Friday, December 31, 2010

2011



Borderless



And this is the raw data ranking

1 Denmark 157
2 Finland 156
2 Ireland 156
2 Portugal 156
3 Belgium 155
3 Germany 155
3 Sweden 155
3 United States 155
4 Canada 154
4 Italy 154
4 Japan 154
4 Luxembourg 154
4 Netherlands 154
4 Spain 154
5 Austria 153
5 Norway 153
6 France 152
6 United Kingdom 152
7 Australia 151
8 New Zealand 150
8 Singapore 150
9 Greece 149
9 Switzerland 149
10 Iceland 146
11 Malaysia 145
12 Korea, Republic of 144
13 Liechtenstein 140
14 Cyprus 139
14 Malta 139
24 Israel 118
17 Hungary 131
20 Argentina 127
23 Brazil 122
26 Romania 115
27 Mexico 114
29 Croatia 108
35 South Africa 88
38 St. Kitts & Nevis 84
42 Turkey 75
44 Dominica 71
53 Russian Federation 60
54 Taiwan 59
61 Thailand 52
61 United Arab Emirates 52
70 Saudi Arabia 42
72 Bosnia and Herzegowina 40
75 India 37
78 Egypt 34
79 China 33
82 Jordan 30
83 Korea, Dem People's Republic 29
87 Pakistan 25
87 Iran 25
88 Iraq 23
89 Afghanistan 22

And it looks like that my country's passport, Indonesia, has even less privilege that Afghanistan and we are the 4th largest country in the world and largely peaceful and becoming increasingly prosperous.

The squeeze

"Officials in India and Iran scrambled Thursday to keep the $11 billion in oil and gas trade between them going after India’s central bank declared last week that a regional clearinghouse could no longer be used to settle such transactions.


The move, which was long sought by the United States as a way to tighten sanctions against Iran, makes it tougher for Indian companies to buy Iranian oil and gas because they can no longer use the Asian Clearing Union, which was set up by the United Nations in the 1970s to ease commerce between Asian countries, to handle payments."

NY Times

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Merle Haggard -- Mama Tried

Watching Separation Process



Sat Sentinel

Will there be violence ahead of the expected separation of South Sudan from Sudan? This new initiative pays private satellites company to targets certain critical Sudan/South Sudan region to monitor mass movement of people and troops to ensure that the world is alert to any shenanigans happening.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hello South Sudan


"Sudan’s productive oilfields are right on the border between north and south, and many have assumed that this fact of geography ensures conflict. Yet the opposite is true: oil has smoothed the road to peace. It was only after the Khartoum government became oil-rich enough to equip its army properly that it realised it had to make terms with the south: no matter how much was thrown at defence, the oilfields were never going to be controllable by force of arms." Economist

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Israel Dilemma

"As I wrote last week, there's very little Israel's right-wing government has done in the past year or so to suggest that it is willing to wean itself from its addiction to West Bank settlements, and the expansion of settlements bodes ill for the creation of a Palestinian state -- and the absence of Palestinian statehood means that Israel will one day soon confront this crucial question concerning its democratic nature: Will it grant West Bank Arabs the right to vote, or will it deny them the vote? If it grants them the vote, this will be the end of Israel as a Jewish state; if it denies them the vote in perpetuity, it will cease to be a democratic state.
I will admit here that my assumption has usually been that Israelis, when they finally realize the choice before them (many have already, of course, but many more haven't, it seems), will choose democracy, and somehow extract themselves from the management of the lives of West Bank Palestinians. But I've had a couple of conversations this week with people, in Jerusalem and out of Jerusalem, that suggest to me that democracy is something less than a religious value for wide swaths of Israeli Jewish society. I'm speaking here of four groups, each ascendant to varying degrees:The haredim, the ultra-Orthodox Jews, whose community continues to grow at a rapid clip; the working-class religious Sephardim -- Jews from Arab countries, mainly -- whose interests are represented in the Knesset by the obscurantist rabbis of the Shas Party; the settler movement, which still seems to get whatever it needs in order to grow; and the million or so recent immigrants from Russia, who support, in distressing numbers, the Putin-like Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's foreign minister and leader of the "Israel is Our Home" party." Golderg
I trust Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic's take on Israel more than other writers on the web due to his background and track record of excellent writings on Israel and other topics. His politics can be too right wringer sometimes to my taste but he has more clear view on the state of Israel than most people I read.

Anyone can be a CEO



Scott Berkun

If all you have to do is racking up losses.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

What's the next bubble?

"So what happens if the housing bubble bursts? It will be the same thing all over again, unless the Fed can find something to take its place. And it's hard to imagine what that might be. After all, the Fed's ability to manage the economy mainly comes from its ability to create booms and busts in the housing market. If housing enters a post-bubble slump, what's left?" Krugman in 2005
The great housing bubble popped up in 2008 and destroyed a lot of wealth. What is the next bubble that will take us out of the current severe recession. Is China the next bubble? or is it green?

How to stay young



Hugh, 84 with his fiancee, 24.

A boxing day tragedy


Unidentified Egyptian men observe the remains of a tour bus that crashed into a truck on the 115 mile (185 kilometer) journey from Aswan to the ancient temples of Abu Simbel, near Aswan in Egypt Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010. The tour bus slammed into a truck in southern Egypt on Sunday, killing eight American tourists and injuring 21 others in the latest fatal crash involving tourists, according to the state news agency.
Daylife



A part of a tour bus with seats attached is seen near the truck it crashed into in Abu Simbel, Aswan, about 879 km (546 miles) south of Cairo December 26, 2010. Eight U.S. tourists were killed and 21 injured when their coach hit a stationary truck in southern Egypt, the state news agency MENA said on Sunday
Daylife

How the fuck can one hit a stationary truck on the side of the road in an empty highway.

