Saturday, December 31, 2011

End of year marker

The Mayan marked it as the year of the end of the world. Make it count!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

ROARMAG

It's a dedicated site for covering mass protests/revolutions around the world http://roarmag.org/.

The dumbest idea in the world

The proponents of shareholder value maximization and stock-based executive compensation hoped that their theories would focus executives on improving the real performance of their companies and thus increasing shareholder value over time. Yet, precisely the opposite occurred. In the period of shareholder capitalism since 1976, executive compensation has exploded while corporate performance has declined.  
 “Maximizing shareholder value” turned out to be the disease of which it purported to be the cure. Between 1960 and 1980, CEO compensation per dollar of net income earned for the 365 biggest publicly traded American companies fell by 33 percent. CEOs earned more for their shareholders for steadily less and less relative compensation. By contrast, in the decade from 1980 to 1990 , CEO compensation per dollar of net earnings produced doubled. From 1990 to 2000 it quadrupled. (Forbes)
This article is titled above. This problem though mainly concern publicly traded companies. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

First rule of Internet war, do not fight Penny Arcade

From: Ocean Marketing 
To: Mike Krahulik  
Dec 26, 2011 at 9:57 PM 
Your spamming me you’re not on a mailing list you idiot ! You sent me an email remember . Make sure you stir up a lot of controversy about us the more the better we needed some drama gets good blood flow going about the new product launch . Your sites amateur at best my son could put together a better site than yours and you run PAX ?? Wow , Ill put my marketing team on a smear campaign of you and your site and your emails , I have about 125 dedicated people to run PR , Blogs , Articles , Videos you have no clue who I am . Thanks again 

Mike Karhulik posted a case of an unbelievable marketing dick treating a customer badly. Mike is the owner of Penny Arcade.

The Jewish Taliban

About 10,000 people came to Beit Shemesh last night to protest against religious extremism in Israel in general and this Jerusalem-area city in particular. The issue came to a head publicly after television coverage last week showing ultra-Orthodox extremists harassing Na'ama Margolese, 8, the daughter of immigrants from North America. The rally took place next to her school, Orot Banot.  
 Margolese became a focus of attention after Channel 2 news broadcast a story Friday night showing her facing a gauntlet of abuse from Haredi men and boys as she walked to school. The conflict comes against the backdrop of various efforts to separate men and women or to exclude women from the public space. Last week the case of Tanya Rosenblit, who refused demands by Haredim that she sit in the back of a public intercity bus, attracted major public attention. Over the Sukkot holiday this fall, efforts were made to separate the large numbers of men and women who crowded the streets of Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox Mea She'arim neighborhood. Another recent flashpoint is the general absence of images of women on billboards and bus advertising in the capital, and efforts to counter that absence. (Haaretz)
Apparently some Israeli cannot wait to turn their country to Saudi Arabia. Maybe they should start doing "virginity test" as well.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Free Syrian Army

A checkpoint run by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) at Baba Amr, a poor district in the southwestern part of Homs, Syria's third-largest city: It is the first liberated zone in central Syria. Within these three square kilometers, everything is different. It is a topography of terror and, for many, a beacon of hope. (Spiegel)

"At the first FSA checkpoint, the men salute and introduce themselves by stating their rank and the name of their unit. They have weapons, but only two uniform jackets, which they put on in turn to pose for photos. There are armed guards at almost every corner, and small units of a dozen men each are positioned behind sandbags and barricades at various points along the perimeter of the neighborhood, which is home to more than 50,000 people. Families from the neighborhood bring food to the men, who are armed with Kalashnikovs and a few RPGs. Baba Amr is protected by a total of 500 soldiers under the command of the defected Lieutenant Colonel Abdul-Razak Tlas, a distant nephew of the former defense minister." (Read more)

Gifts that keeps on giving

An Australia man has contracted HIV after getting a tattoo while on vacation in Bali.  
Australian health authorities are urging Australians who have gotten tattoos or body piercings on the Indonesian resort island to seek medical advice and consider getting a HIV test, according to news reports.  
They also reportedly notified the Indonesian health authorities. (Global Post)
Getting tattoos in a foreign country is simply a bad idea. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

