Monday, December 31, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Stop after one or two drinks. Studies of the Mediterranean diet have shown that one or two drinks on a consistent basis leads to a longer life than pure teetotaling.
If you must binge, start at age 40, not at age 16 — and always have someone else drive. Just as youth is wasted on the young, so perhaps is alcohol.
If you have binged excessively when younger, follow it up with some regular exercise. Get those brain cells regenerated.
As Shakespeare once pointed out without the benefit of studies on lab rats, “O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains!”
Thursday, December 27, 2007
It's Uncle Scrooge!
Catch the whole list here.
Here's another list of Forbes 25 largest fictional corporations. Yup, Good ol' Acme corp. is in there, as is Gringotts Bank....
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Yup, flying loco.
Egypt's MPs are expected to pass a law requiring royalties be paid whenever copies are made of museum pieces or ancient monuments such as the pyramids.
Zahi Hawass, who chairs Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, told the BBC the law would apply in all countries.
The money was needed to maintain thousands of pharaonic sites, he said.
Correspondents say the law will deal a blow to themed resorts across the world where large-scale copies of Egyptian artefacts are a crowd-puller.
Mr Hawass said the law would apply to full-scale replicas of any object in any museum in Egypt." (BBC)
These activities can generate various conflict of interest or issues due to the geopolitical nature of the world right now. If a country invest in a multi national company that operate in conflict area such as Sudan, does it mean that your foreign policy support the genocide in Darfur?
Follow the fascinating discussion about sovereign fund activities in the world held by the Brookings Institute.
"Petrodollars, commodity riches and large national reserves from export-led economies have fuelled the growth of sovereign wealth funds and with it, debate about the transparency and investment objectives of the governments that run them. From China to Norway to Abu Dhabi, sovereign wealth funds now account for approximately 1.3 percent of the world’s financial assets, prompting calls for regulation and oversight in order to protect sensitive industries, such as national security companies, and ensure ethical investments." (Brookings Institute)
Monday, December 24, 2007
The research, which is awaiting publication in a medical journal, found that 100 per cent of those of African origin were short of vitamin D, as were 93 per cent of South Asians (those of Indian or Pakistani origin), and 85 per cent of East Asians (those of Chinese, Indochinese or Filipino origin, among other countries)." (The Globe and Mail)
All I was trying to say is that once you have totally and complete panic and surrender, you can't surrender or panic to any greater degree.
I sure hope it's true, and objectively I beleive it's true. But, I don't think the sensation could be worse, it could just damage you more by lasting. I found it true in my ultramarathoning that when things hurt as bad as they possibly can, they just don't get worse.
To quantify it, look at it this way. Let's say the maximum human distress a person can voluntarily withstand is 10.
Waterboarding was a 1,000.
" (An ultra marathoner tried waterboarding) - view Andrew Sullivan.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Watch it, and rethink the role of education -especially with the uncertain future we have ahead of us.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
1. BEST MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
- AMERICAN GANGSTER
Imagine Entertainment/Scott Free Productions; Universal Pictures
Working Title Films Limited; Focus Features
- EASTERN PROMISES
Kudos Pictures/Serendipity Point Films; Focus Features
- THE GREAT DEBATERS
Harpo Films; The Weinstein Company/MGM
- MICHAEL CLAYTON
Samuels Media and Castle Rock Entertainment a Mirage Enterprises/Section 8 Production; Warner Bros. Pictures
- NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
A Scott Rudin/Mike Zoss Production; Miramax Films/Paramount Vantage
- THERE WILL BE BLOOD
A Joanne Sellar/Ghoulardi Film Company Production; Paramount Vantage/Miramax Films
4. BEST MOTION PICTURE – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
- ACROSS THE UNIVERSE
Revolution Studios; Sony Pictures Releasing
- CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR
Universal Pictures/Relativity Media/Participant Productions/Playtone; Universal Pictures
Zadan/Meron Productions / New Line Cinema in association with Ingenious Film Partners; New Line Cinema
Mandate Pictures/Mr. Mudd Production; Fox Searchlight Pictures
- SWEENEY TODD
Parkes/MacDonald and Zanuck Company; DreamWorks/Paramount Distribution / Warner Bros. Pictures
This is a good review from TNR. It receives 80% rating from Rotten Tomatoes. I highly recommend the book about this Congressman published in 2003.
(Time Person of the Year)
"The claims over the president's assets surfaced last month when the Russian political expert Stanislav Belkovsky gave an interview to the German newspaper Die Welt. They have since been repeated in the Washington Post and the Moscow Times, with speculation over the fortune appearing on the internet.
Citing sources inside the president's administration, Belkovsky claims that after eight years in power Putin has secretly accumulated more than $40bn (£20bn). The sum would make him Russia's - and Europe's - richest man." (Guardian)
I am not sure whether Belkovsky is smoking crack or not, but here's an interesting piece of response from Putin from his interview with Time.
