Thursday, December 30, 2004

Ah the Mysterious Bra!

Don't know how I got on this page but it is a very enlightening description of the trials of wearing a brassiere. For a guy who's caressed, taken off, ogled, and yes, tore, many a bra in his lifetime, I was a bit shocked at the things I never cared to learn. And this comes after sitting across from a friend's wife who recently has fallen pregnant (is that a correct phrase?) as she spoke in earnest about her recently - and shockingly - increased breast size in gory detail. In Vicky's secret rant we learn of the problems of measuring the bra inhabitants.

I had to laugh about how after she was fitted for a surprisingly well fitting bra, she exclaims "but by God, those suckers stayed in place!", because what are they if not, well, "Suckers"?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Safe Toy Shopping Guide, from National Lampoon

The Incredibles "Run Like Dash" Playset

What is it? This costume and playset promises to allow a child to "run like Dash," the youngest son of the Incredibles family who possesses supernatural speed.
Why it's dangerous: The anabolic steroids included with the playset were difficult to administer, as the younger toddlers shied away from the needles. The amphetamines made the children jittery, and while they did increase their footspeed noticably, it was difficult to get them running in any one direction and even more difficult to get them to effectively fight crime.
The costume's black mask can also obscure vision somewhat.
What you should do: Let the children keep the costume, but stay away from the speed enhancement. Remember that great toys rely on imagination first and foremost. National Lampoon enjoyed the most success in getting the children to "run like Dash" simply by taking them to the park and having one of our staff chase them while wearing the costume of the predatory arch nemesis of the Incredibles, Captain Molestro.



Friday, December 24, 2004

The Perfect Woman. The Perfect Man?

Nine out of Ten Would be Adequate
Researchers at Alabama's Auburn University say they have determined what men want in the "ideal woman": she is sexually inexperienced but likes sex, has a career but is a full-time homemaker, has a slim build, is athletic, and has pretty eyes, dark hair, good complexion and a firm butt. Large breasts are nice, but not all that important. The study's lead author, Erica Gannon, says the specifications are similar to what is found in the Bible. "Our participants, whether knowingly or unknowingly, espouse a view of the ideal woman that is very similar to the views held by individuals thousands of years ago." However, she adds, "It's hard to be this woman." (UPI) ...About as hard as being the ideal man: strong yet gentle, powerful yet sensitive, has a great career yet helps clean the house and raise the children, in control yet cries, and a sex expert who's only been with one woman.

(From http://www.thisistrue.com/cgi-bin/subform.pl)

Christmas Means Sharing

Christmas eve morning and made my wife breakfast of two soft boiled eggs 'in glass'. So I decide to give myself a few eggs but on really fresh Czech bread, with some Pomozankove maslo; which is similar to cream cheese but this kind has a bit of garlic and onion flavoring. And some fried bacon strips mixed in. And then to read the news and some blogs with some fresh Ebel Coffee in the Braun coffee pot. Of course the dogs are with me in my home office (smell of food). Suddenly while I am pulling out the camera (don't ask me why I wanted to photograph my breakfast), my wife comes swooping in to take a bite, saying something like "your food always taste better". Hence the two huge chomps that more closely resemble the 'Great Australian Bite' (which aptly describes both the huge gouge out of the southern tip of the Australian continent and the takings of my wife's appetite). Posted by Hello

The large gulf in the lower part of the continent is the Great Australian Bite. Notice the similarity? Posted by Hello

And then there are the dogs who are waiting ever so patiently for a few scraps,... which I can never deny. Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 23, 2004

In the Mall, everyone can hear you scream.
Great photo article here on scary santa visits. Posted by Hello


Which reminds me, I saw the movie "Bad Santa" the other day and was presently surprised at their take on a trite story of the evil-guy-turning-good. But this was more to do with the really raunchy dialogue.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Supporting Them Is Better

The other day I mentioned something akin to the feelings expressed in this NYTimes article where people were reacting to the Mosul rocket attack. That although they may disagree on the reasons the US got into Iraq, that it's better to support the troops there rather than causing or promoting problems.
  • Some people said that polls themselves were part of the problem. Charlie Eubanks, a cotton farmer and lawyer from the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, said he supported President Bush but had been lukewarm about going to war. Now, he said there was no choice but to fight on, and that reports on opinion polls were only "aiding and abetting" the enemy by making opponents think the American will is weak.[emphasis, mine]

The opinions on the late ferocity of attacks however is mixed. This one reminds me of the end of the German resistance in 1944 when young Hitler youths were disregarding the signs and wreaking havoc against allied forces as they moved eastwards. They were fervent and desperate.

  • "It tells me that they are worried that they are going to lose," said Mr. Mayo, of Newcastle, Colo. "They are just trying to make it as painful as possible and they don't care how they do it."

But the news reports have you thinking another way. And its very worrying.

  • 'Another military veteran who has become active in opposing the war said the message of Tuesday's attack was not desperation, but greater organization by the insurgents.'

Should we consider that something like 15 of the 18 districts in Iraq (not sure numbers here) are peaceful, as positive, promising, etc? Or should we think that this is forever getting worse and the allied forces are losing?

But one mother expreses her feelings like this : "It's like watching your son playing in traffic, and there's nothing you can do," Ms. Bellows said. "You can't reach him."

By the way, have you seen this campaign called My Soldier? It seems a bit strange to me that I could write to some 20 year-old guy from, for example the religious south, and in some way make him feel better. But I figure I got to do it.


