Monday, October 31, 2011


Happy Hummus Halloween

Confused as a FOX

"One of the best things about Occupy Wall Street is the way it confuses and ignores the shrill pundit class.

I confess to being driven insane this past month by the spectacle of television pundits professing to be baffled by the meaning of Occupy Wall Street. Good grief. Isn’t the ability to read still a job requirement for a career in journalism? And as last week’s inane “What Do They Want?” meme morphs into this week’s craven “They Want Your Stuff” meme, I feel it’s time to explain something: Occupy Wall Street may not have laid out all of its demands in a perfectly cogent one-sentence bumper sticker for you, Mr. Pundit, but it knows precisely what it doesn’t want. It doesn’t want you.

What the movement clearly doesn’t want is to have to explain itself through corporate television. To which I answer, Hallelujah. You can’t talk down to a movement that won’t talk back to you.

One of the most fatuous themes of mainstream OWS coverage is the endless loop of media bafflement at this movement that doesn’t have a message. It takes a walloping amount of willful cluelessness to look at a mass of people holding up signs and claim that they have no message.

Occupy Wall Street is not a movement without a message. It’s a movement that has wisely shunned the one-note, pre-chewed, simple-minded messaging required for cable television as it now exists.

Think, for just a moment, about the irony. We are the most media-saturated 24-hour-cable-soaked culture in the world, and yet around the country, on Facebook and at protests, people are holding up cardboard signs, the way protesters in ancient Sumeria might have done when demonstrating against a rise in the price of figs. And why is that? Because they very wisely don’t trust television cameras and microphones to get it right anymore. Because a media constructed around the illusion of false equivalencies, screaming pundits, and manufactured crises fails to capture who we are and what we value.

For the past several years, while the mainstream media was dutifully reporting on all things Kardashian or (more recently) a wholly manufactured debt-ceiling crisis, ordinary people were losing their health care, their homes, their jobs, and their savings. Those people have taken that narrative to Facebook and Twitter—just as citizens took to those alternative forms of media throughout the Middle East as part of the Arab Spring. And just to be clear: They aren’t holding up signs that say “I want Bill O’Reilly’s stuff.” They aren’t holding up signs that say “I am animated by toxic levels of envy and entitlement.” They are holding up signs that are perfectly and intrinsically clear: They want accountability for the banks that took their money, they want to end corporate control of government. They want their jobs back. They would like to feed their children. They want—wait, no, we want—to be heard by a media that has devoted four mind-numbing years to channeling and interpreting every word uttered by a member of the Palin family while ignoring the voices of everyone else.

Mark your calendars: The corporate media died when it announced it was too sophisticated to understand simple declarative sentences."


Friday, October 28, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Giant Horse

"BRUSSELS (The Borowitz Report) – In what many are hailing as a breakthrough solution to Greece’s crippling debt crisis, Greece today offered to repay a bailout from the European Union nations by giving them a gigantic horse.

Finance ministers from sixteen EU nations awoke in Brussels this morning to find that a huge wooden horse had been wheeled into the city center overnight.

The horse, measuring several stories in height, drew mixed responses from the finance ministers, many of whom said they would have preferred a cash repayment of the EU’s bailout.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she “welcomed the beautiful wooden horse,” adding, “What harm could it possibly do?”"

Greece Offers to Repay Bailout with Giant Horse - The Borowitz Report

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Getting old and demanding a refund

"One of the great things about getting old is that you're allowed to be a reactionary. Society expects it of you. It's a civic duty. Without old people like me moaning on and on about the modern world, droning on and on about how great things used to be, how would young people get their bearings?

You need us, the bumbling blimps in your peripheral vision, to validate your own marvellous navigational skills. You're in the driving seat now, I'll be in the back seat with my Thermos and sandwiches, wanting the toilet.

I'm pushing 60, and what the doctors call "time-limited". It's brilliant. As a reactionary I can think what I like, nobody gives a toss. No need any more to pretend to like working class shouty music with its foul themes of wealth and violence and misogyny. Or that awful, anorexic middle-class bollocks with the acoustic guitars and whispery singing.

