Europe

Millions of migrants are on the march

Tuesday, 1 September, 2015 0 Comments

“It is projected that sub-Saharan Africa will have 900 million more inhabitants in the next 20 years. Of these, at least 200 million will be young people looking for work. The chaos of their countries of origin will push them further north.” So wrote Massimo Nava in Corriere della Sera a week ago.

The European Union is deeply divided about how to deal with the massive migration crisis that’s unfolding on its shore, in its mountains and at its train stations. Border controls are being blatantly ignored and policy is being made up on the fly. The proverb becomes reality: “Every man for himself (and the devil take the hindmost).” Example: A law aimed at discouraging refugees from settling in Denmark comes into effect today.

The plight of millions of human beings, exploited by traffickers and terrorized by religious fanatics, is distressing and only a person with a heart of stone would deny refuge to the exhausted and the traumatized, but beyond the individual and group suffering there’s a bigger challenge that demands an urgent, global response. The mass migration we are currently witnessing is a consequence of the real-time disintegration of states in the Middle East and North Africa. If this is not addressed, these endless waves of the displaced will erode the stability of the host countries. Such instability would turn Europe into a very disagreeable place, for both natives and migrants.

Those who find this kind of scenario apocalyptic, should note that countries and federations that wish to protect their sovereignty and citizens (the real purpose of government, after all) must control their borders. This does not exclude sympathy for those fleeing failed states, but the solution is to stabilize and rebuild failed states, not accept massive, unplanned shifts in population.

If the citizens of Syria, Libya, Eritrea, Bangladesh and all the other places that people are fleeing from cannot have decent lives at home, they’ll try to find better ones abroad. Unless Brussels, Washington, the Arab League, the African Union and ASEAN co-operate on this emergency, the situation is going to get much more frightening and Raspail’s fiction will become fact.

Syria


I said, pretend you’ve got no money

Monday, 6 July, 2015 0 Comments

“I said, pretend you’ve got no money,
She just laughed and said, Oh you’re so funny.”

Common People, Pulp

In May, the Greek newspaper Athens Voice suggested that the woman who inspired the Pulp song is Danae Stratou, wife of Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek minister of Finance. Ms Stratou studied at Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London between 1983 and 1988 and is the eldest daughter of a wealthy Greek businessman.

That celebrated Paris Match spread in March raised eyebrows and generated questions about the contrast between Syriza reality and rhetoric. Yanis Varoufakis was a player. He remains a puzzle. “I wear the creditors’ loathing with pride,” said Minister No More.

Common People


Margaret Thatcher predicted Yanis Varoufakis

Tuesday, 30 June, 2015 0 Comments

It is fashionable for liberal/leftist elites, including feminists, to hate Margaret Thatcher. She was all that they are not and because she refused to play the glass-ceiling game, they despised her. The most obvious recent example of their rage is The Assassination Of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel, which was published to much acclaim last year. Gleefully, the BBC adapted it for radio.

What they cannot deny, however, is that Margaret Thatcher understood the nightmare potential of the euro and she saved Great Britain from getting entangled in its snares by voicing her concerns. This led to the “five tests” devised, allegedly in the back of a taxi, by Gordon Brown and Ed Balls in 1997 that kept the UK out of the euro for good. In The Path To Power (1995), Mrs Thatcher revealed that she had been under constant pressure since 1990 to accept the proposed EMU (Economic and Monetary Union). She wanted no part of it; she foresaw the inflation and competitiveness dangers, she knew her history and she understood human nature. Referring to EMU, she said:

“Under this, Germany and France would end up paying all the regional subventions which the poorer countries would insist upon if they were going to lose their ability to compete on the basis of a currency that reflected their economic performance. I also thought that the Germans’ anxiety about the weakening of their anti-inflation policies, entailed by moves towards a single currency and away from the Deutschmark, could be exploited in negotiations.”

Sure enough, Germany will not accept greater inflation, poorer countries are insisting on bailouts and Yanis Varoufakis knows a thing or two about exploiting his counterparts in negotiations. Those dealing with the mess now might benefit from studying this snippet from a lecture Margaret Thatcher gave at Hillsdale College in 1994:

“Sir Edward Gibbon (1737-1794), author of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, wrote tellingly of the collapse of Athens, which was the birthplace of democracy. He judged that, in the end, more than they wanted freedom, the Athenians wanted security. Yet they lost everything — security, comfort, and freedom. This was because they wanted not to give to society, but for society to give to them. The freedom they were seeking was freedom from responsibility. It is no wonder, then, that they ceased to be free.”

