Category Archives: Photography

Grandpa alert: Sadie Rose pays a visit


Sadie Rose, her mom and dad, Grandma B, and mom’s old friend came for a visit, and we headed out for a delightful lunch at Berkeley’s own Easy Creole.

After lunch, we cleared the table and mom put her down on the nice, cool ceramic tile tabletop. The first reaction, uncertainty. . .

18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 4.3 mm, 1/50 sec, f3.3

18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 4.3 mm, 1/50 sec, f3.3

And the tile feels so strange, so cool on her hands. . .

    18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 3.5 mm, 1/60 sec, f3.6

18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 3.5 mm, 1/60 sec, f3.6

And decides she likes it. . .

18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 3.5 mm, 1/60 sec, f3.3

18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 3.5 mm, 1/60 sec, f3.3

And so does mommy, and whilst daddy’s busy textin’. . .

18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 5.4 mm, 1/40 sec, f3.6

18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 5.4 mm, 1/40 sec, f3.6

Sadie discovers she can crawl! Mom, dad, and Grandma take delight!

18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 5.4 mm, 1/40 sec, f3.6

18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 5.4 mm, 1/40 sec, f3.6

And Grandpa’s happy too. . .and so is Sadie Rose!

18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 4.34 mm, 1/50 sec, f3.3

18 February 2014, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 4.34 mm, 1/50 sec, f3.3

Grandpa alert: Sadie Rose, leanin’ in


Another shot of granddaughter arrived form Grandma, and how could we not share?:

BLOG Sadie Rose leanin in

Trevor Paglen: Panopticon State Architecture


NSA headquarters, Ft. Meade, Maryland, by Trevor Paglen

NSA headquarters, Ft. Meade, Maryland, by Trevor Paglen

Trevor Paglen, who holds a doctorate in geography from UC Berkeley, has emerged as the preeminent documentor of the iconography of the national security.

He has revealed the bizarre military patches of black operators, the landscapes of surveillance, and now, in his latest effort for Creative Time Reports in partnership with The Intercept — the new website edited by  Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, and Laura Poitras — he presents us with nocturnal aerial images of three agencies which play crucial roles in the emerging panopticon security state.

From Creative Time Reports:

What does a surveillance state look like?

Over the past eight months, classified documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden have exposed scores of secret government surveillance programs. Yet there is little visual material among the blizzard of code names, PowerPoint slides, court rulings and spreadsheets that have emerged from the National Security Agency’s files.

The scarcity of images is not surprising. A surveillance apparatus doesn’t really “look” like anything. A satellite built by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) reveals nothing of its function except to the best-trained eyes. The NSA’s pervasive domestic effort to collect telephone metadata also lacks easy visual representation; in the Snowden archive, it appears as a four-page classified order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Since June 2013, article after article about the NSA has been illustrated with a single image supplied by the agency, a photograph of its Fort Meade headquarters that appears to date from the 1970s.

The photographs below [at the link, esnl], which are being published for the first time, show three of the largest agencies in the U.S. intelligence community. The scale of their operations were hidden from the public until August 2013, when their classified budget requests were revealed in documents provided by Snowden. Three months later, I rented a helicopter and shot nighttime images of the NSA’s headquarters. I did the same with the NRO, which designs, builds and operates America’s spy satellites, and with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), which maps and analyzes imagery, connecting geographic information to other surveillance data. The Central Intelligence Agency—the largest member of the intelligence community—denied repeated requests for permission to take aerial photos of its headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

Read the rest.

And now for the video:

Trevor Paglen’s Visual Vocabulary of the U.S. Intelligence Community

Program note:

Artist Trevor Paglen photographs the National Security Agency (NSA), National Reconnaissance Office, (NRO), and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA)

Sadie Rose loves that butternut squash


With just enough of a touch of cinnamon to bring a smile to granddaughter’s face in this forwarded image from Grandma:

BLOG Sadie Squash

Bella Venezia: Sad signage of the times


Sent by Gray Brechin from Venice with the comment, “We are so doomed.”

