Friday, January 25, 2008

John C. Dvorak got it probably right...

The battering of Apple's stock is beyond any rational link to the recent drop of the rest of the market. It's also unique that it happened right after MWSF when normally every year exactly the opposite happens. It's all about the disappointment his Jobness brought to his religiously fanatic Mac addicts by not announcing something new and really sexy.

John C. Dvorak, a cranky critic active in the ICT Industry since the last century (I remember his PC magazine articles since the late eighties) posted a visionary blog in MarketWatch about Apple's dramatic drop that brought down the company value by more than 50 Billion USD compared to its December 2007 highs.

What does this mean then? I fear we'll all have to wait some serious time to see the stock coming back (if ever) to its recent December highs. You see, the problem is that right now investor emotion stands in the way of investor logic. The company's fundamentals more than justify a return to previous highs; however investor emotion and the urge to payback Apple management and his Jobness in particular (for not mentioning this one last thing) keeps the stock in a continuous downward trend. The worst we ever witnessed for this stock.

As an example, today, while Apple was gaining in pre-market and analysts have been talking about building new positions, it all turned out the other way: a tech market upbeat momentum was supposed to build due to Microsoft's stellar quarterly performance... but never came - Microsoft is no more what it used to be (even with its 60 billion annual revenue). Eventually AAPL lost again more than 4% for the day. Just like this... I hope this trend does something to those Apple executives with their fat bonuses and somebody emerges with some sort of remedy strategy... before it gets too late for anything.

FSJ goes wild on the Pope...

This post is meant for non-members of the Holy Catholic Church... you are warned!

Myself, being a fan and a regular reader of the The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs (FSJ: Fake Steve Jobs, celebrity blogger and Forbes Senior Editor Daniel Lyons) and also a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church (a consequence of being born Greek, albeit not too religiously loyal, and definitely not much of a church goer), I don't feel too bad about copying here one of FSJ's recent posts on Pope Benedict XVIth.

Seems that his Holiness the Pope took the...holy sh*t on modern media recently (and quite right so, I'll have to agree with him, I am afraid). Daniel Lyons, a media representative himself (Senior Editor @ Forbes) took it personally and went to respond somehow to the papal position. Here's what he says... (well said too... so both, B. and D. seem to be right, I am afraid... strange world, innit?)

"... Well it's the oldest trick in the book. Want to get some attention? Bash the media. They'll all come running. Which is exactly what the pope is doing. Pope Benedict XVIVIXXXMFCL has gone on a trolling expedition and issued a fatwa [surely "essay"? ed.] on the press, under the title, "The Media: At the Crossroads between Self-Promotion and Service." Pope says of the media that "in order to attract listeners and increase the size of audiences, it does not hesitate at times to have recourse to vulgarity and violence, and to overstep the mark."

Seriously? The Roman Catholic Church, sponsor of the Inquisition and weekly distributor of flesh and blood to millions worldwide, is wringing its hands about violence? Really? And they're also concerned about vulgarity? Really? Have you seen this dude's classy red shoes? For that matter, have you ever seen the Vatican? Or St. Peter's? These are the people who are lecturing us about vulgarity? A bunch of rich gay Italian dudes who raised zillions of dollars by swindling the world's poorest, dumbest people, then squandered the money building Liberace's dream palace in Rome? Oh, and they're also upset because we like to buy iPods and watch dirty movies? And because we don't care if gay people want to marry each other?..."

I didn't dare publish his last blogpost sentence nonwithstanding. Too heavy to digest... if you wanna read it though, surf to his original blog on your own... May the Lord forgive your sins... if you do that...


Another interesting article about Apple and the rest...

If you are like me, suffering from the recent losses of the four most promising stocks in technology (Google (GOOG), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL) and Research in Motion (RIMM)), relax... there is some fresh rainbow forming on the horizon and it will be there by coming spring.

Read this Information week article; here's a bit I like most:

"Technology has been thrown out with everything right now," said Keith Wirtz, president and chief investment officer at Fifth Third Asset Management, which manages $22.5 billion. "They've gotten cheap again and I still think the core fundamentals look very attractive."

Apple, for example, trades at a multiple of about 22 times fiscal 2009 earnings, according to Reuters Estimates, which some say is low compared with its growth projections.

