Tuesday, June 29, 2010

(FIFA) Official - Lampard goal not in.

After much careful analysis post-game, FIFA has released the following frame from the match video feed comprehensively proving that Lampard's shot was not a goal.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Starbucks Loop

Good, fast ride this morning with some faces that I haven't been able to ride with recently. Overcast, with occasional rain, we had a good ride in the increasingly humid conditions. Need a nap!

Saturday, June 26, 2010


As you can see over to the right, the pledges and donations have tumbled in and we are north of the Yen1million mark. This is absolutely fantastic. My sincere thanks to those of you that have made a pledge.

The Tyler Foundation is a superb charity, and if you haven't already I would implore you to go have a look at what they do and then if you would be so kind to click here and make a donation.

Ca plane pour moi aussi

Dave nicely wrote up our Thursday ride on the Positivo blog here

I had a busy day catching up on Friday and didn't get the chance to read much at all. The markets are a bit insipid. Had a few beers after work and then met Joli at TAC to watch a replay of the Japan World Cup win against Denmark over a steak sandwich and a few glasses of red.

Swam with the TAC Masters Advanced squad this morning, thick-head and all, came home grabbed a bowl of cereal and then headed out to have a look at apartments. Nothing serious, just trying to get a feel for the market.

Bought an iPhone 4 this afternoon, hence the quality of the photos here will go back up. First impressions are good. Joli had kindly queued up and pre-ordered the phone just before she went back to Boston for her high school reunion last week. We collected it today, and then headed to Blacows for a fantastic gourmet burger. Highly recommended.

Plan - rain season permitting - is to take an easy spin tomorrow and then to tackle some more climbs on Monday. Tuesday in the office and then perhaps down to HK for the rest of the week. Busy boy, so not much posting, but we shall see.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Climb, climb, climb

Interesting way to spend a day off.. I am knackered, about to scarf down some curry, before going to bed.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Juice

"The surveillance tapes were key to his arrest. There he is with a gun, standing in front of a teller demanding money. Yet, when arrested, Wheeler was completely disbelieving. “But I wore the juice,” he said. Apparently, he was under the deeply misguided impression that rubbing one’s face with lemon juice rendered it invisible to video cameras.

If Wheeler was too stupid to be a bank robber, perhaps he was also too stupid to know that he was too stupid to be a bank robber — that is, his stupidity protected him from an awareness of his own stupidity.

Dunning and Kruger argued in their paper, “When people are incompetent in the strategies they adopt to achieve success and satisfaction, they suffer a dual burden: Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it. Instead, like Mr. Wheeler, they are left with the erroneous impression they are doing just fine.”

It became known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect — our incompetence masks our ability to recognize our incompetence."

The Anosognosic’s Dilemma: Something’s Wrong but You’ll Never Know What It Is (Part 1) - NYT

Fascinating - worth a read in full.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Flop

"The second and greatest, by far, obstacle to the popularity of the World Cup, and of professional soccer in general, is the element of flopping. Americans may generally be arrogant, but there is one stance I … stand behind, and that is the intense loathing of penalty-fakers." The True Story of American Soccer - Slate

This is old, but still good. From 2004..

Friday, June 18, 2010

Royal Order of Congressional Muggings

"By the time the hearing finished, it was clear that no one was going to emerge with any credit from this undignified charade. In reality, Hayward should never have agreed to appear before this posturing lynch mob. The committee members showed zero interest in getting to the real causes of the environmental disaster unfolding in the Gulf. Instead they were content to score cheap points with a domestic political audience.

There are real political issues to be debated here. How dependent should we be on oil? What risks is society prepared to take to drill for it? How much responsibility for safety rests with companies, and how much with regulators?

The lawmakers weren’t interested in discussing any of that. All they managed to accomplish was to highlight Hayward’s main failing: lack of the necessary verve and aplomb to turn the conversation around.

In the British Army, they give medals for acts of exceptional valor. Perhaps they could come up with something similar for British chief executives willing to do the same thing -- the Royal Order of Congressional Muggings, perhaps. The fact that the chairman of the subcommittee that held the hearing, Democrat Bart Stupak of Michigan, had promised ahead of time that Hayward would be “sliced and diced” gave a fair idea of how balanced the proceedings would be.