Cute


Air Force Lt. Col. David Hanson takes a phone call from a Florida child Friday at NORAD's Santa Tracking Operations Center near Colorado Springs, Colo., where operators take as many as 80,000 phone calls each year. The exercise began in 1955 when a Colorado Springs newspaper ad invited kids to talk to Santa on a hotline. The phone number had a typo, and dozens of kids wound up dialing the Continental Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado Springs, the predecessor to NORAD. The officers on duty played along and began passing along reports on Santa's progress. It's now a cherished and elaborate ritual, staffed by volunteers and supported by some of the nation's largest technology companies Salon

I did not know it was started because of a typo.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Go Bears!!!


"Johnny Knox's touchdown in the first quarter put the Bears ahead, 10-7."

Chicago Bears trashed the Vikings 40-14 to clinch their N.F.C North title.

anselm kiefer

a series of four works by german artist Anselm Kiefer are shown in the NYTimes "seasons" series.

i remember that i saw his painting "lot's wife" at the cleveland museum of art in 1999. it is huge and mesmerizing if you see the real thing.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hacking Retailer

Wired has the full story on how consumers nowadays organize and share tips on how to get the best deal out of their purchases.

civil war anniversary

I can testify about the South under oath. I was born and raised there, and 12 men in my family fought for the Confederacy; two of them were killed. And since I was a boy, the answer I’ve heard to this question, from Virginia to Louisiana (from whites, never from blacks), is this: “The War Between the States was about states’ rights. It was not about slavery.” (NYTimes)

This is from the series of articles appearing in the Times about the US Civil War. I remember my 8th grade history teacher told us the state's rights story and warned us not to answer slavery on our essay test, or we'd get it wrong. aside from the declarations of secession that the author cites, there is Abraham Lincoln's statement, in his second inaugural address: "These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Not knowing when to fold - a typical African story of power

"UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has rejected a call for UN troops to leave Ivory Coast as tensions escalate after last month's presidential election.
Incumbent Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo had earlier demanded that all foreign peacekeepers leave the country.
His spokesperson accused UN and French troops of colluding with former rebels.
The UN and major powers have recognised Mr Gbagbo's rival, Alassane Ouattara, as the winner of the 28 November poll. Mr Gbagbo insists he has won.
Mr Ouattara is currently under UN protection at a hotel in Abidjan."
BBC

The incumbent President of Ivory Coast lost a fair election last month. He disagree and did not accept the result. Now they are in a country wide drama.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Legally Incest

"According to a 2007 report by the Max Planck Institute (via WRS), China, France, Israel, the Ivory Coast, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain and Turkey do not have any prohibitions on consensual incest between adults." via Andrew Sullivan

Now that's a mind bender.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Desert Ambition


"An artist's impression of Al-Khor stadium: Frankfurt architecture firm Albert Speer & Partners has designed eight of the nine new stadiums."Spiegel

When a comedian had to turn serious

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
9/11 First Responders React to the Senate Filibuster
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

Jon Stewart interviewed four 9/11 first responders about their reactions for health care funds law that failed in the US senate. He had to do it because no other news network in the US (except Al Jazeera International) covered about the defeated bill.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

today's mystery

there is a boring explanation for the following trend of appearances of the word "fuck" in print in English, according to google's ngram corpus.  can you guess it?

Blue



"Santa Claus and his elves are seeing more heartbreaking letters this year as children cite their parents' economic troubles in their wish lists.
U.S. Postal Service workers who handle letters addressed to Santa at the North Pole say more letters ask for basics — coats, socks and shoes — rather than Barbie dolls, video games and computers." USA Today

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Grow a snowflake in a bottle

disunion series

In other words, at the precise moment that a compromise to rescue the country seemed at hand, the incoming president worked aggressively to block it. Lincoln, whom historians often portray as being more interested in saving the Union than opposing slavery, chose to do the opposite. (from NYTimes Disunion series)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Indonesian Idiots



"In September, they disrupted Asia’s largest gay film festival, Q!, which has been held in Jakarta nine years running. And perhaps their best-known attack went down in 2008 at Indonesia’s National Monument. The Front descended on a group that, while celebrating Indonesia’s religious plurality, condoned one of their most-hated targets: a Muslim sect called Ahmadiyah that believes Muhammed might not be the final prophet. Dozens were left badly wounded from an onslaught with wooden sticks, including some of the country’s most high-profile pluralist leaders.
That is only the abridged list of the Front’s prey. Outside of an 18-month jail sentence for Rizieq and another key leader, both stemming from the National Monument attack, the Front has received little punishment.
“This is why most people have become more critical of them,” Jahroni said. “They’re troublemakers.”
The criticism appears to have peaked after police failed to prevent a reverend’s near-fatal stabbing in September." Global Post
I loath these fuckers, a bunch of self aggrandizing moralizer thugs who have been creating disturbances around  Java in trying to impose their morality to a diverse populace.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

He is pissed

"It’s all a fraud. America must get out of the way so Israelis and Palestinians can see clearly, without any obstructions, what reckless choices their leaders are making. Make no mistake, I am for the most active U.S. mediation effort possible to promote peace, but the initiative has to come from them. The Middle East only puts a smile on your face when it starts with them."
Tom Friedman

You won't like him when he is angry.

A suicide bomber attack in Sweden


"The police said that a car parked near the busy shopping street of Drottninggatan exploded first, shortly before 5 p.m. Stockholm time, and that the wreckage of the vehicle included gas canisters. A second blast followed minutes later, and about 200 yards from the first. A man’s body, with blast injuries to his abdomen, was discovered after the second explosion.
Swedish newspapers portrayed the dead man as a suicide bomber, and the newspaper Aftonbladet said on its Web site that he had been carrying pipe bombs and a backpack full of nails. But the police declined to confirm this. “We are in the middle of a technical investigation, and we are working methodically to find out what happened,” said a police spokeswoman, Petra Sjolander, who refused to speculate about whether the blasts were a terrorist attack." NY Times
Sweden, really? A country more known for its humanitarian work and success in creating a much more equal society among advanced nations in the world? This is like an attack to a Teddy Bear.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Bullshit Bingo - Don't go to a meeting without it

Get it here.

