Monday, October 31, 2011

Maids in Singapore

Just over 200,000 maids, or foreign domestic workers (FDW), live and work in one in six households in Singapore, according to migrant advocacy group Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2). They came in large numbers in the 1980s when the government encouraged more women and highly skilled workers into the economy, creating the need for more help at home and the money to pay for it. (CNN)
Singapore is one of the better country destination for Indonesian maid although the long working hours are not exactly labor friendly. Saudi Arabia is probably the worst. 

Phone on your watch!

Someday I will witness Aurora Borealis

AB as seen from ISS. This year's season (November - March) will be the strongest in 50 years.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Sister’s Eulogy for Steve Jobs

His philosophy of aesthetics reminds me of a quote that went something like this: “Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later.” 
They once embarked on a kitchen remodel; it took years. They cooked on a hotplate in the garage. The Pixar building, under construction during the same period, finished in half the time. And that was it for the Palo Alto house. The bathrooms stayed old. But — and this was a crucial distinction — it had been a great house to start with; Steve saw to that. 
Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them. 
Steve’s final words were: 
OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW."(Mona Simpson)

A kid with leukemia

The Interweb try to cheer up a sick boy.

Lady Liberty's 125 anniversary

How Statue of Liberty was built. TPM has more pictures from 125 years ago.


Thomas Friedman writes about Citibank getting fined $285 million for what appears to be some kind of confidence scam. The company had net revenue of $3300 million in Q2 2011, so the fine is about equal to 10% of what they earned in those three months. Now let's say that a small- or medium-sized company commits a similarly serious indiscretion. I am supposing that they could get mulcted and might not recover from it. If this were true generally, we might speak of another sense of "too big to fail," meaning big enough to not be seriously deterred by penalties penalties that could easily ruin a smaller firm.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

An essay from China

We take the same test. The minimum score requirements for you and me are not the same. But once we’re accepted, our tuition fees are again the same. Every person pays 6000RMB per year – that’s for tuition only, which comes out as 24,000 RMB for all four years. Housing (1500RMB), and books (1000RMB) add up to around 4000RMB – and I’m only talking about eating cafeteria food the entire time. Four years of college comes down to 50,000 RMB. In 2003, a university in Shanghai announced that it was raising its annual tuition to 10,000 RMB due to the “campus renovation” That means 40,000 RMB for four years of tuition alone. Count in living and text book costs and a university education adds up to 66,000 RMB. For families who live in the city, 66,000 RMB isn’t much. For a rural family, 66,000 RMB is a life time’s worth of savings. I come from a coastal province that has been getting steady foreign investment. We were better off compared to some inner provinces, but still, after a year of hard labor, we were hard pressed to save much. A family of four who consume only the very basics can save 3000 RMB each year. That means to send one child to a four year college at 66,000 RMB a family needs to save for 22 years. That’s assuming that no one gets sick. It also means that no matter how talented the second child is the family must still deprive him or her from attending college since they can only afford to send one. (China Hush)

It's worth reading in its entirety.  It's titled "I fought 18 years to have a cup of coffee with you"; it's about one person story in migrating from rural China to make it in Shanghai.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Beggars can't be choosers

While nothing concrete resulted from the chat, there are indications on Friday that any Chinese involvement could come at a price. According to a front-page story in the Financial Times, China would not only require water-tight guarantees on its investment, but Europe might have to pay a political price as well.  
As a condition for its involvement, Beijing could ask European leaders to cease criticizing China's policy o f keeping its currency, the renminbi, artificially undervalued, Li Daokui, a member of China's central bank monetary policy committee, told the paper. It is an issue which has repeatedly strained China's relations with Europe, but especially with the United States. Were Europe to agree to such a demand, it could drive a wedge between Washington and Brussels. (Spiegel)
China is enjoying the fruit of being an emerging economic superpower.  

Will there be revenge?

Today on October 1st, both here in Tokyo and in Okinawa, the boryokudan haijojorei  (暴力団排除条例) or organized crime exclusionary laws, go into effect, thus making all of Japan a lot less yakuza friendly; it’s the start of the Big Chill. The laws vary in the details, but they all criminalize sharing profits with the yakuza (aka the Japanese mafia) or paying them off. (The Atlantic)
I didn't know that Japan law environment was pretty friendly to the Yakuza. Yakuza is similar to Italian mafia, without the Brooklyn accent. 

