Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The insane US discourse regarding Israel

John Kerry said this a few days ago in a private conference
“A two-state solution will be clearly underscored as the only real alternative. Because a unitary state winds up either being an apartheid state with second-class citizens—or it ends up being a state that destroys the capacity of Israel to be a Jewish state,” Kerry told the group of senior officials and experts from the U.S., Western Europe, Russia, and Japan. “Once you put that frame in your mind, that reality, which is the bottom line, you understand how imperative it is to get to the two-state solution, which both leaders, even yesterday, said they remain deeply committed to.” Daily Beast

What he says is the logical conclusion to the destruction of a two-state solution. There is nothing controversial about this.

Off course then we are talking about the US here and its super sensitive political environment regarding Israel.

Today he has to apologize, sigh.

Monday, April 28, 2014

How not to defend yourself

This is a cringe inducing defensive post by a Radium One founder, Chairman and CEO (he was fired only recently) who plead guilty in beating his girlfriend. (This article has more on the topic)
I was charged with 45 felony counts of domestic violence. All of those charges were dropped, and ultimately the case settled when the DA’s office recognized they had no case and offered me a misdemeanor plea. I accepted that plea, because after a lot of soul searching I believed I was acting in the best interest of my company, my employees, my customers, my family, my friends and my investors.
He called her ex girlfriend a whore.
The situation that resulted in my legal case began when I discovered that my girlfriend was having unprotected sex for money with other people.
He 'lost his temper' (a.k.a beat her) but not 117 times. Thank goodness.
And yes, I lost my temper. I understand, accept full responsibility and sincerely apologize from the bottom of my heart for that. But I didn’t hit her 117 times, injure her, or cause any trauma as the UCSF medical reports clearly document. This was all overblown drama because it generates huge volumes of page views for the media given what I have accomplished in the valley.
He is off course a victim
Celebrities in sports, entertainment and business, and high net worth individuals in general are all potential targets. It was only a matter of time when I would fall prey.
And a plea for the American Dream
What is the American Dream? That you can come from nothing and make something of yourself not once, not twice but three times, only to have all of it come crashing down from misinformation, that is spun wildly out of control into the world of make believe and then goes viral into the blogosphere. We need to hold on to the American Dream, and reject those who would rather make it a nightmare.
And predictably people rage on his comments
So, in this piece, you: (1) call her a whore, (2) do not deny you hit her - only how many times, and (3) apologize to everyone EXCEPT her. Doesn't fly. I have no doubt people have overreacted to the charges against you. However, you appear to be continuing to avoid taking true responsibility for your actions. This is what many find deplorable.

As an Indian American, I am embarrassed and ashamed by the comments made by almost all the Indian men and women here supporting this psychopath. It is because of people like them gang rape and women abuse is so common and acceptable in India. In any situation, beating another human is absolutely unacceptable and inhumane. Nothing justifies violence unless it is for self defense.

What he should have written: "I am sorry, I fucked up" and apologize to the woman.  

Waiting for Putin

Officially, it is known as the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, as a white-haired woman standing next to Ushinin notes. The woman is Victoria Piletskaya, the popular Transnistrian poet. Together, the pair -- the linguist and the poet -- represents the majority of intellectual life in Tiraspol, perhaps the least-known capital city in Europe.

Transnistria, located on the eastern banks of the Dniester River, has an area hardly greater than the US state of Rhode Island (or the German state of Saarland) and is home to a half-million people who see themselves as Russians, Ukrainians or Moldovans. More than anything, though, they see themselves as Soviet citizens. The breakaway region has its own military, its own constitution, a national anthem (called "We Sing the Praises of Transnistria") and a symphony orchestra which is known abroad. Spiegel

Spiegel International to reduce publishing

Recently, as many of you have noticed, and indeed written in to ask us about, the number of stories posted to the site each day has been reduced. At SPIEGEL International, we face many of the same economic pressures most leading media outlets are struggling with these days. This has forced us to evaluate how we can reduce the size of the website and still offer the most relevant, poignant stories possible in the future. Spiegel
Even the Germans have problems with their press business model.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Capital in the Twenty-First Century

