Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wonderful things


"This undated photo released by the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday Feb. 28, 2010, shows the newly unearthed 3,400-year old red granite head, part of a huge statue of the ancient pharaoh Amenhotep III, at the pharaoh's mortuary temple in the city of Luxor. Egypt's Culture Ministry says a team of Egyptian and European archaeologists has unearthed a large head made of red granite of an ancient pharaoh who ruled Egypt some 3,400 years ago."
NPR

Tomato, otamot

"A mundane achievement, perhaps, but it’s one that’s beyond the grasp of the Islamic world. The Islamic Solidarity Games, the Olympics of the Muslim world, which were to be held in Iran in April, have been called off by the Arab states because Tehran inscribed “Persian Gulf” on the tournament’s official logo and medals.
....
This is not the first time that Arabs have challenged the internationally accepted name of the waterway that separates Persia (or Iran, as it has been called since 1935) from the Arabian Peninsula. Pan-Arabist thought — which dominated Arab political life for most of the 20th century — insisted on the creation of a unified vast empire “from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arab Gulf,” provoking sharp confrontations with Iran since the late 1960s.
"NY Times

Arab Gulf ? It is called Persian Gulf.

Chilean earthquake 250x



"Mr. Lin said his calculations showed that the quake on Saturday was 250 to 350 times more powerful than the Haitian quake.

But Paul Caruso, a geophysicist with the United States Geological Survey in Golden, Colo., noted that at least on land, the effects of the Chilean tremor might not be as bad. “Even though this quake is larger, it’s probably not going to reap the devastation that the Haitian quake did,” he said.
" NY Times

Inching toward a tragedy

"Greece needs to refinance 20 billion euros' worth of debt by May, but has found it difficult to raise money on the bond markets. On Thursday, the country delayed an issue out of fear of a ratings downgrade. And on Friday, German banks said they aren't interested in taking on more Greek debt.

The deadline facing Athens is an ominous one. By April and May, Greece must refinance €20 billion in sovereign debt, the first chunk of the €53 billion the country will need to refinance by the end of the year. But as winter turns to spring, it's growing apparent that Greek efforts to raise money face big challenges.

On Friday, at the end of a week full of setbacks, the Financial Times Deutschland reported that major German banks have no intention of investing in new Greek bond issues. Both Eurohypo and Hypo Real Estate, which have invested heavily in Greek bonds in the past, have said they will skip the next bond issue, the paper wrote. Deutsche Postbank is likewise not interested. Together, the three banks hold €14.4 billion of Greek debt. Two-thirds of it belong to Hypo Real Estate."
Spiegel

The Indian of Russia



"One of the Moscow photo-centers has held an exhibition called “The Itelmens - Indians of Russia”.

Itelmens are a small ethnic group, who are original inhabitants of the Kamchatka peninsula. Their population today (speaking only of pure-blooded Itelmens) is about 1500. Their name is indeed a Russian-adapted pronunciation of the ethnically correct “itenman” which means “existing” or “living here”."
English Russia

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Badland


"A boy steps boldly into the night traffic and waves a gun to bring the cars to a halt, clearing a path for a motorcycle which screeches into the intersection. Riding pillion is another boy, brandishing a machinegun.

Later two teenagers, also riding pillion on motorbikes, flash their guns at other motorists; nearby, a boy can be seen taking aim with a rifle equipped with a telescopic sight. Other youths wander the street smoking crack.

For residents, the junction between the busy Dom Helder Câmara and dos Democráticos, in North Rio de Janeiro, has become known as the Corner of Fear — and video footage of daily life there has shocked a nation already familiar with guns and violence.

The latest images, captured by undercover journalists from the Rio tabloid Extra, have exposed the city’s criminal youth culture in a manner that echoes the journalistic investigation featured in the film City of God."
Times Online

An 8.8 in Chile



"A massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile early Saturday, shaking the capital of Santiago for 90 seconds and sending tsunami warnings from Chile to Ecuador.

Chile's TVN cable news channel was reporting 78 deaths, with the toll expected to rise.

The quake downed buildings and houses in Santiago and knocked out a major bridge connecting the northern and southern sections of the country.

It struck at 3:34 a.m. local time and was centered about 200 miles southwest of Santiago, at a depth of 22 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. The epicenter was some 70 miles from Concepcion, Chile’s second-largest city, where more than 200,000 people live." NY Times

The Plan



We all know that blogger FTP is being discontinued, which means that all of us will no longer be able to publish to the current nomadlife server. Fortunately blogspot, the blogger official hosting site, supports custom domain name which means that you can publish on blogspot and keep your nomadlife name.

  • Next week there will be a small web application that allows you to claim your nomadlife address (the mockup of this application is available further down this post). When you register, you will be sent an instruction (with images) that outline a few steps you need to take to do the migration .
  • http://china.nomadlife.org will be established. This site will not be hosted on blogspot and it will proxy the content from nomadone and other nomadlife sites. This will allow China based nomadlifer to be able to read other nomadlife sites hosted on blogspot.
  • Soon after, http://china.nomadlife.org will also contain a tool to make a blog post to blogger.com so if blogger.com is blocked again, you can still publish yours. This functionality might be useful for Iran based nomadlifer as well (Dinner Jacket tends to block communication sites when he wakes up at the wrong side of the bed)
  • The current server will operate for another 60 days after blogger FTP support ceases to function. This will allow the slackers to catch up with the migration.
  • When you completed your migration to blogspot, you might lose some of the images you uploaded to this nomadlife ftp server. You will need to re-upload those images to blogspot or other image hosting site. You can access those images on ftp.nomadlife.org using your current ftp account.


