Thursday, July 31, 2008
Biggest profit ever and falling shares; I don't get it. Market is stupid.
One can argue that the fact Obama's speech can be so inspiring is due to pot use in his youth - maybe JFK is a pothead as well.
11 of the 16 medals belong to the men's field hockey team. Eight of the 11 are gold. The last medal (a gold) came in Moscow in 1980. Back then, Hockey was the national sport. Now, it's funding has been cut because of poor performance. (go figure!) Indian sport has fallen really hard. This year, even the hockey team couldn't qualify for the games.
Check Foreign Policy for other bad Olympians.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
(CNN) -- The U.S. should stop arresting responsible marijuana users, Rep. Barney Frank said Wednesday, announcing a proposal to end federal penalties for Americans carrying fewer than 100 grams, almost a quarter-pound, of the substance.
Rep. Barney Frank's bill would radically curb federal penalties for personal marijuana use.
Current laws targeting marijuana users place undue burdens on law enforcement resources, punish ill Americans whose doctors have prescribed the substance and unfairly affect African-Americans, said Frank, flanked by legislators and representatives from advocacy groups.
"The vast amount of human activity ought to be none of the government's business," Frank said on Capitol Hill. "I don't think it is the government's business to tell you how to spend your leisure time."The Massachusetts Democrat and his supporters emphasized that only the use -- and not the abuse -- of marijuana would be decriminalized if the resolution resulted in legislation.
I sincerely hope this passes; it's a smart law for America and one of the most win-win in every way. Driving to school, not eight blocks from my house there is a pretty bad ghetto where people got shot recently and I've seen crack and cash change hands multiple times with my own eyes in daylight. But nothing gets done about that, probably becau-se the police are busy busting up underage drinkers and small-time pot users.
I wonder if Obama will vote for this? My guess is no. But I'm sure Bernie Sanders will!
See the full story here.
The ban would have been bad news on many fronts; luckily by a super-slim margin (6 votes to 7) the court decided not to allow the ban.
Resolving the weird, semi-pointless situation Turkey has gotten itself into will still be a big issue, but the worst-case scenario has temporarily passed.
But the doctor who inspected him was a general practitioner and not a specialist, Kamaruddin Ahmad, the hospital's medical director said.
"A sodomy check-up must be by a specialist, not a medical officer," Kamaruddin told reporters. "He is not qualified to make any conclusions."" (Reuters)
Anwar Ibrahim, former no 2. in Malaysia was recently accused of sodomy of another dude (He was jailed 6 years the last time on this fucking bogus charges - after he challenged his former mentor, Mahatir Mohammed).
His party won a big chunk in an election in Malaysia earlier this year and he is making a political comeback. Like a clock, the Malaysian government arrested him for sodomy, again.
So his "victim" came to the hospital and had a doctor examined him. The doctor said, nope, there's no evidence of a crime has been committed. And hilarity as stated above ensued.
The seven year bitter negotiation on global trade has reached its retarded flaming conclusion, NO DEAL.
"AFTER nine days, Pascal Lamy’s gamble has failed. On Tuesday July 29th talks on the Doha round of global trade negotiations broke up in Geneva without agreement. The director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will find little consolation in the fact that ministers kept talking for so long, or that they ultimately stumbled over an apparently small detail of new rules on agricultural trade. Mr Lamy says that the WTO’s 153 members will have to wait “for the dust to settle” before deciding what to do next: a formal meeting of the WTO’s trade-negotiating committee is due on Wednesday. But the chances of completing the round this year, as Mr Lamy had hoped, now look negligible. The chances of completing it at all do not look good." (Economist)
The issue that broke the camel back is again about agricultural subsidies and local market protection. The developing countries want agricultural subsidies in rich countries to be cut or removed and the developed countries demand freer access on farm produce that compete with developing countries mostly inefficient farm production.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
"Chahine directed his first film, Baba Amin, in 1950, when Egypt was still a British colony. He second, Son of the Nile (1951), was invited to compete in Cannes, and over the following three decades he averaged more than a film a year, ranging from musicals and comedies to neorealist dramas, historical epics, self-portraits and a documentary. Chahine discovered Omar Sharif in a Cairo cafe, and gave him his first acting role in Blazing Sky (1953), as a peasant farm engineer fighting the injustices of a feudal landlord. Jamila, the Algerian (1958) adapted Jacques Vergès' book about the Algerian resistance fighter Djamila Bouhired, shortly after her torture and trial by the French."
