Friday, May 30, 2008

Disappointing

"BOSTON (AP) -- Dunkin' Donuts has pulled an online advertisement featuring Rachael Ray after complaints that a fringed black-and-white scarf that the celebrity chef wore in the ad offers symbolic support for Muslim extremism and terrorism.
...
Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin complained that the scarf wrapped around her looked like a kaffiyeh, the traditional Arab headdress. ''The kaffiyeh, for the clueless, is the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad,'' Malkin wrote in her syndicated column."

CNN Money

Which is more pathetic? That fear and stereotyping are used freely in public discourse, or that a major corporation trips over itself in its rush to placate the narrow-minded?

The dumbest sentence in journalism

"Yes, nearly $160 million in cash was pledged by foreign nations, and the quake helped shift media attention from Beijing's harsh crackdown on Tibetan riots earlier this year. But, all in all, the Chinese earthquake didn't elicit the same groundswell of popular international compassion as the Burmese cyclone — much less the activist urgency of the genocide in Darfur. Indeed, significant amounts of aid to China seemed to be from multinational corporations with an eye to economic relations with the People's Republic rather than from an outpouring of populist sympathy. In an extreme indication of prevailing Western attitudes, Hollywood actress Sharon Stone suggested that the Sichuan temblor could have been the result of bad "karma" for China's recent campaign in Tibet." (Time)

I'm no wordsmith, but comparing the passion of activists on Darfur genocide to China's earthquake reaction is just stupid beyond belief.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

WANTED: Interviewees

Hey there fellow AIESECers and travelers!

I am in a Human Computer Interaction Design master's program research group that is currently studying designers' tools. I suppose we're mostly focused on interface design at the moment, but are not limited in that respect. That is, anyone with a title containing, but not limited to, words like Usability, Researcher, Product, Designer, Instructional Systems, etc. would probably be a person that we're interested in.

At this point in our research over the next couple of months we'd like to conduct interviews with designers, who are currently members of the work force. I would like to ask a favor of all of you. If you'd be willing to participate in an interview (it would most likely be over the phone or through email), please get back to me. Also, please help spread the word by sharing this information with any designers you know who might be interested in participating.

If you have any questions or are interested, I'd love to hear from you! Email me at:
laura.brunetti[at]gmail.com

Thanks! 8)

Welcome to Mars, Phoenix



NASA Phoenix Mars Lander successfully landed in Mars while facing less than 50% chance of success of doing so (more landers crashed and burn than landed in one piece) - The lander will be checking out the soil of the Mars pole and look for a sign of life in the red planet. Check out the first initial pictures here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

don't enjoy, mourn!

"These games are not in accordance with the atmosphere of the nation after the devastation of the earthquake. They are too entertaining" Jiang Heping, director of the state TV sports channel, told Reuters. (link)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Looking for Petrol & Diesel price estimates

Guys, i am looking for the estimates of the prices of Diesel and Petrol for the coming years. Anyone knows where to find it, or someone has some documents about it?

Thanks.

shashaankb(@)gmail
"Children as young as six are being sexually abused by peacekeepers and aid workers, says a leading UK charity.

Children in post-conflict areas are being abused by the very people drafted into such zones to help look after them, says Save the Children.

After research in Ivory Coast, southern Sudan and Haiti, the charity proposed an international watchdog be set up." (BBC)

"an obscure technique for arousing women. oysters with muscadet sauce and veuve clicquot." (nomadfood)

2009 US President Foreign Policy Advisors


Barack Obama foreign policy team




John McCain foreign policy team


(Sources: Council of Foreign Relations)

Free hashish given by Japanese Customs!!

Customs officials have lost 124 grams of hashish they planted in an unknowing traveler’s luggage to train drug sniffing dogs, the head of Narita Customs said Monday.
“We want to improve the sniffer dogs’ ability, so we have practiced this way several times in the past,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

How do you like that? You go for holidays and get some hashish for free!!
Just imagine what would have happened if police in the final destination finds the drugs? Or if the person was transitting to another country and is found with the drugs? That would be a hard one to get out of!

At the end they call all passangers, found the person, returned the drugs and no major damage was done, other than to the reputation of the dogs and customs officials. I bet some heads will roll.