Posted by Hello
Moore is getting lunatic fringed, lately. A shame. Its weird how my views on Moore get me stuck in the middle, where both sides of the spectrum can hate me.

Bowling for Columbine had (in my worthless opinion) a valid point about the bizarre American Gun compulsion. An yet, I think his view on Bush was perhaps unfair. As in the Pres. is already sticky fly paper for anti-isolationists criticism, anti-globalization rancor, elitist liberal ravings, and the tried and oft-true caricatures. But when strong, war-time measures infringe on rights, everyone many say we are spiraling into fascism. They seem to ignore what sort of system is really in place. The USA is much more free on these issues than, for example France. Id checks, wire tapping, search and seizure rules. Miranda? I am not certain, but I think this must be joke there. (France is somehow especially odd since their view on Iraq and how little Bush traveled there and other weak-on-rights countries; this travelling and awareness of the world seemed a bonus for Kerry, for example.) And France had not even had a huge terrorist act. Imagine what it could be like if they did.

Perhaps I should explain my view these things sometimes. I will call it my 'Dan's political dogma'. I am fervently anti-gun, ambivalent on pro-choice, I have to admit, a hawk, and think the religious right is an embarrassment. But what gets me is that the liberal elite seems to ignore the fact that the country is full of people who are religious and are carrying guns. The people have the right to express their opinion and vote even though the election system is prone to makeup, spins, and talk-show-host-appearance presidents. That's the people's choice, for crying out loud. We, (yes, I am a fellow American) are ridiculous because of our similarity to the countries we criticize like Iran (religion, guns). That's us, so face up to it. Don't say these wheat belt, fundamentalists are 'wrong', but say 'I have a different opinion'. Because they outnumber you irregardless of whether they are right or wrong. If you still really believe they are stupid, take a look at the ill-informed world over the course of history. It had problems. Main tenets being: 1. big powers fighting over property, 2. what the people hear is rarely the real reason, 3. information and education and an awareness of the world is 'spun' too much for anyone of the masses to ever have the mythologically unbiased opinoin, and 4. large percentages of the population die from war and disease. This - in my small opinion - has always been true, and will always be true. (And note tenet 4., the percentages will always be the same!) There is no noble savage; it really is a matter of fight over stuff or not getting it. Sorry. Really, I am sorry. There is no other explanation.

But I do hope that we can be told to 'be good'. And yes, doing good feels good. And respecting people to continue being good should be supported. But don't expect they are going to be this way or can always be this way. That is a mistake. Wow. What a tirade.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Is it better to blunder on into a war? Or to let the 800,000 people die?

In this story about Clinton's National Security adviser and Rwanda, Anthony Lake ponders the frustration of all their inactivity.

Here is a question for you: If the US led a force of UN soldiers into this conflict, do you honestly think they would have come away without mass protests around the world? Do you think that the situation would have been cleared up within two years? And even abuse stories of US servicemen?

Do you think that we could have pulled out with some sense of stability? I think not.

But I put to you, was it better to stand by and do nothing?

  • 'In Rwanda, the United States did not simply not intervene. It also used its considerable power to discourage other Western powers from intervening. '

To ignore the situation - rather than getting into a very messy military situation - was the choice of Clinton's administration.

  • 'Mr. Lake readily acknowledged other unattractive features of American policy: that the State Department prohibited use of the word "genocide" for months, that the Pentagon refused to jam Rwandan broadcasts that guided the killing and that there had been warnings well ahead of time, including one from the Central Intelligence Agency, that a catastrophic human disaster was in the making.
  • "It was based on the belief that if you used the word, then you're required to take action," he said. "They didn't go the sophistry route - using the word and finding a way to weasel out of it. Now in Sudan, we've used it and we're wriggling out of its meaning. Which is more unattractive? I don't know."'

What pisses me off is that so many people want this to stop and yet when the US goes in, the scandals start. And the same sorts of people are telling the US that they really screwed up.

Sure it is in vogue to ignore the thousands of people killed by Saddam and the previous issue of making WMD, in favor of the intelligence failure and the perceived fraudulent push by Bush to get a war started with a fabricated link to Al Q. But when a Rwanda and Bosnia started, the US and the UN drag their feet in favor of slow negotiation. In both cases Clinton chose to remain on the sidelines.

And when something gets started, too many say that force is not the only answer. Okay, how would you stop a Rawanda-like situation without giving a UN soldier bullets?

This really gets me angry and is where I get apoplectic with the left.



Robert Blake, Baretta of the 1970's, married trailer trash?

In her opening statement, Ms Samuels alleged that Mr Blake killed his wife because he "despised" her and regarded her family as "low-life trailer trash" who might turn their daughter into a prostitute.

I remember this guy like I recall Starsky and Hutch, Angie Dickenson, Kojak, Mannix, etc. Something to watch when nothing else was on. (Okay, I actually looked forward to Starsky and Hutch).

And the last time I saw Robert Blake was in David Lynch's "Lost Highway", and I thought it was so cool that he would go from, well, trailer-trash TV, to a cool, cultishy movie like Lost Highway. [Interesting trivia from IMDB.com "Robert Blake told director Lynch he was not going to give him a hard time about the script because Blake did not understand it. Blake also said he felt his character was the Devil."]

Well, go figure. Now he does what he always was advising against. What was the line? "If you can't do the time, don't do the crime". I am surprised the stories about him don't quote that over and over again. I haven't seen any, at least.

