Friday, February 24, 2006

Career Change: Bank Robber

UK - Securitas robbery: how it happened

My wife was impressed by this robbery in England. I said "so, you would be impressed by me if I were a sexy bank robber (and didn't harm anyone)?" She backed down.

Little did she know I often work IN the banks, robbing people.

A few things struck me as odd about the police effort.
  • "Staff at ports and airports around the UK are put on alert for anyone attempting to leave the country with large sums of money. " This BBC article
  • " That much cash, in say £50 notes, would amount to 800,000 pieces of paper." This BBC Article
Doh! thats a lot of cash.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Kyoto Protocol . . .or Proctology??

Emissions sarcasm

I am trading emissions allowances as part of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme. This is where a polluting company can buy the rights to pollute from another company if they have excesss "allowances" (European Union Allowance).

Yes, I buy and sell smoke.

But its nice to see what some other people say about the process. Like this photo. Its fair to say that this added cost is a bit painful for some companies. How painful? Read the title again.

If my explanation of Emissions Trading is not clear for you, just send me a message and I will go into more deatail and probably wax lyrically(?) for you.


Monday, February 20, 2006

Lord Help Me, Curling?

I was actually getting into the Curling event. We have a big TV screen at work and, well, you just sort of watch it while on the phone.

I keep wondering if the brooms ever touch the ... what are they called, "stones"?


Friday, February 17, 2006

Lowy Institute

Bird flu 'could take 142m lives' -

Do you get the feeling that we are living in the first chapter of a bad science fiction novel?

I don't know anything about the Lowy Institute, (good credentials?) but it is probably fair to say that when a bunch of economist boffins get the larger institute's sanction to write about the economic implications of the bird flu, you just have to sit up and take notice.

I mean, if some level headed economists want to expend resources doing this study, it must be serious!


Thursday, February 16, 2006

Microsoft, the Country

I am following the disputes between Microsoft and the EU and today see the article on the cover of the Financial Times, "Microsoft steps up its dispute with EU", and today glanced at another series of recent articles, "Microsoft steps up battle with Brussels over antitrust charges", "Microsoft counters latest antitrust charges", "Gates suggests US law to guide on internet censorship abroad", "Bill Gates suggested yesterday that a US law governing how US internet companies deal with censorship overseas could help...", "Internet giants grilled on China policies"...

You would have to admit that today Microsoft acts, for all intents and purposes – and has as much power as - a medium sized country.

I thought, then :Why doesn't Microsoft consider becoming a country?

Think about it. Microsoft could be a country without land. A 'cyber-country' like out of a William Gibson novel. But it could have a tax-haven, registered office in Luxembourg or the Bahamas. It would exist like the wealthy Duchy of Lichtenstein or Brunei.

Microsoft could have its own national dress: Lower classes would wear white shirts with clip on ties, the upper classes would wear "Seattle Casual" style, based on Eddie Bauer and REI.

The national food would be Caffee Latte

The national hero would be Bill Gates (like Dear Leader, Kim Il Jong?). National Enemies would include Stephen Jobs and Apple.

All citizens of Microsoft would be the employees. Any employee that does not want to be a citizen will be considered 'outsourced'. In fact, Microsoft will be the epitamy of outsourcing.

Microsoft would have their own passports but live in other countries (like me).

Microsoft could be a member of the UN (but on the Security Council? hmm).

Microsoft would be a dictatorship.

But at some time in the not-too-distant future, Microsoft would feel compelled to build a military force to protect its interests around the world. Their spy network would have a huge advantage due to the existence of Windows in many countries.

And then they would acquire Nukes?


Monday, February 13, 2006

Cheney Shot, But Clinton Didn't Miss

Considering the amount of dead people around the Clintons, I would have to think that if it were Bill or Hillary wanting a guy dead, they would have killed him.

(And if the gun jammed, Hillary would have bludgeoned him to death. )

Cheney Dead?


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Frightening Video

I watched this video the first time without the sound on (by mistake), and then with the sound on. I suggest you try it that way, too.

What is striking about this video (and many striking things happen) is the similarity to the Three Stooges. On your second or third viewing, pay attention to the guys in the foreground.


Can You Cover Rap?

I am thinking about how I went to dances in high school where some local band was doing covers of Styx, Van Halen, the Cars, etc. And also weddings, company parties ... I think you get the picture.