"One of the perceptions that Americans have about Russia is that corruption is endemic. How do you handle that?
Badly. I must say that in the transitional economy, it is difficult to address such problems. But I'm fully convinced that down the road, [they] will be tackled more efficiently."
I must say I am fond of the dude.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
"They would not tell me where they were taking me. The trip took close to one hour and although I couldn't see clearly outside the vehicle I knew that we had crossed over into New Jersey. We ended up in front of a jail. I could hardly believe that this was happening. Was I really about to be jailed? I was led inside in the chains and there yet another interrogation session ensued. I was fingerprinted once again and photographed. I was made to undergo a medical examnination, I was searched and then I was placed in a jail cell. I was asked absurd questions such as: When did you have your last period? What do you believe in? Have you ever tried to commit suicide?"
And she's Icelandic.
Now you know my deportation experience out of Azerbaijan is actually a nice one.
The quarterly loss after paying preferred dividends was $859 million, or $6.90 per share, compared to a profit of $558 million, or $4 per share, a year earlier. The company had negative net revenue of $379 million compared to revenue of $2.41 billion a year earlier." (NY Times)
Only Western banks are affected by this subprime mortgage problem. Asian banks are cruising happily watching their competitors shooting themselves on the foot.
The decision to create the new position was made under the General Assembly’s annual resolution on the Rights of the Child, adopted today in the Third Committee [by a vote of 176 to 1]. The only country voting against was the United States.
The appointment follows the release last year of the UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence Against Children. This study exposed the shocking scope of violence against children worldwide and its devastating effects on children, their families, their communities and broader society.
Anyone know why the USA would vote against this?
p.s. more information on violence against children here
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
"Bouyed by massive gains from trading and investments in leveraged buyouts, Goldman Sachs on Tuesday announced the biggest profit in Wall Street history, allowing it to reward eligible employees with an average annual compensation of about $622,000.
The investment banking company that is the leading adviser in corporate mergers and acquisitions said it earned $9.34 billion this year. In its fiscal fourth quarter, which ended Nov. 24, profit increased 93 percent over the year before to $3.16 billion, or $6.59 a share, exceeding most analysts' forecasts." (IHT)The way these things work, it looks like Goldman Sachs just robbed Morgan Stanley blind. Man, I would love to hear the trash talking over the wires between these two giants.
I bet in 4 years they are going to make a movie out of this.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
The total is set to cover the next three years. The Palestinians had hoped to secure $5.6 billion in budgetary and development support over the next three years, but the amount pledged exceeded that figure." (NY Times)
The United States pledged $555 million for 2008, up from $75 million this year. “The Palestinian Authority is experiencing a serious budgetary crisis,” Ms. Rice said. “This conference is literally the government’s last hope to avoid bankruptcy.”..
The European Union, the largest aid donor to the Palestinians, pledged $650 million for 2008. Separately, European nations made three-year pledges, including France and Sweden at $300 million each, Britain $500 million, Norway $420 million, Spain $360 million and Germany $200 million.
In a move significant both practically and symbolically, the Saudis pledged $500 million over three years.
Many countries do not fulfill pledges that they make at such conferences. Egypt and other Arab countries are known for pledging funds to the Palestinian Authority that they do not deliver.
Monday, December 17, 2007
It's been quite sometime since I got introduced to Atlas Service Corps!
It's been wonderful being a friendly volunteer at Atlas Corps and now I've taken up another challenge i.e. to lead a campaign(as below). I would appreciate all my friends and others who could help Atlas Corps by donating 10 USD.
If you would like to read coverage about the contest in The New York Times, click here .
DONATE NOW: You can check it out at http://givingchallenge.globalgiving.com/dy/registry/ag.html?regid=624&cmd=prevfund
Questions? Comments? Email Scott Beale at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, comments or if you want to get involved and support Atlas Corps more actively. We strongly encourage you to visit the Atlas Corps website for more information: Atlas Corps about the organization and the campaign.
The Davos World Economic Forum is giving individuals an opportunity to submit their feedback.
What can companies, governments, individuals do in 2008 to make the world a better place?
After 14 years of darkness, street lights shine amid the shattered buildings. And the new president — the first woman elected to head an African country — stands under an umbrella in the driving rain to launch repairs to a street that seems to have more holes than pavement.
Liberia last year began a grand experiment to overcome its past through a sea change in how it is run. The new leaders are elected. Parliament is controlled by the opposition, for the first time in its history. And President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf promises a new deal funded by donors and investors lured by peace and good governance."
