Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Who's Hopped on the Band Wagon?

I've got a bunch of crap on my Twitter account (including @mixmaster, completely un-readable). So if you have a Twitter account, throw it in the comments along with the favorite person you are following at the moment (include your local as well).

Location: Jersey City, NJ, USA
Trent - @HoboHookah
Favorite - @texther

PS If @TomGara (Abu Dhabi, UAE?) starts following you, make sure 2 not use numbers instead of words or else, k thx by

Monday, March 30, 2009

doing it by the books

But Monday, Google said it was determined to catch Baidu, adding that it would offer Chinese consumers exactly what they want but would do so legally by striking a deal with a Chinese partner and the global music industry, including independent music companies.

The Google service allows Chinese consumers to search for music, link to a Beijing company called Top100.cn, and download licensed music from that Chinese site, which has signed contracts with the music industry. (NYTimes)

i suspect that this is futile.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

be right back

I'm taking a break from blogging. I am going through some personal crisis that my mental system is not equipped to handle right now. I have to sort those out and got my bearing straight. Blogging during this period will turn this nomadlife to dramalife :) - I'll be back

Please take care of this main blog. A community blog is like a garden, it needs constant tending everyday. Thanks.

Peace out.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Another view of US Savior

"Geithner thought Asia's problem was the same as the ones that had shattered Latin America in the 1980s and Mexico in 1994, a classic current account crisis. In this kind of crisis, the central cause is that the government has run impossibly big debts.

The solution? The IMF, the Washington-based emergency lender of last resort, will make loans to keep the country solvent, but on condition the government hacks back its spending. The cure addresses the ailment.

But the Asian crisis was completely different. The Asian governments that went to the IMF for emergency loans - Thailand, South Korea and Indonesia - all had sound public finances.

The problem was not government debt. It was great tsunamis of hot money in the private capital markets. When the wave rushed out, it left a credit drought behind.

But Geithner, through his influence on the IMF, imposed the same cure the IMF had imposed on Latin America and Mexico. It was the wrong cure. Indeed, it only aggravated the problem.

Keating continued: "Soeharto's government delivered 21 years of 7 per cent compound growth. It takes a gigantic fool to mess that up. But the IMF messed it up. The end result was the biggest fall in GDP in the 20th century. That dubious distinction went to Indonesia. And, of course, Soeharto lost power."

Exactly who was the "gigantic fool"? It was, obviously, the man who wrote the program, Geithner, although Keating is prepared to put the then managing director of the IMF, the Frenchman Michel Camdessus, in the same category.

Worse, Keating argued, Geithner's misjudgment had done terminal damage to the credibility of the IMF, with seismic geoeconomic consequences: "The IMF is the gun that can't shoot straight. They've been making a mess of things for the last 20-odd years, and the greatest mess they made was in east Asia in 1997-98, so much so that no east Asian state will put its head in the IMF noose.""

SMH

Friday, March 27, 2009

The other side: Tibet and China




I thought this story is an instructive example of how 'facts' are presented to the average Chinese citizen.


"Except when on official visits and when we were invited to rituals at festivals, we seldom went to temples," Wang recalled.

But he learned about the dark side of monastic life from local friends, serfs and open-minded nobles.

Temples held great power in old Tibet. They could force serf families on their land to send their children into the temples, which was one of the duties of these families. They could also apply to the religious authorities in Lhasa to seize people from outside and make them monks, Wang said. "These were two major ways to maintain the number of monks."

"Monks from poor families took up the toughest work in temples. They barely had the time to study sutras. Many were illiterate. Pretty teenage monks would suffer sexual harassment from powerful senior ones."

Wang and other soldiers were not well-prepared for these conditions. "At first we could not understand why we had to befriend nobles and senior monks. It was different from what we did in other places of the country -- the poor were our friends. We received quite an education about the special situation in Tibet," Wang said. (Xinhua)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

why some people have trouble explaining what they do for a living

Altogether, Dr Bischoff and her colleagues studied 22 males over the course of six years. Thirteen of these birds came from infested nests and 9 from nests that were free of parasites. They tracked these males, recorded their songs and monitored their behaviour. (Economist)
Those hedge funds manager that do rake in money in the past 2 years.

The tent city of Sacramento is experiencing massive growth. There have always been tent cities in the US - there are poor people even in boom times - but the current economic hardships contribute to the swelling size of the tent cities accross America.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

2nd American Revolution



Only $19.95! Sorry, no CODs. And if you act now, we'll throw in a free gun.

Entertaining stuff coming out of the US...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The current Czech Government collapsed thanks to vote of no confidence.
I found this explanation on various schemes to save the US economy very helpful for an economotards like me.

It starts with:
"Imagine a car lot that has 100 cars on it. However, some of these cars have problems. Half of them will have engine troubles that total the cars - the engines blow up and the cars are then worthless - and this will happen just after purchase. The other half are perfectly fine. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell prior to purchase which type of car you will get no matter how hard you try. Thus, half of the assets on the car dealer's "balance sheet" - the cars on its lot - are toxic, and lack of transparency makes it impossible to tell which ones are bad prior to purchase.

"

Preserve or not to preserve

"Like Tibetans, Uighurs resent the influx of Han Chinese immigrants who dominate government and economic positions and have pushed for more autonomy and economic opportunity. Some Uighurs have waged an occasionally violent campaign calling for independence. Beijing has cracked down hard during periods of unrest and its tough line against suspected separatists has made many Uighurs reluctant to speak on the record about their objections to government policy.

Here in China's westernmost city, a $448 million plan to move about 50,000 residents out of the old city and into modern apartment buildings kicked off last month with the first 100 families transitioning into government housing. Officials say some houses are too far away from fire hydrants and that the old city is dangerously overcrowded. While the earthen homes have stood for centuries, the deadly earthquake that hit Sichuan province last May only added urgency to the project.