It was a dismal spectacle. What were the members of Congress hoping to achieve? An admission by BP that it was intent on destroying as much of the environment as possible, and that it planned the spill from the start? The company has already agreed to set aside $20 billion to pay compensation claims. The final bill may be much higher. If that doesn’t persuade it to take safety a lot more seriously in the future, nothing will.

More disturbing is that the subcommittee sidestepped its duty to ask probing and serious questions. There are lots of issues arising from the spill that we should be discussing like grownups.

Hayward is a decent-enough man put in an impossible position. BP at the moment needs more than decency and doggedness. Its very survival is at stake. The committee’s posturing was a disgrace."

Congress Showboaters Revel in Hayward Humiliation - Bloomberg

England's Real Passion

This is the mutt's nuts indeed.. England's Real Passion.. click and enjoy.

via http://www.englandsrealpassion.com/film

Bubble History

"The fundamental contradiction at the heart of the recovery is that the markets are dependent on the governments for support, but many governments are also dependent on the markets. The European debt crisis has shown there is a limit to the extent that markets will be willing to finance government deficits, and also a limit to the extent that politicians want to be dependent on markets. European countries, with Germany in the intellectual lead, are now acting to withdraw the stimulus. Eventually, one would expect the US to be forced, by political rather than financial pressures, to follow suit.

Given that economies may have to slam on the fiscal brakes, and that interest rates are already near zero, central banks may be forced into other means of boosting the economy, in particular quantitative easing or QE. I confess to being rather cynical about QE. We know of occasions in history when it didn’t work (Japan) and we know when it resulted in hyperinflation (the Weimar republic). We don’t know of any occasions when it definitely did work.

I think it is possible to argue that the development of the bubble mentality has distorted monetary policy, led to the rise of an overpowerful rent-seeking financial sector, and in the Anglo-Saxon economies, led to the excessive focus of investment in housing. Some of this wealth may prove illusory and just like John Law, attempts to prop up asset prices that have lost relationship with the wealth of the underlying economy, may end up being a failure."

Bubble History - Economist
A couple of excerpts from an excellent column by Buttonwood.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Pump up the volume

Cat Rave!

Market Miyagi

"Risk On, Risk Off.  Buy Danielson, Sell Danielson."

"Monday the bulls blast a hole in the sky
Tuesday the bears say 'The End is Nigh'
Wednesday risk assets are all the rage
Thursday fear is back on the front page.."

via The Reformed Broker


"The Karate Kid, the reboot of the 1984 original, starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith, has smashed its way to the top of the North American box office in its debut weekend." bbc The Karate Kid Official Site

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

England vs USA

For those that might have missed it..

Vote Zach

Vote Zach

June 1979 - Ancient history

"Ixtoc's blowout caused the world's worst ever oil spill. More than 140 million gallons of crude poured into the Gulf of Mexico, eventually washing up on beaches in Texas, hundreds of miles away. That is roughly three times more than what has so far spewed into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

"Every fisherman could see the column of flame and smoke," the 59-year old Rodriguez said earlier this month in the living room of his metal-roofed home. "Then suddenly our nets were coming up empty, except for the crude."

Until the Deepwater Horizon rig drilling BP Plc's (BP.L) Macondo well off Louisiana blew up in April, Ixtoc was the only catastrophic oil spill at sea that was not caused by a tanker accident or sabotage.

That disaster made plain what could go wrong in deepwater drilling. After all, it took Mexico's state oil company Pemex PEMX.UL 297 days and the drilling of two special relief wells -- the industry's slow moving but only certain fix for blowouts -- to intersect and cap the raging Ixtoc well, located in 150 feet of water.

But a review of hundreds of pages of U.S. government documents related to the Ixtoc spill, as well as interviews with many experts, shows that regulators for years downplayed the possibility of a similar disaster occurring in the United States.