"This country will never be what it was before," said Augustine Toe, a lawyer who directs the Roman Catholic Peace and Justice Commission. "People are starting to hold the government accountable more than ever before in our history. For the first time we are beginning to have a semblance of checks and balances." (msnbc)
Sunday, December 16, 2007
It's hardly the first time the U.S. has been jeered at a UN event, but what happened next was unique. Nation after developing nation rose to criticize the U.S. in language more often reserved for a political debate than a UN conference. A representative from tiny Papua New Guinea — one of many small island states most immediately threatened by climate change — recalled the old Lee Iacocca line about leading, following or getting out of the way. "If the U.S. will not lead, get out of the way," he said, to gallery cheers. "Please get out of the way."
More importantly, with the exception of a confused statement from Japan, not one of the allies that had generally stood with the U.S. the past two weeks — Australia, Russia, Canada — rose in its defense. The near-total isolation of the U.S. on climate change — which had been building since its rejection of the Kyoto Protocol nearly a decade ago — was now obvious, apparently even to the U.S. Dobiansky turned to speak. "We've listened very closely to many of our colleagues here during these two weeks, but especially to what has been said in this hall today," she said. "We will go forward and join consensus." Boos turned to cheers, and the deal was essentially sealed." (Time)
Saturday, December 15, 2007
We've listened very closely to many of our colleagues here during these two weeks, but especially to what has been said in this hall today," Paula Dobriansky, who led the U.S. delegation, told the other assembled delegates. "We will go forward and join consensus."
The Bush administration had earlier made a significant change in policy, ending its long-held objection to formal negotiations on new steps to avoid climate dangers. This time, the United States agreed to set a deadline for an addendum to the original treaty, the Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was signed by President George H.W. Bush during his final year in office in 1992 but never ratified by the United States.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Prediction #6: Automobiles will have been substituted for every horse vehicle now known. There will be, as already exist today, automobile hearses, automobile police patrols, automobile ambulances, automobile street sweepers. The horse in harness will be as scarce, if, indeed, not even scarcer, then as the yoked ox is today.
Prediction #7: ...Air-ships... will be maintained as deadly war-vessels by all military nations. Some will transport men and goods. Others will be used by scientists making observations at great heights above the earth.
Prediction #9: Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance. If there be a battle in China a hundred years hence snapshots of its most striking events will be published in the newspapers an hour later. Photographs will reproduce all of Nature’s colors.
Prediction #14: Black, Blue and Green Roses.
Prediction #16: There will be No C, X or Q in our every-day alphabet. They will be abandoned because unnecessary.
Prediction #20: Coal will not be used for heating or cooking. It will be scarce, but not entirely exhausted. The earth’s hard coal will last until the year 2050 or 2100; its soft-coal mines until 2200 or 2300.
Prediction #28: There will be no wild animals except in menageries.
Read them all in detail over here...
And then check these out for bets being made today about our future....
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The seven-time Formula One world champion took over from his taxi driver in order to make it to the airport in time for a flight, it has emerged.
"I found myself in the passenger seat, which was strange enough, but to have 'Schumi' behind the wheel of my cab was incredible," Mr Yilmaz told German newspaper the Muenchner Abendzeitung. Telegraph
Imagine that, a military incursion one day before a peace talk meeting. One hell of a way to start the conference.
AS THE president of the Senate, Renan Calheiros was perhaps the most powerful ally of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil's legislature. Seven months ago, the media, acting on tip-offs from the federal police, accused him of getting a lobbyist for a construction firm to make regular child-maintenance payments to his former mistress. On December 4th Mr Calheiros finally resigned his post.
Thus ended a tenacious rearguard action. As well as the link with the lobbyist, Mr Calheiros was alleged to have used shell companies to buy two radio stations and a newspaper in his home state, and to have paid for a dossier digging up dirt on his enemies in the Senate. He protested his innocence. Then his mistress was photographed for Playboy (in the same pose as Christine Keeler, a big-eyed brunette who ended the career of a British minister in 1963). Economist
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
i'm planning a week-long trip to rome in march for my 25th birthday. plane tickets are booked -- i get there on a friday and leave the next friday -- but i don't have much else done right now.
would love to hear from anyone who's there (can we do a nomadlife mini-meetup?), or who's been there of late, on
-- good places to stay (safe, since i'll be on my own; relatively inexpensive; centrally located). i wouldn't mind doing either hostels or rental apartments for the week, as long as i don't end up paying an arm and a leg for the latter.
-- where to eat (the locals' recommendations!)
-- what to do (i've ordered guidebooks online, but again, would love to hear tips and tricks from those in the know)
-- the weather in mid-march. rain? cold? sunny?
also, should i take off to florence for a day or two? or would i be better advised to stay in rome for the whole time? i'm happy to just take things easy, but i also don't want to under-do it!
any and all wisdom on this or other topics gratefully received! thanks! :-)
"What you see here is a real commitment to try to identify a response to the enormous stress that a particular group of families feel about the cost of higher education," President Drew Faust said in a conference call. The new program focuses on a "middle-income group," she said.