Facebook founder joins the "Giving Pledge"

http://givingpledge.org/#enter (It's a public pledge for billionaires to give away most, if not all, of their fortunes) - it's organized by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

Cancun Cop 16 Climate Conference

It's been going on since December 1st. It will end on December 10. This is a useful site to keep track of the shenanigans going on at the conference.

Commercial Space Exploration - the next frontier


"SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket lifts off on December 8, 2010 from launch pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. SpaceX on Wednesday successfully launched the Dragon space capsule into orbit, marking the first such attempt by a private enterprise that could pave the way for the future of space travel. The spacecraft was to circle the Earth twice before attempting a re-entry from low orbit and a splash landing into the Pacific Ocean, a risky operation that even the company said carried about a 70 percent likelihood of success." Daylife

Vegan no more

"After that, I soldiered on in silence for many months. I lied to myself, to my readers, to the world saying I felt healthy and fine, when in reality I felt worse than ever. During this time I saw doctor after doctor and tried every suggestion and recommendation, desperately hoping for a cure. I was determined to make veganism work; I was always convinced that just around the next corner I would find the solution. I tried to skirt the issue of my health problems with fellow vegans, cringing as they insisted that anyone who couldn’t be healthy on a vegan diet obviously ‘wasn’t doing it right’. I wanted to scream, but instead I kept my mouth shut, and listened to their arrogant and ignorant opinions on why so many people ‘failed’ at veganism. Some people even suggested that those of us who couldn’t remain healthy as vegans should willingly sacrifice our health for the cause. As a feminist, this body-hating rhetoric infuriated me. The willing participation in the denial and degradation of my bodily needs smacked of misogyny, patriarchal control and violence against the female body, and everything that I fight against. But still, I kept my mouth shut. I didn’t know what else to do."
Voracious Eats

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

NY Times in HTML 5

It's awesome

TSA Chief Interview

"Oh yes. They're not all in the sterile side. They're out in the area where people are congregating, and if there's someone who comes in that looks out of sorts or whatever, then the goal is for the air protection officers to see that person and do something. But look, we're doing a whole review, from the curbside to the cockpit. What is the best technology, what does the checkpoint of the future look like? So that's all underway. The TSA of the future, what should that look like? And I'd be open to your opinions. Ten years from now, in the year 2020, how should we be doing it, and what technology should we be using to accomplish that?
I've asked a number of people that, for their ideas, and we've asked internally, what should the transportation security officer, the TSO, the one that most people deal with- what should that position look like? What should the educational requirements, what should the professional requirements be? So there's a whole number of issues that I've undertaken a review of, looking to the future, recognizing that we have to protect as well as we can today. But I want to build a different TSA for the future, frankly. I want to see a different organization that can do a lot of things that I know worked, worked other places. But I need the support of Congress and the American people to do that."The Atlantic

The transcript is well worth reading in full to understand the mind of the new TSA chief.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Jaws of the Red Sea

"The second dive of the day was much less placid. Treadwell was down about 14 metres when his instructor noticed a stray piece of equipment below them and dived for it, before flinching in shock on his way back up. Above the scuba divers, and below the snorkellers, a large shark, more than two metres long, was slowly circling the group. When it was brought to Treadwell's attention, he says he went calm – very calm – as he watched the instructor free dive down a few metres and then start corkscrewing to the surface, blowing bubbles, to try to scare the shark away. "He went to the top and shouted, 'Shark, shark, shark – everyone get to the reef.' Everyone started swimming as fast as they could, because the reef was too shallow for the shark, so it would be a safe place. But there was an older lady, probably in her late 60s, who was slightly hard of hearing, and she was delayed. The shark started coming towards her, and she ended up kicking it in the face a couple of times, and using her underwater camera to whack it over the head. She got away, but she had cuts all over her legs. I don't know whether the shark had actually bitten her, but they looked like lacerations – almost like injuries from where she'd kicked the shark in the teeth." The Guardian

There have been 4 shark attacks (or 3 depending on your sources) in Sharm el Sheikh resort area of Sinai, Egypt in the past 8 days. One tourist died and four badly injured in these separate attacks. Apparently there was one close call as described above.


"Warning: This file image taken during a dive tour in Sharm el-Sheikh shows a female swimmer relaxing in the water - seemingly unaware that an Oceanic white tip shark is swimming near by. Tourists have been advised to avoid cheap dive tour operators after violent shark attacks at the popular resort"
Daily Mail

Shark attacks are extremely rare. Right now people are puzzling about about this series of events terrorizing the Red Sea.

Shanghai students kick ass


NY Times

Caveat Emptor: We might see a selection bias here. Shanghai probably is overrepresented in the top 2% of students in the whole of China while other countries's students are picked from around their respective countries, which makes the distribution of average/poor student much higher. They should do a test for a particular city in the US such as San Francisco.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Snooping is a two way street

"Formerly, back in the days of Orwell, every power could be conceived of as a Big Brother watching over its subjects' every move. The Orwellian prophecy came completely true once the powers that be could monitor every phone call made by the citizen, every hotel he stayed in, every toll road he took and so on and so forth. The citizen became the total victim of the watchful eye of the state. But when it transpires, as it has now, that even the crypts of state secrets are not beyond the hacker's grasp, the surveillance ceases to work only one-way and becomes circular. The state has its eye on every citizen, but every citizen, or at least every hacker - the citizens' self-appointed avenger - can pry into the state's every secret.
" Umberto Ecco

Wikileaks mirrors

Wikileaks content can be found in the following sites. Right now there are 208 sites. More are being added as we speaks.

Vote Julian Assange as Time Person of the Year

I think releasing the US State Department cables is a douche act, but the actions being taken against him right now are even worse. For the reason of digital freedom, please vote for him here.

