Monday, May 26, 2008

Things you begin to understand

Over to the right on my bloglist is a link to I found this comic whilst stumbling I believe and have since become an ardent fan. Thus it should be cool to see it in the Nytimes, instead its somehow disappointing. There is clearly this attempt to understand what is referred to as niche markets. There is the book the Long Tail as well as theories such as crowdsourcing, viral marketing etc. Which is great and fascinating, but is it just me or does it take away some of the fun of liking something once it becomes an explainable theory? Is that just me?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Great story on NPR about an Iraq war reporter who watched Buffy to help her deal with the stress of being in a war zone.

Sen. Edward Kennedy has malignant brain tumor - Yahoo! News

Sen. Edward Kennedy has malignant brain tumor - Yahoo! News: "BOSTON - A cancerous brain tumor caused the seizure Sen. Edward M. Kennedy suffered over the weekend, doctors said Tuesday in a grim diagnosis for one of American politics' most enduring figures. 'He remains in good spirits and full of energy,' the doctors for the 76-year-old Massachusetts Democrat said in a statement."

Monday, May 19, 2008

Paranoia isn't always paranoia, sometimes they really are watching you

Daily Kos: Police State 2.0: It's Here: "Klein says that the latest unrest in Tibet was a test for the ever-expanding system, called the 'Golden Shield.' And the oppressive infrastructure earned at least an A-. Dissident cell phones were jammed. Information favorable to the protestors was blocked on the Internet. Photos of the participants, especially the leaders, were rapidly disseminated on 'Most Wanted' posters on the Internet and the protests were 'spun' through Chinese media to make the Tibetans look like violent thugs.

While some in the West were protesting the crackdown on dissent, companies like Yahoo, Google, Cisco and a mysterious company called L-1 Identity Solutions have been cooperating with the Chinese government and hoping to profit greatly from helping construct Police State 2.0. Yahoo came under mild Congressional criticism in 2006 for turning over email data belonging to dissidents who had (unwisely) used their free email service. Google custom tailors searches in China to censor out results offensive to the government. Cisco provides the routers for the Great Firewall of China that not only blocks out websites like the BBC but also allows deep packet surveillance on Chinese surfers.

And L-1 may be the lynchpin of the whole system. Some say their facial recognition sofware is the best in the world. Despite American laws prohibiting the export of technology that could aid the Chinese govenment in oppressing its citizens, L-1 is stealthily working with Chinese companies to compete for the contract to make the facial recognition software that will tie China's rapdily growing high resolution camera phalanx into a integrated system that can identify everyone on the street at any time and tie their face to their national ID and the vast amount of data kept there.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Save your money

Calculated Risk: "There seems to be sentiment developing that the U.S. has weathered the worst of the current cyclical economic storm and blue skies are ahead. We disagree. Any blue skies you see are likely to be short lived. The economy is in the relative calm of the eye of the business-cycle hurricane. The mortgage credit problems are not over. And credit problems in other sectors are just beginning as the housing recession spreads to the rest of the economy."

I have been somewhat obsessed with financial news the past couple of years. As a result I regularly read Businessweek, Financial Times, WSJ, NYTimes, Economist (although I really hate them) etc. I also read several economic blogs, several who are very good at taking hard to understand finance talk and break it down into understandable scenarios.

And I am officially terrified of the coming storm.

I wish I had more money in the bank. I wish I believed that what I do for a job was actually useful and necessary and thus harder to layoff. I wish I knew how to grow food or even cook from ingredients, because I think this is a new era. I suspected that they screwed the pooch.

Now I think I begin to grasp the sheer amount of money that was lost and understand that a lot of that money was people's retirement, government's savings and generally speaking the bedrock of the world financial system as we don't understand it, and it's gone. It's really, really gone. Never to return.

And people get angry when their money is gone and government's sure as fuck get angry when their money is gone and just for fun we have had an asshole of president who has been handing out the treasury to his cronies for eight years and he will get to waltz off into the Texas sunset while we idiots think hiring Barack Obama will matter. It won't matter, because they stole the country and a lot of the rest of the world's money and they and us are going to be pissed and there may not be a way out of this. Just saying.

