Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Unqualified in Disneyland

"So, the Sarah Palin campaign - and, make no mistake it is a campaign - trafficks in code and buzzwords about the shame of being losers. Her bus tour rolls heavy under the rubric: "One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." Recognize those phrases? They are from the national oath that we are all trained to recite in the first grade. Most of Sarah Palin's followers got through the first grade - and are proud of it. The phrase that really rings out, though, is "justice for all." For a nation of tattooed, hopelessly fat, angry people without jobs or incomes, filled with shame, this phrase resonates. How come no justice for us?
    
The bad feelings her followers nourish about being swindled out of their livelihoods and their honor are liable to be expressed indirectly and perversely.
I prefer to be direct. Sarah Palin represents a dangerous force in American culture. We have better things to do in this nation than go down some twisted path of vengeance-seeking in the name of lost glory. I hope that Sarah Palin's competitors on the right will stand up to her American fascist themes and call her out for what she is: a half-educated TV performer unqualified for high political office. The true shame of this country is that we have to take a clown like Sarah Palin seriously."

Enter Hitler, Release 2.0 - Clusterfuck Nation

Very uncomfortable with the Hitler analogies in the full piece - removed from the above excerpt - but Kunstler really nails it sometimes, so had to post. I do disagree with his comment 'unqualified for high political office' as I believe half-educated TV performing is what US politics has become. She is DEFINITELY unqualified to lead though.

Now, for something a little less extreme.

"Although there remains a scintilla of doubt that Palin will actually go for the Republican presidential nomination, so far there are two big clues that she is running: everything she says and everything she does.

Palin would be crazy not to run for the Republican nomination. Just look at the rest of the field. Since evangelicals' sweetheart Mike Huckabee declined to run, the path is clear for Palin on the Tea Party/Christian wing. The three identikit Republican ex-governors running – Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and Jon Huntsman – squabble among themselves and split the centre-moderate-establishment vote. Palin crushes them all in South Carolina, the traditional Republican bellwether. Game over?

That scenario was sketched out for me by a Virginia Republican who is tepidly backing Romney – "Because there's no one else." He, like a lot of Republicans, is still waiting for a knight on a white horse to sweep into the race, Rick Perry of Texas being the most common name given to the knight, although Jeb Bush is also wistfully mentioned. The trouble is, time is running out and knights are in short supply.

How bad have things got for the Republican party? This bad: Rudy Giuliani is thinking about running."

Sarah Palin and the seven dwarves: the Republican presidential nightmare

Monday, May 30, 2011

Yield

"When yields are so low, it is time to avoid yield and preserve capital.  The time to seek yield is when yields are high, and no one wants to part with money to lend to them."

via The Aleph Blog

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hat

Whilst recognising many might dismiss this short film, simply due to it being from Rapha, I think it is well worth a watch. It is guilty of much introspection, but for me, it does a very good job in capturing the essence of why I go out on my bike. The comments made by the participants through the second half are particularly thoughtful. Having spent the entire weekend off the bike due to inclement weather I really missed it. Roll on next weekend.

Cat Piss

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Living with a Seal

"Unfortunately, after 35 days my “friend” has left and returned to his “base”. My house is quiet. My weight vest is lonely. And, my wife will no longer have to deal with a stranger walking into our bedroom at 0600…shaking me..and saying, “Hey man, we gotta get going”."

"”SEAL” walks to lake, gets a boulder and starts banging on the ice. Little by little the ice chips away. 4 minutes later he breaks thru. The guy starts celebrating like he won the Stanley Cup. Socks off…shirt off…he’s in!!!! Next thing ya know…socks off, shirt off, I’m in!!!! We repeat this twice and sprint up to my house to get warm!!!!!  As I type this, I’m still freezing but feel GREAT. My wife is furious with me…but sorta gets it. My son is puzzled by how red my feet are. And “SEAL”…he is on the treadmill."

