Link to Profile Semperoper, Dresden Sieg (auf dem Siegesäule), Berlin Brandenburg Tor, Berlin Skyline, Frankfurt am Main

Friday, March 07, 2008

Dudes, You Broke Our Country

I pick up the Wall Street Journal last week and to read about some poor sugar producer in Brazil taking a beating because his income is received in USD while his expenses are paid in Brasilian Real, against which the US Dollar is depreciating.

No offence, Brasil, you're still up and coming after all these years, but ... The Real is a third world currency, and the USD is depreciating against it?!? WTF!?

But it gets better.

Last week the press was about people simply walking away in droves from their underwater mortgages, and not just the sub-prime ones. OK, people walking away is annoying, but still within the spectrum of reality.

Today's story was about people in multi-million dollar homes who have simply stopped paying the mortgages and still live there because (hey, they might be real estate dumb, but they aren't totally dumb) they have observed that it will take years for a foreclosure to even get in motion, all the time of which these folks will be living in relative luxury while paying nothing for the privilege. Nice work if you can get it. I could have signed up for one of those deals last year and didn't. Stupid me.

So, as much as I hate to say it, after 8 years of the Bush Presidency, it may very well be time for a Clinton Presidency. 80% chance it will happen, because, Republican Dudes, you broke the country.

Rue Britania?

[Do you suppose this is real? From our friends at ITN via Yahoo]

Padded lampposts are being trialled in a London street to protect inattentive pedestrians.

A pilot scheme has been launched in Brick Lane after it was found to have the highest number of 'walking and texting' injuries in the country.

A study carried out by 118 118 found one in ten people has hurt themselves while focused on their mobile phone screen. <more ...>

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Unseen Enemy

No matter how much training you may have had, whether it be recent and fresh in your memory or burned into your brain cells through years of slipping through myriad locales throughout the third world on various deployments, you will one day slip up, and you can only hope that it won't be fatal.

It's the price of living in plain sight while at the same time trying to not make yourself an obvious target. You will slip up ... they vastly outnumber you, and while they do not know you, they will show you no mercy in their ruthless war on your system. And they will get you even in otherwise trusted locations.

I had made a similar slip in a remote corner of what we euphamistically called Southwest-Asia nearly twenty five years ago ... it was an ostensibly friendly area, but it was clear, with or without command briefings, that the area was teeming with hostiles of all sorts, known and unknown.

I thought the glass looked a little too dirty. I also didn't trust the slice of lemon and ice cubes in it. As for the can of cola, it was just a little too dirty on top. Still, I accepted the drink as offered in the lovely town of Palma de Mallorca, figuring "The streaks on the glass are probably just the lemon, the ice is probably safe ... and I'll just wipe the dirt off that can."

And just like twenty five years ago, I lost three days of my life to the never-ending low-intensity conflict between man and microbe. This time, no less, in the heart of modern Europe.

You can never let your guard down.