Monday, December 20, 2004

New Recruits

I got an email from a friend of a friend, of my sister. A 23 yr old guy coming to Prague and seeking some advice and small help; "can you give him some pointers, warnings, etc?". So I write him about the pickpockets, the crooked cab drivers and how he should avoid the panelak in favor of a run-down, Zizkov flat. The normal stuff.

I also framed some of my comments to reflect the fact that I am 45 and don't (can't) hang out much with the younger crowd. But I also wrote:
  • Oh, there are a lot of young Americans here and a bit of arrogance is the best way to be left out. Many of them are well-travelled and well, basically all of us have 'heard-it-all-before'. Just warning you that people who have been here a long time hate listening to the newcomers stories. Best to sit back and listen, and avoid 'where are you from, how long you been here' opening lines. Asking questions for help etc, is fine. Hope you don't mind my being frank.

Am I right? Don't we get a bit like the WWII soldier that didn't want to know the name of the new replacement? Or don't we get sick of the guy that has "lived all over the place" seems to know it all because he lived in LA and NY and maybe had a summer job at the Village Voice?

Kind of a wierd feeling being in a place and getting all the referrals from family and friends to help out one of their friends. Hell, I would probably like the same. But doesn't anyone else feel like a cynic?

I will help him, now that I feel guilty (and he probably figured out the link to the blog). I also told him:
  • Take it easy and enjoy the ride. Its a great place to live and a lot of fun. When you get here it might seem dark and dank, but January is a slow month in paradise.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The lovely evening of Mikulas

when kids get pyschological scars they will carry forever.

On December 6th every year in towns and cities around the Czech Republic, families will take their kids out to enjoy the Mikulas celebration. (yes, Mikulas like St Nicholas, but don't ask me how that works).

The setting is this: A father like figure, with white beard, bishop-like hat (miter?) and a shepherd's staff.

An angel (I don't get where this guy comes in, but probably to counter the devil).

A devil, darkened face, curly wig with horns, a hanging chain, and only one shoe. Job description: to tell the little kid to do better at school, stop punching his sister...to scare the kid so that if he doesn't clean up his act, he will be joining the devil in Hell.

I have heard of one kid that was crying for three days and working so hard to learn how to tie his shoelaces. Or else, that's it, Shazam! He's taken from his mother and father and will spend the rest of his eternity (a concept they know means a long time) with the devil.

And why do the Mikulas, the angel and the devil partake of this festival? For tips from parents. A way of paying for the extra muscle when the kids are not behaving or accomplishng the shoelace tying.

The funniest part is seeing the hungover Mikulas', angels and devils at around 6 in the morning the next day after they spent all their drinking money. What you thought it was just for fun?



Posted by Hello


Posted by Hello


Angel Posted by Hello


This kid is crying. Posted by Hello


Dunno if this devil would scare anyone. Posted by Hello


Posted by Hello


Devils calling for backup. Posted by Hello

Saturday, December 18, 2004

"The comment may sound a bit whimsical, but it's literally true that the leading cause of death on death row is old age."
RONALD M. GEORGE, the chief justice of the California Supreme Court in this article.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Germs on the keyboard at work.

Grrrrrosss

"the typical worker's desk has hundreds of times more bacteria per square inch than an office toilet seat. "

"Nobody ever cleans a desktop until they start sticking to it.."

Monday, December 13, 2004

The power of negative marketing.

PayPal has enemies.

The guy who thought of this web address was really thinking. I was curious how PayPal works so I googled the one word, Paypal. The first hit was the PayPal site. The second? PayPalSucks. (Eyes go boing!) Of course I opened the link and had a really good read.

And perhaps even more interesting is that when you hit hit "blog this", not only does the simple link for the address appear like this, www.blahblah.com but as much hatred is included as possible to appear like this: PayPalSucks.com is where you will learn about the paypal class action lawsuit, abuse, fraud, & evil behind the PayPal system!

Battle of Perception Management

Here is a NYTimes article on the use of deception and what goes out to the public. Are they decieving for a military end? A public relations end? Or is it a military use that is accused of being a PR use.

One general sums it up: "Are we trying to inform? Yes.

Do we offer perspective? Yes.

Do we offer military judgment? Yes.

Must we tell the truth to stay credible? Yes.

Is there a battlefield value in deceiving the enemy? Yes.

Do we intentionally deceive the American people? No." - General Kimmitt

"In the battle of perception management, where the enemy is clearly using the media to help manage perceptions of the general public, our job is not perception management but to counter the enemy's perception management," said the chief Pentagon spokesman, Lawrence Di Rita.

Sure this could be abused, but I am still glad they use this skill to avoid taking casualties.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Pain...Oh, What A Pain!

An odd littly ditty found on medicinenet.com:

"Nothing begins, and nothing ends,
That is not paid with moan;
For we are born in other's pain,
And perish in our own."
-- James Kenneth Stephen "

Damned If You Do, Damned If You Do

Media and War: In this article the most senior UK military man says the media reports on the movements of the Blackwatch troops 'enhanced' the insurgent attacks that killed 5 men from this unit.

In an article last week on CNN there was a story of how the US military wanted to see what happens when an attack is advertised, but not carried out. Namely the false attack on Fallujah that was announced 3 weeks before the real one.

I am sure the public will cry foul in the UK about censorship, the right of the people to know. Or, that if the west accuses Al Jezeerah about biased reporting or being a tool of the insurgents, then the west, too, will show some obvious weaknesses.

In the case of the tool, I have no problem fooling the media. What!? Abusing trust? Carelessly undermining the truth? Martial law and propagandizing the media?

