Wednesday, April 28, 2010

On this day in history...

The final verdict for the Baader-Meinhof/Red Army Faction was delivered in Stuttgart in 1977...

I was 1 year and 10 months old...

Radio Free Europe

I arrived back in Europe yesterday morning, after a 15 hour journey from San Jose.
I feel I can now come clean and say I hate flying... I hate being on a plane and breathing all the recycled, air-conditioned air, I hate air-conditioning on the ground but on a plane there is no escape, and I hate being cramped up in a seat for so long.
Anyway that out of the way, I love being back here...
I love the cold, I love that it is still light outside at 8:30 at night, I love the cheese selection, I love not being eaten alive by insects and I love how fresh the air tastes.
I am listening to FM4 which we used to listen to in the ski shop in Scheffau, may be my favourite radio station... What 6music could be if the BBC didn't want to close it down and they spoke German occasionally.

One of the striking things about coming back here after living in Costa Rica is how clean and well-made everything is. I guess that's one of the things about living in a developing country, people are making the best out of what they have but they don't have a lot. They do the same here but they have more, or at least they have better. Either way it feels great to be back...

P.S Hi Frank, see you on Saturday...

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Today in Costa Rica, the bill to institute free trade agreements between Costa Rica and China and Singapore was due to be signed into law. This will be the first between CR and any Asian country and will eventually see China becoming the second biggest market (overtaking the EU) for CR after the US.
On the plus side for Costa Rica will be a huge market for the high tech items and other exports (such as coffee) but on the downside will be the added exposure of Chinese economies of scale that are impossible to compete with for smaller Costa Rican firms and farmers.
A look into any shop here in Costa Rica will reveal an already high proportion of poorly-made Chinese products and Chinese food items (like the vegetables that were so "dangerous" in Japan). So I am ready for more crap that I don't need and don't want.

UK election debate

For the first time in UK history, the leaders of the 3 main parties had a live, televised debate. This has been happening in the US for sometime, and whatever happens in America eventually happens in the UK.
I didn't get to watch it but from what I have read (and here) the clear winner was the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg. The Liberals can't win the general election but they could take significant votes from the other parties, making it difficult for there to be any clear winner. It will be interesting to see if this US-style debate has any real effect on peoples' opinions in the run-up to the election.

Wet season

One of my students told me this week that the 15th April is the official start of rainy season in Costa Rica. For once nature was bang on time, round about 2p.m. today it started with torrential rain and thunder. One crack felt like it was right outside the door, I could feel the bang in my chest.
The worst thing is Rocky is terrified... She has been hiding under our bed, under chairs, under anything she can get under but it seems like nowhere feels safe for her... It's going to be a long few months til we leave for Rox, if the weather is like this every day...

For me, it's time to buy an umbrella.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A major reason behind Liverpool's poor form

Non-qualification for the Champions League would cost the club a lot of revenue, and would further increase the pressure on the owners to sell all or part of their share.
A self-made problem. No investment resulted in poor performances and loss of revenue.

As long as new ownership is responsible and sensible, this a good reason for hoping Liverpool finish outside the top 4.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Liverpool 4-1 Benfica (agg 5-3)

Have Liverpool found their level?
It looks like they will only make the Europa League next season, and after the abysmal performance in this season's Champions League group stage, maybe that's not such a bad thing.

BBC report....

Liverpool 4-1 Benfica (agg 5-3): "Fernando Torres scores twice to help Liverpool overpower Benfica at Anfield and set up an Europa League semi-final clash with Atletico Madrid."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Central American Food

A few weeks ago, in protest at the sameness of the food (i.e. rice & beans) we were eating I resolved to try a new recipe a week, using Latin American ingredients as much as possible.

First was a Peruvian Stew - really good.

Followed by Plantain Soup - even better.

Then I tried a Black Bean & Mango soup - good but not as good as the Plaintain soup.

Next were some Potato & Bean Enchiladas - good but the others were better.

What's next...

