Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year in Review 2008



I'm typing this out of memory, so pardon for some inaccuracies.

Bad Things That Mattered
  • The food crisis thanks to fucking commodity bubble. 
  • Oil price crisis fuel inflation around the world - hits 147 dollars a barrel.
  • Credit crisis turn into global financial meltdown.
  • Kenya burned its roof on fire after election dispute.
  • Mugabe did the unthinkable, bringing the condition in Zimbabwe worse and refusing visa for Jimmy Carter and Kofi Annan.
  • Thailand make a parody of itself by occupying government centers and airports.
  • Iceland went down like Banana Republic Economy style
  • Israel vs Hamas 
  • Marriot strike in Pakistan
  • 4 days of terror in Mumbai
  • Burmese Generals blocked a lot of international supports for Cyclone victims.
  • Massive Earthquake in China kills a lot of people and kids thanks to shoddy construction methods.
  • Russia invaded Georgia thanks to Georgia stupidity.
  • Congo conflict flares up one more time.
  • Pakistan is moving its troop to its Indian border.
  • The Taliban is kicking's NATO's ass in Afghanistan.
  • TATA's Nano car production got delayed thanks to stupid ass land dispute in India
  • Massive 50 billion dolllars fraud uncovered in Wall Street
  • Tibet violent uprising earlier this year
  • Coal Ash disaster in Tenesse, USA.
  • Somalia Pirates comes of age.
  • South Africa killing of immigrants, some by putting burning tires on their victims neck.
  • Doha trade round was fucked this year.
  • Military coup is back baby, thanks to some countries in Africa.
  • The large hadron collider broke down after a week of usage.
Good Things that Mattered
  • Australia government formally apologize to the Aborigines of Australia for its lost generation.
  • China brought a spectacular Olympic.
  • Direct flight between China and Taiwan.
  • FARC of Colombia is finished, thanks to the death of its leaders by Colombian troops and the rescue of Ingrid Betancourt.
  • China highly praise rescue operations for earthquakes victims.
  • American people elected Barack Hussein Obama as its president.
  • The Iraq Surge works spectacularly in Iraq and brought much needed stability to the country.
  • Twitter comes of age during the Mumbai crisis
  • Dean Kamen's Slingshot technology bring masive advancement in water purification and power generation to the world.
  • The move to Cloud Computing comes to the foreground this year.
  • A new category called Netbooks for cheap and small size portable computer got validated this year thanks to massive sales numbers.
  • Fidel Castro resigned and now Cubans can legally buy computers.
  • Angola had a peaceful elections
  • South Africa Mbeki's was bitchslapped by his party and to resign as President of South Africa
  • Sarkozy lead the formation of Mediterannean Union (or something like that)

What's in?
  • Instability.  Environment, security, economy - the trifecta have become dangerously destabilized this year.
  • Creative Destruction. Now it works on  the Financial Industry.
  • Decency and Integrity. Time is tough and a lot of people are losing their jobs and money.
  • Green. 147 dollars oil really brought the point of the need of alternative energy. It begins now.
  • Food and its distribution. The food crisis earlier brought into the foregrond the problem of global inflation thanks to energy prices.
  • Redneck's Paranoia. That the fat cats and government are out to steal your money and you gotta learn to shoot because nobody can save your ass.
  • Diplomacy is back in. The major powers are too broke to fund a war.
  • Sarkozy and Brown.
What's out?
  • Arrogance is out.  The titans of financial industry are brought down to their knees.
  • House as a safe investment. Not if you bought them at the top of the bubble.
  • Stupid Gas Guzzling Cars. Goodbye Hummer.
  • Inflation. No worries about this when major economies are broke and oil is down.
  • Opaque Complexity. The global financial system went down thank to the inability of its participant to understand what's going on.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bringing out the big guns

"Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has ordered the cancellation of all New Year celebration in Dubai in support of the people of Gaza."
I wish this was a parody article making jokes about the lame Arab response to the crisis, but it is true - painfully, hilariously true. In other news, Hosni Mubarak plans to go without hommous or tehina for a week to express his anger.

Ringing Sadat

"Demonstrators in the Yemeni port city of Aden briefly broke into the Egyptian consulate on Tuesday in a protest against Egypt's response to Israel's offensive against Gaza, a security official said.

The protesters, who were mostly students from the university of Aden, "vandalised furniture before they were removed peacefully from the building," the official said asking not to be identified.

Three staff members were inside the building at the time but they were unhurt, another security official told AFP, requesting anonymity.

He said one protester was wounded when a consular guard opened fire and that the protesters retaliated by setting fire to two consular vehicles.

More than 20 demonstrators were arrested, he added." (Zawya)

I heard they are burning US, Israel and Egyptian flags in demonstrations nowadays. 

Legend of Chun-Li



If you don't know who Chun-Li is, you suck.

Paper Planes - M.I.A

The Thai Way

"Attempting to replicate the tactics of their opponents, antigovernment protesters blockaded Parliament for a second day on Tuesday, forcing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjavija to move to the Foreign Ministry to deliver a policy speech inaugurating the work of his new government." (NY Times)

This is I think the fourth time this has happened in Thailand. It works like this, you send protesters against the government of your opponent. They went down and you won the Prime Minister position. Then your opponent did that same thing and you went down and then repeat.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Best African Music of 2008

"This has been a strong year for African music, with two big trends emerging. The first is the continuing integration of African music into the U.S. and European mainstream. Nigerian Afrobeat is played in virtually every major Western city these days. The other trend is the ongoing unearthing of treasures from Afropop's "golden era," particularly the '70s."

Banning Eyre, senior editor at Afropop.org puts out 'The Best African Music of 2008.'


Vaporware of 2008 by Wired

A purely defensive move

The UN relief agency in Gaza says 56 civilians have been killed by Israeli fire so far, the latest being five girls who died in Jabalia refugee camp when Israeli forces bombed a mosque near their home. (BBC)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

30 years of China Economic Overdrive



A photo album from Foreign Policy)

Path to Peace

One of the biggest obstacle in Arab people direct support for Palestine is the ban by Saudi Arabia for anyone holding passport with Israel stamp. This will prevent any Arab Muslims to go do Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca).

If Saudi Arabia remove this ban, it will encourage bazillion of Arabs who are yearning to see Jerusalem  and visit Palestine and actually contribute to the tourism of the West Bank - enabling the one real economy factor of Palestine - building business and providing jobs - and build up the organization skills for the next generation of Palestinians. It will also reduce the isolation of the occupied territory with the rest of the Middle East.

Anyway, it's time for some creative solutions for this conflict. Rah rah old solutions just won't do.


Open Letter to Israel and Hamas

Dear Bros,

Both of you dissappoint me. Rockets and Bombing are so 2006 and Hezbollah already claim that badge of honors.

Both of know that you are no longer the maddest conflict in the world. The killing in Congo is the current champion and based on January survey they have  reached 5,400,000  victims since 1989 and the renewed conflict surely added to those body counts. Not even Darfur and the Sudan Government can dream to reach that achievement. 

I mean you guys got so predictable that even the lowly Somalia pirates provide much of the entertainment to the world in 2008. And look at Pakistan, they step up and move troops ready to defend their pride against India. A showdown between real nuclear powers? Now that's something to look forward to in 2009.

Now that Barack is taking over, we have no King George to kick anymore (or throw shoes); Iraq is getting boring. Thankfully the student (Talib) in Afghanistan is still on a roll. Good on them.

Here's some ideas both of you can use to bring things up a notch for next year. 

Israel, please send the planes to bomb Iran. Now that would be something new. Sure they will send a thousand missiles in return but they are so innacurate that they will bound to hit West Bank and Gaza and kills lots of Palestinians; bonus! Think about that.

