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The Image of “The Audacity Of Hope” November 26, 2008

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Barack Obama's former pastor Jeremiah Wright once referenced this 1885 painting as a symbol of 'the audacity to hope.' Tate, London/Art resource

Muse: Barack Obama

Entitled “Hope,” the canvas hanging inside London’s Guildhall Art Gallery as part of an exhibition by Victorian painter George Frederic Watts might appear unremarkable to some.

In drab browns and grays on a blue background, it depicts a young blindfolded woman strumming on the last unbroken string of a harp, her ear to the instrument.

Obama’s controversial former pastor Jeremiah Wright invoked the image as a symbol of inspiration during a sermon in Chicago 20 years ago.

The harpist, he preached, “is sitting there in rags … her clothes are tattered as though she had been a victim of Hiroshima… [yet] the woman had the audacity to hope.”

via A painting called ‘Hope’ wins fans as Barack Obama’s inspiration | csmonitor.com

The End of Wall Street’s Boom November 23, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business.
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Ji Lee

Photoillustration by: Ji Lee

The era that defined Wall Street is finally, officially over. Michael Lewis, who chronicled its excess in Liar’s Poker, returns to his old haunt to figure out what went wrong. And it is ugly.

via The End of Wall Street’s Boom – National Business News – Portfolio.com

Anatomy of a meltdown

Building a Bubble

The New Deal Didn’t Always Work, Either November 23, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, philosophy & politics.
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The traditional story is that President Franklin D. Roosevelt rescued capitalism by resorting to extensive government intervention; the truth is that Roosevelt changed course from year to year, trying a mix of policies, some good and some bad. It’s worth sorting through this grab bag now, to evaluate whether any of these policies might be helpful.

If I were preparing a “New Deal crib sheet,” I would start with the following lessons: Economic View – The New Deal Didn’t Always Work, Either – NYTimes.com

How our Greed Turned To Fear, Again November 23, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business.
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Losing our shirt? The problem is that our banks are also losing theirs. Illustration by Barry Blitt.

Losing our shirt? The problem is that our banks are also losing theirs. Illustration by Barry Blitt.

Not so long ago, the dollar stood for a sum of gold, and bankers knew the people they lent to. The author charts the emergence of an abstract, even absurd world—call it Planet Finance—where mathematical models ignored both history and human nature, and value had no meaning. A lengthy but cogent explanation of how we got here.

via Wall Street Lays Another Egg: Politics & Power: vanityfair.com

Most Politically Incorrect Restaurant? November 23, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Food, Lifestyle.
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heartattackburgernursesAn “all you can eat” French Fry bar, which are fried in pure lard, capped by a 8000 calories burger, where even the bun is cooked in lard, no diet drinks – could this be the most politically incorrect restaurant in the world. Click on the link below for more.

via Heart Attack Grill Diet Center

1955 – Year of the Tech Billionaire November 23, 2008

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“Well, luck, if you look at a list of the most powerful people in Silicon Valley an incredible number of them are born in 1955. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google. All the founders of Sun Microsystems are born in the same year. That is not a coincidence. It has to do with the fact that the personal computer revolution happens in 1975 when they were 20 years old and that is the perfect age to be confronted with a revolution. Right? You don’t have a family or kids or a mortgage. Your mind is wide open. You’ve got nothing at stake in the existing order of things and you can embrace some new paradigm.”

via Is The Self-Made Man A Myth?, CBS Evening News: Best-Selling Author Malcolm Gladwell Explains His Out-Of-The-Box Thinking – CBS News

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.750740&w=425&h=350&fv=]

more about “Is The Self-Made Man A Myth?, CBS Eve…“, posted with vodpod
(more…)

Do Vitamins Work? November 21, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Lifestyle.
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many people gobble down megadoses of vitamins believing that they boost the body’s ability to mop up damaging free radicals that lead to cancer and heart disease. In addition to the more recent research, several reports in recent years have challenged the notion that vitamins are good for you.

via News Keeps Getting Worse for Vitamins – Well Blog – NYTimes.com

FHA-Backed Loans: The Next Bailout November 20, 2008

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The same people whose reckless practices triggered the global financial crisis are onto a similar scheme that could cost taxpayers tons more

via FHA-Backed Loans: The New Subprime – BusinessWeek

5 Myths on Our Sick Health Care System November 20, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Lifestyle.
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At 17 percent of gross domestic product, health care is the biggest single sector of the economy, and it's consuming a larger and larger proportion every year. According to CBO projections, health care will account for 25 percent of GDP by 2025 and 49 percent by 2082. That's simply unsustainable. Any plan that reforms health care has to do more than simply cover the uninsured. The nation's health and wealth depend on it.

via 5 Myths on Our Sick Health Care System – washingtonpost.com

Surfing the World’s Longest Surfboard November 20, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Sports, Video.
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surf1-20-2008_60528_lRIO DE JANEIRO: A Brazilian surfer broke his own record after riding a wave on an extra-long 30-foot (9.16-metre) surfboard for over ten seconds.

