Saturday, February 28, 2009

Stupid British Parents



"A children's show host who was born with one hand is facing criticism from parents over her disability.

BBC spokeswoman Katya Mira said the corporation has received at least 25 "official" complaints recently about Cerrie Burnell, new host of two shows on the BBC-run CBeebies television network, which is aimed at children younger than 6." (cnn)'

More on this from BBC as well ("How do you explain a missing hand to a child?")

I mean what could possibly the reason of complaining about a host with disability?

George Mason University

I know someone here in Cairo who just got offered a post graduate political science slot in George Mason University. Anybody has any opinion about their post graduate courses?

The university came to fame after they got into the Final Four a couple of years ago and for selecting a cross dresser as a home coming queen a couple of weeks back. Sounds like a cool school to me.

Friday, February 27, 2009

The highest prevalence of HIV infection in Western/Central Europe is

...drum roll...Switzerland..

0.6

It beats Spain, Portugal, Italy and France.


Cancel Spring Break



"The U.S. government says Mexico's bloody drug war is a growing threat to tourists. Now, as college students start planning their spring breaks, the U.S. State Department has a new warning about traveling to Mexico." (MSNBC)

Travel to Colombia, Argentina, Peru and Brazil instead.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

scylla

Mexican authorities have long complained that American gun dealers are arming the cartels. This case is the most prominent prosecution of an American gun dealer since the United States promised Mexico two years ago it would clamp down on the smuggling of weapons across the border. It also offers a rare glimpse of how weapons delivered to American gun dealers are being moved into Mexico and wielded in horrific crimes. (link)

it is very ironic. US sends guns to Mexico. Mexico sends cocaine to US. the guns kill people and weaken the rule of law in Mexico, the cocaine makes people in the US feel sexy and have bad luck.

:)



"UK's Royal Bank of Scotland reports $34 billion loss for 2008 -- the worst performance in British corporate history."

2008 wasn't a good year, was it?

How to compete with Starbucks

"Servers are topless at the Grand View Topless Coffee Shop, which opened its doors Monday on a busy road in Vassalboro. A sign outside says, "Over 18 only." Another says, "No cameras, no touching, cash only."" (MSNBC)

Chalk this up for American Innovation and Ingenuity!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Scary Smart



The global financial system is full of scary smart people - educated by the best schools and got paid among the highest of any profession.

And yet more and more revelation about how things ran under just reveal a simple minded and primitive mob behaviour (or lemming) that makes everybody jump off the cliff.

This is probably the negative side of to the idea of "the wisdom of market" or sometimes called "crowd intelligence"; you can call it "Crowd Stupidity". 

It is indeed easier to be part of the crowd because you will not be singled out - and it's a reassuring thing to be agreeable to so many people. I mean, 100,000 Harvard graduates can't be wrong, right?  So no one is looking and very few pay heeds that we are heading for a steep cliff. And now here we are, learning to grow wings while falling fast to a deep canyon.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A page turner!

Lithuania Presidential Order for Merit


the Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania
I know somebody just got this last week from the President. Pretty cool. Wikipedia has more.

D.U.M.B F.U.C.K.S

Wired magazine is covering the single formula that everybody in the global mortgage bond market went gaga and used (or abused) that bring down the global capital market.

The guy that wrote the formula in 2000 said below in 2005
""The most dangerous part," Mr. Li himself says of the model, "is when people believe everything coming out of it." Investors who put too much trust in it or don't understand all its subtleties may think they've eliminated their risks when they haven't." (NakedShorts)


"In finance, you can never reduce risk outright; you can only try to set up a market in which people who don't want risk sell it to those who do. But in the CDO market, people used the Gaussian copula model to convince themselves they didn't have any risk at all, when in fact they just didn't have any risk 99 percent of the time. The other 1 percent of the time they blew up. Those explosions may have been rare, but they could destroy all previous gains, and then some."

It's worse than it appears. Damn.

IUD?

If you have no clue about Mirena IUD, this is a good blog post to explain it.

This is how you deliver an acceptance speech



I'm telling you, this dude deserves an Oscar instead of Sean Penn.

If you get trouble with the law

and live in Chicago area, don't forget a free assistance is available to you at Chicago Legal Clinic. We just launched their new shiny site yesterday.

But if you are going to get incarcerated, do it in Greece

"A massive manhunt is under way in Greece after two criminals escaped from a top security prison by helicopter - for the second time in three years. " (BBC)


Bring out the pitchfork


"The government’s boldest rescue to date, its $150 billion commitment for the insurance giant American International Group, is foundering. A.I.G. indicated on Monday it was now negotiating for tens of billions of dollars in additional assistance as losses have mounted." (NY Times)

So after $150 BILLION rescue, it still needs more money. This is the biggest taxpayer swindle in history. To put that in perspective, that's BIGGER than the GDP of Peru ($109 billion) - without the Machu Picchu and the sinfully delicious Tamales.

Now you see them..


Now you don't..




"The US was secretly flying unmanned drones from the Shamsi airbase in Pakistan's southwestern province of Baluchistan as early as 2006, according to an image of the base from Google Earth.