"Because many houses were built privately without any approval, the life of residents is not convenient and the capability against earthquakes and fire is weak," a local state-run news report said recently. "Our target is every family has a house, every family has employed members and the economy will be developed."

About 220,000 people, or 42 percent of the city's residents, live in the old town."
(MSNBC)

This is a complex problem than assumed at first glance. How do you combine the preservation of historical part and update it at the same time to it handles the demand of modern living (building safety code, etc)

I think you can do it the lazy way, buldoze everything in sight or actually takes time to lovingly preserve the old remnants of history. Guess which one will be taken in this case.

treasury plan

And even if you assume that the sums put up by the government are enough to cleanse the banks entirely, restoring the banks to health by throwing money at them — even with a sheen of private capital — would not be fair. It would be one big transfer of wealth from the government to bank investors. That would be better than an apocalyptic crash, but it is a near complete socialization of losses, with little value flowing to taxpayers.

A better way would be to base the rescue on current reality, not assumptions about the future. What would an examination of the banks’ assets reveal about their value? What is the size of the hole in the banking system? In the absence of good-faith measurement, taxpayer-financed purchases of bad assets could court huge unnecessary risks. (NYTimes)
AIESEC Yale does this cool booklet format quick updates on spring break.

Monday, March 23, 2009

South Africa refuses visa to the Dalai Lama. He must have some criminal records or something.

To save the world

This is how it looks like when an economic powerhouse is unleashing its might in trying to unjam the global credit market.

Will it work? I hope so. If it doesn't, the last option is to nationalize the banks.

In short, the US Federal Government is purchasing the toxic mortgage assets from the banks so that the banks can pretty much start over in opening credit lines for the US economy. This purchasing effort is managed by private hedge funds managers that put $30 billion dollars of their own money in the pool. The US government will get 80% of the upside and the downside.


Update: Bottom line
"Here, in its simplest form, is what the administration seems to think (this comes from conversations I had with administration officials over the weekend). It may be the case that these are mispriced assets rather than worthless assets. If that's true, then treating them as mispriced assets rather than worthless assets will save everyone involved a lot of money and carry a lot less downside risk. It is, at any rate, worth trying. The trouble is that the government doesn't know how to price anything. So if you want prices, you need private investors. And if you want private investors, you need to overcome the skittishness that's taken hold of the markets. And if you want to overcome the skittishness that's taken hold of private investors, you need a deal that they virtually cannot refuse. This is that deal. In its terms, it's all private upside and public downside. But even if the public downside here is more galling than is something like nationalization, it's not actually bigger. Quite the opposite." (Ezra Klein)

If the reality is those toxic mortgages are simply mispriced, the US Federal Government is going to make a buck load of profits - if the mortgages are worthless, the reverse is true, they are going to lose tons of money.

Green is beautiful

Solar powered bikinis. I knew the green revolution was good for something!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Understanding the newest $1 trillion dollar hedge fund: The Federal Government of the United States of America.


"Q: What is the Geithner Plan?

A: The Geithner Plan is a trillion-dollar operation by which the U.S. acts as the world's largest hedge fund investor, committing its money to funds to buy up risky and distressed but probably fundamentally undervalued assets and, as patient capital, holding them either until maturity or until markets recover so that risk discounts are normal and it can sell them off--in either case at an immense profit."


or start buying ammunitions

"Q: What if markets never recover, the assets are not fundamentally undervalued, and even when held to maturity the government doesn't make back its money?

A: Then we have worse things to worry about than government losses on TARP-program money--for we are then in a world in which the only things that have value are bottled water, sewing needles, and ammunition.
"
The latest finance histeria:

Solution:


It looks like a war to me.

continued...

We’re in a once-a-century financial crisis, and yet we’ve actually descended into politics worse than usual. There don’t seem to be any adults at the top — nobody acting larger than the moment, nobody being impelled by anything deeper than the last news cycle. Instead, Congress is slapping together punitive tax laws overnight like some Banana Republic, our president is getting in trouble cracking jokes on Jay Leno comparing his bowling skills to a Special Olympian, and the opposition party is behaving as if its only priority is to deflate President Obama’s popularity. (Thomas Friedman)

more outrage

Since Americans get the big picture of this inequitable system, that grotesque reality dwarfs any fine print. That’s why it doesn’t matter that the disputed bonuses at A.I.G. amount to less than one-tenth of one percent of its bailout. Or that CNBC — with 300,000 viewers on a typical day by Nielsen’s measure — is a relatively minor player in the crash. Or that Edward Liddy had nothing to do with A.I.G.’s collapse, or that John Thain, of the celebrated trash can, arrived after, not before, others wrecked Merrill Lynch. (Frank Rich)

obama is getting the whole New York times opinion page turned against him

Saturday, March 21, 2009

trouble...

The Obama administration is now completely wedded to the idea that there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the financial system — that what we’re facing is the equivalent of a run on an essentially sound bank. As Tim Duy put it, there are no bad assets, only misunderstood assets. And if we get investors to understand that toxic waste is really, truly worth much more than anyone is willing to pay for it, all our problems will be solved.

...

This plan will produce big gains for banks that didn’t actually need any help; it will, however, do little to reassure the public about banks that are seriously undercapitalized. And I fear that when the plan fails, as it almost surely will, the administration will have shot its bolt: it won’t be able to come back to Congress for a plan that might actually work.
What an awful mess. (Paul Krugman)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Indonesia removes imprisonment for drug users

"The Supreme Court has distributed notification letters to all provincial court judges to no longer sentence drug users with imprisonment, but instead to issue court orders for medical treatments and rehabilitation.

The letters were signed by Supreme Justice Bagir Manan on Tuesday and later distributed to all heads of provincial courts in the country, Supreme Court spokesperson Djoko Sarwoko said on Friday.

Djoko said imprisoning drug users could no longer be considered an appropriate approach to tackle the problem of drug abuse." (The Jakarta Post)

If you do this in Malaysia and Singapore, you either die or got imprisoned for a long time + x number of lashes.
It's a flying car.

