Friday, October 29, 2010

Vote Backward


via DExM

The Snow. It's Coming.

When the music stops

"IT IS not hard, if you really try, to find good things to say about America’s tea-partiers. They are not French, for a start. France’s new revolutionaries, those who have been raising Cain over Nicolas Sarkozy’s modest proposal to raise the age of retirement by two years, appear to believe that public money is printed in heaven and will rain down for ever like manna to pay for pensions, welfare, medical care and impenetrable avant-garde movies. America’s tea-partiers are the opposite: they exhale fiscal probity through every pore. In their waking hours, and in bed at night, they are wracked by anxiety. How is a profligate America to cut borrowing, balance the budget and ensure that its billowing deficit will not place an unbearable burden on future generations?

Ideology is one thing. But if the tea-partiers do well next week, especially if the Republicans capture the House, they need to move past ideology into the realm of practical policy. This means having something serious to say about how actually to bring spending under control. To date, they have preferred breezy slogans. Will they cut into pensions and Medicare, and if so how? Will they accept that taming the deficit will require hikes in taxes as well as cuts in spending? Will they continue to oppose reflexively every measure of a Democratic administration, or have the courage to share responsibility for the painful decisions the times demand? It has been all too easy from the outside to conjure up a mythic America of limited government, sing hymns to the constitution and denounce the federal bureaucracy in all its forms. Once they are in government themselves, that gig will be over."

The good, the bad and the tea parties - Economist

Much like the situation the current administration finds itself in.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Census fact

"Roughly every 10 years since 1869, Argentina has held a national census, and on that day all public gatherings, theater shows, movie theaters, sports events and commercial activities are banned by law. Restaurants and supermarkets are ordered closed between 12 a.m. and 8 p.m. Only essential services are allowed to remain open.

On Wednesday, residents had prepared themselves to stay home for most of the 12 hours of the census, or until one of the more than 600,000 census workers knocked on their door to count every person who had spent the night there, and to gather information about their way of life."

Eerie Calm in Buenos Aires - WSJ

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Poke


Sheldon.. brilliant as ever.

Physics

"Whether we like it or not, human life is subject to the universal laws of physics."

Based on supercomplicated physical observations, Einstein concluded that two objects may perceive time differently.


Newton discovered that any two objects in the universe attract each other, and that this force is proportional to their mass.


Not everything can be explained through physics, though. Iʼve spent years searching for a rational explanation for the weight of my wifeʼs luggage. There is none. It is just a cruel joke of nature.
Unpopular Science - NYT

Got Me Elected

Fake festival of musical mediocrity

"In the mid-1960s, in the early evening slot before Crossroads, the great Cambridge historian would wander on to the stage and lecture for precisely 30 minutes, live and without notes, on the English Civil War or whatever. Up to 20 million people watched these talks, as filmed by just the one camera, and the next day deconstructed them at the office vending machine that spewed out brown dishwater in the age before the water-cooler.

Plus ca change. Today, thanks again to ITV, we are still discussing the Civil War in our millions, albeit an updated version. The focus of debate is no longer the difference of opinion between Oliver Cromwell and Charles Stuart, but the equally dramatic falling out between Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh, who was so cavalier with his criticism of our latter day Lord Protector during Saturday’s edition of The X-Factor.

On that level, as I say, we know it’s all fake and mercenary … that the judges’ civil war and the tears of both spectated and spectating are creations of that fiendishly manipulative mind. A miffed Wagner reportedly said of the show last week that “it stinks”. The most delicious cheese usually does. And so, on another level, we hold our noses and convince ourselves it’s real.

More than that, The X Factor represents the ultimate triumph of ersatz working class culture over the real thing, though there it is hardly alone. In 1966, even the tabloids were famously indifferent to England’s World Cup victory. Today, Wayne Rooney’s machinations dominate the broadsheets, while the war crimes trial of a genocidal African dictator cannot lead even Radio 4’s bulletins unless sprinkled with celebrity magic dust by a supermodel and her blood diamond.

