Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Entropa is a satirical sculpture created by controversial Czech artist David Černý and commissioned by the government of the Czech Republic to mark the occasion of its presidency of the Council of the European Union. It was supposedly created jointly by 27 artists and artist groups from all member countries of the EU; it soon came to light, however, that it was made only by Černý and two or three assistants.

The piece was unveiled on 12 January 2009. Moving and multimedia components were activated on the formal "launch date" of 15 January 2009. It is on display in the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels; a copy of it may appear on the wall of the New Scene of the National Theatre in Prague.

The Council of the EU has a rotary presidency system, whereby the governments of member countries exchange leadership every six months. It is customary for the presiding country to place an exhibit in the Justus Lipsius building, which are normally uncontroversial. France, which held the presidency before the Czech Republic, had simply erected a large balloon in the French national colours.

The sculpture is an ironic jab at the issue of European integration and the stereotypes associated with each country. It is subtitled Stereotypes are barriers to be demolished, in accord with the Czech European Union Presidency motto of Europe without barriers. According to the artist David Černý, Entropa "lampoons the socially activist art that balances on the verge between would-be controversial attacks on national character and undisturbing decoration of an official space".

The work is made of GRP (the joints of steel), approximately 256 square metres (2,760 sq ft) in area (16.4 metres (54 ft) high and 16.5 metres (54 ft) wide), almost 8 tonnes (7.9 LT; 8.8 ST) heavy (of which three fourths is the frame) and was installed between 5 to 11 January 2009 in presence of David Černý, three assistants, four climbers, two technicians, two cameramen and a representative of the Czech Permanent Representation to the EU.

It resembles an unassembled model kit containing pieces in the shapes of the 27 member states of the EU. Each piece has a distinctive theme that portrays the stereotypes which the artist perceived to be the most associated with that country. Some of these are portrayed in a particularly provocative manner. Among the pieces which have attracted the most attention are those of Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Poland and Slovakia; see below for details on the controversy.

Note also that some of the pieces differ from the form presented in the official booklet, mostly towards greater controversy (most notably the Danish piece, which looks completely innocuous from the official photo, the animals on the Finnish piece, and the Hungarian colours on the Slovak piece).

In an interview for The Times Online, Černý stated that the sculpture was influenced by the Monty Python brand of humour. At the launch ceremony, he added Sacha Baron Cohen and Les Guignols de l'info's portrayal of Nicolas Sarkozy as other influences.

Nations shown
With no clear indication made by the artist nor by the official presentation, various interpretations of a single country can be drawn, and this list is by no means definite.
Austria, a known opponent of atomic energy, is a green field dominated by nuclear power plant cooling towers; vapour comes out of them at intervals
Belgium is presented as a half-full box of half-eaten Praline chocolates
Bulgaria is depicted by a series of connected "Turkish" squat toilets; neon-like lights connect and illuminate them (later hidden with fabric)
Cyprus is jigsawed (cut) in half
The Czech Republic's own piece is an LED display, which flashes controversial quotations by Czech President Václav Klaus
Denmark is built of Lego bricks, and some claim to see in the depiction a face reminiscent of the cartoon controversy, though any resemblance has been denied by the artist
Estonia is presented with a hammer and sickle-styled power tools, the country has considered a ban on Communist symbols
Finland is depicted as a wooden floor and a male with a rifle lying down, imagining an elephant and a hippo.
France is draped in a "GRÈVE!" ("STRIKE!") banner
Germany is a series of interlocking autobahns, described as "somewhat resembling a swastika", though that is not universally accepted. Cars move along the roads.
Greece is depicted as a forest that is entirely burned, possibly representing the 2007 Greek forest fires and the 2008 civil unrest in Greece.
Hungary features an Atomium made of its common agricultural products melons and Hungarian sausages, based on a floor of peppers
Ireland is depicted as a brown bog with bagpipes protruding from Northern Ireland; the bagpipes play music every five minutes
Italy is depicted as a football pitch with several players who appear to be masturbating with the footballs they each hold.
Latvia is shown as covered with mountains, in contrast to its actual flat landscape
Lithuania a series of dressed Manneken Pis-style figures urinating on its eastern neighbours; the streams of urine are presented by a yellow lighting glass fibers
Luxembourg is displayed as a gold nugget with "For Sale" tag
Malta is a tiny island with its prehistoric dwarf elephant as its only decoration; there's a magnifying glass in front of the elephant
The Netherlands has disappeared under the sea with only several minarets still visible; the piece is supposed to emit the singing of muezzins
Poland has a piece with priests erecting the rainbow flag of the Gay rights movement, in the style of the U.S. Marines raising the Stars and Stripes at Iwo Jima.
Portugal is shown as a wooden cutting board with three pieces of meat in the shape of its former colonies of Brazil, Angola, and Mozambique
Romania is a Dracula-style theme park, which is set up to blink and emit ghostly sounds at intervals.
Slovakia is depicted as a Hungarian sausage (or a human body tightened by Hungarian tricolour)
Slovenia is shown as a rock engraved with the words first tourists came here 1213
Spain is covered entirely in concrete, with a concrete mixer situated in the northeast
Sweden does not have an outline, but is represented as a large Ikea-style self-assembly furniture box, containing Gripen fighter planes (as supplied to the Czech Air Force)
The United Kingdom, known for its Euroscepticism and relative isolation from the Continent, is "included" as missing piece (an empty space) at the top-left

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropa

London by air

London is a major international air transport hub with the largest city airspace in the world. Eight airports use the words London Airport in their name, but most traffic passes through one of five major airports. London Heathrow Airport is the busiest airport in the world for international traffic, and is the major hub of the nation's flag carrier, British Airways. In March 2008 its fifth terminal was opened,[184] and plans are already being considered for a sixth terminal. Similar traffic, with the addition of some low-cost short-haul flights, is also handled at London Gatwick Airport. London Stansted Airport and London Luton Airport cater mostly for low-cost short-haul flights. London City Airport, the smallest and most central airport, is focused on business travellers, with a mixture of full service short-haul scheduled flights and considerable business jet traffic.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London#Air


It was 1873, and Dr. Armauer Hansen of Norway had astounding news for the world: leprosy was caused by a bacterium (Mycobacterium leprae). Until then, the disease was thought to be from a curse or sinful ways.