2011 End of Year Review


  • Arab Spring: Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria, and Syria revolted.
    • Ben Ali ran away and Tunisia celebrated. They just had a successful free election in a long long time.
    • Mubarak resigned but the regime remnants stayed. Egypt is in the middle of three month long election process. The Islamist parties are about to take 67% of the electoral results. Fighting between protesters and the military still on going sporadically. 
    • Yemen revolted and Saleh almost got killed earlier after a bomb attack on him. He promised to leave Yemen for Saudi Arabia next February. 
    • Revolts in Bahrain and Algeria were extinguished.
    • Qaddafi is dead along with most of his vile sons. NATO bombed the shit of his military. The transition to a free country has begun.
    • Syria is in the midst of emerging civil war. Assad will be thrown out of power next year. Hezbollah will have to find a new host because the new power in Syria will kick them out for supporting the rotten regime.
  • Morocco and Jordan had a few protests and their Kings hurriedly arranged some reforms. 
  • Iran is still trying to acquire nuclear weapons. They have had to endure a series of assassinations of their nuclear scientists and various "industrial accidents" throughout this year.
  • Notable deaths:
    • Steve Jobs. He was our modern time Edison and an asshole. But now everybody thinks its important to be an asshole to be successful - they forgot that there are plenty of assholes in this world but only one Steve Jobs.
    • Kim Jong Il. The dictator of North Korea couldn't die soon enough.
    • Ralph Steinman. He died three days before his Nobel Prize for Medicine was announced.
    • Dennis Ritchie, the co inventor of C programming language (a foundation of modern computing) and Unix operation system passed away.
    • Christopher Hitch died.  God bless him for this “Europeans think Americans are fat, vulgar, greedy, stupid, ambitious and ignorant and so on. And they've taken as their own, as their representative American, someone who actually embodies all of those qualities [Michael Moore].”.
    • Valvac Havel died and you asked "who?"
  • Japanese was hit by a Tsunami, which triggered the worst nuclear catastrophe after Chernobyl. 
  • The Prime Minister of Greece and of Italy resigned under the tremendous pressure of bankers and international community.
  • South Sudan is the newest country in the world.
  • UNESCO admitted Palestine as full member. US stopped paying their UNESCO 2011 fees and completely fucked up UNESCO budget. Israel stopped as well.
  • Palestine submitted its bid for UN full  membership. US threatened veto.
  • Netanyahu is still a dick.
  • The UN (French powered) kicked Ivory Coast Laurent Gbagbo's ass for not relinquishing his power after losing an election. He is now being processed at the ICC.
  • Osama bin Laden got an eye shot and now sleeps with the fishes.
  • The US established a based in Australia's Northern Territory. 
  • England refused to join the latest pact within the European Union to cede more control of each country member's budget to Brussels. 26 other countries out of 27 joined the pact, more or less.
  • Occupy movement sprung out around the world but mainly big in the US. And they are happily pepper sprayed by the freedom Police.
  • The group Anonymous made their mark this year.
  • Pakistan is still fucked. Right now their relationship with the US has hit a new low after the bin Laden raid under their nose and the killing of 24 Pakistani border troops by the NATO forces. The country also went gaga over a naked cover page of one of its actress in FHM India. I hope Imran Khan will win the Presidency and sort this country out. Enough of this Bhutto dynasty nonsense. 
  • The US troops finally left Iraq. Peace, freedom and order have finally arrived in Iraq (sarcasm).
  • Kenya has been mired by several kidnappings of its tourists by Somalia based militants.
  • Famine hits Somalia and nobody really gives a damn.
  • Christchurch, New Zealand was devastated by an earthquake. 
  • All Blacks won the Rugby World Cup.
  • Manchester City is at the top of UK premier league at Christmas time for the first time since 1929.
  • Komodo Island was voted in as the 7 finalist of the new 7 natural wonders of the world.
  • UK Royal Wedding - the boring one of Diana's two sons has married a commoner. 
  • Putin has completed his switcheroo. He is going to run for Russian Presidential election next year. Russia is being hit by large scale protests against him.
  • NASA ended their space shuttle program this year. Good riddance.
  • The Guardian killed the News of the World over phone hacking scandal and in the process of bringing down the young Murdoch's empire. 
  • UK has a five day riot over nothing.
  • Chille has been hit by multiple student riots over tuition fees and everything else.
  • Brazil has their first female president.
  • Burma is in the middle of opening its political system. 
  • Google+ was launched this year and nobody cared.
  • Merkel, Merkel, Merkel.
  • Iran released the two America idiots who thought hiking near Iranian border was a smart idea.
  • The Colombian Army killed FARC top leader. Good riddance.
  • Mexico continues its downward spirals towards failed state.
  • Penn State's football assistant coach loved little boys and everybody else in the school sport system was too cowardly to do anything about it.
  • NASA launched Curiousity, a bad dass rover destined for Mars. It has laser. 
  • Scientist have shown the strongest evidence yet for the existence of Higgs Bosson, a particle predicted by physics Standard Model.
  • Minecraft 1.0 was released.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 was sold 775 million dollars in 5 days. It's the fastest sales record in any entertainment category (including movies, music, pornography and games)
  • Nokia released its first wave of Windows Phone 7.5 powered phones. Nice hardware and OS but nobody cared.
  • Lindsey Lohan posed naked for Playboy. Nobody cared.
  • Android tablets are still crap. That includes Kindle Fire.
  • HP got out of smart phone and tablet business in a hurry. They fired their one year CEO and hired Meg Whitman.
  • RIM was hit by worldwide messaging outage for days. Their products are still crap.
  • Apple released iPhone 4S with Siri and the first thing people do is abuse it with stupid questions. 
  • Microsoft sold a million XBOX 360 with Kinects over US Thankgiving holiday. It is a mind boggling results for a 7 year old game console.
  • It is still true that "there still really is no “tablet” market — just an iPad market."(Marco Arment)
  • Jon Corzine (ex Senator, ex Governor of New Jersey) fucked his firm MF Global by losing in betting for European sovereign debts. They still haven't figured out where 1.2 billion dollars of client's money went.
  • Miracle of the year: Spider: Turn of the dark stops injuring its actors and on the mark of being profitable.
  • Terror came to Norway by the name of  Anders Behring Breivik. 70 people, mainly youth, were killed.
  • Thailand had an epic flood that reached the capital Bangkok.
  • The world population surpassed 7 billions. 
  • US bond got downgraded to AA+ by S&P. Multiple Euro Zone countries also got downgraded.
  • Hungarian bond is rated Junk.
  • Two women from Liberia and one woman from Yemen shared Nobel Peace Prize.
  • Chinese Government imprisoned artist Li Wei, which drew condemnation from around the world. He was released only a couple of months ago. 
  • Canada withdrew from the Kyoto protocol. This is what happened when you vote douchebags to power.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Just in case you haven't seen this


This comes from India's got talent show. Enjoy the horrified expressions on the judges face. Serves them right! :)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to you, believers and infidels. May you have a peaceful day and hopefully you are not stuck in  overcrowded airports. 2011 has been a remarkable year and hopefully next year brings more joy and better news.

Scottish's battle against MS

International experts are calling for food in Scotland to be fortified with vitamin D, in an attempt to cut the large numbers of people who develop multiple sclerosis at sunshine-deprived northern latitudes.  
MS levels in Scotland are some of the highest in the world, and many believe vitamin D deficiency, caused by lack of sunlight and poor weather which keeps people indoors, is partly to blame. For half the year, nobody living in Scotland gets enough UVB rays from the sun on their skin to make adequate amounts of vitamin D and many do not eat enough of the foods, such as oily fish, that contain it. (Guardian)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Sydney Awards

The NY Times Columnist David Brooks has pointed out several long form essays that he thinks deserve acknowledgement this year. His entries (2 parts so far) are especially worth this year. Go check them out. I love his inclusion of Jonathan Frenzen's essay on Solitude.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Insane

 (news.au)

Stunts by Burj Al Arab hotel - Dubai.

