13 December, 2011

This is sick, perverted and utterly indicative of our times

According to this article, the six people in the Walton family -- the heirs to the creator of Wal-Mart -- have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 90 million people in the US.

That's nuts.

What is even crazier is the fact that Alice Walton has created this art gallery containing art that celebrates the kinds of places in the US that have been wiped out thanks to Wal-Mart, and art that makes social commentary on the disparities between the rich and poor in the US, on money she and her family has made making the US a worse place to live.

03 November, 2011

This is Pretty Damn Cool: The E tests the Dodd-Frank (better late than never)

This surprises me that this hasn't been done before. But now the Economist has tested the Dodd-Frank with its usual aplomb and stylish reporting at the recent Buttonwood conference.

The Dodd-Frank has been around for more than a year, but ostensibly many hoped that the world economy would be in a better place than it is now. It was made to protect tax payers from having to bail out another big bank. But it's never been tested, because no one knows what would happen if another big bank failed, like Lehman Bros did in 2008.

The Economist created a scenario with a fictitious bank called the New Jefferson Bank: a big player in the global derivatives market, and an international commercial player in the US, UK and Brazil. A trillion-plus in assets, big investment player, big management turnover, big loan losses in past recessions, has capital ratios of adequate levels but lots of outside exposure to bad debt. Management has crapped out on everyone, and its strategy is questionable.

It's Friday, April 23rd 2013. Markets are again stressed as they were during the Lehman Bros. failure.

What's would happen under the Dodd-Frank, according to some of the biggest brains in US finance? Click on the link and watch.

Absolutely fascinating.

14 September, 2011

More fotos, yay!

Just found my old flickr fotostream:


07 September, 2011


This is turning back into a personal blog. Don't know why... inspiration is a strange animal.

Against all defiance thus shall I stand fast.
I am defiant in my defiance, and I defy all those who say otherwise.
I deny victory to those who think they've won,
And I let those who haven't started yet, to begin another one.

31 August, 2011

A bit of free advertising for Lore Croci

I miss Florence.

I still consider it more my home than Toronto in certain respects. People there understand me a bit better than people from Toronto, and just take me for who I am rather than second guessing me all the time.

I don't know if I could go back there to live right now, because it still has a small-town feel to it, and people there can be a bit parochial. Not everyone though.

Lore Croci is anything but parochial, and he has built an amazing spot near Fiesole that looks like a dream come true.

Lore, I will come to visit you next time I go see the fam!

19 August, 2011

Learn, adapt, evolve. Repeat.

Pretty much self-explanatory, no? Probably not, but I don't feel like writing a full blog post right now. I will elucidate at a later date.

14 August, 2011

And, to continue, while the thought is still fresh...

A lot of the so-called "atypical anti-psychotics" are actually quite terrible for people. They make people fat, and are bad for the heart. There was a class-action suit in Alaska suing the makers of Olazapine, and for good reason.

A lot of people just can't deal with certain things. Certain impressions of society.

But if you let society dictate your actions, then of course you are going to feel crazy. We must all think for ourselves. Be independent thinkers. Not herd followers. We are humans, and animals... but human animals.

IF we learn to have more self-control, and just not do certain things that we know are bad for ourselves, and bad for others, then we will not feel so crazy.

We will just evolve.

And it will be good.

I feel that something good is going to happen...

I think perhaps perchance I just had an apple fall on my head...

You know all these "mental disorders" that everyone seems to have these days?

Could it just be evolution?

Could it be,
That our technology,
Has rapidly become part of we?

Could it be...

Reference: http://www.economist.com/node/18925787
I read it just today.

"THE unrelenting pace of scientific accomplishment often outstrips the progress of moral thought, leaving people struggling to make sense, initially at least, of whether heart transplants are ethical or test-tube babies desirable."

I too have always been concerned about the same thing. It has stalled my progress in life, simply because I am rather an adbuctive thinker, and I can see how technological advances can have unintended negative consequences, even when the inventors have noble intentions in mind. Look at Albert. He didn't want the nuclear bomb. But it happened.


How fast are we evolving? Why do I get along much better with children or people younger than me, than with "adults"?

Hmmm.... more on this later.

10 August, 2011

Hopefully my only UK riots post

I was FBing and Twittering like a madwoman today, hopping between sites and passing along info hopefully to the right people.

This site probably won't stay up for long, but maybe someone will see it, and maybe something good will happen.

09 August, 2011


I am glad to see this guy go to jail. And in Texas. I hope he gets anally raped every day while he's in prison. Harsh, I know, but I have my reasons.

""If the world knew what I was doing, they would hang me from the highest tree," Jeffs wrote in notes, seized from his Texas ranch."

Oh, they will Jeffs. I am glad they are letting you live. You must live to suffer and truly pay for your sins. You cannot escape yourself.

05 August, 2011

And this just makes me sick

The siege of Hama is part of a new government offensive to quell an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's authoritarian rule. Now in their fifth month, the protests have been gaining momentum in defiance of the military crackdown.

Hama, a city of 800,000 with a history of dissent, had fallen largely out of government control since June as residents turned on the regime and blockaded the streets against encroaching tanks.

But Syrian security forces launched a ferocious military offensive that left corpses in streets on Sunday and sent residents fleeing for their lives, according to residents.

In 1982, Assad's father, Hafez Assad, ordered the military to quell a rebellion by Syrian members of the conservative Muslim Brotherhood movement there. Hama was sealed off and bombs dropped from above smashed areas of the city and killed between 10,000 and 25,000 people, rights groups say.

Bashar al-Assad has sought to deal with the extraordinary revolt against his family's 40-year-dynasty through deadly force, but has also acknowledged the need for reform.

On Thursday, he issued two legislative decrees that will allow the formation of political parties alongside the Baath Party and enable newly formed parties to run for Parliament and local councils. Opposition figures dismiss the moves as tactics and insist they want regime change.

On Wednesday, Syrian tanks stormed Hama under heavy shelling, taking over a main city square. Activists said authorities have effectively imposed a news blackout on the city by cutting mobiles phones, landlines and internet.

About 1700 civilians have been killed since the uprising began in mid-March, according to tallies by activists.

04 August, 2011

I feel kinda sick... happy about this, but sick at the same time

Sellafield is closing. According to some, the Irish Sea is the most radioactively contaminated in the world.

I swam in it a couple of times... not many, but still. A lot of people swim in the clear waters of Dublin Bay.

I'm glad I'm chicken about cold water, otherwise I would have swum more often. Yikes. No wonder I glow in the dark. ;)

24 July, 2011

Going on ye olde family canoe trip

Should be goooooood fun. Going back to my roots. For once. Maybe after this, I shall find the impetus that I need. Si stara' a vede'.

20 July, 2011

29 June, 2011

BIS report out as of two days ago...

And I almost missed it.


This is a very interesting report to come out right now.

I have admittedly not read all of it, and I became aware of it only via the Economist. But I think the BIS should continue its path, and not waver until a more clear direction can be followed. Because at the moment, nobody knows where to go. I have a slight incling, but I am neither an economist nor a political science person, so... what do I know? Well...

This is my diluted, Economist commented viewpoint:

I don't think you can switch to the rules of the New New Economy overnight. A drip feed is still necessary, until new models emerge and people are able to make more sense of what is occurring right at this moment.

But by backing the proverbial straight and narrow, the BIS is indeed doing its job. That is what it is there for. To rein in whoever it feels needs be reined in.

I feel it is the ECB that needs to be reined in. It is the more politically invested of the two bodies, in that sense. But it has as its goal to preserve the euro, does it not? Or am I mistaken? And that is not necessarily what is best for the European economy as a whole, and as a political entity. It seemed like an excellent idea at the time, but it could not take into consideration the level of interconnectedness that the current world economy now has.

Obviously the BIS is involved in political economy. Do they really need to acknowledge that? It is already on the table, I feel.

... but what do I know... I am just a little person, an observer, and a critic. But one who cares deeply. And not for my own interest.

28 June, 2011

Argh, life issues, problems

My ex-boyfriend has hacked into my gmail and my facebook accounts. He is acting quite strange. It is strange to know that you're being spied on. At the same time, I don't really feel preturbed, and I am doing everything exactly as I normally would. It's just... a tad strange. I can't write to anyone about this, don't have anyone to talk with over here in Canada, and I have a feeling no one reads this -- especially not him -- so I am venting a bit here.

