Is living in Germany really like living in one of USA poorest states?

Look at this study It concludes that the average American is better off than the average German.  That if Germany was a US state it would be the 39th poorest.

But this conclusion may be wrong for two reasons. 

-Income is much better distributed in Germany than in the USA. When there is such difference in distribution the question is what does it mean to be the “average citizen”. Or how does Joe become richer when Bill is immensely wealthy.  There are German billionaires as well but a better distribution of income makes it more likely that there will be more people around the mean.

-Purchasing power parity calculations may not include such things as free or extremely affordable medical care, free or extremely affordable university education, free or extremely affordable public transportation and a lot of public goods available to Germans. Europeans in general have a lot more of these free or affordable services which make life safer and better.

iPhone 5 vs Samsung 5

I carry an iPhone 5 and a Samsung 5, in the USA with AT&T and T Mobile in Spain with Vodafone and Tuenti. But I use the Samsung 5 more.  Why? 

-perfect size for viewing and typing.

-easy to exchange battery and no phone goes through the day on one charge. Also exchange memory cards

-SwiftKey is awesome especially if you lead a multilingual life, iPhone is awful for multilingual people and its predictive keyboard is 10% of SwifKey. Also key that Swiftkey learns from Gmail.

-waterproof: I could not believe that the Samsung 5 is waterproof but it is, awesome for kayaking with Endomondo or just go to the beach.

When I use the iPhone

-the iPhone is better for photography, games, video and it is overall more elegant, both the iOS and the phone itself. 

-iPhone has a much better search for apps just pulling down and for features pulling up.

-some apps are just better designed for iOS than Android, overall Android feels like coach and iOS like first class.

¿Papá que es la crisis?

Hoy Leo me hizo una pregunta complicada para responder a un niño de 7 años. Me pregunto “¿Papa qué es la crisis?”.  Lo pensé y le respondí, “una crisis le dije es cuando a la gente le va mal, cuando muchos, muchos se quedan sin dinero”. Entonces me preguntó ¿los crisis son unos señores que van por ahí robándose todo?

That fleeting moment of childhood when a kid is still not attracted by things digital. That when everyone else is on their smartphones, tablets, laptops he wants to explore, to leave the group, see the real world. Sometimes I wonder how the first generation of children who had to compete with the smartphones of everyone around them will turn out. And I am not without blame.

That fleeting moment of childhood when a kid is still not attracted by things digital. That when everyone else is on their smartphones, tablets, laptops he wants to explore, to leave the group, see the real world. Sometimes I wonder how the first generation of children who had to compete with the smartphones of everyone around them will turn out. And I am not without blame.

Focos de honestidad

Es común escuchar hablar en Argentina de focos de corrupción pero a mi lo que más me llama la atención son los focos de honestidad. Esas organizaciones, empresas, individuos que contra viento y marea logra comportarse de una manera ética en un país gobernado por gente no ética.  Gente admirable que se rehusa a sobornar al policía que está buscando una coima, que no transa con el tipo de la aduana, que rechaza a los funcionarios que se agarran de absurdas leyes “alimenta corruptos” para realizar inspecciones en busca de plata, que cuando vota busca al candidato más ético. Gente que cree en una Argentina mejor. 

Finding Coco

Here’s a side of Spanish society I truly like: solidarity. 4 days ago when we were in Menorca we lost Coco, our Golden Retriever, and after two days of looking for him I decided to go on Twitter and post a picture and say we had lost him. Well you can’t imagine the number of RT that I got from people in Menorca! But not only that, I got advise on how to find lost dogs, words of encouragement and hope. And what is most important we found Coco! He had wondered off for many km away from our farm, was rescued by the local police and put in the dog kennel. While Spaniards do have a hard time dealing with you when you do very well, when you do poorly they are there for you. And that I love. Gracias, muchas gracias!!

Advise to my European friends on how to deal with US police

When visiting USA I recommend not to deal with US police including immigration officers, the way you normally do in Europe. Police in USA can be extremely authoritative, especially when dealing with people who are different, like foreigners or in this awful case with the father of an autistic child. People who behave in unusual or unexpected manners in police eyes are at risk because understanding people’s behavior does not seem a key part of the US police training. My recommendation is to never argue with police officers, to follow their orders, even if they seem uncommon. If they stop you while driving you should not get out of the car to greet them or talk to them as you may do in Europe, instead not only do you have to stay in the driving seat but you have to keep your hands on the steering wheel to show you pose no threat to them and await for instructions. They will come and talk to you from the outside of your car. Sometimes police instructions are shouted at you over a loudspeaker system.  US police behaves as if the average citizen can pose a great threat to them. They act more like the military and sometimes they are armed like the military. Why US voters accept this treatment and feel they need to incarcerate 9x as many people to feel safe, is something I don’t understand. But if you want to have a nice stay in the USA treat police with utmost respect. If Americans have fewer rights against the police than Europeans and are more intimidated, as a foreigner you have less rights than an American. I have heard many stories of visitors to the US getting in trouble with the police simply for not understanding their ways and confronting them uselessly.  Comply and move on and everything should be fine, and you will have a nice stay in this otherwise wonderful fascinating country.

Everyone is commenting on Robin Williams death but I have mixed feelings about this conversation. I have been reading scientific articles that show that there is something socially contagious about suicide. I worry that with Robin Williams being so famous and media non stop commenting on his death, that his suicide may sadly inspire others. Also I was looking at suicide rates per country and one thing that is clear is that suicide is also cultural and it varies enormously from nation to nation. In Europe the difference between North and South is striking. I hope people remember how he made them laugh and get no inspiration from his decision to take their own life.

I love danger

I trained to as a jet pilot, I do crazy mountain bike descents, I love ocean sailing, skiing off piste, and when Google asks me to share my private information for them to improve their services, I say yes!

Islamic State seems unstoppable

Bin Laden’s dream is coming true. Bin Laden like people are dominating Afghanistan again, plus Syria, Iraq and kill anyone who opposes them, as with the Taliban they are destroying all minorities or alternative thinking. They now do so under the name of Islamic State. What they are putting together is so horrible that as brutal as Saddam Hussein was and Bashar al Assad is, what they are doing with Christians, Shias and Yazidis is worse.  At this point I don’t see how the Islamic State will be stopped.  Air power alone will not be enough. Especially not after IS got so many American weapons given to them by Iraqis abandoning the fight or changing sides. Soon that part of the world may have a Sunni “Iran like” regime in Iraq/Syria/Afghanistan. But again this regime may be worse than that of the Ayatollahs.  

As IS expands,  for USA/EU to also be fighting Russia is extremely untimely. Yes, Putin is not our hero, but Russia also faces IS type of enemies and IS itself via its ally Bashar al Assad. We are spread too thin. At this point, in spite of Ukraine, we should try to work out some compromise not fight Russia and IS at the same time. Putin seems to be willing.  Especially with the lack of a will to fight that there is in EU and USA after wasting so many years fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the end Putin’s Russia as far as it is from us, it is much closer to us than the Taliban/IS. No wonder that both Russia and US/EU fought the Taliban/IS at different times in history.

Who will stop IS? Most likely the Sunni monarchies on the South, Iran on the East and the Kurds and Turkey on the North.  But right now they seem to have Bagdad within reach, they control key oil and water resources and they have a will to fight that nobody shares in the region.

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