Thursday, December 31, 2009

Gus Dur, RIP

He was one of the greatest individual Indonesia ever produced. He has done so much defending the idea of pluralism in Indonesia and a staunch protector of minorities. His sense of humor and deep compassion for common people will be sorely missed. He was in a sense our own Dalai Lama and Mandela combined.

"During the long years of the army general Soeharto's grip on power in Indonesia - 32 years in the end - analysts used to speculate on who could emerge as a plausible successor.

''Javanese, an army general, Muslim,'' were the usual qualifications. Candidates appeared and retired, but Soeharto endured.

When the regime cracked in May 1998, Soeharto was replaced by three civilians in succession: a quirky aeronautical engineer from Sulawesi (B.J. Habibie), a near-blind Muslim cleric from East Java (Abdurrahman Wahid), and a society housewife of mixed Javanese and Balinese descent (Megawati Soekarnoputri).

Indonesia now has a President who is ethnic Javanese, Muslim and a retired general in Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, but the civilian interval has ensured a transformed nation, governed by votes and political argument rather than guns and tanks." (SMH)

"Political commentator Wimar Witoelar was President Wahid's chief presidential spokesman. He says Mr. Wahid established national values of tolerance and equality that today define democracy in Indonesia.

"They have lived on. They have lived on," said Witoelar. "The things we are praised now for being, … the anti-corruption going on stream, the military which is taking a back seat into politics, the notion that Chinese and other minorities are equal, their holidays being celebrated, the multi-religiosity, the religious pluralism in which you can see fantastic Christmas carols in the malls of Jakarta are all an offspring of breakthroughs he did."

World leaders are sending their condolences to President Wahid's family and the people of Indonesia. U.S. President Barack Obama said President Wahid will be remembered for his commitment to democratic principles, inclusive politics, and religious tolerance."

"In the complex, pluralistic society that is Indonesia, Gus Dur played a critical role in acting as a bridge between Muslims and Christians, as well as followers of other faiths. As the head of Nahdlatul Ulama, he was the spiritual leader of 40 million traditional Muslims.

Gus Dur worked tirelessly over many decades to bring the traditionalists into the modern era, and his towering intellect, humor and cutting wit often disarmed critics. He was a champion of democracy and moderate Islam, and paved the way for today’s free and open society. What he achieved was not easy nor easily replicable.

More important, Gus Dur reformed NU, the country’s largest Muslim organization, and made it a staunch supporter of civil society.

Even during the Suharto era, Gus Dur was not afraid to speak out for what was right and fair. He supported the state ideology, Pancasila, thus ensuring that radical elements in the Islamic community, as well as other religions, would be held at bay. His support for minority groups in Indonesia helped end decades of discrimination against ethnic Chinese. In fact, he declared Chinese New Year an optional national holiday on the country’s calendar and ended the ban on using Chinese characters in public. " (The Jakarta Globe)

"A number of monks paid last respects to Indonesia`s former President Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) at Tebu Ireng Islamic boarding school in Jombang, East Java, on Thursday (Dec 31). A lot of religious figures in Indonesia attended the funeral of Gus Dur who had been known as an inter-religion activist. (ANTARA/Arief Priyono/bp)"

Welcome 2010

Rich American, it's time to poison grandma

"For reasons I have never understood, Republicans didn't actually repeal the estate tax. They very gradually raised the estate tax exemption to $3.5 million and reduced the maximum estate tax rate from 55% to 45%. But these provisions did not become effective until 2009. Then, in 2010, the estate tax is finally abolished, but only for one year. Because the original legislation was effective only for 10 years, starting in 2011 the estate tax goes back to exactly where it was in 2001. The exemption will be reduced to $1 million and the maximum tax rate goes back up to 55%."


25 ways to get smarter

One way to do it is to play Settlers of Catan. I have been on the losing sides playing against true masters of the art and it is almost magic that they always manage to get the correct cards whenever they need it.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sons of Egypt

"WHEN Mohamed ElBaradei won the Nobel peace prize in 2005, Egyptians happily proclaimed him a national hero. But now that he has retired after 12 years as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, some are calling him a villain. He may be an American or even an Iranian agent, hint editorials in Egypt’s state-owned press. He bears a nasty grudge against his native country after so long abroad, grumble other government mouthpieces.

The reason for this sudden spate of spurious insinuation? Responding to pleas from reform-minded Egyptians despairing of local politics, Mr ElBaradei has suggested he may return to Egypt and run for president in elections due in 2011. Worse yet, he has deigned to propose conditions for his possible candidacy. The poll, he says, must meet internationally accepted standards."
(The Economist)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Nekid Imaging

This is coming to the airport near you (if it's not installed already)

danger room

There are privacy concerns, not to mention humiliation - on the other hand, this is one of the more effective way to screen for potential hidden weapons/explosives in a passenger. If you read further, you will see the configurations proposed to reduce the privacy intrusion factors.