The image — that is no longer on the site but which was obtained by The News, Pakistan's English language daily newspaper — shows what appear to be three Predator drones outside a hangar at the end of the runway. The Times also obtained a copy of the image, whose co-ordinates confirm that it is the Shamsi airfield, also known as Bandari, about 200 miles southwest of the Pakistani city of Quetta." (Times Online)

Monday, February 23, 2009

http://www.lifegoesonintehran.com/
To win in Afghanistan and stabilizing Pakistan, stop the stupid War on Drugs. Check out http://www.poppyformedicine.net/.

Got Fizz?

"The bovine brew is in the final stages of development by the Cow Protection Department of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), India's biggest and oldest Hindu nationalist group, according to the man who makes it.

Om Prakash, the head of the department, said the drink – called "gau jal", or "cow water" – in Sanskrit was undergoing laboratory tests and would be launched "very soon, maybe by the end of this year"." (Timesonline)

Slumdog Face Off

Jai Ho (The winning song) - and probably a new AIESEC dance as well


O..Saya (which I think a better song)

Little Dirty Things

"One interesting thing about travel warnings - at least the Canadian system. I spoke with a staffperson at a Canadian embassy abroad, and she explained that travel ratings of a country affect the 'danger pay' that the Canadian embassy staff in that country receive" (brodie)

The embassy staffs in Cairo just got pay raise.

My citi of ruins

(apology to Bruce Springsteen for the title)




"Citigroup Inc. is in talks with federal officials that could result in the U.S. government substantially expanding its ownership of the struggling bank, according to people familiar with the situation." (WSJ)

Regardless whether this talks with succeed or not, one way or another, Citibank is going to the way of nationalization. The bank is insolvent. This is a rare event - this is how a colossus went down.

When nationalization happens, the shareholders are wiped out - totally. It's a reboot of the company.

I remember back in high school in Surabaya there was a small (and only) Citibank branch in town - it was the swankiest place to have a saving account. It was a little dream to be able to have an account there because their minimum deposit was high - quite insurmontable for an island boy. It's a pretty sad thing to see yet another financial giant tumbles.

FYI, there are 14 banks fail in the US this year alone.

Mumbai's big night



An Oscar Sweep !
"More than 70 United States military advisers and technical specialists are secretly working in Pakistan to help its armed forces battle Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the country’s lawless tribal areas, American military officials said." (NYTimes)

This makes sense - the US army is full chocked of counter insurgency veterans from Iraq that can work well with the local knowledge possesed by the Pakistani Army.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Radiohead - Just

this video is funny

Anyone know exactly what's going on?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7904731.stm

Oscal Pool



Prediction.

- Best Picture - Slumdog (yay)
- Best Male Actor - Mickey Rourke (boo) - sean penn? oh bummer
- Best Female Actor - Kate Winslet (yay)
- Best Male Supporting Actor - Heath Ledger (yay)
- Best Female Supporting Actor - Penelope Cruz (yay)
- Best Director - Slumdog (yay)
- Best Documentary - Man on Wire (yay)
- Best Film Editing - Slumdog (yay)
- Best Foreign Language - The Class (boo) - they chose a wrong winner here
- Best Makeup - Dark Night (boo)  - benjamin won here
- Best Music (Score) - Wall-E (boo) - o, cmon - Wall-E score was sublime
- Best Music (Song) - OSaya(Slumdog)  (boo) - this was close, another song by the same movie won instead
- Best Cinematography -Slumdog (yay)
- Best Art Direction - Benjamin Button (yay)
- Best Sound Editing - Dark Night (yay)
- Best Visual Effect - Benjamin Button (yay)
- Best Writing (Adapted) - Slumdog (yay)
- Best Writing (Original) - Wall-E (boo) - bugger, how the hell did Milk beat Wall-E? Wall-E is a genius screenplay!

One beer for each missed prediction.

Fuck, 6 missed predictions. I didn't think Slumdog was going to make a clean sweep and bloody Milk going to win anything. 6 out 18 predictions were wrong ; 66% accuracy - barely better than the accuracy of monkeys choosing nominees at random.

Watch The Age of Stupid: Out on March 20


The Age of Stupid shows the World in 2055 with a somewhat different climate to the current one. Might it be realistic enough for people to be inspired to change? Read more about it here.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

"But ahead of the talks, Clinton signaled that China's poor human rights record, while still of deep concern to the United States, would not be at the top of her agenda.

She noted that both sides already knew the other's positions on the matter and said that human rights concerns "can't interfere with the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crises."" (MSNBC)

It's a good approach. China is not the top human rights violater. It's part of its deficiency but it has contributed a lot as well in similar concerns as such poverty alleviation. Those are just as important. Lay low on the trash talk and start working to get the world out of this shit hole.

Hindsight

I used to make fun of Morocco for its closed monetary policy and strong currency control - credit was hard to obtain and you can't take much currency out.

But that makes them imprevious to the ill of the global financial impolsion.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Another one

" BearingPoint Inc (BGPT.OB), which provides technology and management consulting services to the U.S. government, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Wednesday and said it reached an agreement with senior secured lenders to cut its debt load.

