Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dog Park

Made me smile.

Dangerous Liberal Muppets

Monday, January 30, 2012

Greece is the word

"‘Europe is no longer at the edge of the cliff.’ Of course, Sarkozy has reasons for saying it beyond mere pre-electoral braggadocio: the rates paid on Italian and Spanish 10-year bonds have generally been falling since the the beginning of the year; the euro has been making some tentative progress against other currencies; and so on. But it still constrasts heavily with much else that is being said around the eurozone. Only last week, Angela Merkel was talking of the overall failure to ‘stabilise the situation’ in Greece."

Greece is still the word ahead of today's eurosummit - Spectator

Thursday, January 26, 2012

When they do the remakes

Toy Story

via Geekologie

Learn Chinese in 5 minutes

That's not right.........................Sum Ting Wong

Are you harbouring a fugitive............Hu Yu Hai Ding

See me ASAP..............................Kum Hia

Small Horse..............................Tai Ni Po Ni

I think you need a facelift..............Chin To Fat

It's very dark in here...................Wai So Dim

I thought you were on a diet.............Wai Yu Mun Ching

This is a tow away zone..................No Pa King

Our meeting is next week.................Wai Yu Kum Nao

Staying out of sight.....................Lei Ying Lo

He's cleaning his automobile.............Wa Shing Ka

Your body odour is offensive.............Yu Stin Ki Pu

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


“Forcibly Retired”

Private Inequity

The end of mutual funds is coming

Jiro Dreams of Sushi

Don't despair

"Sir Mervyn said: “After the steepest downturn in output since the 1930s, the UK economy is in the process of rebalancing . . . the path of recovery is likely to be arduous, long and uneven. The position of the world economy, especially in the euro area, is serious.”

He claimed there was reason for optimism.

“There is no reason to despair,” he said. “All crises come to an end, and businesses will find ways to trade with each other and meet the needs of consumers.

“Helped by the right policy actions, the UK and world economies can and will recover. And when they do so, they will be on a more sustainable footing than at any point in the past 15 years.”

“The tragedy of the financial crisis is that those who have suffered most have been those who bear no responsibility for it,” he said."

Sir Mervyn King: no reason to despair - Telegraph

'..when they do so..'

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Snow in Tokyo

Cold overnight, snow storm from 9pm, with thunder which was a first, never heard that before.

Snow in Tokyo pictures


Egg white omelette, mushrooms, onions, spinach, broccoli on the side.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Plan

"Make good stuff, then make it easy for people to buy it. There’s your anti-piracy plan."

MegaUpload - Jonathan Coulton via kung fu grippe

Priced in

"I know the markets are discounting a happy ending to the euro crisis. I just see the substantial “tail risk” and suggest you manage accordingly. Large pensions and foundations may be happy if they end the year where they started. Smaller investors should assess their risk tolerance from the perspective that Europe does not work through its problems."

Staring into the Abyss - TBP

The jobs are gone

“Another critical advantage for Apple was that China provided engineers at a scale the United States could not match. Apple’s executives had estimated that about 8,700 industrial engineers were needed to oversee and guide the 200,000 assembly-line workers eventually involved in manufacturing iPhones. The company’s analysts had forecast it would take as long as nine months to find that many qualified engineers in the United States.

In China, it took 15 days.

They could hire 3,000 people overnight,” said Jennifer Rigoni, who was Apple’s worldwide supply demand manager until 2010, but declined to discuss specifics of her work. “What U.S. plant can find 3,000 people overnight and convince them to live in dorms?”

Why isn’t the iPhone made in America? = Marginal Revolution

"Mr. Jobs’s reply was unambiguous. “Those jobs aren’t coming back,” he said, according to another dinner guest.

The president’s question touched upon a central conviction at Apple. It isn’t just that workers are cheaper abroad. Rather, Apple’s executives believe the vast scale of overseas factories as well as the flexibility, diligence and industrial skills of foreign workers have so outpaced their American counterparts that “Made in the U.S.A.” is no longer a viable option for most Apple products."