How to change the world

A son of privilege with overseas education and luxurious London apartment is hell bent to make his impact on the world by trying to kill a plane load civilians. Fortunately he failed in his original aim but he did making an impact to millions of travelers around the world for the past days.

I hope he spent the rest of his life rot in a solitary confinement.

The next bomb is going to be a bomb hidden in body cavities (rectum/vagina). They did it successfully in Saudi Arabia a couple of months ago when a suicide bomber detonated explosive stored in his rectum and managed to kill several people.

People already smuggle heroine/cocaine this way. It's the next predictable path. There isn't much can be done about it other than working harder on preventative measures so that we do not lost more young men and women in this dark path.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Go on, be a Tiger

"He may be 86 years old, but a governor in southern India may still have a little playboy in him.

Narain Dutt Tiwari, the governor of Andhra Pradesh, has resigned after a TV news channel broadcast footage allegedly showing him in bed with three women.

After the tape was broadcast on ABN Andhra Jyothi Friday, Tiwari's office claimed that the x-rated video was fake.

"The news channel report is fabricated, false and malicious to tarnish the image of the governor," read a statement issued by Aryendra Sharma, the governor's aide.

Despite Tiwari's denials, opposition and women's right groups in Hyderabad protested and demanded Tiwar's resignation.

The governor sent his resignation letter to the Indian president on Saturday, citing health reasons."

Read more

Green Giant

"Czinger, in that sense, had found his niche. By November, he was crisscrossing the Pacific, leading design teams on both sides; in the months since we first met, he had grown only more evangelical in his belief that, if Americans would stop feeling threatened by China’s progress on clean technology, they might glimpse their own strengths. Only his American engineers, he said, had the garage-innovation culture to spend “eighteen hours a day for two years to develop a new technology.” But only in China had he discovered “the will to spend on infrastructure, and to do it at high speed.” The result, he said, was a “state-of-the-art battery facility that was, two years ago, an empty field!”

Read more

This is an illuminating article about China's aggressive pursuit for clean energy. It becomes clearer to me that this century indeed will become a Chinese one.

Iranian Uprising Part 5

The Iranian streets stir again.

Here comes the stripsearches

The Nigerian plane terrorist-to-be hid 80 gramd of explosives in his underwear. Next week, I bet passengers will have to wear their underwears outside, Superman style, for security reason.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

12 Things That Became Obsolete This Decade.

Via Huffington Post.

Thank you for the help


"The Dec. 26, 2004, tsunami, caused by a 9.1-magnitude undersea earthquake, slammed 13 countries, killing about 226,000 people.

But it was the Acehnese who bore the brunt of the catastrophe. The provincial capital, Banda Aceh, was devastated. An estimated 170,000 people here were killed, including 35,000 whose bodies were never found.

In the five years since, more than 800 nongovernmental organizations, multilateral agencies and donor countries have combined to spend $6.7 billion, nearly all the amount pledged from around the world to rebuild Aceh. Although by most accounts it has been a success, the process, still incomplete, has not been without challenges."
(NY Times)

As an Indonesian citizen, I would like to thank you all for the contribution to the rebuilding of Aceh, whether through private donation or Government contributions (100 countries were involved, 6.5 billions by private donations alone). We lost almost 200,000 people on that that terrible day. The reconstructions have been amazing and by many measures. The Tsunami rebuilding efforts have been one of the most effective and efficient rebuilding efforts ever.

"Less than half the planned road has been finished. It ends dramatically in a half-built bridge hanging over a river in the village of Lamno, where local residents operate a huge raft to ferry vehicles from one shore to the other.

But what has been completed resembles no other road in Indonesia. It is superbly constructed, its blacktop flat and smooth, its bridges bearing gleaming Usaid emblems. It offers a promise of what is still to come, and most residents seem to welcome it."

"Throughout the province, 140,000 houses have been built along with 1,700 schools, almost 1,000 government buildings, 36 airports and seaports, and 3,700 kilometers of road, according to the Agency for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Aceh."

Another asshole trying to bring down a plane

"A Nigerian man tried to ignite an explosive device aboard a trans-Atlantic Northwest Airlines flight as the plane prepared to land in Detroit on Friday, in an incident the United States believes was “an attempted act of terrorism,” according to a White House official who declined to be identified." (NY Times)

This alone will bring more misery to already miserable travelling season at the end of this year.

Ironically apparently he is a son of a prominent Nigerian banker - imagine that, the Nigerian that can legitimately claim he has millions to transfer to your bank account turned out to be a terrorist.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Empire of the steppes

Rediscovering Central Asia (an essay recommended by David Brooks)

The title of this blog post is a book about the history of Central Asia - it's an amazing read on the history of the area.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fascinating video about an Iranian online Ayatollah

Grand Ayatollah Yousef Sanei is an Iranian scholar, renowned theologian and Islamic philosopher. He is known as a senior reformist cleric and a Grand Marja of Shia Islam.

