Friday, December 16, 2005

Snowy Prague (click for a bigger photo)

This is a view of the Prague Castle from a hill called Petrin, on the west side of the city.
Prague hasn't really had much snow yet, but it can be an absolute fair tale city in the snow. The sounds of the deep snowy city are incredibly muted and walking around in it is quite fun.
I am off to Australia on Monday, to a warm 30 degrees (Celsius) from a frigid 30 degrees (Fahrenheit).

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

How Far?

From the Financial Times yesterday:
'Last week Dan Halutz, Israeli military chief of staff, was asked how far Israel was ready to go to stop Iran (pursuing nuclear stuff).
"Two thousand kilometers," he replied. '

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Explorer Crappola

 Does anyone read my blog using Microsoft Explorer?
Well,.... please do not.
Get rid of it.
Use Mozilla Firefox. Please!

PHASERS on stun Mr. Spock

Ok, this PHASER is pretty nifty.

But I am pretty sure someone will figure out a way to make simple
anti-PHASER sun glasses.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Solar Energy Innovations

Solar strips for the roof, instead of shingles Solar shingles.  But how about solar thread for wearable materials? Somehow its got to happen. Where to invest in this?

I love this quote.

"Dr. Bose would have been fired many times over it if were a publicly held company,"

I heard about the owner of the Bose speaker maker a feww months ago, trying to make a better shock absorber function for cars. Amazing what you can throw the company money into when you have a private company.

Coincidentally I am reading Tuxedo Park just now. The true story of Alfred Loomis, a Wall Street banker that really wanted to be a scientist. Made a lot of money right before the 1929 crash leading to the depression. And, he sold everthing right before the crash and still made MORE money as the market crapped out on everyone else.

The private laboratory he created hosted quite a few famous scientific minds from around the world. He helped to privately sponsor work that helped in WWII along side of and complimenting the Manhattan project.

And... get this... the use of the word 'Tuxedo' (for a formal black tie type outfit: the difference being the innovative absence of the tails that were normal up to this time) apparently came from this area around Tuxedo Park in New York because some one wore it there (copied from someone in England).

Useless trivia. My mind is like a garage that never gets cleaned out so that something more useful can be stored inside.


Saturday, November 26, 2005

Leaving 1 degrees, for 30 ... hopefully.

Sitting at home after a walk in the park with wife and dogs. Cold out there. 1 to 4 degrees. I am looking forward to the sunny beaches of the south coast of New South Wales.

God, I miss the place. (I lived in Australia for 7 years and became an citizen; left in '96 for Europe.) Lately I am getting small episodes of melancholia, remembering the little things about oz, the smells, the sounds, the food, the sun and beach. But also friends. Trouble is there is little chance of re-living old times with frieinds as they have move on, married and had kids. But there are a few.

Odd, thinking about the age range 26 to 36. A good age range to have fun. I am 45 now, bemoaning my age of course, and missing a great place to live (Prague is cool, really. But in winter you miss Australia more). Those were the days. I left New York, a tough job there, for sunny Australia, an incredibly fun financial market in which to work, and a good girl chasing atmosphere (sorry if that was not PC).

So now I am planning to visit Australia with my Czech wife and another Czech couple, and the weather looks to be ... rainy. Australia has a had a real bad dry period for the last few years, and now the rain is welcome. But on my holiday!

And the stress that goes into this! Its all on my shoulders. All the planning, places to stay, fun to be had, kangaroos to meet, all the things you really want on on a holiday. And if it goes wrong ... Dantravels gets all the blame.

I am scared.

Oh, yeah. If anyone knows a party on the south coast for new years, please let me know. Somewhere near Jervis Bay or further south... Please!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Why Do They Sound So Foolish?

Quick comment in the midst of another really busy day. I read something today that I believe really has a lot of merit.

It makes me say, again, that I really don't understand how everyone ignores all this guff about what was said back then. It seems so strange that most politicians agreed that Iraq was doing all the nasty WMD building. They AGREED. Even the international community agreed with the assessment.

But what really gets me is that the UN has all these things that they wanted Saddam to do to prove that they could remove the sanctions and he ignored them.

I am reminded of the cases of a NYC cop shooting a perp and then they cannot find the perp's gun. What if this perp had a gun the last time he stood in front of you, and this time, he says to you, "I got a gun, but I am not showing it to you, and I won't let you search me." Do you turn your back on him?

Okay, that was sloppy. But this is not. It goes on and on to show you that there was a consensus in the case against Saddam, and it was on the table, but hidden in the debris of Clinton's departure. Berger and his mob were all saying that he had the capability, the willingness to make the WMD. Then all (ours, intl community, Hans Blix, etc) the intelligence says, 'well our best guess is that he's got them'. And they go further to say things that basically say, ' well here is the part of the gun that can only be from this type of gun; sadly the rest of the gun was moved'.

Why do people forget it. Just to hate bush? I read somewhere today a blog that likens Bush haters to children.

Sure, the claims about Scooter libby don't sit well, and the linking to Al Quaeda are weak. I am not saying Bush's crew are a bunch of angels. I just think it is time for the critics to get a bit of reality in their lives. For example, if the US went to Iraq without the Al Quaeda comment, do you think the Al Quaeda bullies would not have gone there?

(I cannot wait for the comments that I am sure to get from someone not of this planet. )

And the point about the anti - war left that is basically helping to hurt mores soldiers. The Vietnamese relished this type of internal weakness. Courtesy of Neverdock : ' Here is what General Vo Nguyen Giap had to say about the meida's assistance to him in Vietnam.

"Even Giap admitted in his memoirs that news media reporting of the war and the anti-war demonstrations that ensued in America surprised him. Instead of negotiating what he called a conditional surrender, Giap said they would now go the limit because America's resolve was weakening and the possibility of complete victory was within Hanoi's grasp." '

Pretty blunt but I feel pretty blunt right now. But acutely aware of the huge amount of ignorance and pandering.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

What Did The Democrats Say About Iraq's WMD

What Did The Democrats Say About Iraq's WMD
JANUARY 30, 2004 (sorry, I basically cut and paste this from )

It is amusing when you think about it all. Sure, the " what about this claim of Iraq ties to Al Quaida?" will be the response. But still, what good were all these comments then? I mean, were all these people NOT WILLING to back them up with action? Courtesy of Neverdock.

"Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation ... And now he is miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction ... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real..."
- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003 | Source

"I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force -- if necessary -- to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."
- Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002 | Source

"One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line."
- President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998 | Source

"If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program."
- President Bill Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998 | Source

"We must stop Saddam from ever again jeopardizing the stability and security of his neighbors with weapons of mass destruction."
- Madeline Albright, Feb 1, 1998 | Source

"He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983."
- Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998 | Source

"[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs."
Letter to President Clinton.
- (D) Senators Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, others, Oct. 9, 1998 | Source

"Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."
- Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998 | Source

"Hussein has ... chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies."
- Madeline Albright, Clinton Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999 | Source

"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and th! e means of delivering them."
- Sen. Carl Levin (D, MI), Sept. 19, 2002 | Source

"We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002 | Source

"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power."
- Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002 | Source

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002 | Source

"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons..."
- Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WV), Oct. 3, 2002 | Source

"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years ... We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D, WV), Oct 10, 2002 | Source

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members ... It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."
- Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002 | Source

"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction."
- Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL), Dec. 8, 2002 | Source

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Tram Riding

I love riding the tram.

Well, actually it is much better than the bus and metro (subway). Sometimes a bit crowded, but still kind of fun.

But lately I have noticed that I don't want to put my hands anywhere near my face after I grab the overhead railings. Today a guy took his hand away from the post and rubbed his nose and then put his hand back.

I mean, really, I have done the same thing many times, I am sure. Am I being anal retendant? Or what?

Things that make you go hmmm.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Its Actually Quite Difficult and Time Consuming

I think it is odd for bloggers to apologize to their handful of readers for not posting. It seems so parochial. I mean, its not as if the blogger is obliged to get back to me. I am not paying the blogger. (ok, I am paying respects, perhaps). Afterall, the blogger may be working really hard lately.

So I am now telling you, my handful of readers, I am as busy as a one-armed bricky (brick layer) in Beirut. (a crude but amusing visual brought to you by the Aussie mind).

Lately I have set up the emissions trading desk at Atlantik Financni Trhy, the Czech stock broker for whom I have worked for just one year now.

