Sunday, January 31, 2010

On finding poop in your soda pop... "A recent study found that 48 percent of soda fountains in fast food restaurants contain coliform bacteria, a bacteria that grows in feces." Another reason not to order soda from fast food restaurants...
A detailed look on how a normal well behaved 'all American' kid turned into a jihadist (from a NY Magazine article titled 'The Jihadist Next Door').

Saturday, January 30, 2010

When Osama bin Laden is speaking out against climate change, you know something is really wrong ;-)
According to Dan Berber there is "there’s more than enough food in the world already. Literally more than enough: look at what’s happening to obesity rates, and look at how much food is wasted every day. In a world producing corn and soy on a mega-industrial scale, more food doesn’t necessarily mean less hunger: it’s much more likely to simply result in more waste and worse public health" On the lessons that locavores might be able to impart...
The i-Pad name has more issues than just the suggestion of feminine-hygiene products. A guide to upcoming slates.
Paul Volcker tries once again to retake the Wall Street casino in his NYT op-ed this morning (theme: divorce the proprietary trading activities from the commercial activities of big banks). Now that President Obama finally understands that the only way to get the Republicans back on the mat is to kick them where it hurts..  i.e. start spouting Wall Street reform, the likes of Volcker will wax and that of Geithner will wane - or so we think. Of course, the casino owners have lawyers too...
The President finally gets some balls in this Q and A with members of the Grand Obstructionist Party. About time too... (Click on the recommended highlights if you can't sit through the whole thing - personally, I liked the Bolshevik plot part)...
I understand that with great power comes great responsibility (or variations of that crap), but this headline from the BBC hits below the belt... "Haiti patients 'will die' because of US airlift halt"

Friday, January 29, 2010

A look into what the recession left in its wake in Janesville, Wisconsin - the home of General Motors. A sad but larger commentary on the future of a country where manufacturing has been banished under the aegis of free trade and whatever little manufacturing islands that remain do not seem to have a great future (as is evidenced in the blaming of an American manufacturing company for the recent Toyota debacle). Have we become so inept? On the brighter side, Tesla put in its IPO papers...
Now FP is predicting that China will be a 123 trillion dollar economy in 2040 and the United States should be rightly scared. The article smacks of Hail Mary desperation especially when we life in times where it is difficult to predict out a couple of years from now..
The socio-cultural lessons of Lady Gaga. I look forward to seeing her this Sunday...
Funnyman Ben Stein on Goldman Sachs' casino mentality.
Scott Roeder, the man who said he killed late term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller was convicted of first-degree murder today. He did manage to push late term abortion into the court proceedings. Meanwhile a prominent quarterback advocates against abortion ensuring that even Superbowl Sunday will be divisive.
13 stories from the late Jerome David Salinger here. Excerpts from the late Howard Zinn's magnum opus here. Both of them passed on two days ago.
"Please accept my personal compliments. I have the honor hereby to file with you and the International Criminal Court this Complaint against U.S. citizens George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Condoleezza Rice , and Alberto Gonzales (hereinafter referred to as the “Accused”) for their criminal policy and practice of “extraordinary rendition.” This term is really a euphemism for the enforced disappearances of persons, their torture, severe deprivation of their liberty, their violent sexual abuse, and other inhumane acts perpetrated"
So begins a letter stating that the ICC is planning yet another indictment against Bush and Co... By the way, in England atleast the government is having hearings on unraveling the lies that led to the Iraq war. In America (according to the apt words of this magazine), we are supposed to "look forward not back" …
“Solastalgia,” a combination of the Latin word solacium (comfort) and the Greek root –algia (pain), defined as “the pain experienced when there is recognition that the place where one resides and that one loves is under immediate assault . . . a form of homesickness one gets when one is still at ‘home.’ -- ideas to find a connection between the health of the natural world and the health of our minds.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

