Sunday, September 30, 2007

Wow ! Grozny

Remember those rubbels in the capital of Czechnya? This is how it looks now. Amazing.

The good life of the Auschwitz guards..


"At first glance, the photographs seem innocuous enough. Men and women in uniform lie back in deckchairs, listen to accordion music, decorate a Christmas tree.

It seems like a carefree life - but the pictures were taken at the Auschwitz death camp at the height of the Holocaust. The happy men and women are Nazi officials enjoying time off from the business of genocide.....

...Museum archivist Rebecca Erbelding, who has helped to put album online, believes the very ordinariness of the scenes captured is what makes them so chilling.
"It shouldn't have surprised us that this was how they lived in Auschwitz, that this was how they unwound after a 'hard day's work'," But I think it's shocking because it's a reminder that they were human beings, that they weren't red-eyed monsters, that they had pets and children and lives, and yet could do this to other people."

Dr Stephen Feinstein, director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at the University of Minnesota...draws a parallel between what happened in Nazi Germany and more recent events in Rwanda and Bosnia, where people who had lived side-by-side for years ended up killing each other. He also sees an echo in the scandal at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, where American men and women "raised as good citizens" were guilty of abusing Iraqi prisoners in their charge.

" What it says to me is that anybody is capable of committing genocide under the right circumstances, and what we have to figure out is what makes that possible." BBC news

Saturday, September 29, 2007

score one for the little guy!

MONTERREY, Mexico (Reuters) - Three Mexican minors detained in California on suspicion of smuggling drugs stole a U.S. Border Patrol car while still wearing handcuffs and drove it back across the border to Mexico.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Red Shirt for Burma

The flickr feed is can be found here.
And when Henry Ford was experimenting with car engines a century ago, he tried ethanol out as a fuel. But he rejected it—and for good reason. The amount of heat you get from burning a litre of ethanol is a third less than that from a litre of petrol. What is more, it absorbs water from the atmosphere. Unless it is mixed with some other fuel, such as petrol, the result is corrosion that can wreck an engine's seals in a couple of years. So why is ethanol suddenly back in fashion? That is the question many biotechnologists in America have recently asked themselves. The Economist

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Kiwi Billy Wiki

It's said the powerful write their own laws, but now everyone can.

Due to a new wiki launched by New Zealand police, members of the public can now contribute to the drafting of the new policing act.

NZ Police Superintendent Hamish McCardle, the officer in charge of developing the new act, said the initiative had already been described as a "new frontier of democracy".

"People are calling it 'extreme democracy' and perhaps it is," he said.

"It's a novel move but when it comes to the principles that go into policing, the person on the street has a good idea ... as they are a customer," he said.

"They've got the best idea about how they want to be policed."

The true revolution has begun.

Best Places to launch a Career

BusinessWeek published it's second annual ranking of Best Places to launch a Career, one of the surprises in there was that "Accounting firms have raced to the head of the pack". If you wonder how they rank all the companies? You can find out more here, but in a nutshell they survey nation's career-services directors at U.S. colleges, they surveyed employers, and college students.

So the list is comprised of 95 companies and here are the top 10:
1- Deloitte
2- PWC
3- E&Y
4- IBM
5- Google
6- Microsoft
7- Walt Disney
8- Accenture
9- Lockheed Martin
10- Teach for America

Some interesting findings:
19- US State Department
50- CIA
70- IRS
78- DHL

Change of Regime in Myanmar?

What's your prediction?

For me, this current mass demonstration is similar to the ones that happened in 1997 in Indonesia. At that time, it demonstration was also triggered by economic issue and supported by broad spectrum of the populace. Suharto resigned after months long demonstration in the Capital.

I think the military junta in Myanmar will fall too.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


I couldn’t get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia’s restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it’s run by blacks, primarily black patronship. Bill O'Reilly

No more Red Lights in Amsterdam

"If the city authorities have their way, the widely sold tourist T-shirt proclaiming that "Good boys go to heaven and bad boys go to Amsterdam" will become a relic. Indeed, those bad boys may soon struggle to find their way to the city's fabled red-light district of "storefront" prostitution. Last week one of the main entrepreneurs in the city's perfectly legal sex industry cashed in, selling his properties in the district. The buyer, for $35 million, was a not-for-profit organization backed by the city of Amsterdam. The plan is to convert the buildings in which prostitutes pose in the windows into apartments and more conventional commercial space." (Time)

Finish the Fight !!