Gorgeous photography

Don't sit at home this weekend, it's a beautiful world out there...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

American Fury

"Spurred on by a tidal wave of public anger over bonuses paid to executives of the foundering American International Group, the House voted 328 to 93 on Thursday to get back most of the money by levying a 90 percent tax on it." (NY Times)


This Toby Keith song is apt:

"Ohhh Justice will be served
And the battle will rage
This big dog will fight
When you rattle his cage
And you'll be sorry that you messed with
The U.S. of A.
'Cause we'll put a boot in your ass
It's the American way
"

The fury is over the just publicized $165 million dollar bonus for executives in AIG CDS division located in London - 400 people. These are the people that brought down the company.

The American People have found the perfect scapegoat.

At this height of passionate anger, the first guy that beat up AIG executive receiving those bonuses will be treated as "people's hero". Obama will need all of his zen to calm this situation.

Nucular Option

"A FEW days ago Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, was asked to identify the biggest obstacle to economic recovery. That “we don’t have the political will,” he replied.

Mr Bernanke showed his own will on Wednesday March 18th, when the Fed’s policy panel said it would purchase $300 billion in Treasury debt, mostly maturing in two to ten years, starting next week. It will also boost its purchases of mortgage-backed securities to a total of $1.25 trillion from a previously announced $500 billion, and its purchases of debt issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage agencies, to a total of $200 billion from $100 billion." (Economist)

The US is printing $1,000,000,000,000 new money.

Living the dream

Mati Milstein is a talented photojournalist whose entry into the Name Your Dream Assignment is currently in the top 80. Go and vote for him so that he can trace his family’s travels to Africa


http://www.nameyourdreamassignment.com/the-ideas/matimilstein/grandfathers-in-africa/





“My grandfather’s stories and the black-and-white snapshots he showed me of their travels in Africa captured my imagination as a young child. His fascination with – reverence of – South West Africa, the Kalahari Desert, the Bushmen and the other tribespeople he met was evident in his voice as he spoke. He passed this wonderment on to me and I adopted it as my own. ..

I would like to trace the journeys of my brave grandfather and great-grandfather across the Atlantic to Africa and document via photography – the same medium they used – the peoples and the remote and wild places of present-day Namibia whom they met and revered more than half a century ago.”


Help someone live the dream.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

populism and class warfare in the U.S.

David Leonhardt writes

"...there is still one more option. Today’s tax code makes no distinction between income above $373,000 and income above, say, $5 million. Both are taxed at 35 percent.

That is a legacy of the tax changes of the early 1990s, when far less of the nation’s income went to millionaires. Today, you can make a good argument for a new, higher tax bracket on the very largest incomes. In the past, the economist Thomas Piketty says, higher marginal tax rates tended to hold down salaries and bonuses, because executives had less incentive to angle for multimillion-dollar pay." (NYTimes)

This is an interesting option to explore. The U.S. Congressional Budget Office counted (reports here and here) ~114,510,000 households in 2005. It notes that the average pre-tax income of the highest 0.01% of households (~11,000 in total) was $35,473,200 in 2005. For those between the 99.9 and 99.99th percentiles, (~99,000 households) the average pre-tax income was $4,699,500. (the poor bastards in the 99.0-99.5 percentile range were averaging $413,300 before taxes.)

As things stand, these top two groups have a nominal tax rate of 35% on all income above $373,000. Let's make some rough calculations. This means that the top 0.01% has a federal income tax of roughly $12.5 million, for the 99.9-99.99 group, the figure is about $1.6 million, bringing their average after tax incomes down to about $23M and $3M, respectively (the actual after tax incomes are a bit higher than this)

let's say Leonhardt's suggestion is implemented and a new bracket is added, with all income above $5M taxed at a rate x.

for all groups except the top 0.01%, everything would stay the same. this group, however, would now pay, roughly, an additional ($30,000,000) * (x-0.35).

if x were, say, 70%, the top 0.01%'s after-tax income would be reduced by another $10.5M on average, to a mere $12.5M (still quadruple the 99.9-99.99 group average)

this would represent an additional $115.5 billion revenue to the US treasury.

if there were a politically ripe time for this kind of move, this is quite close to it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Oh no



"Professor Timothy Salthouse of the University of Virginia found reasoning, spatial visualisation and speed of thought all decline in our late 20s.
Therapies designed to stall or reverse the ageing process may need to start much earlier, he said." (BBC)

Learn how to ski - it's pretty much going downhill from here.

Dark

"What do you see ahead? What do you make of the mainstream economists who predict that the economy will turn around later this year or next?

Look, globalization has created this interlocking fragility. At no time in the history of the universe has the cancellation of a Christmas order in New York meant layoffs in China. So for a while it created the illusion of stability, but it has created this devastating Black Swan.

Complex systems do not like debt. So it will proceed to destroy tens of trillions in debt until society rebuilds itself in an ultraconservative manner. We are in for a worse ride than people think.

People have the problem of denial. This is one of the things I learned in Lebanon. Everybody who left Beirut when the war started, including my parents, said, 'Oh, its temporary.' It lasted 17 years! People tend to underestimate the gravity of these situations. That's how they work.

Is this crisis going to last 17 years?

Unfortunately no, complex systems cascade much faster than that. However, the destruction will be deeper than people anticipate. It will bring down a lot of people.

My rosy scenario is that a better economic environment will develop, a low-debt, robust growth world, in which whatever is fragile will be allowed to break early and not late.

My nightmare scenario is that the government saves Citibank once again, as well as the other banks, and business resumes as usual. Then, the next time the system breaks, it breaks much, much bigger." (Interview with Nassim Taleb - Black Swan Author)

Happy St. Paddy's Day

Chicago River dyed for the festivities.
"Critics of business education have many complaints. Some say the schools have become too scientific, too detached from real-world issues. Others say students are taught to come up with hasty solutions to complicated problems. Another group contends that schools give students a limited and distorted view of their role — that they graduate with a focus on maximizing shareholder value and only a limited understanding of ethical and social considerations essential to business leadership.