For those financial wizards here, can you actually do that - restating your write down just 10 days after quarterly earning report? Did they just find another a bunch of billion dollars assets to write down in 10 days, without warning?
Monday, July 28, 2008
1. University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.
2. University of Mississippi, University, Miss.
3. Penn State University, University Park, Pa.
4. West Virginia University, Morgantown, W.Va.
5. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio.
6. Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, Va.
7. University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.
8. University of Texas, Austin, Texas.
9. University of California-Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, Calif.
10. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Fla.
Madison, what happened to you ?
“If the government increases the price of fuel any more, my business will collapse totally,” said the boat captain, Sinar, who like many Indonesians uses only one name.
From Mexico to India to China, governments fearful of inflation and street protests are heavily subsidizing energy prices, particularly for diesel fuel. But the subsidies — estimated at $40 billion this year in China alone — are also removing much of the incentive to conserve fuel.
The oil company BP, known for thorough statistical analysis of energy markets, estimates that countries with subsidies accounted for 96 percent of the world’s increase in oil use last year — growth that has helped drive prices to record levels." (NY Times)
Or we can simply attribute them to growing prosperity of developing economies and their crazy appetite for energy.
and " Sinar, who like many Indonesians uses only one name" - WTF, you journalist people tell me whether you have a line in your element of style guidance to always write "xxxx, who like many Indonesians uses only one name". There are 17 million Google hits on that sentence because it shows up every time someone from Indonesia was quoted in an article.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Maybe a ski bum can finally unify Quantum Theory and General Relativity to really make it the theory of everything (and kicking String Theory in the butt)
This is the wikipedia link about "An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything". I don't understand a damn thing about it, but some of you might want to lay it out in lay terms.
"At least 38 people have been killed and more than 100 wounded after a series of explosions struck the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, officials have said.
Seventeen blasts within an hour hit residential areas, crowded markets, a train station and a bus in Gujarat state's commercial capital, they added." (BBC)
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
5:08 p.m: The huge amount of people hoping to gain entry to the Fan Mile is causing big hold-ups. It is currently taking around half an hour to gain entry to the area." (spiegel)
The magazine has a live ticker following the countdown the a speech by "The One" in Berlin, Germany.
It strips me of all confidence in writing for the magazine. No exaggeration. i've got a review to write this morning and i really don't feel like doing it, for fear that some nuance is going to be removed from the final line, the pay-off, and i'm going to have another weekend ruined for me.
I've been writing for The Times for 15 years and i have never asked this before - i have never asked it of anyone i have written for - but I must insist, from now on, that i am sent a proof of every review i do, in pdf format, so i can check it for fuck-ups. and i must be sent it in good time in case changes are needed. It is the only way i can carry on in the job.
And, just out of interest, I'd like whoever made that change to email me and tell me why. Tell me the exact reasoning which led you to remove that word from my copy." (Guardian)
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
"Since February Kosovo has been trying to consolidate its independence – build up its governance structures and get its foot in the door to international and regional institutions like the EU, NATO, World Bank and IMF. But its most important effort has been at attempting to secure recognition of its independence from the community of sovereign states – a legal and diplomatic requirement for legitimizing a country’s independence. To date, Kosovo’s efforts have lagged. Only 43 countries have formally recognized Kosovo’s independence, and progress has stalled. Whilst amongst the 43 are big names like the UK, US, Japan and several European neighbors, it is widely perceived to be an insufficient number: a critical mass of support has yet to be achieved.
But all that was overshadowed last night as for the first time in history Miss Kosovo took her place amongst the 81 finalists of the Miss Universe pageant watched by a television audience of 1 billion. Now that’s international legitimacy if ever there was! Sandwiched between Miss Korea and Miss Malaysia, Zana Krasniqi was a 5’7” green-eyed beauty whose star really shone through.
Miss Kosovo was an instant crowd favorite, and the judges agreed – putting her through to the Top 10 finalists – a fantastic feat for a first-time participating country and visibly nervous contestant. If further proof was required that Kosovo had indeed come out from behind Serbia’s shadow, Miss Kosovo easily trounced all her cross-Balkan rivals including Miss Serbia. " (Century Foundation)
- Slow News Day -
The fact above is striking. Head of state just don't drive their guests around. This time, the King himself drove the car. He is probably glad to have a hang out buddy with similar age who's most likely to be the next President of the United States.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
"Zimbabwe's troubled central bank introduced $100 billion banknotes Saturday in a desperate bid to ease the recurrent cash shortages plaguing the inflation-ravaged economy.
