Monday, December 31, 2012

Notables of 2012


  • South Korea got their first female prime minister
  • Egypt elected its first civilian leader
  • War in Gaza
  • Obama won reelection
  • Mali overrun by Islamist
  • US ambassador killed in Benghazi
  • Higg Bosson confirmed by CERN
  • Riots over Prophet Mohammed 'movie'
  • Epic take down by Australian PM regarding sexism in Australian parliament
  • Messi broke record of most goals in Spanish tournament
  • Central African Republic on the edge of being overrun by rebels
  • Facebook IPO crashed and burn
  • President Chavez of Venezuela cancer treatment is failing
  • London Olympics 2012 was spectacular
  • Syria entered full blown civil war
  • Israel Foreign Minister resigned after being indicted 
  • NATO deployed Patriot missiles for Turkey
  • Armenia up in arms after Azerbaijan openly welcomed a murderer
  • A bomb attack on Israel tourists in Bulgaria
  • Mars landing
  • Maya calendar ended and begun with much hypes and without any consequence
  • Cyprus got bailed out money from EU
  • Spain unemployment hit 30%
  • UK got into double dip recession
  • Greece is still in deep shit
  • China once a decade leadership shift
  • Argentina and UK got into verbal smash over Falklands islands
  • Facebook bought Instagram and ruined it over new service term which had to be rolled back
  • Appled fucked map. 
  • Google came out with amazing Google Now
  • RIM missed release of BB 10
  • Microsoft leadership exodus
  • Microsoft Surface and Windows Phone 8 released and nobody cared
  • Skyfall made a billion dollars
  • Director of CIA resigned over affairs
  • Berlusconi tried to run for premiership of Italy again
  • Burma is cool again
  • Gangnam Style hit 1 billion view on YouTube
  • Dark Night Rises released
  • Hurricane Sandy trashed New York
  • James Cameron dived to Marianne Trench
  • That tallest jump in history
  • Sex scandals and other fuckups at the BBC
  • Fucking Taliban shot an activity girl in Pakistan
  • India went to nationwide rage over raped women
  • HP had a 8 billion dollars write down out of its last year's 11 billion dollar purchase of Autonomy in addition of its other 8 billion dollars write down of EDS acquisition. 
  • Lance Amstrong is officially a fraud
  • Knight Capital lost 440 million dollars over software mistake
  • Blind Chinese activist escaped to US
  • LIBOR scandal discovered
  • JP Morgan Chase lost over 8 billion dollars over trading

Spiegel's best photographs of 2012

Sunday, December 30, 2012

As it is in Cairo, New Delhi is also a nest of sexual harassers

College students, mostly women, led the early protests. Sexual violence has become a national scandal in India, amid regular reports of gang rapes and other assaults against infants, teenagers and other women. But women also spoke of a more pervasive form of harassment: of being groped in public; of fearing to ride buses or subways alone; of victims, not attackers, being shamed and blamed. NY Times
The rotten criminal justice system is partly to blame
Protesters have repeatedly called for reforms, citing the frequent insensitivity of the police and the courts toward women and the skewed priorities of a government that devotes thousands of officers to protecting politicians and other so-called V.V.I.P.’s, even as departments too often fail to protect ordinary citizens. “I’m now beginning to feel that my government is not capable of understanding the situation, let alone solving it,” said Abhijit Sarkar, 28, a social activist who participated in a candlelight vigil last week. “During the candlelight vigil, policemen were actually laughing at us.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Bad news from Antartica

"New research suggests that West Antarctica has warmed much more than scientists have thought over the last half century, an ominous finding given that the huge ice sheet there may be vulnerable to long-term collapse, with potentially drastic effects on sea level.

A paper released Sunday by the journal Nature Geoscience found that the temperature at a research station in the middle of West Antarctica has warmed by 4.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1958. That is roughly twice as much as scientists previously thought and three times the overall rate of global warming, making central West Antarctica one of the fastest-warming regions on earth. " NY Times

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Amazing shots from NASA


"Mars is an amazing place. I sometimes still think of it as cold, barren, and dead, but this is simply prejudice on my part. Well, it is cold, but dead it is not: It has an atmosphere capable of astonishing feats, including creating enormous dust devils—mini-tornadoes— like the one seen here by the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. This towering vortex was 800 meters (half a mile) long as it swept across the ochre landscape. The plume was bent by the wind, creating that gently sweeping tail, and you can see its shadow on the ground. Dust devils form when air warmed by the ground below rises. If there’s a steady wind it can wrap the rising air into a vortex that can tip vertically and swirl around. They’re common on Mars, but one this big is unusual … though not long afterward, another one formed that was a staggering 20 kilometers (12 miles) high!"
Slate

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Last post

This is the last post on nomadlife.org since tomorrow is the end of the world. In the unlikely event that we survive the calamity, the blogging shall resume.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

What is Kaiju?



Kaiju (怪獣 kaijū?) is a Japanese word that literally translates to "strange beast". However, the word kaiju has been universally translated and defined into English as "monster" or "giant monster" and refers to science fiction films from Japan featuring unnatural creatures of immense size. Kaiju films usually showcase kaiju of any form attacking a major Japanese city or squaring off with one another.
The most famous kaiju is Godzilla. Other well known kaiju include Mothra, Gamera, Rodan, and King Ghidorah. The term ultra-kaiju is short-hand for monsters in the Ultra Series. Wikipedia

Cairo voted no, but the rest of Egypt voted yes

Click here for more details on the constitutional referendum tally part 1.

Blackboard


From the NYT


Friday, December 14, 2012

How Google build Map


The sheer amount of human effort that goes into Google's maps is just mind-boggling. Every road that you see slightly askew in the top image has been hand-massaged by a human. The most telling moment for me came when we looked at couple of the several thousand user reports of problems with Google Maps that come in every day. The Geo team tries to address the majority of fixable problems within minutes. One complaint reported that Google did not show a new roundabout that had been built in a rural part of the country. The satellite imagery did not show the change, but a Street View car had recently driven down the street and its tracks showed the new road perfectly. The Atlantic

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Yenisei River



More pictures from Siberia

Egypt's constitution referendum is schedule on December 15

If people chose No, then Egyptians will elect the people that will be in the 100 people constitution committee.

There are call of boycotts by some oppositions and today will see two warring factions on the streets trying to pull out large demonstrations.