Such shortcomings may have left business school graduates inadequately prepared to make the decisions that, taken together, might have helped mitigate the financial crisis, critics say." (NY Times)

Collectively, the past 2 years have been pretty bad for grade A MBA degrees. All those collective brain power and expensive education have been riding on a mirage that now has vanished.

The article also mentions about the poor training in MBAs on how to manage risk. Well it is  a really tough subject - because it involves both daring and folly at the same time - especially if you are an entrepreneur or betting your own assets instead of just a job. We simply suck at managing risk.

Anyway, MBAs are great especially if you complement that with your AIESEC experience. You get to be exposed to all the scheming, backstabbing, betrayal, camaraderie, persuasion that exists in a large organization early:)


"Professor Philippon also plans to inject a discussion of whether or not the market is always right when it values things."

Market doesn't like risk. You can see this evidence in the abundance "me too" investments in microcosm of venture capital in IT. 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Business Innovation for downturn economy #2

"Unique circumstances call for unique measures, as politicians combating the global financial crisis have been declaring in recent months, and a Berlin brothel has taken those words to heart.
The city's "Pussy Club" has made headlines in the local press by giving clients unlimited access to all its ladies for €70, which includes an all-you-can-eat-and-drink offer, in a bid to weather Germany's worst economic slump since World War II.

To clinch the deal, it is even offering men the opportunity to bring their wives along."
(Spiegel)

So after the naked cafe in Maine, here comes the Germans.

NY State Atty. Gen. Andrew Cuomo on AIG bonuses

"You could argue that if taxpayers hadn’t bailed out A.I.G., the contracts wouldn’t be worth the paper they were signed on," he said. NYTimes

---------------------

And fresh in the outrage department:

"Citigroup gave Vikram S. Pandit, its chief executive, a compensation package valued at more than $38.2 million for 2008, even as the bank posted five consecutive quarters of multibillion-dollar losses and turned to the government three times for help." link

nomadhelp

If you were recently married, and had a week to spend with your beautiful wife in the Near & Middle East - where would you go - Protaras, Petra, Beirut, Sanaa, Damascus?

Are you fucking kidding me?

"Israel's Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu has signed a coalition deal with the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, officials say.

Under the agreement, Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman would become foreign minister, said officials from Mr Netanyahu's Likud party. " (BBC)

Here's what the oracle sez about Lieberman. This guy makes John Bolton looks like Mahatma Gandhi.

information about animals

The Domesticated Silver Fox is the result of nearly 50 years of experiments in the Soviet Union and Russia to domesticate the silver morph of the Red Fox. Notably, the new foxes not only become more tame, but more dog-like as well: they lost their distinctive musky "fox smell", became more friendly with humans, put their ears down (like dogs), wagged their tails when happy and began to vocalize and bark like domesticated dogs. The breeding project was set up by the Soviet scientist Dmitri Belyaev.

Wikipedia

Sunday, March 15, 2009

question

Does anyone know of the major green technology firms/products/services in their part of the world (or beyond) ?

If so, do respond on this post or write to me at dhruv(dot)chitgo(at)gmail(dot)com

Peace.
Something is brewing in Lahore. Anyone on the ground care to give updates on what's going on?

Gamal Mubarak on CNN

20/85

"At the end of a lengthy meeting at a luxury resort outside London, the so-called Group of 20 nations, who together represent about 85 percent of the world economy, failed to offer specifics about the size or timing of coordinated economic stimulus, and some major players, including Germany and France, remain deeply reluctant to add to their national debt."

This is mind boggling isn't it, the fact that 20 nations represents 85% of world economy and there are 200 nations in the world.

Quantum of Solace

"Quillagua is among many small towns that are being swallowed up in the country’s intensifying water wars. Nowhere is the system for buying and selling water more permissive than here in Chile, experts say, where water rights are private property, not a public resource, and can be traded like commodities with little government oversight or safeguards for the environment.

Private ownership is so concentrated in some areas that a single electricity company from Spain, Endesa, has bought up 80 percent of the water rights in a huge region in the south, causing an uproar. In the north, agricultural producers are competing with mining companies to siphon off rivers and tap scarce water supplies, leaving towns like this one bone dry and withering." (NY Times)


This is just awesome

"The bonuses will be paid to executives at A.I.G.’s financial products division, the unit that wrote trillions of dollars’ worth of credit-default swaps that protected investors from defaults on bonds backed in many cases by subprime mortgages.

The bonus plan covers 400 employees, and the bonuses range from as little as $1,000 to as much as $6.5 million. Seven executives at the financial products unit were entitled to receive more than $3 million in bonuses.

Mr. Liddy, whom Federal Reserve and Treasury officials recruited after A.I.G. faltered last September and received its first round of bailout money, said the bonuses and “retention pay” had been agreed to in early 2008 and were for the most part legally required.
" (NY Times)

This is a brilliant heist. The 400 people in the division that bankrupt the gazillion dollar company earlier last year managed to negotiate a  bullet proof bonus scheme for the total amount $450 million dollars.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

El Presidente de Bolivia

"Why is Bolivia so concerned with the coca leaf? Because it is an important symbol of the history and identity of the indigenous cultures of the Andes.

The custom of chewing coca leaves has existed in the Andean region of South America since at least 3000 B.C. It helps mitigate the sensation of hunger, offers energy during long days of labor and helps counter altitude sickness. Unlike nicotine or caffeine, it causes no harm to human health nor addiction or altered state, and it is effective in the struggle against obesity, a major problem in many modern societies.

Today, millions of people chew coca in Bolivia, Colombia, Peru and northern Argentina and Chile. The coca leaf continues to have ritual, religious and cultural significance that transcends indigenous cultures and encompasses the mestizo population."
(Evo Morales - NY TImes Op Ed)

Apparently right now chewing coca leaf is considered as a crime in international law.


