Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ang Lee story

From age 30 to 36, he’s living in an apartment in White Plains, NY trying to get something — anything — going, while his wife Jane supports the family of four (they also had two young children) on her modest salary as a microbiologist. He spends every day at home, working on scripts, raising the kids, doing the cooking. That’s a six-year span — six years! — filled with dashed hopes and disappointments. “There was nothing,” he told The New York Times. “I sent in script after script. Most were turned down. Then there would be interest, I’d rewrite, hurry up, turn it in and wait weeks and weeks, just waiting. That was the toughest time for Jane and me. She didn’t know what a film career was like and neither did I.” It got so discouraging that Lee reportedly contemplated learning computer science so he could find a job during this time, but was scolded by his wife when she found out, telling him to keep his focus. Jeff Lin
We almost didn't have him if he'd given up.

This is another snippet from an interview with him a few years ago.
My wife was my college classmate. She was a biology major, and after graduation, went to work for a small pharmaceutical research lab. Her income was terribly modest. At the time, we already had our elder son, Haan, to raise. To appease my own feelings of guilt, I took on all housework – cooking, cleaning, taking care of our son – in addition to reading, reviewing films and writing scripts. Every evening after preparing dinner, I would sit on the front steps with Haan, telling him stories as we waited for his mother – the heroic huntress – to come home with our sustenance (income).

This kind of life felt rather undignified for a man. At one point, my in-laws gave their daughter (my wife) a sum of money, intended as start-up capital for me to open a Chinese restaurant – hoping that a business would help support my family. But my wife refused the money. When I found out about this exchange, I stayed up several nights and finally decided: This dream of mine is not meant to be. I must face reality.


When you absolutely have to have your smart phone manly.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The deadliest balloon accident in the world

This video of the accident in Luxor is not graphic but it is chilling to the bone.

I have nothing to say really but to highlight that this is just the latest mishaps with the Luxor air balloon operators in the past 4 years. I've been to Luxor 4 times and I've never taken the ride. It is supposed to be really amazing to be up that high with the view of the ancient Thebes but man, I don't trust them to be reliable.

The last fatal hot ballooning accident happened in New Zealand last year that killed 12 people.

Monday, February 25, 2013


Twice in a season

A Nepalese climber was confirmed on Monday as the first woman to scale Mount Everest twice in a single season, Guinness World Records said, after she made the second summit within days of the first.

Chhurim Sherpa, 29, reached the 8,848-metre (29,028-feet) peak on May 12 last year before returning to base camp for a well-earned rest and then repeating the stunning feat a mere week later.

"I am very happy for this recognition. I was determined that the record should be held by a Nepalese woman and I'm proud to be one," said Sherpa, from Nepal's eastern hills. 
The Jakarta Post

Sunday, February 24, 2013

"Our right to poison"

On July 17, 1971, then-US President Richard Nixon announced: "America's public enemy No. 1 is drug abuse." A new archenemy had been born: drugs. It was the opening salvo in the "war on drugs."

To this day, the war on drugs is being waged against anyone who comes into contact with cocaine, marijuana or other illegal drugs. It is being fought against coca farmers in Colombia, poppy growers in Afghanistan and drug mules who smuggle drugs by the kilogram (2.2 pounds), sometimes concealed in their stomachs. It is being fought against crystal meth labs in Eastern Europe, kids addicted to crack cocaine in Los Angeles and people who are caught with a gram of marijuana in their pockets, just as it is being fought against the drug cartels in Mexico and killers like Popeye. There is almost no place on earth today where the war is not being waged. Indeed, the war on drugs is as global as McDonald's. Spiegel
This "war on drugs" is a failed idea and it is time to terminate it. It has created an industry on its own where businesses, politicians and criminals have benefited enormously in expense of ordinary people. Legalize it and tax it like Cigarette and Alcohol.   

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Welcome to the nightmare scenario

The Free Syrian Army has bombed Hezbollah positions in Syria and Lebanon, according to reports. It comes after the FSA, on Tuesday, gave Hezbollah 48 hours to stop attacks in Syria. The Syrian opposition had accused the Lebanese Shia group of attacks on villages near the border with Lebanon in support of the Assad regime. Guardian
You do not want to get Hezbollah involved in the Syrian civil war, at least not overtly. Once Hezbollah is engaged, more larger scale involvements by other groups in Lebanon are possible and that's bad news. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

This does not look good on a UK PM

I know it's culturally sensitive, etc, but this head warp looks ridiculous on David Cameron. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Diamonds are robbers' best friend

Eight masked gunmen made a hole in a security fence at Brussels' international airport, drove onto the tarmac and snatched some $50 million worth of diamonds from the hold of a Swiss-bound plane without firing a shot, authorities said Tuesday.

The gang used two black cars in their daring raid late Monday, grabbed the cache of stones and sped off into the darkness, said Anja Bijnens, spokeswoman for the Brussels prosecutor's office.

An airport spokesman said the robbers made a hole in the perimeter fence and drove up to the Swiss passenger plane, which was ready to leave. The robbers got out of the car, flashed machine guns at pilots and security transport workers before taking the loot from the hold, which was accessed from outside.

Without firing a shot they drove off through the same hole in the fence, completing the spectacular theft within barely five minutes, Bijnens said. AP
This smells like an inside job. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

One billion rising is today

 Guardian is covering it live.