Ooh! So I can now go to Harvard?? :D
Monday, December 10, 2007
UBS, which has been severely battered by the U.S. subprime mortgage meltdown, issued a profit warning and cancelled plans for a cash dividend in moves that depressed the company's shares and those of its rivals." (Reuter)
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Well, according to Swedish consultancy firm Sweco, hehe, it is proven. You may read this news, laugh at it, and forget about it. But, hey, not our Tourism Agency! They see it as another opportunity to promote tourism in Kyrgyzstan now. Why not?! Kyrgyzstan's beautiful nature becomes even more gorgeous and fabulous in winter time, and tourists have all the rights not to bypass such a beautiful place!
Kyrgyzstan National Tourism Agency has already announced the competition "In which part of Kyrgyzstan does Santa Claus live?" to locate the symbolical residence place of Santa. What is more, it is planning to organize the Annual Santa Claus Assembly in Kyrgyzstan and invite Santa Clauses from other countries. And another interesting idea is that Santa Claus will make the ceremonial start from Kyrgyzstan. :) Agency is aware that they need to try hard in order to claim and promote it.
Shock revelation from Swedish consultancy firm: Santa Claus lives in Kyrgyzstan
(HELSINGIN SANOMAT) Santa Claus or Father Christmas lives in Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia, declares the Swedish engineering, environmental technology, and architecture consulting services firm Sweco. The claim was reported by the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter in its Saturday issue under the headline: "Sorry, Finns".
Well, this is one news item that calls for delving into in greater depth. Anders Larsson of Sweco tells Helsingin Sanomat over the phone that the company has calculated, based on the earth’s topography and distribution of population, the location from which Santa Claus would have the easiest access to all the nice and deserving children in the world.
The end result did not surprise the Swedes. From the logistics point of view, the most beneficial location for Santa’s Grotto is in Kyrgyzstan, thousands of kilometres from Finnish Lapland.
Sweco presents an avalanche of facts to justify its shock discovery: Santa has to make it to 2.5 billion households in just one night.
For the delivery of gifts, Father Christmas can spare a massive 34 microseconds (millionths of a second) per home. And on the round-the-world delivery route Santa’s reindeer sleigh will travel at the modest speed of 5,800 kilometres per second.
Logistically speaking, all this would be easiest done from Kyrgyzstan. If Santa lived in Korvatunturi in Finnish Lapland - a place traditionally branded as the location of Santa’s Grotto for Finnish children – the presented figures would be significantly higher.
Unravelling the location of Santa’s home was not too difficult, Larsson boasts. "It took us half a day to produce the calculation
Friday, December 07, 2007
Venezuela saw Chavez accept the defeat without the rage or angry message a lot of people expected from him(Check BBC news).
Then Venezuela saw that expected reaction from Chavez while broadcasting with the Military. He qualified the victory of the opposition as a "Shitty victory", and mentioned that he didn't want to win in that way, and that he will put the reform through once more, even if it is not constitutional to do so. During his speech (check the video in Spanish) he mentions "Shit" 4 times, which is against the law; and then Venezuelans saw our "Communications Minister" say that the fact that the President did use the word will allow for it to be permitted in the future(check the video in Spanish).
Venezuela also heard his speech saying that "Here, the Sí lost, you let the Sí loose, Miranda owes me one, people of Miranda and Caracas you are in debt with me, I have it written down in my planner, let's see if you will pay your debt to me or not", while addressing the facts that his followers did not go vote massively on Sunday, as in prior occasions (best review in English I have read is in Caracas Chronicles blog)
To finish the week, Venezuelans wait for the CNE to give the full and final results of Sunday's polls in the next hours, while some analysts made note that the difference between "No" and "Si" might be significantly smaller that initially thought (Check Caracas Chronicles blog). And also Venezuelans are expected to roll back their clocks by 30 min next Sunday, as the "New Time Zone" for Venezuela gets into effect (Check Reuters for more details)
How much longer will this craziness continue? Well for that I recommend you read The Economist's article "The wind goes out of the revolution" it's worth the read!!
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The fees for the 12 weeks training is $3500 US and it includes all the above. We have two programs, one from March 3, 2008 until May 24, 2008 and the second from May 20, 2008 until August 8, 2008. We can also offers job placement for summer or/and long term work after the courses as well as travel advices. We have a limited number of places so don’t miss your chance to experience one of the most mysterious and magical place on earth!!!
If interested in our program or/and would like to have more information please contact Jeff at email@example.com
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Only four positions were found possible without "mechanical assistance". The other six needed a special elastic belt and inflatable tunnel, like an open-ended sleeping bag.