How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work - NYT

The Facebook Put

"The $100 billion Facebook IPO has made me think a lot about Google. I call it the “Facebook put.” If Facebook is worth $100 billion, Google sure looks cheap. After all, both companies are in the same business—online advertising. Google did $35.76 billion in revenue through the year ending September 30, 2011. I’ve read that Facebook will do about $4 billion in revenue this year. Facebook is looking to be the next Google, but Google is already Google. Yet, Google may have a valuation of less than 2x Facebook when Facebook comes to market.

Facebook is valued at $100 billion and Google+ is valued at $0. The general thinking seems to be that Facebook will be the sole player in social and that things are just getting started (the latter part is probably true). Eventually, the thought is that Facebook’s social ads could rival or exceed Google’s search advertising. I believe that social networking will play out differently than people expect. I think Google+ is starting off slow, but that it will end up being a huge winner. In a few years, there will be two big social networks—Facebook and Google+."

Is Google Plus Worth $100 Billion? - The Reformed Broker

New media

"That remaining entertainment time is up for grabs as it hasn't been in a hundred years. Hollywood used to own that time. Hollywood convinced us we didn't need to read books anymore because it would turn those books into easily digestible 90 minute movies. It convinced us that we didn't need to read the news anymore because it would produce news as entertainment and give us each a demented news channel all our own that would perfectly replicate and affirm our own points of view. That way they could keep us tuned in every night - sitting there like fat, sweaty vegetables nodding as the talking head confirms all our biases and makes us feel like we've been right all along. That way they could sell us enough penis pills and adult diapers that by the time they were through, we wouldn't know whether it was time to get laid or to get changed.

But Hollywood and the media companies are increasingly under siege from the New Entertainment.

Hollywood knows this and they're scared to death - this is SOPA is actually about, not the .01% of illegally viewed episodes of Bones. Startups and internet companies also know this and they are PRESSING THEIR ADVANTAGE."

Kill Hollywood - The Reformed Broker

"A consortium led by Chinese media entrepreneur Bruno Wu is scouring Hollywood for film companies to acquire, in a sign of China’s growing interest in the US entertainment industry."

China investors set their sights on Hollywood - Ft Alphaville

Friday, January 20, 2012

Garth Vader

Don't Break the Internet

"PROTECT-IP is a bill that has been introduced in the Senate and the House and is moving quickly through Congress. It gives the government and corporations the ability to censor the net, in the name of protecting "creativity". The law would let the government or corporations censor entire sites-- they just have to convince a judge that the site is "dedicated to copyright infringement."

The government has already wrongly shut down sites without any recourse to the site owner. Under this bill, sharing a video with anything copyrighted in it, or what sites like Youtube and Twitter do, would be considered illegal behavior according to this bill.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, this bill would cost us $47 million tax dollars a year — that's for a fix that won't work, disrupts the internet, stifles innovation, shuts out diverse voices, and censors the internet. This bill is bad for creativity and does not protect your rights.

"But maybe you don't care about all of that. Maybe politics bores you, maybe technical details make your eyes glaze over. Here's why you should care anyway: the proposed law that would result from Sopa and Pipa will only work if you are put under 24-hour digital surveillance.

The old media firms in the US aren't out to get you personally, of course – they don't really care about you in particular. What they dislike about you is your willingness to share things with your friends, and with the world at large."

Sopa and Pipa would create a consumption-only internet - Guardian

Thursday, January 19, 2012


As seen from space

via BBC


"He summarizes the global economic environment as follows: "The global environment is very complicated. On the one hand the Federal Reserve has taken a much-needed break from quantitative easing (at least for the moment). Accordingly, inflation in oil and food has abated, providing relief to the US economy. Bearish forecasts that the US was headed back into recession proved wrong for the third time since the end of the last recession. On the other hand, Asia appears to be in much worse shape than it was at this time last year and could be a drag on the world economy going forward. Very few people trust any of the economic data coming out of China, making it difficult to gauge the situation there. Some of the smartest people we know have very dim views. The Chinese have been a leading growth engine for the last two decades and are largely credit with leading the world out of the recession in 2009. A change in their economic circumstances could really upend things."

