Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year in Review 2008



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

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

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

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bringing out the big guns

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

Ringing Sadat

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legend of Chun-Li



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

Paper Planes - M.I.A

The Thai Way

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

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


Monday, December 29, 2008

Best African Music of 2008

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

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


Vaporware of 2008 by Wired

A purely defensive move

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

Sunday, December 28, 2008

30 years of China Economic Overdrive



A photo album from Foreign Policy)

Path to Peace

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

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

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


Open Letter to Israel and Hamas

Dear Bros,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck boys and do better in the new year.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy New Year !

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

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

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

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

(artillery firing at night from Flickr)

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

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dream Mansion



Find more photos here

(via Aibek)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Interview with China's $200 billion dollars manager

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

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

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

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

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

Best of the best

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

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

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



(NY Times)

Books to scare the bejesus out of you


Get the list here.

It's hard to say goodbye



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

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

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

Où puis-je prendre

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

Friday, December 19, 2008

The best in journalism in 2008


Mumbai Effect

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

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




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


Anarchy in Greece - The Pictures

more pictures here

Energy Shortage - a blog

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


oldest modern novel

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

Economist

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Billion Dollars Fraud


Second Place, a Russian company:

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

First Place, an ex American Regulator:

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

Pirates vs The World

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


(Admiral Zheng He)

And guess who's participating? China

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

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

2008 in ideas - Eating Kangaroos

From Skippy



and his friend


to yummy!




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

Read more of other ideas here.


100 Terrific Mindhacks to Make the Most of Your Brain



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

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

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

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

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


Give her a Pulitzer

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

21 ways to find a man by superluli


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Time Person of the Year 2008

It's a surprise!


Screw Happiness, it's time to get depressed

The Economist's Swimming Naked Award

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

Turning Japanese



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

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


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

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

and now you can play the game!

http://www.sockandawe.com/

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

Update:


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

Monday, December 15, 2008




(scripting.com)

This is bizarre.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

She


Miss Russia won Miss World 2008.

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

Capital Punishment

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

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

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

"Che" the movie

The review is in.

It's four hours long.

The mom song sung to the William Tell Overture

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

But it's hilarious...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Too late for me but




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

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

Go Titan!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why oil prices fell?

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

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tom's World Airport Review

Regarding Douala airpot

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

Read more about  these delightful and horrifying world airports.

My 2 cents follows.

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

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

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Caddyshack

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

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

"You're joking," Dave scoffs.

"No, really, he's here."

read on!

Karma and consequences

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

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

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

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

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

A crash as historic as the end of communism

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

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


The rest of the article is definitely worth reading.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Old media shake out

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

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

Sunday, December 07, 2008


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

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

Friday, December 05, 2008

Calling All Pakistanis - Friedman

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

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

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

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Media's role in the recent Mumbai events

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

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

things you find in the Gobi desert

World's oldest marijuana stash!

Operation Trident, 1971.

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

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

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

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