Monday, March 31, 2008

The World's Most Expensive Internet

I was quoted almost a dollar a minute (3 UAE dirhams a minute, works out to $50 per hour) to use the WiFi at the business center of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai today. That works out to roughly 3000 times more per hour than the price for a monthly DSL connection here.

nomads, share your tales - is there a more expensive internet service anywhere in the world?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

"More often than not, guys interpret even friendly cues, such as a subtle smile from a gal, as a sexual come-on, and a new study discovers why: Guys are clueless.

More precisely, they are somewhat oblivious to the emotional subtleties of non-verbal cues, according to a new study of college students.

"Young men just find it difficult to tell the difference between women who are being friendly and women who are interested in something more," said lead researcher Coreen Farris of Indiana University's Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences." (LiveScience)


Those aren't important. The question is, what's your strategy? Do you always assume the former or the later?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Mankind's oldest....

...known voice recording....
(article)
(MP3 file)

...known fossil....
(article)

It's pretty cool that these were discovered within a day of each other....

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Ouch

"The research is the latest evidence that fat in the abdomen is the most dangerous kind. Previous studies have linked the apple-shaped physique to a greater risk of diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. Researchers suspect that those fat cells are the worst because of their proximity to major organs. They ooze noxious chemicals, stoking inflammation, constricting blood vessels and triggering other processes that might also damage brain cells." (Fighting Aging)

Fat in your belly fucks up your mind.

What does extremism mean in Russia?

- 68 foreigners were murdered by Russian Nacists in 2007
- 566 were attacked and injured by Russian Nacists in 2007
- 26 foreigners were murdered by Russian Nacists in first 2 months of 2008
- Currently around 70000 skinheads exist in Russia
(Source: Akipress)

Russian Neo Nazi groups have become big problem for the foreigners in Russia. Especially for those not from Slavic origins. They've been attacking, murdering and injuring continuously, and unfortunately Russian government is closing its eye to this problem. I don't want to get into politics saying the common rumour that they've been using this Nacist movement against the immigrants in order to control and suppress them. It's not about it. It's about those people being brutally attacked just because of the skin of their color or non-Slavic face. Most of all, people from Central Asia and Caucasus are victimized. Also, there are victims from China, Vietnam, Inida and African countries. Currently, millions of Central Asians are studying and working there, either legally or illegally.

Russian newspapers and TVs usually do not mention these issues or either point them out as hooliganism, thus covering the real issue of Nacism in Russia. And western media, which usually is "sensible" in the issues like human rights, terrorism, facism and aggression, is not bothered to write about it. Do you think they don't know about it?! Typical case of double-standards, no?! Thus, the most of the world is not aware of what is happening in Putin's Russia today.



Just search for more videos on YouTube. Such videos are regularly uploaded by Neo Nazi themselves. It's the time that international society gets more aware of this problem. And it's part of our (as AIESECers) responsibility to raise the awareness of this problem.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Who's your Daddy now!

Tata of India buys the quintessential British symbols, Jaguar and Land Rover for $2.3 billion dollars. (CNN)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Thursday, March 20, 2008

AIESEC in the Uncyclopedia

This is a posting for all AIESEC alumni out there, I found an article which gives a "different" twist about that organization we love so much.

Read it here: http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/AIESEC

As mentioned in the article any ressemblance with the truth is only coincidence.
I suppose only Reuters could put these two headlines together in its daily news brief...

At least 200 arrested in U.S. antiwar protests
China makes arrests in Tibet crackdown

ut novetur sexus omnis corporis mysterium

"Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey said Monday he and his wife and a male aide engaged in sexual threesomes, contradicting a denial issued hours earlier by his estranged wife." AP

which governor will be next??

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A good explanation on the current bust

"As is often the case with innovations, though, there was soon too much of a good thing. Those same global investors, flush with cash from Asia’s boom or rising oil prices, demanded good returns. Wall Street had an answer: subprime mortgages.

Because these loans go to people stretching to afford a house, they come with higher interest rates — even if they’re disguised by low initial rates — and thus higher returns. The mortgages were then sliced into pieces and bundled into investments, often known as collateralized debt obligations, or C.D.O.’s (a term that appeared in this newspaper only three times before 2005, but almost every week since last summer). Once bundled, different types of mortgages could be sold to different groups of investors.

