Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hold Bush Responsible for the Damage

When Mr. Bush officially takes his leave in three weeks (in reality, he checked out long ago), most Americans will be content to sigh good riddance. I disagree. I don’t think he should be allowed to slip quietly out of town. There should be a great hue and cry — a loud, collective angry howl, demonstrations with signs and bullhorns and fiery speech

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Lipan Apache to Obama: Stop Border Wall

Apache in Texas sent a strong message to President-elect Obama to halt the construction of the border wall. Eloisa Tamez said Homeland Security is attempting to build the wall north of the border, on Lipan Apache land, and deny them access to their lands south of the levee. "We have had enough lawlessness in Texas at our expense,"

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Why You Might Be Using Linux in 2009

Whatever you do, 2009 is looking to be a big year. That no exception when it comes to Linux. Applications and large projects continue to develop and make major releases multiple times per year. And while every year people predict that the next might be “The Year” for Linux adoption, here’s a list of some major products and trends that will play..

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Israel bombs university in Gaza

Israeli air force jets have bombed the Islamic University in the Gaza Strip, a significant cultural symbol for Hamas. Israel has threatened to launch a ground assault and is now calling up 6,500 army reservists. Witnesses in Gaza said they saw six separate air strikes on the Islamic University, hitting a laboratory building, just after midnight.

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Israeli Aircraft Continue Raids on Gaza; Arab Anger Rises

The Israeli army declared some areas around Gaza “closed military zones,” as Israeli aircraft attacked key Hamas symbols of power, raising the death toll to more than 300.

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Four Decades After Milgram, We’re Still Willing to Inf

It appears that ordinary Americans are about as willing to blindly follow orders to inflict pain on an innocent stranger as they were four decades ago.

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Fifty Herbert Hoovers

Even as Washington tries to rescue the economy, the nation will be reeling from the actions of 50 Herbert Hoovers — state governors who are slashing spending in a time of recession.

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Win, Win, Win, Win, Win ...with a

We have got to stop “taking off the table” the gasoline tax, the tool that would add leverage to everything we want to do at home & abroad. It’s a blessing for those who've been hammered by the economy are getting a break at the pump. But for our long-term health, getting re-addicted to oil & gas guzzlers is one of the dumbest things we could do.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Time to Reboot America

We don’t just need a bailout in this country, we need a national makeover. That is why the next few months are among the most important in U.S. history.

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The Coming Oil Train Wreck

Only a true contrarian can worry about high oil prices, shortages and global economic shockwaves when the price of oil has fallen from $147 to under $40 per barrel in less than six months and gasoline is now less than $2 a gallon! I should be singing “Happy (driving) days are here again,” but I’m not. The facts speak otherwise, and the time for pr

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Two Shoes for Democracy

The message behind an Iraqi journalist’s insulting gesture — which was in a sense a democratic act — is that the Green Zone should be eliminated.

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Life Without Bubbles

It may take a lot longer than many people think before the United States economy is ready to live without bubbles. And until then, the economy is going to need a lot of government help.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008


On Friday I heard a presentation on how some isolated people in the State of Guerrero, weigh and measure, and sell.

The idea is that fairness determines good measurements. If somebody doesn't measure right, cutomers don't come back.

Today I am downtown Chilpancingo, this is Guerrero State Capital. Old ladies, kids, everybody, is waiting for an annual Christmas celebration, "El Pendón".

I believe there is some kind of penance. Actual pain inflicted on some young people.

Is this fair?

Fairness is a socially constructed institution.

Yesterday I saw "Rudo y Cursi", the new film with Diego Luna, and Gael García Bernal, the Mexican heartrobs from "Y Tú Mamá También" fame.

One issue is if life is fair.

Franck Rich writes today on the NYT (below) about a fairness movie from India: "Slumdog Millionaire"

I find it fascinating that in the poorest county of Mexico, near Metlatónoc , fairness sets weighs and measurements.

This is a discovery for me, and thinking about it, it is to be expected.

Who Wants to Kick a Millionaire?

Without transparency and accountability in Washington, as well as on Wall Street, no one will trust the system.The Treasury prefers to look at “general metrics” indicating the program’s overall effect on the economy. Well, we know what the “general metrics” tell us already: the effect so far is nil.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Obama to name pro-union Rep. Hilda Solis to Labor post - Los

The California congresswoman is a leader in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and is called a coalition-builder.

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Hope Amid the Gloom

Even as Americans by the thousands sign up for jobless benefits, or line up to declare bankruptcy, or stand aside as their homes are foreclosed upon, there are some slender reasons to hope.

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Shocker: Gonzales And Rice Appear To Have Lied To Congress

The information the Oversight Committee has received casts serious doubt on the veracity of the representations that Mr. Gonzales made on behalf of Dr. Rice.

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It Costs Digg $5 Million a Year to Run the Internet

Perhaps Digg really is the future of the news business. The headline-discussion site, once an icon of the Web 2.0 movement, is losing millions of dollars a year.

