Thursday, April 30, 2009

Man charged with trying to attack Dutch royal family

How to overreact

"The United Nations said the mass cull of up to 300,000 pigs was "a real mistake" because the new viral strain – a mix of swine, avian and human viruses – has not actually been found in pigs.

Still, on Thursday, the state began confiscating animals anyway.

Police and health officials arrived at Sayed’s house early in the morning Thursday. They threatened to arrest him if he did not surrender the animals, and after hitting him on the head and legs several times, he gave in.

When he arrived at the slaughterhouse with the animals, he received no compensation from the government, instead he was actually charged for the cost of slaughtering the pigs. He was also told that he would be given the meat after the animals were slaughtered so he could try to sell it, but he hasn’t received it yet."

Sadly hillarious

"It was once said that a black man would become president when pigs fly..." and here comes the Swine Flu.

Divokej Bill - Malování

Jaromír Nohavica - Divocí koně (Wild horses)

Terrorist Attack in Baku

Local news reports say unidentified gunmen staged a terrorist attack in the Oil Academy building in downtown Baku.

15 people are reported dead and more are wounded.

BBC report here

Local news report here

More to come.


This is the most detailed report so far

--Second Update--

Now they're saying it was a Georgian-Azeri guy who did it. 13 reported dead, 9 wounded.

What's scary is that this guy had enough ammo to take out more than one clip's worth of people. Some have even suggested, due to the "professional" nature of the shootings, that he has had training.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rock around the world

From the very cool playing for change project.

This is fucked up

"After first dismissing it as a private matter, the government of the United Arab Emirates today condemned a video tape showing a member of the royal family torturing a grain dealer, with the help of men in uniform." (ABC News)

Click on the link and you can play the video. The guy survived but boy, this is real fucked up.

Free Bacon

Egypt to kill all pigs to avoid Swine flu.

3 years ago, during the bird flu, they close all stores that sold fresh chickens.

Bulat Okudzhava

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sneaky Bastards

"Under threat of military action, the Taliban staged a show withdrawal from Buner at the end of last week, Major General Abbas said. But he said the militants were in fact trying to expand the space they control beyond the valley of Swat, which borders Dir and Buner.

At a news conference, he played three tapes of telephone intercepts of the main Taliban leader, Mullah Fazlullah, talking to one of his commanders about making a show withdrawal for the media while telling their men to put away their weapons and lie low." (NY Times)

It's good to see finally the Pakistani Army decided that it indeed has the obligation to protect the country.

come on man, get it

This study investigated biased message processing of political satire in The Colbert Report and the influence of political ideology on perceptions of Stephen Colbert. Results indicate that political ideology influences biased processing of ambiguous political messages and source in late-night comedy. Using data from an experiment (N = 332), we found that individual-level political ideology significantly predicted perceptions of Colbert's political ideology. Additionally, there was no significant difference between the groups in thinking Colbert was funny, but conservatives were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said while liberals were more likely to report that Colbert used satire and was not serious when offering political statements. Conservatism also significantly predicted perceptions that Colbert disliked liberalism. Finally, a post hoc analysis revealed that perceptions of Colbert's political opinions fully mediated the relationship between political ideology and individual-level opinion. (Link)

Account from Ground Zero of the Swine Flu Contagion

"I'm a specialist doctor in respiratory diseases and intensive care at the Mexican National Institute of Health. There is a severe emergency over the swine flu here. More and more patients are being admitted to the intensive care unit. Despite the heroic efforts of all staff (doctors, nurses, specialists, etc) patients continue to inevitably die. The truth is that anti-viral treatments and vaccines are not expected to have any effect, even at high doses. It is a great fear among the staff. The infection risk is very high among the doctors and health staff.

There is a sense of chaos in the other hospitals and we do not know what to do. Staff are starting to leave and many are opting to retire or apply for holidays. The truth is that mortality is even higher than what is being reported by the authorities, at least in the hospital where I work it. It is killing three to four patients daily, and it has been going on for more than three weeks. It is a shame and there is great fear here. Increasingly younger patients aged 20 to 30 years are dying before our helpless eyes and there is great sadness among health professionals here.
Antonio Chavez, Mexico City" (BBC)

How a bunch of Indonesian screw up paleontology

"Everything about them seems incredible. They were very small, not much more than three feet tall, yet do not resemble any modern pygmies. They walked upright on short legs, but might have had a peculiar gait obviating long-distance running. The single skull that has been found is no bigger than a grapefruit, suggesting a brain less than one-third the size of a human’s, yet they made stone tools similar to those produced by other hominids with larger brains. They appeared to live isolated on an island as recently as 17,000 years ago, well after humans had made it to Australia." (NY Times)

Three feet is around one meter.