"I remember people saying 'this would never happen if an American company was operating,'" said John Farrington, a retired researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution who was part of a U.S. government-funded research cruise around the Ixtoc slick in September 1979. "There was a lot of wishful thinking going on."

In fact, a combination of politics, money and hubris encouraged the industry to drill ever deeper. Warnings from researchers in the aftermath of Ixtoc that little was known about how crude spilled deep under water might behave or that runaway deepwater wells could be more challenging to cap fell on deaf ears.

Macondo, the scene of BP's spill, is 30 times deeper than Ixtoc -- 4,993 feet, or about a mile down in the dark, freezing depths of the Gulf. Special robots able to resist the crushing pressure of the deep that would destroy a modern navy submarine are the only way to get close to the leak.

BP began drilling relief wells soon after the blowout but does not expect them to be completed before August. Until then it is concentrating its efforts on trying to collect the oil gushing out.

Even today, more than three decades after the accident, chunks of Ixtoc tar can be found on the seabed from Texas to Tabasco in southern Mexico.

Macondo may well come to match Ixtoc's notoriety. But it is unclear what its policy impact will be. Indeed, an examination of the political and scientific fallout from the earlier disaster underscores just how short attention spans can be in political, regulatory and financial circles."

Deepwater spills and short attention spans - Reuters

and Nigeria's agony dwarfs the Gulf oil spill. The US and Europe ignore it - Guardian

Monday, June 14, 2010

Audi win Le Mans

After the Peugeots all flame out... Autoblog

"Underpinning Le Mans' claim to rewarding efficiency, the winning car set an all-time race-distance record, while demonstrating 20 per cent better efficiency than Audi's first winner. Not bad, that." Telegraph

Especial Mundial 2010

Click for full scale interactivity. I thought this was pretty useful if you are following the World Cup. I am rarely interested in football and this time around I am struggling to garner any enthusiasm for my national side, particularly after a lacklustre performance on Saturday night. I've grown up with their perennial underperformance and am simply tired of the hype.

Oh.. and the vuvuzelas.. like Japanese baseball supporters.. poke it.

(I might be just a tired and grumpy old man this morning.)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Double shot, full fat, no soy, Cappucino with two sugars.

Sunday's ride was classified as a weekend cappucino ride to be conducted at a social pace. Nine left Ebisu at 6:30am, including two fixie riders. I am in awe of what these two mentalists achieved, particularly on the descents. We collected two more along the Tama river.

I arrived home at 5:45pm with over 200 km and over 2000m of climbing under my belt. Six of our intrepid group saw sense as the day progressed and took the option when it was presented to exit stage left and head for either easier routes and/or trains back home.

I think everyone had a blast, it was a day of good laughs, great company, changing terrain and bucket loads of stamina. Chapeau to one and all.

Alternative and far more interesting ride report.

NB. More James's than Dave's today. A memorable moment in the history of weekend riding in Japan.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Just think about it

"In 1986, astronomer Felix J. Lockman discovered a curious region in space where there is little neutral hydrogen gas. This region, called the Lockman Hole, provides a keyhole through which astronomers can observe distant galaxies.

Using the Herschel Space Observatory, scientists at the European Space Agency decided to take a peek through the Lockman Hole and found thousands of galaxies. Each dot you see is an entire galaxy containing billions of stars."

Each Dot is a Galaxy, Containing Billions of Stars - Neatorama

Now.. having thought about it and gone "wow!".. think US debt.. $13 trillion and climbing.. $13,000 billion... big number right?

World Cup 2010

starts tonight.. just in case you didn't know :)   C'mon England.


"ExxonMobil, lest we forget, is a company that defines hardline. Until very recently, Exxon spent millions funding groups that deny global warming. Of all the major energy companies, it has been the slowest to invest in renewable energy – in 2007, it made a profit of $40bn but put just $100m into a research project on wind, solar and green technology. And before the Gulf of Mexico disaster, Exxon was the worst oil-spiller in US history.