Digital Battlefront




Signed by Anonymous.

A leak to far, ctd

The definition of US national security revealed by the cable is broad and all embracing.
There are obvious pieces of strategic infrastructure like communications hubs, gas pipelines and so on. However, other facilities on the list include:
  • Cobalt mine in Congo 
  • Anti-snake venom factory in Australia 
  • Insulin plant in Denmark
The US missions were asked to list all installations whose loss could critically impact the public health, economic security or national security of the United States.
BBC

These facilities are obvious and common sense. The value in this cable however lies in the compilation of the list in the first place. This cable should not have been leaked.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Dateline on South Sudan

Referendum is coming up next month. This is an important coverage.


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Florence and the Machine - Cosmic Love (Live on KEXP)

Narco Submarines

Superiority complex

"Many good points in this thread. One interesting comment-theme is in regard to arrogance from the United States, or that the US has a sense of being THE best. Would like to note that I've seen this in four other countries: Canada, France, India, China. While many Americans think they/we are THE best in the world (whatever THE best might be to the thinkers of those thoughts), significant numbers of Canadians and French will let you know they are superior to Americans (and to Germans and Brits), while Indians and Chinese are superior to all of us. Just a thought. ;) Oh, and don't forget Israelis who have a tendency to burst out saying they have the "Most moral country in the world!" (They say that with exclamation mark.) Israelis also say, "We have the most moral Army in the world!" Wasn't so long ago that the Germans were convinced of same. Today the Germans are convinced they are superior to Turks, while Polish are superior to Russians who are superior to all their neighbors. Czechs are superior to Slovaks. Romanians have told me they are the best in the world and would not waste time visiting America. Many people accuse Koreans of a superiority complex. Goes on -- in fact this thought could go on for hours. There are many Thais who feel superior to hill tribesmen, and Chinese who are superior to Tibetans (but that's redundant because Chinese are superior to everyone). And let's not get started on religion -- because the Hindus are convinced they are superior to all, and of course Jews have their own thoughts, as do Yezidis, Christians, and let's not forget Muslims. Arabs are superior to Persians (but what exactly is an Arab?), while Persians are superior to Arabs, and Afghans. Afghans are superior to Pakistanis who in turn are superior to Indians (apparently not realizing that Indians are superior to everyone), while Nepalese are superior to Indians, but again, the Nepalese apparently don't realize the Indians don't care because they will soon surpass China in population! (Which Indians will also say with an exclamation mark.) Northern Europe is superior to the whole of Southern Europe. Marines are superior to soldiers. Oh Lord, I travel too much. Could go on for hours about who all the arrogance out there. (Aussies are superior to Kiwis, and Kiwis are upset when we don't know where they are.) Gators are superior to Seminoles (because they really are in inferior to Gators).
Assange is superior to us all."(Michael Yon)

Dogs' story


"Dog shelter: Chinese volunteers keep order in a bus transferring dogs to a new asylum in Houwei village of Pukou district in Nanjing in east China's Jiangsu province Saturday. More than 200 volunteers and dozens of vehicles were used to relocate 1,500 stray dogs kept by a local dog shelter"

Economist's books of the year

Get the list here.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Airplane (1980) - Don´t Call me Shirley (Apertem os Cintos... O Piloto S...

Lorne Greene — a historical precondition for Leslie Nielsen — was Canadian. So is Lorne Michaels, the godfather of “Saturday Night Live,” who helped pave the runway for “Airplane.” So are most people named Lorne and most people who manage to be funny on television or in movies without also being black or Jewish.(from Leslie Nielsen's obituary)

Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022


Qatar's Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov (R) and FIFA President Sepp Blatter hold a copy of the World Cup after the announcements that Russia and Qatar are going to be host nations for the FIFA World Cup 2018 and 2022 respectively, in Zurich December 2, 2010.
Daylife

These are the two best choices in term of spreading the world cup fever around the world. It's about time the Middle East gets the opportunity to host its own world cup. This region is football crazy.

Closer call that what it seemed

"In the end, the pilots — who had a combined 72,000 hours of flight experience — removed some variables from the landing calculations. The computer indicated a safe landing would be possible, but the pilots, nonetheless, instructed flight attendants to prepare for an emergency evacuation if the plane ended up in the water beyond the runway’s end.
An hour and a half after the explosion, the plane stopped with just 150 yards of concrete to spare, its brakes heated to 1,650 degrees Fahrenheit, and four of its 22 tires blown."
NY Times

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Stuxnet, the peace virus

"In the 20th century, this would have been a job for James Bond.
The mission: Infiltrate the highly advanced, securely guarded enemy headquarters where scientists in the clutches of an evil master are secretly building a weapon that can destroy the world. Then render that weapon harmless and escape undetected.
But in the 21st century, Bond doesn't get the call. Instead, the job is handled by a suave and very sophisticated secret computer worm, a jumble of code called Stuxnet, which in the last year has not only crippled Iran's nuclear program but has caused a major rethinking of computer security around the globe." Fox News

Other than diplomacy, sabotage is another valid way to slow down or stop the Iranian nuclear weaponization effort. Better than war, much better. The written article is a must read for technophile. What an amazing piece of technology - kudos..