The dude on the third is the Hobbits of Indonesia.

Swine Flu Puzzle

(Picture from Mexico Day of the Death)

"This swine flu, meanwhile, does seem to spread easily by airborne transmission. But how deadly is it? Despite the 100-plus deaths in Mexico, we don't really know. And that's why epidemiologists are working frantically to figure out the Mexico mystery: Why do the death rates there appear to be so much higher than those in the United States? In Mexico, it has reportedly killed about 100 of the 1,600 official suspected cases; elsewhere, it has appeared to take a far milder course, with zero deaths out of approximately 300 instances. There are several possible explanations for this discrepancy—any one, two, all, or none of these ideas could shed light on how deadly this virus might prove. In order of ascending likelihood for Mexico's higher mortality:"

Monday, April 27, 2009

an early documented example of professional rivalry

"Learning many things does not teach understanding. Else it would have taught Hesiod and Pythagoras, as well as Xenophanes and Hecataeus." (Heraclitus c.500 BC)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Swine Flu

Mexico, welcome to East Asia.

"White-coated health care workers fanned out across the international airport here to look for ailing passengers, and thousands of callers fearful they might have contracted the rare swine flu flooded government health hot lines. Health officials also began notifying restaurants, bars and nightclubs throughout the city that they should close." (NY Times)

Here's a recommended attire

(Picture taken during SARS crisis)

This swine flu already took 80 lives. It has the look of an epidemic and be worse than SARS - SARS killed around 500 people.

This is the page on WHO regarding this flu and CDC has something to say about it as well.

U.S. Human Cases of Swine Flu Infection
State# of laboratory
confirmed cases
California7 cases
Texas2 cases
Kansas2 cases
International Human Cases of Swine Flu Infection
See: World Health OrganizationExternal Web Site Policy.
As of April 25th, 2009 7:30 p.m. EDT

"Yes. CDC recommends the use of oseltamivir or zanamivir for the treatment and/or prevention of infection with these swine influenza viruses. Antiviral drugs are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaler) that fight against the flu by keeping flu viruses from reproducing in your body. If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious flu complications. For treatment, antiviral drugs work best if started soon after getting sick (within 2 days of symptoms)."

Mafia 2.0

Well look who has been doing extortion on business online. Yelp is a popular online review of businesses that pride itself of "Real People. Real Value", except that

"Hey look, people are finally noticing that Yelp sells review placement.

They called us a few months back with the usual shakedown request. Apparently you get a call once you have more than N hits. If you pay them a monthly fee, you get to put your "favorite" review at the top, get better search result listings, and (I'm pretty sure they told us) get to delete "unfair" reviews about your business." (JWZ)

Boom, there goes your online integrity. And more in this situation reported by East Bay Express

""Hi, this is Mike from Yelp," the voice would say. "You've had three hundred visitors to your site this month. You've had a really good response. But you have a few bad ones at the top. I could do something about those.""

This is great. Welcome to Sleazy and Shady 2.0.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Investment Bankers

"We're watching the entire investment banking industry go through what I endured seven years ago. They aren't going to be paid so well in the future, even though they made the colossal mistake of giving up the best years of their lives to the finance industry. It feels--and it is--massively, nearly unfathomably unfair. On the other hand, that's a pretty good description of the universe: massive. nearly unfathomable. unfair. " (Megan)

Just another case of stick to doing what you love - because what you thought to be a safe choice might dissappear and all you end up is joyless memories.

Next time, try not to be a douchebag

"From Pakistan to Gaza and Lebanon, militant Islamic movements have gained ground rapidly in recent years, fanning Western fears of a consolidation of radical Muslim governments. But here in the world’s most populous Muslim nation just the opposite is happening, with Islamic parties suffering a steep drop in popular support.

In parliamentary elections this month, voters punished Islamic parties that focused narrowly on religious issues, and even the parties’ best efforts to appeal to the country’s mainstream failed to sway the public." (NY Times)

For religious parties to succeed, concentrate on big morality, not small and vice morality. Advocate for the poor, clean government, education, unemployement, crime, health, etc and skip on trying to worry whether a traditional dance is too sexy or what women should wear.

