Category Archives: nadshots

Unhappy meals in Reykjavik

CNN surprised me with a heartfelt swan song on Iceland’s future lack of Happy Meals and Sausage Egg McMuffins. Great read.

Upon arrival at Reykjavik’s international airport the departure board displays a sign of things to come – the last flights of the day are to Boston and New York, destined no doubt to be packed with deserters as an exodus begins in search of the burger so cruelly denied to the indigenous populace. For those in search of such culinary comfort closer to home, a flight to the Irish capital Dublin will provide the nearest McDonalds outlet – a mere 2,000 kilometers from the runways of Reykjavik. […]

Iceland’s natural resources – steam and rock – and its lack of other resources – mayonnaise, hamburger relish, sesame buns, onion rings – have shaped its cuisine. But locally sourced food here actually means cheaper food. However, far from pickled herring, moss, minke whale, stewed seaweed or any of the abundant fresh seafood waiting to be steamed in the island’s volcanic oven, the Ogmundssons plan to replace McDonald’s with an Icelandic burger bar.

 

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The deep waters of the economic crises

While all the old, rich and powerful keep mumbling about recovery at the end of 2010, I tend not to believe in it. If anything 2010 will be worse than 2009. My opinion may rest in part on the fact that I am not rich, and therefore do not stand to loose my position of power. Mind you, I am well aware that these people will weather the storm better than me, but the thing they built their world upon may be going away for good…

The problem with the economy is that the chain of dominos is rather long and recursive. That means, we saw some banks topple and thought it was the end, but it was only the beginning. Take the following article about the ghost fleet off of the coast of Singapore:

The Aframax-class oil tanker is the camel of the world’s high seas. By definition, it is smaller than 132,000 tons deadweight and with a breadth above 106ft. It is used in the basins of the Black Sea, the North Sea, the Caribbean Sea, the China Sea and the Mediterranean – or anywhere where non-OPEC exporting countries have harbours and canals too small to accommodate very large crude carriers (VLCC) or ultra-large crude carriers (ULCCs). The term is based on the Average Freight Rate Assessment (AFRA) tanker rate system and is an industry standard.

You may wish to know this because, if ever you had an irrational desire to charter one, now would be the time. This time last year, an Aframax tanker capable of carrying 80,000 tons of cargo would cost £31,000 a day ($50,000). Now it is about £3,400 ($5,500).

This is why the chilliest financial winds anywhere in the City of London are to be found blowing through its 400-plus shipping brokers.

Between them, they manage about half of the world’s chartering business. The bonuses are long gone. The last to feel the tail of the economic whiplash, they – and their insurers and lawyers – await a wave of redundancies and business failures in the next six months. Commerce is contracting, fleets rust away – yet new ship-builds ordered years ago are still coming on stream.

Read the rest, it is well worth it. Especially considering there is a lag of three years between ordering a ship and getting it. That means the shipyards are currently busy building ships nobody needs and that might be scrapped on completition.

Now we get to the recursive part in the domino theory. Once the companies that are currently buys building ships nobody needs run out of orders in about two years time, they will close down, laying off their workers, which in turn will deepen the cirsis.

‘know what I’m sayin’ …

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Bad times…

U.N.-aid_crisis

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The greatest show on TV

HBOs “The Wire” is imho the best piece of american television produced in decades. Fot those already in the know here is a very in depth coverage of the whole series from a variety of angels by Darkmatter Journal.

For everybody else here is a taste:

Here two of the protagonists solve a murder, using only one word:

and another:

The Balitmore slang thing:

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Rettet den Tagi (Petition)

Bei der Zürcher Tageszeitung Tagesanzeiger soll ein Viertel der Redaktion gehen. Sagt die Geschäftsleitung. Und das, weil der Konzern dieses Jahr zum allerersten Mal in seiner über 100-jährigen Existenz keinen Gewinn geschrieben hat. Das ist etwa so, als ob man bei einer Kutsche, der das eine Rad eiert, das Pferd abspannt und erschiesst. Ohne starken Tagi gibt es keine Substanz in dem Konzern. Und auch die Seite der Baz würde magerer aussehen, denn die teilen sich die Webinhalte über Newsnetz.