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Capitalism as a Ponzi Scheme

Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman tells us that Maddox was not alone, there were many enablers; now it seems from the NYT reporters, that it was worldwide. A Globalized Ponzi Scheme.

Is this the way it ends?

I hope not.

How long can I keep writing I hope not. That is a complete lack of intellectual ambition. Can I understand this mess?

U. Krey makes an effort to make sense of this (below). Here is my five cents worth.

Capitalism always lacked moral fiber.

Socialism was a fools illusion.

What do we have?

The only way out I see, is that you and me, all together, start to talk with each other, because a hard rain is going to come.

Bush is no educated man; by now he's just following orders, if he wasn't doing that all along.

I have a poll on the side this week. I did not know what to expect, it turns out that the hard hearted ones outnumber the softies.

My mother almost never received a salary. Now the Government of the Legitimate President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador legislated that ALL people after a certain age receive a pension from the city coffers. My mother is very happy with that political decision. She did not receive a salary most of her life, before she married, she was a secretary in Chilpancingo, the city I am living in now. She did a superb job raising my siblings and me. She deserves every last penny the city is giving her now.

I understand that everybody in line gets upset if somebody jumps ahead of the line. But, guys, the sky is falling, we have to pull in together.

The only way out I see to this calamity is Solidarity.

There you have it, call me idealistic, but seriously I do not see any other way out, to keep progress going.

Madoff Scheme Kept Rippling Outward, Across Borders

Bernard L. Madoff’s fraud, the first worldwide Ponzi scheme, lasted longer, reached wider and cut deeper than anything like it in history.

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Eugenia León

Concierto de 1997 en la Sala Nezahualcóyotl interpretando a Agustín Lara en esta versión Eugenia reune el color del tango en esta parte interpretado por el Bandoneón de César Olguín y el grupo de Eugenia León y en la segunda parte se suma la Danzonera Dimas dirigida por el maestro Felipe Pérez. Por cierto, en ese concierto Eugenia se encontraba ...

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On the Financial Crisis 2008 from a Physicist's viewpoint:

In an informal way, a small number of thoughts on the financial crisis 2008 are presentedfrom a physicist’s viewpoint, considering the problem as a nonergodicity transition of aspin-glass type of system. Some tentative suggestions concerning the way out of the crisisare also discussed, concerning Keynesian deficit spending methods, tax reduct

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GM Down!

This is the equivalent of the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989.

I am scared, this looks ominous.

The Model T was introduced on October 1, 1908. A new age for civilization started, production lines for cars. Extending the idea by Samuel Colt:

"Colt never claimed to have invented the revolver, as his design was merely a more practical adaption of Collier's revolving flintlock (which was patented in England and achieved great popularity there).[5] He did, however, greatly contribute to interchangeable parts. "Unhappy with high cost of hand made guns, and with the knowledge that some parts of guns were currently being made by machine, Colt wanted all the parts on every colt gun to be interchangeable and made by machine. His goal was the assembly line."[citation needed] In a letter to his father Samuel Colt wrote, “The first workman would receive two or three of the most important parts…and would affix these and pass them on to the next who add a part and pass the growing article on to another who would do the same, and so on until the complete arm is put together.”[citation needed]"

This paragraph taken from Wikipedia  sets the timetable of the idea presented here. Colt's work started in the third decade of the nineteenth century.

We have in front of us almost two hundred years of Human History. The American Golden Age. Progress.

Is this the end of progress?

I hope not.

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Bush Approves $17.4 Billion Auto Bailout

The $13.4 billion in short-term financing and $4 billion at a later date are intended to prevent the collapse of General Motors and Chrysler.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Getting Beyond Camelot

Caroline Kennedy is a very capable woman, but that is no reason she should be handed Hillary Clinton’s soon-to-be-vacated United States Senate seat.

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The Madoff Economy

The vast riches achieved by those who managed other people’s money have had a corrupting effect on our society as a whole.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Send in the Celebrities

The mediocrity of New York politics are such that those with reservations about giving the Senate job to Caroline Kennedy often wind up with: “Why pick her when we could have — um ...”

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Pan Am Dies, America Lives

The cost of saving the auto industry could be a loss of the vitality that has defined the U.S.

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The Standard Cosmological Model

If you have been reading this blog since the beginning, you are definitely in a minority. I know I have been writing and reading these posts. I wanted to challenge my high school charges; I felt responsible for their science education, smart kids from Lombard Illinois. Relevant Science is science that those students, and hopefully, somebody else, would be interested in.

Entering the fourth year since then, I find myself sorrounded by equally bright, college age young people.  I hope this is relevant for more readers than my intended audience.

This week there was an important announcement from the Chandra Collaboration about the Universe (below).

The Universe is not only expanding, it is accelerating!

We are made of a minority material in the Universe. Just like King Midas, we are made of stuff in the 4% or less, abundance category. Most of the Universe is made of  Dark Matter and Dark Energy.