An MIT prank on Harvard.(Joystiq)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ahmadinejad live from Columbia

From the NYTimes Cityroom blog

He asked of the United States: “If you have created the fifth generation of atomic bombs and tested them already, what position are you in to question the peaceful purposes of others who want nuclear power? We don’t believe in nuclear weapons, period. It goes against the whole grain of humanity.”

Pressed by Dean Coatsworth on the original question about the rights of gay men and lesbians in Iran, Mr. Ahmadinejad said: “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. We don’t have that in our country.”

The audience booed and hissed loudly. Some laughed, uncomfortably.

“In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon,” Mr. Ahmadinejad continued, undeterred. “I do not know who has told you that we have it. But as for women, maybe you think that maybe being a woman is a crime. It’s not a crime to be a woman. Women are the best creatures created by God. They represent the kindness, the beauty that God instills in them. Women are respected in Iran.”

INDIA wins

India beat Pakistan by 5 runs to win the Twenty20 World Cup.

Maroon Revolution in Myanmar ?

"The largest street protests in two decades against Myanmar’s military rulers gained momentum Sunday as thousands of onlookers cheered huge columns of Buddhist monks and shouted support for the detained pro-democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi."(NY Times)

I was half expecting Shaolin style blockade but instead what we have is a peaceful sit in. Good on them !

back at it again

Tuscaloosa, with 83,000 residents, is an hour's drive west of Birmingham. During court-ordered desegregation its schools roughly reflected the school system's racial makeup, and there were no all-black schools.

But in recent years the board has carved the district into three zones, each with a new high school. One cluster of schools lies in the east of the city; its high school is 73 percent black.

Another cluster on Tuscaloosa's gritty west side now amounts to an all-black minidistrict; its five schools have 2,330 students, and only 19 are white. Its high school is 99 percent black.

In contrast, a cluster of schools that draw white students from an affluent enclave of mansions and lake homes in the north, as well as some blacks bused into the area, now includes two majority-white elementary schools. Its high school, Northridge, is 56 percent black.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

So you want to be a writer?

Get on it. It starts on November 1. Signs up opens October 1. 50,000 words in 30 days.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Techtonik craze

A new homespun urban dance phenomenon has taken hold in Paris and is quickly spreading to the rest of France through Internet videos and word-of-mouth.

Tecktonik, a mix of hip hop and techno dance, was the talk of this year’s Paris Techno Parade, the annual dance music street carnival that took place in the French capital last Saturday.

"I started to practice at home by looking on the Internet," said Jackie, a 20-year-old regular at the Metropolis who works with young people in a northern suburb of Paris.

"Dancing has changed me," says Sofian, a 15-year-old from a tough Paris suburb who discovered Tecktonik recently. "Before I was on the street. I was at the police station everyday. It's been two or three months now since I did anything stupid." - Breitbart

Youtube is flooded with Tektonik videos of course.

move over, panama canal!

here is a recent satellite image of part of the northwest passage, the frozen part of canada. this summer the area of ice coverage over the arctic at its minimum point was about one million square miles (1.96 million square kilometres) below the average minimum for recent decades.


Neb. state senator sues God in protest

Chambers says God has caused "fearsome floods ... horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornadoes."

He's seeking a permanent injunction against God.


Splitting up is hard to do

"“We are two different nations, an artificial state created as a buffer between big powers, and we have nothing in common except a king, chocolate and beer,” said Filip Dewinter, the leader of Vlaams Belang, or Flemish Bloc, the extreme-right, xenophobic Flemish party, in an interview. “It’s ‘bye-bye, Belgium’ time.”" (NY Times)

Belgium doesn't have a government for the past 3 month and now the chorus for splitting up the country has grown louder. Do you have any suggestions for possible future two new countries out of Belgium ?

election '08

for us citizens and residents, is it more important to

a) legalize gay marriage
b) legalize marijuana

Thursday, September 20, 2007

punk asses

What experts label “adolescent risk taking” is really baby boomer risk taking. It’s true that 30 years ago, the riskiest age group for violent death was 15 to 24. But those same boomers continue to suffer high rates of addiction and other ills throughout middle age, while later generations of teenagers are better behaved. Today, the age group most at risk for violent death is 40 to 49, including illegal-drug death rates five times higher than for teenagers. link

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

like NYtimes columns?

