On Luxemburg

Over the weekend, I met a couple of guys that actually lived (and one still living) in the city-state of Luxemburg.  There’s around half a million of people residing in all of the 999 square miles of the country. But in the word of the young French banker-type, “the real Luxemburgish are all in hiding.”

Over the years, the country has literally been taken over by the neighbouring Italians, Germans and French, not to count the influx of Eastern Europeans once the EU borders opened.  Most work in banking and related service industries.  Taxes are lower (both consumption and income), wages are higher, so many make the 1-2 hour cross-border commutes everyday back to their home countries.

Both of these guys described the country as an incredibly dull place, with little to do except making money and going out to bars, and with no redeeming qualities of other well-known banking countries (and tax havens) like Switzerland and Monaco.  Nor were they kind about the locals – red-neck farmers driving Ferraris – since selling their land to the banking businesses, and I’m guessing from some of the rich mineral deposits in the south of the country too.

I look forward to visiting someday.

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EU licence plates and Tuesday links

Avoid the idea generation trap.

The real reason parents don’t like parenting: expectations.

How the Economist out-marketed all its rivals, although using the https://www.agencyspotter.com/top/digital-marketing-agencies, it is selling its accomplishments short.

The cost of dying.

Why we like porn: because our brains are more like the Internet.

Japan’s missing senior citizens.

EU license plates are for the most part, pretty uniform, Belgian and UK ones being the main exceptions.

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Shifting palates and other Tuesday morning links

Germany’s massive workforce bail-out.

EU regulations limiting doctors’ working hours “failing spectacularly”.

Working on a startup doesn’t suck, it’s just really, really hard.  Especially if you are the one taking on most of the risks.

China sees Africa the same way the West sees China: A land of a billion customers.

The Wintel monopoly is dissolving.

Intuit wants to fight the free Californian tax filing offerings.

Our palate becoming spicier with shifting demographics.

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The Great American stagnation and other Monday links

Apologies for the irregular postings from last week, back to regular programming this week.

Outsourcing doesn’t have to be all bad.

Life imitating art, accidents in China’s mine shaft.

Maureen Dowd goes to Saudi Arabia.

On Yo-Yo Ma and his art: If a performance is not extraordinary, then it’s not worth doing.

Marriage between friends to get citizenship.

Is there an alternative to western democracy?  Will Confucius philosophy play a part?

The Great American stagnation, and the future of the American dream.

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Launch day and some mid-week morning links

PeerIndex is launching later today, so heavy on tech and start-up, short on number of links this morning.  See you over at the site!

On the plethora of things to do before a launch.

Technology facilitating our increasingly addictive culture.

A thought experiment on what a start-up country would look like.

New search engines looking to block content farms.

Another reason why I don’t really buy the whole “creative class” concept.  You get posers like these.

Ways to fight creative block, although most cannot really be recommended nowadays since they involve drug abuse or aspirations that drive you to depression.

Have cheap air flight tickets ruined air travel?

Italy’s permanent debt crisis, quite of like Japan’s permanent growth crisis.

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Twitter craze in Japan, and other Tuesday morning links

One more powerful piece on the lack of foresight and sensitivities exhibited by the current healthcare professionals and patients when it come to dying. The practice of needlessly and fruitlessly pre-longing terminal patients’ lives with no regard for the quality of lives was also covered here.

The UK is more than capable of making good drama series. Although some self-reflection is never a bad thing.

What the Kosovo recognition means for other restive regions in the world.

Moving in the opposite direction as its Atlantic cousin: Britain looks to decentralize health care.

Milestone for Russia indeed. A town looks past his skin colour and elects a black mayor.

All those knowledge, skills and war stories, what happens once people retire? Not everyone can nor want to go into teaching, how do we capture and aggregate the knowledge?

Japan does love a craze.

Applying the type-A vigilance and zeal to parenting has created a whole industry that’s come up with the kind of ingenious products that warms up baby wipes.

UAE basically declares BlackBerry enemy of the state.

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Democratization of luxury, and other Monday morning links

Language and how it influences the way our respective cultures view the world.

Bringing your own camper with your own food when traveling is a well-renowned Dutch sport.  Apparently Germans dabble in it as well, much to Norwegians’ chagrin.

A piece on the changing state of the British middle-class.  The word “class” comes up a lot, both explicitly and implicitly.

How our state of mind and our awareness of social norms and perceptions have on morality.

One scenario on US-China relations in 2020. This one is not optimistic.

How Kaiser Wilhelm II tried to harness the power of Caliphate to further German imperial interests, and failed.