Innovation Starvation

My lifespan encompasses the era when the United States of America was capable of launching human beings into space. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting on a braided rug before a hulking black-and-white television, watching the early Gemini missions. This summer, at the age of 51—not even old—I watched on a flatscreen as the last Space Shuttle lifted off the pad.  I have followed the dwindling of the space program with sadness, even bitterness.  Where’s my donut-shaped space station? Where’s my ticket to Mars? Until recently, though, I have kept my feelings to myself. Space exploration has always had its detractors. To complain about its demise is to expose oneself to attack from those who have no sympathy that an affluent, middle-aged white American has not lived to see his boyhood fantasies fulfilled.   (Neal Stephenson)

Yes, thats Neal Stephenson, the guy that write the most brilliant The Diamond Age and Cryptonomicon. 

Ballerina and the bull

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Zizek on OWS

The reason protesters went out is that they had enough of the world where recycling your Coke cans, giving a couple of dollars to charity, or buying a cappuccino where 1% goes towards developing world troubles, is enough to make them feel good. After outsourcing work and torture, after the marriage agencies started to outsource even our dating, they saw that for a long time they were also allowing their political engagements to be outsourced – and they want them back. 
The art of politics is also to insist on a particular demand that, while thoroughly "realist", disturbs the very core of the hegemonic ideology: ie one that, while definitely feasible and legitimate, is de facto impossible (universal healthcare in the US was such a case). In the aftermath of the Wall Street protests, we should definitely mobilise people to make such demands – however, it is no less important to simultaneously remain subtracted from the pragmatic field of negotiations and "realist" proposals.
Slavoj Žižek

Eurozone deal reached

This is the agreement (pdf)

This is key for Greece (point 12)

The Private Sector Involvement (PSI) has a vital role in establishing the sustainability of the Greek debt. Therefore we welcome the current discussion between Greece and its private investors to find a solution for a deeper PSI. Together with an ambitious reform programme for the Greek economy, the PSI should secure the decline of the Greek debt to GDP ratio with an objective of reaching 120% by 2020. To this end we invite Greece, private investors and all parties concerned to develop a voluntary bond exchange with a nominal discount of 50% on notional Greek debt held by private investors. The Euro zone Member States would contribute to the PSI package up to 30 bn euro. On that basis, the official sector stands ready to provide additional programme financing of up to 100 bn euro until 2014, including the required recapitalisation of Greek banks. The new programme should be agreed by the end of 2011 and the exchange of bonds should be implemented at the beginning of 2012. We call on the IMF to continue to contribute to the financing of the new Greek programme.

This means that existing holders of Greece Bonds have agreed to a 50% loss. This is my friend is an 'orderly' default proceeding. Will this work? I am not smart enough to have a good opinion on this.

Income inequality in America

Whatever the cause, the data are powerful because they tend to support two prejudices. First, that a system that works well for the very richest has delivered returns on labour that are disappointing for everyone else. Second, that the people at the top have made out like bandits over the past few decades, and that now everyone else must pick up the bill. Economist

Bling Bling

Info packet you can use..

Also please ask journalists to *see my speech* before the interview. My speeches are not technical; they focus on precisely the sort of philosophical questions that a journalist would probably want to cover. If the journalist has not attended my speech, he will probably start by asking me to answer the same questions that I answer in the speech. That is a waste of time for me. (Richard  Stallman)
..if you are a stalwart open source software advocate. The link contains a comprehensive of info packet the he send to conference organizer on how to handle his session and invitation.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Skip the book - Steve Jobs bio in 90 seconds

IBM's new CEO

IBM's first female CEO, Virginia Rometty 
TPM has more.
Virginia Rometty, 54, formerly IBM’s head of global sales and a board member at American International Group (AIG), will take over the reigns of IBM on January 1, 2012, when current IBM CEO and chairman Samuel J. Palmisano, 60, steps down after nine years of being in control of the company. He’ll remain on as chairman of IBM’s board, which voted to elect Rometty to the post.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thing that make you say WTF

9.19am: One of the fighters who captured Gaddafi tried to sodomise him after he was captured alive, according to video footage obtained by the Global Post.
An analysis of highly disturbing video footage [Warning: link contains graphic images] shows a fighter trying to insert a stick, knife or gun into Gaddafi's rear end, it says. (Guardian)

Not the enemy

Mayor Bloomberg, no matter what some protestors might say, you are not the enemy. (Open Letter to Bloomberg by Russell Simmons)

How the world strangle an organization

I just heard a segment on the BBC World Service on WNYC about WikiLeaks.
They had a WikiLeaks spokesman explaining how Visa, MasterCard and Paypal had all shut off donations to WikiLeaks. With close to 100 percent market share, that leaves them without a way to raise money in the United States. This was done without due process, without any charges, and has been in place since December last year. A lot of people who look at this situation, myself included, don't see a line separating the role WikiLeaks plays from that played by the New York Times or the Guardian, two news organizations that ask for our respect and presumably don't have any problems with Visa, MasterCard or Paypal. (Dave Winer)

This issue with WikiLeaks highlights the danger of letting critical infrastructure to be centralized and concentrated in a few corporations. Once they are ganged up on you, you are pretty much toast. The Internet was built on the idea of robust decentralization but the current trend right now is worrying with the accumulation of critical services to the hands of a few such as Google or Facebook. They are creating a garden wall within the  Internet and have control on everything inside it. That is not good for the future of the Internet and we should stop feeding the beasts that will turn on the rest of us. 