Yeah, the big morality part is hard - it's easy to try to enforce "moral behaviour" through politics but those are fuckin' bullshit. Improve the well being of the nation and the rest will follow.

all or nothing

TOKYO (Reuters) - Media helicopters hovered overhead and photographers camped out in front of Japan's top talent agency Thursday after one of television's cleanest-cut stars was arrested for public indecency.

Tsuyoshi Kusanagi of the pop group SMAP was found drunk and naked in a public park in Tokyo in the early hours of the morning, his agency said in a statement. He was alone and shrieking at the top of his voice, media reports said.

"What's wrong with being naked?" he demanded of a police officer who tried to question him after receiving a complaint about the noise, Kyodo news agency said.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Garbage Island in the Pacific

Episode 1 is now on.

POZ, a support community for living with HIV positive. And pluez, if you are sexually active with multiple partners (lucky bastards, you!), do yourself a favour and do a check every year.


"Taliban militants have established control in the strategically important area of Buner, only 70 miles from Islamabad, law enforcement officials said."

“They take over Buner, then they roll into Mardan and that’s the end of the game,” a senior law enforcement official in North-West Frontier Province said. He asked that his name be withheld because was not authorized to speak to the news media.

The Taliban had pushed into the district from the neighboring Swat Valley, where the Pakistani Army agreed to a truce in mid-February and remains in its barracks.

In another sign that the Taliban were consolidating their control of Buner on Thursday, Taliban militants held a meeting, or jirga, with local elders and the local administration, residents said, agreeing to a similar truce to the one that has taken hold in Swat, residents said.

(NY Times)

So when is Pakistan going to fight back? A nuclear powered Taliban, now that's a black swan.

Difficult Situations

If the situation you are in is difficult, check this out

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Cool Britania

Yet another instant classic from Britain's Got Talent.

How to cook and eat your vegetable

Researchers at the University of Murcia and the University of Complutense in Spain examined how various cooking methods affected antioxidant activity by analyzing six cooking methods with 20 vegetables. The six cooking methods were boiling, pressure-cooking, baking, microwaving, griddling and frying. Their findings showed the following:

• The highest antioxidant loss was observed in cauliflower after boiling and microwaving, peas after boiling, and zucchini after boiling and frying.
• Green beans, beets, and garlic were found to keep their antioxidant levels after most cooking treatments.
• The vegetables that increased their antioxidant levels after all cooking methods were green beans (except green beans after boiling), celery and carrots.
• Artichoke was the only vegetable that kept its high antioxidant level during all the cooking methods.

Griddle- and microwave-cooking helped maintain the highest levels of antioxidants, produced the lowest losses while “pressure-cooking and boiling [led] to the greatest losses,” says lead researcher A. M. Jiménez-Monreal. “In short, water is not the cook’s best friend when it comes to preparing vegetables.”" (FP)

The Satyam Conspiracy

"The deception played out over at least eight years, involved dual accounting books, more than 7,000 forged invoices, dozens of fake bank statements, thousands of unnecessary employees and auditors who received fees several times the market rate, according to a charge sheet filed by the Criminal Bureau of Investigation in a court in Hyderabad.

The 77-page document details the scope of the fraud at Satyam, and lays out the bureau’s case for charging six company managers, their PricewaterhouseCoopers auditors and an adviser with cheating, forgery and falsification of accounts.

Satyam managers, including the founding brothers B. Ramalinga and B. Rama Raju “were able to attract prospective customers and investors by making them believe” that the company was “carrying out huge volumes of business,” the report said." (NY Times)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

how to handle confrontations at work: Dallas

See the world before you turn 35?

"I remember being on a train and having this mad thought that I should visit 100 countries before I was 30 years old.

I did the math. And according to my calculations, it would cost about the same as buying a new sport utility vehicle, about $30,000. A lot of my friends were buying S.U.V.’s, but it just didn’t appeal to me.

At about country No. 50, I had another eureka moment: “Why stop at 100?” I’m 30 years old now, and my new goal is to visit each country on this planet before I’m 35 years old. Some of my friends think I’m nuts.
" NYTimes
"'Humans need aerobic exercise in order to stay healthy,' says Lieberman. 'If there's any magic bullet to make human beings healthy, it's to run.' " (Daily Mail)

The article is a must read for runners.


It's critical to have a rigorous interview / selection process.

Team building

Inch by inch, play by play

Crisis Management

This clip should appear in every leadership training seminars.

They have been hiding them from us

"Mitchell, who was part of the 1971 Apollo 14 moon mission, asserted Monday that extraterrestrial life exists, and that the truth is being concealed by the U.S. and other governments.