Hamas, you can't defeat Israel with a bunch of lousy Qassam rockets. I mean, even the Chinese can't make a product that lousy. You need to think laterally and do something bold. Money is running short thanks to those fuckers in Wall Street. Don't waste more money.

You need big guns and big cajones to come support you to fight Israel. No, you do not want to rely on Syria; they are faithful but never won a war. Don't bring Jordan because they'll leak your plan to Israel. 

Take over Egypt and use Egypt's Army to attack Israel. They got tons of gadgets from the US. Simply run over the Gaza/Egypt border - you can do it in 20 minutes; they have no soldiers in Sinai - just lowly police guarding the border. Actually, just drive a truckload of baksheesh on the border gate and they'll let you in.

Drive down real fast to Sharm and kidnap the President. Don't worry, he will be there; he's barely in Cairo nowadays. And wallah, you have the Egyptian Army under your control and you can start a real shooting war with Israel - with real tanks and shit - and not just slogans. Think about it.

Good luck boys and do better in the new year.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy New Year !

"Pakistan began moving thousands of troops away from the Afghan border toward India on Friday amid tensions following the Mumbai attacks last month, intelligence officials said from Islamabad.

The move represents a sharp escalation in the standoff between the nuclear-armed neighbours and stands to weaken Pakistan's U.S.-backed campaign against al-Qaeda and Taliban close to Afghanistan.

Two intelligence officials said the army's 14th Division was being redeployed to Kasur and Sialkot, close to the Indian border. They said some 20,000 troops were on the move.

Earlier Friday, a security official said all troop leave had been cancelled." (AP)

(artillery firing at night from Flickr)

I don't know if there's any reasoned rationale for this. An escalation of conflict does no good to anybody.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Have a Merry Christmas folks. Good luck winning that argument with your drunken crazy uncles and try not to end up in hospital from alcohol poisoning.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dream Mansion



Find more photos here

(via Aibek)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Interview with China's $200 billion dollars manager

"About Wall Street jobs, wealth, and the cultural distortion of America:

I have to say it: you have to do something about pay in the financial system. People in this field have way too much money. And this is not right.

When I graduated from Duke [in 1986], as a first-year lawyer, I got $60,000. I thought it was astronomical! I was making somewhere a bit more than $80,000 when I came back to China in 1988. And that first month’s salary I got in China, on a little slip of paper, was 59 yuan. A few dollars! With a few yuan deducted for my rent and my water bill. I laughed when I saw it: 59 yuan!

The thing is, we are working as hard as, if not harder than, those people. And we’re not stupid. Today those people fresh out of law school would get $130,000, or $150,000. It doesn’t sound right.

Individually, everyone needs to be compensated. But collectively, this directs the resources of the country. It distorts the talents of the country. The best and brightest minds go to lawyering, go to M.B.A.s. And that affects our country, too! Many of the brightest youngsters come to me and say, “Okay, I want to go to the U.S. and get into business school, or law school.” I say, “Why? Why not science and engineering?” They say, “Look at some of my primary-school classmates. Their IQ is half of mine, but they’re in finance and now they’re making all this money.” So you have all these clever people going into financial engineering, where they come up with all these complicated products to sell to people." (The Atlantic)

Best of the best

"On Monday, Toyota said it expected a loss during the fiscal year of 150 billion yen, or $1.7 billion, in its group operating revenue, the amount it earns from its auto operations. Toyota said that would be its first operating loss since 1938, a year after the company was founded."

Toyota is as good as it gets in the auto industry.

"“The change in the world economy is of a magnitude that comes once every hundred years,” Toyota’s president, Katsuaki Watanabe, told a news conference in Nagoya, Japan, near the company’s Toyota City headquarters. “We are facing an unprecedented emergency.”"



(NY Times)

Books to scare the bejesus out of you


Get the list here.

It's hard to say goodbye



" Crisscrossing the country in corporate jets may no longer fly in Detroit after car executives got a dressing down from Congress. But on Wall Street, the coveted executive perk has hardly been grounded.

Six financial firms that received billions in bailout dollars still own and operate fleets of jets to carry executives to company events and sometimes personal trips, according to an Associated Press review." (AP)

No wonder. Look at that interior shot of a typical private jet. Man, I wouldn't give it up either.

Où puis-je prendre

Check this cool site, Forvo, that provides hundreds of thousands of sound clip on how to pronounce words in their native languages.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The best in journalism in 2008


Mumbai Effect

"In the aftermath of the deadly Mumbai terror attacks, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has come out with guns blazing - with a plan to get all 1,000 rookie cops ready to use heavy artillery in time for New Year's Eve, The Post has learned." (NY Post)

The cops will be carrying M4 Carbine, a semi automatic assault rifle. This is usually the weapon you carry to the battlefield, not policing a city.




I'd say that's bollock. Bring this guy if you want rock solid security.


Anarchy in Greece - The Pictures

more pictures here

Energy Shortage - a blog

Put your global strategic thinker hat and visit this informative blog on global energy shortage.


oldest modern novel

story about the oldest modern novel, celebrating its 1000th anniversary. written in which language?

Economist

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Billion Dollars Fraud


Second Place, a Russian company:

"MMM was the company that perpetrated the largest pyramid scheme in Russia in 1990s, with the possible exception of the GKO government pyramid scheme . It involved at least two million people and possibly collected an amount of money equivalent to as much as 1.5 billion U.S. dollars."(MMM)

First Place, an ex American Regulator:

Maddof Ponzi Scheme is estimated to a 50 billion dollars scam, made in Wall Street and it's still being unravelled. 

Pirates vs The World

"The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Tuesday to authorize nations to conduct military raids, on land and by air, against pirates plying the waters off the Somalia coast even as two more ships were reportedly hijacked at sea"(WashingtonPost)


(Admiral Zheng He)

And guess who's participating? China

"China is all set to send a naval fleet on a mission to fight pirates in Somali waters, a military source told China Daily on Tuesday." (China Daily)

This is an uncommon development for China to send their combat ships for an international military operation (joining Russia, US, India and some NATO countries)

2008 in ideas - Eating Kangaroos

From Skippy



and his friend


to yummy!




Eat Kangaroos to prevent global warming
"Of all the ideas developed to combat the climate crisis, George Wilson of Australian Wildlife Services may have the least intuitive: eating more kangaroos. In a paper published in June by the U.S.-based Society for Conservation Biology, however, he explains that 11 percent of Australia’s total greenhouse-gas emissions come from the methane produced by the rumen of cattle and sheep. “It’s been long known that kangaroos don’t produce methane,” Wilson says, noting that kangaroos’ stomachs have different microorganisms to ferment their food. “I began to speculate, What if we managed the kangaroo population up and the cattle population down?

Read more of other ideas here.


100 Terrific Mindhacks to Make the Most of Your Brain



"Practice streamwriting: Find answers and solve problems by writing out your conscious until your superconscious comes out.

Power idea generation: Practice quiet solitude in which you list out problems and ideas, whether useful or not, to make your brain better at generating ideas.

Take on a creative hobby: Make your brain work harder with a creative hobby that requires thinking.

Read quality magazines, books, and blogs: Make sure that the sources that influence your thinking are top notch, so you’ll have a good reference to call on.

Stay active: Be sure to stay connected with your friends, family, and network so that you can be mentally stimulated through relationships." (read more...)


Give her a Pulitzer

"14) get a dog and give it a man's name, but refrain from all forms of kinky shit - god is watching beyatch! and even if he's snoozing - uhm it just ain't cool!o"

21 ways to find a man by superluli


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Time Person of the Year 2008

It's a surprise!


