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Author Archive: Eamonn Fitzgerald

Ex-pat Irishman keeping an eye on the world from the Bavarian side of the Alps.

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The wrath of Brian

Saturday, 21 October, 2017 0 Comments

“Storm Brian, a rapidly deepening depression in the mid-Atlantic, is expected to fill as it tracks over parts of Ireland late Friday night and early on Saturday.” — Met Éireann

Brian

“When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” — Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore


The green, green grass of home

Friday, 20 October, 2017 0 Comments

Home

“The old house is still standing tho’ the paint is cracked and dry
And there’s that old oak tree that I used to play on
Down the lane I walk with my sweet Mary
Hair of gold and lips like cherries
It’s good to touch the green, green grass of home.”


Trump Isn’t as Unpopular as You Think

Thursday, 19 October, 2017 0 Comments

I didn’t say that. Daniel Bier did. Who is he? Well, Daniel Bier is the editor of The Skeptical Libertarian and he has form in this because he predicted Trump’s election and correctly ridiculed the betting markets that undervalued his chances. Anyway, Daniel Bier says that “not Flynn, not Comey, not Russia, not his nominations or firings, not even Charlottesville, North Korea, golfing, Puerto Rico, healthcare, kneel-gate, and everything else that whipped up tsunamis of negative press — has made a dent” in President Trump’s popularity.

Why is this? Writing in Medium, Bier cuts through the chatter and the clutter:

“What I see is just a reversion to the mean, falling back to his equilibrium level of support. His slide in popularity since the inauguration, when all presidents get a bump, is no faster than other presidents (although he started out less popular to begin with). And since mid-May, Trump’s approval and favorability have barely changed… Despite the chaos, incompetence, and infighting of his first 9 months, he has basically maintained the level of support that carried him through the election, and he doesn’t even have the advantage of an opponent to vilify, demonize, and contrast himself with.”

Bottom line: Although President Trump is unpopular, especially considering the thriving US economy, “But he’s not nearly as unpopular as he ought to be, and he might be as unpopular now as he’s going to be (at least in the short-run). Democrats should ponder that as they think about the midterms, a 2020 candidate, and how to erode Trump’s coalition.”

Remarkably, what the US pollsters call “personal favorability” remains consistent in the case of President Trump and, as Daniel Bier, notes, “his favorables are a few points higher now than on election day, when they were -21 points underwater.” Remarkable.

poll


Ophelia and the disconnected

Wednesday, 18 October, 2017 0 Comments

The terms being used to describe Ophelia range from hurricane to cyclone to post-tropical storm. Regardless of the name, Ophelia did considerable damage in Ireland and more than 100,000 people are still without electricity as a result. Some of these reside in places well known to your blogger and this verse from Hope is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson is dedicated to all those waiting in the cold and the dark for those blue crosses and pins to be removed by ESB repair crews.

And sweetest — in the Gale — is heard
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm

Emily Dickinson (1830 – 1886)

ESB outages


Weinstein: Althouse on Dowd and Dench

Tuesday, 17 October, 2017 0 Comments

In some circles, Maureen Dowd, a columnist with the New York Times, is regarded as a moral authority. But law professor emerita Ann Althouse is having none of it: “Shine some light on the weakness of your own profession, Ms. Dowd,” she says in a blogpost from Sunday, “You’ve been writing very extensively about the movie business for years. Why didn’t you go after Weinstein? Were you and your colleagues bought off by his generosity to causes that you like?”

Althouse adds: “And note the unopened door: Calling Weinstein ‘a master at protecting himself… by giving to liberal causes and cultivating friends in the media and politics’ makes it sound as though he was a genius and ignores the lameness of the journalists in allowing this obvious and simple ruse to give him cover.”

Ann Althouse is especially critical of Dowd’s writing about Weinstein during the Clinton-Trump election campaign: “There’s not a whiff of negativity about Weinstein in this old column, which is about Obama’s cool lack of interest in being ‘a glad-handing pol.’ The phrase ‘a glad-handing pol’ seems to relate more to going out among the common people. At Harvey’s, Obama was ensconced with the beautiful elite.”

And talking about the conduct of the elites, Ann Althouse cites a grovelling piece by Maureen Dowd in the New York Times Style section about the British actress Dame Judi Dench. Back then, Harvey Weinstein was the star of the show, but a month is a long time in Maureen Dowd’s morality tales:

Ms. Dench pulled down her pants and flashed the tattoo at Mr. Weinstein at a celebrity lunch she arranged at the Four Seasons in 2002 with Mike Nichols, Nora Ephron, Carly Simon and others, and again at the BAFTA awards when Mr. Weinstein asked Ms. Dench to show his gift to a skeptical Oprah Winfrey at Royal Albert Hall.

“I walked in and I saw Harvey, and I said, ‘Hello, Harvey,’ and I dropped my pants down,” Ms. Dench recalls gleefully.

Ms. Winfrey, Mr. Weinstein recalls, “turned into a 12-year-old squealing girl” after Ms. Dench told her, “I hear you’ve been doubting my love for Harvey?” as she unzipped her pants.

Is the Weinstein tattoo real or simply drawn on by her makeup artist when she needs it, given that she once threatened to switch it to Kevin Spacey when he was the head of the Old Vic?