The McLean, Virginia-based company, which began as the consulting arm of KPMG LLP KPMG.UL and later struggled with accounting problems and a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission probe, has been laboring under heavy debt exacerbated by an acquisition spree between 1999 and 2002." (Reuter)

This is common stories when the global credit market is tight or non existant. Bearing Point is a global company wiht 60 countries presence. 
Learn about the latest up to date GDP of Kazakshtan  and other countries thanks to the excellent UN Data.

You can complete an international politic/economy PhD just researching all the troves of data on that site.

Travel warning for CAR


"Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises against non-essential travel to the Central African Republic.

The appointment of the new government in January 2008 has not stabilized the political situation nor defused the concerns regarding pay to civil servants. The potential for strikes, as well as political and social unrest throughout the country, still exists. Military unrest is still common. Canadians should exercise caution, avoid demonstrations, and carefully monitor local news reports.

Order has yet to be restored in much of the country outside the capital. Transborder rebel activity, armed attacks, banditry and kidnapping have recently intensified in the Northern and North Western provinces. The situation is particularly serious along the Sudanese, Chadian and Cameroonian borders, where disgruntled armed mercenaries control most villages. In these regions, instability tends to cause population movement.

In December 2008, troops from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan launched a joint military offensive against bases of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in northern DRC. Since the launch of the joint campaign, the LRA has dispersed and retaliated with great violence against the civilian population in villages located in border areas with southern Sudan and Uganda. Many people have been killed and thousands more have fled the region. Ugandan, Congolese and south Sudanese forces, and the UN Mission to the DRC (MONUC), have been increasing their presence and operations in the area. However, further fighting is expected and could affect the border areas with the Central African Republic. Civilians could continue to be targeted by the LRA in reprisal attacks." (Voyage)

Reading random country travel warnings are fun. It's one of the best way to learn a place that you usually don't get in the normal news channel.

Nowhere to go

"Swiss bank UBS has ageed to provide the US government with the identities of and account information for certain American customers of UBS's cross-border business "who appear to have committed tax fraud or the like." As much as $14.8 billion in assets may be involved." (Spiegel)

Damn. Now there's less places to hide away our stolen billions.

On an gut reaction basis, this sounds like a great idea but I am not sure. It's satifsying to be able to look up where the stolen money by dictactors or tax evaders are hidden but on the other hand the banking secrecy as useful for common people as well. 

I fear that government will be able to unilaterally declare that certain bank account or individuals are in the interest of the state and must be revealed and those vanguard of banking secrecy like Swiss banks will be forced to comply with it. I mean you only need to take a look at the stupid "no fly list" in the US on how government can fuck up a decent idea.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

nomadlife - an international nomads community

nomadlife - an international nomads community

Although, it is disappointing for Venezuela in the short term (I used to live there). In the long run, the Venezuelan people still have the ability to vote him out and sooner or later will realize Chavez is just throwing them crumbs every once in awhile to keep them happy, but has not brought true change.

If the right leader gets elected, this would allow them the time to address the severe systematic and cultural issues that prevent them from pulling more people out of poverty.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"“Indonesia has experienced a great transformation in the last 10 years,” she said, hearkening back to the Asian financial crisis of 1998, which led to the ouster of Suharto, its autocratic president, and set Indonesia on the path to becoming a robust, if somewhat confusing, democracy.

“If you want to know if Islam, democracy, modernity, and women’s rights can coexist, go to Indonesia,” she said at a dinner of academics, journalists, environmentalists, and women’s rights advocates."

Mrs. Clinton has asked colleagues whether Indonesia holds lessons for Pakistan, a large, but much less stable Muslim country. The answer is far from clear, given the distinct differences in Pakistani and Javanese culture, and the different role religion plays in the two societies.

(NY Times)

Great transformation? No kidding. Indonesia was pushed to the brink of a state failure in 1998-99 - remember it's an archipelago with 17,000 island. It's hard to hold together in normal times. 

Indonesia does have lessons for Pakistan  as it is quite similar in certain areas- it's both large Muslim countries, both full of brown people and are developing economies.

Let me outline it here.
  • Drop your external enemies. Indonesia didn't have external enemies. We just did things to annoy Australia - but we have a lot of internal enemies from terrorism, etc. Go back trashing India when you get internal in order.  
  • Come clean and get help. We had a brewing terorrism problem in 2001 churches bombings,  etc. The brilliant AFP (Australian Federal Police) and the FBI came down lend a hand and we had the fastest and cleanest roll up of terrorist networks in the world.
  • Do not fucking surrender your territory to non state actors.
  • Deal something with the culture. One of the most common sense act the government did in the 2001 was to end the official discrimination against the Chinese minority.
  • Free and protect the press. If there's any group threatening the press, smack 'em in broad daylight; it sells papers too. You need to gain legitimacy with people. 
  • Let the various religious organizations to trash it out amongst themselves. Stop politizing religion.

Beer - there's nothing it can't do

"Despite the traditional views about the effects of booze on a man's sex life, a new study suggested moderate drinking protected against impotence in the long term.

