Friday, October 31, 2008

Go Party!

Vote Hour

You can call him coach

Diego Maradona will become Argentina's soccer coach next week (Time)

Now he will bring fun back to the international game.

The tyranny of morality in the small

"The House of Representatives on Thursday passed the contentious anti-pornography bill, defying months of protest from artists, pluralists and human rights groups." (The Jakarta Post)

Every time a society imposes law that regulate the morality in the small, it chips away the liberty of the individual. Most of the time it is based on the misguided believe that if individuals stop doing vice, it will improve the society in the large.

It doesn't. The government cannot regulate what it's inside the heart of men.

The morality in the large such as reduction of poverty, increase in education, crime prevention, environment etc, are all require dedication and hard work from all aspect of society (including the government), which is why the appeal of morality in the small is attractive. It's cheap, it's punishment based and it gives you the absurd illusion that you are doing good for society.

Go build the schools, the roads, create the jobs, protect the environment, educate the kids, take care of the elderly, heal the sick. Those are the morality in the large that society must care about, more than whether your women dress attractively and your men downloading porn off the Internet.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Economist endorses.

"A man who started with no money and few supporters has out-thought, out-organised and outfought the two mightiest machines in American politics—the Clintons and the conservative right."

How I cost the election

I got this link from It's pretty cool. 

The last hurrah

In the third quarter, Exxon’s profit rose 58 percent, to $14.8 billion, or $2.86 a share, from $9.41 billion, or $1.70, in the quarter a year ago. (NY Times)

It's yet the largest corporate profit in a quarter ever.

Go Vote

Monday, October 27, 2008

Quote of the Day..

"The United States economy is like a poker game where the chips have become concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, and where the other fellows can stay in the game only by borrowing. When their credit runs out the game will stop."

Marriner Stoddard Eccles was a U.S. banker, economist and Chairman of the Federal Reserve

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ricky Gervais and Thandie Newton reading Sarah Palin Porn Script


Inch by inch

" On Sunday the Palestinian national team will for the first time host an international game, in a West Bank stadium upgraded to meet the standards of FIFA, football's governing body. Until now, the decade-old team has played "home" games in Jordan and Qatar.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter will attend the exhibition match against Jordan in the 6,000-seat Faisal Husseini Stadium in the town of Ram, just outside Jerusalem. The stadium was renovated for $4 million (euro3 million)." (CNN)

Back to 1990s

I.M.F. Won’t Fire Director for Sexual Affair

"The International Monetary Fund said Saturday that it would stand by its managing director, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, despite concluding that he had shown poor judgment in a sexual affair with a subordinate." (NY Times)

Ah Frenchie, they get away with anything.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Habib Koite - Wassiye

Icelanders are NOT terrorists

"Gordon Brown unjustifiably used the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act of 2001 against the people of Iceland for his own short-term political gain. This has turned a grave situation into a national disaster, affecting families in both Iceland and the United Kingdom. Help us avert greater damage by signing this petition now"

Check out the hilarious and poignant photographs submitted by the Icelanders.

Wassup 2008.


"“Twenty-five billion dollars is obviously going to help the folks who are struggling more than Chase,” he began. “What we do think it will help us do is perhaps be a little bit more active on the acquisition side or opportunistic side for some banks who are still struggling. And I would not assume that we are done on the acquisition side just because of the Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns mergers. I think there are going to be some great opportunities for us to grow in this environment, and I think we have an opportunity to use that $25 billion in that way and obviously depending on whether recession turns into depression or what happens in the future, you know, we have that as a backstop.”

Read that answer as many times as you want — you are not going to find a single word in there about making loans to help the American economy. On the contrary: at another point in the conference call, the same executive (who I’m not naming because he didn’t know I would be listening in) explained that “loan dollars are down significantly.” He added, “We would think that loan volume will continue to go down as we continue to tighten credit to fully reflect the high cost of pricing on the loan side.” In other words JPMorgan has no intention of turning on the lending spigot.

