May the best of the old year

be the worst of the New Year


Most People are honest... and Bright too!

If you read my previous story, you know I stupidly left my netbook and a bunch of valuable stuff into someone else's carry on. I knew whoever had it wanted to return it, but I thought they had it pretty tough. Even if they found my name they may not think they got it, my last name is a common first name in spanish. Well, I am writing this to report that, even in Venezuela, most people are not only honest, but pretty bright too.

The person who had my netbook asked his assistant for help in trying to figure out how to return it. He decided, wisely, to bring the machine back to Venezuela instead of leaving it in charge of American Airlines or some Airport's bureaucracy. She, his assistant, was at a loss. She had a couple of pen drives, but the most significant just had pictures and music (64 GB worth of it! ). The Dell mini 9 had no battery left and came without any charger. She tried and succeeded in finding someone capable of charging the mini and cracking into Windows... Alas! my Dell mini 9 is a hackintosh with Mac OS X... No luck there. Before getting the mini back from the guy, in which she could, at least, have seen my name, she decided to browse through the immense amount of pictures in my pen drive and found the bill from my motorcycle with my name, address and phone number. She called got a hold of my son and my computer is back in my hands, with everything intact.

So, a story of ingenuity, honesty, and faith. Right here in Venezuela. The best is what happens. Thanks to the nice guys who returned my belongings. Namaste to all!


Wikileaks and the 7000 emails from the Venezuelan Government

Stefan Mey sent me an email pointing to an interesting follow up to a 2008 story I wrote about Wikileaks getting a hold up and attempting to auction 7000 emails from the Hugo Chavez government. In an interview with Julian Assange, spokesperson for Wikileaks, the fear Wikileaks had was that if they just published the emails nobody would write about them, so they thought of auctioning them. But it was so complicated, people wanted to see them first, etc, that it turn out to be impossible to do. So they just published them and, guess what? Nobody wrote about them! some thoughts about them. First, where are the emails? I try to look for them, if you search Google for Wikileaks Venezuela Government emails my story is the top link, and Wikileaks doesn't appear at all, at least for me. So, that's a problem. Going to the front page of Wikileaks just asks for money... The same goes if you try any of the links that Google presents if you search for Wikileaks. In other words: Wikileaks do not work and doesn't have a good Google presence. I was planing to lambaste the Venezuelan Opposition for failing to attack the government with this info. But I ended up lambasting Wikileaks. (Thanks Stefan)


May the Best of last year

Be the worst of the New Year


I can't wait!




Apple learns to hear... Somethings

So, Apple learns somethings and returns Firewire to the MacBook 13' (nee MacBook Pro 13'), and I assume that means that target disk mode is back and they drop the prices to a point where they are just more expensive instead of hugely more expensive. And the price of Leopard presents a huge problem for Microsoft, they will have to give away Windows 7 just to look good. Of course, they don't learn about everything, the iPhone is still locked and the Shuffle still sucks, but now it's clear, we just have to insist.




Why Venezuela is a backward country



Because our leaders do not even understand that the last five hundred years of progress have been fueled by basic science research. If they don't like science let them live without TV, Internet, Cars, etc. They are hypocrites. I am thinking of resending this article of mine to publish in El Nacional. They published it already 10 years ago, but it is as relevant today as then, how sad. I could dedicated to IVIC in its 50th anniversary...


Wooooohooooooooooo!!!!

Venezuela is the only country where you can drink beer and think you are helping science. The major science prize is given by the biggest beer company and My Wife Won this year! So drink Polar Beer and support Venezuelan Science.


Who benefits from the cheap price of gas?

Sometimes when I don't have change to fill my scooter tank gas, they let me fill up for free. It cost around 5 cents (with tip), because as reported in the New York Times, gas prices in Venezuela are ridiculously cheap, subsidized, and the government can't do anything about it.

Yes, some of us think this is right, because it's about the only thing we get from the government in exchange for the taxes and the suffering we pay, for our sin of being born here. But it is very unfair because the more money you have you get the largest benefit. Bigger and more cars, more leisure time to use them, avoid public transportation. Poor people can't do those things and public transportation is ridiculously expensive. Chavez has talked about solving this, but he won't. For some reason his natural constituency feels a strong need to defend that right we, the opposition, enjoy. Thanks for that.


Good Luck Gustavo!

Dudamel’s First Season in Los Angeles Is Announced. I hope I can get to see him conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic this year.


No electric power in Venezuela is the norm now

For over a hundred years electric power to Caracas was provided by a private company. It has had its ups and downs and its problems like any other third world electrical company. A few years ago it was taken over by a US company and things improved fairly quickly, though there were local problems, the number was wide and far appart. Until Hugo Chavez' government took over...

After paying millions of dollars to the US company (yes, the imperial companies get compensation in this is stupid revolution), the government took over. Now, blackouts are regular (about once a week) and big scale, prompting protests against a increasingly unpopular government that forbids protest to be reported. How stupid is it for an incompetent government to want to have more responsabilities in the eyes of the voters?. I am writing this during one of the blackouts. I bought a UPS the moment Chavez started talking of nationalizing. Whoever thinks that governments can run anything is deluding themselves. Government is not the solution... government is the problem. The more power they have, the more they fucked up private citizens lives.


