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The Beautiful Game - Part III
Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Real Madrid Club de Futbol has to have the greatest business team in Spain. I tip my virtual hat to them.

They have the greatest soccer players in the entire world.

One third of the team is from Brasil. The head coach is from Brasil. Real has the same problem Brasil has in World Cup times: they have too many forwards. If they could, tactically, they would have 6 forwards at a time.

Real has the pretty boy of soccer: Beckham is not the greatest player, but he is well liked for some reason.

Real, has the luxury to bench Owen. Imagine, in order for him to get any playing time before the World Cup, he had to leave La Liga.

Real finally got the skinny cyclist Robinho (Cyclist because of the "bicicleta.")

Aside from spending and amassing the talent, their marketing machine doesn't stop there. Real markets the team to a world audience. Of course, the fervor for the team on the other side of the pond is not as candent as it is in Spain: Real's players are considered demigods; When Ronaldo touches the ball, the whole stadium goes quiet, as if the Professor is about to lecture. However, we, the ones who like soccer, are Madridistas of some sort. I catch a Real game when I can, as watching Real play is really a privilege.

Real The Movie - Enough said.

Their web site should be a model for any sport's team: they are able to market their wares and sell subscriptions for videos, interviews, pictures, etc., to anyone with a credit card. What else are they doing? Real Madrid, do you need a Software Engineer - Or Developer, whatever you want to call it - Hablo y escribo Espanol and know how to use the "zeta." My transfer fees are a fraction (I'd say half) of what you paid for Robinho :)

With all these, you'd think that they are the Liga champions. Ironically, they are not: Barcelona Futbol Club is.

However, a soccer team is a long term investment and Real's owners know this: they are investing in the future and as long as they have the money to keep buying the next Robinho or Ronaldo or Zidane, people will watch their games and will keep their sponsors happy. A Liga trophy, is just that, a trophy. Real Madrid runs a real business, and their wins are the profits generated for their share holders - Trophies are for bragging rights and collect dust behind fancy glassed mahogany book cases.

10:34 PM | 0 comment(s) |

Latin America's Dysfunctional Democracy
Sunday, August 28, 2005

Primarily, this is a technology blog, however, technology is just a piece of the big societal puzzle. Hence, a "lets make a better society for all" flavour sometimes makes it into some of my entries.

Today, I want to talk about Latin America: most Latin American countries (minus Cuba) seem to gravitate around free electing democracies, however, the majority - if not all countries - are stagnating when it comes to economical development.

If they truly have the power to elect their rulers, why is it that nothing changes from election to election? Or coup d'tat - Whatever yanks the opposing parties' chain at the time of power exchange.

A bigger question I pose: Are democratic elections only a symbolic event that take place every once in a while to give a false sense of empowerment, and in the end change nothing about an economical system?

I have no objective answer to my question. I only have personal opinions. I.e. I can only give a subjective Canadian experience: the exchange of power in North American societies (Exclude Mexico) rarely changes the machinations of the economy, nor the bureaucratic red tape that moves our governmental offices.

There are of course some disturbances, however, the status quo is still maintained. I have two specific examples: first, in the US Bush was awarded the win in the presidential elections (by the supreme court) when running against a Democratic representative - The US went from a Liberal to a Conservative administration in a matter of days. Although, there were some major changes in international policies, the day to day activities didn't change too much; secondly, in Canada Paul Martin succeeded Jean Chretien to the Prime Minister's office without any elections - It's the way Canadian politics work - A change of head of state, without anyone barely noticing.

In both cases the economical benefits of the majority of the population didn't take a hit due to changes in the heads of state. Try doing that in El Salvador or Venezuela.

Anyway. What I really want to share with you is an interesting (to me) short essay to ponder over dinner. It's from Denise Dresser, a Professor of Political Science from Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico, titled: "Latin America's Dysfunctional Democracy." The introduction reads:
    In Latin America, many people live with outstretched hands. Throughout the Hemisphere, paternalistic governments accustom people to receiving just enough to survive instead of participating in society. Across the region, politicians that writer Octavio Paz once referred to as "philanthropic ogres" create clients instead of citizens, people who expect instead of demand.
Is this really the problem?

Do Latin American citizens view themselves as objects of economical systems that require autocratic authorities to make decisions for them?

Or, are they free thinking creators of their own destinies trapped in tyrannical regimes that exhaust every ounce of creativity out of each and everyone of them?

Except of course for the "ruling elites," as Noam Chomsky would call them - For some reason the "educated-abroad capitalists" seem to do very well for themselves in the current Latin American democratic systems.

Leave aside the fact that the ones investing in their children's education (US schools are not cheap) already have capital, so it's safe to assume they have enough resources to invest in the local economies. But, are these young adults really learning secrets from foreign Universities to live better lives? What are local Universities teaching the new leaders of industry? You really have to wonder. I do; I also wonder if the cycle will ever be broken so that Latin American countries will be able to compete with "first world" sister nations in every aspect of daily living: economically, scientifically, etc.

There is also a Spanish version of the essay.

I must conclude this entry with a note of caution: It is very easy to analyze foreign policies and vicissitudes of other countries from the convenience of our Herman Miller chairs - I know for a fact that some citizens in Latin America (El Salvador, specifically) work extremely hard on a day to day basis and never really think of themselves as children of egomaniac dictators - They are just like you and me: part of an economical system and live their lives with what they have - We are fortunate to have more resources and are citizens of great nations that allow us to participate (or so we think) as opposed to become dependent children, as Professor Dresser argues.