Darwinite Alan Mantova, 50, welcomed the study's findings - and he could already see its effects.

Surrounded by two Territory bombshells while having a beer in a Darwin bar, Mr Mantova said he understood the social benefits of alcohol."
(Northern Territory News)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Soon Taliban will control Pakistan

"Pakistani analysts said the government had in effect conceded that it could not beat back the Taliban and was suing for peace. Implementing the Islamic legal code, Shariah, in an important part of Pakistan proper — in what are known as the settled areas, outside the tribal belt where the Taliban already hold sway — would embolden the militants, the analysts warned.

“The government is ceding a great deal of space” to Pakistani militants, said Shuja Nawaz, the author of “Crossed Swords,” a book on the Pakistani military. “If you are doing that in the settled areas,” he said, “you have lost the tribal areas.”

Athar Minallah, a leader of the lawyers’ movement that has agitated for an independent judiciary, called the accord “total capitulation” by the army and the civilian government." (NY Times)

What we are witnessing right now is the hollowing of the state of Pakistan. Usually it's hard to give a damn about it except that it has nuclear arsenals and it has beligerence with its neighbour, India.

CHI 2009 - Boston, MA

Just found out I'm able to go to this conference (CHI 2009) in Boston, MA from April 4-9. I've been checking out places to stay that are close to the Hynes Convention Center and would appreciate any advice. I've found one hotel about 5/6 blocks away that I can split with a couple people for ~$40/night. Anyone know of any cheaper/better options? For example, similarly priced places that have a kitchenette. Would like to book asap, so speedy advice would be very appreciated. Thanks nomads!

We love you forever

"President Hugo Chávez handily won a referendum on Sunday that will end presidential term limits, allowing him to run for re-election indefinitely and injecting fresh vibrancy into his socialist-inspired revolution." (NY Times)

I am pretty disappointed - our great leader deserves much more than this. He should be appointed a god-king and declared eternal.

This is, to borrow Jon Stewart's phrase, a clusterfuck to obvilion. A democracy without a term limit is eating hotdog with champagne. It just doesn't fit.

25 random things about Tarakan Island, East Borneo, Indonesia

I was raised this island so I know a bit or two about the place. My family still lives there and I visited it last 3 months ago.
  1. The island lives on crude oil production, shrimp and smuggling to Malaysia.
  2. You can take a flight from Jakarta or Surabaya and fly in or by boat from Malaysia via port of Tawau (take Air Asia from Kuala Lumpur)
  3. If you are hiding from the reach of international justice, this is the perfect place to hide. Interpol will never figure out that you'll end up here. Email me for such arrangement.
  4. 5 years ago our local navy busted a Chinese fishing vessel stealing our fish and confiscated the ship. The 24 crew end up being "island arrested" for a year in the island and they were  fed by local population.
  5. It is an island of 60,000 people and we have pretty good medical facilities; no cinemas though. 
  6. The only beer you get locally is Beer Bintang (Indonesian Lager) and some smuggled stuff from Malaysia.
  7. The beaches are decent but nothing spectacular. 
  8. It is the hub for surrounding shrimp farm producing island in the area.
  9. In Japan, shrimp from the area has its own size standard called the Tarakan standard because their size is huge.
  10. The island is mostly tropical no canopy jungle. 
  11. There are no touristy places to visit but you can hike, take a boat, go eat first class sea food.
  12. If you are an aspiring pirate, it's a great place to train.
  13. Tarakan is a transit island to the gems of East Borneo - there are some amazing places in nearby islands and in the inner lands of Borno.
  14. It has the largest red light district in the whole East Borneo.
  15. There are one private hospital, one public and one navy hospital. When people from inland Borneo and surrounding islands need operation, they come to Tarakan.
  16. A lot of Australian soldiers died in this island fighting the Japanese in WWII because it holds a vital oil production for MacArthur frog jumping strategy back to the Phillipines. 
  17. We have "city blocks" build on water where wooden houses and commercial spaces built on elevated wooden platform.
  18. For the best coffee in town, go to Jembatan Besi (Iron Bridge) and ask for Martin. Tell him Dody send you. This is the biggest place to know gossips in town and he makes a killer Bakpao. He also happened to be my childhood friend.
  19. His dad is a well known medicine man so you have stream of visitors everyday. Nothing can't be fixed by drinking a spit water. He speaks English too.
  20. If you get troubled with the law, talk to him as well. He'll bail you out because most likely he's treated everybody that wield real power in the island.
  21. We have an international school in the island, so your kids can be educated while you are on exile  from your country.
  22. There are plenty of ATMs and 256 KB  Internet.
  23. There is no tourism industry in the island, which means you won't get hassled.
  24. If you take a boat from Malaysia to Tarakan, in the middle of the trip there will be a guy taking everybody's passport. Don't freak out. This is how it's done. Your passport will be given back to you in the port.
  25. There are plenty of hotels and  places to stay. We had about 40 or 50 hotels/hostels the last time I count. It's incredible for a place that has no real touristic appeal.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A rabbi, a monk and a guru walk into a bar ..  (Pew Research) - via AS.