Read the full story

Monday, May 26, 2008

Fly SkyEurope

Colombia's main leftist rebel group, the Farc, has confirmed the death of top commander Manuel Marulanda, saying he died of a heart attack. (BBC News)

The media (and the government) claims without its leaders, FARC does not stand a chance of prevailing (3 of the 7 members of the Secretariat - and probably the most influential - are now dead). I too, honestly think they are over as a national issue. But the same that happened with the Cartels many years ago, is bound to happen here. A bunch of little factions of the group will wreck havoc in isolated areas of the country and still make a mess, a mess that probably won't make it as headline in the newspapers, but nevertheless, a mess.
Thoughts?

Friday, May 23, 2008

The only "free" country in South-East Asia



"The tenth anniversary of Suharto's downfall, just four months after the former president's death, has prompted a debate over how far democracy has progressed in Indonesia—the most populous Muslim-majority state, with 226m people. Besides a free press, the country now has vigorously contested elections at all levels, from president down to village chief. All the main parties, including several that are nominally Islamist, seem committed to pluralism. In its annual report in January, Freedom House, an American think-tank, rated Indonesia the only “free” country in South-East Asia."
(Economist)

"you" too can be like us. In less than a decade, a third-world Muslim majority country with 32 years of military authoritarian rule transformed itself to a full fledge free democracy. It still needs a lot of work but the path is clear.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

alive in london

just a quick word to the world at large. Am alive and kicking and in London at the moment. Things are pacing along at a frenetic pace but am enjoying the rather quick acclimitization to this highly liveable city. Bumped into an old friend at St. John's this morning which was rather cool.

This city has 'it'. Interesting stuff to update everyone on. Am back in the motherland Sunday morning. More then.

Oh and I also saw Mr. Brown deliver a short but impactful speech at one of UK's largest conferences focusing on innovation. Again- rather cool and much to ponder and create action steps for creating communities and buzz of this nature back home...

The horrible practice is back

"JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (CNN) -- More than 40 people have been killed and 28,000 made homeless in anti-immigrant violence that has rocked the nation during the past week, authorities say.

Hundreds of people were also arrested as burning, looting and violence flared in townships in the city's poorest areas." (CNN)


"The practice became a common method of lethal lynching during disturbances in South Africa in the 1980s and 1990s. Necklacing sentences were sometimes handed down against alleged criminals by "people's courts" established in black townships as a means of circumventing the apartheid judicial system. Necklacing was also used to punish members of the black community who were perceived as collaborators with the apartheid regime. These included black policemen, town councilors and others, as well as their relatives and associates. The practice was frequently carried out in the name of the African National Congress (ANC), and was even interpreted to have been implicitly endorsed by Winnie Mandela[1], then-wife of the imprisoned Nelson Mandela and a senior member of the ANC, although the ANC officially condemned the practice.[2]" (Wikipedia)


Panic

"Light, sweet crude for July delivery rose as high as $135.09 before falling back slightly. By midday in Europe, the contract stood at $134.37 a barrel in electronic trade on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up $1.20 on Wednesday's close of $133.17." (CNN)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

" Israel and Syria have begun indirect peace talks, mediated by Turkey, aimed at reaching a comprehensive peace accord, the three governments announced in a coordinated statement Wednesday. The disclosure was the first public confirmation of the negotiations by all three sides.

The two most senior officials in Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office have been leading the Israeli negotiations and were in Istanbul on Wednesday, talking through Turkish mediators to their Syrian counterparts, Mr. Olmert’s office said." (NY Times)


This is good.

Portuguese Young Leader competition

Dear nomaders,

There is a competition going on in Portugal to select 3 young Portuguese Leaders of the new Portuguese generation.

Pedro Manuel Santos, PAI 03-04 (aka Pita as you probably know him) has been included in the 100 candidates list. Part of process to short-list 20 people is an open online voting system.

If you have a minute go to:

http://www.leaderquest2008.com/pt/lideres.asp

You need to select his name, then click on the Gold medal on the right. IMPORTANT: for the vote to be registered, you need to choose someone for 2nd and 3rd place as well (obviously, someone from the lower positions in the ranking, unless you know someone else from the list).

Happy Voting!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Chelsea FC - Road To Moscow 2008 (Carefree)

Firefly chat now

Give firefly chat now a try by click the orange chat now button at the top of this page. It's quite a nifty application that allow random stranger to chat while browsing on a page. I'm not sure about it's usefulness but it's technology implementation is quite neat.

the british are funny

Making a virtue of necessity, the austerity of Chavagnes' surroundings -- sparsely furnished rooms, stone floors and peeling paint -- provides a fitting backdrop.

"It offers a complete package of character building," said Wil Mobberley, a British-based computer animator who has two sons at the school. "They will look back on it as an adventure." (link)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

What to do on Burma?