Is the development of America’s materialistic culture in the 20th century merely the result of its democratized luxury?

A brief history on the decline of cosmopolitanism.

Everyone’s got something to say about Zynga. Here’s the latest.

Why media outlets need to consider making money through commerce versus the tired choice between advertising and pay-wall.

How to change norms and public behaviours.

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Fast reproductive strategies in the ghetto?

Academic fraudulent behaviour in China hurt all.

How both Europe and America are dealing with the rise of Asia, and the amusing hypothesis that growth is almost moving westwards.

More reasons why publishers should charge for news. (h/t @ampique via @kristinelowe)

A point in the world where you are surrounded by 4 countries. (tks to @justinspratt)

Outpatient care cost might be one of the biggest component of extra health care costs in the US.

Is sexual identity in women more fluid than that in men?

Tony Barber departing Brussels, and asks the EU to address the democratic deficit between institutions and its citizens.

Evolutionary strategy predicts that living in a harsh and unpredictable environment leads to a “fast” reproductive strategy? So this should justify all the early teen pregnancies in low income communities then, nothing to worry about.

Vulnerability in entrepreneurs as a valued trait.

Picture: The Christmas fish. No, actually it’s an anglerfish. The lights around the fish are generated by living bacteria.


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Starting over in a digital age

We are happier taking a longer walk to the carousel to pick up our luggage, but much more agitated when forced to wait.  Yet, when given the choice directly, we’d probably wait.

Petty bickering over at the UN.

Some optimism injected into the idea that we are really more alike than apart.

Somewhat surprising data on the effect of home computers on children’s academic performances: lower academic achievements while improved computer skills and cognitive ability. When you want computer parts, visit Business computer parts.

China’s coal consumption is everyone’s own power consumption, offshored.

Einstein and Berlin.

User generated content is still king, but user-edited content is of increasing importance

An alien landed on earth and goes into a bar, would it be able to tell a good conversation from a bad one?

Fine-tuning the German economy for better countercyclical policy.

Top US foreign aid recipients.

The idea of forgetting the past and starting over might not be possible in this digital age.

Information shadows and the promised golden age of mobile app development.

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Mad Men and the American Dream

The possibility of getting executed comes with the job, in North Korea.

London is launching a bike rental scheme, here’s comparing it to the successful Parisian version.

Nothing really new in linking the intensity in labour participation with tax rates.  But the interesting point is that Europe used to work more than America.

The American Dream embodied by Man Men, ultra-mediated a a postmodern moment in history.

Is Latvia the free-wheeling Hong Kong of Europe?

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Birth tourism, Swedish trash, PTSD definition expanded

More deflationary pressure in Japan.

McMansions are not going away any time soon.

China should look for a profitable exit out of the American dollar, says one economist.

Does Europe’s belt-tightening signal an end of progress to decent treatment to all, or merely expose the flaws of a socio-economic system that has consistently put ideals above growth?

New journalism, fleeting loyalty, immediate feedback, and faster burn-out.

Communist government tries to reign in overtly materialist dating show that only mirrors what goes on in society anyway. In the meantime, birth tourism is beginning to take shape, because there’s always something more coveted than what’s just within reach.

Reconciliation – easier said than practiced, especially after a genocide.

A lot of attention lately on PTSD here and here, now with definition of trauma expanded.

From the land of Billy bookshelves, “every stereotype about poor white trash spanning both time and globe, rolled into one.”

Under-represented white minority in elite schools underscores rural southern Republican anxiety.

Oldie but a goodie read: Japanese youth that literally bunker down and hide in their rooms for over a decade out of frustration and fears.  And the social and business opportunities that arise out of this social phenomenon – night vending machines that sell bento boxes with 3 meals for the day, social workers that specialize in coaxing those kids of their rooms.

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Happiness and connectedness?

Over-hyping Gustav Mahler.

A modern Lhasa that is hardly the calm and still Shangri-La that many have in mind.

Cognitive trade-offs with concentration-enhancement drugs.

There’s no future without adequate savings for the under-40s.  The Gen X and Gen Y retirement will look pretty different.

I will let the title of this article speak for itself: “Are big breasted women more intelligent?”

There might be a causal link between happiness and the level of connectedness we have on the social web.

If you can’t fight them, join them. Germany starts down the road in educating its own home-grown imams.

Women played a larger role (on the German side) during the Holocaust than previously expected.

What Americans considers bad economic times, Germans may see relative prosperity.  History helps explain behaviour and outlook, and the German version supports long-run fiscal caution.

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