Maurizio – Omnologos

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Archive for December 2008

2009 – Year in Review (by Patrick Chappatte)

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Hopefully the link on the IHT website will still be working for centuries to come…otherwise I do have a copy of this great cartoon by the even greater Patrick Chappatte (website)

Chappatte - 2009 Year in Review

Chappatte - 2009 Year in Review

Hard to choose the best “vision from the future”. My favorite is about the first drug-free Tour de France ending…a month late!

Written by omnologos

2008/Dec/31 at 12:45:55

Bleak Future for the SEC

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President-elect Obama has selected Mary Schapiro as new Chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. And that doesn’t appear to be the beginning of the much-indeed shaking of the financial industry.

Trouble is, in fact, that Mary Schapiro became in 2007 the Chair of the Financial Industry Services Authority, the new grandly-named self-regulatory body that…dropped the number of large fines just as the latest financial crisis was starting to brew, in 2006.

How can a 20-year-long-career regulator be trusted in remaking the whole regulatory “oversight playbook” is anybody’s guess. The only positive point is that with expectations very very low, Ms Schapiro can only succeed…

Written by omnologos

2008/Dec/28 at 13:03:46

A Century Later, The Heroes of the Baltic Fleet To Be Remembered in Messina and Reggio Calabria

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Two cities destroyed by Nature just after the holy days of Christmas; the wailing of the living, lost inside or outside the rubble; the waters of the Strait and their ripples in a light still confusing the sea with the horizon, full of a million pieces of what they had crushed in three waves of tsunami: that was the nightmare to which the Russian Baltic Fleet anchored in the early morning of 29 December 1908.

About twenty four hours had passed since one of the most devastating earthquakes in history, obliterating the cities of Messina and Reggio Calabria (and beyond) in Southern Italy, and with them around 100,000 people: and the Battleship Cesarevič was the first sign of any rescue from the outside world.

In an era where television serves death regularly at dinner time, it is hard to realize what horror is hidden behind the disappearance of one hundred thousand people in an area as small as that of the Strait of Messina. It’s as if somebody had killed three persons a day, on average, every single day for the past century.

And so the intervention of the Baltic Fleet is truly remarkable, and still remembered with all those indefatigable cadets, appearing strong beyond all imagination to the local population, true angels and saviours for thousands.

Who knows how many people would not be alive today, if their grandpa or great-grandma had not been rescued by the Russians? Perhaps extracted from underneath a collapsed building, or even “just” provided with a warm blanket, a place to sleep and warm food to survive especially in the first days after the tragedy.

The intervention of the Baltic Fleet will be remembered alongside the earthquake commemoration in a few days’ time, in the night of 27/28 December 2008, when the cities of Messina and Reggio Calabria will await that terrible hour of 5:21AM: because the sacrifice of hundreds, and the death of tens of Russian sailors should not be forgotten in the maelstroms of history.

Written by omnologos

2008/Dec/27 at 13:00:35

For Christmas, A Little Respect

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Merry Christmas to everybody.

With the full notion that there’s still a lot to do before Christmas becomes Christian enough to be Christmas…

A little respect by Abubakar N. Kasim Monday, December 22, 2008

If Santa Claus were ever to pay me a visit and grant me a wish, I would reply with one word: respect.

I would wish that society at large would show some respect toward me and my faith.

I am judged negatively whenever someone of my faith is accused of committing a crime.

I am viewed as an enemy within, a home-grown fanatic whom everyone should guard against.

I am harassed at the boarding gate when I leave the country, as if I was going to an Al Qaeda convention.

I am also bullied by the customs and immigration officers when I come back home, as if I don’t belong here.

I am pulled aside for extra inspections, as if I was carrying instructions on making weapons of mass destruction.

I am told repeatedly to tell the real truth about what I am bringing with me that I have not declared.

When a crime occurs where a Muslim is the primary suspect, I am asked to issue a statement in the strongest possible terms against terrorism and to dissociate myself from the crime. Whatever language I use in my denunciation, I am told is not enough and I must do more.

On the day after the crime, the headline reads: “Moderate Muslims Fail To Speak Up,” even though I have spoken and have condemned the crime.

When I try to access my own money, the bank teller reminds me of the seriousness of money laundering.

A bank supervisor recently alleged that my signature did not match the signature they had in my file. I emptied my wallet and showed all my identifications, to no avail.