A Letter to Readers About TimesSelect

Dear Readers:

Effective Sept. 19, we are ending TimesSelect. All of our online readers will now be able to read Times columnists, access our archives back to 1987 and enjoy many other TimesSelect features that have been added over the last two years – free. link

Monday, September 17, 2007

Contest to End Youth Homelessness

This contest is being hosted by one of the non profit partners of the company that I work for (Virgin Mobile). Check it out!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Windows Live Writer

Just wondering how many people use Windows Live Writer to blog? I've been trying, but it won't let me upload pictures directly to my nomadlife blog. Any suggestions?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Surya's happy song

Can film bring the world together?

In a world where people are often divided by borders, difference, and conflict, it's easy to lose sight of what we all have in common. Pangea Day seeks to overcome that -- to help people see themselves in others -- through the power of film.

On May 10, 2008 -- Pangea Day -- sites in New York City, Rio, London, Dharamsala, Cairo, Jerusalem, and Kigali will be videoconferenced live to produce a 4-hour program of powerful films, visionary speakers, and uplifting music. The program will be broadcast live to the world through the Internet, television, digital cinemas, and mobile phones.

Of course, movies alone can't change the world. But the people who watch them can. So following May 10, 2008, Pangea Day organizers will facilitate community-building activities around the world by connecting inspired viewers with numerous organizations which are already doing groundbreaking work.

We want to know your story. Make a film and register today at Then, upload your video at

If you'd like to host a screening or learn how you can get involved, please visit our website at

Thursday, September 13, 2007

i hope you believe

Table reproduced from Lakoff & Núñez: Where Mathematics Comes From

"Conceptual metaphors do not just map preexisting elements of the source domain onto preexisting elements of the target domain. They can also introduce new elements into the target domain. Consider, for example, the concept of love. There is a common metaphor in the contemporary Western world in which Love is a Partnership. Here is the mapping.

Source Domain Target Domain
Partners -----------> Lovers

Partnership -----------> Love relationship

Wealth -----------> Well-being

Profits from the business -----------> "Profits" from the love relationship

Work for the business -----------> "Work" put into the relationship

Sharing of work for the business ------> Sharing of "work" put into the

Sharing of profits from the business ---> Sharing of "profits" from the

Ramadan Kareem

(Sultan Hassan mosque and surrounds, Cairo - National Geographic)

It's Ramadan - props to all the Muslims and sympathetic observers who are totally hanging out for a cigarette, coffee or sandwich right now. May Iftar be a sweet, well deserved one :)

Remember to check out Blogging Ramadan for all the latest from across the Ramadan'ing world...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A different view of 9/11

Caught this from

It's a collection of first hand accounts about how the Walt Disney parks and resorts handled the confusion on September 11th, 2001. Not exactly tales of heroism, but certainly an interesting look at how a large & iconic institution handled an extremely uncertain situation.

I (was) getting trained on 2 major attractions (at the Magic Kingdom) when my manager told both me and my trainer what had just happened in NY. We quickly went to the nearest Cast Member Break Room and I managed to see the second plane hitting the tower "live." The room was packed with all sorts of managers and I remember very vividly the (very surprised) reaction on their faces when the ABC reporter said:

"This just in: (The Walt Disney Company) has just announced that (it) will be closing (its) theme parks worldwide."

And literally less than a minute after the reporter said that, their beepers started going off like crazy and they walked out of the break room.


First we shut down all the attractions and restaurants and merchandise shops to get the guests out in the street.


Once the guests were forced to the streets of the park because all the rides were closed, all the cast members were instructed to hold hands and basically form a human wall and gently (without touching any one) walk towards the hub of the park and eventually towards Main Street. That way we could basically force the guests out of the park.

Trekking Across China

Evan Osnos, Bureau Chief for the Chicago Tribune in Beijing, is walking across China. Along with a photographer, the two are producing a multimedia package that documents their trek across Sichuan Province - one of the most densely populated provinces in China. Details of the whole journey is featured on the Tribune's website and is quite worth the read:

Osnos was also a recent guest on the Colbert Report, where he talked about how Western demand for China-produced-cashmere is taking a tow on the global environment. To view the related story, as well as the video clip, click here.