He delivered his remarks during an appearance at the National Press Club following the conclusion of the fifth annual X-Conference, a meeting of UFO activists and researchers studying the possibility of alien life forms.

Mankind has long wondered if we're "alone in the universe. [But] only in our period do we really have evidence. No, we're not alone," Mitchell said." (cnn)


The winner of Pulitzer prize


Public Service - Las Vegas Sun

Breaking News Reporting - The New York Times Staff

Investigative Reporting - David Barstow of The New York Times

Explanatory Reporting - Bettina Boxall and Julie Cart of the Los Angeles Times

Local Reporting -
Detroit Free Press Staff
Ryan Gabrielson and Paul Giblin of the East Valley Tribune, Mesa, AZ

National Reporting - St. Petersburg Times Staff

International Reporting - The New York Times Staff

Feature Writing - Lane DeGregory of the St. Petersburg Times

Commentary - Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post

Criticism - Holland Cotter of The New York Times

Editorial Writing - Mark Mahoney of The Post-Star, Glens Falls, NY

Editorial Cartooning - Steve Breen of The San Diego Union-Tribune

Breaking News Photography - Patrick Farrell of The Miami Herald

Feature Photography - Damon Winter of The New York Times


Fiction - Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (Random House)

Drama - Ruined by Lynn Nottage

History - The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed (W.W. Norton & Company)

Biography - American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham (Random House)

Poetry - The Shadow of Sirius by W.S. Merwin (Copper Canyon Press)

General Nonfiction - Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon (Doubleday)

Music - Double Sextet by Steve Reich, premiered March 26, 2008 in Richmond, VA (Boosey & Hawkes)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Give up already

Guess who won the Boston Marathon? Correct, someone from Kenya and Ethiopia.

Durban Review Conference on Racism

It's currently going on right now.

This is probably the most useless global summit ever. Racisms are to be eradicated from the bottom up, family by family, block by block. An international declaration ain't going to cut it. And screw racism, that's the easy part, deal with the issue of the treatment of minorities by the majorities. That's where the impact are felt right now.



"We tend to always wonder," she replied: "What's that person's true preference? What do they really want? I think that's the wrong question, because we want it all." People have multiple goals. If group involvement or the ordering of choices changes the process of making a particular decision, and in turn the result — whether because it tweaked our notions of risk or because it helped elevate social goals above individual goals and led to better choices for the global commons — that isn't necessarily a distortion of our true preference. There is no such thing as true preference. (NYTimes)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The story of the world's largest-ever election...

....told with maps, charts, tables and numbers.

You can find out the male-female divide; how many MPs have criminal cases against them; how many are lawyers or teachers or industrialists, etc; how many belong to India's lower castes; who are the youngest/ oldest sitting MPs.. and on and on and on...

Good stuff. highly reccomended.

P.s. if you're ever lost in India, also happens to possess the best maps of Indian streets that I know of (better than Google!) - complete with directions and travel time.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Susan Boyle in 1999 - Cry Me a River

Cultural Misreading

Watch this

and get in the joke here

and it continues

"If I had my way, I’d destroy all the mosques and spread the whores around a little more," the detective said. "At least they’re not sectarian."

Baghdad (NYtimes)

Kazillion people can't go wrong

Click here

Friday, April 17, 2009


and this one by a street band.

We all need bigger dreams

"Excellent opportunities for adventurous people. Enjoy 365 days of sunshine and 6 figures income - work internationally. Must be willing to travel intensively over water. Must be a people person. Summer job application is also accepted."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Laying down the law

"Shimon Shiffer, the Yedioth Achronoth correspondent and one of Israel's top journalists, is reporting today that Rahm Emanuel told a top Jewish organizational figure that President Obama intends to see a Palestinian state created during his first term.

"In the next four years there is going to be a permanent status arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of two states for two peoples, and it doesn't matter to us at all who is prime minister," Shiffer quotes Emanuel as saying." (TPM)



We’re used to the future turning out differently than we expected; it happens all the time. When the past turns out differently, though, it can get really upsetting, and because people don’t like that kind of upset, we’re at risk of finding new reasons to believe false things, rather than revising our sense of what actually happened. (The Failure of #amazonfail)

On a related note, the tag options for these nomadlife posts are out of control. I vote for jesse to summarize them with thrice an option, in portanol.

malls are dying

General Growth Properties, one of the largest mall operators in the nation, filed for bankruptcy early Thursday morning in one of the biggest commercial real estate collapses in United States history.

