Friday, July 31, 2009
When in Lima, Peru, I used to walk near the Rimac River, the singing river that gives life to the capital. It is impossible, because people has built shantyhouses on the very river, leaving only a central stonu path. This year, Jorge Luis Baca, a lawyer, organized the first discovery expedition along the river, a 21 days 145 Km trek down from the mountains and mines to the Base Naval Callao where the river enters the Pacific. I would have loved to walk with them. For me, it is too late. May be in my next re-incarnation.
Remembering the personalities of my past, Tibor Gordon comes to my mind. He was a Hungarian Jew who made his living performing circus acts in provincial Argentina in the fifties. In addition of making lots of money as a professional "muscle man" and astonishing the criollos with his voracity (he used to have a chicken for breakfast. I can do that!), he had no vices and lead an exemplary family life with his Hungarian born wife. He died in 1985 and his sons and grandchildren live in the Patagonia.
Maybe because I had seen so many non-conventional Hungarian Jews, apart from being one, Tibor did no impression on me. But he had a tremendous effect on the simple peoples of the Pampas. They came to him in masses from large distances to ask advice on their medical, family and economic problems, and he tried to help them with their troubles. Tibor's advice, as far I know, was simple common sense, but it appeared supernatural to the natives who never had the opportunity to talk to a Hungarian Jew.
In the end he erected his large circus tent in Villa Astolfi in the Province of Buenos Aires, and incorporated himself as Fundacion Arco Iris, providing services to the poor people who came to consult him. He was attacked from many sides for being a "Santon", a fake Holy Man who made miracle cures, all to cheat our poor Argentinians of their money. He hired accountants, medical doctors and Church social workers to avoid persecution by those guilds, and provided a real service to rural people. His cures were considered miracles, and he was believed to have supernatural powers. Good Tibi bacsi - a lifelong circus performer - did not discourage this belief. In his time he was so popular and powerful in the provinces that he could have founded a religion or acquire political power. Many suspected that he intended to do that, but he never did. His grandson Anibal continues to operate the Arco Iris outfit (Fraga St. 1969, San Miguel, prov. de Bs. As., Saturday evenings, completely free.) It is good that Tibor Gordon has descendants, they are decent and beautiful people, but they are not Hungarian Jews and there will be no more Tibor Gordons.
According to Charles Darwin, who studied them in the Beagle expedition, the natives of America's southern tip were humanity's most primitive and foully smelling members. They used to go naked or in animal skins in the savage cold and ullulating winds, collecting rotting shellfish on the shores and raiding their neighbors for women. The Antartic weather had a strong evolutionary effect on them, exactly as on their counterparts on the Northern hemisphere, and by the time they were discovered, they had advanced northwards and conquered all of Chile and parts of Peru. Extreme cold has made them very robust, excellent runners and generally much fitter than the Indians that settled the fertile high valleys of the Andes. Dionekes reports that the Palpa populations show a high affinity to the contemporary indigenous populations of the Southern Andes and Tierra del Fuego like the Mapuche, Pehuenche, and Yaghan in Chile. All the three populations show high frequencies of haplogroups C (41%–48%) and D (46%–52%) comparable with the prehistoric Palpa and Paracas Peninsula populations.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Some day, a monument will be erected to the sociologist hiding under the pseudonym La Griffe du Lion. When people of the future will look back at our times, they will say that those were times of intellectual terror and oppression, a time when original thinkers like La Griffe lived in fear of being "outed" and punished by society, a time when vile antisemites like Kevin MacDonald had no worries and published their venom under their own name.
In 1999, ten years ago, La Griffe modeled the effect of Affirmative Action to the American Economy, and showed that "on average a black worker between the ages of 25 and 64 earns an extra $9,400 a year because of affirmative action. Hispanics also benefit to the tune of almost $4,000 a year. However, being a zero-sum game, white workers pay an average of about $1,900 annually to foot the bill." Those were 1999 dollars, and not the worthless 2009 dollars, and he was talking of the 1999 Affirmative Action, not the current Barack Obama version of the same thing. It would be a valuable exercise to recalculate La Griffe's 1999 model, and compare how American society evolved in only ten years.
Re-reading his ten years old paper, I suspect that La Griffe observed first the White Displacement phenomenon. He wrote:
The net displacement of whites by minorities is not uniformly spread across the quintiles. When high-earning whites are displaced down the employment ladder, they displace other whites downward by exerting pressure on the rung below. The effect is like a cascade. At the bottom there is no rung left. Low IQ whites, who in an affirmative action-free marketplace would be competitive in the $10,000 to $20,000 bracket, now pile up in the lowest-income quintile. Although affirmative action affects every white, the largest number affected are the least intelligent and competitive.(La Griffe's secret identity is safe with me till the time comes to erect his bust in the campus. He may even be an ethnic Hungarian Jew, if not, I hereby promote him to that rank, the highest in Kever Benjamin City :-)
The Israeli Oil Refinery industry was privatized two years ago and I invested heaviy in it. Since then it lost 50% of its worth. I am thinking of selling at a loss and move forward. James Cordier, president of Liberty Trading Group, says the distiller sector's trouble is only just beginning.
"What we're seeing right now is supplies ballooning in just about every nation," Cordier says. "What's really going to show up now in this recession -- demand for refined products is so poor."Follow Up: NASDAQ insists in making a fool of me. The Oil&Gas Ref&Mkt(YHD: ^YHOh706) index has jumped today 4%. Tesoro and Valero and so on - all rocketed up. Dont they know that the demand is poor, the crack spread razor thin ?
During oil's recent rally from $45 to $75, gains for distilled products like diesel and gasoline were far tamer, he notes. "As oil does back off - we see fair value at $50 to $55 [per barrel] - we'll see products back off as much, if not more."
