Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Lydia Calas's Face For NYC Mayor

Lydia Calas is Michael Bloomberg's sign language interpreter, & has become a surprise hero with her animated face contrasting Bloomberg expressionless one.

Feeding the family

Hurricane Sandy has highlighted, for a lot of folk, the reality that when natural disasters strike supply chains, you gotta do with what little they may be. Tips on feeding the family, hurricane edition

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A curious medical case [article]

The lady had a pacemaker installed, & somehow it stopped working, unless she was upside down.

Mid-week inspiration

"Do what you love..." read the passage here" - from Debbie Millman's book "Look both ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life & Design"

Banking on Risky Practices? Posner

Is Banking Unusually Prone to Risky Practices?, Posner explores this question by applying Darwinian theory of evolution (ie survival of the fittest) by adapting to the competitive environment. A good description of the true banking industry, & its current avatar into a short-term focused industry

Ken Ken

I found this video that explains how the japanese game of Ken Ken is played. Will Shortz, the man behind the NYTimes puzzles. Warning: The game is addictive!

Its impossible to sing & play bass [humor]

Monday, October 29, 2012

India's Silicon Valley Garbage Crisis

Sarita Rai describes how the garbage crisis is closing the schism between the gated communities (a favorite for expats) & everyone else.

Teach yourself?

An ambitious experiment by the One Laptop Per Child organisation in two remote villages in Ethiopia is trying to see if see if illiterate kids with no previous exposure to written words can learn how to read all by themselves, by experimenting with the tablet and its preloaded alphabet-training games, e-books, movies, cartoons, paintings, and other programs ,

The Frankenstorm Monster?

Is climate change for real? Are the random weather patterns we're witnessing lately just that? Or does the science behind it stack up? An opinion by Adam Frank on NPR. or is there room for doubt? asTania Lombrozo wonders?

Religion as a mother [video]

Why do so many people picture God as a man? asks the narrator in the animated video on Open University's newest series, 60-second adventures in religion. Also watch Religion as Social Control, Religion as ritual, and religion as virus

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Social Devaluation [Essay]

Dylan Grice, an analyst from Societe Generale, in his letter titled "You are debasing more than our currency", asks, "do our money-printing central banks and their cheerleaders understand the full consequences of the monetary debasement they continue to engineer?"

Changing Education Paradigms

Sir Ken Robinson "Changing Education Paradigms" animated.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A celebrity profile [article]

I hate celebrity profiles. Heck, I hate celebrities. And when this 1966 profile by Gay Talese, called Frank Sinatra has a cold,  turned up in my recommended read list, I scoffed, casually clicked on the link, & read -no, raced - through the whole article. Written like a Sicilian novel! Wonderful read for a weekend.

Split of a second [video]

Two videos of the Norwegian Wingsuit World Champion, Espen Fadnes. The first is called "sense of flying, an incredible jump off a mountain & flying down at 250kmph. He speaks about visualizing the flight before he actually does the jump. The second video is called "Split of a second".

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Future of Learning [Video]

What is the future of learning in a networked world? "Teachers don't have to have any answers. The answers are everywhere.They need to direct students to ask the right questions."

Britain's oldest blacksmith

I shall live tired, but I shall not retire, says Fred Harriss, 84, whos' been at his job for the last 74 years!

Japanese Juggling Festival [Video]

Captured on a smart phone so a bit jumpy, but check out this dude, Yanazo! Incredible control, using just one ball for half the performance.

The Original Jump [Video]

Before Felix Baumgartner did his death-defying jump from 39km up, Joe Kittinger did it from 31km. Watch a documentary of his jump in 1960.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Writer who could not read [Video]

It happened suddenly one day. Howard Engel, a Canadian mystery writer, woke up and realized he couldn’t read the daily newspaper, let alone his own novels. He had suffered a stroke, it turns out, that left him with a rare condition called alexia sine agraphia, a condition that strangely leaves victims unable to read, but able to write.

Seth Godin on Education

16 minutes on the history of education (also known as indoctrination, unquestioning obedience, compliance) & its radical transformation (courtesy the internet).

Grains of Sand Magnified

Every single grain of sand looks different, according to Dr Gary Greenberg, who magnified sand particles 200 times, & photographed what he saw. Grains of Sand Magnified

Election Rigging

In the country that promotes "democracy" around the world - Democrats blast Ottawa County elections board for giving voters the wrong election date and polling place.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Capital Letter [Video]

Sometimes, verse says it better than words.

Teen Building

This teen built his own tiny home on wheels so he could move out of his parents' house, and have no mortgage.


