Tuesday, April 30, 2013

One Eye Shut



My doctor released me to return to work just 24 hours ago. I had done two post-operative visits and he was quite happy with the progress so far. My recently operated left eye is still a bit blurry when it is used on its own even with the help of a glasses. This is anyway still a work in progress. Things have slowly returned to normalcy.

I am still a work in progress and there is no promise that I will regain all the functionality of my left eye. This is yet to be seen

I spent my days in bed listening to podcasts and audiobooks. At some point I feared that I ended up deaf since I relied on them so much for everything. I had never spend 14 days in a major sensory deprivation like this and it was indeed a strange and profound experience. I had to deal with my own thoughts for 336 hours whether in awaken or dreaming state or something in between. It did give me some new perspective on life and its bodily decay.

My eye surgery was to fix a tear in my left eye retina (also known as Retinal Detachment). I was operated within 5 days of the first diagnoses and had to undergo a general anesthesia. I picked the most expensive surgeon recommended by a friend and paid the operation out of pocket. To my surprised this expensive operation is still half or a third of the cost had this operation been done in the US..

So I am back to my still truncated schedule but at least I can do what I missed the most, the ability to write down the accumulated thoughts in my mind.

More imported Italian Pork in US

If Dody lived in the US, this would be good news for him on returning from his surgery.

The United States Department of Agriculture will relax a decades-long ban on the importation of many Italian cured-pork meat products from some regions of Italy starting May 28, including sought-after staples such as salami.

NYTimes

Monday, April 15, 2013

Bombing attack in Boston, United States

Several bombs have been detonated in Boston, during the annual marathon, killing and injuring people.  See NYTimes for story developments.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Downtime

I am scheduled to undergo an eye surgery this Monday to fix a Retinal detachment on my left eye. The surgery itself is commonly performed for people over 50s so my case is a bit special. The operation will take around 1 hour to complete and I will not need to stay overnight in the hospital.

It will though mean that I won't be allowed to do extensive reading or writing in front of the computer for up to 10 days.

So wish me luck and I shall be back in no time.

Happenings

The cost of bailout for Cyprus has increased from 17 billion Euros to 23 billion Euros and everybody acts surprised. I don't understand why. There are enough precedents now about bailouts in the past five years. The cost of bailout bank related bailout in Spain, Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Iceland have cost more than it was originally estimated.

John Kerry arrived in South Korea and keep warning North Korea that it risks further isolation. Bollocks. North Korea is already so isolated that 'further isolation' won't affect anything in the country. As long as China stands by North Korea, everything will stay OK in that country.

We won't see any war in the Korean Peninsula either.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I think Femen is awesome



Putin's reaction to the Femen protester is priceless. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Apparently this is the most dangerous city in the world


San Pedro Sula, Honduras

It had homicide rate of 169 per 100,000 in 2012. In comparison, Chicago's homicide rate (already the worst in the US) was at 19,4 per 100,000.

Tax Haven under scrutiny

Estimates by the non-governmental organization Tax Justice Network put the figure at about €16 to 25 trillion ($21 to 33 trillion). In this manner, the native countries of these individuals and companies are deprived of hundreds of millions in taxes, sometimes legally but often illegally.

The billions deposited in offshore accounts come from the United States and the rest of North America, and recently from emerging economies and the Third World, as well. Many Russian oligarchs manage their companies through offshore firms, while wealthy Southern Europeans use offshore accounts to protect their assets from a collapse of the euro -- and from the taxman. Spiegel
Most of these Tax Havens are small countries and they can easily be 'persuaded' to release the names of their clients if the US and EU are willing do it. After being left alone for decades, cash-strapped governments have more incentive to pursue tax dodgers now than ever.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Taping factory farms for animal cruelty will possible be illegal in many US States

But a dozen or so state legislatures have had a different reaction: They proposed or enacted bills that would make it illegal to covertly videotape livestock farms, or apply for a job at one without disclosing ties to animal rights groups. They have also drafted measures to require such videos to be given to the authorities almost immediately, which activists say would thwart any meaningful undercover investigation of large factory farms. NY Times

The Raging Sri Lanka Buddhist Monks

A red-robbed Buddhist monk calmly picked up stones and hurled them at a security camera. Then, as police looked on, his followers smashed up a popular, Muslim-owned clothing store. AP
There are rising sentiment in the Buddhist majority Sri Lanka against their Muslim minorities. Some Buddhist monks have been involved in this disgraceful movement.
The attack on Fashion Bug came a week after a monk accused the company and other Muslim businesses of committing `'sexual crimes" against Sinhalese female employees and converting them to Islam by marrying them to Muslim employees. The mob stormed the store on the pretext that a 15-year-old girl had been raped inside, an accusation that proved to be false.