BP hasn't done itself many favours. Initially, the company woefully underestimated the scale of the spill. And BP's chief executive has produced a string of cringeworthy remarks. The company was ill-prepared for such an unprecedented disaster but has finally made some progress in plugging the leak. Yet BP has consistently promised to foot the bill for cleaning up the gulf and to meet all valid compensation claims."

Has US bloodlust for BP gone too far? - Guardian

It's not about taking sides. It should be about fixing the problem, learning from it and trying to stop the next one from happening. Playing it up for the media is gay, oops, sorry, I mean homosexualist. Don't be a knob jockey.

"The President should make it clear that he has no desire to destroy a great global company. The future of its chief executive is for the company to decide and not for the White House. While he might, as he has said, wish to “kick ass”, he should concentrate his energies on more productive activity.

The President is, therefore, dependent on BP to sort out its own mess. Not only is that its responsibility. There is no one else with the technology or the skills to do it better or sooner.

Lord Acton once indicated that power without responsibility was not only the prerogative of the harlot but also a political curse. That is so, but the truth of the matter is that responsibility without power can be even worse. That is the President’s dilemma, but it could quickly become a crisis for him and the rest of us. Only he can make sure that it doesn’t."

That’s enough ‘kicking ass’, Mr President - Malcolm Rifkind - Times

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Not very 'PC'

"I will rejoice when I see the first people get fired from the enormous politically correct non-jobs industry.

I will throw a party when the first 'community cohesion officer' has to go and sign on.

will piss my pants in happiness when the first 'diversity awareness champion' gets shown the door.

Political correctness is a cancer on society. Anyone who took a job that was created out of PC deserves the sacking that they will hopefully get."

Cuts will push jobless to 3m - Guardian

Sell Sterling.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Tin hat time

"So, Ben, keep up the rah rah if you have to, but I think you need to accept that folks are beginning to see the post-Lehman global recovery for what it was – a 1 yr wonder driven by the most extraordinary policy response ever seen in history at the global economy level. And folks are now beginning to accept that a slow down is on its way, with policy makers pretty much all-in."

Prepare for flash crash II and $10 trillion of QE - FT Alphaville

BP Oil Spill. Re-enacted by cats.

"You're not mad enough to not drive your car"

24 Hours Nürburgring

Proper motorsport. Brilliant movie-making. Well worth waiting for it all to download.

Palindrome for the Lost Generation

"A palindrome reads the same backwards as forward. This video reads the exact opposite backwards as forward. Not only does it read the opposite, the meaning is the exact opposite. This is a video that was submitted in a contest by a 20-year old. This video won second place." via Angry Bear

Klieg lights

"Just eight and a half months after talking office, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama threw in the towel.

Hatoyama may have been a dud, but in fairness, he was barely given the chance to govern. So were his predecessors. The culprit behind this frenetic turnover? The country's press machine. Japanese prime ministers are subject to two daily grilling sessions. In comparison, Barack Obama has held only a few press conferences in the last year.

The relentless news cycle demands scandal, not good governance - and so decisions that would have been unpopular but tolerated in the past are now whipped into career crushing fiascoes. Minor discrepancies are slammed as "backtracking," and slips of the tongue are blown out of proportion. Under suck klieg lights, it's no wonder that Japan's leaders keep burning out."

The culprit behind Hatoyama's burnout - News week

Old Media. Too powerful, too short-sighted.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Dogs painted as animals

So wrong, but so funny.. via Cakehead

Stuff happens

"It seems to me that there are two possibilities, neither of which call for regulation:

1.  The financial losses to BP are the same order of magnitude as the damage to the environment.

2.  The damage to the environment is an order of magnitude or more bigger than the losses to BP.

In case one it seems to me that we need to simply accept the fact that “stuff happens.”  And hope this will be a wake-up call for the offshore oil drilling industry to be more careful.  In case two, I think we should just throw in the towel and give up on off-shore drilling.  Or perhaps give up on it in the bigger and deeper wells that are potentially so damaging.