Pardon. I don't like to use this blog for personal things, but I am making an exception.

Jules. What. The. Feck. Stop it now, please. Thanks.

Never send emails to people froma a personal account who you think might be "dangerous" to you.

20 June, 2011

Today is World Refugee Day.

I have been going back to my old, over-facebooking habits, but today is a special day for me so it has propelled me back here.

I have a lot of thoughts about being a refugee. I would like to share them... I will ... eventually.

14 June, 2011

Population density and a VERY cool blog

This has me thinking about urban centres and how important it will be to utilise all the spaces in an urban environment, on the ground and in the air.

Amazing how much more dense Paris is than Houston. Amazing how vulnerable we will be... sorry, how vulnerable we are.

I'm glad I grew up in a city, and I'm glad that city was Toronto. But I want to live in the country. Fortunately, in Holland in the Randstad that's almost the same thing. At least, there I can live in the "country"...

A Good Day

I should really be sleeping right now.

But I have to say something.

I am so glad the Italian populace made yesterday and Sunday such an important day.

I am so glad that a part of me somehow knows that Berlusconi's reign is over, and it is only a matter of weeks before he is out of the Italian government.

Ma purtroppo... I've studied too much history to know that a vaccuum of power can be just as dangerous as a quasi-dictatorship.

My hope is in my friends. I know so many good Italians like Andrea, Manuel, Christiana, l'Ale, Giovanni, Camila, Paolo, la Fede, Barbara (especialmente te, cara, devi darti alla politica e non arrenderti mai), Carletto (si, dai, anche tu, sei rompi palle ma sei buono), la Steffi, Ettore e Frida, Mr Bumble (though we've never met, I trust Catherine), i Vadaz... the list goes on and on.

Like Manuel said, after my comment on how Italians can be so easily manipulated.... "Non tutti pero'."

The country that gave me life also gives me hope. And love. Agape pero', non Eros. Chi mi conosce veramente... e voglio dire, veramente... sa che cosa voglio dire.

Grazie. Grace. Peace. And a future. And the future is looking brighter and brighter each day. Every passing day is history. But some days are just historic.

12 June, 2011

BP's energy review in the Economist

BP was demonized for reasons we all know well, but I am glad to see their energy review is still on track.

Developing countries' use of coal is alarming. What can developed countries do to help wean developing countries off coal, when developed countries do not seem to be particularly enthusiastic in weaning themselves off oil?

Salient points:

Energy demand tends to fall faster than GDP when things go wrong, and grows faster when the situation improves. That is because energy responds to changes in investment, industrial production and transport, which rise and fall by more than the economy as a whole.

This helps explain why energy consumption handily outstripped 2010’s 4.9% growth in global GDP. But there is also a structural change at work. Economic activity is growing faster in developing countries, in general less efficient energy users, than in developed ones. Even if global GDP were static, this shift would increase consumption.

Growth in developing countries is the main reason why coal consumption rose so much. The wealthy countries of the OECD still consume more oil than the rest of the world, but non-OECD countries use 69% of the world’s coal—two-thirds of that in China. This is a big part of the reason why energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions have been growing even faster than energy use. In 2010 they grew by 5.8%—the highest rate since 1969.

07 June, 2011


Words that have inspired me to no end.

Thanks Fred!!!!!! See you in Montreal maybe.... or in the Crimea somewhere, who knows. ;))))

GO SEE THIS SHOW!!!!!!!!!! more to come. posting on the fly.

30 May, 2011

On blog posting/blogging/whatever the trendy terminology is these days

I have been gradually refining my blogging into something that I am happy with. It started out as a personal blog, that I would pick up every once in a while and post whatever I felt like. Totally random.

Then at the beginning of this year, I realised that I was annoying the hell out of my Facebook friends by posting so many articles on stuff I liked. So I stopped posting so much political stuff (though I still do... can't help it, I'm a bit of a news junkie) on Facebook and started posting the "non-fun/more serious" stuff here.

Now however, I think I would like to try to re-post articles less, and actually comment on what I am reading more. Try to think and analyse things a bit better before I just spam spam spam and blah blah blah till the cows come home.

I think I will actually start to say what I think more.... but I am going to think more BEFORE I say it... or at least try.... cuz that's all we can really do. Try, and try again. And even when we think we've finished and solved whatever problem, and we think it's time to rest on our laurels and enjoy life a little more.... that's exactly the moment that we should try harder, and try again.

Thank you Sandra

Being a cop in Hoofddorp must be a really tough job. You know everyone, everyone knows you, people talk, etc. etc. So a lot of good judgement is required so that you don't go overboard and arrest people before they really, really should be arrested. Haha I just re-read my post, and realised that it sounds like I should have been arrested, but Sandra didn't, and therefore I am posting this. Loooolz not.


Sandra, you're too cool for words. Thanks so much for helping me. I seriously doubt I will ever forget you. Ook niet omdat ik wil wel terug in Hoofddorp komen, dus ik zie je zo. Een echt heel lange zo, maar... ik zie je zo. ;))))) Kx

24 May, 2011

Enda and Obama, analysed

This link is interesting: it shows the speech and inflection patterns in Enda Kenny's and Barack Obama's recent discourses.

I have been absolutely loving all of my friend's Facebook posts about the Obama and Queen visits. It was a fantastic time to be in Dublin at Trinity, that's for sure. Big ups to my friend Jane McGowan who had the chance to see the Obama speech at Trinity -- she is involved with Amnesty at Trinity like I was -- but who had her final exam for her law degree the same day!!! She was seriously considering bunking off her exam to see the speech, but she didn't, and now she has graduated, so good woman girl!!!!

18 May, 2011

NOT a post about DSK

Just a post about my own stuff, though there's plenty of turmoil in the world right now...

Now that I've opened a window and committed to a post, there's no turning back, even though I'm drawing a complete blank right now. Sometimes, when you have so many feelings and want to express so much, you can withdraw and end up not saying anything at all. I was never like this before, but then before, I never had so much insight. Now that I seem to have an awful lot, I am struck dumb. How apt.

Nuff said. Nothing to see here, carry on...

16 May, 2011

Great site for extreme word nerds and grammar nazis

Unfortunately I'm in the throes of a work avalanche right now, so I can't explore this site as much as I'd like to. Thanks so much to Felix for giving me the heads-up.

05 May, 2011

Alberta's biggest oil spill in 30 years is a call to action for Canadians

The message is clear: Get off oil.

Northern Alberta has become a big mess since oil sands began production.

"At least 4.5 million litres of oil have spilled across part of the Peace River watershed in northern Alberta. It's the biggest crude oil pipeline spill in that province since 1975, and it's being described as "a major, major spill involving a significant amount of product" by provincial regulators, who took five days to announce Friday's spill to the public. Incidentally, it was also the second pipeline spill to take place in Alberta last week.

How long it will take to clean up the spill and how badly it will impact the people and environment around it is still unclear. Oil gushed out of the pipeline within the traditional territory of the Lubicon Cree, who lead a largely subsistence lifestyle within the pristine ecology of northern Alberta's boreal forest. The school in Little Buffalo, about 30 kilometres from the spill, is closed and residents are saying they've experienced nausea, burning eyes and headaches since the leak began. Some community members report that the oil is still leaking into the surrounding forest and bog.

What we do know is that no matter how many times oil companies tell us that practices and technology are improving, we'll never stop having spills so long as we depend on fossil fuels and the devices — including pipelines — that move them between coasts, countries and continents. The spills in Michigan and the Gulf of Mexico are a few recent examples, not to mention iconic disasters like Exxon Valdez. As old pipelines age and new ones are proposed — including the Enbridge pipelines that would tear tracks across Alberta and British Columbia to provide oil to American and Asian markets — the likelihood of spills grows.
What can you do about oil spills?

Get off oil. Reducing our dependence on oil means switching to cleaner energy sources and cutting energy consumption as much as we can.

But preventing oil spills requires more than individual action. Northern Alberta is being hammered by oil and gas activities, with few plans in place to make sure that industrial development happens in a way that protects the environment, or the people and cultures so intimately connected to it. This is particularly true for First Nations, who with the help of Amnesty International are raising the issue as a matter of international human rights."