Europe's highest suspension bridge

Its in Switzerland

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Outsourcing yourself out of existance

Asus came to Dell and said, “We’ve done a good job fabricating these motherboards for you. Why don’t you let us assemble the whole computer for you, too? Assembling those products is not what’s made you successful. We can take all the remaining manufacturing assets off your balance sheet, and we can do it all for 20 percent less.”

The Dell analysts realized that this, too, was a win- win…

That process continued as Dell outsourced the management of its supply chain, and then the design of its computers themselves. Dell essentially outsourced everything inside its personal-computer business—everything except its brand— to Asus. Dell’s Return on Net Assets became very high, as it had very few assets left in the consumer part of its business.

Then, in 2005, Asus announced the creation of its own brand of computers. In this Greek-tragedy tale, Asus had taken everything it had learned from Dell and applied it for itself. It started at the simplest of activities in the value chain, then, decision by decision, every time that Dell outsourced the next lowest-value-adding of the remaining activities in its business, Asus added a higher value-adding activity to its business. Asymco
The outsourcers will become better and better at making and designing your products until they eat you whole.

Morsi half blinks

Struggling to quell violent protests that have threatened to derail a referendum on an Islamist-backed draft constitution, President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt moved Saturday to appease his opponents with a package of concessions hours after state news media reported that he was moving toward imposing a form of martial law to secure the streets and allow the vote.

Mr. Morsi did not budge on a critical demand of the opposition: that he postpone the referendum set for next Saturday to allow a thorough overhaul of the proposed charter, which liberal groups say has inadequate protection of individual rights and provisions that could someday give Muslim religious authorities new influence. NY Times
This does not go far enough. One of his original decree was to protect the Constitutional Assembly and give them more time to finish the constitution. Then the massive protest happened because his parts of his decree make him have dictatorial powers. In response the constitution was rushed within a week and to be voted on next week.

And now he has rescinded part of his decree but yet still insist on the rushed constitution which he had wanted to give more time in the first place.

It's all very confusing and contradictory. 

Thursday, December 06, 2012

New update to Android Rivers

Android Rivers is an app I am working right now that help reading diverse news efficiently. It's designed for Android phone 2.2 and up.

Android Rivers .43 is now available. You can find the latest update at goo.gl/dxK5w.

In this update you will find the following:
  • An updated UI theme. As a consequence of this, the size of the application is almost double. At this rate of size increase, we will need DVD distribution by the time this app is completed.
  • You can resize the text in the rivers.
  • The text in the rivers has more padding for easier reading.
  • After you download a river, it will stay cached for an hour so the app will not reload the rivers from the Internet unless you explicitly refresh it again.
  • Now the app is more exact in checking whether a news item link is a proper Uri.
  • You can change the theme from light to dark and vice versa. I found it very useful to switch the color theme depending on light condition of my surrounding.

For you to be able to run this version of Android River, you must set your phone/tablet in the "application" setting to check on allowing "unknown sources".

Pictures from Heliopolis






 More twitter sourced images of Battle of Heliopolis and other cities in Egypt can be found here.

Heliopolis is a middle/upper class area of Cairo. Its about 40 minutes drive (in average traffic) from where I live.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The trigger of Battle of Heliopolis

The trigger was this, earlier today when a MB mass went down the the palace area and torn down tents of protesters from the previous night.
 

Internet Trends 2012 by Mary Meeker

She's a pretty astute observer of the Internet and worth listening to.

Thousands marched to the Egypt's Presidential Palace




Tens of thousands of Egyptians marched to the Presidential palace at Helipolis last night in opposition to the Presidential decree and rushed draft constitution. Heliopolis is a middle to upper class part of Cairo.

Walled Cairo

BBC

Whenever there are large violent protests on the street of Central Cairo, walls popped up like mushroom in the rainy seasons.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Monday, December 03, 2012

Israel pokes everybody in the eye by planning E1 settlements constructions

It's a game changer. All settlements are obstacles for a future agreement but this is the obstacle for the future, the one that can be the last nail in the coffin for a two-state solution. This is understood by not just the Palestinians and the international community but by the Israeli government as well. By indicating the intent to build in E1, they are saying "no" to the two-state solution.

The E1 area divides the West Bank into two cantons. It doesn't allow the necessary contiguity for a Palestinian state. Secondly, it cuts offJerusalem from the West Bank by mass Israeli settlement. If [East] Jerusalem is cut off from the West Bank, it can never serve as the capital for a Palestinian state.
The Guardian coverage is here. The UK, Germany, France and Sweden are considering pulling their ambassadors.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Translations to Egypt's draft constituion

By Egypt Independent newspaper, get it here.

Asperger's now part of Autism

Asperger's syndrome is to be dropped from the psychiatrists' Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders, the American publication that is one of the most influential references for the profession around the world.

The term "Asperger's disorder" will not appear in the DSM-5, the latest revision of the manual, and instead its symptoms will come under the newly added "autism spectrum disorder", which is already used widely. That umbrella diagnosis will include children with severe autism, who often do not talk or interact, as well as those with milder forms.

Guardian

Saturday, December 01, 2012

The case of drinking coffee, a lot

"What I tell patients is, if you like coffee, go ahead and drink as much as you want and can," says Dr. Peter Martin, director of the Institute for Coffee Studies at Vanderbilt University. He's even developed a metric for monitoring your dosage: If you are having trouble sleeping, cut back on your last cup of the day. From there, he says, "If you drink that much, it's not going to do you any harm, and it might actually help you. A lot." The Atlantic

No joke, you can play Dune II on your browser

Nasty cigarette boxes are activated in Australia now

"Australia's world-first laws on cigarette and tobacco plain packaging have come into force, replacing brand logos and colours with generic drab olive green coverings, gruesome pictures of diseased body parts and depictions of children and babies made ill by their parents' smoking."
Guardian

Thursday, November 29, 2012

TIME's interview script with Morsi

Oh no, I don’t see the situation this way. What I can see now is the Egyptians are free. They are raising their voices when they are opposing the president, and when they are opposing what’s going on. And this is very important. It’s their right to express, and to raise their voices and express their feelings and attitudes. But It’s my responsibility, I see things more than they do. I think you have seen the most recent opinion surveys. I think more than 80, around 90% of the people in Egypt are — according to these opinion measures — they are with what I have done. It’s not against the people, It’s with the people, coincides with the benefits. There is some difference between what’s happening now in expressing the opinions of the people and what happened in January 2011 [during the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak]. There is now some violence that we haven’t seen before, which constitutes something bad going on.
Time
And they put him on the cover

The UN General Assembly will vote on Palestine today

The result of Thursday's UN vote, however, is not in doubt: 132 of the UN's 193 member states have already recognised a putative state of Palestine. The US is against. What remains to be decided is what Britain, a permanent member of the security council, will do. France has pledged to vote yes, Germany no, thus splitting the EU vote. Russia and China are in the yes camp. Guardian
They are expected to grant Palestine a non member status.