Everyone knows they'll turn into a reactionary when they get older. It's just what happens, along with varicose veins and a corrugated front. Thing is, though, I fully expected to turn into a conservative reactionary.

Why then am I getting more left-wing as I get older? Nostalgia.

There are many things old people miss about the old days including God, coal fires and horsedrawn milkcarts. But what I miss most is "US" . I miss Project Us, expressed through nationalised railways and publicly-owned utilities. I miss the glory days of the unions and their "terrifying" power to protect bullied workers. I miss the sense of who we were: not some random, atomised collection of individuals defined by self-worth, but a nation of shared values.

I remember when I experienced my first shiver of patriotism, 50 years ago, in school. History. We were learning about religious persecution. I can't tell you how selfishly thrilling it was to hear how Jews and Catholics and Huguenots and so on fled here, because it was a place of tolerance and free speech.

Of course it was partial. Of course there was persecution here too, and slavery and oppression. But still, Britain as a place to flee to! And history wouldn't stop, would it? We'd just get better and better. If you'd told me that in 50 years time we'd be banging up asylum seekers and their children and hiring foreign contractors to means-test the disabled, I wouldn't have believed you.

So yeah, I'm a reactionary socialist. I want national pride in our compassion back. I want public ownership back. This country's been swindled by neo-liberalism – Thatcher and her property boom, the lying shit Blair and his "whatever works". I demand a refund.

And the return of Spangles."

I miss the Britain of compassion and public ownership. Can we have it back please? - Guardian

I used to like Spangles too.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Shakespeare Insult Kit

via Neatorama


"A man from Northern Ireland has been jailed after an experiment in which he attempted to turn his own faeces into gold went wrong and started a fire in a block of flats.

It is thought that as part of the bizarre experiment Moran left his faeces, along with other waste products such as fertiliser, on a heater.

In his ruling Judge McFarland told Moran: “Rather bizarrely you were attempting to make gold from human faeces and waste products.

“It was an interesting experiment to fulfil the alchemist’s dream, but wasn’t going to succeed.”

Man jailed after trying to turn faeces into gold - Yahoo

Apparently this was his turd attempt and no one knows if he kept a diarrohea of events.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


"The Occupy Wall Street movement is justified on many fronts. An extraordinarily wealthy segment of society, after claiming and accepting the right to operate unfettered after the repeal of Glass Steagal, completely failed to accept the responsibility that this entailed. The fact that a protest movement has not produced a solution to the money/influence construct that has been present since civilization was formed, has little to do with the validity of their cause. And perhaps most importantly, they will find a more sympathetic audience within the banking world than they suppose."


Hear, hear.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


"Michael Woodford, the British chief executive of Olympus who was sacked on Friday, has raised questions about more than $1bn in payments made by the Japanese camera maker in acquisitions between 2006 and 2008.

Mr Woodford’s dismissal came just eight months after being named president and chief operating officer of the Japanese electronics brand and barely a fortnight after becoming chief executive. He was one of the few foreigners to run a major Japanese company, and his elevation in February had been seen a sign of a more open and global corporate Japan.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Woodford said he believed that he had been sacked over his inquiries into the acquisitions, which took place before he joined the board. He was not allowed to speak at Friday’s board meeting that voted unanimously to dismiss him. “They told me to catch a bus to the airport,” he said.

According to documents shown to the FT, Mr Woodford – who spent 30 years at Olympus – had been pressing other directors since July to explain payments related to the 2008 purchase of Gyrus, a UK medical equipment company, and three earlier acquisitions in Japan.

The dismissal represented an abrupt reversal. When promoting Mr Woodford to chief executive two weeks ago, Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, chairman, said he was “extremely pleased” with the Briton’s leadership, which had “exceeded my expectations”.

Mr Woodford stressed that he had seen no evidence that Olympus executives benefited improperly from the acquisitions. But he said large amounts of money seemed to have “disappeared” into the hands of poorly vetted outside financial advisers and investment vehicles.

In the Gyrus case, the documents show that Olympus paid $687m to a Cayman Islands-registered company, AXAM, that had been named as a financial adviser but whose ultimate owners were never ascertained by Olympus. The company disappeared from the trade register three months after receiving its final payment from Olympus, Mr Woodford said. The amount paid represented about a third of the $2.2bn acquisition price."