And, in slightly related fish news... Fish retail labels 'inadequate' say conservationists

I especially appreciate the last quote:

Consumers are not being given enough information on labels to allow them to make the choice to buy sustainable fish, according to conservationists.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) said it is still "virtually impossible to tell precisely where most fish and fish products have been caught".

But the British Retail Consortium said retailers do "give consumers as much information as possible".

The MCS's views come amid the launch of its new website aimed at consumers.

Where labelling by retailers is concerned, the MCS said information that is more detailed than the species, the ocean it comes from and the fishing method is needed to help people discriminate between sustainable and unsustainable seafood.

The MCS has published comprehensive updated advice on buying fish caught from sustainably managed stocks.

The latest advice issued by the conservationists shows improvements in the management and status of stocks in some fisheries, including cod from the eastern and western Baltic and the north-east Arctic, and anchovies from the Bay of Biscay.

Sustainable fish

* Mackarel
* Pollack not caught by trawling
* Red mullet
* Sardines, except those caught in the Mediterranean and Bay of Biscay

Source: MCS

However, the situation has worsened where other fish are concerned.

Dover sole caught by the destructive method of beam trawling in the western English Channel, the Irish Sea and south-west and west Ireland has been listed as a fish to avoid.

And consumers have also been urged to avoid yellowfin tuna caught using purse seine nets or long lines in the Indian Ocean.

But eating skipjack tuna caught using poles and lines in the Western Atlantic has the green light thanks to improvements in data on the stocks.

Dr Peter Duncan, of the MCS, said: "If supermarkets could get their produce from well-managed fisheries and label it as such, it opens up new opportunities for the public and fishermen. It's a win-win."

Next time someone calls you FishFace, don't be offended

This is QUITE freaky -- Watch the video on the link!

It may seem strange that humans have evolved from fish, but the evidence can be found not just in fossils but also within our own bodies.

Your face is your most expressive feature; it tells the world what you are feeling, who you are and where you come from. Although no two faces are exactly the same, they share a number of common characteristics; a couple of eyes, a nose, a mouth and a philtrum.

The philtrum is the groove on your top lip that lies just beneath your nose. You see it every day in the mirror so you probably never think about it

It has no obvious function. Instead it is an accident of our origins, a clue to our fishy past and how our faces first formed.

Your face is formed in the womb in the first couple of months of life, from when you were the size of a grain of rice to when you were the size of a kidney bean.

The video (above) of a growing human face shows how this process happens. It has been created from high quality scans of human embryos at early stages of development, provided by universities and hospitals.

This unique time-lapse video shows the face developing from a one-month-old embryo to an age of 10 weeks.

If you watch it closely, you will see that the human face is actually formed of three main sections which rotate and come together in an unborn foetus.

The way this happens only really makes sense when you realise that, strange though it may sound, we are actually descended from fish.

02 May, 2011


I love her, I hope her message gets across and isn't clouded by her irrepressible cuteness.

Which will be extremely difficult, because her cut-glass accent plus her attention to diction and over-enunciation plus her utter earnestness and passion multiplied by having a huge snake wrapped around her head equate to an overdose of ultra-cute braveness and 21st century chuzpah.

21 April, 2011

How to get a real education, by Scott Adams -- yes, the Dilbert guy

Scott Adam's experience at college resembles my own, to a certain extent. I also went to a relatively small college -- Trinity in Dublin, where the entire arts and humanities undergrad student body was under 2,000 students, I believe -- and I also found ways of being enterprising both in my studies -- I carved out a degree in Italian medieval history where there was none offered -- and in the societies I joined. I had a great time of it, as well.

I am looking forward to my next degree!!!! This is going to be fuuuun!!!! A lot of work, I'm sure... but FUN work!!! I hope RSM kicks my ass to an appropriate degree.

Our true homes -- Our forests -- 2011 International Year of the Forests

I've always felt most at home in forests and jungles.

The forests in my grandparents' home in Temagami were especially bountiful and special for me as a child and a teenager, as were the jungles in Malaysia near the Mariposa river where my father took me as a child. I've seen wolves, bears, deer, moose, elephant (Asian), ourgan-outang, tapir, snakes of every sort, leeches, all kinds of crazy birds, and who knows what else, all in the wild, all in their natural habitats.

For me, what makes a place special is running water, flowing water, water in movement. This means that the water will taste fresh, and that other animals will come to drink it, eventually. So it is a place to sit, drink, eat, wash, and play.

I wish to keep our forests as intact as possible, so that other children can find themselves, find each other, play and grow.

18 April, 2011

Alarmism or reality?

The president of the World Bank has warned that the world is "one shock away from a full-blown crisis".

Robert Zoellick cited rising food prices as the main threat to poor nations who risk "losing a generation".

He was speaking in Washington at the end of the spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Meanwhile, G20 finance chiefs, who also met in Washington, pledged financial support to help new governments in the Middle East and North Africa.

Mr Zoellick said such support was vital.

"The crisis in the Middle East and North Africa underscores how we need to put the conclusions from our latest world development report into practice. The report highlighted the importance of citizen security, justice and jobs," he said.

Cultural evolution, not the brain, drives language development

I love it when general theories are debunked!

From the BBC:

Modern phylogenetics studies look at variations in animals that are known to be related, and from those can work out when specific structures evolved.

For their studies, the team studied the characteristics of word order in four language families: Indo-European, Uto-Aztec, Bantu and Austronesian.

They considered whether what we call prepositions occur before or after a noun ("in the boat" versus "the boat in") and how the word order of subject and object work out in either case ("I put the dog in the boat" versus "I the dog put the canoe in").

The method starts by making use of well-established linguistic data on words and grammar within these language families, and building "family trees" of those languages.

"Once we have those trees we look at distribution of these different word order features over the descendant languages, and build evolutionary models for what's most likely to produce the diversity that we observe in the world," Dr Dunn said.
Pea plants in a greenhouse The methods use inference in a similar way to Mendel's studies of pea plants

The models revealed that while different language structures in the family tree could be seen to evolve along the branches, just how and when they evolved depended on which branch they were on.

"We show that each of these language families evolves according to its own set of rules, not according to a universal set of rules," Dr Dunn explained.

The Economist's take on the subject:

14 April, 2011

25,000 Acts of Green initiative at RSM

Inspired by the "Billion Acts of Green©" campaign of the 'Earth Day Network', a yearly returning world wide day.
The "25,000 Acts of Green" is a local initiative of the Erasmus University initiated by GreenEUR and her Chairman of the Advisory Board, Ingrid de Vries. Our mission is to inspire students and to make the Erasmus University Sustainable, step by step.

Right on!!! I think I picked the right business school.

Economist article about business needing more artists

This bodes well for me, as an "artist" who wants to get in to RSM B-school.

ARTISTS routinely deride businesspeople as money-obsessed bores. Or worse. Every time Hollywood depicts an industry, it depicts a conspiracy of knaves. Think of “Wall Street” (which damned finance), “The Constant Gardener” (drug firms), “Super Size Me” (fast food), “The Social Network” (Facebook) or “The Player” (Hollywood itself). Artistic critiques of business are sometimes precise and well-targeted, as in Lucy Prebble’s play “Enron”. But often they are not, as those who endured Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story” can attest.

Many businesspeople, for their part, assume that artists are a bunch of pretentious wastrels. Bosses may stick a few modernist daubs on their boardroom walls. They may go on corporate jollies to the opera. They may even write the odd cheque to support their wives’ bearded friends. But they seldom take the arts seriously as a source of inspiration.

The bias starts at business school, where “hard” things such as numbers and case studies rule. It is reinforced by everyday experience. Bosses constantly remind their underlings that if you can’t count it, it doesn’t count. Quarterly results impress the stockmarket; little else does.

To read on, click the link above.

12 April, 2011

Interesting paper: The Exiled

Info about Russian news, with a sense of humour.

Should inspect it more in the future. In the meantime... Spam spam spam. ;)

Hypocracy cubed

Wow, this woman really takes the cake.

I think it is exemplary of what is happening in the US and other parts of the world right now.

I think we will look back at this period of history and be amazed.

It's time to take a stand, methinks.