Fears that consumers will be less likely to buy sleek iPods or iPhones have weighed on the shares, but Wirtz sees it as a no-brainer that the quality of Apple's brand will keep it growing by 20 percent or more in the next two to three years.

Wirtz's fund holds shares in all four companies and added to positions in Apple and RIM on Wednesday.

"If you were concerned about valuation three days ago, that valuation concern has been taken out of the stock," Wirtz said of Apple, shares of which slid on a weak earnings forecast..."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Herd dogs and panicking sheep...

The last few days the world stock exchange indices took a serious roller-coaster ride caused by herds of panicking investors jumping off the train in all possible ways. Reasons given to the broad public (the flocks and herds of unsophisticated investors) were the subprime problem in the US, the massive write-downs that large banks did to account for subprime 'losses', the recession that may be already there (in the US), the ever-decreasing economic growth in the US, the incompetence of the current US Administration to solve any of that, the lower retail figures noted during the last (holidays) quarter in the US, a weak dollar and the high Federal Bank interest rates that screamed to get cut since long ago (Bernanke is a turtle compared to Great Alan G., the jazz player)... take your pick. You can always find good excuses to rationalize a market move one way or another.

Yesterday's drop of the Dow was nothing compared to what we witnessed earlier in Europe and Asia, on both, Monday (bank holiday in the US) and Tuesday. The Dow started initially in a rather serious loss territory (more than 300 points in the red) but recovered slowly during the day to lose a fraction of what other bourses lost the previous two days. Of course, the lowering of rates with 75 basis points by the Fed helped the moods a lot. Result: Look at the Asian bourses this morning. Percentual increases up to 10% from previous day's close were not uncommon, especially in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Only Taiwan and Malaysia seemed to like it there in the red, and dropped further.

The reasons for negative or positive volatile reaction on the markets seem to always be variations of the same themes. Often the same theme appears to be impacting investor behavior in diametrically opposite ways. For instance, a weak dollar maybe a reason one day for a sell-off and a reason for serious buy on another day. There are always reporters who can rationalize and explain everything they want to explain. Strange.

My own experience in times of highs and lows is the following:

1. The largest part of all investors who play actively in the market (98% of them, at least) are in the dark and tend to run like dump sheep in a herd driven by barking dogs.
2. There will always be a story that explains a move of the stock value up or down. The feeling is that a story like this is thrown to the market by either a dominant (herd-dog's servant) reporter, or a sly investor (the real herd-dog) who feeds his slave the reporter. The rest of them lamp-shade (I mean useless) reporters just copy the story and say more of the same starting their articles by "...investors are disappointed because of... bla bla bla...". I am asking you: how the hell do they know? Almost always, the bulk of those 'investors' whom they refer to and who are supposed to 'be disappointed' don't even know whether anything even happened to get worried.
3. There are some serious herd- dogs out there (Soros is one well known example) who take the lead in each individual case that moves a stock with well- known volatility (AAPL and GOOG are two stocks that fall in this category) and either drive them up or down with large volumes of short-selling or long-buying activity. Soros has a theory how to do that but it sure takes a lot of financial power and shitloads of guts.
4. My conclusion for the workflow is the following. For each volatile stock, there is a variety of generic reasons that can be used to explain a move in one or another direction. Then, based on a general sentiment that is present in the air, the big dogs launch a well orchestrated attack, almost a raid, leading the stock price either up or down. Down is their preferred direction as it can move very fast and it's there they could make megabucks. At the same time, those same big dog(s) feed a 'story' to the leading news agencies (Reuters, Forbes, CNBC, etc) and analyst reporters, who may come up with stories of upgrades and downgrades, and all these have the same effect as the barking of herd-dogs at panicking sheep (that's the rest of us foolish and ignorant investors).
5. One example of such a stock today is Apple (AAPL). In December 2007 it hit 200 dollars a share and overtook in market cap almost all the great names we know except for Microsoft and Google. Some people even predicted 600 dollars per share in three years. In the last two weeks though, especially after the famous Tuesday, Jan the 15th, of the Jobs MWSF keynote, where he omitted to say 'one more thing' because there wasn't any, the stock lost more than 20% of its value. Why? You tell me... no reason whatsoever. Apple remained the same great company beating investors estimates all the way. Yesterday evening Apple announced their Dec 07 ending quarter results. The actual figures were stellar! Largest revenue ever. Mac sales growing at five times the market average in number of units shipped. Millions of iPhones sold. Profits per share far above analyst estimates. But, as always with Apple, predictions for the following quarter, conservative as they always do, 'fell short' of investor expectations (these so-called 'investors' are opinions of analysts who are not even allowed to own any AAPL stock... all they do is guess, speculate and steal data from their target companies and look at one another to come up with some 'consensus' about what the 'market' wants Apple to do in the next quarter). Next, the herd dogs jumped in after hours to create a fresh downward trend, linked to the 'investor disappointment'. Apple lost more than 12 percent (again) of its closing value within minutes after the quarterly results announcement. Don't tell me that there are no big dogs in the story. We are talking just minutes after 5pm EST, hardly the time for Oppenheimer (CFO) and Cook (COO) to sit down and open their mouth. The dogs already knew, them and their slave analysts the way to go and the whole thing was so well (routinely) done that these guys again made some nasty mega millions to themselves (more than a million shares exchanged hands in just a few hours of after-hours trading). Is there a really 'real' reason for the AAPL to drop like this after-hours? Are you kidding me? This company should overtake Microsoft in market cap one day. It's the only company out there with the capability to fundamentally change our lives globally, from east to west. The current volatility is all a game of them big dogs to get rich at the expense of panicking flocks. Read the Business week article to see that I am right. A buying opportunity today... or at least a puts-selling opportunity.