Ex-Olympus chief questioned payments - FT

Internal Letter

You couldn't make this stuff up. "The company disappeared from the trade register three months after receiving its final payment from Olympus". Awesome. Unless you are a shareholder.

Don't Text and Drive

"A dramatic fall in traffic accidents this week has been directly linked to the three-day disruption in BlackBerry services.

In Dubai, traffic accidents fell 20 per cent from average rates on the days BlackBerry users were unable to use its messaging service. In Abu Dhabi, the number of accidents this week fell 40 per cent and there were no fatal accidents.

On average there is a traffic accident every three minutes in Dubai, while in Abu Dhabi there is a fatal accident every two days."

via Marginal Revolution and The National

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Watch fullscreen, makes you want to go ride a mountain bike...

Saturday, October 15, 2011


The Good.

The Bad.

So much to watch and think about.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Extreme Jacuzzi-ing


Jerseys by Milltag.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Taibbi on OWS

"The movement's basic strategy – to build numbers and stay in the fight, rather than tying itself to any particular set of principles – makes a lot of sense early on. But the time is rapidly approaching when the movement is going to have to offer concrete solutions to the problems posed by Wall Street. To do that, it will need a short but powerful list of demands. There are thousands one could make, but I'd suggest focusing on five:

1. Break up the monopolies. The so-called "Too Big to Fail" financial companies – now sometimes called by the more accurate term "Systemically Dangerous Institutions" – are a direct threat to national security. They are above the law and above market consequence, making them more dangerous and unaccountable than a thousand mafias combined. There are about 20 such firms in America, and they need to be dismantled; a good start would be to repeal the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and mandate the separation of insurance companies, investment banks and commercial banks.

2. Pay for your own bailouts. A tax of 0.1 percent on all trades of stocks and bonds and a 0.01 percent tax on all trades of derivatives would generate enough revenue to pay us back for the bailouts, and still have plenty left over to fight the deficits the banks claim to be so worried about. It would also deter the endless chase for instant profits through computerized insider-trading schemes like High Frequency Trading, and force Wall Street to go back to the job it's supposed to be doing, i.e., making sober investments in job-creating businesses and watching them grow.

3. No public money for private lobbying. A company that receives a public bailout should not be allowed to use the taxpayer's own money to lobby against him. You can either suck on the public teat or influence the next presidential race, but you can't do both. Butt out for once and let the people choose the next president and Congress.

4. Tax hedge-fund gamblers. For starters, we need an immediate repeal of the preposterous and indefensible carried-interest tax break, which allows hedge-fund titans like Stevie Cohen and John Paulson to pay taxes of only 15 percent on their billions in gambling income, while ordinary Americans pay twice that for teaching kids and putting out fires. I defy any politician to stand up and defend that loophole during an election year.

5. Change the way bankers get paid. We need new laws preventing Wall Street executives from getting bonuses upfront for deals that might blow up in all of our faces later. It should be: You make a deal today, you get company stock you can redeem two or three years from now. That forces everyone to be invested in his own company's long-term health – no more Joe Cassanos pocketing multimillion-dollar bonuses for destroying the AIGs of the world.

To quote the immortal political philosopher Matt Damon from Rounders, "The key to No Limit poker is to put a man to a decision for all his chips."

My Advice to the Occupy Wall Street Protesters - Rolling Stone

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

China Stress

“The fact that people are even talking about the government stepping in to shore up the banks, when two months ago people thought there was nothing wrong with the Chinese banks, should tell you just how seriously this situation is deteriorating.”

Chanos Says Chinese Lenders ‘Deteriorating’ as Government Purchases Shares - Bloomberg

Parallels to European banks like Drexia passing 'stress' tests earlier this year?

Peanut Crunch

"Another hot, dry summer has devastated this year's peanut crop, sending prices for the legume skyrocketing and forcing peanut-butter brands including J.M. Smucker Co.'s Jif, Unilever NV's Skippy and ConAgra Foods Inc.'s Peter Pan into startling price increases.