Australian's Cooper tops survey as best family owned business

London-based magazine CampdenFB, which focuses on high-value family-owned businesses, said Coopers had topped an online poll of readers, ahead of Danish-owned Lego, Kenyan retail business Nakumatt, Estee Lauder and US car maker Ford. (news.au)

Family owned business could have the advantage of preparing for the long haul than making decisions to please the market quarter per quarter.

France on collision course with Turkey over Armenian 1915 massacre

Lawmakers are in session right now to vote on a measure that would make it a crime in France to deny that the 1915 events amounted to a genocide, a measure that could put France on a collision course with Turkey, a strategic ally.   
Turkey wants the issue to be left to historians and has lashed out at France, warning that it will withdraw its ambassador if the measure becomes law. (Hurriyet)

The Jews and their Chinese food

The custom of Jewish families dining out at Chinese restaurants, especially on Christmas Day, has long been a joking matter. “According to the Jewish calendar, the year is 5749,” one quip goes. “According to the Chinese calendar, the year is 4687. That means for 1,062 years, the Jews went without Chinese food.” Even Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan made light of the tradition during her Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Granted, Chinese restaurants are typically among the few businesses open on December 25th, but it turns out that there are historical and sociological reasons why these two cultures have paired so well. (Smithsonian)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mass desertion in Syrian Army

More than 10,000 soldiers have deserted the Syrian army, sources say, with as many as half the conscripts not reporting in the last three call-ups.  
According to Western intelligence agencies, even though the top brass is still loyal to President Bashar Assad, lower-level officers are deserting in large numbers, and in some cases, whole units have deserted en masse. (Haaretz)

Nobody wants to die for a wrong cause. The Assad Regime is such a cause. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Who is Kim Jong Un?


As a teenager, Kim Jong Un was sent to a German-speaking school in Bern, Switzerland. 
He is said to speak competent English and German. Former classmates at the Liebefeld-Steinhölzli school, which Kim Jong Un is believed to have attended between 1998 and 2000 under the pseudonym "Pak Un," told the Washington Post they remembered a quiet, occasionally awkward boy who loved action films and combat video games, and was a fiercely competitive basketball player. (Global Post)

And ladies, he is apparently single; that would make him the most eligible bachelor in the world. What mother wouldn't want their daughters to marry the next Great Leader. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Egypt


The Atlantic has more details on this photo, which was taken in Tahrir square last Saturday. It also came with a video that provides larger context of what happened.

A commentator in the Guardian wrote that
What they are not taking into account is that everybody's grown up – the weapon of shame can no longer be used against women. When they subjected young women to virginity tests one of them got up and sued them. Every young woman they've brutalized recently has given video testimony and is totally committed to continuing the struggle against them.  
The young woman in the blue jeans has chosen so far to retain her privacy. But her image has already become icon. As the tortured face of Khaled Said broke any credibility the ministry of the interior might have had, so the young woman in the blue jeans has destroyed the military's reputation.

The great leader has died


Today must be the worst day of everybody's life.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

All money is halal

U.S. authorities are building a politically explosive case that Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, finances itself through a vast drug-smuggling network that links a Lebanese bank, a violent Mexican cartel and U.S. cocaine users.  
Federal prosecutors Tuesday charged Ayman Joumaa, an accused Lebanese drug kingpin and Hezbollah financier, of smuggling tons of U.S.-bound cocaine and laundering hundreds of millions of dollars with the Zetas cartel of Mexico.  
“Ayman Joumaa is one of top guys in the world at what he does: international drug trafficking and money laundering,” a U.S. anti-drug official said. “He has interaction with Hezbollah. There’s no indication that it’s ideological. It’s business.” (ProPublica)

This shall get interesting. 

Scientists found evidence of Higgs boson

Scientists believe they may have caught their first glimpse of the Higgs boson, the so-called God particle that is thought to underpin the subatomic workings of nature. 
Physicists Fabiola Gianotti and Guido Tonelli were applauded by hundreds of scientists yesterday as they revealed evidence for the particle amid the debris of hundreds of trillions of proton collisions inside the Large Hadron Collider at Cern, the European particle physics laboratory near Geneva. (Guardian)
Higgs boson was predicted by physics Standard Model. If they confirm that it exists, then the Standard Model stands otherwise they have to rethink it.

FP is reading the tea leaves for 2012

Monday, December 12, 2011

Van Gogh in new light




Original

 Protanomal simulation (60%)

This tumblr has more versions of Van Gogh's paintings after going through a filter.

Sahara Powered Electricity Production


The culmination of his efforts is "Desertec", a largely German-led initiative that aims to provide 15% of Europe's electricity by 2050 through a vast network of solar and wind farms stretching right across the Mena region and connecting to continental Europe via special high voltage, direct current transmission cables, which lose only around 3% of the electricity they carry per 1,000km. The tentative total cost of building the project has been estimated at €400bn (£342bn). (Guardian)

They started their first installation in Morocco. This shall be interesting. This is their website, http://www.desertec.org/.
 

Don't buy Amazon Kindle Fire for your kids

You cannot disable your one click shopping attached to the device. It means that your kids will be able to freely purchase anything they want without understanding the consequences and everything will go through your credit card.

More coverage of Durban Climate Change conference

Spiegel has a good coverage on the conference which pretty much ignored by mainstream media. This one is about young activists in the climate change conference

Perhaps the most important way SustainUS is trying to achieve this goal is not by interrupting meetings, but by linking up with like-minded young people from China -- members of the China Youth Delegation. The two superpowers are the world's biggest emitters of CO2 and other greenhouse gases and play the most important role in UN climate negotiations. "If we can bring young people from our two nations together and develop common views, perhaps that helps us to be heard," Johnston says.