I am happy to say that I have set it up. I am bragging, just in case you didn't catch that. Bragging because of all the bloody hard work it has been. Bragging because only someone like me who has traded commodities, bonds, currencies, emerging market and all sorts of bizarre distressed debts; and settled many different odd securities,... would be stupid enough to embark on the trading and settlement process of . . . well . . . smoke!

Emissions trading in Europe, as part of the Kyoto protocol, idealist-inspired method of bringing the trading of pollution rights to the financial markets is THE new game in town for trader types. (do you detect a hint of cynicism?). Unfortuately, like the emerging markets of the last decade, and the distressed debt rage of the last few years... it is run by investment bankers out to make a buck or two (billion).

Yes, it is big stuff now. All these generators in the west, all these chemical companies, all these iron works, all these...well you get the picture: all these polluters of the west.. now need to buy these European Union Emissions Allowances or "EUAs".

Fortunately for yours truly, they can find a whole bunch of excess emissions allowances from my local neighborhood: Eastern Europe. Why? well someone had the bright idea to use the levels of 1990 as the benchmark. Note to reader, this is when the old Comecon commie-run countries were still running along at thick black smoke-belching levels, whose companies have since been rationalized (they fired the workers, asset stripped the companies, and sold off the remains to many others), and that later have come out looking like the most modern companies in Europe. (Seriously, out here in Czechia the companies are more lean and efficient than most German run, union-controlled, union-corrupted companies).

So what do I do? I says to my bosses, "its just like 1993 when you bought those stocks cheap and sold them higher, to the biggies in the west“. And the went for it.

Only problem is, I have to do it all by myself. The amount of contracts, legal work, financial work, marketing, selling, email writing, travelling, and above all, ear-busting phone calling,... is, well, actually quite difficult and time consuming.

I mean really, this WORKING thing has a few bugs in it.

I cannot honestly recall working this hard in my whole life!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Invisible Dog Competition

Saturday morning I went to something like a country fair. Wife's father is involved with animal breeding so he is one of the important persons of the big event.

Anyway, one of the visuals (aside from big f__king black bulls and smelly white piggies with testicals the size of soccer balls) was the dog competition. This is where the dogs are led by their owner up ramps, over hurdles and through tunnels, etc. Very fun to watch.

But an hour later I came back to a most disturbing sight.

I guess you could could compare it to shadow boxing. (Yeah I trained for boxing as an exercise ten years ago. For a huge two weeks...).

Imagine this, the ladies that are going up for the next competition want to be sure they know the course well enough to lead the dogs with their outstretched hands and a few calls. So they need to know the course well enough without the dogs before they take the dogs. Therefore they not only walk the course practicing the footsteps and the sharp turns but they are in fact running through the course, arms out, calling their dogs' names! Not only that, there are probably 5 to 8 competitors (sans mutts) out there at a time.

When I came back, still sleepy from a bad night, stomach aching from some badly marinated beef, I was sadly befuddled watching these ladies and looking for their dogs! First thought that popped into my head was, 'well this must be the invisible dog competition'.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

General Honore.

I just saw this video feed about General Honore. I hate to think this new phrase will be used for ever and ever (like old commercial slogans such as "where's the beef?"; that one really annoyed me).

The important point here -one that will probably be missed - is that a reporter was getting annoying. He was using an important informative press conference to rehash political blaming (The purpose of the presser was about what residents should do to prepare for Rita in the event it causes damage similar to Katrina). Honore will get derided and yet he will become famous. But the point is that the media is so useless lately.

If you wish to see a small part of the video here, or the text here. I hope to find the whole press conference meeting.

Also noteworthy was Glen Reynolds comment in the same Political Teen post, much further down, about Aaron Brown:

HH: Okay, let's turn to Honore and the press today. Don't get stuck on stupid. You loved that. You've already linked to it over at Why does that resonate, do you think?

GR: Because that's what they've done. I mean, I had a thing on my MSNBC site about Aaron Brown, who over the weekend was attacking FEMA's recommendations that people stockpile food and water as some sort of after the fact CYA thing, completely oblivious to the fact that FEMA and the Red Cross and other people had been recommending that for years. He's stuck on stupid. All he can see is a political story and blame. And that's exactly what the General was talking about. (emphasis mine)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Psycho Trader

I am a real cynic when it comes to my profession. No, I am not defensive about it like, say, a Lawyer who hates jokes about Lawyers and sharks.

But this article made all too much sense to me. Its about a study that looked at how the most successful traders could be called, according to an experiment, "functional psychopaths".

In a study of investors' behavior 41 people with normal IQs were asked to play a simple investment game. Fifteen of the group had suffered lesions on the areas of the brain that affect emotions.

The result was those with brain damage outperformed those without.

The scientists found emotions led some of the group to avoid risks even when the potential benefits far outweighed the losses, a phenomenon known as myopic loss aversion.

So we are talking about brain-damaged people that have misfunctioning emotional centers of the brain.

"Emotions serve an adaptive role in speeding up the decision-making process," said Shiv.

"However, there are circumstances in which a naturally occurring emotional response must be inhibited, so that a deliberate and potentially wiser decision can be made."

Sure, you wouldn't be blamed for saying that this seems like a silly experiment, where's the data?, what was the control group like, how can these average people really expect to know what its like working with these jerks on a dealing room floor. [Ok that last one was my criticism]. Afterall, it was only an artile on Yahoo's most emailed.

But in real life, it makes perfect sense to me. The guys making these tremendous profits in the big dealing rooms of NY or London are rarely people you wish to hang out with. They are cheapskates, they are callous, they are cheats on their girls, they are cocky. They are, in shockingly numerous occasions, liars without remorse. I do admit that their are certainly honest, humble and noble, successful traders; and these are real diamonds in the rough mostly because they are even more impressive to have succeeded in a world of such bluster and arrogance.

But to categorize them as psychopaths explains a lot. The short definition for "psychopath" is "A person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse."


Hedge Fund by any other name.

Today I received an email from a Balkan-based broker. Apparently they wrote some research that mentioned a hedge fund in the UK as the buyer of a stock in the local market.

The fund, let us just call them "Assmore" (which is amazingly similar to the real name).

So Assmore writes to the broker and makes them put out a correction because they do not want to be known as a hedge fund.

I wrote to the broker and said, "They just wanted to yell at you because they are dickheads".

I also included a small guide for hedgefunds:

Assmore has all qualities of a hedgefund because
  1. They have lots of money. [Someone else's money.]
  2. They have lots of leverage that gears them up to incredibly, mind bogglingly high monetary amounts that could wreak havoc and destruction of a few financial markets when they screw up.
  3. They have lots of ego [Arrogance, rudeness, stupidity, need for compliments] - on the part of the 23 year old dealers who think they are God's gift to the financial market. [Note, it is always wise to note their names and see where they are in 10 years time - so you can laugh at their misery]
  4. Their trading is based on : 10% research, 80% insider information, 10% mistake [by confusing the order of buy for a sell. ] And if you don't give them the insider information they think you are useless.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Opinion piece from Peggy Noonan.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Enteric Emitters

Just recieved an email news story about the agricultural concerns of "Enteric Emitters".

Along with Greenhouse gases emitted by the burning of coal, diesel, heating oil, wood, etc., for the creation of energy or heat for smelting iron, and the more natural concerns of cut plants that are left to decay in compost heaps (which emit gases like methane, I think), there is, apparently, a real concern about "enteric fermantation".

That is, I do believe but cannot yet be absolutely certain, that they are talking about animal farting!

Enteric fermantation gives rise to a whole new group of environmental enteric emitters.

I wonder if they will start measuring the average human's enteric emissions and we will all be forced to submit to measurements which in turn will lead to our bodies being viewed as enteric emission machines; ie., we will need to have our own emissions allowances.

My older brother, someone who has more than his share of enteric emissions, and the most lethal, would probably be in the market to buy emissions allowances just to cover himself before a night out eating at his favorite mexican restaurant.


Friday, September 09, 2005


Please consider using Firefox Mozilla to view this site. Explorer sucks. (Even Netscape is better).


One thing, even if it is this only one thing, to know about Firefox that will make your life so much simpler, is the use of opening links in a new tab. Why so different? Well, when I come to work in the morning and read the news, I first of all go down the left column of my Blog and pick which news organizations, or Blogs, I want to read and right click to open in new tab. Why is that so special? Well you can go through 3 or 4, I think up to 9 tabs, that you want to open and it does not replace what you are doing just then.

Sorry if this is so incredibly Un-techy, but consider how easy it is for a nerdy un-techy like me.