Buddhists and Hindus are polled to trust evolution than any other religious groups.

Buckle Up

"Worldwide job losses from the recession that started in the United States in December 2007 could hit a staggering 50 million by the end of 2009, according to the International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency. The slowdown has already claimed 3.6 million American jobs." (NY Times)

25 random things about Prague, Czech Republic

Rather than writing "25 random things about moi in Facebook", I think it will be far more interesting and useful to write about 25 random things of a place somewhere in the world.

I am writing about Prague because I have been splitting my time there (and Cairo) for the past 2 1/2 years.
  1. In most places, beer is the cheapest beverage on the menu; cheaper than water. 
  2. The price difference between weekly transport ticket (good for train, tram and bus) and monthly one is less than 2 dollars.
  3. It is a member of EU but it doesn't adopt the Euro. Czech Koruna is the currency.
  4. Prague is cheap to travel to as long as you manage to squeeze on accomodation. You can a single room in a pension for 20 dollars a night about 8 metro stops from the center. Otherwise you'll be paying plenty of Euros for staying near the center.
  5. The metros system stops at midnight and starts at 6 PM. The busses are mostly ontime.
  6. The cool thing about Prague metro is that there is no tills. They trust you that you have valid tickets and do spot checks now and then. You can get away for not paying - get the weekly ticket anyway.
  7. If you lose your Mac power charger, go to the "Revolution Square" for the biggest Apple center there - other stores do not have stock on power chargers (I tried)
  8. The most important pharse: "Yedno Pivo, Prossim" (one beer please)
  9. Most people in the city speaks English.
  10. Average lunch in the center is about 100 Koruna - around five dollars. That's the price of a Macdonald combo as well.
  11. You take the night tram and busses after Midnight. They come every half an hour.
  12. Do not take taxi unless you are about to deliver a baby. They are expensive.
  13. You can take a bus from the airport to one of the metro line for 26 Koruna, which is about a dollar and 20 cents.
  14. The Economist costs 150 Koruna in Czech. 
  15. Do not crowd the entrance to an opening metro door. Let people get out. You don't want to know the what Czech people think about stupid tourists that have no metro manners.
  16. The beer and sausage stand in most squares are controlled by Russian mafia (or so I heard)
  17. People think that Gypsis steal - so whenever they got on the tram, I instictively watch over my wallet. It's an irrational and prejudice thing to do but the thought of losing your wallet does crazy thing to your mind.
  18. I like their hot wine. Fried cheese is a traditional Czech Cuisine but I can't stand them.
  19. They have a traditional dish consisted of raw minced meat, garlic, ketchup and raw eggs. It tastes surprisingly good but my bowel didn't like it that much.
  20. Try Czech dark beer, they are delicious.
  21. There are tons of stripclubs and casinos around the center. 
  22. Come around Easter and you can witness the whipping of women around town by willow stick. Get your own as well and start the whipping. It scared the shit out of me three years ago because I had to do it with my girfriend family.
  23. The most awesome place for me is this plane factory canteen that serves food for its worker on which you can join for a 60 Koruna lunch. It's located next to ADRA Czech Republic office in Prague 6.
  24. For Wifi, go to KFC. McDonalds do not have wifi there. BioCafe and Starbucks have wifi.
  25. There are a lot of places in Prague to play badminton, tennis or indoor volley ball. Look for it - let me know if you want to join - I have a group of buddies that plays everyweek.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Serving for Citizenship

"The Army’s one-year pilot program will begin in New York City to recruit about 550 temporary immigrants who speak one or more of 35 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Igbo (a tongue spoken in Nigeria), Kurdish, Nepalese, Pashto, Russian and Tamil. Spanish speakers are not eligible. The Army’s program will also include about 300 medical professionals to be recruited nationwide. Recruiting will start after Department of Homeland Security officials update an immigration rule in coming days." (NY Times)

If you are currently staying on a temporary visa in the US, you can have an accellerated process to become a citizen if you join the Army. 

This is a good idea - I don't know why it wasn't tried earlier. France Foreign Legion has being doing this for the past 100 years.

Another good idea is to offer permanent residency for people buying those houses in the US. The demand for this will be so huge that it will constitute a private economic stimulus. In Czech Republic it already works this way - if you buy a property there, you are granted a permanent residency.

Secret to successful kissing

Can drooling make you a better kisser? Scientific evidence suggests that wet, sloppy smooches pack a bigger biochemical punch than dry kisses and thus may be more likely to lead to sex and reproduction, says Rutgers University researcher Helen Fischer, who spoke today at the AAAS conference in Chicago.

Men are particularly prone to sloppy kissing, she notes, possibly because males tend to have a poor sense of smell and taste and aggressive face sucking may be an unconscious effort to gauge a partner's estrogen levels and fertility cycle. It may also be an unwitting effort to transmit testosterone, which can be found in saliva and can increase sexual attraction. Alternatively, it may also be just plain gross. (That would be my unscientific conclusion.)

