their neighbors and relatives, passionately searching for dirt to throw on the other fellow. We dont have the monopoly of these "virtues", but watching the perverse satisfaction of yesterday's vitriolic TV commenters, oh boy, we are something.
It is unwise to incite to boycott of a large and powerful international corporation, but Ashtrom contracted me to a job for them, I did it and they never paid me. They never answered my letters and phonecalls. I think the minimum revenge I am entitled to is to write: Boycott them! Dont buy from them! Make them suffer! If possible, make clear the source of their pains: They did not pay the work of Jaim Klein.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
It is an axiom of Israel's enemies and peaceniks (but also of Prof. Shamir and Avigdor Liberman, the leader of the Israeli right wing) that Jews are losing the demographic war. We gave up Gaza fearing what Arafat called the ultimate weapon of the Arab nation, the Arab woman's uterus. (BTW, Arafat was a pervert pederast, which may explain why he regarded the cuss a menace and a weapon).
Once Dr Haim Tzaban took me to Sebastia in Emek Elon (in my red Ford Escort) - He intended to become Yehuda and Shomron's Chief Engineer. That was at the very beginning of the settlement movement, circa 1980. He made me stop the car and elevated his beefy hands toward the sky: "Jaim", he said dramatically, " in this very point it was said 'Shemesh Be Elon Dom, Yare Ach Be Emek Ayalon'" or something similar from the Bible - and the Sun stopped!". God was fighting for us! Well, I asked him, how we could settle the Shomron, populated everywhere by Palestinian villages, and they have the world's highest fertility rate. He said God will provide or something to that purpose.
A generation has passed and astonishingly, he was proved right. What was then unimaginable, has happened. Arab populations are undergoing demographic transition and their fertility has dropped to replacement level and in many cities, already is under that line. Lebanese women have an average of 1.8 children, well under replacement, and Jordan is approaching 2.1 which is mere replacement. Samaritan urban populationis decreasing and rural areas are fast moving to the same place. Arab population growth is desacelerating and stopping.
Meanwhile, Jewish fertility is increasing, specially in the Shomron. Religion is one explanation. Religion and nationalism is another explanation. We are returning the traditional Jewish pattern. Greek and Roman authors of the Antiquity always remarked the notable fertility of the Jews, who bring up all their children and never expose their newborn as the fashionable Pagans used to do. Russians said Jews would be acceptable if they stopped having so many children. Moravia imposed limits on the number of Jews that could marry each year. They all hated us for being fertile.
I am optimist: Arab cuss is no menace for us (except for the olphactory senses of the exquisite).
Time is working for us.
The demographic timebomb - That is us.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
The favorite accusation of our enemies and their moronic fellow travellers is that Israel's wars are not for self defense but secret schemes to steal Arab water. It is a question of they or us - there is not enough water for all and someone is doomed by cruel Nature or God to dry and drop dead. That water will be cause of the Third World War. Even the habitually intelligent Los Angeles Times, Aug.10, 2006 feeds this century long paranoia.
- QASMIYA, Lebanon — Israeli bombing has knocked out irrigation canals supplying Litani River water to more than 10,000 acres of farmland and 23 villages in southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley, prompting accusations here that Israel is using its war against Hezbollah to lay claim to Lebanon's prime watersheds.Heavy fighting and a series of targeted strikes on open water channels and underground water diversion pipes have suspended much of Lebanon's agricultural use of the Litani River along the coastal plain and in parts of the Bekaa Valley near Qaraoun Dam, said water engineers who have surveyed the south.
- The damaged or broken facilities include a pumping station on the Wazzani River, whose inauguration by Lebanon in 2002 prompted Israel to threaten military action because it diverted water a few hundred yards from the Israeli border, in a watershed that feeds the Jordan River, Lebanese officials said. At the time, Hezbollah promised to defend the facility.The strikes went largely unnoticed by the outside world in the nearly monthlong air assault targeting Hezbollah guerrilla strongholds in southern Lebanon. But Lebanese point to the extensive damage to their irrigation and drinking water system as evidence that border security and water issues remain intertwined in a region short on both. "Whenever Israel throughout history has thought of its northern border, they don't talk, for example, of the mountains as a border. They always think of the valley of the Litani," said Mohammed Shaya, dean of the college of social sciences at Lebanese University in Beirut.