After the recent passing of the beloved Grand Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazeri, he is the most likely person that take the mantle as the leading critic of the Iranian government.

The interview is a must watch and bring new insights on the working of one of Iran leading Grand Marja.

The science of Avatar

"From a visual perspective, Avatar’s Pandora is breathtaking. While
most movies have only hinted at the exotic nature of their worlds with
an establishing matte painting or two, here Cameron takes us on an
elaborate three-dimensional tour though various habitats, from the
treetops to the forest floor. He’s created a whole ecosystem, from
semi-intelligent trees to giant land and air creatures. Most seem
inter-related via symbiotic relationships. In fact, Cameron has taken
the Gaia hypothesis, that the biosphere of the Earth is itself a kind
of living entity, and sexed it up – the biosphere of Pandora is
essentially a god, and it’s networked! Creatures can plug into each
other via what amounts to USB hair and fiber optic roots. While some
of these ideas are not without their faults (see below), Cameron gets
points for creativity – this is true science fiction, not space opera."
(ain't it cool)

It is the bestest movie I've seen this year.

For more information about Pandora, check out Pandorapedia.

Merry Christmas

from Super Sexy Santa

Robotics in 2009

Awesome Ramen Robot

More can be found at Singularity Hub.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The end of Clash of Civilization

This decade started with tragedy and fear of 9/11 when 19 Muslims from mainly Saudi Arabia crashed planes to WTC and Pentagon.

...things alternately get shitty and hopeful in between..

and the end of the decade is marked by awesome sight of millions of Muslims of Iran going to the street demanding their rights and freedom, with participations of young, old, men and women - and instant outpouring supports from strangers around the world

And we that, we bury the Clash of Civilizations.

Blame China?

"Here's what actually went on late last Friday night, as heads of state from two dozen countries met behind closed doors. Obama was at the table for several hours, sitting between Gordon Brown and the Ethiopian prime minister, Meles Zenawi. The Danish prime minister chaired, and on his right sat Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the UN. Probably only about 50 or 60 people, including the heads of state, were in the room. I was attached to one of the delegations, whose head of state was also present for most of the time.

What I saw was profoundly shocking. The Chinese premier, Wen Jinbao, did not deign to attend the meetings personally, instead sending a second-tier official in the country's foreign ministry to sit opposite Obama himself. The diplomatic snub was obvious and brutal, as was the practical implication: several times during the session, the world's most powerful heads of state were forced to wait around as the Chinese delegate went off to make telephone calls to his "superiors".

To those who would blame Obama and rich countries in general, know this: it was China's representative who insisted that industrialised country targets, previously agreed as an 80% cut by 2050, be taken out of the deal. "Why can't we even mention our own targets?" demanded a furious Angela Merkel. Australia's prime minister, Kevin Rudd, was annoyed enough to bang his microphone. Brazil's representative too pointed out the illogicality of China's position. Why should rich countries not announce even this unilateral cut? The Chinese delegate said no, and I watched, aghast, as Merkel threw up her hands in despair and conceded the point. Now we know why – because China bet, correctly, that Obama would get the blame for the Copenhagen accord's lack of ambition."

The writer is in the room as one of consultant to the Maldives.
Image from

A planned Mosque in Cologne, Germany - designed by a Christian architect. I like it because it opens possibilities of design of what an Islamic house worship can look like outside the classic Arabia pattern.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"Just because we humans can’t hear them doesn’t mean plants don’t howl. Some of the compounds that plants generate in response to insect mastication — their feedback, you might say — are volatile chemicals that serve as cries for help. Such airborne alarm calls have been shown to attract both large predatory insects like dragon flies, which delight in caterpillar meat, and tiny parasitic insects, which can infect a caterpillar and destroy it from within." NYTimes

Monday, December 21, 2009

Tips on Bogota

Hey dear Nomads,

I'll be in Bogota for a couple of months starting January and I was wondering if any of you could share some info on the city, travel around Colombia tips and general street smart-ish things to keep in mind when living there.

I am especially looking for tips on where to live and how much to pay for a room/apartment etc when I am there...any kind of info would help! You could also write to me with any hints at abhi dot mehta at gmail dot com.


Sunday, December 20, 2009


This article Newsweek examines why the banks cannot wait to pay back their TARP funds (all major banks have returned the money + interests)

"And yet, by design or dumb luck, it turns out that the government did have one powerful stick that has pushed banks and their shareholders to reform themselves sooner rather than later: the ability to regulate banks' compensation.

Bankers, especially investment bankers, aren't interested particularly in long-term shareholder returns or even in providing capital to businesses. They're interested making money and getting paid. If you want to do God's work, you don't work at a bank, you quit your job at the bank and teach, or found a non-profit aimed at relieving poverty, like Acumen Fund founder Jacqueline Novogratz did.

