Monthly Archives: June 2006

The World Cup is playing, but I ain’t watching

Glory Days

For those who know me, you may be wondering why the World Cup is playing and yet I am not watching. There is one simple reason: I HAVE TO WORK. But, games are also played in the evening and on weekends, but I can’t always watch them. Why? Because they are only televised in Spain on the following three channels: Cuarto, la Sexta, and Canal+ Digital. Not everyone gets those stations. Cuarto is open and Canal+ is a pay-for channel. And guess what, they are owned by the same company (which is owned by the dude in Spain who owns everything including the government). La Sexta is a new station and does not have universal coverage. In the US (a non-soccer nation) you can see ALL of the games live. In Spain, not all of them are live and some are not even televised. Only Spain’s matches are showed live. Do Spaniard’s simply not care about the rest of the world?

Isn’t the World Cup an international event of important public interest? Why has FIFA permitted the rights to the event to be purchased by two channels who are not giving open access to the people. What would my revolutionary-fight-the-power brother think of this? Actually, a friend of mine has drafted a letter of complaint to FIFA. He suggests that anyone who is outraged should send the same letter (or similar letter) to FIFA in protest. Please find the letter here:

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Filed under Living la vida española

Clean Water: Discrimination in the Environment

Sorolla: Children at the seaside

In this week’s edition of the Economist, there is an interesting article on how one of the gravest problems affecting the world today is environmental health — in particular, clean water. Unfortunately, this environmental issue takes a back seat to Climate Change. Without getting into a debate on the best ways to combat Climate Change, be it through the Kyoto Protocol or other means, what is clear (and unquestionable) is that the economics required for compliance with Kyoto have a very limited positive environmental impact in the long term (and none in the short term). At the same time, for a tiny fraction of that money, millions of lives (almost all of them in the poorest countries) could be saved simply by providing people access to clean water. Now it is not uncommon for resources to be dedicated to “sexier” illnesses than for ones that kill more people in less advantaged places — say for example, the lack of funding for something like malaria prevention.

One of my closest friends, Fadi, is an environmental health expert and works on providing clean water (and cleaner indoor air quality) to places in Africa and Asia. In the more developed of these nations, the cause of serious health risks comes from toxic waste, whereas in the poorest nations of Africa the danger comes from a simple lack of clean water. For example, Fadi tells me that, according to Unicef, some “29,000 children under the age of five — 21 each minute — die every day, mainly from preventable causes, of which 4000 from lack of improved water, sanitation and hygiene, i.e., about 1.5 million per year.”

Sometimes I get the feeling that the whole Climate Change/Kyoto debate is really just a silly game of tug-of-war between the US and Europe. In the meantime, children die. Here is the Economist article . . .

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Mi marca favorita de verano


Cada temporada tiene su moda, su estilo, y su encanto. Por lo tanto, las marcas importantes siempre intentan crear nuevas tendencias para cada estación del año. Pero hay unas marcas y estilos que nunca pasan de moda. Cuando me preguntan ¿cuál es tu marca favorita? Solo tengo una respuesta, la más sencilla: la de las bragas. Aquella marca que dejan las bragas. Y sí, puedo llegar a ser más tonto.

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The Fury without the Sound

Botero: Baño

I have recently found that the men’s “facilities” in the office building where I work have come to stink. Now, that is not such a surprise in and of itself as the bathroom has no windows. What is curious is that this overwhelming stench has increased in intensity over the past few days. I think of Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” in Leaves of Grass: “I sound my barbaric yalp over the roofs of the world.” But this barbariety does not leap over roof tops, straddling the world. Rather, it permeates within the enclosed walls, soundless in stealth.

As a matter of fact, I have often wondered what exactly makes one’s “air” more fragrant than another’s, or violently more noxious. Here at the office, we all eat the same thing everday for lunch. This makes an examination of the evidence inconclusive. Does this mean that the “air” is not traceable to a sinlge point source, yet attributable to all? Like Milton’s continental man, does the bell toot for thee? Or is there a distinguishable factor making one’s pipes behave differently from others? This is the eternal scatological “chicken and egg” debate. In any event, I will defer to Mark Twain to ponder the routes behind this matter . . .

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Filed under Digressions

¡La Rose Superstar al Barça!

Club de Fans

Por fin tengo la gran noticia tan esperada por nuestros lectores fieles a la sección Rose Superstar de Grave Error. Rose vuelve al club de su ciudad natal donde había iniciado su carrera deportiva en el Universitari (ahora el Barça). Aunque el Barça en el fútbol sea un equipo mediocre (que solo sirve para hacer cantera para el Real Madrid), en el baloncesto femenino es el top de España y grande en Europa.

