Monday, 11 February 2008

Friday, 8th February, 2008


"It's scary out there, man," Romero said, gesturing at a laptop as he sat in his apartment here, chain-smoking Marlboros. "There's just so much information, and it's absolutely uncontrolled. Half of it isn't even information. It's entertainment or opinion. I wanted to do something that would get at this octopus. It may be the darkest film I've done since 'Night of the Living Dead.' "

An unmistakable mood was bored with the very achievements of consensual government and material improvement, while "the revolt of the masses" itself had military implications, as some saw: well before 1914 Churchill said with chilling prescience that democracy was more vindictive than oligarchy, and "the wars of peoples will be more terrible than the wars of kings."
In the end the Party of Peace did win, but only after the catastrophe between 1914 and 1945, with bloodshed surpassing anything ever seen and an utterly unparalleled murder of innocents; a regression that remains an inexplicable moral mystery. In those years one might say that the best lacked all conviction and the worst were full of passionate intensity: even after the carnage of the trenches, an important minority - Russian Communists as well as Italian Fascists - still believed in "the regenerating value of violence," and this was brilliantly exploited by Hitler...
In a bravura final chapter Sheehan explains "Why Europe Will Not Become a Super-power." As he recognizes, the European Union is already a superstate economically, but its failure to develop a common foreign and defense policy will continue to disappoint some enthusiasts.
One can talk about European soft power against American hard power, but the point is made better by Sheehan in the peroration to this excellent book. The birth of the Bolshevik regime - and then of Fascist and National Socialist regimes - was a direct consequence of the "intense violence" then poisoning Europe. The astonishingly peaceful collapse of Communism rather more than 70 years later reflected in turn "the decline of violence that, by the 1980s, had transformed international and domestic politics throughout Europe": a change for the better if ever there was one. To put it another way, soccer is not only England's and Europe's gift to all mankind. It really is a better game.

Future historians of Western societies will marvel at the divergent paths followed by the art market and the broader economy in early 2008...
Three factors account for the vigor of the art market in an unfavorable economic context. Globalization, often cited by auction house spokesmen, helps. When one geographical area suffers, others remain more optimistic. While only two of the 10 most expensive lots sold at Sotheby's went to Americans - a £7.41 million cartoon-style portrait by Picasso and a £5.62 million portrait by Alberto Giacometti - seven lots were bought by Europeans, including the record paintings by Marc and von Jawlensky.
Another factor is passion. Some buyers still spend money on art because they want to live with it.
Most important, a third factor sets the art market apart if the talk is about works predating the mid-20th century. Supplies are dramatically drying up and everybody knows it, if some deny the fact. The rarity factor, present in every collector's mind, sent the Renoir and the Degas soaring because the chances of coming across Impressionist works of that caliber are now remote.
That factor accounts for the markedly different patterns followed by consecrated post-World War II paintings of the mid-1960s and truly "Contemporary" art on Wednesday, at Christie's, where sales totaled £73 million.
Few large size Bacons remain available, hence the huge £26.34 million paid for a "Triptych" of 1974. Gerhard Richter's "Two Couples of Lovers" of 1966, sold for £7.3 million, was likewise helped by the rarity factor, as were Lucio Fontana's record "Concetto Spaziale, Attesa" of 1965 (£5.5 million) or Bridget Riley's "Static 2," another record picture (£1.74 million).
By contrast, recent works propelled by the noise made around them without much substance to justify it, often crashed, leaving 17 of 54 lots dead in the water. Cy Twombly's "Untitled (Rome)," a large scribble on white ground like those indulged in by 4-year olds on the walls of their rooms would not have realized £3.94 million as easily were it not for its date, 1958. That establishes its credibility over a long period. Buyers, while still bullish, are now more keen to play it safe.
And that is likely to be the story of the art market in the next few months, if not longer.

So long as the Lexicon was a free Web site, Ms. Rowling looked kindly upon it. But when Mr. Vander Ark tried to publish part of the Lexicon in book form — and (shudder!) to make a profit — Ms. Rowling put her foot down. She claims that she wants to publish her own encyclopedia someday and donate the proceeds to charity — and a competing book by Mr. Vander Ark would hurt the prospects for her own work.
But more than that, she is essentially claiming that the decision to publish — or even to allow — a Harry Potter encyclopedia is hers alone, since after all, the characters in her books came out of her head. They are her intellectual property. And in her view, no one else can use them without her permission.
“There have been a huge number of companion books that have been published,” Mr. Blair said. “Ninety-nine percent have come to speak to us. In every case they have made changes to ensure compliance. They fall in line.” But, he added: “These guys refused to contact us. They refused to answer any questions. They refused to show us any details.”
They fall in line. There, in that one sentence, lies the reason Mr. Falzone and his colleagues have agreed to help represent RDR Books. And it’s why Mr. Lessig decided to start the Fair Use Project in the first place.