Corporate environmental pollution viewed from the water:

10 January 2014, Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS, ISO 100, 4.4 mm, 1/100 sec, f4.5

10 January 2014, Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS, ISO 100, 4.4 mm, 1/100 sec, f4.5

The same, close-up:

10 January 2014, Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS, ISO 400, 4.3 mm, 1/400 sec, f2.7

10 January 2014, Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS, ISO 400, 4.3 mm, 1/400 sec, f2.7

And another side sign of the times, notable most in that it’s now necessary:

10 January 2014, Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS, ISO 400, 4.3 mm, 1/160 sec, f2.7

10 January 2014, Canon PowerShot ELPH 300 HS, ISO 400, 4.3 mm, 1/160 sec, f2.7

The English translation:

DRESS

You may not walk around Venice in swimwear or bare-chested, nor plunge or paddle in canals. Please behave respectfully in the city. You can find beaches on the Lido Island.

South Berkeley Street Seens: New Year’s Eve


Sights encountered on a stroll to the Adeline Street post office.

First, a skyline seen at the end of the block. . .

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 160, 47.3 mm, 1/500 sec, f5.8

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 160, 47.3 mm, 1/500 sec, f5.8

A fencesitter encountered in a town known for treesitters. . .

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 160, 4.3 mm, 1/320 sec, f4

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 160, 4.3 mm, 1/320 sec, f4

And a face-to-face encounter. . .

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 4 mm, 1/400 sec, f4

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 4 mm, 1/400 sec, f4

A fellow pedestrian. . .

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 160, 16.1 mm, 1/400 sec, f5.2

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 160, 16.1 mm, 1/400 sec, f5.2

Traces left by a pedestrian past. . .

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 125, 31.5 mm, 1/80 sec, f5.4

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 125, 31.5 mm, 1/80 sec, f5.4

Evidence of another past walker. . .

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 21.8 mm, 1/100 sec, f5.4

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 21.8 mm, 1/100 sec, f5.4

Adeline Street Post Office parking lot skyline. . .

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 4.4 mm, 1/1300 sec, f3.3

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 4.4 mm, 1/1300 sec, f3.3

The Stately Homes of Prince Street. . .

BLOG Stately r

And the latest sigil appearing on the wall near Casa esnl. . .

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 31.3 mm, 1/500 sec, f5.4

31 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 31.3 mm, 1/500 sec, f5.4

And, after the jump, the obligatory selfie. . . Continue reading

Portrait of a South Berkeley businessman


Bill, born in Bethlehem and the longtime owner of Roxie’s Delicatessen at the corner of Ashby and Shattuck Avenues in Berkeley, California:

4 April 2007, Nikon D200, ISO 320, 60 mm, 1/60 sec, f4

4 April 2007, Nikon D200, ISO 320, 60 mm, 1/60 sec, f4

Once upon a time, there was this stuff, film. . .


From BuzzFeed Yellow, a surprisingly insightful primer for folks familiar only with the digital:

Film Photography Explained To Modern Kids

Program note:

The past was not that long ago.

Sadie Rose pays a Christmas Eve visit


Sadie Rose came north from Los Angeles for the Christmas holidays, accompanied by mommie Jackie and daddy Krys, along with her uncle Derald. Grampa ensl came along for a celebratioln at younger saughter Sammi’s Oakland apartment. . .

Sammi [l] welcomes Derald, Jackie, and Sadie Rose. . .

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 800, 4.3 mm, 1/60 sec, f3.3

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 800, 4.3 mm, 1/60 sec, f3.3

Sadie spurns a proffered libation, with mommy’s approval. . .

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 500, 4.3 mm, 1/60 sec, f3.3

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 500, 4.3 mm, 1/60 sec, f3.3

Aunt Sammi gets a happy hug. . .

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 800, 14.2 mm, 1/60 sec, f5.1

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 800, 14.2 mm, 1/60 sec, f5.1

Derald asks Sadie if she’d like a Grampa hug. . .

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 400, 4.3 mm, 1/20 sec, f3.3

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 400, 4.3 mm, 1/20 sec, f3.3

And gets an emphatic response. . .

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 400, 4.3 mm, 1/20 sec, f3.3

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 400, 4.3 mm, 1/20 sec, f3.3

Then Sadie gives him a try. . .

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 800, 4.3 mm, 1/50 sec, f3.3

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 800, 4.3 mm, 1/50 sec, f3.3

They hold a tête-à-tête, initially with skepticism. . .

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 800, 8.5 mm, 1/8 sec, f4.2

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 800, 8.5 mm, 1/8 sec, f4.2

Then with a little less. . .

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 8.5 mm, 1/60 sec, f4.2

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 8.5 mm, 1/60 sec, f4.2

Then with curiosity. . .