So, which side are you? AAPL is going to drop about 15 bucks at the opening today. R U gonna buy or sell, then?


Monday, January 21, 2008

Beautiful Minds...

I fell on this article of Scientific American, February 2008 issue, about the Large Hadron Collider (LHC being built at CERN, Switzerland) that promises to almost re-write the physics of our world as we know it. I don't know whether you either like or even bother at all about physics... the reason I am posting this is to share the cultural shock I felt when I read a passage of an article about the LHC called "The Discovery Machine". This passage, called "a machine of superlatives" provides statistics relating to the construction of this LHC gargantuan engineering monster that spreads for 27 km underground (deep) next to the airport of Geneva, Switzerland. Here's what they say about the beast:

(from Scientific American, The Discovery Machine, Feb 2008) To break into the new territory that is the terascale, the LHC’s basic parameters outdo those of previous colliders in almost every respect. It starts by producing proton beams of far higher energies than ever before. Its nearly 7,000 magnets, chilled by liquid helium to less than two kelvins to make them superconducting, will steer and focus two beams of protons traveling within a millionth of a percent of the speed of light. Each proton will have about 7 TeV of energy—7,000 times as much energy as a proton at rest has embodied in its mass, courtesy of Einstein’s E = mc2. That is about seven times the energy of the reigning record holder, the Tevatron collider at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill. Equally important, the machine is designed to produce beams with 40 times the intensity, or luminosity, of the Tevatron’s beams. When it is fully loaded and at maximum energy, all the circulating particles will carry energy roughly equal to the kinetic energy of about 900 cars traveling at 100 kilometers per hour, or enough to heat the water for nearly 2,000 liters of coffee. The protons will travel in nearly 3,000 bunches, spaced all around the 27-kilometer circumference of the collider. Each bunch of up to 100 billion protons will be the size of a needle, just a few centimeters long and squeezed down to 16 microns in diameter (about the same as the thinnest of human hairs) at the collision points. At four locations around the ring, these needles will pass through one another, producing more than 600 million particle collisions every second. The collisions, or events, as physicists call them, actually will occur between particles that make up the protons—quarks and gluons. The most cataclysmic of the smashups will release about a seventh of the energy available in the parent protons, or about 2 TeV. (For the same reason, the Tevatron falls short of exploring tera scale physics by about a factor of five, despite the 1-TeV energy of its protons and antiprotons.) Four giant detectors—the largest would roughly half-fill the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, and the heaviest contains more iron than the Eiffel Tower—will track and measure the thousands of particles spewed out by each collision occurring at their centers. Despite the detectors’ vast size, some elements of them must be positioned with a precision of 50 microns. The nearly 100 million channels of data streaming from each of the two largest detectors would fill 100,000 CDs every second, enough to produce a stack to the moon in six months. So instead of attempting to record it all, the experiments will have what are called trigger and data acquisition systems, which act like vast spam filters, immediately discarding almost all the information and sending the data from only the most promising-looking 100 events each second to the LHC’s central computing system at CERN, the European laboratory for particle physics and the collider’s home, for archiving and later analysis. A “farm” of a few thousand computers at CERN will turn the filtered raw data into more compact data sets organized for physicists to comb through. Their analyses will take place on a so-called grid network comprising tens of thousands of PCs at institutes around the world, all connected to a hub of a dozen major centers on three continents that are in turn linked to CERN by dedicated optical cables.