Margaret Thatcher


Qui pendra la sonnette au chat?

Wednesday, 24 June, 2015 0 Comments

The expression to bell the cat means to hang a bell around a cat’s neck to provide a warning. Figuratively, it refers to a difficult or impossible to achieve task. According to the fable, The Mice in Council, often attributed to Aesop, a group of mice are so terrified by the house cat that one of them suggests a bell be placed around the enemy’s neck to warn of his arrival. Volunteers for the job are requested but no mouse steps forward.

Eustache Deschamps (1340–1406) was a medieval French poet and among his ballades is Les souris et les rats. The poem was written as a response to an aborted invasion of England in 1386 and contrasts French wavering in the face of English firmness. The chorus Qui pendra la sonnette au chat (who will bell the cat) became proverbial in France and the moral is the same as that of the the Aesop fable: a plan must be achievable or it is useless.

Nothing much has changed down the centuries. New players arrive and old powers disappear. Today, the USA is the cat and France is still the mouse, spied upon and cruelly taken advantage of by those with the bigger budgets, better technologies and lesser standards when it comes protecting privacy. This is utter tosh, of course, as France is no position to throw stones.


Paris says no to the love locks

Monday, 1 June, 2015 0 Comments

The municipal authorities in Paris have made it known that from today the Pont des Arts will be closed for one week to allow the removal of all the so-called “love locks” that visitors have attached to the structure over the years. In October, glass panels will be installed permanently on both the Pont des Arts and the Pont de l’Achevêché to prevent vandalism of this nature from being attempted again. There was nothing attractive about these clumps of metal, clinging barnacle-like to parts of the urban infrastructure around the world. Good riddance to them.

Love locks


Morrissey and the Eurovision Song Contest

Saturday, 23 May, 2015 0 Comments

According to Simon Goddard, author of Mozipedia: The Encyclopedia of Morrissey and the Smiths, the Lancashire-born singer is a dedicated fan of the Eurovision Song Contest. “My fascination with the show had an almost religious aspect,” Morrissey confessed to Goddard.

This reverence has been expressed in his work: The video of You Have Killed Me opens with a pastiche intro that mirrors the contest from its glory, glitzy days in the 1960s and ’70s, and for interval music during his 2006 tour, Morrissey used the immortal Pomme, Pomme, Pomme by Monique Melsen, who represented Luxembourg in 1971 and was awarded 13th place for her efforts. By the way, the 1971 Song Contest was held in Dublin and was won by French singer Séverine, representing Monaco with Un banc, un arbre, une rue. In a sign of our globalized times, neither Luxembourg, Monaco nor Ireland are in tonight’s Grand Final in Vienna, but Australia, Israel and Serbia are.


North and South

Saturday, 16 May, 2015 0 Comments

Combine Mozambique, Norway, Zimbabwe and Sweden and you get Monoswezi. Underpin the vocals of Hope Masike with the tenor sax of Hallvard Godal, add in mbira and bass and you get a North-South soundscape that’s traditional and modern, African and European and unique. Matatya is taken from the album Monoswezi Yanga, which will be released by the World Music Network on 25 May.


The high towers of Buda and Pest

Friday, 8 May, 2015 0 Comments

“When I was at High School my favourite pastime was walking. Or rather, loitering. If we are talking about my adolescence, it’s the more accurate word. Systematically, one by one, I explored all the districts of Pest. I relished the special atmosphere of every quarter and every street. Even now I can still find the same delight in houses that I did then. In this respect I’ve never grown up. Houses have so much to say to me. For me, they are what Nature used to be to the poets — or rather, what the poets thought of as Nature.