 The second one examines signals from China that it is indeed planning to become a Green Superpower.

In Durban, however, things now look different from Copenhagen: China surprised the world by announcing that it might become part of a legally binding global agreement. This contrasts strongly with the US position in Durban. The Obama administration is effectively paralyzed when it comes to action on climate change. It has no chance to get any agreement through Congress, which is dominated by Republicans who deny the findings of climate scientists and act on behalf of the powerful fossil-fuel lobby.

These rulers live in Beijing and they know directly the impact of unregulated development that poison their water and air. There is a concept in Chinese culture about "your health is your wealth".

The Confidence Game

The European trade was initiated by Mr. Corzine late in the summer of 2010. The new chief executive explained the bet to a small group of top traders, arguing that Europe would not let its brethren default. In just a few months, the trade swelled to $6.3 billion, from $1.5 billion. 
Europe’s debt crisis, meanwhile, continued to flare, raising questions about whether some of the Continent’s bigger economies, Spain and Italy, might be ensnared in the maelstrom. In August, some directors questioned the chief executive, asking him to reduce the size of the position. 
Mr. Corzine calmly assured them they had little to fear. 
“If you want a smaller or different position, maybe you don’t have the right guy here,” he told them, according to a person familiar with the matter. He also told one senior board member that he would “be willing to step down” if they “had lost confidence in me,” Mr. Corzine told Congress on Thursday, although he said he had not intended to make a threat. (NY Times)
It is funny to see how people are impressed by confidence game, even by experienced and presumably talented board. This is because we keep hearing successful bets and amazing results by people that showed an insane amount of confidence. But this is an effect of selection bias.

The problem lies in how we get these stories. If the end result is great, then the confidence game get affirmed - whenever it blows up spectacularly, we label them differently, we call it hubris. But hubris is just the other side of confidence.   

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Durban Climate deal

"I wonder if this is an agenda to shift the blame on to countries who are not responsible [for climate change]. I am told that India will be blamed. Please don't hold us hostage. We will give up the principle of equity." 
China's chief negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, lambasted the EU in a passionate speech, saying: "Who gives you the right to tell us what to do?" 
With tempers rising and the talks minutes from being abandoned, the chair, South African foreign minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, ordered China, India, the US, Britain, France, Sweden, Gambia, Brazil and Poland to meet in a small group or "huddle". 
Surrounded by a crowd of nearly 100 delegates on the floor of the hall, they talked quietly among themselves to try to reach a new form of words acceptable to all. But it was Brazil's chief negotiator, lawyer Luis Figueres, who came up with the compromise, proposing to substitute "an agreed outcome with legal force" for "legal outcome". This, said an EU lawyer, was much stronger, effectively meaning "a legally binding agreement" (Guardian)

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Profile of the current IMF Chief

FT has a profile on Christine Lagarde.

A sign of Russian spring?

Up to 50,000 people braved the cold and snow on Saturday to turn out for the largest ever protest against the rule of prime minister Vladimir Putin. 
Bolotnaya Square, across the river from the Kremlin in central Moscow, was filled to overflowing with thousands standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the bridges and along the riverfront leading to the site. Tens of thousands of police and interior troops were deployed around the area, but protesters had been allowed by officials to gather in an unprecedented show of discontent. (Guardian)
Putin is still the most popular politician in Russia. 

Friday, December 09, 2011

UK's latest Eurozone gambit

European leaders, meeting until the early hours of Friday, agreed to sign an intergovernmental treaty that would require them to enforce stricter fiscal and financial discipline in their future budgets. (NY Times)
UK and Hungary balked at this arrangement.
The decision by Cameron will transform Britain's relations within the EU. Other projects, such as the euro and the creation of the passport-free Schengen travel area, have gone ahead without British involvement. But it is the first time since Britain joined in 1973 that a treaty that strikes at the heart of the workings of the EU will be agreed without a British signature. Britain signed the 1991 Maastricht treaty after winning an opt-out on the single currency and the social chapter. (Guardian)
Andrew Sullivan gathers the reactions to the deal and they range from "SHIT" to "OMG WE ARE FUCKED!"

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Year in photos


The Atlantic has more amazing images from events of 2011.

Master Kitchen Gadget


The best kitchen appliance on my countertop is ugly, overpriced and not for sale in any store. In fact, the Thermomix isn't for sale in this country. But at the risk of sounding like a vegetable-peeler pitchman holding forth in a supermarket aisle, I am here to tell you that this $1,400 German widget will do everything a blender, a processor, an electric mixer, a steamer, a Crock-Pot, a timer and a kitchen scale can do, but better, and all in one small spot. (WSJ)

US Fed 7.7 trillions 'loan' - a second take

Problem is, the Fed never actually doled out $7.7 trillion to banks: Much of that $7.7 trillion figure doesn’t reflect loans made, but loan guarantees — the amount the Fed would be responsible for in case of default — and loan limits. Certainly, the Fed positioned itself to take on considerable risk if need be, but the central bank was not handing out $7.7 trillion in cold, hard cash to banks. Politicians and the news media alike have erroneously conflated the two, using “loan guarantees” and “loans” interchangeably. The Fed would have given out $7.7 trillion to banks only in the unlikely scenario that the banks asked for the maximum possible loans and that every one of them subsequently defaulted. (Washington Post)
It is understandable for people to confuse the term "loan" and "loan guarantees" especially when it is paired up with 7.7 trillion dollar figure. 

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Don't live in Beijing

    (The Atlantic)

I spent 4 days in Beijing one summer ago and I did not see a single day with blue sky.

The fall of Kodak

Once ranked among the bluest of blue chips, Kodak shares sell today at close to $1. Kodak's chairman has been denying that the company is contemplating a bankruptcy filing with such vehemence that many believe Chapter 11 must lurk just around the corner. (Kodak)
I wonder how much brain power and money being wasted in this once great corporation. Imagine all those MBAs being shuffled through corporate machinery in order to produce negative growth.  