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 8.5 mm, 1/125 sec, f4.2

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 8.5 mm, 1/125 sec, f4.2

And, finally, with  contentment. . .

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 8.5 mm, 1/60 sec, f4.2

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 8.5 mm, 1/60 sec, f4.2

Sadie Rose tries out her holiday tutu. . .

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 500, 23.1 mm, 1/250 sec, f5.4

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 500, 23.1 mm, 1/250 sec, f5.4

Then calls a session of her fan club. . .

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 8.5 mm, 1/60 sec, f4.1

24 December 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 100, 8.5 mm, 1/60 sec, f4.1

It had to happen: Mapping cities in virtual 3D


From Agence France Presse:

French firm maps cities in super-detailed 3D

Program notes:

Ubick, launched by the Limoges-based company Imao, is a unique tool for visualising 3D. The objective: to create new markets through hyper-realistic 3D representations.

More about the technology and software used here.

Headlines of the day II: EconoGrecoFukuCrisis


Lonnggg selection today because. . .well, read ‘em and weep.

First, a global agenda delayed from the Japan Times:

Bridging Japan-U.S. gaps key to keeping TPP ball rolling

After failing to reach a deal by the much-touted 2013 deadline, the 12 economies negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership have pledged to keep striving for solutions to thorny issues, with the prospect of Japan-U.S. talks over farm products and cars as one of the keys for an early conclusion of the free trade pact.

A Japanese official said the TPP members could become even less motivated to make concessions after they missed the pledged deadline at a crucial four-day ministerial conference that ended Tuesday in Singapore, suggesting negotiations could now stretch on.

More from PCWorld:

Secret TPP intellectual property agreement misses deadline

Negotiators on a secret trade treaty, which includes controversial intellectual property proposals, could not meet their year-end deadline for an agreement this week at Singapore.

The intellectual property chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, being negotiated by 12 countries, apparently has controversial proposals that would increase the term of patents and copyright, reduce requirements for patentability and increase damages for infringements of patents and copyrights.

On to the U.S., first with a headline from Independent.ie:

US jobless claims surge, erase prior weeks’ declines

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose sharply last week, reversing the prior three weeks declines, but a recent strengthening of the labor market likely remains intact.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits surged 68,000 to a seasonally adjusted 368,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That was the largest weekly increase since November 2012. Claims for the prior week were revised to show 2,000 more applications received than previously reported.

And their potential plight from Salon:

How GOP neglected the jobless, while giving the 1 percent a raise

Republicans declared extending unemployment a deal breaker, but happily protected wealthy doctors from any hardship

From the Toronto Globe and Mail, another way to the same agenda:

Next U.S. ambassador to Canada will make intellectual rights a priority

Canada can expect increased pressure from the next U.S. ambassador on the vexing issue of imposing tougher intellectual rights protections.

“I know the Canadians are working harder to try and do better in this area,” said Bruce Heyman, President Barack Obama’s pick as the next U.S. ambassador to Canada, said Wednesday.

Postage due no longer from the BBC News:

Canada Post to end home delivery in five years

Canada Post will phase out home delivery in urban areas over the next five years as the postal service struggles to rein in persistent losses.

Under a five-year plan released on Wednesday, the cost of stamps will also rise and as many as 8,000 jobs will be eliminated.

From the Globe and Mail, bubble bubble:

Canada’s housing market most overvalued in the world, Deutsche Bank says

Canada is home to the world’s most overvalued housing market, Deutsche Bank says in a new study that suggests overvaluation to the tune of 60 per cent.

Other groups have put Canada near the top of the list, but the German bank puts it at the top, ahead of Belgium, New Zealand, Norway, Australia, France, Britain, Sweden, Finland and Spain, which make up the rest of the top 10.

The Globe and Mail again, with a serious number:

Bank of Canada’s Poloz warns of risk of deflation

  • Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz still expects a soft landing in the housing market and a pickup in exports and business investments.
  • Sees household imbalances stabilizing, and then gradually unwinding in coming years.
  • Says it will take about two years to get inflation back up to 2 per cent, adding that a stable financial system is necessary to “limit the risk of falling into a deflationary trap.”

Off to Europe, starting with a regional headline from Independent.ie:

Eurozone industrial output slumps

Industrial output across the 17 countries that use the euro slumped by a monthly rate of 1.1 % in October, official figures showed in the latest sign that the region’s recovery from recession is failing to gather momentum.