An inspiration, a hero, a role model.... Anita Roddick died yesterday

Anita Roddick, the founder of the Body Shop is one of the few people I could call either a hero, a role model or an inspiration to me. Way before people were talking about CSR she was doing it (1976) because it needed to be done for business reasons and for social and environmental reasons.

Her whole life has been devoted to issues she truly believes in and issues her company truly believes in. Lets just have hope in others like her and hope that there are many many more people like her still to come.

For Dame Anita, the truly exceptional entrepreneur, business and ethics came together. "Businesses have the power to do good," she wrote. "That's why The Body Shop's Mission Statement opens with the overriding commitment, 'To dedicate our business to the pursuit of social and environmental change.'" Capitalist with a Conscience

Monday, September 10, 2007

Blogging Ramadan - who's interested

Gday nomads,

Last year a bunch of nomads experiencing Ramadan around the world shared our experiences together at Blogging Ramadan, a group blog here on nomadlife.

We're going to get it going again this year, so if anyone is interested in contributing, just drop me a mail - tom(dot)gara(at)

Blogging Ramadan is for anyone and everyone who has an interest in the month - Muslim and non-Muslim, people inside and outside of the Islamic world - if you want to share your experiences of the month with other interested folk, this is the place to be. If you were already a contributor last year then no need to mail me, just post away!

Ramadan starts on Thursday, insh'allah - here's to a special month for all those who are touched by it...

Saturday, September 08, 2007

for gentlemen, how to win a lady's hand at a disco

this video is a perfect guide. what you want to do is wait for prettiest girl to head for the exit, and you grab her arm just as the music abruptly changes to a slow, romantic song.

Friday, September 07, 2007

if you ever need to measure something. just pull up nomadlife

Meter Standardized: 1983
Measures: Length
Definition: The distance traveled by light in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458 second

Second Standardized: 1967
Measures: Time
Definition: The time it takes for a cesium-133 atom to cycle 9,192,631,770 times between two specific quantum states

AmpereStandardized: 1948
Measures: Electrical current
Definition: The current required to create a force of 2 x 10-7 newtons per meter between two parallel wires

Kelvin Standardized: 1954
Measures: Temperature
Definition: 1/273.16 the temperature of the triple point of water — when it's simultaneously gas, liquid, and solid

Mole Standardized: 1971
Measures: Amount of stuff
Definition: The number of atoms in 12 grams of carbon 12 (6.022 x 1023)

Candela Standardized: 1979
Measures: Brightness
Definition: The intensity of a 1/683-watt yellow-green light spread over a square meter, seen from a meter away

Subprime loan woes? Blame it on the poor

" 1) They're masters of public relations.

I had no idea how my open-handedness could be made to look, after the fact. At the time I bought the subprime portfolio I thought: This is sort of like my way of giving something back. I didn't expect a profile in Philanthropy Today or anything like that. I mean, I bought at a discount. But I thought people would admire the Wall Street big shot who found a way to help the little guy. Sort of like a money doctor helping a sick person. Then the little guy wheels around and gives me this financial enema. And I'm the one who gets crap in the papers! Everyone feels sorry for the poor, and no one feels sorry for me. Even though it's my money! No good deed goes unpunished.

2) Poor people don't respect other people's money in the way money deserves to be respected. "
(A Bloomberg columnist)

Customer service

Whilst most attention was on the release of the sexy ipod touch (iphone minus the phone), many early adopters of the iphone focussed their attention on the dramatic (USD$200) price drop after only 2 months in the market - many of the apple faithful felt betrayed, and felt obliged to tell The Steve exactly how they felt.

The Steve listened and is splitting the difference - a $100 credit for the faithful. Faith restored.

Check out the open letter here:

Thursday, September 06, 2007

This showed up on my facebook, "AIESEC Girls Are Sexier + Cuter + Smarter + Better".

Virgin Galactic Spaceport

(Popular Science)

Il Maestro has passed away.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A philosophical question

Does anyone have a theory as to why the comments/discussion on Youtube are consistently terrible? It seems like every single one of them is the same pubescent swearing match. What is going on?

It would make sense if the comments for stuff like 50 Cent videos and clips of 16 year-old girls lip-syncing to Britney were full of useless juvenile crap - but even clips that wouldn't exactly attract the retards of the world seem to be full of the world's most retarded comments.

Any theories?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Peace through porn?

"There’s proof of this on the internet: A fellow blogger, Israelity Bites, picked up an interview that did with Nir Shahar, who runs an Israeli porn site. Shahar claims he’s had over 100,000 hits from eager porn perusers in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.