Income Inequality in the US

Particle Physics Rumor


Soon after Rolf-Dieter Heuer, the director general at Cern, emailed staff about next Tuesday's seminar on the most sought-after particle in modern times, rumours hit the physics blogs that the lab might finally have caught sight of the Higgs boson.  
I wrote last week that the heads of the two groups that work on the Atlas and CMS detectors at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will give the talks. That in itself is telling – usually more junior researchers present updates on the search for the missing particle.  
 Last month, scientists at the lab said that if the particle exists, it was most likely to have a mass somewhere between 114 and 141GeV (gigaelectronvolts), where one GeV is roughly equivalent to the mass of a proton, a subatomic particle found in atomic nuclei. (Guardian)

Higgs boson is also called God Particle. It is the only particle predicted by the physics Standard Model that has not been observed in experimental physics.  

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Communicating without understanding

I'd say that in about half of my business conversations, I have almost no idea what other people are saying to me. The language of internet business models has made the problem even worse. When I was younger, if I didn't understand what people were saying, I thought I was stupid. Now I realize that if it's to people's benefit that I understand them but I don't, then they're the ones who are stupid. (HBR)

I love the example he gave

 "You should meet this guy with the SIO. He's sort of this kind of social entrepreneur thinking outside of the box in the sustainability space and working on these ideas around sort of web-based social media, and he's in a round two capital raise in the VP space with the people at SVNP." 

Bibi is never serious

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently provided representatives of the Middle East Quartet with a new proposal on borders for a Palestinian state and security arrangements that Israel would be provided in a peace agreement. The Quartet, which is comprised of the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and Russia, has demanded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu provide a counterproposal, however Israel has refused to do so, saying that any counterproposal should be presented in direct negotiations with the Palestinians. (Haaretz)

Monday, December 05, 2011

Noam Chomsky, the linguist

For centuries experts held that every language is unique. Then one day in 1956, a young linguistics professor gave a legendary presentation at the Symposium on Information Theory at MIT. He argued that every intelligible sentence conforms not only to the rules of its particular language but to a universal grammar that encompasses all languages. And rather than absorbing language from the environment and learning to communicate by imitation, children are born with the innate capacity to master language, a power imbued in our species by evolution itself. Almost overnight, linguists’ thinking began to shift. (Discovery)

7 largest solar projects in the US right now

The Atlantic has the goods. 6 of them are located in California.


The danger of letting women to drive


Repealing a ban on women drivers in Saudi Arabia would result in ‘no more virgins’, the country’s religious council has warned.  
A ‘scientific’ report claims relaxing the ban would also see more Saudis - both men and women - turn to homosexuality and pornography.  
The startling conclusions were drawn by Muslim scholars at the Majlis al-Ifta’ al-A’ala, Saudi Arabia’s highest religious council, working in conjunction with Kamal Subhi, a former professor at the King Fahd University.  (Daily Mail)

If women don't die as virgins, heaven will not have enough supplies for the suicide bombers.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Bali Drug Boy's lesson

His lawyer said the boy wanted his ordeal to be a warning to other teenagers tempted to use drugs overseas. Read more

The lesson is don't buy, consume or distribute drugs in South East Asia - which includes Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and some more. We have very draconian rule against drug usage.

If you want to get high, come to Egypt and stay in Sinai.  

Friday, December 02, 2011

Thursday, December 01, 2011

ASEAN's Triumph

Hillary Clinton visits Burma.

The quiet diplomacy by democratic members of ASEAN has born fruit. Myanmar has started a reformation process of its political system and on a promising path for liberalization. 

7.7 trillions bailout by the US Fed

Bloomberg has the story.
The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret. Now, the rest of the world can see what it was missing.
The Fed didn’t tell anyone which banks were in trouble so deep they required a combined $1.2 trillion on Dec. 5, 2008, their single neediest day. Bankers didn’t mention that they took tens of billions of dollars in emergency loans at the same time they were assuring investors their firms were healthy. And no one calculated until now that banks reaped an estimated $13 billion of income by taking advantage of the Fed’s below-market rates, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its January issue.

The loans worked out brilliantly but it is still an insane amount of rescue.  

Indonesia is 100th in Transparency International CPI

That's Corruption Perception Index. We are 100 out of 183 with 3.0 index. It still sucks but it's better than Egypt's 2.9. Check out the interactive report here.

New Zealand is the best at 9.5. 

Goolsbee on Euro

His interview is here

Germany’s productivity has gone way up. Normally, that would mean their currency appreciates, which lessens the advantage that gives their economy [in exports]. But unlike virtually every other advanced country in the world, the manufacturing share of output in Germany has risen over the last 20 years. And part of the explanation is that, just as in China, Germany has an export-oriented growth strategy fueled by a currency that’s undervalued. But that undervalued currency has been at the expense of Southern Europe. And the main point of the piece is that there’s no obvious way for Southern Europe to grow, and if they can’t grow, they can’t balance their budgets no matter how much austerity they engage in.

Islamists dominate Egypt's parliamentary election results.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), has demonstrated supremacy with the voters in the nine governorates that voted this week. They were followed by the Salafist Al-Nour Party, which is running, under the Islamist Alliance for Egypt bloc, on the same electoral lists as Al-Asalaa Party and Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiyya’s the Building and Development Party. Meanwhile, the liberal Egyptian Bloc seems to be trailing in third.
The Islamists’ initial electoral success has been achieved in cities where liberal political forces have their highest density, such as Cairo and Alexandria. This indicates the coming rounds of the elections could well see the Islamists take a stranglehold on parliament. (El Ahram)
Nobody is surprised about the Muslim Brotherhood's strong results. The big surprise comes from the Salafist party, Nour (which means "light" in Arabic), which makes the MB looks like a hippie party. It is a hardcore Islamist party that pretty much wants Egypt to become a version of Saudi Arabia. The speculation right now says that the Nour party could get 15% to 20% of the total votes.