Qaddafi will be buried today

Reuter sez.

He will be buried in some secret location in the desert. I will give it less than a year before this 'secret' location to be discovered.


More than 16,000 people have fled from four southern Philippine towns where government troops have been battling Muslim guerrillas and outlaws.  
The Office of Civil Defense said Tuesday that about 10,800 villagers have been displaced in three towns in Zamboanga Sibugay province. The towns include coastal Payao, where air force bomber planes, army troops and naval gunboats have been battling more than 120 suspected Muslim rebels and outlaws accused of kidnappings for ransom and other crimes. (The Jakarta Post)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rugby Union World Cup

Regime Change

This is a church

More amazing pictures at ArchitectureLab

Lego patent expired last week

Boing Boing has the details. Now you can build your own building bricks and sell it (call it Bogo)

Krispy Kreme

Krispy Kreme's hands-off approach to their brand

The less-is-more approach is being driven by Chief Marketing Officer Dwayne Chambers, who in a presentation Sunday at the Association of National Advertisers conference reaffirmed the company's commitment to social media-driven word-of mouth-marketing, while embracing a hands-off approach that lets fans– not Krispy Kreme – control the brand's messaging. "I don't own the brand and the idea that I ever owned the brand is really kind of stupid," said Mr. Chambers, who has been on the job for about a year. "The more we try and control it, the less control we really have."

WEF Global Competitiveness Report 2011-2012

It's out and you can find it here.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Volcano Travels

Mt. Bromo, Indonesia

This site has a gallery of amazing volcanoes to visit.

Alcohol limit

Sir Ian Gilmore, special adviser on alcohol and former president of the RCP, told the BBC: "In addition to quantity, safe alcohol limits must also take into account frequency.
"There is an increased risk of liver disease for those who drink daily or near daily compared with those who drink periodically or intermittently.
"We recommend a safe alcohol consumption limit of between 0 and 21 units a week for men and 0 and 14 units a week for women provided the total amount is not drunk in one or two bouts and that there are two to three alcohol free days a week. (BBC)
Easy rule of thumb - do not drink everyday. 

Qadaffi is dead and they put them in a meatlocker

At least they don't charge a fee for viewing. This definitely looks too macabre for my taste but hey, don't rule by iron fist for 42 years.

The funny thing is that you do not hear much chorus in the media about sensitivity that must be shown to Qaddafi to bury him at the same day according Islamic ritual (remember the kvetching about OBL sea burial?).

It's a start

Germany's largest offshore wind farm, a power plant surrounded by a hostile environment, produces 12 times as much energy as the world's first nuclear power plant. 
Germany is the first highly developed, industrialized nation to decide to be dependent on renewable energy in the future. Germany is also the country where nuclear fission was discovered and the internal combustion engine was invented. By 2020 Germany, a country dotted with auto plants, chemical factories and steel mills, is to derive fully one fifth of its power from wind turbines. (Spiegel)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A skeptic physicist confirmed that Global Warning is real

The BEST team tried to take a number of skeptic claims seriously, to see if they panned out. Take, for instance, their paper on the “urban heat island effect.” Watts has long argued that many weather stations collecting temperature data could be biased by being located in cities. Since cities are naturally warmer than rural areas (because building materials retain more heat), the uptick in recorded temperatures might be exaggerated, an illusion spawned by increased urbanization. So Muller’s team decided to compare overall temperature trends with only those weather stations based in rural areas. And, as it turns out the trends match up well. “Urban warming does not unduly bias estimates of recent global temperature change,” Muller’s group concluded. (WP)

Aviation Porn - 787 Dreamliner

And this is a recent documentation about it

Dying Kingdom

Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz al Saud has died, Saudi TV says.
The crown prince was King Abdullah's half-brother and first in line to the Saudi throne. He was also minister of defence and aviation. (bbc)

This picture was taken recently of the Saudi King and his brothers - which form the leadership of the kingdom.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

That's Qaddafi.

The Atlantic meets the Pacific conference

It looks great.

Here's one about Moores Cancer Research

At the Moores Cancer Research Center, they revolutionized the research process by bringing patients, physicians, scientists and the bio-depository under one architectural-award winning roof.  Instead of operating in their separate silos of academia and medicine, the essential elements to cancer therapy are integrated in a strategic collaboration that ensures success on all sides.  
Galileo, a challenger to the US powered GPS system was launched yesterday.