In her typically saucy fashion, Ms. Dench purrs, “How can I possibly tell you? Ask Harvey.”

Mr. Weinstein isn’t sure, but he does know this: “She is one of the world’s great actresses but also great personalities. She speaks in the Queen’s English so elegantly and then she’s flirting and speaking like British sailors on shore leave. Johnny Depp and I will go to our graves thinking she’s the hottest of them all.”

Dame Judi Dench was not available for comment.


Lapedrera.com

Monday, 16 October, 2017 0 Comments

Professor Robert Langdon is at the wheel of a Tesla Model X P9OD that Elon Musk “allegedly hand-delivered” to the Elon-Musk-like genius in Dan Brown’s latest novel, Origin. Sitting beside him is the very beautiful Ambra Vidal, who happens to be engaged to the future King of Spain. Well, it is a Dan Brown novel.

Anyway, they’re doing 120 kph on the outskirts of Barcelona when Winston, a superior version of Siri, points out that the Musk-like character had helped create a video about the architecture of Antonio Gaudi’s Casa Milà. “It’s worth seeing,” says Winston.

“The video is actually quite impressive,” Ambra agreed, leaning forward and touching the browser screen. A keyboard appeared, and she typed: Lapedrera.com. “You should watch this.”

“I’m kind of driving,” Langdon replied.

At which point Ambra puts the car on autopilot and they watch the video together, as people do in a Dan Brown novel when a Telsa Model X P9OD is on autopilot.


Salvator Mundi by the MIAOAT

Sunday, 15 October, 2017 0 Comments

Here, MIAOAT stands for the “most important artist of all time.” We’re talking Leonardo.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi painting disappeared in 1763 and didn’t reappear again until 1900 in London. Sir Charles Robinson had bought it, believing it to be a work by Leonardo’s disciple, Bernardino Luini, for Sir Francis Cook’s famed collection at Doughty House on Richmond Hill. By this time, the Saviour’s face and hair had been repainted and a photograph taken in 1912 records the changed appearance. When the Cook Collection was sold at auction in 1958, Salvator Mundi fetched £45, after which it disappeared again. It re-emerged in 2005 and was sold by an American estate for $10,000. All along, it was believed to be a Leonardo copy.

On Wednesday, 15 November, Salvator Mundi, now verified as an authentic da Vinci, will be put up for sale at Christie’s auction house in New York. The estimated price is $100 million but it could easily go much higher. “Discovering a new painting by Leonardo is like finding a new planet,” says art critic Alastair Sooke, in a discussion with Christie’s Chairman Loic Gouzer and Old Masters specialist Alan Wintermute.

Salvator Mundi


Here today: Stuttgart

Saturday, 14 October, 2017 0 Comments

The name Stuttgart dates from a time when the site of what would become the city was a place for breeding cavalry horses (“stud yard”). Hence the equine logo of the city. And that same prancing horse graces the Porsche logo. That’s because Porsche’s headquarters are in Stuttgart, along with those of Mercedes Benz, Bosch and Mahle plus lots of other companies, large and small, that keep the “Motor City” humming.

“Stuttgart from Above” was created by videographer Mario Hegewald. The music is Neon Light by Thomas McNeice and Robin Thomson.


Employee Nr. 7 saves the day

Friday, 13 October, 2017 0 Comments

One of Tesla’s earliest challenges involved the thousands of lithium-­ion batteries the company intended to pack into its e-sports car, the Roadster, which was produced from 2008 to 2012. Problem: They caught fire embarrassingly often. Enter Gene Berdichevsky, employee No. 7. He helped solve the issue using a mix of heat transfer materials, cooling channels and battery arrangements that ensured any fire would be self-contained.

Berdichevsky has now co-founded Sila Nanotechnologies, which aims to make better lithium-ion batteries using silicon-based nanoparticles. Silicon has almost 10 times the theoretical capacity of the material most often used in lithium-ion batteries, but it tends to expand during charging, causing damage. Sila’s particles, however, are porous enough to accommodate that expansion, offering the promise of longer-lasting batteries. Lucky Nr. 7 saves the day again.

Sila


Inside Tesla

Thursday, 12 October, 2017 0 Comments

“My proceeds from PayPal were $180m. I put $100m in SpaceX, $70m in Tesla and $10m in Solar City. I had to borrow money for rent.” — Elon Musk

Tesla

Five links…


École 42 may be the answer

Wednesday, 11 October, 2017 0 Comments

At 8:42 every morning, students at École 42 on the Boulevard Bessières in Paris get their digital projects. They have 48 hours to complete them, so they are always under pressure, as in real life. École 42, takes its name from the “answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything” in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. The answer, by the way, is 42.

The school is the creation of Xavier Niel, a French billionaire who has so far spent about €48 million on the Paris campus and an additional $46 million on a twin school in Fremont, in San Francisco’s Bay Area. Niel made his fortune with Free, the second-largest internet service provider in France, and in 2013 he declared that the country’s education system was not working so he set out to fix the software engineering, coding and programming part of it.

Incidentally, no degrees or special skills are required to apply to attend École 42, and those who are accepted attend for free for three to five years. According to Niel, around 80 percent of students get jobs before they finish the course and 100 percent are employed by the end. Clearly, if it’s broke, Xavier Niel is the man to fix it.

42