- Israel has said repeatedly that it has no designs on Lebanon's water. "There's a policy decision at the highest level not to target those water pumping stations," said Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry. "We don't claim an inch of Lebanese sovereign territory. We don't claim a gallon of Lebanese water. We have no hostile intentions whatever towards Lebanon as a country, towards the Lebanese people or towards Lebanese natural resources."But the enduring suspicion in Lebanon that Israel regards the water of the Litani as its own and the lands to its south as a security perimeter help explain Beirut's reluctance to accept any U.N. cease-fire resolution that does not call for an immediate Israeli withdrawal from the region.At a minimum, Lebanese officials fear that the repeated attacks on water facilities — as well as bridges, highways, power plants and roads — signal an intention to debilitate Hezbollah-dominated southern Lebanon and enable a long-term Israeli presence there. "They started [bombing] with the Litani water reservoir, the Litani dam. And we all know that the Litani has a special place in this country," said Fadl Shalaq, president of the Lebanese Council for Reconstruction and Development. "It's a big reservoir of water, and the Israelis don't hide it that there are several parts of the Litani that they would like to take for themselves."Officials in southern Lebanon said the attacks hit not only bridges, but open water canals, crippling irrigation to thousands of acres here in the Tyre region and in the Bekaa Valley. During fighting near the Wazzani springs, a guard at the pumping station was killed, the pump was knocked out of service and the underground pipes through which water is transported were heavily damaged, said Hussein Ramal, an engineer for the Litani Water Authority, which operates irrigation systems in the region. "Now every one of these villages is without water." The Litani flows 102 miles, entirely within Lebanon. It courses south through eastern Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, before turning sharply westward just 2 1/2 miles from the Israeli border, then heading through the coastal plain, past the town of Qasmiya to the Mediterranean, north of Tyre.
- Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann, who would become the first president of Israel, in 1919 included the Litani valley among the "minimum requirements essential to the realization of the Jewish National Home." David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, proposed including the Litani again in the 1940s on the eve of the creation of the Jewish state. In the 1950s, historical records show, Moshe Dayan, then chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, and others favored occupying and ultimately annexing southern Lebanon up to the Litani River.Occupation of the West Bank and Golan Heights, though motivated by security concerns, has provided Israel with an important source of water. Experts note that the small slice of land known as the Shebaa Farms, one of the issues in the current conflict, is graced with abundant groundwater flowing from the slopes of Mt. Hermon. Israel also sees Shebaa Farms as a strategic asset because of its proximity to the Israeli, Syrian and Lebanese borders.Israel has always argued that much of the Litani's water flows to the sea, wasted.A large portion of the river's flow is diverted to a series of hydropower dams, leaving relatively little for irrigation in southern Lebanon. But the Lebanese government had planned to offer a $200-million contract this summer to irrigate major new sections of the region.Both states would benefit if Israel sold Lebanon power and Lebanon sold Israel water, said Haim Gvirtzman, hydrology professor at Hebrew University."Should there be peace between Israel and Lebanon, then it will be possible to use the Litani's water as a trigger for a fruitful cooperation between the two countries," Gvirtzman said.But the Lebanese fear that a prolonged Israeli occupation would give the Jewish state ample time to develop its own international "projects" for sharing the Litani's water."In this war, the whole symbol of water has come back with the insurgency now. Because Israel's declared war is to push out the Katyushas" — the rockets being fired by Hezbollah militants — "but the long-range aim, I believe, is to again enter the water issue and push it on the Lebanese," said Mahmoud Haidar, head of the Delta Center for Research and the Press in Beirut."If Israel is the winner in this war, in any settlement," he said, "water will become an issue. It will become part of the Israeli demands."
- A report on Debka File, a website often described as reflecting the thinking of Israeli intelligence, described "Israel's recovery of control over its main sources of water" at Wazzani as "the most important gain from the crisis" in Lebanon. "Israel will not cede this asset in a hurry," the website predicted. "Worth citing in this regard is Defense Minister Amir Peretz's statement after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice left the Middle East, that Israel would retain control of a security belt in southern Lebanon until a multinational force takes over."Israeli officials say any damage to water facilities is collateral to strikes on bridges and roads used by Hezbollah to transport weapons."The whole idea that we are trying somehow — and this is going back to conspiracy theories — that we are trying to steal Litani water is ridiculous," said Regev, the Foreign Ministry spokesman.Here on the Litani, in the empty banana fields and citrus groves that stretch for miles, there is a sense among residents that the battle already has been lost.The airstrikes on the main irrigation canal, the trunk of a system that waters 9,800 acres, has doomed this year's banana crop. No one knows when the canal system might be repaired. The farmers have fled, and the banana plants stand drying under the hot summer sun.
