Monday, August 31, 2009

Summer Typhoon


August 31st, 18C, Raining, UK Weather desuka??

Election Result:
"By the early hours of this morning the DPJ was heading towards a total representation of about 310 seats in the lower house of the Diet, compared with about 120 for the LDP. The result will allow the Democrats to dominate the new parliament and to push through their agenda of increased welfare spending, reduced public works, friendlier relations with China and a more detached and independent relationship with the United States."

Japanese government crushed in election rout - Telegraph

Friday, August 28, 2009

A trip to Costco

Via The Mess that Greenspan Made
"Yesterday I was at my local COSTCO buying a large bag of Purina dog chow for my loyal pet, Biscuit, the Wonder Dog and was in the checkout line when woman behind me asked if I had a dog.

What did she think I had, an elephant? So since I'm retired and have little to do, on impulse I told her that no, I didn't have a dog, I was starting the Purina Diet again. I added that I probably shouldn't, because I ended up in the hospital last time, but that I'd lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms.

I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and that the way that it works is to load your pants pockets with Purina nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The food is nutritionally complete so it works well and I was going to try it again.

(I have to mention here that practically everyone in line was now enthralled with my story.)Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care because the dog food poisoned me. I told her no, I stepped off a curb to sniff an Irish Setter's ass and a car hit us both.

I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard.

Costco won't let me shop there anymore.

Better watch what you ask retired people. They have all the time in the world to think of crazy things to say."

Continuing the theme of the last post...

Star Trek

Fox Hunting

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Dogs jumping into pools



Try to watch without smiling. Can't be done.

Heir and a spare

Having had a (brilliant, wonderful, very cute) daughter, it fascinates me that the underlying assumption is that more are forthcoming.

Why? Because its the norm? It is expected? Does an only child need a sibling to be well behaved and liked? Only-children are freaks?

I think this is very dated. There are some links to articles that back this up below. Whilst we haven't properly discussed or made any decisions as to whether to try for a sibling for Milly, it is clear that my wife, and our friends, assume more children to come, whilst I am am much more circumspect at this stage. From recent reading there appears to be no evidence that only-children are at a disadvantage, in fact there are many arguments that they are in fact better off.

One Child: The New Traditional Family?

Plays Well with Others

Why Only-Children Rule

Go.

Lies of Mass Destruction

"There are legitimate, fact-based reasons to oppose health-care reform. But some of the loudest opposition is the result of confirmatory bias, cognitive dissonance, and other examples of mental processes that have gone off the rails."
Why we believe lies, even when we learn the truth - Newsweek

September awaits

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Town Hall Face

"An unsightly condition caused by unsanitary health-care politics"

"Health care stirs powerful emotions, and because the subject is so complicated, people are unable to balance their emotional reactions with rational ones. Moreover, appeals to fear, anger, and hate really gain traction when ignorance is wide and deep. One of this summer's iconic moments was when a man stood up at a town-hall meeting in South Carolina with Rep. Bob Inglis to demand that he "keep your government hands off my Medicare." When some portion of the citizenry is ignorant of the fact that Medicare is run by the government, and lies, damned lies, and misleading statistics flourish, it is little wonder that we find ourselves in a summer of death panels."

""All the horror stories are being told by the Republican side," says Nunberg. The Democrats have struggled to make an emotional connection with the public, even though it is possible to do that without lying."

""I don't think anybody anticipated this kind of reaction," says one Democratic congressional staffer."
Attack - The Truth About Obama's Health Plan - Newsweek


"As time passes, and as the greatest generation becomes a memory, passing into history one soul at a time, it is up to the generations that follow them to keep “Hitler” and “Nazi” out of the clutches of those who would make them political buzzwords for people they don’t like, or policies they don’t understand. Those words remind us of the worst that people can be. There is nothing horrible about Germans in particular that caused them to do these things. This is humanity’s dark potential, and something that we all need to remember, whether we were there or not, or whether our family was affected or not, because this is what people can do to each other. To strip those words of their power and meaning in order to create political fear for self-gain is inexcusable and needs to be confronted and refuted whenever it arises, by all of us, whether we support the current health care bill and the current president or not."
Nazis - Angry Bear