"Anyway, he is now yelling “WE HAVE 2 MINUTES…RUN”. I start sprinting up the hill. I’m freaking out my toes are going to fall off…I can’t feel one thing from my knees down.  We get up and dry off. My wife is standing at the door and YELLS, “I’m SO MAD. THAT’S THE DUMBEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN. YOU ARE A 42 YEAR OLD FATHEEEER. WHAt THE F….”.  I apologize. She then asks “SEAL” what the medical benefit of jumping into a frozen lake is. His answer…”There are none”! This is what signed up for!!!!"


"If the run this am was one of my best runs ever…this was one of the most brutal. I think my shoulders are sore to the touch….but I’m not sure as I’m too sore to reach up to touch them?"


"We run a fast 6 miles. We zig and zag thru this wild route. I’m cold. I’m cooked. My nuts are bleeding. On the way home (we were doing an “out and back”) I say “Dude, I assume it’s impossible you could get lost, correct?”. He says “highly unlikely”. His watch beeps indicating we have hit the 6 mile mark. Run should be over. Right? No…we are lost. 8.3 miles…we finally find the hotel."


"“SEAL” says we are doing the “100 Workout”. I think “SEAL” needs help with his math…it’s “The 500 Workout”."

Living with a Seal via IM

Stuck in a junction

via DM & SI

Monday, May 23, 2011

Endgame

"The Lance Armstrong story is so convoluted, so conflicted. It’s like a tightly knotted piece of string. Myth at one end, truth at the other.

And now it is unravelling so fast it is understandable that those who have held on so firmly to the myth end feel shaken and unsure. However, those who have wanted to get to the other end of the string are still a way from feeling vindicated because Armstrong continues to deny. You get the feeling that this one is going to go all the way.

Hincapie’s rebuttal on Twitter was so absent of any denial as to be earth-shattering. 'I can confirm to you I never spoke with 60 Minutes. I have no idea where they got their information.'

The Festina Affair should have been our watershed.

Then, in 2006, came Operacion Puerto. Another chance for an amnesty.

Now this should be the sport’s defining moment."

Lance Armstrong: the endgame begins - Cycle Sport

I find any celebration of this distasteful. His era was all about PEDs. Those that cannot grasp that aren't followers of the sport. Bothered. I don't ride for him or his peers, I ride for me. Watching Steak-Boy (below) last night, I wondered why I was up late in front of the TV. The spectacle is fascinating but the characters are fairly inter-changeable.

Fifteen

via Cycling Tips
Huge stage at the Giro.. Contador is in a different class, leaves Scarponi and Nibali in his wake. It's all over. Does mean back to normal bed time.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

458 Test Drive

Cornes have been offering test drives of the new Ferrari 458. Well. You just have to don't you! Surprisingly, it was longer than I had anticipated and we went out on a clear Shuto and had a good 30 minute run. Kuroda-san was very forthcoming indicating the un-patrolled sections and where the cameras were sited. What a noise! Fabulous. Everything I had expected, anticipated and looked forward to. Only problem is I want one now. Or an FF! Dream on.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tan line

Cycling glove tan. On the Shinkansen home. Hot, hot day. Made a bit of a meal of the ride towards the end. Struggled and then some. Still an excellent day out.

Joined Ironmaker on a planned ride to Karuizawa, where he will run a half-marathon on Sunday. We had an excellent fast ride up the Arakawa river - I have not followed the same route ever, there are so many bike paths on both sides it seems. Had an early lunch in Kumagaya, then joined Route 17. Exposed to the traffic and the heat I began to feel the pace, but not as much as Ryan who on arrival in Takasaki was feeling nauseous and decided to head for home. We rode on following Route 18 which was occupied with less traffic. At a 7/11 stop about 15km in, I was really feeling a poor night's sleep, the heat and the pace. I sat in the shade and had a Starbucks Latte followed by two bottles of water. Concerned I was now holding Ironmaker up, I suggested he went on, leaving me to return to Takasaki and a train home. Arrived at 3:30pm and was on a train home 11 minutes later. I'm not built for the heat and it's only getting hotter over the summer. Yuck.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Facepfft


via Sheldon

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A-Bomb

My Manhattan Project

"How I helped build the bomb that blew up Wall Street.