Screw Happiness, it's time to get depressed

The Economist's Swimming Naked Award

"“YOU only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out”, Warren Buffett famously observed. In 2008, the financial tide went out further than anyone expected, revealing a multitude of skinny-dippers. To help them cover up their embarrassment, Business.view is proud to announce the following winners of the 2008 “naked shorts” awards:" (Economist)

Turning Japanese



"Going further than expected, the central bank cut its target for the overnight federal funds rate to a range of zero to 0.25 percent and brought the United States to the zero-rate policies that Japan used for years in its own fight against deflation." (NY Times)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


"Playboy magazine issued an apology Monday for the cover of its Mexican edition, which features an Argentine model in what many observers say is meant to be a depiction of the Virgin Mary." (CNN)

Somebody was too clever ("oh it's 'Christmas' edition") in the editorial department.

and now you can play the game!

http://www.sockandawe.com/

See if you can throw the shoes and hit the target.

Update:


All of these looks funny now because Bush managed to duck the shoes. Had he been hit, he would at least have marked injury on his face, and we wouldn't be laughing.

Monday, December 15, 2008




(scripting.com)

This is bizarre.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

She


Miss Russia won Miss World 2008.

You can view these beauties here, all dedicated to bringing world peace.

Capital Punishment

"While Mr. Madoff is facing federal criminal charges, accused by federal prosecutors of operating a vast $50 billion Ponzi scheme, many of his clients are facing an abrupt reversal of fortune that is the stuff of nightmares." (NY Times)

50 fucking billion Ponzi scheme. Only in Wall Street.  In China, they would've hung the guy by the ball in public.

Lots of families lost their savings and a charity lost all of their seven million dollars endowment. Fuckin' a.

"Che" the movie

The review is in.

It's four hours long.

The mom song sung to the William Tell Overture

This has probably been around for a while because my mom sent it to me...

But it's hilarious...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Too late for me but




"At the age of 24, Tara Giuliano was the Director of a Fortune 100 company, financially secure earning a six figure income, happily engaged to be married, and healthy. She wasn’t born into money and she didn’t graduate from an Ivy League school. How does one achieve such success so young? Work for it and follow a few rules that work!" (strategic book publishing)

She's an AIESEC US alumni. Some old schooler might have remembered her.

Go Titan!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why oil prices fell?

"We often hear that "soon" oil prices will hit a bottom, and start shooting back up again. I am less and less certain that this will be the case. Instead, I am concerned that we may on a relentless path to a point far below the point where energy companies can expect to have any chance of making money. We may be on a path toward more and more bankruptcies and defaults of all types--energy companies, owners of commercial real estate, homeowners, financial institutions, auto makers, airlines, and many more. If this is the case, there will be a huge strain on governments, and some may find it necessary to default on their debt." (Oil Drum)

The theory is because all the previous owners of future oil contracts are selling them rapidly because they need cash.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tom's World Airport Review

Regarding Douala airpot

"It didn't help my perception of this shithole when its charming security staff detained three of us for about 15 hours on arrival, hoping to get a bribe from the lovely Cameroonians who were there to pick us up. And it certainly didn't help our perceptions when they dragged what looked like a homeless man into the room they were holding us in, starting slapping him up, and then beating him on the soles of his feet with a stick."

Read more about  these delightful and horrifying world airports.

My 2 cents follows.

Ruzyne Prague Airport(Czech Republic)
I love this airport. It's a smallish and efficient airport that has the fastest immigration line I've seen. It takes only an average 15-20 minutes from the embarkation of your plane to getting out the airport with your lugage. If you don't have lugage, cut the time by half. Then for 1.5 dollars, you can take the efficient public transport to downtown.

Boryspil Kiev Airport(Ukraine)
When you transfer in this airport, pray. There is only a single security gate before you get into the transfer area; you can easily get stuck in a long queue on the stairs if there are passengers from two different planes transferring. The six dollars an hour wifi access does not help either. On the other hand, this airport has the highest ratio of good looking female employees anywhere in the world.
Free Image Hosting

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Caddyshack

While several guests have come as Sarah Palin, one is in a furry yellow duck costume. Another is Bill Murray's character from the 1980 film Caddyshack.

Suddenly, one of Dave's guests runs over to tell him: "The real Bill Murray just walked in the door."

"You're joking," Dave scoffs.

"No, really, he's here."

read on!

Karma and consequences

"Now, it is Congress doing exactly that, but this time as emergency surgery. Other nations will doubtless complain, or begin doing the same for their own companies. “We’re at this moment in history, in which the Chinese are touting that their system is better than ours” with their mix of capitalism and state control, said Mr. Garten, who has long experience in Asia. “And our response, it looks like, is to begin replicating what they’ve been doing.”" (NY Times)

I can recall back in 1997 when the cavalry of IMF come to stop by in South East Asia and demand all sorts of austere restrictions and reform in the troubled countries economies; old men in suits paraded on TV and dole out advices how to fix this and that; privatize state companies, free labour, let weak enterprises die, tighten the credit. Take the hard pill and you will recover. The plea to loose the strict measures to take care of the poor were widely ignored and they took the brunt of the blow for four or five years.

And now the circle comes complete, back to the masters of Capitalism themselves; and they are doing the things in reverse of what they adviced a decade ago.

Companies and banks are being nationalized, state intervenes in credit markets, states tried to directly involved in jobs creations, etc. 

You can just see there's a reorganization of world order happening here. A lot of people are talking about the rise of BRIC countries, etc but I don't think we have a clue on how this new order are shaping up. But maybe there's a chance that we'll end up with a globalization that has more compassion for the poor and weak and the disenfranchised; kinder to the environment and more open to diversity of ideas and systems. We shall see who left standing tall after all the dusts settle.

A crash as historic as the end of communism

The credit crunch has destroyed casino capitalism. From the rubble a new, less divisive, economic model will emerge

Capitalism is changing in fundamental ways. What's happening will affect the relationship between business and government, between taxpayers and the private sector, between employers and employees, between investors and companies for many years to come. Arguably the crisis will turn out to be more significant for us and other developed economies than the collapse of communism.


The rest of the article is definitely worth reading.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Old media shake out

The Tribune Company just filed a bankruptcy. It is the second largest conglomerate of newspaper operations in the US. And the New York Time is taking a quarter billion dollars mortagage on its New York headquarter building.

The Tribune went down because it accumulate a massive 13 billion dollars debt thanks to previous business expansion fueled by cheap credits.
Top 10 stories you missed in 2008, by FP magazine.

Sunday, December 07, 2008


OK, now above is a much better picture of the happy couple, in the groom's parent's house in Urumqi, taken by Sheila Zhao, a nomad based in Beijing who takes beautiful photographs for a living. More of her works can be found on this site.

Urumqi, December 4th 2008. Our boy has grown up.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Calling All Pakistanis - Friedman

I promise...this is my last post on this attack on liberty. Thomas Friedman writes in the NYT:

After all, if 10 young Indians from a splinter wing of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party traveled by boat to Pakistan, shot up two hotels in Karachi and the central train station, killed at least 173 people, and then, for good measure, murdered the imam and his wife at a Saudi-financed mosque while they were cradling their 2-year-old son — purely because they were Sunni Muslims — where would we be today? The entire Muslim world would be aflame and in the streets.

Read the story here. Another insightful and simple article which does more to drive home several points than any amount of bluster and outrage.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Media's role in the recent Mumbai events

Barkha Dutt, famous editor of NDTV news - shares her opinion and response to some of the questions and criticism faced - by media's role in the recent events and in particular NDTV and Barkha Dutt.
http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/mumbaiterrorstrike/Story.aspx?ID=COLEN20080075194&type=opinion
Would be great to hear your comments / opinions on this - esp. by those who had been closely following NDTV in those 60 hrs.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

things you find in the Gobi desert

World's oldest marijuana stash!

Operation Trident, 1971.