How Britain made this journey in a few decades is one for the social historians of tomorrow to explain, and they’ll need to be in Alan Taylor’s league to crack it. For that vast majority of us who prefer Wagner’s Spice Girls cover, for all its monstrosity, to an earlier namesake’s Ring Cycle, there is nothing for it but to sit back, put up with the interminable tears and advert breaks, and enjoy the ride. We are all Cowell’s Children now.

It's a fake festival of musical mediocrity, but not to watch X Factor is a form of self-ostracism"

X Factor: We are all Cowell's Children now - T

x-Factor, Pop Idol, WWF, etc. it's all pantomime.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Viral views

Ignorance is not strength

"You'd have thought we had enough of arrogant stupidity in the Bush years. These people are not pro-woman. They say they want to take the country back; evidently, they mean back to when abortion was illegal, to when contraception was hard to get hold of, to a world of rigid gender roles and women being judged on how they look, back to when men were men and women were ladies.

The she-bears and their fellow travellers don't do sisterhood. "Conservative feminism" has nothing to do with empowering women in general, and everything to do with empowering these women in particular. They've ripped language away from meaning: they say they are pro-woman, but their policies are decidedly anti. As George Orwell taught us, war is not peace, and ignorance is not strength."

Sarah Palin's 'mamas': more grisly than grizzly - G

Restore sanity

"One promised to restore honour, the other is campaigning to restore sanity. Neither is likely to have much luck.

This weekend, Jon Stewart – the liberal presenter of the Daily Show, the satirical TV programme which is viewed by many Americans as giving a more honest take on the news than that which they see on news channels – is hoping that hordes of people representing a silent majority will descend on Washington for his "rally to restore sanity" to America's politics, days before deeply polarised midterm elections marked by the rise of the Tea Party.

Alongside Stewart will be his Comedy Central colleague, Stephen Colbert, whose own nightly show parodies the fear-mongering of Fox News and its presenters, who perpetuate the myth that much of America is still frontier country whose people only need a gun and Barack Obama's socialist government off their backs. Colbert will be holding a parallel "march to keep fear alive", now seemingly subsumed into the "rally to restore sanity and/or fear".

"We're looking for the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn't be the only ones that get heard; and who believe that the only time it's appropriate to draw a Hitler moustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler. Or Charlie Chaplin in certain roles,"

"Glenn Beck is doing something completely different. He doesn't just do partisan anti-Democratic talking points in the traditional sense. He's really grabbed on to something much more paranoid and much more dangerous, warning people against the government."

Beck and Fox News have become so polarising for some that left-leaning billionaire George Soros gave $1m to Media Matters for America to lay bare untruths on Fox News. Soros said he was donating the money because of "recent evidence suggesting that the incendiary rhetoric of Fox News hosts may incite violence" and because of the challenge Rupert Murdoch's network "poses to civil and informed discourse in our democracy".

Beck responded to the donation by accusing Soros of having "global governance plans"."

Jon Stewart is 'mad as hell' and taking fight back to Glenn Beck - G

It isn't Greece

Monday, October 25, 2010

Puppets

Saturday, October 23, 2010

CSO:Manchester


Too good.. via DH

Mompetition

Child abuse?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Monopoly: The Short Version

Whack Attack

"Some profound seismic infarction deep in civilization's very soul - brought on, no doubt, by the sludgy buildup of vast swindles and frauds - now propels deadly tsunamis toward the land masses where money dwells. And when they break over the shorelines of banking and capital, little may be left standing.

The latest rogue wave broke about ten days ago, when an orgy of foreclosure revealed massive irregularities in mortgage contracts and property titles, suggesting a slovenliness so arrant and broad that even the states' attorneys general woke from their narcoleptic raptures of golf to shut down transfers of distressed property. But this was only after the banks themselves declared "moratoria" in a perhaps vain attempt to forestall further discovery of their countless misdeeds. And somewhere along in there the title insurance industry had a whack attack."