That, in turn, will put further pressure on the so-call crack spread - the difference in price between crude and refined products -- a major factor in the profitability of major oil companies. The crack spread "will get razor thin," Cordier says. (Forget thin -- Conoco, for example, lost money producing gasoline in the second quarter.)
I am probably the most skinnyfat person that any human haplogroup has ever produced. I am so hungry. All the time. I crave everything. I need meat, I want candies, I like milk and cream, I want sugary drinks and above all, I love cookies.
I dont know why I am surprised again and again. After Ecuador's oil sector was nationalized by current "Socialist" and "Anti-Imperialist" government, the new oil company Petroproducción received free hand to sign contracts by "contratación directa", that is, outside of the legal procedures of State procurement. They can buy anything at any price from any one. There was, as expected, an explosion of contracts, which sum 731,9 million dollars in the first year of operation. They are fast. Estimating a minimum of 15% "payola" to the people directly involved in these contracts, we have that 110 million US dollars have been "privatized". I would say half goes to the Presidente. Some people are getting very rich in Ecuador.
Someone asked why most of the new contracts were made outside of the legal bidding process? The answer: "Under the legal system we could not buy anything. This way we do as we want." True enough.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
I spent two years in Bauchi little after the British created Nigeria and delivered it to the natives. It was a prosperous area, with large peanut and meat exports. Public order and safety was excellent in my times, but lately it seems to have deteriorated to the level of "war zone" and local papers write about an epidemy of VVF. What is VVF?
It is an injury caused by violent rape at an early age. VVF is a permanent hole between the bladder and the vagina that causes the continuous involuntary discharge of urine, causing profound disconfort and social trauma to the woman. It has become so widespread that some missionary clinics are specializing in repairing VVF.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Today I took a few hours off chasing the mighty shekel and studied the market. In the past I made money on Chinese stocks and they are recovering nicely. Is this, to employ a j-ism, an investable moment?
It appears that no. Chinese stocks have surged to double their low set in 2008 as the government has unveiled a 4 trillion yuan ($585 billion) stimulus plan to revive growth. Yet Chinese economic figures are contradictory and most probably untrue. Quote: Edward Chancellor, a member of GMO’s asset-allocation team, “strongly suspects that the Chinese economy is dangerously unbalanced and very likely to come unhinged in the next few quarters, surprising the pants off investors,” Grantham wrote.
I tend to agree.
I buy my Diet Sprite in Ahmed's Minimarket on the Kifl Haref road because a six pack of 2 lt bottles costs only 30 shekel (8 dollars). My daughter did not drink from it because it had no Kashrut certification, so I changed to Israeli Diet Sprite. It was not the same, the more expensive Israeli version is acidic and lacks the Palestinian Sprite's kick. I convinced her that it was machine made so it cannot be treyfl, and keep buying Palestinian Sprite.
I became aware of something in it when I started to feel focused and having sustained erections after drinking it. It is definitely an energy drink, an aphrodisiac. Itsays nothing on the label, which is in Arabic, so I googled to see if someone else has discovered the same effect. No one but me. But it appears that originally Sprite was sold as a hangover cure, and it was lithiated. Lithium in a soda drink? Anyway, I am not making publicity for the Palestinian Diet Sprite, why should I promote the Palestinian Authority's soft drinks industry?
The outcome results are in and they are exactly as predicted. Now we know what happened to those Russian Jews who, in that famous train station in Vienna during the nineteen seventies, walked towards the HIAS train taking them to the USA and Germany, all while the Sochnut shlichim (representatives) were begging them to take the train to Israel. It is all (well) written down in "Road Rage: Ode to Madness for Politically Incorrect Russian-Jewish Choir", by Lev Lakritz. First sentence, that says it all:
We are back where we started, getting used to the idea of hitting the road again. We google the earth, check our suitcases’ zippers, locate the steel needle and whatever is left of the thread.It is Thuesday morning here and I have much work, so commenting will be done later. Not that I have much to add. It was so obvious from the start. And my own conclusion is so simple: Leave the Galut and make aliyah. Not for you, because you are dead and lost for the Jewish people, but most for your children and grandchilden, who still can be saved.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Arafat used to say that his secret weapon was the Palestinian woman's kuss (Arabic for uterus). Not that he was using this weapon, being as he was a sharmootah (male whore). For many years our enemies said we had no chance against Arab fertility, we were doomed to lose. Well, think again, Arafat. The "settlements" are growing at 5% per year and and there are now more than 600,000 Jews living in Yesha (Judea and Samaria) and various neighborhoods of Jerusalem. These Jews are considered an obstacle by U.S. President Barack Obama, who called them “illegitimate.”
National Union party chairman MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh) responded by calling on every Jewish family to "give birth to an additional child this year as a Zionist response to the decrees of Barack Hussein Obama."
Mikes Gyorgy, a Hungarian writer who left hungry Budapest of the thirties for London and reinvented himself as a successful English writer, returned after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 to Hungary. He decribes his emotions in the old coffee house where he spent so many hourse with fellow famelic litterateurs of the Hungarian language. Then he discovers that the avenue carries the name of a then would-be poet who not only tried to fuck his girlfriend but never paid back a five pengo personal loan. Not a small street but one of the central avenues of Budapest. Mikes says he felt more than personal emotion, the mighty presence of History. On a different level, of course, that a building in the Ariel University carries the name of my grand-auntie, well, is a bit touching.
Sunday, July 26, 2009
In one of my encarnations when I was the Holy City's water boss, I was known among my "diverse" gang as Abu-Banat, The Father of the Daughters. (Behind my back they called me Abu-Jora, "The Father of the Sewage"). Well, yes, I have a handful of beautiful, clever, hardworking daughters. And now I know why. Because I am beautiful!
Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics, discovered that good-looking parents were far more likely to conceive daughters. He suggested this was an evolutionary strategy subtly programmed into human DNA. “Physical attractiveness is a highly heritable trait, which disproportionately increases the reproductive success of daughters much more than that of sons."