If it saves lives, I cannot deny it would be paramount in the minds of the mothers-of-soldiers, at home. Sorry, I realize its a complex issue. But given the chance to chose on this one, I would have to stick to it.

I am surprised that no one used this opportunity to dress up those microphones with some Christmas tinsel.  Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Geeky Linguist Writes Research Paper on the Word 'Dude' and Gets Away With It!


Posted by Hello
Actually as a 'dude'-user, I thought it was kind of cute how he spent time recording frat brothers and asked them to make notes. How funny is that. ("like dude, we got to write more about this but I just spilled beer on my notes. Like wow, dude I just used 'dude' once more! Oh no, two times, dude, I mean three dude!", and so on and so forth).

What I found more interesting was how I would compare the word 'dude' to the word 'mate' as used in Australia. While the origin is different, the use of mate would cover all the colloquial uses of dude and much, much more.

Prevent 'laptop burn', Invest In Kevlar.

I just read two articles and my geeky side says somehow they can be combined. In this article; Laptops 'carry�risk to fertility', we hear about how the laptop can heat up the family jewels to a point where all your sperm will turn out Bill Gates like babies (but without the cash). But serioiusly, it claims that your gear can be heated up so the the little squirrely fellas might be malformed.

And here "9 in 10 survive"we see that the medics in Iraq are saving the lives for 9 out of ten wounded in Iraq, which is unprecedented. Compared to Vietnam which was one in 4, for example.

But the "9 in 10 survive" they put the credit on the medics but also on the use of Kevlar body armor and helmets.

Me thinks that future laptops will be kevlar. (My idea, go ahead and copy it, like all the other billion dollar ideas I have realeased into the atmosphere!)

Think about it, solders might even carry the laptop on their chest and it may stop the bullet better than the preverbial coat pocket bible. Or the only one to survive the mailman-like massacre at the local dairy quee were those who grabbed their laptops as they dove under the table. (Sadly the laptops probably won't be milkshake resistant).

Monday, December 06, 2004

The Seasonal Bad-Breath Transport

Man, I can't stay awake today.Got up at five and went for a short run with dogs (have to walk them that early anyway and now I am trying get healthy again).

I suffered many "bad-breath" tram rides today (meaning that all the trams were just crowded enough so that I had to breathe someones bad-breath for a few minutes before I could squirm away from it; alas, sometimes I couldn't always squirm away from it).

Got to work at 7:10
( Trip : Prague 7 to Prague 10, 30 min, one bad-breath tram) to do my morning note to brokers so that i could leave at 7.40 to go to an important business-achieving meeting.

Left work at 7:40
( Trip: Prague 10 to Prague 5, 32min, two bad-breath trams)

Got there and this guy wasn't there. His colleague said, he is sick (read: overslept), and „we hope we can meet later“.

So I came back to work.

( Trip : Prague 5 to Prague 10, 25 min, two bad-breath metros)
Boring and tired all day. And now I have to meet him at 5pm.

My most exciting decision of the day is whether to take the two bad-breath trams back to Prague 5, or the two bad-breath metros; followed by the one bad-breath tram back to Prague 7.

Travel assumptions:
8 tram rides
More than 8 smelly, bad-breath mouths to avoid.
One case of flu or other similar air-borne illness.


Saturday, December 04, 2004

Prairie Dogs Have Own Language

I'm sorry, this is too cool, geeky and even warm & fuzzy to pass up. This guy has been studying Prairie dogs for two decades and can prove they have different words for animals, shapes, situations, and even can create words for new things.

But you got to wonder, after two decades out there with the Prairie dogs, maybe this guy is imagining they are talking about prairie dog politics and soap operas.

Of course this has a good chance of being a hoax.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Ukrainian Election Aftermath : How can they predict such a rosie picture?

I was just watching a professor from Rutgers named Motyl speak about the Ukrainian "crisis" ("Crisis" being the CNN word for "we hope there will be shooting").

This guy was so optimistic it was laughable. He says that Yuschenko will win by a landslide, and then the Europeans and the IMF will come to make things so much better (wish I could remember his exact fairy tale words).

Come on bud? You live in Jersey and you are that Optimistic? Take a look at Serbia and the replacing of Milosevic. (And don't give me that bull that we Ukrainians are not like the Serbians - something that all eastern European countries like to claim when in fact these sort of issues are almost freakishly like some photocopied plotline). Serbia is going through the massive every-tooth-a-wisdom-tooth teething pains due to IMF demands and Serbian Nationalistic sidestepping, for example.

Ukraine has what, 50 or 60 million people (10 times Serbia) and a smoky eastern region that is full of Russian wannabees. Landslide? Perhaps, but there will be huge problems. This bailout could ruin the IMF. I would tell them to stay away.

But, alas, the vultures will circle, the USAID jerks will come in with their Chief of Parties and funny named neologistic plans. Huge fees will be made and the eastern worker will go back to his vodka and dream of the days with guaranteed housing and work.

Corruption? It will remain, no one should ever wish it will go away. Better not to expect too much. When I lived in Ukraine there was always the arrogant cops and ubiquitous mafia. I have not been for 5 years but it is reportedly much better... in Kiev and Lvov or (Lviv? I forget which is more politically correct). But these major cities are in the focus and have the pro-west demostrators. Go the heartland, bub.
Today Russian is the language of choice. Many people don't realize its only the western third that really speaks Ukrainian day to day.