Despite bargaining for months with its creditors, General Growth faced increasing pressure to handle its more than $25 billion in debt, largely in the form of short-term mortgages that will come due by next year. The company has been severely wounded by the recession, which has wreaked havoc upon the retailers who inhabit its more than 200 malls in 44 states. Many stores have shuttered, depriving mall operators like General Growth of revenue. (NYTimes)

Made of Money

Interesting post from BoingBoing about billboards made from money. It's a protest illustrating how little value Zimbabwean trillion dollar notes have.
To highlight the plight of Zimbabwe and the cause of the ‘Zimbabwean Newspaper’ we handed out trillions of dollars of worthless Zimbabwean money stamped with provocative messages and a call for support for the Zimbabwean newspaper, we also turned the money into giant posters, with trillion dollar tear-offs.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Another Issue in the Financial Wood Work

If you feel the need to read some more about the financial framework we live in, check out this enlightening article on systematic trading at Zero Hedge. Its a good introduction into yet another component to our sporadic financial institutions.

Hezbollah vs Egypt

"Strained ties between regional heavyweights Egypt and Iran, which broke off diplomatic relations almost 30 years ago, have deteriorated further since Egypt last week accused a Hezbollah cell of plotting attacks in the country.

Security officials have said 25 members of the cell were arrested, with Egyptian police scouring the Sinai peninsula for the remaining 24 suspects.

The manhunt has prompted the Israeli military to put its troops on high alert along its border with the Sinai peninsula." (Middle East Times)

Hezbollah went one step too far.

Data Porn

World Bank releases its trove of data online.

The geniuses

"Late bloomers' stories are invariably love stories, and this may be why we have such difficulty with them. We'd like to think that mundane matters like loyalty, steadfastness, and the willingness to keep writing checks to support what looks like failure have nothing to do with something as rarefied as genius. But sometimes genius is anything but rarefied; sometimes it's just the thing that emerges after twenty years of working at your kitchen table." (Gladwell)

the pirates.

what about the pirate battle? it has caused some things of political importance to become obvious.

1. Somalia's instability is affecting countries other than its neighbors, and powerful countries. the international community has taken advantage of the power vacuum to cut highly profitable and highly unscrupulous deals: weapons, toxic waste, illegal fishing, who knows what else. as dody noted: you give us toxic waste, we give you pirates. Someone needs to be in charge there. Even a well-organized criminal organization or military dictator is preferable to the current situation. Someone needs to answer the phone.

2. as for the US media circus, Obama got his first military victory, and it was a cakewalk. he got it without risking any soldier's lives, without any chance of civilian deaths, with perfectly transparent motives, with a very tangible prize (the rescue of an heroic captain) and a very tangible opponent (PIRATES!).

3. But for the North-South, rich vs. developing world dynamic, it is business as usual. Let's bring the bible into this: "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." The world is offended because we have let Somalia become what it is: a bundle of medieval european-style warring city-states among modern nation-states. The pirates are those by whom the offense cometh, but they seem to be only actors in a tragedy. they are likely good people whose virtues force them to eventually do ignoble deeds. it is the world's failure for making it so.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Behind the story

"Further, Somalia is one of the many Least Developed Countries that reportedly received countless shipments of illegal nuclear and toxic waste dumped along the coastline. Starting from the early 1980s and continuing into the civil war, the hazardous waste dumped along Somalia’s coast comprised uranium radioactive waste, lead, cadmium, mercury, industrial, hospital, chemical, leather treatment and other toxic waste. Most of the waste was simply dumped on the beaches in containers and disposable leaking barrels which ranged from small to big tanks without regard to the health of the local population and any environmentally devastating impacts.

The issue of dumping in Somalia is contentious as it raises both legal and moral questions. First, there is a violation of international treaties in the export of hazardous waste to Somalia. Second, it is ethically questionable to negotiate a hazardous waste disposal contract with a country in the midst of a protracted civil war and with a factionalized government that could not sustain a functional legal and proper waste management system." (UNEP on Somalia - pdf)

You dump nuclear waste on my land, I give you pirates !!