It is starting to appear as if one of Treasury’s key rationales for the recapitalization program — namely, that it will cause banks to start lending again — is a fig leaf, Treasury’s version of the weapons of mass destruction." (NY Times)

Tell me again why government assisted bank consolidation is a good thing?
Yesterday was United Nations Day, the anniversary of the United Nations Charter.


The Purposes of the United Nations are[1]

  1. To maintain international peace and security, to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace;
  2. To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;
  3. To achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character, and in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and
  4. To be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends."

Tiny House

it will turn out that this was jesus, and we were all being tested

According to police reports, the man was drunk when he argued with the woman. After she resisted his advances the man went to the basement where he urinated on her dog and the floor. (AP)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Kamasutra, by FHM (safe for work)

Do you support death penalty?

"Indonesia will execute three Islamist militants convicted of the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people in early November, a government official said on Friday.

The men -- Imam Samudra, Amrozi and Mukhlas, also known as Ali Ghufron -- were sentenced to death in 2003 for their roles in the nightclub bombings on the holiday island." (NY Times)

You think you overachieve?

"Guitarist and songwriter Brian May has completed his doctorate in astrophysics—three decades after he put academia on hold to form the rock group Queen.

The rocker was awarded his qualification Thursday by London's Imperial College and said submitting his thesis, "Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud," to supervisors was as nerve-racking as any stadium gig.

"I'm feeling rather joyful. I cannot tell you how much of a weight off the mind it is," May said late Thursday.

May was an astrophysics student at Imperial College when he joined Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor to form Queen in 1970, but dropped his doctorate as the glam rock band became successful. Queen became one of Britain's biggest music groups in the 1970s, with hits including "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "We Will Rock You."

This is old new item but man, being both a Queen founder and a PhD in Astrophysics are beyond belief.

Obama endorsements...

Colin Powell
Christopher Buckley
Economist readers

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"A survey released this year by the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights found that 98 percent of foreign women in Egypt and 83 percent of Egyptian women had experienced some kind of sexual harassment. But few women had attempted to file charges, citing a lack of confidence in the police and the judicial system. Women often decide not to report harassment out of concern for their reputations, activists say."

Women in Cairo frequently try to reduce the likelihood that they will be harassed by dressing very conservatively, but many women report that they have been harassed, grabbed or groped when wearing Muslim headscarves or a full face veil, known as niqab. More than 70 percent of the respondents to the women’s rights group’s survey said they were wearing the veil when they were harassed. (The Lede)

A van driver was recently sentenced to three years prison sentence with hard labor for groping a woman. It's a good start. May more persecutions happens until the culture on the street changes.

What Indonesian must be protected from

Above is a clip from a traditional Indonesian beat style called dangdut, which is massively popular and commonly sung by singers with suggestive dance moves and sometimes skimpy clothings.

They can be targeted by the proposed anti-pornography bill.

15 companies that will change the world

From online exchange for the manufacturing industry, to fuel-cell technology that will allow homes and businesses to power themselves, and inkless printers, this list is pretty awesome.

"Flight of the Penguins"

"The bizarre penguin influx called for an equally strange rescue operation, in which the non-profit group International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) partnered with the Brazilian military to transport the migrants back to their home turf. This weekend, the animal rescuers loaded 399 of the penguins onto a cargo plane and flew them to Pelatos, a city at the southern tip of Brazil. A video from IFAW showed volunteers lifting the penguins from crates onto the beach; the birds waddled straight toward the water while a crowd of onlookers clapped and cheered. - Discover magazine


Penguins showing up in tropical Bahia. Bizarre!!

"Vivi Widyawati of Civil Society Alliance said some provisions in the bill were too abstract to be workable. She was referring to an article which states pornography is any form of human product that can arrouse sexual desires or violate local sexual norms.

"How can you measure whether something is sexually arrousing or not. Will it be the women's fault, if men get arroused?," Vivi suggested."