This is the home page of the migration application.

Claim your nomad address

Read the generated instruction for migration


This is china.nomadlife.org (an approximation)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Epic tragedy in waiting




NY Times

10 rules for writing fictions

" You can never read your own book with the innocent anticipation that comes with that first delicious page of a new book, because you wrote the thing. You've been backstage. You've seen how the rabbits were smuggled into the hat. Therefore ask a reading friend or two to look at it before you give it to anyone in the publishing business. This friend should not be someone with whom you have a romantic relationship, unless you want to break up." Telegraph

The ladies brought it on

"And then, two days after her mother died, Rochette skated a poignant Olympic performance Tuesday that was summoned from heartbreaking grief and extraordinary composure.

She finished third in the short program on a night that will be remembered as one of the most stirring in Olympic figure skating history in terms of athleticism, artistry, emotion and challenges answered out of competitive fervor and aching sorrow.

Mao Asada of Japan landed the first triple axel ever performed in combination by a woman at the Winter Games. Then Kim Yu-na of South Korea responded with a soaring triple lutz-triple toe loop combination, remarkable speed and sublime spins that accumulated into a world-record performance of 78.50 points.

As her slinky James Bond routine ended, Kim pointed an imaginary pistol at the judges as if to say that her aim was unswervingly set on a gold medal in Thursday’s free skate."

NY Times

Anybody know where I can watch Winter Olympic 2010 performances that doesn't have regional restriction?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The vultures eat its own


"Europe is indeed currently the hottest topic on the global financial markets. The value of the battered euro has been falling since the Greek government confessed to the actual scope of its debt -- and since it became clear that things are not looking significantly better in the other PIIGS countries (the acronym refers to Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain).

There has never been this much uncertainty. No one knows whether the Greeks will manage to solve their problems, whether and how other countries will come to their aid, whether the crisis can be confined to Greece or whether it will spread like wildfire among the PIIGS -- and end up tearing apart the European currency union.

All of this translates into excellent opportunities for foreign currency traders and speculators. They can either bet on a decline of the euro or a bailout for the Greeks in the form of a rescue effort by other euro zone countries. In the first case, the price of Greek government bonds will hit rock bottom, and in the second case it will rise."
Spiegel

Asian Financial Crisis 1997 was caused by spectacular currencies attack on various Asian countries. Now they turn the guns to the PIIGS (which is an awesomely bad acronyms)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

O Captain! My Captain!



Still awesome even after all these years.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Move over Egypt

"Standing on the hill at dawn, overseeing a team of 40 Kurdish diggers, the German-born archeologist waves a hand over his discovery here, a revolution in the story of human origins. Schmidt has uncovered a vast and beautiful temple complex, a structure so ancient that it may be the very first thing human beings ever built. The site isn't just old, it redefines old: the temple was built 11,500 years ago—a staggering 7,000 years before the Great Pyramid, and more than 6,000 years before Stonehenge first took shape. The ruins are so early that they predate villages, pottery, domesticated animals, and even agriculture—the first embers of civilization. In fact, Schmidt thinks the temple itself, built after the end of the last Ice Age by hunter-gatherers, became that ember—the spark that launched mankind toward farming, urban life, and all that followed."
Newsweek

Friday, February 19, 2010

Online Folly

pleaserobme.com
The danger is publicly telling people where you are. This is because it leaves one place you're definitely not... home. So here we are; on one end we're leaving lights on when we're going on a holiday, and on the other we're telling everybody on the internet we're not home. It gets even worse if you have "friends" who want to colonize your house. That means they have to enter your address, to tell everyone where they are. Your address.. on the internet.. Now you know what to do when people reach for their phone as soon as they enter your home. That's right, slap them across the face.

Stupid car concept



This single passenger cost 30,000 USD and one example of a misguided product/pricing concept. You can get a decent motorbike for a quarter of that price and it uses only slightly more amount of energy. I mean Tata Nano holds 4 passengers and priced at less than 10 percent of this car.

Fair Game

"Dubai's police chief has called for the head of Mossad to be arrested if Israel's spy agency was behind the killing of a Hamas boss in the emirate.

Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan said Interpol should issue a "red notice" to approve the arrest of Meir Dagan.

Israel shrugged off the calls, saying the Dubai police chief had provided no incriminating proof.
Mahmud al-Mabhouh, one of the founders of Hamas's military wing, was found dead in a Dubai hotel on 20 January.

Several fake European passports - including six from the UK - are thought to have been used by his 11 suspected killers.

The UK government denies it had any prior knowledge of the fake British passports being used, although Shadow foreign secretary William Hague said it was "entirely possible" the government had been alerted.

And a British newspaper claimed on Friday the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, and the government had received a tip-off from Israel."
BBC

Here's my take on this.

1. Dubai has every right to pursue the investigation to uncover who's behind the killing of Mahmud al-Mabhouh, a founder of Hamas military wing.

2. Being assassinated is a risk that comes with the job if you are a military leader of designated terrorist group (by several countries). There's no surprise here.

3. The hit team accomplished their mission, so congrats to them. They better be covering their tracks properly otherwise they deserve getting caught. This is also part of the job.

4. The call for Interpol "red notice" for Mossad head is bullshit. Dubai has not yet been able to come up with definitive proof that ties the assassination operation to Mossad operatives.

5. There were bruhaha about UK and several other countries stolen passports being used by the hit team. This is also standard kabuki. It is UK's job to complain about it (David Milliband, UK Foreign Secretary called it an outrage) but off course false IDs are standard operating procedure for things like this. I mean teenagers in the US use fake IDs to get into bars, duh?

