Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tour de Kyushu



Here is a video and photo montage from the bike tour around Kyushu. We had a fabulous time on the bikes in great weather. We got rained on during Wednesday but it didn't put a dampener on our enjoyment of the scenery, the riding, the onsens or the food. I'd like to thank Craig, Mary and Jon for organising everything. I can't wait for the next trip.

UPDATE:

PowerPoint presentation produced by Craig.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

FF detail

The Final Feast

Tour of Kyushu

703.8km 5days

Photos and further detail to follow.
Have to pack the bike up now and drink a beer.

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

Dinner - Looks good don't it

And well deserved after another 150km today.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Insight

“There is still a very large unfunded capital requirement in the commercial banking system in the United States and that’s got to be funded,” Greenspan said in an interview yesterday in Washington. He also said that “until the price of homes flattens out we still have a very serious potential mortgage crisis.” Alan Greenspan - Bloomberg

..so NOW he can state the blindingly obvious?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Delinquent


A chart showing the percentage of US residential mortgages where payments are 30 days or more overdue. A delinquent spike - FT Alphaville

Remember that we are meant to believe that American consumers will go back to borrowing too much to keep the economy going and that these mortgages are issued by banks that passed the recent stress tests. I am skeptical. To say the least.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Oink oink

Draw a pig personality test


MPG

"The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a plan and the Senate is likely to do the same this week. It looks like the plan would provide a $3500 subsidy to anyone trading in a car getting less than 18 miles per gallon as long as there is at least a 4-mpg improvement. (I think I got yardage on my old car, not mileage.) A 10-mpg improvement would get you another $1000.

So the car industry would be revitalized - at least a bit - and the environment would be aided. Here’s the hitch. Of the 9 or 10 most fuel-efficient vehicles being sold today - and presumably the beneficiaries of such a program - four are built by Toyota, two by Volkswagen, one by Honda, one by Smart (never heard of that? it’s a Swiss-designed, Mercedes-owned, French produced mini-car) and one by a US-based company: Ford. Some of the others might be made on US soil, I don’t know. But is this really what we wanted to do?"

He's just not that into you - Vincent Farrell

Related:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

MBAs

Dilbert.com
Dilbert.com
Yerp.

Ready to go again

Rumsfeld

"The SecDef most famously revealed this obsession with mystery in a February 2002 news conference while speculating on Iraq’s links to terrorist groups. There were, he explained, “known knowns” and then “known unknowns—that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know.” But, he added, there were also “unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” The paradox of Rumsfeld’s tenure is that in seeking to know all he could know, he also sought to control all he could control—and control inevitably came at the expense of accurate knowledge.

“Rumsfeld believed that all of the power from the military needed to migrate up to his level,” recalls one former senior commander who got along well with the SecDef. “But you can’t run an organization like the Department of Defense with everything going through the eye of the needle. It just doesn’t work. And it wasn’t just his inability to build a team below him. It was also his inability to play as a team player above him.”"

And He Shall Be Judged - GQ Feature

Loathsome.

In the sewer



"We're in a complete mess and the consumer is smart enough to know it."

"If the consumer isn't petrified, he or she is a damn fool."

"The worst is yet to come with consumers and banks," he says. "This country is going into a 10-year decline. Living standards will never be the same."

"The bailout money is in the sewer and gone."

An extreme view, but he talks plainly and there are some nuggets of wisdom in there.

From the comments:

"It's purely wishful thinking to believe that the current administration has fixed this huge mess in less than six months. The bottom everyone is talking about is terminal velocity. Since the fall has stopped accelerating it feels like it's not going to hurt as much when you hit the ground."

Atlantis goes to Hubble




Hubble's final servicing mission - The Big Picture

Monday, May 18, 2009

Busted: Life Inside the Great Mortgage Meltdown

"If there was anybody who should have avoided the mortgage catastrophe, it was I. As an economics reporter for The New York Times, I have been the paper’s chief eyes and ears on the Federal Reserve for the past six years."