A stark question about the distinct lack of coverage by the media about the developments in Iceland, very simply asked by Jacob Perillo on Google+ . (If the link doesn't work for you for any reason, I'm happy to send you a text version of the write up).

West London Free School

An unapologetic attempt to provide quality education - without charging an arm & a leg. Also possibly the strictest school in England, as this article points out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sanctions are "genocide"

During the course of the third US Presidential debate, both "leaders" wanted tougher sanctions against Iran. Here's a take from a former UN official, who says Iraq sanctions are "genocide". As an aside, I watched the debate live on the internet, & followed along on Twitter (for some interesting real-time perspectives)

Iceland's new constitution [News]

How technology & civilian involvement is working in bankrupt Iceland, with a crowd-sourced Constitution being approved by two-thirds of its population. Sure, there will be dissent, but isn't that how democracy is supposed to work?

eek books!

Imagine this situation: You walk into a book store, find a book whose title seems interesting, browse through it, & decide to buy it. You come back home, & put it on your bookshelf. A couple of days later, a book store employees walks into your house, & takes away the book, because they don't like who you are associating yourself with.  Outrageous? Essentially what happened to Norwegian Linn Jordet Nygaard  with her e-book collection on her Kindle.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Everything sounds better..[videos]

Ever wondered how everyday activities would sound in a concert hall? for eg, singing in the shower, or the power saw going through wood? Well, if you haven't, check this out!

Alain de Botton - Pleasures & Success of Work [TED Talk]

If you've not heard Alain de Botton's keen & (witty observations), & are (or know someone who is) in a job-threatening situation, well worth the 15 minutes of your busy life! "Because it’s bad enough not getting what you want, but it’s even worse to have an idea of what it is you want and find out at the end of the journey that it isn’t, in fact, what you wanted all along."

How to write about poverty [Book Review]

In a review of two books based on India's oft-portrayed poverty, Martha Nussbaum posits on how to write about poverty. The two books she critiques are Katherine Boo's BEHIND THE BEAUTIFUL FOREVERS & Siddhartha Deb's THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE DAMNED. " What should we think about a social environment that creates hope and then so often frustrates it?

Just Give Me A Job [Article]

Dan Miller has some advise for Gen Y

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Reign of the Techno-Nanny [Essay]

Jathan Sadowski argues that apps are like techno-nannies and essentially we are becoming too reliant on them. And not all of it is a good thing. It is a great, thoughtful and well argued essay. Reign of the Techno-Nanny. "We’ve all heard stories of people driving into rivers because their GPS told them to. We might laugh at them for so blindly following directions, but that’s only because it’s an over-the-top example of what we do every day. We tend to be quite adept at following the technological prompts we’re presented with. Not driving into the river is one thing, but knowing when to defer to the phone is not so as simple as resolving to make prudent, conscious decisions about the technology’s limitations."

The SuperSonic Man [article]

A 2-year old interview with Felix Baumgartner, who, last week, jumped out of a helium balloon 39km in the sky, & lived to tell the tale.

Don't go Baghdad on Tehran

Rolf-Ekeus & Malfrid Braut Hegghammer explain why the West should avoid doing the same mistakes with Iran as it did with Iraq. As they say, "The West's approach to Iran today mirrors the way it handled Iraq. Then, as now, the emphasis is on force, pressure, and uncovering evidence of an ongoing weapons program."

Tying your shoelaces!

100 people answer the question, “How old are you?

in Dutch, of course. Watch the video (150 seconds) & read about its creator, Jeroen Wolf.


The AIDS Council of Finland draws you in with sex in this advert, and then jars you using Facebook "Places" as a creative linchpin. 

Scientists Read Dreams

This may have been rather difficult for the participants in the experiment, waking up every 10 minutes to record a dream, while their brain waves were simultaneously recorded using EEG. "Knowing more about the content of dreams and how it relates to brain activity may help us to understand the function of dreaming"

Saturday, October 20, 2012

French Flash Mob

A Star Wars flash mob in Paris

Odyssey Expedition

"We all dream about travelling the world. But some dreams are bigger than others." Graham Hughes is trying to be the first person to visit every single country in the world, WITHOUT FLYING to get there. Read about his amazing story here!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Baby Elephant rescue

Members of the Amboseli Trust, an elephant welfare and conservation group, have attempted to rescue a baby elephant trapped in a water well in Kenya

Collectors Items

Newsweek will stop printing its iconic magazine at the end of this year. Keep your collectors item copies (no guarantees that it will make your retirement fund any stronger!)

Skepticism & Openness [Article]

Carl Sagan The Burden of Skepticism

How much is your spare time worth?

Have you given it any thought? Mr. Money Moustache weighs in with his.