Another activist, Estu of the Woman's Legal Aid Foundation, said the government must not regulate the individual actions, but instead should control the distribution of pornographic material.

"We must review the bill again because it is highly discriminatory of woman," she said.
(The Jakarta Post)

It's quite heartening for me to see massive opposition to an anti pornography bill. There are enough existing laws to enforce to deal with distribution of pornographic materials. Having the state to do social engineering of taste is a terrible idea.

Singles map in the US

Check this interactive map based on the numbers of male/female singles data. The more imbalance your ratio, the easier for you to get a date.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Blazing opposition to an anti pornographic bill

A column by an Indonesian woman.

"Yes, there is no doubt that something has to be done to combat our out-of-control pornography industry, which has earned us the dubious honor of being the world's No. 2 "porno heaven" (after Russia). But isn't the obvious solution just to give the existing law on pornography some Viagra: make it nice and strong so it works properly! As it stands now, the penalty under the Criminal Code (KUHP) is a joke -- 18 months' imprisonment, max, and a fine of just Rp 4,500 (less than 50 US cents).

Surely toughening up the existing law and enforcing it is easier than arguing over a new one that is vague, poorly drafted and causing massive unrest. And it would mean we wouldn't have to pander to the juvenile, neurotic hang-ups about sex generated by the hard right of our Muslim world. When will PKS and other home-grown Islamist parties accept that, unlike Omar Al-Sweilem, most Indonesians don't want to live in a Wahhabi-inspired world that it is so repressed and devoid of sensuality that dying seems more attractive?

And take note SBY: Even if there is an election coming, getting some spine and saying no to this kind of moral panic would let your government focus on more real and urgent issues in the here and now: poor leadership, a weak and corrupt public sector, low foreign investment, deteriorating health and education sectors, unemployment, poverty, etc.

So, sorry, Pak Kaplale, that all means dispatching this sloppy, dangerous anti-pornography bill of yours to its own afterlife as quickly as possible."
(The Jakarta Post - Julia Suryakusuma)

The proposed pornography bill is terrible. It's vague and will just become a weapon to prosecute women in a country with a culture that's comfortable with eroticism. 

Cheap hotel in Switzerland

The world’s first 'no star' hotel has opened in a disused nuclear shelter.

None of the rooms have views, there is only limited hot water, no room service, no TV and guests are warned to be expected to share with soldiers, firemen and emergency workers if nuclear war breaks out.

But the hotel scores over many of its competitors in pricey Switzerland: it costs just £17 a night.

I've stayed in one of these bunkers thanks to the OC of IC 2001 in Lenk. It's pretty cool as a party place because boy, you can crank up those beats and no one can hear you above ground. The downside? The rooms in the morning stink of all the beer fueled morning breaths lingering in the air.

Moon Masala

India launched its first unmanned spacecraft to orbit the moon early Wednesday, part of an effort to assert its power in space and claim some of the business opportunities there. (NY Times)

Congratulations guys.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Poop Fiction

"The story of civilization has been the story of separating you from your waste. British investigative journalist Rose George's stunning—and nauseating—new book opens by explaining that a single gram of feces can contain "ten million viruses, one million bacteria, one thousand parasite cysts, and one hundred worm eggs." Accidentally ingesting this cocktail causes 80 percent of all the sickness on earth.

I once had a small taste of the problem. A few years ago, I was trudging up a hill in Caracas, Venezuela—through a vast barrio cobbled together from tin and mud and leftover plastic—when I saw a plastic bag filled with feces hurtling toward me. It splattered all over my chest and into my mouth. This wasn't an attack on a gringo intruder. In many of the slums that scar South America, there are no sewers, so the only way to dispose of your excrement is to squat over a bag and throw. It's called the "helicopter toilet."