By the way I actually found this three-column formula on a blog (ruthsarian, I think?) and tweaked it (means I f*cked around on it for days, no, weeks) to learn how to make it better (well, I think its better).

And now I look at it on Explorer out of curiousity and find it all screwed up. So... I go to figure out how to fix it.

How annoying.


Damned If You Do & After The Damnation.

Two stories (one and two)I read today that worried me from their titles alone. But they were very telling overall.

The first, a Washington Post article, left me with a feeling that of all the reasons for everyone's delay in acting to help (I mean local, state, federal gov't and separately the President), the most important issue was something along the lines of : we better protect our asses for what happens afterwards. For example, the President was afraid of moving becasue his advisors thought that after he would be accused of having acted illegally. Doing something illegal is not the issue - especially if you felt it was the best course of action in a very tough situation - but fearing what the Democrats would do later, that is a crime.

I am sure that he was not the quickest off the mark, especially with huge doubts about what was going on at what time (could the city government handle it?, could the state government handle it?, etc, ) would have been a big problem. But still, this fight after the fact, is ridiculous.

The second article is about Powell's interview with Barbara Walters. I wondered if he would trash the President. He didn't at all. Definitely he had some problems (which he seemed to be very politically astute about; ie, he was not bitter about anyone in particular) but still, he supports one main plank in my platform of reasons: pulling US troops out now is a mistake. (I would go further to say that its a starkly naive request of liberals, but that's just me. )

I wonder what Powell's plans are for the future? I wonder if the next administration will have a role for him.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Operation Red Cup.

What a loon.

I like the Day by Day cartoon description: 'classic liberal theory "meets application"'


Saturday, September 03, 2005

Aaron Brown: You Lousy Stooge

An ex Army Corp of Engineers chief was being interviewed on Aaron Brown's Newsnight*, explaining how the OMB (office of managment and budget) has a process that weakens the efforts to rebuild things like Levees. (I was impressed how this ex-chief portrayed the investment into infrastructure as something you do for your children, meaning it is a long process that takes years and money spend now will benefit many years later).

He made a comment at the beginning to the effect that even if the levee didn't break, the city would still be underwater.

So this guy was discussing how, I believe, the problem is more to do with this 'it doesn't get me votes now' response of all politicians.

The analysis of needs for longer term projects, larger sums of money (I think he said it was in 1965 that money was put aside for levee strengthening), the pork barrel politics of where money goes, the other aspects of job creation, etc. And the OMB testimonies in front of congress, they are only allowed to testify on what the OMB wants, not what the individual really thinks. More along this line that really seemed to make Brown a bit annoyed. After all, the leader for the article was something along the line of '... next is an ex-Army Corp of Engineers chief who is critical of the ...(investmetn) into infrastructure efforst that could have lessened (not prevented) the flooding of New Orleans.

Brown interrupts him and says "well, sir, that really reflects on your loyalty to the administration you serve, doesn't it." (rhetorically).

The ex-chief opens his mouth on the right side of the split screen to object - as Brown announces they are going to a break - and this guy realises he was basically used to be critical of the president and basically diluted his complaint about the process.

He would have probably said it would have happened to any president. That is, at least, what I believe.

Tell me this, Aaron Brown, you lousy stooge: would the situation be much different if Clinton was in power? No, the whole point is, according to the guy you intereviewed was that it was a problem of government bureacracy.

CNN, reign in this idiot. Send him back to Seattle where he can go on having affairs with his assistants. (I am from Seattle where Aaron Brown was a local newscaster).

I am SICK of this dramatization of the event. As the mayor of New Orleans (Ray Nagin>?) said, 'no more news conferences, a moratorium on news conferences. Get down here and help.

Forget the politics for now. Stop showing Bush in idiotic flim clips. CNN, do something a bit more useful.

*(Brown probably thinks of himself, News Knight, lopping off heads of Republicans).

Friday, September 02, 2005

'10:49 P.M. - (AP): Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco declared war on looters as 300 National Guard troops landed in New Orleans fresh from duty in Iraq. "These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so, and I expect they will," she said.' - WWL TV News site

'Admit It: Katrina's Victims Are Blacks' - Sploid News

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Mushroom Hunter

What is it with Czechs and their mushroom picking? It is revered like the Sauna in Scandinavia, the Packers game in Green bay, the wine in Australia, the ultra hot bath in Japan: something only the locals can understand.

But at least I found the biggest Bedla, one type of mushroom.

"Bedla Jedla!", my wife cried. (Bedla Jedla means roughly "Bedla edible" as opposed to the unedible "muchomurka cervena" which is probably translated as red diarrhea).


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Friday, August 19, 2005

ten days ago, 5 years ago, 20 years ago, 35 years ago.

My wife and I took the obligatory tour bus around New York on a hot Sunday afternoon. Fortunately the wife, Dasa, let us backtrack a bit so that I could visit the World Trade Center. Is that what they call it these days?


5 years ago, on September 11, We were in a Dodavka (A Fiat van) that we bought to move our things to Belgrade where I was starting a job. We were driving to Hradec Kralove in Moravia, eastern Czech Republic, to correct some paper work on the van. We heard the news on BBC. We spent the night in a hotel there only so I could watch the buildings come down, again and again.

My wife calls them 'The Twins' since it is a direct translation from how the Czechs describe the Twin Towers. I never used that name for them.

20 years ago I worked there, for a commodities futures broker doing back office work and then some trading. I worked at the bottom, in one of the cluster buildings. Many people don't know that there were World trade Center one, two, and also 3, 4 and 5... I think that's right. Please feel free to correct me. I cannot recall the address of the smaller, six story buildings that were 3, 4, and 5. (Was there a six?) These smaller buildings probalby would look like the green leaves at the bottom of a tall tulip, in relation to the Twins.

Somewhat wierd feeling being there. The photo shows me directly in front of the fences that surround the gaping hole. In the distance you can see World Financial Center,that was built while I worked in NY from 1986 to 1989. Our company eventually moved to one of those two buildings. One friend still works for the firm and I spoke to him after the attacks. He was across the street when the planes hit. I seem to recall him using the words 'Savages' when describing the terrorists. His father happened to be one of the builders that constructed the World Trade Center. He was a steel worker, and his last name was 'Steel'. And his son worked for the commodities trading house as a metals analyst. I was always fond of this irony.

I was born in a place called Rockville Centre, out on Long Island, but my family moved west when I was 13. This town was hit hard by the attacks because one guy from Cantor Fitzgerald kept getting jobs for his buddies and brothers of his buddies. 35 years ago I even remember on kid named Sherry who was 4 or 5 when I was 9 or 10. Just a younger kid from the neighborhood. He died in the attack working at the World Trade Center.

My sister told me of one of her old clients that died there. A Russian guy name Igor or something like that. My sis knew 3 or 4 people that died there.

Also another guy named Brennan, from Rockville Center. One of the big catholic families like ours. He also died there.

So what do I feel? Nothing too melodramatic. Just a sense of connection to the place. Memories of getting a shish kebab on the street (something we called Cat-on-a-stick due to the dubious nature of the meat), or a feel-awful, one trader's nickname for the falafel. Or Ziti (Begziti?), or pizza, or even the late night chinese that had the dead cockroach in it.

Memories of the subway ride that came into the deep cavernous station under the Trade Center. The tense feeling leaving work after having a bad day trading. I wasn't a good trader, to be honest. My boss once told me that I like the idea of being a trader, but didn't like trading; a candid and accurate assessment. But I also loved being in New York. I kind of wish I expolited the opportunities I had since I worked for a good part of the time, from 2 in the afternoon until midnight (trading with Australia and Asian counterparties). Only a few times did I enjoy late nights in the city that never sleeps. So called.

And now, going back to NY to visit my sister, I feel a real stranger in there. Taking tour busses, afterall.



Look what was waiting for us when we got back from two weeks in the states. A little surprise in the bread box.


And it was warm to the touch!



Tuesday, August 02, 2005

PC Follies

What does this signify?

Here's a guy that smells like flower water, putting his ID in his shoes, mumbling to himself, hands held high, .... get DOWN!

He's a Muslim bomber getting ready to push the button. See here and here.

Thanks to PC Watch who correctly indentifies the pure folly of telling the NYC cops to be politically correct and stop one out of five people to check their bags when they should skip the little old ladies and target anyone that looks like he could be carrying a bomb. Forget sensitivities here folks. Unfortunately for the people who look like Muslims when they really could be a hispanic, a Phillipino or even a Jew!.. the world is now a place where being PC will cost lives.