Internet spying

Who do you turn to when your telco, who you pay a monthly fee to use its services, starts spying on your internet usage & selling that information to third parties, without your consent?

You don't own what you bought?

As this lady found out, buying digital copies of books/ movies/ etc for your digital device doesn't necessarily mean you will have access to it anytime you want, or that you "own" it either.

China & US Jobs

During the 2nd US Presidential Debate, Mitt Romney said that China's currency currency manipulation and intellectual property theft has allowed it to become the largest manufacturer in the world, causing the loss of 500,000 American manufacturing jobs in the last four years. Anthony Tao defends China:  Even now, when China’s per [capita] GDP is still nearly six times less than the US’s, China is just artificially keeping its currency down cause it really wants to stick it to Americans, right? Because there are just so many Americans who dream about working in an iPhone-assembling factory.


The leading bird in a European project to develop a method to save a rare species of ibis was killed last weekend by illegal hunters in Italy. Goja, a northern bald ibis (Geronticus eremita), was on her way to wintering grounds in Tuscany when she was shot down, along with two other birds that she was leading.

Human Powered Helicopter

The Sikorsky Prize from the American Helicopter Society has promised $250,000 to anyone that build’s a human-powered helicopter that can “hover for a minute, reach a height of 3 meters (about 10 feet), and stay in a 10-meter box.” No one has claimed this prize in 30 years. And not for a lack of trying
But students at the University of Maryland, Team Gamera HPH, are now closer than most to reaching this goal. Watch the video above and read more about them on NPR.

Volcanoes & Flamingoes

A clip from the BBC’s Wild South America, fly above the phenomenally massive volcanoes high up in the Andes mountain range in South America’s Altiplano. Plus, witness the region’s flamingos as they “dance” in a colony together — quite a sight to see!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


The world is full of stories of inspirational people. My friend (Thanks Suben!) shared with me the story of Maha Sinnathamby, a Sinhalese of Malaysian origin, & one of Australia's modern day successes. Read more about him & his 10 principles for success here. (A teaser: Work for purpose, not results)

TED.. [video]

All you TED lovers, enjoy this one! Compost-fuelled cars!

Art Project [Link]

If art is your sort of thing, but getting to those expensive museums that feature them isn't, Google's Art Project may be the answer you're looking for. There are currently 42 new online exhibitions to spend your time admiring.

Definitions [Article]

Joel Spolsky, a software professional, has a way with words. For my not-so-computer-friendly readers, here's his simple explanation of the difference between Systems Software & Application Software.

Dog! [Video]

Won't say much. Enjoy.

Presentation Blindness [Article]

A simple cure for powerpoint myopia

Changes [article]

Her son was to have served in Afghanistan, but Claire Felice ended up there instead - as a photo-journalist, clicking pictures of her country's Marine lads, before, during & after their time there.

Marie Antoinette [video]

If you can't have cake.. you can have Marie Antoinette's treasures.. up for auction in Paris:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A message for mankind [Video]

Charlie Chaplin's brilliant speech from "The Great Dictator".

Online Bullying [Article, Video]

On October 10, Amanda Todd as found dead at home in Canada. She was 15. This is the story of her online bullies, her attempt to tell her story on you-tube, & her tragic end. Ubiquitous internet access, without really understanding the implications of the use, is a far bigger danger than most of us realize (especially the young ones). Please spare the time to click through & read / watch and hopefully share this with your near & dear ones.

The Secret Life of Atoms [article]

Serge Haroche and David Wineland won the 2012 Nobel Prize in Physics because they’ve managed to manipulate particles one at a time: Haroche with individual photons, and Wineland with trapped ions. What does that mean? Dennis Overbye of the NYTimes shed a little light, literally.

Bouncing Water [Video, article]

Fluid dynamicists have developed a trick to make droplets sit on water indefinitely. I wonder how do they even think up these things? Beautiful video. Read the article here

Sea Views [Picture, News]

Carnival Spirit arrives in Sydney waters.

Understanding in Debates [link]

Lest we in the rest of the world naively believe that the US-promoted style of democratic electing a government is the best in the world, here's the Memorandum of Understanding that the campaigns signed. A carefully constructed document that ensures that the candidates sponsors interests' never come up as questions. And if you didn't get a chance to watch the 2nd debate, watch it here.

Galactic neighbours [article]

 European astronomers say that just outside our solar system they've found a planet that's the closest you can get to Earth in location and size.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

2nd US Presidential Debate

The second debate starts at 9:00pm at Hofstra University, Long Island, New York. The moderator is CNN's Candy Crowley. You can watch the debate here, if you're interested. Check here for your local time (if you're in Sydney or Delhi).

