Changing Spots in Italy

Italy’s election on Sunday repeated a now-familiar European political story. After a campaign defined largely by anti-immigrant and anti-European rhetoric, disillusioned voters battered centrist parties and boosted upstart contenders and the far right. The biggest winners in Italy were the Five Star Movement, a young protest party started by a TV comedian which espouses online direct democracy, and the rightwing Lega Nord.


But no single party or coalition won enough votes to govern alone, so now the horse trading begins, chiefly between Five Star, Lega, and the beleaguered incumbents of the center-left Democratic Party. The talks could last months, and political deadlock is a national tradition in Italy: the country has had more than 60 governments in the last 70 years.

For Europe there are two main concerns. First, the leading Italian parties have promised to boost spending and cut taxes despite Italy’s huge debt burden. If financial markets get spooked by an inexperienced government, Europe could flirt with a fresh debt crisis in the continent’s third largest economy.

Second, with a more Euroskeptic government in Rome, Brussels will have a harder time reaching common ground on critical issues like Brexit terms, East European defiance of democratic norms, or broader reforms to EU institutions meant to make the Union function better at the cost of even less sovereignty for members.

Within Italy, the challenge for whoever runs the country next is this: voters last Sunday returned a scorching mandate for change. But making good on that expectation won’t be easy in a political culture as corrupt and parochial as Italy’s. To paraphrase a line from The Leopard, the country’s power brokers are exceptionally skilled at changing things in order to keep them the same.

Technology is changing the way modern geologists locate precious resources and harness energy. With supercomputers capable of processing geophysical data from all over the world, geologists are reconstructing models of the subsoil to identify hydrocarbon deposits. The efficiency of these powerful data processors can scan massive rock formations to help laboratories analyze geological systems. While today's modern geologists still have a compass and hammer to collect samples, petaflops of computing power are changing energy research at lightning speed.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

Are e-Cigs an example of tech gone wrong?


There's a real tradeoff in e-cigarettes. To the extent that people stop smoking regular cigarettes to use e-cigarettes, that's good. To the extent that new people who wouldn't have been smokers, particularly young people, start smoking, that's bad. Now there are real societal problems and health problems and the data show that there are lots of new people starting to smoke. I don't think of it as much as a tech problem though or tech gone wrong as much as a social problem.


Moviepass has shut down. Final thoughts?


Moviepass was this insane business. You pay them ten dollars a month and then they let you see all the 2D movies you want. That was one business plan. They had about 20 business plans. It's kind of just, there lots of tech companies where the business model is: pay us a dollar and we'll pay you two dollars. And then they say to the venture capitalists: "Look we're growing. Give us more money." Of course that's going to run out.


Nostalgia. What's the next old tech about to make a resurgence?


Snapchat. A year ago, it looked like they were poached. That Instagram was just going to knock them out. And now, everybody's using Snapchat again.

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