Internet Messenger Trick

So you are chatting on the old IM with a dealer in London, and they he tells you he is on a call. Here is how to rattle him a bit.

Me 4:02:06 PM: Hi mate, do you have that info?
friend 4:13:30 PM: sure - hang on, on call
Me 4:14:53 PM: why did the frog cross the road? To see his FLAT mate.
friend 4:20:58 PM: :-& dude, that's a bad gag
Me 4:21:44 PM: So it worked? I am sorry.
friend 4:23:37 PM: apology accepted
Me 4:23:46 PM: hee hee

So here I am laughing at my own humor.


Trader's Credo?

".... unfortunately we are at the place where supply meets demand."

Sounds like a trader lamenting the nervous stress of a trading room. In reality it was a comment made by a Nuevo Laredo, city councillor when asked about the gang wars in his drug trade infested, Mexican border town. Online FT artcle is subscription only ( I read the paper copy in the bathtub this morning).


Friday, July 29, 2005

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Cartoon Talk

Insightful article about the rise of right wing political cartoons. (Well they said right wing, but I think 'anti-liberal' is more accurate.)

On a diferent note, it seems to me that it is more that a little amusing that the creators of blogging are probably acutely annoyed that the right has taken this fertile ground and done more than the left could.


Dangerous Driving

While I was driving home yesterday at 5:45 pm I noticed 4 minor traffic accidents.

I also noticed many beautiful, scantily clad, women.

Could they be related? My brother had a friend that had three accidents and the guy admitted all were caused by him looking at women.

In fact, I had two near-misses; I almost rear-ended two cars.

Summer is a very dangerous time for foreign men in Prague.


Batman Begins

Saw this last night and I found it totally engaging and very dark. Not too schticky at all. Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman were very good. I was worried that Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman would be marginalized by appearing in the old, sweet men roles; but they, too, came across well. And Christian Bale was , well, pretty good. And it had Rutger Hauer!


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Sweeeet Dumplings!

Found this photo that I tucked away on flickr. Me dancing with the mother-in-law at my wedding. Tone and Rich in attendance on either side of my head.


She is a bit odd sometimes but tries to please. A small nasty streak. Probably from all the blonde hair dye. (her daughter, my wife, is naturally blonde and her mother liked the color so much she started coloring her hair a long time ago).

The other night she made a Czech favorite dish called "Sweet Dumplings". It is served as a main meal sometimes although seems more like a desert.

No matter, I could also eat it for breakfast.

Basically bready dough that has some fruit inside (peaches, plums, even strawberries) that are boiled (yes, boiled), and then dumped on a plate and covered (smothered) in Tvaroh (like ricatta cheese crossed with cream cheese) and melted butter, and powdered sugar.

As Napolean Dynamite would say: Sweet!


Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Soldiers Offer Scale

This quickie transcript was just sent to me by someone who described it as "a direct, devastating bitch-slap to the nonsense that the U.S., Britain and Australia brought this on themselves from any other leader":

PRIME MIN. HOWARD: Could I start by saying the prime minister and I were having a discussion when we heard about it. My first reaction was to get some more information. And I really don't want to add to what the prime minister has said. It's a matter for the police and a matter for the British authorities to talk in detail about what has happened here.

Can I just say very directly, Paul, on the issue of the policies of my government and indeed the policies of the British and American governments on Iraq, that the first point of reference is that once a country allows its foreign policy to be determined by terrorism, it's given the game away, to use the vernacular. And no Australian government that I lead will ever have policies determined by terrorism or terrorist threats, and no self-respecting government of any political stripe in Australia would allow that to happen.

Can I remind you that the murder of 88 Australians in Bali took place before the operation in Iraq.

And I remind you that the 11th of September occurred before the operation in Iraq.

Can I also remind you that the very first occasion that bin Laden specifically referred to Australia was in the context of Australia's involvement in liberating the people of East Timor. Are people by implication suggesting we shouldn't have done that?

When a group claimed responsibility on the website for the attacks on the 7th of July, they talked about British policy not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan. Are people suggesting we shouldn't be in Afghanistan?

When Sergio de Mello was murdered in Iraq -- a brave man, a distinguished international diplomat, a person immensely respected for his work in the United Nations -- when al Qaeda gloated about that, they referred specifically to the role that de Mello had carried out in East Timor because he was the United Nations administrator in East Timor.

Now I don't know the mind of the terrorists. By definition, you can't put yourself in the mind of a successful suicide bomber. I can only look at objective facts, and the objective facts are as I've cited. The objective evidence is that Australia was a terrorist target long before the operation in Iraq. And indeed, all the evidence, as distinct from the suppositions, suggests to me that this is about hatred of a way of life, this is about the perverted use of principles of the great world religion that, at its root, preaches peace and cooperation. And I think we lose sight of the challenge we have if we allow ourselves to see these attacks in the context of particular circumstances rather than the abuse through a perverted ideology of people and their murder.

PRIME MIN. BLAIR: And I agree 100 percent with that. (Laughter.)

found here


Tuesday, July 19, 2005


In the dealing room we have the TV tuned to the Tour de France.

Personally I could care less about bike races but it is something to look at now and again.

But the carnival atmosphere is interesting to watch (as I try to speak with clients at the trading desk). For starters, the course is probably a hundred km, winding up and down and all around picturesque french mountainside roads.

Well, picturesque if you could remove the many camera-motorcycles, the pursuit cars and vans, the odd helicoptor and the teeming idiots on the side of the road.

The side of the road is not completely full of idiots since sometimes you will see the Dad-and-aspiring-cyclist-son both decked out in florescent shirts and tight bicycle shorts (don't they have mirrors?). Or the fans simply - and classically - clapping from a higher hillside.

But what gets me is the fans that feel that they must run along with the riders to urge them on. Or the fans that run along with the riders wearing the kooky outfits, presumably to be noticed on TV by their mates. Just now I saw a guy running with a bizzare paper-like outfit, wearing a fake beard and crown, and carrying a trident. I think he ran 50 meters at the pace of the cyclists, waving the trident (who is he, king neptune?).

From the riders point of view they must feel like some sort of animal being harried by fly-like parasites. They all run out in the path of the oncoming cyclists and wave the thumbs up, scream, or, my personal favorite, flash the camera point blank in the eyes. This certainly is the most chaotic fan oriented sport.



Monday, July 18, 2005

Shrill Cake

I mucked about with the order that Power Line presented these quotes (and am too lazy to fix it).

'Wow, what a scandal! White House aides had heard the same rumors about Valerie Plame that reporters had heard; in Rove's case, it's been reported that he heard the rumors from reporters in the first place.'

"Matthew Cooper: What I Told The Grand Jury", says: 'On background, Cooper had asked Libby if he had heard anything about Wilson’s wife sending him to Niger. Libby answered with words to the effect of “Yeah, I’ve heard that too.”'

I find it interesting when they call Wilson "shrill" and a grandstanding type.

Power Line again : 'So, to sum up: the Senate Intelligence Committee's report shows that: 1) Wilson lied in the New York Times about what he told the CIA after he returned from Niger. In fact, far from debunking the concern that Iraq may have tried to buy uranium from Niger, Wilson reported that Niger's former Prime Minister told him that Iraq had made just such an overture in 1999. 2) Wilson lied when he leaked a report to the Washington Post about documents he had not even seen. 3) Wilson lied when he said that his wife Valerie "had nothing to do with" his being chosen to go to Niger.

'In the face of this evidence, which is evident to anyone who takes the trouble to read the Committee's report, Rosenkrantz and Roberts blithely assert that Wilson's assertions about Africa and uranium "have held up in the face of attacks," and that "the Senate panel conclusions didn't discredit Wilson." Having read the Senate Intelligence Committee's report with care, I can think of only two possible explanations: either Rosenkrantz and Roberts have not read the report, or they are trying to mislead their readers. In either case, this is a grotesque instance of journalistic malpractice. Sadly, however, it is not untypical of the quality of the liberal media's reporting on the Wilson/Plame affair.'

My take on this : sure the Rove and Libby comments were not safe for them to make (ie, agreeing that they heard [coments on Plame] also). And they might have truly meant them harmfully; and realized their mistake when they were duped into using them when, boy oh boy, it blew up.

So before I get attacked by defending the evil Rove company, just note : I think that all parties have their 'evil doers'. This is not a defense of Rove or all of these nasties. It is is prosecution (opposite of defense?) of the accusation of evil against a guy that most surely could have been caught out elsewhere.