6. Off course they used Europeans or American passports. I mean you don't want members of your hit team stuck in UAE embassy waiting for visa entry because you used stolen Guyana passport.

This shadowy war is dirty and illegal but we will be better off if targeted assassination is done in this manner, close and personal (Mahmud was smothered in his hotel), rather than using other means such as car bombing, suicide bombers or drone attacks that usually cause "collateral damage" (killing innocent civilians).

In context of local and international law (I am not a lawyer, etc, etc), some intelligence gathering tactics are all illegal in the target country (bribery, extraction, stolen documents) but it does not prevent every country in the world to build foreign intelligence gathering agencies.

The bottom line is that this assassination is not a big deal and it is part of a repertoire of tactics that are used by many nations in the modern history of the world.

Won't happen again

"It’s not even clear that society is better led. Fifty years ago, the financial world was dominated by well-connected blue bloods who drank at lunch and played golf in the afternoons. Now financial firms recruit from the cream of the Ivy League. In 2007, 47 percent of Harvard grads went into finance or consulting. Yet would we say that banks are performing more ably than they were a half-century ago?" Brooks

Those are incredible high percentage of people that do not work directly in production. No wonder China is kicking's everybody's ass if everybody else is busy shuffling papers or playing with numbers rather than inventing the future.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

We are the champions videos from Russia





Paragraph of the day

A review of "Confucious: the movie"

"Zhou Xun [the female lead] is only in the movie because the filmmakers felt a female would help diversify the film. She plays the part of Nan Zi [a historical princess of the Song Kingdom] and spends most of her time flirting with Confucius,but he’s all talk and no ‘action’, which made me nervous. In the end, she didn’t know why she was being shot to death."

China Smack


and the mocking comments on the site about Confuciou 'saying' are awesome

“it take many nail to build crib but only one screw to fill it.”
“Man with no front garden, look forlawn”
“Man who run in front of car get tired. Man who run behind car get exhausted.”

Maintenance ahead

Nomadlife might not accessible sometime today. I am doing DNS migration to a service that can handle programmatic access to their DNS record. This will enable the plan of moving everybody to blogspot due to the termination of the ftp support on Blogger.com.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Our secret sauce

"The results of the study, conducted for the Swedish International Development Agency and released this week, show that Indonesia has relied on a mix of measures, including information campaigns that encourage debate on extremist issues using the Internet and TV.

Another is the use of highly respected religious figures to promote moderate interpretations of Islam. The study cites the success of Indonesian pop star Ahmad Dhani, whose anti-extremist song "Laskar Cinta," or "Army of Love," sold millions of copies.

“Using pop culture is extremely important,’’ Ranstorp said on Tuesday. “It’s really about sort of maximum reach with a message’’ of tolerance.

The study noted that interest in interfaith dialogue was increasing in Indonesia. In Java, for example, Christians have visited and lived with Muslims at Islamic boarding schools, and in rural areas, Christian and Muslim youth have worked together on welfare projects. "
The Jakarta Globe

This is the clip of the above mentioned song, Laskar Cinta (Army of Love)



Below is an incomplete translation of the lyrics

Be careful with hearts full of hatred. The devil lives in hearts full of prejudice.

Army of love, spread the seeds of love. Eradicate the viruses of hatred - the viruses that destroy souls. Army of love, spread the seeds of love. Because love is the essence and the right path for all of humanity.

Your hatred to others have poisoned your soul and now the devil already has power over you. Therefore never hope that I will care for those that are filled with hatred like you.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Finally something different - a Palestinian sex scandal

"
A videotape broadcast by an Israeli television station last week shows the chief of staff, Rafiq Husseini, waiting naked in bed for a Palestinian woman who was said to have come to the president’s office seeking government help.

While the Palestinian Authority has long been troubled by corruption accusations, the latest episode may qualify as the most sordid.

The woman in the video, who has not been identified, had gone to the president’s office to ask for help with a family problem, Mr. Shabaneh said. When Mr. Husseini responded with unwanted sexual advances, Mr. Shabaneh said, she complained to Mr. Shabaneh, who was then in charge of investigating corruption.

Mr. Shabaneh said he then set up a hidden camera sting in mid-2008 to prove to Mr. Abbas that Mr. Husseini was abusing his position. Mr. Husseini is also seen on the video disparaging Palestinian leaders, saying that Mr. Abbas lacked charisma and that Yasir Arafat, who died in 2004, had been surrounded by crooks.

The scandal has jolted the Palestinian Authority, already weakened by the internal schism that left Gaza under the control of the Islamist group Hamas."
(NY Times)

Wonderful

"The first beauty pageant for transvestites has drawn dozens of contestants in Aceh, a semiautonomous Indonesian province that follows strict Islamic law.

The Antara news agency reported Sunday that 19-year-old Zifana Lestisia from the northern district of Lhokseumawe was chosen the region's Social and Culture Envoy 2010. He will represent Aceh at the national level."
AP

Check this story out. Transvestites are not always welcome in many cultures and places - but in Indonesia, even the most conservative province embraces them to various degrees. Much love.

Carnival is here


Check more gorgeous photos of Carnival 2010 from sites around Brazil.

Olympian Jerk

"Olympic officials treated the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili, the Georgian luge athlete, less as a tragedy than as an inconvenience.

The sport’s international governing body released a callous statement late Friday night, about 10 hours after Kumaritashvili died, publicly blaming the 21-year-old for his own death. Athletes were attaining speeds at the Whistler Sliding Center far exceeding what the track was designed for, but the track was not the problem. It was a user error, the statement implied.

A thorough investigation was supposed to have been conducted. Instead, the luge federation seemed more concerned about getting the track opened again for competition on Saturday than about taking a hard look at the conditions that might have contributed to Kumaritashvili’s death.