The fall reported today by the EU’s statistics office, Eurostat, was unexpected and affected all sectors, notably energy. The consensus in the markets was for overall output to rise by 0.3%.

More from the London Telegraph:

Surprise fall in eurozone industrial output

Worst industrial output figures since height of eurozone crisis show economy is struggling to regain momentum

A companion headline from the Independent.ie:

Economic recovery in Europe still tentative, says ratings giant

STANDARD & Poor’s has warned that the European Central Bank (ECB) may have to take further unconventional measures to maintain recovery in the eurozone.

The ratings giant said that while the currency bloc is climbing out of recession, the recovery will be arduous and unevenly balanced.

EUbusiness opts for a bankster:

MEPs back Frenchwoman Nouy to head new bank supervisor

Frenchwoman Daniele Nouy won approval Wednesday from the European Parliament to head the eurozone’s new bank supervisor, a key element in efforts to prevent failing lenders bringing down the economy.

The 63-year-old Nouy, a senior official at the Bank of France, will head the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) under the European Central Bank, directly overseeing some 130 of the eurozone’s largest banks.

EUbusiness again, with a job for her:

EU nations agree rules on bank bailouts

EU nations agreed new rules for bank bailouts or “bail-ins” late Wednesday, to save taxpayers from paying for the rescue of ailing financial institutions, an official said.

The new directive will eventually dovetail with the EU’s “Banking Union”, which is currently being hammered out.

But then there’s this, also from EUbusiness:

S&P says 50 European banks need EUR 110 bn

The 50 biggest European banks need a total of 110 billion euros ($151 billion) to ensure that their shareholders’ funds are strong enough to sustain their credit ratings, Standard & Poor’s said on Thursday.

S&P acknowledged in a statement that the banks had acted to boost their ratios of shareholder funds to risks, by retaining part of their profits or by reducing their balance sheets.

From EUobserver, confronting intolerance:

Cities show leadership on Roma inclusion

Roma migrants often gravitate towards cities. Like other migrants, they know that metropolitan areas offer greater opportunities for employment and upward social mobility. Cities also offer access to better, more integrated support services.

So when a number of countries with large Roma populations joined the EU in and after 2004, many Roma chose to exercise their right to borderless travel to escape poverty and discrimination and headed to urban centres elsewhere. This has brought a sharp increase in Roma numbers in various cities across Europe. And it has had a fundamental impact in the way these cities now address social cohesion.

Spiegel covers a policy refined by Krupp:

Self Defense: Protectionism Rules in EU Arms Industry

German Chancellor Angela Merkel loves to preach economic prudence to her European Union partners. But she looks the other way when it comes to the bloc’s wasteful defense policy, and Europe’s citizens are footing the bill — to the tune of at least €26 billion a year.

Off to Britain and ornamental umbrage from Sky News:

Cameron: 11% MPs’ Pay Rise Is Unacceptable

A furious Prime Minister slams the proposed increase and warns the parliamentary watchdog to reconsider it.

BBC News has Banksters Behaving Badly:

Lloyds bank fined record £28m for ‘serious failings’

Lloyds Banking Group has been fined £28m for “serious failings” in relation to bonus schemes for sales staff.

The Financial Conduct Authority said it was the largest fine that it or the former Financial Services Authority had imposed for retail conduct failings.

BBC News again, with prices inflating:

We are in a housing bubble, claims economics professor

Most regions of the UK are already in a house-price bubble, according to an economics professor from Warwick University.

Prof James Mitchell said house prices were overvalued when compared with incomes, raising the risk of a fall at some stage in the future.

Sky News catches another painful form of austerian-inflicted inflationary pain:

Spending Squeeze: Household Priorities Shift

Official figures provide an insight on family budgets as weak pay increases fail to keep up with rising prices.

Household spending on housing (excluding mortgages), fuel and power has surpassed transport for the first time in recent years, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show. We are cutting back most on transport, only spending £64.10 a week in 2012, compared with £67.20 the previous year.

The Independent catches another austerian symptom:

Stay-at-home drinking and socialising on the rise as Britons avoid paying premium of being served food or drink in pubs and bars

According to the Office for National Statistics last year an average of £7.80 went on wine, beer and spirits brought from the off licence or supermarket – up 50p – compared to £7.40 spent in licensed premises.