Benjamin Freivogel just announced his hypothesis that Dark Matter is mainly made out of Axions. Many years ago Roberto Peccei and Helen Quinn proposed the existence of this particle to explain violation of CP, or lack of it, in Strong Interactions. Using the Anthropic Principle, Freivogel, makes a strong argument in favor of the Dark Matter as Axion  proposal.

This week we learn that indeed, there is Dark Energy. Ten years ago Perlmutter and Riess found supernova stars that were farther than they should be, according to the now, Old Standard Cosmological Model. This week as I said, a completely different way to look at the problem has confirmed that interpretation of the supernovae observations.

Dark Energy stunts the growth of Clusters of Galaxies, the largest objects known, besides the observable Universe itself. These are like little universes, formed by accumulating galaxies with the force that Newton proposed more than three hundred years ago, now (1687, Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica) , and getting pushed away by Dark Energy.  The clusters are not as big as they could've been without this negative energy.

As always we find out that we live on the edge, not only attraction, a little repulsion, not only heat, also some cold air. The Goldilocks Principle in action.

We are made of a minority material, living in the most auspicious Universe we could think of.

Some people get satisfaction from this idea, like an Angel is taking care of us. Risking being considered ungrateful, my instincts make me prefer the idea, that we are where we can be, we are not where we cannot be. Mexico, and Chilpancingo, are some of the best places in the whole Universe to be, and here I am.

Dark Energy

For the first time, astronomers have clearly seen the effects of dark energy on the most massive collapsed objects in the Universe using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. By tracking how dark energy has stifled the growth of galaxy clusters and combining this with previous studies, scientists have obtained the best clues ever about what dark energy

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Alice Beck Kehoe: Overturning Anthropology Dogma

Since the [Tender] Age of 16.Her finalist project: A paper arguing that Native Americans had contact with other cultures from across the Pacific

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Brown Confirms Pullout From Iraq

On a surprise visit, Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain said with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of Iraq that British forces would leave in the first half of 2009.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fixing Interior

As secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar’s most urgent task will be to remove the influence of politics and ideology from decisions that are best left to science.

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The Great Unraveling

Our banking crisis has made it increasingly clear that the U.S. and China are becoming two countries, one system. But they appear to be on very different historical trajectories.

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Mexico oil output woes, hedges dim OPEC appeal

MEXICO CITY, Dec 15 (Reuters) - OPEC's call for Mexico to help shore up oil prices is likely to fall on deaf ears among policymakers already fretting about sliding oil output and as a massive hedge shields 2009 government revenues.

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Chandra Cluster Cosmology Project III: Cosmological Paramete

Chandra observations of large samples of galaxy clusters detected in X-rays by ROSAT provide a new, robust determination of the cluster mass functions at low and high redshifts. Statistical and systematic errors are now sufficiently small, and the redshift leverage sufficiently large for the mass function evolution to be used as a useful growth of

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Dark Energy Stunts Galaxies’ Growth

After bulking up rapidly in the first 10 billion years of cosmic time, clusters of galaxies, have grown very little during the last five billion years, astronomers said.

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Obama’s $10 Billion Promise Stirs Hope in Early Educat

The $10 billion that President-elect Barack Obama has pledged for preschoolers would be the largest such initiative since Head Start began in 1965.

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Two Cheers for Rod Blagojevich -What this really means 4 US.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois is a timely national whipping boy for an era of corruption and profound lack of accountability.

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Revealed: Whistleblower Who Exposed Warrantless Wiretapping

- Meet the man we have to thank for telling the truth! Thomas M. Tamm was entrusted with some of the government's most important secrets. He had a Sensitive Compartmented Information security clearance, a level above Top Secret. Government agents had probed Tamm's background, his friends and associates, and determined him trustworthy.

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A Few Days Left

Dear AOL Pictures User:

We are writing to remind you that the AOL Pictures online photo service will close on December 31, 2008. After this date, you will no longer be able to access your photos through AOL Pictures.

But you still have time to transfer and save your pictures to our partner, American Greetings® PhotoWorks®. It’s quick and easy. Sign up for PhotoWorks today and you can also get 50 FREE prints!

American Greetings PhotoWorks provides you with:

unlimited, free storage for all of your photos;
great options for printing or creating books, calendars, mugs or a host of other photo gifts; and
the ability to share your photos through e-mail or by creating your own web page.
In addition to transferring your images to American Greetings PhotoWorks, you can also download your images to your computer, or you can purchase a DVD archive of your AOL Pictures account.

Even if you have already downloaded or bought a DVD archive of your AOL Pictures photo albums, you can still transfer them quickly and easily to PhotoWorks. Just go to AOL Pictures to get started.

It is extremely important that you go to AOL Pictures no later than Dec. 31, 2008 to take action. After Dec. 31, 2008, the AOL Pictures service will close, and you will not be able to access any of your images or albums from the AOL Pictures site. Further information on the closing of AOL Pictures, as well as step-by-step instructions can be found at AOL Pictures by clicking on the Help or Frequently Asked Questions links.