But is Rap being covered these days? I haven't experienced it but I am wondering if it is done in simply the same way?


Friday, February 10, 2006

Burning Flag Business Plan

Slate's Explainer answer's the question, "where do all the danish flags come from?" regarding the many danish flags burned during the muslim cartoon protests

Amusing, but gives me the idea to create a business.

Burning Flag Business Plan

- To exploit the exhibition of world hatred via flag-burning, to sell flags during crisis situations.

1. Live near a major flag making factory.
2. Wait until the next major protest against one nation by another.
3. Hop on a plane to said location with boxes of flags. (-Carry USA flags in the event of a running out of supplies.)

-Fan the emotional flames by appearing on CNN with a heavily one sided opinion
-Repeat this point but with the opposite view on Fox.

SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)

-Republicans probalbly win next presidential election.

-Synergize with manufacturers of
a. Lighter Fluid
b. Kalishnikovs

- World Peace


For my little girl.

Sweet ending on this fast-motion video of a airline pilot's normal work hours. Pilot made the video to show his young daughter where he worked.

Give daddy a hug.



I would like an invitation to become a member at lifehacker.

Anyone got one spare?


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Monday, February 06, 2006

Claire Berlinski

Just ran across this post by Instapundit on the cartoon protests, and noticed Claire Berlinski's name.

"Could it be the same girl?" I thought to myself? When I was suffering through my 6th year as an undergrad at the University of Washington in Seattle, there was a group of early entrants, you know, 15 and 16 year olds that were too bright for normal schools and were thrown into college (methinks it was called the EEP, "Early Entrant Program".)

Miss Berlinski was there.

We used to hang out in the "Hub" dining area and, I must confess, I was smitten with one of the youngsters. Ok, more than one.

(Coincidentally, when I was in Kiev, in 1998, another one of the girls from the group came up to me on a boat ride in the Dneper river. "Are you Dan Butler, from Seattle?" That one blew me away. Small world, and all that.)

So now I read that Claire Berlinski is an accomplished author and perhaps Instapundit's 'most devoted reader in Istanbul today '. Seems she has authored a few novels and a bit of serious political analysis.

Off to the bookstore after work, I guess.

Oh, a year or two after leaving the UW, I bumped into Claire on the street. Suddenly, without warning, I blurted out the most arresting change in her appearance. "Oh, you had a nose job!" I said. Big oops. Class act, Dan. Totally class act.


Missing the Hot Weather

I found this photo of my dog Semik and me from three years ago. My father saw it and immediately said, "oh what a great photo of Semik teaching Dan to fetch a stick." Yuk, yuk, yuk.

Friday, February 03, 2006

I Don't Say "Unfair"

I recall being in a Poli-Sci class and a classmate was asked about one or another political debacle, and she said it was kind of unfair.

The teacher has some fun with that saying "unfair" was the wrong word, or unfair has no place in politics. I remember that and it fits in with my beliefs of politics and the world: Who has the power is the winner. What is it, something like only the victorius can write history? Sorry if I screwed that up, but you know what I mean.

Well what about this take on it? This post points out that most (I would say 98%) tv shows and movies will depict Republicans as the bad guys. OK, very simple. I won't go into detail but I think you get the meaning.

Now I would like to say, why don't they make some of the bad guys Democrats, like the hippie was the murderer, or the Greenpeace activist was was the wife-beater (That would be my personal favorite).

And paradoxically, the movies with all the gun play is was created by liberal Hollywood. My perfect and perplexing paradox is the movie "Colors" with Robert Duvall and Sean Penn. Didn't anyone realize that the rise in popularization of drive-by shootings after that movie created more murders with the same modus operandi? (sp?). Think about it.

Of course, someone would say that most of America wants to watch this depiction of anyone not liberal as the villain. But then why - if we are to believe this 99 to 1 disparity (one being perhaps Walker, Texas Ranger, ugh) - didn't the last two Presidential elections display a similar disparity?

The obvious reason is that the power of tv and movies is in the hands of the left. They got it, and the right doesn't. Of course, much of the right watches it and enjoys what is doled out. And if there is a chance to see the other side depicted kindly, it hardly comes to the mainstream. Well do recall Family Ties where Michael J. Fox was a conservative young republican type.