The change marks a reversal from 2011 when households spent 10p more drinking in public each week than they did within their own four walls.

From BBC News, profits soar on a privatized commons:

Royal Mail to join FTSE 100 after share price surge

Royal Mail, the newly-privatised postal service, will be joining the FTSE 100 index of blue-chip companies. The company’s share price has surged more than 80% since its first day of public trading on 15 October, giving it a market capitalisation of nearly £6bn.

The privatisation was controversial and opposed by the Communication Workers Union (CWU), even though employees were given shares in the company.

Off to Ireland with another piece of the commons on the auction block. From  Independent.ie:

Government to sell Bord Gais for €1.125bn

Independent.ie has learned that it will sell the company to a consortium made up of British Gas owned Centrica, Brookfield Renewables and iCON Infrastructure.

It is understood that Bord Gais has begin contacting staff at the state owned company to update them on how the sale will affect their jobs at the company.

Independent.ie again, with yet more of the public’s assests set for sale:

State will sell more banking assets to claw back cost of bailout – Davy

THE State is set to recoup a substantial portion of the cost of bailing out AIB, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB by selling assets over the coming two years, according to a new report from Davy Stockbrokers.

Selling banking assets to the markets is now the more likely route to recover part of the cost of the bank rescues than a deal to transfer loans to the European Stabilisation Mechanism (ESM), which is being sought by the Government, according to Davy bond strategist Donal O’Mahoney.

Independent.ie one last time, with an end run around landlords in mortgage arrears:

Banks appointing rent collectors to bypass landlords not paying mortgage arrears

Rent receivers appointed on over 2,000 properties

BBC News brings us a pale shade of the joy we’d experience were the hoosegow-bound Wall Street weasels:

Iceland jails former Kaupthing bank bosses

Four former bosses from the Icelandic bank Kaupthing have been sentenced to between three and five years in prison. They are the former chief executive, the chairman of the board, one of the majority owners and the chief executive of the Luxembourg branch.

They were accused of hiding the fact that a Qatari investor bought a stake in the firm with money lent – illegally – by the bank itself.

On to Scandinavia, first with TheLocal.no:

Ethnic Norwegians in population decline

The number of ethnic Norwegians has dropped over the past decade, with Norway’s population growth attributable solely to immigration and children born to Norwegians with an immigrant background, according to figures from Statistics Norway.

“The group without any element of immigration, either from their parents of grandparents, has declined in recent years,” Minja Dzmarija, a researcher at Statistics Norway, told Aftenposten. “This means that among ethnic Norwegians there are more who die or move abroad than those who are born or move back to Norway.”

Swedish neoliberal ploy [arried from TheLocal.se:

Government loses fight over divisive tax cut

Sweden’s minority government coalition on Wednesday lost a fight to lower taxes for high-earners in a vote that may have long-term “ugly free-for-all” consequences for how budget decisions are made.

In a 159-156 vote in the Riksdag, the left-of-centre opposition parties, with the help of the Sweden Democrats, stopped the right-of-centre government’s plans to raise the salary cut-off point after which Swedes must pay state tax, which is imposed on high earners.

Swedish eurodoubts from TheLocal.se:

Swedes ‘less certain’ about EU membership

Swedish eurozone entry is off the cards and its EU membership would be in danger if Swedes went to the polls today, according to a new survey that also reveals increasingly hesitant opinions about European institutions.

Almost one in three Swedes said they were unsure how they felt about Swedish membership of the European Union.

On to Amsterdam with DutchNews.nl:

Student loan plan unlikely to succeed without further changes

The cabinet’s decision to scrap student grants and replace them with loans will be discussed in parliament later on Wednesday but is unlikely to win support in the senate as it now stands.

Education minister Jet Bussemaker wants to scrap grants for Master students from 2015 and for Bachelor students in 2016 but has so far been unable to remove opposition concerns.

The D66 liberals and minor opposition party GroenLinks both want the government to put more cash into education in return for its support. They also want changes to the way interest over the loan is calculated.

EUobserver delivers a blow:

Dutch firm ends Israeli co-operation

Dutch firm Vitens has said it is terminating its partnership with Israeli water company Mekorot due to “national and international law and regulations.” The move comes amid reports that Mekorot is pumping water from Palestinian areas to Jewish settlements. It also follows an EU ban on grants to settler-linked entities.