This new status will grant Palestine access to International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court and open a new avenue for them to pursue their independence.

Yay!

Skyfall visual effects

This article highlights all the special effects int the latest Bond movie. Spoilers alert.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Game changer in Syria



 The just shot down their first helicopter using a shoulder launched missiles.

Tahrir last night

The middle class showed up in Tahrir this early evening. They came in force with their work attire, in pairs or in fives, in one long continuous stream instead of lockstep marches.

Women too showed up, young, old.

I saw one guy on wheel chair in the darken square. It was full but not too much. The volunteer lines to check for weapons and ids were missing - at least from the bridge with the lion heads.

The air was cool, full of late fall breeze. The slogans were strong and getting stronger and they were carried far and wide.

Almost everybody was here. Enough to bring hope back.

Morsy is in big trouble, out of his own making.

The murals of Tahrir


More here.

sexiest man alive

Not known for its sense of humor, the Chinese Communist Party’s official mouthpiece apparently fell for a parody by The Onion, the satirical newspaper and Web site, when it reported Tuesday in some online editions of People’s Daily that Kim Jong-un, the young, chubby North Korean ruler, had been named the “Sexiest Man Alive for 2012.” (NYTimes)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Russia is Syria's lifeline

According to the flight records, eight round-trip flights between Damascus International Airport and Moscow’s Vnukovo Airport each carried 30 tons of bank notes back to Syria. There are records relating to the flights in Arabic and English as well as copies of over-flight requests sent to Iran, which are in Farsi.

Syrian and Russian officials did not respond to ProPublica’s questions about the authenticity and accuracy of the flight records. It is not possible to know whether the logs accurately described the cargo or what else might have been on board the flights. Nor do the logs specify the type of currency. TPM

Monday, November 26, 2012

Photos from Ashura celebration


Daily Mail

Ashura is one of the holiest day for Shiite Muslims. This act of self flagellation though is not commonly performed by Shiites. Only a few percentage of their community do it.

Chinese architecture, old and new

This is one of the better ones posted on this The Atlantic article.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Farming the desert

Because there's no shortage of desert in which to site it, a Sundrop greenhouse can be built in isolation from others and be less prone to roving pests. Those that sneak in can be eliminated naturally. In this closeted micro-world, Dave Pratt with his trusty iPhone app is free to play God. Not only does Dave have a flight of in-house bees to do their stuff in the greenhouse (who also live a charmed life as they enjoy a perfect, Dave- controlled climate with no predators) but he also has at his command a platoon of "beneficial insects" called Orius, or pirate bugs. These kill crop-destroying pests called thrips, and do so – weirdly in nature – not for food but for, well, fun. So unless you feel for thrips, or believe food should only be grown in God's own soil and subject to God's own pestilences, Sundrop produce seems to be pure and ethical enough to satisfy all but the most eco-fussy. Guardian

Android Rivers

If you have an Android phone, try my app to read news http://goo.gl/dxK5w. It's still in early development but so far it's been really useful for me. It targets Android 2.2 and above so your old phone should work fine.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Countries to visit 2013

1) Portugal
2) Mozambique
3) KYRGYZSTAN (visa-free entry!)
4) Panama
5) Armenia
6) Rwanda
7) Cuba
8) Ukraine
9) Malawi
10) Canada

GlobeSpots

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New - Nigerian scam, Greece style

Please, permit me to spend some of your minutes to present my urgent confidential proposal to you. I’m writing you from Greece, I happened to handle a political appointment in the past administration in Greece, I will not provide you more details for security reasons now, until I hear back from you to provide you the reason for this mail. Reply back to my personal email (aavavourakis@outlook.com) me for more details and you will know more of what I am trying to say. 
Regards, 
From Athens, Greece.

I got this on my inbox today. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rumble in the Congo - again

Rebels with the alleged backing of Rwanda threaten to invade the biggest city in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo yesterday/on Monday, with UN peacekeepers appearing powerless to stop them.

After several days of heavy fighting, the M23 militia group, which the UN accuses of human rights abuses and recruiting child solders, appeared to be on the brink of taking Goma after resistance from the Congolese army crumbled. Guardian

Monday, November 19, 2012

They are going to kill us all

The shadow banking industry has grown to about $67 trillion, $6 trillion bigger than previously thought, leading global regulators to seek more oversight of financial transactions that fall outside traditional oversight.

The size of the shadow banking system, which includes the activities of money market funds, monoline insurers and off- balance sheet investment vehicles, “can create systemic risks” and “amplify market reactions when market liquidity is scarce,” the Financial Stability Board said in a report, which utilized more data than last year’s probe into the sector. Bloomberg

The best place to follow what's going on in Gaza

http://www.itv.com/news/story/2012-11-14/israel-hamas-gaza/

On Gaza

There is not much to comment on the Gaza situation other than to acknowledge the sufferings of people caught in a conflict initiated by their shortsighted and downright irresponsible leaders.

We shall see in January 2013 when Israel will have its national election whether the country will continue its path of self destruction or it will correct itself.

 Hamas is Hamas - a movement operating in dire circumstances incapable of reforming itself.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The blundering Israel government

Passing messages between the two sides, I was able to learn firsthand that Mr. Jabari wasn’t just interested in a long-term cease-fire; he was also the person responsible for enforcing previous cease-fire understandings brokered by the Egyptian intelligence agency. Mr. Jabari enforced those cease-fires only after confirming that Israel was prepared to stop its attacks on Gaza. On the morning that he was killed, Mr. Jabari received a draft proposal for an extended cease-fire with Israel, including mechanisms that would verify intentions and ensure compliance. This draft was agreed upon by me and Hamas’s deputy foreign minister, Mr. Hamad, when we met last week in Egypt.

The goal was to move beyond the patterns of the past. For years, it has been the same story: Israeli intelligence discovers information about an impending terrorist attack from Gaza. The Israeli Army takes pre-emptive action with an airstrike against the suspected terror cells, which are often made up of fighters from groups like Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees or Salafi groups not under Hamas’s control but functioning within its territory. These cells launch rockets into Israeli towns near Gaza, and they often miss their targets. The Israeli Air Force responds swiftly. The typical result is between 10 and 25 casualties in Gaza, zero casualties in Israel and huge amounts of property damage on both sides.