A review by Paul Krugman
Thomas Piketty, professor at the Paris School of Economics, isn’t a household name, although that may change with the English-language publication of his magnificent, sweeping meditation on inequality, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Yet his influence runs deep. It has become a commonplace to say that we are living in a second Gilded Age—or, as Piketty likes to put it, a second Belle Époque—defined by the incredible rise of the “one percent.” But it has only become a commonplace thanks to Piketty’s work. In particular, he and a few colleagues (notably Anthony Atkinson at Oxford and Emmanuel Saez at Berkeley) have pioneered statistical techniques that make it possible to track the concentration of income and wealth deep into the past—back to the early twentieth century for America and Britain, and all the way to the late eighteenth century for France.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pulitzer Prize Awards 2014

Public Service
The Guardian US

The Washington Post
Breaking News Reporting
Staff of The Boston Globe
Investigative Reporting
Chris Hamby of The Center for Public Integrity, Washington, DC
Explanatory Reporting
Eli Saslow of The Washington Post

and more

Monday, April 14, 2014

Asia's paradise islands - tips of Guardian readers

The exceptionally beautiful Thinnakara is less than a mile square, with sand as soft and white as flour. It's part of Lakshadweep (, a chain of 36 coral islands about 150 miles west of Kerala, southern India. Only 10 islands are inhabited and visitors are allowed to stay on four, including Thinnakara, where you are accommodated in large comfortable tents on the beach. The lagoon surrounding the island and its colourful fish, coral and turtles are best explored by snorkelling, scuba diving or kayaking. Missschaaf Guardian

They miss Sangalaki, Indonesia 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Canadian Bank Bailout

Throughout the 2008-2010 financial crisis, Canadian banks were touted by the federal government and the banks themselves as being much more stable than other countries’ big banks. Canadians we assured that our banks needed no bailout. However, in reality, Canada’s banks received billions in cash and loan support during the 2008-2010 financial crisis—and the Canadian government has remained resolutely secretive about the details. This report examines the nature and extent of government support to Canada’s big banks, estimated on the basis of partial information provided by Canada’s public institutions, and an analysis of the banks’ own financial reports. - CCPA
Damn. I just found out today that Canada did bailout their banks.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The largest single day election in the world

The Jakarta Globe has an excellent coverage of Indonesia's legislative election. 560 seats are contested. 

Here is the current incumbent House of Representative:


Heartbleed bug, dagger into Internet security system

The Heartbleed Bug is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library. This weakness allows stealing the information protected, under normal conditions, by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the Internet. SSL/TLS provides communication security and privacy over the Internet for applications such as web, email, instant messaging (IM) and some virtual private networks (VPNs). Heartbleed
Everybody has encountered secure web site in online shopping or while logging into your email. Most likely that these sites are secured by OpenSSL dependent software library. This security vulnerability on OpenSSL really strikes to the heart of security infrastructure of the Internet.

It allows attackers to grab 64K worth of information from the server memory (which could be anything) at one time (the attacker can grab multiple part of the server memory).

The bug has been fixed and a new version is provided. The difficult thing is that it requires vendors, hosting machines and other providers to update their software to this latest fixed version.  

What happens to indigenous tribes after contact

Our analysis dramatically quantifies the devastating effects of European colonization on indigenous Amazonians. Not only did ~75% of indigenous societies in the Brazilian Amazon become extinct, but of the survivors, all show evidence of catastrophic population declines, the vast majority with mortality rates over 80%. However, somewhat surprisingly, our results show that within a decade of peaceful contact most surviving populations rebound extremely fast, exhibiting annual population growth rates of ~4%. Moreover, these growth rates are independent of year of contact and proximity to major roads and towns. Our analyses also suggests that minimum viable population sizes in the Brazilian Amazon are on the order of 100 individuals. Therefore, despite the catastrophic mortality of indigenous Amazonians over the 500+ year contact period, the surviving populations are remarkably resilient and remain demographically viable. Nature

Monday, April 07, 2014

Indonesia's next Rock President

This is a good reporting by Al Jazeera of Jokowi, most probably the next President of Indonesia.