Not very contagious
Modern medicine knows that leprosy is spread when an untreated infected person coughs or sneezes (but not by sexual contact or pregnancy). However, leprosy is not very contagious; approximately 95% of people have natural immunity to the disease. People with leprosy who are treated with medication do not need to be isolated from society. (Historically, people with leprosy were sent to "lepers' colonies" on remote islands or in special hospitals.)

Signs and symptoms
The earliest sign of leprosy is commonly a spot on the skin that may be slightly redder, darker, or lighter than the person's normal skin. The spot may lose feeling and hair. In some people the only sign is numbness in a finger or toe.

If left untreated, leprosy has serious effects on the body, including:
Hands and feet - Leprosy bacteria attack the nerves in the hands and feet and cause them to become numb. A person may get cuts or burns on the numb parts and not know it, leading to infections which cause permanent damage. Fingers and toes may be lost to infection. Serious infections in the feet may require amputation. Paralysis may cause the fingers and toes to curl up permanently.
Eyes - Leprosy bacteria attack the nerves around the eyes causing the loss of blinking reflex (which protects the eye from injury and moistens the surface). The eyes become dry and infected, and blindness may result. Because of numbness of the eye, the person cannot feel dirt or scratches in the eye.
Face - Damage to the internal lining of the nose causes scarring and eventual collapse of the nose.

Treatment available
The good news is that leprosy is curable. In 1981, the World Health Organization recommended the use of a combination of three antibiotics--dapsone, rifampin, and clofazimine--for treatment, which takes six months to a year or more.

During the course of treatment, the body may react to the dead bacteria with pain and swelling in the skin and nerves. This is treated with pain medication, prednisone, or thalidomide (under special conditions).

A hopeful outlook
Before treatment was available, a diagnosis of leprosy meant suffering and pain and being shunned by society. Today, antibiotics and good skin care will prevent the disease from destroying the body. Perhaps in the future a vaccine will eliminate this ancient scourge altogether.
Source: http://rarediseases.about.com/cs/infectiousdisease/a/071203.htm

Calculating correlation

The correlation is one of the most common and most useful statistics. A correlation is a single number that describes the degree of relationship between two variables.

We use the symbol r to stand for the correlation. Through the magic of mathematics it turns out that r will always be between -1.0 and +1.0. if the correlation is negative, we have a negative relationship; if it's positive, the relationship is positive. You don't need to know how we came up with this formula unless you want to be a statistician.

In probability theory and statistics, correlation (often measured as a correlation coefficient) indicates the strength and direction of a linear relationship between two random variables. That is in contrast with the usage of the term in colloquial speech, denoting any relationship, not necessarily linear. In general statistical usage, correlation or co-relation refers to the departure of two random variables from independence. In this broad sense there are several coefficients, measuring the degree of correlation, adapted to the nature of the data.

A number of different coefficients are used for different situations. The best known is the Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient, which is obtained by dividing the covariance of the two variables by the product of their standard deviations. Despite its name, it was first introduced by Francis Galton.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation & http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/statcorr.php


A comptroller or controller (pronounced /kənˈtroʊlər, ˈkɑmˌtroʊ-/; also financial controller, abrv. FC) is a person who supervises accounting and financial reporting within an organization. A controller is an accountant in a business who oversees accounting and the implementation and monitoring of internal controls. In the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, a controller or financial controller is a senior position within most companies, often reporting to a Chief Financial Officer.

The term comptroller evolved in the 15th century through a mix of the Middle English countreroller (someone who checks a copy of scroll, from the French contreroule - scroll copy) and the French compte ("on account"), thus creating a title for a compteroller who specialises in checking financial ledgers.

Tuck shop

A tuck shop is a small, food-selling retailer, found in schools and youth clubs. It is a term principally used in the UK, South Africa and Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales in Australia, and occasionally in other parts of the former British Empire. In New South Wales the term is interchangeable with the word canteen. When the tuck shop is in a school, it is frequently the only place (other than the school canteen) where monetary transactions can be made. As such, particularly in the UK, they often sell items of stationery too, although food is still their primary source of income and customers. In Australia at both youth clubs and schools the tuck shop is mainly staffed by volunteers from the community, this may include students, parents and in the case of clubs; members. The term is also used in Indian boarding schools.

The term "tuck", meaning food, is slang and probably originates from such phrases as "to tuck into a meal". It is also closely related to the Australian English word "tucker", also meaning food. A tuck shop typically sells confectionery finger-food, such as sweets, crisps, fizzy drinks and so on. In recent years, there have been moves to change to a wider variety of "healthier" foods. In Australia, where the tuck shop will typically be the only source of bought food at the school/club, the menu is more substantial and is more similar to the school dinners provided by the British government.

