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Muslim history over the last decade has been extremely sad. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have died in armed conflicts. Over 99% of them died as a result of the European/American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and in the hands of fellow Muslims in the Syrian civil war, the ISIS conflict, the Shia Sunni conflicts, the Egyptian, Libyan internal fights, the fight against the Taliban in Pakistan and others. But this week after Hamas indiscriminately sent rockets on civilians all over Israel, and Israel retaliated striking on military targets, sadly killing innocent civilians who are not the target (as opposed to the Hamas rockets that do explicitly target civilians) but are used as human shields and this is happening when Hamas knows that the moment they stop throwing rockets, the Israeli retaliations will stop, I am shocked to see my Facebook and Twitter feeds go insane with accusations to us, the murderous Jews. If you are not a Jewish reader you have not idea what it is to be a Jew during the Gaza conflict and the things that people say to me, a diaspora Jew.

So what can I conclude. That when Jews defend ourselves we are horrible people but the USA, Spain, France, UK and all the countries of the Iraq/Afghanistan coalition, who committed horrible atrocities in the Fallujah attack are not? Or when Muslims massacre Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and other countries, you are nowhere to be found protesting? Where are you on my social media when Bashar Al Assad mass-murdered hundreds of thousands of his own? Why is it murder when Israelis build a wall to protect themselves from Palestinian terrorism and not when Spain builds one in Ceuta in which more people have died trying to cross it? Why are the same policies that others apply with much greater impact so worthy of condemnation when Israel adopts them? Why is there such a SELECTIVE INDIGNATION vis a vis Israel and Jews in general? Of course what Israel is doing now in Gaza is tragic, but why is my social media silent with the vast majority of Muslim deaths unrelated to Israel?

Have you thought of what it would be like to have to run to a bomb shelter at a minute’s notice with your loved ones many times a day? Can you imagine London under attack? Madrid under attack? New York under attack? Paris under attack? Well that is Tel Aviv when Hamas attacks and it’s happening now. Even the Palestinian UN representative said that Hamas rockets aimed at Israeli civilian population are a crime against humanity.

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Please think again before you post. I have also condemned Israel in the past and Israel does have to work harder at reaching peace with the Palestinians. The Palestinians deserve their country and deserve it as soon as it can be done at peace with Israel along the lines of the Oslo treaty. Israel must find a way to contain its own radical elements that block peace with the Palestinians. But Israel is not at war with Al Fatah in the West Bank, it is at war with Hamas in Gaza who wants to wipe the country out and are financed by Iran who uses them to fight Israel. This is the case even though Israel, paradoxically, pulled out from Gaza and forced settlers to leave risking a civil war. Media keeps calling this a Palestinian Israeli conflict but the majority of Palestinians are not with Hamas. This is a war against Hamas in which Israel uses missiles to defend its children and Hamas sadly uses its children to protects its missiles. If Israel really wanted to kill the children of Gaza it would do what Bashar al Assad did when he killed over 50,000 of his own children. Not even the death of one child is justifiable, not a single civilian casualty is justifiable, but Israel can wipe out Hamas and it does not and I have no doubt that if Hamas could wipe out Israel it would. Moreover the rocket attacks at this point have been effective enough to isolate Israel and most airlines are not flying into Israel for fear of Hamas attacks.

In the midst of the awful ISIS successes in Iraq and the Syrian war going on now, and in the height of the Sunni Shia bloody conflict, and the threat of a nuclear Iran, Israel is our hope to stop the radicals in the region. Israel is fighting Hamas, people who dream to see you, me, moderate Muslims, and everyone who believes in equality of men and women, rights of homosexuals, freedom of expression and freedom of worship or non worship, dead. We cannot allow Hamas, ISIS and other horrible forces of evil win over reasonable and moderate Muslims. Considering what Israel could do to wipe out Gaza, the way Bashar al Assad wiped out Homs, its response is incredibly moderate, reasonable, measured and as targeted as the situation allows. If you study casualty figures in Wikipedia you will see that the chances of a Muslim to be killed by a fellow Muslim or Christian are over 1000 to 1 than those of being killed by a Jew. Please stop attacking the right of Israel to defend itself and take a global view of what is going on in the region before taking sides. In my view the only reasonable request at the moment is to ask Hamas to stop sending missiles to Israel and for Israel to stop bombarding Gaza. And I hope that this happens as soon as possible and peace is restored.