Another monk told a rally that another Muslim-owned clothing store was giving free candy to Sinhalese women customers with ingredients that caused miscarriages and infertility. He said men's belts sold by these companies caused kidney diseases and damaged customers' testicles.
I have asserted before that image of peace loving Buddhists is only a part of Buddhist dominated society, not the whole reality. Buddhism is lucky that it has Dalai Lama as its brand icon instead of Osama bin Laden but in reality Buddhists can be as violent as any.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Istanbul is an amazing city

I just spent two days in Istanbul and I wished I visited the city earlier. The hills of Europe and Asia meets the strait of Bosphorus and sea of Marmara creating a unique landscape that many cities in the world would envy.

My first impression was that this was a thoroughly modern city. I am used to the dilapidated infrastructure of Cairo. Istanbul has efficient public transport and clean streets.

It has one of the longest walk only boulevard I have seen filled with diverse types of shops and cafes. You can spend hours just traversing all the side streets to discover cools places.

The city is very pedestrian friendly and has a vibe of a population on the move.

Hagia Sophia is incredible. It was built almost 1500 years ago and most of its structures and details are still intact until today.

The mosques are beautiful although they started to look the same after a few hours (they are mostly designed by one prodigious master Architect Mimar Sinan). The Grand Bazaar is full of stuff but I prefer the various Han attached to it.

I stayed in Ararat hotel which has a great view of the Blue Mosque. Avoid this hotel. The location is not worth the price of admission. The room is cramped and has little facility. You have to climb up to narrow stairs to get to the room.

The only downside to Istanbul is that it is as expensive as many European cities but man, it is worth spending three to four days in it. It is a city that has manage to preserve its rich history and incorporate the progress of modernity. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

UN approves global arms treaty

The UN general assembly has overwhelmingly approved the first treaty regulating the multibillion-dollar international arms trade, a goal sought for more than a decade to try to keep illicit weapons out of the hands of terrorists, insurgent fighters and organised crime.

The resolution was approved by a vote of 154 to three with 23 abstentions. As the numbers appeared on the electronic board, loud cheers filled the assembly chamber.

A group of treaty supporters sought a vote in the 193-member world body after Iran, North Korea and Syria blocked its adoption by consensus at a negotiating conference on Thursday. The three countries voted "no" at Tuesday's resolution. Guardian

The contrarian

There was never a remote threat of a Great Depression 2.0 or of a financial nuclear winter, contrary to the dire warnings of Ben S. Bernanke, the Fed chairman since 2006. The Great Fear — manifested by the stock market plunge when the House voted down the TARP bailout before caving and passing it — was purely another Wall Street concoction. Had President Bush and his Goldman Sachs adviser (a k a Treasury Secretary) Henry M. Paulson Jr. stood firm, the crisis would have burned out on its own and meted out to speculators the losses they so richly deserved. The Main Street banking system was never in serious jeopardy, ATMs were not going dark and the money market industry was not imploding.

Instead, the White House, Congress and the Fed, under Mr. Bush and then President Obama, made a series of desperate, reckless maneuvers that were not only unnecessary but ruinous. The auto bailouts, for example, simply shifted jobs around — particularly to the aging, electorally vital Rust Belt — rather than saving them. The “green energy” component of Mr. Obama’s stimulus was mainly a nearly $1 billion giveaway to crony capitalists, like the venture capitalist John Doerr and the self-proclaimed outer-space visionary Elon Musk, to make new toys for the affluent. David Stockman
This opinion was published in NY Times Sunday edition. It's worth considering although bring a big tub of salt with it. Although it is important to note  that in regards of US economy, In Krugman We Trust.