King Crabs Invade Antarctica

It’s like a scene out of a sci-fi movie – thousands, possibly millions, of king crabs are marching through icy deep-sea waters and up the Antarctic slope.

“They are coming from the deep, somewhere between 6,000 to 9,000 feet down,” said James McClintock, Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham Endowed Professor of Polar and Marine Biology.

Shell-crushing crabs haven’t been in Antarctica, the Earth’s southernmost continent, for hundreds or thousands, if not millions, of years, McClintock said. “They have trouble regulating magnesium ions in their body fluids and get kind of drunk at low temperatures.”

But something has changed, and these crustaceans are poised to move by the droves up the slope and onto the shelf that surrounds Antarctica. McClintock and other marine researchers interested in the continent are sounding alarms because the vulnerable ecosystem could be wiped out, he said.

Antarctic clams, snails and brittle stars, because of adaptation to their environment, have soft shells and have never had to fight shell-crushing predators. “You can take an Antarctic clam and crush it with your hands,” McClintock said. They could be the main prey for these crabs, he said.

Loss of unique mollusks could jeopardize organisms with disease-fighting compounds, McClintock said. Sea squirts, for example, produce an agent that fights skin cancer. If the crabs eat them, it could bring McClintock’s research with that organism to a halt.

McClintock’s chemical ecology program has published more than 100 papers on species researchers have discovered, including the compound that combats skin cancer and one to treat flu, that are being explored by drug companies.

“I am very concerned that species could disappear, and we could lose a cure to a disease,” he said.

McClintock’s colleague Sven Thatje, Ph.D., an evolutionary biologist at the University of Southampton in England, saw the first signs of the king crab invasion in 2007. He spotted a lone crab climbing up the slope. McClintock and Rich Aronson, Ph.D., a paleoecologist at the Florida Institute of Technology, put together a proposal to launch the first systematic search for king crabs in Antarctica. With Thatje as chief expedition scientist, the team headed back with two ships and a submarine earlier this year.

And, now that the king crabs are on the Antarctic slope, some fishermen are anxious to head to Antarctica as well. McClintock has already gotten an email from a fisherman asking when he can come.

But the icy waters and dangerous logistics make fishing difficult, McClintock said. “There is a TV show called the ‘The Deadliest Catch,’” he said. “Well this is the deadliest, deadliest catch.”

11 April, 2011

How I came up with the online nickname Kaiserina

When I was living in Italy and starting to use the net, and had happened upon a website called Electric Minds, I had recently seen the movie "The Usual Suspects", and I looooved the story of Kaiser Soze (where the heck is the umlaut on this thing?), with its high drama, flames, tragedy and betrayal... and of course I Looooooooooved the movie, totalllllll awesomeness times a million exponential and cubed.

I just liked the name, and thought Kaiserina sounded kinda cool.... Plus, my name starts with a K and Kaiserina sounded like Caterina to me, i.e. Katherine in Italian.

08 April, 2011

Advertising say whaaaaaaa????

No link, just me, musing aloud....

I have a love=hate relationship with advertising.It creates Art, but it also abuses Art. And it´s a bit of a drug. It distracts us.

We shouldn´t abuse the Muses. We should let them sing, dance, write, record history... whatever! Let them do what they want, let them do what they do best!

Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more, a nod's as good as a wink to a blind bat, etc. etc.


17 March, 2011

Today Is a Great Day

Today is St. Paddy's Day, and doubtlessly by now the revelers are starting to feel comfortable in their initial, postprandial alcoholic rush, and are probably taking over the Temple Bar's tourist atmosphere to replace it with a giddy, Bacchanalian free-for-all.

In Italy, it is the day of Garibaldian Unity, il Giorno dell'Unita', but equally doubtlessly the Italians are not feeling like their country is particularly united, and not reveling quite in the same way as the Irish, at least as far as I can tell from friends' Facebook posts today. Having a lot of connections in Ireland and Italy, I think my assumptions are pretty well founded and close to the truth.

Today in Holland, it's a bit cooler than it has been, a no tangible sign of sun yet. But I am happy, calm, ready to face what I must and do my duty. My body and mind are being re-connected through exercise, and I am achieving the goals I set out for myself. I am re-oxygenated, and I can feel it. It feels good.

Figuring out where you fit into this Life isn't always easy, but you can only make "mistakes" insofar as much as you can hone in on what your proper path is; so there are no mistakes as such. Just experiences. Do not be afraid to experiment -- just be ready to change your course if you must, or think your efforts are better directed elsewhere. Change is good -- make it self-directed, inner change, and you really have something special.

I feel ready to change, and ready to get to work. It's fantastic knowing that what you want to do, what you should do, and what you feel good doing are all one and the same. Makes me feel like this chick:

14 March, 2011

Sperm Whales give each other names

Subtle variations in sperm-whale calls suggest that individuals announce themselves with discrete personal identifier. To put it another way, they might have names.

The findings are preliminary, based on observations of just three whales, so talk of names is still speculation. But “it’s very suggestive,” said biologist Luke Rendell of Scotland’s University of St. Andrews. “They seem to make that coda in a way that’s individually distinctive.”

Rendell and his collaborators, including biologists Hal Whitehead, Shane Gero and Tyler Schulz, have for years studied the click sequences, or codas, used by sperm whales to communicate across miles of deep ocean. In a study published last June in Marine Mammal Sciences, they described a sound-analysis technique that linked recorded codas to individual members of a whale family living in the Caribbean.

12 March, 2011

A re-posting of a 2005 survey of CSR in the Economist

I'm re-posting this article here; it's one of the ones that got me interested in CSR in the first place, and made me realize that there could be problems if it wasn't implemented properly.

It's a really good survey, i.e. a broad overview; I wish they'd update it!!!

Michael Porter's newest Big Idea

Porter wants to move CSR up a notch and introduce his version of it:

"Opinion is divided on Mr Porter’s big new idea. He thinks “shared value” may have at least as big an impact as his earlier work. Many corporate titans echo his sentiments. The bosses of PepsiCo, Nestlé, Prudential (of Britain) and Petrobras expressed enthusiasm about his arguments at the recent Davos summit. However, Larry Summers, a former American Treasury secretary and a colleague of Mr Porter’s at Harvard, was overheard asking “Do you seriously believe this [expletive unrecorded]?”

Mr Porter is right to worry that capitalism is suffering a crisis of legitimacy. The 2007-08 global economic panic has generated widespread worries that the capitalist system is too short-term and too crisis-prone. He is also right that CSR—the boardroom’s favourite response to this crisis of legitimacy—is a tired label. Two of its loudest corporate proponents, Enron and BP, messed up dramatically. Few people outside the public-relations industry can listen to the CSR mantras of “win-win” and “doing well by doing good” without grimacing."

And a comment by Angus:
Oh dear, another business concept book by another big name!

Celebrities get richer while unknowns with originality and authenticity must run the gauntlet of indifference and outright scorn from the orthodox.

When I lost my sense of glamour in being an executive for a big company, I hadn't saved enough to make a big splash as an entrepreneur. So I wandered around in the wilderness for a long time before I regained the confidence, from a different perspective, with which I entered the corporate world with all the "right" credentials. But then one day it hit me: combining individuality with cooperation is essentially a question of balance -- balance in aim and intent and balance in communication. And of course that means "shared value".

Here's how I found the balances I needed to become a reasonably well-paid and very satisfied executive coach while helping entrepreneurs create value for their customers and clients and keep some of it for themselves. They all had a highly-developed sense of service to customers, so all I have had to add is insight in balancing the following disciplines:

Honesty: The discipline of avoiding either falsehood or deception and of being reciprocally open about intents and evolving intentions

balanced with --

Verbal Integrity: The discipline of being true to one’s word, or promptly honourable in warning of exceptions arising because one was unable to anticipate intervening circumstances

Empathy: The discipline of being actively present to understand the needs, wants and interests of others in one’s client, team, prospect, or community and of eliciting or anticipating accurately the sensitivities likely to be excited by one’s desires to share or hide potentially painful or disturbing possibilities or hypotheses with such people

balanced with --

Accuracy: The discipline of caring enough about the communication of data, observations, facts, hypotheses, findings, questions, assertions, requests, and recommendations both to avoid misdirection and to engender mutual trust that the goals of the team/organization are being respected intelligently

Clarity: The discipline of making sure that a message, either outgoing or incoming, has been understood before concluding that a communication cycle is satisfactorily complete

balanced with --

Courage: The discipline of (1) either asserting or forbearing when seemingly idiotic convention supports the opposite, and (2) either accepting responsibility for a job, project, engagement, contract, person, team, organization, or community, or articulating honestly and accurately one’s reasons for declining to accept it – but only after carefully ascertaining that one is doing neither out of either bravado or egotistical desire for acclamation

Discretion: The discipline of making faithfully practical protection, or properly authorized recognition, of the proper ownership of valuable or sensitive information

balanced with --

Coherence: The discipline of (1) searching for, and either eliminating or explaining, the paradoxes underlying one’s own behaviour, assumptions and aims and (2) gently helping others to do the same.