Making a stand

"In 1972 AIESEC South Africa was told to extend AIESEC to the black and colored universities or risk expulsion from AIESEC International. When they began the extension process in earnest, a few other NCPs and I said we would raise money for travel scholarships for black and colored students who got traineeships as well as raise traineeships in the first place. Research played a big role in identifying which foundations and companies might support this effort in the USA. Cummins and the Cummins Foundation came across our radar screen. We mailed a proposal them and I flew out to pitch it. They decided to support both the travel scholarship effort through the foundation and also offered two one year long traineeships. As it turned out Cummins welcomed both a black and a colored South African student." (aieseclife)

That what courage looks like. It would take another 18 years for South Africa to turn around and dropped its dickhead Apartheid policy.

They don't know what the fuck they want

Bangkok has seen waves of protesters in the past 18 months. Every succession of protest brought down whatever party in power. The supporters of the party then staged a revenge massive protest which then brought down yet another government and so on so forth.

This is not a democracy, this is a tyranny by masses of fucktards.

It's like a retarded circle of life. Or a really bad version of Groundhog Day VI.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Steven Segal!

The captain of a US cargo vessel who had been held captive by Somali pirates since Wednesday has been freed during an operation in which three of the pirates were killed and one was captured.


US officials said Captain Phillips, was uninjured and in good condition and had been taken aboard the USS Bainbridge, one of three US naval warship which had been tracking the lifeboat. (guardian)

Steven Saves the day - again !

Icelandic News

"Vatnajokull Glacier is Iceland’s champion in the global election to choose the Official New 7Wonders of Nature. But unlike many of the 261 natural sites that qualified for the 2nd phase of worldwide voting, Vatnajokull Glacier does not have an Official Supporting
Committee (OSC) representing it." (
Spiegel is hiring

Happy Easter

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Generation Instant Gratification

"It is laudable that Al Gore and many others are talking about the state of the planet... but what about the state of the 6.7 billion people living on it?? What about the state of the modern human condition made evident in the multiple neon colors of how we are treating each other and ourselves? Think about it: why are there so few human beings at peace? This is the perennial question that must be addressed, and substantively so. The time is now and Generation IG is all about it. Welcome to a very different kind of wake up call: one you can actually enjoy."

Still great, even after these years.


"A summit meeting of East Asian leaders intended to address the economic crisis and regional issues was postponed indefinitely on Saturday after protesters broke into the convention center where the leaders were gathering." (NY Times)

Thailand is going insane.

million score souls

As the man coordinating the Redeemed Church’s expansion in North America, the pastor spends his days shuttling from his home base, a storefront church in the Bronx, to the denomination’s continental headquarters, a 550-acre compound in Texas, and to mission outposts scattered from Vermont to Belize. This places him at the vanguard of a revolution in worldwide Christianity, one that it is quite literally changing its face, as a faith that was once exported by white missionaries from Europe and America comes to draw its strength from the peoples of the Southern Hemisphere. (NYTimes)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Free Rice

For every answer you get right, they donate 10 grain of rice to UN World Food Program. (Legit)

a time when things were simpler

Texas State Rep. Betty Brown to Ramey Ko, a representative of the Organization of Chinese Americans.

"Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese -- I understand it's a rather difficult language -- do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?" Brown said.
Brown later told Ko: "Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?"
(Houston Chronicle)

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Guess the mistery meat

Fantastic things on your cell!!!

How to create Black Swan resillient financial system

Ten suggestions from Nassim Taleb.

It starts with "What is fragile should break early while it is still small. Nothing should ever become too big to fail. Evolution in economic life helps those with the maximum amount of hidden risks – and hence the most fragile – become the biggest. "

He ends it with the following hope that we create "A world in which entrepreneurs, not bankers, take the risks and companies are born and die every day without making the news. In other words, a place more resistant to black swans."

Calling Steven Segal

The hijacked US ship captain is being held captive by the pirates. Bring on the mighty Segal.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Give people what they want

Moldovian Revolution in Progress

Love is in the air

"Indonesia, however, woke up in 1998 from the 32-year Suharto dictatorship with a dreadful hangover—blood on the streets of Jakarta, separatist conflicts on the periphery and a chaotic explosion of repressed political activity, some of it tinged with Islamist extremism.

Yet as Indonesia prepares for its third national parliamentary elections since then, to be held on April 9th, it has a fair claim to be South-East Asia’s only fully functioning democracy. Unfettered by Thailand’s draconian lèse-majesté laws, or the fierce interpretations of what constitutes defamation in Singapore and Malaysia, the press is vibrant and free. Unlike Thailand’s army, which returned to politics with a coup in 2006, Indonesia’s has stayed back in the barracks. And unlike the Philippines, where elections dominated by guns, goons and gold lead to dozens of murders, Indonesia has enjoyed a largely peaceful campaign. Indonesia’s corruption rates probably still top regional charts, but the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has made strides in attacking it." (Economist - Indonesian Suprise)

and more

"Like India it has shown that democracy can work in huge, diverse and poor countries. And like Brazil, Taiwan and South Korea, it has shown it does not need generations to strike roots."