Mr Kohler says: "One of the principal findings was that the classic so-called missionary position, which is so easy on earth when gravity pushes one downwards, is simply not possible."
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
At least in the US.
The free UGC (user generated content) porn site is a mimic of YouTube (no relation) and right now becomes one of the highest porn site on the Internet. The success of this site and its free porn sites brethren (at least in market share, if not revenue) is biting the incomes of established porn peddlers in the industry. If you can get it conveniently and for free, why buy the DVDs?
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
"...In interviews on Monday, some administration officials expressed skepticism about the conclusions reached in the new report, saying they doubted that American intelligence agencies had a firm grasp of the Iranian government’s intentions..." (NYT)
Curiouser and curiouser..................
1. ”Christmas is not a religious holiday.”
2. “Stop complaining! You get an extra day off from work.”
3. “Christmas is about good cheer. Focus on that and lose your bad attitude.”
4. ”You can also take a day off for Hanukkah.”
5. “We get Christmas off at work because this is a Christian country.”
You can read her arguments and the rest of the post here.
Does any other secular nation in the world proclaim a religious holiday to be a National holiday? Does Turkey, for instance, proclaim the end of Ramadan a National holiday?
There was an allusion to a US Supreme Court case that ruled Christmas is NOT a religious holiday (though, there were no links or other facts about the case).
What's your justification (or counter-argument) for a religious holiday turning into a national one?
links only work when you put an equals sign after href...
Monday, December 03, 2007
Anybody up for a few wondering souls? We might come with hookah goods.
If your heart would be so voluptuous, shoot me a note: mixmaster AT nomadlife DOT org
Today 01:19 (Caracas time) the CNE (National Elections Committee) announced that with a total of 97% of the acts already reviewed the "No" had won, it was a very close call though.
The referendum was divided into 2 blocks, 50.7% of voters voted against the first block while 49.29% voted for it. 51.05% of voters voted against the 2nd block while 48.44% voted for it.
There was an absenteeism of 44.11%. For the Spanish speaking out there, go check Globovision for further figures.
The first block included reforms like: Continuous Presidential reelection and presidency period extended to 7 years, the expropriation of goods with a payment to the owner done in parallel to the judicial process (not like before where the judicial process and payment had to be finished before expropriating the goods), increase in Presidential attributions or rights, lost of the autonomy of the BCV (Venezuelan Central Bank), lowering of minimum age to vote to 16 years, and diminishing of daily working hours to 6 hours instead of 8, etc. Further information on the reforms can be found in Spanish in El Nacional.
Venezuela has made history against the "Revolution" and the "Socialism of the XXI century", but Chavez will continue to push his reforms in any way possible. He has until 2013 (when he will have already 14 years of presidency) to do so, therefore everyone asks Venezuelans to be very cautious, it is a great start but it is not the end of it. Some quotes of reactions can be found on BBC.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
An interesting topic. This paragraph is a taster:
In fact, the majority of rapists are known to their victim, and about 50% of rapes in the UK occur in the home of the woman or the perpetrator. Most rapes do not involve violence beyond the act of rape itself, and rapists are predominantly ‘normal' men who have steady jobs, nice homes and established relationships. The uncomfortable truth is that rape is much closer to home than many people would like to admit.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
The theme for this year's symposium is 'Social Ventures: Business Solutions for Social Problems' with speakers and panel discussions covering a number of issues such as "Can a social challenge yield a profitable investment?" and "Discovering the Business Solution to your Social Challenges". The Symposium is a free event and does not imply that you will join the competition.
The keynote speaker this year will be Nigel Kershaw the CEO of Big Issue Invest, a £4m fund that provides £50,000-500,000 loans to ventures such as Jamie Oliver's Fifteen.
Where: LT1, London Business School
When: December 1, 2007
Time: 830am - 430pm
How to signup: http://forms.london.edu/form.asp?id=7966
GSVC SYMPOSIUM 2008 PROGRAMME
0830 – 0930: Registration and coffee
0930: Welcome to GSVC Symposium
0935: From Handouts to Profit – how do charity and social ventures relate?
1005: About the GSVC Introduction – Alejandro Trenor, GSVC Student Chair
1020: Learning Session: Valuing the Social and Environmental Impact of a Venture
Jeremy Nicholls, new economics foundation
1100: Coffee break
1120 – 1220: Panel: Can a social challenge yield a profitable investment?
Geoff Burnand, Investing For Good
Samantha Beinhacker, Skoll World Forum, University of Oxford
1120 – 1220: Teaching session
1220 : Nir Tsuk, Director Global Fellowship Programme, Ashoka
1300 – 1400: Lunch
1400: Activity Workshop: Discovering the Business Solution to your Social Challenges
Professor John Mullins , London Business School
1450: A Social Enterprise Journey
Phil Conway, GSVC Finalist and Founder, Cool2Care
1530 – 1550: Tea break
1550 – 1630 Keynote Speaker
Nigel Kershaw, Chairman of the Big Issue and CEO of Big Issue Invest
At issue is the English-language version of the China Travel Guide published by Australian-based Lonely Planet Publications, which includes a regional map that uses different colors to mark China and Taiwan to indicate they are two separate countries.