"Tucker" may originate with the lacework at the top of Nineteenth Century women's dresses, but the origin of its use in regard to food probably arises from the popular shops run in England by various members of the Tuck family between at least 1780 and 1850. The earliest reference found is to one Thomas Tuck whose famous "Tuck's Coffee House" in the university city of Norwich in Norfolk UK attracted many academics. There was a library for the use of customers and it was located on Gentleman’s Walk in the heart of the City. It is mentioned as a place of legal negotiation in public notices published in the Norfolk Chronicle on Feb 9th 1782 and April 12th & 19th 1783. In 1820 William Joseph Tuck was a confectioner at Duncan Place, Hackney, just outside London. Hackney and nearby London Fields were fashionable for picnic outings and holidays at the time. The London Directory of 1846 records his son Thomas James Tuck as baker at "The Bun House" in Duncan Place. Another store had also opened by 1842 in Church Street, now Mare Street, as shown in a painting in which TUCK is clearly displayed over the door. Thomas and his brother William Frederick Tuck arrived in Victoria,Australia aboard "Ayrshire" on 24th April 1852, and both opened similar stores, William as a confectioner in Melbourne and Thomas at the goldfields. "T J Tuck & Sons" is shown over the door of his store in the painting by Augustus Baker Peirce: "The Myers Creek Rush - near Sandhurst (Bendigo) Victoria" (located in the National Library of Australia).
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuck_shops


Sic is a Latin word meaning "thus", "so", "as such", or "in such a manner". In writing, it is placed within square brackets and usually italicized – [sic] – to indicate that an incorrect or unusual spelling, phrase, punctuation, and/or other preceding quoted material has been reproduced verbatim from the quoted original and is not a transcription error.

It had a long vowel in Latin (sīc), meaning that it was pronounced like the English word "seek"; however, it is normally anglicised to /'sɪk/ (like the English word "sick").

The word sic may be used either to show that an uncommon or archaic usage is reported faithfully: for instance, quoting the U.S. Constitution:
The House of Representatives shall chuse [sic] their Speaker...

or to highlight an error, sometimes for the purpose of ridicule or irony, as in these examples:
Warehouse has been around for 30 years and has 263 stores, suggesting a large fan base. The chain sums up its appeal thus: “styley [sic], confident, sexy, glamorous, edgy, clean and individual, with it's [sic] finger on the fashion pulse.”

It is also sometimes used for comic effect:
The Daily Mail was the first newspaper [sic] …
It is sometimes erroneously thought to be an acronym from any of a vast number of phrases such as "spelling is correct", "same in copy", "spelling intentionally conserved", "spelling included", "said in context", or "sans intention comique" (French: without comic intent). These "backronyms" are all false etymologies.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sic

Friday, January 23, 2009

Learning about Exposure - The Exposure Triangle by Darren Rowse

Bryan Peterson has written a book titled Understanding Exposure which is worth a read if you’re wanting to venture out of the Auto mode on your digital camera and experiment with its manual settings.

In it Bryan illustrates the three main elements that need to be considered when playing around with exposure by calling them ‘the exposure triangle’.

Each of the three aspects of the triangle relate to light and how it enters and interacts with the camera.

The three elements are:
ISO - the measure of a digital camera sensor’s sensitivity to light
Aperture - the size of the opening in the lens when a picture is taken
Shutter Speed - the amount of time that the shutter is open

It is at the intersection of these three elements that an image’s exposure is worked out.

Most importantly - a change in one of the elements will impact the others. This means that you can never really isolate just one of the elements alone but always need to have the others in the back of your mind.

The Window
Imagine your camera is like a window with shutters that open and close.

Aperture is the size of the window. If it’s bigger more light gets through and the room is brighter.

Shutter Speed is the amount of time that the shutters of the window are open. The longer you leave them open the more that comes in.

Now imagine that you’re inside the room and are wearing sunglasses (hopefully this isn’t too much of a stretch). Your eyes become desensitized to the light that comes in (it’s like a low ISO).

There are a number of ways of increasing the amount of light in the room (or at least how much it seems that there is. You could increase the time that the shutters are open (decrease shutter speed), you could increase the size of the window (increase aperture) or you could take off your sunglasses (make the ISO larger).
Source: http://digital-photography-school.com/learning-exposure-in-digital-photography

Changefest '09 - Obama's Inaugural Speech

Jason Jones maintains Obama's inaugural address was a new message, and in no way like any of Bush's speeches.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


1. Put iTunes on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.

The Adventure - Angels & Airwaves

I Miss You - Blink 182
Skilfully evading the question...

Suburbia - Pet Shop Boys
Middle of the road?

Words Get In the Way - Miami Sound Machine

Where in the World - Swing Out Sister
Do I get lost that often? Or does Jasmine? "Where in the world must I go to find you?"

No Matter What - Boyzone
Unconditional love?

Through the Rain - Mariah Carey
Together through thick & thin...

Close to You - Olivia
Yeah I do think about that...

WHAT IS 2+2?
Blessed - Rachael Lampa

God of Wonders - Paul Baloche
God's my best friend? =]

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious - Julie Andrews, Dick van Dyke & The Pearlie Chorus
Yeah she's amazing. =]

New York Mining Disaster 1941 - Bee Gees
OMG. Not that bad right?

I Belong to Jesus - Christ for the Nations
Yeah I do. =]

Strip My Mind - Red Hot Chilli Peppers
...cos I have problems organising my thoughts.

Is Patience Still Waiting? - The Juliana Theory
Yeah that's be my mum. She wants things done pronto.

In This Diary - The Ataris
Well, it'd be a good song to jam with. Besides, can't dance.

Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield
Would my life be incomplete?

Don't Want to Try - Frankie J
More like, no time.

Quizas Quizas Quizas - Lisa Ono
Perhaps what?

Soul to Squeeze - Red Hot Chilli Peppers

Wake Me Up Before You Go Go - Wham!
Apparently a gay singer will wake me up to let me know I'm dying.

Davey! Davey! - Promiseland
Learning the dance steps to this song?

Take a Bow - Madonna
Overly melancholic songs?

Come, Now is the Time - Heart of Worship

Supersonic - Oasis

Love in the First Degree - Bananarama
Not really...

I Do (Cherish You) - 98 Degrees
Like, totally. =]

All Blues - Miles Davis
Colour scheme of room?