Indonesia is holding a Presidential election tomorrow.

They are baaack!

The pirates of Somalia(tm) has just netted their 6th haul this week. It's the only business that doesn't need financial bailouts.

The ship is carrying aid for Africa.

So you want a revolution?

"More than 10,000 young Moldovans came out to the streets on Tuesday to protest against Moldova’s Communist leadership. There began clashes with the police. People managed to gather a huge crowd in a short period of time using social messaging networks like Facebook and Twitter." (Pravda)

Trouble in Paradise

Spiegel is saying that Greece is on the verge of bankruptcy.
A lovely post about Luang Prabang, Laos.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

terrorism - anti-terrorism complex

[Baitullah Mehsud, chief of the Pakistani Taliban] provides base camps for fighters and also raises money. It is estimated that in the past six months in the southern port city of Karachi alone, he has generated at least 250 million rupees (US$3.1 million) through various operations. These include extortion of fuel contractors for coalition troops in Afghanistan and ransom money from kidnappings and threats. The proceeds have been used to launch new guerrilla camps in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. (Asia Times)

pro-life = socialized medicine supporter?

i overheard a conversation between two women; the one speaking is an immigrant from china, offering advice to her friend about when to get an abortion:

"If you can afford it, go ahead and have the baby."


"General Motors Corp. is teaming with Segway Inc., maker of the upright, self-balancing scooters, to build a new type of two-wheeled vehicle designed to move easily through congested urban streets.

The machine, which GM says it aims to develop by 2012, would run on batteries and use wireless technology to avoid traffic backups and navigate cities." (WSJ)

It looks like a ghost rickshaw.
Vermont becomes the fourth US state that legalize gay marriage.

Free Healthcare

"Medical personnel were deeply involved in the abusive interrogation of terrorist suspects held overseas by the Central Intelligence Agency, including torture, and their participation was a “gross breach of medical ethics,” a long-secret report by the International Committee of the Red Cross concluded." (NY Times)

The snakes bite!

And you'd think Dr. Evil is a fictional character.

vice and idleness

Faced with statistics showing that arrests for nonpayment cost far more than they bring in, [Rhode Island] passed a law in August granting judges latitude to waive court debts for poor defendants.

Florida, however, has continued to tighten its grip. Since 2004, the Legislature has required courts to support their operating expenses substantially, through fees collected by county clerks. Some of the clerks use collection agents, while about a third use the Collections Courts, state officials said. Here in Leon County alone, 839 people were arrested and jailed in the year ended last September over court debts or failure to appear at Collections Court, according to a study by the Brennan Center. Other Florida counties have less stringent policies. (NYTimes)

Free Diving

"WALTER Steyn has smashed the Australian free-diving record by taking a deep breath and plunging 92m underwater.

In two minutes and 43 seconds, the 36-year-old this week extended his own record to retain the title."

Impressive, except that a lady broke a world record in 2003 for almost over three minutes and 120 meters

"Tanya Streeter spent an incredible three minutes and 38 seconds underwater, with no breathing apparatus or help." (bbc)

It's a safe sport, but it doesn't mean it doesn't have a lurking danger, especially since at this level it is pushing the extremities of human endurance. Here's a poignant account on how a world class free diver died 7 years ago.

Bumfuck Egypt, the definition

Monday, April 06, 2009

Pump up the volume and enjoy the most glorious rendition of "born in the U.S.A".

Visual treats...

Two of the reasons the web really is a wonderful place to hang out...

Modern Mythologies


people are injured and killed by earthquakes

twitter feed on

16:55 Morta una mamma abbracciata ai suoi due bambini
Tra le vittime una mamma morta sotto le maceria delle casa abbracciando i suoi due bambini (amongst the dead a mother under the house's rubble clutching her two children)

16:49 Rettore dell'Aquila: "L'università è distrutta. Aiutateci"
Il rettore dell'università dell'Aquila Ferdinando Di Orio lancia un appello. "L'ateneo è praticamente distrutto. Le strutture sono tutte gravamente danneggiate e non abbiamo un'altra sede dove trasferire i nostri 27.000 studenti" (the rector of the university of Aquila: "it is practically destroyed. the structures are gravely damaged and we have nowhere to transfer our 27,000 students)

Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind

"Researchers in Brooklyn have recently accomplished comparable feats, with a single dose of an experimental drug delivered to areas of the brain critical for holding specific types of memory, like emotional associations, spatial knowledge or motor skills.