In 2006, Rico de Souza broke the Guinness World Record by riding a wave on a 25.6-foot board (8.05-m).From his prior experience, Souza developed the new 100-kilo (220-pound) surfboard with the adjustments he had missed before.

Souza said that surfing the lengthy board was a challenging, but thrilling experience.Souza also organized another record in September this year, when 88 people surfed the same wave for over ten seconds up four from 2007.  VIDEO

via Brazilian breaks record for surfing on longest board

2 million photos from LIFE magazine November 19, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Cool photos, Cool Sites, Photography.
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LIFE photo archive hosted by Google
comancheClick on the link above to search millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today. Most were never published and are now available for the first time through the joint work of LIFE and Google.

Born to Be Bad? November 17, 2008

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The study found that children who were slightly impulsive and had mild behavioral problems in pre-school often faced harsh disciplinary action from parents and teachers. Instead of having the desired effect, these actions further alienated the children, often making the child more aggressive and preventing him or her from learning important social and cognitive skills.

As a result, these young children were unprepared for school and often developed social problems; punishments like being sent to the principal’s office meant losing more class time and falling further behind.

By the time the children were in their teens, their parents spent less and less time with them, possibly in order to avoid conflict. With the parents providing less supervision, the children gravitated to similarly estranged peers, Dr. Dodge said.

via A Cascade of Influences Shaping Violent Teens – NYTimes.com

Stand By Me – International Version November 17, 2008

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Thanks to the ability to overlay multi-track recordings from preformers all over the world to the same track of the classic opo tun”Stand By Me”, Bill Moyers Journal presents… thanks to Randy Marks.

Is Muhammad A Title? November 17, 2008

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A German attempt at improving faith relations backfired, with their Muslim scholar ‘s research. He had no doubts at first, but slowly they emerged. He was struck, he says, by the fact that the first coins bearing Muhammad’s name did not appear until the late 7th century — six decades after the religion did. The earliest biography, of which no copies survive, dated from roughly a century after the generally accepted year of his death, 632, and is known only by references to it in much later texts.

He traded ideas with some scholars in Saarbrücken who in recent years have been pushing the idea of Muhammad’s nonexistence. They claim that “Muhammad” wasn’t the name of a person but a title, and that Islam began as a Christian heresy.

Prof. Kalisch didn’t buy all of this. Contributing last year to a book on Islam, he weighed the odds and called Muhammad’s existence “more probable than not.” By early this year, though, his thinking had shifted. “The more I read, the historical person at the root of the whole thing became more and more improbable,” he says.

He has doubts, too, about the Quran. “God doesn’t write books,” Prof.  Muhammad Sven Kalisch, a Muslim convert at 15 and Germany’s first professor of Islamic theology says. T

via Islamic Theologian Says Prophet Muhammad Likely Never Existed – WSJ.com

Scholarly Paper roughly translated by Google into German

London 2001 London 2001

What’s Behind the $700bin? November 16, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business.
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If US nominal GDP is about $14tn and the central government share of GDP is 20%, the roughly $700bn stock of banknotes represents just a single quarter’s tax receipts.

US has ~12x the amount of gold that China has, and more than any other country. The US’s gold reserves amount to something like 2/3 of its total reserves, and China’s are around 1%..

China & US – Two two-trillionaires November 14, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Economy & Business, Geopolitics.
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China hold 2 trillion of our debt according to this analysis ( simply SAFE is the Bank of China and the RMB is their currency).
Because a lot of the vulnerabilities that built up in the US economy between 2003 and 2007 can be linked – in part – to large purchases of dollars by SAFE during that period. Holding the RMB down discouraged investment in tradables, and encouraged investment in non-tradeables (think homes). And the rise in China’s surplus even as the oil exporters surplus was growing implied large offsetting deficits in the US and Europe – deficits that were found in the US household sector. Brad Setser: Follow the Money » Blog Archive » Two two-trillionaires

20 Unhealthiest Drinks in America November 14, 2008

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The most bloating beverages in gas stations, bars, smoothie counters, and coffee shops across America.
A study from the University of North Carolina found that we consume 450 calories a day from beverages, nearly twice as many as 30 years ago! This increase amounts to an extra 23 pounds a year that we’re forced to work off—or carry around with us.
via The 20 Unhealthiest Drinks in America – Page 1 – MSN Health & Fitness – Nutrition