An irreverent look at Hindu gods channeling Sita sings the blues... Book here.
Hindu pop finally comes of age???
"If you can't beat 'em, bribe 'em" seems to be modus operandi of our strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was applied first with partial success using the so-called Sunni Awakening by Mr. Bush and now is being applied by Obama to Afghanistan...   From here: The leaders of one of the largest Pashtun tribes in a Taliban stronghold said Wednesday that they had agreed to support the American-backed government... In exchange for their support, American commanders agreed to channel $1 million in development projects directly to the tribal leaders and bypass the local Afghan government.
Now I know where some of our tax dollars go and why Obama did not include cutting defense in his so-called three year freeze on budget.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

With a name like iPad it was obvious there were no women around when Apple decided to name this device that really is an iPod Touch with a 10 inch screen... A cheaper alternative.

Monday, January 25, 2010

More America bashing (very subtle but clear) as the LRB looks at books announcing that China is about to take over the world from the United States.
From here: Corporate merger is sold by corporate gurus as rich in synergy and efficiencies that eventually trickle down to consumers. But the supposed consumer benefits are often unconvincing. Pennzoil’s acquisition of Quaker State led to more expensive motor oil, Procter & Gamble’s purchase of Tambrands led to more expensive tampons, and General Mills’ purchase of the Chex brands led to more expensive cereal...
Could it be that after the merger is completed, the savings that result a year after the 'redundancy cuts' are no longer invested into better products and R&D but are distributed in the form of bonuses to the architects who devised the merger and the only way to show profits in the years afterward would be to increase the product price? I am sure there must be a study somewhere… A thought...
The United States has lifted a 21 year old ban on the sale of haggis. For the lass sqeamish, a step by step pictorial guide to making it here. An old recipe for haggis fom 1889. Other porcine news include the fact that Rush Limbaugh called himself a pig today in this Onion article.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

There is still a very strong case to be made for large newspapers who can spend a fortune on sweeping investigations that unclog aspects of the nations health. Two-bit web based aggregators or blogs do not have the time nor the resources to perform in-depth studies/interviews. I ran into one of these large scale investigations performed by the New York Times in the last quarter of 2009 when they unveiled an exhaustive study that detailed the deficiencies inherent in our nations drinking water system. The problems they discovered were staggering. This weekend, the same paper started a series of articles examining the advantages and the harm that emanates from the increasing use of medical radiation. Support your local newspaper, otherwise all blogs will become a variation of this in the future...
Fun food fact: Almost 90-percent of salmon sold in supermarkets today come from farms. The diet of farmed salmon doesn't include crustaceans, which contains a natural astaxanthin that causes pink flesh in wild salmon. As a result, producers add astaxanthin to farm-salmon diets for that fresh-from-the-water appearance. Astaxanthin is manufactured from coal tar. More here.
Mathematical simplicity in nature - its principles as applied to growth of seashells, horns of animals, nautilus, cones and bivalves.
"When husbands and wives not only co-work but try to co-homemake, as post-feminist and well-intentioned as it is, out goes the clear delineation of spheres, out goes the calm of unquestioned authority, and of course out goes the gratitude" - NYT op-ed on the not so peculiar case of the 21st-century woman who makes more than the man she’s living with...
A study of profile pictures and what they signify. (via).
Does this merit the death penalty?? Joshua Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes raped and killed Dr. William A. Petit's wife. They also killed his two daughters after molesting one of them. He managed to escape alive from what turned out to be a botched burglary attempt. The killers were caught. Jury selection in the first of the capital murder trials began last week in Connecticut.
Photos connected with the legacy of the book "In Cold Blood', the story of the Clutter family murders here.
How Apple is hurting AT&T and news that the AT&T -  iPhone exclusivity will be going away soon. (via).
Intended and Unintended Effects of Youth Bicycle Helmet Laws.
The Guardian talks to Warren Hern who says he could be the only doctor in the world still performing late-term abortions after George Tiller was killed for practising it in Wichita, Kan. The morality of late term abortions in other countries discussed here.
Avatars in the workplace...
The Haaretz writes about Franz Kafka's last living friend Alice Herz-Sommer who talks about the man who created The Metamorphosis. (Via). An adaptation of Metamorphosis from the early works of filmmaker Carlos Atanes. Alice Herz-Sommer is 106 years olds and her secret to a long life is "In a word: optimism. I look at the good. When you are relaxed, your body is always relaxed. When you are pessimistic, your body behaves in an unnatural way. It is up to us whether we look at the good or the bad. When you are nice to others, they are nice to you. When you give, you receive."