The drug blocks the activity of a substance that the brain apparently needs to retain much of its learned information. And if enhanced, the substance could help ward off dementias and other memory problems." (NY Times)

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Moroccan Wine

"This is a multimedia contest where you can speak out for people living with HIV/AIDS through your most creative methods. Send us your best idea in pictures or videos that you think can make people change their attitude towards people with HIV."
Organized by AIESEC Singapore. Pretty cool, huh?


For those in opposition

If we tolerate dictators, thieves, murderers out of fear, it should be possible to tolerate gay marriage out of love.


"Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.

Equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms. To promote the achievement of equality, legislative and other measures designed to protect or advance persons, or categories of persons, disadvantaged by unfair discrimination may be taken.

The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.

*1 No person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds in terms of subsection (3). National legislation must be enacted to prevent or prohibit unfair discrimination.

Discrimination on one or more of the grounds listed in subsection (3) is unfair unless it is established that the discrimination is fair." (

This is the constitution of South Africa - Bills of Rights. Yes, they recognize gay marriage in South Africa. Welcome aboard Iowa.



Containerized Cargo Flows Along Major Trade Routes, 1995-2007

The US is by far the largest country that consume the huge output from Asia.


G-20 came and went - resulting in 1 trillion dollars more money for IMF to rescue troubled little economies (read - Ukraine, Latvia and friends) and a major offensive against tax havens except Macau and Hong Kong.

What now?

One clear thing is that the US can no longer be the sole major consumer of world goods. The country needs its pitiful savings rates up, debt reduced and trade balances fixed. The US is running a 1.3 trillion dollar budget deficit each year - and if recent experience teach us - that can't be sustainable and if it breaks the US economy more that it already has right now, we'll be in a deeper trouble than the current shit hole we are in.

So some large economies are going to have to step up. China is an obvious candidate - India is a medium term hope - if we can fix Africa's economy, there will become a new market for world's goods; but that's a stretch.

To me there are two obvious possibilities:
  1. You get consumptions around the world goes up - which means improving the economic well being of poor people.
  2. The environmental sustainability aspect become more and more critical as we move forward because consumer consumptions reflects on energy consumption and pollution level.
This is why alternative energy research become the biggest challenge of this and next decades. If we want to save the world economy and make it sustainable and on the process not to destroy the earth, energy is where it's at.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Cocktail Contest

Dear plenary:

It is now time to recognize our achievements over the past year. The Meredith Higgelblaum award for excellence is give each year to the committee that not only delivers outstanding results, but also showcases great motivation and propriety when present in public. No one will win this award.

As for the fourth place in the Mionetto brand Prosecco cocktail contest, with 1556 votes, with a drink that truly inspires, it is given each year to someone who doesn't quite win the free trip to New York city, not like he'd need it all that much anyways since he could drive there any weekend, and is too dignified to submit his drink to the contemptuous smirk of an panel of judges from the industry. Yours truly!

thanks to everyone for voting, and fourth place is still quite respectable.

having fun in guantanamo...

MIAMI (Reuters) - A "relaxing, calm, beautiful place" may not be everyone's description of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the United States holds about 240 prisoners in a detention centre that has drawn condemnation from around the world.

But this was the opinion of reigning Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza of Venezuela, who visited the U.S. naval facility in eastern Cuba this month on a trip organized by the United Service Organizations (USO) which supports U.S. troops.

the rest is here

Rolling Stone on this generation's great crisis...

"In its simplest form, a CDS is just a bet on an outcome. Say Bank A writes a million-dollar mortgage to the Pope for a town house in the West Village. Bank A wants to hedge its mortgage risk in case the Pope can't make his monthly payments, so it buys CDS protection from Bank B, wherein it agrees to pay Bank B a premium of $1,000 a month for five years. In return, Bank B agrees to pay Bank A the full million-dollar value of the Pope's mortgage if he defaults. In theory, Bank A is covered if the Pope goes on a meth binge and loses his job."

It's the best analysis I've ever read on where and how the mess began. And it's written so well, even I made sense of most of what was written. Give it a read. It's long, but well worth it (and it will make you more than a little mad at Obama's team).