Are Chinese telecom firms really a danger to national security?

A technologist's view of the implications of the recent decision by the US Congress to ban trading with Huawei & ZTE.


How long will you live? & how long will it seem like? Geoffrey West, a theoretical physicist, has some interesting observations on the correlation between heartbeats & lifespans. He says "...larger animals have predictably slower heartbeats than small animals. ... The whale is a hundred million times bigger than a shrew, but its heart rate is just a hundred times slower. .....larger animals having a longer life span than smaller animals. These two laws together say, essentially, that there are the same number of heartbeats in your lifetime whether you are a shrew or a whale. It gives rise to the idea that big animals live very long but very slowly, and little ones live very fast but over a very short period of time." Read more here

Work & Leisure

It turns out that many people have only a limited appetite for “leisure” in the sense of spending their days at the beach or on the golf course. Rather, they’re interested in pursuing creative or philanthropic activities that, when pursued in earnest wind up looking a lot like having a job.


It's budgeting time where I work, & I found this quote pertinent: "You might call this species of cocked-up forecasting the tyranny of significant digits; more broadly, it is the cardinal mistake of dressing up uncertainty—an incalculable unknown—with risk, a highly calculable gamble with discrete odds. Risk is gambling on a flush in poker, knowing the odds are one in four of drawing the suit that you need; uncertainty is playing poker without a clear idea of the rules or the distribution of cards in the deck." from Nate Silver's book The Signal and the Noise. (emphasis mine)

Life On Money [Pictures]

You don't see much of cash & coins in these days of plastic money & internet banking, but here are pictures of what stuff is really on them! (Good reason why you shouldn't put it in your mouth!)

The Cobra Effect [Podcast]

The unintended consequences of trying to control ...."[T]he "cobra effect" refers to a scheme in colonial India where the British governor, or whoever, the person in charge in Delhi, wanted to rid Delhi of cobras. Apparently in his opinion there were too many cobras in Delhi. So he had the bounty placed on cobras. And he expected this would solve the problem. But the population in Delhi, at least some of it, responded by farming cobras. And all of a sudden the administration was getting too many cobra skins. And they decided the scheme wasn’t as smart as initially it appeared and they rescinded the scheme. But by then the cobra farmers had this little population of cobras to deal with. And what do you do if there’s no market? You just release them. And so this significantly, by a few orders of magnitude, worsened the cobra menace in Delhi." - Vikas Mehrotra

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Other Son [Movie}

This is a movie I will watch (& I don't watch too many).  The two boys in "The Other Son" have been raised to resent and hate each other, and now find out that they are each other. The "Jewish" boy is not Jewish, the rabbi explains to him, because his mother was not Jewish. The boy protests that he has been an observant Jew for every day of his life. Not good enough, the rabbi regrets. The boy has only to take a few more steps and he can convert. The boy is outraged--he, a lifelong Jew, must convert to Judaism?

What if money was no object? [Video]

A very thought-provoking talk by Alan Watts' set to some splendid imagery.

The History of the Profile Pictures [Article]

Andrew Sullivan links to two articles that trace the history of the now common profile picture

Microbes & Immune Systems [Book Review]

In these days of instant everything, we need evidence to support any claims (forget centuries-old, traditional ways of life), while propaganda (of all sorts) is quickly accepted as fact (Doubt it? Do you use toothpaste? How much do you know about what's in it?). Author Moises Velasquez-Manoff, a sufferer of asthma, hay fever, food allergies & alopecia (hair loss, in case you wondered!), & fascinated with the prevalence of allergies in recent times despite improved sanitation, hygiene, vaccines & antibiotics, crossed over into Tijuana, Mexico, to infect himself with hookworms in an attempt to cure himself. He came out of it with a book, "An Epidemic of Absence", a cure for his sinuses, no extra hair growth, & demonstrating among other things that:

Felix Baumgartner's jump visualised [Image]

You'll have already heard of Felix Baumgartner's incredible jump from the edge of outer space [click here if you haven't seen it yet, without any of the nuisance commentaries from news anchors, & to know how painstakingly elaborate the whole procedure was!]. And to get a visual idea of how high he really was, check out image created by Johnnie Manzari.

iEmbedded image permalink

Tubes - aka Internet [Book Review]

Wired Magazine's Andrew Blum is the author of a book called Tubes - as this review of the book by the New York Times assures, it is an interesting journey through this relatively recent, addictive, & fascinating invention of modern times.