Other key Hamas leaders and members of the Shura Council, its senior decision-making body, supported a new cease-fire effort because they, like Mr. Jabari, understood the futility of successive rocket attacks against Israel that left no real damage on Israel and dozens of casualties in Gaza. Mr. Jabari was not prepared to give up the strategy of “resistance,” meaning fighting Israel, but he saw the need for a new strategy and was prepared to agree to a long-term cease-fire. Gershon Bashkin
Gershon Baskin is a co-chairman of the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Shalit. 

Another fucking stupid shooting war

This image from the Israel Defense Force sums up the whole ongoing operation - callous and stupid

Friday, November 16, 2012

Future of Android

Samsung makes tons of money off Android. Google didn't (especially after buying Motorola). So where would that leave the future of the platform (Google created Android)?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Working hours extremism

We recently had a reform in the U.S. to address this. Now, medical residents may no longer work more than 30 hours in a continuous shift, and may not accept or be assigned to new patients after 24 hours. Also, no more than 80 hours per week, but this may be temporarily exceeded if it doesn't exceed an average of 80 hours over a 4-week period. Yes, those are the post-reform figures. In other news, error rates in American hospitals are not as low as you might hope they would be. reddit
This reddit discussion was sparked by a report that a game company staffs were working 36 hours nonstop.

The game industry is full of these gungho bullshit. At certain point, you are going to produce more errors than functionality. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Energy boom in North America

“North America is at the forefront of a sweeping transformation in oil and gas production that will affect all regions of the world, yet the potential also exists for a similarly transformative shift in global energy efficiency,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. “This year’s World Energy Outlook shows that by 2035, we can achieve energy savings equivalent to nearly a fifth of global demand in 2010. In other words, energy efficiency is just as important as unconstrained energy supply, and increased action on efficiency can serve as a unifying energy policy that brings multiple benefits.”

The WEO finds that the extraordinary growth in oil and natural gas output in the United States will mean a sea-change in global energy flows. In the New Policies Scenario, the WEO’s central scenario, the United States becomes a net exporter of natural gas by 2020 and is almost self-sufficient in energy, in net terms, by 2035. North America emerges as a net oil exporter, accelerating the switch in direction of international oil trade, with almost 90% of Middle Eastern oil exports being drawn to Asia by 2035. Links between regional gas markets will strengthen as liquefied natural gas trade becomes more flexible and contract terms evolve. While regional dynamics change, global energy demand will push ever higher, growing by more than one-third to 2035. China, India and the Middle East account for 60% of the growth; demand barely rises in the OECD, but there is a pronounced shift towards gas and renewables. IEA.org
In the near future majority of Middle East oil will go to China. Will it make the country more involved in military entanglement overseas?  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thoughtful piece on Apple and its current management change

With Forstall’s departure, I believe his former lieutenants have been distributed to Bob Mansfield, Jony Ive, Eddy Cue, and Craig Federighi. While there is no doubt in my mind that these are talented and qualified leaders, are they disruptive? Are they incentivized as such? Because from where I’m standing, the guy in charge is possibly the most talented operational leader on the planet. And an operational leader’s job is ferret out and exterminate all things that make their world less predictable and measured. Rand in Response

More movement on the Syrian front

A bunch of Western power just managed to eke out a new 'unified' Syrian opposition front, which on paper is more representative of the elements within the Syrian population fighting against Assad.

With this 'breakthrough' we will mostly see a change in policy to support weapon purchase by the EU and the US (it has been limited to supplying communication gears now). This means we will see more anti tank and anti helicopters weapons being made available to the fighters

There will still no direct intervention by NATO to country. There's no support for it. Nobody has an appetite to be involved in another quagmire after Iraq and Afghanistan.

From the Guardian piece:
A former imam at the Umayyad mosque in the Syrian capital, Damascus, Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, was named leader. Riad Seif, who proposed the new initiative, and Suhair Atassi, a female activist, will be his deputies.

It is significant that they put an imam (who is thought to be a moderate) so that the body can gain peel support away from the more radical Islamists operating in Syria that have been getting more funding from the rich Gulf countries. This way we will see more funding being diverted to this group and it is kosher for both the Gulf states and the Western powers. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

BBC Director General Resign

He said it was the honourable thing to do after a BBC Newsnight film alleged child abuse by an unnamed Conservative politician - which was proved to be unfounded.

During his 54 days in charge, Mr Entwistle has also had to deal with controversy over the BBC shelving a Newsnight investigation into former BBC presenter and DJ Jimmy Savile, who police say could have abused as many as 300 people over a 40-year-period.

As a result, an inquiry is examining whether there were BBC management failings surrounding the Newsnight's Savile programme not being broadcast, and another inquiry has begun into the culture and practices at the BBC in the era of alleged sexual abuse by Savile. Another review is to examine sexual harassment policies at the BBC.

Mr Entwistle's resignation came after he was criticised for his performance during an interview on the BBC's Radio 4 Today programme on Saturday, in which he admitted he had not read a newspaper article revealing the case of mistaken identity involving Lord McAlpine, and that he had not seen the Newsnight broadcast when it aired on 2 November as he "was out". BBC
He resigned over a BBC program news program that slander a British Lord for untrue child sexual abuse allegation. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

CIA sex scandal

The collapse of the impressive career of CIA Director David H. Petraeus was triggered when a woman with whom he was having an affair sent threatening e-mails to another woman close to him, according to three senior law enforcement officials with knowledge of the episode.

The recipient of the e-mails was so frightened that she went to the FBI for protection and help tracking down the sender, according to the officials. The FBI investigation traced the threats to Paula Broadwell, a former military officer and a Petraeus biographer, and uncovered explicit e-mails between Broadwell and Petraeus, the officials said. Washington Post
That is so rich. 

Thursday, November 08, 2012

High Times

The US state of Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana use. The Mayor of Amsterdam reversed the planned policy to prevent tourists to smoke up at 220 'coffee shops' in the city.

On Puffins


But Atlantic puffins were once driven to near-extinction in the United States by hunting and egg collecting. The busy colonies off the Maine coast today are the result of a long-running restoration project. It took a tremendous amount of time and effort to turn a heretical idea into the noisy, messy, thriving reality of the Maine puffin colonies—and it takes even more work to keep that reality in place.Slate

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

pundits and forecasters on electoral college counts


FiveThirtyEight: obama 313--225 (average of simulations)
Drew Linzer: obama 332--206
RealClearPolitics: obama 303--235
Karl Rove: romney 285--253
Sam Wang: obama 312--226 (average of simulations)

There is a nice roundup on washingtonpost with more predictions from pundits and forecasters alike.

