Saturday, November 29, 2008

monda├┐ 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)

Wrecked Exotics

This is a blog dedicated to track all accidents involving realll really expensive cars.

Projections

These are the original projection from the Election Drinking Game.

1. Indiana (too close to call)
2. Georgia. (wrong)
3. Florida. (right)
4. Colorado. (right)
5. Missouri. (too close to call)
6. North Carolina. (too close to call)
7. Ohio. (right)
8. Virginia. (right)
9. Iowa  (right)

The record so far is 5 right, one wrong and 3 too close to call. So we are over 50% accuracy and better than random chances. He..he.




The comment is working again. It didn't work all night.
That was an awesome speech. And look at those Obama and Biden's families. Wow. I'll never forget this.

Anyway, have a good celebration tonight. It's 7:30 am in Cairo right now so time to catch up on sleep.
"Mr Obama survived a myriad of onslaughts, notably on his lack of experience and on his elitist and “celebrity” status. But he ran a calm and disciplined campaign, and most importantly managed to assure voters that he would be a safer leader in a time of financial and economic anxieties. Mr McCain, in contrast, fumbled when he mishandled his response to the economic turmoil of the past few weeks. Mr Obama also succeeded in persuading young people and black people to vote. Along with those sceptical working-class whites, and the traditional Democratic bases on the east and west coasts, Mr Obama constructed a comfortable winning coalition.

America has not shifted greatly to the left. Mr Obama, especially with his big Democratic majority in Congress, will have to manage expectations carefully. Democrats will want big pushes to the left. But Mr Obama knows that Bill Clinton lost his congressional majority after two years because he overreached in that direction.

But all that is to come. On Tuesday night celebrations were expected in Chicago, and elsewhere, as America prepared to welcome the first black president-elect of a country born with the ugly birthmark of slavery. It is a remarkable, and historic, achievement."
(The Economist)

McCain concession

somehow, as soon as he lost, he snapped back into being honorable.

Yes, we can



CNN calls Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th President of the United States.


President Elect Obama

Congratulation America. You pick a great one this time.

Man, this is history. 

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."  (Dr. Martin Luther King)

Fox calls for Virginia

ha..ha..ha

Meanwhile in the White House

Bush: 'Can I Stop Being President Now?'
BBC is full of grumpy commentators today and CNN is full of commercial. Crap.

Obama Wins

He has 202 electoral votes now. He only needs to win California, Oregon and Washington State to reach 275.

But that's no fun. Let's wait when Florida, Colorado and Virginia fall in to line.

Now it's not about if, it's about how big is the landslide.

Indiana is down the line

McCain is ahead by a fraction of a percent.

Iowa falls in line for Obama

McCain takes Utah
FiveThirtyEight.com calls it now, El Presidente Obama.

GEORGIA


DSCN0998
Originally uploaded by jlovegren
one wrong prediction so far, but i don't think we'll end up drunk.

Steal !

New Mexico goes to Obama (Fox and MSNBC projects)

W OOHIOO !

CNN, MSNBC and FOX project OHIO for OBAMA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Well, the commercial is over and there was no projection. Wolfie lied.

The first steal?

CNN promises BIG PROJECTIONS just about now. Oh wolfie, so much thrill.
CNN projects West Virginia for McCain.
John Bolton is on BBC. He's a total ass.

So for it's normal

No red state being stolen yet.


Georgia goes to McCain (Fox News and MSNBC call it). I'm one beer down.
All maps thanks to New York Times.

It's going to be an early night



Florida is firming up for Obama. And check that West Virginia, Ohio and PA map.
BBC put 103 electoral votes for Obama and 49 for McCain.
CNN International is 50% commercial and 50% wolf blitzer. It's terrible.
CNN projects PA for Obama. Yay.

New Hampshire goes to Obama as well.

There is no surprises so far in terms of actual results. 
Indiana race is tight. It looks like Florida is going to Obama strongly (55 to 43 with 14% counted)

Kentucky goes to McCain, Vermont goes to Obama.


So far

Obama is up in Florida by 10%, by 15% in New Hampshire, 

McCain is up a couple of percent in Indiana but it's still early.