Soviet style internet .. in the US [Developing Story]

According to a document from one of the largest telco's in the US, AT&T will start blocking access to information for customers who have been flagged for copyright infringement. Imagine that you share, on book-face, a link that you find interesting. If someone were to claim a copyright on the article, & you were included in the list of "wrongfully" sharing it, you could lose the ability to even access your favorite social network site. AT&T will turn its customers in

Story-telling in pictures [article]

Many of us use Microsoft Excel's charting feature to analyse/ present numerical information. In this article, while explaining his preference for a certain type of chart over another, the author demonstrates how a story can be effectively told without adding 'chart junk'.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Getting an education [links]

The Internet has decimated the distribution system in a whole range of industries - newspapers, advertising, ideas sharing, communication, telecommunications etc. Education hasn't been spared either. There are hundreds of online courses that offer specialised or general education courses, (Khan AcademyCoursera are a couple of examples). It has spawned what are called MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) from the likes of Harvard, Stanford, & other big-dollar universities, who don't want to lose their advantage (& their revenues).  Adding to the list, MRUniversity is offering a free economics education. Here's a current collection of 530 free online courses, something might catch your fancy!

Live in Oslo - Thelonious Monk [Music]

For you jazz lovers, an hour of pianist Thelonious Monk, tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse, bassist Larry Gales, and drummer Ben Riley performing live in Oslo (1966).  And if you aren't familiar with jazz, here's Louis Armstrong & Thelonious Monk among others giving a 45-minute child's introduction to Jazz

Do we learn from history? [Essay]

In this opinion piece titled "the self-destruction of the 1 percent" which appeared in the NYTimes, Chrystia Freeland draws parallels between the merchants of Venice in the early 14th century & modern day crony capitalism that the US gifted to the world

The Kids Should See This [site]

There's so much of good stuff out there - & the kids should see this is another awesome site for kids & the kids-at-heart. Science & fun rolled into one!

A water droplet in slow motion [video]

Awesome. and so are this eagleowl and a teaser of pollination and a cymbal.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Banking & Corruption

Another splendid blog I've just come across today. This post explores the question "Is Banking Unusually Corrupt, & If So, Why? Expect more links as I devour what these giants (Gary Becker & Richard Posner) have to offer.


I've spent many a journey back home from work, struggling to fill in the blanks on the "easy" 9 X 9 square called Sudoku, feeling quite hollow & useless.  These boys from the Notre Dame University have developed an algorithm that solves Sudoku puzzles very easily, without backtracking! Their publication is here (even reading this was hard for me!)


No, that was not a swear word. Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit organisation, is fighting the US legal system against the throttling of the Internet by Big Business, & which has implications for the rest of the world's Internet users. They've just helped to win a case in the US which confirms that scanning books, in order to enhance research & to provide access to print-disabled individuals, is lawful. Read more about the EFF here

Wasteland of the Free - Iris Dement

A recording from 16 years ago - & the words still ring true!

VP Debate

In case you missed the only Vice Presidential debate between Joe Biden & Paul Ryan, here's a link (it goes on for 90 minutes). And a good idea to listen to it, make up your mind about who you think came out tops on this one, & then read this "news" report.


The employment scene the world over is changing. Older workers are the first to be laid off, & also find it the most hard to find a new job. The tide is turning towards them starting their own local businesses, as this story from the Sydney Morning Herald explores.

Pushing the Copyright envelope

If you post a video of your child (or grandchild) dancing to a famous song, should you be sued for copyright, because you have included the music without authorization from its creators? Apparently, Universal Music thinks so, in this case that started in 2007, & is being fought tooth & nail by the lady who was sued.


As you read that word, did you think of someone taking control of your computer, getting into your online life, draining your bank account, & countless other endgame scenarios? You are not alone. The original meaning of the word hacker, before the media turned it into a pejorative, is "A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and stretching their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary". This site is a bountiful example of all the hacks going on in tech-world that you'll hear about in the next 2-5 years, while, in stark contrast, this article uses the same word to terrify, without giving any examples or evidence.


The Washington Examiner's Phlip Klien writes about a wild possibility where Romney could be the next President with Joe Biden as his Vice-President.


The Noble Peace Prize has, to my small mind, lost its once hallowed position as an award. Consider this: Barack Obama won it four years ago, apparently as an incentive to get the world together, after the havoc that his predecessor wreaked across the world. The Nobel Committee has publicly declared its regret for not awarding it to Mohandas Gandhi. And this year, despite the economic strife playing out in Europe, the European Union has been awarded the Prize, inviting derision rather than applause.

Choice quotes:  "This goes to show that the Norwegians really do have a sense of humour. The EU may be getting the booby prize for peace because it sure hasn't created prosperity. The EU has created poverty and unemployment for millions." - Nigel Farage, UKIP

"The Nobel peace prize was devalued when it was given to newly elected Barack Obama. By giving the prize to the EU, the Nobel committee has undermined the excellent work of the other deserving winners of this prize. Twenty years ago this prize would have been sycophantic but maybe more justified. Today, it is downright out of touch." - Martin Callanan, the Tories' leader in the European parliament.