Your not Paranoid

Media Matters - Military analysts named in Times exposé appeared or were quoted more than 4,500 times on broadcast nets, cables, NPR: "Military analysts named in Times exposé appeared or were quoted more than 4,500 times on broadcast nets, cables, NPR

Summary: A New York Times article detailed the connection between numerous media military analysts and the Pentagon and defense industries, reporting that 'the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform' media military analysts 'into a kind of media Trojan horse -- an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.' A Media Matters review found that since January 1, 2002, the analysts named in the Times article -- many identified as having ties to the defense industry -- collectively appeared or were quoted as experts more than 4,500 times on ABC, ABC News Now, CBS, CBS Radio Network, NBC, CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, and NPR."

Friday, May 16, 2008

Thanks Ann!

Indian village proud after double "honor killing" - Yahoo! News

Indian village proud after double "honor killing" - Yahoo! News:

The relatively prosperous northern state of Haryana is one of India's most conservative when it comes to caste, marriage and the role of women. Deeply patriarchal, caste purity is paramount and marriages are arranged to sustain the status quo.

Men and women are still murdered across the villages of northern India for daring to marry outside their caste, but in Haryana the practice is widespread, and widely supported.

Here, women veil their faces with scarves in public. The illegal abortion of female fetuses is common, the ratio of women to men in Haryana just 861 to 1,000, the lowest in the country.

Anyone who transgresses social codes, by marrying across caste boundaries or within the same village, is liable to meet the same fate as Sunita and Jasbir.

Many such murders are never reported, hardly any result in prosecution, says Professor Javeed Alam, chairman of the Indian Council of Social Science Research."

Just interesting

He was a carefree Italian with a recent law degree from a Roman university. She was “a totally Virginia girl,” as she puts it, raised across the road from George Washington’s home. Their romance, sparked by a 2006 meeting in a supermarket in Rome, soon brought the Italian, Domenico Salerno, on frequent visits to Alexandria, Va., where he was welcomed like a favorite son by the parents and neighbors of his girlfriend, Caitlin Cooper.

But on April 29, when Mr. Salerno, 35, presented his passport at Washington Dulles International Airport, a Customs and Border Protection agent refused to let him into the United States. And after hours of questioning, agents would not let him travel back to Rome, either; over his protests in fractured English, he said, they insisted that he had expressed a fear of returning to Italy and had asked for asylum.

Ms. Cooper, 23, who had promised to show her boyfriend another side of her country on this visit — meaning Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon — eventually learned that he had been sent in shackles to a rural Virginia jail. And there he remained for more than 10 days, locked up without charges or legal recourse while Ms. Cooper, her parents and their well-connected neighbors tried everything to get him out.

and also...

"I was from a poor, white family from the south, and I did badly in school," the now 24-year-old told AFP.

"I was 'filet mignon' for recruiters. They started phoning me when I was in 10th grade," or around 16 years old, he added.

Chiroux joined the US army straight out of high school nearly six years ago, and worked his way up from private to sergeant.

He served in Afghanistan, Germany, Japan, and the Philippines and was due to be deployed next month in Iraq.

On Thursday, he refused to go, saying he considers Iraq an illegal war.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Corporation as Sociopath

Multinationals make billions in profit out of growing global food crisis - Green Living, Environment - The Independent: "Giant agribusinesses are enjoying soaring earnings and profits out of the world food crisis which is driving millions of people towards starvation, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. And speculation is helping to drive the prices of basic foodstuffs out of the reach of the hungry.

The prices of wheat, corn and rice have soared over the past year driving the world's poor – who already spend about 80 per cent of their income on food – into hunger and destitution."

Cargill's net earnings soared by 86 per cent from $553m to $1.030bn over the same three months. And Archer Daniels Midland, one of the world's largest agricultural processors of soy, corn and wheat, increased its net earnings by 42 per cent in the first three months of this year from $363m to $517m. The operating profit of its grains merchandising and handling operations jumped 16-fold from $21m to $341m.

Similarly, the Mosaic Company, one of the world's largest fertiliser companies, saw its income for the three months ending 29 February rise more than 12-fold, from $42.2m to $520.8m, on the back of a shortage of fertiliser. The prices of some kinds of fertiliser have more than tripled over the past year as demand has outstripped supply. As a result, plans to increase harvests in developing countries have been hit hard.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation reports that 37 developing countries are in urgent need of food. And food riots are breaking out across the globe from Bangladesh to Burkina Faso, from China to Cameroon, and from Uzbekistan to the United Arab Emirates.