The last campaign speech of Obama

The contaminated aquifers of the Middle East

Today trucks rumble through Jordan to supply the population with drinking water. The water sloshing back and forth in their tanks is often thousands of years old, pumped from fossil groundwater reservoirs that filled up when the region wasn't as dry. Millions of cubic meters of water are now being pumped from such aquifers every day in the Middle East and North Africa. The next hydraulic engineering project is currently underway in Jordan, at a cost of $1.1 billion (€850 million). Starting in the spring of 2013, about 100 million cubic meters a year will be pumped out of the Disi aquifer in the country's south, in addition to the 60 million cubic meters a year already being taken from the aquifer today. The water will then be pumped through pipelines to the capital Amman, some 325 kilometers (203 miles) away.

But radiation experts warn of an invisible danger. Tests have revealed that the water contains high levels of naturally occurring radioactivity, with samples exhibiting radiation levels well above World Health Organization (WHO) radiation guidelines. The health risk doesn't just affect Jordan, but virtually all of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Spiegel

Monday, November 05, 2012

Copts elect new Pope

Speaking to the television cameras that surrounded him at his monastery in a desert town, the pope-designate, Bishop Tawadros, indicated that he planned to reverse the explicitly political role of his predecessor, Pope Shenouda III, who died in March. For four decades, Shenouda acted as the Copts’ chief representative in public life, won special favors for his flock by publicly endorsing President Hosni Mubarak, and last year urged in vain that Copts stay away from the protests that ultimately toppled the strongman. NY Times

Friday, November 02, 2012

Economist presidential endorsement

Just four more days until the election. Here is one of the newspaper endorsements:

...this election offers American voters an unedifying choice. Many of The Economist’s readers, especially those who run businesses in America, may well conclude that nothing could be worse than another four years of Mr Obama. We beg to differ. For all his businesslike intentions, Mr Romney has an economic plan that works only if you don’t believe most of what he says. That is not a convincing pitch for a chief executive. And for all his shortcomings, Mr Obama has dragged America’s economy back from the brink of disaster, and has made a decent fist of foreign policy. So this newspaper would stick with the devil it knows, and re-elect him. (Economist)

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Free rides for everyone in capital of Estonia

They will implement a city wide free mass transit at the end of this year. Awesome.

SNC is sidelined as Syrian Opposition leadership

“There has to be representation of those who are on the front lines, fighting and dying today to obtain their freedom,” Mrs. Clinton told reporters during a trip to Croatia. “This cannot be an opposition represented by people who have many good attributes, but have, in many instances, have not been inside Syria for 20, 30 or 40 years.”

“We’ve made it clear that the S.N.C. can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition,” Mrs. Clinton said, referring to the Syrian National Council. It can participate, she added, “but that opposition must include people from inside Syria and others who have a legitimate voice that needs to be heard.” NY Times
Good, whatever the SNC was doing in the past 2 years aren't working. It's time for change. 

Malian raise arms to liberate their own country

"I left Gao because I want to fight to liberate the city," she said. "I hated living under the Mujao. They are dangerous people, they don't fear death. They killed many innocent people, I saw it with my own eyes. They destroyed my school. Our parents send us money so that we can stay in Mopti and learn to fight – they support what we are doing." 
Sissiko is one of thousands of young people who have grown frustrated at the failure of the Mali government – which was toppled by a coup on 22 March and has been replaced by a widely despised interim regime – to protect its citizens in the north. 
Despite a United Nations security council resolution earlier this month opening the door to military intervention to end al-Qaida's hold over the northern region, residents have continued to flee. 
An estimated 35,000 internally displaced people, of whom 10,000 are living in official camps, have arrived in the Mopti region alone since the government lost control of northern Mali, one security source told the Guardian. 
Many, like Sissiko, have joined militias, prompting fears that the ranks of independent trained and armed northerners could create further problems for the country. Guardian

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

51.8 million lives in South Africa

This is according to the result of 2011 Census just published today in South Africa.

Would you believe that Climate Change is real now?

350.org is a great movement to solve the climate crisis.

Stay safe folks!


Spiegel

Monday, October 29, 2012

Family portraits of all 56 ethics in China

Big Human Brain

Slate asks why human brain is big
The oversized Homo sapiens brain let us take over the planet, build cities, send space probes to Mars, and do all the other marvelous things that we humans are so proud of. But none of these things makes us much better at reproducing, and in terms of evolution, that’s really all that matters. It’s not so obvious why Darwinian natural selection should have favored the brain’s dramatic expansion given the huge costs. Although the human brain is only about 2 percent of total body weight, it siphons off about 20 percent of our total calorie intake; this overall percentage varies little whether we are engaged in hard mental tasks or just zoning out. Slate

Lithuanians chose to fight austerity idea

Lithuanians angry at spending cuts put leftwing opposition parties on the path to power in an election on Sunday that likely spelled the end for a conservative government praised abroad as a model of austerity.

The Social Democratic Party and the Labour Party, which have promised to raise the minimum wage and shift the tax burden to the better off, were headed for a parliamentary majority in combination with their likely partner, the Paksas Party, according to preliminary results from the second-round vote. Guardian

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Prison Overcrowding in the USA

Daily Mail

Above picture shows prisoners being housed in a gym. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

swing state drinking game

I think it's time to continue the tradition Dody started in 2008. Since everyone will be eating pizza and drinking cheap beer anyways while watching the returns, I think it is a very good tradition. The ten most closely contested states, according to fivethirtyeight, are:


  1. Virginia
  2. Colorado
  3. Florida
  4. Iowa
  5. New Hampshire
  6. Ohio
  7. Nevada
  8. North Carolina
  9. Wisconsin
  10. Pennsylvania

Communist Crooks

Chinese authorities have blocked the Chinese website of the New York Times and most access to the main website after it revealed that the extended family of premier Wen Jiabao has controlled assets worth at least $2.7bn (£1.67bn).

Several of Wen's close relatives have become extremely wealthy since his ascent to the top leadership, the news organisation said. But in many cases their holdings were obscured by layers of partnerships and investment vehicles involving friends, colleagues or business partners. Guardian

Slaughter at Citibank

Vikram Pandit’s last day at Citigroup swung from celebratory to devastating in a matter of minutes. Having fielded congratulatory e-mails about the earnings report in the morning that suggested the bank was finally on more solid ground, Mr. Pandit strode into the office of the chairman at day’s end on Oct. 15 for what he considered just another of their frequent meetings on his calendar.