Aha! Eat your heart, you ugly fathers of sons.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
“I do think it is important for the African-American community, in its diversity, to stay true to one core aspect of the African-American experience, which is we know what it’s like to be on the outside," said the President of the United States from behind his desk in the Oval Office.
Millet was, in my times, rejected by Argentine farm animals for being too rough a fourage. Maize (corn) was accepted but not sorghum. Only birdfeed contained some grains of millet. How could I imagine that fifty years later I shall be surviving on boiled millet seeds? It happens that the Secret Engineeress is engaged in a secret plan to starve and/or punish and/or improve the Secret Engineer and "serving" plain, saltless, tasteless boiled birdfeed for lunch. ("Serving" does not describe it.) The daughters survive on sweets they buy on the streets. I dont know what to say except to record the insipid facts.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Kever Benjamin's Golda School has been empty now for a whole school year. The residents of the El Ram neighborhood had been fighting a long war against the Municipality and the Ministry of Health, saying that the sewage odors were killing them. The problem was the stilling tank in the Golda School, which expels polluted air with each start of the new Albar pumping station's pumps.
The Municipality tried to solve the problem by throwing money on it, building a by pass main line along the Ben Yehuda Street, far from the El Ram neighborhood. Having spent millions of shekels and destroyed much asphalt, the Golda School prepares itself to reopen. Only that the parents association will not allow it. They feel that the school is contaminated, and will make sick their sensitive children.
The Chief Consultant of the Municipality, Prof. Uri Marinov, spent a day in the school smelling everything. His diagnosis did not satisfy the association, that qualified his answers as irrelevant and insulting. The bad odour in the gym, according to Marinov, comes from rotten matresses (the place has been unused for a year or more). The Beth classroom smells strange, and Marinov said "It is that open paint can". The residents were seized by a rage attack. The Municipality cleaned the place and invited everybody to come and smell by himself. The Minister of Health Leytzmann spent a full hour in the school and smelt nothing. Being an experienced Haredi politician, he knew better than to say anything.
The residents still get headaches from the fetid, putrid, corrupt environment and are decided that the school will not re-open. I believe they are victims of mass hysteria, smelling odors that are not there, and feeling headaches that are as real as if they were caused by some chemical in the air. I believe the devilish sulphur odors have to be driven out by a ritual, by a religious ceremony. The City Rabbi should organize a midnight ceremony with ten bearded kabbalists burning incense in the gym to definitely expell those noxious spirits. I mean it.
I used to watch on TV the fat swarthy mothers crying on camera showing their empty frigidaires while the journalist read the latest officials statistics: 27.58% of the children in Israel were malnourished, famelic, hungry. The government, the elites, did not care. Meals were provided in the schools, food was collected in Pessach, volunteers pepared packages for needy families. At the entrance of my local supermarket there is a large cage where one an drop cooking oil, rice, etc. to feed the hungry Jews. Yet we were made believe we lived in Ethiopia during famine. (Supposing that Ethiopian famines are not staged to fuel the international donation industry).
I always wondered how this can be in Kever Benjamin, where I live. Here the streets are littered with food. Schoolchildren throw the sandwiches so lovingly prepared by their mothers as soon as they hit the street. Food stands are surrounded by half consumed hamburgers and shwarmas. At the end of the day, supermarkets throw out dozens of unsold grilled chickens, bakeries clean out the day's bread. How could anyone go hungry in Israel? Why accusing the Government and the elites of indifference and cruelty if it is such a visible lie?
These days the tune has changed. HaAretz, the far left wing fishwrap we suscribe to, publishes a four page study blaming the Government and the elites of indifference and cruelty - 25% of Israel's children are ... overweight. It is all the Ashkenazi elites's fault.
Interestingly, the media does not sense that there is a cognitive dissonance. HaAretz can publish a four page document condemning the Ashkenazim of overfeeding the dumb and poor Africans among us, and at the same time, in the same paper, call for volunteers to collect food for the coming religious holy days. Overfed or starving, it is not important, the message is the same: the Ashkenazi Government is guilty.
It is not about food. It is about power. The media is waging a campaign to destroy the prestige of the elites, and to substitute them in power. It is political warfare, the poor - starving or overfed, maybe both at the same time, it is irrelevant - are an instrument.
Slate: "As many longtime funders and followers of water and sanitation programs already know, toilets and wells are much more likely to be used and maintained if the community is deeply involved in the process. In Africa, an estimated 50,000 water supply points have failed. The International Institute for Environment and Development estimates that those unusable projects have wasted $215 million to $360 million."
Having been involved in several water supply projects in the Third World, all I can say that I am convinced they are useless and a waste of money. Much for my inconvenience, I did resign - solely for ethical reasons - from one Swiss project pushing home made cement block water pumps in China and India. I resigned because I thought that it was wrong. (See pic. of threadle pump model, the model I was involved was a similar pump with cylinders embedded in a concrete body. It was designed by Swiss retired engineers, and I much valued the genuine good will, the effort and the professionalism invested in the design. But cast iron pumps are so cheap and electricity is so widely available that the problem is not lack of money or lack of appropriate technology. Technologically, the cement block pump is interesting, but the concept of appropriate technology is wrong.)
It would be offensive to say that evolution is the only solution. So I keep silent on this touchy subject.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that the United States would consider extending a “defense umbrella” over the states in the Persian Gulf region if Iran does not bow to international demands to halt its nuclear program.I dont like what she is saying. She starts from the vantage point that maybe Iran will reach its goal of nuclear weapons. She is intimating that the Obama government will do nothing to stop Ahmedinejad to get his hand on the bomb. She is saying that the American Government has already accepted the Iranian bomb. That scenario should be unthinkable. Unmentionable. Impossible. She would have to say that Ahmedinejad will hang from a Tehran lamppost. It appears we shall have to do it alone.