Officials said Kumaritashvili’s death was the first luge fatality since 1975. Several sliders and officials said it could not have been foreseen. But the idea that something terrible might happen here, on the fastest course in the world, was talked about publicly and feared for a year.

Frequent concerns were expressed about excessive speeds. Even Armin Zoeggeler of Italy, a two-time Olympic champion and a favorite here, had crashed on this track. On Thursday, after struggling to maintain control of her sled, Hannah Campbell-Pegg of Australia said, “To what extent are we just little lemmings that they throw down a track and we’re crash-test dummies?”

Canadian reporters said Saturday morning that they had been told privately during the week of concerns for the safety of four sliders — Kumaritashvili included. So many people knew of possible danger. So little was done to prevent it.
" NY Times


Like the say, a tragedy is a great time to be a dick.

Buzz

Try Chat Roulette. It's addictive and will be a great party addition. Just connect to the site and project it to your wall and get random people show up. Awesome.


"The first time I entered ChatRoulette—a new website that brings you face-to-face, via webcam, with an endless stream of random strangers all over the world—I was primed for a full-on Walt Whitman experience: an ecstatic surrender to the miraculous variety and abundance of humankind. The site was only a few months old, but its population was beginning to explode in a way that suggested serious viral potential: 300 users in December had grown to 10,000 by the beginning of February. Although big media outlets had yet to cover it, smallish blogs were full of huzzahs. The blog Asylum called ChatRoulette its favorite site since YouTube; another, The Frisky, called it “the Holy Grail of all Internet fun.” Everyone seemed to agree that it was intensely addictive—one of those gloriously simple ideas that manages to harness the crazy power of the Internet in a potentially revolutionary way.

New York Magazine

failure is an option, but fear is not

""Curiosity is the most powerful thing you own," he said. "Don't put limitations on yourself. Other people will do that for you...failure has to be an option in art and exploration because it's a leap of faith.

"In whatever you're doing, failure is an option, but fear is not.""

John Cameron at TED 2010

CNN

House of Cards

"As in the American subprime crisis and the implosion of the American International Group, financial derivatives played a role in the run-up of Greek debt. Instruments developed by Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and a wide range of other banks enabled politicians to mask additional borrowing in Greece, Italy and possibly elsewhere.

In dozens of deals across the Continent, banks provided cash upfront in return for government payments in the future, with those liabilities then left off the books. Greece, for example, traded away the rights to airport fees and lottery proceeds in years to come.

Critics say that such deals, because they are not recorded as loans, mislead investors and regulators about the depth of a country’s liabilities.

Some of the Greek deals were named after figures in Greek mythology. One of them, for instance, was called Aeolos, after the god of the winds. " (NY Times)

Remember Tom Friedman's "Golden Straitjacket"? I know he meant it in another way but term is apt because many players in global capitalist system turn out to be fucking insane.

"In Greece, the financial wizardry went even further. In what amounted to a garage sale on a national scale, Greek officials essentially mortgaged the country’s airports and highways to raise much-needed money.

Aeolos, a legal entity created in 2001, helped Greece reduce the debt on its balance sheet that year. As part of the deal, Greece got cash upfront in return for pledging future landing fees at the country’s airports. A similar deal in 2000 called Ariadne devoured the revenue that the government collected from its national lottery. Greece, however, classified those transactions as sales, not loans, despite doubts by many critics."

Bottom line? Greece is now fucked but Germany taxpayer will bail them out.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Year of the Tiger

No, not that Tiger. February 14, 2010 is a Tiger Chinese New Year.



"The Year of The Tiger begins on February 14th 2010. Drama, intensity, change and travel will be the keywords for 2010. Unfortunately, world conflicts and disasters tend to feature during Tiger years also, so it won’t be a dull 12 months for anyone. The Year of the Tiger will bring far reaching changes for everyone. New inventions and incredible technological advances have a good chance of occurring. For all of the Chinese horoscope signs, this year is one to be active – seizing opportunities and making the most of our personal and very individual talents. Everything happens quickly and dramatically in a Tiger year – blink and you could miss an important chance of a lifetime!"

Wayang Times

Tonight there are massive celebrations across East Asia.


"THE METAL TIGER 195O AND 2010

The Metal element gives the Tiger its sharpness in action and speed of thought. Tigers born in the Metal year like to stand out in a crowd. With an inspiring assertiveness and competitive demeanor, they determine their goals and then do anything necessary to achieve them. This good-looking character sometimes suffers from mood swings and temper tantrums. The Tiger can be known to jump to conclusions or to act too quickly without weighing the options or understanding the consequences. This is a flaw Tigers must learn to curb."
(ubg)

Yes, there is a Wood Tiger year (1914 and 1974)

Drop the world

Pink at Grammy

Friday, February 12, 2010

Godspeed

"Thousands of American, Afghan and British troops attacked the watery Taliban fortress of Marja early Saturday, moving on foot, in trucks and through the air to destroy the insurgency’s largest haven and begin a campaign to reassert the dominance of the Afghan government in a large swath of southern Afghanistan." NY Times

It's critical that this operation works. This will help in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table so that the war in Afghanistan can be ended soon.

Clean Water

"The United States Army has taken delivery of the first two units of a “revolutionary” waste-water treatment system that will clean putrid water within 24 hours and leave no toxic by-products, according to scientists at Sam Houston State University.