The Surrealist Vista - CFN

Waiting and watching to see if this foreclosure mess actually turns into something real... but read this blog post if you can This is what Brian and Lisa said

Remember, they said "Subprime is contained".

Bun Fight

via Economist

Saucisson

via DH

Monday, October 18, 2010

Crisis of confidence

"Few nations in recent history have seen such a striking reversal of economic fortune as Japan. The original Asian success story, Japan rode one of the great speculative stock and property bubbles of all time in the 1980s to become the first Asian country to challenge the long dominance of the West.

But the bubbles popped in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and Japan fell into a slow but relentless decline that neither enormous budget deficits nor a flood of easy money has reversed. For nearly a generation now, the nation has been trapped in low growth and a corrosive downward spiral of prices, known as deflation, in the process shriveling from an economic Godzilla to little more than an afterthought in the global economy.

The decline has been painful for the Japanese, with companies and individuals like Masato having lost the equivalent of trillions of dollars in the stock market, which is now just a quarter of its value in 1989, and in real estate, where the average price of a home is the same as it was in 1983. And the future looks even bleaker, as Japan faces the world’s largest government debt — around 200 percent of gross domestic product — a shrinking population and rising rates of poverty and suicide.

But perhaps the most noticeable impact here has been Japan’s crisis of confidence. Just two decades ago, this was a vibrant nation filled with energy and ambition, proud to the point of arrogance and eager to create a new economic order in Asia based on the yen. Today, those high-flying ambitions have been shelved, replaced by weariness and fear of the future, and an almost stifling air of resignation. Japan seems to have pulled into a shell, content to accept its slow fade from the global stage.

As living standards in this still wealthy nation slowly erode, a new frugality is apparent among a generation of young Japanese, who have known nothing but economic stagnation and deflation.

It has bred a deep pessimism about the future and a fear of taking risks that make people instinctively reluctant to spend or invest, driving down demand — and prices — even further.

“Deflation destroys the risk-taking that capitalist economies need in order to grow,” said Shumpei Takemori, an economist at Keio University in Tokyo. “Creative destruction is replaced with what is just destructive destruction.”"

Japan Goes From Dynamic to Disheartened - NYT

Gone

Back from Santa Barbara. It was a great trip, but a long way to go for a week. Only missed 4 days of work which was a bonus. Jet lag seems not so bad at the moment, will revert on that thought later. Had a good swim this morning, which reinforced how much I miss my routine here when I am away. I will try to post some photos later, but apart from good times with family and a side trip to take Milly to Disneyland, it was all very low key. Normal service to resume shortly.

On a side note, I thought it was fairly obvious that California was "ground zero" (along with Florida and Arizona) for the housing crisis. A lot of closed and shuttered businesses, lots of 'For Lease' signs about. There was, however, far less 'For Sale' signs about for homes etc. Not sure what to make of that.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Attention ladies

Pacific

On the beach for dinner

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Road bike delivered

Now to actually get out and ride it!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Moral compass

"America today presents the paradox of a rich country falling apart because of the collapse of its core values. American productivity is among the highest in the world. Average national income per person is about $46,000 – enough not only to live on, but to prosper. Yet the country is in the throes of an ugly moral crisis.

Income inequality is at historic highs, but the rich claim they have no responsibility to the rest of society. They refuse to come to the aid of the destitute, and defend tax cuts at every opportunity. Almost everybody complains, almost everybody aggressively defends their own narrow, short-term interests, and almost everybody abandons any pretense of looking ahead or addressing the needs of others.

What passes for American political debate is a contest between the parties to give bigger promises to the middle class, mainly in the form of budget-busting tax cuts at a time when the fiscal deficit is already more than 10% of GDP. Americans seem to believe that they have a natural right to government services without paying taxes. In the American political lexicon, taxes are defined as a denial of liberty.