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

imaginary cable leak from chinese embassy

Most of the Republicans just elected to Congress do not believe what their scientists tell them about man-made climate change. America’s politicians are mostly lawyers — not engineers or scientists like ours — so they’ll just say crazy things about science and nobody calls them on it. It’s good. It means they will not support any bill to spur clean energy innovation, which is central to our next five-year plan. And this ensures that our efforts to dominate the wind, solar, nuclear and electric car industries will not be challenged by America.
Finally, record numbers of U.S. high school students are now studying Chinese, which should guarantee us a steady supply of cheap labor that speaks our language here, as we use our $2.3 trillion in reserves to quietly buy up U.S. factories. In sum, things are going well for China in America.
Thank goodness the Americans can’t read our diplomatic cables.(ThomasFriedman)

World AIDS day is today


Official Website

13 movies to see before the Oscar



TRUE GRITThe last time the Coen Brothers wrote and directed a western thriller, it won four Oscars, including Best Picture. True Grit, an update of a 1969 film that won John Wayne his only statue, could be on the same track: Jeff Bridges is stepping in for Wayne and Matt Damon co-stars.
Oscar Odds: As a boozed-up U.S. Marshall avenging the murder of young girl’s father, Bridges looks to repeat his Best Actor win last year for Crazy Heart. Hailee Steinfeld as that girl could win a Supporting Actress nod in her feature film debut, and with the Coen Bros. at the helm, the film should get in too.

The Atlantic

Interpol is trying to lock up Julian Assange

"Assange's details were also added to Interpol's worldwide wanted list. Dated 30 November, the entry reads: "sex crimes" and says the warrant has been issued by the international public prosecution office in Gothenburg, Sweden. "If you have any information contact your national or local police." It reads: "Wanted: Assange, Julian Paul," and gives his birthplace as Townsville, Australia." Guardian.

He was accused of sex crime back a couple of months ago and the charges was dropped and rescinded in a day. It was a smear campaign and now they try to do it again. It's a hit job.

"Note also that the Interpol notice is apparently not an international arrest warrant - it is just a request for information: "The Interpol notice is not an international arrest warrant but the public is asked to contact police with any information about Mr Assange's whereabouts." [bbc.co.uk]. Putting out such a notice is bizarre, given that the Prosecutor is in contact with Assange's legal counsel in London, and that Assange has agreed to meet at either the Swedish Embassy or Scotland Yard. The prosecutor wants "more information" about him, but is already in contact, and can arrange a meeting in person or via video conference at the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police in London, but instead chooses the Interpol route? This is not normal for a sex crimes case with only alleged victim testimony and no other evidence. If you or I had unprotected sex with a girl, and she subsequently said her consent had been predicated on use of a condom, the case would never go to court. Certainly it would never become an international police issue. There is the issue of there maybe being two alleged victims, but apparently only one actually complained to the police? I guess we will find out what really happened - if the case ever makes it to court." Slashdot

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Great Escape



"After clearing customs, Vahedi was paged over the loudspeaker, told to report to an office and once there had his passport confiscated.
The next seven months were a virtual house arrest. Vahedi believes he was held because his grown-up Los Angles-based sons promote popular Persian pop singers.
Vahedi would have to pay government officials a $150,000 bribe and have his sons stop their work to get his passport back, he was led to believe. Even then there was no guarantee he would ever get out of Iran.
Weighing his options, Vahedi decided to escape. He paid two drug smugglers to take him on horseback over the mountains of western Iran and into Turkey.
Daily Mail

AIESEC 10,000 exchanges






From 2010 annual report. A 54% growth over a year is mighty impressive. It would be interesting to hear what they did to achieve such a result.

A leak too far

"Yet it might be useful to consider one more filter. Consider it the World Order filter. The fact that we live our lives amid order and not chaos is the great achievement of civilization. This order should not be taken for granted.
This order is tenuously maintained by brave soldiers but also by talkative leaders and diplomats. Every second of every day, leaders and diplomats are engaged in a never-ending conversation. The leaked cables reveal this conversation. They show diplomats seeking information, cajoling each other and engaging in faux-friendships and petty hypocrisies as they seek to avoid global disasters.
Despite the imaginings of people like Assange, the conversation revealed in the cables is not devious and nefarious. The private conversation is similar to the public conversation, except maybe more admirable. Israeli and Arab diplomats can be seen reacting sympathetically and realistically toward one another. The Americans in the cables are generally savvy and honest. Iran’s neighbors are properly alarmed and reaching out.
Some people argue that this diplomatic conversation is based on mechanical calculations about national self-interest, and it won’t be affected by public exposure. But this conversation, like all conversations, is built on relationships. The quality of the conversation is determined by the level of trust. Its direction is influenced by persuasion and by feelings about friends and enemies." (David Brooks)

The world needs more diplomacy, not less. Wikileaks made a terrible mistake with this leak and it exposes Julian Assange as an ordinary douche bag.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Bomb Iran Coalition

"In 2007, when then-presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) suggested that the best way to deal with the nuclear threat posed by the Iranian regime was to "Bomb, bomb Iran," most people -- including then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) -- thought he was altogether too hawkish. According to the cables brought forward by Wikileaks today, McCain's opinion is shared by many of Iran's neighbors.
According to Le Monde (in translation), a cable relayed to Washington a conversation between the emir of Qatar and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) last February: "Based on over 30 years of experience with the Iranians, the emir concluded the meeting by saying that we shouldn't believe but one word in a hundred that the Iranians say." The prime minister of Qatar told Kerry later that trip that Ahmadinejad told him: "we beat the Americans in Iraq, the final battle will be in Iran."
The president of the Upper House of the Jordanian Parliament, Zeid Rifai, was said in a cable (translated) to have told the U.S. that "the dialogue with Iran will go 'nowhere', adding: 'bomb Iran or live with a nuclear Iran: the sanctions, the carrots, the incentives, have no importance.'"
The Omanis were similarly concerned, according to cables relayed by the New York Times, as an Omani military official told officials that he could not decide which was worse: "a strike against Iran's nuclear capability and the resulting turmoil it would cause in the Gulf, or inaction and having to live with a nuclear-capable Iran."
The United Arab Emirates' defense chief, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi, called Iranian Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "Hitler" to U.S. officials, also "stressed 'that he wasn't suggesting that the first option was 'bombing' Iran,' but also warned, 'They have to be dealt with before they do something tragic.'"
The Saudis, the Bahrainis and even Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak were all similarly inclined, as has been widely reported -- El Pais reported that Mubarak's hatred for Iran was called "visceral" and the New York Times reported the existence of cables referring to the Saudi king's "frequent exhortations" to engage in military action against Iran. The Bahrainis, too, are said to be keen to see Iran's nuclear program halted, and King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa is said to have blamed problems in Iraq and Afghanistan on the Iranian government -- and both Kuwaiti and Yemeni officials reportedly told U.S. diplomats similar things about Iranian involvement in fomenting dissent in their own countries." (Talking Points Memo)

Bottom line: You don't want to based your foreign policy on the recommendation of Middle East Arab Leaders.