I just don’t see an in between case where regulation can do much good.  The oil companies already have a strong incentive to avoid these problems, and the engineers in the oil industry are extremely talented, probably more so than those who would be regulating them.  So it really comes down to a simple issue: is this a “market failure” where incentives are way out of line, or just the sort of really bad event that occasionally happens.  If there is a market failure here, I’d say shut down all the wells that are potentially this dangerous, don’t even waste time on regulation.

The lesson of the BP fiasco is that we don’t need more regulation of off-shore drilling, but we do need more regulation of electrical power and biotech.

What would that regulation do?  I don’t know.  Perhaps send more satellites into space to warn us of solar flares.  Of more dress rehearsals of shutting down the electrical grid if there is one.  For bio-tech we might want to divert some of the money used on research to cure diseases, into research on how to prevent man-made plagues.

I suppose it is more fun to bash the oil industry than think about two billion people dying from a human engineered plague.  But perhaps it’s time we stopped going with our gut, and started thinking more rationally about the dangers that our high technology society seems to be rushing toward with little forethought.
Stuff happens?  Yes, and maybe that means we are overreacting to the oil spill.  But that’s not what worries me.  Even if increased regulation of oil drilling does no good, it also does comparatively little harm.  What worries me is the “stuff” that may happen in areas that we don’t even seem to be thinking about.  Areas where we can’t afford a single accident."

Stuff happens - The Money Illusion

Monday, June 07, 2010

Chicken Monkey Duck

Damn catchy.. for Milly.

How to forecast weather

Click to see full size, via The Big Picture


Hayaku: A time lapse journey through Japan. http://vimeo.com/12112529

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Fuji Hill Climb, 2010 version.

5000 or so gathered at the start.

Took some photos of Fuji-san.

Posed for the obligatory team photo.

Set-off at 7:35am

Could clearly see our goal for the morning

Finished in a number of personal bests - or at least we hope so - awaiting official times and photos later this week.

Rode home with Steve, Andy and Shane. Rolled into home in 5 hrs or so.. feel absolutely knackered this evening.

Totals for the day were 170ish km, 2000ish m of climbing, just under 7 hrs in the saddle.

Thanks to everyone who made it along this year. Commiserations to those that couldn't.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Space suit testing

"I could feel the saliva on my tongue start to bubble.."

"It would really hurt your ears.."

via kottke

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Short Yen.

"Japan is the most leveraged industrial nation to the ebb and flow of the Chinese economy. It is perhaps interesting therefore that when I visited Tokyo in March the local businessmen pronounced the notion of negative Chinese GDP growth as a near impossibility.

Maybe such confidence explains their asset-liability mismatch. I really do like their use of the word impossible. I remember how it was used so often by Wall Street banking analysts to describe the plausibility of a nationwide housing slump in America. Yes, impossible indeed!"

Why our elites are wrong on Asian business model - FT

 Long Yen here. And staying that way.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

BP's Top Kill

Da Pentecostal Massive

"Like being tickled by Jesus himself" via CLE. Peace. Word out.

The Political Sequel

"Traditionally, political risk has been interpreted to mean war, coups d’état, sudden and disruptive regulatory action, and expropriation of property. But today the meaning of political risk can be broadened to include the perception that governments are unwilling or unable to reform their economies, that they are rushing into an era of regulation without calculating the potential collateral damage, and that they or too preoccupied with national troubles to manage a complex global economy. Growing political risk is raising uncertainty about when and where the next big problem will arise.

Markets are also beginning to worry about how policymakers in the U.K., Japan, and the U.S. will handle their soaring debts, all at unprecedented peacetime levels, relative to GDP. It’s not that governments don’t recognize the problem; it’s that, as last week’s OECD report documented, there is no evidence so far that the top politicians of any of these countries is remotely prepared for the significant tax increases and savage spending cuts that their out-of-control deficits will compel. The results could be soaring inflation or wholesale debt restructuring.

We have just been through a financial crisis. Get ready for its political sequel."

The Next Wave of the Crisis - Newsweek

Personally, I believe the problem is that the current crop of leaders are just not up to the job. Our 'leaders' have had an easy run for the last decade and now are being tested with some serious problems. They are not performing. It will get worse.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Oink, oink