My late mentor, Prof. Fishelson from the School of Economics of Tel Aviv University used to lecture us: How much money we are talking about? The Litani river has about 100 million cubic meters of water flowing, some to the Mediterranea Sea, but much to the taps of South Lebanese villages and to the furrows of the irrigation schemes established by Lebanese and American governments. The cost of producing one cubic meter of desalinated water in Ashkelon is 0.52 dollars, so we are taking about 52 million dollars. Israel has the means to produce that water, in fact, it is producing it now. Israel's GNP is about 150,000,000,000 dollars. It will not go to war for 52 million dollars worth of water, and not even for ten times that amount.
Arabs and Western arm chair strategists are so enamoured of their theories of secret aims and conspiracies that refuse to understand that Israel has solved its water supply problem and does not need water. In fact, as a political decision it supplies water to Jordan to ensure its drinking water supply to its main cities and its stability, and then, it is supplying drinking water to Gaza and the West Bank without payment, just to avoid giving opportunity to our enemies waiting only for a credible excuse to accuse us of the most odious acts against humanity.
This reminds me of the story of Palmach's storming of the Arab city of Lod during the War of Independence. The action, led by the eyepatched Moshe Dayan, took the residents by total surprise. He ordered a meeting in the main plaza and when the terrified Mayor asked him what he will do with the population, Dayan answered: "We will do exactly what you were planning to do with us."
The Arab fell like a log on the floor.
Doing what had to be done, Teodoro Obiang Ngema killed his uncle with a ceremonial machete and announced that he was the new Presidente de la Republica de Guinea Ecuatorial. Routine politics, but I took an interest in this place when Ashtrom Projects from Tel Aviv contracted me to write and translate into Spanish a proposal for the improvement of the water supply system of the capital city of Malabo. Since then I am fascinated by Equatorial Guinea and continue running after my fees, which the bastards never paid.
I started my work reading documents of the Spanish Colonial Government, which I never suspected still existed (Argentina achieved his independence from the Virreinato in 1810), the technical reports of German and Spanish water companies that had done some work in the place and then about the geography, history and the unique ethnic upmake of the people.
That was the time when Halliburton, the WASPs who rule the world, discovered oil in the sea around and started to export it. The quantity of money inflowing this place was, and is, fantastic. On the other hand, local inhabitants hold humanity's record in average IQ, that is, it is TWO standard deviations from the (British) average. If so, they are three (or four?) standard deviations apart from us Ashkenazi Jews. I said to myself: The Almighty created this place for me.
Unfortunately, the water project was awarded to someone else, the Ashtrom managers cheated me off of the money I worked so hard for, and of course I never got to Equatorial Guinea. But the last world is yet to be pronounced on this matter, as I am still eyeing this exciting oil-rich tropical inferno, with its Spanish-speaking crazed Presidente and its entrepreneuring off-shore American oilmen. Just to get an idea of the place, read the small letters:
The Texan oil company's Chairman, Charles Davidson, praised the "excellent relationship with the government of Equatorial Guinea" as he announced the new contract to explore Block "I" offshore Bioko Island. The block is to be explored in cooperation with the Equatoguinean government and GEPetrol, a "state-owned company" that is under the control of Equatorial Guinea's leader Teodoro Obiang Nguema. Noble Energy announced that it had acquired an interest in a Production Sharing Contract with the government of Equatorial Guinea covering Block "I". Under the terms of the contract, the small Texan oil company was to be the block's technical operator with a 40 percent working interest. Noble's partner on Block "I" is the minor US oil company Atlas Group with 60 percent working interest, which will be the block's administrative operator. Equatorial Guinea's GEPetrol is to have a 5 percent carried interest once commerciality has been determined. After GEPetrol assumes its carried interest, Noble's interest will be proportionately reduced to 38 percent, according to the deal. Block "I" is immediately adjacent to Block "O", which was awarded to Noble in April this year. The small Texan company is also the technical operator of Block "O" with a 45 percent working interest. Further, the company with "excellent" links to the Equatoguinean presidency also holds a 33.75 percent working interest in the Alba field, which contains estimated gross resources of approximately one billion barrels of oil equivalent.Block "I" covers 806 square kilometres, and is located in water depths in excess of 500 meters. A 3-D seismic was shot by GESeis, a joint venture between the Equatorial Guinea's GEPetrol and the Norwegian company InSeis Terra.Noble leader Davidson today insisted that his company maintained "an excellent relationship with the government of Equatorial Guinea, and we look forward to working with them and our partners on this project." According to Mr Davidson, "several substantial leads have already been identified on Block 'I,' and we expect the prospectivity of this acreage will be enhanced after we process the recently acquired 3-D seismic later this year."Also the Atlas Group is already widely present in Equatorial Guinea, where it already holds three other licenses - on Blocks H, J and P - and operates in several other West African states. Equatorial Guinea's oil sector is dominated by minor US companies with ties with the country's presidency. President Obiang rules the Spanish ex-colony since he came to power in a 1979 military coup and has placed members of his extended family in most government positions. His private accounts are currently investigated by US prosecutors as Mr Obiang is suspected of derailing the main part of the country's oil revenues into his personal economy.