Investors then goosed their returns through leverage, the oldest strategy around. They made $100 million bets with only $1 million of their own money and $99 million in debt. If the value of the investment rose to just $101 million, the investors would double their money. Home buyers did the same thing, by putting little money down on new houses, notes Mark Zandi of Moody’s Economy.com. The Fed under Alan Greenspan helped make it all possible, sharply reducing interest rates, to prevent a double-dip recession after the technology bust of 2000, and then keeping them low for several years." (NY Times)


All these C.D.O's are the main culprit why nobody knows yet how much exposure they have.

Leverage is the one that cause the huge losses in a short of time because leverage is pretty much how you lose in multiple times really quickly.

These C.D.O's are rated by the rating agency such as Moody or Fitch (remember those C.D.O's are 'high return' debts) - the problem is that those debt bundling mix a good debt with bad debt (which are the sub-prime mortages) - and they have consistently given those C.D.O's good rating, which means 'safe investment'.

So when majority of those people with sub-prime mortgages cannot pay, it starts a panic in the market and people do not trust the assets of that any company claims because those companies cannot determine their exposure quickly. All they can give is a figure based on "modeling" and some bullshit figures they pull out of their asses. It takes a while to unwind all those C.D.O's (the first write off was 6 months ago and still going on).

And it makes one realize that these people don't know what they are doing. All they have are expensive watches.

This whole global financial market is based on trust. No bank has enough cash to pay all their customers at the same time, which is fine because they use some of the deposits for loans and investment, in which how banks make money. So when people starts taking their money in a short amount of time, this is what's known as a bank run, it will cripple the bank because they run out of cash to operate.

RIP - Arthur C Clarke, 90



According to a news release from the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation, Mr. Clarke reviewed the final manuscript of his latest science fiction novel, "The Last Theorem," a few days ago. It is scheduled to be published later this year.

Although he rarely left Sri Lanka, he kept in touch with the rest of the world by using the satellite communication he predicted so long ago. He told the Associated Press that he didn't regret never going into space because he had arranged to have the DNA from his hair sent into orbit. "Some day, some super civilization may encounter this relic from the vanished species and I may exist in another time," he said.

"I'm sometimes asked how I would like to be remembered. I've had a diverse career as a writer, underwater explorer, space promoter and science populariser," he said. "Of all these, I want to be remembered most as a writer -- one who entertained readers, and, hopefully, stretched their imagination as well." (courtesy The Washington Post)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

nomadfest: Malaysia

Prepare for a total fucking. Details here.

One hell of a speech

"“I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two-hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins." (Obama speech on Race)



Monday, March 17, 2008

Adam got married

"
Adam Brand says:
btw I got married this weekend
dodyg (silverkey) says:
btw ?
Adam Brand says:
we went to the courthouse and got married by a judge
dodyg (silverkey) says:
ha..ha..congratulations
Adam Brand says:
pissed off our parents
"

Happy Belated St. Patrick's Day

"Religions celebrations for St. Patrick's Day will come two days early in Ireland next year to avoid a conflict with Holy Week.

St. Patrick's Day is usually celebrated March 17, but Ireland's bishops have shifted the feast day, in honor of the national saint, to Saturday, March 15, reported The Associated Press." (CNA in 2007)

The incoming economic meltdown?

"Much like a $200 billion loan program the Fed announced last Tuesday, this program will essentially allow the government to hold as collateral a wide variety of investments that include hard-to-sell securities backed by mortgages. But Fed officials told reporters on Sunday night that the new program would have no limit on the amount of money that can be borrowed." (NY Times)

Ok, so the US Federal Reserve is busy bailing out investment banks on the money that they don't have.

There have been speculation that the reason why Bear Stearns did not go to sovereign funds for this time (unlike Citibank with the Saudi and Morgan Stanley with the Singaporean) for the bail out is pretty much that those sovereign funds are all tapped out as well and probably exposed in the same troubled mortgage backed security.

It's probably instructive to open your 2006 The Economist because they have been warning exactly this type of problem exposed by the crazed mortgage bubble.

The current situation is worse than 2000 stock crisis because at those day, the damage is limited to stock overpricing and over investment in stupid Internet companies. Right now the crisis is hitting the normal people with their mortgage and credit card interests sky rocketing and the cost of obtaining credit for businesses is getting much much higher.

So right now you see the fat cats in investment banks are being subsidized by the US tax payers for their fuck ups.