Obama & Race November 12, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in philosophy & politics.
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Obama had done it one last time. Having cast himself in Selma twenty months ago as one who stood on the “shoulders of giants,” as the leader of the Joshua generation, he hardly had to mention race. It was the thing always present, the thing so rarely named. He had simultaneously celebrated identity and pushed it into the background. “Change has come to America,” Obama declared, and everyone in a park remembered until now as the place where, forty summers ago, police did outrageous battle with antiwar protesters knew what change had come, and that—how long? too long—it was about damned time

via A Reporter at Large: The Joshua Generation: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker

The Rich Elected Obama November 11, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in philosophy & politics, Politics.
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Top Clinton advisor Mark J. Penn points out that…the exit poll demographics show that the fastest growing group of voters in America has been those making over $100,000 a year in income. In 1996, only 9 percent of the electorate said their family income was that high. Last week it had grown to 26 percent — more than one in four voters. And those making over $75,000 are up to 15 percent from 9 percent. Put another way, more than 40 percent of those voting earned over $75,000, making this the highest-income electorate in history.

The poorest segment of the electorate, those making under $15,000, has shrunk from 11 percent to 6 percent over the past dozen years. And those making $15,000 to $30,000 annually — the working poor — also shrunk from 23 percent to 12 percent of the electorate.

President Clinton got 38 percent of the vote among those making over $100,000. This year Obama earned 49 percent of that vote. He also got 52 percent of a new polling category — those making over $200,000 a year who were no longer among the top 1 percent of earners, as they had been in past elections, but were now the top 6 per cent. (more…)

How Merrill Lynch Failed November 10, 2008

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Hong Kong clothing retailer Giordano International

Hong Kong clothing retailer Giordano International

For years, the product that Ms. Masters and her colleagues invented remained just a mechanism for offloading risk in high-grade corporate lending. But as often occurs with Wall Street alchemy, a good idea started to be misused — and a product initially devised to insulate against risk soon morphed into a device that actually concentrated dangers.

This shift began in 2002, when low interest rates pushed investors to seek higher returns.

via The Reckoning – How Merrill Lynch Faltered and Fell – Series – NYTimes.com

Tom Friedman on Obama & The World’s Praise November 10, 2008

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So to everyone overseas I say: thanks for your applause for our new president. I’m glad you all feel that America “is back.” If you want Obama to succeed, though, don’t just show us the love, show us the money. Show us the troops. Show us the diplomatic effort. Show us the economic partnership. Show us something more than a fresh smile. Because freedom is not free and your excuse for doing less than you could is leaving town in January.

via Op-Ed Columnist – Show Me the Money – NYTimes.com

Who Started The Russia/Georgia War? – New Evidence November 10, 2008

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TBILISI, Georgia — Newly available accounts by independent military observers of the beginning of the war between Georgia and Russia this summer call into question the longstanding Georgian assertion that it was acting defensively against separatist and Russian aggression.

via Georgia Claims on Russia War Called Into Question – NYTimes.com

Bush’s Positive Legacy November 10, 2008

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics.
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The lack of a serious U.S.-China confrontation in the years since 9/11 is the most important dog that did not bark across the Bush-Cheney administration.

In the grand sweep of history, this is arguably George W. Bush's greatest legacy: the encouragement of China to become a legitimate stakeholder in global security.

This sort of effort at grooming a great power for a greater role in international affairs is a careful balancing act, and the Bush team sounded most of the right notes, from reassuring nervous allies in Asia, to avoiding the temptation of trade retaliation while simultaneously pressuring Beijing for more economic liberalization, to drawing China into the dynamics of great power negotiation over compelling regional issues like the nuclear programs in both North Korea and Iran.

We can always complain that Bush-Cheney didn't do more to solidify this most important bilateral relationship of the 21st century, but we cannot fault them for any lasting mistakes, and that alone is quite impressive.

Indeed, history will likely judge this success as greater than the Bush administration's failures in Iraq.

via Barnett: What Bush- Cheney got right with China : Columnists : Knoxville News Sentinel

Balancing Rocks November 9, 2008

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The Rocker : World Wide Phenomenon

rockbalancedThe above web-site is devoted to stacking balancing rocks. A Flickr collection. Here is a video of how it is done.

Surfers take on Australia’s Heaviest Wave November 8, 2008

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The Australian – Photo galleries and slideshows – Surfers take on Australia’s heaviest wave

While pictures obsess with wave height, surfers appreciate the thickness of a wave. When you wipe-out, you’ll appreciate the difference. Hence the fascination with the thick tubes at Teahupoo. Click on the link above to see 43 pictures of this deepwater break off of Australia. Also an article on it. heavy-aussiewave3Thanks to Randy Marks for Pix.

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