In her search for answers to what to do with our swill, George lyrically dives into the toilet bowl, sloshing about like Gene Kelly singin' in the rain. "Of all the people of the world, the Chinese are probably most at home with their excrement," she explains. They defecate openly, chatting away with their friends in toilets with no dividers. Perhaps for this reason, the Chinese have been more creative than anyone else with their crap. Since the 1930s, they have been turning it into electricity.

" (Slate)

Annihilation par excellence and one for the records

Sachin Tendulkar goes on to become the highest run getter in Tests. He then proceeds to become the first player in history to achieve the milestone of 12,000 runs.

Ishan Sharma successfully manages to create all sorts of trouble for Punter again and is now seated firmly in my mind as the most masterful of in-cutting pacers since white lightning (Allan Donald)

Ganguly stamps his authority, Gauti delivers his 2nd test match hundred and the Indian opening pair become the 2nd most successful opening partnership of all time. Dhoni proves why he is the future of INdian cricket and will, whether we like it or not, give some tough days ahead to the selectors on the composition of the side for the Delhi test match. With Kumble having achieved history with the 10-for on the same pitch, there might be a legacy to deal with. What however, will they decide on the captaincy? Clearly the controlled aggresion and team management ability being shown by Dhoni (with both the seniors and juniors) is proving to be highly interesting ....

Records aplenty, enthralling cricket and the outcome - an utter annihilation of the world champs at the hands of a truly well balanced Indian team.

Australia needs answers and fast....

Monday, October 20, 2008

Quantum of Solace first review

"Covered in oil, the thick black fluid dripping from her naked body, the latest girl to fall for James Bond lies dead on a hotel bed." (Daily Mirror)

Visit Release Log for any good movie torrents.

This costs a cool $110,000. (Wired)
""Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer is no. That's not America. Is there something wrong with a seven-year-old Muslim American kid believing he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion that [Obama] is a Muslim and might have an association with terrorists. This is not the way we should be doing it in America."
 (General Colin Powell)

Nassim "The Black Swan" Taleb

His rant on the current financial crisis on economists' bogus risk metrics. His excellent presentation on black swan problem.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah


One day in 1996, a Wall Street trader named Nassim Nicholas Taleb went to see Victor Niederhoffer. Victor Niederhoffer was one of the most successful money managers in the country. (Gladwell)

Now that's just sick

"Barack Obama's campaign announced Sunday the Democratic presidential candidate raised $150 million in donations in September, setting a new high water mark in campaign fundraising.

In a video to supporters, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said a record 632,000 new donors gave to the campaign, with the average contribution under $100. More than 3 million donors have given so far." (CNN)

The only appropriate response is: Holy Cow!
" President Asif Ali Zardari returned from China late Friday without a commitment for cash needed to shore up Pakistan’s crumbling economy, leaving him with the politically unpopular prospect of having to ask the International Monetary Fund for help.

With the United States and other nations preoccupied by a financial crisis, and Saudi Arabia, another traditional ally, refusing to offer concessions on oil, China was seen as the last port of call before the I.M.F.

An I.M.F.-backed plan would require Pakistan’s government to cut spending and raise taxes, among other measures, which could hurt the poor, officials said."
(NY Times)

For oil concession, ask Venezuela. Just say nice things about Chavez and you can be like Cuba, who got free oil from Venezuela.

Getting help from IMF is nasty.  Indonesia got a taste from the IMF straightjacket and boy, it was fucking hard for the poor and lower middle class.

AIESECer + Idea = Awesome. a world's first, and it allows you to shop for loans online. If you've ever applied for  a loan in India, you'd recognize that this is a BIG deal. (vote)

..puts websites directly in touch with advertisers, while generally pushing Google to wonder wtf they're doing with Google Moon when they should be re-thinking their ad strategy :) (vote)

Both these ideas were co-founded by AIESEC alum, and have been shortlisted on a search for India's hottest startups. 