 By Michael Osinski

I have been called the devil by strangers and “the Facilitator” by friends. It’s not uncommon for people, when I tell them what I used to do, to ask if I feel guilty. I do, somewhat, and it nags at me. When I put it out of mind, it inevitably resurfaces, like a shipwreck at low tide. It’s been eight years since I compiled a program, but the last one lived on, becoming the industry standard that seeded itself into every investment bank in the world.

I wrote the software that turned mortgages into bonds."
Thought that should be "I wrote the software that turned mortgages into bombs...."


Read on... 

Rapture and Judgement


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Moving target

"The US has suspended payments into a civil service pension fund to free up almost $150bn (£92bn) as the major debtor nation approaches its legal borrowing limit.

The US Treasury expected to reach the $14.3 trillion limit on on Monday. Congress needs to raise the legal debt ceiling beyond its current limit, which will require Republicans and Democrats reaching agreement over an issue that bitterly divides them.

The US said that the retiree funds will be "made whole" once the ceiling has been raised and former government workers won't be affected."

US raids civil service pension fund - The Telegraph

What Brits actually mean

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sado 210km











Friday, May 13, 2011

Fantasy paypackets

"Restricting bankers’ pay may make political sense, but is it good economics? Professional football may offer a lesson. The market for talent in both banking and professional sport is fairly transparent (at least to the participants) and fairly efficient. Both are meritocratic. Teams with better players win more often. Banks with the best traders or dealmakers generally earn more money. If talent and performance are strongly correlated, it seems reasonable that pay should follow.

Investment banks typically set aside about half their net revenues for pay and bonuses. The most successful banks, like the best football clubs, manage to keep a bigger share of revenues, partly because there is so much more of it and partly because they are able to offer prestige as well as money. Weaker banks, and ailing clubs, pay out 80% or more of their revenues in the hope of making their way up the league table. In England, which has the biggest and richest football clubs, revenues have more than tripled since 1997, but pay has increased even faster. In 2008-09 the top English clubs handed over more than two-thirds of their income to their players. Almost three-quarters of them lost money."

Fantasy paypackets - The Economist

1948

via Neatorama

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Game Of Money


"I'm here to watch my roommate work. I realize that might sound insipid, but my passive curiosity about his job -- he trades complex equity derivatives for a "bulge bracket" bank -- has metastasized over this past year into something closer to devastating envy as I've seen him come home, day after day, buoyant and satisfied. I need to know what the hell goes on down here. I need to find out why, of all the fledgling professionals I know, he seems to be the only one genuinely delighted to go into the office every day.

Quickly you get the sense that something strange happens in this room. There must be three hundred people within eyeshot, all but a handful of them healthy, handsome, well-dressed men in their mid-twenties or early thirties. (My friend points at various colleagues around the room: "Triathlete; runs marathons; hardcore cyclist; marathons; marathons..."). They look less like they're working -- reading e-mails, say, or putting together a slide deck -- than calmly responding to a crisis. Maybe it's because they're wearing headsets and their heads are darting from screen to screen the way lizards' do and their keyboards are unusually colorful and they're talking fast like Aaron Sorkin characters in an incomprehensible argot as streaming real-time line charts flicker loudly in their faces. It's like a mission control center.

They're packed in pretty tight. Workstations are aligned in blocks of twenty, two facing columns of ten each, guarded by the dancing backs of ergonomic swivel chairs. It's a bit of a shambles to navigate, but no matter, hardly anyone stands up. The market is a fickle leviathan, after all, and its keepers don't like to leave it unsupervised. Hence all the takeout. And hence the way my roommate falls asleep (early, instantaneously). These guys are at it -- glued to their desks, mentally engaged--for six and a half hours straight.