Holland and his colleagues have tested and demonstrated the systems’ capabilities and effectiveness at several municipal and military sites – to the satisfaction of the Army -- by cleaning influent wastewater within 24 hours after set-up to discharge levels that exceed the standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency for municipal wastewater, “ leaving less than ten percent of sludge by volume, in most cases less than one percent.”" (shsu.edu) h/t Danger Room


This stuff is a bio reactor. It uses bacteria to clean putrid water - the bacteria actually eat the toxic sludge from the putrid water. This is an awesome development and if it pans out in the real world implementation (maintenance, output quality, etc), it can be a boon to clean water assistance in a lot of developing countries.

Tragedy on Ice



"WHISTLER, British Columbia - An Olympic official with direct knowledge of the situation says a men’s luger from the former Soviet republic of Georgia has died after a crash during training.

The official tells The Associated Press that the International Olympic Committee received confirmation of Nodar Kumaritashvili’s death. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the 21-year-old luger’s family hadn’t been notified yet.

An official statement is to be released soon.

Kumaritashvili lost control of his sled near the finish Friday, went over the track wall and struck an unpadded steel pole near the finish line at Whistler Sliding Center." (MSNBC)


Winter Olympic in Vancouver, Canada starts today.

If you have no idea what a luge is (like I did), this is an explanation from wikipedia

"A luge is a small one- or two-person sled on which one sleds supine (face up) and feet-first. Steering is done by flexing the sled's runners with the calf of each leg or exerting opposite shoulder pressure to the seat. Luge is also the name of the sport which involves racing with such sleds. It is a competition in which these sleds race against a timer."

Buying cat in a bag

"An Arab country's ambassador to Dubai has had his marriage contract annulled after discovering the bride was cross-eyed and had facial hair.

The woman had worn an Islamic veil, known as the niqab, on the few occasions the couple had met.

The envoy, who has not been identified, told a Sharia court her mother had tricked him by showing him pictures of the bride's sister, Gulf News reported.

He only discovered the deception when he lifted the woman's veil to kiss her.

The court had annulled the marriage contract but rejected a $130,000 (£83,000) compensation claim for gifts he had bought his intended, the report said. "BBC

Not seeing your future bride face before marrying her is absurd. I have to admire the mother of the woman. They end up up 130K richer.

I bet the ambassador is at least in his late 40's and his promised bride is in her early 20.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Iran Today



"Via United4Iran, this video of protesters tearing down a photo of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and then trampling on it:" (NIAC)

Bail out! Check under your seat! Everybody get a bailout!

"European leaders, facing a crucial test for the credibility of their common currency, said Thursday that they had reached an agreement aimed at persuading jittery bond market investors that Greece would not be allowed to default on its government debt." (NY Times)

Big day in Iran

An email

"Hey Dody,

The reports about gmail being blocked here are true. I can't access my account, or anything with blogger in the address. This means no blogging for the moment, or gmail. (gmail! ********** runs on gmail! It's ok, I'll get the MCVP candidates to send their applications by pigeon).

As usual, I'm keeping away from the trouble spots, but my friends live down that way.

I'm going out later today to pick up a friend from the bus station. I'll keep you updated with anything I see/hear."

My wham dog hit the cat five cable

Iran's telecommunications agency announced what it described as a permanent suspension of Google's e-mail services, saying that a national e-mail service for Iranian citizens would soon be rolled out. (Fox)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Toyota Prius Recall

"So far, the Prius is not on the list of models that Toyota is recalling for sticking accelerators, though one high-profile owner of a 2010 Prius — Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple — says he has had acceleration issues, too.

“Toyota has this accelerator problem we’ve all heard about,” Mr. Wozniak said last week at Discover Forum 2010 in San Francisco, reported CNET.com (via Autoblog). “Well, I have many models of Prius that got recalled, but I have a new model that didn’t get recalled. This new model has an accelerator that goes wild, but only under certain conditions of cruise control. And I can repeat it over and over and over again — safely.”

He added: “This is software. It’s not a bad accelerator pedal. It’s very scary, but luckily for me, I can hit the brakes.”" (Wheels)


"It's only when the tide goes out that you learn who's been swimming naked.", with apologies to Warren Buffet for using it in a car industry context.

"Toyota's recall of its latest model Prius has prompted a rare public rebuke for the company from the Japanese Government.

The recall affects more than 400,000 hybrid cars worldwide, including 2,400 new generation Prius models in Australia.

Toyota says it needs to fix a software glitch in the antilock braking system.
"(abc.net.au)

Remember all the jokes about what would happened if Windows operating system run your car?

Nadir

"Haiti's government has raised the death toll for the Jan. 12 earthquake to 230,000 from 212,000 and says more bodies remain uncounted." Talking Points Memo

I had assumed that Asian Tsunami was the worse natural disaster in modern history - and yet in less than a decade, a worse disaster struck. Fuck.

No break in sight



"The problems facing Greece are just the beginning. The countries belonging to Europe's common currency zone are drifting further and further apart, and national bankruptcies are a distinct possibility. Brussels is faced with a number of choices, none of them good.

Men like Wilhelm Nölling, former member of the German Central Bank Council, and Wilhelm Hankel, an economics professor critical of the euro, have been out of the spotlight for years. In the 1990s, they fought against the introduction of the common currency, even calling on Germany's high court to prevent the creation of the euro zone. But none of it worked."
Spiegel

When shit happens, it happens in waves. The industrialized economies have barely exited from the Great Recession and here comes another blow from the past.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The mounting troubles with Toyota

"About 223,000 of the cars recalled are in Japan. Some 155,000 are in the United States and another 53,000 in Europe.

In addition to the standard 2010 Priuses, Toyota is recalling 270 plug-in Priuses, 28,000 Lexus HS250hs, and 11,000 Sai hybrids. Older Priuses are unaffected by the problem, Toyota has said.