Lemon Chicken

The recipe is here.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tracking Really Bad Guys

The Lord's Resistance Army (also Lord's Resistance Movement or Lakwena Part Two) is a heterodox Christian militant group, which operates in northern Uganda and South Sudan.[4] The group used to operate mainly in northern Uganda and also in parts of South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  
The LRA is accused of widespread human rights violations, including murder, abduction, mutilation, sexual enslavement of women and children and forcing children to participate in hostilities. (wikipedia)

These are nasty nasty folks.  

Malaria vaccine is near

Reuter reported that the latest trial shows great results.

  • Halves risk of infection in Phase III African study 

  • Risk of clinical malaria cut by 56 pct 

  • Risk of severe malaria cut by 47 pct 

  • GSK CEO says company will make no money from vaccine 

  • Shares in partner Agenus rise more than 40 pct (Adds reaction Bill Gates and from UK development minister)

It's fucking awesome. This vaccine is going to save tons of lives.

Joe Cohen, the scientist behind the vaccine. He has been working on the vaccine for the past 24 years.
Reuter has the interview.

The price of Argentinian default

Their GDP boomed (great) but there are price to pay

So who cares?  The Argentine government, that's who; that inability to finance deficits has pinched.  Devaluation raised the peso value of their debt, so rather than building up reserves, Argentina used the proceeds of its commodity boom to pay down debt and stimulate consumer demand.  When the global financial crisis drove commodities into a temporary slump, the government was caught out, unable to borrow the money they needed.  They turned to their equivalent of America's 401(k) system, seizing the money on the pretext of protecting the elderly.  Their capital markets remain shallow and prone to capital flight at the first sign of trouble.  If there's more trouble in the global economy, what does the government do for an encore?  There's not much left to nationalize, and I don't think there's going to be a big appetite for their debt in the near future. (The Atlantic)

but boy, their GDP is looking great (in combination of the commodity boom)

The Union is back

Russia has signed a free-trade deal with seven other former Soviet republics that will scrap export and import tariffs on a number of goods. (BBC)

Apparently they have art back then

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Foggy sunrise in Dubai

Foggy sunrise in Dubai by Catalin Marin

This has to be one of the most beautiful photos of Dubai I've seen in a while...

More stunning photos of Dubai (and the world) on Momentary Awe.

Self Immolation Monks

Rumours are circulating that dozens of monks are now ready to sacrifice their lives. Separate reports tell of pamphlets distributed and posted around the local Kirti Monastery and the market place in Ngaba town which state that if Chinese policies at the monastery and in the town continue, “many more people were prepared to give up their lives in protest.”

This photograph is of Phuntsog, the first monk to set fire to himself in 2011 in protest at the persecution of Tibetans under Chinese rule. Phuntsog set fire to himself on 16 March 2011 in Ngaba Town, Ngaba County, Eastern Tibet (Chinese: Aba Town, Aba County, Aba Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province).

What's up this weekend in Eurozone

The script for saving the euro has already been written. The monetary union's 17 finance ministers will meet in Brussels this Friday, their counterparts from the remaining European Union countries will join them on Saturday and, finally, on Sunday the EU heads of state and government will arrive to give their blessing to the bailout package. 
The most important meetings were scheduled for the weekend so that the decisions can be taken when financial markets are closed. Everyone is afraid of how the ominous markets will react. "We will meet on Friday until trading ends on Wall Street, and we intend to be finished on Sunday before the first markets open in Asia," says the head of the euro group, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker. (Spiegel)

Elizabeth Warren, my hero

Vanity Fair has a glowing profile of a Senate candidate of Massachusetts.

A Harvard law professor, one of the nation’s leading bankruptcy experts and consumer advocates, the 62-year-old Warren had come up with the idea for the agency in 2007. She had advised the Obama administration on its creation in the aftermath of the 2008 financial collapse and helped to push it through Congress. Warren had also spent the last 10 months working tirelessly to build the agency from scratch—hiring its staff of 500, including Richard Cordray, organizing its management structure, and getting the C.F.P.B. up and running for its opening on July 21.

More downtime please

Abu Dhabi Traffic Accidents Dropped 40% During the BlackBerry Outage.

I am not surprised with this statistic. I bet Egypt has similar statistics as well - it is full of reckless drivers who text while driving.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

  • It does not need a single policy goal.
  • It does not need one leader. It has thousands of leaders.
  • It does not need an organizer. It has thousands of organizers. 
  • It allow many people to participate.
  • It is inclusive instead of exclusive.
  • It aims to lower the barrier of participation. 
  • It is decentralized and resilient. 
  • It is not controlled by any entity because everybody is in control of their participation.
  • And a lesson from Tahrir, there's no hero because everybody is.