Wholesale prices for big-selling Jif are going up 30% starting in November, while Peter Pan will raise prices as much as 24% in a couple weeks."

Peanut-Butter Makers Face Crunch - WSJ

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Freedom Chair

Extending the paper round

How To Explain Greece To A Complete Idiot/Politician
Let’s pretend for a moment that Greece is a human being. I’ll call him George.
George is a hairdresser and makes $40,000 per year. George has limited assets. He has zero savings, no precious metals, and is way underwater on his mortgage. His credit card debt is over $100,000, and his bare minimum living expenses are $45,000 annually, over 10% more than he makes. George’s credit is pitiful, and he cannot obtain any more new loans.
George’s neighbor Hans has a big family. All the kids work hard and contribute to the family savings. Hans sees George’s plight and decides the neighborhood has to stick together; he starts loaning George some money out of his family’s savings, and eventually begins to take on more and more of George’s personal debts.
Many of the other neighbors– Luciano, Seamus, and Juan– are in the same boat as George: drowning in debt with massive personal expenses and no hope to pay them back.
Everyone is looking to Hans for help.  He’s the responsible one in the neighborhood. Now, Hans doesn’t want them all to go bust because he knows it would be bad for the neighborhood property values… but Hans’s children are balking at the prospect of working hard on their newspaper routes just so that George can keep his plasma screen TV.
Very soon, George is going to run out of options and will have to have a difficult conversation with his credit card companies. In the real world, there is no other choice.
In the pretend world of politics, however, European leaders have been able to convince everyone that it’s all under control. Never mind that the whole situation has completely fractured capital markets; traditional valuation metrics have taken a back seat to rumors of secret meetings and loud talk of bailout plans.
Think about it: Dexia passed summer bank stress tests with flying colors. A couple of months later it’s going bust. How can markets function without confidence in balance sheet accuracy? Or whether a government will even be around tomorrow? This is kind of a problem when sovereign debt is the cornerstone of the financial system…
And yet, stock markets worldwide surged today on the news of a European ‘pledge’ to help banks.
Do yourself a favor and stop watching their lips move. These ‘plans’ are nothing more than lies and misdirection. Just like our friend George, a Greek default has to happen.  Politicians can pretend whatever they want, but in the real world where we live, financial deadbeats have no other options.
Source: Zero Hedge

No consensus yet, stay tuned

"Greece will only get more promises and more funds until Merkel gets a call from her accountants, who tell her they have figured out which banks need government funds. The next day she will call Papandreou and tell him to hold a conference announcing the haircut that Greece will get. It will all be orchestrated to the color of their socks.

From what I heard, Europeans banks are worse than even the dire reports you read in the papers. Spreads are widening and liquidity is drying up. Drexia is the tip of the iceberg. I really have to wonder how much France can do in regards to its bank debt. Will the ECB lend them enough money? The answer is yes. But we are talking a great deal of debt for a country with serious fiscal deficits and where government spending is already 55% of GDP, with rising health-care and pension costs. Think French politicians will try and get their unions and public workers to take a 15% pay cut? The French will not be civilized and stoical, like the Irish. They will take to the streets.

We are now in the final innings of the Endgame. Greece is likely to default no later than the end of this year, if not by the end of this month. Which for all intents and purposes they have already done. If you can't get the market to finance you, that means you can't pay your bills without the kindness of strangers. If Greece were an individual or a company, it would be in bankruptcy proceedings. It is now just a matter of time.

Can the euro survive? The short answer is yes, but not without a lot of pain on the part of a lot of people. The drive for a united Europe is strong and may indeed overcome the drive that would tear the union apart. I actually hope so. But it will not be done without a lot of sacrifice. I think the valuation of the euro is at serious risk. And while European markets look cheap on a relative and historical-valuation basis, one needs to ask, compared to what? Long European stocks, short the euro? Maybe, especially if the Germans turn the ECB loose as a way to keep (and pay the price for) the European Union.

I heard no consensus. There are dozens of different plans, enough to make any politician's head swim. Stay tuned."

Source: (

Monday, October 10, 2011

TdC 2011

TdC Stage Three

No mascots at lunch again. Shame.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

TdC Stage Two

No mascots at lunchstop. Gutted. Tucking into the bento today after abstaining yesterday.