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A slideshow of big currency bills here. Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) had an inflation rate of 23773% in 1994. A flickr set of Notgeld (the German emergency currency between 1914 and 1923). Democratic Republic of Congo has the highest inflation in the world, followed by Venezuela and Argentina. The current inflation situation in Greece does not bode well.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave... EJ Dione has an idea to pass healthcare legislation... "The House would pass a version of the reconciliation bill containing the various amendments and send it to the Senate. The Senate would change it slightly (in ways that the House agreed to), which would require the House to vote on it again. Only after it got the revised reconciliation bill would the House take up the Senate bill. The House could then pass both bills and send both to the president. Problem solved, health-care passes, and we move on."
Project Red Bull Stratos involves sending Felix Baumgartner to the stratosphere in a small space capsule, lifted by a helium-filled balloon. At 120,000 feet after three hours of ascending, he’ll jump from his temporary perch and in 35 seconds will hit supersonic speeds and break the sound barrier. The jump is planned for sometime in 2010. Joseph Kettinger II holds the world's free fall record of 80,325 feet made on November 1, 1962Michel Fournier has been planning the same for some time. His site gives some details of plans for this year...
For some reason, this song came to my mind...

Friday, January 22, 2010

If big banks like Goldman Sachs are broken up into smaller, more manageable pieces, then I will believe that Obama is serious about reforming Wall Street. Here, a writer from Bloomberg makes the case (yet again)… Yesterday's Supreme Court ruling that lets large corporations spend millions on political campaigns without any restrictions makes the case for breaking up big behemoths like Goldman that much stronger...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