I think the critics wasted their powder, and since it didn't kill him, it will make him stronger. (Such is the way of the dark side of the force)

Still, shrill takes the cake.

Yellow cake, anyone?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Saw Kinsey last night. I enjoyed it and found it thought provoking - but not for the reasons you might think.

Liam Neeson is one of those underated actors. I marvel at his ability in a variety of roles. In this role as Dr. Kinsey you don't especially notice Neeson's skill, because you simply believe the character he is portraying.

Something else that impressed me was the effort put into costumes, hair styles and the choices of extras (there were many small cameos of individuals giving sex interviews).

But the story was typical: interesting individual's upbringing (as it affected his later life); meets wife; major interest (in sex study) evolves and he becomes famous; problems emerge, health declines; wraps up with how his work made many lives better. I think that portraying the life in such a short medium is always prone to errors and yet, since movies are so much easier to mass market than the book biographies, this will be how the average joe on the street will think Kinsey was really like.

But was it accurate? I didn't read any biography but it seems to me there could have been a bit too much license taken with the portrayal of the inter-mingled sex lives of the assistants.

One actor that did stand out (no not Chris O'Donnell, not Timothy Hutton, not even Tim Curry), was William Sadler who played the creepy sex predator that recorded all his many bizzarre and really "out-there" encounters - many illegal couplings with young children. But it was eerily realistic.

Now I just looked at IMDB.COM and realize that the movie got a 7.6 rating; not bad.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

A New Game, Courtesy of Daily Kos

Kos has given me a great idea for a new game. Take the last line of his worldly opinion and expand on it, explain it, finish it or lampoon it.

My entries begin with //

Foreign Policy

Al Qaida/Taliban: World domination - do it our way or we attack
American Taliban: World domination - do it our way or we attack
Liberals: Peace and international cooperation
// Hello, Earth to Liberal, come in. Whatever you're smoking, please share with the rest of us. It would be better to be in your state of mind while our rights to property, way of life, employment.. are all jeopardized.

Executing Minors

Al Qaida/Taliban: Executing Minors OK
American Taliban: Executing Minors OK
Liberals: Find this to be a barbaric and embarrassing practice
// Until a minor kills one of their children.

Pop Culture

Al Qaida/Taliban: Hate it... kill it
American Taliban: Hate it... ban it
Liberals: Laugh at it... boycott it
// ... and cause detriment to all for ill-researched reasons.


Al Qaida/Taliban: Belief in their own infallibility
American Taliban: Belief in their own infallibility
Liberals: Willingness to consider other viewpoints
// ...And talk all day, waste time, hire more goverment employees, so long as the rich pay us since we cannot hold a job.


Al Qaida/Taliban: God is on our side and will help us kill our enemies
American Taliban: God is on our side and will help us kill our enemies
Liberals: God may or may not exist and will not help us kill anyone
// Oh, so you are saying he 'may' exist and you still wish to piss him off?

Stem Cell Research

Al Qaida/Taliban: No Stem cell research
American Taliban: No Stem cell research
Liberals: Stem cell research
// Hell, lets take them from living Republicans!


Al Qaida/Taliban: God choose Osama Bin Laden to defeat the Great Satan
American Taliban: God choose George W. Bush to lead us
Liberals: God didn't choose anyone
// Wait a minute, is there a God or isn't there a God? Please tell me how you can say there is a God that didn't chose anyone, but he is not the same guy responsible for claiming he created the earth. So you're God (or is is god?) is capable of choosing, at least?

Use of Force

Al Qaida/Taliban: As a means of propagating a world view
American Taliban: As a means of propagating a world view
Liberals: As a last resort
// Wait, now you want a gun but only if you're house is robbed and the big, bad robber smacks your wife?

Bush's War in Iraq

Al Qaida/Taliban: Love it!
American Taliban: Love it!
Liberals: It's a disaster
// Lets make it worse


Al Qaida/Taliban: Control of the Press
American Taliban: Manipulation of the Press
Liberals: Freedom of the Press
// So long as it is Liberally tainted.

Free Speech

Al Qaida/Taliban: Anyone who disagrees with us is an infidel and must be silenced
American Taliban: Anyone who disagrees with us is a traitor and must be silenced
Liberals: Anyone who disagrees with us is in for a spirited discussion
// Please, someone, pass the spirit!


Al Qaida/Taliban: Conform or else
American Taliban: Conform or else
Liberals: Embrace diversity
// I will embrace them, so long as they are not a Republican!


Al Qaida/Taliban: You're either with us or against us
American Taliban: You're either with us or against us
Liberals: We're all in this together
// but I am out as soon as I make some money and have something to conserve like a family, a house, a country...


Al Qaida/Taliban: Death to the infidels
American Taliban: Kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity
Liberals: Live and let live
// So long as they allow women to vote; so long as they distribute condoms; so long as they provide people the right to worship how they want... [oh sorry, that last one isn't applicable to American, please strike that].


Al Qaida/Taliban: Obedience to authority
American Taliban: Obedience to authority
Liberals: Critical reflection
// Uh, shouldnt that be "Criticism by reflex?"


Al Qaida/Taliban: Universe and man created 6,000 years ago by God
American Taliban: Universe and man created 6,000 years ago by God
Liberals: The Universe began as we know it at least 14 billion years ago, maybe more
// I agree with the Liberals here, but liberals also believe in fantasy and we must allow them their view.


Al Qaida/Taliban: Subservient to will of its leaders
American Taliban: Subservient to will of its leaders
Liberals: Will served by Representative government
// But many liberals won't practice what they preach.


Al Qaida/Taliban: Life is scary and uncertain, seek refuge in moral absolutes and scorn those that threaten those absolutes
American Taliban: Life is scary and uncertain, seek refuge in moral absolutes and scorn those that threaten those absolutes
Liberals: Life is scary and uncertain, seek refuge in accepting that respect for our fellow man and the individual choices he/she makes is eminently moral
// should finish with "and be squashed like an ant while under the anesthetic of that karma regarding respect".


Al Qaida/Taliban: A woman's place is in the home
American Taliban: A woman's place is in the home
Liberals: A woman's place is wherever she wants it to be
// Like holding a gun in the US Marines. I can agree to this.


Al Qaida/Taliban: Marriage is only between a man and a woman
American Taliban: Marriage is only between a man and a woman
Liberals: Marriage is between any two people who love each other
// "We are working on inter-planetary rights, next."

Dantravels : Pass the game on to your neighbor.

Seven Bombs in London Underground and Buses

I don't think you will hear any questions today about the treatment of Guantanamo prisoners.


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Dream Competition

I don't remember dreams too well. Its always been a problem and I am envious of people who can describe the progression of a dream. Again, I envy my wife.

The problem for me is that I have short flashes that come to me later. But what happened before is always a mystery.

My wife on the other hand will tell me about her dreams in wonderful detail. Like the dream right before her first trip to the USA to meet my parents.

Moje Manzelka (my wife) was going to get her hair cut (this is the dream, now) and she was told to sit in a cabin (like a small room). The machine lowered on to her and her hair was cut quickly and she emerges with Pink hair all straigh up, "like Marge Simpson has". An argument ensued.

Her mother, who accompanied her in the dream, told Moje Manzeka that she cannot understand what they are saying since it was suddenly an English speaking hairdresser (Moje Manzelka's mom doesn't speak any English). So Moje Manzelka asked for subtitles and the dream suddenly had subtitles that mother-in-law could read! End of Dream.

Me? I usually wake up and recall being in a cool car. That's it.

But the other day I woke up and ten minutes later told Moje Manzelka how I was driving in a car with one of our dogs, Ginger, and Ginger jumped out so I had to follow and was running in traffic. It was sol realistic, I told her (somewhat trying to impress her).

And Moje Manzelka says that she, too, had an interesting dream, and it was shockingly bad.

She dreamed she was Hitler's lover.

Gazzumped again!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Ah, Those Heady Communist Days

This photo says, "We will not let any American agents pass though our village".


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

"When a shark has you in its jaws, try poking at its eyes ....."

Sometimes the explainer on Slate comes up with some really good one-liners.

When I lived in Australia (I will never stop bragging about that; its a wonderful life there) there were shark stories all over the place. Not just the not-so-often-but-more-often-then-America story about a death or limb-loss from a shark attack, but also the sightings, and chance encounters by friends who were surfing.