The AOL Pictures Team

Nobel economist calls for gold standard, blames Keynesians

John Forbes Nash Jr., Ph.D., winner of the 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, discusses the need for gold standard or other standard capable of fighting inflation & blames Keynesian economic theories which have sold the public on the notion that inflation is acceptable, leading to bad mortgage loans which led to the economic meltdown

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Finding distant Earths faster

Habitable extrasolar planets could be found easier than ever thanks to new technology.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

A pair of shoes make a historic goodbye

George W. Bush paid a surprise, farewell visit to Iraq and during the press conference with the Iraqi president next to him an Iraqi reporter stood up and shouted, "This is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog!" and he threw his shoes.

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Eight Hours Kidnapping

As you can read below, I was almost inside a building taken over by dissatisfied young men and women without a teaching position after they already finished their studies.

Today I found out that the people inside the building were forced to be there for eight hours.

It was good that I did not insist on getting in. I worked in my office instead that day.

Hard Task for New Team on Energy and Climate

After the president-elect introduced some new members of his team, aides confirmed that he would select Senator Ken Salazar as interior secretary.

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Hawking Predicts Discovery of Alien Life

On the 50th anniversary of NASA, Stephen Hawking, Newton's heir as the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, answered the question, “Are we alone?” His answer was short and simple; probably not!

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Children's Revolution

Greece lives hard times.

Incompetent adults and upset children are not a good combination.

The simplest description is that a young man was killed by a police bullet. The Police Department claims the bullet was shot up and fell on the boy, the children say it was pointed at them. The boy is dead.

In the note below you can see that young people in Greece can hope to start their careers with €700. They don't feel that is enough.

Is this a new round of the battle between the young and the old?

A Scandal in Chicago That Justifies Investigative Journalism

Newspapers, smacked around for lacking relevance the last few years, have found a compelling spokesman: Rod R. Blagojevich, the governor of Illinois.

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How police shooting of a teenager rallied the €700Generation

The teenagers and twenty-somethings who have come close to toppling the Greek government are not the marginalised: this is no replay of the riots that convulsed Paris in 2005. Many are sons and daughters of the middle classes, shocked at the killing of one of their own, disgusted with the government's incompetence and corruption

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A Church in Guantánamo

A sermon on the Parable of the Tenants provokes thought about New York’s financial disaster, based on greed for redoubled assets, and the economic ravages of Cuba’s head-in-the-ground Communism.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

With HP in, all OEMs now ship desktop Linux

Lord knows it took HP long enough, but the PC giant has finally started shipping a pre-configured Linux on a desktop Linux. Hallelujah! Now, all the major PC OEMs are shipping at least one Linux desktop.

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Setting up Sun VirtualBox 6 under Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid

I’ve been happily using VMWare’s VMWorkstation to test software setups in virtual machines for about a year. With my new Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid test setup, I decided to try Sun’s VirtualBox virtualization system. I chose Sun’s distribution over the OSE version primarily because of its improved USB support. Both are free, but Sun’s version sports some

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Google Chrome Comes Out of Beta

Yesterday at the Le Web 08 conference in Paris, Google VP Marissa Mayer told TechCrunch's Mike Arrington that the move would be happening, but she did not say when. Google representatives have confirmed the Thursday change of status for Chrome.

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Mr. Obama’s Green Team

Conservationists hail President-elect Barack Obama’s choices for his top energy and environmental jobs as “a Green Dream Team.” Let’s hope it is.

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Antikythera - 2000 yr old Greek Computer Comes Back to Life

Curator Michael Wright shows off his model of the Antikythera mechanism. The Antikythera mechanism is an ancient Greek clockwork machine found in a shipwreck, that has taken more than a century to decipher. Wright's handmade reconstruction is the first to include all the known features of this complex device.

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Sky Show Tonight: Biggest, Brightest Full Moon of 2008

Don't expect to spot an Apollo lunar lander. But tonight, weather permitting, sky-watchers around the world will see the biggest and brightest full moon of 2008.

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Nobel physicist to run energy agency

By choosing Nobel-prizewinning physicist Steven Chu to head the Department of Energy (DoE), US President-elect Barack Obama has sent a clear message: solving climate issues in a world dependent on fossil fuels will depend on science coming up with new energy technologies.

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Even Workers Surprised by Success of Factory Sit-In

By the time their six-day sit-in ended, the 240 laid-off workers at Republic Windows and Doors had become national symbols of worker discontent.

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Organizing Astronomy Activities

Wednesday and Thursday were organizing days for me. The School of Mathematics in Chilpancingo was invited to the activities of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009). In 1609 Galileo Galilei turned the telescope he build, towards the Moon. For the first time a human being saw the craters in our satellite and other details in nearby planets. A new era started.

UNESCO invited all countries of the world to participate in the activities of the IYA2009.