He is currently the Governor of Jakarta. He is the most popular politician in Indonesia right now and known for his reputation for clean governance.

He is also famous for a Rock music fan.

The new normal in Cairo

Life in Cairo has returned to a resemblance of normalcy. Yes there are almost daily protests in some part of the city, mainly in Cairo University, Ainshams University and Al-Azhar University. There are occasional bombing (such as the three bombs last week at Cairo University) but people are used to them now. On some days, the demonstrations at the universities will claim a few lives.

Weekly there will be attacks against security forces in form of assassinations. Northern Sinai is still a dangerous place.

There are no more sizable demonstrations in the central part of the city. Tahrir Sq. is pretty much clear of any sign of protesting. Long gone are the 'revolutionary tents' although the subway station located under it is still closed.

People with money still live comfortably. More and more businesses designed middle and upper class are opening. Cairo is experience a boom in new restaurants and outings in the city. There are floods of money from the Gulf pouring in.

Marshal Sisi will definitely win the presidential election this may. His support among the population is very strong and he is credited with removing the loathsome Muslim Brotherhood from power. The support for the Revolutionaries are low because people are sick of their squabbles and inability to field an effective political organization.

In most nights we have electricity cuts for an hour. The situation is expected to get worse when the temperature heats up for the summer. The government is scrambling to fix this situation because if the power cuts goes to multiple hours per day, whoever in power after the presidential election this May, will not hold that power for long. 

The end game in the missing MH370

Authorities say they are “very close” to finding the missing Malaysian Airlines plane after an Australian ship detected pulse signals - believed to be from the aircraft’s black box pinger - which lasted for two hours and twenty minutes. (Telegraph)
They detected the ping for over two hours. That is probably enough data to triangulate the position of the box or narrow the search area tremendously. We may finally discover what happened in this mystery flight. 

Sunday, April 06, 2014

The Intolerant Left

Brendan Eich, the inventor of JavaScript (the programming language that makes all these interactivity on  your web browser possible), was forced down from his position as Mozilla CEO after backlash on the Internet over his $1000 donation to the Prop 8 (proposition to ban gay marriage) in California in 2008.

His position was not even a fringe position in 2008. Remember that Prop 8 passed.

This is a bad precedent. Putting a political litmus test on a private position is a bad bad idea. His private political view has nothing to do with his ability to do his job.

Imagine the uproar if another company CEO was forced down because she supports "pro choice" position over abortion?

Do we have to start asking political views for everyone applying for jobs?

  • Did you support Iraq war in 2003?
  • Do you own a SUV?
  • Are you a cadaver meat eater? (a.k.a not Vegan)
  • Did you purchase your dog or did you rescue it from the shelter?
  • Have you ever purchased non organic food product?
  • Did you purchase blood diamonds for your engagement ring?
  • Have you ever eaten the rare Blue Tuna sushi?
  • Do you own a gun?
  • Do you support Genetically Modified food?
  • Do you support reparation for slavery?
  • Have you ever hired an illegal immigrant?
  • Have you ever donated money to Republican/Democratic party?
  • Are you a member of a union?
  • Do you support gay marriage?
  • Have you ever dated a person of different race?
  • Do you support Palestine or Israel?
  • Did you donate to Green Peace?
  • Are you an atheist?
  • Do you have a sympathy for Socialism?
and the list goes on and on. 

Should we force you out from your job if you answer one of above question wrongly and label you as "animal killers, war mongers, Communist!, Socialists!, Anti Semite, heretics, murderer,...". Must we force you out from your scientific position if you have a religion? Aren't you too biased to be a border police if you are Latino? 

If we only work with people that we agree with, then this world become a much poorer place. No one has monopoly of the truth. When Liberals insist on tolerant and diversity, we must mean it. It must not just mean "people that agree on our positions". 

The ousting of Brendan Eich is a disgrace.