Einhorn Ends 2011 Just Over +2% - ZH

"The cycle looks like this: time passes and the crisis deepens. Markets, eternal creatures of habit, begin to reflect the ensuing fear. Then, just as things appear ready to unravel, there is a reprieve, as red headlines race across the screen: "Sarkozy and Merkel to Meet at Deauville", "Obama Phones Cameron", or "Christine Lagarde Waves from Bus". The market jumps. You'd think the media would quit falling for this charade, but having run out of clever headlines to describe the impending doom - "Eurogeddon" Really? - they herald every briefing, meeting, assembly, and conference call.

The market embraces these announcements as eagerly as the media, behaving as if any and all communication is equally constructive, and likely to yield a solution. The market continues to rise until the day of that summit, as all ears await a Grand Communique. Within minutes of any proclamation, the market may cheer with a final, celebratory spike. Upon evaluation of the actual statement, it becomes clear that either nothing has truly been agreed upon, or the plan is insufficient, impractical or just won't work. The market sells off and the crisis deepens some more. Lather. Rinse. Repeat."

Producing production

"Clearly the question of what has really happened to Japan is of first-order geopolitical importance. In a stunning refutation of American conventional wisdom, Japan has not missed a beat in building an ever more sophisticated industrial base. That this is not more obvious is a tribute in part to the fact that Japanese manufacturers have graduated to making so-called producers’ goods. These typically consist of advanced components or materials, or precision production equipment. They may be invisible to the consumer, yet without them the modern world literally would not exist. This sort of manufacturing, which is both highly capital-intensive and highly know-how-intensive, was virtually monopolized by the United States in the 1950s and 1960s and constituted the essence of American economic leadership.

Japan’s achievement is all the more impressive for the fact that its major competitors — Germany, South Korea, Taiwan and, of course, China — have hardly been standing still. The world has gone through a rapid industrial revolution in the last two decades thanks to the “targeting” of manufacturing by many East Asian nations. Yet Japan’s trade surpluses have risen.

Japan should be held up as a model, not an admonition. If a nation can summon the will to pull together, it can turn even the most unpromising circumstances to advantage. Here Japan’s constant upgrading of its infrastructure is surely an inspiration."

The Myth of Japan’s Failure - NYT

The Hedge Fund Mirage

"Hedge-fund managers treat themselves to absolutely fabulous toys: Ken Griffin is fond of Ferraris, Steve Cohen is known for his Damien Hirst pickled shark and ice rink outfitted with its own Zamboni in a gabled cottage.

So where are the customers’ yachts?

“Who can name even one hedge fund investor whose fortune is based on the hedge funds he successfully picked?” asks Simon Lack in his stinging expose, “The Hedge Fund Mirage.”

The risks and rewards are so cockeyed that Lack can’t resist paraphrasing Winston Churchill’s encomium about Royal Air Force fighter pilots during the Battle of Britain: “Never in the history of Finance was so much charged by so many for so little.”"

Hedge Funds Buy Ferraris With Phantom Profits, Leave Clients Crumbs - Bloomberg

The oldest piano shop in Paris

Ocean Grace

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SOPA sucks


“Why is it that when Republicans and Democrats need to solve the budget and the deficit, there’s deadlock, but when Hollywood lobbyists pay them $94 million dollars to write legislation, people from both sides of the aisle line up to co-sponsor it?”

Reddit Founder Alexis Ohanian on CNBC.

"The RIAA and MPAA are, again, on the wrong side of history. Attempting to tear apart one of the single greatest communications achievements in human history in a misguided attempt to cling to an outdated business model instead of adapting to the changing world is a fucking crime.

A free and open Internet is as important to me as the bill of rights. I don't want the government of one country -- especially the corporate-controlled United States government -- to exert unilateral control over the Internet for any reason, especially not because media corporations want to buy legislation that won't do anything to actually stop online piracy, but will expand the American police state, and destroy the Internet as we know it."

WWdN:In Exile

A technical examination of SOPA and PROTECT IP



Floating on little trampolines

“At that point, I suddenly realized that more people had gone to the moon than had ever licensed running footwear,” he recalls. “We were almost there. I was in heaven.”