They have it very, very tough there. And its a huge place that the BBC and CNN don't go to much. Sure, there is no Rwandan type massacre and no accessible terrorists. But it is a study in human misery, with a very tough people.
Fountain of Youth Studied At Cambridge

This guy is already working on a project to extend life. Read this.

"you would be youthful, both physically and mentally, right up to the day you mis-time the speed of that oncoming lorry."

Posted by Hello
I actually think last year he was drinking Rogaine and it took to his chin.

Networks Bar Church Ads That Welcome Gays

I reckon the biggest problem with this particular issue is BAD MARKETING !

I mean really, the backers of this commercial AND the creators should have used a softer approach and sneaked the add by the censor geeks and perhaps shown, to use the given bouncers-at-the-door example, two guys not holding hands, but maybe standing next to another much discriminated group member (MDGM), as they all get rejected while the waspy types cruise on in.

At this point one of the guys (not holding hands) just sort of hurrumphs and flips his head back in a typically flaming annoyed action. I figure the censors would have thought the MDGM was the point. Later, they could have slowly moved into more and more flaming commercials. Sorry I am not being PC, but my point is to I am a bit angry that they didn't get these adds aired. I support the idea of equal access and rebel against all sorts of arrogance and discrimination (although I am not totally supporting a mythologically based idea called religion).

One thing confuses me. After all the junk about the networks being accused of liberal bias, this comes along and everyone thinks that the "other side" has won out in some sort of semi-constitutionally backed pogrom against gays and in support of the religious right.

My point is this: there was only a liberal bias because the networks, cable and free-to-air, realized that kerry was going to lose and wanted the public to think it was a close race - for them to sell more adds/win more market share. It was clear from the start that the incumbent would win. The TV bonkins said, "hell, that won't sell well. Lets favor the underdog, and make a big to-do about the left getting out to vote!" Silly games, but this church thing sort of makes the point.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Create an Irish Pub in Prague for 115,000 Quid

Sell the house, the car, the kids! Take a break! Buy this pub in Prague!

Not a bad offer for a Brit with a 115,000 quid and some time off (Forever?). Especially someone looking for a change of venue -with nice looking girls. Having a pub in a beautiful city isn't a bad way of life.

Bluetooth Spreading Mobile Phone Virus?

Hackers turn to cell phones - November 26, 2004 A mobile phone virus! What will they think of next?

"Like a sneeze in a crowded room"
It spread through Bluetooth, a feature on some phones normally used to synchronize phones and computers. It sends wireless signals up to 30 feet, so calendar and contact information can be updated without hooking devices together with a wire. But Cabir hijacked that function, sending Bluetooth phones on a search-and-destroy mission to infect other Bluetooth phones, spreading the virus like a sneeze in a crowded room.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Good Orders

An unknown-to-me and serious looking colleague was lurking around the desk today closely looking at the movements in Unipetrol and Cesky Tel so I asked one of my desk operators who he was. Turns out he is the guy who monitors positions and money for our margin punters.

I said that I thought he was one of the asset managers.

And my desk mate says, no, just watching the market closely."But sometimes he gives us some very good orders," he says with a smirk. Ha!

(For the uninformed: There is nothing like a joke about closing out one of our speculators on a margin call.)

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Daily miserable life for the Iraqui passer-by picked up with some insurgent suspects. BBC NEWS: Cold reality of the Black Watch: "When the other 16 were dropped off a few kilometres from their village, they stood at the side of the road with their heads bowed, apparently expecting to be shot. "

And that means,... what? Posted by Hello

Friday, November 26, 2004

Quote of the day, from the NYTimes:

"It's been my life's dream to see the parade live. Once it starts, it means the holidays are here. My other dream is to get a jet pack."Nicholas Perdue, a 16-year-old at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

You should forget the parade and the totally ludicrous mythology of the first Thanksgiving. It is a load of BS and should be an embarrassment to the United States. Why? Because the first pilgrims couldn't do jack and had to rely on pretty cool indians to feed them. In return, the Europeans gave them small pox, the flu, probably sexually transmitted diseases and basically wiped out the total community. I am not kidding; its the truth that is easy to find. Why must we still keep going on with this stupid hoax? For the turkey?

Personally, the jet pack sounds very cool.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Rent-a-geek, for help with techie problems at home.

This is way cool. A bunch of guys, with clip-on ties and white shirts no less, are available to come to your house and fix computer viruses and bugs, install games and programs, even program the remote control.

"We're a little bit Dragnet and Ghostbuster, but this is not revenge of the nerds."

The question is, did they have this in mind 20 years ago when they were the ones creating the computer age? Just to get everyone else to love and appreciate them? Hmmm.
I want my CCTV !

TV cameras mounted on lamps and in public buses catching pretty good photos of this flame thrower-punk and this shooter-cop, attacking some people! Makes me wonder what else they catch on film? And for what other purposes can they use these films? Can they use it in Divorce court to catch the guy cheating? Can they sell them to funniest home videos? (see this guy double-take the pretty girl and get hit by a bus!). Can they be used to help find 1. the pen I dropped on the way home from work? 2. my dropped house keys? 3. or even my dropped life-saving medicine? Who has access? All government security services? Shoud they have warnings like the radar-zones on the roads? Ow, my fingers hurt from writing all these question "?" marks !

Saturday, November 13, 2004

The Inadvertant Basketball-Sized Tatoo

The first military sci-fi Lazer?? Wow, here they go flashing momentary lazer beams around the stratosphere to blow up missiles. Way cool.