Wikileaks auction Venezuelan's government emails

According to Wired Wikileaks has gotten holds of three years (2005-2008 ) worth of email of an aide to Venezuelan's president Hugo Chavez. But instead of just publishing them they are auctioning of the messages and attachments to the highest bidder. What if the Venezuelan government buy them? Don't worry they would just be buying time as Wikileaks plans to publish them eventually.


A Pair of Dimes shift

That's what Venezuela and its government are going to feel if the price of oil keeps getting near the break even point.


Venezuela Present and Future or I think I saw a pussy cat...


One of my few permanent works of art has been restored to its former Glory! Yes, thanks to a generous grant from the General Grant Foundation (which rarely gives specific grants) the master piece can be seen again. The title of this post is the title of the work, the medium used is old tennis rackets and balls, lots of balls...


Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, R.I.P.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, whose stubborn, lonely and combative literary struggles gained the force of prophecy as he revealed the heavy afflictions of Soviet Communism in some of the most powerful works of the 20th century, died late on Sunday at the age of 89 in Moscow.

His son Yermolai said the cause was a heart ailment.

Mr. Solzhenitsyn outlived by nearly 17 years the Soviet state and system he had battled through years of imprisonment, ostracism and exile.

He once said: "Unlimited power in the hands of limited people always leads to cruelty."


Caption this Photo!

Image

"Oh No, another wardrobe malfunction!"

"I hope no one notices it"

"I'm looking to hook up with a powerful gay man"

"If this happens with pants, imagine what happens with planes!"


I swear it isn't me!

According to Akamai, Venezuela is the Number 4th country in the list of top attacking countries in the Internet. Read the report here.


I was a victim of Social Engineering or A Non violent crime in Venezuela

This morning, just before leaving for work, I noticed something amiss in my night table. Specifically, my iPod touch, it wasn't there. I assumed it had fallen or one of my kids had borrowed it. But we search for it and we couldn't find it. Convinced something was wrong, we asked our cleaning lady: "Who has been in the house in the last few days?", her answer surprised us: "Just Luis Fernando" I asked: "Who's that?" She said: "The person who fixes computers for you! You told me to let him in!" WHAT?!?!?!?!??!?

Yes, someone had called my house pretending it was me and announced that this person was going to come in to fix my computers and my internet. He walked around my house, but my cleaning lady was always near, except for a few seconds that he entered my room. My MacBook Air, my Kindle were there, but he only took my seldom used touch. Why? I don't know, maybe because it fit in his pocket.

He tried the same trick in several houses in my building a few days ago. Mine is the only where he succeeded. I didn't know about the other attempts, but he, or they, seemed to have targeted users of Intercable (A cable, internet, and phone company in Venezuela). A couple of weeks ago an Intercable installer was killed near my building, that's how they may have gotten the info.

I don't know what I can do. We've been lucky again, I won't even miss the touch. But I am terrified that our luck will run out before we are able to leave this country. That plan has been postponed for at least a year now...


I am a new man today!


I'm Italian now!


My Scooter



That's my scooter, that I miss so much, because I am in Puerto Rico, eating good meals and enjoying the scenery, if you know what I mean. I named my scooter Trini in honor of the yellow Power Ranger, I think you can see the resemblance...


How did I miss this?

I knew that the government had suspended The Simpsons from appearing in non-adult times. I think Omar twittered about it. I didn't missed that part, I actually agreed that it is not a kids program and it is against what you should be teaching.

What I missed was the program that had substituted it. Baywatch Hawaii, yes, that's the kind of education we want our children to have.

Note. The picture has nothing to do with the post it says: Danger. Dear Visitor, please, for your safety, do not climb the little hill in front.




Nicholas Negroponte's Talk

The second talk of El Nacional's World Technology Forum was Nicholas Negroponte. I was kind of disappointed with his talk on several fronts


The first part of the talk was boring, old fashioned, and slow. He put like powerpoint text slides up... Why? After that, it got better, but he still said several things I disagree with. He said that education is the most important thing for solving important country problems, but I don't believe that. The eastern european countries have high levels of education, but their progress after the fall of the Iron Wall does not correspond to that. I think we have it backwards, progress produces education, culture, and science, not the other way around. He also said something that infuriated me. He said he didn't understand Pi, that it was too abstract. That attitude towards mathematics from an educated person sounds terribly bad to my ears, but then, adding insult to injury, he said you didn't need Pi to make a program that draws a circle in the computer screen... What? The final blow was that he describe an iterative process of writing that program, through approximations and iteration.. that is exactly what Pi is! Finally, he claimed that the OLPC was directly responsible for the Asus eee PC and similar machines from HP. I like the OLPC project, but I think, first, that it is overreaching to make that claim and, second, those machines show weaknesses with the OLPC machine and particularly with the get one, give one program.





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