Help an AIESECer with an idea!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

textbook example: the blaze of glory

some excerpts from a hedge fund manager's farewell letter: hedge fund blogger)

Recently, on the front page of Section C of the Wall Street Journal, a hedge fund manager who was also closing up shop (a $300 million fund), was quoted as saying, "What I have learned about the hedge fund business is that I hate it." I could not agree more with that statement. I was in this game for the money. The low hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking.


Since Thomas Jefferson and Adam Smith passed, I would argue that there has been a dearth of worthy philosophers in this country, at least ones focused on improving government. Capitalism worked for two hundred years, but times change, and systems become corrupt. 


 marijuana. It gets you high, it makes you laugh, it does not produce a hangover. Unlike alcohol, it does not result in bar fights or wife beating. So, why is this innocuous plant illegal?

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Sage of Omaha Speaks

"A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. And most certainly, fear is now widespread, gripping even seasoned investors. To be sure, investors are right to be wary of highly leveraged entities or businesses in weak competitive positions. But fears regarding the long-term prosperity of the nation’s many sound companies make no sense. These businesses will indeed suffer earnings hiccups, as they always have. But most major companies will be setting new profit records 5, 10 and 20 years from now." (Warren Buffet)

He is the richest person in the world and the greatest investor ever lived. 

His message: Buy. Stocks. Now.

Berlin: suggestions

Hi guys, i am heading to Berlin next weekend and wanted suggestions on what should i see there. I have done some online search but i want to know some places that i should NOT miss, as i would have just 2 days there. Thanks, Shashaank


"Suddenly, there are lines in the bank for foreign currencies, and there is a limit on how much we can get -- overseas banks are refusing to accept our freefalling currency, the krona. One of my students, studying in Spain, can't get money from Iceland for her rent. Importers and exporters can't get currency to conduct business. Icelandic tourists abroad have problems getting cash from A.T.M.'s. The British government has applied terrorist laws to freeze the assets of an Icelandic bank; the list goes on as if it were a script for the nightmare of globalization." (Iceland)

"The old saw “safe as houses” no longer cuts. And money in the bank is no longer “money in the bank.” We did not think the system could fail, but late last month government officials, in a dawn announcement, told us they had been compelled to give a 400-billion-euro guarantee to the banks, which were running out of money. It has been estimated that if the banks have to call in that guarantee, it will bankrupt the country for the next 37 years. And it will get worse." (Ireland)

On the other hand, this soon will also pass, eventually, sometime in the future.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Love Pad

There's a nomad needing a place to crash in Hong Kong. If you have extra space and taste for adventure and located in Hong Kong, let me know.

Everybody ends up here

Devrim  is moving to Cairo in December.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Alert for Airbus A330-300

"An error in the automatic pilot system caused an Airbus jet to plummet last week, injuring scores of passengers on a Qantas flight from Singapore to Perth, Australia's air safety agency said on Tuesday.

The incident was an "unique event," but was serious enough to prompt Airbus to issue emergency guidelines to airlines worldwide operating the Airbus A330-300 in the event of a similar emergency, Australian Transport Safety Bureau director Julian Walsh told reporters in Canberra." (Yahoo)

So when you are flying, check your plane. The glitch in the automatic pilot system caused that Qantas plane to drop 300 meters in one minute.

Going Latin

"Iceland's blue chip stocks plunged 77 percent when trading reopened on Tuesday after a near week-long suspension and an official delegation from the island sought Russian help in saving the economy from collapse.

Iceland has already tapped the International Monetary Fund for help with the crisis that has overwhelmed its once buoyant financial sector and brought the economy close to collapse." (Yahoo)

Iceland is a small Scandinavian country. When you heard of "Scandinavian", a couple of things pop into mind; blondes, happy people, strong socialistic country and always among the top countries to live in the world.

The fact that one Scandinavian country ends up in the mercy of IMF is jarring. It's like being an Argentinian Viking - it doesn't fit with the perception.