Games are engineered to unfold as a series of short feedback cycles, every action a small experiment that concludes in minutes, if not seconds, with concrete consequences: you either win or lose points. That vivid loop keeps you constantly engaged. It sucks you into the micro-mechanics of the game, because even the smallest maneuvers give you the feeling of "getting somewhere." You can't help but tweak, tweak, tweak your way up the game's learning curve, an eye always on your rising score.

Now think of what a trader does. A trader's job is to be smarter than the market. He converts a mess of analysis and intuition into simple bets. He makes moves. If his predictions are better than everyone else's, he wins money; if not, he loses it. At every moment he has a crystalline picture of his bottom line, the "P and L" (profit and loss) that determines how much of a bonus he'll get and, more importantly, where he stands among his peers. As my friend put it, traders are "very, very, very competitive." At the end of the day they ask each other "how did you do today?" Trading is one of the few jobs with an actual leaderboard, which, if you've ever been on one, or strived to get there, you'll recognize as being perhaps the single most powerful driver of a gamer's engagement.

That seems to be the core of it, but no doubt there are other game-like features in play here: the importance of timing and tactile dexterity; the clear presence of two abstract levels of attention and activity, one long-term and strategic, the other fiercely tactical, localized in bursts a minute or two long; the need for teams and ceaseless chatter; and so on."

Traders Are Having a New Kind of Fun - The Atlantic

Clever article.

Starbuck Cubed

via

Foolish

"Newt can't come within 150 yards of a microphone without making a fool of himself. As a result he provides good copy. Which wins him more publicity. The latest: his marital problems were just the consequence of his patriotism.

Newt has no chance of winning the nomination but apparently we have to pretend he's some kind of interesting intellectual rather than a wife-dumping jackass whose chief aim in life is to persuade gullible journalists he's a figure of substance whose presence adds gravitas and meaning to any occasion. The reality - and he has the wives to prove it - is that Newt only cares about Newt and his campaign, such as it is, will offer further proof of this. The man's a buffoon, a charlatan and a cad.

GINGRICH 2012: HE WILL ALWAYS LOVE AMERICA. UNLESS IT GETS CANCER"

Newt Gingrich: A Buffoon, Wrapped in a Charlatan, Inside a Cad - Spectator

Seriously.. Palin, Trump, Gingrich? A media driven farce. Pathetic.

2016: the real Republican race - Guardian

Dear Lord

via The Daily Telegraph

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The City Limits



Locations include :

- Montreal, Quebec, Canada
- Quebec city, Quebec, Canada
- Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- Manhattan, New York, USA
- Chicago, Illinois, USA

I want a standing desk..

Monday, May 09, 2011

Go ride a bike

War Dog

War Dogs - A Photo Essay

Do Not Cry

"Few aid workers could have imagined the scenes that awaited them as they set out for north-east Japan in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami in March.

For days after the waves destroyed vast stretches of the Tohoku region's coast, patients filled the corridors of hospitals deprived of heat and water, and doctors examined thousands of patients, knowing essential drugs had been swept away by the walls of muddy water. And while they waited for supplies, they watched helplessly as elderly patients who had survived the tsunami succumbed to hypothermia.

When aid workers arrived, they were greeted by scenes of devastation that would not look out of place in a war zone. But this tragedy was being played out in one of the world's wealthiest countries, fewer than 200 miles from the neon-lit opulence of its capital, Tokyo.

One of them, a nurse who was part of an emergency medical team dispatched from Tokyo, has written about her experiences in a blog that offers one of the most detailed accounts yet of the tsunami's toll on the tens of thousands who survived. Thanks to an anonymous translator, every word of her online journal is available in English.

The blog has received scant coverage in the mainstream Japanese media. But it has generated thousands of online comments, most of them messages of gratitude from evacuees and fellow aid workers, and others who simply drew strength from her words. The nurse has declined potential book and interview requests, and clung to her anonymity, as has the blogger who translated her journal into English in a single sitting.

Painstakingly tapped into the nurse's mobile phone at the end of exhausting days touring evacuation zones and hospitals, the blog chronicles eight days that begin with trepidation and end with a reluctant return to Tokyo. In between, there are moments of despair and optimism, even humour. And floods of tears.