So we go to live with it. But I wonder if it they realize that it somehow reinforces the right's dislike for the ideals of the producers. Sure its fun to watch, but I would say it makes the reaction of the reactionary all that much stronger.


Parléz-vous 'Net?

Today I am flummoxed by French organization that is actively seeking interenational clients, but is hobbled by a French desire to 'Preserve the French language".

The Powernext Exchange in Paris is a market place to trade power products and emissions credits (for the new emissions trading scheme in which I am actively involved. "carbon trade" is the way Investopedia describes it).

The thing is, they are really out there looking for more companies to buy and sell these emissions allowances but one of the key functioning parts of the settlement chain, the cash account holding bank, "Caisse de depots et consignations" requires that the 100 plus pages of documents must be the legal version, and signed.

This means that should a legal problem arise, the French version will be the only legally binding one.
This means that my company has to have the whole thing translated.
This means that we will then pay another French-speaking lawyer to make sure it was translated well.
This means that my company will be at the mercy of a good translator.
This probably means that we will pay through the nose.
This means that my efforts to trade on Powernext will be delayed probably anohter month.

Most of the European financial and commodities market operate happily in English. And even our Czech company accepts legally binding English documents.

I only want to say, without appearing as an English speaking tyrant, 'come on, you silly frogs, lets do away with this reedeeeculous pretention so that we all can make ze money!" Okay that was a sad atttempt to sound French.

Searching for other cases of this obscene waste of time because of the French, I find some other interesting examples.

Parléz-vous 'Net?

One blogger said (while replying to other things French) "a government funded institution whose sole mission is to preserve the French language. This body is no figurehead. It authoritatively dictates what words may be used in government documents, school texts, and in the public sphere generally. Any word of foreign origin that seeps into colloquial language is quickly replaced with a new French word or term. Take, for example, the word "email". Until recently, the French simpy said the English word, "email". However, 4 years ago, the word was officially changed to "courrier electronique".

And a more virulent case
: "In what may be a precedent-setting case, two French-language watchdog groups are suing Georgia Tech Lorraine because the World Wide Web site for the campus in Metz, France, is only available in English."

Que horrible!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Lasers from the Sky!

Advanced Tactical Laser

Um ... kind of scary when you think about it.

I haven't checked why the weapon is described as a 'high-energy chemical laser' or a 'megawatt-class chemical laser", but can only think that by name alone someone will acuse the US of using chemical weapons.



Oil - on Bush oil pledge

I have to say I was so happy to hear about Bush's oil pledge. But not for the reasons you might expect.

My number one reason: he basically stood up and said "whammo!, bet you didn't see that coming!"

Ok, ok, you can't be blamed for saying that maybe he makes an empty promise. Or he is only trying to placate the groundswell opinion that he is being an ignoramus on the environment and Kyoto.

But, then you have to step back and realize that the comment alone is worth billions of dollars. Billions in Losses!

So, now those that fervently hate Bush would say that he made a double whammy mistake by making the comment unwisely (trying to placate the greenies and hurting the economy).

So now I have to say, I think it was one of the smartest moves he could have made.

1. The US Economy is too dependant on Oil, but the US economy would be one of the first to create alternative fuels.

2. The greennies cannot afford to come out and say Bush makes hollow promises because at least he is now making a move in their direction. He has opened the discussion when only a few months ago they were adamantly opposed to speaking to anyone about it in the Montreal meeting.

3. War for Oil - the source of oil, the power from the oil producing nations... See where I am going here? Come on, its obvious. Lets reduce the region's influence on the world. Too troublesome.

Now for a dose of reality. Sure, it won't happen in my lifetime. Sure, it was going to happen sometime. Sure, it will be painful in terms of mega-industrial losses (and I am talking 'attitude only', not real life measures like penalizing auto companies if only 10% of their cars are hybrids, etc).

But overall, the power of the shock, the timing of it... was pretty cool. Notice, for instance the the reactions in the paper were a full day later. No one saw it.

Two good FT articles here and here. Don't agree with the second, but its brings up some issues.


Weather Girl

How many of my handful of readers can find the reference to weather in this post by my friend Richo in Singapore.

I have been complaining non stop about the weather hear and Rich always talks about the climate as regards those that wish to move about less clad than others.