DutchNews.nl delivers a Dutch rub:

New rules allow ‘unjustified’ bonuses to be clawed back

From next year, financial institutions will be able to claw back ‘excessive bonuses’ from senior staff, the justice ministry confirmed on Wednesday.

The upper house of parliament, or senate, on Wednesday accepted draft legislation which centres on bonuses paid out on the basis of wrong information or which are otherwise ‘unjustified’. Supervisory boards will have the right to amend bonuses and to claw them back if they are higher than acceptable. The boards will also have to justify why bonuses are being paid.

Germany next, with labor delivery woes from Spiegel:

Tepid Welcome: Germany Struggles to Lure Skilled Workers

Germany must look abroad to make up for its shortage of highly skilled workers. But a series of obstacles, including daunting bureaucracy, stand in the way of foreign specialists looking to relocate.

On to French, with a slice from TheLocal.fr:

Crisis leaving the French ‘bitter and divided’

France may be the home of fraternité and solidarité, but according to two recent surveys, the French people are anything but happy and united, as the financial crisis leaves them feeling bitter towards one another, and less trusting of government.

Some 74 percent of the French feel that France is “in decline”, according to a survey published on Wednesday by polling firm Ipsos, in collaboration with left-leaning newspaper Le Monde. What’s more, nearly one third believe that this process of decline is irreversible.

Among the principle targets of this French anger were “scroungers” or “profiteurs” in French – a term referring to those who benefit from social welfare payments – political parties, and the country’s main unions, according to CSA.

TheLocal.fr tracks delays:

French train strike set to cause major disruption

France’s rail network will be hit by a nationwide strike on Wednesday evening and Thursday with passengers being warned to expect delays.

Three main rail workers unions – CGT, UNSA, and Sud-Rail – called their members to strike and will be joined by two others, FO and FiRST, who are protesting against rail reforms as well as working conditions and wages.

On to Spain with an angry response from El País:

Finance Minister goes on offensive over criticism of Tax Agency reshuffle

Cristóbal Montoro accuses media of attempting to divert attention from its own tax bills

The media have reported widely on the issue, and the leftist group United Left even holds that it may amount to a “political purge,” because Montoro himself at one point noted that the agency department that was mostly affected by the reshuffle was “full of Socialists” who had disagreements with the new agency director, Santiago Menéndez.

GlobalPost anticipates:

Spain hopes to export its way out of recession

Overseas sales are surging, but recovery could take years.

The latest figures from the Economy Ministry in Madrid show exports rose 8.3 percent in September compared to a year before, a spurt that’s prompting hopes that overseas sales could drag the Spanish economy out of its deepest recession in decades.

El País depopulates:

Why a drain in Spain will lead to population shrinkage by 2017

In five years’ time, fewer births and more emigration will mean a lower number of inhabitants

Some 2.6 million people are expected to leave the country over the next decade

More from thinkSPAIN:

Spaniards leaving the country to get jobs top 40,000 in six months

OVER 40,000 Spaniards abroad to find work in the first six months of this year, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE)’s Migration Report. Most of them headed to the UK and France, although in terms of residents leaving the country for good, the majority went to Ecuador, since this was where they were originally from. Of the 259,227 people who moved away from Spain between January and June 2013, more than 40,000 were Spanish nationals, whilst 134,312 foreigners moved to the country to live.

As a result, the country’s ‘migration balance’ fell into negative figures – 124,915 more people left than arrived. Those abandoning Spain increased in number by 50 per cent on the previous six months, from July to December 2012, resulting in a fall in immigration of 11 per cent and an increase in outward migration of 10.7 per cent.

El País bottoms out:

Spain at tail end of EU educational mobility ranking

Just half of most disadvantaged citizens improve on parents’ level of studies

In 2011, 50 percent of Spaniards aged between 25 and 59 whose parents received a low level of education had not improved their status, 24 percent had progressed to an intermediate level and 27 percent had reached higher education.

Only Malta (73 percent), Portugal (68 percent), Luxembourg (52 percent) and Italy (50 percent) recorded worse results for their most disadvantaged citizens.

ANSAmed declines:

Financial crisis: Spain, 10% drop on property sales in Oct

The Spanish real estate market continues to spiral downward, with a 10% drop in homes sold in October 2013 compared to October 2012, according to data released Thursday by the National Statistics Institute.