Juicyleaks

NY Times Complete Coverage

El Pais Complete Coverage


Diplomatic atlas of the diplomatic cables
Spiegel Complete Coverage

The Guardian Complete Coverage

Get the source yourself here.

My take: What WikiLeaks has done is undermine US international diplomacy. That's a retarded thing to do - you want the US to do more diplomacy, not less because man, they got lotsa big guns and can kick your ass several times over. You want them to talk more, shoot less.

Leslie Nielsen

he has died.  He was one of my favorite movie actors.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The battle for Rio



"Prolonged gun battles between police and drug traffickers left at least 14 people dead yesterday in Rio, including a 14-year-old girl who was reportedly shot through the chest while she surfed the internet.
The deaths came during a series of major police assaults on the city's slums, including one favela that serves as the HQ of the city's largest drug gang.
Triggered by a spate of attacks on police and drivers, the incursions began on Tuesday and involved hundreds of heavily armed police operatives, bulletproof vehicles and helicopters." Guardian
Brazil is hosting the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. Expect more violent clashes between the state and the gangs as Brazil attempts to take control of some of its territory.


More pictures

Spiegel on Karachi


"The aftermath of the Nov. 11 attacks in Karachi: A suicide bomber can now be bought for the equivalent of $300."

"Karachi is the pulsating heart of Pakistan, but the city of 18 million is descending into a maelstrom of violence. While NATO uses the port to support its war in Afghanistan, international jihadism has established strongholds in the metropolis's slums and suburbs.
The circle had to be closed with blood, in order to wipe out the disgrace of the previous day. That's the way of life here -- the way of life in Karachi.
The six men were heavily armed, and yet they still managed to get through all the checkpoints and reach Club Road in the red zone, a highly secured district in the heart of the city. The head of the provincial government has his official residence here, not far from the American consulate, two luxury hotels and the police headquarters, where the office of the young inspector Omar Shahid is located. As the head of the anti-extremism unit, Shahid was at the top of the attackers' hit list." Spiegel

If what Spiegel reported is true, it means that Pakistan has innovated itself to become the reliable supplier for suicide bombers. $300 buck per suicide bombers? This is China level industrialization. That is pretty cheap for a human weapon, isn't it? There must be some awesome production level "education" of suicides bomber that put downward pressure on the cost of having somebody blow themselves up to kill other people. I would not be surprised if there's some websites on which you can pick your own suicide bombers and charge your credit card for it.

Come to think of it, this is probably the cheapest form of "hire for murder".

Friday, November 26, 2010

Stoning in Iran - an illustration



Click on image for larger version. What kind of bastards are participating in public stoning voluntarily?

A case of Euro straight jacket suffocation

"In early 2009, a joke was making the rounds: “What’s the difference between Iceland and Ireland? Answer: One letter and about six months.” This was supposed to be gallows humor. No matter how bad the Irish situation, it couldn’t be compared with the utter disaster that was Iceland.
But at this point Iceland seems, if anything, to be doing better than its near-namesake. Its economic slump was no deeper than Ireland’s, its job losses were less severe and it seems better positioned for recovery. In fact, investors now appear to consider Iceland’s debt safer than Ireland’s. How is that possible?
Part of the answer is that Iceland let foreign lenders to its runaway banks pay the price of their poor judgment, rather than putting its own taxpayers on the line to guarantee bad private debts. As the International Monetary Fund notes — approvingly! — “private sector bankruptcies have led to a marked decline in external debt.” Meanwhile, Iceland helped avoid a financial panic in part by imposing temporary capital controls — that is, by limiting the ability of residents to pull funds out of the country." Krugman

All the devils are here

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Exclusive - Bethany McLean & Joe Nocera Extended Interview<a>
www.thedailyshow.com
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Bottom line: Wall Street is going to end the Western Civilization as we know it. Holy crap, these guys are unscrupulous.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving


  • Be thankful that you are not an Irish banker right now.
  • Be thankful that your hometown is not Kandahar.
  • Be thankful that your head of state's last name is not Berlusconi.
  • Be thankful that Kim Jong-Il is not your father.
  • Be thankful that Sarah Palin is not your mom.
  • Be thankful that you are young and not responsible for a mortgage that is 40% higher than your home's worth.
  • Be thankful that your next assignment is not going to be in Juarez, Mexico.
  • Be thankful that you are currently not stuck in a US airport or worse, Charles de Gaulle, Paris.
  • Be thankful that your current job is not in TSA where you have to grab strangers' balls and watch penises all day while people hurl insults in your face.
  • Be thankful that you are not an Albino living in Tanzania where you are most likely to be hunted for your bones.
  • Be thankful that you are not a woman living in Congo.
  • Be thankful that you are not part of the Israel - Palestinian negotiation team.
  • Be thankful that you are not contesting in Egyptian parliamentary election this coming Sunday.
  • Be thankful that you are about to marry Prince William.
  • Be thankful that you are not a single guy living in Riyadh.
  • Be thankful that you are not a politician in Southern Mindanao.
  • Be thankful that you are not being ensnared by Indian telecommunication scandals.
  • Be thankful that you are not a newspaper executive.
  • Be thankful that your job does not involve trying to make Microsoft online business profitable.