Can't Buy Me Love - Beatles
Money spent on wedding dinner?

Supervixen - Garbage


Sunday, January 18, 2009


Flixster Plot: Life couldn't be sweeter for Garfield, everyone's favorite feline. Parked on a comfortable chair in front of the television, feasting on his favorite dish, lasagna, and hurling insults at his beleaguered owner Jon, Garfield is the master of his universe. When Jon takes Garfield to visit beautiful veterinarian Liz Wilson, she gives Jon a pepped-up, tail-wagging, panting creature that represents everything that Garfield loathes. Garfield, meet Odie, a lovable, dim-witted dog. The wise-cracking cat is, for the first time in his nine lives, left speechless. The clueless Odie chases his tail till he's dizzy, crashes into walls, and barks without cause, all to the unbridled delight of Jon who eagerly welcomes Odie into his home. Odie turns Garfield's perfect world upside down. Garfield's solution: OUT, DARN DOG. When the hapless hound disappears into the evil clutches of local celebrity Happy Chapman, you would think Garfield would rejoice. But he feels responsible for the fate of another. With uncharacteristic energy, courage and selflessness, Garfield manages to pull himself away from his lazy life and spring into action. He's on the unlikeliest of impossible missions: to save Odie.
My take: What a self-absorbed cat.


A bellwether is any entity in a given arena that serves to create or influence trends or to presage future happenings.

The term is derived from the Middle English bellewether and refers to the practice of placing a bell around the neck of a castrated ram (a wether) leading its flock of sheep. The movements of the flock could be perceived by hearing the bell before the flock was in sight.

In politics, the term is more often applied in the passive sense to describe a geographic region where political tendencies match in microcosm those of a wider area, such that the result of an election in the former region might predict the eventual result in the latter. In a Westminster-style election, for example, a constituency, the control of which tends frequently to change, can mirror in its popular vote the result on a national scale.

In the stock market, a bellwether (barometer stock in the UK) is the stock of a company that is regarded as a leader in its given industry. The performance of the stock is said to reflect the performance of the industry in general. These stocks are used as barometers for the rest of the market. General Motors is an example of a bellwether stock. As the major auto maker in the US, it sets the tone for the rest of the industry. General Motors also has contracts with companies in other industries so its performance is reflected in other sectors of the market.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bellwether

Touch My Body (Tuts My Barreh) / Karaoke Fail (English subtitles)

Is this worse then Ken Lee?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Vision, Values, Plan

Though today's sharing on values and process was excellent by Allen and Vincent respectively, it can all too easily be consigned to the heap of unsuccessful endeavours. Agape has had too many false dawns to experience disappointment again.

As I mentioned, there is a positive vibe that is slowly spreading God-based optimism throughout the ranks. This is a positive sign that people are buying into the vision.

As far as possible, for issues as key to any organisation like vision and values, it should be member-borne and member-breathed. But we know that is nigh impossible. The sheer number of leaders and opinions renders such discussion and decision ultimately unfruitful and ineffective. Instead, we have done the right thing.

A clear and exhaustive plan and value system has been drawn up by key leaders, with the approval of the leadership sought. It must be made absolutely certain that the leadership has a choice to accept or reject these, hence the significance and importance of the in/out pledge, better still of it was named, given our confidence in our united decision. When the leadership of the church is united and speaks in one voice (values, vision, leaders' creed etc), the members take notice. It is no longer an obligation to conform, rather a motivation to perform our responsibilities as a leader should.

In my opinion, our plan for success for 2009 is so compelling that I would defend it vehemently in the face of any opposition but only someone who feels as strongly about it would do so. We must all buy in to this and OWN it. As CEOs perform better when they are paid stock options in lieu of cash, so we will do our best when we have a stake in Agape. When this goes through, we can be sure that whoever decides to lead/serve is 100% on board, 100% sold out on the vision. There can be no compromises, or we risk diluting the commitment of our leadership. If we can do that, then we have our coalition that will blaze the trail for our members to follow.

It excites me to no end that I will be serving with 100% committed leaders who believe in the vision & plan God has for Agape. As we encourage one another, we push one another toward the finish line. We look around and know in our hearts of hearts that the people we are running with are striving united for the same goal.

There is no better feeling, and I hope to run the race with all of you. It would be an honour and well worth the tribulations that will doubtlessly come our way.

Serving in Christ, United We Stand

Agape, Aaron

Deus ex machina

A deus ex machina (lat. IPA: [ˈdeːus eks ˈmaːkʰina], literally "god from the machine") is an ironic plot device in which a surprising or unexpected event occurs in a story's plot, suddenly and completely resolving an otherwise unsolvable conflict. It is "an improbable contrivance in a story characterized by a sudden unexpected solution to a seemingly intractable problem." Neoclassical literary criticism, from Corneille and John Dennis on, took it as a given that one mark of a bad play was the sudden invocation of extraordinary circumstance. Thus, the term "deus ex machina" has come to mean any inferior plot device that expeditiously solves the conflict of a narrative.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deus_ex_machina

Invention of Post-it Notes by Arthur Fry and Spencer Silver in 1974

Everyone knows what Post-it® notes are: They are those great little self-stick notepapers. Most people have Post-it® Notes. Most people use them. Most people love them. But Post-it® Notes were not a planned product.

No one got the idea and then stayed up nights to invent it. A man named Spencer Silver was working in the 3M research laboratories in 1970 trying to find a strong adhesive. Silver developed a new adhesive, but it was even weaker than what 3M already manufactured. It stuck to objects, but could easily be lifted off. It was super weak instead of super strong.