What if they miss? Does some guy on earth get a momentary burst "designed to focus a basketball-sized spot of heat on a missile's skin to rupture it". Sort of like the branding that was going on in some LA-gangs for a short while (until they realized "man that shit hurts!").

Friday, November 12, 2004

BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Eyewitness: Smoke and corpses

Okay, I got a Big Problem with this article about a local Fallujan commenting on death and destruction in Fallujah.

1. This guy mentions he has seen a few Minarets being "toppled". He (and the BBC) neglects to mention a. how the Minarets are being used for sniper nests (as indeed the BBC mentioned in earlier reports) and b. why would the troops aim and waste a round of mortar, tank shell or explosive pack unless it was being used for such purpose. And 2. this guy seems fairly able to write, take phone calls and now he is moving about the city. "Woe is me. I had my chance to flee before, and didn't take it so please, world -with whom I am electronically connected (ie. better off than the rest of his neighbors)- take pity on me!" Doh!

We should not believe this guy a lot of credence. It could obviously be a planted bloody whinger. And if it isn't, then the BBC should own up and make a statement that this guy is a good source.

And then he goes on to feed the idea that, well hell, these guys aren't insurgents but only those nasties-that-we-all-hate; the KURDS!! "I don't know which part of the country these soldiers are from. They are definitely not from any of the western provinces such as al-Anbar. I have heard people say they are from Kurdistan"

Yeah, right. BBC, shame on you. You should know better.
CBS Apologizes for Interrupting CSI; Will Rebroadcast Episode Now this is funny. Makes you think about the sensitivities of typical Americans. Also, it is interesting that the statment released says "An overly aggressive CBS News producer jumped the gun with a report that should have been offered to local stations for their late news." when BBC and CNN are playing long eulogy-like broadcasts last night. 'should have been offered to local stations'?

Thursday, November 11, 2004


Doesn't this look like the soldier is waiting for someone to leave the Barbecue?
Posted by Hello
History will judge Arafat harshly: Howard.
think this about sums it up.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Reuters article says the Surgeon General* recommends that we all track our health, as a means to assist us in future diagnosis; say its better than a genetic test. (*USA top guy in health, usually an ex navy doctor to give it some authority, I guess)

Since I have a great Hypochondriac mother, I sent it to her to fill in. Well, yes, I am one, too.

After a few minutes the dark side took over and I decided to enter a fake personal with some high risk ancestry. How about an Irish Mother, American Indian father, with a history of breast cancer, multiple sclerosis, and a myriad of politically incorrect diseases? If I sent the data to my Mom by mistake, she would claim it accurate.

Monday, November 08, 2004

There are times when you just feel so helpless like this story of the 29 Year old American supposedly robs the newstand across the street from his flat. Czech cops are not the sharpest knives in the drawer.

Saturday, May 29, 2004


The wedding site.  Posted by Hello
Did you ever try to find friends after 4 years away? You know, just call up some people who you sort of fell out with or let dry up for lack of contact like an un-watered plant. Its a funny thing, because I am not afraid to do it and have done similar things in the past. But still, it does prove difficult to find them. They might know where I am or, at lest was, for a time. But still, no idea where I am now.

Its not like I was lost in the Amazon jungle for the last twenty. ("Well the last I saw of Dan was his hat floating near some large reptiles.") True, I have been to some weirder places (and did in fact see a hippopotamus in a Montenegrin river; yes, true) but considering the mobility of my friends, the task to find these people is more than daunting.

And consider the popularization of email, in only the last 7 years. In Eastern Europe I only began to use the company email after a few silly mistakes. In 1996, sure, Czech Republic was amazingly backward (and now so amazingly forward, almost, uh, Prussian). But after everyone goes through their formative email years, whether company originated or their hotmail-type accounts, with those fledgling periods of overuse, spam, and then the ever changing addresses, it is difficult to imagine that some people either didn't get that change of address email, or just simply didn't write it down.

It really is too bad that we don't list our email addresses in one phone book. (It really is also a shame we don't even list our phone numbers in a phone book). So now I am trying to figure a way to alert some friends that I will be in Sydney from June 8th for a few days. What would you do that wouldn't cost as much as taking out a full-page ad in the Sydney Morning Herald? Comments please?

Friday, May 28, 2004

Friends, I will soon be taking a trip from Prague to Jakarta and Sydney. Its been quite a while since I have been "home", perhaps 4 years? Hard to tell. While it is true that I was born an American, I feel or perhaps more accurately, wish that I were a real Australian. I did take an oath (to the Queen, no less) back in '95 to become a citizen and I have been more than proud of it ever since.

Something like Robin Williams in 'Moscow on the Hudson', I took to the country and began to promote it in any conversation where my Australian-ism came up. After living there, it was hard to see why anyone would ever want to move back to the United States. (Indeed, I hope that I have even disuaded a few eastern European, would-be emigrants from their target, USA.)

However, with that said, I am now about to make my home more solidly a Czech one. Now it wasn't just the reason of the lovely lady, but the time here and the trips from here that made me always look forward to my return.