Bioko Island seems to have all the attractions of the Nigeria 1974 that loved. Bush meat, palm beer and secret nighttime ceremonies with the dancing participation of fierce masked ancestor spirits. And much money in the hands of incompetent criminals, as Prof. Silverstein impudently calls Africa's democratically elected (99% of the votes) leaders.
Monday, August 14, 2006
After the ceasefire, we start to make sense of what happened. As we feared, Hizballah sent a fantastic quantity of missiles to Northern Israel, including Haifa - 4,000 katyushot, missiles and rockets. About 30 random civilians were killed, among them 5 or 6 Israeli Arabs, but any damage to strategic infrastructure such as the port or oil refinery was minimal. In short, unguided missiles are ineffective from a military point of view. The civil population escapes or goes underground.
When the order to the ground invasion was given, the military followed orders but the lack of coordination was evident. Some 130 Israeli soldiers were killed, many by "friendly fire". Three distinct ethnic-social groups provided the victims: (1) secular kibbutzim and moshavim, Israel's traditional elite, (2) second generation religious settlers in the Shomron, and (3) native Arab speaking soldiers of Druze, Beduin, Cherkess and plain Galilee Muslim Arabs. Since those going ahead into the battle provide the leadership cadres of the State in the next generation, we can be quite sure about the ethnic composition of Israel's political leadership in 10 years ahead. There will be two big sectors: the kibbutz leadership, which is widely considered decaying and has almost disappeared, but I presume will show a dramatic comeback, and the settler leadership, dedicated religious nationalists. And surprisingly, a loyal Arab speaking leadership will emerge, used to prosper in traditionally Jewish elite environments such the university and Golani and Parachuters elite schocktroops. Interestingly, Oriental Jews are totally absent from the list of military victims, so I dare to predict that they will play a very marginal role in Israel's next generation of leadership. The already obvious marginality problem will only grow and they are doomed to form a vast Jewish unassimilated underclass.
The military management of the land war was, apparently, poorly managed. I base my opinion in one TV documentary, of Ya El Dayan, but I think that that is enough since I am very familiar with how things work in Israel and fell that I am able to imagine what was going on. The Hamal (war room) briefly shown was a chaos, dozens (sic!) of reserve officers shouting all at the same time trying to identify where our forces were and where was the Hizbullah shooting at them, and in total amazement and panic since they had no idea what was hitting the men on the field (Russian portable antitank missiles). Then we saw a dozen elite schocktroops hidden in a small watercloset in a house in a Lebanese village, since it was considered the safest inner chamber against the unknown menace, so they spent hours there while the Hizballah was roaming outside watching and shooting. Not a nice picture. Hopefully we shall be better prepared for the next war.
All in all, the nice thing about this war is that it was the first of Israel that was managed with a poilitical aim in mind, with the military firmly subordinated to the political arm of the government. It appears that some 500 Hizbullah were killed, that is, a third of the enemy forces. Also appears that except these highly automatic, long range and very simple portable Russian missiles, the Hizballah lost in all encounters. But only in the coming weeks and months we shall know if the Hizballah is disarmed and disbanded by "others" (not us), which was the war's aim. If it is done and peace will be achieved, we shall have started to use our military courage and prowess in an intelligent way.
The Kornet, manufactured by the state-controlled Russian firm KBP Instrument Design Bureau of Tula, is an advanced, portable, laser-guided missile designed to disable and destroy tanks and armored vehicles from a distance of up to 5 kilometers. Russia has sold Syria more than 1,000 Kornets over the past three years.