They seem to award the peace prize to those they are hoping to nudge in the right direction these days. All the EU leaders are now going to have to make nice speeches about how cooperative they are all going to be.  - a comment on a newspaper article

An Interview with the inventor of the Internet

A walk through the mind of the inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee.


Humankind's fascination with rapid growth, nay, eternal growth is an accepted tenet, to the extent that we don't even think twice about it.  But what about the impact it has on how we live? The world recently passed a milestone (or is that a millstone?) - more people live in urban areas than in the countryside. This report explores the health challenges that megacities pose. Also check out this picture of how many megacities there are in the world

How to Create Time

Most of us struggle with time. There are far too many things to do than there are hours in the day to do them. There are millions of helpful tips, & here's another to add to the heap - how to create time.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


While technology & politics are two very common themes in these links, an imbalanced intake can cause serious repercussions. To improve the diet, I'll be sharing a few links in the next few days, some that you may find rather disconcerting, maybe even shocking. Not food porn (the stuff that seems to be fascinating to most people, clicking pictures of "great-looking" meals), but the actual "industry" that food production has become.  Begin with watching a documentary called "Food Inc". What are you going to do about what you eat?


In less than a decade (for those of us old enough to remember), the way we interact with computing devices has been revolutionized. Forget the mouse & keyboard, touch-screens no longer have the "wow" factor to most of us, pinching our mobile/tablet screens not unlike pinching ourselves when touch-screens first came around. What does the future look like?

Investigative Journalism

ProPublica "is an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest... by producing journalism that shines a light on exploitation of the weak by the strong and on the failures of those with power to vindicate the trust placed in them."  The effort led by this group to make public (called "Free the Files") the amount of behind-the-scenes lobbying money that is spent by non-profit groups (called super-PAC's) on TV advertisements to prop up their candidates, is entirely voluntary. You may be surprised with some of the findings (25% of the files reveal an astounding $264m in TV ad spending, with the Obama camp buying the biggest share so far!)


The US industry loves to dictate terms to the rest of the world, through its 'legal' department, also known as the US Congress. Now that overseas manufacturing (a beast of the US industry's own making) has beaten them at their own game, they want to change the rules. A recent example: US has  slapped higher tariffs on Chinese manufacturers of solar cells (250%).  Another example: US agriculture is one of the most subsidized in the world (the recipients of these subsidies being large companies that operate farms, yet they want 'developing' countries to stop protecting their food industry.


What you see is what you get - Robert Fulghum is one of my favorite authors. I've been hooked ever since I read "Uh-oh" over a decade ago. I needed the reminder that is the plot of this latest blog post, & maybe you'll enjoy it too! (Plan C is most often the best!)

The 1st Black President

Try to keep still ....Richard Pryor as the first black president's first press meet, way way ahead of his time, & I think almost prescient!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


The world is awash with the story that Julia Gillard stood up for women's rights in the Australian Parliament yesterday against the "misogynist" Opposition leader. Here's an alternate opinion, one that confirms that this tirade had nothing to do with sexism, & everything to do with politics. Keep in mind that her own Speaker was forced to resign yesterday because of his "references" to women's genitalia, & this was the best show that the PM could put considering she didn't have a leg to stand on during question time". She now is down to a 1-vote majority.

Kim DotCom- Updates

I mostly thought of MegaUpload as an illegal site, an opinion I formed (as perhaps you too), entirely without using the site. It's founder Kim DotCom (yeah, that's his real name!) 's residence was raided & he was arrested by the New Zealand police, with much fanfare a few months ago. The case is throwing up some very interesting facts, besides getting very serious support for MegaUpload from some very respected judicial authorities (yes, they do exist!) in the US. "There has been a trail of illegality by the NZ Police, & the forces who incited this raid (read Hollywood)".

Where'd You Get That Cool Shirt? This Software Knows

In case you hadn't already noticed, everyone wants to sell you something.  (No, not me, at least, not yet! ;). In the ads race, a company has developed software that can automatically identify SPECIFIC products in visual media, & then serve up relevant advertisements. As this article says, "As one example, the software matched the sunglasses worn by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in an image accompanying a news article about the movie stars to similar pairs available on Amazon. A reader online who hovered a cursor over the object would see the tagged link for the product." 