If you've managed to have read this far means that you, like me, never cease to get amazed by the power of the human brain. Just to imagine what it takes to put a project like this on its feet, secure the funding, find the right people and organizations to resource it, build it without huge budget overruns and then operate it for decades and rediscover the world, from initial idea and concept to final results, in itself shows the level of excellence some engineers and scientists have reached to date. We (especially I) often look stunned at the staring of new products such as modern Intel microprocessors or the new Apple thin laptop that his Jobness presented last Tuesday. I reckon those CERN engineers must be laughing at me and others like me for thinking this way. If we, simple peasants, could only visualize the levels of brain-excellence they (at CERN) have reached in modern engineering and science...

I suddenly feel so small and moronic...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

@ the aftermath of the SJ keynote...

For two consecutive days, during the keynote this last Tuesday, and then yesterday, Wednesday 16th, the Apple stock took a pretty serious dive (beating). Dropped like a stone from its mid 180s to the high 150s. In a certain way, this was easily predictable on the speculation that the revelations of His Jobness were going to be anything but sexy compared to a year ago. Couldn't possibly surpass the iPhone announcement, point blank. No way...

IMNSHO, however, once the dust settles, most people will realize that the value of some of El Jobso's paradigm shift announcements (especially the video rentals and all AppleTV related functionalities) are likely to change our lives for good and eventually become as pervasive as the iPod. We'll have to wait 'n see, won't we?

Jobs announced four items, relating to central storage management for households (very obvious but yet clever solution), Apple TV upgrades and video rentals, iPhone and iPod Touch software upgrades and finally an ultra-thin Mac, the MB Air.

I happen to own an iPod Touch, so I obviously rushed to upgrade it and I can tell you, the experience that comes with the four add-ons is stunning. This thing is huge. I don't have an iPhone (not yet possible here) but I visualize the iPhone functionality on top of what I see on my iPod Touch and I feel close to 'nirvana' at the thought. The email functionality is phenomenal. The collaboration between maps and contacts and the GPS alike functionality (without the location function which is not yet available in here) is mind boggling. The way the device seamlessly collaborates with the rest of my Mac gear is so well done. These guys know how to build computer stuff, trust me.

I also believe that what they did with the AppleTV is very well done too; only concern I have is that if you become a 'heavy' user of the AppleTV goodies then, most probably, you won't be left with any serious download capacity available for your regular stuff. Even with the highest compression an HD movie is bound to consume the lion share of your monthly download volumes. For regular folks with plain vanilla subscriptions and monthly download capacities in the tenths of gigabytes (as opposed to hundreds) then fo'get'boutit... it's not gonna be practical at all. One day, it might, but it's not for now though.

Finally, I got some difficulty to see the need for an MB Air. It's a pretty pricey toy and it's definitely an early 'try' for a future vision of portable computing. 'Wireless' is large part of it and 'multi-touch' (not on screen though but on the keyboard pad) is used in some early form of what is potentially feasible for laptops. All this is nice (to have) but anyone could get a much more spec'ed MacBook for far less money (albeit not as elegant as the Air MB), thus, whom exactly they plan to serve with this ultra-thin piece of gear is a mystery to me. Maybe some hi-tech show-offs?

However, the most important message you may wanna take away from the MB Air launch is the fact that it is showing us the way computers might evolve in the future: Seamlessly networked for backups and doing software installs via sharing of optical (or other) storage resources, all this via wireless connectivity, with DVDs and CDs becoming progressively a thing of the past and with increased multi-touch functionality, eventually applied to displays, the latter becoming thinner (and flexible) via OLED technologies (as we show them appear at the 2008 CES). The MB Air is a first step in that direction and could be seen this way. However, whether the average Joe feels that stylish in our days as to wanna spend the dough to own an Air portable right now remains to be seen... I wouldn't hold my breath though...