Fisher and other scientists who study "philematology," the science of kissing, believe that the act evolved as a "mechanism for mate choice and selection."

(Popular Science)

Philematology? really?

Esau Mwamwaya - Rendition of Paper Plane



He's from Malawi and fuckin' awesome. Download his "the very best" album for free (legal)
A guide to Freetown, Sierra Leone.

"The Senegalese Restaurant, on Wilkinson Road, just east of Basha Bakery with the green neon light. The "Fish Attieke" is the best plate in town, delicious after squash or tennis at the nearby Young Sportsmen's Club. Grilled snapper with chopped onions, tomato, docile pepeh sauces and attieke, a delicious starchy dish made from cassava."

OHW - Blue Sweede

OHW - Sukiyaki



"its a great song. just the song is about a guy who was dumped and he's walking while looking up at the sky crying. yet when kye sakamoto is singing it he doesnt show that emotion. he looks really happy. but really good song."

OHW - Valentine's Edition

Biz Markie - Just a friend

The first overseas visit that the new US Secretary of State doing is to East Asia; Japan, South Korea, China, and Indonesia.

It means that her priorities is :
1. Economy
2. Economy
3. Economy
4. North Korea

The addition of Indonesia is a bit curious. It's a developing country and it's not exactly tied to any significant threat matrix in the region.  I think the fact that it is both the largest Muslim majority country in the world and a free country has something to do with it. Or maybe Obama just wants Hillary to take pictures of his old house in Jakarta.

Or I suspect that the administration is broadening the narrow "Muslim equals Middle East" approach that the previous administration took and take a more inclusive views of Muslim nations policies that actually include non Middle East states. Which I think will be a good thing because the Middle East has a talent for grabbing most of the world foreign policy attention without much positive results.

Friday, February 13, 2009


OHW - Europe

OHW - Blind Melon

OHW - The Verve

Fishy Business


"The world's first major cod farms have been established in Norway. They're meant to ease the burden on overfished wild populations -- and gourmet chefs claim farmed cod tastes better." (Spiegel)

Farmed seafood is a good idea although intesive farming do generate a pretty significant environment pollution if not taken care of properly. But considering the alternative of overfishing, this is the the right way to go. There are movement of organic farming where you minimize the use of feedlot and rely on surrounding water to feed the form. But usually these are low yield traditional farm.

As an aside, EU is probably the worst region in overfishing and fucking up fish population in the Mediterranean - fucking micro net troll fishing does a lot of damage to the sea - and for all the environmental posturing coming out of the EU, the destruction of the Mediterranean fishing stock just proves that EU just doesn't give a fuckin' damn about the sea.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

young and irresponsible

Timothy Egan's blog on NyTimes

If anyone deserves a young and stupid pass it's Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimmer who was caught in a pose not unknown to anyone his age — snout inside a bong.

Phelps seemed contrite in trotting out his young and stupid defense. "I'm 23 years old and despite the successes I've had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way," he said.

More like youthful and appropriate. I have a hard time going after him for taking a hit of pot after he spent most of his life as a robo-athlete.

Still, for his mostly insignificant lapse, Kellogg dropped him as a sponsor — "not consistent with the image of Kellogg," the cornflake-makers said — and U.S.A. Swimming suspended him from competition for three months.

A-Rod will likely face no legal consequences, nothing from the the toothless barons of baseball. Phelps took his hit for recreation. Rodriguez did his drug to cheat the game and himself. He lied about it. And then he blamed it all on his age and pressure to perform because of his oversized contract.

Now we know where the infidels live








"Repent on your blasphemy over boiling steam, maggot!"
The good ole' days (Spanish Inquisition) - some 'brilliant' ideas cooked up some fucked up theocracy.  

To have faith is divine, to abuse it is human.
"Former presidents of Brazil, Mexico and Colombia said the U.S.-led war on drugs has failed and urged President Barack Obama to consider new policies, including decriminalizing marijuana, and to treat drug use as a public health problem.

The recommendations by former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, along with Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and Cesar Gaviria of Colombia, were made in a report today by the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy."  (Bloomberg)

Let people get high.
Calvin and Hobbes shows why the economy stinks.

Turning Japanese

"A powerful series of earthquakes shook northeastern Indonesia Thursday, injuring at least 11 people and damaging a number of homes and other buildings, officials said." (cnn)

I remember that earthquake in my country used to be a big deal; but nowadays, after the catasthropic Christmas Tsunami 2004, it seems that we have earthquakes every week. It's quite unnerving actually because we were raised on learning that Japan has frequent earthquakes and we were all wondering on how people could live with such condition. Now the Japanese nightmare is ours too.

This is how they won 5 grammies



Robert Plant and Alison Krauss : a legendary hard rock guy working with a blue grass singer - magic.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

OHW #1 - Eamon

http://thisiswhyyourefat.com/
The swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated 2009  is out. I bet the must be talking about the swimming stuff like Michael Phelps marijuana incident.

Agree or disagree?