China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recently confirmed the book has been banned.
(more here).I wonder if this is really true...
"India has long been the world's primary source of bones used in medical study, renowned for producing specimens scrubbed to a pristine white patina and fitted with high-quality connecting hardware. In 1985, however, the Indian government outlawed the export of human remains, and the global supply of skeletons collapsed. Western countries turned to China and Eastern Europe, but those regions produce relatively few skeletons. They have little experience producing display-quality specimens, and their products are regarded as inferior.
Now, 22 years after India's export ban, there are signs that the trade never ended. Black-market vendors in West Bengal continue to supply human skeletons and skulls using the time-honored method: Rob graves, separate soft flesh from unyielding calcium, and deliver the bones to distributors — who assemble them and ship them to dealers around the globe." (Wired)
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The memo sent by an embassy official, Michael Middleton Steere, was addressed to the Director of Central Intelligence, Michael Hayden. The memo was entitled 'Advancing to the Last Phase of Operation Pincer' and updates the activity by a CIA unit with the acronym 'HUMINT' (Human Intelligence) which is engaged in clandestine action to destabilize the forth-coming referendum and coordinate the civil military overthrow of the elected Chavez government. The Embassy-CIA's polls concede that 57 per cent of the voters approved of the constitutional amendments proposed by Chavez but also predicted a 60 per cent abstention." - CounterPunch
Monday, November 26, 2007
Syria is in, along with 17 other Arab countries.
Will we have a progress in solving the Palestine/Israel conflict?
This is what's at stake in the conference
"Of course. Every man on the street and every woman on the street, not only the politicians, knows what the settlement will look like in the end. It just needs the action to bring it about. It looks like the 1967 border, with delineation of that border. It looks for a negotiated solution for the Palestinian [refugees] return. It looks for a return of East Jerusalem as part of the Palestinian territories." (Time Interview)
I hope so, but the past records would say no - but again, this could be a black swan.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
"As Airbus chief Thomas Enders warned in a speech to the Hamburg workers last night, Europe's champion plane-maker - the symbol of European unification, in the words or ex-French president Jacques Chirac -- is now facing a "life-threatening" crisis.
Mr Enders said the company's business model is "no longer viable", and "massive losses" are on the horizon. So much for all those currency hedges that analysts like to cite. Have they ever tried to buy a currency hedge? They would discover how expensive these instruments are. Hedges cannot protect a company with $220bn in delivery contracts priced in dollars, when the euro/sterling cost-base is leaping into the stratosphere." (Telegraph UK)
And Fortune magazine is covering the aftermath of the subprime mortgage crisis that brought down leaders of several of US most visible and respected financial institutions.
Friday, November 23, 2007
Here's the first crappy facebook
OK, so lets review here. Facebook is delivering me an ad to watch a TV channel that isn't broadcast in the country that I live in. It knows that I live in Egypt. It knows (I presume) that Adult Swim is a TV show broadcast in the US, and not in Egypt.
Is there any real difference between this and flat out spam? Shit I don't want and aren't looking for (US television schedules) thrown in my face with no choice to opt-out? Spam, I see thy foul tentacles invading another happy place....
I'd expect this from those Allens Hill Farm motherfuckers, but facebook? Say it aint so...
Google-branded cars with roof-mounted cameras have just begun traversing our streets, taking highly detailed panoramic street-level photos for a new Maps feature called Street View.
Street View launched in the US in May this year and has since expanded into fifteen US cities. But many of the original photographs - including a woman exposing her g-string, a man striding into an adult bookshop and another man apparently relieving himself on the pavement - were since taken down due to privacy concerns.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Secretary General Don McKinnon said Pakistan was being suspended "pending restoration of democracy and the rule of law". (bbc)
To relocate nature's environment into the city will require an initial 189m litres of water to fill the facilities, and then up to 380m litres a year to replenish them allowing for spillage and evaporation.
Residents in the nearest town of Mesa voted earlier this month by two to one to support the project, won over by promises of 7,500 new jobs. Opposition to the proposals in the area has been muted.
Rita Maguire, a water expert who has advised Waveyard on water supplies for the development, told Associated Press that she had come round to the idea. "Initially, the reaction is: 'Oh my. Is this an appropriate use of water in a desert'? But recreation is a very important part of a community."
She added that the project would not use more water than a golf course, which sounds reassuring, until you learn that the Arizonan desert is already pockmarked with 402 golf courses.