From the outset, healthy banks were eager to get out from under the TARP because they wanted to avoid discussions about appropriate levels of executive compensation. The investment banks that were capable of paying back did so in June, the month lawyer Kenneth Feinberg was appointed as TARP's special master for executive compensation. Coincidence?"(Newsweek)

It is by design - not a mere dumb luck. Cass Sustein (legal scholar), one of the author of Nudge is a member of the Obama white house. Richard Thaler (economist), the other co-author, also consults with the white house, especially with Austaan Goldsbee, the brilliant Chief Economic Advisor to the Obama Campaign 2008 whose currently work as Chief Economist of President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board. Thaler and Goldsbee are colleagues at University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

The book explores on how to design things so that people make the correct/desired decisions.

By targeting the bottom line that those fat cats bankers care about (their own pay), it creates big incentive for bankers to get out of the TARP fund by cleaning up their banks. It works.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Prague in 18 Giga pixels.

We got a (crappy) deal

"Delegates at the Copenhagen summit have passed a motion recognising a US-backed agreement on climate change.

UN Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon told journalists on Saturday morning: "Finally, we sealed the deal."

Earlier, the meeting was unable to secure unanimous support for the deal announced by US President Barack Obama.

Delegates at the climate summit had been battling through the night to prevent the talks ending without reaching a final deal.

On Friday evening, the
US, China, India, Brazil and South Africa reached a last-minute agreement on a number of issues, such as a recognition to limit temperature rises to less than 2C (3.6F)." (BBC)

It's non binding, etc, etc but involving China, India and Brazil in the original deal is smart. Why weren't Indonesia represented in the original deal?

"The deal was brokered between China, South Africa, India, Brazil and the US, but late last night it was unclear whether it would be adopted by all 192 countries in the full plenary session. The deal aims to provide $30bn a year for poor countries to adapt to climate change from next year to 2012, and $100bn a year by 2020.

But it disappointed African and other vulnerable countries which had been holding out for deeper emission cuts to hold the global temperature rise to 1.5C this century. As widely expected, all references to 1.5C in past drafts were removed at the last minute, but more surprisingly, the earlier 2050 goal of reducing global CO2 emissions by 80% was also dropped.

The agreement also set up a forestry deal which is hoped would significantly reduce deforestation in return for cash. It lacked the kind of independent verification of emission reductions by developing countries that the US and others demanded."

I am still looking for the deal document itself. A crappy deal is better than no deal - but Copenhagen itself is a failure based on its lofty goals. But again, getting 192 countries to agree on anything bold and meaningful to prevent future calamity is an impossible task. The good thing is, you don't need to get everybody's agreement to make real impact. You just have to deal with the top 20 or whatever emitters and it will fulfill the 80/20 rules and they will be realistically achievable.

Obama the meeting crasher:
"Late in the afternoon on Friday, with the clock ticking down to zero, a rather dramatic scene unfolded that surprised even several top leaders at the climate negotiations in Copenhagen. In a secret meeting between Chinese, Indian, and Brazilian heads of state, the door swung open revealing President Obama, who hadn’t been invited but had arrived to crash the meeting. Several diplomats protested the intrusion, but Obama simply informed them he wouldn’t accept them negotiating in secret. He sat down and started talking" (Newsweek)

Friday, December 18, 2009

i've got 3 google wave invitations

COP15 prepares for overtime

"With no impending agreement in sight, negotiators need extra time. According to Reuters, the UN has asked world leaders to plan to stay overnight.

"The secretary-general of the UN has asked people not to leave tonight," European Union Environment Commissioner Stavros Dima told Reuters.

"(COP 15 blog)

A witness from the other side

""He was very angry. When we got there he said: ‘What is this? Sexual abuse is a serious crime. Who gave this order? Who authorised this?

"Haji calmly replied with a smile: ‘This is Fath Al Moin. It's a worthy deed. There's nothing wrong with it. Why are you complaining?'

"When he said this Haji thought it would calm my relative down to know this. But the opposite happened, he became more upset. He raised his voice saying: 'What do you mean it's not a crime?'

"What do you mean it's not a recognised crime? That it's a good deed? Haji saw that he had lost control and said: ‘What's the big deal? Nothing's happened. What is the issue here?'

"My relative said again: 'What do you mean what's the big deal? Is there anything more filthy than this, more ugly than this? With children, these are children, they haven't done anything. They're from our own home town.'

"Haji saw that he couldn't control him, that he wanted to return to the base and stop what was going on.

"He said: 'You can stay here for now. Tomorrow we'll have a meeting about it, we can discuss it and see what the issue is.'

"I insisted on staying with him. But Haji said: 'You go and rest and we'll get him home. You go, the driver will take you home and wait there. We'll call you.'

"They dropped me home and my relative stayed there."

"The pain and the shame in front of people and before God. I've lost my world and my religion." (an interview with a Basij)

This is an interview with an exiled Basij - the extra judicial religious thugs of Iran. What broke him down was the sound of rape that he witnessed. As what many have been reported, rape (male and female) as punishment was being used against the protesters of the green movement of Iran.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Wikipedia in Esperanto.