"A doctor makes an incision in a man's scrotal sack and, deftly wielding his scalpel, quickly removes both testicles. In the Czech Republic that simple operation is the punishment for male sex offenders. But to the Council of Europe, the region's leading human rights body, the procedure is "invasive, irreversible and mutilating." In a report issued last week the Council called the punishment "degrading" and demanded it be scrapped immediately." (Time)

Dianne Krall - A Case of You - Live

Caspian Dark Cloud

"The head of Azerbaijan's air force was fatally shot outside his home Wednesday morning, two independent news agencies reported." (cnn)

Assasination of a head military branch in that part of the world is never good

How your webcam can simulate a wiimote...






I've been trying this for the past 20 minutes and I'm quite impressed - pretty accurate once you get the hang of the range of motions.

Camspace is a bit of software that tracks an object using your webcam and translates its motion into actions on the screen. In simple terms - it turns any damn thing into a motion-sensing wiimote controller.

Camspace even packs in a few games of its own that you can experiment with your new motion sensing software.

Go Puzzling


This is the result of Israel election this year - usually they are only interest of foreign policy lackeys- but the war and the new and different US administration has brought the Israel election to much sharper focus.

So Kadima, which was founded by the now vegetable Ariel Sharron has won the election by one seat but thanks to the truly fragmented political system in Israel, they might not be able to form a government since there are more votes gained by the right wing parties than the left wing.

So Likud has a real chance to form a government this time and they are hard asses - has always been.

Monday, February 09, 2009

The bleeding continues

"Swiss newspapers expect the country's top two banks, UBS AG (UBSN.VX) and Credit Suisse Group AG (CSGN.VX) to announce record losses for 2008 this week and predict UBS will unveil thousands of job cuts.

Losses at the biggest bank and world's largest wealth manager, UBS, will range from 20 billion to 21 billion Swiss francs ($17-18 billion), including, according to NZZ am Sonntag, a 9 billion franc loss in the fourth quarter.

In an unsourced report, the paper also forecast Credit Suisse's annual loss will range from 5 billion to 8 billion francs, with NZZ forecasting a fourth quarter loss of 6 billion francs." (Reuters)

Sunday, February 08, 2009

prosecco à la kakardé

this is the promotion that i promised, delayed for want of a video camera

Simply Awesome

National Congress 2009 - AIESEC Iran

Canada - where real bankers live


"Guess which country, alone in the industrialized world, has not faced a single bank failure, calls for bailouts or government intervention in the financial or mortgage sectors. Yup, it's Canada. In 2008, the World Economic Forum ranked Canada's banking system the healthiest in the world. America's ranked 40th, Britain's 44th." (FZ)

Beyond Election - Building Institution

" I watched a company of newly trained, proud and professional-looking Palestinian Authority troops, standing at attention, AK-47 assault rifles at their side, listening with obvious respect to the American general telling them: “What you’ve done has done more to advance the Palestinian national project than anything else ... You took care of your people at a difficult time. That is how the security forces of a country behave.”" (Tom Friedman)

This is a piece of good news; it is critical to have institution and bureaucracy necessary for a modern state to be built over time. Good governance doesn't automagically comes from election alone. There are much to be done to build professional security force and public service and law system, investments laws, ownership laws etc.

The more of these behind the scene institution being done in Palestine, the higher the chances the eventual creation of the Palestinian state is a functioning one. Here's a big for the institutions builders.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

deus ex machina

And now, from Rio de Janieiro comes word from none other than Ronaldo that people should not throw the baby out with the bong water — especially in light of the recent travails of the Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps. (NYTimes)

Friday, February 06, 2009

No recovery soon

Murdoch lost 4.6 billion dollars and Toyota is announcing that it is expecting to lose 5 billion dollars.

Pot Head

So arguably the best swimmer in history, Michael Phelps, is being tarred and feathered in US right now for smoking pot. Yeah, don't do it otherwise he'll end up being President (Obama smoked a lot when he was young).

I don't understand the ban of Marijuana in societies where alcohol and tobacco are legal. The latters have produced both pleasure and substantial damage in society but yet they are allowed to be freely peddled. If you are talking about the danger of mind altering substances, then well, alcohol does a great job for that (google for "drunken blog posts")

The amount of security resources being spent on prosecuting pot cases are just staggerring. Use the money to build road and schools instead.

Just because you decriminialize pot doesn't make everybody a pothead - as not everybody drinks or smoke. 
"A man has died after his mobile phone exploded, severing a major artery in his neck, according to reports." (Timesonline)

It's the ninth time a person got killed after their mobile phone exploded.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Nazi Dr. Death lived in Cairo!

"One of the world's most wanted Nazi war criminals died 17 years ago in Egypt, the German public broadcaster ZDF reported Wednesday."

"The network says research it conducted with the New York Times shows that Aribert Heim died in Cairo in 1992, according to ZDF's Web site."

"The investigation found that Heim lived under the false name of Tarek Farid Hussein in Cairo until August 10, 1992, when he died of intestinal cancer. "

"ZDF says it has spoken to Heim's son, Ruediger Heim, who told the broadcaster that his father fled Germany to Egypt via France, Spain and Morocco.
Ruediger Heim told ZDF that he visited his father in Cairo several times, including in the final weeks of his life when the terminal cancer was discovered."