More on OWS

Winning a civil resistance, a social movement, a nonviolent struggle, a community organizing campaign profoundly changes the participants. It turns them into winners and transforms them into people who can never, ever be conquered by fear or despair ever again. That is why it is called revolution. It turns everything around, upside-down, and inside, out. It is the motor that evolves the species. (Tom Watson)
 His piece on Occupy Wall Street is worth reading on its entirety. 

Deficit Folly

This week saw something stunning: The world's most famous bond manager, Bill Gross, was forced to send out an apology to investors over his dismal performance this year.
A key reason he's shied away from U.S. debt (up until now) is his fear of massive U.S. deficits, and the belief that these deficits would turn investors away from our debt. Business Insider

Arguing need for longer-term fiscal consolidation is irresponsible

The insistence that fiscal consolidation is necessary in the longer term is like the doctor who, faced with a patient who has just been admitted to the intensive care ward, repeatedly questions the patient about his ability to afford the treatment.

This is both lacking in decency and irresponsible.

If the patient loses heart after learning the cost of the treatment, he may end up spending even longer in the hospital, leading to a larger final bill. Completely ignoring the policy duration effect of fiscal policy and constantly insisting on longer-term fiscal consolidation was what prolonged Japan’s recession. (Richard Koo of Nomura)

If your economy is fucked up now, it's not going to get better in the future. Fix the current situation and the whole projection of the future will change.

This is why Greece is fucked up. Austerity can only take you so far - at some point you have to grow your fucking economy. 
After meticulously stitching together images that were gathered over six years by a NASA spacecraft in orbit around Saturn, astronomers have created a global map of the surface of Titan, the ringed planet's largest moon, and it features some surprisingly Earth-like geological features. (
Wall Street loses its immunity (Krugman)

We are past 3 year mark since the great financial catastrophe of 2008. No one was held accountable for that mess since then and trillions of nations' treasures have been used to prop them up. Time's up bitches - you are going to get your comeuppance. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I work on Wall Street. 
I am living, breathing affirmation of the fact that where and to whom you are born matter the most. 
I am the 1%, I stand with the 99%. (we are the 1%)

This Occupy Wall Street idea is catching on. 

USA's pivot to Asia Pacific

As the war in Iraq winds down and America begins to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, the United States stands at a pivot point. Over the last 10 years, we have allocated immense resources to those two theaters. In the next 10 years, we need to be smart and systematic about where we invest time and energy, so that we put ourselves in the best position to sustain our leadership, secure our interests, and advance our values. One of the most important tasks of American statecraft over the next decade will therefore be to lock in a substantially increased investment -- diplomatic, economic, strategic, and otherwise -- in the Asia-Pacific region. (Hillary Clinton - Foreign Policy)

About fucking time. 

Occupy Times Square

This is a wonderful pic.

Burma's Opening

"India and Burma agreed Friday to expand cooperation in oil and gas exploration, open up border trade and speed up the construction of natural gas pipelines, the Associated Press reported. 
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh offered visiting Burmese President Thein Sein $500 million in credits for infrastructure projects, including roads, inland waterways and ports, the news agency said." Global Post

This follows the recent releases of thousands of prisoners (including 300 or so political prisoners) in a general amnesty.  Something is going on in Burma. I have no idea what it is but I'll check back with links to some analysis materials. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The next oil superpower

Experts estimate that up to 170 billion barrels of crude oil could be extracted from Canada's oil sands. Only Saudi Arabia and Venezuela have more black gold. In addition, the Alberta deposits are of huge geopolitical significance. Indeed, the US already buys more oil from neighboring Canada than from all the nations in the Persian Gulf region put together. Spiegel

Liam's BFF

UK Minister of Defense resigned over scandal.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Epic flooding in Thailand

Murdoch's Comically Evil Empire

One of Rupert Murdoch's most senior European executives has resigned following Guardian inquiries about a circulation scam at News Corporation's flagship newspaper, the Wall Street Journal.  
The Guardian found evidence that the Journal had been channelling money through European companies in order to secretly buy thousands of copies of its own paper at a knock-down rate, misleading readers and advertisers about the Journal's true circulation.  
The bizarre scheme included a formal, written contract in which the Journal persuaded one company to co-operate by agreeing to publish articles that promoted its activities, a move which led some staff to accuse the paper's management of violating journalistic ethics and jeopardising its treasured reputation for editorial quality. (Guardian)

Who would have thought that Wall Street Journal would be involved in a scam after News Corporation purchase. 