In 'The Dark Side of Food Porn', Nicole Allan analyzes the gross food movement and the persuasive websites thisiswhyyourefat and Supersizedmeals. Depending on perspective, the example of the "Breakfast Burrito Challenge" which consists of a 7-pound burrito with eight eggs and a pound of ham could be labeled either as a monstrous perversion or a gastronomic delight. It also lays bare the American soul (or lack thereof) in its assertion that we can do what we want and are only limited by what we can imagine.
Even Bill Gates seems to have a blog now. None of the others seem to have one...
A talk by stuntman David Blaine describing how he held his breath for 17 min. (via).
Scott Brown Is Now Apparently The 45th President Of These United States Of America!
The Supreme Court ruled today that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates for President and CongressFull text. Republicans will rejoice. Democrats will feel glum and will do nothing about it (as usual). Life will go on while the society is shaped and mandated further by corporate policy and lobbyists. Meanwhile, there are news reports that elite lobbying firms posted big gains in 2009.
Thousands of public schools have stopped teaching foreign languages in the last decade, but there is a rush by schools in all parts of America to offer instruction in Chinese. However, according to this and this it seems improbable that Chinese will replace English as the global language of choice. Of course, the neural advantages of speaking in 2 tongues are many. Bilinguals seem to process words faster than others.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"With holiday traffic down almost 4 percent compared to last year and business continuing to decline, US Airways announced Monday that it would allow VIP customers to bring bombs on board its flights for a one-time $100 million fee." More here.
Three 'suicides' at Guantánamo. The story of how Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi, and Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani died. An exclusive advance feature essay at Harpers.
Matt Taibbi deconstructs a recent article by David Brooks on Haiti. David is a conservative writer wrapped up in a liberal hairdo for the NYT. I have liked his columns every once in a while, they are nuanced and thoughtful - but Matt's translation lays bare David's soul and in turn some core 'tea party' beliefs... like "Don’t bother giving any money, it doesn’t do any good; or Of course I’d volunteer to help, but intellectually I just don’t think volunteering really helps; and Haitians are a bunch of lazy niggers who can’t keep their dongs in their pants and probably wouldn’t be pancaked under fifty tons of rubble if they had spent a little more time over the years listening to the clarion call of white progress"... (via).
The United States slipped from sixth place to eight in an index that lists the worlds freest economies. Canada now boasts North America's freest economy. If being a little more protectionist will help us retain more jobs within the country, then so be it!
Contrary to popular logic, body collection and disposal is not the most urgent task after a natural disaster - according to the WHO's 2006 guidance on the Management of Dead Bodies after Disasters.
The fact that Republican Scott Brown defeated Democrat Martha Coakley to fill Ted Kennedy's former senate seat should be a wake up call for Obama to STOP supporting Wall Street. Of course, an unintended fallout from this might be comprehensive health care legislation that would have given about 40 million Americans the right to better healthcare system (especially with the House now backtracking on a controversial idea). Not to mention immigration reform. Hopefully, the Financial Regulatory Overhaul Bill will get some much needed teeth.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It was difficult to believe this bit about cruise ships off the coast of Haiti... A former Financial Times journalist maintains the blog 'Dispatches from a fragile island' about life there. The Big Picture photos of the devastation are heart rending and a bit jarring. My previous rant about the Berlin airlift remains. Meanwhile, Obama might have more than he bargains for if he plans on rebuilding Haiti...
Minority Report gets closer than one thinks - a recent patent application for airport security from IBM performs software based profiling based on inputs from a variety of factors - among them are video, motion, biometric and even olfactory. Yes, smell too... (via). Patent here.
Darker-skinned African-American defendants are more than twice as likely to receive the death penalty as lighter-skinned African-American defendants for crimes of equivalent seriousness involving white victims. Shankar Vedantam on 'colorism'.
Progressions can be linear or geometric. Examples of the former are Moore's Law as applied to transistor packing on integrated chips or the energy output from particle accelerators. Boing Boing points us to a colorful new addition - Crayola's law. I found an unforgettable example of the latter (geometric) in the book Tipping Point which goes something like this: If you have a sufficiently large piece of paper and start to fold it over once and then fold it over again and then again and again... what would be the thickness of the piece of paper after 50 such folds? The thickness of the paper would approximate the distance between the earth and the sun...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Even if electric cars are seen as a panacea to all things polluting by many, they have their limits too. The secret trump card may really be held by countries like China - they plan to limit mining of heavy earths like lithium that are essential to the production of batteries that power these green vehicles.
Hindsight is 20/20 - they say... Today's NYT carries reports that with a little bit of 'connecting the dots' (whatever that means), the US government could have found out about the gathering threat of a bomber from Yemen... or the fact that a new law that aims to ferret out lobbyists in Washington mandated that these goodly folks publicly register themselves as 'lobbyists'. Guess how they flouted the law - they stopped declaring themselves as lobbyists on forms and regulatory filings.
A video sketching The King here. (via). Here, the Rail talks about a pregnant Haitian woman's dreams amidst the bleak landscape there. This Berkeley webcast series talks about science of nonviolence as seen through the life and work of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

First we had the internet startup bubble (Bubble 1.0) where the prepubescents claimed that they could build online sites that would run the gamut of getting the morning coffee to you to defecating for you. Then we had another bubble (Bubble 2.0) when some folks on Wall Street decided that they could create money out of thin air and gullible people believed them and bought up an alphabet soup of financial innovation products. Now, just imagine what might happen if we combine the worst of these two worlds - internet startups doing finanial innovation - Bubble 3.0!!!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