Separately, Toyota also recalled 7,300 of its latest-model Camrys in the United States to fix a power steering pressure hose in the engine compartment that may be the incorrect length. This could cause a hole in the brake tube and deplete the braking fluid, interfering with braking, Toyota said in a statement."
NY Times

There's no hope for humanity. Even the Japanese cannot get the quality assurance perfect.

Credit Default Swaps

"Q: Just how do investors bet against these countries?

A: They do so through credit-default swaps, which are exotic insurance-like financial instruments that signal how investors view the risk of any particular country's debt. As part of prudent management of the risks they're assuming, big investors that buy a country's bonds also buy these swaps as protection against default. Investors with no underlying stake in the bonds, however, can also buy swaps and bet against a country.

If investors think a country is financially weak, the cost of insuring the purchase of its bonds goes up, and this also influences the return investors will demand in exchange for assuming the risk of buying a country's bonds.

Q: Why do these swaps sound familiar?

A: They're the same instruments that helped amplify the near-meltdown of the U.S. financial system in September 2008. Investors bet against the bonds of investment banks Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, the insurer American International Group and others. In good times, swaps help manage risk. In bad times they seem to increase fear and panic.

Q: What's the big deal if swaps go bad?

A: Before swaps became so popular, a country defaulted on a bond, then negotiated with its creditors what's called a "haircut." They'd agree to repay say 70 cents on the dollar and issue new bonds with a higher interest rate for anyone willing to invest anew.

Swaps add a new wrinkle. The swaps market, worth trillions of dollars, isn't regulated, and there aren't clear settlement mechanisms or exchanges on which these instruments trade. Today's fear is the same as the worries in the turbulent fall of 2008 — that a default could trigger disorderly settlement of these bets and financial chaos could ensue."

The beast is back! Remember that CDS was the primary factor that brought AIG down. It is pretty much a bet against bankruptcy of a company or a country. And guess what? Apparently there are literally gazillion of CDS being traded against European countries such as Greece or Spain.

If Greece default on their loans, it will trigger massive CDS repayment - I am not sure whether it is as big as AIG but the market of CDS are huge.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Iranian Tale

Kylie has yet another interesting dispatch from Iran.

Guys, Time to go back to school

"
North Carolina, with a student body that is nearly 60 percent female, is just one of many large universities that at times feel eerily like women’s colleges. Women have represented about 57 percent of enrollments at American colleges since at least 2000, according to a recent report by the American Council on Education. Researchers there cite several reasons: women tend to have higher grades; men tend to drop out in disproportionate numbers; and female enrollment skews higher among older students, low-income students, and black and Hispanic students.

These sorts of romantic complications are hardly confined to North Carolina, an academically rigorous school where most students spend more time studying than socializing. The gender imbalance is also pronounced at some private colleges, such as New York University and Lewis & Clark in Portland, Ore., and large public universities in states like California, Florida and Georgia. The College of Charleston, a public liberal arts college in South Carolina, is 66 percent female. Some women at the University of Vermont, with an undergraduate body that is 55 percent female, sardonically refer to their college town, Burlington, as “Girlington.” " NY Times

Superbowl channel

This page has all channels in 223 countries and territories that will air the superbowl live today.

frank sinatra

The killings have produced urban legends about the song and left Filipinos groping for answers. Are the killings the natural byproduct of the country’s culture of violence, drinking and machismo? Or is there something inherently sinister in the song?

Whatever the reason, many karaoke bars have removed the song from their playbooks. And the country’s many Sinatra lovers, like Mr. Gregorio here in this city in the southernmost Philippines, are practicing self-censorship out of perceived self-preservation. (NYTimes)

the slow moving train wreck

"“The risk of contagion is a real one,” said Scott Thiel, the head of European fixed income at the asset management firm BlackRock in London. “Investor sentiment is now focused on countries like Spain and Portugal, where fundamentals are weakest.” He said that for now, he saw little risk for Italy, given the relative stability of its economy.

The euro, which has become one of the world’s strongest currencies since its introduction over a decade ago, is now down 5 percent against the dollar this year. The euro’s decline picked up speed when the European Commission’s statistical office revealed in mid-January that Greece had been submitting false data to calculate its budget deficit. (Late last year, Greece stunned investors by saying that its government deficit would be 12.7 percent of its gross domestic product, not the 3.7 percent the previous government had forecast earlier)."
(NY Times)

The Asian countries are chilling out and with a bit of a smirk enjoying the crisis the Western countries collapsing economy. Now you now what we experienced in 1997.

AIG-Goldman

a fresh story by NYTimes journalists about Goldman Sachs' aggressive demands for insurance payouts from AIG in the two years leading up to its collapse: link

Transformer

"The avionics system in the F-22 Raptor, the current U.S. Air Force frontline jet fighter, consists of about 1.7 million lines of software code. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, scheduled to become operational in 2010, will require about 5.7 million lines of code to operate its onboard systems. And Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner, scheduled to be delivered to customers in 2010, requires about 6.5 million lines of software code to operate its avionics and onboard support systems.

These are impressive amounts of software, yet if you bought a premium-class automobile recently, ”it probably contains close to 100 million lines of software code,” says Manfred Broy, a professor of informatics at Technical University, Munich, and a leading expert on software in cars. All that software executes on 70 to 100 microprocessor-based electronic control units (ECUs) networked throughout the body of your car." Discovery

This just blew my mind. The fact that a recent salon contains 5-10 times the amount of code required on the newest jumbo jet or the latest generation fighter jet is quite unbelievable.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Nomadlife China Problem

Most of you have received the notification email from the Google about the end of ftp publishing support.