A meeting was scheduled for December 10. When I arrived, a regular size crowd of young people with a few older men, were surrounding the building I wanted to go in. I asked what was going on, and was told that they wanted teaching positions in this State of Guerrero. I told them my concern was Astronomy, and they responded that I should join their movement, and I said that they should join mine, the Astronomy movement. Eventually I talked to the organizers of the Astronomy meeting. Since I couldn't go in, these government workers inside the building told me from inside, that the meeting was being rescheduled, and that they would email me later.

Is it possible to observe the sky with telescopes, when these future teachers are asking the very same government to let them teach?

I don't know the answer to that, but as I have always done in this country of mine, I will continue to pursue scientific activities, keeping my eyes open for any eventuality. I could've requested these young people to let me in, but then, what if they decide that I cannot go out? I rather play it safe.

The next day I went to Puebla, a five hour ride in the middle of the night. I was invited to talk about the work I'm doing now. At dawn I started to walk in the town where my children were born and my wife and I took them around receiving all kinds of compliments on their good looks; this brought memories; I felt nostalgic. The nice restaraunt at the Zocalo where my wife liked to eat, "La Princesa", and she was treated with so much attention, is not there anymore. Downtown is going through a gentrification stage that erases all the places I had such good times in.

Eventually I found my way where the talk was going to be. I talked to my old buddies, they were very happy to see me, old students and colleagues, even the janitor was pleased to see me! I was overwhelmed. I felt like coming from the dead to the joyous reception of the people that had missed me in my absence, I was hugging my friends and kissing the women on the cheek, as we do in Mexico. I used to kiss my father until I reached puberty; after that I stopped, only to continue with that custome once I was more secure in my identity. We are a warmth seeking and giving bunch.

The talked went well, they were interested, and there were questions.

Later I talked business, they are going to help us organize these IYA2009 activiites. Also we are going to collaborate; both schools have math education programs. I hope we can help them, and they can help us. Two universities working together are better than working apart.

Who cares about Astronomy? I do, and the late Luis Rivera Terrazas that hired me at Puebla did.

Our time through this life is finite, but while we are around, we can choose to look up to the skies, like Galileo Galilei did four hundred years ago.

Alcatel-Lucent Plans 1,000 Job Cuts

The limited cuts -- 1.3 percent of Alcatel-Lucent’s work force -- disappointed analysts who had been expecting a more fundamental reorganization.

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Millions come to See the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City

December 12th is the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and attracts millions of pilgrims to the Basilica in Northern Mexico City where the image of the Virgin Mary is displayed. If the Virgin of Guadalupe is your Patron Saint, feliz dia de santo!

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Greek protests spread to European cities

Anger over the fatal shooting of a Greek teenager by a policeman has spread across Europe with disturbances in a string of cities.From Madrid to Moscow, Greeks living abroad, left-wing activists and other sympathisers took part in demonstrations in solidarity with the six days of rioting which has hit Greece.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Good News From Illinois

These are troubled times when people yearn for diversion, so feel free to indulge in a little schadenfreude at the expense of the governor of Illinois.

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Cranial Computing: Practical Brain-to-Cyber Interfaces Close

People suffering from physically debilitating illnesses such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (aka Lou Gehrig's Disease) and traumatic brain injuries often find themselves trapped inside their own bodies, unable to speak, gesture or otherwise communicate with the outside world. Scientists have shown they can create computer interfaces that sense,

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Giant Black Hole Found in Center of Our Galaxy

There is a giant black hole at the center of our galaxy, a study has confirmed. German astronomers tracked the movement of 28 stars circling the centre of the Milky Way, using the European Southern Observatory in Chile. The black hole is four million times heavier than our Sun, according to the paper in The Astrophysical Journal.

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Carbon dioxide detected in a land far, far away: Scientific

A poorly kept secret is now official: the Hubble Space Telescope has discovered carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere of a planet outside our solar system. That's a first in the study of extrasolar planets, or exoplanets, which have been quite the hot topic this year.

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Violence in Chilpancingo

The other day the head of an army person showed up in a plastic bucket near my place.

When I walk around it feels safe. I've always made a practice of walking around wherever I live. Late at night I've crossed the whole town, to the dismay of my friends and relatives. What to do?

Right now I am peacefully sitting at my desk writing this. There is no sense of danger whatsoever, I know the people around me well enough to trust them. A strange feeling makes me realize that not all is fun and games in Chilpancingo.

These men or women, leave messages near the heads of their victims. They want to scare us. One thing is to kill and enemy and go hide, and another is to put his head in a public place with a badly written message to address us all.

There is a more innocuous symbol that bothers me. Graffiti.

It is not that I keep my spaces neat, and don't like to see the mess that young people make. My children's rooms, I believe, are spaces to encourage their creativity, even though sometimes they themselves express concern that the house is "too messy".

What bothers me, is that the children that make graffiti are trying to tell us something, and I don't know what it is. Paraphrasing Bob Dylan:

Because something is happening here

But you don't know what it is

Do you, Mister Jones?