No one knew what to do with the stuff, but Silver didn't discard it. Then one Sunday four years later, another 3M scientist named Arthur Fry was singing in the church's choir. He used markers to keep his place in the hymnal, but they kept falling out of the book. Remembering Silver's adhesive, Fry used some to coat his markers. Success! With the weak adhesive, the markers stayed in place, yet lifted off without damaging the pages. 3M began distributing Post-it ® Notes nationwide in 1980 - ten years after Silver developed the super weak adhesive. Today they are one of the most popular office products available.
Source: http://www.ideafinder.com/history/inventions/postit.htm

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Close, but no cigar

Fall just short of a successful outcome and get nothing for your efforts.

The phrase, and its variant 'nice try, but no cigar', are of US origin and date from the mid-20th century. Fairground stalls gave out cigars as prizes, and this is the most likely source, although there's no definitive evidence to prove that.

It is first recorded in print in Sayre and Twist's publishing of the script of the 1935 film version of Annie Oakley:
"Close, Colonel, but no cigar!"

It appears in U. S. newspapers widely from around 1949 onwards. For example, a story from The Lima News, Lima, Ohio, November 1949, where The Lima House Cigar and Sporting Goods Store narrowly avoided being burned down in a fire, was titled 'Close But No Cigar'.
Source: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/close-but-no-cigar.html

Clever corner routine

Pity the linesman spoilt it all. I do think it shouldn't have stood, because if Ashley Cole had jumped in after Rooney had rolled the ball in and out of the quadrant, they would have cried foul and asked for it to be retaken. You can't have your cake and eat it.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats

The de Bono Hats system (also known as "Six Hats" or "Six Thinking Hats") is a thinking tool for group discussions. The tool, combined with the idea of parallel thinking which is associated with it, provides a means for groups to think together more effectively, and a means to plan thinking processes in a detailed and cohesive way. The method is attributed to Dr. Edward de Bono and is the subject of his book, Six Thinking Hats.

The method is finding widespread use in the UK innovation sector, is offered by numerous facilitation companies and has been trialled within the UK civil service.

Michael Hewitt-Gleeson claims that the method was initially developed during a brainstorming session he had with Edward de Bono and Eric Bienstock in 1983.

The premise of the method is that the human brain thinks in a number of distinct ways which can be identified, deliberately accessed and hence planned for use in a structured way allowing one to develop strategies for thinking about particular issues. Dr de Bono identifies five distinct states in which the brain can be "sensitised". In each of these states the brain will identify and bring into conscious thought certain aspects of issues being considered (e.g. gut instinct, pessimistic judgement, neutral facts).

Perhaps the most compelling example presented is the idea of sensitivity to "mismatch" stimuli as a particularly strong tendency. This is presented as being a valuable survival instinct - because in the natural world the thing that is out of the ordinary may well be dangerous. This is identified as the root of negative judgement and critical thinking.

Six distinct states are identified
Neutrality (white) - considering purely what information is available, what are the facts?
Feeling (Red) - instinctive gut reaction or statements of emotional feeling (but not any justification)
Negative judgement (Black) - logic applied to identifying flaws or barriers, seeking mismatch
Positive Judgement (Yellow) - logic applied to identifying benefits, seeking harmony
Creative thinking (Green) - statements of provocation and investigation, seeing where a thought goes
Process control (Blue) - thinking about thinking

In order to make it easier to clearly identify and work with these states the use of coloured hats as metaphors for them is used; each state is symbolised by the act of putting on a colored hat, either actually or imaginatively. The use of these metaphors also allows more complete and elaborate definition of the states thus getting past the preconceptions inherent in using peoples current language.

Furthermore Dr de Bono asserts that these states are associated with distinct chemical states of the brain - although no details or evidence of this are presented.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Bono_Hats

Worcestershire sauce

Worcestershire sauce (pronounced /ˈwʊstəˌʃɪər/) or English sauce[citation needed] is a widely used fermented liquid condiment first made at 68 Broad Street, Worcester by two dispensing chemists, John Wheeley Lea and William Henry Perrins. It was made commercially in 1837, and remains the only Worcestershire Sauce still to be made in the UK. In 1930 the business was sold to HP Foods and was subsequently acquired by the H.J. Heinz Company when they acquired that business from Groupe Danone in 2005.

The product is made and bottled in the Midlands Road factory in Worcester, which has been the home of Lea & Perrins since 16th October 1897.

The H. J. Heinz Company, which now manufactures "The Original Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce", under the name Lea & Perrins, Inc., lists the following ingredients on the label of a bottle produced in the United States: vinegar, molasses, high fructose corn syrup, anchovies, water, onions, salt, garlic, tamarind concentrate, cloves, natural flavorings and chili pepper extract.

The ingredients of a bottle of Worcestershire Sauce from England sold under the name "The Original & Genuine Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce" by Lea & Perrins, Limited, lists the following ingredients: malt vinegar (from barley), spirit vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, anchovies, tamarind extract, onions, garlic, spice and flavouring.

It is a flavouring used in many dishes, both cooked and uncooked, and particularly with beef; and drinks, such as the Bloody Mary. Lea & Perrins supplies it in concentrate form to be bottled abroad.

Worcestershire sauce is referred to in South Africa and some parts of the US and most of the UK as Worcester sauce (pronounced /ˈwʊstə/), or spelled phonetically as Wuster sauce.

Though a fermented fish sauce called garum was a staple of Greco-Roman cuisine and of the Mediterranean economy of the Roman Empire, "Worcestershire sauce" is one of the many legacies of British contact with India. While some sources trace comparable fermented anchovy sauces in Europe to the 17th century, this one became popular in the 1840s.

Worcestershire sauce is often an ingredient of Caesar Salad and can be used as steak sauce.