The last thing that was notable about Jobs' speech is that the rumor mill about the specifics of the keynote in the days and hours before the actual event proved extremely accurate, at least about the most important announcements of the day. We already knew about the rentals and the ultrathin laptop; even a Photoshoped prototype, pretty close to the real thing, appeared on the net last Monday. Meaning that the Apple marketing machinery must be playing some pretty slick games on their target geek audiences.

It remains now for the stock to start moving back to the 200s as it should...

PS. Take a look at Fake Steve Jobs post on the Keynote. A scream... as we are used of him!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The rumormill.

Apparently, yesterday, some cranky geek (or a super-smart kid, or Apple itself) used Wikipedia as a vehicle for spreading the 'outline' of His Jobness' MWSF pitch scheduled for less than 12 hours from now at the Moscone Center, San Francisco. Of course the article was quickly taken down but a few slick folks 'copied' its content. So, if you are still curious what this looked like, here it is, 'courtesy' of TechCrunch.

iPhone/iPod Touch SDK
- Apps and Widgets
- Using Cocoa with Objective-C
- Developers submit programs as source code, not executable
- Specify iPhone or both iPhone/Touch (certain features iPhone only)
- Set your own price: Apps $0-$6.99, Widgets $0-$2.99
- Users buy/download in iTunes Wi-Fi Store / iTunes Store (Mac/PC)
- Automatic updating wirelessly or docked

- Demonstration of exporting from XCode 3 to iTunes Store
- Submits source code to Apple for validation (make sure that people aren’t abusing the system, prevent malware and viruses)
- If using microphone or GSM, iPhone only; otherwise, available for both iPhone and iPod Touch
- Apps can be free or up to $6.99; Widgets free or up to $2.99
- Developers recieve 70% of revenue for their products
- Licensed under Apple Mobile Software License
- Can download wirelessly from iTunes Wi-Fi Store or docked to computer from iTunes Store
- Demonstration of wirelessly downloading (and running) the app submitted earlier
- Apps and widgets can be rearranged on front screen; front screen scrolls to show all apps/widgets
- Resubmit updated versions of apps; when added to store, iPhone/Touch will ask you to update it next time you use it (or next time you dock the iPhone/Touch)
- Developers can get their hands on a beta version of the SDK tomorrow on ADC and start developing; final version due early February
- iTunes 7.6 and iPhone/iPod Touch Software update 1.3 allowing for Apps mid-February

Example apps/widgets
- iChat (coming with 1.3 update) (AIM, Jabber/Google Talk)
– Quick demonstration
- RSS Feed Reader (coming with 1.3 update) (read feeds online or off)
- One of our partners made something cool: (scrobble tracks played on iPhone/touch wirelessly without syncing w/ computer)
- Dictionary (coming with 1.3 update) (quickly look up words, translate, use wikipedia)
– Quick demonstration
- Yellow/White Book (coming with 1.3 update) (search for contacts, add them to your address book directly from the app, will sync back with address book on your Mac/PC)
- Sports Ticker (coming with 1.3 update) (choose your sports and teams, get updates on their progress)
- Another partner: Twitter (update your Twitter on the fly, see your friends tweets)
- Try these out on the show floor today

I am sure, some of this will prove right, but probably the 'one more thing' is nowhere to see here and most of the rest will prove plain BS.

The man who won't give up...

I had some good laughs this morning at the reading of this Reuters flash. Two reasons.

First, at a time when people start counting their days and nights and are not sure whether they'll make the next morning (I got an in-law like this, poor sod), Alan G. decided to make some more bucks. "If Blair can do it, why not me?" he's probably thinking. He's right... at least he's got something to say... and now that he has become an ex-chairman of the Federal Reserve he seems to be saying much more than we have ever been used of him. Like using the R word in abundance and interfering with Bernanke's work to the level of irritation. Obviously, Alan doesn't like retirement much, it would seem.

Second, was the statement of the two authors of the Reuters flash about blaming good old Alan for keeping the federal interest rates low four/five years ago and therefore creating the climate for mortgage refinancing that consequently led to the subprime disaster.Who do we blame next for subprime then? The Tsunami? Pope Benedict? Carla Bruni? The Dalai Lama? ...Bin Laden? I mean, c'm on!

I am sure there are few good reporters here and there, like FSJ... even at Reuters. Say, some 1% of the available community worldwide or so. Unfortunately for us, there is this remaining 99% that sucks. What can you do? C'est la vie... Like an old boss used to tell me: "It's so sad that you have two options; either laugh or cry about it. However, life is too short for tears; so I rather have some good laughs."