"In 1961, the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs placed the coca leaf in the same category with cocaine — thus promoting the false notion that the coca leaf is a narcotic — and ordered that “coca leaf chewing must be abolished within 25 years from the coming into force of this convention.” Bolivia signed the convention in 1976, during the brutal dictatorship of Col. Hugo Banzer, and the 25-year deadline expired in 2001."

Dragon in Africa



"Jean de Dieu Malanga, a professor of Chinese, gives students at Savorgnan de Brazza high school their annual examination. Malanga learned to speak Chinese while studying in China during the 1980's. For additional income, he moonlights as a translator for the Chinese bosses at construction sites in the DRC.
" (Time)

This is a series of fascinating pictures of China and the Chinese diaspora doing business in the depth of Africa.

I wonder if Chinese embassies release travel warnings.

"
Chinese do not look like their former colonialist. The build roads, dams and hostpitals and win over the people. They speak neither democracy nor transparency and they win over the dictators.

From the barren countryside of Central China to the leather armchairs of African ministries, the photographs capture the adventures of teh Chinese who came to Africa to make their fortunes and who invested their lives and their money in a conteinent that the West has long considered fit only for hand outs"


Michael Jackson sells a million tickets to his concert in Britain in a couple of hours.

3.14

Happy pi Day 

3.14159265

Friday, March 13, 2009

 When I heard about the term "perpetual traveller" or "permanent traveller", I imagined something cool. But it seems to be a technique to avoid paying taxes. What a let down.

CNBC on trial

Scroll below to see the finest TV journalism at work - by a comedian. Damn. That's how you speak truth to power.

Must See TV 3

Must see TV 2

Must See TV 1

The men who ruin the global economy. (TPM)

the horserace

China, that other Asian economic powerhouse, sharply reduced child malnutrition, and now just 7 percent of its children under 5 are underweight, a critical gauge of malnutrition. In India, by contrast, despite robust growth and good government intentions, the comparable number is 42.5 percent. Malnutrition makes children more prone to illness and stunts physical and intellectual growth for a lifetime.

NYTimes

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Germany is in shock after a heavily armed 17-year-old opened fire on pupils and teachers at his former school in a killing spree in which 15 people died. (BBC)

If this happens in Pakistan, we call him a terrorist - in Germany, he'll be called "troubled teenager".

Google Now Lets You Target Ads At Yourself - TechCrunch

Google is wading into behavioral ad targeting in a big way today. It will start placing cookies on consumer’s browsers to collect information about their interests whenever they visit sites that show AdSense contextual ads. Then it will show ads targeted to those interests to the same person as he or she browses the Web on other sites that also serve AdSense ads (which is a large portion of all commercial sites).

More info here.

Reality

I haven't known anyone that got laid off ever - but I found out this week about six people that have been laid off in this early year.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Judges without wisdom

" A 75-year-old widow in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to 40 lashes and four months in jail for mingling with two young men who are not close relatives, drawing new criticism for the kingdom's ultraconservative religious police and judiciary.

The woman's lawyer told The Associated Press on Monday that he would appeal the verdict against Khamisa Sawadi, who is Syrian but was married to a Saudi. The attorney, Abdel Rahman al-Lahem, said the verdict issued March 3 also demands that Sawadi be deported after serving her sentence.

He said his client, who is not serving her sentence yet, was not speaking with the media, and he declined to provide more details about the case.

The newspaper Al-Watan said the woman met with the two 24-year-old men last April after she asked them to bring her five loaves of bread at her home in al-Chamil, a city north of the capital, Riyadh.
"(AP) via Andrew Sullivan

This is what happen if you have a bunch of assholes running a religious court.

Guinea-Bissau, backwards land

"I know it seems crazy," one Western diplomat here said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. "But this might be the best shot at stability that Guinea-Bissau has had in a long time." NYTimes

Monday, March 09, 2009

Want a job?

"Hello AIESECERs,

I was an active member of AIESEC MICHIGAN from 1996 to 2000.

As the Head of Recruitment in North America (one of several “hats” I wear at this progressive SME), I have the pleasure of offering to the AIESEC World the attached job opportunity.

It is ideal for new graduates and young professionals in their 20s.
....
I’d sure like to hire an AIESECer, or maybe a few.
"


This is the job description

"International Business Analyst

We are looking for resourceful and fast-learning individuals with the right mix of
analytical and all-around communications skills and a strong taste for commercial success. This is a remarkable opportunity for young professionals who wish to enhance his/her managerial skills.

Job responsibilities entail business intelligence research, preparing and conducting
interviews with political and business leaders, and writing reports to be distributed in
world-class publications. The aim is to create an editorial environment that is both informative for our readers and attractive to potential advertisers.

Besides outstanding interpersonal skills, candidates must have:
- Perfect control of English and of at least one of the following languages: French,
Spanish, Russian, Arabic
- Sound knowledge of international affairs
- Strong flare for writing
- Curious, flexible mindset
- Desire to work in a sales-driven environment
- Strong “soft” skills (would-be applicants with a highly technical background and focus need not apply)

Important: this position includes NO FIXED PLACE of business, so be prepared to travel eleven months of the year in a wide variety of regions of the world. Projects last an average of four months.

If you are interested in participating in our selection process, please send your CV or resume accompanied by a cover letter (IN ENGLISH) to northamerica@ge-consulting.com.

The Special Interest Supplement industry is one of the fastest growing segments in the
advertising and publishing industry. In a short period of time this booming sector has
become an editorial content contributor and a major source of income for
magazines and newspapers around the world as well as a valuable communication platform for global corporations.

Over the past five years our client has experienced unprecedented growth while successfully
publishing over forty special supplements from 25 different countries covering a vast
array of topics such as Oil and Gas, Pharmaceuticals, Education, Automotive, and many
others. Please visit their website: www.focusreports.net.
"

Sounds like a great job!