Sites to follow tonight : http://talkingpointsmemo.com, fivethirtyeight.com and NY Times (live blogging here)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

In 3 hours time

Indiana polls is going to close at 6PM EST. If Obama wins that state, it's an early night. Starts the party.



Christmas/New Year's -- Cairo

hi, all,

i'm looking into a trip to cairo from around dec 25 to around jan 1/2. right now i have no-one to travel with, as my friends/acquaintances are all going off to different locales for the holidays (india, chile, lebanon...)

would any nomads be up for travelling around egypt for a week, on the cheap? or are there nomads in cairo/alexandria who will be around for that week and up for some local adventures? or do you know anyone else looking for a travel buddy?

please do let me know. sim pho nat ic at gmail dot com.

cheers!
simran

<http://simran.nomadlife.org>

Election Drinking Game



Make your prediction down to the electorate vote and chug a can/glass of your least favorite beverages for every single missed prediction. David, Jesse and my predictions are here. If Obama loses, all of us will get alcohol poisoning. 

Revolution

90,000 people showed up last night in Manassas, VA .

"In 1861, the First Battle of Manassas – also widely known as the First Battle of Bull Run – the first major land battle of the American Civil War, was fought near here." (Wikipedia)



Finally the original sin will be redeemed. 

US Election System for Newbie

Today you will hear a lot the term electoral votes and popular vote.

Popular vote simply indicates the total votes a candidate gets. So whoever gets more vote from all the states combined wins it.

Winning a popular vote won't make you a President. Just ask Al Gore in 2000 where he won the popular vote and lost the electoral vote.

The electoral vote works like this (simplified - there are some arcane rules and explanation for it). All 50 states in the US is allocated a number of electoral vote. Some states have more electoral votes than the others. California for example has 55. Alaska has 3.

To win the electoral vote for each state, you must win the majority votes in the state. There are total 538 electoral votes in total to be won. You must win at least 270 to become the President of the United States.

Now some states are reliably Republican (like Alabama) and reliably Democrats (like California); so usually the states that changes sides gets most of the attention in every single election.

The US election campaigns have developed the most sophisticated machinery and techniques to poll people to figure out who they are voting for, where they live, etc.  Obama will win this election because he has just created a massive on the ground presence with volunteers (just like AIESEC Offices - in more location and varied volunteers) that call people houses, knock on doors presenting Obama's case, printing flyers, reminding people to get out to vote, etc. He did this in one year and is changing the way a US Presidential campaign should be run.

By the end of today, we will see the first black President of the United States, who with his VP, teaches US constitutional law in their part time job and who are both US Senators.

The dude wrote two best seller books, deliver speeches like nobody's business and has the temperament of a Zen master; calm and fused with first class intelect. That's something to celebrate about.

I'm not sure about his level of Indonesian language now but I'll give him a pass on that.

Karl Rove Map



Karl Rove is the architect of GWB election and reelection in 2000 and 2004. He's an evil genius in bringing an incurious president to power but he screwed up anything else.

The map indicates that Obama will win 338 electoral map and McCain 538.

UPDATE (Tom G) - Cease panicked meltdown, people. Put the shadows back into the boxes. Theres a pretty crucial typo in the post - the map actually shows Obama winning 338 and McCain getting 200. See this story in the Washington Post.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Ode to the Voters...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfvTjFZBcVI

Sorry I couldn't embed the video, youtube blocked at work...

edited:dody

Incoming Landslide

I'll be going all political mode tomorrow to cover the election.

Predictions:

He'll win all Kerry States and takes:

1. Indiana.
2. Georgia.
3. Florida.
4. Colorado.
5. Missouri. 
6. North Carolina.
7. Ohio.
8. Virginia.
9. Iowa (I forgot Iowa went to GWB in 2004)




And I'll chug a can of cheap ass terrible beer for every single missed prediction.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Life in Rain

Time Person of the Year

Whoever wins this election will win Time Person of the Year accord. Why? because it sells the magazine.

Too Good



This is hilarious. Two pranksters called Governor Palin campaign and pretended to be French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Where to find cool new music

Ever wonder where you can find out about the next cool music?



Well, KCRW is a radio station in Santa Monica, CA and seeks out eclectic gems in the music world. Up-coming no names and mainstream favorites are featured in this regular Tuned In session (you can subscribe to this group as well in the YouTube side bar section).