Q. Speaking of hoteling, you are about to open your 100th PetsHotel. What kind of services does a PetsHotel offer that a kennel or a vet’s office doesn’t?
A. We have a morning snack, which is dairy-free frozen yogurt. An afternoon Yappy Hour. We’re testing what we refer to as Pawsidential services, which can include bedtime stories, belly rubs and other services that allow pet guests added one-on-one time with our associates.
We have Doggie Day Camp for all our hotel guests. The dogs go to supervised play time throughout the day.
We have a phone booth. The owner can call in, and your “friend” can meow or bark at you. It’s a speakerphone, so if the human is in tough shape and needs to hear from their dog, we can respond to that need.
Our guests drink filtered water. We turn the air over every few minutes. We have suites that include a cot with a fleece blanket and a television turned to Animal Planet.
People are thrilled to have the choices. It’s kind of a guilt reliever for the human who has to abandon their pet for a short time.

Nouriel Roubini, an economics professor at the Stern School of Business at New York University warned that the roughly $100 billion in bad loans reported by banks to date could increase nearly tenfold, as the defaults spread beyond the subprime mortgage loans to consumer loans, credit cards and corporate lending.
In his view, the American economy is already in recession and faces a lengthy downturn of a year or more, before growth recovers.

"Banks tend to have very strong controls to prevent people from stealing from the institution, but much weaker controls to prevent people from stealing for the institution," said Mark Rasch, managing director at Baltimore-based FTI Consulting, which advises companies on security issues.

The study, “Sensation Seeking, Overconfidence and Trading Activity,” has been accepted for publication by The Journal of Finance. The authors are Mark S. Grinblatt, a finance professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Matti Keloharju, a finance professor at the Helsinki School of Economics. A version is at
The professors were able to find a correlation between speeding tickets and trading frequency after receiving access to several data sets of Finnish investors. Though the professors did not have access to the investors’ identities, one of these databases contained details of speeding tickets issued between mid-1997 and the end of 2001 to residents of Helsinki and surrounding areas. Another had information on the portfolios and trading records of all Finnish households from 1995 through 2002. The Finnish government also provided data on the incomes, age, marital status, gender, occupation and homeownership status of all those filing tax returns in 1998 and 1999.
These rich data sets enabled the professors to eliminate from consideration other possible causes of trading activity and focus on the distinct influence of speeding tickets. They found that, other things being equal, an investor’s portfolio turnover rate rose 11 percent after each additional speeding ticket he received. That is a surprisingly strong correlation, and is highly significant from a statistical point of view, according to the professors.

..with charismatic motivation, life loving passion and the enticing personality which fascinates any distinguised, intellectual spirit. Slender 5'8" tall, in her incredible young fifties, disposing of wealth and independence, she leads a high cultured lifestyle as esteemed member of the supreme society. Her private inclinations are the classic arts, music, literature, Asian philosophy, Italian country life, World discoveries and a deep curiosity for new ventures, hence her delightful excitment in view of her last love..., smile -!

For Fatma Benli, a Turkish lawyer and women’s rights advocate, the controversy over Islamic head scarves has the irritating sound of a broken record...
“I could tell you about domestic violence, about honor killings, about the parts of the criminal code that discriminate against women,” she said, ticking off her areas of expertise in rapid-fire sentences. “But we can’t move on to those issues.
“The head scarf is where we are stuck.”

A French court gave the far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen a three month suspended sentence Friday and fined him €10,000 for saying that the Nazi occupation of France was "not particularly inhumane."

The Serbian minister for Kosovo, Slobodan Samardzic, said Friday that his government had information that the ethnic-Albanian leadership of the province would declare independence Feb. 17. He did not specify the source of the information.

The U.S. Army has drafted a new operations manual that elevates the mission of stabilizing war-torn nations, making it equal in importance to defeating adversaries on the battlefield.Military officials described the new document, the first new edition of the army's basic comprehensive doctrine since 2001, as a major development that draws on the hard-learned lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan, where initial military successes gave way to long, grueling struggles to establish control.

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