(Photos: The Telegraph and AFP)

I met King Juan Carlos on a few occasions, I also spent a couple of hours with him alone at his office. And what I saw was a great man who was trapped in a lifetime job he did not choose. A person who had to fight his own instincts to be a free man and struggle hard to stay on as King. And if he stayed on until today it was not because he loved to be King but because he loves Spain. Not royal Spain, all of Spain.

Most people think being King is a great job and blame monarchies for giving Kings or Queens this awesome position to a person who was not elected for it. But if people really understood what the job is like, most would refuse it. And I actually do know people who rejected that job in other monarchies. These are people who had the opportunity to marry a prince and did not, mainly because of the lack of freedom and constant public appearances that the job entails. Or people who abdicated to marry somebody they were in love with and wanted to lead a more normal life.

From what I saw, King Juan Carlos dream would have been not to be King. When he was younger he would escape from his King’s duties, drive somewhere in his car, try to be a free individual for a few hours. Being King is a daily obligation, not a choice.

The first time I met King Juan Carlos I had to dress with a special kind of tuxedo to dine with him in the royal palace. It was mandatory. And when I walked to greet him, my discomfort with wearing those clothes became so obvious that he read my mind and said. Hombre, Martín, ¿y tu que crees que a mi me gusta ir vestido así? (do you think I like to dress as a king?) and gave me a big smile. After that comment I felt at home in his palace. That phrase to me said it all about how he felt about being King. To me it meant behind Juan Carlos the King there is Juan Carlos the man. A funny, kind man who came to greet me with a charming, ironic comment. And in that meeting I realized how Juan Carlos the man, was actually greater than Juan Carlos the King. Yes, King Juan Carlos had shortcomings and his share of family scandals. But King Juan Carlos fought for democracy and led Spain through a period in which without him, paradoxically, democracy would have been more fragile. When I think of the Spain that he got at the start of his reign, and the Spain that we have, I am grateful to him. Everyone focuses on the fact that Kings are not elected, but few think of how Kings themselves do not choose what to do with their lives. Are we at their service or are they the ultimate public servants? In Europe’s constitutional democracies, it’s the latter.

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Mia(2) and I went for a walk at our farm in Menorca when all of a sudden she asked me. “Dad can you carry me in your arms? When I am in your arms I can touch the sky” I was moved by her request and carried her in my arms until we arrived at an area of the farm with pre historic ruins. When we were there I asked her where else she felt like she could touch the sky. She told me she could touch it when she climbed to high places. I asked her to show me and she walked up to this stone fence and touched the sky.

So if you ever wondered where the sky starts, here is her proof, the sky starts at around 1.5m from the ground. She certainly convinced me. Now I know that the sky starts somewhere between Mia and I.

After two decades of false starts I think voice recognition, or speech to text translation, has finally come of age.  Lately in both Spanish and English I find I am able to speak and have smartphones transcribe most of what I am saying.  This is true both in Apple and Google.  But because I use an Android and an iPhone on a daily basis I wanted to test who has the best voice recognition technology, Apple or Google?

So what I did is simultaneously speak into the Mail app of my iPhone 5S and the Gmail app of my Android Samsung 5, both connected to the same Fon WiFi network with Movistar fiber optic service behind them, in Alcobendas, Spain.  Then I sent emails to myself. And these are the results.

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Apple Dictation

These is a test to determine which system works better if the voice recognition off the iPhone or the voice recognition of android so what I am doing is I am dictating two emails simultaneously door and iPhone and android on I’m checking which operating system understands me better

Google Dictation

This is a test to determine which system works better if the voice recognition of the iPhone or the voice recognition of Android so what I am doing is I am dictating to emails simultaneously 21 iPhone and Android on I’m checking which operating system understands me better

Even though both operating systems made mistakes Google made a few less and is the winner here.  Especially because on Android you see each word as you speak and in iOS you have to wait until you finish and hit done to see how well your spoken English was transformed into written English.