"Rather than award yet another Nobel Prize to an economist who put bells and whistles on the conventional model (Princeton University Professor Paul Krugman was honored this past weekend ''for his analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity",) the Swedish Academy should have honored Brenner, who gives us a model that makes sense in the real world of tumult and uncertainty - 2008 should have been Brenner's year, given the cataclysmic breakdown of the conventional model. Only a few months ago, the governments of the world went about their business as if nothing unusual was at work; now they are lurching from one emergency plan to another and warning of a new Great Depression. " (Spengler)

Monday, October 13, 2008

What if You Held an Election and Nobody Cared?

Canada has a federal election tomorrow - probably the most under-reported, massively eclipsed Canadian election ever.

Euro Trip?

I had pretty much written off Europe as any sort of travel/backpacking destination as the price of the Euro and Pound skyrocketed in the last 2-years. But now, it looks like things are coming back down to levels that once again make the Old Continent economical for us Greenback travelers:
"STERLING will continue to slide against the dollar as long as financial turbulence persists, analysts say, as international investors dump the pound and euro."

This was something I hadn't expected. Anyone know the economics behind the retreat to the dollar? I had assumed that the shear amount of US debt and crazy monetary policy would keep people away, but that has not born out as investors seek comfort in the world's largest economy rather than risk it on a confederation with seemingly better financial fundamentals.


"The National Debt Counter, erected in 1989 when the U.S. debt was 'merely' a tiny $2.7 trillion, has been moving so much that it recently ran out of digits to display the ballooning figure: $10,150,603,734,720, or roughly $10.2 trillion, as of Saturday afternoon."

Welcome to Somalia

More pictures can be found at Foreign Policy Magazine

Here we go again

Mbeki seeks to save Zimbabwe deal. Ex South African President Thabo Mbeki is due in Harare for talks aimed at breaking the political impasse in Zimbabwe.

Apparently the previous power sharing deal is tearing apart.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


The first year of GWB presidency was marked with 9/11 attack in the Wall Street area. The last year of GWB presidency is marked with the wipe out of Wall Street.

Haider, No More

Jorg Haider, one of Europe's most successful far-right politicians, dies in a car crash aged 58. No foul play suspected at the moment, he was alone in a car that veered off the road and flipped while overtaking another car. 

The EU declared sanctions on Austria in 2000 after Haider's party entered the country's governing coalition. 

Friday, October 10, 2008

15 Oct is Blog Action Day 2008

Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

Tom gets his wish...

AIESEC alum Martti Ahtisaari wins the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize. Let the celebrations begin.
Esquire Magazine 75 most influential people in the 21st century.

Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, who's counting?

It looks like we are in the midst of global financial harakiri. Everybody get spooked, which then kills the very system it relies on.

The various financial bail out plans have failed to stem the marauding panickers in the financial market. Yuck.

Iceland (that's where Bjork comes from) is almost bankrupt, the market accross Asia drops in crazy numbers, Russia on a free fall, Dow Jones is playing how long and low can you go.

The major economic powers are meeting this weekend trying to get another substantive action to deal with the meltdown of the financial system. If you are not religious, it's time to be. 
Passenger laptop computers are now being investigated as a possible cause of the Qantas mid-air emergency off Western Australia on Tuesday.

The Airbus A330-300, with 303 passengers and a crew of 10, experienced what the airline described as a "sudden change in altitude" north of its destination on Tuesday
. (NZ Herald)

The plane dropped 300 feet mid air. Man, that would really suck if it happens to you.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

It pays to be a stripper

"That is where the market seemed to be heading. “A lot of people are coming in and spending $2,000 and $5,000 and $10,000,” Mr. Zherka said. “They are spending like they are making millions and millions of dollars. I don’t know if they are depressed or what.”" (Cityroom)

One club in introducing $1000 dollars lap dance. Apparently as the financial market tanks, the "gentlemen's club" business is booming.

do we have to do this again?

Tens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law, according to a review of state records and Social Security data by The New York Times. (NYTimes)


Dow was holding steady, than down 600-points+, now its climbing back up. It looks like these are the days that the US Debt comes home to roost. This is uncharted terroritory everyone.