And on Tuesday, his laboratory was one of two that reported a new way to turn ordinary human skin cells into what appear to be embryonic stem cells without ever using a human embryo." (NY Times)
Mass production of your own conscious-free stem cells? What's not to like.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I got deported from Azerbaijan two days ago and spent one night in an immigration jail in Turkey. Here's some survey about the number of deportees in Istanbul airport on Nov 19 2007.
How and why I got deported
I went to Baku to do some pretty interesting work for SilverKey Azerbaijan for ten days. I got deported from Azerbaijan for a fairly mundane procedural mistake. I applied for a visa for the Azerbaijan Embassy for business purposes and due to the timing I require for the visa, they simply inform me that I can obtain the visa in the airport.
So I went and they refused to grant me a visa by blaming the embassy. I didn't get deported immediately because I received a stay while my case was being fought in Azerbaijan government system.
This is how thing gets interesting.
I think there were three ministries in Azerbaijan got involved plus that famous intelligence organization that starts with K (they were on my side).
I got security clearance and approval from the responsible authorities on Monday afternoon. I was informed that I was going to be issued visa and admitted to the country. But I think someone in the border office thought otherwise and decided to deport me before the Foreign Ministry managed to put a stamp on my passport.
When you get deported, you receive special treatment from the airline. The captain of the plane held your passport, the flight attendants paid special attention with you and you were escorted in your transit city.
Then they put you in jail in Istanbul and the rest is history.
Azerbaijan treated me well, the Turks treated me well in Jail and the Egyptian received me with open arm.
What impressed me of this whole situation was the amount of effort and people in the background that tried to admit me in the country. This simple deportation case became a bigger thing in the end with so many players getting involved. And it was quite a revelation to observe and experience the deportation sequence from one country to another.
I found out it was quite easy to befriend people when you get stuck together in a jail. They were magnificent people and yet quite ordinary many ways. We got incarcerated for such mundane issues.
I met two older Uzbek aviators that got deported from Libya. Their case had something to do with the new Arabic translation requirement in Tripoli. Karim, the Libyan, was a businessman refused entry in Turkey. I met a Lebanese that got arrested after being refused to enter Cyprus although he had a visa. There was one Azeri kid, Parviz, on the way home to Baku whom the Turkish immigration accused of having a fake passport. He was my translator from Russian to English when we chatted with the Uzbeks. I befriended Shazad, an Iraqi from Kirkuk currently living in Sofia, Bulgaria. Vincent, a Kosovar, got stuck in that jail for four days before released to applause three hours from my departure. Henry was a football player in Nigeria. Bright was supposedly a major Scrabble coach in Lagos (I have no idea there was such thing as a Scrabble coach). The Pakistani only responded with Islamabad to any question in English; the language wasn't his strong suit. The Venezuelan was an immigrant from Nigeria.
They fed you Burger King combo for lunch.
In the end, I flew to two new countries without stepping outside their airports. I left Egypt on Saturday and returned on Tuesday.
Other than 4 days without a bath, it wasn't that bad.
I'll be back.
"Amazon's Jeff Bezos already built a better bookstore. Now he believes he can improve upon one of humankind's most divine creations: the book itself."
After the TV, the PC and the Phone .. companies have gambled entire fortunes on figuring out what the next 'screen' could be. It could very well be this electronic reader - 'Kindle', and it could replace the dog that fetched your newspaper every morning :)
Monday, November 19, 2007
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Eighteen French nationals were stranded at the Tripoli airport since Sunday night, until the French ambassador to Libya intervened Monday on their behalf and they were allowed to return home, a French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Pascale Andreani, said in an online briefing Monday.
This image of a young boy and his father getting killed in an Israeli crossfire riveted the world a couple of years ago.
There have been doubts that this event was staged. There's currently a court case in France to force France 2 (the news network behind the footage) to show the footage of the reporting as a whole instead of clipped videos.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
"What, then, to make of the man who in the summer of 2007 appears to have replaced Gates as the world’s richest person? His name is Carlos Slim Helú. Today, his fortune stands at more than $59 billion—and grew, on average, more than $1 billion a month last year. What kind of world are we living in now? Slim has been widely accused of monopolistic practices; he catapulted himself to the top spot on the back of his company Teléfonos de México, or Telmex, which has a 92 percent stranglehold on his country’s local fixed-line market. Slim’s business empire, the scope of which is largely unprecedented in modern economic history, ranges from cigarettes to airlines, from electric cables to floor tiles. In all, Slim’s net worth is equivalent to a stunning 6.6 percent of Mexico’s gross domestic product (GDP), easily eclipsing Gates (0.4 percent of U.S. GDP) and even John D. Rockefeller at his peak (slightly less than 2 percent in 1937). Although it may be unsurprising to see such gross wealth disparity in Latin America, what do we make of the growing list of billionaires in countries such as China, India, and Russia that supposedly represent the global economy’s future? Are we entering a new era of robber barons? Does the shift of investment and production to emerging markets herald a rise in “crony capitalism” worldwide? Or does the rapidly accumulating wealth of Slim and his ilk merely signify an undesirable byproduct of a very desirable process—the spread of free-market capitalism around the globe?" (Foreign Policy)
Monday, November 12, 2007
"But new research is exploring the remaining fraction to explain differences between people of different continental origins.