American dermatologists are seeing people of Hispanic and African descent with severe side effects from the misuse of skin-lightening creams. Meanwhile men in India are buying skin-lighteners in growing numbers as a path to love and wealth. A survey also tells us that the percentage of people using bleaching creams to lighten their complexion in Lagos, Nigeria was close to 77%.
Oh no!!! Dubai debt crisis halts building of world's largest indoor mountain range... (via).
Why do many artists live their lives in a state of anxiety regarding the ailments and imperfections of their bodies? The Wall Street Journal attempts.
Milan Kundera’s test of humanity: ‘True human goodness can manifest itself, in all its purity and liberty, only in regard to those who have no power. The true moral test of humanity lies in those who are at its mercy: the animals.’ - an essay on dogs and life in Sierra Leone. Beautiful.
Thousands of Ghanaian women young and old, known as "fiashidi's" (wife of the lord) spend their lives serving in shrines dedicated to the lord Tro to atone for the past crimes of their family and society. In certain parts of India, widowed Hindus are sometimes cast off from society to the city of Vrindavan where they spend the rest of their lives dedicated to the lord Krishna. (Previously on Simplistic here.)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Wall Street Journal reports that banks are set for record pay: The top firms on are ready to dish out $145 Billion for 2009, up 18% (graphic here). With the ranks of unemployed soaring and people still deep in debt there is something wrong with the state of our country.
Maybe this is the reason that a "Whom do you Trust" poll resulted in the categories 'Major Corporations' and 'Politicians in DC' being tied at the very bottom of the list. Is it time for the dystopians?
I am yet to see the movie "3 Idiots", but this op-ed in todays NYT makes me want to. Reading through this, I also remember my father chanting in the background din of my childhood "Being an engineer or doctor is your only way out".
Los Enigmas - a poem by Pablo Neruda. Not too sure why I thought about this, but I did.
Ben Schott is running a competition to share words, phrases and abbreviations used at work.
The 50 best science blogging posts in no particular order on scienceblog.
Google recently decided that it is going to pull out of China. Partly economic and party trying to adhere to the 'do no evil' BS. One of the stated reasons was that Chinese hackers compromised security on the Google mail accounts of human rights activists. Guess what - Microsoft announced that an unpatched vulnerability in Internet Explorer (its web browser ) had a prominent role in attack, and also added that it is staying in China

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How Wall Street companies profit from the earthquake in Haiti. Yes, they have figured out a way here too...
NYTimes is trying hard not to piss off their female readers - I guess... In a report from today’s NYT on the recent news that the male chromosome (Y) is the fastest-changing part of the human genome, they take pains to state (TWICE) that ("the Y chromosome’s rapid rate of evolutionary change does not mean that men are evolving faster than women. But its furious innovation is likely to be having reverberations elsewhere in the human genome"). Reassuring news nevertheless since this means that males can still hope to catch up with their female counterparts...
A disturbing paradox of Indian globalization... "Globalization has been good for the gods, as India is liberalizing and globalizing its economy, the country is experiencing a rising tide of popular Hinduism". Also: "India now has 2.5 million places of worship, but only 1.5 million schools and barely 75,000 hospitals." (See Ref 1, 2)
Thought experiment: The Berlin Airlift in 1948 managed to feed 2 million people daily by airlifting about 1600 tons of food a DAY for fifteen months straight. Not trying to be callous, but had a disaster of the magnitude of Haiti happened to a rich, white European country (let us say Germany), would our response be different?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

UBS, the firm that helped (and encouraged) thousands of Americans hide assets in secret Swiss accounts and perpetrate one of the biggest tax evasion frauds in history now has an ethics book out. It is fun reading.. Howlers in this package include "we do not provide assistance... aimed at deceiving tax authorities" and committed to "preserve the integrity of the financial system."
How Ringling Bros. circus trainers cruelly force baby elephants to learn tricks... Parents may have to think twice about taking their child to the circus...
Milky Way over the Alps - a timelapse video. Meanwhile, the Hubble manages to reach back into space and takes pictures of budding stars in a universe that was only 600 million to 800 million old
Conversations with an anonymous Facebook employee here.
The only family that I know in Haiti seems to have escaped the worst. However tens of thousands are hurting... These sites (1, 2, 3) have more information. State Department Hotline for Haiti: 1-888-407-4747. Tweets from Port-au-Prince here: @carelpedre @fredodupoux @troylivesay @firesideint (search by #Haiti).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