COP 15 WTF of the day

"Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe speaks during the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen December 16, 2009." daylife

I can think of many better qualified people that can talk about environmental and social responsibility.


One food to try before you die. Wikipedia has more info.

One country vs 27

"Japan pledges a total of 15 billion US dollars for climate aid for developing countries up to 2012, Japan's delegation announced at the UN climate conference late Wednesday. Of the 15 billion dollars, 11 billion dollars will be public money, according to a press release from the delegation.

The Japanese pledge is more generous than EU’s promise to fund 7.2 billion euro (9.39 billion dollars) for the same purposes over the next three years. "(Cop 15)

This is hilariously sad that Japan can out-contribute European Union by almost 6 billions dollars.

Chased by a tiger

"How do you Tiger-proof an entire corporation? At Accenture, you start by telling employees to tear down all the posters that say, now somewhat awkwardly, that “we know what it takes to be a Tiger.”

For six years, Tiger Woods was the advertising face for Accenture, the big consulting firm. But now that Mr. Woods has confessed to infidelities amid an assault of media coverage, Accenture wants him to disappear.

On Sunday, hours after Accenture ended its sponsorship deal, the golfer’s face was replaced by an anonymous skier on the company’s home page. His name was scrubbed almost completely from the rest of the Web site. The company’s advertising campaign is about “high performance,” and Mr. Woods “just wasn’t a metaphor for high performance anymore,” a spokesman for Accenture, Fred Hawrysh, said.
(NY Times)

Live by a brand, die by a brand.

I think Accenture dropping Tiger Woods is short sighted. The guy is still the greatest player in golf history. They should stuck by their point man (his wife might not be), renegotiate their advertising fees for the next 10 years and re-frame their ads. They will gain great benefit from the rebound Tiger story late next year after all these ugliness are over. In short, be like Nike.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

How to avoid injuries on the slopes

If you are a terrible skier like me, this blog post is useful.
Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; there we must be saved by hope.

Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; there we must be saved by faith.

Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love.

No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our own standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness"

Reinhold Niebuhr

The boy died

About 2 and half year ago there was a post here on nomadlife about raising fund for a 17 year old boy from Kenya, Charles Denis Kegwaro, that needed extensive operation for a raging tumor on his jaw.

I just found out today that weeks after the operation, he died. I don't know what a cause it.

If you think US immigration sucks...

I’m sorry but we blew up your laptop (welcome to Israel) by Lily Sussman. Lily is a US student who got her laptop shot by the Israel border police two weeks ago at the Taba, Egypt crossing.

Time Person of the Year

787 First Flight

Look that that beautiful airliner. After two and half year delay, this advance long range airplane finally took the sky yesterday.

This article series is information, Better Know a Dreamliner.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chicago Millennium Park

image from

It looks pretty surreal from up high.

Monday, December 14, 2009

UN advisor claims that banks were saved by drug money

"Drugs money worth billions of dollars kept the financial system afloat at the height of the global crisis, the United Nations' drugs and crime tsar has told the Observer.

Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organised crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result.

Costa said evidence that illegal money was being absorbed into the financial system was first drawn to his attention by intelligence agencies and prosecutors around 18 months ago. "In many instances, the money from drugs was the only liquid investment capital. In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor," he said."

So what will we tell the next generation? That drugs are bad for you, but good for the economy when in crisis? More information at the guardian

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Awesome Green Energy

"Nearly eight years and a reported $250 million in venture-capital investment later, Sridhar has a working product that’s been in field trials for the past two years and is about to go on the global market, at a price he says will be competitive with existing energy options. As for results: in an ongoing trial at the University of Tennessee, a five-kilowatt Bloom box (the size of a large coffee table and capable of powering a 5,000-square-foot house) has proved twice as efficient as a traditional gas-burning system and produced 60 percent fewer emissions.

Since the boxes are “fuel agnostic,” customers can run them on existing propane, natural gas, or ethanol sources. But they’ll also run on plant waste, or almost anything else containing hydrogen and carbon. And the eventual “killer app”? Processing wind- or solar-generated electricity with water to create storable oxygen and hydrogen, then reversing the process to generate electricity at night or in low-wind or cloudy conditions.
(The Atlantic)

Bloom Energy looks awesome. Yes, they have a product already currently undergoing testing in the real world. It's not one of those "magic energy" products that turned out to be hoax.

Check out this news from October 2009

"The City of San Jose has granted eBay (EBAY) permission to install five fuel cells from Bloom Energy that will generate up to 500 kilowatts of power, according to the San Jose Business Journal.

That's a slight increase for eBay. Earlier, eBay was reported to be buying four 100-kilowatt units. So maybe the order was upped. (Bloom's fuel cells are 25-kilowatts each and you tie four together for 100 kilowatts.)
(Seeking Alpha)

This is a real deal.