The world is poorer today because Leszek Kolakowski has died. He was Polish Marxist Academic Philosopher who thought hard about the Communist regime he was living in. In 1972 I had to spend a night in Posadas, Misiones, Argentina so I bought a bottle of red wine and a book in a second hand shop. The book was a collection of essays, among them "What are philosophers paid for?" which explored the issue why a Communist regime maintained salaried philosophers and what he - Kolakowski - was being paid for. Under the Socialist regime everyone was supposed to do productive work - no parasitic intermediary luftgescheftn permitted. Everyone had to produce something tangible for society. Why, then, were philosophers like himself being allowed to produce "nothing"? His conclusion was that Marxist philosophers satisfied a basic necessity of the Communist regime: they produced the theoretical, intellectual infrastructure (justification?) of the regime.
Now that I see his craggy face in the pic, I could easily imagine he was another old Polish Jew. But he was not. Born in 1927, in the city of Radom, like all Christian Poles of his generation, Kolakowski suffered much from Nazi occupation of his country, even if he and his family were not gassed (It can be assumed that had the Nazis won the war, eventually they too would have been exterminated). The Germans had closed Polish schools, so young Leszek had to teach himself and take exams in the underground school system that was created. After the war, he studied philosophy first at the University of Lodz and later earned a doctorate at the University of Warsaw. He took a teaching position there, rising to chairman of the history of philosophy section. It was very exciting to read, in the end of the world, a Marxist thinker who was honest and dared to think about real issues around him. Most Marxist philosophers are unreadable, following the extremely heavy German style established by Karl Marx himself. But I did enjoy Kolakowski, and the wine too. It was raining very hard in Misiones and my red Dodge Pickup had no lights, so I couldnt drive at night. The bed was full of crawling insects, but felt so excited that I didnt care.
If it was not difficult and expensive enough to receive a building permit in Israel, a new obstacle has been erected in the way. The soil contamination survey.
Under the plan formulated by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Interior's Planning Administration, all applicants for a building permit in the Tel Aviv District will be required to conduct land surveys, to find out if it is polluted and represents an environmental or health threat. The requirement will gradually be extended to the entire country.
A senior official in the Ministry of Environmental Protection said that up until today there have been cases where the need to check the ground was told to the developer two days before receipt of the building permit thus delaying the project. Now every developer wanting to build will must conduct checks in the project's planning stage. The contractor will be responsible for dealing with any pollution that is found.
What is this additional thing about? In the past, Tel Aviv had two or three military factories which used to let their chemicals infiltrate the soil. These plots have been sold to private builders, who build on it. The buyers are afraid that the soil is contaminated and will get cancer. The new requirement will make sure that there are no noxious gases in the soil, that there are no evil spirits lurking under the new tall apartment buildings and making sick the inhabitants in the thirteenth floor. If there are any left, it is responsability of the contractor to carry out the appropriate rituals to purify the place.
The search for absolute purity and total safety is getting ever more difficult. Not even inexistent health risks are tolerated. Everything must be perfect and certified by a higher authority.
How much cost a drill, a pump to inject bacteria and air, and a PE cover? It is a business opportunity, a new boutique business. Soil decontamination for real estate developers. I need a young partner.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Dennis Mangan writes about IQ resistance, concluding that it is not without humor that it is the smartest people who deny the reality of IQ.
Funny it is not. In fact, reality dictates that smart people will deny the very existence of IQ and God forbid, that it is inherited. A large segment of the educated (i.e. teachable) class makes their living teaching or in the educational bureaucracy. In Israel, some 20% of the national budget (about 10% of the GNP) goes to education, and education is the largest employer of educated women. Another 20% of the budget goes to Social Welfare (17% of my income is Welfare Tax) which employs regiments of psychologists, social workers, administrators of all kind of social improvement programs. The theoretical basis of this tremendous investment in education and social programs is the hypothesis that people can be improved, if only attention was paid to them. If it is proved that education and social programs are mostly useless (see pic: the most effective United Nations's Educational Program for Peace), there would be no rationale for the employment of half or three quarters of the educated class. Of course, the smart people employed by these industries are constantly searching for demonstrations of their usefulness. It couldnt be different.
Another reason why the existence of IQ as a largely inherited feature is unacceptable is the simple fact that half (50%) of the population is below average, condemned to live out their lives in a inferior social position. If IQ is so important and it is immutable, then there are no real ways for social advancement. Maybe beauty, but little else. And if it is inherited, then the Dream of the Jewish Mother ("My Son, The Doctor!") is unreal. Hopelessness would be a sure receipt for social restlessness, at least in a democracy.
Not that the recognition of IQ would make society unworkable. Many (maybe most) societies were organized in a pyramidal way, with a King supposedly divine, descended from the Sun (like the Japanese Emperor), and an hereditary caste of aristocrats or samurais. One is born into these castes, no merit could make one a divine king or a noble samurai. People accepted this state of affairs as normal and went on with their lives. But we in the West cannot go back and restate a hierarchical society. Too many people has a stake in the current system.
And the French Republic (Napoleon!) has shown the superior fighting power of democracies over autocracies. There is no way to go back. Egalite has triumphed.
PS: The people who invest the most and spends most of their lives learning and in educational institutes are ... We are, the Jews. Oh boychik, do Jews believe in education! But the rationale for learning the Talmud is not practical, it is not a road to social advancement nor self-improvement. Learning those obscure texts is a goal in itself, the fulfillment of a religious duty. A life spent in learning abstruse Aramaic disputes (What should be done if the neighbor's horny bull jumps the fence and takes out the eye of my cow?), something totally unrelated to anything contemporary as it can be imagined, is deemed to be a life well and saintly lived. Jews love to study and learn, regardless of what nonsense. In addition to counting our gold coins at midnight, we love most to read books. We are like that.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
American regulators are going crazy. Their new field is food production. They are sending out factory health inspectors to the fields, and they are demanding laboratory sterility conditions. No wild animals are allowed, no children under five (diapers!) are allowed, identification cards have to be used in the fields.