The blog opens with the nurse preparing for her imminent assignment to Rikuzentakata, a town in Iwate prefecture where 2,000 of the 23,000 residents died and 80% of its 8,000 homes were destroyed.

Before they leave, she and her fellow medical workers are told what they can expect to find, and warned to keep their emotions in check. The team leader tells them:

"The situation over there is beyond your worst imagination. If any of you have signed up with optimistic outlooks or [out of] a spirit of volunteerism, please leave the team now.

"No matter what happens at the site, DO NOT CRY. We are not going there to express our sympathy. We are going there to provide nursing and medical care. If you think YOU want to cry, think about how much the people there want to cry. The tears of a rich medical team from Tokyo will only be bothersome or even insulting to them."

Nurse's blog brings comfort to Japan's tsunami survivors - Guardian

Read blog in English jkts-english.blogspot.com or Japanese blog.goo.ne.jp/flower-wing

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Taiwan Photos

I'm waiting to get a photos from the other Tour members so can put together a slideshow, but until then...




Friday, May 06, 2011

Fuzzy Aim

"I’m not going to mourn the loss of an evil, mass-murdering psychopath, of course, but I do find the bloodlust reflected in many of my countrymens’ jubilant celebrations disappointing and dangerously short-sighted, though not all that surprising.

Other than ridding the world of a very bad person, I don’t see what practical ends killing him has accomplished. He didn’t really seem to constitute a clear and present danger to national security any more–guy wasn’t even armed when Navy SEALS busted in on him. Surely it would have been a better idea to capture him and publicly eviscerate his ideology, instead of martyring him immediately? I feel the path that was chosen will only result in the germination of a bigger crop of new terrorists, more determined to continue Bin Laden’s war than ever.

And look, we’re still mired in Iraq and Afghanistan. Killing Bin Laden didn’t save anybody’s lives there. If anything, it puts them in greater jeopardy.

I also think a longer, drawn-out public spectacle of some sort would have been more likely to force Americans to reflect on how our government’s foreign and economic policies, as well as our greedy consumption of the world’s resources, aid the persistence of terrorism. I saw part of a program on HGTV today about the most expensive homes in the world. This fat woman was talking about her $5 million closet, and how she thought she needed to buy more stuff to put in it since it isn’t full. As she bragged about the garish opulence of her overwrought home, I thought, “This is why the terrorists want to kill us.”

As David Cross once said in reference to seeing a commercial for battery-operated scissors: “The terrorists hate our freedom? I hate our freedom, if this is what we’re gonna do with it!”

Fuzzy Aim - This is Historic Times

Agreed.

The Best Thing I Ever Done

Thursday, May 05, 2011

The Taiwan rides

Day One - Prologue - The Grand Assault


Day Two - Stage One - Shimen Reservoir to Jiaoxi Hot springs


Day Three - Stage Two - Hualien to Taroko Gorge


Day Four - Stage Three - Taroko Gorge to Cingjing


Day Five - Stage Four - Cingjing to Guguan Hot Springs Interrupted


A very professionally organised tour by Cam McLean at In Motion Asia, heartily recommended for any tour in Taiwan and in fact anything in Asia.

Homeward bound

Bike packed and cleaned! In transit back to Tokyo.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Iced up

Spent Day Six at the Taipei Park Hotel with foot up, icing a swollen ankle. Very sore. Not sure of the cause, but perhaps over-exertion and/or flaring up of a slight injury I think I might have been carrying over the last couple of weeks in my left achilles. Taiwanese TV is dull. Moneyball by Michael Lewis is an interesting read though.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Downhill

Headed out on Day Five of the Tour with strong legs but stiff ankle. Pulled out of the ride after 40km, erring on the side of caution with Sado 210km next weekend and happy with my exertions so far. Followed the other guys in the van for 60km, then we stopped for hot spring and late lunch, then back to Taipei.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Peak

3275m above sea level. 80km, 3300m climbing, 6hrs. Done.

Baldy

Sunday, May 01, 2011