R.I.P Dennis Ritchie

He was the co-inventor of C programming language and UNIX operating system in the 70's. Since then, the progress of the computing world has relied on these amazing contributions.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The possibilities of Occupy Wall Street
Going back to before Dean For America, I was hoping that, with the advent of the Internet, the economics of elections would change. I got close to the Dean people, but they either didn't see the possibility, or felt it was too early, or felt they couldn't afford to be an experimental campaign.  
But with Occupy Wall Street, it would be wholly inconsistent to use their presence on the Internet to raise money to buy ads on television. If they did that, we would need to start an OWS to occupy them. (Dave Winer)
One of the most interesting aspects of Occupy Wall Street (#ows) is the work it is doing to set up permanent occupations in EVERY city (over 1,000 locations globally, and growing) of note.  (John Robb)

Read these two mindbombs and be delighted. The OWS movement is so far 'leaderless' and that's a good sign. Let it be decentralized and remains resilient and unshackled by status quo. Let a thousand leaders born out of this growing movement. 

BB users across Europe, Middle East and Barbarian lands cannot read this post

The BBM service is down for the second day - no messages, no Internet, no email.

An interview about extra dimensions (physics)

In her new book, Knocking on Heaven's Door, Harvard University theorist Lisa Randall explores how physics may transform our understanding of the fundamental nature of the world. She thinks an extra dimension may exist close to our familiar reality, hidden except for a bizarre sapping of the strength of gravity as we see it. She also ponders the makeup of dark matter, unseen particles that have shaped the growth of the entire cosmos. These ideas, once the sole province of fiction writers, face real tests in a new generation of experiments. Sensitive detectors now sniff for dark matter, while the most complex scientific machine ever created, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), beneath the border of Switzerland and France, smashes subatomic particles into one another at almost the speed of light. Read more 

Slovaks decided to fuck Eurozone over

The Slovak parliament rejected the measure to proceed with Greece bailout. They will do a second vote this week.


Research found that if you cut off your dog's balls, it will get depressed.

Middle East Update

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

First Frankenfish will be available for consumption

The Food and Drug Administration has completed its highly-anticipated evaluation of the environmental impact of the world’s first genetically-engineered (GE) fish for human consumption, and written a document supportive of its commercialization on the U.S. market, according to a person close to the review process.(TPM)

Poland on Abortion

600,000 Poland citizens have signed on petition to completely ban abortion.

Belgium nationalized troubled bank

Haven't we watched this movie before? Dexia got rescued by Belgium government.

Monday, October 10, 2011

For those who cooks

Explore matching ingredients at and

They are awesome as a reference to come up with quick recipes and experimenting with flavors. 

Cairo Violence last night

Protests in Cairo are dime a dozen nowadays - they have become a normal texture of Cairo life. There are enough wrong things still going on in the country and there are enough people that care about them to show up and protests. Over 20 people died last night and almost 200 people injured in a flash violence that maybe lasted only four hours. It is not easy to kill 20 people if the method of fighting involves only rocks and sticks as these things commonly go. Some claim that majority of the dead were run over by a military vehicle. The tension in the capital is red hot and we shall see what the coming days bring.

I am safe although I was ignorantly near the area when it happened. I heard a couple of gunshots from Qasr El Nile bridge and assumed they were firecrackers. It is a fucking disappointing development. Fuckin' a.

Storyful has more details. Masr al Youm has a live update. Sarah Carr, as usual, is on the scene and write a harrowing account of the event.


Sunday, October 09, 2011

Pearls of Steve's management wisdom

Experts—journalists, analysts, consultants, bankers, and gurus can’t “do” so they “advise.” They can tell you what is wrong with your product, but they cannot make a great one. They can tell you how to sell something, but they cannot sell it themselves. They can tell you how to create great teams, but they only manage a secretary. For example, the experts told us that the two biggest shortcomings of Macintosh in the mid 1980s were the lack of a daisy-wheel printer driver and Lotus 1-2-3; another advice gem from the experts was to buy Compaq. Hear what experts say, but don’t always listen to them. (Guy Kawasaki on Steve)

Chile's student revolution

In stark contrast to the students' popularity, the once beloved coalition known as La Concertación which organised the overthrow of Pinochet and then ruled Chile from 1990 to 2010 has fallen into political obsolescence. La Concertación is now polling at just 11% approval. Sebastian Piñera, Chile's president, a billionaire businessman, has just 22% public approval ratings, the lowest ever in Chilean history.
"For 20 years they [La Concertación] reinforced the Pinochet model, they institutionalised it, modernised it without any profound changes. Now that this model is in crisis, they can't be part of the discussion as they are effectively comp- licit," explained the Santiago student Ariel Russell. "Camila has an ability to deliver a very wide populist message, not populist just in terms of communicating to the poor, but also to the middle class… The youth now have more credibility than the traditional politicians." (Guardian)

There are protests everywhere nowadays although it's a bit to early to call this decade a restive decade.