The Food and Drug Administration lists 40 food-borne pathogens. Among the more common: E-coli O157:H7, salmonella, listeria, campylobacter, botulism and hepatitis A.
June 2009: E. coli O157:H7 found in Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough manufactured in Danville, Va., resulted in the recall of 3.6 million packages. Seventy-two people in 30 states were sickened. No traces found on equipment or workers; investigators are looking at flour and other ingredients.
October 2008: Salmonella found in peanut butter from a Peanut Corp. of America plant in Georgia. Nine people died, and an estimated 22,500 were sickened. Criminal negligence was alleged after the product tested positive and was shipped.
June 2008: Salmonella Saintpaul traced to serrano peppers grown in Mexico. More than 1,000 people were sickened in 41 states, with 203 reported hospitalizations and at least one death. Tomatoes were suspected, devastating growers.
April 2007: E. coli O157:H7 found in beef, sickening 14 people. United Food Group recalled 5.7 million pounds of meat.
December 2006: E. coli O157:H7 traced to Taco Bell restaurants in New Jersey and Long Island, N.Y. Green onions suspected, then lettuce. Thirty-nine people were sickened, some with acute kidney failure.
September 2006: E. coli O157:H7 found in Dole bagged spinach processed at Earthbound Farms in San Juan Bautista (San Benito County). The outbreak killed four people, sent 103 to hospitals, and devastated the spinach industry.
I am shocked, but this may be the way of the future. Europeans will surely follow in no time. Israel, a large food exporter, will have to comply.
Experts knowing what is required will be in demand. I am already an expert in Legionella prevention. Now a whole vast field for regulation compliance is opening up for the Secret Engineer and his office to exploit. If I only had time...
Water in Israel was supplied traditionally by agricultural co-operatives or irrigation co-operatives, who owned a few wells and bought water from the National Water Corporation Mekorot. These co-operatives later merged with local authorities, that created water and sewage departments to manage them. With time, these departments became the milching cows of the local authorities, as water was sold to the urban consumer at a high price, while production costs were minimal. The large profits from the water business were channeled to other municipal needs, like paying salaries and so on. Little was invested in renewing the infrastructure or improving it.
Five years ago the Water Corporations Law was put into effect, to separate the water business from the corrupt municipal sinkhole. The idea was that water supply was a healthy business that should be managed in a businesslike way, including emmitting bonds and going into the stock exchange. It was the all mighty Ministry of Finance that pushed the concept through the Knesset (Congress), thinking that it was privatizing the water services, while the financial consulting industry (the same gang) was salivating with the vision of hundreds of new financial clients. Now some thirty or forty corporations are in place, but things are not happening as planned.
The profitable new municipal water corporations have all created large organizations. In Petach Tikva, for example, the Water Department use to occupy three rooms in a decaying apartment near the City Hall, rented for that purpose. Today the Meytav Corporation (see logo) is housed in a nice building in the center of the town, all marble and cristal, and a 100 plus bureaucrat corps is manning its offices and leather chairs. All these corporations have now their own accounting, engineering, legal and so on divisions. Cars and drivers. Little money is left for investment, maybe less than before. Not one of the newfangled corporations has made use of financial advising and banking services to become a stock company in Tel Aviv bourse. The price of the water - you guessed it - has increased. Paradoxically, or not, while it was a municipal service it was not taxed. Now, that it is a private company, water is taxed by adding 15.5% (soon to be 16.5%) Value Added Tax, and then the corporations pay their corporate taxes. Water is becoming even more expensive with the new progressive pricing structure, where over 6 cubic meters per month, the price may be 20 shekel a cu.m. (5 dollars for 1,000 liter) plus the sewage (generally 2 dollar per cu m).
I wouldnt care too much for the billions spent on additional superfluous bureaucracy, but their water engineers are spending their time in writing minucious regulations on domestic water and sewage plumbing, and as design engineer, I am paid to comply with their capricious demands. Meytav has a pair of active Russian water engineers, quite capable fellows, who are forcing everybody to build according to their designs. I did not like their design (later I'll explain) and they didnt like my design, so we had a fight. They have the power so I had to change my design to receive the building permit. The contractor is happy like a bird, he may now pay the exhorbitant infrastructure tax and sell the properties. I feel cheated, because I was tricked to offer a low price (see former note, but that already is water under the bridge, gone and never to be seen again).
Irving Moskowitz bought the Shepard Hotel in Jerusalem (pic) in 1984 and wants to add 20 new apartments. It took him twenty years to get the building permit.
Now that he is ready to start building, the infamous Peace Now organization coerced the American Government to call in the Israeli Ambassador in Washington to receive its orders: Stop immediately!