John Yoo, the mastermind of the Bush era torture memos made an appearance on Jon Stewart (Part II here). Personally, he is low level scum, but to see squirming scum when their time in the limelight is done is especially gratifying.
A BBC investigation into human sacrifice in Uganda suggest ritual killings of children. Meanwhile here in these United States something less barbaric happens routinely - sexual victimization of incarcerated juveniles... (via).
Now that most of us are fixated on understanding what makes Yemen tick to Al-Qaeda, a former US ambassador to that country has the obligatory 'myths debunked column in todays NYT: It is good reading. A statement that stands out: Yemen is much like the United States in the latter half of the 19th century, when the government faced a rebellious South and a Wild West, but was hardly powerless outside the East Coast.
The former chairman of AIG is hinting that Goldman Sachs and its questionable dealings with the Treasury could have led to the AIG meltdown. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs and other like predators plan to dish out bonuses this week for 'good' decisions like the above. Obama makes the usual (mandatory) unsubstantiated noises when it comes to regulating the fat cats..

Monday, January 11, 2010

Numbing pictures and narratives from wars that one may rather skip (from the book Afterwar by Lori Grinker). (via).
A website dedicated to a 60-mile, two-foot gauge electric railroad that operated 149 locomotives and over 3000 freight cars in small tunnels forty feet below the streets of downtown Chicago. (via)
A love story enacted on the outskirts of Delhi, India that brings to sharp focus India's social mores, caste system and justice. This essay in Granta on Delhi and its growing pains is equally devastating.
Here is a case for a supertax on big bank bonuses...(even if United States bankers do not like the British idea of a supertax (60% onetime) on their bonuses). Meanwhile, Goldman is not really used to counter-strategizing the coming brouhaha over its bonus decisions.
Foreign Policy chronicles the greatest nuclear myths. Among them these: 'A Nuclear Explosion Would Cripple the U.S. Economy and Fabricating a Bomb Is 'Child's Play'. Of course, the fact that nukes are sacred in Iran is not a myth.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New revelations about the plane crash that killed President Juvénal Habyarimana and sparked the Rwandan genocide.
If you are into saving animals and a Super Mario Bros. fan (not sure how many fall into that particular statistic), then play PETA's New Super Chick Sisters here.
Et tu, Harry Reid? Of course, Clinton said this...
The word 'Allah' gets into an intellectual property dispute over Christians using the same in Malaysia... I also found out that the Koran mentions the name Jesus 25 times... Meanwhile, the name Jesus itself seems to be a form of the ancient Hebrew name 'Joshua'...
Pushing for the art and science of software development and programming toward a Zen like level or, why it is increasingly necessary that many young Americans start to realize that being labelled the so called 'nerd' is actually cool (this will be our only way to compete in the future global marketplace of ideas). Zed Shaw on The Master, The Expert, The Programmer.
An online app looking at Netflix queues examining Netflix rental patterns, neighborhood by neighborhood, in a dozen cities.
In days of declining appetite for increasing capital budgets at most companies this story from HBR strikes a chord: How oerational innovation can transform business. A pointer for some state governments (read: NY and CA)...
India's advertisement laced villages. A photo essay by Vijay Raju showing how large multi nationals and (smaller local outfits) are plastering rural roads, homes and space with garish ads in their quest to bridge the 'last mile'.
There is a good chance Geithner will be asked to resign and will act as a 'fall guy' after the 2010 mid term elections. Remember in 2004 the Bush administration needed someone and they found a good candidate in Rumsfeld. In Geithner's case, the cozy collusion recently highlighted in the AIG case borders on the obscene.