Will Porter's book help? I doubt there's a chance in a zillion it will.

10 March, 2011

And the Dalai Lama retired today... Tensin

Tensin Gyatso, we will miss you. You really politicized your role furthur than you had to, and you fought for your people and for what you think is right and just and wise.

Don't stop now!!! Go to China, work with them, they will respect you and they need your help. Go talk to the Chinese Communist Party, and try to help them see reason. They are smart, pragmatic and reasonable -- to a certain extent. But they can learn. And you are the Greatest Teacher!!!


Military Ranking Defence Budgets

Saudis on top, no surprise there. But will they be able to keep up with the technology race? If they throw enough money at it... maybe. But will the money they have be worth anything?

The Poverty of Dictatorship

This is such an amazing article I have to re-post it. It's kind of stating the obvious, but I guess that's what speaking out is all about.

Dani sounds like an interesting guy: Dani Rodrik, Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard University, is the author of The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy.

I wanna read that book!!!!!!

Stephen Roach on China's next 5-Year Plan

I love 5-year plans. I think everyone should have one. Whether or not you manage to stick to it is secondary. The important thing is to have a long-term goal, and to be working towards it. I'm in my second year of my second 5-year plan, and things are going swimmingly. Life without direction is boring, and quite possibly meaningless... or should I say less meaningful than a life with direction. There.

Soon China will be revealing and embarking upon the next chapter in its complex story. I await with typically baited breath, and hope that there is left a space for me somewhere in that tightly-packed firecracker of a country.

I swear, I will learn Mandarin one day and learn to speak it better than I do Italian.

Thank you Roland, thanks Economist, you are back in my good books

I got a lot of presents in my Facebook feed this morning, some of which courtesey of the Economist, ever the bearer of news (I almost wrote "good" before "news", close one).

I saw the Killing Fields on video when it came out, when I was about 13 years old, and it made such a big impression on me, that for the next 7 years I wanted to be a journalist and reveal to the world the atrocities perpetrated by those like Pol Pot, and hopefully help his victims find justice.

I was disillusioned with the journalism industry by the time I got to Ryerson U. for J-School. But I've never stopped being astounded by the people who lived through Pol Pot's version of hell. How did they do that? The resilience of the human spirit will never cease to amaze me.

Thank you Roland for having this idea. I hope we get to see the Playing Fields -- playing is so much better than killing.

Thanks, Economist, for printing that article. It reminded me of who we all are. It made my day. There is definitely a lot of hope for us.

08 March, 2011

Nomura just gave us a nice pressie for Woman's Day! Happy!

Nomura appointed its first female CFO, and appropriately announced it today -- good marketing on their part.

I wonder how much change is going on in that company... and in other investment houses... maybe there's hope! Silly moi, of course there is.


I saw the notification while watching a really interesting interview between Max Mosley and Sarah Montague on the Beeb: Mosley is pushing for more regulation of the British press in Strassbourg, and the interview is here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/hardtalk/9414659.stm There is a long story behind it that I hadn't heard about, but it brought up a really good discussion about all kinds of things we should be talking about more with regards to freedom of the press.

He has a point, but then again, libel laws in the UK are already really strict, so muzzling them more might not be a good idea, as Daniel Johnson pointed out:

This debate makes me think about my own life, and how I would behave if I had responsibilities as great as Mosley had. I agree with him that in secular society, consenting mature adults should be allowed to do pretty much what they want -- I'm a bit of a libertarian in that way too, which is perhaps why I fit in so well in Holland. And I hate the behaviour of the press, the way they behave like a bunch of attack dogs. But that is their job as the fifth estate or whatever -- society needs a kind of watchdog like that, I think.

If you are a public figure and lead a double life like that, and if you're not prepared to pay the consequences of exposure, then you're a bit of a fool. You can't then go and try to change the laws because society has rejected you for what you've done. If you can't handle rejection from society, then don't do things that would cause rejection. This is a fine line, I know, but integrity is reflected in other aspects of life, no matter how hard we try to partition our brains and separate work life and personal life.

It's making me think what it means to be a true leader of people, and how much integrity you have to have in ALL aspects of your life. I'm a bit kinky too and I've had my share of crazy experiences, but I've never had any real responsibilities yet either because I know I wasn't ready for having them. I don't want to stop having fun in my life just because I want to start a career, but I don't think I'd ever do anything that I wouldn't want to become public. I know a lot of people wouldn't agree with my lifestyle or views or whatever, but I've become pretty much used to people looking down their noses at me -- they usually turn around and end up looking up to me in the end, anyways, so it doesn't matter and I don't really care about what those kind of people think anyways.

So Max, I'm really sorry but I think you're potentially doing the British people a disservice, because the law that you want to make -- though it would bring justice to some -- could potentially be very badly abused by many in power. I know it would make you feel better, and I'm really sorry for what happened to you -- that WAS unjust, and in a perfect world, people would have been able to accept your kinky sexy self (listening to your interview, I thought you are one of the smartest, hottest old dudes I've ever seen) and you would have gone on doing your job as well as you have been in the past. But you really shouldn't try to seek closure and some sort of vindication, though you are successfully subliminating it into a more noble cause, that is campaigning to change a law that you see is unjust, which is highly admirable and merits much commendation. You are a good man, Max, and those who know you know that. Don't worry about what all the stupid, small little monkeys think of you. It's a shame that they do, but it doesn't matter. I'm saying this in a mean way, but I think you would get much more relief and happiness by talking to a good psychologist, not campaigning legally.

Please stop.

05 March, 2011

How transparent is Shell? Would country-by-country reporting solve anything?

Another dream job (or nightmare, depending on how you look at it) would be at Shell, helping them in CSR projects and helping them disclose their information in such a way so that they wouldn't be completely vilified by the public. I guess I'm biased, because I live in Holland, but I think Shell and BP really try hard to walk a fine line between supplying people and industries with the drug they needs (oil) while trying not to mess up the world for the rest of us and make everyone hate it. I can't really say what the other oil companies are like, but the American ones I have very little hope for. But hey, the great thing about Americans is that they can do a 180 turn on a dime, and change completely in a moment. About certain things.

I think Peter Voser is acting in good faith, and if he thinks that he would violate laws in some countries where it has operations, then he probably would be.

But many of those laws could be regulations set up to protect corrupt regimes. And Shell of course wants to stay and do business in the countries where it has operations, so of course it doesn't want to give corrupt gov'ts a legal basis upon which to kick them out and find a more co-operative oil extraction partner (read: partner in crime, basically).

I think Shell should work more closely in co-operation with gov'ts.... to change them. I think corporations are powerful tools for good as well as for profit. I think that a company's share prices should go up and down not only according to their margins and earnings and potential for earnings... ahhhhh.... I just had an inkling of what I think might be an original idea, but it flashed out of my head as soon as it flashed in!!! Argh, hate it when that happens.

Anyways, today it's not gorgeously sunny as it was most of this week, but I gotta get going with WORK!!!!

Global Financial Integrity is fighting the good fight the way it should be fought: on paper.

"Some take the view that as long as the country enshrines bank secrecy - it is a criminal offence for Swiss citizens to reveal bank details - it acts as an enabler of illicit transfers of cash. Egypt lost US$57.2 billion (Dh210.1bn) to illicit capital flight between 2000 and 2008, according to Global Financial Integrity, an advocacy group based in Washington that monitors transfers of illegal funds.