On the night of December 4, 1971, the Indian Navy had carried out a stunning attack on the Karachi port by towing missile boats under the stealth of night and blasting the harbour sky high before the Pakistanis even knew Indian sailors were at their doorstep.

..That '71 mission was named Operation Trident - and 37 years later, terrorists targeted Hotel Trident in Mumbai. Then, as now, no one believed that such an attack could be carried out. No one thought it was feasible to travel from Mumbai to Karachi - or vice versa - to carry out a sneak attack. Operation Trident had shocked the world with its audacity; so has the meticulously planned terrorist attack.

..When asked if a Karachi-Mumbai assault could be done, he said: "Definitely. We did it in 1971. We punched them in the guts and drove the wind out of their war effort. They didn't know we were there until we said 'hello'.

...I am astonished at the discipline, fire control and flexibility these terrorists have shown. It seems they have had Special Forces training. Commandos are opportunists. They think on their feet. And they are miserly about their ammunition and ration. These terrorists have shown the same trademarks. They have acted to a plan but changed it swiftly when they got a target of opportunity."
Says Retired Commander Prakash Panda, involved in India's 1971 mission to attack the Karachi Harbour.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

mondaÿ morning quarterback

Naturally after the event is over, you are going to see pundits second guessing on the effort. Coulda, shoulda, woulda. That it could be swifter, that it is amzing that ten terrorists can take sixty hours to eliminate, etc.

Bollocks.

This is an event without a precedent and the main goal is rescuing the hostage. The terrorists are not going anywhere. The highest priority is to prevent more bloodshed whether it is from the hostages or the security apparatus people. There is no need to rush.

They could have let the three terrorists holding out in the Taj locked up in the room and just wait for two weeks until they starve to death.

With the number of hostages taken, it is an evidence of the competence of the commandos that the number of killed hostages are not higher. Overall, well done guys.

Evidence of...?

a sat phone... from Thuraya

and a GPS log... on a Garmin device. (Does anyone know how to interpret the code on the screen?)

These were found by the Coast Guard on a boat in Bombay Harbour. The crew were found executed, their hands tied behind their backs.

Dead enders

"Mr. Kahn reported that J.K. Dutt, head of India’s National Security Guard, told reporters that he believed there were three to four terrorists remaining inside." (The Lede - NY Times)

These fuckers are resillient at the least, after 3 days of mopping operations, they manage to survive in the Taj hotel.

Friday, November 28, 2008

strategy

are there upcoming elections in india?

The Commandos



More coverage on the commandos involved in the rescue operation. Good job guys!

"We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready to visit violence on those who would do us harm."
--George Orwell

When was the last time...

When I couldn't find an answer to this after 5 minutes of googling, I thought it would just be easier to ask all you geniuses:

Has anything like this ever happened before? In terms of duration, how long a group of terrorists fought against a government for in the middle of frigging enormous major world city?

I'm talking terrorist in today's context btw - cells of these obscurely named stateless mujahideen fighting for a concept, rather than people like the Kosovo Liberation Army or Chechen seperatists who have been called terrorists in the past.

The starfish and the spider

"Brafman and Beckstrom, a pair of Stanford M.B.A.s who have applied their business know-how to promoting peace and economic development through decentralized networking, offer a breezy and entertaining look at how decentralization is changing many organizations. The title metaphor conveys the core concept: though a starfish and a spider have similar shapes, their internal structure is dramatically different—a decapitated spider inevitably dies, while a starfish can regenerate itself from a single amputated leg. In the same way, decentralized organizations, like the Internet, the Apache Indian tribe and Alcoholics Anonymous, are made up of many smaller units capable of operating, growing and multiplying independently of each other, making it very difficult for a rival force to control or defeat them. Despite familiar examples—eBay, Napster and the Toyota assembly line, for example—there are fresh insights, such as the authors' three techniques for combating a decentralized competitor (drive change in your competitors' ideology, force them to become centralized or decentralize yourself). The authors also analyze one of today's most worrisome "starfish" organizations—al-Qaeda—though that group undermines the authors' point that the power of leaderless groups helps to demonstrate the essential goodness and trustworthiness of human beings." (Amazon)

You can buy this book or follow this blog, Global Guerillas, who has pretty serious thoughts on extremely decentralized global organization and has the knack for catchy terms such as "Bazaar of violence".

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Chronology of insanity - the last 5 years

Here is what's happened and that too only in the last 5 years. This is of course not considering what happens almost on a monthly basis in Kashmir. Tom had an interesting comment on the piece below...the question is, when is enough finally enough?

After the current Bombay insanity concludes, I think ala 9/11, you're going to see major shifts in policy and action. To me personally, this is a watershed much like what 9/11 was for the US.

Modasa, Gujarat, Sep 29 2008: One killed and several injured after a low-intensity bomb kept on a motorcycle went off near a mosque.

New Delhi, Sep 27, 2008: Three people killed after a crude bomb was thrown in a busy market in Mehrauli.

New Delhi, Sep 13, 2008: 26 people killed in six blasts across the city.

Ahmedabad, July 26, 2008: 57 people killed after 20-odd synchronised bombs went off within less than two hours.

Bangalore, July 25, 2008: One person killed in a low-intensity bomb explosion.

Jaipur, May 13, 2008: 68 people killed in serial bombings.

Hyderabad, Aug 25, 2007: 42 people killed in two blasts, at a popular eatery and a public park.

Samjhauta Express, Feb 19, 2007: 66 people killed after two firebombs went off on the India-Pakistan friendship train.

Malegaon, Maharashtra, Sep 8, 2006: 40 people killed in two blasts.

Mumbai, July 11, 2006: 209 people killed in seven blasts on suburban trains and stations.

Varanasi, March 7, 2006: 21 people killed in three blasts including one at a temple and another at a railway station.

New Delhi, Oct 29, 2005: 61 people killed in three blasts on the eve of Diwali.

Mumbai, Aug 25, 2003: 46 people killed in two blasts including one near the Gateway of India.

Gandhinagar, Sep 24, 2002: 34 people killed in the attack on the Akshardham temple.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Food Art

Thought you might get a kick out of this link.

Fuck Fuck Fuck

LIVE REPORTING - VOICE



Hostage situations are still on going.

5 bombs exploded inside the Taj hotel. Fire is already put out.



"Terror struck the country's financial capital late on Wednesday night as coordinate serial explosions and indiscriminate firing rocked
eight areas
across Mumbai including the crowded CST railway station, two five star hotels--Oberoi and Taj-- leaving 16 persons dead and 50 injured" (Time of India)

developing... (CNN has more as well)


Update:
At least 80 people reported killed and 250 wounded as gunmen target luxury hotels, train station in India's financial center.

Those bastards figure out that they cannot replicate large scale bombing like in Pakistan to inflict casualty (logistic, security check, etc). So instead they sent group of suicide attackers with grenades and semi automatic weapons and plenty of ammunition with the goals of killing as many people as possible.

Targets (google map)
  • the hyper-busy CST (formerly VT) rail terminus; 
  • the landmark Taj Hotel at the Gateway 
  • the luxury Oberoi Trident at Nariman Point 
  • the domestic airport at Santa Cruz;
  • the Cama and GT hospitals near CST 
  • the Metro Adlabs multiplex
  • Mazgaon Dockyard 
They have hostage situation in Oberoi Trident with 40 hostages (foreign nationals); they are going to kill them - you don't do this type of operation to negotiate; the commandos will have to rush in and save what they can get.

Updates:


Hemant Karkare, chief of the police anti-terrorist squad in Mumbai was killed.


One of the gunmen. One of those bag could contain a backpack bomb, the same size used in Bali bombing 2002.