If you want more details, send me an email at dody@nomadlife.org and I'll give you the contact of the person responsible for the hiring.

Update:
This is not an endorsment btw. I got contacted by the dude and I'm passing the opportunity along. Don't forget to do your homework about the job and company, etc.

Advance Guide to Flirting



Download this research backed guide by the good folks at Social Issues Research Center (free download)

I *heart* The Economist

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Go East

Here are the sick men of Europe according to FP Magazine.
  • Latvia
  • Estonia
  • Ukraine
  • Hungary
  • Bulgaria

Saturday, March 07, 2009

A few good men in Pakistan.

Here's to another hundred years of failure

"A HUNDRED years ago a group of foreign diplomats gathered in Shanghai for the first-ever international effort to ban trade in a narcotic drug. On February 26th 1909 they agreed to set up the International Opium Commission—just a few decades after Britain had fought a war with China to assert its right to peddle the stuff. Many other bans of mood-altering drugs have followed. In 1998 the UN General Assembly committed member countries to achieving a “drug-free world” and to “eliminating or significantly reducing” the production of opium, cocaine and cannabis by 2008.

That is the kind of promise politicians love to make. It assuages the sense of moral panic that has been the handmaiden of prohibition for a century. It is intended to reassure the parents of teenagers across the world. Yet it is a hugely irresponsible promise, because it cannot be fulfilled.
" (Economist)

I wonder whether the drug addicts are not the users but the whole drug enforcement industries across the world. They can't get off these good stuffs.

Base Jump Economy

"As government data revealed that 651,000 more jobs disappeared in February, a sense took hold that growing joblessness may reflect a wrenching restructuring of the American economy." (NY Times)

Will the parachute open?

Well, for all those stories of Great Depression in the 1930s told via quaint black and white movies or Russell Crows - we are witnessing something similar in motion. Just cross fingers that US and Chinese stimulus work.


"“The last time G.E. cut its dividend was during the Great Depression,” he pointed out. He was quiet for a minute. Then he added, “If G.E. is in trouble, God help us all.”" (NY Times)

The source of the trouble? G.E. Capital. Sounds familiar?

Friday, March 06, 2009

A kind reminder

that a billion dollar is one thousand million dollars. Or in a technical term, an awful lot of money.



Quote of the Week.

"The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power." - Judith Butler


Thursday, March 05, 2009

US Immigration tips

Devrim and I used to joked about wearing a green t-shirt with an down arrow and label it "waraq" or paperwork - a short hand for green card - in AIESEC International conferences.


"Sex for Green Card"

Well, I just found out that at the current process, it is actually true.  The fastest way for permanent residency is via family relations - whether you marry one or have sisters/brothers/family who marry one.

The good Taleban (?)

Fareed Zakaria angles pretty heavily for the so-called 'good Taleban' in his latest cover story for Newsweek. It's likely that Obama is going to follow Zardari and strike a deal with the Afghan Taleban (90% of whom, Zakaria writes, are basically tribal fighters). In other words, Obana will ask for a ceasefire with them and start hunting down only Al Qaeda. This will get the war over quicker, but it won't necessarily eliminate hardline Islamic elements.

Now, some sections of the Indian media are sceptical about this 'good taleban' business. I think that's hogwash.

Indian intelligence agencies have long maintained ties with the local Afghan resistance groups that Zakaria describes. Overtly, we've been building roads and buildings in Afghan at least since the US invasion began. Covert ties, aimed at harassing Pakistan through Afghanistan, go back much further. These groups will be among the first to ally with the US. Afterall, the only thing these groups want is Sharia law in their land, not necessarily waging global jihad.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

twitter is made just for an AIESEC Conference. Imagine all the gossips you can exchange during plenaries? "Guess who came out of Tara's room this morning!!"


" Alcoa, the biggest aluminum company in the country, encountered two problems peculiar to Iceland when, in 2004, it set about erecting its giant smelting plant. The first was the so-called “hidden people”—or, to put it more plainly, elves—in whom some large number of Icelanders, steeped long and thoroughly in their rich folkloric culture, sincerely believe. Before Alcoa could build its smelter it had to defer to a government expert to scour the enclosed plant site and certify that no elves were on or under it. It was a delicate corporate situation, an Alcoa spokesman told me, because they had to pay hard cash to declare the site elf-free but, as he put it, “we couldn’t as a company be in a position of acknowledging the existence of hidden people." (Vanity Fair)

This makes them cool.

About yesterday

Lahore Police did no worse than Mumbai's - they were just as unprepared - but it's par on course.

I had an assumption that even terrorists or insurgents (or whatever it is called right now) would have some line that they would not cross. I mean, yeah, they cross the line of killing people without impunity or descreating worship place - but I'd think they would  not touch their favourite sport - because it brought some modicum of joy to their sorry ass lives.

South Asians were born with cricket bat on their hand. You can be poor or rich or bless or cursed but you can always play cricket. So yesterday's attack was jarring because well, they are trying to destroy part of a way of life - on a common sport that everybody loves to various degrees of obessiveness.  

How fuckin' arrogant.

Is this a tipping point? It's hard to say but it's another grim marker to the hollowing of the state of Pakistan.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Well Done

"Czech banks are mostly net lenders to their foreign owners and are therefore not exposed to disruptions in foreign financing, the central bank said on Tuesday."(Forbes)

The 1% rule

Remember this inspiration quote that got put around in @ conferences?

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." (Margaret Mead)

Well kids, it is true - but this time, it's for the worse.

How a few people can fuck up everything..

"As an AIG employee, I just want to point out the fact that AIG is a holding company. Very few people actually work for “AIG”–and the vast majority of people who worked for the AIG-owned company in London that put all the bad risks on the books are gone. Basically AIG has 55 companies, one of which employed 300 people (out of 116,000) that managed to basically sink the ship. The amout of upper level people they reported to in New York is probably less than fifty. So when you hear “AIG executives” remember you’re talking about a class of people of whom the vast majority work for or run vanilla proprty and casualty insurers which are regulated just like everyone else and turn a profit.