I hope we'll still have enough money to get a new debt clock. How else will we keep track of all of the IOUs we've written.

In the meantime, kick your heels up and enjoy the fireworks:

Fireballs of Nong Khai

As the full moon crests the horizon, ruby orbs of light begin to rise out of the Mekong River. As if by magic, they float silently into the air and then evaporate in the inky blackness, a phenomenon that awes and delights observers privileged to have seen them.

For centuries, their existence was a closely-held secret among villagers living near the northeastern town of Nong Khai. Then, the miraculous event was discovered by outsiders who now flock to the riverbanks each October full moon night in enormous numbers—400,000, at last count. (tatnews)

Change your career

Let's go pirating instead.

"There were mixed signals on Wednesday about the progress of the ransom negotiations for the arms-laden Ukrainian freighter that Somali pirates hijacked nearly two weeks ago.

Business associates of the pirates said that a deal to pay the pirates millions of dollars was close and that the freighter would be freed.

“The pirates and the shipowners have agreed on around $8 million,” said Ahmed Omar, a businessman in Xarardheere, the notorious pirate den near the location where the hijacked ship is anchored. “The ship may be freed today or tomorrow.” (NY Times)

I mean, 8 million dollars for a month work, that's pretty sweet.

If you think US financial crisis is bad

"The government of Iceland took extraordinary measures on Tuesday to stave off “national bankruptcy,” as the credit crisis tightened its grip on this remote island nation in the North Atlantic." (Dealbook - NYT)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

If you are travelling to Laos

burn your lonelyplanet and use instead. 

And if you are visiting Luang Prabang, I highly recommend Khoun and Khone guest house, you get a bungalow in a lush garden for $20 dollars a night and you get to get out from the usual tourist trap accomodation down town. A young family run it with four cute dogs and two adorable cats. They also adopted a hmong village in the hills and teach the community about the basic advancement such as water tank.

They'll drive you to town for free in a 10 minutes drive on a rusty Land Rover  jeep, which adds to the charm of the service.

Luang Prabang is a mini Tel Aviv, there are some money Shekels being spent there by Hebrew speaking tourists. 

If you are trekking to the mountain and staying among the Khmuk or Hmong people, treat it like a camping. There are no electricity, no plumbing or the basic comfort of modern living you'll find there. Bring books (get it in town) and coloring pencils for the kids. 

Yeah, bring your own toilet paper too for your jungle toilet. Don't forget of your first aid kit, you might get into the situation where a villager or two come to you for medicine because there little access to modern medication there.

And here's a new drinking game. If you are eating a whole chicken as dinner, keep the head of the chicken and use two plates together and shake the chicken head inside them. Open the plate and whoever sitting on the direction of the chicken head must drink.

The kids in the villages are joyful. They play like normal kids and can't wait to show their cute smiles to a bunch of strangers.

And bring your swimming gear as there is a bunch of refreshing stream on the hills.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

index funds, anyone?

the Dow Jones industrial average has lost one third of its value in the past year.  S&P even worse.  even if I don't own any stocks or mutual funds, should I be concerned?

52-week low9,436.67
52-week high14,198.10
52-week % change–32.73%
1-month % change–15.81%

E-Mail Safety

I'm sure this is something none of us ever needed ;-)

Gmail Add-On

Monday, October 06, 2008

Tree man 'who grew roots' may be cured

An Indonesian fisherman who feared that he would be killed by tree-like growths covering his body has been given hope of recovery by an American doctor - and Vitamin A.

( link )

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Watch Slacker Uprising

The movie from Michael Moore, who went to 60 cities in 2004 to get the slackers off their asses and voting. Download it for free, if you are in the USA here. If you are outside of the USA, you can download it here: [MP4 648 MB 01:39:23]

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Hand-held projector -Awesome!!! The future is here.

wow. and only 359 USD. Already available to buy, and in 2009... to be integrated into mobile phones. more

Friday, October 03, 2008

The financial crisis explained.