A400M Maiden Flight

NATO and EU have been relying on US Air Force for cargo flights because they lack high capacity cargo planes. A400M is going to change that. The cool thing about this plane is that each of the propeler turn to opposite direction inward to the middle point.
-a -><- b - (0) - c -><- d-

Norwegian Wood

"Ban Ki-moon had been planning his trip to Norway for a long time, which made it all the more galling that just before the United Nations secretary-general arrived, newspapers published a leaked document in which none other than the Norwegian ambassador to the UN deemed Ban as weak, ineffective and lacking in charisma.
A diplomatic visit to Norway is usually one of the more pleasant outings for the UN leader. The country is one of the international organization's founding members and a big supporter as well, revering the secretary-general almost like a king." (Spiegel)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The great wall of Egypt

"Egypt has begun constructing a huge metal wall along its border with the Gaza Strip as it attempts to cut smuggling tunnels, the BBC has learned.

When it is finished the wall will be 10-11km (6-7 miles) long and will extend 18 metres below the surface."


"A Swiss businessman has built a minaret on top of his company building in protest of a recent ban"

Here's the report by AFP. The man is not a Muslim.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Drink to your health!

"Drinking coffee and beer may reduce the risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer, two separate studies have revealed." (Independent) h/t JF

Now I cannot wait for research results that prove eating steaks and fried chicken prolong life!

Nobel Speech

Free Tavakoli

Picture from Kohestan

"The semi-official Fars news agency posted pictures of Tavakoli dressed as a woman after he reportedly tried to escape by disguising himself. Fars paired a picture of Tavakoli with one of Abol Hassan Bani Sadr, Iran’s first president after the 1979 revolution, who reportedly escaped in 1981 disguised as a woman.

In solidarity with Tavakoli, some Iranian men are taking pictures of themselves while wearing the Islamic hijab, which is compulsory for women in Iran, and posting the pictures on Facebook. "
(Radio Free Europe)

"Majid Tavakoli, the prominent student leader at AKUT was arrested on December 7 (Students Day) after giving a courageous speech to a crowd of 1500 protesters at his school. He was severely beaten during his arrest and taken to jail, and is reported to be under pressure and subjected to torture.
Majid Tavakoli's Speech on Dec 7:"


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Obama Nobel Peace Price Acceptance

I think he nailed it.

"So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another – that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldier's courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause and to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such.

So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly irreconcilable truths – that war is sometimes necessary, and war is at some level an expression of human feelings. Concretely, we must direct our effort to the task that President Kennedy called for long ago. "Let us focus," he said, "on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions.""

"Yet the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions – not just treaties and declarations – that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: the United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms."

"The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest – because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity."

and the bottom line

"We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of depravation, and still strive for dignity. We can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that -- for that is the story of human progress; that is the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.""

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Make the deal

Why a deal, any deal, in Copenhagen is critical to create a global green rush and green bubble:
  • The goal of international development is to eliminate poverty. As societies around the world make transition to more developed status, they are going to produce more carbon. Half of humanities are still dirt poor so like they say in business, they are room for growth in emissions. Unless we find a way to bend the curve of carbon emission downward, we are all fucked.
  • This global green rush create a perfect environment on which we might finally see a combination of viable energy alternatives to oil. Oil is going out baby - ain't comin' back no mo - alternatives need to be found.
  • How much of this global effort can reverse the effect of global warming? Nobody knows for sure but there will be immediate impact on localities. For us third worlders (I'm an Indonesian living in Cairo - that makes me a sixth worlder) - having access to cleaner water and air will be super.
  • There will be more funds to protect the rain forest and swamps as they sequester carbon. Do you know that Indonesia is the 3rd largest greenhouse producer behind China and the US? We don't have nowhere the industrialization of these countries. Our emission is based on deforestation and also the drying of the peat swamps which releases carbon to the atmosphere. More rain forests and swamps => healthier bio diversities.
  • Fast cars!! Electric cars are on average have much better acceleration than its combustion engine. The problem is that those darn machines are twice or triple as expensive. The push on climate change effort will make these cars cheaper and more affordable through mass production. I wish Tata design the Nano as electric car. India can then convert all their roads in to race tracks.
  • It will reduce the cost of solar panels dramatically in a short time and major investments in smart grid and battery technologies. This allows developing countries, which clustered around the warmer areas of the earth use the power of the sun sustain-ably or even exports them.

Quote of the day

Mohammad Al-Sabban, Saudi Arabia’s lead climate negotiator, told BBC that "there is no relationship whatsoever between human activities and climate change." (Think Progress)

Global Warmin' Agreement Leaked


And right now it's creating a shit storm at the conference especially from developing countries.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Flight 297

Something happened in that Airtran flight but nobody know what.

one messed up dude


Check this interview with a captured suicide bomber in Pakistan. I'm not sure if the translation is accurate or not.

What's interesting in this interview is that he keep referring to "our leader", "my leader". Usually a radical will try to argue his way out of sharp questionings using his knowledge of Islam and will produce a bunch of platitude to defend his action. Not on this one. The guy is pretty much robotic - "All Pakistanis are sinners - children aren't innocents - our leader - my leader - if you are not part of Jihad you are the enemy - no need to marry here in the world, 70 virgins for me when I die".