So punching the shark works? And poking it in the eyes while you scream at the top of your lungs underwater? Great.

The Biggest Lie On The Internet?

WARNING program rage coming!!

Guess what is on of the most often used phrase regarding computer programs (and I believe is also the biggest lie on the internet).

Yes, exactly : "Easy T0 Use!"


My case: I go searching for advice on the .bin file I have extracted from a .rar file (that took some doing). So I google ".bin extract". and add "free download". And don't you know, I come across the most obtuse explanations from various web discussion boards. (See Below) I swear the guys answering are either car salesmen with a product to push on you or very honest guys that don't have a clue how hard it is to pass over the information in a SHORT and CONCISE manner.

If anyone counters with the argument that I am lazy and don't want to take the time to read a textbook of instructions, I have to say that there are experts in every field that I will call the particular field anal expert. Think about it.

Example: You're up skiing and you inadvertantly skid into some experts skiis on the slope and if you are drawn into a discussion, he will probably expouse his opinion that 1. you shouldn't be skiing unless you fully understand the art of the sport, 2. you take better care of the people around you, 3. you wear the right colour combinations (ok I am joking here). Basically he is giving the right answers but to an extreme length. Either he wants to show off or he is over zealous.

Or the guy who you ask about stock advice and he goes on about the cheapest broker to use and how it is insane how anyone can use a 1. probably unethical broker 2. a broker that allows offshore accounts for tax minimal-hiding-ization 3. one that charges what you are paying.

Or the guy that you ask for simple advice on how to lay tiles in the bathroom and he goes into soo many questions about the floor support quality (wood or cement), the pipes behind (will you change those in the next two years? no sense puting new tiles in unless you do the pipes now!), or the room next to it, (maybe you have got to take into the whole house consideration before doing the tiles).

And they cannot understand the wierd looks they get in return. Sure, I will admit I want the simpler answer. But can't these anal experts deliver it better?

But seeking help on programs is the worst. See this guy answer, in a kind way, admittedly, about the .cue and .bin programs. I think he should come with a warning or an "obtuseness ratio". Especially when the seekers of information (read hopelessly-seeking-easy-answer-drones) like me need help.

I have highlighted my favorite lines. Read them out loud.

1) What is a .BIN? What is a .CUE? What is an .ISO

The .BIN / .CUE CD image format was made popular by the CDRWin software. Afterwards many programs have started supporting or partially supporting it, including: Nero, BlindWrite, CloneCD, FireBurner. The .CUE file contains the track layout information, while the .BIN file holds the actual data.

.ISO is also a CD image format, but is sometimes used for 'ISO9660 format' (standard, recognized by all applications) and sometimes
for unique Easy CD ISO format.

2) I have download .BIN&.CUE/.ISO files - what to do with them?

You can burn them to a CD-R or a CD-RW with:

-Alcohol 120% - My
favourite, excellent software, easy and yet very advanced (burns ISO, BIN/CUE, CCD, CDI, BWT files!):

- BlindWrite
- easy to use:

- FireBurner -
also very good, a single .EXE file!

- BurnAtOnce -
A handy and FREE tool for burning .bin/.cue/.iso. Easy to use!

- Nero - many of you have this, but it can't handle all image files:

- CDRWin - This is the original BIN/CUE software:

You can also mount image files as virtual CD-ROM drives using

Alcohol -
Daemon Tools -

There are also several softwares you can use to exploit & manipulate BIN/CUE files in various ways:

CDMage -
IsoBuster -

3) I have a .BIN file but no .CUE?

.CUE can be made with just Notepad. A typical Playstation(One or 2) .CUE file looks like this:

FILE "image-name.BIN" BINARY
TRACK 1 MODE2/2352
INDEX 1 00:00:00

A typical PC CD-ROM .CUE looks like this:

FILE "image-name.BIN" BINARY
TRACK 01 MODE1/2352
INDEX 01 00:00:00

"image-name.BIN" being the name of the image file (IWDII.BIN, CIV3.BIN and so on...)

Notice the difference of the track mode - PC-ROMs being Mode 1, Playstations CDs Mode 2 and (Super)Video CDs are also MODE2/2352.

4) How do I make .BIN/.CUE files?

CDRWin or the BIN/CUE format is not ideal for distributing. BlindWrite suite and CloneCD perform a lot better in this purpose and can also handle various copy protections. Both of these softwares can also create .CUE files
for increased compatibility

5) I have a .BIN & .CUE, but my CD writing software can't locate the .BIN file?

Edit the .CUE file with Notepad (or similar) and verify that the FILE "C:\path\image.bin" matches the location of your image file

6) My image file is IMAGE.BIN.EXE and I can't rename it!

Read here

7) Sector sizes of CD image files (by Aldaco12)

When you talk about images must think on SECTORS not on DATA SIZE.

The rules are:

1)A standard 74 min CD is made by 333,000 sectors.
2) Each sector is 2352 bytes big, and contains 2048 bytes of PC (MODE1)Data, 2336 bytes of PSX/VCD (MODE2) Data or 2352 bytes of AUDIO.
3) The difference between secor size and data content are the Headers info and the Error Correction Codes, that are big for Data (high precision required), small for VCD (standard for video) and none for audio.
If you extract data in RAW format (standard for creating images) you always extract 2352 bytes per sector, not 2048/2336/2352 bytes depending on data type (basically, you extract the whole sector).

This fact has two main consequences:

a) You can record data at very high speed (40x) without losing information, but if you try to do the same with PSX or Audio you get unredable CD (for PSX) od audio CD with lots of clicks because there are not error correction codes (and error are more likely to occur if you record at high speed.

b) On a 74 min CD you can fit very large RAW images,up to 333,000 x 2352 = 783,216,000 bytes (747 Mb). This should be the upper limit for a RAW image created from a 74 min CD. Remember that if you store standard data (backup files),
you can burn only 333,000 x 2048 = 681,984,000 bytes (the well known 650 MB limit).

Please note that an image size is ALWAYS a multple of 2352 bytes (you extract SECTORS), if extracted in RAW mode......

................ rah rah rah ad infinitum

But guess what, its really Easy to use!

Monday, June 27, 2005

What Kind of World Is It?

I have been a bit down this last week, worrying about money and career. Typically me.

And then on the way to work today I saw a delivery van with the words "Kruti Svet" on it. I had to laugh out loud at how poignantly it described my feelings. (I also like the fact that my rudimentary Czech allows me a laugh now and again. )

Kruti Svet = Turkey World.

What kind of world is it today? Its a turkey world! Spot on.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A Crude Roadside Bomb

Wierd article that both belittles soldiers for their slacker, white trashy side, and yet ennobles them for not wanting to ship out.

"IEDs, man, these things are our kryptonite," says Rodriguez. (IED, a crude roadside bomb. )

Monday, June 13, 2005

Norm's Palookaville

Not sure why Norm Geras wants it, but here is my list of best movie stars. Sure, you will think I am a wierd one for some of my choices. But here are my reasons.

Cate Blanchett
Very talented, gorgeous, Australian; yet the number one reason is her CHOICE of movies.

Naomi Watts
Again gorgeous, again Australian; but very VERSATILE and a consummate, hard working, actor.

Cary Grant
STYLE, that's all there is to say.

Giovani Ribissi
Bizzare and also noted in my book for his CHOICE of movies in which to act.

Ralph Fiennes
Incredibly talented but perhaps not as prolific because he chose not to become mainstream.

Harry Dean Stanton
Ok, this one is weird. Mainly for 'Repo Man' but also because of his POPPING UP in a movie ability. Love the guy.

Jennifer Connelly
BEAUTY and yet, she can act. Did you ever see Requiem for a Dream?

Val Kilmer
UNDERRATED. That's all there is too it.

Peter Sellers
Wacky and incredibly engaging in his earlier stuff. UNCLASSIFYABLE. (Sorry, that is not a word).

Tobey Maguire
Ride With The Devil, Wonderboys. This kid is SMART.

About the new book on Hillary

"Mrs. Clinton told me she would considering suing him for outright libel," the top Hillary source explains. "This is the right wing attack machine on crack!"

Odd but the very first thing I thought about was how I could not imagine that Hillary's staff condones using the word 'crack'.

Murder Metamorphosis

"The insurgents know how to kill, but they no longer know who to kill," Taheri said.

Via NeverDock

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou: a Bill Murray classic but with Wes Anderson style.