Although I have lived in Canada for more than a decade and have been working hard to pay taxes and make ends meet, I am still viewed as a foreigner who belongs somewhere else.

A colleague at the airport where I work asked me recently, “Why did you choose Canada, a Christian country, and did not go to your own people instead?”

Another coworker said the other day that she cannot tolerate seeing Muslim women covering up. “I feel the urge to remove the piece of rag by force,” she said. “Why in the world would she hide her beauty?” she added.

Another airline employee suggested that we should stop Muslim women from entering the country if they choose to wear the hijab.

I cried like a child when a friend said that the only way the world can solve the problem of terrorism is to nuke the Muslim world. Only then will the planet live in real peace, he said.

It is deeply troubling to see how Muslims are treated in society. While I was having dinner at work, my colleagues next to me were discussing the shooting death right after the Sept. 11 tragedy of a Sikh man in the United States who was thought to be a Muslim. One of the people involved in the conversation blamed the murderer for not doing his homework in making sure that the person he was targeting was a real Muslim. The people in the cafeteria did not find the statement troubling and they all laughed approvingly.

We are reminded – again and again – that freedom of expression has limits. But when the same freedom involves the dehumanization of Muslims, it has no limit.

I don’t think I am asking too much if I expect some respect from my fellow countrymen.

I might have some lunatics in my midst but who doesn’t? If Christians are not held responsible for the death and destruction their co-religionist George W. Bush caused in Iraq, why should I be held responsible for the acts of a few mad men who might create mayhem in the name of my faith?

Abubakar N. Kasim is a freelance writer based in Toronto, working as a customer service representative for a major airline.

Written by omnologos

2008/Dec/25 at 11:30:19

2008: The Year We Lost (Financial) Contact

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Sobering end-of-year commentary by Floyd Norris on the International Herald Tribune: “The year the system failed“:

Long-term interest rates are at their lowest levels in half a century. Long-term interest rates are at their highest levels in nearly 20 years. This is shaping up as the worst year in seven decades for the stock market. Of the 10 best days the stock market experienced during those 70 years, six came in 2008. A Wall Street legend who became a hero for forcing Wall Street to treat investors better now admits to defrauding a later generation of investors of $50 billion. A prominent lawyer is said to have embezzled hundreds of millions by selling phony securities to hedge funds. The economists are worried about deflation. They are also fearful of inflation. The U.S. government is lending money to businesses that never could have borrowed from it before. People fear a wave of corporate bankruptcies as companies find they cannot borrow money to repay loans that are due.

This was the year the financial system stopped working. Nearly all the contradictory but accurate statements above can be traced to that fact. […]

the banking industry was in no position to assume its historical role as a lender that patiently waited for loans to be repaid. To the contrary, banks trusted neither their own balance sheets nor those of other banks. For a significant part of the economy, the government became the lender of first and only resort.

For most of 2008, the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury failed to realize that the banking system faced a solvency crisis rather than a liquidity crisis. Efforts to provide liquidity proved ineffectual because no one had confidence in the values of enormous amounts of derivatives and securitizations that the banks owned.

It is more or less self-evident that it’s the whole banking system that needs to be reviewed. As soon as things turned sour, it kind of disappeared from view, apart from few notable exceptions (and nobody would bet they won’t get in trouble in the next few months if not weeks…).

Perhaps we should just accept that as things stand, all banks are ultimately owned by the state. And rather like most major US airlines, banks will periodically make a big, big mess with their accounts.

Trouble is, they make the mess with everybody else’s money too…

Written by omnologos

2008/Dec/23 at 22:44:12

Posted in Economics

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What If The UK Were A Reflection Of Its Prime Minister?

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Aimless with Heath, self-defeating with Callahan, self-centred with Thatcher, clueless-yet-advancing with Major, booming in its own bubble with Blair, and now unstoppably gloomy with Brown…does the UK follow the PM du jour, or is the PM always what the UK deserves (and wants)?

Written by omnologos

2008/Dec/17 at 23:49:47

Posted in Politics, UK

Why Brands Fail on Facebook

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Major brands try to make friends on Facebook“, claims the IHT. Well, they can keep trying.

Where is the “face” of the brand?

Down with “social advertising”…the future, at least on Facebook, is clearly in publishing the designer’s face in the book. People, not just stuff.

Written by omnologos

2008/Dec/16 at 23:53:52

Posted in Internet

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