"WHAT are the consequences of a world in which regulators rescue even the financial institutions whose recklessness and greed helped create the titanic credit mess we are in? Will the consequences be an even weaker currency, rampant inflation, a continuation of the slow bleed that we have witnessed at banks and brokerage firms for the past year?" (NY Times)

"“For the government to print money at the expense of taxpayers as opposed to requiring or going about a receivership and wind-down of any insolvent institutions should be troubling to taxpayers and regulators alike,” said Josh Rosner, an analyst at Graham Fisher & Company and an expert on mortgage securities. “The Fed has now crossed the line in a very clear way on ‘moral hazard,’ because they have opened the door to the view that they are required to save almost any institution through non-recourse loans — except the government doesn’t have the money and it destroys the U.S.’s reputation as the broadest, deepest, most transparent and properly regulated capital market in the world.”

And the issue as well right now those investment firms do not know what exactly they have in assets - all their collateral values are based by some funky computer modeling that turns out to be a bunch of bullshit. Go figure.

Good Tips

"In a interview two years ago, [Eliot] Spitzer, then-attorney general [and now governor, at least for the next few minutes], told ABC News he had some advice for people who break the law.

"Never talk when you can nod, and never nod when you can wink, and never write an email because it's death. You're giving prosecutors all the evidence we need," he said"

Sunday, March 16, 2008

97.5% discount for Bear Stearns

Take a look at this chart. On March 10, they were trading at 70 dollars. On March 16, they got bought at 2 dollars.

"Bear Stearns, facing collapse because of the mortgage crisis, agreed Sunday evening to be bought by JPMorgan Chase for a bargain-basement price of less than $250 million, the two companies announced.

The all-stock deal values Bear Stearns at about $2 a share, based on JPMorgan’s closing stock price on Friday, the companies said. In contrast, shares of Bear Stearns, which fell $27 on Friday, closed at $30.
" (NY Times)

Imagine purchasing a public firm at 10% of the stock market price. Bear Stearns has pretty much been destroyed by a black swan.

The question is whether Bear Stearns will turn to crap or not, because crap, even at 97.5% discount, is still crap.

Distruption of Services

If you are using mail@nomadlife.org, you are (temporary)in trouble. Right now the mail server that handle the forwarding for nomadlife.org email addresses are buckling down under heavy spam attack. Therefore I'm migrating nomadlife email forwarding using Google Applications. This process hopefully shouldn't take one or two extra days. There will be some extra services available for nomadlife after this Google Application adoption (like shared calendar, etc)

You can contact me at empirebuilder@gmail.com or dody_g@hotmail.com on MSN for any questions.

nothing good can come of this...


reuters

With such a photo splashing across front pages, the Chinese government can't be too happy.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Riot in Tibet





(The Strait Times)

I hope this issue is resolved soon.

Bear Sterns Bank Run

Yet another investment bank in a capital crisis, thanks to the sub prime mortgage fiasco and the following credit crunch.


"Just three days ago, the head of Bear Stearns, the beleaguered investment bank, sought to assure Wall Street that his firm was safe.

But those assurances were blown away in what amounted to a bank run at Bear Stearns, prompting JPMorgan Chase and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to step in on Friday with a financial rescue package intended to keep the firm afloat.

The move underscores the extreme stresses that the credit crisis has imposed on the financial system and raises the once-unthinkable prospect that major Wall Street firms might fail." (NY Times)

A couple of weeks ago, the British government had to bail out Northern Rock, a UK lender and nationalize it after its customer had a run on the bank (Bloomberg)


"A bank run (also known as a run on the bank) is a type of financial crisis. It is a panic which occurs when a large number of customers of a bank withdraw their deposits because they fear it is, or might become, insolvent. This action can destabilize the bank to the point where it becomes insolvent. Banks retain only a fraction of their deposits as cash (see fractional-reserve banking): the remainder is invested in securities and loans. No bank has enough reserves on hand to cope with more than the fraction of deposits being taken out at once. As a result, the bank faces bankruptcy, and will 'call in' the loans it has offered. This can cause the bank's debtors to face bankruptcy themselves, if the loan is invested in a plant or other items that cannot easily be sold." (Wikipedia)

A bank run usually happens in third world country in an incoming economic malaise. I've seen it happened in Indonesia in 1997-98 during the Asian financial crisis. It seems to me now stupid banks are no longer exclusive to third world countries.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Common Wealth

A discussion on Jeffrey Sach's new book can be found here.