Scientists, for instance, have recently identified small changes in DNA that account for the pale skin of Europeans, the tendency of Asians to sweat less and West Africans’ resistance to certain diseases.
At the same time, genetic information is slipping out of the laboratory and into everyday life, carrying with it the inescapable message that people of different races have different DNA. Ancestry tests tell customers what percentage of their genes are from Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas. The heart-disease drug BiDil is marketed exclusively to African-Americans, who seem genetically predisposed to respond to it. Jews are offered prenatal tests for genetic disorders rarely found in other ethnic groups." (NY Times)
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Pyramids of Dashur (one hour south of Cairo - 20 minutes from Saqqara)
Dashur is a snapshot on what Pyramids of Giza looked like 50 years ago before it was overwhelmed by blatant commercialism.
Red Pyramid of Dashur. This Pyramid is awesome. Go inside and explore the three chambers in peace Indiana Jones style - beware of the stale chamber air though.
Bent Pyramid of Dashur. This is how a Pyramid look like when the engineers realized their mistakes and tried to fix it. This Pyramid is 8 minutes away from the Red Pyramid.
Pyramids of Saqqara(20 minutes from Cairo)
This site is receiving more attentions from tour operators nowadays but still is a much peaceful place than Pyramids of Giza.
Step Pyramid. This is the oldest Pyramid ever (I think it's 5000 year old). If you visit the site, do not forget to visit the nearby Ti Pyramid that actually looks like a hill of rubble. The chambers of Ti Pyramid are the most decorated chambers of any Pyramid I've entered in.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Friday, November 09, 2007
Richard Branson with James Murphy at The RE*Generation Gallery Auction
Originally uploaded by jillokawa
I work on Virgin Mobile's pro social initiative, The RE*Generation, which helps homeless youth in the U.S. This year we were able to establish November as the first ever National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. On Nov. 7th we held The RE*Generation Gallery Art Auction at Skylight Studios in New York to auction off 21 pieces of original artwork to benefit The RE*Generation's charitable partners. James Murphy from LCD Soundsystem spun and Richard Branson showed up as well! Good times! Check out www.homelessyouthamongus.org.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
The question I have is 'Would the world be any different if the internet was as widespread when events like Tiananmen Square, the Rwandan genocide or the holocaust were taking place?'
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Another useful link for realtime updates: The Emergency Times
"The imposition of emergency in Pakistan has not put any pressure on Taliban in Swat district, who have not only imposed Shariah but also removed the National flags from all government buildings in areas under their control.Read the whole story to see just how complicated things are getting in Pakistan - and if you have access to the excellent Al Jazeera English TV channel, they are doing an incredible job of covering the crisis...
Taliban have taken over police stations in Matta, Khawazkhela and Charbagh. This scribe visited the Matta police station after the imposition of emergency in Pakistan. Taliban there have replaced the Pakistan's flag with their own at the police station after more than 120 soldiers surrendered two days ago." (The News)
"Temporary" emergency law was imposed in Egypt in 1981 to quell a potential Islamist insurgency after the assasination of Anwar Sadat by Egyptian Islamic Jihad (now merged with Al Queda). The state of emergency and suspension of regular consitutional rule remains in full effect 25 years later. Will Pakistan still be under emergency law in 2032?
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Particularly the things that have happened are:
- Suspension of Civil Rights and Liberties and abeyance of the Constitution
- Sacking of All Supreme court and High Court judges that have refused to take a renewed oath of loyalty to Musharraf. Most have refused
- Suspension of all privately owned media as well as foreign news media broadcasts on television and radio. The only place you get news on on TV is the state run Pakistan Television
- Code of Conduct for privately owned media disallowing them to say anything against the government
Local Pakistanis' opinion remains divided as some feel that there was no other option for the Chief of Army Staff, given the security situation and an overpowered judiciary. Others see it as an attack not on the security issue, but on the independence of the media and judiciary. This divide, as well as the lack of right of association and assembly is making mass protests more difficult.
Some protests are taking place in London and in NYC by overseas Pakistanis. While foreign governments have condemned Musharraf's actions, little pressure is being put by the US and other 'allies'.
There's a large scale protest scheduled on Thursday by students from various universities across the country. It remains to be seen if it leads to much.