How do you blind laser? Dust. Israel's next war has to be scheduled to summer sandstorms.
It may be of no use. The next generation of hand held missiles is another flower from the KBP. The 9K123 Hrizantema is an ATGM systems is a follow up on the Kornet laser beam shit. It is an all-weather, dual-guidance system which is very immune to countermeasures. This is achieved by using an automatic radar target detection and tracking system for guidance of the ATGM, which operates in the milimetre wave (MMW) band. It ensures missile launch at any time of the day or night during various weather and combat conditions including fog, rain, snow, fire, dust and smoke screen environment. The system is capable of defeating any modern tank equipped with ERA with high accuracy at very long ranges and in addition, it can also be used to destroy fortifications and slow-flying helicopters. There is no known equivalent to it in the West.
And no known countermeasure. Shit.
Friday, August 11, 2006
The oil company BP closed the oilfield on Sunday after discovering what it described as "unexpectedly severe corrosion" of the oil pipeline. The price of oil surged three percent upon the news of the shutdown. Questions are now being raised about whether BP purposely allowed the pipeline to become corroded. Two years ago, a longtime oil industry watchdog named Chuck Hamel warned BP about corrosion problems.
CHUCK HAMEL: Since 1999 I have been tracking the corrosion control program by BP for that thousands of miles of flow line that they have. They have been cutting corners, budget problems. And they were not injecting the sufficient amount of chemical inhibitors to prevent the rusting. It’s like the radiator in your car. It’s very simple.
Now, BP has had a long-running series of problems, had been fined -- on several occasions, some very large fines -- for failing to properly keep up its lines there.
CHUCK HAMEL: Correct. But in this instance, I’m talking about engineers, BP engineers, BP corrosion experts, who have left the company because they wouldn’t participate in their corrupt corrosion program. They’re engineers, they’re corrosion experts, who fear for the lives of their former colleagues and who work in the process centers, which are very volatile.
Chuck Hamel, you have a long history watching BP, over, what, more than 15 years. In fact, you settled a case with them, when they -- did they hire Wackenhut to investigate you?
CHUCK HAMEL: BP, who was running the Alaska pipeline, engaged the Wackenhut security company, five undercover women, who -- and men, but other men -- to surveil my wife and me, in trying to discredit me, hidden cameras in hotel rooms. And all five of the ladies realized that I wasn’t the bad person that they tried to make me out to be to discredit me, and they all came over to our side. I think 60 Minutes called them “Chucky’s Angels.” But where we’re getting down to, Amy, is they were discovered, and then they attacked me. $18 million worth of legal activities going on around me. A van in front of my home, picking off our phones, picking up our trash. And all that, you know, I can live with, but trying to discredit me with women, that hurt. I mean, that going in BP fashion, but a little too far.
CHUCK HAMEL: Pigging is when you run a device through the flow lines that cleans up debris, sludge that accumulates, like in the radiator of your car. And they have not run the maintenance pigs that picks up this sludge at the flow line that ruptured this past March that the media is all excited about. Wait ’til you see what's coming. There are thousands of miles of piping up there that have not been adequately cared for, for cost-cutting benefits, because they've had budgetary problems. And once you've pigged, or maintenance pigged, the pipeline, then you run a smart pig through there, and a smart pig measures the wall thickness of the pipe so that you can find little weaknesses before they rupture, as happened in March. And it happened a couple of days ago, last Sunday, in another flow line. So, if you don't -- in this case, I’ve known for two years that the line that ruptured in March could not be pigged, maintenance pigged, because it would cause some holes in the pipe.
You mentioned budgetary problems. The oil industry is in the midst of record profits and record revenues, so how could there be budgetary problems?
CHUCK HAMEL: Well, yeah, this is sort of a dichotomy here. You see, BP last year made, I call it, windfall profits of $2 billion at Prudhoe Bay. However, the way they operate is, every year they have an annual budget, and the workers -- the supervisors are each given a budget to live with. If you operate below your budget, you get a bonus. And if you don't, you don't get your bonus.
I can imagine the scene. Maintenance people doing only the things that left undone, would certainly be discovered and they blamed. Long term, preventive maintenance - the things that can be postponed for tomorrow - are never done. It is just bad maintenance management. No conspiracy here. I would sack first BP spokesman, and then the maintenance managers.