This is one really messed up dude.

Apology of the year

Speak softly and bring a lot of gifts

Chinese global diplomacy strategy in two paragraphs.

"We shouldn't care about having pro-American governments; what we should care about having pro-American PEOPLE; and those things are very different. The relationship, as Ahmed Rasheed has said, that the United States should want is with the people of other countries and not with their government.

So, the way that you seduce people is by giving them things. Now the Chinese are really good at this. In Tajikistan for instance, which borders China, the Chinese are building a hydro-electric facility that will provide more power, as well as control the water supply, which is something the Tajiks need to be able to do. But also, they're building a new train system, and they're paving roads which are desperately needed there. They also donated the entire bus fleet for the capital, and every city bus that comes to pick you up has a Chinese flag on the side and it says 'gift of the People's Republic of China.' Tajiks live every day with the benefit of Chinese generosity and benevolence.

Now, of course, why do the Chinese want this? They want stability on their border; they want access to natural gas and oil from the kaskas and Central Asia. It's strategy for them. It's not because they're nice."
(Chicago Now)

or in a picture

The bottom line is : don't worry about the government, protect your interest and promote yourself to the people. You can see this pattern on Chinese investment in Africa, etc.

Fourteen days to seal history's judgment on this generation

"Today 56 newspapers in 45 countries take the unprecedented step of speaking with one voice through a common editorial. We do so because humanity faces a profound emergency." (The Guardian)

It was yesterday.

V for Vendetta

One must say that the Iranian Green movement is pretty creative. They are defacing their money with slogans - probably one the most effective way to spread slogans and express themselves since that it reaches everybody in the country. (ht AS)

Monday, December 07, 2009

They blocked Michigan Avenue for this

Fuckin' awesome. This is the story behind it.

Destruction of a brand

How long will it take for Accenture to pull out their ubiquitous and very expensive Tiger Woods ads?

Now this ad reads "we know what it takes to be a Tiger" (sniker, sniker, sniker)

No one should care about his private life really, but the brand must care and for the next couple of weeks the "Tiger brand" is going to take a beating.

Imagine if we had the Internet back in WW II.

Iran Last Night

(EA) H/T (AS)

This site has excellent reporting on what happened earlier today in Iran.

Soccer Wars

"In round one, the Egyptian team beat Algeria 2-0. Ecstatic crowds poured into Cairo's streets, blocking traffic, waving homemade flamethrowers and celebrating until dawn. According to the Egyptian Health Ministry, 20 Algerian and 12 Egyptian supporters were injured that night. Back in Algeria, the accounts were much more dramatic: Algerians had been killed in Cairo's streets; women had been stripped naked; an Algerian supporter was burned alive by Egyptian fans and police. When the Algerian ambassador in Cairo formally denied that any murders had taken place, the Algerian newspaper Echorouk posted a video to its website, showing an Algerian rapper crying over his dead brother, supposedly killed in Egypt (it was apparently a hoax)."

FP Magazine has an article on their December edition about Egypt - Algeria Soccer Wars.

Let's get it done people! is the official site.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


Knowing when to leave

If a night club started to use pyrotechnics, it's time to exit the door. Booze, drunk people, closed area, packed quarter and pyrotechnics just don't fucking mix.

The death tolls for night club fires around the world this past decade have been horrific.

The killing list

Russia 2009
"109 people died — from the blaze or in the crush of people fleeing — and that more than 130 were injured in the central Russian city of Perm. Many of them were hospitalized in critical condition with severe burns." (NY Times)

Thailand 2009

"The Santika Club fire occurred on January 1, 2009 (Thai report usually occurred on December 31, 2008) in the Santika Club nightclub in Watthana, Bangkok, Thailand near Thong Lo Road. 66 people were killed and 222 people were injured when fire broke out during the New Year's celebration while the band Burn were playing" (Wikipedia)

They didn't specify pyrotechnics as a cause of the fire (including firecrackers). I bet your ass it is. Check the band's name.

China 2008
"A fire broke out just before midnight on September 21 at the packed "King of the Dancers Club" according to an official with the Shenzhen Work Safety Bureau.[1] The nightclub was operating without a building license and was not built according to building codes, because of government corruption. The fire was started by a floorshow stunt involving fireworks that ignited the ceiling, plunging the club into darkness and causing the club-goers to panic and stampede towards the exits. The windows were boarded up and there was only one exit that was not displayed with a lit exit sign. There were 308 people present in the club. Most of the deaths were caused by the crush of the stampede. Among the casualties there are 5 people from Hong Kong, a 40-year old man who works in mainland China and 4 18-year old teenagers. The latter were going to celebrate the birthday of one of them." (Wikipedia) 43 dead - 88 injured

Argentina 2004

"On 30 December 2004, a fire broke out in the club, killing 194 people and injuring 714 others. The venue was playing host to rock group Callejeros and around 3,000 people were in attendance. The blaze was started when a pyrotechnic flare (a popular device in New Year's Eve celebrations) was set off and ignited foam in the ceiling" (Wikipedia)

USA 2003

"A raging fire ignited by a rock band's pyrotechnics display ripped through a nightclub here late Thursday night, leaving at least 96 people dead and 187 injured." (NY Times)
Google Dictionary is up and it handles gazillion of languages. It also handles word translation.