The lesson from America is that economic growth is no guarantee of wellbeing or political stability. American society has become increasingly harsh, where the richest Americans buy their way to political power and the poor are abandoned to their fate. In their private lives, Americans have become addicted to consumerism, which drains their time, savings, attention and inclination to engage in acts of collective compassion.

The world should beware. Unless we break the ugly trends of big money in politics and rampant consumerism, we risk winning economic productivity at the price of our humanity."

America's deepening moral crisis - Guardian

Nice one lads



Monday, October 04, 2010

Letter of the Law

"The sport of cycling took another hit this week when it was revealed that three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador tested positive for clenbuterol during his Tour win this past July. The amount of the drug found in the Spanish cyclist’s body has been estimated at 50 picograms — a nearly undetectable amount. Contador has claimed that the drug came from eating tainted filet mignon on the day before the failed test.
But that might not matter.

The key here is the World Anti-Doping Code, which governs all doping cases in professional cycling. One of the code’s major tenets is the concept of strict liability — that an athlete is responsible for everything that enters his body, no matter how or when.

To quote the Code:
2.1.1 It is each Athlete’s personal duty to ensure that no Prohibited Substance enters his or her body. Athletes are responsible for any Prohibited Substance or its Metabolites or Markers found to be present in their Samples. Accordingly, it is not necessary that intent, fault, negligence or knowing Use on the Athlete’s part be demonstrated in order to establish an antidoping violation under Article 2.1.
A comment on this section goes on to state that an athlete is responsible “whenever a Prohibited Substance is found in an Athlete’s Sample,” no matter if it’s intentional or unintentional.

Contador has been found with a banned drug in his system. Under the WADA code, he is guilty of an anti-doping violation, no matter how the drug got there. It could be from tainted meat — and under WADA’s code, that doesn’t matter.
The comment on section 2.1.1 of the Code outlines where the case will go from here:
If the positive Sample came from an In-Competition test, then the results of that Competition are automatically invalidated (Article 9 (Automatic Disqualification of Individual Results)). However, the Athlete then has the possibility to avoid or reduce sanctions if the Athlete can demonstrate that he or she was not at fault or significant fault (Article 10.5 (Elimination or Reduction of Period of Ineligibility Based on Exceptional Circumstances)) or in certain circumstances did not intend to enhance his or her sport performance (Article 10.4 (Elimination or Reduction of the Period of Ineligibility for Specified Substances under Specific Circumstances)).
Contador’s positive was from an In-Competition test on July 21, the Tour’s second rest day in Pau. Under the WADA code, unless the results of the test are overturned — and Contador has not disputed the presence of clenbuterol in his system, only the source — he will be stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title.

Where Contador’s argument about tainted meat would come into play is in what potential sanctions he would face. The standard punishment for a first doping offense under the WADA code is a two-year ban from competition. If Contador can establish — and the burden of proof is on him, not WADA or cycling officials — that the clenbuterol entered his system through no fault or significant fault or negligence of his own, the ban could be reduced or eliminated altogether.

But that’s not as easy as it sounds. An American swimmer named Jessica Hardy tested positive for clenbuterol in 2008 in the run-up to the Summer Olympics in Beijing. Hardy argued that the clenbuterol came from tainted nutritional supplements that she had taken, and scientists were able to test the remainder of the pills because Hardy still had the box. The supplements were tainted, and anti-doping authorities agreed that Hardy had not taken the clenbuterol intentionally. Instead of a two-year ban, Hardy was banned from competition for one year.

Alberto Contador has won most of his races by dominating his competitors on huge mountain passes. Surmounting the strict rules of the WADA code will be the Spaniard’s most difficult climb of all."

Will Alberto Contador Lose His Tour de France Title? - Wired

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Stamp

Va-voom

"Thor Hushovd, the reigning Norwegian champion, dominated a bunch sprint at the end of a thrilling 267.2 km race, beating Denmark’s Matti Breschel and Australia’s Allan Davis.