 The website for the event is here. It's a global one day event against "violence against women".

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

7 freaky places around the world

Aokigahara Forest, at the foot of Mount Fuji in Japan, is a densely wooded forest that's sometimes called the "Sea of Trees" and sometimes called the "suicide forest." 
It's become something of a mecca for those who want to take their lives; 54 people committed suicide in Aokigahara Forest in 2010. The denseness of the woods means that it's likely that not all the bodies have been discovered. CNN

Monday, February 11, 2013

Interview with the man who killed bin laden

I would come to know about the Shooter's hundreds of combat missions, his twelve long-term SEAL-team deployments, his thirty-plus kills of enemy combatants, often eyeball to eyeball. And we would talk for hours about the mission to get bin Laden and about how, over the celebrated corpse in front of them on a tarp in a hangar in Jalalabad, he had given the magazine from his rifle with all but three lethally spent bullets left in it to the female CIA analyst whose dogged intel work and intuition led the fighters into that night. Esquire

Pope resigns

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Where do the guns in Chicago come from?


Friday, February 08, 2013

Climate change

Want to help with the climate change problem? If you don't read the Federal Register daily, you may have missed today's notice that the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is soliciting comments in a 60-day window for its plan on climate change. EPA does have authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate sources of carbon dioxide throughout the US. Their decision would not need approval by Congress.

The sexual attacks of Tahrir Square

This is Cairo’s famed Tahrir Square. Once the epicenter of Egypt’s peaceful uprising, where activists plotted an idealistic future, the immense plaza in downtown Cairo is now also something much darker — a hub for mass sexual assaults against female protesters and journalists.

Violent mobs of sometimes hundreds of men have contributed to an uptick in violations against women in the square in recent months, culminating in the highest-ever number of sexual incidents at a protest on the recent Jan. 25 anniversary of Egypt’s uprising. On that day, at least one of the 19 victims was forced to undergo surgery. Her genitals were sliced with a knife, health officials said. Global Post
Click on the Global Post article and watch the video reporting by my friend Bridgette. It is a powerful reporting. She is a video journalist and that work puts her in much danger than most in Tahrir square. 

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Political assassination in Tunisia

A Tunisian opposition party leader who had been critical of the Islamist-led government and radical Muslim violence has been shot dead. Guardian

Knock on wood - this hasn't happened yet in Egypt.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Android Rivers on Google Play

If you have an Android phone or Tablet, check out this little creation of mine. It makes reading news much more efficient.

A raging argument whether Herbalife is a pyramid scheme

Prominent Wall Street investors are arguing acrimoniously over whether the nutritional supplements company Herbalife is a pyramid scheme.

William A. Ackman, a hedge fund manager, has called the company an abusive pyramid scheme and said the stock was essentially worthless. He says repeat purchasers like Mr. Aragundi are not the main source of Herbalife’s sales but rather sales recruits. If a significant number of the recruits fail to sell the goods, they can face large losses.

“Money from the millions of low- and middle-income people at the bottom of the pyramid is being transferred to the tiny fraction of distributors at the top of the pyramid,” Mr. Ackman said in an interview. “It’s Robin Hood in reverse.”

The company has fought back, generating support from big investors like Daniel Loeb and Carl C. Icahn. Herbalife cites its long history of sales growth and its compensation plan, which it says focuses on product sales, not recruitment. NY Times

Monday, February 04, 2013

They found the Lion Heart

Richard Buckley returns to announce the team's conclusion.

He says that it is their academic view that "beyond reasonable doubt the individual exhumed at Grey Friars on September 12th is indeed Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England". Guardian

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Police brutality in Cairo

A video of a protester being beaten and stripped naked has galvanised protests against the police and government in Egypt.

Hamada Saber, a middle-aged man, remained in a police hospital on Saturday, the morning after he was shown on television, dragged over naked tarmac and beaten by half a dozen policemen who had pulled him to an armoured vehicle near the presidential palace. Guardian
Click on the Guardian link to see why Egyptians keep going to the street to fight the government.
And it gets even worse
Prosecutors are now claiming that Hamada Saber, who was dragged, stripped naked and beaten up in front of the Ettehadiya Presidential Palace, was actually assaulted by protesters, and that security forces were the ones that came to his rescue. 
The Heliopolis Prosecution is alleging that Saber denied reports that security assaulted him. Prosecutors claim he told them that protesters assaulted him, thinking he was from the security forces because he was wearing black. Egypt Independent
These government prosecutors apparently forgot that the whole abuse was captured on TV.

From this single incident, you can see the depth of Egyptian crisis of government. It is reaching the proportion of an Onion article. Right is wrong, left is right, up is down. 

How to land an airplane

There are many types of airplanes, but when it comes to landing there is pretty much two classes: heavy and light. This is more related to lift/weight ratio (and wing type) than actual the size of the airplane. I will show you how you can land light airplanes in the easiest way possible, as long as first you open any flight simulator right now (xplane for iphone is ok) and understand the basic controls (pitch, roll, yaw) and the relationship between speed and angle of attack. Playing with it for 10 minutes (at low speeds) should suffice. The basic mechanics are good enough. Keep in mind that brains are incredible machines and can learn things automagically, but you need to stay calm. For instance, my wife learned to keep an airplane flying without one single instruction. Eduardo
It's worth reading in full - just in case you ever need to.