We are patient. May be the next generation will succeed in building up Jerusalem. The Moshiah can wait.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Is there anybody out there from Pancho Cué? It is an agricultural settlement (colonia) near Alvear, Corrientes, Argentina. I organized (two generations ago) the Cooperativa Agropecuaria Pancho Cué, but cannot find anything on it on the internet. When living there, I become friend of Isaco Abitbol, the creator of the Chamame, the local musical style. There were many North African Jews in Alvear and there was even a Jewish cemetery. The history of the Moroccan Jews trading (aka contrabando) in the Brasilian/Argentine frontier has never been written. Their sojourn in the Jesuit Missions country has been forgotten. Soon I shall forget them too.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
One thing I admire about the American Army is its ability to change. It is the most difficult thing to do at a large organization's level as well as at the personal level. In October 2008 the Pentagon took a close look at its war strategy in Afghanistan in the face of rising violence from an increasingly complex insurgency. If I understand well, the new strategy shifts the focus of American effort from fighting and killing the rebels, to some kind of ultra-ethical Peace Corps campaign. The Army turns its skin and start supplying baby formula and medical attention to the civil population, to train local police and facilitating the local political mechanisms, but never becoming too prominent or too involved. The Army let the locals play it out among themselves. And they become super-moral. If an Army jeep hits an ass, it searches for the owner to pay him full compensation. Soldiers never walk through cultivated land, they avoid damaging the crops. If they have to, they ask for permission and pay generous damages. This unsoldierly behaviour is intended to reduce the fiction between the Army and the local population that is uninvolved in the war. Robert Gates defended this innovative strategy (which is so untypical of occupying forces):
We have seen the Russians before us. They had no moral problems in burning down villages and killing civilian population. They lost.I dont know if it is international pressure or President Obama's coldness, or just because we are always copying the Americans, but the Israeli Army is adopting the same strategy. Soldiers at the checkpoints are ordered to be extremely polite when in contact with the Palestinian population, they are instructed to be sensitive toward mothers and sick Arabs, they are forbidden to search them, they cannot cut up cakes to see what is inside as they used to do, etc. Cameras have been installed at the checkpoints to document their behaviour, and when caught acting rudely, the Army sends them to jail in a cloud of publicity. The Army is prosecuting soldiers who stole from Arabs and sending them to jail like common thieves (Many soldiers are Russian immigrants and resent this "bizarre" attitude. Everything in a conquered territory is supposed to belong to the conquerors, pon'yemay?). Also once more I am seeing large crowds of Palestinians from Samaria looking early morning for day jobs in Kever Benjamin City.
Apparently, the new strategy is working, because we in Israel are having a terror-free period like never before. No suicide bombers and only isolated attacks by Arabs going amock because of the heat. It may be conceivable that the right-wing nationalistic hard liners (we have some of these types in Israel, even bloggers) asking for revenge and punishment of the Palestinians, have been wrong all this time. Is sensitivity and gentleness the new way of making war?
Sunday, July 12, 2009
I spent this very hot morning with a Fire Fighting engineer inspecting a large (aobut 5'000 sq m) fashion shop. Without the permit, the shop's insurance is invalid. They have no insure, and bank loans can be called back. For some reason it is the insurance salesman who is hysterical and is attacking me for "denying him" the permit. The inspection revealed that physically, all the requirements have been met, but the shop has misplaced the certificates. The Fire Engineer demands the certificates. For example, I took by hand the inspector to the microphon of the loudspeaker system that was one of the requirement, and his voice was heard all over the Industrial Area, yet he demanded an electrician's certificate that it is operative. The insurance man is inciting the owners against me and I have been ordered to discontinue my work. I am quite depressed and although I have much work to do, I refuse to work this afternoon.
So I am here thinking about something else. How in hell can exist a nondeterministic quantum mechanics world? In nonclassical physics, one can carry out two identical experiments and obtain different - opposite - results. Now, that is not logical. If the cause-effect mechanism is not true, the world does not make sense and that is impossible.
The solution of this problem is the Hidden Variable hypothesis, that says that there are other factors out there at work under or behind the quantum reality, which determine - following the laws of cause and effect - the results of the "identical" experiments. It must be a part of the reality that we dont perceive, but that could be discovered by irregularities in the quantum world.
Now, quantum mechanics have proved to describe reality very precisely, leaving no space for the hidden variable. So what's going on? May be a little vodka will rise my awareness and allow me to see the solution, or at least, help me sleep through this depression.
The desalination technology has advanced so much in the last years that it energy requirements are nearing the theoretical boundaries defined by the laws of thermodynamics. The energy in the desalination process based on reverse osmosis is required to generate water pressure so that molecules of water will pass through the membranes and retain the salt. The desalinated water emerges at high pressure from the membranes, and this pressure is fed back into the process.
A cubic meter of seawater can currently be desalinated at an energy cost of 2.2 kilowatt-hours. Another 1.5 kWh goes for additional pumping of the seawater and the concentrate. To put this in perspective, a washing machine consumes 2 kWh. A refrigerator operating for an hour consumes about 0.15 kilowatt-hours.
The relevant comparison is with alternative sources of water. In Israel we pump water from Lake Kinneret from 210 meters below sea level to sea level consuming 1.3 kilowatt-hours per cubic meter, and conveying a cubic meter of water 300 kilometers takes an amount of energy similar to that required for desalination. The conclusion is that desalination is the preferred alternative for Israel. Not that there are other alternatives. (Illustr.: Simulation of how works a membrane. It is the same for desalination or uranium enrichment you know for what).
I said, "No, nah, no, no,
No, no, no, No, no,
you're not the one for me
No, nah, no, no,
No, no, no, No, no,
you're not the one for me"
Big black horse
And a cherry tree
I can't quite get there 'cause my heart's forsaken me, yeah yeah yeah
Big black horse
And a cherry tree
I can't quite get there 'cause my heart forsaken me
Black horse by KT Tunstall. She is 1/4 Chinese, strong female body, extremely sexy.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
The Goths are a very recent people who were unknown in the Antiquity. The Greeks, the Jews, the early Romans, the Partians, and even the Germans and the French (Gaul) never suspected their existence. Who are the Goths (not the fashion Goths of the pic) and how they became illegal immigrants in Europe?
Jordanes explains that the Goths lived in Crimea till the Huns expulsed them. Jordanes, who was a Goth and felt no sympathy for the Huns, describes them as "a savage race which dwelt in the swamps, a stunted, foul and puny tribe, scarcely human, and having no language save one which bore but slight resemblance to human speech." As a native speaker of Hungarian, hereby I register here my formal protest. Hungarian is a very expressive language. But let us continue with Jordanes.