It means that all of us, including this main blog, will revert to publishing on Google blogspot. You will be able to keep your existing domain (xxx.nomadlife.org). That is not an issue, capice? Publishing on Google also brings a lot of benefits of much faster publishing and new gadgets/toys to play with on your blog.

The downside is that China does not like Google very much and vice versa.

With this switch, all nomadlife hosted on Google will go offline from China if the great leaders decide to block access to Blogger sites (which is the case right now). You have to go through all sort of jujitsu to bypass the great firewall of China.

This is the biggest problem that I intend to solve.

Milky Way Tubemap

Armageddon postponed

|The world’s highest energy atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), will run at half its maximum energy through 2011 and likely not at all in 2012. Officials at the European particle physics laboratory, CERN, had previously planned to run the gargantuan accelerator at 70% of maximum energy this year.

The change raises hopes at the LHC’s lower-energy rival, the Tevatron Collider at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Illinois, of being extended through 2012 instead of being shut down next year. Fermilab researchers are hoping that their machine might collect enough data to beat the LHC to the discovery of the long-sought Higgs boson, a particle key to how physicists explain the origin of mass.

The $5.5 billion LHC is designed to blast protons into other protons at an energy of 14 trillion electron-volts (TeV), seven times the Tevatron’s maximum. But it cannot run at full energy because of a few faulty electrical connections, or “interconnects,” between the thousands of superconducting magnets that guide particles around the 27-kilometer subterranean ring. In September 2008, just 9 days after it first circulated particles, the LHC suffered a catastrophic breakdown when an interconnect between two magnets melted. That problem took 14 months to correct. The previous plan was to run the LHC briefly at 7 TeV, stop for a few months to rework the weakest interconnects, then ramp up 10 TeV later this year. CERN officials have now scaled back the energy to 7 TeV for this year and next, says Steve Myers, director of accelerators and technology at CERN.| (Science Mag)


They doing yet another "upgrade" to the LHC because of faulty design. Remember that it just underwent 14 months of repaired after breakdown in the early days of its initial operation. I know it is an amazingly complex and great system but this is turning into a job guarantee scheme.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Exercises keeps your cell young

"When the researchers measured telomeres in the middle-aged subjects, however, the situation was quite different. The sedentary older subjects had telomeres that were on average 40 percent shorter than in the sedentary young subjects, suggesting that the older subjects’ cells were, like them, aging. The runners, on the other hand, had remarkably youthful telomeres, a bit shorter than those in the young runners, but only by about 10 percent. In general, telomere loss was reduced by approximately 75 percent in the aging runners. Or, to put it more succinctly, exercise, Dr. Werner says, ‘‘at the molecular level has an anti-aging effect.’’

There are plenty of reasons to exercise — in this column, I’ve pointed out more than a few — but the effect that regular activity may have on cellular aging could turn out to be the most profound. ‘‘It’s pretty exciting stuff,’’ says Thomas LaRocca, a Ph.D. candidate in the department of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado in Boulder, who has just completed a new study echoing Werner’s findings. In Mr. LaRocca’s work, people were tested both for their V02max — or maximum aerobic capacity, a widely accepted measure of physical fitness — and their white blood cells’ telomere length. In subjects 55 to 72, a higher V02max correlated closely with longer telomeres. The fitter a person was in middle age or onward, the younger their cells. " (NY Times)

When assassination works

"Something rare has happened in a region often given to brutal autocracy: power has been peacefully transferred to a civilian, just four months after an army massacre that recalled the worst of Africa’s past.

It was, bitterly for Guineans, the massacre that might have finally unchained this long-repressed country. An unusual set of events followed: the grave wounding in December of the country’s military dictator, Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara, in an assassination attempt; then what appeared to be acquiescence by his second-in-command, Gen. Sékouba Konaté, to a switch to civilian leadership; and finally the scene of hope last week when Mr. Doré took power and promised the nation its first truly free elections within the year."
NY Times

When reason silenced, bullets speak.

Change coming up

Google is discontinuing blogger.com ftp support that nomadlife relies on. HOLY CRAP!



"
|Dear FTP user:

You are receiving this e-mail because one or more of your blogs at Blogger.com are set up to publish via FTP. We recently announced a planned shut-down of FTP support on Blogger Buzz (the official Blogger blog), and wanted to make sure you saw the announcement. We will be following up with more information via e-mail in the weeks ahead, and regularly updating a blog dedicated to this service shut-down here: http://blogger-ftp.blogspot.com/.

The full text of the announcement at Blogger Buzz follows.
Last May, we discussed a number of challenges facing[1] Blogger users who relied on FTP to publish their blogs. FTP remains a significant drain on our ability to improve Blogger: only .5% of active blogs are published via FTP — yet the percentage of our engineering resources devoted to supporting FTP vastly exceeds that. On top of this, critical infrastructure that our FTP support relies on at Google will soon become unavailable, which would require that we completely rewrite the code that handles our FTP processing.

Three years ago we launched Custom Domains[2] to give users the simplicity of Blogger, the scalability of Google hosting, and the flexibility of hosting your blog at your own URL. Last year's post discussed the advantages of custom domains over FTP[3] and addressed a number of reasons users have continued to use FTP publishing. (If you're interested in reading more about Custom Domains, our Help Center has a good overview[4] of how to use them on your blog.) In evaluating the investment needed to continue supporting FTP, we have decided that we could not justify diverting further engineering resources away from building new features for all users.

