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July 08 2014 | Sports - Belgium | 0 comments
Red Devils
photo: Richard Harris

So Belgium will not win the World Cup this year. The Red Devils are very talented and very young which means that not only can they play great football but they have the strength, vitality and endurance of youth. That said, youth has a downside, and that is lack of experience. In the run up to the quarter final game with Argentina the team members spoke about how they would not let the Messi legend draw their attention away from the work to be done and spook them. However, when team captain Vincent Kompany committed a double error at minute seven which led to a goal for Argentina, all that resolve seems to have evaporated. Argentina's subsequent cynical, efficient play - slowing down the game and tying up the ball without trying much to score more goals did the rest.
Not a pretty game.
But now, this World CUp has provided them with some very necessary experience and we have the 2016 Euro Cup and the 2018 World Cup to look forward to.
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June 28 2014 | | 0 comments
A Cat Picture
photo: Richard Harris
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June 28 2014 | Pitchforks - USA | 0 comments
Where Is The Outrage?
photo: Richard Harris

One would think that a financial planner would be required to act in one's best interest, even without a law requiring it but just from basic ethics. But no!

"David O’Brien, a certified financial planner, has tried to repair the retirement portfolios of several victims over the years. There was the high school science teacher who didn’t realize she had been sold a variable annuity, where layers of incomprehensible fees devoured nearly 2.5 percent of her retirement savings each year. Then there was the woman fighting cancer, who was also sold a high-cost annuity, but whose underlying investments were tied up in a money-market type fund — one that cost 1.5 percent annually.

In many cases, he explained, brokers made their sales pitches where these people worked, which put them at ease. “They send their local representatives to meet with you and they make it seem like this normal thing — you fill out the forms because you are retiring,” said Mr. O’Brien, who works in Midlothian, Va. “And then a few years later, you meet with me and you don’t even realize you were sold two variable annuities inside an I.R.A.”

Brokers are not necessarily required to act in their customers’ best interest, even if they are advising on their retirement money. While that would seem to be a basic consumer protection, in Washington and on Wall Street it has proved to be wildly contentious.

Amid fierce pushback from the financial services industry, the Labor Department, which oversees retirement plans, recently delayed releasing a revised proposal that would require a broader group of professionals to put their clients’ interest ahead of their own when dealing with their retirement accounts.
The department said it would release the proposed rule in January, according to its regulatory agenda, instead of this August. (Phyllis C. Borzi of the Labor Department, had signaled that it could miss the deadline.)

“They have really been stymied by the financial industry, which is spending millions of dollars to fight this rule,” said Karen Friedman, executive vice president and policy director at the Pension Rights Center, a nonprofit consumer group. “All the Labor Department is trying to do is modernize a rule that is out of date.”..."

Read the rest here.
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June 28 2014 | Brussels | 0 comments
Summer Storm
photo: Richard Harris

A view of the Fish Market during a summer thunderstorm yesterday.
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June 28 2014 | Science | 0 comments
Is There Anybody Out There?
photo: Richard Harris

What is the Fermi Paradox? Read this article and find out.
An excerpt:
"...Possibility 4) There are scary predator civilizations out there, and most intelligent life knows better than to broadcast any outgoing signals and advertise their location. This is an unpleasant concept and would help explain the lack of any signals being received by the SETI satellites. It also means that we might be the super naive newbies who are being unbelievably stupid and risky by ever broadcasting outward signals. There's a debate going on currently about whether we should engage in METI (Messaging to Extraterrestrial Intelligence -- the reverse of SETI) or not, and most people say we should not. Stephen Hawking warns, "If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans." Even Carl Sagan (a general believer that any civilization advanced enough for interstellar travel would be altruistic, not hostile) called the practice of METI "deeply unwise and immature," and recommended that "the newest children in a strange and uncertain cosmos should listen quietly for a long time, patiently learning about the universe and comparing notes, before shouting into an unknown jungle that we do not understand."..."
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