"This cruel tribe lived on the farther bank of the Maeotic swamp...(The Sea of Azov, see pic. j). Like a whirlwind they swept across the great swamp and at once fell upon Scythia. The Alani who were their equals in battle, they exhausted by their incessant attacks and subdued. For by the terror of their features they inspired great fear in those whom perhaps they did not really surpass in war. They made their foes flee in horror because their swarthy aspect was fearful, and they had, if I may call it so, a sort of shapeless lump, not a head, with pin-holes rather than eyes. They are short in stature, quick in bodily movement, alert horsemen, broad shouldered, ready in the use of bow and arrow, and have firm-set necks which are ever erect in pride. Though they live in the form of men, they have the cruelty of wild beasts."
"When the Goths had to face his active race that had invaded many nations, they took fright and consulted with their king how they might escape from such a foe. While Hermanaric, king of the Goths, was deliberating, the Huns moved in with their army into the country of the Ostrogoths (Eastern Goths)."
To make it short, the Goths received such a beating from the Huns that they did not stop till Sweden (the Eastern Goths) and Morocco and Spain (the Western Goths). The Huns settled in Hungary and continued sacking the Roman Empire till it colapsed.
The Huns, so historians say, left nothing but desolation after them. The Goths, I imagine, left us the Haagen Dazs ice cream, which is good but fattening.
How united is China? Is the Central Government shared along ethnic or regional lines? When in China, I was always surprised by the vastness and heterogeity of the country. In Northern China, mamy look like Ashkenazi Jews, they could easily pass as Russians. Other peoples look exactly as Northern American Indians. The mountain minorities look like Quechuas in Bolivia. Time will tell.
Friday, July 10, 2009
This is what I wanna be
Suddenly I see (Suddenly I see)
Why the hell it means so much to me
And she's taller than most
And she's looking at me
I can see her eyes looking from a page in a magazine
Oh she makes me feel like I could be a tower
A big strong tower
She got the power to be
The power to give
The power to see
Suddenly I see (Suddenly I see)
This is what I wanna be
Suddenly I see (Suddenly I see)
Why the hell it means so much to me.
(by KT Tunstall)
Without the assent of her people, America is being converted from a Christian country, nine in 10 of whose people traced their roots to Europe as late as the time of JFK, into a multiracial, multiethnic, multilingual, multicultural Tower of Babel not seen since the late Roman Empire.I think America will settle down like Brasil did, into a large optimistic country. May be not. Should I worry? Most probably I shall not be around at the time to see it.
Thursday, July 09, 2009
The Pumped Storage concept is promising to be very profitable in Israel and several private consorcia are considering to build them. IDB Holding Corp. Ltd. (TASE:IDBH) unit Clal Industries and Investments Ltd. (TASE: CII) has applied for a license to build pumped storage hydroelectric plant on Mount Carmel. The company applied for the permit through its subsidiary, Clal Energy Ltd. The company names are irrelevant, all of them are owned by one man, Nochi Dankner.
My exam question is based on this real project and it goes like this: The Mount Carmel Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project comprises two abandoned quarries: the Hureybe Quarry will serve as upper reservoir, and the Nesher quarry near the Kishon River will serve as lower reservoir. The topographic difference is 450 meters. The price of electricity varies according to the demand and in the hours of low demand it is 0.1343 shekel/kWh and 0.7210 sh/kWh in the hours of peak demand. The project intends to install Francis pumps/turbines (efficiency 60%) that change their function in a few seconds, pumping water or generating electricity according to the case. The investment is estimated in 150 million US dollars and will produce 150 MegaWatt per Hour in during 6 peak hours a day.
You meet by chance Nochi and says he is looking for a bright young engineer to assist him in his various projects. He asks you to calculate (1) flow Q (cu m/sec), (2) diameter of the pipe (inch) and (3) the IRR of the project. Give a fast and correct answer and you have the job. Or at least 25 points in this exam.
"כֹּה אָמַר ה' צְבָאוֹת: צוֹם הָרְבִיעִי (בתמוז) וְצוֹם הַחֲמִישִׁי (ט' באב) וְצוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי (ג' בתשרי) וְצוֹם הָעֲשִׂירִי (י' בטבת) יִהְיֶה לְבֵית יְהוּדָה לְשָׂשׂוֹן וּלְשִׂמְחָה וּלְמֹעֲדִים טוֹבִים וְהָאֱמֶת וְהַשָּׁלוֹם אֱהָבוּ".
The fourth fast (on the fourth day of the month of Tammuz), the fifth fast (in the month of Av), the seventh fast (second day of Tishri) and the tenth fast (tenth of Tevet) will be days of rejoice and peace for the House of Yehudah.
But the time has not come to rebuild the Temple. I am fasting.
When you were young and your heart was an open book
You used to say live and let live
(You know you did, you know you did, you know you did)
But if this ever-changing world in which we live in
Makes you give in and cry
Say live and let die
(Live and let die)
Live and let die
(Live and let die)
What does it matter to you?
When you got a job to do
You got to do it well
You got to give the other fellow hell
(by Paul McCartney, in the James Bond film "Goldfinger").
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Monday, July 06, 2009
Larry Summers was ejected from Harvard's Presidency by angry old bitches because he suggested that may be, who knows, girls dont really like maths. Now Larry (pic) is praising his new boss, President Obama, with such sophistication that he may well find himself once more looking for a job.
"When I've heard him talk about economic issues--with the exception of NAFTA, where I just hope he doesn't believe what he says--he seems intelligent and serious. I wouldn't say I'm bowled over by the brilliance of anything I've heard, but everything has a kind of thoughtfulness to it that's sort of impressive."This chuchem (smartass, in yiddish) is making fun of Obama, inflating him with pride through fake praise, under which we can clearly hear the scorn and desprecio (contempt). Professor Larry expresses himself like the professional teacher he is, as if he were writing an exam.
Complete the following sentence: "Obama seems intelligent and serious ..."
(Let me do it, I am very good at this: ... but is not.)