Welsh rarebit is a combination of Caerphilly cheese, English mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and other ingredients, frequently eaten with bread, toast or crackers. A simpler version uses Worcestershire sauce with cheese on toast, with the sauce added to the plain version during the grilling process. Worcestershire sauce also plays a key role in the flavour of original recipe Chex Mix. In the U.K., advertising by Lea & Perrins has made Worcestershire Sauce popular for use on spaghetti bolognese, beans on toast, cheese on toast, chips, gravy and sausages. It is also frequently used in chili con carne, Bloody Mary cocktails, and in a cocktail known mostly to Canadians called a Caesar.

Worcestershire sauce, known as salsa inglesa (English sauce) in Spanish, is an essential ingredient of the popular Mexican beer cocktail, the Michelada. It is also a key ingredient, besides lemon juice, in the marinade of Peruvian ceviche. People also use it to flavour cheeseburgers. In Mexico, it is often used on pizza.

Finally, it is nearly universally available as a condiment in steakhouses throughout North America, and is also sometimes used as a condiment for hamburgers, pork chops, chicken, and certain other meats and fish.

Certain brands of crisp sell Worcestershire sauce flavour crisps, usually in purple packets.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worcestershire_sauce

Applications of arsenic

Wood preservation
The toxicity of arsenic to insects, bacteria and fungi makes it an ideal component for the preservation of wood. The world wide treatment with chromated copper arsenate, also known as CCA or Tanalith was the largest consumer of arsenic since the introduction of the process in the 1950s. Due to the environmental problems caused by the arsenic most countries banned the use of chromated copper arsenate on consumer products. The ban began in the European Union and in the United States in 2004.

In 2002 in the United States 90% of the 19,600 metric tons of arsenic compounds were used to preserve wood, in 2007 still 50% of the 5,280 metric tons of consumption was used for this purpose. In the European Union the use of arsenic in consumer products According to the USEPA's website, CCA lumber was discontinued for residential and general consumer construction on December 31, 2003 and alternative methods are now used like ACQ, Borates, Copper Azole, Cyproconazole, and Propiconazole.

Although discontinued this application is also the one of most concern to the general public. The vast majority of older pressure-treated wood was treated with CCA. CCA lumber is still in widespread use in many countries, and was heavily used during the latter half of the 20th century as a structural and outdoor building material. Although the use of CCA lumber was banned in many areas after studies showed that arsenic could leach out of the wood into the surrounding soil (from playground equipment, for instance), a risk is also presented by the burning of older CCA timber. The direct or indirect ingestion of wood ash from burnt CCA lumber has caused fatalities in animals and serious poisonings in humans; the lethal human dose is approximately 20 grams of ash. Scrap CCA lumber from construction and demolition sites may be inadvertently used in commercial and domestic fires. Protocols for safe disposal of CCA lumber do not exist evenly throughout the world; there is also concern in some quarters about the widespread landfill disposal of such timber.

During the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, a number of arsenic compounds have been used as medicines, including arsphenamine (by Paul Ehrlich) and arsenic trioxide (by Thomas Fowler). Arsphenamine as well as Neosalvarsan was indicated for syphilis and trypanosomiasis, but has been superseded by modern antibiotics. Arsenic trioxide has been used in a variety of ways over the past 200 years, but most commonly in the treatment of cancer. The US Food and Drug Administration in 2000 approved this compound for the treatment of patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia that is resistant to ATRA. It was also used as Fowler's solution in psoriasis.

Recently new research has been done in locating tumours using arsenic-74 (a positron emitter). The advantages of using this isotope instead of the previously used iodine-124 is that the signal in the PET scan is clearer as the iodine tends to transport iodine to the thyroid gland producing a lot of noise.

Copper acetoarsenite was used as a green pigment known under many different names, including 'Paris Green' and 'Emerald Green'. It caused numerous arsenic poisonings. Scheele's Green, a copper arsenate, was used in the 19th century as a coloring agent in sweets.

After World War I the United States built up a stockpile of 20,000 tons of Lewisite; a chemical weapon, acting as a vesicant (blister agent) and lung irritant. The stockpile was neutralized with bleach and dumped into the Gulf of Mexico after the 1950s. During the Vietnam War the United States used Agent Blue a mixture of Na cacodylate) and dimethyl arsinic acid (cacodylic acid as one of the rainbow herbicides to deprive the Vietnamese of valuable crops.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arsenic#Applications

Caveat emptor

Caveat emptor is Latin for "Let the buyer beware". Generally caveat emptor is the property law doctrine that controls the sale of real property after the date of closing.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caveat_emptor


Pronunciation: \ˈnash\
Function: transitive verb
Etymology: alteration of Middle English gnasten
Date: 15th century
: to strike or grind (as the teeth) together
Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gnash

lay down the law

to tell people what they should do, without caring about how they feel. I'm not going to have someone come into this office and start laying down the law.


/nəˈtɪvɪti, neɪ-/ [nuh-tiv-i-tee, ney-]
1. birth.
2. birth with reference to place or attendant circumstances: of Irish nativity.

Great Leap Forward

The Great Leap Forward (simplified Chinese: 大跃进; traditional Chinese: 大躍進; pinyin: Dàyuèjìn) of the People's Republic of China (PRC) was an economic and social plan used from 1958 to 1961 which aimed to use China's vast population to rapidly transform mainland China from a primarily agrarian economy dominated by peasant farmers into a modern, agriculturalized and industrialized communist society. Mao Zedong based this program on the Theory of Productive Forces.

The Great Leap Forward is now widely seen – both within China and outside – as a major economic failure and great humanitarian disaster with estimates of the number of people who starved to death during this period ranging from 14 to 43 million.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Leap_Forward

de rigueur

de rigueur is a French expression that literally means "of rigor" or "of strictness". In English language usage, it means, "necessary according to etiquette, protocol or fashion."