Instead, Mr. Pandit, the chief executive of Citigroup, was told three news releases were ready. One stated that Mr. Pandit had resigned, effective immediately. Another that he would resign, effective at the end of the year. The third release stated Mr. Pandit had been fired without cause. The choice was his. NY Times

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The manhunt for Benghazi attack has begun


One 'suspect' was killed in a hail of bullets in Cairo last night. The US is getting pretty good at this revenge thing. Another Tunisian linked to the Benghazi attack was captured in Turkey last week.

A thorough review of Microsoft Surface


Although it has a functional purpose as an input device, Touch Cover also works very well as a cover. The outer surface is a dense felt on the black cover, and a soft polyurethane on the colored versions. The result is a device with a good balance of high tech and natural in hand feel. The 3.2mm extra thickness that Touch Cover adds is barely noticeable and is honestly worth it given the productivity benefits. With the exception of the occasional input in tablet mode, I see no reason to even use the on screen keyboard if you’ve got Touch Cover. Touch Cover only protects Surface’s cover glass, the rear remains exposed, but the VaporMg chassis seems fairly durable to begin with. AnandTech
The bottom line, it is a new type of device. It's not a exactly a tablet and it's not exactly a laptop. It's worth checking out. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Review of the latest James Bond is out

Skyfall, the often dazzling, always audacious new entry directed by Sam Mendes, is no different. For better or worse we live in the age of the superhero, and so Mendes’s film is less hardboiled spy saga than blistering comic-book escapade. The template here is Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, a film that has almost singlehandedly reconfigured the modern blockbuster since its 2008 release, when it left Quantum of Solace bobbing in its wake. The Telegraph

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Shaolin Festival

Italy jails scientist for not being predicting earthquakes

Seven prominent Italian earthquake experts were convicted of manslaughter on Monday and sentenced to six years in prison for failing to give adequate warning to the residents of a seismically active area in the months preceding an earthquake that killed more than 300 people. NY Times
This is a stupid ruling based on nonsense. Science cannot predict earthquakes. Period.

Monday, October 22, 2012

IBM delivered a project in Australia 20,000 percent over buget

This blows my mind. The initial estimate for the project was around 6 million dollars. It ends up at 476 million dollars and it needs another 500 million dollars to fix and operate for the next 5 years.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Men's Policies: Contributions to a Gender Equitable Society

German Family Minister Kristina Schröder has long had something of an adversarial relationship with the country's feminists. Not only has she refused to support hard quotas for women in top management positions, but she also has repeatedly broadsided "early feminism" or "feminists from the last century" for failing to recognize that "partnerships and children produce happiness." For many women's rights veterans, Schröder's book published last spring, in which she essentially declares the dawning of the post-feminist era, was something of a last straw

Now, Schröder is wading even further into the gender debate. On Monday, she will open a two-day conference specifically focusing on issues specific to men as society strives to achieve gender equality. Called "Men's Policies: Contributions to a Gender Equitable Society," the gathering is the first such high-level conference ever held on men's issues in the German-speaking world. And, as Schröder has made clear, comes not a moment too soon. Spiegel

Good idea. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

NIH report on carcinogens


If you want to learn about which chemicals cause cancer, or just want to feel more paranoid about getting cancer, check out the 2012 NIH report on carcinogens.

One of the more exciting findings is that human beings themselves are possible carcinogens, by virtue of their natural emissions of isoprene:


Isoprene is formed endogenously in humans at a rate of 0.15 μmol/kg
of body weight per hour, equivalent to approximately 2 to 4 mg/kg per
day (Taalman 1996), and is the major hydrocarbon in human breath
(accounting for up to 70% of exhaled hydrocarbons)

Don't breathe on me!

Damning UN report on Rwanda's involvement in Congo's war

Pressure on Britain to halt aid to Rwanda is increasing after one of the closest allies of the president, Paul Kagame, was named as the de facto leader of a violent uprising in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 
In a leaked report, UN experts identified General James Kabarebe, the Rwandan defence minister, as effectively directing a Congolese rebel militia accused of killings, rapes and other atrocities. Guardian
Nasty 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Yerevan celebrates 2794th birthday

She's one old lady

This is why Koreans are cool and we are not

A Coke Vending Machine that gives away free cokes if you dance
 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Autumn is here

My favorite season.

A journey through North Korea

Spiegel spent a week in the country

There's another clash in downtown Cairo

This time is between anti Mursi folks and MB (Muslim Brotherhood). Scores are injured. Life goes on as usual.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Presidential op-ed of the day

"I am the fucking President of the fucking United States, and if you don't like that, fuck you.

This is not a negotiation with Congress or the Republicans, Mr. President. You are negotiating with your employers, the people of the United States of America. If this election were being held in August 2011, you would have lost. It's time for you to get the message, that we will not accept this kind of leadership in the future. Dave Winer"

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Nobel Prizes so far

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2012 was awarded jointly to Sir John B. Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka "for the discovery that mature cells can be reprogrammed to become pluripotent" Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2012 was awarded jointly to Serge Haroche and David J. Wineland "for ground-breaking experimental methods that enable measuring and manipulation of individual quantum systems"  Nobel Prize

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2012 was awarded jointly to Robert J. Lefkowitz and Brian K. Kobilka "for studies of G-protein-coupled receptors" Nobel Prize

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Stay the course

Prime minister David Cameron made clear on Tuesday that the government has no intention of easing up on its austerity programme, insisting that Britain does not need a 'Plan B' despite concerns expressed by the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF has cut its growth forecasts for Britain and warned in its annual fiscal monitor on Tuesday that Britain will miss deficit reduction targets this year. Guardian
It doesn't work so we'll keep doing it.

Monday, October 08, 2012

6 more years!

The great revolutionary leader of Venezuela Hugo Chavez won his 4th term. May he be President still after we all die. 

MacArthur Genius Award 2012


Melody Swartz, 43, is a bioengineer at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Lausanne, Switzerland. Her work focuses on organ development and how the body responds to tumors
TPM has listed all 23 of them here.

Libya's Prime Minister Fired

Libya's General National Congress rejected Prime Minister-elect Mustafa Abushagur's crisis government proposal Sunday. 
The "no confidence" vote results in the automatic dismissal of Abushagur as prime minister-elect less than a month after he was appointed, while keeping the current government in place until a new one is formed. CNN

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Stewart vs OReilly

Mt. Everest deadliest year




It's the deadliest year since 1986 due to traffic jam at the peak. 11 people died this year.