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Defensive Medicine

Keep the cars running

"To sum it all up, the US economy is in recovery. Paul Krugman says that we'll soon realize that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is growing. He actually said that on the Sunday TV chat circuit. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I would really like to know what you mean by that Paul, you fatuous wanker. Do you mean that the Atlanta homebuilders are going to open up a new suburban frontier down in Twiggs County so that commuters can enjoy driving Chrysler Crossfires a hundred and sixty miles a day to new jobs as flash traders in the Peachtree Plaza? Do you mean that the Home Equity Fairy is going to wade into the sea of foreclosure and save twenty million mortgage holders currently sojourning in the fathomless depths with the anglerfish? Do you mean that all the bales of deliquescing, toxic "assets" hidden in the vaults of Citibank, JP Morgan, Bank of America, et al, (not to mention on the books of every pension fund in the USA, and not a few elsewhere) will magically turn into Little Debbie Snack Cakes on Labor Day weekend? Do you mean that American Express and Master Card are about to declare a Jubilee on accounts in default everywhere? Do you mean that General Motors will produce a car that a.) anyone really wants to buy and b.) that the company can sell at a profit? Are you saying we get a do-over, going back to, say, 1981? Did we win some cosmic lottery that hasn't been announced yet? What's growing in this country besides unemployment, bankruptcy, repossession, liquidation, gun ownership, and suicidal despair? In short, are you out of your mind, Paul Krugman?"

"All we really care about is finding some miracle method to keep all the cars running."
Financial Crisis Called Off - Clusterfuck Nation


Monday, August 24, 2009

The Local Computer Expert



I usually go straight to Google..

'You Don't Enter The Place Prohibited'

"You're either an Activist or an Inactivist" The Cove Movie

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Yabitsu Fabitsu



Glorious 5 hrs of riding of 120km and 1400m vertical today.
Michael, Graham & I headed over Yabitsu, meeting Tom on his way down, whilst David & Dominic headed back to Tokyo along Route 20 after joining us along Tank Road first thing.
Took some video with my ContourHD camera throughout the ride, although using the bike mount there was far too much vibration. I took a 12min clip from the descent into Hadano and my Mac needed 2 hours to "Analyze for Stabilization". You can see the results below. We returned via Shinkansen from Odawara which added a useful 20km along the coast to our ride plus was far more time efficient in getting home. Thanks guys, good day.



First 'Tank Park'


Second 'Yabitsu Descent'

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Liars

"A once bipartisan idea aimed at sparing families their very own Schiavo drama came to be labeled as government-sponsored euthanasia, even Nazism.

It’s only one provision, a mere six pages in the 1,018-page House bill. But the politically motivated whoppers that have all but killed the proposed consultations make the spreaders of these falsehoods unworthy of belief in anything associated with the bill.

Not that we should take the word of any politician in this debate. President Barack Obama’s claims about the plan’s cost and how it would be paid for deserve serious fact-checking.

But for pure demagoguery, Sarah Palin gets the prize for most outrageous. And smelling blood, stalwarts of the Republican Party jumped in. They infected the debate with a fever of fear that spread quickly among the vulnerable, the gullible and those already angry or suspicious.
The lie got told and re-told in various versions by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Republican National Chairman Michael Steele, House Republican leader John Boehner and Senator Charles Grassley, among others.

To be clear, the consultation idea would force not a single patient to go for end-of-life counseling. (Frankly, I wish someone would force some of my procrastinating loved ones to prepare for the worst.)

It merely says that if a Medicare recipient WANTS such a consultation with a health provider once every five years, Medicare will pay for it. Those gravely ill could go more often."

Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, the Republican who proposed end-of-life consultation for the Senate bill, at first said Palin’s rendition of it is “nuts.”

The whole point of the consultation is “putting the authority in the individual rather than the government,” Isakson told the Washington Post on Aug. 10 in a fit of honesty."
Palin’s ‘Death Panels’ on Life Support Due to Lies: Ann Woolner - Bloomberg

Makes you wonder if these people can read, or have a basic education that allows them to understand what is ghoing on around them.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pram Academy

"If a man is to push a pram, he needs it to look like a cross between a mountain bike and a rucksack. When it moves, he wants to go “broom”."

"Tell a woman about to have a baby that she is a “mum-to-be” and she will probably think “Ooh, gosh, yes I am!” and want to hug you. But tell her bloke that he’s a “dad-to-be” and he will turn pale, drift off, get drunk and try to sleep with a stripper. Note to marketing departments: after the birth it takes a good couple of months before a dad will comfortably call himself a dad. Being a dad is not like being a mum. We have not dreamt of it since we were a little girl."

