Thursday, March 12, 2009


Shortage of the Day: Antimatter

Most anti-matter is created in the AntiProton Source Department of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill. Small portions have been produced at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y., and at CERN, a European nuclear collider in Geneva. Brown's fictional quarter-gram of anti-matter supposedly was stolen from CERN.

The new Large Hadron Collider in Geneva will be able to generate much larger quantities than these others when it begins operating next fall — but nowhere near enough to blow up the Vatican.

—Robert S. Boyd reporting in "Scientists harness anti-matter, ordinary matter's 'evil twin'"



Not enough bankers to go 'round

If a U.S. employer wants to hire a foreign worker for a job paying $60,000 or more or requiring a master's degree (under what is known as the H-1B visa for nonimmigrants), in most cases the employer must certify to the Department of Labor that

... the employer took or will take good faith steps meeting industry-wide standards to recruit U.S. workers for the job for which the nonimmigrant is sought, offering compensation at least as great as required to be offered to the H-1B nonimmigrant. The employer will (has) offer(ed) the job to any U.S. worker who (has) applied and is equally or better qualified than the H-1B nonimmigrant.

To put that in plain English, the employer tried to find a U.S. citizen to fill the job but couldn't—and furthermore, will continue to look for one.

Now you might think American business schools have turned out enough citizen bankers to go 'round, but apparently not.

Jonathan B. Glater reports that—

A provision in the economic stimulus package limits the hiring of foreign workers by any company receiving government bailout money. In finance, that is nearly every big employer.

At least one financial institution, Bank of America, has rescinded job offers to foreign citizens, citing the new law, signed by President Obama last month.

Some banks are quietly trying to sidestep the limits — and perhaps to make good on their job offers — by finding positions abroad for noncitizens, according to college officials.

Financial institutions seem to be tiptoeing around the core debate about whether it is best to protect American jobs or allow unfettered competition, wishing not to alienate the very lawmakers who are dispensing taxpayer money that is keeping some of them afloat.

While it would be easy to argue vis-à-vis the current catastrophe in American finance that competent financiers cannot be found on these shores, a survey of the world financial condition suggests that competency is no more common abroad than here.

Oh, and the employer must also attest that—

... the employment of H-1B, H-1B1, or E-3 nonimmigrants in the named occupation will not adversely affect the working conditions of workers similarly employed. The employer further attests that H-1B nonimmigrants will be afforded working conditions on the same basis, and in accordance with the same criteria, as offered to similarly employed U.S. workers.

Anybody who believes that hooey has never met a corporate executive.

Related post
The Depression Chronicles – 2: A view from the vault


Tuesday, March 10, 2009



According to Politiken,

Denmark has risen to the top of the EU’s garbage list, with private homes throwing away an average of 801kgs. of garbage per year per capita in 2007 – or 2.2kgs. per day.

The Eurostat statistics show the European average at 522kgs. with the Czech Republic at the bottom of the list with 294kgs. per person.

More and more
Denmark’s position at the top of the list is a culmination of increasing amounts of garbage over the past decade.

Since 1997, the amount of garbage produced has increased by more than 36 percent, compared with an overall EU average increase of below five percent.

The Eurostat figures include all garbage collected and handled by local authorities in the EU.

Maybe they think they're composting.



Snatches from the Pink Snapper – 9: When a drunk is not a drunk

Tiny, Martilla and I had already gathered round when Virgil made his entrance. After the usual hail-fellow-well-mets, Martilla continued to tell us about her latest hair-raising toot.

Virgil inquired what she did finally to sober up. "Coffee," Martilla shrugged. "There's nothing worse than a caffeinated drunk," Virgil observed somberly.

Martilla, who had preceded Tiny and me to the Snapper by several hours, was ready for a fight. "Are you calling me a drunk?!" she snapped.

"Hell, no!" Virgil roared back. "When I talk about 'a drunk' I'm talking about a condition, not a person. You know damned well that when I say I'm coming off a drunk I don't mean Tiny."

Previous post
Snatches from the Pink Snapper – 8: A birthday gift (2/13/09)


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