What are these people, younger than me, leaving heads three blocks away from my house, trying to tell us?

Killings in Drug War in Mexico Double in ’08

Mexico’s attorney general tied the increase in deaths to a battle for control among cartels and a power vacuum created by high-profile arrests and seizures.

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Climate change: The carbon atlas

New figures published today confirm that China has overtaken the US as the largest emitter of CO2. This interactive emissions map shows how the rest of the world compares. Global C02 emissions totalled 29,195m tonnes in 2006 – up 2.4% on 2005

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Iraq withdrawal 'begins in March'

British forces should begin pulling out of Iraq by next March, a senior defence source has revealed to the BBC.The UK has been negotiating the legal basis on which its forces can stay in the Gulf state when its UN mandate expires at the end of the year.

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Roll Over, Abe Lincoln

Gov. Rod Blagojevich even used financing for a hospital as leverage points for a shakedown. Abe probably did a triple lutz in his grave.

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While Detroit Slept

Someone is already developing an alternative to Detroit’s business model. I don’t know if it will work, but I do know that it can be done — and Detroit isn’t doing it.

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Frugal Traveler: In the Village of the Zapatistas

The Frugal Traveler, Matt Gross, enters a village run by an armed, largely indigenous rebel group in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico.

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The Opinionator: Who’s Who in Illinois?

Much speculation on the identities of the senate candidates in the Rod Blagojevich scandal.

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Illinois Governor in Corruption Scandal

The case extended beyond the Senate appointment and left many wondering who else might yet be implicated in Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s negotiations.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Winners of Prestigious Student Science Awards Are Named

Among the winners of the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology was Wen Chyan, a 17-year-old high school senior who received a $100,000 scholarship.

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Hidden Travels of the Atomic Bomb

Atomic insiders say the weapon was invented only once, and its secrets were spread around the globe by spies, scientists and the covert acts of nuclear states.

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FT.com / Americas - Oil price drop casts cloud over Pemex re

While Mexican legislators were discussing legislation to increase oil exploration and production last July, Mexico’s crude oil mix hit a record $132.71 a barrel. The government’s coffers were filling at breakneck speed and, with a few exceptions, there were smiles all round.

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Krugman: US Auto Industry Will Probably Disappear

Nobel economics prize winner Paul Krugman said Sunday that the beleaguered U.S. auto industry will likely disappear.

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As a Memoirist, a Chilean Diplomat Takes Off the White Glove

Heraldo Muñoz overcame his initial reluctance to write about his past when he realized that General Pinochet had affected an entire generation in Chile.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

A Lifestyle Distinct: The Muxe of Mexico

In the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico, the local Zapotec people have made room for “muxes” — men who consider themselves women.

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The Real Generation X

To reverse the damage caused by this generation of greedy adults, we will not only need to bail out industries of the past but to build up industries of the future.

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The Brightest Are Not Always the Best

Long before the phase “the best and the brightest” became the accolade du jour, it was meant to strike a sardonic, not a flattering, note.

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How To Create A Custom Splashimage For GRUB

If, like me, the default black background of the GRUB menu looks boring to you or if you would like to change the default backdrop to something of your choice, like your girlfriend’s photo for example, then follow along!

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Juarez murders shine light on an emerging ‘Military Cartel’

Common sense seems to dictate that something is awry with Calderon’s game plan (and the U.S. plan to send his government some $1.5 billion worth of special training and equipment via Plan Mexico) — leaving aside the question of whether Calderon is simply a fool who doesn’t have control of his own military or is actually complicit in the corruption.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

9 headless bodies found in Mexican border city

The bodies of nine decapitated men were found in a vacant lot in Tijuana Sunday, part of a wave of violence that claimed at least 23 lives over the weekend in this border city plagued by warring traffickers, authorities said

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Stephen Hawking named to Canadian research post

Internationally renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has been appointed to the post of distinguished research chair at a quantum theory and cosmology institute founded by Research In Motion co-CEO Mike Lazaridis. Hawking will...

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New Dawn on America

Finally, words that make sense.

Obama Pledges Massive Public Works Project

President-elect Barack Obama committed Saturday to the largest public works building program since the creation of the interstate highway system a half century ago as he seeks to put together a plan to resuscitate the reeling economy.

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Paul Krugman in his way to Oslo

Next week, December 10, 2008. Nobel Prize to a great man.

Harvard Lightning Rod Finds Path to Renewal With Obama

Lawrence H. Summers has worked to repair his damaged reputation since he was forced out as Harvard’s president.

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Paul Krugman Nobel Prize News Conference

Princeton economist Paul Krugman, acclaimed in his field for insights into international trade patterns that overturned longheld theories about the global economy before he rose to popular distinction as a media columnist and commentator, has been awarded the 2008 Nobel Prize in economics.