Soll man lieber mal nachrechnen, wer sich über die Jahre daran einen goldenen Schniedel verdient hat und die Gewinnmillionen, die jetzt als komfortables Polster dienen könnte, aus dem Konzern gezogen hat.

Hier geht’s zur Petition.

Ende Mai 2009 haben über fünfzig, grossenteils hochqualifizierte Journalistinnen und Journalisten des Tages-Anzeigers, also rund ein Viertel der Redaktion, die Kündigung erhalten. Dazu kommt eine noch unbekannte Zahl freischaffender Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter, die ihre Aufträge verlieren. In der Druckerei werden sieben Stellen weggespart. Die Verlagsleitung behauptet, mit dieser «Dreiviertelredaktion» eine bessere Zeitung produzieren zu wollen.

Begründet werden die Entlassungen mit «wirtschaftlicher Notwendigkeit» und einer «Neuorganisation der Redaktion». Tatsache ist, dass das Unternehmen Tamedia im vergangenen Jahr 105,8 Millionen Gewinn geschrieben hat, dass 32 Millionen Franken Dividenden an die Aktionäre ausbezahlt wurden. Vor wenigen Wochen erst investierte Tamedia 226 Millionen Franken in die Übernahme des Westschweizer Medienunternehmens Edipresse. Ein Neubau des japanischen Stararchitekten Shigeru Ban soll den Gewinn, der durch 116 Jahre Tagi-Geschichte erwirtschaftet wurde, weitum sichtbar machen.

Die Qualität journalistischer Arbeit hat nicht bloss mit Verkäuflichkeit, sondern auch mit Engagement, mit dem Wissen und der Sorge um die Gesellschaft zu tun, in der wir leben. Demokratische Gesellschaften brauchen journalistische Qualität. Journalistische Qualität braucht redaktionelle Freiheit und anständige Arbeits- und Anstellungsbedingungen der Medienschaffenden.

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Coffee-flavored coffee

Besides Starbucks apparent lack of a decent workplace, they have another major shortcoming. Considering they are supposed to serve coffee it is a bit funny how difficult it can be to actually get just that. Or as Dennis Leary said it below “Coffee-flavord Coffee”.

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Mann oder Maus…

Dass die Handelsschule KV Basel als Betreiberin mehrerer kaufmännisch orientierter Lehrgänge und Kurse den pädagogischen Finger am Puls der Zeit haben muss, versteht sich. Schliesslich will man den Bedürfnissen der modernen Kundschaft, sprich der Schüler und Schülerinnen allen Alters gerecht werden und marktorientiert Lerninhalte anbieten, die uns in unserem Leben den entscheidenden Schritt weiter bringen…

So oder so ähnlich zeigt sich die Schule wohl gerne und scheut in ihrem Eifer und Überschwung auch nicht die Mühe ein speziell für Frauen zusammengestelltes Informatik-Kursprogramm anzubieten.

kv-frauen-schmal

Frauen unter sich lernen miteinander und kommen rascher vorwärts. Geschätzt wird vorallem die entspanntere Atmosphäre, und dass frau ohne Hemmungen auch diejenigen Fragen stellen kann, für die sonst wenig Zeit bleibt.

Schön. Oder? Wenn das obige auch wirklich stimmt, bleibt nur noch die Frage, warum sämtliche Lerninhalte in der Fraueninformatik sich strikt auf blutiger-Anfängerin-Niveau befindet und sich, etwas salopp formuliert, auf das Segment “Teilzeit-Tippse” fokussiert.