Friday, January 08, 2010

"If life arises readily in Earth-like conditions, as many astrobiologists contend, then it may well have formed many times on Earth itself, which raises the question whether one or more shadow biospheres have existed in the past or still exist today." Signatures of a Shadow Biosphere - a paper.
From a story about snipers... "Crane shot her. He felt no kick from the rifle. He barely heard the shot. In his scope he saw a little white hole where the bullet went through the window, and he watched the woman’s head explode. She was dead in an instant, and without spasms."
Goldman Sachs seems to be taking heat. About time!!
Even after news that thousands of children were raped and abused in Catholic schools in Ireland, the Irish managed to pass a law making blasphemy an offence. Meanwhile Iran, not wanting to be left behind took this one step further, they are executing five on the ludicrous charge of 'warring against god'. Christian evangelicals in America are moving forward in a more cautious manner.
Coral growth, algal blooms and liquid crystal matrix genomes - Olivia Judson profiles Dinoflagellates.
I have never seen David Brooks write a movie review but this one of the Avatar is on the mark - especially in detailing the White Messiah complex. This line "it’s just escapism, obviously, but benevolent romanticism can be just as condescending as the malevolent kind" resonates.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The technology behind the Google book scanning effort.
Finally, someone has the balls... Goldman Sachs criticized for allocating $16.7 billion to pay employees for the first nine months of 2009 after receiving government bailout money was sued by a shareholder who claims it is a “waste” of assets.
If the 'underwear bomber' was radicalized in Britain, why is that country not on the terror watch list? We know for a fact that a third of Muslim students think killing in the name of religion is justified and 40 per cent support sharia law in Britain...
There is a feeling among much of the Western press that if any Asian country sings out of tune (an example would be not agreeing to a global climate deal) then reflexively call the country intransigent, stubborn and other colorful adjectives. It is India's turn now. Little is said about the 100 odd years that the West have had free rein to pollute globally...
If Shakespeare would have written The Big Lebowski. (via).
Victoria's Secret, Lutheran missionaries offering seafarers a ride and the changing maritime scene around New York City in this wonderful tale of sailors on port call.
Lawyers advise to clients on Facebook/Twitter/other_social media contemplating divorce: Change passwords, stop posting on social networking sites, acquire a new e-mail address, and secure or make copies of whatever is posted about them online.
As indicated here previously, it is now clear that Australian racist attitudes towards Indians will need to change. In the interim, India seems to have issued a travel advisory...
Our lives on the road just got worse!! Automakers and high-tech companies have found a new place to put sophisticated Internet-connected computers: the front seat. CES highlights here.
What have scientists learnt about fitness? An easy way to calculate VO2max - the maximum consumption of oxygen achieved during a session of exercise. The higher the better. Time how long it takes you to walk a mile as quickly as possible, then measure your heart rate. Plug time, heart rate, age, gender & weight into website.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Young volunteers from Gaza with video cameras manage to document everyday life amidst a blockade imposed by both Israel and Egypt to isolate the Hamas government... (via).
A large scale mandala titled 'E. Pluribus Unum' from artist Chris Jordan. (Page will load slowly, but worth it).
Jon Stewart surveys Fox News latest attempt at Christian proselytism... In addition to the their preachy 'My God is better than yours' rhetoric, Fox also manages to throw some dirt at Hindus...
Why we like trains. Someday, my wife and I will travel the same way (plus one does not have to go through any pesky full body scans).
Daily life in Yemen - 9 photographs... and the Baker Street Underground station in London.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Thoughts on giving advice and receiving advice. My favorites were: "Passion" and "Voice" are two of the most frequent and most vague pieces of advice and When you give advice, it's easy to fan the embers but hard to strike a new fire. (via).
25 vegan recipes here. (via).
"More than three decades ago, Mary Daly wrote, “If God is male, then male is God.” She was right then, and she is right now. Religions that will not recognize the full equality of women simply substitute maleness for divinity". RIP.
A Chinese saying once warned that “researching atomic bombs will never earn as much as selling tea eggs”. Now they are realizing the fruits of basic science and research and luring their science talent back home. As does India too... Of course, bureaucracy haunts.
Life of a Taxi driver in Rio (first person account) and life lessons from an autowallah in Mysore, India.
Subverting 'I wanna be your dog'...
How something as subtle as the typography on restaurant menus can make or break a decision to order...
Insect sex watch: How do insects mate with the right person if everyone looks exactly the same? ... The solution, according to a new study, is to find a partner who can sing in perfect harmony with you.
Men can rest easy: 'The G-spot doesn't appear to exist', say researchers (from one of the biggest study involving about 1800 women)...
Are other CEO's actually taking note of this? Continental CEO says 'Don't Pay Me Unless We're Profitable'...
Will profiling make a difference in airport security? Viewpoints...
Skype can now be integrated with your living room TV set. Will this be the year of the Internet-connected high-definition televisions?