Saturday, January 12, 2008


I found out about this from FSJ's blog. Apparently, some people attending Steve Jobs keynotes during the annual MacWorld events in San Francisco (this year's MWSF event is taking place between Jan 14 and 18, with Steve's keynote on Tuesday, the 15th) come prepared with a list of items they speculate Steve is planning to announce.

Here's the thing. Mac aficionados and Mac rumor sites enjoy the last few months leading to the MWSF event by speculating which next 'big' things are gonna be announced by Apple. This year's rumors are talking about ultra-light portables and some improvements for iPods and iPhones, some media deals that we already know of and more of that boring stuff. Anyway, not much more sexy gear like we are used from Steve and Apple. Nothing compared to last year's iPhone announcement, for instance. Except... there is always one last thing... Apple gave us a hint by their slogan: "There is something in the air" (bloody teasers!)

I don't know if that's true but it appears that when some attendees at the conference hear Steve talk about things they have speculated about, they jump 'n shout 'Bingo', which apparently might irritate his Jobness.

Anyways, one of the rumors this year is that Apple is planning to revive the Newton (a pre-historic PDA from the Sculley era, I think); thus, some Apple geeks composed the (fake) picture on the right (click on it for larger view) with a sense of humor and with some items that are speculated for announcement this year. Figure this: people walking in that conference auditorium with gadgets like these, display formatted in Bingo style with speculative items, shouting 'Bingo' each time Steve talks about any one among them... Admit it, it's a screamer...

Only with Apple!

Only in America

When I first saw the clip I didn't get it. It took me some cycles (I'm gettin' old) to realize what was happening behind the scenes.

Here's the story. Happened at CES (Las Vegas) this last week. CES is where the world's largest show-off their latest goodies for the greatest TV monitors money can buy, especially those available in the future. One notorious example this year included a 3 mm flat TV by Sony based on OLED display technology (so thin because there's no back light as new light is automatically generated by organic substrates stuck upon another, passing electrons among them when voltage applied, and emitting photons of different colors -frequencies- in the process of filling empty electron holes).

Gizmodo confessed to have orchestrated the following gig. They were offered a gadget called TV-B-Gone (see circuitry on photo above) that is capable of shutting down any TV with IR receiver you can think of. So, a Gizmodo crew, equipped with a (candid) camera took a walk around in the CES halls and had a good time, shutting down monitors while people were watching demos, lectures, etc...

Enjoy the clip at YouTube here. Only in the US of A...

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Giuliani's secret of 'success'

This YouTube video was ripped from Giuliani's homepage. No wonder that Iowan Republicans decided he was not worth more than 3%. Now tell me. How thick can someone be not to see the mess the current Administration has burried the entire US into? Thousands of casualties in a useless war in the wrong place, with nothing really achieved where it should have been after all (hunting down of that S.O.B. Bin Laden), a domestic economy in shambles, the highest unemployment figure since very long time and a dollar with half its value than what it was when they took over in 2001. Good ol' Rudi thought he can continue this 'successful' insane cowboy 'strategy' and came up with nothing better than using towelheads jumping up and down in order to send a message to his followers and the average American: ' Beware! Without a leader like me (as the one in power now) you are doomed to be extinguished by scores of moron towelheads and their spiritual leader, who, btw, is cowardly hiding like a worm for the last 8 years in the sterile mountains of that appalling country, Afghanistan. '

And the Iowans said: Thank you very much for your message Mr. Mayor, but no thanks! Be happy with a generous 3 percent! Because, by the time any towelheads will be able to cross the pond and mean a real threat again, we'll all be dead of hunger, with no income, homeless and unemployed, sold out to the Chinese and Indians. It's the economy, stupid!

Apparently Rudi believes we still live in the year of 9/11. I don't know this for a fact but I thought I read somewhere that he has even tried to exploit the tragic day by requesting from his supporters to donate 9$ 11cents to his campaign. Jeez, some Yankees deserve a Nobel Prize for creative thinking...

Anyways, if Rudi doesn't get it after Iowa and continues to ride on the 9/11 bandwagon, we are going to see some serious disasters in his effort to gain the Republican nomination for the 2008 Presidentials. He thought it was a slum dunk but I believe he seriously underestimated his co-citizens and the pain the last 8 years have meant to them and the rest of the world.