Source: CNN

I followed that story months ago, this is an unexpected twist!
It would make a good movie...

He probably sat at Horreya every night sharing his stories with some admiring Egyptians staring him with wide eyes and smiles. What a shame...

Google Latitude to allow you to track friends and families every move

The new 'opt-in' feature available in Google Maps pinpoints the exact location of loved ones, but has been met with sharp criticism from privacy campaigners

more from the Times or see www.google.com/latitude
Millions of people will be able to track each and every move by friends and family through their mobile phones, thanks to a new feature launched by Google yesterday.

“Once you’ve shared your location, you can hide it from individual friends or all of your friends at once, or you can turn off Google Latitude completely at any time.” said a Google spokesman. “You can adjust your privacy settings in Latitude so that you share as much or as little about your location as you want, with whom you want.”

The technology is likely to be greeted enthusiastically by a younger generation hooked on social networking websites such as Facebook. In testing, the feature was quickly adopted by people to locate friends in crowded areas, and by families to give themselves a rough idea of when loved ones would be returning home.

Google said that it had tested the product with thousands of people to make sure that the system was secure, but experts were not so sure. Simon Davies, director of Privacy International, said the security was appalling and said Latitude would open up a “privacy minefield”. “Google is naive if it thinks there are adequate controls on this feature,” he said.

Others were concerned that even though you could, in theory, bar anyone from spying on your location, in practice peer pressure would mean it would be difficult to reject their suggestion to follow you, even if it was not in your own interests.

Children’s groups said that, though the principle of being able to check up on the whereabouts of a child may bring peace of mind to many parents, problems would arise when children became teenagers and sought more responsibility and independence. “Is a mobile phone becoming an electronic leash on children?” said John Carr, the secretary of the Children’s Charities Coalition on Internet Safety. “You can see situations where this kind of thing might be useful, but it is also kind of imprisoning children even more.”

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Lost your chances

"During the late Soeharto's new order era, which crumbled in 1998, there was an average of 20,000 divorce cases per year, but the rate has shot up to more than 200,000 per year."

"
The most frequent reason cited in religious courts for divorce is polygamy.

“Data from 2006 shows that as many as 879 couples divorced because of [polygamy],” he said.

He said that he believed women were becoming increasingly aware of their rights thanks to the efforts of NGOs and women activists, which have run campaigns against polygamy.
Scholars and activists have welcomed the development, saying it shows women are becoming more independent economically and that more women are receiving higher education." 

It looks pretty hard to find a second or a third wife in Indonesia.
yum, bacon.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Great Ad

If you are in Chicago area, it's a good idea to attend Henry George School of Social Science. It's a 10 week weekly course that talks about the idea outlined by Henry George through his book, Progress and Poverty that examine why poverty exists and the structural problem with classic economy. The course only costs $25 and it's highly illuminating.

When I attended this 5 years ago, the global economy was still going strong which masks its structural weakness. I thought of it as interesting idea but not applicable at all because the current system works so well. Well I was a dumbass. There are valuable ideas in Henry George proposal and they shall be reexamined again as we entered the next chapter of global economy.

Pierred sent this uri http://www.henrygeorge.org/bearings.htm for the online course version.



Start your own currency or Zim

Check these resources on how to start your own community based currency.
Gadhafi, my hero and the great leader of forevemore great republic of Libya, has been honored with the chairmanship of African Union. May thee forever be strong and victorious in uniting the continent of African under one great leader, or at least one currency.


Embarrassment of riches

We know that Bolivia can become the Saudi Arabia of lithium

Earth album

'earth album is a simpler, slicker Flickr mash-up that allows you to explore some of the most stunning photos in the world courtesy of Google maps and Flickr. To begin your journey, just click somewhere on the map, e.g. "India". Note-- since the top Flickr images are used, the images change every few weeks' - Earthalbum

Monday, February 02, 2009

Rollin' with Money

"Zimbabwe has the world's highest official inflation, with its currency now printed in the trillions of dollars. This month, the central bank introduced a new 100 trillion Zimbabwe dollar note." (IHT)

Wow.

Let him get high

"Olympic great Michael Phelps acknowledged ''regrettable'' behavior and ''bad judgment'' after a photo in a British newspaper Sunday showed him inhaling from a marijuana pipe.

In a statement to The Associated Press, the swimmer who won a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Games did not dispute the authenticity of the exclusive picture published Sunday by the tabloid News of the World.

''I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment,'' Phelps said in the statement released by one of his agents. ''I'm 23 years old and despite the successes I've had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again.''"(AP)


The dude won 8 freaking Olympic medals and people are demanding him to apologize because he smoke pot? gimme a break.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Check out The Calvin Stopes

Today on Balcony TV - Hamburg Balconytv.de
On Myspace

Boys and their toys



The game is called Airsoft. It allows boys to play war.
In order to remind ourselves to be concise, please use these guidances.
No confirmed deaths on Iraq Provincial Election. And it looks like a free and fair election although turn out is lower that the last time.
The profile of Soros on Financial Times