On the slopes of Mama Tungurahua, volcano and Salasaca goddess, I had a chance encounter with Platero.
"Platero y yo" by the Cuban writer J.R. Jimenez is the introduction to literature in Latin American elementary schools. The first page had to be memorized:
Platero es pequeño, peludo, suave; tan blando por fuera, que se diría todo de algodón, que no lleva huesos. Sólo los espejos de azabache de sus ojos son duros cual dos escarabajos de cristal negro.
Lo dejo suelto y se va al prado, y acaricia tibiamente con su hocico, rozándolas apenas, las florecillas rosas, celestes y gualdas... Lo llamo dulcemente: "¿Platero?", y viene a mí con un trotecillo alegre que parece que se ríe, en no sé qué cascabeleo ideal...
Come cuanto le doy. Le gustan las naranjas mandarinas, las uvas moscateles, todas de ámbar; los higos morados, con su cristalina gotita de miel...
Es tierno y mimoso igual que un niño, que una niña...; pero fuerte y seco por dentro, como de piedra... Cuando paso sobre él, los domingos, por las últimas callejas del pueblo, los hombres del campo, vestidos de limpio y despaciosos, se quedan mirándolo:
— Tiene acero...
Tiene acero. Acero y plata de luna, al mismo tiempo.
When we met, my Platero was viciously biting the neck of his fellow, who was desperately trying to escape. I took the picture as they were all, including the Indian boy, about to fall into the roadside precipice. "Platero is small, hairy and soft, so soft on the outside as made of cotton..." I recalled.
Fuad is Israel's Minister for Infrastructure, my former employer and next cubicle neighbor. He has sensed that this war against the Hizballah is being managed by amateurs - Olmert, a municipal politician and Peretz, an uneducated union leader, and then by the Chief of Staff Halutz, a sickly Air Force man - so he is stepping in the vacuum. He was from the start for a massive land invasion of Lebanon, and against the strategy of dropping bombs from 10000 m altitude. He is touring the North each week and systematically amassing political capital. I dont like Fuad, a rosy cheeked fat gnome of a man with a disharmonic voice, but his selfpropelled leadership qualities, military experience and his unfathomable Babylonian intelligence is weighing in. In the meanwhile, our best soldiers are being buried (photo).
Thursday, August 10, 2006
It seems Hizballah shoots Milan portable missiles or its Iranian clones, The Milan is descendant of the Sagger and father of the Javelin (picture). These lightweight objects can be shoot a target from 2 km, programming themselves to the more effective plan of action, selecting optimal attack angle (from the roof) and destroying first the outer shell of reactive armour and then they penetrate and explode. On TV I have seen that our tanks are equipped with a dust or fog generating machine, which hides the tank, up to a certain point.
The Javelin system consists of the CLU and the round. The CLU can have passive target acquisition and fire control with an optical zoom X 9 sight and a thermal imaging sight.The round consists of the Javelin missile and the launch tube. Javelin is a fire-and-forget missile with lock-on before launch and automatic self-guidance. The missile is equipped with an imaging infrared seeker which is based on a cadmium mercury telluride (CdHgTe) 64 x 64 staring focal plane array in the 8 to 12 micron waveband. The tandem warhead is fitted with two shaped charges: a precursor warhead to initiate explosive reactive armour and a main warhead to penetrate base armour. Unlike conventional wire guided, fibre-optic cable guided, or laser beam riding missiles, Javelin is autonomously guided to the target after launch, leaving the gunner free to reposition or reload immediately after launch.
Future wars will be decided in the preparatory phase, when new weapons and counter-weapons are developed. In a sense, peace is war (the real war takes place during peacetime), and war is peace (unending war is our fate, our peace).
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
From the papers: "The discovery of corrosion in the pipeline caught BP by surprise (Oh! Pipelines corrode? We didnt know!) , and as of yesterday, the company was still trying to determine the cause (It must be very misterious, it is an unheard of phenomenon, maybe even extraterrestrial sabotage!). As a result, it is re-evaluating how it conducts inspections along the pipeline.
“We can’t explain it,” Ronnie Chappell, a spokesman for BP said (You see, we have been in this pipeline business only 120 years and we never heard of corrosion.) The company’s regular practice in Prudhoe Bay had been to spot-check sections of pipeline that were prone to corrosion.
“We believed that this program was giving us an accurate view of what was occurring in these pipelines,” Mr. Chappell said. “But the discovery of this unexpectedly severe corrosion in this particular segment of line has caused us to rethink that.”
