31 March 2012

What has Israel got over America?

Apologies to the speaker who inspired this idea in me - I've forgotten who you were.

Obama faces an election at the end of this year. A weak economy could see him lose, especially now that it looks like a moderate is about to be nominated by the Republican Party. America is going through a slow, 'fragile and reversible' economic recovery. The thing that could upset this recovery and tip America into depression is an increase in the price of oil. What could drastically increase the price of oil is Iran blocking off the Straits of Hormuz, even though they can only do this temporarily. What could cause Iran to do this is an attack by Israel in Iran. Thus America - Obama - must keep Israel from attacking Iran until at least the first Tuesday in November and must provide Israel with credible promises and assurances for the period of time postceding that date.

29 March 2012

Can quolls be kept as pets?

Two of the six extant species of quoll are relevant to us in South Eastern Australia: the tiger quoll and the eastern quoll.

The tiger quoll is big and able to defend itself against cats and foxes. It is the smaller eastern quoll, smaller than a cat, that is endangered and probably extinct on the mainland, although there are unconfirmed sightings now and then. The last confirmed sighting was in 1963 in of all places Vaucluse when one was found dead on the side of the road. It is still doing all right in Tasmania.

Just as licenced hunting and harvesting of game species is being permitted as a new philosophy in preserving those species, so too consideration is being given to allowing people to keep native species as pets in Australia (an idea I applaud). Eastern quolls are one of the key species being considered for a pilot.

I'd like to get one.

Go hear (sorry, here) for an audio backgrounder.

This might be a good place to approach to take action.

24 March 2012

African Troops Hunt Kony After Viral Meltdown

This time it will be different:

Francisco Madeira, AU special envoy to end the LRA insurgency, said: "What's going to change is that we will have better intelligence and better co-ordination."

What's going to change is that the US is on the case and repaying Uganda for its good work in Somalia and so there will be above all better money.

World's Most Insane Wallpaper

Is this the world's most insane wallpaper?


Sting fingers corrupt officials

In short, most Asian governments are nothing more than conspiracies of greed and criminal enterprises.

THE Australian government authorised more than $10 million in suspected drug funds to be sent offshore in an extraordinary operation which revealed top Asian politicians and police are involved in a criminal syndicate, according to an intelligence briefing.


According to the briefing, which was supplied to overseas agencies, Operation Dayu uncovered intelligence that the syndicate had infiltrated a high level of government ''in both law enforcement agencies and political circles" in Asia, including China, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Macau.

"There are a number of other countries where this is suspected but not apparent to date," the briefing says. One example involved a "high-placed triad associate" of the grandfather syndicate "attending an Interpol conference in New York". The findings highlight the extraordinary challenge facing Australian law enforcement agencies trying to combat drug importation via the nation's porous and, according to some police sources, vulnerable or corrupted border security regime. The syndicate has its origins in a "triad conglomerate" formed by formerly warring triad groups in Asia a decade ago.

All I have to say is: "Please explain".

23 March 2012

How to say 'no' without looking like a jerk

1. Say 'no' straight away.

2. Say 'yes, but' [insert condition(s)].

3. Give reasons. People love reasons.

13 March 2012

Understanding financial crises

This is what you need to know.

11 March 2012

Colour Perception

This is freaky. It is one thing to understand that different languages divide up the colour spectrum in different ways - it is another to find that different cultures actually perceive colours differently.

Feel free to skip to 5:00 to see the Himba and their perception of colour.

If this is the case, it's not so hard to understand how, for example, the Piraha can see spirits that we can't.

What’s The Best Time of Day to be Creative?

I don't know why, but I have also found this to be the case:

What Wieth and Zacks found was that strong morning-types were better at solving the more mysterious insight problems in the evening, when they apparently weren't at their best.

Exactly the same pattern, but in reverse, was seen for people who felt their brightest in the evening: they performed better on the insight task when they were unfocused in the morning.

Getting your Breakaway Republic Recognised

Formidable international player Tuvalu has recognised Abkhazia, an autonomous ethnic region of Georgia which has managed to de facto break away.

Generally-recognised states which have recognised Abkhazia are:

Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru, Vanuatu, and Tuvalu

that is to say besides Russia, South Ossetia, Transnistria, and someone else I've forgotten.

If you can get Taiwan on board, you'd really start things happening.

Tuvalu and Abkhazia now have visa-free travel, and Tuvalu is kindly giving Abkhazia the benefit of its experience in democracy and providing election monitors.

Tree-hanging tent provides above-ground shelter

Check it out at Gizmag.

10 March 2012

"They are stealing everything that isn’t bolted down"

Article in Bloomberg Businessweek:

The hackers’ interest in companies as small as Salt Lake City-based iBahn illustrates the breadth of China’s spying against firms in the U.S. and elsewhere. The networks of at least 760 companies, research universities, Internet service providers and government agencies were hit over the last decade by the same elite group of China-based cyber spies. The companies, including firms such as Research in Motion Ltd. and Boston Scientific Corp., range from some of the largest corporations to niche innovators in sectors like aerospace, semiconductors, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, according to intelligence data obtained by Bloomberg News.

H/t: YaleGlobal Online


07 March 2012

The Secret Agreement that Revolutionized China

In collectivist China, one village had the gumption to work together to skirt around the system:

The Great Leap Forward was a great leap backward – agricultural land was less productive in 1978 than it had been in 1949 when the communists took over. In 1978, however, farmers in the village of Xiaogang held a secret meeting. The farmers agreed to divide the communal land and assign it to individuals – each farmer had to produce a quota for the government but anything he or she produced in excess of the quota they would keep. The agreement violated government policy and as a result the farmers also pledged that if any of them were to be killed or jailed the others would raise his or her children until the age of 18.

Here is the actual document:

H/t: Marginal Revolution