Photostream from Occupy

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve's gone

Check out tributes to Steve Jobs.
I wish Jobs had written about his design process, so I could quote something. And he was a designer, even though people seem to be calling him more of a visionary. He got down in there and made small but very important design decisions about his products. Ones that had wide impact, for better, or worse. And often they were things his products didn't do. (Dave Winer)

Thanks Steve. 

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Fundamentalist Vegetarians!

Pictures from Thai's vegetarian festival

Power of one

A profile on Michael Lewis, an author of blockbuster such as The Blind Side and Moneyball.

Google management does not use Google+

Feeds to monitor Occupy Wall Street movement

Barbarian at the gates of Rome

The Italian government's credit rating has been slashed by Moody's from Aa2 to A2 with a negative outlook. (BBC)
This means that their cost of borrowings are going up. It's not yet a cause for alarm - but they are going to the wrong direction. 

The 'end in a whimper' guys won Nobel Prize in Physics

Scientists who watched stars explode in faraway galaxies and deduced that the universe was expanding at an ever-faster rate have won the Nobel Prize in Physics.  
The discovery in the late 1990s meant textbooks had to be rewritten and forced researchers to consider a universe of stars and planets that is being torn apart by a mysterious force that counteracts gravity. (The Guardian)

Before their discovery, it is assumed that the universe is going to have a fiery end, not unlike Jerry Bruckheimer's movies. Their discovery showed that since the acceleration of the universe expansion, we will end up in a cold, quiet and empty space. 

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The land of Elves and Feminists

Out in the Reykjavik suburbs, I spend an afternoon with Sigrídur Magnúsdóttir, Andrea Halldorsdottir and Eva Gunnbjornsdottir. When I ask which women's issues upset them most Eva, 31, a postgraduate student, plumps for the pay gap, while Sigrídur and Andrea talk passionately about the problem of sexual violence. "If I could change one thing," says Sigrídur, 35, an office cleaner, "it would be the sexual crimes against children and women. Men will have to fight for themselves." Andrea, 27, a music teacher, says even in cases where someone is raped and almost left for dead, the reported punishment seems shockingly low. (Guardian)
It's a lovely lovely country. 

No money for you yet, Greece

Eurozone finance minister delayed further 8 billion euro bail out for Greece to next month. It comes after the news that Greece will likely to fail to hit its deficit target as mandated in the bailout term earlier this year.

Delitto Mez, assolti Amanda e Raffaele Lacrime e abbracci, entrambi sono liberi

Assolti. Dopo oltre undici ore di camera di consiglio, arriva la sentenza d'appello su Amanda Knox e Raffaele Sollecito, accusati dell'omicidio della studentessa inglese Meredith Kercher: sono stati assolti con formula piena dall'accusa di omicidio. Ed entrambi hanno lasciato il carcere già in serata. Raffaele Sollecito ha abbandonato il carcere di Terni a bordo dell'auto del padre. Amanda se n'è andata dal carcere di Perugia a bordo di una Mercedes nera, con il volto molto serio, ha guardato verso i giornalisti ma senza fare cenni di saluto. (Corriere Della Sera
The news in an Italian newspaper is above. Below is an analysis from NYT.
Those second-chance jurors came to the same conclusion that any fair-minded person who has looked at the monumentally flawed murder case against Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, has arrived at. There was no way, based on forensic evidence that was a joke by international standards and a nonexistent motive that played to medieval superstitions, to find Knox and Sollecito guilty of the 2007 killing of Meredith Kercher, her British roommate in Perugia. NY Times  

I followed the case from time to time through its tumultuous progress. The prosecution case against them is simply bizarre - involving sexual orgies gone wrong and other salacious stuffs that do not belong in a court.

I am glad that they are free. She will probably have to do some media whoring afterwards - but don't judge her on that - the legal fees her family is racking up for the past four years must be staggering.

apple needs to find a new niche

"Android’s share of new smartphone sales is now more than double Apple’s share, a striking change from a year ago, when the two were roughly even, and a reflection of how Android phones have improved and become more broadly available. " (NYTimes)

android phones are just as glossy these days and you can just stick whichever SIM into them; put a voice-only sim from T-Mobile into a WiFi enabled android phone and you have (almost) an iPhone for $35/month.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Circular Bailouts

The euro bailout fund cannot work because already indebted countries like Spain and Italy are contributing to it. That's the view of Satyajit Das, author of "Extreme Money - Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk".

Speaking to the BBC's Mike Johnson, Mr. Das, a derivatives trader in Sydney for 30 years, said the European Financial Stability Facility is like 'a ponzi game', and that Europe's financially troubled countries will end up borrowing from themselves. (BBC)

Occupy WallStreet

Now with obligatory blog of their own.