And yet, sometimes my distance from Oz has caused me a few bouts of longing and melancholy. Did you ever see the Man That Fell To Earth? David Bowie throughout the movie has flashbacks to his wife and child waiting at something like a desert train station. While the times of the two locatiosn (Earth and his home planet) do not progress in the same manner, you still get the sense that every week or long period of time in the his character's new position is taking a day - a long precious, day - out of the life of the wife and child back on the planet. This is the only metaphor I can use to describe my longing to live there in Sydney and the distance that, with every week, seems impossible to make up. And yet the new home is sweet... but Austrlia is, was, wonderful

Home again, alas, for only a few days. June 8 until June 13, I believe. I am full of trepidation, because I don't handle melancholy and nostalgia well.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Mercedes, Quality Dropping, Loses Market Share to BMW, Lexus

By Jeremy van Loon
Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Dominik Wendel got fed up with his
Mercedes SLK 350 sports car. First, the convertible roof leaked.
Then it wouldn't open properly, sending him back to the garage at
least five times. The car also whistled on the autobahn.
``I was not very satisfied with the quality,'' said Wendel,
40, a lawyer with the Frankfurt-based firm Noerr Stiefenhofer
Lutz. Last year he bought a Lexus SC 430 from Toyota Motor Corp.
Mercedes has plunged in customer satisfaction surveys in
Germany and the U.S., partly because of technical flaws. The
world's largest luxury carmaker has lost sales to Bayerische
Motoren Werke AG and Toyota, and profit is falling. Tomorrow,
Mercedes's parent, DaimlerChrysler AG, probably will say fourth-
quarter net income more than halved to 634 million euros ($821
million), according to 14 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Eckhard Cordes, who took over in October as chief executive
officer of Stuttgart, Germany-based Mercedes Car Group, has
pledged to reverse the slide. A 29-year DaimlerChrysler veteran,
Cordes, 54, says he plans to cut costs to counter the impact of
the U.S. dollar's 16 percent decline against the euro in the past
two years. Mercedes already negotiated 500 million euros in
savings with German workers in 2004. Cordes also says he'll make
sure cars produced now meet the company's quality standards.
``Each customer lost is very difficult to win back,'' says
Michael Schneider, a fund manager at Frankfurt-based Deka
Investment GmbH, which oversees about $144 billion in assets and
owns DaimlerChrysler shares. ``It will take time to improve their
image.''

Electronic Failures

DaimlerChrysler shares fell 4.7 percent last year, compared
with a 15 percent stock gain by Toyota, which is based in central
Japan's Aichi prefecture. They closed at 36.16 euros yesterday.
Mercedes-Benz, which makes the S-Class luxury sedan and the A-
Class compact hatchback, ranked 29th out of 37 brands in a June
reliability study of 3-year-old cars by Westlake Village,
California-based J.D. Power & Associates. It logged 327 defects
per 100 vehicles, worse than the U.S. industry average. Four years
earlier, Mercedes scored seventh out of 38 brands, with 308
defects per 100 vehicles.
At home, Mercedes-Benz had the most electronic failures of
all brands sold in Germany, Michelstadt, Germany-based automotive
consulting firm 3hm Automotive said in July. It was also last
among 33 brands in a March study gauging customer satisfaction by
the ADAC German Automobile Club. Car owners were most satisfied
with Toyota. Munich-based BMW ranked ninth.
Quality deteriorated at Mercedes, known for its star symbol,
as DaimlerChrysler focused on reorganizing Chrysler Group in the
U.S. and expanding in Asia with its unprofitable affiliate,
Mitsubishi Motors Corp., says Michael Raab, an analyst at Sal
Oppenheim in Frankfurt.

`Accountable'

Cordes, a bespectacled German who reports to DaimlerChrysler
CEO Juergen Schrempp, 60, has made improving Mercedes's quality
his priority.
``Only satisfied customers can keep alive the future of a
brand,'' Cordes told journalists in January at the North American
International Auto Show in Detroit. ``I will hold myself
accountable for this.''
Defects have been found in parts ranging from batteries to
emergency lights, which flashed when nothing was wrong, says
Johannes Reifenrath, a Mercedes spokesman. Sometimes customers
didn't understand how convertible roofs and other electronic
devices worked, making them suspect a malfunction, he says.
Cordes said in January that Mercedes is working to make sure
new cars meet its own standards even if it costs ``some money.''
The company also aims to correct defects on older models when
they're serviced so that the resale value isn't affected.

Falling Profits

Based on the internal audits, quality is rising by 10 percent
to 20 percent annually, Thomas Weber, a DaimlerChrysler management
board member responsible for research, said in November. Cordes
wasn't available for an interview ahead of the full-year results,
said Thomas Froehlich, a spokesman.
The challenges at Mercedes aren't just technical. Cordes also
needs to reduce costs to compete and to offset the falling dollar.
Mercedes sells some of its German-built cars in the U.S., and
revenue is reduced when dollars are converted into euros.
Net income per 1,000 DaimlerChrysler employees was 2.56
million euros ($3.32 million) in the third quarter, compared with
1.6 billion yen ($15.4 million) in the same period for Toyota,
according to Bloomberg data.

Schrempp's Successor?

Mercedes Car Group's 2004 operating profit probably fell by a
third to 2.04 billion euros, according to the Bloomberg survey of
14 analysts. Earnings have been hurt by Mercedes's Smart microcar
unit, whose losses reached about 500 million euros last year,
according to Fredrik Westin, an analyst at Dusseldorf, Germany-
based WestLB.
Mercedes's German workers agreed in July to help the company
save 500 million euros annually beginning in 2006 by working
longer hours and accepting lower wage increases. To pare costs
further, Cordes will have to negotiate lower prices from
suppliers, says Adam Jonas, an analyst at Morgan Stanley in
London.
If Cordes succeeds in improving sales growth at Mercedes, he
may become the lead candidate to replace Schrempp after the CEO
retires in 2008, Jonas and Westin say. Dieter Zetsche, who runs
Chrysler, also may be a contender for the job.
``Mercedes is essential to the image of the German car
industry and is an icon for the luxury-car industry,'' Jonas says.
``If Cordes wants to take on a greater leadership role, he'll need
to get Mercedes' profit on an upward trajectory.''

