Friday Special 56

Best of Foot in anticipation of the upcoming UEAFA EURO 2008

Portrait of the typical German of the 21st century

Not really innovative, but simplicity and completeness does the trick: Radiotime

Concept of the day

A Big Brother contestant [complained] against programme maker Channel 4 [for] infringement of privacy.

You really don't want to read this, but if you must...

by datacharmer | Tuesday, May 27, 2008
  | 1 comments | | Concept of the day @bluematterblogtwitter


Look ma, Ben is smoking a cigarette! See how unfair you've been to complain about my burning down the house?

As Monetary Authorities, we have been humbled and have taken heart in the realization that some leading Central Banks, including those in the USA and the UK, are now not just talking of, but also actually implementing flexible and pragmatic central bank support programmes where these are deemed necessary in their National interests.

That is precisely the path that we began over 4 years ago in pursuit of our own national interest and we have not wavered on that critical path despite the untold misunderstanding, vilification and demonization we have endured from across the political divide.

A few months ago, the USA economy confronted a severe mortgage crisis, which threatened to spark an economy-wide recession.

The USA Central Bank again responded by injecting over US $160 billion between December, 2007 and March, 2008, to provide impetus to the American economy and prevent a worse crisis from happening....

Here in Zimbabwe we had our near-bank failures a few years ago and we responded by providing the affected Banks with the Troubled Bank Fund (TBF) for which we were heavily criticized even by some multi-lateral institutions who today are silent when the Central Banks of UK and USA are going the same way and doing the same thing under very similar circumstances thereby continuing the unfortunate hypocrisy that what’s good for goose is not good for the gander....

As Monetary Authorities, we commend those of our peers, the world over, who have now seen the light on the need for the adoption of flexible and practical interventions and support to key sectors of the economy when faced with unusual circumstances.

Brilliant! Tip of the hat to Greg Mankiw.

by datacharmer | Tuesday, May 27, 2008
  | 0 comments | | Trailblazers @bluematterblogtwitter


by datacharmer | Monday, May 26, 2008
  | 1 comments | | Oligopoly @bluematterblogtwitter

The no Ponzi game restriction, hitman edition

A loyal reader reports from Ireland:

Thursday 22 May, 2008: A man and a woman have gone on trial at the Central Criminal Court charged with conspiring to murder the woman's former partner and his two sons.

The State says she agreed a contract with Mr Eid to kill Mr Howard and his sons and sent him €15,000 in cash through Fed Ex on August 15 2006.

The court heard Mr Eid demanded €100,000 from Robert Howard to cancel the hits. He was arrested on 27 September in Ennis after Mr Howard alerted gardaĆ­ and gardaĆ­ mounted a surveillance operation.

Addendum: For reliable results, try this website.

Friday Special 55

Typical rush-hour situation in some stations in Tokyo

Google released long-anticipated Google Health

Immense big air skateboard trick by Jake Brown

Mp3 & pdf essentials before your next travel journey

FlickrVision for your daily dose of location aware images

BreathingEarth - Carbon dioxide emissions per country visualized

Wtf?! The unlikely guardians of competition

This is the weirdest story I've read in a while. Check out who is objecting to the emerging acquisition of yahoo by google:

Alarm at Google Yahoo partnering

Regulators in the US are being urged to investigate any potential online advertising and search partnership between Google and Yahoo.

The call by a coalition of 16 American civil rights and rural advocacy bodies [DC: What do civil rights and rural advocacy?!?? bodies have to do with competition?] comes despite the fact no firm deal has actually been announced.

"We all suffer in such mega mergers," Gary Flowers of the Black Leadership Forum told BBC News.

[The] coalition is made up of the League of Rural Voters, the National Black Chamber of Commerce and the American Agriculture Movement.

It also includes the Black Leadership Forum, an umbrella group of 36 civil rights organisations including the NAACP and the National Urban League.

League of Rural Voters' executive director Niel Ritchie claims that the do-no-evil mantra may no longer apply in today's marketplace in which Google's reach is apparently without bound, touching more and more aspects of our everyday lives.

"We believe the government should give this agreement very careful scrutiny," he says.

Can someone explain me what rural advocacy and agriculture groups have to do with the Google-Yahoo! merger?