"All this, anyway, ignores the sheer clicky, stretchy, clunky joy of prams; the way you can fiddle with and adapt them and almost, but not quite, forget about the gurning little despot who will soon occupy the middle and overrun your life."

The pram academy for dads: a Top Gear approach to buggies - TimesOnline

We have three (Hey, come on I do have five bikes). An Orbit, an InStep and a Microlite (in Shimoda). I put a skull and cross bones sticker on the dragster... 'nuff said.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Branch Office



Quite droll given all the blog and media attention of late...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Daily Mail-O-Matic

A new headline every time you click

Lifted from a transcript of conversation between Paul Krugman (PK), Nobel Prize winning economist and columnist for the New York Times and Charlie Stross (CS), Hugo-winning science fiction author.

"CS: I’ve noticed in the UK over the past decade there has been an increasing (small “c”) conservatism in the electorate fostered by a feedback loop with some newspapers. Standard headline is, “Threatening entity here going to do something hideous to you.”

PK: That’s my column for tomorrow’s New York Times actually.

CS: There’s a wonderful website called the Daily Mail-o-matic that generates Daily Mail headlines and about one in ten of them is eerily accurate … Are Chavs Ripping Off the British Taxpayer, subtext: you are the taxpayer.

PK: That sounds a little like the application that I just saw this afternoon which is something that will generate a Kenyan Birth Certificate for you.

CS: I mean, this stuff is everywhere. And we have a pathological news media who’ve discovered that by terrifying people they can sell more copies. And scared people … (applause)"

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Nice View


from Hutong restaurant

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

380

That's a big plane.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Speedo ban!

"Frankly, any man wearing tight swimming trunks at a water park that boasts "adrenalin-pumping thrills" is asking for trouble.

Alton Towers today announced a ban on tiny trunks at its aquatic park.

So far Alton Towers has not announced any further clothing guidelines for its toddlers' paddling pool, recklessly named The Little Leak."

Alton Towers bans men in Speedos - Guardian

Check the comments for further opinions on budgie carriers and banana hammocks...

Rainy Tuesday

Still raining. Another earthquake!

"TOKYO — A strong earthquake with a magnitude of 6.6 struck central Japan early Tuesday morning, triggering a small tsunami and swaying buildings 90 miles away in Tokyo."
Quake Strikes Central Japan Early Tuesday

Monday, August 10, 2009

Rainy Monday

Been pouring rain all day. Some sort of typhoony thing in the vicinity. Was mad heavy this morning.. think I was wetter out of the pool than in during my workout first thing.
12 killed, 10 missing as typhoon hits Japan

Earthquake last night went on for quite a while. It definitely had us all stop and think.
Magnitude 7.1 earthquake strikes Japan coast

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Riding in the August heat

And this pretty much sums up how we feel. It's hot and humid today!

Rode with Dominic, Graham and Michael H.
130km, 900m vert, left at 7am, back at 2pm, numerous stops, drank approx. 4.5l of water, still waiting to pee...

Friday, August 07, 2009

Living in the real world of excess liquidity

"In their anti-deflationary fervour, central banks may be creating more money than depressed economies require. The surplus creates "excess liquidity" - which may be feeding a new series of stock, commodity, property and bond bubbles."

Excess liquidity thesis gains traction as financial markets soar.
'Soaring financial markets present a puzzle.'

"With real wages under pressure, and the burden of historical debts only ameliorated by low interest rates, but not removed, too many British consumers remain hopelessly over-leveraged. Spraying them with yet more cheap money merely delays their day of reckoning."

Bankers are jumping for joy, but they don't live in the real world.
'Whatever is going on in the stockmarket bears little resemblance to ordinary people's experience.'

Thursday, August 06, 2009

America, F**k Yeah

Harry Patch (In Memory Of)

"Radiohead launched a sombre musical tribute to Harry Patch, Britain’s longest surviving soldier from the First World War, who died last month.

The track, Harry Patch (In Memory Of), warns of the horrors of war. It was recorded live in an abbey a few weeks before the veteran’s death on July 25.