One more stupid UN vote


For the last 10 years sexual orientation has been included in a list of discriminatory grounds for executions – gay rights activists say the vote to remove that listing is “dangerous and disturbing.”
The UN resolution urges countries to protect the right to life of all people, calling on them to investigate killings based on discriminatory grounds. Sexual orientation was previously listed as one of these forms of discrimination, alongside ethnicity, religious belief and linguistic minorities.
But now sexual orientation has been taken out of the list. The amendment was supported by Benin in Africa on behalf of the African Group in the UN General Assembly. It passed on a narrow vote of 79 for, 70 against , 17 abstentions and 26 absent.
Some of those voting to remove sexual orientation were countries where gays are known to be or thought to be executed or summarily killed including Iran, Nigeria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Iraq. Pink Paper

 This is one of those decision that makes me want to scream "y'all fucking' retarded". The more you push toward discrimination against a section of humanity, you are encouraging more discriminations that will creep into the section that you are a part of. What a bunch of genius.

Never forget this

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up. 
Pastor Martin Niemöller

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ready to "fight tonight"

"The 16,000 soldiers of the division, which includes 1,700 Korean augmentees to the U.S. Army, are spread across 17 camps from just north of Seoul to just south of the demilitarized zone (DMZ). The 2nd Infantry Division gave up the DMZ mission in 1991.
The capabilities of the division continue to expand to meet the threat. No other Army division matches the diverse design of the 2nd Infantry Division, a design that matches its diverse mission requirements. Four heavy battalions, two air assault battalions and four artillery battalions (two multiple launch rocket systems [MLRS] battalions) are enabled by full aviation attack and lift support, additional counterfire radars, a multirole bridge company, combat support equipment engineers and a robust U.S. Air Force support squadron. The past year has brought a full upgrade across intelligence and communication systems. In addition, the division will soon field new Abrams tank and Bradley fighting vehicle fleets. The immense responsibilities that junior soldiers and leaders tackle daily demand an intense training program."
South Korea Defense

Yeah, North Korea is mad mad crazy but restarting the war in the Korean Peninsula is a terrible terrible thing. We shall see if China acts like an adult in this situation restraining its retarded little brother.

Luckiest people ever

hair market in russia

“This is capitalism,” he said. “The people with money want to distinguish themselves from the people with no money. Why does one woman sell her hair to another? The person with money wants to look better than the person without money.”(NYtimes)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It is possible not to be groped by the TSA

This new line led to a TSA security checkpoint. You see, it is official TSA policy that people (both citizens and non-citizens alike) from international flights are screened as they enter the airport, despite the fact that they have already flown. Even before the new controversial security measures were put in place, I found this practice annoying. But now, as I looked past the 25 people waiting to get into their own country, I saw it: the dreaded Backscatter imaging machine.
Now, I’ve read a fair amount about the controversy surrounding the new TSA policies. I certainly don’t enjoy being treated like a terrorist in my own country, but I’m also not a die-hard constitutional rights advocate. However, for some reason, I was irked. Maybe it was the video of the 3-year old getting molested, maybe it was the sexual assault victim having to cry her way through getting groped, maybe it was the father watching teenage TSA officers joke about his attractive daughter. Whatever it was, this issue didn’t sit right with me. We shouldn’t be required to do this simply to get into our own country. (noblaster
The guy managed to do it. It only took him 2.5 hours.

Korea Border Crisis


NY Times

Wikipedia is also covering.

The Guardian has a live coverage here.



BBC has large pictures.

An astute analysis from a HN reader about the remote possibility of a war breaking out
"It's not so simple. Consider the basic equation. Mostly unpopulated, desolate, rugged terrain in the North where artillery can hide. Heavily populated metropolitan areas in the South where Northern artillery can hit. You would need to blanket a huge area of the North with devastating bombardment in order to remove all of the artillery positions. Meanwhile, every single shell fired from the North will likely result in civilian deaths in the South. And they can fire a lot of shells in a very short amount of time.
The only way to guarantee taking out all of the Northern artillery positions would be carpet bombing with nukes, which would result in lots of deaths in South Korea from fallout (not to mention all the other much more serious problems involved, such as establishing a precedent of preemptive nuclear attack).
In reality, the situation is even more complicated than this simplistic analysis. It's not so
easy to take out an artillery position in a previously undetermined location, especially if that artillery position can be hidden in a cave/bunker on a moment's notice. More so if there are thousands of artillery positions spread over many square miles.
Even if the artillery in the North survives only a few hours or even a few minutes the sheer number of them and the population density of the regions of South Korea within artillery range would lead to catastrophic civilian deaths in the South.
The South Koreans have been militarily capable of stomping all over the North for decades, without American help. The fact that they haven't yet, despite numerous provocations from the North, is a testament to the huge losses that they would inevitably face if a hot war broke out again on the Korean peninsula.
Edit: Current estimates are that North Korea has the capability to fire around 10,000 rounds a minute into heavily populated regions near Seoul." HN


Estimated artillery range from the border of North Korea to South should a war break out.


Business Insider

Monday, November 22, 2010

Oh Ireland

They finally buckle down under the tremendous pressure on their banking sector.

"The junior partner in the Irish Republic's governing coalition has called for a general election in January, after an EU-led bailout of the country's ailing economy.
The Green Party said the Irish people needed "political certainty".
The government has accepted up to 90bn euros (£77bn; $124bn) of EU-led loans and will publish a four-year budget plan on Wednesday." BBC

Portugal is NEXT
"It's Portugal. Just look at the spreads. Greece is the highest. Then Ireland. Then Portugal. Then Spain. All of these spreads are wider now than in May before the announcement of the safety net. That's showing you that the markets see this as a solvency problem [ie they're fundamentally broke], even as the ECB is dealing with this as a liquidity problem [ie they'll be OK with some cash transfusions]." The Atlantic

Sunday, November 21, 2010

For your own safety

Productivity Tips

Click here

Oh great, new strain of deadly virus suspected in Uganda

"The victims usually die between three and five days, and are suspected to be highly contagious,” Okech told GlobalPost.