His website, Ratuv, which means ‘wet’ in Hebrew (nothing left to the imagination there!), adds piquancy to the standard bump and grind by dressing up his porn starlets as Mossad agents, soldiers or women cops. It’s so popular that Shahar is launching an Arabic version. “We received many ‘thank you’ messages from Arab surfers. Many asked if the female soldiers really serve in the IDF,” he says. Any doubts and they could also check out the men’s mag, Maxim, which recently ran a spread on Israeli army beauties sans their olive-drabs, though I imagine that Saudi censors would be scratching furiously with their black felt pens on copies of that issue." (Time)

Bollywood 1 Economist 0

"Indian society today has intertwined people and religion to the nth degree, so much so that a Muslim prancing about as the Hindus' most revered and worshipped of Gods, mouthing a tune composed by 2 other Muslims is not just accepted but universally applauded and sung across the country. And it was important for me, as an Indian to refresh that particular discussion about "Radha kaise na jale" because therein lies the ultimate truth really."

Abhi does well to put the Economist in it's place for making an unforgivable generalization.

Me and my cousin against the enemy, ...

me and my brothers againsts my cousin (an Egyptian proverb)

"Some of the same Arab tribes accused of massacring civilians in the Darfur region of Sudan are now unleashing their considerable firepower against one another in a battle over the spoils of war that is killing hundreds of people and displacing tens of thousands." (NY Times)

So yes, there's a new set of refugees created in Darfur.

Monday, September 03, 2007

toe to toe

Laura Mac Donald talks about a 1970 doctoral dissertation concerning sex in men's public bathrooms

And for our part, let’s stop being so surprised when we discover that our public figures have their own complex sex lives, and start being more suspicious when they self-righteously denounce the sex lives of others. (article)

8 Days a Week

"American workers stay longer in the office, at the factory or on the farm than their counterparts in Europe and most other rich nations, and they produce more per person over the year."

"They also get more done per hour than everyone but the Norwegians, according to a U.N. report released Monday, which said the United States "leads the world in labor productivity."


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Moi, Corrupt ?

"The breathtaking extent of corruption perpetrated by the family of the former Kenyan leader Daniel Arap Moi is revealed in a secret report which lays bare a web of shell companies, secret trusts and frontmen used to steal over two billion dollars worth of state money.

The suppressed U.K auditor's report shows how the wealth was spread across the world from properties and shell companies in London, Newyork and South Africa to a 10,000 hectare ranch in Australia.

The countries involved in facilitating the thefts include Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Dubai, Finland, Germany, Grand, Cayman, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Liberia, Luxembourg, Malawi, Namibia, the Netherlands, Puerto, Rico, Russia, Somalia, South, Africa, Sudan, Switzerland, Uganda, the United Kingdom, the United States and Zaire.

The intricately detailed report, commissioned by President Kibaki after his 2002 election victory but later suppressed, forensically investigates corrupt transactions and holdings by several powerful members of the Kenyan elite.

The sums are comparable in magnitude to the looting of infamous kleptocrats such as Mobutu (Zaire), Marcos (Philippines), Abacha (Nigeria), Suharto (Indonesia) and Fujimori (Peru). The leaked material is extremely politically sensitive. Ex-President Moi has become a key player in political life in Kenya, and is now an essential pillar in President Kibaki's campaign for re-election in December 2007." (Wiki leaks)

The architect speaks

"“The answer lies in our genesis,” he said. “To survive, we have to do these things. And although what you see today — the superstructure of a modern city — the base is a very narrow one and could easily disintegrate.”" (NY Times)

"Singapore’s secret, Mr. Lee said, is that it is “ideology free.” It possesses an unsentimental pragmatism that infuses the workings of the country as if it were in itself an ideology, he said. When considering an approach to an issue, he says, the question is: “Does it work? Let’s try it, and if it does work, fine, let’s continue it. If it doesn’t work, toss it out, try another one.”"

Supposing we had oil and gas, do you think I could get the people to do this?” Mr. Lee said. “No. If I had oil and gas, I’d have a different people, with different motivations and expectations.

“It’s because we don’t have oil and gas and they know that we don’t have, and they know that this progress comes from their efforts,” he said. “So please do it and do it well.”"

Find more on BurningMan from wired.
What personality disorder are you?