iTunes not available in Brazil

Here is what you get when you try to connect to the iTunes Store in Brazil:

iTunes error -4

I discovered this while trying momentarily to authorize one of my friend’s computers to read a movie I had purchased on my computer.

Well, I researched the problem and found this petition. It looks like iTunes Store is not available in Brazil, my guess is for fears of piracy, but I’m not sure. The problem is that the use case above is perfectly legit, yet, impossible to support in Brazil.

Bicycling in Brazil

View from the North of Copcabana beach

Bicycling is probably the best way to discover the city of Rio (except maybe for some touristic sites like Pão de Azúcar and Corcovado) and the worst way around in São Paulo.

In Rio, you can get a working bicicletta for a full day delivered/picked up at/from your hotel for 45 reals. Don’t expect a fancy bicycle, and do not worry when they adjust the brake before handing it to you. Rio has 132.5 kilometers of cycle paths running from downtown to the South Zone and Barra de Tijuca. On Sundays, one of the two-way lanes in front of Copacabana and Ipanema beaches are closed to car traffic and that gives ample spaces for cyclists and runners and strollers to enjoy the views. You can go as I did from Capacabana to the Jardim Botânico via Ipanema on decicated bicycle paths with occasional street crossing (I recommend stepping down). Here is the complete route on According to veloroutes, it’s 6.4 mi one way, with a maximum of 455.9 ft elevation. Note that you won’t be able to take your bike in the park, but you can leave it within the park at the level of the main entrance.

In Rio, you even have free bicycle road service from SulAmericá S.O.S. Bike service. The mecanos on bike are able to perform free services such as brake tuning, stem tuning, tire inflating, etc. for free!


Bicycling in São Paulo on the other hand is like going through the amazonian forest, alternating between pseudo-bicycle paths “dirt roads” and the actual urban jungle. There is no comparison with the luxury we enjoy in the U.S. Here cars are queens and have priority over people walking by foot or bicycling.

I went to work last Monday by bicycle with a colleague of mine. I never really felt like I was in danger, but it was quite an adventure. I don’t know if I will do it again. Here is the return route we took on our way back, as tracked by my colleague’s GPS.

Frank Lloyd Wright 1957 with Mike Wallace

Boing Boing just posted a link to a series of archived videos of the “The Mike Wallace Interview”. There is an interview with FLW in there, which I watched this morning.

Frank Lloyd Wright in the The Mike Wallace Inteview

FLW talks about his view on religion, politics and architecture. FLW is a strong believer in nature, or to try to put it more precisely in the belief that the natural should be the prime guide behind the artificial or man-made. This concept influences his architectural views, but also his religious and political views.

His notion of organic architecture, an architecture that draws its inspiration from its surroundings is well known and almost not mentioned in the interview. The architecture-related points focus on how the architecture of where we live influences our human nature, and how he would like to spend the next 15 years of his life (he was in his late eighties at the time of the interview) changing this country (the US) by changing where we live. This reminded me of this TED talk by James Howard Kunstler on the tragedy of American suburbia and how the US have a dramatic need to change its architecture. It also reminded me of this article Is Your Pleasant Suburb The Next Slum? on the possibility that American suburbia is becoming the new ghetto as prices dwindle there and people are willing to comprise space for convenience, car-free lifestyle and community.

On religion, he talks about “Nature with a capital N” as his Church, his rejection of organized religion, and how this independence has ironically allowed him to do his job as an architect for a number of Churches

The most interesting part to me is his views on politics. FLW seems to be a strong proponent of the Jeffersonian natural aristrocracy, one that is acquired via talents and virtues (as opposed to artificial aristocracy, which is acquired by birth/wealth). Unlike Jefferson, FLW does not provide a way for the natural aristocracy to be separated from the artificial aristocracy, for the wheat to be separated from the chaff. Jefferson believed in leaving to people this task, but I doubt from what I have heard in the interview that FLW believed that. He qualifies people as an incult mob with no taste and no awareness.

Anyway, this video is quite an interesting watch, and filled with quotes such as:

Arrogance is something a man possesses on the surface to defend the fact that he hasn’t got the thing that he pretends to have. He’s a bluff in other words.

Video here.