Chattrapati Shivaji Railway terminal

update:
900 reported hurt.

update:

update:
twitter stream


jerrymannel: #mumbai - Taj dome on fire...Huge smoke and fire...sparks flying around .. 2 minutes ago

fagunbhavsar: #mumbai man, Taj is now on fire - devastating fire!! 2 minutes ago


Wedding Song X - Highway to hell

Wedding Song IX - Another one bites the dust

Wedding Song VIII - Why don't we get drunk and screw

Wedding Song VII - What a wonderful world

Wedding Song VI - Perfect Day

Wedding Song V - baby I love your way

Wedding Song IV - Maybe I'm Amazed

Wedding Song III - My boo

Wedding Song II - Come what may

Wedding Songs I - Ring of Fire

This is a series to celebrate the incoming nuptials among nomads.





We have an epidemic

I am engaged!

Two days after Suzanne Moyer got engaged in Morocco too. And Devrim is lost forever on December 4th.

It's time to buy shares in DeBeers.

Forecast


Bangkok Dangerous

"Officials at Thailand's main airport say several anti-government protesters armed with metal rods entered the control tower, demanding the prime minister's flight schedule.

Group Capt. Chokchai Saranon, a control tower official, said Wednesday that 50 protesters demanded to enter the control tower at Suvarnabhumi Airport but only three were allowed up by security officials." (TIME)

Bangkok is spiralling out of control. The protesters are hijacking the main airport and all flights have been cancelled.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Panic

"The federal government unveiled $800 billion in new loans and debt purchases on Tuesday, hoping another infusion of cash can help unfreeze troubled credit markets and make borrowing easier for homebuyers, small businesses and students.

The Federal Reserve said that it would buy up to $600 billion in mortgage-backed assets from the government-sponsored mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The agency would also buy up to $100 billion in debt directly from the companies and up to $500 billion in mortgage-backed securities." (NY Times)

We are talking about 1.8 trillion dollar expenditure here.

Bang Bang

Small Arms Survey 2008 is out.


Most world conflicts are strictly small arms conflict. So follow the distribution and clusters of small arms and combine it with geopolitical map and wallah, instant shooting war.

Is it just me...

...or do the 2009 F1 cars look like they hit a time warp in the 70's?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Guide for smoking pot around the world (it's not Singapore for sure) (via Andrew Sullivan)

$7.4 trillion

" The U.S. government is prepared to lend more than $7.4 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers, or half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, to rescue the financial system since the credit markets seized up 15 months ago.

The unprecedented pledge of funds includes $2.8 trillion already tapped by financial institutions in the biggest response to an economic emergency since the New Deal of the 1930s, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The commitment dwarfs the only plan approved by lawmakers, the Treasury Department’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Federal Reserve lending last week was 1,900 times the weekly average for the three years before the crisis." (Bloomberg)

GE, et tou?

They say General Electric is next.

Holy crap!

Citigroup

"The $20 billion cash injection by the Treasury Department will come from the $700 billion financial bailout package. The capital infusion follows an earlier one _ of $25 billion _ in Citigroup in which the government received an ownership stake.

As part of the plan, Treasury and the FDIC will guarantee against the "possibility of unusually large losses" on up to $306 billion of risky loans and securities backed by commercial and residential mortgages" (HP)

Yup boys and girls, you read that right, three hundred six billion dollars guarantee for Citigroup.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Gaza underground economy (photo essay by Foreign Policy) - the insane Gaza blockage by Israel still continues.
I wrote about the incoming military rescue operation for the pirated ships two days ago, well

"Five armored vehicles loaded with al-Shabab fighters arrived in the central Somali coastal town of Harardhere this weekend, near where pirates are holding the massive oil tanker Sirius Star, said Ahmed Mohamed, a resident of the town.

The fighters told residents they would battle the pirates because the tanker, which is loaded with 2 million barrels of oil, is owned by a Muslim country and should not have been taken, Mohamed said.

Another resident, Hassan Nor, suggested that the al-Shabab fighters' motive was to share in the multimillion-dollar ransom the pirates have demanded from the supertanker's owner.
"
" (CNN)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

If UBS falls, it will flush Switzerland down the toilet

"UBS has the second - highest proportion of assets relative to GDP next to Kaupthing — one of the Icelandic bank that err, brought down Iceland’s banking system. In Iceland’s case the IMF and some of the island’s Nordic neighbours jumped in with a rescue. But whereas Iceland’s banking sector liabilities stood at 850 per cent of GDP, according to Deutsche Bank, Switzerland’s, as noted above and at left, could be much higher."
(FT)

A Perfectly Reasonable Proposal

November 20 (Bloomberg) - Somali pirates, renegade Somalis known for hijacking ships for ransom in the Gulf of Aden, are negotiating a purchase of Citigroup.

The pirates would buy Citigroup with new debt and their existing cash stockpiles, earned most recently from hijacking numerous ships, including most recently a $200 million Saudi Arabian oil tanker. The Somali pirates are offering up to $0.10 per share for Citigroup, pirate spokesman Sugule Ali said earlier today. The negotiations have entered the final stage, Ali said.

"You may not like our price, but we are not in the business of paying for things. Be happy we are in the mood to offer the shareholders anything," said Ali.

The pirates will finance part of the purchase by selling new Pirate Ransom Backed Securities. The PRBS's are backed by the cash flows from future ransom payments from hijackings in the Gulf of Aden. Moody's and S&P have already issued their top investment grade ratings for the PRBS's....

In other news, Goldman Sachs has agreed to a merger with Citigroup - the new entity will be known as Sachs and the Citi....

The piracy bubble and The incoming invasion of Somalia

The rate piracy in the strait of Eden have increased in frequency and sophistication in the past week and the rate of release are way behind the rate of capture.

Right now there are multiple ships and a total of 250 crews being taken by the pirates.

The Ukranian ship full of T-72 tanks had not been released yet;they demanded $8 million ransom. The ship itself was surrounded by Russian and American ship.

They captured the a Saudi supertanker worth $100 million dollars far off shore outside the strait (east off the coast of Somalia)- the largest act of piracy ever recorded.

Right now ship owners have chosen to pay the ransoms and pretty much become, how can I describe it, the piraates' prison bitch; to the tunes of $50 millions dollars so far.

A million here and a million there and you start talking about real money. It's not just the ransom. The cost of delays especially for time sensitive cargo adds up.

Shipping companies have started to divert some of their huge ass ships to avoid going through Suez Canal and going around the continent of Africa. That has direct impact on Egypt income and also add days of delay because of a much longer  shipping route.

This pirate fest must end and I don't think the Somalis pirates are going to give up this fucking lucrative trade.

Right now there are no effort in military rescue on the ships and the crew itself. The narrative now is that you don't want to start precedent of crews getting killed (although one already did) by rescue operations or the Somalis executing their hostages. 

Any of the major Navy presence (British, Russian, US, India and some more) in the strait is capable of mounting any of the ship rescue but there are I think 30 ships being held.

So I bet right now there are military plans to invade Somalia again, capture the offshore base with invasion size Marine operation and take chances of the life of 250 hostages. It will follows an intense monitoring of any concentrated pirate base after that event.

The time for those plans to be executed are coming nearer by the day.
"The Price$ People Pay"


At the opening of the Atlantis on the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai, Bloomberg met with Sol Kerzner (CEO of the Kerzner Group who financed 50% of the project as well as the launch. Here's what he had to say:

``We're very aware of the fact that the economy is not great,'' Kerzner, 73, said in a Bloomberg Television interview on Nov. 18. ``Nevertheless, compare that to the $1.5 billion investment and the importance of the return and the coverage that one needs to achieve it, one believes we've built something that's quite unique, on a grand scale, and that deserves and will grab the attention of world media, that's the best way of marketing and launching the product.''