My Google Reader shared items...

Plus a picture of me and Rocky...

Ferguson shows a typical awareness of the world outside his head

That "typical German" was Frenchman Franck Ribery... And of course United would never do something like try to get another player sent off.

From the Guardian...

Ferguson slams 'typical Germans' as United crash out: "

• Manager felt Bayern players influenced referee's decision
• 'They got him sent off ... typical Germans'

Sir Alex Ferguson slammed the behaviour of the Bayern Munich players for their part in Rafael da Silva's red card during Manchester United's Champions League exit at the hands of the German side.

Several Bayern players seemed to gather around the referee, Nicola Rizzoli, after Rafael appeared to pull back Franck Ribéry and the Manchester United manager, described their behaviour as being that of 'typical Germans'.

The Italian official subsequently showed United's Brazilian full-back his second yellow card and United were forced to play the final 40 minutes with 10 men.

'There is no doubt about it,' Ferguson told ITV when asked if the dismissal had changed the course of the game. 'They were never getting through that tie; with 11 men we had no problem. The young boy showed a bit of inexperience but they got him sent off. Everyone sprinted towards the referee – typical Germans.'

The Scot also believed United had been the better side across the two legs. 'We played better today than they did in their own ground. Without the extra man they made the ball work and I thought we defended very well. It's taken an exceptional strike to settle the tie. We have done well, the performance was excellent, we were very unlucky.'

Ferguson's gamble on starting Wayne Rooney appeared to backfire when he was withdrawn after 55 minutes, the same time as Rafael's dismissal, but Ferguson denied that playing had worsened his ankle problem. 'I don't think it is serious. It's just that tissue and the blood vessel has just burst. I am sure he'll be fine for the following week.

Times change

I am part way through a International Political Economy course. My current assignment is regarding US economic hegemony. Which is interesting to me, especially living in Central America. There is a huge US influence here, the dollar is widely accepted alongside national currencies and in Panama the dollar is the national currency.
What is more interesting is the growing Chinese influence here. The new national stadium is being built in San Jose, free of charge, by the Chinese government as a gift to Costa Rica, and I heard a new fleet of police cars were donated. Since the Monroe Doctrine the US has ruled the roost in Latin America, now China is making inroads in to that domination. Access to Latin America's raw materials has always been a goal for the powerful nations, China is just the latest in a long line.

Costa Rica also used to have close ties to Taiwan, and recently switched to deal with China. Certainly this offers more opportunities for CR, and no doubt the promise of Chinese aid played a role in this.

The Japan Times has a different take...

It's a Global Century, not an Asian Century | The Japan Times Online

"Perhaps the coastal areas of South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and China's eastern seaboard share some common cultural characteristics and a similar economic strategy. But much of central and western China is mired in poverty; Indonesia belongs to a different world culturally and economically; and India is a very different Asia as well. Nor does Asia cohere politically; parts of it are democratic, other parts are ruled by despots.

Moreover, there is no "Asian" economic system: China's state capitalism does not belong to the same category as the private capitalism practiced in Japan and Korea. India remains largely an agricultural economy, dotted with small business and service-sector dynamism.

Asia also has no decision center, nor coordinating institutions comparable to NATO or the European Union. This is important, because, whereas the West is relatively at peace with itself, Asia is riddled with actual conflicts (within and around Pakistan) and looming ones all around the South China Sea."

Season's change

After 5 months of scorching days and humid nights with the house full of mosquitos, the weather seems to be changing.
The mornings are still hot but the afternoon rain storms are getting pretty constant now, for the past 5 days between 2 & 3 o'clock it rains cats and dogs.
Our dog hides in the back room when it rains, her two least favourite things are water and loud noises so the rain combined with the tin roof are not good.

The other season that has changed recently is the baseball one, from spring to regular...
We had some friends over for the season opener, Yankees v Red Socks on Sunday, crackerjack included. The Padres lost their first game and won the second, if they can keep that record up all season it will be an improvement on last year.