I just saw The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. I cannot even think how I am going to remember all the great things about this movie. So, I will probably watch it again and maybe one more time after that. If you get bored, just skip this. If you admired the same things as me (and wished you could be in the room with me as I guffawed with you), let me know by posting a comment. If you didn't like it - and I can understand that some people wouldn't like it - please skip this.

I just loved it. The kitschy, odd, colorful, underwater scenes; the deadpan delivery of Bill Murray (ok, his trademark) when acting next to Willem Defoe acting as a ridiculous German.
The great assembly of actors (Cate Blanchette, Noah Taylor for Christ sake!, Angelica Huston, Jeff Goldblum).

The odd scene changes by the even odder Bowie music. (By the way, did anyone recognize the Devo music played in this movie? Fantastic song).

The three-legged dog (although I cannot understand why they finished that character the way they did).

And the colors, just the colors.

The cutaway boat.

The use of explosives.

The Interns!

An last but not least: the loyalty to Steve Zissou. If any movie seemed to be a 50-50 bet, add loyalty and you have a winner.

I am going to watch it again tomorrow.

Heckler Koch vs Glock

In this report of a cop that ran away while his partner gets shot, the wounded officer was said to have taken a few 45 caliber bulletsto his vest and one to the gut before emptying his Glock nine millimeter pistol into the assailant's car, striking him twice. All captured on video.

Now the point of this post is that I cannot recall when the details of the gun companies were ever so proudly mentioned. And also to ask if anyone realizes the power behind the 45 bullet. Its immense. To be able to pick up your own, smaller caliber Glock gun and empty it, with what, 14 or 15 bullets? That took some doing.

The cop that ran away just hid behind a car a short distance away while he called backup. Didn't pull his gun.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

More On The Gulag Comment

Now we have the answer -- it was a publicity stunt.

'Now we have the answer -- it was a publicity stunt. As the Washington Times notes, Amnesty International's Executive Director William Schulz basically admitted as much on "Fox News Sunday." Unable to defend his gulag analogy, Schulz instead observed that if his group hadn't asserted that analogy, he wouldn't "be on this station, on this program today." To which Chris Wallace responded, "So you're saying if you make irresponsible charges, that's good for your cause?"'

'Not that long ago, Amnesty International represented the gold standard on the issue of human rights abuses. It has now forfeited that position apparently in order to get on television, obtain a temporary spike in contributions, and (of course) scratch the anti-Bush itch of its leaders, including Kerry campaign contributor Schulz.'

From Power Line

Russell Crowe Takes A Dive

So Russell Crowe throws a phone at a hotel concierge and gets arrested.

I knew a young lady that was his PA in Sydney and she mentioned he was a real pain in the ass for a boss. That was, wait, 1995? And then I have read numerous stories about his temper and his bad attituded. And then he causes the Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid break-up while working on the film "Proof of Life".

The worse offense in my opinion?

Thinking he could do justice to Captain Jack Aubrey in "Master and Commander", a character in the 'Aubrey Novels' written by Patrick O'Brien.

Down you go, Russell.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

How to impress your colleagues.

Open a chart on the Euro vs the Dollar. Add lots of trend lines, Fibonacci goop. Pretend to study during the morning brokerage meeting. Scribble notes. Then leave the room excitedly.

They will all then think you went out to place an order with your currency broker.


Actually, they will probably think you are an idiot.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Elephant Reunion

I am a sucker for a good animal story. This one brought tears to my eyes at work. What a wimp!

Particularly this part:

National Geographic was at the sanctuary to film the arrival of Shirley, a 52-year-old Asian elephant that had been living alone in a Monroe, La., zoo for 22 years.

The TV crew had left for the day when Jenny, a 30-year-old gimpy with arthritis, wandered into the barn from a day outdoors. Seeing Shirley in a barn stall, Jenny began wailing with such passion that Blais grabbed his own video recorder.

"Jenny knew right away who Shirley was and was wailing and screaming," Buckley said. "Shirley wasn't quite sure how to take the attention; then all of a sudden we saw her eyes got big, like there was a jolt of recognition as she remembered who Jenny was."

Buckley knew that in 1976, the two elephants had briefly been owned by the same circus. It turned out Shirley, an adult, had been housed with younger elephants while recovering from a broken leg. Jenny, then 7, was in that group and immediately solicited mothering from Shirley. They were together only a few weeks before each was leased to a different circus.

As the reunited elephants bellowed 23 years later, keepers put them in adjoining stalls. They tenderly entwined their trunks between the bars. The next day, released into the outdoors, they were inseparable. When they weren't using their trunks to caress each other, they were raising them to trumpet their joy.

Why does this seem so true?

Why does this seem so true?


Back in the 50's and 60's America really made cars. Cars that were solid, smooth running and the best in the world. Cars that lasted. And then something called planned obsolescence was created. Seems like we now have a culture of planned obsolescence where everything must be upgraded on a regualar basis rather than being able to continue using your existing machine (Car, Computer, Mobile Phone).

Whinge, whinge, whinge. Its a Monday after a gorgeous, high-activity weekend, and my back really hurts.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Tom Cruise : What a Freak!

Did anyone read the stories about Tom Cruise jumping up and down on Oprah ? I always thought the guy was a freak (I mean, really, he even appears on Oprah).

But The Borrowitz Report does a better job. My favorite line : “That was scarier than anything we’ve broadcast by bin Laden.”

Seizes Control of Arabic-Language Net

  • Actor Tom Cruise stunned the Arab world today by seizing control of the Arabic-language al-Jazeera network to declare his love for former “Dawson’s Creek” star Katie Holmes.

    Mr. Cruise, who was seen jumping up and down on a couch declaring his love for Ms. Holmes on “Oprah” earlier this week, and who relentlessly professed his love for her at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this month, apparently decided that those declarations were insufficient because they did not completely reach the Arabic-speaking world.

    According to sources inside al-Jazeera, a heavily armed Mr. Cruise burst in the the television network’s studio’s shortly after lunch, just as an announcer was broadcasting news of reported wounds to the U.S.’s most wanted man in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

    Brandishing a firearm and wearing two ammunition belts across his naked, gleaming torso, Mr. Cruise shoved the announcer out of his anchor chair and declared, “I love Katie Holmes so much it is absolutely unbelievable! I so totally love this girl!”

    In his five-minute address to the Arab world, Mr. Cruise denied that his heavily-publicized romance with Ms. Holmes was in any way a trumped-up promotional stunt: “My love for Katie has nothing to do with my new movie, ‘War of the Worlds,’ directed by Steven Speilberg and opening in theaters everywhere this summer.”

    The Cruise incident left many at al-Jazeera shaken, including one studio technician who said, “That was scarier than anything we’ve broadcast by bin Laden.”

    Elsewhere, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would replace its color-coded terror alert system with a Magic Eight Ball.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

May the Farm Be With You

Cute Star Wars takeoff video promoting organic food .. and the "way of the farm".

The best part? Everytime Chewbroccoli speaks.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Serbian Bad Guys

So I am late off the mark with this video, of Norwegian peace keepers singing Kosovo to the tune of The Beach Boys song, Kokomo.

But don't get me wrong, I don't favor one side over the other. But since I lived in Serbia for 10 months (too long) I kind of understand their perspective.

Both sides are basically so screwed up and capable of such evil, it is easier to understand the state of mind of the peacekeeper.

And Metafilter has the resulting kudos thread.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Stomach TV

I had a Gastroscopy yesterday. Man, I was dreading it for weeks. And guess what: it was worse than I feared.

But first you must realize that I am a very low pain threshold (ie., I am a wimp).

The set up. Cannot eat from 9 pm the night before. Come to work and drink lots of water. Worrying, worrying, dreading. Ready to go at 12. Very hungry.

Gastro Polyclinic in Jarov with bunch of geezers (holding something that I thought looked like colostomy bags although I am sure that is not nearly correct). Feeling sorry for these guys if they are waiting for the doctor. Then thinking that they are feeling sorry for this younger foreigner.

Ok, to the changing cabin and shirt off, (sucking gut in for the audience), and then to the operating table. Ok, it was more like a dentist's office with a table instead of chair.

If you saw it as a film you would have laughed. First they give me a shot (Diazeprim [sp?] to relax me) which turned me into a silly stumbling idiot. They they sprayed my mouth with something similar to novacaine. Twice, until I was coughing.

Ok, lying on the side, two nurses with hands on shoulders, and one nice lady doctor, holding the black one cm cable that looks like something out of Matrix. Me; eyes closed, waiting for pain.