The Greatest Running Shoe Never Sold - Bloomberg Business Week

American Legacy

via Dave and An Ordinary American (check out these other posts too, Which one is the Blonde? and Police women of the world)


"Francesco Schettino, the captain of the Costa Concordia, was ordered by the coastguard to return to the stricken ship after claiming that the evacuation was almost complete when it had scarcely begun, according to this recording of what Italian newspaper say is a telephone conversation between the captain and the port authority."

via The Guardian

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Adapt to win

"Seth Godin says the world is changing faster than ever and people aren’t adapting fast enough. He says as the industrial age transforms into the technological age your entire mentality has to change. You have to adapt to your surroundings if you want to win the race to the top.

Today’s world is no longer about waiting for some big corporation to choose you to become important. It’s no longer about thinking that the only thing you have to offer the world is a specific expertise based on a degree that likely didn’t help you understand the modern world. It’s no longer about waiting on everyone else to decide that you matter. It’s all about empowering yourself and finding ways to make the rest of society see the value in you.

So ask yourself – are you still working and thinking in the defunct model? This model that says we have to work for someone else? This model that says you can’t break from conventional wisdom and succeed? Success is there for those who want it and they’re the ones winning the race to the top in the “forever recession”."

via The PragCap


Monday, January 16, 2012



via What the F

Liberty Walk


Back from an excellent holiday (vacation for non-Brits) and as usual keen to get off the booze and drop some weight after the last 2 months of excess.

Having done some Crossfit last year, and followed the 'culture' closely, I have been keen to try and do some sort of Paleo diet, or a Whole30 challenge. There are a number of reasons for this, but primarily the more I read, the more I learn that it could be a good way to drop my (stupid high level) cholesterol without resorting to drugs, shed a few excess pounds and kickstart what looks like to be a tough and stressful year on a positive note.

So, Paleo diet, no booze (will give myself 2 silver bullets, red wine only, wife's birthday next mth, etc.), normal exercise regime, ie. swimming, biking, crossfit session, 30 days (to begin with?). Started this on Saturday as we travelled home and so far it is going fine.

Breakfast and dinner should be straightforward, but lunch will be quite difficult in my opinion as the local 'eateries' are not very conducive to finding the right type of meals - lots of rice, noodles, sandwiches. I just bought a salad for lunch that should have done the trick, only to realise that 'Oriental Cashew & Brown Rice Salad' has RICE in it. Bugger. Some packed lunches will help. I suspect that if I can simply cut out a lot of processed food and sugar laden 'snacks' then there would be a positive impact, but I'll aim to go the whole hog for now.

I was back up to 85kg (16% fat) before we left for Bali. No idea where I am now. Too scared to look. I'll try to make a few measurements tomorrow morning and then revisit after 30days.

So it's on the blog now. No turning back.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A failed experiment

"Looking ahead, the eurozone is likely to continue with almost all its current members. The challenge now will be to change the economic behavior of those countries. Formal constitutionally mandated balanced-budget rules of the type recently adopted by Germany, Italy, and Spain would, if actually implemented, put each country's national debt on a path to a sustainable level. New policies must avoid current account deficits in the future by limiting the volume of national imports to amounts that can be financed with export earnings and direct foreign investment. Such measures should make it possible to sustain the euro without future crises and without the fiscal transfers that are now creating tensions within Europe."

The Failure of the Euro - he Little Currency That Couldn’t - Foreign Affairs

Saturday, January 14, 2012

End credits

"And so, the biggest challenge the United States faces today is not a looming great-power rival; it is the triple whammy of accumulated debt, eroding infrastructure and a sluggish economy. The only way to have the world’s most capable military forces both now and into the future is to have the world’s most advanced economy, and that means having better schools, the best universities, a scientific establishment that is second to none, and a national infrastructure that enhances productivity and dazzles those who visit from abroad. These things all cost money, of course, but they would do far more to safeguard our long-term security than spending a lot of blood and treasure determining who should run Afghanistan, Kosovo, South Sudan, Libya, Yemen or any number of other strategic backwaters.

The twilight of the American Era is not an occasion to mourn or a time to cast blame. The period when the United States could manage the politics, economics and security arrangements for nearly the entire globe was never destined to endure forever, and its passing need not herald a new age of rising threats and economic hardship if we make intelligent adjustments.