"As I walked out of the settlement office with my loan papers, I couldn’t shake the sense of having just done something bad . . . but also kind of cool. I had just come up with almost a half-million dollars, and I had barely lifted a finger. It had been so easy and fast. Almost fun. I couldn’t help feeling like a high roller, a sophisticated player who could lay his hands on big money at a moment’s notice."

My Personal Credit Crisis- NY Times

A very sobering read. Tip of the iceberg?

Credit card debt and default will be the next 'hot' topic.. and it won't be good news.

Also: www.americancasinothemovie.com
“American Casino is a powerful and shocking look at the subprime lending scandal. If you want to understand how the US financial system failed and how mortgage companies ripped off the poor, see this film.” Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel prize-winning economist and writer

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pillow

Friday, May 15, 2009

Spam

Elliott Burford - An ongoing project illustrating the titles of emails found in your spam/junk box.



Political battering

"I never imagined there would be so much politics when I came into Formula One. It definitely was a shock. There has been too much time taken up with it."

Lewis Hamilton 'driven to despair' by politics - timesonline.co.uk

Naive... but, like Hamilton, I am getting very disheartened by all the infighting and politic maneuvering.

James Allen's blog
is the best way to keep up with F1.

Spiralling out of control

"Parliament suffered its darkest day yesterday as MPs and peers were suspended for alleged misconduct and the Commons faced an exodus of shamed and demoralised Members."

"MPs caught up in the expenses scandal admitted that they could be dropped by their local parties. Others were said by colleagues to be ready to walk away. Some who have been unaffected declared that the attractions of life as an MP had disappeared."

"Authority drained away from Michael Martin, the Speaker, after the Liberal Democrats effectively withdrew their support and MPs prepared to table a no-confidence motion."

"In the Commons, MPs spoke openly of “throwing in the towel”. Those who haven’t been hit by disclosures said they were nevertheless getting abuse from voters. One senior Tory, who has already announced his resignation, said: “I’m glad I am going and wonder why I ever bothered to come here.”"

Parliament's darkest day: MPs suspended and Michael Martin at risk - timesonline.co.uk

Good bloody riddance.

Moscow-on-Thames - Economist.com

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Zeitgeist - The Movie

""I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world. No longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men." Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924)

http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/

Stream it via Google video and watch online. What they cover in Christianity is well documented elsewhere, but it's presented well. I am not a fan of the 9/11 conspiracy stuff, but there are questions to be answered particularly regarding the Pentagon video footage that has not been made public. The third part is compelling stuff and relates to the quotes I covered earlier in the week from John Adams et al.

This 'documentary' raises so many areas of discussion. Recommended viewing.

Tom Hanks

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The power of the pool - Wield that power, wield it!




I love this 'Sheldon' cartoon strip.. dead good innit.
My TAC Masters Advanced Swim is going well. I need to work harder though, but the confidence to do that is coming along.

Sound Money

"There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt." - John Adams

"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling money and its issuance." - James Madison

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies." - Thomas Jefferson

The Founders Speak: Sound Money

The great government momentum trade

Meredith Whitney makes some good points on CNBC.

"With the government involved no rules of the market apply. … And things that I never imagined that I would see in my lifetime you’re seeing in terms of government intervention. So shorts covered because they couldn’t play, shorts covered after they lost a lot of money because they couldn’t play, and then the long-only guys are grossly underinvested and so they see the rally and they’ve got to reweight and so it’s a crazy positive momentum based on no fundamental improvement. Zero fundamental improvement."

"Last year you had the market impact the economy and this year you’re going to have the economy impact the markets. So however manufactured these earnings are going to be you’re still going to have unemployment come in worse than expected, you’re still going to have consumer defaults worse than expected and you’re still going to have consumers not spend money … More people are going to lose their jobs and have less available credit lines to spend and that’s a ruse (?) that no great government momentum trade can really guard against."

via Alphaville

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Atlantis found

With the 67.2% of people 'underwater', it might be time to rename Las Vegas.