Monday, January 04, 2010

'Letting fatties roam the site is a direct threat to our business model' has all the makings of becoming the next hit meme. Poster sellers, T-shirt printers and other like vultures take note...
With the targeted killing of young Indians becoming an almost monthly occurrence in Australia, is it time to call Australia and by extension Australians racist? See here, here, here and here.
Yet another Navajo story of exploitation. No wonder Hollywood comes out with films like Avatar and District 9 - the collective guilt needs some channel...
Keeping America's edge in the age of the BRICs and useless Reganomics - an essay by Jim Manzi in the National Affairs. Very readable.
"Americans have no fear of being overheard. Civic life in Britain is predicated on the idea that everyone just about conceals his loathing of everyone else. To open your mouth is to risk offending someone. So we mutter and mumble as if surrounded by informers or, more exactly, as if they are living in our heads." - Reflections from across the 'pond'.
Bloggers and others are tripping over themselves to declare 2000-2010 the 'lost decade'. C'mon, we knew that the moment Mr. Bush got re-elected for a second term!!
Fervid rants from three evangelical preachers whose mission included “mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality” seems to be responsible for the recent push by Uganda to create a bill to impose the death sentence for homosexual behavior.
The positive outcome from the 2004 tsunami that devastated parts of India: All new homes built in the state of Tamil Nadu "would be titled in the name of women. The men grumbled, but the officials told them they had no choice. Men drank and gambled, they said; women were more reliable."

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Is it “fair” that executives at big companies should make 275 times (today’s approximate ratio) what their average employees make? What’s a Bailed-Out Banker Really Worth?
Training ageing brains...
The Israelification of United States air travel is slowly upon us (HuffPo reports today that citizens of certain countries will receive a “full body pat-down and physical inspection of property”). The day will not be too far off when TSA agents are trained face readers...

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Shane Bang’s Super Mario theme freestyle pen-tapping remix.
Interview with Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (from Ohio and the House’s longest-serving woman) on the vested interests in our broken financial system and how the bailout made things worse.
'One of the great mysteries of the human mindis the fact that reading is a relatively recent invention, dating to some 5,000 to 10,000 years ago. Our brains didn’t evolve to read'. A review of the book Reading in the Brain: The Science and Evolution of a Human Invention by Stanislas Dehaene.
Clusterfuck has the usual thought provoking downers in this column titled Forecast 2010...
Musings of a VC in NYC talks about his areas of interest in (technology) for 2010.
Yet another date for the end of the world: May 21, 2011 (from a Biblical scholar who has developed a mathematical system to interpret prophecies hidden within the Bible). Of course, some of these scholars also believe that the earth is only 6000 years old...
Musical tips for 2010 - From the decline of festivals to the rise of the Gaga clones, what can we expect to hear over the next 12 months?
Living in the memory: A celebration of the great writers who died in the past decade...
Shareholder value destruction following the Tiger Woods scandal - a paper from the Department of Economics, University of California, Davis, CA. No, I am not kidding... (via).
With the United States spending all of our energies over the next 10 years warding off the next terrorist threat, this Times review of the book seems uncanny: 'When China Rules the World: The end of the western world and the birth of a new global order'...

Friday, January 01, 2010

Slow, free range, idle parents can increase IQ and happiness. (via).
A little bit of mystical math could help with that hangover - or so I thought...
On some of the issues behind IBMs recent announcement that they have managed to achieve a software simulation that matched a cat's brainpower...
On preppers gearing up for catastrophe...
It is 2010 and the most relevant thing for the Jan 1st morning would be collected wisdom on how to get over a hangover. Hopefully we would not see too much of this stuff this year.