Combined with MB's 30-40% share, the Islamists can easily pass any minor laws that only requires simple majorities to pass.

I was wrong a couple a days ago in saying that results of the election round would not be published until the last round completed (dumb mistake).

These early results generated mad scramble n the various secular or liberal leaning parties to merge or put their coalitions in order. Last night I read the election result of a district in Cairo with 200K or so valid votes. The winner won by 125K votes and the rest of the secular parties won less than 5K votes each. In combination these small results add up to 40K votes.

This district is a wealthy and liberal part of Cairo. In more closely contested seats, these 40K votes will count.

Anyway, these results make the Muslim Brotherhood as the projected big winner of the election. They can use the more conservative Nour party as a stick to scare the Liberal parties to move closer to their positions in producing new laws and regulations.



Good luck Buddy

Confirmed melanoma on his lungs (but cannot be removed because it is small and hard to get at) and in his leg (most of which they removed yesterday). He'll start a new Phase II vaccine clinical trial in January, once he's healed from surgery. We're praying for a miraculous response and dealing with the hard possibility that he may have less than a year left. So, we're spending our time praying for and believing in miracles and living life with GUSTO! No more tears around here, folks. We are getting on with the business of LIVING and being grateful for TODAY!

I quoted this message from a Facebook post by my friend's whose husband (who is also a friend) is battling cancer right now.  Occasionally they drop by here to check out what's happening. If you guys read this, much love from Cairo and godspeed. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sinai Travel

Now there's a new community bus service from St. Katherine to Dahab and Nuewiba. Check out http://bedouinbus.com/.

Air Travel Security Theater

There is no good reason for airlines to ask to you turn your electronic device during takeoff and landing. Airline Pilots have their cellphones and GPS devices in their cockpit on all the time.

Rice Security

GlobalPost is doing a series on Rice, the main staple for billions of people on earth.
Rice is responsible for feeding half the world, or more than 3.5 billion people. In other words, rice is important. A tweak to how the grain is grown, sold or eaten can send ripples through the world economy. Take Thailand, which supplies 30 percent of the world's rice. Government subsidies there threaten to raise the price of putting dinner on the table in Mexico. GlobalPost takes a closer look at a tiny grain with a giant footprint.

Monday, November 28, 2011

UN Report on Syria

This is the whole report (pdf)

A snippet
Several testimonies reported the practice of sexual torture used on male detainees. Men were routinely made to undress and remain naked. Several former detainees testified reported beatings of genitals, forced oral sex, electroshocks and cigarette burns to the anus in detention facilities, including those of the Air Force Intelligence in Damascus, the Military Intelligence in Jisr Al Shughour, the Military Intelligence and the Political Security in Idlib and Al Ladhiqiyah and the intelligence detention facilities in Tartus. Several of the detainees were repeatedly threatened that they would be raped in front of their family and that their wives and daughters would also be raped.

Naked Protests around the world


There are 35 images of such images narrated by the most respected German newsmagazine, Spiegel. Tell your boss you are trying to understand the new phenomena of a global grass root movement against the heartless financial plutocrat. 

Egypt's Election Live Blogging


An individual ballot listing for a district in Alexandria. It has 100 names on it. It's insane.

Today is the first round of election and it covers 9 governorates in Egypt, including Cairo (but not Giza) and Alexandria. There are two more rounds left next month and January.

The Guardian has a map of all participating parties and their alliances.

Google Egypt celebrates the occasion


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wenzhou: A libertarian wet dream

For the last 30 years, private citizens in this southeastern China metropolis have largely taken over one of the least questioned prerogatives of governments the world over: infrastructure.  (reason)

It's worth reading all the way through.  

Seen in Cairo


It's unfair but here it is. Those are tear gas canisters at the bottom of the poster.

Downgrades

Belgium got downgraded to AA- from AA+ with negative outlook and Hungary got downgraded to junk status.

The ratings reflects individual rating agency confidence on a country's ability to pay its debt. The lower the rating, the higher the interest that the market impose on the borrowing of a country.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

TIME magazine covers



Call center shift

Over the last several years, a quiet revolution has been reshaping the call center business: the rise of the Philippines, a former United States colony that has a large population of young people who speak lightly accented English and, unlike many Indians, are steeped in American culture.  
More Filipinos — about 400,000 — than Indians now spend their nights talking to mostly American consumers, industry officials said, as companies like AT&T, JPMorgan Chase and Expedia have hired call centers here, or built their own. The jobs have come from the United States, Europe and, to some extent, India as outsourcers followed their clients to the Philippines. (NY Times)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Live blogging on Egypt today


The election is still on schedule on Monday. It is a three phase election (weird, I know) because SCAF insists to have one judge to monitor polling station and there are not enough judges to cover all sites in Egypt. So the first phase will start Monday, the second will start sometime in Decembe and the last one completed in January next year.

The result of each phase will not be announced until the last one is completed.

This requirement to have one judge for one polling station is silly and it opens potential abuse to the election system. Anyway this is what Egypt has now. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Not good

S&P have kept Egypt’s outlook at negative and Egypt’s future is indeed looking bleak. Egypt’s reserve position is becoming uncomfortable – it has at most $22bn left, having burned through $14bn since the start of the year supporting the currency. Central bank data suggest it still has enough to cover four or five months of imports. But Capital Economics said in a note published on Tuesday $22bn was enough to cover little more than three months – widely regarded as the minimum for safety. (FT)

Fourth Gone

President Saleh of Yemen quit yesterday.

Ali, Saleh, Qadaffi, Mubarak: all gone.


Unfinished revolution


The Atlantic has more amazing pictures.

Tahrir square is peaceful and occupied by the protesters night and day. The raging battle happened in one of the side street connecting Tahrir to the Egyptian Interior Ministry (the department responsible for managing security forces).  This battle went on for 96 hours before it ended yesterday when Egyptian army set up barricades between the protesters and the central security forces.