Long story short, the only claims that can’t get paid because too much bad risk got put on the books are the bond and CDO stuff we all know about. Every other normal policy is fine, which is why we’re getting spun off. I know nobody cares and AIG schaudenfreude is fun, but nobody seems to care that 100K plus normal employees are getting fucked by this just as much as everybody else. I insure truckers. I pay my claims. You see a semi full of televisions flipped over, my check doesn’t bounce. And now because the fucking whiz kids in London fucked us, my dad can’t retire and the progressive movement is dancing on our grave because our collars are the wrong color" (TP)


CNN Feed on the attack on Sri Lankan team

SilverKey at CEBIT 2009


(This is how the stand looks like in the Egyptian Pavillion last night - CEBIT starts today)

If you are visiting CEBIT 2009 in Germany, stop by Hall 2, Stand E37 or Hall 3, Stand D33

Both SilverKey Egypt and SilverKey Azerbaijan got selected by the its respective country government to be part of their delegation to the largest IT exhibition in the world. You'll find http://taher.nomadlife.org and http://faridaz.nomadlife.org rockin' on their respective country booth.

Day 2

Taher, the CEO of SilverKey Egypt, is being interviewed by DW-World Radio Station of Germany.




They even fuckin' attack a cricket team

" Gunmen have attacked a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team on its way to play in the Pakistani city of Lahore.

At least five members of the Sri Lankan cricket team were injured - two from bullets - and five Pakistani policemen escorting the team bus were killed.
Pakistani officials said about 12 gunmen were involved and grenades and rocket launchers have been recovered.

The BBC's Barbara Plett in Islamabad says the incident will come as a big blow to Pakistani cricket.

Pakistan invited Sri Lanka to tour after India's cricket team pulled out of a scheduled cricket tour following the deadly November attacks in the western Indian city of Mumbai." (BBC)

It's time to take the gloves off guys. Assasination of political leaders and civilian casualties, those are just business as usual - but an attack on a cricket team on an international test? That's just simply blasphemy - it's time to unite the continent and  give those responsibles some hell.

click click


50 cool Photoblogs

Monday, March 02, 2009

Straight to Hell



The original The Clash song - and below is the cool cover by Lily Allen





"If you can play on the fiddle
Hows about a british jig and reel?
Speaking kings english in quotation
As railhead towns feel the steel mills rust water froze
In the generation
Clear as winter ice
This is your paradise

There aint no need for ya
Go straight to hell boys

Ywanna join in a chorus
Of the amerasian blues?
When its christmas out in ho chi minh city
Kiddie say papa papa papa papa-san take me home
See me got photo photo
Photograph of you
Mamma mamma mamma-san
Of you and mamma mamma mamma-san
Lemme tell ya bout your blood bamboo kid.
It aint coca-cola its rice.

Straight to hell
Oh papa-san
Please take me home
Oh papa-san
Everybody they wanna go home
So mamma-san says" (Lyrics)


Here's some great explanation about the lyrics from Wikipedia
"
Like those of many songs by the Clash, the lyrics of "Straight to Hell" decry injustice. The first verse refers to the shutting down of steel mills in Northern England and the alienation and racism suffered by immigrants despite their attempts to integrate into British society. The second verse concerns the abandonment of children in Vietnam who were fathered by American soldiers during the Vietnam War. The third verse contrasts the American Dream as seen through the eyes of an Amerasian child with a dystopian vision of American reality. The final verse considers the plight of immigrants throughout the world. Due to this difficult subject material, as well as the slow, aching beat, the song is one of the most downbeat tracks in the Clash's history.

The reference to "Amerasian Blues" describes the abandonment of children fathered by American soldiers stationed in Vietnam during the Vietnam War: an Amerasian child is portrayed as presenting an absent American father, "papa-san," with a photograph of his parents, pleading with his father to take him home to America. The child's plea is rejected. "-san" being a Japanese rather than Vietnamese honorific that was used by US troops in Vietnam who referred to Vietnamese men and women especially older men and women and "mama-san" and "papa-san".

When Strummer sings of a "Volatile Molotov" thrown at Puerto Rican immigrants in Alphabet City as a message to encourage them to leave, he is referring to the arson that claimed buildings occupied by immigrant communities – notably Puerto Rican – before the neighborhood was subject to gentrification. Hence, the ironic reference to "dead-head," the removal of dead flowers to encourage further blooming, at the end of the verse.

The last line of the song, "King Solomon never lived 'round here," condenses at least three attributes associated with the biblical figure of King Solomon: his love of dance (thus referring back to the singing and dancing of immigrants throughout the song), his purported wisdom and justice, and finally the promise of a return from exile to a land or, as Strummer would suggest, a world of peace and prosperity."

This is one way to do it

Renegade soldiers have killed Guinea-Bissau President Joao Bernardo Vieira, hours after a bomb blast took the life of his rival, the armed forces chief of the fragile West African nation, a senior official said Monday.

Change of power, old style.

Legal Immigration

"In the last two decades, Mr. Wadhwa estimates, 50,000 immigrants left the United States and returned to India and China. In the next five years, he projects that 100,000 more will make the return trip. “A trickle is turning into a flood,” he said.

Economics, not visa headaches, is the main engine of the shift, according to the two-year research project, which surveyed 1,203 Indian and Chinese workers who had studied or worked in the United States for a year or more before returning home. Growing demand for their skills and shining career opportunities back home were cited by 87 percent of the Chinese and 79 percent of the Indians as the major professional reason for returning. Most also cited the lure of being close to family and friends.