October, with 22,770 total transactions, marks the lowest month of the year following March, and is one of the lowest since 2007, when statistical records began. Compared to September, home sales decreased by 4.4%.

And Sky News stymies:

Spanish PM To Block Catalan Independence Poll

The prime minister says the referendum to create a new independent state between Spain and France is “unconstitutional”.

The Portugal News has a pricey thirst:

Water bills set to soar for 1.3 million people

Water bills could be on the up next year following impending shake-ups within the water and waste treatment sectors which include the re-structuring of national water supply company Águas de Portugal (AdP), new governing statuses, and the privatisation of AdP’s sub-holding company EGF.

Italy next with austerian affliction from ANSAmed:

Italy’s kids stunted by recession, says Save the Children

More teenage moms, obese kids, school dropouts

Italy’s children are growing up physically, emotionally, and intellectually stunted by the recession, which has brought poverty, unemployment, and a lack of emotional, psychological, and environmental support in its wake, according to a new Save The Children report issued Tuesday. Titled ‘’Italy Upside Down’‘, the report documents a 7.4% drop in the country’s fertility rate along with a rise in childhood obesity, teenage motherhood, and the rate of high-school dropouts.

Channel NewsAsia Singapore boosts:

Italy’s Letta wins lower house confidence vote

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta won a confidence vote on Wednesday in the lower house of parliament after promising to push a pro-European agenda, boost economic growth and fight against populism.

ANSAmed departs:

Italians flocking abroad soars 70% in two years

Lombardy leads exodus with more than 20% of total

The number of Italians leaving the country rose 70% in two years, from 40,000 in 2010 to 68,000 in 2012, an Italian foundation for multi-ethnic studies reported on Tuesday.

Lombardy has topped Italy’s regions for generating expats since 2007, according to the annual report of the Ismu Foundation, presented in Milan.

After the jump, Greek crisis continues; Ukraine smoulders; Latin American unrest, selloffs, and weedy questions; Indian inflation and electoral upsets; Thai turmoil countdown; Chinese neoliberalism marches on, smoggily; Japanese questions; environmental worries. . .and Fukushimapocalypse Now!. . . Continue reading

Moonlight over San Francisco Bay


From the Lawrence Hall of Science webcam at 11:39 p.m. Monday:

BLOG Moonlight

Scenes from a South Berkeley twilight stroll


Just a collection of photos from the neighborhood. . .

A bollard of distinction. . .

7 December 2013, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 1250, 9 mm, 1/80 sec, f4.4

7 December 2013, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 1250, 9 mm, 1/80 sec, f4.4

A trio of painted ladies. . .

7 December 2013, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 4.3 mm, 1/15 sec, f3.3

7 December 2013, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 4.3 mm, 1/15 sec, f3.3

Gilding a Victorian jewel. . .

7 December 2013, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 4.3 mm, 1/15 sec, f3.3

7 December 2013, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 800, 4.3 mm, 1/15 sec, f3.3

A scene on a garage door. . .

7 December 2013, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 400, 4.3 mm, 1/15 sec, f3.3

7 December 2013, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 400, 4.3 mm, 1/15 sec, f3.3

And Le Conte Elementary School, built in 1951 for the first blush of the Baby Boom. . .

7 December 2013, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 400, 4.3 mm, 1/40 sec, f3.3

7 December 2013, Panasonic DMZ-ZS19, ISO 400, 4.3 mm, 1/40 sec, f3.3

Midnight in Berkeley with the fog rolling in


From the Berkeley Hills via the webcam at the Lawrence Hall of Science:

BLOG Fog

Astronomical gem in the sky near Orion’s belt


BLOG APOD

From NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day:

NGC 1999: South of Orion
Image Data: Subaru Telescope (NAOJ), Hubble Space Telescope,
Additional Color Data and Processing: Robert Gendler

Explanation: South of the large star-forming region known as the Orion Nebula, lies bright blue reflection nebula NGC 1999. At the edge of the Orion molecular cloud complex some 1,500 light-years distant, NGC 1999′s illumination is provided by the embedded variable star V380 Orionis. That nebula is marked with a dark sideways T-shape near center in this cosmic vista that spans about 10 light-years. The dark shape was once assumed to be an obscuring dust cloud seen in silhouette against the bright reflection nebula. But recent infrared images indicate the shape is likely a hole blown through the nebula itself by energetic young stars. In fact, this region abounds with energetic young stars producing jets and outflows with luminous shock waves. Cataloged as Herbig-Haro (HH) objects, named for astronomers George Herbig and Guillermo Haro, the shocks look like red gashes in this scene that includes HH1 and HH2 just below NGC 1999. The stellar jets push through the surrounding material at speeds of hundreds of kilometers per second.