And this is the test in Spanish:

Google

Esto es una prueba en la que quiero comprobar la calidad del sistema de reconocimiento de voz de los dos sistemas operativos el de Google y el día todo lo que quiero ver es cuál de los dos sistemas entiende mejor mi castellano

Apple

Esto es una prueba en la que quiero comprobar la calidad del sistema de reconocimiento de voz de los dos sistemas operativos el de google y el de apoyo lo que quiero ver es cuál de los dos sistemas entiende mejor a mi castellano

In Spanish both Operating Systems did equally well.  They both got everything right except the word Apple.  But again I prefer the immediate feedback that Google gives you as you speak. Also Google did much better understanding my name out of all the email addresses.  Apple had a much harder time on email address dictation, I don’t know why.

Spanish is my native language but I am very fluent in English so it is not surprising that there were a few less mistakes in Spanish.

My conclusion after this test is that both Apple and Google are finally offering true voice recognition but that Google has a slight advantage.

Does a university degree really matterUniversity education has a time stamp added to it. Before that date, you are but a student, and after that time, graduation,  you are, say a lawyer, an architect, an MD, an engineer, a computer scientist. But we all know that that is not true.  That this is arbitrary.  That learning is a lifelong endeavor. That there was nothing truly differentiating after that date.  Indeed, the same degrees require different amounts of time in different countries. And whatever degree you get it will lose validity over time.

So here is an idea. Universities should protect you from “degree obsolescence”.  How?  Well, universities are always asking money from alumni. Basically what they do is they promote reunions and ask for donations.  But how about doing something more productive with reunions? For example, when your 10th reunion comes up yes, you are hit with a request for donations, but you are also offered say a month long update of your degree. Something you can do after work, say from 5 to 8pm for a month or two.  With your university buddies. So graduates, after say 10 years of getting their medical degree,  would get a very good one month update of everything that has been developed in those 10 years in medicine. It would be like a software update, a firmware upgrade, an app update.   Universities would give you a lifetime guarantee of the value of your degree.  And you would likely be a happier donor.

(Photo credit: Ajira Blog)

Dad, what do you do? I am an entrepreneur Leo, I build companies. And what is a company? A company is a group of people who get together to accomplish something. And what is your company? Fon. And what does Fon do? We give WiFi connectivity to everyone, so for example, your iPad and everyone else’s iPad, can have games, movies, music.

Leo was pleased with the explanation. Happy with what I do.

And I was happy that I wasn’t a hedge fund manager.

disney miaI am a father of six children, not a child psychologist. So what I am about to say comes from experience not academia. But still I think it’s valid. And it refers to a question that somebody asked me that went like this. Why should you expose a two year-old to awesome experiences if she will not remember them. So this is what I think: yes you should expose them to awesome experiences and no they won’t remember them. And this is not contradictory. Allow me to explain.

Why should you, for example, take your two year old to meet the princesses in Disney World, or any other great child-oriented vacation? Because in my view, children are made of a very unique parental clay that somehow solidifies at the end of their childhood. Yes they have their own scaffolding or structure, but over this structure, every day of your parenting, you add some love clay. Yes, every day. And what should concern you as a parent is that on a poor day of parenting, say of parental neglect, you also added clay, but of a poor quality, with very little love in it. And that was your chance, that was your opportunity to build your own child that day, and you did a poor job. And it will remain. Maybe another day you were an artist of a parent, you were inspired, you connected to your two year-old in a very special way, and that day your child got a lot of love clay. And that clay also stayed for good, and that was personality building. Yes children are like that. It’s not what they remember that matters, it’s how they are built, by you. Day after day. So now you understand why it is great to take a two year-old to a great event that she or he won’t remember. Because that day you will be a better artist, a better parent, and that day will build your child in a positive way, forever. And many of those days make you a good parent. At Disney World or at the park near your home.

gramofonI am very happy to announce that Gramofon just went live on Kickstarter!

Gramofon is a new gadget category that blends WiFi and music. It has all the functionality of a Fonera but also works with Spotify to deliver the easiest way to play your cloud music from your existing sound system. On top of that it is social, so up to 20 people can connect via Facebook, and DJ simultaneously. Additionally, it works amazingly with other Gramofon units.

I decided to build this device about a year and a half ago because I found that there was no offering that allowed me to play cloud music in the way that I listen to music – socially and in my living room. I tried everything and wasn’t satisfied with the solutions that were out there because they either made me buy an expensive new system, were expensive solutions to a simple problem, or were poor solutions and hacks.