Der einzige andere Kurs in Informatik ist dann nämlich nichts mehr für Frauen, wenn man der gleichen Logik folgt. – Kein Wunder, schliesslich geht es hier um Zertifikate der SIZ, also für Leute, die ihren Computer offenbar für die Arbeit brauchen…

Wenn das Ziel dieses Konzepts wirklich ist, Menschen, bei denen die Herausforderung schon mit dem Anstellen eines Computers beginnt, eine Plattform zu bieten, so soll man sie nicht einfach “Frauen” nennen. AnfängerInnenkurse sind ja völlig okay und auch dringend nötig, aber man soll die zahlreichen behämmerten Männer, die kaum den Doppelklick beherrschen, nicht einfach aussen vor lassen! Auch sie sollten sich von den erdrückenden Geschlechterrollen-Klischee befreien dürfen und für 2 Stunden die Woche vor dem Computer mal nicht den Hirsch markieren müssen. Die Dunkelziffer ist enorm hoch, aber dieser Markt ist definitiv vorhanden.

Dieser Autor weiss leider nur zu gut, wovon er spricht.

Wo bleibt der Informatik-Kurs für Dödel und solche, die einen haben?

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What happened in Abu Ghraib stays in Abu Ghraib…

So Obama is concerned if the public found out just how low US “techniques” for the treatment of alleged criminals go, the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan might be at a greater risk of getting attacked?

Obama defends abuse photos U-Turn (English)

What exactly is he withholding that we haven’t seen yet? So there’s still worse than those pictures made public by US troops themselves?

abughraibleashLyndie England on her morning walk…

Does withholding the pictures at this point really make sense if “Abu Ghraib” has already become the international yardstick for how wrong a military mission can go? Why is Obama defending his predecessors’ blunders, gross negligence and outright crimes against humanity?

Besides, if you haven’t seen the photos, how about a re-enactment to help your imagination?

As Seymour Hersh reports…

Torture at Abu Ghraib – The New Yorker

Breaking chemical lights and pouring the phosphoric liquid on detainees; pouring cold water on naked detainees; beating detainees with a broom handle and a chair; threatening male detainees with rape; allowing a military police guard to stitch the wound of a detainee who was injured after being slammed against the wall in his cell; sodomizing a detainee with a chemical light and perhaps a broom stick, and using military working dogs to frighten and intimidate detainees with threats of attack, and in one instance actually biting a detainee. […]

The photographs tell it all. In one, Private England, a cigarette dangling from her mouth, is giving a jaunty thumbs-up sign and pointing at the genitals of a young Iraqi, who is naked except for a sandbag over his head, as he masturbates. Three other hooded and naked Iraqi prisoners are shown, hands reflexively crossed over their genitals. A fifth prisoner has his hands at his sides. In another, England stands arm in arm with Specialist Graner; both are grinning and giving the thumbs-up behind a cluster of perhaps seven naked Iraqis, knees bent, piled clumsily on top of each other in a pyramid. There is another photograph of a cluster of naked prisoners, again piled in a pyramid. Near them stands Graner, smiling, his arms crossed; a woman soldier stands in front of him, bending over, and she, too, is smiling. Then, there is another cluster of hooded bodies, with a female soldier standing in front, taking photographs. Yet another photograph shows a kneeling, naked, unhooded male prisoner, head momentarily turned away from the camera, posed to make it appear that he is performing oral sex on another male prisoner, who is naked and hooded. […]

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Things are heating up

Seems some people in the US and other places are getting really pissed off at the managerial class. Reading the following article may give one hints if one has lived under a rock in a riverbad since, I don’t know, the jurassic…

Some excerpts:

A perfect example of the kind of person who benefited from the Reagan Revolution is Al “Chainsaw” Dunlap, a corporate superstar during the peak Clinton years, when Reaganomics accelerated under the guiding hands of Alan Greenspan, Larry Summers, and Robert Rubin. It was during Clinton’s centrist pro-business presidency that innovations like the like mass-layoff (rebranded as “downsizing”) became a regular feature of economicbooms, rather than of economic busts, as they had been in the past. Layoffs expanded right with the economy for the simple reason that each mass firing freed up millions or billions of dollars that had gone to workers, but now could be divided up between executives and major shareholders. The problem was finding people cold-blooded enough to do the job—which is to say, there was no problem whatsoever. As Dunlap himself boasted in a 1998 interview with Fortune magazine, “Mickey Mouse could do the cost cutting.”