Comically evil brothers

The following day, Koch-Glitsch was sent a purchase order to supply petrochemical equipment for the Zagros plant, which was being designed and built by two engineering firms, Pidec in Iran and Lurgi in Germany, according to company documents.  
On May 31, 2004, Koch-Glitsch secured another contract for 1.2 million Euros, to help expand the Zagros facility. The plant helped Iran turn its vast natural gas reserves into methanol, which is used for making plastics, paints and chemicals.  
The Italian office of Koch-Glitsch sought work on other projects in Iran -- the expansion of the Abadan refinery, the country’s largest, and the development of South Pars, part of the world’s largest natural gas field, the documents show. (Bloomberg)

We are fucked, part 11

Greece is likely to miss the deficit targets agreed as part of July's bailout package, which would cast further doubt on its ability to steer safely through its current financial crisis and will send new tremors through global financial markets.  
As the country's cabinet agreed a controversial plan to begin laying off 30,000 state workers, its latest budget plan indicated a deficit of 8.5% of GDP this year, missing the 7.6% target agreed with the European Union and the IMF. In 2012 the deficit is expected to fall to 6.8% of GDP – above the year's 6.5% target. A recession that has been worse than expected is behind much of the increase. According to Reuters, Greece expects its economy to contract by 5.5% this year and 2% next. (Guardian)
You can cut and cut and cut some more but at some point you need to grow the economy. 

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Start of a Syrian Civil War?

The semblance of a civil war has erupted in Homs, Syria’s third-largest city, where armed protesters now call themselves revolutionaries, gun battles erupt as often as every few hours, security forces and opponents carry out assassinations, and rifles costing as much as $2,000 apiece flood the city from abroad, residents say.  
Since the start of the uprising in March, Homs has stood as one of Syria’s most contested cities, its youth among the best organized and most tenacious. But across the political spectrum, residents speak of a decisive shift in past weeks, as a largely peaceful uprising gives way to a grinding struggle that has made Homs violent, fearful and determined. (NY Times)
There's no surprise here. You can only shoot peaceful protesters for so long before they start thinking "fuck Gandhi, Genghis was right". 

Bibi's talents

German Chancellor Angela Merkel took Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu harshly to task Friday over last week's decision to approve 1,100 housing units in Gilo, precipitating an unprecedented diplomatic crisis.  
A senior Israeli official said the move greatly angered Merkel, after had she enlisted massive support of Israel over the past few weeks to help in thwarting a Security Council vote approving Palestinian membership in the United Nations. (Haaretz)
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, while at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia to receive the Liberty Medal, criticized Israel again, but is opposed to the unilateral declaration of of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations. Gates, who is the first US Secretary of Defense to visit Ramallah, said, "Israel is now alone in the Middle East. Israel has made mistakes. They are having trouble with Egypt. They have alienated Turkey. They assassinated a Hamas leader in the United Arab Emirates." (Business Insider)

There's no ally he doesn't piss off. 

Now you can fly to Lombok directly

The Jakarta Post

Lombok is mandatory, Bali is optional.

Profile of Denmark's queenmaker

Two weeks ago Helle Thorning-Schmidt won the right to become the country's first female prime minister after her Social Democratic-led coalition topped parliamentary polls to oust the rightwing Liberal-Conservative government.

Thorning-Schmidt, 44, has also earned headlines in Britain as the daughter-in-law of Neil Kinnock, the former Labour party leader. For many young Danes, however, by far the bigger story is the extraordinary influence and popularity of a woman 17 years younger, who has emerged as a potential power broker. Johanne Schmidt-Nielsen has been described as the "new queen of the Red-Green Alliance", the party on whose executive committee she serves. At 27, she is young, beautiful, radical and received significantly more personal votes than the new prime minister in the recent election, which allows voters to express preferences for individual politicians. The British equivalent would be a young activist for Respect or the Green party outpolling the Labour leader. It was an amazing result. (Guardian)

Men are doomed

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Doctors without justice

Dr Ali al-Akri sits at home in Bahrain waiting for the jailer to call. When it happens, probably within days, the veteran physician will pack his bag, kiss his family goodbye and go to the prison that he will probably call home for the next 15 years.  
"I'll do what I have to do," he says, "if that means that Bahrain will be a better place. And all of the doctors convicted with me will do the same."  
The 20 Bahraini medics who were sentenced on Thursday to prison terms of between five and 15 years remain on bail in Manama, but all are sure that their fate has been sealed by the military court that convicted them of a range of subversive crimes, some of which the government claims amount to acts of terrorism. (Guardian)
Bahrain's handling of its protesters is a disgrace.