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The Senate, Snowe and Dinkytown

Saxby Chambliss’s victory in Georgia means that Republicans will have at least 41 seats in the Senate, and if they stick together, the party has the capacity to stop a bill in its tracks.

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Unique Extrasolar Planet Discovered By Students

Three undergraduate students, from Leiden University in the Netherlands, have discovered an extrasolar planet. The extraordinary find, which turned up during their research project, is about five times as massive as Jupiter. This is also the first planet discovered orbiting a fast-rotating hot star.

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Taking Stock

During the last month of each year we try to make sense of our lives.

I will start with the easy parts and move on to the "heavy" stuff.

I am happily using Ubuntu 8.10, so far so good.

I will get a bonus, not for the full year but it is something.

I started using Python and TeX.

I am writing the much promised, to myself, Discrete Mechanics proposal for high school.

An explanation for the dark matter seems in sight, through the Axion (Freivogel), and a measurement of Planck's time seems to be in the net. (Craig Hogan).

That is the good part.

The bad part:

Mexico's peso is going down the drain, two cousins just died. Guerrero does not have a Physics Department.

Summer of 2009 casts a black shadow, as worrisome as the 2012 end of the world "prediction, based on the Mayan rocks".

Where will I be in the next few years?

I am determined to keep working as hard as I can, and make sure my kids make it beyond my time on this Earth.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Twilight Review: Bella is no Buffy

An intelligent review that exposes the shortcomings of the Twilight saga.

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Python 3.0 slithers onto scene, sheds backward compatibility

Python 3.0 has been officially released. This major update sacrifices backwards compatibility, but brings many significant improvements. Ars takes a close look at some of the new features.

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World's first personal supercomputer unveiled

The world's first personal supercomputer, which is 250 times faster than the average PC, has been unveiled. The gadget's power will allow doctors to process the results of brain and body scans much more quickly. This would allow them to tell patients within hours instead of days whether they have a tumour.

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LHC further delayed

There's little holiday joy for eager high-energy physicists waiting on their newest toy. A report out today says that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's most powerful particle accelerator, located at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland, will not start before July 2009, and repairs are set to cost up to 35 million Swiss francs (US$29 million).

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The Real Bill Ayers

Now that the election is over, a secondary character in a narrative about Barack Obama separates his fictional identity from his actual one.

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Life in the Universe

"In other words, life would not have existed in our Universe if our abundance of dark matter were different. (ANI)"

You can read notes below on Ben Freivogel's work, and also his paper on the Los Alamos electronic archive.

To put things in context I write this note.

Steven Weinberg gave credibility to the Anthropic Principle some years back, by pointing out that the size of galaxies depends on the value of the cosmological constant. This is one of those aha moments that don't happen often in science. A different cosmological constant value, and puff, there goes humanity, up in smoke.

It is a mystery why are we here, nevertheless we have clues that this Universe of ours is 'just right' for life.

If you are religious, you may see in all this, the hand of ...

I am not; so I leave it there.

Anthropic Explanation of the Dark Matter Abundance

I use Bousso's causal diamond measure to make a statistical prediction for the dark matter abundance, assuming an axion with a large decay constant f_a >> 10^{12} GeV. Using a crude approximation for observer formation, the prediction agrees well with observation: 30% of observers form in regions with less dark matter than we observe, while 70% of.

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Dark matter in our Universe is 'just right' for life

A new model by a scientist has determined that the amount of dark matter in our Universe is 'just right' for life to emerge. In order to avoid questions about how these properties became so finely tuned, the anthropic principle is combined with the idea that our universe is part of a multiverse, in which each universe has randomly determined

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Money to Fight Drug Gangs Is Released to Mexico

The U.S. formally released the first part of a $400 million aid package, a sign of how much more involved the United States is becoming in Mexico’s brutal drug war.

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Google shows Microsoft how to connect the dots

Android critics like Microsoft's CEO Steve Balmer bemoans the fact that Google shouldn't dabble in apps/services it cannot immediately monetize. In reality, Google is operating at a much higher level that the fat and lazy Microsoft doesn't understand.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Significant Progress Made in OLED Lighting

Osram, in partnership with BASF, has reached two major milestones in their development of OLED lighting. They've developed an OLED that's able to yield 60 lumens per watt , a much greater efficiency than conventional bulbs; and new OLED meets the international Energy Star SSL Standard for color requirements, a first for this lighting technology.

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Bloodshed On the Border

Life in Juárez, where drug violence has created the equivalent of a failed state on our doorstep. The border between El Paso (population: 600,000) and Juárez (population: 1.5 million) is the most menacing spot along America's southern underbelly. On one side is the second-safest city of its size in the United States (after Honolulu),............

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Hospitals Now a Theater in Mexico’s Drug War

With alarming speed, Mexico’s violent drug war is finding its way into the seeming sanctuary of the nation’s hospitals.

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Obama Names Richardson as Commerce Secretary

Barack Obama denied that the job was a “consolation” prize for Bill Richardson, considered a candidate to be secretary of state.