The bills officially come into circulation Monday, although they were on the foreign currency dealers market Saturday.
As high as they are, though, the bills still aren't enough to buy a loaf of bread. They can buy only four oranges." (CNN)
"A top aide to Gordon Brown has been a suspected victim of a “honeytrap” operation by Chinese intelligence agents.
The aide, a senior Downing Street adviser who was with the prime minister on a trip to China earlier this year, had his BlackBerry phone stolen after being picked up by a Chinese woman who had approached him in a Shanghai hotel disco.
The aide agreed to return to his hotel with the woman. He reported the BlackBerry missing the next morning.
The aide, whose identity is known to The Sunday Times, immediately reported the theft to the prime minister’s Special Branch protection team and was informally reprimanded." (Timesonline)
Monday, July 21, 2008
Imagine no garbage cans. Imagine recycling everything that comes through your door. It's not a pipe dream. With a new generation of zero-waste approaches, cities are building systems where everything you buy is designed to be recycled, composted, or disassembled and reused. Instead of being thrown away, materials flow again and again through closed loops. This process saves huge amounts of resources and energy, reduces toxics and creates jobs. So next time you're taking out the trash, imagine what the world would look like without it. Imagine no garbage cans.
Imagine no warning labels. Imagine bringing nothing into your home that isn't safe for you, your children or your pets. It's not a pipe dream. With ideas like non-toxic production and green chemistry we could eliminate the use of chemicals now feared to cause cancer, birth defects and reproductive problems, and remove them from our homes and ecosystems. Scientists have already developed safe non-toxic alternatives for hundreds of once questionable products, from kitchen cleaners to baby toys. So the next time you go to the market, imagine not needing to read the fine print. Imagine no warning labels.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
WASHINGTON—A panel of top business leaders testified before Congress about the worsening recession Monday, demanding the government provide Americans with a new irresponsible and largely illusory economic bubble in which to invest.
"What America needs right now is not more talk and long-term strategy, but a concrete way to create more imaginary wealth in the very immediate future," said Thomas Jenkins, CFO of the Boston-area Jenkins Financial Group, a bubble-based investment firm. "We are in a crisis, and that crisis demands an unviable short-term solution."
Friday, July 18, 2008
"The most recent comprehensive study on the emotional state of those with kids shows us that the term “bundle of joy” may not be the most accurate way to describe our offspring. “Parents experience lower levels of emotional well-being, less frequent positive emotions and more frequent negative emotions than their childless peers,” says Florida State University’s Robin Simon, a sociology professor who’s conducted several recent parenting studies, the most thorough of which came out in 2005 and looked at data gathered from 13,000 Americans by the National Survey of Families and Households." (Newsweek)
On Thursday, Merrill Lynch announced a loss of $4.8 billion, surprising even the most pessimistic analysts. The loss was largely caused by another $9.7 billion in write-downs in mortgage investments. Merrill was forced to raise capital by selling assets like its 20 percent stake in Bloomberg, the financial data service mostly owned by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York.
Is this the bottom? The banks have been performing writedowns for the past 9 months now. It has to end somehow.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Scour is paying you for your searches, for voting on search results and for commenting on search results. And yes, if you spread the word, you'll get paid for that too... - so please follow my link ;-)
They're trying to create more relevant search results by having users vote/comment on the search results they've received.
Really curious to see if it will at some point become normal that you do get paid for searching stuff online (there's really no reason why the search engine / parking programs / ISPs / toolbar programmers should get to keep the the money advertisers pay while the person searching for something doesn't get a share of that).
There are a lot of good news happening in terms of deescalating the tension in the middle east (from news in Iraq, the Israel-Hezbollah swap, US sending a diplomat to Iran talks) - but there's this persistent thought that there's still a chance of an Iran related war before the end of the year (Read "All systems go for war")
I don't think there's a chance in hell for a new conflict (which is great) but predicting the future is never my forte.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
"Members of Congress, nuns, war heroes and other 'suspicious characters,' with names like Robert Johnson and Gary Smith, have become trapped in the Kafkaesque clutches of this list, with little hope of escape," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "Congress needs to fix it, the Terrorist Screening Center needs to fix it, or the next president needs to fix it, but it has to be done soon."" (ACLU)
They just removed "Nelson Mandela" a short while ago from the terrorist watch list.