Perhaps more disturbingly however, is the standpoint of Nakheel on this and their spending. The article continues:

Nakheel is among Dubai state-owned ``highly leveraged companies'' that need capital restructuring, Citigroup Inc. said in a Nov. 18 report. The ``Dubai dream'' may be over as lower oil prices will leave smaller fiscal surpluses among its crude- exporting neighbors to invest in the emirate, the report said.

Sultan bin Sulayem, Nakheel's chairman, declined to discuss the weakening of the real-estate market, responding only, ``I don't think it will get worse.''


He doesn't think it'll get worse... For those who don't live in Dubai, let me put things in perspective. There are a lot of rumours going around Dubai on the number of people that are being fired on a daily basis in companies' attempts to cut costs. Losing jobs, losing livelihoods. People who can no longer afford the roof over their heads, the education of the children and will have to most probably leave the country and go somewhere else to seek a life that is much below mediocre just to be able to make ends meet. Among the companies that are downsizing is the company that financed 50% of the 1.5 billion dollar project. Now I don't see anything wrong with that, the project is something that started way before the crisis and needed completion. What I don't understand is when in the past two months it is rumoured that you've fired over 1000 employees because you can't afford to pay their salaries anymore, why do you go and spend OVER 10 MILLION DOLLARS!!!!!! to finance half of the needlessly extravagant yet very impressive launch ceremony?

The average salary of a Dubai employee excluding labour is $2500 / month. Multiply that by 12 and it's $28,000 per year. So at 10 Million dollars, the company could have afforded to keep over 350 of those that got fired covered for an entire YEAR!!!!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Devrim is getting married and got robbed. Not the same thing.

Piracy Start up kit

What do we need to start a pirate operation.

1. At least one fishing boat as a base offshore operation. Approximate price $4000 USD (in Mogadishu)

2. Two or three single hull wooden fast boat. You use this to fastly approach your target in the dark of moonless night. Approximate price $3000 with second hand 100HP machine.

3. Port and warehouses. We will need a place to store our loot and probably as  a place to chill out and kick back after a successful ransom transfer. We might have to spend up to $10,000 to construct  a sturdy harbour and comfy pirate lair.
 
4. Crews. Probably at least 8 people. 4 as  a ship jumper, two fastboast operator and 2 people stay back at the mother ship for control. Use AIESEC to hire some adventurous trainees.
 
5. Guns. Lots of guns. Use Google and order online for one week delivery.
 
6. A blog. Public Relations is a bit hard when you are in piracy business but an avid blogger will help to manage this. Show the world on how a piracy operation properly done looks like.

7. Paypal account. Instead of transferring the millions of ransom in cash (which is hard to carry and beware of those criminals), we'll make it easier for corporation to transfer their ransom(it might takes  a couple of credit cards). Screw the Swiss account, we can't be sure those banks stay afloat next year, use PayPal.

8. Corporate Social Responsibility program. Somalia is a poor country - so we will set aside 15% of our profit to build secure safe havens and food distribution centers for local populace. They are useful as a source of intelligence as well.

9. Media agent. Well, somebody has to handle Discovery Channel or National Georgraphic documentary access.

10. Satelite phones. We will give access for our hijacked ship crew to call their family that they are OK, well fed and treated nicely - unless the ship owner won't pay. This will increase the pressure the ship owner company to pay up a little bit faster. 

11. Incentive program. Oh, we'll ask for their bank accounts as well - we'll transfer 5% of the ransom to their Paypal accounts 3 months after ransom is paid. That will be enough to buy lots of drinks to forget your traumatic experience.

What else?


OK, Patron Saint:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A business proposition

"NBC News reported that the Great Creation, a Hong Kong-flagged chemical tanker seized on Sept. 18, was released after a $1.67 million ransom was paid." (MNSBC)

I think piracy is a fast growing market in the current depression like economy. A sample of the potential revenue is quoted above- $1.67 million dollars for less than 30 days worth of work and with plentiful prey to hunt.

So whaddaya think? We can start up a truly international pirate organization; we'll pirate the ships in culturally sensitive and environmentally sensible manner.

Now I need a logo.

Small is beautiful

"While the behemoths of Wall Street
stumble and fall, humble local banks are
doing just fine, thank you. Their surprising
resilience holds a key lesson for
twenty-first-century global finance." (WashingtonMonthly)

While the giant banks are tettering on the brink of failure, the smallish local banks are doing just fine.

Oi!

"Citigroup Inc faced a crisis of confidence on Wednesday as investors questioned the survival prospects of the U.S. banking giant, and its shares tumbled 23 percent to a 13-year low.

The second-largest U.S. bank by assets has been reeling on concerns that mounting losses from credit cards, mortgages and toxic debt could overwhelm its efforts to slash costs and add deposits. Last month, Wells Fargo & Co dealt a blow by derailing Citigroup's bid to buy Wachovia Corp.

Citigroup shares closed down $1.96 at $6.40 on the New York Stock Exchange and have fallen 33 percent this week as some investors concluded that Chief Executive Vikram Pandit's plan to shed 52,000 jobs and cut expenses by one-fifth won't restore the bank to health." (Reuters)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

PIRATES!!!

NEW DELHI — Days after pirates seized a Saudi-owned supertanker carrying more than $100 million worth of crude oil, the Indian Navy said on Wednesday that one of its warships fought a four-to-five-hour battle at sea with would-be hijackers in the Gulf of Aden, sinking one suspect vessel in flames and forcing the pirates to abandon a second as they fled at high speed.

....

On the same day the Indian Navy engaged the pirates, a cargo ship registered in Hong Kong and loaded with 36,000 tons of wheat was seized in the Gulf of Aden, the official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported. The vessel, with 25 crew aboard, was headed for the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.

That hijacking was followed by a report Wednesday, still to be confirmed by Greek authorities, that a Greek bulk carrier had also been seized in the Gulf of Aden. A regional maritime group based in Mombasa, Kenya, told Reuters 23 to 25 crew were aboard that ship. The Associated Press also reported that a Thai fishing boat with 16 crew members had been seized off the coast of Somalia on Tuesday.


(NYTimes)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"The Large Hadron Collider, the world's most complicated machine that was felled by a single faulty solder joint last month, won't be back until summer 2009 now, at the earliest" (Gizmodo)

This is just mind boggling. A single faulty solder joint can halt the project and there probably hundreds of thousands perfect solder joint in the system. Man.

Qantas... AGAIN!

This is probably the fourth time this year that Qantas is in the news for safety issues (and the second time for the same aircraft). Whatever happened to the Rain Man's seal of approval?

Fourth largest pirate haul ever



"Pirates captured a Saudi-owned supertanker loaded with more than $100 million worth of crude oil off the coast of Kenya, seizing the largest ship ever hijacked, United States Navy officials said Monday." (NY Times)

Two months ago the pirates seized a Ukrainian ship full of tanks. Well now they have oil to operate them.

With $100 million, it ranks fourth after the trilogies of Pirates of the Carribean. 

This year the pirates have netted around $50 million dollars. It's pretty much a protection racket ala Italian mafia, except it's on sea.

Out in 3 years

"All U.S. troops would have to leave Iraq by the end of 2011 under a historic agreement that Iraq's parliament will begin debating today. If approved, the pact would essentially spell out a timetable for the end of the war.

Iraq's Cabinet voted 27-1 in favor of the agreement Sunday after nearly a year of negotiations with the Bush administration. At the Iraqis' insistence, the final draft eliminated language that would have allowed some U.S. troops to stay behind as advisers or in the event that security deteriorated." (USA Today)
"General Electric Co. said its GE Capital financial-services arm would participate in the federal government's new debt-guarantee program, making it the first company with significant industrial operations to tap the program." (WSJ)

GE is one of the best run global companies around - having its capital arm joining the debt guarantee program is worrying.