Most of the returnees were young –- in their early 30s -– and nearly 90 percent had master’s or doctorate degrees. And 66 percent said that visa considerations were not a reason for returning home. “Addressing this issue is going to entail more than solving the visa problem,” said Mr. Wadhwa, referring to the waiting list of 1 million H-1B visa holders and their families who are seeking longer-term work visas.

Instead of permitting skilled immigrants to enter the United States, Mr. Wadhwa insisted, the country has to start wooing them by creating “fast-track” immigration policies and incentives to stay, as nations like Singapore and Australia have done."
(NY Times Blog)

Ah US immigration policies - it's easier to be illegal than being legal in the US.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The next Facebook

This is the main reason the Interwebs got invented - to make yourself feel better - social webs - downer style.


"Today, my boyfriend told me he couldn't hang out with me because he felt really sick. I went to his house anyway to surprise him with homemade soup. I walk in to his room only to find him hooking up with my sister. She can't drive, our mom drove her there. FML
" (Fuck My Life)


"Today, I got a 31% on a Chinese test at school. I moved here to new jersey from China two months ago. FML"

"Today, I forgot to do my French homework, but since it was an online worksheet, I told my teacher my internet wasn't working. I told her with an e-mail. FML"

"Today, my husband dropped me off at work, ten minutes later I got a text saying" I just dropped the b*tch off I'll be there in a few baby, miss you". I asked him about it he said he "I dont know what youre talking about Megan". My name isnt Megan, not even close. FML"

oh AIG



Yeah, that is a Manchester United uniform.

"Next week, perhaps as early as Monday, the American International Group is going to report the largest quarterly loss in history. Rumors suggest it will be around $60 billion, which will affirm, yet again, A.I.G.’s sorry status as the most crippled of all the nation’s wounded financial institutions. The recent quarterly losses suffered by Merrill Lynch and Citigroup — “only” $15.4 billion and $8.3 billion, respectively — pale by comparison." (NY Times)

Read that again, the LARGEST QUARTERLY LOSS IN HISTORY.

AIG is an insurance so what happens in pretty much clear - it makes bet that things are going fine and dandy and keep collecting fees and now all their banking clients are getting their insurance money - kacching ! and AIG is owned 80% by the US government, so this is yet another way for the US government supply money to the banking system.

Ok so $60 billion dollar in 3 months losses is a rumour, but I bet it's going to be within that range  - give or take 10 billion dollars.

Man, when did it start that a billion is little money? I blame Zimbabwe for this - it must be some conspiracy by the CIA to soften people's reaction to the word "BILLIONS" - I mean, in Zimbabwe that only get you a Big Mac combo.
"Some recent Mexican army and police confrontations with drug cartels have resembled small-unit combat, with cartels employing automatic weapons and grenades. Large firefights have taken place in many towns and cities across Mexico but most recently in northern Mexico, including Tijuana, Chihuahua City and Ciudad Juarez. During some of these incidents, U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area. The U.S. Mission in Mexico currently restricts non-essential travel to the state of Durango and all parts of the state of Coahuila south of Mexican Highways 25 and 22 and the Alamos River for U.S. government employees assigned to Mexico. This restriction was implemented in light of the recent increase in assaults, murders, and kidnappings in those two states. The situation in northern Mexico remains fluid; the location and timing of future armed engagements cannot be predicted.

A number of areas along the border are experiencing rapid growth in the rates of many types of crime. Robberies, homicides, petty thefts, and carjackings have all increased over the last year across Mexico generally, with notable spikes in Tijuana and northern Baja California. Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana and Nogales are among the cities which have recently experienced public shootouts during daylight hours in shopping centers and other public venues. Criminals have followed and harassed U.S. citizens traveling in their vehicles in border areas including Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, and Tijuana.

The situation in Ciudad Juarez is of special concern. Mexican authorities report that more than 1,800 people have been killed in the city since January 2008. Additionally, this city of 1.6 million people experienced more than 17,000 car thefts and 1,650 carjackings in 2008. U.S. citizens should pay close attention to their surroundings while traveling in Ciudad Juarez, avoid isolated locations during late night and early morning hours, and remain alert to news reports. A recent series of muggings near the U.S. Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez targeted applicants for U.S. visas. Visa and other service seekers visiting the Consulate are encouraged to make arrangements to pay for those services using a non-cash method.

U.S. citizens are urged to be alert to safety and security concerns when visiting the border region. Criminals are armed with a wide array of sophisticated weapons. In some cases, assailants have worn full or partial police or military uniforms and have used vehicles that resemble police vehicles. While most crime victims are Mexican citizens, the uncertain security situation poses serious risks for U.S. citizens as well. U.S. citizen victims of crime in Mexico are urged to contact the consular section of the nearest U.S. consulate or Embassy for advice and assistance. Contact information is provided at the end of this message." (Travel Warning for Northern Mexico)

Nightmare

" But there are people like John Eller, 51, of Lee’s Summit, Mo., who offer a glimpse of how difficult it can be to bounce back.

Mr. Eller had been a senior director at Sprint, earning as much as $150,000 a year and overseeing 7,000 employees at 13 call centers, before being laid off in 2002 amid the economic contraction after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

A year later, he found another job, at roughly half the pay, managing a call center in New Jersey. After he lost that job two years later in a downsizing, Mr. Eller found himself out of work for another year before landing a contract position running two call centers in Kansas and Illinois, earning close to six figures.

But after that ended a year later, he was unable to find work for several months. In July 2007, he took what he thought would be a temporary job for $10 an hour as a baker in a grocery store. He was laid off again last October.

Mr. Eller quickly landed a new survival job, working as a supervisor on the overnight shift for a contractor processing immigration applications for the federal government at a salary of about $34,000 a year. But with eight children and a wife to support, Mr. Eller said he was still “below poverty level.” The family has not been able to make mortgage payments in five months and has been on the brink of foreclosure.
“I’m still scratching and clawing and trying to work my way back,” he said."
(NY Times)

This is a nightmare, having to start over again at 51 with heavy family burden. Man, tanking economy sucks;