The rapid collapse of dictatorships in Egypt and Tunisia, and the spread of sanctions to Libya, has left banks in a tricky position as they try to deflect public outrage.Some are more cynical about the Swiss government's zeal in hunting illicit assets.

"This doesn't mean that there's a big crackdown under way," says Nicholas Shaxson, the author of Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World. "Countries need to be seen to be doing something.""

Shaxson's book looks interesting, I'll have to look for it and read it.

Translating today again. Busy busy busy! Wish I had time to study, but I'm full up until the 14th, agh. Still, it beats sitting around the house shooting coyotes and rabbits in Red Dead Redemption all day. Or does it.

03 March, 2011

I am disappointed in the Economist

I think their choice of a cover this week was obvious and a bit irresponsible.

Does the Economist realise how influential it is? Judging by this week's cover, I don't think it does.

I met Peter Mickelthwait, the current editor of the Economist, at Trinity in Dublin years ago. Seemed like a cool guy, and interesting to talk with. I told him I had written letters to the E but never had any printed. He encouraged me to keep writing them, and said that just because they don't print all their letters doesn't mean they don't read them all.

I think a very strongly-worded letter is gathering momentum in my belly, I might actually voice my opinion publicly for once. This blog doesn't count. ;)))

The Fed FUQ: The Federal Reserve - Frequently Unanswered Questi...

The Fed FUQ: The Federal Reserve - Frequently Unanswered Questi...: "Who owns the Federal Reserve? The Fed website states, “The Federal Reserve System is not 'owned' by anyone and is not a private, profit-mak..."

I should have re-posted this post instead: it's a great piece.

The Fed FUQ: A World in Turmoil

The Fed FUQ: A World in Turmoil: "There's a strange serendipity, or perhaps just a sad irony, to my publishing my FAQ/Q&A piece regarding the Fed and beginning this blog ..."

I just found a very interesting blog that looks like a reliable sign of the times, the signs I've been seeing for so long, so long. It's funny cuz of my own gold squirrelling habits.

Black Swans

There is an excellent startup called Black Swan Solar, and a young man named Tom Currier -- whose goal is to solve the world's energy crisis through solar energy.


Hopefully this will provide some comfort, and a contrast to this week's cover of The Economist, which was literally a bomb.

24 February, 2011

Plus....this really worries me

Since 2008 I've been thinking that the next big oil price spike could be the start of dramatic changes in the world... and now that next big spike is here.

It's not what's going to change that worries me so much as how fast it will change. Most people will be able to adapt if the change is slow.

Opec can take up the Libyan slack, of course, so is this spike artificial panic, or an actual spike? And does that really matter?

Systemic Lacunae

I am bucking my own trend, because I want to post a link that has nothing to do with what I want to say in the post.

I am posting that link -- a speech by Munger, a investment partner of Buffett's -- that offers a lot of good investing/life wisdom, stuff that I've learned too but that can't really be taught. But he's made a pretty good stab at it and it definitely deserves to be preserved. I've saved his speech in a Word doc called "Very good business advice.doc" that I'm going to try to remember to read and APPLY while I'm at business school.

But what I want to talk about is systemic lacunae, and relate it to the issues we face. Because a lot of people talk about all the problems in the world, and how to fix them, but it's difficult to fix a problem when you're not exactly sure what it is.

Today we live in system sets, within institutions, which are themselves systems. We are all systemised, institutionalised, we can't help it -- nor should we, necessarily. A lot of benefits have been brought to people because of instutions. I used to be vehemently anti-instutionalist. Now, I'm not. I'm much more objective these days.

But when people develop much faster than their systems and institutions... what then? Big gaps open up in the systems, and no longer meet the needs of the people -- they can fall through the metaphorical cracks.

Right now, there seems to be a lot of talk about how to fill these gaps, because a lot of our institutions are so big that it would required a very, very large amount of effort to change them, and their change would risk hurting the people that it should be helping.

So a lot of energy goes into filling these gaps. Rightly so. But people just keep on changing more, while their systems basically stay the same. So these lacunae get bigger and wider, and more issues and problems arise because of them. And so they require more energy to fill. And so on.

So, I'm thinking, if filling the gaps doesn't work, and changing the system doesn't work, what then? What are our other options?

I don't have any answers, but I believe we should start examining and thinking about what our options are.

23 February, 2011

What the US really thinks of Italy

Yet another reason to hate Berlusconi, as if he hasn't given you reason enough.

It's pretty sad that Berluska has been kissing up to GW Bush and Obama for all this time, and this is how far his ass kissing has gotten him. Exactly nowhere.

I feel sorry for Italians, but then again, I got a message on my FB wall a few weeks ago, after posting some Rubygate-type articles, from an Italian friend (not the brightest bulb in the world, but a fun guy) telling me to stop posting all this anti-Berluska nonsense, that he's only being criticised "because everyone is jealous of him", and that I should "relax".

I guess people get the government that they deserve. But I know a lot of good, smart, really really hardworking people in Italy, and they definitely do not deserve this clown.

If I had a little more flexibility in my life right now, I'd copy Garibaldi's march down the boot of Italy to Rome, and mobilise Italian people to get rid of Berlusconi. A smart leader would appeal to Italian's sense of nationalism, which has always been subordinated to their sense of regionalism, to change the leadership in Italy. Berlusconi (and the 2006 WC) has done a lot to boost a sense of pan-Italianism, so maybe that would work.

I can't remember if I posted it or not, but Montanelli's comment that Berlusconi's Italy is the worst Italy he has ever seen -- and that coming from a guy who lived through Mussonlini's regime, and who once was told off/complimented by Hitler (can't remember which, think the former).

I really miss Montanelli. Heck, I really miss Italy today. I'm glad that I left in 2004 though.

21 February, 2011

Free dialup internet access for Libyans - Spread the word

http://LeakSource.wordpress.com/ A Message from Anonymous: Free Internet for Libya Dial-Up: +494923197844321 User: telecomix Password: telexcomix 12 lines are available for Libyans only الإنترنت مجانا في ليبيا الطلب الهاتفي : +494923197844321 العضو : telecomix كلمة السر : telexcomix 12 خطوط المتاح

16 February, 2011

China Tech Ghengis Khan in the making

China china chinaaa ni hao ma wo hen hao ne ni bu ke chi wo ai ni xai jien gong xi fa choi wo mama se dai fu... and thus I have exhausted my Chinese.

I think it's time to learn it properly!!! I doubt I'll ever be able to learn Chinese as well as I know (knew) Italian, but it looks like a fun language so along with Spanish this year I want to improve my Mandarin.

Neither Google nor Facebook have been able to crack Chinese markets effectively on the same scale as they have in the ROW, so some powerful Chinese companies have done their own thing and now have enough cash to go shopping in the US. Fun!!! I wonder what Tencent's going to do with Riot Games, looks like a great combination!!! I wonder how much Riot Game's culture will change after the takeover. The Chinese would be smart if they left it alone, and set up a Chinese office of their own -- same technology, with some variations. Cool, if I had a few spare bucks I'd invest in these guys.

Xai Jien!

15 February, 2011

Three women to judge Berlusconi

Is this justice or vendetta? Cri and I are having a convo about it on FB right now....

Whatever shall become of our famed cabarettista??? OMG the day Italy gets rid of Berlusconi I will fly back and join in the celebrations.

I wonder how (un)popular Berlusca is with the Italians overseas? Do they care? Have they become so integrated with their new homelands that they couldn't care less what happens in Italian politics?

And the most important question... could they be mobilised to get rid of him? Hmmmm?

Hiybbprqag the Mountweazel

THIS is such a fantastic headline I had to post it here...

Lillian Virginia Mountweazel... great name, sticks out in your head, and if you're a bit of a bookweenie and curious, makes you wanna look it up elsewhere to see if her fate -- dead “at 31 in an explosion while on assignment for Combustibles magazine" -- is real or not...

"If Mountweazel is not a household name, even in fountain-designing or mailbox-photography circles, that is because she never existed. “It was an old tradition in encyclopedias to put in a fake entry to protect your copyright,” Richard Steins, who was one of the volume’s editors, said the other day. “If someone copied Lillian, then we’d know they’d stolen from us.”"