"The new CEO will replace Yahoo! co-founder, Jerry Yang, who assumed the position in June 2007 and has since come under fire for failing to turn around the company." (CNN)

Damn.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Beat It

"The son of an Arab monarch is taking the King of Pop to court over an album and an autobiography Michael Jackson was allegedly paid for but never produced." (CNN)

I was thinking, oh no, not another kid!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I am drinking Armenian cognac and French parfait with my Russian,  Czech, French and Ukranian friends in outskirt of Prague. For the day, we had Asian lunch, Russian Tea, Czech Dessert, Sushi and Slovakian Halusky for dinner with dried salty fish mixed with Ukranian Honey Vodka. And now I'm trying to escape the attention of two drunk nomadlifers. 

Kryptonite

Giant crystals found 300 meters down in a Mexican desert. 

Frozen - The tales from Iceland


"We live now in a foreign-currency lockdown, and although the government has assured everyone that there are sufficient reserves to buy essentials such as oil, grain and medical supplies for the winter, such assurances only serve to create a further sense of unease in a people who have learnt to take such commodities for granted." (FT - Letter from Iceland)

There are more stories on the link, which describes a rapid descent to financial obvilion for a country of 300,000 people.

Friday, November 14, 2008

"With Russian tanks only 30 miles from Tbilisi on August 12, Mr Sarkozy told Mr Putin that the world would not accept the overthrow of Georgia’s Government. According to Mr Levitte, the Russian seemed unconcerned by international reaction. “I am going to hang Saakashvili by the balls,” Mr Putin declared.

Mr Sarkozy thought he had misheard. “Hang him?” — he asked. “Why not?” Mr Putin replied. “The Americans hanged Saddam Hussein.”

Mr Sarkozy, using the familiar tu, tried to reason with him: “Yes but do you want to end up like [President] Bush?” Mr Putin was briefly lost for words, then said: “Ah — you have scored a point there.” (Timesonline)

And it's supposed to be a real exchange between the two. Surreal. 

AIDS cured

Doctors in Berlin are reporting that they cured a man of AIDS by giving him transplanted blood stem cells from a person naturally resistant to the virus. (NY Times)'

This is really really really a good news. Yeah, it's only one case, but you start with one and see if the next one works, etc.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

11K old temple in Turkey

"Six miles from Urfa, an ancient city in southeastern Turkey, Klaus Schmidt has made one of the most startling archaeological discoveries of our time: massive carved stones about 11,000 years old, crafted and arranged by prehistoric people who had not yet developed metal tools or even pottery. The megaliths predate Stonehenge by some 6,000 years. The place is called Gobekli Tepe, and Schmidt, a German archaeologist who has been working here more than a decade, is convinced it's the site of the world's oldest temple."
(Smithsonian)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cairns - Darwin - Broome

Hi all,

Just recently booked another leg of a travel adventure in Cairns and NW Aus. From what I've been reading I know this is prime time wet season, it will be hot and humid, hopefully somewhat less tourist-filled(at least in the NW), and the waters will have those little jellyfish.

I(female) will be traveling with 1(for sure) possibly 2 other males; we are all in our mid/late twenties. We are more pub than club folks. More interested in seeing the coast/nature than lounging with people in their natural state (nude beaches). We don't need luxury and are not averse to camping. Has anyone experienced camping around this time? Thoughts on weather, campsites, bugs and critters, etc? It seems the way to go is to rent a car for the time we're in Broome.

I would like to get some suggestions on places to stay and things to do (the usual) mainly in Broome, we'll even be there for new year's eve. We're maintaining that where the bush meets the sea has gotta be more wild than anything we could do in the city, but that is only our biased point of view. As you can see from the itinerary below we also have 2 overnight layovers in Darwin and will be spending a chunk of time in Cairns so suggestions would be great there as well.

December 14th
-Arrive Cairns

December 21st
-Depart Cairns
-Arrive Darwin (stay overnight)

December 22nd
-Depart Darwin
-Arrive in Broome

January 2nd
-Depart Broome
-Arrive Darwin (stay overnight)

January 3rd
-Depart Darwin

Buddha Boy - not working in Buddha Bar



"Ram Bahadur Bamjan, believed to be the reincarnation of Buddha, looks on as devotees come to seek his blessings, in Nijgadh town, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Katmandu, Nepal, Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008. Bamjan, 18, has re-emerged from the jungle in southern Nepal, attracting thousands of devotees, officials said Tuesday. After retreating into the jungle for more than a year, he re-emerged Monday. " (AP)

Buddha is a title, not a person - so there's a theological sense here in about this boy; so when you read this, the word Buddha doesn't translates to the famous Buddha Gautama.

If the boy is  a Buddha, he should be able to demonstrate a miracle. How about the ability to cite the entire catalog of Maddona's music?

Come visit Chicago. It's a great city

Presidential Chicago

?? Easy Online Tool for Creating Visual Journey ??

I have a question for all nomadlifers. I want to create a visual of a travel itinerary of sorts-ie a map, dots/labels(names & number in travel order) online so I can easily send a link to friends and family.

I've tried googlemaps "my maps" thing and though I can add lines and dots, labels must be clicked on to be seen it seems, and I would like just a simple visual on a map with Destination 1 , 2 , etc. with lines/arrows in between. Also with "my maps" whenever I try the link after my map is done, it shows me only the geography without all my beautiful lines and dots.

I know I could do something like take a map and edit in in Photoshop, Paint, Word, etc. then upload it to Picasa or something, but I feel like there should be some sort of online thing that does what I'm looking for already. Suggestions? Oh, and I don't want to have to create a new account to create something or force people to create a new account to view my beautiful map/journey/itinerary/thing either.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Historic

The recently concluded Border Gavasker trophy shall go down as one of the most legendary and historic series in test-match cricket.

Any Indian fan will now tell you that the Indo-Pak rivalry stands defunct. The clear superiority emerging in the former's level of cricket (no guesses which side of the border I'm at!) coupled with the sorry state of affairs of the Pakistani board pretty have laid the yesteryears mother of all battles' to rest..

This last decade has seen the emergence of a new rivalry, one that has all the thrills, spills, below the belt and above the belt anecdotes one can imagine from fierce competitors. It feels almost funny to use the word fierce with an Indian cricketing contingent but thanks to certain outstanding and outspoken leaders, the country now heralds a new set of heroes, ones that clearly let the combination of results on field marry smart-assed jibes off it. Can I be more proud ? (tongue in cheek here)

This series saw the retirement of 2 phenomenons of Indian sport. One a tireless and gutsy hero who defied the laws of conventional spin bowling and rose to greatness with an unmatched ability to deliver. The other, a revolutionary and charismatic artisan of the sport and its' vagueries, deftly steering India into a new dawn. One which recognized young talent, nurtured skill and backed its instinct to deliver counter punches to the deafening and unending mood swings of the idiotic Indian media, the foolish and knowledge starved indian cricket 'expert' and the growing list of cricketing 'pundits'....the lot of which probably played 5 one-day internationals between them and scored an equivalent number of runs/number of wickets.

I bow to Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly. You will be the heroes we speak of with pride and honor and hopefully smile to your stories in the commentary box years down the line. Hold your head up high in this, your last series as

Monday, November 10, 2008

Blame Canada

"Why has Canada withstood the subprime tornado better than other countries, and should the Canadian banking system be a model for G7 and G20 leaders when they gather in Washington on Nov. 15? Consider that the Geneva-based World Economic Forum, an influential think tank whose annual conference attracts the likes of Bill Gates and Tony Blair, earlier this month ranked Canada's banking system as the soundest in the world." (Time)

Salif Keita - 'Folon'

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Another national election slips quietly by

A new Prime Minister for New Zealand (and a shift to the right)

"John Key, the boy trader of Wall St, was last night tasked with trading New Zealand out of its direst economic crisis for many years.