Friday Special 54

Yves Rossy as the Swiss Jet-Man

Why So Serious? The Dark Knight

Surging oil prices? Think again

Barrels of oil per dollar in blue, Euro in red and ounce of gold in purple.

The recent prices of crude oil has been perceived as ever rising, surging, incredible expensive, ... but as an analysis published by American Geological Institute Workforce Program, once you measure oil in gold, it seems that the price has been fairly stable since 2001.

The steep increase in the price of crude oil in the United States remains a headline issue, along with the falling US dollar. The drop in the dollar has caused concern in oil-producing countries which use it as the economic basis for the commodity, and often their currency. The chart below shows the spot market price of crude oil per barrel (BBL) in US dollars and in euros from 2001 to today. The price of oil has grown faster relative to the dollar than to the euro. Yet, a portion of the rise in oil prices is due to the fall of the value of the dollar. The graph also shows the number of barrels of crude oil per cost of an ounce of gold, demonstrating the parallel growth in commodity pricing.

Aliens are my brother

Fascinating stuff:

The Pope's chief astronomer says that life on Mars cannot be ruled out. Writing in the Vatican newspaper, the astronomer, Father Gabriel Funes, said intelligent beings created by God could exist in outer space.

Just as there are multiple forms of life on earth, so there could exist intelligent beings in outer space created by God. And some aliens could even be free from original sin, he speculates.

Ah, now I feel better.

by datacharmer | Tuesday, May 13, 2008
  | 2 comments | | Aliens are my brother @bluematterblogtwitter

Africa is growing

For four consecutive years, Africa has experienced record economic growth. Overall in 2007 the continent registered 5.7 per cent GDP growth and a per capita increase of 3.7 per cent. Indications are that growth will only accelerate in 2008 and remain buoyant in 2009.

This is from the OECD's African Economic Outlook 2008, released yesterday. High oil and food prices feature prominently:

[A] reality masked by the growth figures is that net oil exporters continue to outpace oil importers by far. In 2008, the average real GDP growth rate for the former collection of countries is expected to be 6.8 per cent, but it will only be 4.9 per cent for the latter.

by datacharmer | Tuesday, May 13, 2008
  | 0 comments | | Africa is growing @bluematterblogtwitter

Natural born bigots

Stephen Landsburg, writing before the last presidential election:

If George Bush had chosen the racist David Duke as a running mate, I'd have voted against him, almost without regard to any other issue. Instead, John Kerry chose the xenophobe John Edwards as a running mate. I will therefore vote against John Kerry.

Duke thinks it's imperative to protect white jobs from black competition. Edwards thinks it's imperative to protect American jobs from foreign competition. There's not a dime's worth of moral difference there. While Duke would discriminate on the arbitrary basis of skin color, Edwards would discriminate on the arbitrary basis of birthplace. Either way, bigotry is bigotry, and appeals to base instincts should always be repudiated.

There's not a dime's worth of moral difference indeed. But then why stop at trade policy? (protectionism, at the end of the day, screws the majority of Americans as much as it screws foreigners) I would think that every policy that any government ever comes up with is geared towards benefiting its citizens, with little consideration for the interests of Johnny Foreigner.

by datacharmer | Monday, May 12, 2008
  | 1 comments | | Natural born bigots @bluematterblogtwitter

The thing that freaks me out the most

Watch it here.

No, I don't think it is actually the most scary thing out there, but it freaks me out alright.

Friday Special 53

The best of Conan O'Brien

A selection of beautifully captures moments

An alternative approach to bank regulation

A while back I wrote:

Banks are not, and cannot, be plc's in the same way that other companies are. The social value of a steelmaker can only fall as far down as zero, while the social value of a bank can be much, much lower than that.

Avinash Persaud at Vox EU proposes a solution:

The third pillar [of financial regulation reform] is requiring banks to pay an insurance premium to tax payers against the risk that the tax payer will be required to bail them out. If such a market could be created, it would not only incentivise good banking and push the focus of regulation away from process to outcomes, but it would provide an incentive for banks to be less systemic. Today, banks have an incentive to be more systemic as a bail out is then guaranteed. The right response to Citibank’s routine failure to anticipate its credit risks is not for it to keep on getting bigger so that it can remain too big to fail, but for it to whither away under rising insurance premiums paid to tax payers.

Friday Special 52

Some of the best views of North American landscape

The Carver One presented by Top Gear