Announcing the request, the prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said that Mr. Bashir “masterminded and implemented” a plan to destroy three main ethnic groups in Darfur, the Fur, Masalit and Zaghawa. Using government soldiers and Arab militias, the president “specifically and purposefully targeted civilians” belonging to these groups, killing 35,000 people “outright” in attacks on towns and villages." (NY Times)
I wholeheartedly agree with the verdict but I'm a deep skeptic whether this charge right now will be make any difference or not make things even worse.
Olive Riley, of Woy Woy on NSW's central coast, died in a nursing home just after 6am yesterday.
She will be mourned by family and an international readership in the thousands.
"It was mind blowing to her," her great grandson Darren Stone, of Brisbane, told AAP last night.
"She had people communicating with her from as far away as Russia and America on a continual basis, not just once in a while."
Full Story here.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
"Federal regulators seized IndyMac Bancorp on Friday evening, marking one of the largest bank failures in American history.
The bank, once part of the Countrywide Financial Corporation, is the first major bank to shut its doors since the mortgage crisis erupted more than a year ago. (IndyMac is not related to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the big mortgage finance companies that alarmed the stock market this week.)"
"It appears the board of directors at Anheuser-Busch will soon agree to a buyout offer from a Belgian brewer." (cnn) - InBev is that Belgian brewer.
If this doesn't justify an invasion to Belgium, I don't what is.
Friday, July 11, 2008
Scientific evidence has long suggested that moderate drinking offers some protection against heart disease, certain types of stroke and some forms of cancer.
But new research shows that stopping drinking -- including at moderate levels -- may lead to health problems including depression and a reduced capacity of the brain to produce new neurons, a process called neurogenesis." (ScienceDaily)
And remember, quitter never wins.
The citizens of these highest beer-consumption-per-capita countries got it right.
"Canine cuisine is being sent to the doghouse during next month’s Beijing Olympic Games.
Dog meat has been struck from the menus of officially designated Olympic restaurants, and Beijing tourism officials are telling other outlets to discourage consumers from ordering dishes made from dogs, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Friday." (MSNBC)
In the outset, it looks like the right thing to do, but in practicality, I don't think it will have much effect on the situation on the ground.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I'm starting to get the swing of this press thing. The elevator pitch is evolving and I think I'm starting to look legit.
The welcome dinner was over the top and delectable; fried calamari in a cashew sauce juxtaposed with potato wedges, barbaque chicken rocking the cradle of the lamb's shoulder, and Heineken that was free until right before I grabbed one.
All of this to the background of a Portuguese BA band rocking a marriage of traditional and funk, with lots of yelling.
Almost as sweet as the John Denver and Sinatra karaoke erupting out of the bar right now.
That press party is gearing up over by the pool and my camera cable has allegedly landed into the area code, so insha'Allah Mix should be looking like a vet in about 12 hours.
This should be a solid 3 days of musica. See you tomorrow, time to get drunk.
I'm sipping coffee and sitting outside the Media Center and Press Conference rooms right now, where I just got done trying to give a fuck about the 1st media briefing. So far the OC has been extremely nice and the press corps has a vaguely @-conference-reunion feel to it, to which I feel like the uninitiated newbie clawing up the corner as every else rattles off a dance.
My first rookie mistake was not bringing my camera cable for instant uploads as I update you on the festivities going down, but rest assured I'm taking full advantage of the gratis cross-country flight, accommodation, and 2 meals per day throughout the event.
I'll be blogging regularly as per my agreement with the Sarawak Tourism organization to keep you updated on the goings on of this temporary microcosm of utter Glory. There are press conferences I and each day's performers are allegedly attending every morning, so take a look at the lineup for tomorrow (bios) and feel free to suggest any interview questions.
I'll try to take it seriously, hopefully with a yellow cup in hand. So far, so, so good.
PS - 15 minutes after take-off I was invited to my 1st post-performance party. I already chipped in money, so I guess I'm locked into attending. I wonder if the nights here end similarly to the way we're accustomed to?