This tactic of battling the security forces on a side street is to pin them down in one location so that they do not approach the nearby Tahrir. This allows large gathering to happen safely and made Tahrir a gathering ground and medical site.

It's still going strong

At Cairo’s Zeinhom morgue, the number of deceased has been rising beyond any number to be found in newspapers, official statements or Health Ministry reports. 

A manipulation of the cause of death is one of the main reasons that the actual death toll remains very unclear. Egyptian authorities have reportedly forced the families of those killed in the square to sign documentation that their loved ones died of natural causes, in an attempt to keep an official death count low. bikyamasr

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Air Taxi back?

Now, the Eclipse has a second chance. Ekim Alptekin, a Turkish businessman whose family firm had also ordered Eclipse 500s for a proposed air-taxi service, ended up as one of the aircraft maker's main creditors. Instead of cutting his losses and walking away, he decided to invest in a revival of the company. Last month the reborn Eclipse Aerospace announced that it would start delivering a revamped version of the plane with better avionics, called the 550, next year. (Economist)

More pictures from Tahrir

   (Megan)

(Megan)

No clue

Yesterday over 100,000 people showed up in Tahrir. Then the current head of SCAF showed up on TV offering speech with some concessions to the protesters. People Tahrir square replied with boos and complete rejection of the concession and reiterate their demand for immediate transfer of power to civilian government in power.

The fighting still continues in part of downtown Cairo and in Alexandria.

What now?

I have no clue.

It does not yet feel like 2nd revolution. The food supply is still good, traffic is still bad, banks remain open, people still go out, life in Cairo is still normal.

But.

Late night traffic is less, UN workers have been 'working from home' for three days now, at least one oil company sent their office workers early yesterday.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Back to Tahrir

I took two of my visiting friends to Tahrir at 7PM last night. Tahrir Square was fully in control of the protesters. We were admitted without a fuss in the checkpoints and large number of people kept streaming into the square, men, women and few children. The fights happened 300 meters into downtown. 8 ambulances arrived simultaneously signifying the violence that were happening at the front-line of the protests.

I took them to Tahrir for a simple reason - this is the other side of Egypt, beyond the hassling vendors at the Pyramids or finicky drivers in traffic jams. In this square leaders are being trained, vision clarified and next generation born. People reassert their demand for freedom and dignity and for government that work for them, that respect their rights, that protect them instead of abusing them.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Still fighting the good fight

50 hours of protests and counting. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Getting high in the Islamic Republic


On June 26, Iranian state media reported that 20,000 former drug addicts had assembled at Tehran's Azadi Stadium to mark the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attended, and used the podium to portray narcotics as an implement of Western predation. "Today," he said, Western countries "have begun harming nations, especially the Iranian nation, by drugs. Arrogant states masquerade themselves behind the so-called humanitarian masks and they want to stir a sense of inability in other nations. They put on masks of freedom-seeking, human rights, and protecting people but in fact they are the biggest criminals in the world." (FP)

De Ja Vu


(Guardian)

I skipped this event last weekend simply because I am bored with these kind of clashes - been there, done that, got the teargas. Good for them though.

The clashes happened yesterday between the security forces and protesters, one day after the impressive turn out on Friday


This picture below was taken early morning yesterday around downtown
(Flickr)

The rest of the city is quiet. These are isolated incidents that are concentrated around Tahrir and small part of downtown. The rest of the city is virtually unaffected other than worsening traffic jam.

my favorite turkey technique

The butterflying technique can easily cut the time to roast the turkey in half.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Critical eye for the Times

Egypt goes crazy on #nakedrevolutionary

This site is the subject of much controversy in the country right now.  A 20 year old Egyptian woman uploaded several naked pictures of herself and other people (including a man ) as an act of provocation.

My opinion: people is free to do as they wish in regards of these kind of things.

Australia goes ga ga for Obama

The full coverage is here.

Benetton Ads

Benetton has just released new ads of photo-shopped images of leaders making out.

Boring. In the year of tumbling tyrants, these kind of 'shock ads' are passe. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thai Flood Hacks

Not small potatoes

It's easy to think of local food as a diversion for people with plenty of time and money — something that could never be a major source of food in a globalized world. But the number $4.8 billion might change that perception.  
American farmers say they're selling $4.8 billion a year in fruits and vegetables in their local markets, according to a new analysis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Though the number of farmer's markets doubled between 1998 and 2009, the bulk of the new sales came from supermarkets and restaurants. (NPR)

Why cry when nobody is going to pay attention to you?

Prior to the project, investigators had observed that the orphans had a high frequency of serious developmental problems, from diminished IQs to extreme difficulty forming emotional attachments. Meanwhile, imaging and other tests revealed that some of the orphans had reduced activity in their brains. The Bucharest project confirmed that these findings were more than random observations. It also uncovered a striking pattern: Orphans who went to foster homes before their second birthdays often recovered some of their abilities. Those who went to foster homes after that point rarely did. (TNR)

An armed insurgency in Syria

Syrian army defectors say they have launched several attacks on President Bashar al-Assad's military bases near Damascus, including one on an intelligence facility.  
The Free Syrian Army said its main attack on Wednesday morning targeted a compound run by the Air Force Intelligence in Harasta, a suburb of the capital. The other strikes targeted military checkpoints in the suburbs of Douma, Qaboun and Arabeen and Saqba. (Guardian)

Magical brain

The brain has powers unlike any machine. It organizes the world. It organizes itself. When it’s damaged—even when it’s transected by a skull-shattering bullet—it can regain not just knowledge, but the ability to learn. If it can’t use old circuits, it invents new ones. Where there’s a will, the brain finds a way. (Slate)
ABC news interviews with Gabby Giffords are here. They are worth watching in their entirety. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Afghanistan

Reason for optimism

Italy has fewer foreign debts than the other troubled euro-zone countries, as it ran only modest current-account deficits in the boom years. Its net international debt (what Italy’s businesses, householders and government owe to foreigners, less the foreign assets they own) was 24% of GDP in 2010, not much above that of Britain or America, and well below the position in Greece (96%), Portugal (107%) or Spain (90%). Indeed Italy’s overall private-sector debts are modest by rich-country standards. This matters for the nation’s solvency. If less wealth goes outside Italy to service foreign debts, more is left to tax. (Economist)
Italy still makes stuff that people want to buy, e.g. Fiat, Ferrari, Fashion, Tourism, Food, Agriculture, High Tech manufacturing, Super Models. 