The Clintstones

Go read FSJ's recent article on the Iowa caucuses. It's a scream. Especially if you are not a Clintstones' supporter in this coming 2008 Presidential Elections. Related to that, one of FSJ's classic blogposts, in my opinion, is this article from a long time ago, but nevertheless one of his very best, ever. If you got any free time, go read it... you'll have the laughs of your life.

Dedicated to my Dutch speaking friends...

with Dutch subtitles... Dalaras for ever!

This clip is so typically Greek. Emotional bouzouki music, played by the best available bouzouki player of all times (I remember I once saw this guy in a live programme with Manolis Mitsias, in Athens, in early 70ies), lyrics that make you think seriously about life (remember, two Greek writers won the Nobel Prize of Literature in the last 40 years, Seferis and Elytis... poetry is really serious shit to Greeks), no elements of banal 'love songs' words in the lyrics at all (like, I love you, I miss you, I see the sky in your eyes, and more of this BS), a whole audience singing along (it's true, the average Greek can sing along hundreds of songs written in most of the previous century), even Theodorakis, shown in the last few seconds of the clip, sitting among the commoners and singing along too (the lady next to him looked very embarrassed, understandable as we all know that Mikis' voice has nothing to be jealous of a mule's, I think a mule sounds better)... and all this, taking place at the feet of the Acropolis hill, at the Roman theater of Herodes of Attica.

Nevertheless, for those who are used of him, Dalaras is the Greek Voice by any conceivable measure. There are many excellent singers but there is one Dalaras above them all. Even if you get irritated by his sound from time to time, you just can't help loving the guy and what he did to the Legacy of Greek popular music...

Now, if you want to hear another version of the same song from a modern Greek Kouros (a stud) with a divine voice as well, and witness some of the dancing fun Greek babes enjoy at similar sounds, link here for more. There's more to it than syrtaki, innit?

(PS. BTW, the dance they are doing is called the 'zeibekiko' and it's sort of reminiscent of a belly dance whereby a person (man or woman) dances to the rythm with sensual jumps and lusty moves of their ass whereas one or several others sit on the floor on one knee and clap their hands to the rythm... that's the only part I could do, if I tried... I think. The term zeibekiko sounds Turkish to me, so, who knows, maybe the dance is a left-over from the hundreds of years long occupation of Greek territories by the Othoman Empire).

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Iowa blues...

If you ever wondered why the fuss about these preliminaries for the nomination of party national presidential candidates in a tiny state like Iowa (where the heck is this located anyways?), then don't worry too much. You're not gonna be able to grasp easily the significance of the event as most of the rest of us, non-US nationals, or aliens as US authorities usually like to call us.

Take a look at the Wikipedia article about the caucuses. You might learn something. I did the same and I must say, I enjoyed the reading about the actual voting process of the Democrats; that looks more like a social game that many adults play in spacey precincts (like bingo or like the 80ies social game of Diplomacy). From one point of view this may look very much as the ultimate democratic process, much more than some contemporary Swiss cantons or Agora Athenians during the Golden Age. It must be real fun, much more than any other social fun party you can think of. Apparently the Republicans seem to prefer a more conventional style of casting votes via plain vanilla ballots but, nevertheless, the Democratic process must be real amusement to watch... especially seeing active supporters of leading candidates trying to convince the undecided, the latter enjoying a game of 'yes, but...'. Cool!

The aspect of all this I like most is the belief that 1% of existing US voters decide largely what the actual final outcome is likely to be. In other words, the Iowa citizens seem to be the soul and conscience of the entire nation, not? Hard to believe, but this is what the media and the common opinion seem to accept.

So, Obama and Huckabee (who's this guy, again?) seem to have won in yesterday's Iowa caucuses. So be it. Are they going to be the National level nominees for their respective parties? Doubt it for the both of them... maybe Obama... but who knows?

The thing I took away however from this first election, is the fact that Hillary hasn't even ended at second place whereas Giuliani ended at the bottom of the ladder of the GOP with 3.4% of the votes. Say what? The National Hero of 9/11 rockbottom?! Wow!! There is still whole lotta hope for the nation! These results for Hillary and Giuliani are both great news and that tells me that at least Iowan's have a lot more brains in their sculls than we are used from average US citizens. That's good. I am now convinced that 2008 is gonna be the year of positive change for all of us.

Happy New Year!