Go from Middle-Class to Kickass

Another blog that I've come across lately is run by Mr. Money Mustache (or moustache, whatever your spelling preferences may be!). The blog has some very interesting thoughts on the modern day employment scene, his personal experiences of going from a relatively highly paid job to retirement at the age of 43, & the strategies he's employed. May not be for everyone, but won't hurt to give it a thought, especially in these rather troubling economic times. This article is his personal experience of going from middle-class to kickass"

Big Data is Just Data, Why Excel “Sucks”, and 1,000 Miles of Data « PowerPivotPro

Feel free to glaze over this one, Why Excel sucks. I admit I'm an Excel nerd, and this may appeal to you if you understand or have experienced the "challenges" of working with dramatically changing reporting needs & multiply source data files. Hope is at hand, if you haven't already heard of PowerPivot.

Jane Kelsey: Hollywood lays down its own law

Across the world, Hollywod helps create the same magic with legislation as it does with entertainment. The TPP (TransPacific Partnership) is a draft piece of legislation that currently is with the governments of 11 countries, all seemingly beside themselves, happy  to oblige the authors of the legislation, with little or no public discussion about it. Here's a critique by Jane Kelsey, who writes in the NZ Herald News that Hollywood lays down its own law.

True Size of Africa

This infographic will dispel any relative size myths you may have about the True size of Africa.

Why the United States Is So Afraid of Huawei

Huawei emerged on the telecommunications equipment supplier scene a few years ago, & have thrown a spanner in the works for established players, mostly propped up by the heavy-handed US government, under its open markets policy. The pill is bitter to swallow, now that the roles are reversed, China wields more clout economically, & so the US Congress does what it does best: "release" a report that "warns" that Huawei & ZTE (another Chinese company) pose a "threat to US National Security".  Of course, the report doesn't cite ANY evidence, but relies on "experts" to say that it is possible.
A moot question then would be to ask if any US companies that have supplied telco equipment to other countries should therefore also be regarded as a national security threat.

Democracy, Capitalism, Internet

Scott Adams on Democracy, Capitalism, Internet. Indeed, the idea of "perfect markets" that economists espouse can be applied to democracy as well. The Internet is proving to be a bane in the lives of many a politician, businessman (Australian retailers are a good reference point), etc etc. as much as they are a boon to countless others.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

First Solar finds love in India

Clean Energy has a real opportunity to make it as a mainstream application, if only it can gain enough traction, & escape the enormous gravitational forces of Big Oil & Big Energy. First Solar finds love in India is a look at how one company is seeing some encouraging results.

Self-perception Theory

Self-help maniacs (like me) have no dearth of preachers or research that proves one thing one day & another the next. As this article (citing research) points out, I don't know what the ****  I'm doing. More specifically, I don't know why I do what I do (whatever it is I do!).  An entertaining read, nonetheless!

Walking blindfolded

This video tries to explain what happens when you walk blindfolded. 

Virtual Haircut

Listen to this with your headphones on. Simply awesome.
This is a bin-aural recording, essentially replicating the way you hear a sound if you were in the place yourself.

The reversal trickle towards in-shoring

General Motors hiring 10000 software engineers, is in the news.

Has the tide turned on out-sourcing? Are more companies realising that while they can keep costs of production low by moving it off-shore, it also hurts domestic demand for their products because their "consumers'"  incomes have shrunk?

Remembering Your First Computer Is For Old People - TechCrunch

Remembering your first computer is for old people! says this "chronologically challenged" author!

Why Do America’s Super-Rich Feel Victimized by Obama? : The New Yorker

The Functional Art

An Introduction to Information Graphics and Visualization: The first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) about infographics and data visualization. Even Stephen Few, an authority on data visualisation (at least for us folks who have to rustle up charts that effectively communicate whatever story it is that needs to be told) & a rather harsh critic, has much praise for the author of the book, Alberto Cairo [@AlbertoCairo]. The book, The Functional Art, is available on Amazon.

Monday, October 8, 2012

American Presidential Elections

The Guardian reckons that Americans deserve a better choice in this election than the ones they've got.

Iran Sanctions not working where intended.

If "terrorism" means the use of violence aimed at civilians in order to induce political change from their government, what is it called when intense economic suffering is imposed on a civilian population in order to induce political change from their government? Can those two tactics be morally distinguished?

From the Guardian

Two Presidents, Smoking and Scheming

A parody about Obama's lackluster performance at the first presidential debate.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Evolution? Big Bang it!

The US House Committee on Science, Space and Technology seems to have in its ranks some stunning personalities. Todd Akin's (Republican) ideas on "legitimate rape" a few weeks ago have been followed by another of his party colleague Sen Paul Broun dismissing evolution as "'lies straight from the pit of hell'.