In an era of re-tweets and rapid exchange of ideas, of search engine battles and information wars, how can you tell if someone's copying you? Add a Mountweazel.

Circular momentum

I started to do a little job search today, to look at what kind of jobs I could get with an MBA in CSR and finance/marketing/whatever at a place like Google, and the job list at the Dot Com was a bit meh... but then I found the Dot Org, which is MUCH more interesting, and it's funny cuz the dot org led me to the SKoll, which I have been reading for ages now. And on the Skoll site, I found what I think could be my dream job. This is my dream job, just in case anyone at Skoll is reading and wants to make me an offer.... NOT I'm soooo unqualified, not yet.

The link above goes to a response to the WSJ article "The Case Against CSR", a response by Charles Cameron which I should have posted here last year.

Soooo.. w/r/t a job,

Translation Activisation Station

Activisation as in activism.... not a very good neologism though, just trying it on...

Google finished a really interesting programme in 2010 involving health care and volunteer translation called HealthSpeaks. It uses crowdsourced translations (still a bit iffy in my mind, especially in a field like health care, but hey) to make more healthcare information available in local languages where people wouldn't have much exposure or access to education in English, but do have internet access.

In other words, total coolness.

Woah, holy cow! Look what I found!

I must have really been living under a cave -- if you consider the EU a cave. Pretty nice cave they have over here, I must say.

Anyways, very glad to have discovered google.org, it is definitely a place I will be applying after I finish business school. They have all kinds of tech apps and ways to connect with other people interested in CSR and improving non-profits, such as the All for Good one I just added. They made it really easy to add to my blog -- MUCH easier than figuring out how tell the blog how to open links in a new page, very easy code I'm sure but where do they give you that option in the blog auto-bot?


13 February, 2011

Kudos to FT: Sustainable Finance Awards

I've always wondered about awards: why we give them to each other, why we place so much importance on them even when we know the voting's skewed, etc.

Business awards are a funny thing, and I don't know how much impact this will make, but it is undubitably a sign of the times.

The Financial Times and IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today launched the FT/IFC Sustainable Finance Awards, a major global programme designed to recognise the institutions across the financial industry that have shown leadership and innovation in integrating environmental, social and governance considerations into their business.

The FT/IFC Sustainable Finance Awards evolve out of the FT Sustainable Banking Awards, which over five years established themselves as the world’s leading awards for banks and other institutions focused on sustainable development. The transformation of the Sustainable Banking Awards into the Sustainable Finance Awards reflects the major shifts that are taking place across the banking and investment community, which faces growing pressure to incorporate environmental, social and governance factors into all levels of decision-making, from risk management and product design to actual investing and financing.

Willful ignorance

I've been wanting to take a step back and think about why America is a laggard in the fight against climate change. I would posit a handful of explanations:

Psychological: The consequences of climate change are too awful to contemplate. Therefore, we're denying the issue, as we used to deny monsters in the room by hiding under the blanket. If you don't look at it, it can't look at you.

Economic: The costs of a large-scale effort to fight global warming are too steep to bear. Therefore, we're trying to ignore the issue, or pretending it doesn't exist, or we believe that the economy (including development) is more important.

The fact that Democrats are always hammering on about climate change and Republicans aren't suggests that this is a political issue, not a scientific one. This creates a feedback loop: if climate change were real, why is it so polarising? Because it's so polarising, it must be slightly suspicious.

Why should we believe in climate change? Where's the evidence? All we know is what scientists say, and scientists are sometimes wrong. And don't even get me started on Al Gore.

Metaphysical: God isn't going to let millions of people die in an epic drought.

I suspect the metaphysical denial is quite rare—but given the comparative religiosity of American culture and the stereotypes thereof, it gets a lot of air time. It is also the least valid of the reasons for denial (partly because in the given system, God obviously does let people die). The other explanations are more common. In the Rasmussen poll, for example, a plurality of respondents said that "there is a conflict between environmental protection and economic growth."

That last response in the poll is the most dangerous. Business leaders in the US should really fight the notion that you can't make money and save the environment. Untrue!!!

12 February, 2011

Carbon Negative sounds pretty good to me

I've been mulling ideas about corporations' involvement in projects that would normally be the domain of governments, regulation, de-regulation, what profit actually means, etc. and came across this site, which quotes:

“Expect companies who are serious about GENERATION G and the environment to quickly move from merely neutralizing and offsetting their undesirable eco-effects to actually boosting the environment by going the extra mile.”

How can consumers and gov'ts incentivate corporations to go that extra mile? Or should corporations be expected to just go there on their own? And how would these efforts be viewed by consumers who are skeptical and doubt the altruistic nature of the corporations?

More questions: how can companies whose reputations have been tarnished by past misdeeds regain the trust of its consumers and potential employees?

Cape Town Sandbag house

This site -- Bridge of Love -- is a bit hokey, but it's Green Tips page is pretty good, and scroll down and you will find pics and details of a house built in Cape Town entirely out of sandbags.

Sand is something there is LOTS of in CT, and apparantly it is ok with the city's building regulations to build relatively complex houses out of sand in sandbags. It doesn't get mouldy, and the sandbags supposedly last 500+ years so they won't disintegrate any time soon.

The idea for the build is credited to www.ecobeam.co.za, which will not currently load on my browser grrr...

I hate Scientology

Kudos for Paul Haggis and Jason Beghe and others for opting out despite being relatively "successful" Scientologists, and for speaking out about this cult.

Good article by the New Yorker, as usual. I love them, but their comics stink. Kidding, not really.

09 February, 2011

Pretty good Vanity Fair article about the Irish financial crisis

I remember when the crisis hit Dublin. In the space of a week, a flurry of for rent and for sale signs went up on properties along Dame Street, businesses closed, and my hopes of getting a job in Ireland after I graduated evaporated.

Funny how Michael Lewis mentions the property developers. When I came to Dublin in 2004, the first house I rented with my then-boyfriend was from a terribly stuck-up, pompous nouveau-riche type with his own real estate company (basically him and his wife, and a timid bird of a receptionish), which though I didn't know it at the time was a great indication of what the rest of Dublin society was like. Real estate dealers and property developers quickly became synonymous with brainless asshole in my view.

08 February, 2011

Jules Verne Day!

I've felt bombarded with events in the past few days, and found so many interesting links that I stopped posting here so much, but I think this simple url deserves a quick post today! I thought it was cool how Google gave Jules Verne his own day, especially since France gave him a whole year on the centennary of his death in 2005. It made me think about how much influence a writer can have on the imaginations of scientists, and how it's often the imagination of writers whose ideas become real, by inspiring the goals of young people who grow up to be engineers. I'm glad I'm a writer. I hope one day I can overcome my challenges and really learn to express myself fully in writing, and write lovely, crazy sci-fi and adventure books.

06 February, 2011

Coral in Sudan dying off at record speed

I remember the first time I went diving in the Red Sea, the fantastic colours, the flashing fishscales, the movement of the water.

I'd better get back there soon or there won't be any more coral or fish left. Coral is such a delicate species that I really doubt that it will still be around in a decade.

29 January, 2011

So much going on lately

Lots of interesting things happening.. Davos, Tunisia, Egypt...

In the name of testing the ways to post pics, I am posting this pic, which was taken by an anonymous Egyptian today:

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

It works! Kissing a riot cop... very subversive! I'll have to remember that technique ;)

25 January, 2011

Berlusca goes nuts insulting Gad Lerner

Go Go Gad Lerner!!! Ya gotta love anybody who Berlusconi calls up to insult personally like this.

Berlusca just came off looking like a kook. WTF, doesn't he have other more pressing things to deal with??? Like leading the country??? This proves that he can no longer take the office of PdC seriously, if he ever did. If Italy doesn't impeach him or whatever now...

This video had to get posted on my blog, even though I don't usually post stuff about Italian politics here -- it's too depressing, and lately verges on disbelief. It would be quite entertaining, if I hadn't lived in Italy and didn't feel so sorry for all my Italian friends who have this complete jerkoff running their country.

22 January, 2011

World Clock App

This is a great app my friend Brian posted on FB. You can see the number of people being born per continent (Africa is missing though), the number of CO2 emissions, and lots of other pertinent statistics.

The scariest one is the estimated 14.44"C rise in global temperature: yes, you read it right, 14 degrees celsius. 14. That is enormous.