Symptoms include high fever, vomiting blood, passing bloody stool, convulsions and bleeding from openings like the nose and ears.


“We do not know what we are dealing with, we do not know what is happening, so we must respect the new measures which have been put in place,” said Dr. Emmanuel Otto, a health officer in Agago district, which has also been affected by the disease.


Health officials warn against communal hand washing, eating bush meat (meat from wild animals, especially monkeys and other primates) and discourage people from the local cultural practice of washing dead bodies before burial." Global Post

Saturday, November 20, 2010

more on the sabotage story

that the software code was intended to induce fluctuations in the rotational speed of motors, by taking over a power device known as a frequency converter.
“It’s an awful complex code that we are looking at,” ... The worm moves from personal computers to Siemens computers that control industrial processes. It then inserts fake data, fooling the computers into thinking that the system is running normally while the sabotage of the frequency converters is taking place. “It is obvious that several years of preparation went into the design of this attack,” he wrote.(NYTimes)

If Israel is behind this, then it is commendable that they can carry out such a well-directed bellicose act without using violence or harming civilians.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Stewart on Maddow - a commentary on media



As always, worth watching in full.



Sunday, November 14, 2010

microfinance

The antonym of “militant” is often “job.”--Nicholas Kristof

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Obama in Indonesia

Metro TV News

Pulang Kampung - "Going home"

Econ 101

"The unholy trinity in open economy macroeconomics is pretty simple. It's impossible for a country to do the following three things at the same time:


1) Maintain a fixed exchange rate


2) Maintain an open capital market


3) Run an independent monetary policy"
Dan Drezner

I love the web. You get to learn these kind of nuggets of information directly from the expert without having to go to school.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Down Under



A pack of cigarette in Australia (via James Fallow)

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Mighty Merapi





This area used to be lush in greenery typical in a tropical country. This is an aftermath of a pyroclastic flow from the mountain a week ago. This hot gas moves at 700 km/h, burning and killing everything on its path.

More on Boston Big Picture

You can see the video of pyroclastic below happening in Merapi last week. It is terrifying.

Rotten Tech Conferences

"It’s not the first time something like this has happened to me, at all. It’s not the first time it’s happened to me at a tech conference. But it is the first time I’ve spoken out about it in this way, because I’m tired of the sense that some idiot can ruin my day and never have to answer for it. I’m tired of the fear. I’m tired of people who think I should wear something different. I’m tired of people who think I should avoid having a beer in case my vigilance lapses for a moment. I’m tired of people who say that guys can’t read me right and I have to read them, and avoid giving the wrong impression."
Nerd Chic

Tech industry is a male dominated industry and by nature, each tech conferences will have way more male attendance then female. Well this personal post by a Google female technical writer is quite alarming. If you read more of the post, she's accusing one of Twitter engineer of assaulting her in a recent tech conference.

Major Lazer - Keep It Goin' Louder ft. Nina Sky, Ricky Blaze



video from the album by Major Lazer, "Guns don't kill people, lazers do"

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Yum

Qantas - still the safest airlines in the world






Technicians work next to the damaged engine of a Qantas Airways A380 passenger plane flight QF32 after it was forced to make an emergency landing at Changi airport in Singapore November 4, 2010. The Airbus A380 landed safely in Singapore on Thursday after running into engine trouble, one of the most serious incidents for the world's largest passenger plane in its three years of commercial flight.
Daylife
.

Reforming rape laws in India

"The finger test really is as bad as it sounds.


A doctor inserts two fingers into a rape victim's vagina to determine the presence or absence of the hymen and to assess whether she is accustomed to sexual intercourse.


Not only is it dehumanizing and offensive, it also doesn't yield accurate medical information, according to doctors and activists. What's more, it actually helps rape perpetrators escape the law.


In addition to standard procedures, such as a body exam and collection of swabs and nail clippings, many forensic doctors in India do the two-finger check on a rape victim. The findings of the test are often used as evidence in courts to demolish a woman’s character and disqualify her testimony. And Indian courts have a low conviction rate in rape cases, usually because the credibility of the victim is brought under question."
Global Post

The horror of Charles Taylor's reign



"The court is not spared anything, including this cross-examination on the subject of cannibalism.


Question: "How do you prepare a human being for a pot?" The witness: "We lay you down, slit your throat und butcher you and throw your head away, your intestines."
This is more than the court wants to hear. The audience turns away in disgust.


"With pepper and salt," the witness adds.


These are scenes from a nightmare that never seems to end. The trial of Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, before the Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague has been underway for more than three years -- without palpable results."
Spiegel

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

COP 10 Result

The global convention on biological diversity happened last week in Nagoya, Japan (COP10) and has produced a significant list of outcomes.

You can read the summary of the outcomes is here. No, I have no idea what they mean either.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Alex Cuba Remix - Plug

A friend of mine is entering a remix competition. Check out the original and his remix. Yeah, he needs votes!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Uncanny Valley

Scientific American on Suicide



"In considering people’s motivations for killing themselves, it is essential to recognize that most suicides are driven by a flash flood of strong emotions, not rational, philosophical thoughts in which the pros and cons are evaluated critically. And, as I mentioned in last week’s column on the evolutionary biology of suicide, from a psychological science perspective, I don’t think any scholar ever captured the suicidal mind better than Florida State University psychologist Roy Baumeister in his 1990 Psychological Review article , “Suicide as Escape from the Self.” To reiterate, I see Baumeister’s cognitive rubric as the engine of emotions driving deCatanzaro’s biologically adaptive suicidal decision-making. There are certainly more recent theoretical models of suicide than Baumeister’s, but none in my opinion are an improvement. The author gives us a uniquely detailed glimpse into the intolerable and relentlessly egocentric tunnel vision that is experienced by a genuinely suicidal person. "
Scientific American

The article is worth reading entirely.