Sadie Rose: A girl and her elephant


Whoa, Mom? You sure about this critter?

3 November 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 800, 5.1 mm, 1/20 sec, f2

3 November 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 800, 5.1 mm, 1/20 sec, f2

Really? You’re really, really sure?

3 November 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 400, 5.1 mm, 1/20 sec, f2

3 November 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 400, 5.1 mm, 1/20 sec, f2

Nom-nom-nom-nom. . .

3 November 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 400, 5.1 mm, 1/20 sec, f2

3 November 2013, Panasonic DMC-LX5, ISO 400, 5.1 mm, 1/20 sec, f2

A massive star, lurking in a Scorpion


From NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day, stellar porn:

BLOG APOD

A Massive Star in NGC 6357
Image Credit: NASA, ESA and J. Maiz Apellániz (IAA, Spain) Explanation: For reasons unknown, NGC 6357 is forming some of the most massive stars ever discovered. One such massive star, near the center of NGC 6357, is framed above carving out its own interstellar castle with its energetic light from surrounding gas and dust. In the greater nebula, the intricate patterns are caused by complex interactions between interstellar winds, radiation pressures, magnetic fields, and gravity. The overall glow of the nebula results from the emission of light from ionized hydrogen gas. Near the more obvious Cat’s Paw nebula, NGC 6357 houses the open star cluster Pismis 24, home to many of these tremendously bright and blue stars. The central part of NGC 6357 shown spans about 10 light years and lies about 8,000 light years away toward the constellation of the Scorpion.

Made in China: Worst Photoshop fail ever


From the official SINA English:

BLOG Photoshop fail

From the website, which headlined its story “Government posts fake photo on its official website”:

A photo of city leaders visiting centenarian in Ningguo City, east China’s Anhui Province circulated on the internet after it being posted on its official website.

Netizens pointed that the photo was modified because one official stands in the air and the centenarian looks too small.

The perfect toys for a Brave New World


First up, via the Japan Daily Press, the Neurocam:

It’s probably not at all wise to stick a device that deals in 4G/LTE wavelengths near you’re your head – and we’re sure the designers can come up with a better design when this goes retail (if ever) – but the concept is sure interesting – an iPhone will take hands-free videos and pictures of the things a user is looking at, depending on the level of interest that the user has for the objects he or she is looking at. How does the iPhone know which ones to take pictures of? It measures your brainwave activity to figure out what are the things that interest you from the things you are looking at.

And the video:

The article also notes the camera isn’t the first commercial gimmick to employ the brainwave technology for the purpose of amusement:

The Neurocam is the latest product to come from the Neurowear project, which already gave us the NekoMimi cat ears. As we have said beforehand, we’re really big fans of having all those radio waves near our head for an extended period of time. But this is all in development right now, and we hope the design changes for the better, and the safety of our brains as well.

NTDTV reports on those feline animated aural appendages:

Cat Ears Device Controlled by Brainwaves

From the program notes:

These cat ears can be controlled by your thoughts, displaying your emotions like a feline.

The technology to control objects just by thinking about them is being developed in labs all over the world. But in Japan, a neuro-technology company is taking serious brainwave science and turning it into fun.

The ears are already available here in the U.S., available from Amazon for a mere $61.35.

Now we can imagine the NSA will love the camera device, since they can activate your phone’s camera and mic from afar. Imagine what a gift for the dark world: They’ll know all your likes and dislike, refined to the nth degree. Heck, they should just give ‘em away, right?

A visual treat: Animation, created with light


From Darren Parson:

Light Goes On

Here’s how he describes himself on his website:

Darren Pearson is a resident of Los Angeles, where he works as a fulltime illustrator by day.

By night, he explores the varying landscapes of California in search of the perfect scene for one of his life-sized light-sculptures.

These light-sculptures are created through long exposure photography (the same technique commonly used to write a name with a sparkler or capture car trails at night).

Pearson makes complex light-effect photographs, none of which are photoshopped.