Mr. Chappell said the pipes where the corrosion was detected had not been inspected with a “smart pig,” a device that travels through the inside to measure pipe wall thickness, since 1992. The reason the device was not used, he said, was that the pipes were too clogged with sludge for the device to pass through easily.
But after a major spill in March along the same network of pipes, the Department of Transportation ordered inspections with the smart pig. Those tests revealed that the steel had corroded in 12 places on the eastern side of Prudhoe Bay to thicknesses less than BP considers safe.
In those areas, tests found losses of 70 to 81 percent in the 3/8-inch thickness of the wall, the company said. In one area, it said, the equivalent of four to five barrels of oil had already leaked out of the pipeline because of the rusting. The company said that spill had been contained, and that workers were in the process of vacuuming it up from the tundra."
What? Surprised by corrosion? Still searching for the cause? Oh, boy! (?Son o se hacen? *) Some 7 - 8 % of America's oil supply is being paralyzed because of unexpected spills from the Prudhoe Bay oil pipe. In wastewater, our worse maintenance problem is H2S corrosion, which is always present in organic - sulphurated liquids in anaerobic conditions. It never surprises us, except when we want to be surprised. It is a given, it can be calculated and estimated. In my course I always emphasize Pomeroy equation and this semester I made the students to calculate how fast will SHAFDAN's (Tel Aviv area) new iron pipe connecting Rosh HaAyin to Rishon LeZion WWTP corrode and leak. I faxed the exercise to SHAFDAN, but they rejected it with the "argument" that an American consultant's report said that iron was the right material for the 25 km sewage pipe and it is all right, dont worry, anyway it is not your problem. I asked for the report, because my calculations showed that average temperatures in summer will be over 30 degrees centigrades (the sewage is always warmer than the air) and that will accelerate the generation of H2S in the pipe and corrosion processes, and that the concentrated Israeli wastewater with high sulphur content in background water will corrode the pipe in a few years. Then the S?HAFDAN general manager complained to my boss - who the hell gave permission to this nobody to ask for a report which WE have commissioned and approved. My boss dutifully chastised me that it was unheard of that I am sending faxes to outside bodies, when all correspondence has to be approved by him and sent in his name and signature.
So it is iron pipe all the 25 km to the WWTP, with anaerobic bacteria happily belching and farting H2S gas, which reacts with water to produce sulphuric acid, which is silently corroding - even in this instant - the internal iron walls of the warm pipe in its tunnel.
If mighty BP is surprised by pipe corrosion, what, we worry?
How could BP maintenance people have been caught unaware and unprepared? Corrosion engineering is a science. CO2, H2S, stress corrosion, it is all in the books. Did BP maintenance people know but prayed it will hold till they retire? Are they under such pressure to deliver oil that any maintenance stop is unthinkable? Has this situation been going on for more than a year? Maintenance is a big problem everywhere.
(*) Son o se hacen? Are they really (idiots), or are they simulating it? in Spanish.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
One of the Israeli families was Yoky and Batia Lothan, second generation kibbutznikim from Beyt HaShita, he was an Agricultural Economist and she managed a warm open house on Ticomo lawns. So far I had little experience with born kibbutznikim from the Valley (the legendary Emek), and met with amazement these exotic, very blond and blue eyed "peasants". They knew themselves to be the elite of the Zionist settlement movement, and they played the role with grace and Jewish warmness. They had three beautiful boys and they had adopted three more from hard pressed Oriental families, and generously they had brought them all to Nicaragua and later to a holiday trip in the States.
I remember them here because I read in the paper that their son Yotam, now 33 years old, was killed yesterday in Lebanon. He was the musical one.
It is 03 30 AM and cannot sleep. A singularity of fear irradiates from my stomach and I am trembling. The image of small shining steel ballbears flying in all directions from an explosive rocket that killed so many parachuters in Kfar Giladi does not abandon my mind. Fear is a family business for me. My father lived his last years in fear, and also my uncle Imre. Now I am older than any of my male known ancestors: my grandfather was embarked to Auschwitz and killed at age 54, so is written in the memorial tablet in Jaszbereny Jewish cemetery, and my father died of a heart attack at age 59. My uncle Imre, who was one of Argentina's richest man, lived his old age in fear. Fear is part of being a Tier Jude, a Jewish Animal, as jocular SS guards used to call my Father in Bor's Death March.