Hushovd, a one-day classics specialist who is known for his ability to climb and finish well on uphill sprints, waited until the final 150 meters of the 750-meter home straight before unleashing a powerful sprint.

Afterwards he could not quite believe his achievement.

“It’s hard to understand I’ve won the worlds. It’s a dream, it’s unreal,” said Hushovd, who becomes the first rider from the Scandinavian country to win the coveted rainbow jersey.""

Thor Hushovd wins World title - VeloNews


LAATSTE KILOMETER VAN HET WK WIELRENNEN

THOR HUSHOVD: "IK BEN SPRAKELOOS (ENGELS)

Friday, October 01, 2010

Lava lake



Why? Bonkers.

Duck Sauce - Barbara Streisand



Cracking.

One million a metre

"“For no good reasons there seems to be a breakdown in service and value when it comes to the enjoyment of wines aboard superyachts,” says Bertrand Faure Beaulieu, a principal at Sarment Yacht Services. “Our ultimate fine-wine service is now available for the ultimate superyacht.”

Still, Sarment’s chief wine steward, Christopher Delalonde, says vigilance is vital. “The slight rocking of the yacht,” the sailing sommelier warns, “tends to make the oldest wines evolve faster.”

“The trick is to wrap the vessel’s ownership in a maze of companies no government has the time or money to untangle and then charter it to yourself,” Fortune says. “It’s likely more expensive than just paying the VAT, but such is superyacht life in the 21st century.”"

Superyachts Entice Billionaires With Sonic Cannons, Airplanes - BW

Different world.

White America Has Lost Its Mind

"There is a well-written, fascinating—but f***ing depressing—cover story (avec an awesome Drew Friedman cover illustration) by Steven Thrasher in the Village Voice today. Just read it and weep amongst yourselves."

White America Has Lost Its Mind - Dangerous Minds

Click here for the article

Ees a banana, not clenbuterol por favor

via fyxomatosis

1. I drank so much water it flushed all the testosterone out of my system!
The Perp: Danilo "Strawberry Shortcake" DiLuca

2. I was having sex at the *exact moment* the narcs came by so my testosterone level was studly-high.
The Perp: Bjorn "Love Machine" Leukemanns

3. !@#damn Spanish steak!
The Perp: Alberto Contador

4. Did not either. Give me your money!
The Perp: Floyd Landis

5. My butt looks big in this chamois, so I took a cheap internet weight-loss supplement.
The Perp: Marta Bastianelli

6. I inhaled my fetal twin.
The Perp: Tyler Hamilton

7. "Piti" is not even my dog.
The Perp: Alejandro Valverde

8. I'm diabetic and need insulin. Y'know, that 24-hour diabetes that's been going around!
The Perp: Bernard Kohl

9. With all these cool tats, who's even gonna notice I doped?
The Perp: Kayle Leogrande

10. So what if I *did* do it? So did the rest of you !@#$in' hypocrites!
The Perp: Alexander Vinokourov

11. I just *tried* to dope. Look, I'm kissing babies!
The Perp: Ivan "St. Ivan of Varese" Basso

12. Wah. Wah Wah Wah Wah Wah!
The Perp: St. David Millar.

13. I'm a hero! How dare you question me!?
The Perp: ummmm.....

14. Gaaaaaaassssspppp! Wheeeeeeeeezzzzzzeeeee! Gaaaaaaccccckkkk!
The Perp: Alessandro Petacchi.

And finally: 15. Man, that !@#$ was *great*!
The Perp: Jacques Anquetil."

Top Doping Excuses of the Rich (or Stupid) and Famous - Racejunkie

Gender plots


"The sizes of the artists’ names indicate how popular they are, while their position shows the gender mix and average age of their listeners." via TheReformed Broker & Last.FM