Okay insert, insert, gag, insert, gag, gag, insert, nurse chatter (in Czech), insert, hands gripping shoulders and hip, and one leg. Gag, GAraRARghe!! Stop.

Rest. Nurse doctor chatter, to the effect of 'what are we gonna do with this guy?'

Me: whimpering, crying, wiping mouth (it wasn't really vomit, but it was gooey).

Okay, holding me down now, tight grips on various body parts. Rubber mouth guard, and newly persistant doctor, insert, insert, gag, body convulsion, insert, SHOVE, SHOVE, SHOVE, gag, GAARRAghe\, spittle, Deep throat (well, the thought flashed in my mind), aaggghe,convulse, convulse, kick a nurse (oops sorry, bitch!) tight grip, bruised arm, SHOVE, steady, and now for something new.. TWIST for better camera angle, aGagggggah, and then pull, some guts coming out with it? please, god noooo!

All done. I really wanted a cigarette. Throat hurts, still does a day after. Really, like I swallowed a wallnut or had strep throat.

Man, I never want to do that again.

But I hear the colonoscopy is better.

Cool, Be Cool

I saw Be Cool last night and surprisingly I enjoyed it. I mean, really, the acting of Travolta and Uma Thurman was tiresome and corny, but there were amazingly numerous other bright spots.

For example, Andre 3000, very good as Dabu, a goofy nephew of one of the gangsta record producers.

The Rock as a gay driver/bodyguard (a real career risking role if you ask me; but because of his great hair and oddly camera-angle-diminished frame I wouldn't be surprised if he isn't recognized).

But my favorite performance is the grimacingly-embarassing acting ability of Vince Vaughn. He pulls it off. "Come on, twinkle twinkle, baby, twinkle twinkle".

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Something I never realized.

When George Lucas went to the UK premiere of the latest Star Wars movie the crowd was chanting something about how they wanted more movies.

Lucas responded:
"This is the tragedy of Darth Vader. "

"It starts when he is 9 years old and ends when he is dead. There is no more story."

That really made me stop and think. Looking at it that way, ie., the whole serial follows the life of Darth Vader, makes me see the whole thing in a new light.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Milblogger Movement Growing

Low-brow news sites (that I read) have noted the growth of Milbloggers (Military Weblogs) so I am sure this will get some busy airplay for the next week.

This is probably obvious but the guy at the forefront of the operation ( be it on the assembly line, the street, or even the front) knows more than what those that study them, claim.
  • 'Also driving the growth: The feeling among some troops that the "mainstream media" aren't telling the whole story about what's happening in Iraq.'
I am sure others will try to argue that the men out there are, for example, not well-educated or perhaps only attempting to validate their decision to be there.

Dunno. But it does make sense that when the troops see things getting better, most likely it won't be a news event. Go to this post for a good characterization.

One blogger even mentions the problem with the mono-syllabic army character in Doonsebury who posts from Iraq. You've got to admit, Trudeau does get a bit annoying.


Thanks to a Jewlicious review of the celebration of Israel independence day (with some Israeli hotties on one side and the fugly protesters on the other) and the link to Go Fug Yourself, I finally found the name for the wierd boots all the girls were wearing in Australia ( But really, at the end of their summer for chissakes!? Ie., its hot! Why wear the heavy duty boots?)

Of course, I could probably imagine a nice aussie girl looking extremely gorgeous wearing some "Mukluks" in a colder climate, but with the weather there... well, I was just baffled.

Ps, the Jewlicious hotties are worth checking out.

The too wierd .. but makes sense... kind of product.

Found on Wonkette, a way to pass those drug tests at work. Check out the Whizzinator!

Monday, May 09, 2005

WWII: Who is really to blame for the neverending memories?

Today the BBC World Service had a piece on how various people remember VE day. A few comments came in from how people recall Churchill’s speech, how the Eastern Europeans saw the end of one occupation in exchange for another type of unwanted guest; and a marvelous story how one woman in the Channel Islands recalls how the town celebrated while the occupying Nazis (she didn’t simply call them Germans) ran about acting like they were still important. There was even the English soldier who recalls being on his way, well after VE day but just before VJ day when the Japanese called it off, to participate in the coming invasion of Japan! (were they really going to?)

But of course the presenter finally came around to the topic of how the world will never let the Germans forget it. Is this a situation that is likely to continue? What will the future hold?

Some callers suggested this or that reason* and some who thought the world really ought to let them move on and get on with there lives. Both these requests have been made in the immediate post war period and even now. (*and by no means do I try to belittle the dreadful – oh how else could I put it: German efficiency of - the slaughter of millions in concentration camps and elsewhere).

In some way or another the program host asked (of callers and the stoogie war historians in the studio). “why can’t they separate the Germans from the shocking war, the wide breadth of atrocities, the land grabbing sprint in two directions across Europe? Why, why, must it go on?"

Simple, I say. Its because of the colors! Its because of the entertainment industry spin offs! It is because never before – and rarely since – has the world seen such movie theatre evil witnessed on such a hollywood studio, epic scale!

What, only Mel Brooks gets to laugh about the war and get away with it?

Think about it, even George Lucas would have been lost when he tried to think of an evil side if he didn’t have some of the role model – well, models, actually - we all recognize today.

I would even think that if someone tried to legislate that it is illegal to mention the German input to WWII in political or business situations, a court case would be brought to the highest courts in the USA and Europe (sans Germany) saying that it must go on. By whom? The entertainment industry, of course, you ninny!

Movie companies, production companies, makers of German prop uniforms and memoribilia. Novel writers the likes of Ken Follet (Eye of the Needle, Key to Rebecca) and Robert Harris (Fatherland, Enigma), would all join forces saying they have the right to free speech and can dig up the war at any time they feel like it to make a quick 100 million bucks. Seriously, I ask you, who else benefits the most?

So if they are to blame for the propogation of the evil German Reich after the war, we still need to know who really is to blame, aside from Hitler’s hate based political landscape, and arms length slaughter house machine, for the amazing carry-on affect at its basist of origins?

Albert Speer, I would say. Why? The color scheme, of course. Well to be more exact in a not-too-precise manner (that you have come to expect of me), Speer was responsible for things like the grandstanding use of spot lights for evening events, the roman empire-like use of twin colum adorned with eagles, the hanging flags with the big swastika. But those colors: magnificent! The movie makers of today stumbled upon a goldmine.

And the assumed patent, or copyright is tougher than any contract clause you could imagine because no on can come close to using anything similar without being accused of copying the best, if not original, form of fascism. The singularity of this presentation of evil was a masterstroke that bled over to the Grey uniforms of the SS and the Gestapo black. Compared to the drab olive green with a dark green blazer that Ike wore, or the olive green uniform of Monty (with the silly but functional hooded overcoat), and the mustard tunics of the p-40 carrying Russians, they were the height of fasci.. uh, I mean, fashion.

Speer must have been walking around thinking, ‘Okay people, if this were a movie set, how would I make it memorable? What about this occaision to we want to stand out? Okay, lets see, for the photo shoot at the Fuhrer’s mountain top “Eagles nest” lets put chubby Hess in white naval jacket against the mountain backdrop, and get tha Braun girl to act coy in the backgound (head lithely tilted to the side, please dear), and oooh yes, get that sour looking, poison-in-a-bottle, Goehring up front. He is sooo evil looking.’

If you don’t agree, let us just compare to the only other evil doers of the same time. You only have to look at the Japanese. Their past, as the history writing victors have penned it, is all but forgotten. Oh, okay, except for the Chinese who sadly have a real beef considering the horrendous travesties such as those by the average nasty foot solder in the Rape of Nanking, which is even more sadly used whenever it suits the Chinese politically. But in comparison, there seems to be nothing of the same, how shall I put it, savoir-faire of the tall and blond German evil.

Allo Allo, Hogans Heros, and even Mel Brooks have made the silly German an almost cute-in-their-evil mascot with a monocle and black boots. But the reason Hasbro or Mattel didn’t sell this GI Joe was not because of the possible ire from the Jewish community, but because the test market little girls kept stealing the colorfully dressed little fascists from the boys – and then proceded to win the ensuing head banging play war.

All kidding aside, the German thing will unfortunately last a while longer I fear. Perhaps even after all possible and however unlikely participants and witnesses have long since perished.

And when the reasons are sought, the data dissected, the last of the opinion polls is in, I will wager you that the blame for the timeless herpies-like affliction that all Germans have to carry, all along lay with the power of successful marketing.