Is there any viable alternative to help Burmese cyclone victims right now other than waiting for the military junta to approve visas ?

Friday, May 16, 2008

WTF

"YANGON (Reuters) - Torrential tropical downpours lashed Myanmar's cyclone-hit Irrawaddy delta on Friday as thousands of destitute victims took to roadsides to beg for help to supplement the meager trickle of aid flowing in.

The official death toll has jumped sharply, to 77,738 from a previous figure of 43,328 according to a Myanmar state television report late on Friday.

Independent experts have said the actual number is probably far higher, with British officials saying the total dead and missing could be more than 200,000.

Myanmar state TV put the number missing at 55,917, about double the previous 27,838. It said 19,359 people were injured, up from 1,403.

The new figures were as of May 15, state TV said." (NY Times)

And so far, the bloody government of Burma stalls and refuses foreign emergency workers to enter the country and help coordinate the rescue effort.

inflation in zimbabwe

During the meal, one of my mates was drinking beer — 750ml bottles of Castle Lager (fondly called bombers). He ordered a fifth one, was advised that the price, which when he ordered his first, second, third and fourth ones was 160 million per bottle, had gone up to 340 million per bottle. (link)

YouthActionNet® Global Fellowship Program

YouthActionNet® Global Fellowship Program

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS

Launched in 2001 by the International Youth Foundation, YouthActionNet® strengthens, supports, and celebrates the role of young people in leading positive change in their communities. Each year, 20 exceptional young social entrepreneurs are selected as YouthActionNet® Global Fellows following a competitive application process. The yearlong Fellowship program includes:
Skill-building:
  • A seven-day capacity building retreat in Washington, DC (all expenses paid)
  • Development of a customized learning plan based on individual leadership learning needs. This learning is focused on six dimensions of leadership: personal, visionary, political, collaborative, organizational, and societal.
Networking:
  • Networking with international and national aid agencies, NGOs, and corporate partners.
  • Peer-to-peer networking throughout the year.
Advocacy:
  • Training in communications and media outreach; public relations technical assistance.
  • Access to global advocacy platforms and media coverage.
Global Fellows also have access to potential funding opportunities.
Eligibility
  • Open to all young people, ages 18-29
  • Applicants should be founders of existing projects/organizations with a clear vision for social change, or leading a project within an organization
  • Proficiency in English is required; applications must be submitted in English
  • Applicants must be available to attend the full retreat, November 1-8, 2008, in Washington, DC
To Apply

Completed application forms are due by the May 22nd. Applicants may fill out the form online at www.youthactionnet.org

Thursday, May 15, 2008

It's a bird ! it's a plane! No, it's fusion man !



We have the first jet powered man (Yahoo) Awesome.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

UK Government UFO Files

The files will only be available for free download for 30 days. Go get 'em now.

Another travel tips to the US to keep in mind

"Though citizens of those nations do not need visas to enter the United States for as long as 90 days, their admission is up to the discretion of border agents. There are more than 60 grounds for finding someone inadmissible, including a hunch that the person plans to work or immigrate, or evidence of an overstay, however brief, on an earlier visit.

While those turned away are generally sent home on the next flight, “there are occasional circumstances which require further detention to review their cases,” Ms. De Cima said. And because such “arriving aliens” are not considered to be in the United States at all, even if they are in custody, they have none of the legal rights that even illegal immigrants can claim." (NY Times)

The article talks about visitors from visa waivers country. Usually you get sent home immediately when you are denied entry. But if you are really having a bad day, you can be detained without any clear legal discourse.

US Army vs US Immigration

Not even the army can defeat the red tape of the US immigration process.

The Backstreet Boys sing in Arabic! (sorta)

Wikipedia on Sichuan Earthquake

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Sichuan_earthquake

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Understanding the real value of money

The following are ads from the advertising campaign, "Gazeta Mercantil" on understanding the real value of money:




(More here)

Monday, May 12, 2008

15 longest beaches in the world



(Protraveller)

Will you do it?



There's a service called decodeme that provides a comprehensive report on your genome. You can then lookup your genes against a gene database that contains profile of diseases etc. It charges $995 USD.

My question is, will you do it? Will it be worth it if it's cheaper ?

Burma Cyclone on Flickr



(Flickr)

Foreign Policy chooses Top 100 Intellectuals.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Popular

"Emily again topped the list of most popular baby girl names last year, registering as No. 1 for the 12th straight time. Jacob led among names for boys for the ninth year in a row." (MSNBC)

Name your boy Ahmed instead.