That is not the light at the end of the tunnel

Nonetheless, the Fed and ECB actions sent three messages that should have given the markets pause. First, they were saying that previous actions have not worked; indeed, the major central banks deserve much of the blame for the crisis. But their ability to undo their mistakes is limited.

Second, the Fed’s announcement that it will keep interest rates at extraordinarily low levels through mid-2015 implied that it does not expect recovery anytime soon. That should be a warning for Europe, whose economy is now far weaker than America’s.

Finally, the Fed and the ECB were saying that markets will not quickly restore full employment on their own. A stimulus is needed. That should serve as a rejoinder to those in Europe and America who are calling for just the opposite—further austerity.

But the stimulus that is needed—on both sides of the Atlantic—is a fiscal stimulus. Monetary policy has proven inefective, and more of it is unlikely to return the economy to sustainable growth Joseph Stiglitz
Joseph Stiglitz is a Nobel laureate in Economics (2001) and former Chief Economist at the World Bank.

Friday, October 05, 2012

7.8%

That's the October surprise this election

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Chinese Holiday

Guardian

This is what happens when 1.5 billion people are in holiday.

Mars' Geysers



Those black marks on the surface of Mars are geysers  NPR

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Now using Apple Maps

Information is Beautiful awarded

A map of the human body that lists the value of each body part; a map of the U.S. that marks the most popular surnames; and a graphic that shows what plot details make a great novel.

These were just three of the entries at the Information Is Beautiful Awards ceremony in London last week, celebrating the most ingenious methods of making numbers and facts visually interesting. Daily Mail

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Amazing places you can't visit

The Foreign Office advises against travel to rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir (except Ladakh), as well as the cities of Srinagar and Imphal. The Kashmir Valley, sandwiched between the Karakoram and Pir Panjal mountain ranges, was described by the Mughal emperor Jahangir as "paradise on Earth". Its most popular attractions are the Gulmarg ski resort, Dal Lake, Pahalgam, and Amarnath Temple.
More here

The exodus from Iranian currency has begun

Rial sent into tailspin in spite of Ahmadinejad's defiance as Iranians rush to convert assets to foreign currency or gold. Iranians are suffering their worst financial crisis since the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s Guardian

Great Barrier Reef in trouble

Population explosion of coral-eating starfish, storms and acidification of oceans causing rapid decline, study finds. Coral cover in the Great Barrier Reef has dropped by more than half over the last 27 years, according to scientists, a result of increased storms, bleaching... Guardian

Monday, October 01, 2012

An effort to push Roma out of Ostrava

 
Přednádraží, a small neighborhood in Ostrava, has been the site of an intense struggle against unlawful evictions of the predominantly Roma residents this summer. For the Czech Republic, this case is unique and historically significant.

A question needs to be asked: why this sudden rush to evict the reside - instead of fixing the sewage? One possible explanation is that a private college was about to be opened in the neighboring street in September, and it is likely that the area has become a target for developers. It would not be the first time that Roma people were pushed out from their homes due to forces of gentrification. In the past ten years, the Roma were forced out of a downtown area that was later developed as a sort of a party destination – on a few blocks, it features over a hundred pubs and bars. (GVO)

The Roma problem spans across Europe. I have little knowledge of these communities (also known as Gypsies) and probably already conditioned to be biased against them. When I lived in Czech Republic you were informed to keep your hand in your pocket when a Roma get into a bus with you.

US choked on Ryder Cup

I don't care much about Golf but yesterday's match was something legendary.
 
Europe staged one of the greatest golfing comebacks of all time in the "miracle of Medinah" to win the Ryder Cup after recovering from 10-6 down at the start of Sunday's play to defeat all the odds and the United States by 14½ points to 13½.

José María Olazábal, Europe's Ryder Cup captain, dedicated his team's spectacular victory to the whole of the continent amid remarkable scenes at the Medinah Country Club in Illinois. Guardian

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Now it's the Buddhists' turn

Hundreds of Muslims in Bangladesh burned at least four Buddhist temples and 15 homes of Buddhists on Sunday after complaining that a Buddhist man had insulted Islam, police and residents said.

Members of the Buddhist minority in the Cox's Bazar area in the southeast of the country said unidentified people were bent on upsetting peaceful relations between Muslims and Buddhists. NY Times
Someone should start a demolition business based on insults to Islam. There are a minor number of Muslims that are so happy to get agitated on pretty much any reasons - whether it is towards the other sects in Islam (Sufi or Shiite are the usual target) or other religions. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Beautiful killers on the loose


 

No one had warned Joosten and Taal about the potential hazards of an African bat cave. They knew nothing of a virus called Marburg, first identified in 1967 and thought to be carried by bats (though they had heard of Ebola, another filovirus). They stayed in the cave for only about 10 minutes. Then they left, visited the mountain gorillas, did a boat trip, and flew back to Amsterdam. Thirteen days after the cave visit, at home in Noord-Brabant, Astrid fell ill.

At first it seemed no worse than flu. Then her temperature went higher and higher. After a few days she began suffering organ failure. Her doctors suspected Lassa fever and moved her to a hospital in Leiden, where she developed a rash and conjunctivitis; she haemorrhaged. She was put into an induced coma, a move dictated by the need to dose her more aggressively with antiviral medicine. Before she lost consciousness, Taal went back into the isolation room, kissed his wife and said to her, "Well, we'll see you in a few days." Blood samples, sent to a lab in Hamburg, confirmed the diagnosis: Marburg. Astrid worsened. As her organs shut down, she lacked oxygen to the brain, suffered cerebral oedema, and before long she was declared brain-dead. "They kept her alive for a few more hours, until the family arrived," Taal told me. "Then they pulled out the plug and she died within a few minutes." The doctors, appalled by his recklessness in kissing her goodbye, had prepared an isolation room for Taal himself, but that was never needed. Guardian

Friday, September 28, 2012

Shakeup in Chinese Communist Leadership

China's ruling Communist Party on Friday expelled disgraced senior politician Bo Xilai from top party positions and said it would hand him over for criminal investigation accused of multiples crimes, opening a new phase in a scandal that has shaken a leadership succession. Reuter
The hammer comes down. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Driverless cars are now legal in California

On Tuesday, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1298, which affirms that so call autonomous vehicles are legal in California, while requiring the Department of Motor Vehicles to establish and enforce safety regulations for manufacturers. The governor put pen to paper at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, where the technology giant has been developing and testing driverless Toyota Prii for years. SeattlePI

April 11 Record Breaking Earthquake

An 8.7 earthquake that struck west of Indonesia on April 11 was the biggest of its kind ever recorded and confirms suspicions that a giant tectonic plate is breaking up, scientists said on Wednesday.