Sibiu, the heart of Transylvania

This site is useful to finding out about the city. It was chosen as European Cultural Capital 2007 although frankly I don't know what they mean. It shared the award with Luxembourg.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

stackexchange entries

Both are empty right now. If you want to be an admin on any of these (especially for the aiesec space), email me (

this kid would get along well with the preacher

Friday, December 04, 2009

26 six years

Amanda Knox is found guilty of murdering her roommate in Perugia, Italy and sentenced to 26 years in prison.


She will be 48 years old by the time her sentence is completed. There is a possibility that the sentence to be reduced on appeal or after a couple of years for good behavior (maybe half).

World Cup 2010 Grouping

Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France
Group B: Argentina, Nigeria, Korea Republic, Greece
Group C: England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia
Group D: Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana,
Group E: Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon
Group F: Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand, Slovakia
Group G: Brazil, Korea DPR, Côte d'Ivoire, Portugal
Group H: Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile

Prague, Modern and in Painting

Check out this site that compares old paintings of Prague with the current modern city.

It's getting crowded there

NATO to send 7000 more troops to Afghanistan.

Preach It, Pastor

Computers in Movies

Movies always have the coolest computer software in their scenes- the one that real developers keep scratching their heads for its awesomeness (like identifying a criminal in a large crowd in real time or all those "criminal databases' that can match an evidence to a criminal profile accurately). Here's a blog from a visual designer responsible for some of the them.

The screenshot above comes from Bourne Ultimate.


i would like to admit publicly that i got a netbook with linux on it.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Medical advance!

"THE latest kind of recycling has nothing to do with soda bottles. It entails liposuctioning fat from, say, thighs or buttocks and injecting it into breasts to augment them. After being condemned in the early ’90s, this procedure is generating newfound excitement among the handful of doctors nationwide who offer it and patients keen to enlarge their breasts without resorting to implants." NY Times

Now the medical science catches up with the demand - breast augmentation procedures without implants.

the elites

"The Few. The Proud. The Marines. Recruits must survive all manner of exercises on the Leatherneck Square obstacle course. In just 12 weeks, the raw recruits are turned into machines of war." (Spiegel)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Note to famous dudes

If you are going to cheat on your beautiful wife, at least pick some equally famous people or out of this world beauty - not some random waitresses from Bumfuck, USA.

This buys 40,000 extra troops

Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize this year.

Under Obama's watch - by the end of next July - the US would have tripled its presence in Afghanistan. That chart above will go up to 100K + US troops presence.

For the next 6 months, there will be 40,000 or more extra troops being deployed to Afghanistan (30K+ from the US and the rest from NATO and allies).

OK, Afghanistan has been a really fucked up country for the past 30 years. I grew up in early 90's reading that Kabul this and that - stories of yet another government fall, etc.

Everybody complains about the size of aid the US gives to Israel (south of 5 billion dollars a year) - and Egypt (I think it's 2 billions). Well guys, those are peanuts compared to what's being spent in Afghanistan now - next year this war will cost close to 100 billion dollars a year. With that kind of money you can bail out Dubai World 60 billions debt and get this sweet looking building

and the rest of Dubai.

Instead in Afghanistan you don't even get this lousy Mullah's compound in the middle of fucking nowhere (with no running water or electricity)

On the positive side, you get to take a lot of dope - and the street price of these things are fucking high - even in recession.

On itself it is a very strange war. All these troops (from the US + 34 other nations - totally over 100,000 troops ) are there to protect the current government and secure the rest of the country. These are peacemaking missions.


The war in Afghanistan is actually on the pink and light blue area - essentially part of Afghanistan that borders Pakistan. Majorities of NATO troops are in Happyland, smoking sisha and eating lamb kebab and attending Kunduz Burqa Fashion Week.

The extra troops will be used to hold the population centers in these dangerous areas and speed up training of Afghan soldiers. This also give extra capacities to kick Taliban asses - which would be undermine if they can just run across the border. I presume that something has already been arranged with Pakistan that their army will continue their offensive and box the Taliban. The war in Pakistan (yes, Pakistan) will intensify.

Taliban will not be eliminated - that is not the goal. The main goal is to give the majority of them to give up the fighting. The sticks will be bigger but so will the carrots. There will be more aggressive approach in sending civilian and construction funds to local provinces- which most likely bypass the corrupt central government of Afghanistan.

The analogy being used is the Hammer and Anvil approach.