Something that is de rigueur is required by convention or fashion, but not by any hard rule. For example, among the upper classes during the Victorian era, dressing for dinner was de rigueur.

"De rigueur" is also a type of standard similar to a de facto standard, though de facto refers to a practice that is practically law.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_rigueur

Noses run, feet smell

Savoir faire

The instinctive ability to know how to deal with any situation that arises.

The literal translation from the French is 'know how'.
Source: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/311050.html


A manger is a trough or box of carved stone or wood construction used to hold food for animals (as in a stable). Mangers are mostly used in livestock raising. They are also used to feed wild animals, e.g., in nature reserves. The word comes from the French manger (meaning "to eat"), from Latin manducare (meaning "to chew").

A manger is also a Christian symbol, associated with nativity scenes where Mary placed the baby Jesus in a manger. (Luke 2:7).
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manger


Frankincense or olibanum (Arabic language: لبٌان, lubbān) is an aromatic resin obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia, particularly Boswellia sacra (syn. B. carteri, B. thurifera) (Burseraceae). It is used in incense as well as in perfumes.

Frankincense is tapped from the very scraggly but hardy Boswellia tree through scraping the bark and allowing the exuded resins to bleed out and harden. These hardened resins are called tears. There are numerous species and varieties of frankincense trees, each producing a slightly different type of resin. Differences in soil and climate create even more diversity in the resin, even within the same species.

These trees are also considered unusual for their ability to grow in environments so unforgiving that the trees sometimes seem to grow directly out of solid rock. The deep roots prevent the tree from being torn away from the stone during the violent storms that frequent this region; the tears from these hardy survivors are considered superior due to their more fragrant aroma. The aroma from these tears are more valuable for their presumed healing abilities and are also said to have superior qualities for religious ritual.

Tapping is done 2 to 3 times a year with the final taps producing the best tears due to their higher aromatic terpene, sesquiterpene and diterpene content. High quality resin can be visually discerned through its level of opacity. Omani frankincense is said to be the best in the world, although quality resin is also produced in Yemen, and along the north coast of Somalia.

Recent studies have indicated that frankincense tree populations are declining due to over-exploitation. Heavily tapped trees have been found to produce seeds that germinate at only 16% while seeds of trees that had not been tapped germinate at more than 80%.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankincense


Myrrh is a reddish-brown resinous material, the dried sap of the tree Commiphora myrrha, native to Yemen, Somalia and the eastern parts of Ethiopia. The sap of a number of other Commiphora and Balsamodendron species are also known as myrrh, including that from C. erythraea (sometimes called East Indian myrrh), C. opobalsamum and Balsamodendron kua. Its name entered English via the Ancient Greek, μύρρα, which is probably of Semitic origin. Myrrh is also applied to the potherb Myrrhis odorata otherwise known as "Cicely" or "Sweet Cicely".

High quality myrrh can be identified through the darkness and clarity of the resin. However, the best method of judging the resin's quality is by feeling the stickiness of freshly broken fragments directly to determine the fragrant-oil content of the myrrh resin. The scent of raw myrrh resin and its essential oil is sharp, pleasant, somewhat bitter and can be roughly described as being "stereotypically resinous". When burned, it produces a smoke that is heavy, bitter and somewhat phenolic in scent, which may be tinged with a slight vanillic sweetness. Unlike most other resins, myrrh expands and "blooms" when burned instead of melting or liquefying.

The scent can also be used in mixtures of incense, to provide an earthy element to the overall smell, and as an additive to wine, a practice alluded to by ancient authorities such as Fabius Dorsennus. It is also used in various perfumes, toothpastes, lotions, and other modern toiletries.

Myrrh was used as an embalming ointment and was used, up until about the 15th century, as a penitential incense in funerals and cremations. The "holy oil" traditionally used by the Eastern Orthodox Church for performing the sacraments of chrismation and unction is traditionally scented with myrrh, and receiving either of these sacraments is commonly referred to as "receiving the Myrrh".
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myrrh

Heimlich maneuver

Abdominal thrusts, also known as the Heimlich Maneuver (after Henry Heimlich, who first described the procedure in a June 1974 informal article entitled "Pop Goes the Cafe Coronary", published in the journal Emergency Medicine). Edward A. Patrick, MD, PhD, an associate of Heimlich, has claimed to be the uncredited co-developer of the procedure. Heimlich has objected to the name "abdominal thrusts" on the grounds that the vagueness of the term "abdomen" could cause the rescuer to exert force at the wrong site.

Performing abdominal thrusts involves a rescuer standing behind a patient and using their hands to exert pressure on the bottom of the diaphragm. This compresses the lungs and exerts pressure on any object lodged in the trachea, hopefully expelling it. This amounts to an artificial cough.

Due to the forceful nature of the procedure, even when done correctly it can injure the person on whom it is performed. Bruising to the abdomen is highly likely and more serious injuries can occur, including fracture of the xiphoid process or ribs.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heimlich_maneuver#Abdominal_thrusts

Bobby Tonelli

Robert Tonelli Jr. aka Bobby Tonelli (born October 25, 1975) is an American actor of Italian descent who has appeared in several Hollywood films including Cages , Running Red, No Tomorrow, and Darwin Conspiracy

Early life
Bobby Tonelli was born in Las Vegas, Nevada to Robert and Marsha Tonelli. His father worked in the Casino industry from the early 1970's until his death in 2000. His mother owned and managed a local craftand antique store. Tonelli attended Chaparral High School in Las Vegas, NV and graduated in 1994. He had a promising career in Baseball as a pitcher until he suffered a rotator cuff injury that hindered his chances to pitch at the professional level. Tonelli attended several small colleges in California in hopes of rehabilitating his shoulder and professional baseball pitching career. Upon his decision to leave baseball in 1997, he fell into the fashion industry by chance where he traveled throughout South East Asia as a print and runway model. Working for companies such as Donna Karan, Versace, Levi's, and Louis Vuitton, and Fashion Show Producer Daniel Boey.
In 1998, Tonelli traveled to Europe to continue modeling where he also attended the The Actor's Centre in London, England, as well as several renowned coaches in the US (Ivana Chubbuck, Howard Fine, John Holma).