Instead of looking backward with nostalgia, Americans should see the end of the American Era as an opportunity to rebalance our international burdens and focus on our domestic imperatives. Instead of building new Bagrams in faraway places of little consequence, it is time to devote more attention to that “shining city on a hill” of which our leaders often speak, but which still remains to be built."

The End of the American Era - The National Interest

Friday, January 13, 2012


Make a donation

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The B&B is ok

But only just.

Beach life sucks

Smoke screening

"To a large number of security analysts, this expenditure makes no sense. The vast cost is not worth the infinitesimal benefit. Not only has the actual threat from terror been exaggerated, they say, but the great bulk of the post-9/11 measures to contain it are little more than what Schneier mocks as “security theater”: actions that accomplish nothing but are designed to make the government look like it is on the job. In fact, the continuing expenditure on security may actually have made the United States less safe.

“The only useful airport security measures since 9/11,” he says, “were locking and reinforcing the cockpit doors, so terrorists can’t break in, positive baggage matching”—ensuring that people can’t put luggage on planes, and then not board them —“and teaching the passengers to fight back. The rest is security theater.”

Taking off your shoes is next to useless. “It’s like saying, Last time the terrorists wore red shirts, so now we’re going to ban red shirts,” Schneier says. If the T.S.A. focuses on shoes, terrorists will put their explosives elsewhere. “Focusing on specific threats like shoe bombs or snow-globe bombs simply induces the bad guys to do something else. You end up spending a lot on the screening and you haven’t reduced the total threat.”

Quite likely, they wouldn’t go through the checkpoint at all. The security bottlenecks are regularly bypassed by large numbers of people—airport workers, concession-stand employees, airline personnel, and T.S.A. agents themselves (though in 2008 the T.S.A. launched an employee-screening pilot study at seven airports). “Almost all of those jobs are crappy, low-paid jobs,” Schneier says. “They have high turnover. If you’re a serious plotter, don’t you think you could get one of those jobs?”

What the government should be doing is focusing on the terrorists when they are planning their plots. “That’s how the British caught the liquid bombers,” Schneier says. “They never got anywhere near the plane. That’s what you want—not catching them at the last minute as they try to board the flight.”

To walk through an airport with Bruce Schneier is to see how much change a trillion dollars can wreak. So much inconvenience for so little benefit at such a staggering cost. “We’re spending billions upon billions of dollars doing this—and it is almost entirely pointless. Not only is it not done right, but even if it was done right it would be the wrong thing to do.”

Smoke Screening - Vanity Fair

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Give it a rest

"Dec 23 (Reuters) - Volkswagen has agreed to grant workers in Germany a rest from e-mails relentlessly filling the inboxes of their Blackberry devices out of hours.

Europe's biggest carmaker and the body that represents its workers have agreed to have the e-mail function deactivated at night, a spokesman for the company said, confirming an earlier report in a German newspaper.

Workers will only receive e-mails from half an hour before the start of flex-time working hours until half an hour after they end, but will still be able to receive and make phone calls."

VW, works council agree deactivate e-mails at night - Reuters

Or. Just get people to stop cc'ing everyone they can think of when sending "business" email.

Monday, January 09, 2012


“I sometimes forget my nationality,” Beppu says. “I lived in France, and I rode for international teams. I became very European and I forgot my nationality, except for one moment last year, the Japan Cup.

“There were 30,000 people cheering us. It made me cry with happiness, and at that moment I felt like I was Japanese again.”

Fumiyuki Beppu interview: Japan’s rising son

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Chances with Wolves


“Truth is treason in the empire of lies.”

“Freedom is not defined by safety. Freedom is defined by the ability of citizens to live without government interference. Government cannot create a world without risks, nor would we really wish to live in such a fictional place. Only a totalitarian society would even claim absolute safety as a worthy ideal, because it would require total state control over its citizens’ lives. Liberty has meaning only if we still believe in it when terrible things happen and a false government security blanket beckons.”