Test-Driving Trucks

Cordes got the job after another candidate, Wolfgang
Bernhard, clashed with DaimlerChrysler's board over the changes
needed at Mercedes and refused to back Schrempp's plan to bail out
Mitsubishi Motors, people familiar with the matter said. Cordes
replaced Juergen Hubbert, who retires this year from
DaimlerChrysler.
Until September 2004, Cordes, who holds a doctorate in
business from the University of Hamburg, was head of
DaimlerChrysler's truck division, where he eliminated 16,000 jobs
to stop losses. He even earned a driver's license for commercial
vehicles in order to test-drive the trucks himself, according to
Marc Binder, a DaimlerChrysler spokesman.
The challenge at Mercedes may be more daunting. The truck
division, based in DaimlerChrysler's Stuttgart headquarters, was
helped by a global surge in demand. No such boom is expected in
luxury cars and the competition is tougher, WestLB's Westin says.

BMW's X3 SUV

Mercedes, founded in a 1924 alliance between Gottlieb Daimler
and Karl Benz, chose the star as its symbol from the beginning.
The durability of the cars made Mercedes the world's most valuable
auto brand from 1999 to 2003, according to New York-based
Interbrand Corp., a brand consulting firm, and BusinessWeek
magazine. Brand value is the net present value of the earnings
that a brand is expected to generate and secure in the future.
Toyota, the world's biggest carmaker by market value, last
year overtook Mercedes in that ranking.
Last week, Toyota said profit in the quarter ended in
December rose 3.5 percent as demand gained for models such as the
Corolla compact car and as costs fell. Toyota President Fujio Cho,
who says he aims to surpass General Motors Corp. as the largest
carmaker by unit sales, raised his forecast for full-year vehicle
sales.
Meanwhile, BMW is closing the gap with Mercedes for the title
of the biggest maker of luxury cars. Sales of the BMW brand rose
10 percent to 1.02 million vehicles, boosted by new models
including the all-new X3 sport utility vehicle and the 1-Series
compact car. Mercedes-Benz brand sales fell 3.1 percent to 1.06
million units.
For the first time ever, BMW outsold Mercedes when including
the two carmakers' other brands.

New M-Class

BMW sold 1.21 million units, including its Mini and Rolls-
Royce vehicles. Sales at Mercedes, with its Smart microcar and
Maybach brands, fell 0.8 percent to 1.2 million units last year.
Mercedes sales in the U.S. rose 1.3 percent, slower than the
market's advance of 1.4 percent and BMW's 8 percent growth.
Even Mercedes's Chrysler unit, which DaimlerChrysler bought
in 1998, has gained momentum. The Auburn Hills, Michigan-based
division is expected to report a 2004 operating profit of 1.43
billion euros, following a loss a year earlier.
That's changing the balance within DaimlerChrysler, which
also owns 32.9 percent of European Aeronautic, Defense & Space
Co., the parent of planemaker Airbus SAS. Mercedes probably
accounted for a third of DaimlerChrysler's operating profit last
year, down from more than half in 2003.

New Models

In an effort to win back customers, Mercedes this year will
introduce a new S-Class sedan, the company's flagship model; a new
M-Class sport-utility vehicle and the all-new R-Class, a cross
between a station wagon and an SUV.
Another new Mercedes model, the CLS 350, is aimed at BMW's
630i. Both are six-cylinder coupes that went on sale in 2004. The
Mercedes model has a 3.5-liter engine that can accelerate from 0
to 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour in 6.6 seconds. The BMW's 3-
liter engine is slower at 6.9 seconds.
Some long-time Mercedes customers still have confidence in
the brand. Gregorios Sachinidis, a taxi driver in the Greek city
of Thessaloniki, and his 1976 Mercedes-Benz 240D hold the record
for the most miles logged by a Mercedes passenger model, with 2.8
million miles. He donated his car to the company's museum in
Stuttgart in return for a new C200 model.
``Mercedes cars are expensive to buy, but they last a long
time,'' Sachinidis says. ``I'm very satisfied with my new model
and expect it to last longer than my previous car, of course.''

EBEL


EBEL
Originally uploaded by Dantravels.
Fine Coffee in Prague, Tyn 2, Ungelt. Behind the Tyn Church.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

A Word On Me and the Purpose of this Blog

Dantravels

I am an American / Australian (kind of) living in Prague.

I write about odd things, funny things, things that make me angry, and some politics.

The list of blogs and sites in the sidebars are really just bookmarks.

My religion: I was raised Catholic but have now problems truly believing in God. On the other hand, I don't want to make Him angry. I like to believe I am a nice guy and try to act like a good Catholic. But my wife thinks that is ridiculous.

My likes: Dogs, traveling, cooking, eating, re-connecting with old friends.

My dislikes: Really naive liberals.

My politics: Often mistaken for a Republican, when in fact I am what I call an "anti-liberal" since I believe that many liberals do not realize the true situation in the world and quite often suggest irrational policies, or criticize politicians unrealisitically. I can easily distance myself from Republic policies I disagree with as a result because they are really not my party. I also support Israel and hate the mis-use of the press against them.



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