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Today I am writing on Time. I have an idea since 1992, to teach calculus in high school with finite difference equations to forego differential equations.

It is known that the ε and δ demonstrations are hard to grasp by novices. I believe that part of the problem is that these demonstrations are computer programs and are not presented as such.

We have to call a spade a spade to be understood. High school students have arithmetic and algebraic abilities, but they do not know how to program computers. When we tell them that calculus is studied with formulas, and never mention programs as essential, it only causes confusion.

Writing my didactic proposal I want to say something on Time.

The note below is about a group of theoretical physicists trying to come to terms with the concept of time.

Experimental results have already taught us that time is not what we believe it is. One of the biggest mysteries is CP violation. Cronin, and Fitch, got the Physics Nobel Prize in 1980 for this measurement. With the standard interpretation of time in theoretical physics, this result teaches us that past and future are not equivalent.

If at the microscopic level time has an arrow, and time passes according to the state of motion of the system under study, then we have a problem.

Some, like Julian Barbour, want to rid themselves of the idea of time altogether.

I believe that the key is, Information, with capital I.

Physics categories are space, time, and matter. The subject matter of this science is motion. Information is not among the categories.

I believe that until Information finds its place in Physics we won't be able to quantize gravity, and understand time.

What makes the universe tick?

LEE SMOLIN wants to save your time. He is not a lifestyle guru offering handy tips on managing a diary, though: he is a physicist who works at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Ontario, Canada. Many of his colleagues, he says, are planning to rid the universe of the common-sense notion that time passes. Smolin is having none of it.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Court for a New America

Only by realigning America with international law can the damage inflicted on America’s image and appeal by the Bush administration be undone.

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One Singular Sensation

A comment made by Gov. Ed Rendell seemed to infer that single unmarried people, like the homeland security nominee Janet Napolitano, have no life outside of work.

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Back to Reality

The Bush administration's war on science is coming to an end, but can the Obama administration undo all the damage?

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In Depth: 50 amazing Ubuntu time-saving tips

The end of October saw the much anticipated release of Ubuntu 8.10 - affectionately called the Intrepid Ibex. It's a release that sees Ubuntu going from strength to strength.

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College May Become Unaffordable for Most in U.S.

Tuition and fees increased 439 percent from 1982 to 2007, while median family income rose 147 percent.

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The Next Attorney General

Eric Holder could be an exemplary choice for attorney general but he must answer serious questions before the Senate votes on his confirmation.

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How to Display HTML / JavaScript code in Blogger

How to Display HTML / JavaScript code in Blogger... Tips for Bloggers

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A New Picture of the Early Earth. Life, 4.4 billions years?

Geologists now think the planet soon became a cool place of land, seas and perhaps even life.The first 700 million years of Earth’s 4.5-billion-year existence are known as the Hadean period, after Hades, or, to shed the ancient Greek name, Hell.In the new view of the early Earth, life could have emerged probably 4.4 billion years ago

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Calling All Pakistanis

Who in the Muslim world, who in Pakistan, is ready to take to the streets to protest the mass murders of real people, not cartoon characters, right next door in Mumbai?

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Recession Began Last December, Economists Say

The U.S. economy officially sank into a recession last December, which means that the downturn is already longer than the average for all recessions since World War II.

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Planets Align: Frown Upon Us

Look up at the sky Monday night to see a bright cosmic frown. The planets Jupiter and Venus will briefly align to form (nearly upside down) two eyes and a frowning mouth in the southwest.

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A Team of Whizzes

Will this new Obama team, as brilliant as it appears to be, begin addressing on day one the interests of those who are not rich and who have not had the ear of those in power?

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In the past two weeks I was in two events around death.

First my cousin died; we were born one month apart, then a second cousin died, I am older than her.

I hadn't seen them in over ten years. I don't feel the loss of somebody I see every day. I had good times with them though, and feel fraternal love for them.

I went this weekend to my mother's hometown for my cousin's funeral. She was an only child, and both her parents are dead. I don't know her husband, nor her children; she left three. I was late for the funeral and I spent my time with my relatives I know well. They talked to me about her. Her death was not nice, her final years were sad. It is a small town, and people noticed that she was not well.

I talked to my nephew; an intelligent man, that took care of gruesome details a few years back when other relatives died in that small town. He saw the remains of my long dead relatives, because they have the costume of opening tombs in that town, to accommodate new "tenants".

The way he described what he saw, made me want to be taken care of when the time comes, as my father requested.

His ashes were thrown in, in a river near his hometown.

I know I won't see anything, but I don't want my descendants to see what my nephew saw.

Liquefied Natural Gas and Fossil Capitalism

Anna ZalikThe contemporary ecological crisis places a new spin on the notion of the “resource curse,” evoking widespread concerns regarding hydrocarbon dependency. Whether environmental, in the form of global warming, or socio-political, through wars over oil, “fossil capitalism” is now understood as a global problem.1 The development of a ...

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