One animal you don't want to piss off



They call this "Puke Flashlight". You can find a gallery of crazy weapons researched and developed in the past 70 years here.

Burma Relief Effort

http://www.google.com/myanmarcyclone/

Friday, May 09, 2008

super cool (free) software

OpenOffice.org is just about the best alternative to Microsoft Office anyone could ever imagine. It's got everything in a productivity suite – a word processor, spreadsheet software, presentation maker, database builder, graphics editor and math tool; and sacrifices nothing in terms of quality (Sun Microsystems supported the latest development version).

OO.o also supports all sorts of file formats and doesn't need much re-learning if you're used to MS Office tool bars. Try it and you'll wonder why anyone ever paid all that money for an MS Office license. The future of software is Open, and free..! IBM learned this. Microsoft needs to as well; FAST. Maybe with Bill getting out of the way this summer, MS will concentrate on products with great potential such as Surface or bidding again for Yahoo, instead of worrying about copyrighting and protecting expensive, unnecessary software.


Celestia is a fully navigable simulation of the whole universe... Think of it as a 3D Google Earth but for everything that's up in the heavens. Google Earth does have an astronomy feature, but doesn't allow you to actually leave Earth's surface. Celestia does; the universe is it's playground. And there are user-developed add-ons (what's best about open source software!).

You can hurtle through space at 1 km/s second or 1 light-year/ second, speed up time to a factor of 1015 or slow it down by the same – and watch as the universe responds to your commands. You can watch the sun rise on Earth or see Jupiter's moons cause little solar eclipses as they revolve around the giant. You can follow comets as they go around the sun or cross inter-stellar space and watch other solar systems in the Milky Way. You can even cross inter-galactic space and visit other galaxies... and can capture screen shots or make short videos of what's on your screen.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Burma damage estimate map document.

Olympic Torch on top of Mt. Everest

Food crisis is set to get worse

"Myanmar's rice export amounted to 18,700 tonnes in the first half (April-September) of the fiscal year 2007-08, picking up to a figure more than the whole year of 2006- 07 which registered 14,500 tonnes, according to a latest central statistical report of the Ministry of National Planning and Economic Development.
The country's rice export had been down from 180,000 tonnes in 2005-06 and from 182,000 tonnes in 2004-05. " (Myanmar)

Burma is a net rice exporter. Their ability to export is severely damaged by the destruction of their coastland areas.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

One Source : estimated 50,000 people are dead

I got hold of a reporting source from an international rescue organization with presence in Burma. It's not authorized but let me quote you one line of the report

"In the area were around 150’000 people living, an estimated 50’000 are dead."

Right now this is just one source, but I am afraid this will come true.

"and he told me that the reason why they say so is that as the sea is coming back, the beaches are getting filled with dead bodies"

from CNN
"CNN has just reported that the Myanmar government has declared the death toll is over 10,000 people and that a storm surge of 7 metres swept up the delta which is mostly low-lying flat land, many people say that it is much worse then the 2005 Asian Tsunami."

Boomtowns

"Consulting firm McKinsey & Co. estimates that the Gulf countries - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - are spending $230 billion annually on new hospitals, airports, railroads and power plants. That is nearly three times the $83 billion the countries were spending five years ago. The region ''is on steroids,'' says Jean-Francois Seznec, a Georgetown University Arab studies professor and consultant." (sltrib.com)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Helping Burma

Before


After


All the coasts have been destroyed. It looks like Tsunami 2004 map.

The number of victims of the cyclone tragedy keeps climbing up each day. Right now they are estimating 20,000 people have been killed.

Lend a hand:

International Rescue Committee
Oxfam

'Guarantor of truth'

"Nobel Peace Prize winner and international symbol of freedom Nelson Mandela is flagged on U.S. terrorist watch lists and needs special permission to visit the USA. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls the situation "embarrassing," and some members of Congress vow to fix it."(USA Today)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The last lecture

Safe Fugu

"Thanks to advances in fugu research and farming, Japanese fish farmers are now mass-producing fugu as harmless as goldfish. Most important, they have taken the poison out of fugu’s liver, considered both its most delicious and potentially most lethal part, one whose consumption has left countless Japanese dead over the centuries and whose sale remains illegal in the country." (NY Times)

Now it's just like any other Sushi. I'm not sure if it's as "attractive" with its new poison-free alternative.