Yet another crack to solve global poverty.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Monday, March 10, 2008

One way to screw up your career

" Gov. Eliot Spitzer has been caught on a federal wiretap arranging to meet with a high-priced prostitute at a Washington hotel last month, according to a person briefed on the federal investigation.

An affidavit in the federal investigation into a prostitution ring said that a wiretap recording captured a man identified as Client 9 on a telephone call confirming plans to have a woman travel from New York to Washington, where he had reserved a hotel room. The person briefed on the case identified Mr. Spitzer as Client 9.

Mr. Spitzer today made a brief public appearance during which he apologized for his behavior, and described it as a “private matter.” (NY Times)


The New York governor just shoot himself in the foot. He made his name being a brash Attorney General of New York City that clean up a lot of Wall Street scandals. A lot of financial people hated him. I bet there are a lot of celebratory party in his enemies' quarters tonight.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Malaysian teach their government a lesson

"Stripped of their long-held two-thirds majority in Parliament, the governing coalition will no longer be able to freely amend the Constitution, which it has done more than 40 times since independence from Britain in 1957.

Anger among ethnic Indians and Chinese over religious disputes and economic preferences for the Malays, the majority ethnic group, appeared to play a major role in the opposition’s gains." (NY Times)

Now for the more important news

"French women are becoming increasingly assertive in their sexual habits, while one-in-five younger French men "has no interest in sex", according to one of the most comprehensive surveys of the nation's love lives.

Women now have more than twice as many partners as they did in the 1970s, according to the study by the French Aids research agency, which is backed by the government."
(Telegraph.co.uk)

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Viktor Bout Arrested!!

this man has led the most flagrantly illegal lifestyle that I have heard of: guns, heroin, diamonds, warlords...

NYTimes report


an entertaining piece on him from NYTimes magazine

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Gun crimes at Schools... obviously more guns =solution

Is there anyone who can believe that the answer to the problem of gun crimes/rampages at Universities, is to let students carry guns around on campus (nytimes)? In a country which has some of the highest rates of murder in the World; mostly committed by young people, mostly by firearms... how does this make sense?

And, feel free to read the article and laugh out loud at the following line:

She initially wanted her bill to cover all public schools, kindergarten and up, but other lawmakers convinced her it stood a better chance of passing if it were limited to higher education.

“I feel like our kindergartners are sitting there like sitting ducks,” Ms. Johnson said last week.

Global Data Galore

"The DESA Statistics Division has just launched a new internet-based data service for the global user community. It brings UN statistical databases within easy reach of users through a single entry point. Users can search and down load a variety of statistical resources of the UN system." (United Nations)

You can bookmark it at http://data.un.org.

India wins an historic match...

But I thought this was the most entertaining moment of the whole summer tour... who ever said cricket was boring!?!?!?!? :)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Solar Power will be The One

"Now futurist and inventor Ray Kurzweil is part of distinguished panel of engineers that says solar power will scale up to produce all the energy needs of Earth's people in 20 years.

There is 10,000 times more sunlight than we need to meet 100 percent of our energy needs, he says, and the technology needed for collecting and storing it is about to emerge as the field of solar energy is going to advance exponentially in accordance with Kurzweil's Law of Accelerating Returns. That law yields a doubling of price performance in information technologies every year." (Live Science)


He's probably right.

Colombia and Ecuador

No more BFF

"Ecuador's president said Monday that a deal to release political prisoners -- including former Colombian Sen. Ingrid Betancourt -- was nearly complete before a Colombian raid into his country Saturday.

Correa announced Monday that his country had severed diplomatic ties with Colombia.

"(cnn.com)

The Americas are partying like it's 1966 again.

And yeah, Venezuela is moving 10 battalions to the border. One battalion is usually between 500-1000 soldiers. Check more of this kerfuffle on this blog.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Walmart blogs

Walmart's merchandiser speak out online.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Is this serious?

Ahmadinejad has a blog.

Can someone tell me if this really is his blog?

A must play - see the world in a new way

You've never seen data presented like this. With the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, Hans Rosling debunks myths about the so-called "developing world" using extraordinary animation software developed by his Gapminder Foundation. The Trendalyzer software (recently acquired by Google) turns complex global trends into lively animations, making decades of data pop. Asian countries, as colorful bubbles, float across the grid -- toward better national health and wealth. Animated bell curves representing national income distribution squish and flatten. In Rosling's hands, global trends -- life expectancy, child mortality, poverty rates -- become clear, intuitive and even playful. (TED)