Saturday, October 08, 2011


Stage 1 done. 110km. Good fun, great weather, better yet off to the Barge Inn in Narita to watch the rugby, come on England!!


Tour de Chiba, Stage One, lunch stop... great weather, fun, but really needto finish this stage in time to watch the rugby this afternoon.

Thursday, October 06, 2011


"Laughter sounds the same in any language"

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Tweet Science

"The intense pressure to convert Twitter into a profitable business, and before a tech bubble pops, is palpable here. And it’s happening as the company struggles with an interlocked set of existential questions, starting with the most basic one possible: What is Twitter? Initially, the idea was of a kind of adrenalized Facebook, with friends communicating with friends in short bursts—and indeed, Facebook rushed to borrow Twitter’s innovations so it wouldn’t be left ­behind. But as Twitter grew, it finally ­became clear to Twitter’s brain trust that the relevant analogy was not a social network but a broadcast system—the birth of a different sort of TV. 

Lindzon says Twitter is the “greatest invention in the history of the Internet,” but he is skeptical that Twitter can organize that entire vat of 200 million tweets a day into a fluid and orderly experience, billboard it with advertisements, and still retain its biggest strength—which is surprise. “I want to have that ‘aha’ moment,” he says. “If they can figure out how to monetize that, good luck.”"

Tweet Science - NY Mag
"Twitter is building a machine to convert 140 characters on Barack Obama, Ashton Kutcher, narcissism, the struggle for human freedom, and Starbucks into cash—and quick, before its moment passes. Is this asking too much of even the world’s best technologists?"

Tuesday, October 04, 2011


"The Good News is: September is over. The Bad News is: October has begun. Remember, this is about the banks and financials – not Greece. Greece is just the fuse." via ZH

Michael Lewis

"His aptitude for translating and enlivening financial concepts has made him an indispensable observer of the crisis: In May 2010, Politico reported that The Big Short had been name-checked on the official Senate record at least fifteen times since its publication just two months before, and that Hill staffers had been calling Lewis at home for advice. “I was watching television the other day, and Barney Frank was quoting him like he was a Nobel laureate,” Whitney tells me. This spring, Lewis was invited to Washington to speak to the Democratic Caucus. Afterward, senators came up to him, fanlike, asking for autographs. “I have to believe that’s how a lot of those senators learned about the crisis,” says Whitney."

It’s Good to Be Michael Lewis - NYMag

Monday, October 03, 2011

Scottish invention chart

Innovation Starvation

"Innovation can’t happen without accepting the risk that it might fail. The vast and radical innovations of the mid-20th century took place in a world that, in retrospect, looks insanely dangerous and unstable. Possible outcomes that the modern mind identifies as serious risks might not have been taken seriously—supposing they were noticed at all—by people habituated to the Depression, the World Wars, and the Cold War, in times when seat belts, antibiotics, and many vaccines did not exist. Competition between the Western democracies and the communist powers obliged the former to push their scientists and engineers to the limits of what they could imagine and supplied a sort of safety net in the event that their initial efforts did not pay off. A grizzled NASA veteran once told me that the Apollo moon landings were communism’s greatest achievement.

Today’s belief in ineluctable certainty is the true innovation-killer of our age. In this environment, the best an audacious manager can do is to develop small improvements to existing systems—climbing the hill, as it were, toward a local maximum, trimming fat, eking out the occasional tiny innovation—like city planners painting bicycle lanes on the streets as a gesture toward solving our energy problems. Any strategy that involves crossing a valley—accepting short-term losses to reach a higher hill in the distance—will soon be brought to a halt by the demands of a system that celebrates short-term gains and tolerates stagnation, but condemns anything else as failure. In short, a world where big stuff can never get done."

Innovation Starvation  - Michael Stephenson - World Policy Institute

Great article.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Ghosts with shit jobs

Under Offer

Would apply not just to the dreaded Estate Agent.

Occupy Wall Street

I swear I could take this type of protest more seriously if they would dress with some dignity and ditch all the cardboard.

Modern Family

Very recent discovery. Excellent, excellent show. Great comedy. Love it.

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