We put together a prototype early last year in New York and Fon Labs has been working on the product out of Bilbao ever since. We worked with Bone and Black on the design and now have a beautiful device that is finally ready to be revealed to the world!

We wanted to first get it to the kind of people that supported Fon to begin with: the early adopters, the people who believe in the power of new technology. For this reason, we decided to launch on Kickstarter – a crowdsourced network of backers.

So please take a look at the page. I hope you love the Gramofon as much as I do!

escanear0014_2There is a small number of people who grew up poor or middle class and are now rich. I have met quite a few.  This group is divided into two kinds, the ones who realize that being exceptionally gifted yourself does not mean that we live in a fair society and the ones who believe that we do live in a fair society and they are the proof, that all others have to do is try hard and succeed like they did.

I grew up middle class, one of six kids supported by a university professor, and have come to the conclusion that even though I have done very well, the developed world is somewhere in between in terms of fairness.

I do believe that people from any class who are extremely talented at something can do very well in most developed countries, and in that sense life in those countries is fair. But what is not fair is that very few people in society are extremely talented at anything and in many cases the life of those who aren’t is pretty bad. Especially in the USA in which the middle class has not increased its standard of living since the 70s and three quarters of the population have no savings at all.

In general I believe that societies should be judged not by how the top 1% lives but by how the bottom 20% lives. Better than having the richest people in the world it is that your country has the least poor in the world. I want to see countries ranked according to how the bottom 20% lives. To me the most successful and fair countries are not the ones with the most billionaires, but the ones who have the richest poor people in the world. Because if those are not doing so badly, then everyone else is doing better.

But I was never able to find a statistic like that.

Yesterday we had a horrible moment vis a vis selfishness of others flying first class from Vancouver to Miami, when Nina Varsavsky myself and Mia were given seats in different rows and everyone on the American Airlines flight refused to change seats with us so a 2 year-old would not fly alone. Moreover, a man became violent over this and Nina ended up crying which made me feel awful. Nina attributed the selfishness to the type of people who fly in first class, she felt they were more arrogant and difficult than the rest and said she wanted to go coach next time. She said it was the third flight in which this happened to her. We also thought it was crazy for airlines to give individual seats in different rows to a 2 year old. The experience was very sad, it was as if everyone on that plane had one thing to say to us: we could not care less what happens to your children.

Now today in the park the opposite happened. We had another difficult moment with kids, potentially much worse, but as a result we reconciled with the world of strangers and kids.

This morning, Nina, Mia, David and I rode our bikes from the Continuum to Flamingo Park in Miami Beach. Once there Nina was feeding David a tangerine when totally out of the blue, he choked. I was nearby and when I realized what was going on, I was reminded of similar situations I had been through: both my second daughter and my nephew had choked and once I had saved the life of a stranger who choked a a restaurant. So I immediately started a mini Heimlich Maneuver adapted for a 1 year-old. At the beginning it did not go well and Nina started panicking. But what happened next was amazing. It was like the whole park organized to save David, an American parent rushed to get help from a nearby fire station, and a whole Italian family took care of Mia and did it so well that Mia never realized what was going on. Finally David started crying, a sign that made us feel that he was breathing again, sort of like his first cry that only happen a year and a week ago at the Baptist Hospital also here in Miami. It took him a while to recover, he was scared, we were scared, everyone around had been scared. But he was fine.

Once I had an idea about commercial flying that instead of people being randomly allocated on flights, it involved seating people according to affinities on planes. And I said that families with kids should seat together. I still stand by this idea. Families with kids are in a way a network of common minded people all devoted to a common goal, the healthy upbringing of their children. And we help each other. I don’t know what would have happened if David had choked while flying on American Airlines but the reaction would not have been the one at the park. Families with kids understand each other. Now the paradox is that everyone was a kid, at some point, and I find it sad that so many adults lose their empathy for children after they grow up. This is reflected in society, I don’t know if you know this but in Western democracies, the highest concentration of poverty by age is among children. Children are discriminated against most likely because their voice is not heard in democracies as they don’t vote and their parents don’t carry a custodian vote for them.  But get families together and they do build a society that is extremely friendly to children. Flamingo Park was to me, how the world should be. I want to thank all the strangers who helped us in that park today.  David is fine.

Español / English


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