Keleti

But best of all I loved the Castle Hill District of Buda. I never tired of its ancient streets. Even in those days old things attracted me more than new ones. For me the deepest truth was found only in things suffused with the lives of many generations, which hold the past as permanently as mason Kelemen’s wife buried in the high tower of Deva.” — Antal Szerb

Buda and Pest


Innovation in Budapest

Thursday, 7 May, 2015 0 Comments

“Innovation is the specific instrument of entrepreneurship,” said Peter Drucker. “It’s the act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.” When Drucker was born in 1909 in Vienna, it was one half of the twin-city capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; Budapest was the other half. Today, Vienna and Budapest are united in a global competition that will decide which cities are capitals of the empire of the innovative.

Photo: Viktória Katona of Connected Healthcare Solutions presenting at the EIT Innovation Forum in Budapest.

Viktória Katona


Love at first sight: Fiware and the grantrepreneur

Wednesday, 8 April, 2015 0 Comments

“Some recipients of the EU grants have told this website that they were more interested in the grant money than in Fiware.” That perturbing sentence appears near the end of Peter Teffer’s EUobserver article, EU spends millions to make next Facebook European. The headline has a hint of clickbait about it as the story does not live up to the billing. There is no mention of how EU millions could create a global network with 1.39 billion members and a market capitalization of $212 billion. Still, the piece makes for interesting reading as it reveals quite a bit about the bureaucracy of start-up funding.

At the heart of the matter is a project is called Fiware, which is a combination of “future internet” and “software”. Critics, writes Teffer, “say the project, which is costing EU taxpayers €300 million, is superfluous because alternatives already exist.” Teffer quotes Jesus Villasante, from the department of Net innovation in the European Commission, who appears to have a very sanguine attitude to the spending of public monies. “We don’t believe that all the 1,000 start-ups will develop applications that will be successful in the market. There may also be some SMEs that play with Fiware, develop the product, but decide: this is not for me, I prefer to use this other thing. That’s fine.”

Really? Back to Teffer: “‘There are plenty of alternatives to Fiware that are also open source,’ said one entrepreneur who wished to remain anonymous.” Wonder why?

Anyway, five years ago Pingdom looked under the hood at Facebook and found, “Not only is Facebook using (and contributing to) open source software such as Linux, Memcached, MySQL, Hadoop, and many others, it has also made much of its internally developed software available as open source. Examples of open source projects that originated from inside Facebook include HipHop, Cassandra, Thrift and Scribe. Facebook has also open-sourced Tornado, a high-performance web server framework developed by the team behind FriendFeed.”

The list has expanded significantly since then. They prefer to use the other thing.

Urban Dictionary: grantrepreneur: “People who exist on and for public subsidies, also known as corporate welfare. They’re not business people, they’re just good at getting money from government.”


Payments: Facebook has a message for paij

Wednesday, 18 March, 2015 0 Comments

Facebook hired PayPal’s David Marcus last summer to manage its messaging products, and in the company’s July earnings call, Mark Zuckerberg implied that a payment product was coming. And here it is: Facebook users can tie their debit card to their account to transfer money to one another with Messenger. “The Messenger app now includes a small ‘$’ icon above the keyboard which opens a payments screen where users can type the amount they wish to send,” reports Kurt Wagner for Re/code. The feature will be rolled out on iOS and Android in the US before launching internationally.

paij All of this will be watched with interest, no doubt, in Wiesbaden, where the paij app is headquartered. When the European Web Entrepreneur of the Year Awards were handed out last year, the Female Web entrepreneur Award went to Sylvia Klein, founder and managing director of paij. “Strategic partnerships and system integrations will help paij to determine the future of mobile payment apps initially in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and later Europe in general,” she stated. “In the long haul paij has the potential to establish a mobile payment concept taking on global challenges.”

The “long haul” has a short shelf life these days and it’s not just Facebook’s Messenger that’s ante portas. Apple Pay is shaping up to be part of that “global challenge” that paij will have to deal with. By the way, paij might need to move up a gear or two if it’s develop a convincing European battlespace strategy. The company’s last tweet was on 18 February, the most recent Facebook post was on 2 March and those to click the blog link on the company’s site get this alert:

Welcome to Parallels!

If you are seeing this message, the website for blog.paij.com is not available at this time.
If you are the owner of this website, one of the following things may be occurring:
You have not put any content on your website.
Your provider has suspended this page.

Obviously, paij needs to work on its messaging.