For that reason, we are announcing today that we will no longer support FTP publishing in Blogger after March 26, 2010. We realize that this will not necessarily be welcome news for some users, and we are committed to making the transition as seamless as possible. To that end:

We are building a migration tool that will walk users through a migration from their current URL to a Blogger-managed URL (either a Custom Domain or a Blogspot URL) that will be available to all users the week of February 22. This tool will handle redirecting traffic from the old URL to the new URL, and will handle the vast majority of situations.
We will be providing a dedicated blog[5] and help documentation
Blogger team members will also be available to answer questions on the forum, comments on the blog, and in a few scheduled conference calls once the tool is released.

We have a number of big releases planned in 2010. While we recognize that this decision will frustrate some users, we look forward to showing you the many great things on the way. Thanks for using Blogger."


The good thing is that I can finally dispose nomadlife old rickety server and rely on the motherload instead. Another good news is that you will be able to keep your nomadlife address while publishing with Google and the blogging updates tracking can work - I got a plan that I think will make the transition work. Better still I think this news force me to get off my butt and do something new.

I'll present the plan in a week's time and then you guys can take a go at it.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Dejavu

"Today Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, a little more than a decade after he was arrested, beaten and jailed on sodomy charges, walked into a Kuala Lumpur courtroom to face the same charges once again. In August, the government charged the politician with sodomy for the second time in his career, in this case, with a 23-year-old former aide, Saiful Bukhari Azlan. Under Malaysian law, consensual sodomy or sex acts "against the order of nature," as it is described in the law here, is punishable with up to 20 years in jail.

Read more

The current Malaysian government is a bunch of tasteless clown.

Davos the contrarian

"Some subjects are hot at Davos every year, regardless of what is going on in the world—China, President Clinton, Google. But there's always a new phenomenon. During the credit bubble, the huge, global, U.S.-based investment banks—Citigroup, Lehman, Bank of America—strutted around the slopes, their egos and balance sheets swollen. In 2007, the unspoken theme at Davos was: What could go wrong? And the unspoken answer was: nothing. And then the world collapsed. In 2008, private equity and sovereign wealth funds, especially from the Persian Gulf, were hot. But both proceeded to make horrific investments at the market top and quickly tumbled to Earth. This year, the flowing robes of the Persian Gulf were nowhere to be seen. In 2009, the overwhelming sentiments were pessimism and panic—assets were going down, markets were in free fall. Naturally, that represented a great buying opportunity. Soon after Davos emptied out, the world's stock and credit markets embarked upon an epic bull run." Slate

Monday, February 01, 2010

Moonbat

"The FY2011 federal proposed budget will be published with the following changes:
– NASA’s Constellation program to replace the Space Shuttle will be cancelled and all hardware development will be stopped including Ares 1, Ares 5 and Orion.
– The Moon is no longer the first stop in the exploration program, replaced by the so-called Flexible Path which really does not mean anything: “We are not sure where we are going, whether to the Moon, asteroids, empty space (Lagrangian points) or Phobos, so we will spend years and billions of dollars thinking about it while deferring any real mission development.”
– NASA human spaceflight will concentrate on International Space Station (ISS) flights, using commercially developed hardware (whatever that means: NASA has had zero success in relying on outsourced systems).
– There is no real post-ISS program. Maybe something will happen past 2020 but that is for the next administration to figure out."

Cringley

There goes the space program.

Avatar hits 2 billions

and still going strong.

"When "Avatar" reaches $2.239 billion, which it will in the next two or three weeks, it will have doubled the worldwide take of every other movie ever made except "Titanic." It will also soon have a $1 billion lead over any movie not directed by James Cameron. There's not much more to say at this point than "wow" and "don't make a sequel," so let's move on."
Salon

Lawyer stimulus package

Law profession is in severe recession in the US due to the collapse of demands in overpriced law service. Thankfully Toyota steps up and reinvigorated the lawyers. The first class action suit against Toyota has just been filled. Hundreds of paralegals and secretaries are being hired because of this case. Danke Toyota!

Time to retire Tylenol

The Tylenol recall by Johnson and Johnson is the classic story being taught in first year business class on how corporation should handle product crisis.

That story should be retired now and be replaced with Toyota's ongoing process in handle its potentially faulty accelerator (for good or bad). It looks like they did not take early signs of this problem seriously. They should have a chief blogger that simply spend her days getting in tune with the beat of the web so they can have much speedier interaction with the public for early warning signs.

NY Times has an article examining Toyota belated response after the high drama tragedy of a cop and his family got killed when their Lexus sedan accelerated to 125 MpH (there was a blog post about this a couple of months ago on this blog).

"The Lexus ES 350 sedan, made by Toyota, had hit a sport utility vehicle, careened through a fence, rolled over and burst into flames. All four people inside were killed: the driver, Mark Saylor, an off-duty California Highway Patrol officer, and his wife, daughter and brother-in-law.

It was the tragedy that forced Toyota, which had received more than 2,000 complaints of unintended acceleration, to step up its own inquiry, after going through multiple government investigations since 2002.

Yet only last week did the company finally appear to come to terms with the scope of the problem — after expanding a series of recalls to cover millions of vehicles around the world, incalculable damage to its once-stellar reputation for quality and calls for Congressional hearings.

As recently as the fall, Toyota was still saying it was confident that loose floor mats were the sole cause of any sudden acceleration, issuing an advisory to millions of Toyota owners to remove them. The company said on Nov. 2 that “there is no evidence to support” any other conclusion, and added that its claim was backed up by the federal traffic safety agency.

But, in fact, the agency had not signed on to the explanation, and it issued a sharp rebuke. Toyota’s statement was “misleading and inaccurate,” the agency said. “This matter is not closed.”

Toyota now believes that the trouble with its cars is twofold — a combination of loose floor mats that can interfere with accelerator pedals, and a pedal that itself can stick when a driver depresses it.
"