He is preparing to build a Government of all colours, as he reaches across the political divide to work with not just Act and United Future, but also the Maori Party and the Greens.

New Zealand voted for a change of direction, and a change of generation.

Helen Clark, acknowledged by friends and foes alike as one of the country's strongest-ever leaders, last night announced her resignation as leader of the Labour Party.

After nine years as Prime Minister and 15 years as leader of her party, her defeat had seemed inevitable in the final days".

More
"Newly available accounts by independent military observers of the beginning of the war between Georgia and Russia this summer call into question the longstanding Georgian assertion that it was acting defensively against separatist and Russian aggression.

Instead, the accounts suggest that Georgia’s inexperienced military attacked the isolated separatist capital of Tskhinvali on Aug. 7 with indiscriminate artillery and rocket fire, exposing civilians, Russian peacekeepers and unarmed monitors to harm." (NY Times)

There you go. Russia was telling the truth. Man,
Burden of leadership by Preston.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Newsweek reports hackers attacks and Shopping spree in Electoral campaigns

Elections are over and the transition is starting, but news from the campaigns are not over yet. Newsweek published "Hackers and Spending Sprees" article where they note was what an elaborate attack on both Obama's and McCain's computers systems:

At the Obama headquarters in midsummer, technology experts detected what they initially thought was a computer virus—a case of "phishing," a form of hacking often employed to steal passwords or credit-card numbers. But by the next day, both the FBI and the Secret Service came to the campaign with an ominous warning: "You have a problem way bigger than what you understand," an agent told Obama's team. "You have been compromised, and a serious amount of files have been loaded off your system."

Talk about a good way to put that you are in deep s..t. Now no the shopping end:

NEWSWEEK has also learned that Palin's shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported ... One aide estimated that she spent "tens of thousands" more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband ... An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast,"

That's got to hurt!! Looking forward to read more on the campaigns in Newsweek's Special Election Project "How He Did It, 2008".
This is how the crazy hologram on CNN on election night works.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The New Boss Has a Website

It includes a place for users to submit their "vision" and "stories" for America. I'm already working on one for energy independence.

CHANGE.GOV

A little unexpected?

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Congratulates Barack Obama-- First Time an Iranian Leader Has Offered Good Wishes to a U.S. President-Elect Since Islamic Revolution

Travel Warning for Americans Abroad....

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens abroad about the risks of being kissed randomly in public.

Single guys/gals: it's time to travel! Act quickly before the US inevitably commits another hegemonic mistake and we're hated again;)

"VIENNA, Austria — She was a stranger, and she kissed me. Just for being an American.

It happened on the bus on my way to work Wednesday morning, a few hours after compatriots clamoring for change swept Barack Obama to his historic victory. I was on the phone, and the 20-something Austrian woman seated in front of me overheard me speaking English.

Without a word, she turned, pecked me on the cheek and stepped off at the next stop."


Suddenly, It May Be Cool To Be American Again


Will this finally be solved?
"Jakarta shared the anxiety and the joy of the U.S presidential election won by new Indonesian darling Barack Hussein Obama on Wednesday." (The Jakarta Post)

This is the first time in Indonesian history that we actually celebrates the election result in a US election.

Black Man Given Nation's Worst Job

"African-American man Barack Obama, 47, was given the least-desirable job in the entire country Tuesday when he was elected president of the United States of America. In his new high-stress, low-reward position, Obama will be charged with such tasks as completely overhauling the nation's broken-down economy, repairing the crumbling infrastructure, and generally having to please more than 300 million Americans and cater to their every whim on a daily basis. As part of his duties, the black man will have to spend four to eight years cleaning up the messes other people left behind. The job comes with such intense scrutiny and so certain a guarantee of failure that only one other person even bothered applying for it. Said scholar and activist Mark L. Denton, "It just goes to show you that, in this country, a black man still can't catch a break" (The Onion)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yesterday, In Summary....


Morning After

"I'm more proud than I think I can put into words." (maddiejane) posting from Cairo

"I truly hope that a new era is in fornt of us: an era of changes, democracy, peace, safety. I personally think that Mr. Barak Obama might be the right person to lead the world further to a new generation of achievers. Good luck Mr. President.
Cheers and peace!" (Cisco) posting from Italy

"this is where i was when centuries of uncomprehensible hate and prejudice took a backseat to peace and fairness and justice. this is where i was when the united states behaved in a way that made me proud to call myself an american. this is where i was when barack obama became president of the united states of america." (Sydneey) posting from Colombia

"What amazes me is how some countries, those which are truly democratic, are able to change. Change in spite of anything. Americans have proven to the whole world that they are able to change. Democracy is not a mere word there, it is reality. This is particularly striking on the background of some other self-appointed democracies, where power swiftly changes from one closet-tyrant to another. Or better yet, where power doesn't change hands at all, the tyrant changes his titles, so as to keep the nice theatrical smile to the rest of the world, while pointing his finger at a fig-leave constitution." (Kristina) - from somehwere outside America

"I have never been so proud to be an American, to live in the greatest city, the greatest country on Earth. I am so proud to see my country wake up and take a stand for what they believe in, to make their opinions heard. I am proud of my country for proving that we can see past racial barriers that once blinded us. I am proud of my generation for tearing down the stereotypes that called our age demographic apathetic and uninvolved with politics. I am proud that we did not give up faith in the strength and potential that we have as a country."(Sarah) from somewhere in the Mid West

"Going to Grant Park last night was amazing for several reasons. I supported the candidate, had contributed towards the campaign, even did some last minute volunteering that morning and switched my night classes to a day class with another instructor. It was not only a historic election, but a historic night in Chicago. " (Roland) from Chicago

"As a Chicagoan, let me just say:

this is a proud, proud
proud
proud, proud
proud
PROUD" (Michele) from somewhere in North America

"Hope won today, rather than fear, misdirection, and secrecy. Today we move forward, and I can say I have never done so with so much sincere belief and inspiration for what is to come from American politics and the American People in the years ahead." (MixMaster) from some place in Planet Earth

"That brings a tearful smile into my face...
As part of this global world, where everything is interlinked, I am all up for the ones who inspire you to become a better individual, who inspire you to wake up in the morning, look around, see all the negativity flowing, and simply smile... Believing that you have the power to change it all. And it will happen." (Anaelisa) from Dubai?

"The four of us (my roommates and I) were there as our fellow students marched, ran, and skipped the 5 or 6 blocks to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to celebrate in front of the future home of the next American President, Barack Obama. It is something indescribable; to be surrounded by a sea of people, especially young people, cheering and chanting for our confidence in the future. Not even the rain could deter us. To share a moment like this, in a place so symbolic, with so many people... that is the kind of memory that grows old with you." (Amanda) from DC

"Just got back from Grant Park in Chicago, where the Obama rally was being held. It was a pretty incredible night. The park was packed with hundreds of thousands of people. Most were quite young, and their sense of optimism and engagement was palpable. And I saw some elderly African Americans for whom their disbelief that they've lived to see the day when an African American was elected president was matched only by the sense that this was simply a part of their destiny. Either way, it was quite an amazing moment. Although while the verdict is in, the trial has only just begun." (Brodie) posting from Chicago

"It's strange, for someone of my generation, who has voted in the past three elections, to have the candidate you voted for come out as the victor. The reign of any one party for an extended period of time is dangerous. I'm glad the US came to its collective senses. And so overwhelmed that I could be part of such an historic election." (Kleinsies) posting from? beats me

"Tonight, I was lucky enough to witness something big. Something historic." (Nisha) posting from somewhere in Illinois 

"Peace, and sweet rememberance of this Moment."(Arthur)