The singer Thom Yorke said he was inspired to compose the piece after hearing an interview with Mr Patch — affectionately known as the “Last Tommy” — a few years ago. " via TheTimes

"It would be very easy for our generation to forget the true horror of war, without the likes of Harry to remind us."

"I hope we do not forget."

Hiroshima, 64 years ago

"August 6th, marks 64 years since the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan by the United States at the end of World War II. Targeted for military reasons and for its terrain (flat for easier assessment of the aftermath), Hiroshima was home to approximately 250,000 people at the time of the bombing. The U.S. B-29 Superfortress bomber "Enola Gay" took off from Tinian Island very early on the morning of August 6th, carrying a single 4,000 kg (8,900 lb) uranium bomb codenamed "Little Boy". At 8:15 am, Little Boy was dropped from 9,400 m (31,000 ft) above the city, freefalling for 57 seconds while a complicated series of fuse triggers looked for a target height of 600 m (2,000 ft) above the ground. At the moment of detonation, a small explosive initiated a super-critical mass in 64 kg (141 lbs) of uranium. Of that 64 kg, only .7 kg (1.5 lbs) underwent fission, and of that mass, only 600 milligrams was converted into energy - an explosive energy that seared everything within a few miles, flattened the city below with a massive shockwave, set off a raging firestorm and bathed every living thing in deadly radiation. Nearly 70,000 people are believed to have been killed immediately, with possibly another 70,000 survivors dying of injuries and radiation exposure by 1950."

via The Big Picture

I like comment No.157

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

BREAKING: Egypt annexes Iraq



but only on Fox news.. via mediamatters

Can China Save the World?

Can China Save the World?

"The central bank recently announced that new loans in June totaled $224 billion. That was more than double the previous month's amount and brought new bank lending in the first six months of the year to nearly $1.1 trillion, exceeding the total for all of 2008."

"..up to 30% of new bank lending this year has wound its way into equities."

"China may be incubating its own financial crisis that could be triggered when the adrenal rush of the stimulus wears off."

"..worrying parallels between China's current credit boom and the gush of lending that produced the U.S. housing bubble.."

Watch this space I guess.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Betting on the Panda put

As regular readers are aware, I am bearish and the current bull market has me perplexed (mainly because I missed it!). If you are not aware of this then you are here just for the pictures and so it doesn't matter.

I haven't changed my view. I think this is a bull trap. I think the long term prognosis is poor. We were very oversold and markets being as they are, there had to be some sort of bounce. The recent bank results are hilarious, but that is well covered in other blogs.

I have been asked recently what 'event' will turn the markets down again. The honest answer is 'I have no idea'. With all this in mind (and knowing that I tend to jump on articles that fit my view) I DID think this article from former Morgan Stanley Analyst Andy Xie was interesting.


Some snippets.

"Loans grew by 24.4% in the first half or Rmb 7.4 trillion, loan-deposit ratio increased only to 66.6% in June 2009 from 65% in December 2008. It means that many loans have not been spent in real economic activities and have merely supplied leverage for asset market transactions. China’s property market is very similar to Hong Kong’s in 1997."

"The most basic approach in studying bubbles is to look at valuation. For property the most important measures are price to income ratio and rental yield. China’s average price per square meter nationwide is quite close to the average in the US. The US’s per capita income is seven times China’s urban per capita income."

"The idea that the government wouldn’t let the market drop is rooted in Chinese market psychology. In financial jargon, it is called a put option. During the Greenspan era, financial markets believed that he would always bail out markets in a crisis, which was the so-called Greenspan put. The belief in China should be called the Panda put."

"In summary, the market frenzy now won’t last long. The correction may happen in the fourth quarter. There could be another wave of frenzy next year as China can still release more liquidity. When the dollar recovers, possibly in 2012, China’s property and stock market could experience collapses like during the Asian Financial Crisis."

Property prices close to those in the US amongst a population 7 times poorer is totally unsustainable isn't it? Now that Is a bubble! I've always been very wary of the Chinese markets. The political risk in China is impossible to judge IMHO. However if there is a crack in China in the fourth quarter I think the knock-on effect would be significant for us all. Or not. Maybe. Whatever.

:)

Monday, August 03, 2009

Cash for clunkers


via Time

Power is taken



Click for full-size, via GapingVoid

Saturday, August 01, 2009

SHOT DOWN