Here in the Middle East, Obama is losing fast his prestige and is being taken less and less seriously. But we in the Middle Earth are all fucked up and we dont count for nothing. But if his personal lackeys ("economic advisers", sorry, Prof. Summers) are losing their respect for him, then Obama is doomed. Machiavello's advice to the new prince is to start by a vengeful, frightening act of violence, like hanging twenty of his opponents, or bombing Tehran or whatever. Then, having fully established who is the boss, he should be a kind and generous ruler. Obama was too busy dreaming with his father, did not read his Machiavello and missed his opportunity. I am sorry for the late great country of America.
Then I went to the Zevulun Hammer Yeshive. I had been there six months ago but never paid, so I was angry (I am becoming a bitter, angry, aggressive, unlikable old man). To my surprise there were dozens fo busy Palestinians at work, hammering down the walls and making a total mess. I was taken to the underground levels where the infrastructure is housed, and there the suffocating heat, the frightening noise and the dust were unbearable. The Arabs wanted guidance on how to rebuild the plumbing system, but the Yeshiva is a four story complex building and without any drawing I had no way to understand what they were doing or what they wanted to do. They were disappointed with me, I insisted that without drawings I was not giving on the spot advise, I do not practice "corridor medicine". It was so hot and dusty that I started to shout to the astonished Palestinians, me a fat Jew surrounded by dozens of non-understanding Arabs, that they should work following drawings. These Jews cannot work without paper drawings? They may have concluded that I hated Arabs, thats why I was not helping them. (I dont hate Arabs, and anyway, business is business).
I hope the yeshive will not collapse on those poor superstitious children when they return next autumn to continue with their mindkilling Gemara. I sent a letter saying that I am not responsible for anything.
Another un-accounted cost of sharing a country with a Third World people. In addition to their stealing and killing. In a marginal note, I would say that 90% of what we call terrorism is not really organized political warfare, but just another expression of the inborn lawlessness and violence of these peoples.
The Pentagon has forced Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) to withdraw from a $12 billion Indian Ministry of Defense tender for 126 multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) for the Indian Air Force. IAI was due to collaborate with Sweden’s Saab AB (OMX: SAAB), manufacturer of the JAS-39 Gripen jet fighter (pic).
The Pentagon and the Ministry of Defense were in talks for 18 months before the decision was taken a few months ago that IAI would withdraw from the tender. Although the issue of transfer of American technology to India was the official reason that the US gave, however, Israeli officials said it was more likely that the Americans were concerned that if the IAI competed for the deal with Saab it would force the US companies to lower their prices. Both Boeing Company (NYSE: BA) and Lockheed Martin Inc. (NYSE: LMC) are competing in the tender.
Three years ago there was a similar situation. IAI was participating in a $2 billion South Korean AWACS tender. IAI was offering its AWACS Gulfstream G550 platform, while Boeing was offering its Boeing 737 platform, which cost $700 million more. After two years of hard bargaining, IAI lost the tender to Boeing, due to restrictions the US technological and commercial restrictions, which meant that IAI could not meet the Korean’s stipulated terms for the tender(from Globes)
Sunday, July 05, 2009
I had a tiring, long travelling day to a Northern hotel with Legionella certification problems. Under the manicured parks there is a hell of decaying, unmaintained imbroglio of piping infrastructure. It was created by successive maintainence managers in the least fifty years, there are no drawings nor records. According the current manager, a courageous kibbutz woman, the whole thing broke down and no one kenw anything till she came a started to learn the system and mark the pipes. It is in a terrible condition. She is expecting ME to map the piping systems, the hot water room, the chillers, the air conditioner system, the kitchen wastewater system, and so on. And then I have to present a clear piping schedule with clearly marked additions for Legionella control.I dont think it can be done, but I'll do something. I am becoming of the opinion that old hotels should be bulldozed and replaced by new ones. This permanent repairing created an unmanageable infrastructure, full of hidden pockets of dirt and infection. But the idea is anatema for the owners and I cannot suggest that. They expect me to let them do minimal, costless changes and the system magically will work and become Legionella proof.
Saturday, July 04, 2009
Swedish authorities are the first in Europe to develop guidelines on climate-friendly food choices. The Swedish National Food Administration has been working with the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency to produce food recommendations that include information on the impact of food on climate and the environment, in addition to the health aspects. The document, ‘Environmental-friendly food choices’ begins: "Meat – beef, lamb, pork and chicken is the food group that has the greatest impact on the environment.
I already follow most of the Swedish rules. I dont eat pork or lamb. I do eat turkey schnitzels. And beef of freely roaming Brasilian cattle raised on natural grass. Only from cattle killed by Godfearing Jewish butchers.
I dont know whose dietetic laws are crazier, the Swedish or ours.
"We" refers to people sitting in the "Private Banking" lounge, and "I" already have been decimated out. Currently I am depressed and thinking how to rebuild myself. And the worse is that the worse is yet to come. For example, I have jumped with Nochi Dankner into the London real estate, and things look real bad. London real estate market is about to be flooded by more people desperate to sell at any price, and will drive prices down to WWII levels.
"With capital values having fallen on average by 43 percent, pretty much any loan that has a loan-to-value covenant if tested today would be in breach,” said Andrew Currie, head of Europe commercial mortgage-backed securities at Fitch Ratings in London. Most servicers of commercial mortgage bonds haven’t tested these conditions, “storing up trouble” for the future, he said.
White Tower is the largest commercial mortgage bond sold by a single borrower to default this year in Britain, which is Europe’s largest market and accounts for about 50 percent of issuance, according to Fitch. Banks that financed a real-estate buying spree at the top of the market are weighed down with about 230 billion pounds of commercial property loans, making them unwilling to refinance existing deals when they come due. Is 230 billion pounds much or little? I lose proportions with such numbers. My mind evolved to deal with shillings and pences.
An ad illustrates my finances:
Realizing that many of its wealthy clients lack the time or patience to deal with their personal finances, Amsterdam-based private bank Insinger de Beaufort launched a new service that takes finances back to the basics: a shoebox.The laugh is that I really do keep my papers in shoe boxes.