I think that this short video fable gets to the root of the complicated issues that are driving our present credit crisis.

If Google were President

Foreign Policy has an interesting analysis of Google's poition on Energy and Environmental Policy, Foreign Policy, Economy, Domestic Policy and Security and Privacy.

I vote for Google as President! Read it here.

They both won... different battles

... and in all honesty, was it a game-changer? (popular opinion is "No"). Nonetheless, each VP candidate seemed to achieve their own goals, boosting support for their respective leaders and attacking each other's tops (instead of a VP vs. VP smackdown). Political pundits are having a field day right now. Analysts from each side are lauding the performance of the two (and it was genuinely a good debate).

Generally, Palin seemed warm and regained the Republican party moral by being eloquent. Biden showed his competency in foreign policy and made some specific points on the domestic economy.

Coverage on the VP debate (CNN)
BBC News - comments from around the world

* Democratic VP running-mate, Joe Biden, was trying to hammer John McCain and reinforce that Obama-Biden was in agreement - mission accomplished.
* Republican VP running-mate, Sarah Palin, was trying to redeem her reputation from recent embarrassing media bites and boost the morals of conservatives - mission accomplished.

* Joe Biden attacked the Bush administration legacy and pointed out that the McCain ticket did not have any specific plans. Biden remarks that McCain is "not really a maverick on the things that matter." - Ding, ding!
* Sarah Palin points out the Democratic President & VP's differences and Biden's criticism of Obama in the past. - Ding, ding!

* Biden showed restraint to avoid looking sexist and condescending - done.
* Palin showed that she could speak (somewhat) intelligibly on foreign policy (beyond "Alaska and Russia share a maritime border") and was a worthy running-mate for the R. party - done.

* Biden flashed the whitest, Cheshire-cat grin (sort of cheesy) as much as possible. Talked from "my neighborhood" point of view and played the cards of a single-parent, about to send his son off to Iraq.
* Palin emitted folksy charm, was telegenic, and winked a lot. Brought 'Joe Six-pack' and 'Hockey Moms' with her to the podium.

* Biden sometimes got long-winded in Senate talk and lost the audience (zzz...). Said (firmly) that climate change was man-made.
* Palin: kept on calling the US General in Afghanistan "McClellan" instead of "McKiernan" (oops!). Seemingly agreed to same-sex couple rights, a little too forcefully than what the conservatives might have liked (the evangelicals may have fallen off their chairs).

* Biden seemed to have a command of foreign policy and diplomacy that is generally more cooperative than current administration. He took a stand and exuded confidence.
* Palin-McCain seemed to still have a Washington Concensus and US hegemony flavor in the way they approach foreign policy - a bit over-simplified and forceful indoctrination. (Palin still showed that foreign policy was her weak spot)

In a way, Palin won by not digging a deeper hole. That, would have been a game-changer.

What's your take on the VP debate?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Giving up for adoption

It's a very free Nebraska

This is definitely a little weird. Puts less pressure on parents for sure.

Kinda scary too....

Sarah Palin - Katie Couric interview debacle

At first, I thought it was a really funny spoof by SNL (Saturday Night Live - an American live comedy TV show). Then I saw the actual interview and was aghast that a lot of the dialogue was straight from the real thing (and it seemed like she couldn't complete a single sentence). Strange. Sad. Craziness!!! (trying to stay objective in looking at both parties, but seriously...)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

They're back

Legends (for me at least) Phish will play in a reunion for 3 shows in Hampton VA in March 2009 with more shows to follow. Ticket bookings can be made here.

got a bright idea?

This is a link to a competition being conducted by the good people at Google. You send in innovative ideas and the top 100 are uploaded for a global vote. The top 5 chosen get 5 million USD.

I also heard the US government was one of the sponsors of this competition- perhaps they'll get an idea to sort out the mess they've got themselves into...