Debo reconocer que la noticia nos enorgullece a todos los que le hemos seguido estos años (en mi caso solo un año y medio). Es un paso muy importante en su trayectoria y por tanto ahora soy un fiel seguidor del Barça femenino como en su momento lo fui del Estudiantes. A veces quisiera ser más egocéntrico y decir que prefiero que se quede en Madrid. Así la podría tener más cercana y mantener la gran tradición de Makis Makis Cha Cha Cha junto con nuestra jefa Laura. Pero otras veces me alegra saber que es más divertido ser chaquetero y poder cambiar de equipo siempre que en ese equipo esté mi Rose Superstar. O sea que a partir de ahora, esta sección será hincha del Barça equipo de baloncesto femenino.

¡petons amb pintallavis per la meva Rose Superstar i força Barça oé!


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El Comité, el silencio y los apodos

Degas: Portrait of the Office

En las últimas semanas, el Comité que concede el Premio al Mejor Compañero de Trabajo de la Semana ha tomado unas mini vacaciones y no ha concedido ningún galardón. Algunos preguntarán ¿por qué? Aquí tenéis la respuesta . . .

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Dance like Me

Melissa Levine is one of the most talented people I know. We went to high school together, and in the past few years I have rediscovered her via email. If you happen to be in the San Francisco Bay Area, you really should check out her one-woman show, “Dance like Me“. She is hysterical!

Dance Like Me is a one-woman show about a 14-year-old girl caught in the crossfire between her Jewish mother, her Argentine dance teacher, and a rebellious high school boy she can’t help but adore. It’s 1986, and Melissa Levine is 14. She dreams of pursuing her passion for dance, but a few things stand in her way. Her body, for one. Why won’t it cooperate with conventional notions of beauty? Her mother, for another. Why must she meddle in every aspect of her daughter’s life? And then there’s David, a reckless high school boy who attracts Melissa toward a risky life of fast cars, parties, drugs, and sex. What does he want—and why doesn’t he want it from Melissa? Join Melissa as she returns to the brutal landscape of junior high school to explore where it all went wrong—and to recover the joy she lost there. Here’s more info:

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Kids and dogs

Wyeth: Master Bedroom

I am sitting outside in a garden working on my computer, and I can hear little kids playing. They are yelling out unintelligible sentences that most people would consider cute. This is something that is beginning to bother me. Why do kids get away with so much (and all the attention)? You see a kid walking around like a drunkard, slurring speech, and everyone says, “oh, how cute.” The same thing happens with dogs. Dogs get all excited and jump up on you, lick you, wag their tails. If I were to do the same thing, I would be locked up.  Is this fair? Is this right? Why do kids and dogs get away with behaving in a socially unacceptable manner? The more I think about it . . .

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A Rose by any other name would still be a Rose

A Rose is a rose is a rose

Declara Pablo Neruda en Explico algunas cosas, “Preguntaréis, Y dónde están las lilas? / Y la metafísica cubierta de amapolas? / Y la lluvia que a menuda golpeaba / sobre sus palabras llenándolas / de de agujeros y pájaros?” Y yo me imagino que mis lectores (los pocos, los valientes) estarán preguntando, ¿y la Rose Superstar por dónde andará? ¿Dónde está aquella admiración semanal dedicada al ídolo del baloncesto femenino en estas páginas?

Grave Error pide a sus lectores que tengan paciencia, que comprendan que la liga está de vacaciones. Sin embargo, en breve tendremos noticias importantes. Eso esperamos.

Pero si el lector insiste en preguntar por la Rose, dejaré que conteste Shakespeare por mí, “What is in a name? A rose by any other name would still be a rose and smell as sweet“.

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European Data Retention Laws: Not such a “Fine Balance”

Picasso: Life

There has been much criticism of the Patriot Act by Europeans (as well as by Americans), and most of it rightly so. One problem is that in Europe, similar legislation is being passed both on the local level and at the European Union level as well. These are know as Data Retention Laws or are often clauses hidden inside the Data Protection and Privacy Laws. For a good description of the dangers of these laws, see this post from Digital Rights Ireland. In general, the government, when passing legislation that limits the privacy rights of its citizens, must strike a balance between the national security interests and those of its citizens as individuals. Now, I am no expert on US Constitutional Law (and in particular on the First and Fourth Amendments), but using a strictly US legal analysis of these laws, there are serious procedural concerns with regards to the infringement of citizens’ fundamental rights. Here is how I reason through these issues:

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