Portfolio update

Today’s rally was probably a combination of bad news not as bad as usual, and the beginning of the new quarter. The day after my last portfolio update, gold continued to decline abruptly and seeing the cracks in the bull market, I used a small Gold rally I saw as temporary to liquidate my IAU positions with a small profit on Wednesday 26. I am happy I did (I should have sticked to my initial thought that the commodity bull market is taking a deep breath). I did the same with my FXY at a small loss. I have been since then ~20% stocks (mostly AAPL and GOOG) and 80% cash USD, expecting both a short-term rally in the USD and also a short-term rally in equities, explained by market participants thinking that the worst is over, or that the Wall Street crisis won’t affect Main Street as much as priced in.AAPL did well the last month and a half (+20% since the mid-February low) and I am happy to have held on. I entered at around $135 and I’m now well in the red (+10%). This is partly thanks to the general recent market enthousiasm and partly thanks to the rumors around the 3G iPhone and of price reductions of the current model. I think the latter will be a great move. I don’t understand why Apple hasn’t been democratizing its offering with entry products that more people can afford, especially at the time we are now clearly entering a slow down. I think a sub $300 iPhone will allow people with a lower budget than current owners to finally get what they wanted for more than a year. BTW, did you know that Brazil taxes 100% imported electronics, making the MacBook Pro a >R$ 10K-12K luxury almost nobody can afford.Anyway, I’m still bearish for U.S. equities for the rest of the year, but I know that bear markets don’t go in a straight down line, and that we might be experiencing a temporary bull market. As a resuslt, I am going to watch more carefully the action tomorrow and the rest of the week. SKF (ultrashort financials) was down almost 15% today, SDS (ultrashort S&P500) was down more than 7%, which tells me that it might soon be time to buy shorts again. My portfolio is up 6.5% YTD in USD, and -0.6% in EUR.

Portfolio update

Well, it was a sucker’s rally. The DJI is down 294 points a few seconds before the close. I used this opportunity to sell my shorts (SKF +2.91%, FXP +15.37%). I think holding SKF is a bit risky in the short-term, I agree with Jim Rogers, chairman of Rogers Holdings, on that, who believes that we might see a short-term rally in financial stocks in the short-term given the actions of the Fed and the reasonable earnings announcements from the Wall-Street heavyweights and their reassuring propaganda that everything is fine.

What was really interesting today was the action on Gold, IAU was almost down 4.5% in one day, and I think I’ve never seen this in 1 year of investing, so I used this opportunity to scoop up a little IAU at $92.44, but not too much (about 7% of my portfolio). Gold actually went up slightly towards the end.

I kept my Yen and I’m looking to buy more shorts, but on general market indexes, not specific sectors like Banking/Finance.

Portfolio update

Before I start my comment on the day, I wanted to say that I should have probably waited Monday to close the positions I closed Friday. The Bear Stearns crisis drove the Yen, Swiss Franc, Euro, Gold and shorts financials to new highs. But who could have predicted this! Jim Cramer actually recommended Bear Stearns last Monday – What a joke, this show.

As for today, another spike (DJI +420.21) that MacroMan was prudent to not qualify, hesitating between calling it the latest sucker’s rally or as the short-term bottom. As far as I’m concerned, it did not convince me, and it offered me the opportunity to buy some SKF (-15.42% today) and FXP (-9.26% today) and some FXY (-2.19% today).

My portfolio is about 60% USD cash, 15% Yen cash, 20% stocks, and about 5% shorts. My YTD performance is 4%.

Gold (IAU) was down -2.76% today, which is probably explained by this part of the Fed statement:

The Committee expects inflation to moderate in coming quarters, reflecting a projected leveling-out of energy and other commodity prices and an easing of pressures on resource utilization.

I tend to share this opinion, although the main reason for the drop today is most likely the momentary lapse of reason of the markets that this 75pts cut will bolster confidence in the U.S. financial system’s ability to absorb the current crisis. Nouriel Roubini agrees with the idea that Gold price will be under pressure in 2008 as a result of the recession’s reduction of long-term inflationary pressures.

As a result, I will adopt a wait-and-see stance with regards to Gold in the short-term. By the way, a chart I like to monitor.