Australia's newest export to UK

Glen Stevens, Reserve Bank of Australia's Governor, emerges as the dark horse contender for post of the Governor of the Bank of England.

The Eyes of Thailand - Movie Trailer

The film is a true and inspirational story of Soriada Salwala's quest to help two elephant landmine survivors—Motala and Baby Mosha—walk on their own four legs. Treating their wounds was only part of the journey; building elephant-sized prostheses was another.

Toilet Paper Ads in a Bathroom Near You?

Oh dear. Hopefully, they don't have a "bring ad with you"!

In defence of free speech.

The background to This article is that a US hosting company was issued a legal notice by the UK government because they didn't like what one of the sites hosted.

The note begins thus: "Free speech is a funny thing. A lot of people are for it, as long as it’s for them. An awful lot of people lose interest in principles when someone says something they don’t like".


A Brief History of (the First Times in) Media

How language dies..

Very simply, it's when the last person who speaks the language dies.

Children & writing

Can your child write? examines the biggest challenge that the American education system faces (or is this only symptomatic?)

The Pope's Butler

The Pope's butler was found guilty of abusing his position to steal confidential documents. Interestingly, since the Vatican has no prison of its own, he is going to have to serve his sentence inside his own home.

He will not burn in hell, the usual threat of punishment for any transgressions that are reserved for the lesser of the Church's followers.

The state of the Internet

For those limited few interested in such stuff, this slide pack explores how the Commercial Internet has fared as it grows out of its teen years.

The Essential Scotches - a drinker's guide

I have no use for this guide, not now at least. But in the future, who knows?

Brian Cox teaches you to ask for the right Scotch drinks with The American Man's Scotch Pronunciation Guide, although you don't have to be American or male!

How Doctors Die

This is an intensely thought-provoking article.. How doctors choose to die is an American doctor explaining why, when faced with a terminal illness, medical professionals often opt out of life-prolonging treatment.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Man and Wild

This man and his croc are the best of friends.

The India Syndrome

Fascination with India's spiritual aspects draws a large number of westerners. This is a not so romantic inspection of this fascination.Death on the Path to Enlightenment.


The ability to delay gratification is one of the best indicators of future success.

How big is Apple (AAPL) really?

According to BusinessInsider, Apple Represents 2.3% Of Global Equities. Per the graph, it's market capitalisation (number of shares * price per share) is more than the combined market capitalisation of all the listed companies in Italy, Portugal, Turkey, Chile, Peru, Austria, Egypt, Czech, Phillipines, Finland & Norway. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

A master story teller - Zakir Hussain

Ustad Zakir Hussain, the master of the tabla, enthralls his audience in Austin, Texas with a story of Lord Krishna

Twittering democracy

Is Twitter good for democracy, asks the BBC's Kate Dailey.

The Dementia Plague

The frontline clinicians treating the rapidly growing number of dementia patients see, among other things, a drug industry that has profited handsomely from expensive, marginally effective treatments sought by desperate families.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Reinventing Society In The Wake Of Big Data | Conversation | Edge

While on the subject of Big Data, from an earlier post, this interview with Alex Pentland is a riveting read. He explains what big data (or lots of data) really does for those who use it, at the expense of those who don't really understand the implications of their book-face posting & zillions of interactions online.

The Fears, and a Thrill of Big Data -

Put any two random words together, & they form new meaning these days.
Big Brother, Big Government, Big Everything.
Big Data, too.

Incentive to exercise?

Enemy of the State - & it's not a movie

Weigh this.

A chap gets you to willingly share all your personal information, photos, friends list (at least those online), birthdays, location etc etc. He gets hailed as the best entrepreneur of the whatever period in history, multi-billion dollar valuations for his company. (Book-Face Zuckerberg)

Another lifts the lid on the criminal acts of a government who ostensibly commits murder of innocents in the name of democracy. He gets hounded by multiple governments, his own government denies any help to him, his news organisation is starved of payments, gets charged with sexual assault, & as finally gets labelled "Enemy of the state". (Julian Assange/ Wikileaks).

Whither justice? Or is it a figment of our collective imagination?

How dependent are you on online banking?

As more and banks plod towards the Internet of Banking, (& the less of "currency" that we see & touch), we put too much of trust in the "big" organisations to keep "our money" safe. Trouble is, they either don't  know, or care to, or both.

6 American Banks were impacted by a Denial of Service attack last week, which meant their customers couldn't get access to their accounts online or pay their bills.

Doctor Smartphone

As technology pervades every aspect of our lives (even if we don't want it to), here's an interesting perspective of how smartphones are taking over our "health checks".

Your phone will soon be your new doctor — Tech News and Analysis: