• Italian newspaper Repubblica reports that Italy really is in dire economic crisis. How dire? Well, it turns out that both proving spouse infidelity as preparation to divorce, and tolerating absent employees have become stuff that only the richest can afford. A representative of a federation of italian private investigators said:The crisis bites, and so do employers who can’t afford any more tolerance for absenteeism. These days, 60% of our business comes from companies that need evidence against absentees, to fire them or convince then to leave “voluntarily”.
  • The first entry for 2012 of my copyright madness gallery may be just behind (or below…) you in this very moment, in your own living room.Charles-Edouard Jeanneret, known as “Le Corbusier”, his cousin Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand are the creators of a number of items among the “cult objects” of the 20th century, including an Armchair, an “easy-chair” and a Chaise-longue Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand died respectively 46, 44 and 12 years ago.
  • Every now and then, people find in their inbox some email that would have been much better not to send. I’m not talking about spam. I refer to those “urgent warnings” about some danger, or to all those wonderful or scandalous “news” that some well meaning friend sends or forward to everybody in his address book because it only takes one click and “this is big, everybody gotta know it!”
  • Once upon a time there was a country. Year after year, that country funded the wrong projects, built the wrong infrastructure and bought the wrong things. Eventually, the accumulation of bad investment made that country so fragile that even the smallest shock could topple it. The reason for this failure wasthat that country relied on central planning: only a small group of people decided what was spent and where. Therefore, it was unavoidable that they decided badly, because a modern superstate is too complex for a small group of people to manage.
  • Jonathan Angel recently explained very well, in a piece about the IBM PC’s birthday’, something I realized the first time I saw a tablet computer, that is the main reason why I will not limit myself to any device like that, and suggest nobody does. Here’s that reason, expressed with two quotes from Jonathan’s piece, which I do suggest you read in its entirety: Smartphone and tablets make it easier to sit and consume, not participate in any sort of detailed expression awkward text entry = less _democracy (because awkward text entry = less text entry = less active participation) Does it make sense, in a world still founded on the written word, to rely only on devices that don’t make text entry as fast as possible?
  • In Google Search, autocomplete is that mechanism that tries to save your time, by making suggestions appear after the words you’ve already typed. Google itself tells us how its autocomplete works: predicts and displays search queries based on other users’ search activities… The autocomplete data is updated frequently to offer fresh and rising search queries. Right now, if you type “Berlusconi” in www.google.it, the result is what you see in this snapshot.
  • [](/images/saccheggi_londra.png) The London lootings are those you’ve surely heard about these days. The Unhappiest Advertising Executives of 2011 are, almost surely, those of the italian advertising agency Armando Testa. Just a few months ago, they launched the new version of the Lancia Ypsilon compact car with a series of TV spots in which actor Vincent Cassel defiantly declares and explains that “Il Lusso e un Diritto”. The literal translation of that slogan in English is “Luxury is a Right”, that is exactly the same concept (*) firmly planted in the mind of those London looters who focused on big screen TVs, smartphones, trendy clothes and other absolutely primary, indispensable goods.
  • (this is from an email I wrote to somebody around 2003. We aren’t there yet, but it’s interesting to see that lots of the pieces to make what’s described below happen are already in place, even if in ways I’d have not imagined back then) Let’s make cities with more condos, to save space and energy. With lots of city parks, locally administered. Above all, with cars out of the way.
  • This is the extended version, with explanation, of a question I just asked on Twitter. Yesterday an italian journalist wrote, more or less, that the reason why Anders Behring Breivik was able to kill more than 80 people on Utoya island was that “Those youngsters in the island were selfish and incapable”. You can read a synthetic translation of what he wrote at letteraviola, one of the many italian blogs who are attacking him right now (the English translation is in the lower part of that page).
  • If [Arab] public opinion were to influence policy, the U.S. not only would not control the region, but would be expelled from it, along with its allies, undermining fundamental principles of global dominance. The U.S. and its Western allies are sure to do whatever they can to prevent authentic democracy in the Arab world. So says Noam Chomsky in a piece I just discovered and recommend as useful food for thought: Is the World Too Big to Fail?