Category Archives: Recommended articles

Portugal: Waiting it out

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“Instead of adapting, we turned inward,” says Pedro Santa-Clara, professor of finance at Lisbon’s Universidade Nova. “Funded first by EU funds and then cheap overseas credit, we invested in non-tradable, non-competitive sectors like public infrastructure, construction, telecoms, energy, banks and retail distribution. Restructuring the economy was delayed by as much as 15 years.”

What annoys and simultaneously worries me the most out of everything that’s been going on with the economy in Cyprus is that there is absolutely no vision of where we want to take this country, let alone how to do it. Collecting foodstuffs and organizing charity events is not a solution. We need to create more jobs and to do that we need to invest in more competitive industries. Industries which have a future.

Cyprus newspapers are full of “articles” of how the construction and retail industries have collapsed and how the government can pass legislation to help. Yet these two industries are insulated and non-competitive. Tourism and professional services industries are the only big ones we have and the latter depends on a piece of paper with Russia which can go up in flames at any time.

As for being a medical centre i just don’t see it happening. Especially on a bigger scale. Forget about government officials visiting Israel for this purpose. Israel expects us to refer patients to their hospitals and not the other way around.

Everyone is looking at gas as being the future instead of investing in other areas such as IT.  Cyprus’ IT infrastructure, tech education and business should be one of the priorities of any government and its people for example. It makes up for any competitive disadvantage we may have for being an island in the south-east corner of europe. This is not a suggestion based on evidence, just instinct of course but i’m not a person who can help shape this country’s economic future. Those who can, are trying to hold on to the past instead of focusing on how we can move on to something else.

Portugal’s situation described in this FT article has strong similarities with Cyprus’.

A waiter awaits the arrival of customers to a restaurant at the Alfama neighborhood in Lisbon

“Economic growth is a tough business,” says Prof Santa-Clara. “It means shutting down uncompetitive businesses and redeploying people to more productive industries. You don’t turn a café waiter into a factory worker or a shop assistant into a healthcare specialist overnight. It’s a painful yet inescapable part of the transition to higher growth.”

Others question the feasibility of training an older generation of shopkeepers, café owners and tradespeople who have lost their livelihoods for new roles in the export-driven economy that economists see as the only viable future for Portugal. Mr Vieira Lopes says: “Many of the people over 40 who have lost their businesses are poorly qualified and will find it to difficult to find new employment, even when the economy recovers.”


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The Curse of Reading and Forgetting

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“Recently, a colleague mentioned that she had been rereading Richard Hughes’s “A High Wind in Jamaica,” which was first published in 1929 and is about a group of creepy little kids who become the unwanted wards of sad, listless pirates. She praised it, and her recommendation sent me to Amazon. The title was familiar, as was the vibrant cover of the New York Review Books reissue. One cent and $3.99 for shipping, and the book was on its way. A couple of weeks later, I opened to the first page and started reading. By the fifth page, I realized that I had read this novel before, and pretty recently, about three years ago, when another colleague had also praised it and lent me his copy.”


This is something that i’m experiencing currently with Kafka on the Shore. I first read it during my 2nd year at the university, 13-14 years ago. I am now re-reading it and although I’m on Chapter 4 , admittedly it has short chapters, i still can’t remember anything. There is no “oh yeah…” moment yet. The only proof that i have read this book before is the actual hardback i bought (and recently gave away) and the rating i gave it on Amazon at the time.

“This embarrassing situation raises practical questions that also become ones about identity: Do I really like reading? Perhaps it is a failure of attention—there are times when I notice my own distraction while reading, and can, in a way, feel myself forgetting. There is a scarier question, one that might seem like asking if one is good at breathing, or walking. Am I actually quite bad at reading after all?”


Posted by on June 5, 2013 in Books, Recommended articles


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Cardboard Children: Change Or Die

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And it IS uncool. And you could argue that cool doesn’t matter. But it does. Cool always matters. The definition of cool is the only thing that can be argued about. And even that’s a pointless argument, because “cool” is something you can feel. For young people, board gaming isn’t attractive. It has an image problem. A major image problem.



Fuck. What IS the message? It isn’t that Agricola is a great farming game. Or that Cosmic Encounter is the BEST space game. We’ve done all that. The message is that people need to be beside each other. That’s all the message ever was. People beside other people, smiling at other people, touching other people. And people means every person. Everybody. It doesn’t matter what the game is. As long as it’s something that makes you laugh in close proximity to another person. Good people. Good drink. Good laughs. Good fun. Together.



Why Board Games Matter

New Statesman

“But I think the main reason why so many video gamers have started board gaming is that it feels like board games are part of the whole indie movement. Look, almost every board game is an indie game. Most board games are created by one person, and that one person is trying to come up with new ideas, or new spins on old ones. When you have a question about some element of the game, you can often just ask the designer. He’ll be on Twitter or something, probably, and will be happy to have you pestering him about a rule clarification. The creator is a human being, not some corporate machine.”


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Why your supermarket only sells 5 kinds of apples

Mother Jones

“The key thing to understand about apple varieties is that apples do not come true from seed. An apple fruit is a disposable womb of the mother tree, but the seeds it encloses are new individuals, each containing a unique combination of genes from the mother tree and the mystery dad, whose contribution arrived in a pollen packet inadvertently carried by a springtime bee. If that seed grows into a tree, its apples will not resemble its parents’. Often they will be sour little green things, because qualities like bigness, redness, and sweetness require very unusual alignments of genes that may not recur by chance. Such seedling trees line the dirt roads and cellar holes of rural America.”


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Banning the sex industry – The Economist

“ULTRA-LIBERAL Iceland wants to ban online pornography. It is just the latest step in its attempts to eliminate the sex industry entirely. In 2009 it introduced fines and jail terms for those who patronise prostitutes (whom it treats as victims). In 2010 it outlawed strip clubs. In February the government decided to take on the glut of smut online and floated the idea of banning violent or degrading pornography, which some Icelanders take to mean most of it. No country has yet wholly succeeded in controlling commercial sex, either through legalisation or criminalisation. But all over the world, particularly in rich democracies, policymakers are watching to see whether Iceland succeeds—and may follow in its footsteps if it does.”


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Posted by on April 25, 2013 in Recommended articles


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The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food

New York Times

“To get a better feel for their work, I called on Steven Witherly, a food scientist who wrote a fascinating guide for industry insiders titled, “Why Humans Like Junk Food.” I brought him two shopping bags filled with a variety of chips to taste. He zeroed right in on the Cheetos. “This,” Witherly said, “is one of the most marvelously constructed foods on the planet, in terms of pure pleasure.” He ticked off a dozen attributes of the Cheetos that make the brain say more. But the one he focused on most was the puff’s uncanny ability to melt in the mouth. “It’s called vanishing caloric density,” Witherly said. “If something melts down quickly, your brain thinks that there’s no calories in it . . . you can just keep eating it forever.””


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