Another fact to take into consideration is that once we are out of a Latin American regime, we finally see the faults. Our points of view mature as we have a new perspectives on old stories; Sadly, true and horrible stories of civil oppressionn and human right violations.

11:18 PM | 0 comment(s) |

The Moon Illusion
Thursday, August 25, 2005

This is one of those weird natural phenomena that is not fully explained yet.

If you don't know about it, try the following:
  1. In a full moon week, look out to where the moon is just peeking through on the horizon

  2. Keep looking until the moon is fully out, but just above the horizon

  3. Marvel at the cheese like characteristics of the moon and how close to the earth it seems - And also how big it looks

  4. Go do whatever you do at night

  5. After doing whatever you do at night, search for the moon again as it should be higher above the horizon
If you are part of the majority in the population, you'll notice that the earlier moon is bigger than the latter moon.


Intuitively, you'd think that the earth is moving around, therefore the moon is at a different distance from your coordinates - However, that is not the case. The moon's diameter stays constant throughout the whole night.

What you are seeing is actually an optical illusion.

No one really knows for certain the cause of the illusion. However, there are a few people that have studied the phenomenon and have come up with long (plausible) explanations.

There are many others - Check out google's search results...

My take on it is a bit less scientifically stringent...I simple sing: "When the moon hits your eyes like a big pizza pie, that's amore..."

7:52 AM | 1 comment(s) |

Free PR
Tuesday, August 16, 2005

For whatever it's worth: The 25 Most Influential Hispanics in America.

    In the U.S.A.:

    America = United States of America

    For the rest of us:

    America = The continent of America.
The continent of America was named after Americo Vespucio thanks to the writings of the German chartographer Martin Waldseemüllers Weltkarte - He wrote about it and the name just stuck.

You would think that Columbus would have had something to say about it, since he was the one that "discovered" the "new to him" lands. I guess America just sounded right - Sorry Cristobal.

But then again, imagine a "United States of Cristobal" or "Cristobal the Beautiful" or "Make no mistake about it, Cristobal is at War."

8:16 AM | 5 comment(s) |

Are you in Canada? Apple owes you $25.00
Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I don't condone illegal downloading, but paying "ghost" levies for each empty CD-ROM/DVD you buy to the recording industry doesn't seem fair. I mean, a CD-ROM/DVD-W can also be used to backup data. Really. CDs are not just for pirated music.

In Canada, we pay $0.50 for each empty CD we buy. And apparently, we were also paying $25.00 for iPods with drives greater than 10 GB (Well, 7 GB actually - I wonder how that will work out.)

So, if you bought an iPod a couple of years ago, Apple really owes you $25.00 Canadian.

Please, make sure you get your money back as soon as Apple announces how and when you can get your money back. I will make sure to file my claim.

This is what Apple said:
    Apple is pleased that the Supreme Court of Canada let stand a lower court ruling that blank media levies on iPods are invalid, and will shortly announce a claims process so consumers can request a refund for the levies they paid.

Not that slashdot needs more hits, but you can also read childish and once in while insightful commentaries about the whole thing:
    That's silly, just keep the levy in place...That way, since I've already paid for crimes I might commit, I can freely go ahead and commit them to my heart's content. Sort of like buying an indulgence.

11:39 PM | 0 comment(s) |

The AJAX revolution is over
Friday, August 05, 2005

From a recent Wired Magazine's article You Say You Want a Web Revolution:
    Software experts [There are experts about everything now a days] say recent innovations in web design are ushering in a new era for internet-based software applications, some of the best of which already rival desktop applications in power and efficiency. That's giving software developers a wide open platform for creating new programs that have no relation to the underlying operating system that runs a PC.
I've heard the same idea repeated countless of times before - The paragraph could refer to anything really: HTML, JavaScript, DHTML, Flash, etc., etc. - "Experts" said the same thing about them when they were new and "revolutionary."

The AJAX revolution is probably not over. Perhaps it hasn't even started yet, but you and I know that once the main stream technical media starts blabbering about X or Y technology as being the new revolution, things are already slowing down for X or Y technology.

I think it's the "hot stock" effect: when the average Joe hears that a certain stock is hot, it isn't any longer and if this Joe is dumb enough to invest, he may as well just burn the money in his backyard - It will give him more amusement than watching the stock chart go down and down and down - BTW, don't burn money in the backyard; It is ilegal to destroy paper money; Physical money belongs to your respective government, actually.

One of the main challenges with adopting AJAX for web application engineering is the complexity added in the client side.

Web application clients (I.e. Browsers) should be dumb with no business logic embedded into them. Of course by following this mantra you end up dealing with all the limitation of current HTML and browser technology.

AJAX kind of removes some of the limitation and allows you to do cool, if not useless, tricks at the price of coupling your not so dumb client with business logic (A big "no-no" if you recall your Software Engineering classes.)

The key is balance and proper WUI (Web User Interface) design.

I'm guessing this AJAX revolution will be similar to the blog revolution: a great tool, but then again, who wants to keep reading stale and boring blogs - like this one :) all over the internet.

Let's hope it doesn't become what "Flash" was for the late 1990s. I.e. Once Flash was discovered, everything needed to be in Flash to exploit every useless fading effect in the book.

Moderation is key with new revolutions.

8:11 AM | 4 comment(s) |

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