I also watched a movie/documentary called The Age of Stupid yesterday. I really hope that it doesn't come true. I think everyone should watch it right now though. We need to do so much for our planet, and we're simply not. I hope it doesn't come true, but I think it already is.

17 January, 2011

Not only is WikiLeaks not dead -- It has quickly grown new teeth!

Despite many attempts to muzzle it, WikiLeaks' and Assange's recent media attention has instead given it sharper teeth. And Rudolf Elmer has a pair of cojones that I am invidious of.

"Rudolf Elmer once headed the office of Julius Baer in the Cayman Islands until he was fired by the bank in 2002. He is scheduled to go on trial in Switzerland on Wednesday for breaching bank secrecy."

Best of luck to you, Mr Elmer.

I am so pleased that WikiLeaks is fighting back, and appears to be successful at it thus far. Being the topic of so much debate and worldwide media attention is allowing it perhaps to mature as an organisation. Far from being a gigantic tattletale that went too far when it exposed people participating in the "necessary evils" of worldwide diplomacy and business, it is growing into a vital source of alternative information that should be disclosed to an otherwise ignorant public. Clearly, people want to know these things.

And though public outcry mightn't be as loud as some people hope it to me (or perhaps should be), this type of news needs an outlet, and the bigger the mouthpiece this outlet has, the better. People might not freak out about the news stemming from WikiLeaks, but they will definitely take it into consideration when they make their choices in life. Offshore financial abuses are far too widely tolerated in the rich world -- I myself included.

16 January, 2011

Micronutrients FTW!

Subtitled "Nobel laureates have figured out the eight investments that will help the planet most. No. 1: micronutrients."

Their impact on a growing, human body is anything but micro. But the point of the article is much bigger, and one close to my heart: how to make the money people give to charities actually help other people as effectively as possible.

"But there is a larger point here: Billions of dollars are given and spent on aid and development by individuals and companies each year. Despite this generosity, we simply do not allocate enough resources to solve all of the world's biggest problems. In a world fraught with competing claims on human solidarity, we have a moral obligation to direct additional resources to where they can achieve the most good. And that is as true of our own small-scale charitable donations as it is of governments' or philanthropists' aid budgets."

I've been helping a friend edit his dissertation and the other documents he's been writing up whilst living in Nairobi and studying the sociological problems in Korogochu; and though not the point of his studies, it is clear that there is a lot of money wasting going on in NGOs.

So, consider that NGOs are like regular, product-selling corporations (what they sell is the good feeling that you get about yourself when you've done something "altruistic"), how can we get some sort of a product guarantee? We can't always; but we can do our homework and find out who is best addressing our cause of choice.

I hope that the NGO market continues to develop along these lines -- i.e. effective spending -- more in the future, and that consumers learn that it isn't really realistic to expect problems to go away by throwing money at them. It's not enough to write a cheque, pat yourself on the back, and walk away.

Quadrotor teams: I want one for Christmas!!!

Which comes first, the toy or the tool?

This potential engineering tool looks a lot like the mini helicopter my brother bought around Christmas. This made me think about how one of our greatest characteristics as humans -- how we love to play and have fun. I wonder how many toys were developed from engineering "discoveries", and how many useful engineering mechanisms were developed from toys?

11 January, 2011

FP's Unconventional Wisdom essays

Soooo glad I discovered this mag! Loving it right now, even though its political orientation appears opaque to me. I am entertaining the possibility that it might not have one, which makes it even more interesting to me.

These essays are fantastic, happy reading!

FP's take on food supply shortages

"In the United States, which harvested 416 million tons of grain in 2009, 119 million tons went to ethanol distilleries to produce fuel for cars. That's enough to feed 350 million people for a year. The massive U.S. investment in ethanol distilleries sets the stage for direct competition between cars and people for the world grain harvest."

Ethanol never seemed like a particularly good idea to me. If Obama ever manages to dig his country out of its economic hole, I hope he has the wherewithal to crush the ethanol bills and laws that were instated under Bush Junior. Right after he stopps fracking.

09 January, 2011

Bob Farrell's investing rules

Wall Street “gurus” come and go, but in the case of Bob Farrell legendary status was achieved. He spent several decades as chief stock market analyst at Merrill Lynch & Co. and had a front-row seat at the go-go markets of the late 1960s, mid-1980s and late 1990s, the brutal bear market of 1973-74, and October 1987 crash. Thanks to Plexus for publishing his investment "10 commandments".

1. Markets tend to return to the mean over time
When stocks go too far in one direction, they come back. Euphoria and pessimism can cloud people’s heads. It’s easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and lose perspective.

2. Excesses in one direction will lead to an excess in the opposite direction
Think of the market baseline as attached to a rubber string. Any action too far in one direction not only brings you back to the baseline, but leads to an overshoot in the opposite direction.

3. There are no new eras – excesses are never permanent
Whatever the latest hot sector is, it eventually overheats, mean reverts, and then overshoots. Look at how far the emerging markets and BRIC nations ran over the past six years, only to get cut in half.

As the fever builds, a chorus of “this time it’s different” will be heard, even if those exact words are never used. And of course, it – human nature – is never different.

4. Exponential rapidly rising or falling markets usually go further than you think, but they do not correct by going sideways
Regardless of how hot a sector is, don’t expect a plateau to work off the excesses. Profits are locked in by selling, and that invariably leads to a significant correction eventually.

5. The public buys the most at the top and the least at the bottom
That’s why contrarian-minded investors can make good money if they follow the sentiment indicators and have good timing. Watch Investors Intelligence (measuring the mood of more than 100 investment newsletter writers) and the American Association of Individual Investors Survey.

6. Fear and greed are stronger than long-term resolve
Investors can be their own worst enemy, particularly when emotions take hold. Gains “make us exuberant; they enhance well-being and promote optimism”, says Santa Clara University finance professor Meir Statman. His studies of investor behavior show that “Losses bring sadness, disgust, fear, regret. Fear increases the sense of risk and some react by shunning stocks.”

7. Markets are strongest when they are broad and weakest when they narrow to a handful of blue-chip names
This is why breadth and volume are so important. Think of it as strength in numbers. Broad momentum is hard to stop, Farrell observes. Watch for when momentum channels into a small number of stocks.

8. Bear markets have three stages – sharp down, reflexive rebound and a drawn-out fundamental downtrend
I would suggest that as of August 2008, we are on our third reflexive rebound – the January rate cuts, the Bear Stearns low in March, and now the Fannie/Freddie rescue lows of July.

We have yet to see the long-drawn-out fundamental portion of the bear market.

9. When all the experts and forecasts agree – something else is going to happen
As Stovall, the S&P investment strategist, puts it: “If everybody’s optimistic, who is left to buy? If everybody’s pessimistic, who’s left to sell?”

Going against the herd as Farrell repeatedly suggests can be very profitable, especially for patient buyers who raise cash from frothy markets and reinvest it when sentiment is darkest.

10. Bull markets are more fun than bear markets
Especially if you are long only or mandated to be fully invested. Those with more flexible charters might squeak out a smile or two here and there.

Rule no. 11 could be "most people just wanna have fun" or something of that ilk.

More on the Prisoner's Dilemma

So, I read up more on the Prisoner's Dilemma, which I think can be expanded to use as a metaphor for what is happening to our world right now in terms of uses of resources.

People are generally self-interested, and in a world with limited resources (somewhat like a prison), it's natural that a lot of people are going to use as many resources as possible (which in the PD could be analogous to pleading guilty). This can't be compared to the classic version of the PD, in which neither prisoner knows how the other has pleaded, because people tend to advertise their uses of resources somewhat; having a big house, big cars, wearing jewellry and fancy clothes, etc.

There are many who don't use as many resources, because they don't have the opportunity to -- they have little money to buy their use. But there are many who do have the opportunity, and despite this use self-restraint. They use as many resources as they can , because they know that this w

Awww... just found that a congresswoman from Arizona was shot in the head yesterday. Don't feel like writing anymore, but will get back to this later.

08 January, 2011

It's tough being a good person in a bad ol' world

And I finally found the reason why: the prinsoner's dilemma. It pays (somewhat) to be bad, the devil you know, etc. etc.