The quake, caused by an unprecedented quadruple-fault rupture, gave Earth’s crustal mosaic such a shock that it unleashed quakes around the world nearly a week later, they said. The Jakarta Globe

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mali intervention is about to start


Malian President Dioncounda Traore has endorsed a new plan to construct a military base that will host some 3,000 foreign troops from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the capital city of Bamako, along with an unspecified number of foreign police. Antiwar

Monday, September 24, 2012

Britain and Canada to share embassies

Britain and Canada will establish joint diplomatic missions and share embassy offices abroad, the foreign secretary, William Hague, is set to announce. Guardian

Great idea - it will save money for both countries. Next they should share embassies with 52 more countries.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mercenaries vs Pirates vs UN in Somalia

In June of this year, my bow-hunting friend, a group of four dozen South African mentors,and 500 newly trained Somali recruits pointed their armada of 70 shiny Toyota Land cruisers, a small fleet of high-powered rigid inflatable boats, helicopters, and fixed-wing aircraft towards the coast of Somalia -- the heart of pirate country.

This once-motley group, the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF), had been trained by African, British, South African, and U.S. foreign contractors for two years; in May 2011, they began setting up forward operating bases in remote coastal areas of Eyl, Hafun, Bargal, and Qaw. By June 2012, they were ready for the full invasion wave. FP
What a fiasco.  

Benghazi takes care of business

Benghazian takes back their city

Up to four people were reported dead in clashes which broke out when the last and biggest militia was attacked in the early hours of Saturday morning. Earlier, members of Ansar al-Sharia, the militant group accused of responsibility for Mr Stevens' death, were forced out of their strongholds in the city.

The protests in Benghazi on Friday evening, estimated at 30,000-strong, featured pro-American slogans and banners, unusual for demonstrations in Arab countries. Though many protesters said they were attending "for Benghazi, not for America", some held up placards commemorating Mr Stevens, who lived in Benghazi last year while co-ordinating American support for the revolution. (Telegraph)
This is encouraging that they are not falling into the trap of finally being free from a tyranny of a mad man to another trap of a religious tyranny run by fanatical people. 

5 reasons to believe Indonesian miracle

The World Economic Forum ranked Indonesia 25th out of 139 countries for macroeconomic stability in 2012, up sharply from 89th in 2007. For comparison, Brazil ranked 62nd and India ranked 99th. FP

Two out of the three authors for this article are from McKinsey so take the report with a grain of salt. But indeed Indonesia's economy is booming right now and has been booming for the past 8 years. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Brief Guide to Odessa



Catherine the Great founded the city in 1794, envisioning a glorious seaside southern capital. Creating an urban pearl on the shores of the Black Sea, her team of international architects didn’t disappoint. Fabulous frontages went up, displaying an eclectic blend of architectural styles. Limes, acacias, chestnuts and plane trees were planted, adding greenery and shading streets to keep the Russian aristocrats who flocked here cool in summer. The Telegraph

Thursday, September 20, 2012

'I am a traitor' - a pushback against anti Japanese sentiment in China

“What kind of brainwashing has made people think that buying a Japanese car is an act of treason? … A car is just something your fellow Chinese people use to get around in, yet you attempt to guess whether or not they have incorrect political opinions or hidden ill-will by what car they use.” tealeafnation
The event in the past week of China and Japan political altercation over some tiny islands is very unsettling. Check this bombastic anti-Japanese slogan unfurled in front of an Audi dealership

Even if China becomes nothing but tombstones, we must exterminate the Japanese; even if we have to destroy our own country, we must take back the Diaoyu Islands." (China Geeks)

The Chinese government is in transition right now and they will change leadership next month; however their next leader, Xi Jinping, went missing for 4 weeks from the public view before reappearing last week. This smells like rotten fish. One just do not disappear from public for weeks and weeks especially if you are the next leader of a 1.6 billion people nation.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dark Energy Camera first photos

Astronomers on Monday released the first batch of images taken by an enormous, skyward looking camera situated in the Chilean Andes, known as the Dark Energy Camera (DECam), which was designed to solve one of the greatest cosmic mysteries: Why the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate.TPM

Jesus had a wife

A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife ...’ ”

The faded papyrus fragment is smaller than a business card, with eight lines on one side, in black ink legible under a magnifying glass. Just below the line about Jesus having a wife, the papyrus includes a second provocative clause that purportedly says, “she will be able to be my disciple.”

The finding was made public in Rome on Tuesday at the International Congress of Coptic Studies by Karen L. King, a historian who has published several books about new Gospel discoveries and is the first woman to hold the nation’s oldest endowed chair, the Hollis professor of divinity. NY Times
It looks pretty solid and it is backed by the smarties at Harvard.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

video incident

An interesting essay by Stanley Fish on free speech and the currently notorious video:

We have decided that the potential unhappy consequences of a strong free speech regime must be tolerated because the principle is more important than preventing any harm it might permit. We should not be surprised, however, if others in the world — most others, in fact — disagree, not because they are blind and ignorant but because they worship God and truth rather than the First Amendment, which not only keeps God and truth at arm’s length but regards them with a deep suspicion.

A point that Fish makes is that the U.S. commitment to freedom of speech is rather unusual compared to most other countries in the world. Most developed countries forbid group libel, or hate speech. The video in question is generally *not* considered to be an example of hate speech, though it is clearly blasphemous. Laws on blasphemy, however, have in the past been common in the US. Take for example an 1879 law in the state of Maryland:

If any person, by writing or speaking, shall blaspheme or curse God, or shall write or utter any profane words of and concerning our Saviour, Jesus Christ, or of and concerning the Trinity, or any of the persons thereof, he shall, on conviction, be fined not more than one hundred dollars, or imprisoned not more than six months, or both fined and imprisoned as aforesaid, at the discretion of the court.

I tend to agree with Fish that having a large number of people upset with the US (whether or not there are outbursts of violence) is "the price you pay" for having a rather extreme policy of permitting a large array of types of speech can be clear threats to the public order. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Converting bunkers to hostels in Albania

A bunch of students are converting some of the 7000 bunkers in Albania  Spiegel