"Just how many borrowers are underwater is a matter of some dispute, with the answer depending in part on assumptions regarding home values and mortgage debt outstanding. Variations in home-price estimates can make a major difference in the number of borrowers who are underwater. In addition, borrowers who are already in the foreclosure process may be counted as being underwater if the title to their property hasn't changed hands."

House-Price Drops Leave More Underwater - Yahoo Finance via MR

Sleepwalking amongst the fragrant vapors of Spring

"We're far from done with the crisis of banking and money and the related fiasco in mortgages -- which translates into the very real situation of many people become homeless. It remains to be seen what may happen on the food production scene, but the current severe shortage of capital and the intense droughts shaping up around the world will resolve into a much clearer picture by mid-summer. The price of oil has resumed marching up and has now re-entered a range ($50-plus) that spun the airline industry into bankruptcy last time around. Enough carnage has already occurred on the jobs scene that the next act among many chronically jobless may tilt toward desperation, anger, and violence. The sporting goods shops around the nation are already rationing ammunition.

It's not just the stock markets that have decoupled from reality as we enjoy the fragrant vapors of spring -- it's the entire conscious consensus of everybody holding the levers of power and opinion. To put it as simply as possible, we're still sleepwalking into the future." Decoupling from reality - Jim Kunstler

Enjoy the rally while it lasts - but expect to take a sucker punch - telegraph.co.uk

Monday, May 11, 2009

Uh-oh & Thus ended capitalism

Dilbert.com

Dilbert.com

Just so good.

Buzzword

'Green shoots'.

Gah.. mentioned everywhere now. Please stop.

I concur that there are "there are a few statistics that suggest that the speed at which economic disaster is coming at us is declining slightly. But few that suggest it has really been averted.

It's hard to see how it is possible for the green shoots popping up all over to be much more than blips in a downward trend.

It is also worth noting that this rally has little in common with the beginning of most real bull markets. Valuations never got really cheap and volumes still haven't picked up: in total, there isn't any more trading on the FTSE 100 now than there was before the most recent bottom was hit.

It has also been led very much by the junk - the banks, for example - rather than by anything new."

So I think this isn't a new reality but "a bear market rally doing what bear market rallies do best - being long enough and strong enough to scare the bears, draw them back in, and lose them their shirts." Merryn Somerset Webb: Nikkei knack

So, You Think This Is Another Great Bull Market - Henry Blodget

Friday, May 08, 2009

iPhone


Hmmm.. some truth to this? :)

"That's nothing.."

Dilbert.com

Haulage carnage in the UK

"Data released by the Office for National Statistics shows that a year ago there were just over 3,000 lorry drivers receiving jobseeker's allowance in the UK.

Today that number is more than 15,000 - an increase even more dramatic than that for bricklayers and masons.

These figures are supported by a sharp fall in road congestion and traffic at the UK's major ports.

The haulage business is a key indicator of economic buoyancy and its survival is vital to Britain's recovery from the recession." Recession 'hitting lorry numbers' - www.bbc.co.uk

We're relying on people, like these truck drivers, to spend and borrow - assuming they can find a lender - our way out of this economic downturn... erm... I don't think so. I think this gets worse before it gets better. Sorry.