What to do in Singapore - from a local



  • Food
    • Eat Chilli Crab ( go to this restaurant at East Coast Park, Or Long Beach/ or No Signboard, all sea food restaurants)
    • Chinese Food-> Hainanese Chicken Rice/ Laksa ( coconut spicy noodles)
    • Malay Food-> Satay (bbqed meat), Chicken Wings with the chilli sauce (yum!)-> can be found in Chinese stalls too
    • Indian Food- Prata with Cury, To drink-> Teh tarik ( Pulled milk tea), Muratak ( meat with prata)
    • Sea food: Sambal chilli stingray and other shell like seafood

Which hawker centre to go, you can get a good sample of all these food ( other than the chilli crab, you need to go to the specified restaurants).

You can head to East Coast Park Hawker Centre by the beach in the East, nearer to the airport has a nice range and view….If you prefer somewhere in town, since you are staying in Chinatown,

You can go to Lau Pa Saut ( right smack in the business district,the nearest MRT station /subway is Raffled Place MRT)


  • Sightseeing places
    • One Fullerton/ Fullerton Hotel/ Esplanade with the Merlion-> Colonial architecture, nice to walk around this area, you can grab a drink there as well at night
    • Chinatown/Little India, Agree you can just take a stroll there
    • Check out Arab Street area-> Haji Lane, interesting shisha cafe and small characteristic shops to stroll out, its near the Sultan Mosque as well ( one of my faves in Sg)
    • Go Night Safari, its my no. 1 recommended list to do for my visiting friends, and I really really like it too! So go, its  a little far from town
    • My other favourite areas are Ann Siang Hill / Near Chinatown, where there are nice cafes around too
    • Another area to explore is Geylang, which I told you is a Red light district also  a place where they sell awesome food ! Like frog leg porridge (yums), Beef Hor Fun ( white thick flat noodles) and other supper stuff. You can try to eat a durian if they sell there as well
    • Fort Canning a park like garden at the top of the hill,  apparently the museum up there is pretty good I heard, called Battle Box, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Battle_Box
    • Botanical Gardens is now nice place to stroll around if u like trees and plants



Monday, November 14, 2011

Tips for cooking


  • being a cook in a restaurant has nothing to do with creativity and everything to do with speed and efficiency
  • don't overcrowd your pans. putting too much food in a single pan will decrease the heat more than you want
  • a single good sharp knife is much more valuable than a whole block of knives
  • you should always have lemons, onions, garlic, vinegar, oil, and butter in your kitchen
  • to get green vegetables to stay green, we blanche them, it's the only way that they wont look grey and lifeless after they're cooked
  • fat and salt are your friends, there's nothing unhealthy about them when you eat them in the right amounts
  • the most flavorful cuts of meat are the ones that scare you and you'll never purchase them
  • don't add milk to scrambled eggs, creme friache, if possible
  • most (not all) restaurant cookbooks dumb down recipes for you
  • at fine dining restaurants, nothing ever goes from a pan or pot to another without going through a fine mesh sieve (chinois)
  • if it weren't for illegal labor, you would never be able to eat out
  • the gap in flavor between vegetables in season and out of season is astronomical
  • if you get pressured to buy a more expensive wine or made to feel like an idiot by a sommelier, you're eating at the wrong restaurant
  • be nice to your butchers and fishmongers, they'll let you know what's what

    (reddit)


Click on the link for a great thread of cooking tips by chefs.

Another Iranian Nuclear Scientist killed

An Iranian physicist was gunned down yesterday near his home in south Tehran, according to Iranian media reports.
According to the reports, based on police sources, Darioush Rezaei, 35, was shot dead by two gunmen firing from motorcycles. Rezaei's wife was injured in the attack and rushed to hospital. This is the fourth attack on an Iranian nuclear scientist in the past year. In the previous cases, Iranian media outlets and spokesmen accused the Mossad, the CIA and MI6 of being behind the strikes. (Haaretz)

Courage

Kristof latest report from Cambodia is both inspiring and devastating

 “We all know that our lives are in danger,” she says, a little too cavalierly. “I’ve never been so happy in my life. They can kill me now.”  
When Somaly refused to back off, she said the traffickers kidnapped her 14-year-old daughter and gang-raped the girl with a video camera rolling. The daughter was recovered in a brothel, and Somaly blames herself. It’s a credit to the courage of mother and daughter that they remain steadfast, upbeat and close, and determined to make a difference. These days, Somaly is very careful with that daughter and her other children.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ibis Aerial Highway

The
The plane flies over Cape Leveque on the tip of the Dampier Peninsula north of Broome.  (news.com.au)

Brazillian Powerhouse

Brazil is set to become the world’s sixth economy by the end of 2011, if projections by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and two leading economic consultancies, the EIU and the BMI, are correct. Brazil will overtake the United Kingdom, demoting it to the number seven spot and continuing a trend up the ranks of global economies after last year leaving Italy behind at number eight. (Rio Times)

Qatari Embassy was assaulted in Beirut



In Beirut, protesters gathered in front the Qatari embassy and chanted against the decision. Some of the protesters forced their way to the top of the building, where the embassy is located, and removed the Qatari flag and put up a Syrian one, witnesses said. (Haaretz)


The last time this happened to an embassy in the Middle East, it was the Israeli's embassy in Cairo. Now the Qatari got a taste of it. This region is weird.