By that time, he was already a celebrity with a nine-figure net worth. It all started back in 1994, when Al Dunlap was named CEO of Scott Paper. His first move was to fire nearly one-third of the workforce, or 11,200 workers. This cheered investors, who piled in, driving Scott Paper’s stock up by 225 percent. By reclaiming the sum total of whatever 11,200 workers earned and redistributing it to the shareholders and executives, Dunlap earned himself a $100 million payout for 19 months of “Mickey Mouse” chainsaw duty.

Or:

In 1967, unions were much stronger, income disparities were much narrower, and Americans didn’t culture-hump their bosses. Back then, Al Dunlap tried to apply his “chainsaw” to a company called Sterling Pulp & Paper. He proposed mass firings of its unionized workforce to bring down costs and boost the owners’ share. But Sterling’s 1967 workers weren’t like Sunbeam’s or Scott Paper’s in the 1990s. They didn’t roll over and accept the downsizing with a sullen grumble. Instead, to quote from Dunlap’s own book, “There were also physical threats of violence. We received anonymous calls and letters from nuts who said they were going to blow up my car or shoot me in the parking lot.” It worked: Dunlap caved in to the “nuts,” the workers weren’t downsized, and Dunlap eventually was forced to retreat. (A biographical note: according to the book Testosterone, Inc., Dunlap’s first wife divorced him on grounds of “extreme cruelty” after he allegedly took a knife to her and said, “I’ve always wondered what human flesh tastes like.”)

But America was a different country back then. We weren’t in awe of the CEO class, and they were kept in check. In 1978, American CEOs made more than 30 times the average salary of their company’s employees; by the early 2000s, CEOs made more than 500 times the average salary of their employees. Workers weren’t losing just a portion of the wealth, but also their pensions, health care, vacation time and job security.

Read on…

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50 most loathsome people in the US

The Buffalo Beast names ’em, lists their crimes and doles out punishment. Very funny – besides, a post that was not about economics was in order:

No. 50: Barack Obama – Exhibit A: “Yes we can” is the “Just do it” of politics.

Sentence: Presiding over the decline of an exhausted empire. (ok, ok, I admit it. This one is a bit about the economy, but only in passing…)

No. 43: You – Exhibit A: You’re more upset by Miley Cyrus’s glamour shots than the fact that you are a grown adult who is upset about Miley Cyrus.

Sentence: Invaded and occupied by Canada; all military units busy overseas without enough fuel to get back.

No. 26: Tila Tequila – Exhibit A: “I’m shooting a commercial for safe sex. How ironic. Because I don’t have that.”

Sentence: AIDS

No. 20: Joe the Plumber – Exhibit A: “Social Security is a joke…social security I’ve never believed in, don’t like it. I hate that it’s forced on me.”

Sentence: After blowing his fifteen minutes and all his money on coke and Thai hookers, an infirm, elderly Joe finds that social security actually is a joke, and is finally forced to snake toilets for a living.

No. 13:  Joe Lieberman – Exhibit A: “In matters of war, we undermine presidential credibility at our nation’s peril.” “Sen. Obama doesn’t come to this debate with a lot of credibility.”

Sentence: Lieberman awakes to find himself in the body of an impoverished Iraqi living in a small apartment with 12 family members and no electricity. Shocked by this inexplicable turn of events, he stumbles outside and cries to God, looking up just in time for the white phosphorous to hit him in the face.

No. 4: George W. Bush – Exhibit A: “Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter.”

Sentence: Detained in formaldehyde-laced FEMA trailer without charges or counsel, sodomized by Lynndie England, declared guilty by military tribunal, set adrift naked on a small ice floe in the Arctic.

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