Friday, January 06, 2012


"My prediction is that President Obama will easily win reelection by showing that he succeeded in many of the objectives he controlled (especially international stuff) and was thwarted by Republicans on domestic stuff. After President Obama is reelected, Democrats and Republicans will lock arms and march the economy off the cliff, plunging civilization into a thousand years of darkness."

Scott Adams Blog: My Presidential Campaign Update


"Summarizing my views from this post and prior ones, as President of the United States, I would do the following:

  • I would host public debates on important topics, and publish my verdicts.
  • I would shine a bright light on incompetent members of Congress, especially the ones that are governing by superstition, bad math, or ignorance of science.
  • I would host a debate on the topic of limiting inheritance to $50 million. That's enough money to turn anyone into an insufferable douche bag.
  • I would use the power of the Internet to give voters a simple "dashboard" to help understand the issues and keep Congress honest.
  • I would require all voting to be by Internet, and make sure everyone had access in one way or another.
  • I would appoint Supreme Court justices that match the majority views in the country, even if my own views differed.
  • I would govern for the majority, except in cases where the majority is trying to discriminate against a specific minority. I don't like bigots and bullies.
  • I would keep foreign policy about the same.
  • I would use states as test beds for programs that are being considered by the federal government.
  • I would flip-flop whenever it was warranted by new information or clearer thinking.
  • I would appoint brilliant, experienced advisors with a history of crossing party lines.
  • I would accept only $1 per year in pay and make up the difference later in speaking fees, book deals, and licensing.
  • I wouldn't spend a minute campaigning for myself or anyone else, unless it was in the service of getting rid of an incompetent member of Congress.
  • I would favor raising all Federal taxes by 10%, and cutting all budgets by 10%, unless Congress comes up with a better idea, which seems unlikely.
  • I would not be a good role model for your kids. That's your job.

Keep in mind that I would be a one-term president. I say that to reduce my chances of being assassinated. And I'd be eager to cash in after the first term. A second term would have rapidly diminishing returns for everyone involved."

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Lou Nasti

Baghdad Country Club


"James couldn't go anywhere near the area himself, so Ajax was in charge of that department.

Ajax knew he needed a bigger car. He took his Jeep Cherokee, tinted the windows, and removed the backseats to double the load capacity. The vehicle still wasn't big enough. By the time Ajax upgraded to multi-axle trucks, the violence was worsening. This created an additional problem, since larger vehicles couldn't be armored. Sometimes Ajax stationed a guy with an AK-47 amid the beer, hidden in a makeshift turret assembled from cases of Carlsberg or Sapporo. His job was to light up attackers, but Ajax knew he was usually drunk by the time they got moving."

What It Takes to Open a Bar in Baghdad - The Atlantic

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Being the Right Size

"For every type of animal there is an optimum size. The same is true for every human institution. The English invention of representative government made a democratic nation possible."

On Being the Right Size - Farnham Street

Originally published in 1928 by J. B. S. Haldane, the essay linked above is well worth a read.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Kim Rugg

Sleepy Time

"sleepyti.me works by counting backwards in sleep cycles. Sleep cycles typically last 90 minutes."

Monday, January 02, 2012

Made in China

"Today a large, motivated workforce resides in the east. Whilst the west has experienced a decline in its skill base and, as a consequence, levels of quality, the opposite has been true of the east. In the last thirty years China in particular has bridged the gap with the west and, in many examples, overtaken it.

As the second largest economy in the world China continues to flourish, whereas the western world struggles through one financial crisis after the next. The national persona of China is a hard working one.

“The capabilities of Chinese manufacturers are far beyond those in Europe. With such a large, skilled workforce in China and fast developing technology, Europe faces a tough task competing.”

This may suggest the perception of Chinese manufacturing in the west is perhaps owed to a fear of the competition, rather than reality. As the Chinese economy has grown, working conditions have improved and business has developed a social, ethical conscience."

Made in China - Rapha.cc

Sunday, January 01, 2012


“If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people,” Mr. Bezos told reporter Steve Levy last month in an interview in Wired. “But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that. Just by lengthening the time horizon, you can engage in endeavors that you could never otherwise pursue. At Amazon we like things to work in five to seven years. We’re willing to plant seeds, let them grow—and we’re very stubborn.”

Amazon Says Long Term And Means It - NYT