Completely unrelated

"Unlike the adult mind, which restricts itself to a narrow slice of reality, babies can take in a much wider spectrum of sensation - they are, in an important sense, more aware of the world than we are. This hyperawareness comes with several benefits. For starters, it allows young children to figure out the world at an incredibly fast pace. Although babies are born utterly helpless, within a few years they've mastered everything from language - a toddler learns 10 new words every day - to complex motor skills such as walking. According to this new view of the baby brain, many of the mental traits that used to seem like developmental shortcomings, such as infants' inability to focus their attention, are actually crucial assets in the learning process." Inside the baby mind - www.boston.com

"What if you had a personal Wi-Fi bubble, a private hot spot, that followed you everywhere you go? Incredibly, there is such a thing. It’s the Novatel MiFi 2200, available from Verizon starting in mid-May. It’s a little wisp of a thing, like a triple-thick credit card. It has one power button, one status light and a swappable battery that looks like the one in a cellphone. When you turn on your MiFi and wait 30 seconds, it provides a personal, portable, powerful, password-protected wireless hot spot." Wi-Fi to Go, No Cafe Needed - www.nytimes.com

"But surely, when it comes to combating teen pregnancy, the Palin family has done enough damage already. What worse message could you send to teenage girls than the one they delivered at the Republican convention: If your handsome but somewhat thuglike boyfriend gets you with child, he will clean up nicely, propose marriage, and show up at an important family event wearing a suit and holding your hand. At which point you will get a standing ovation." Bristol Palin's New Gig - www.nytimes.com

"One serving officer, who asked not to be named, added: "I guess with all the health and safety red tape surrounding the police service these days their days were always going to be numbered." Health and safety: police force sells motorbikes - www.telegraph.co.uk

"Ms Daniels says she loves the business she works in, but if she did enter the US Senate: “I think I would have to give it up.” Ms Daniels, one of the most successful porn actresses in the US, has already challenged Mr Vitter to a debate — “but I don’t think he has the balls to confront me” — and said she would be willing to wrestle him, something that Mr Vitter, with his track record, might secretly relish." Porn star Stormy Daniels challenges shamed Republican in Senate race - www.timesonline.co.uk

Interesting; useful; stupid; nanny state; US politix is great.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Henson's 11


Ocean's 11 with Muppets

Post Golden Week blues

Back at work and the rain, as per this forecast, isn't helping... plus I haven't got a clue why the market is not tanking - as it should - and no ride planned for this weekend.. but it is FRIDAY tomorrow!

Odd day

For the mathematically challenged, Thursday's date, 5/7/09, is one of only six this century that will feature three consecutive odd numbers.

Numbers lovers say the rare occurrence is an excuse to celebrate.

"The previous stretch of six dates like this started with 1/3/1905 — 13 months after the Wright Brothers' flight," said Ron Gordon, the Redwood City teacher who enthusiastically promotes these numerical holidays, like Square Root Day on 3/3/09.

Happy Odd Day!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Bolt... speak.


Perfect rainy Wednesday afternoon viewing.. highly highly recommended.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Shimoda Golden Week





We just spent the last few days down at the beach hut in Shimoda.

Drove down Friday night in traffic that bizarrely got busier as we went on. Japan cut all expressway road tolls over the GW period to Y1000. Lots of people on the road and then parking up in the rest stops so that they could benefit from this 'offer' which started at midnight. Still even with the traffic we got down in a little under 3 and half hours which is pretty normal.

Weather was great, lots of sunshine but not too hot and humid. I love this time of the year down there. Milly seemed to enjoy eating al fresco on the deck as did we in the evenings after she had gone to bed. The Saturday and Sunday night bbqs lived up to the usual high standards and great fun was had by all. More fun than usual for Joli who over-imbibed a tad on Saturday, evidence of which was her signature 'legs don't work time to sit on the ground' manoeuver. No food no good.

We had decided to return on Monday night - GW goes on until Wednesday - and as usual it was a struggle not to just stay on. A little rain in the forecast helped. We collected Jo around 8pm and braved the traffic, arriving home in a little over 4hrs and 45mins. The traffic obsessed will make want they want of that time, but it wasn't too bad at all.

Now in Tokyo and hoping to get Milly into the TAC pool later tomorrow.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Saturday, May 02, 2009

What can Dylan see?





Milly playing..

Friday, May 01, 2009