PPS - nomadlife's favorite hookah is here.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
This missile shield receives 80% opposition in Czech population.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Pretty much every single US AIESEC'er I've met has been awesome, smart and passionate and internationalist in the same way you experience with members from anywhere else in the world.
But almost all of them have had the same experiences of frustration, dissapointment and powerlessness regarding "the situation" back home.
So it seems like this email has been a long, long time in the making. Comments?
6. In Connorsville, Wisconsin, it is illegal for a man to shoot off a gun when his female partner is having an orgasm.
7. In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, it is illegal to have sex with a truck driver inside a toll booth.
8. Having sexual relations with a porcupine is illegal in Florida.
9. It is illegal in Utah to marry your first cousin before the age of 65.
10. Sex with animals is perfectly legal for men in Washington state, as long as the animal weighs less than 40 pounds." (E-College Times)
Go for the link for the top 5.
Monday, July 07, 2008
"Last weekend, Kent Couch settled down in his lawn chair with some snacks — and a parachute. Attached to his lawn chair were 105 large helium balloons.
With instruments to measure his altitude and speed, a global positioning system device in his pocket, and about four plastic bags holding five gallons of water each to act as ballast — he could turn a spigot, release water and rise — Couch headed into the Oregon sky.
Nearly nine hours later, the 47-year-old gas station owner came back to earth in a farmer's field near Union, short of Idaho but about 193 miles from home." (CBS News)
Sunday, July 06, 2008
The female as a fixer syndrome.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
The damning unpublished assessment is based on the most detailed analysis of the crisis so far, carried out by an internationally-respected economist at global financial body.
The figure emphatically contradicts the US government's claims that plant-derived fuels contribute less than 3% to food-price rises. It will add to pressure on governments in Washington and across Europe, which have turned to plant-derived fuels to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and reduce their dependence on imported oil.
Senior development sources believe the report, completed in April, has not been published to avoid embarrassing President George Bush.
"It would put the World Bank in a political hot-spot with the White House," said one yesterday." (Guardian)
Friday, July 04, 2008
The Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean, between Mozambique and Madagascar, are a small nation of sparkling blue lagoons and picture-postcard beaches. But the country is politically unstable and a report published today says it is the world's most vulnerable country to the future impacts of global warming such as increased storms, rising sea levels and agricultural failure.
At the other end of the scale, Canada is the best place to move to if you want to be a climate change survivor in the decades ahead (although Britain is also a good place to be as a warming atmosphere takes hold).
The best-to-worst rankings are revealed in the first-ever climate change vulnerability index, produced by Maplecroft, a British consultancy which specialises in the mapping of risk. Its study, The Climate Change Risk Report, looks in great detail at global warming risks in 168 countries.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
You can download the documentary here (It's piracy and you get a bad karma if you do it).
- El Bulli, Roses, Catalonia, Spain (Best in Europe)
- The Fat Duck, Bray-on-Thames, UK
- Pierre Gagnaire, Paris, France
- Mugaritz, San Sebastián, Spain (Chef's Choice)
- The French Laundry, California, USA (Best in the Americas)
- per se, New York, USA
- Bras, Laguiole, France
- Arzak, San Sebastián, Spain
- Tetsuya's, Sydney, Australia (Best in Australasia)
- Noma, Copenhagen, Denmark
- L'Astrance, Paris, France
- Gambero Rosso, San Vincenzo, Italy
- Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, London, UK
- L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Paris, France
- Restaurant Le Louis XV, Monaco
- St John, London, UK (Highest Climber)
- Jean-Georges, New York, USA
- Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, Paris, France
- Hakkasan, London, UK
- Le Bernardin, New York, USA
- *Alinea, Chicago, USA" (wikipedia)
ps: I haven't been to any either.
The focus is on 8 areas - going whole hog on Solar power, improving energy efficiency by 20% by 2017, creating sustainable cities, securing water resources, protecting agriculture, increasing forest cover to 33%, preserving the Himalayan ecosystem and improving strategic knowledge on climate change.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
“I gave myself 50 worms, and I felt it,” he recounted. “I had stomach pains and diarrhea. But with 10 worms, we’ve ascertained a dose that does not cause symptoms. The patients are happy. They’ve kept their worms, and I get an e-mail a day from people all over the world who want to be infected.”" (NY Times)