Tonelli's acting career consisted of smaller roles in Television and Feature Films from 1999-2004. In 2002, a chance meeting with Director Graham Streeter was when his involvement in the feature film Cages began. During this time he also starred in the experimental short "Hallelujah" also directed by Graham Streeter.

Because of his previous art background as an accomplished painter, Tonelli chose to paint all of the character Ethan's art in Cages.

In 2007 Bobby returned to Singapore where he was seen in the MediaCorp English Program Life Story featured as the American coach of Ang Peng Siong. He was One of the 6 contestants in the Art Central reality program The Food Bachelor. Bobby was in the Suria program Atas Heights, and now can be seen in the highly rated Channel 8 Drama The Little Nyonya Playing the part of Paul Robertson, a lawyer that helps Yueniang played by the actress Jeanette Aw. Bobby is currently in production on a Channel 5 drama series titled Fighting Spiders slated for release in March 2009.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Tonelli & http://www.bobbytonelli.com/


A divan is a type of couch-like sitting furniture.

Originally, in the Orient (especially the Ottoman Empire), a divan was a long seat formed of a mattress laid against the side of the room, upon the floor, or upon a raised structure or frame, with cushions to lean against.

Divans received this name because they were generally found along the walls in Middle Eastern council chambers of a bureau called divan or diwan (from Persian, meaning a government council or office, from the bundles of papers they processed, and next their council chambers). Divans are a common feature of the liwan, a long vaulted narrow room in Levantine homes. The sofa/couch sense was taken into English in 1702.

The divan in this sense has been commonly known in Europe certainly since about the middle of the 18th century. It was fashionable, roughly speaking, from 1820 to 1850, wherever the romantic movement in literature penetrated. All the boudoirs of that generation were garnished with divans. They even spread to coffee-houses, which were sometimes known as divans or Turkish divans, and a cigar divan remains a familiar expression.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divan_(furniture)


Self-selection is a term used to indicate any situation in which individuals select themselves into a group, causing a biased sample. It is commonly used to describe situations where the characteristics of the people which cause them to select themselves in the group create abnormal or undesirable conditions in the group.

Self-selection is a major problem in research in sociology, psychology, economics and many other social sciences.

Self-selection makes it difficult to determine causation. For example, one might note significantly higher test scores among those who participate in a test preparation course, and credit the course for the difference. However, due to self-selection, there are a number of differences between the people who chose to take the course and those who chose not to. Arguably, those who chose to take the course might have been more hard-working, studious, and dedicated than those who did not, and that difference in dedication may have affected the test scores between the two groups. If that was the case, then it is not meaningful to simply compare the two sets of scores. Due to self-selection, there were other factors affecting the scores than merely the course itself.

Self-selection causes problems for research about programs or products. In particular, self-selection makes it difficult to evaluate programs, to determine whether the program has some effect, and makes it difficult to do market research.

The term is also used in criminology to describe the process how specific predispositions would make an offender to choose a criminal career and lifestyle.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-selection


/gælˈvænɪk/ [gal-van-ik]
1. pertaining to or produced by galvanism; producing or caused by an electric current.
2. affecting or affected as if by galvanism; startling; shocking: the galvanic effect of his speech.
3. stimulating; energizing: Her galvanic presence brought the party to life.

Scorched earth

A scorched earth policy is a military strategy or operational method (possibly more often referred to as a tactic, but this is not entirely correct, as there is a difference between the terms) which involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area. Although initially referring to the practice of burning crops to deny the enemy food sources, in its modern usage the term is not limited to food stocks, and can include the destruction of shelter, transportation, communications and industrial resources. The practice may be carried out by an army in enemy territory, or its own home territory. It is often confused with the term "slash and burn", which is not a military method but rather an agricultural technique. It may overlap with, but is not the same as, punitive destruction of an enemy's resources, which is done for purely strategic/political rather than strategic/operational reasons.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scorched_earth

First-come, first-served

First come, first served (sometimes first-come, first-served or simply FCFS) is a service policy where by the requests of customers or clients are attended to in the order that they arrived, without other biases or preferences. The policy can be employed when processing sales orders, in determining restaurant seating, or on a taxi stand, for example.

Festival seating (also known as general seating and stadium seating) is seating done on a FCFS basis. See Riverfront Coliseum for details on a December 1979 disaster involving "festival seating" at a concert by The Who in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The practice is also becoming common among low-cost airlines in Europe where seats cannot be reserved either in advance or at check-in. These airlines allow passengers to board in small groups based upon their order of check-in and sit in whatever seat on the aircraft they wish to. On the basis of first come, first served, the earlier you check-in the earlier you board the aircraft to get the seat you want.

Southwest Airlines and major European low-cost airlines such as easyJet also apply first come, first served seating. Passengers are sequentially (on a first come, first served basis) assigned into one of three "boarding groups". The passengers then are boarded onto the plane in group-order.

The phrase is often but erroneously stated as "first come, first serve" (instead of "served"). This is an error because the phrase abbreviates the sentence "The first to come is the first to be served."

See FIFO (first-in, first-out) for the technical concept of the same policy.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-come,_first-served


5. joined or associated, esp. in an auxiliary or subordinate relationship.
6. attached or belonging without full or permanent status: an adjunct surgeon on the hospital staff.
Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/adjunct

Chandler Bing's job

Finally found out, in one of the Friends episodes, exactly what Chandler Bing, played by Matthew Perry does for a living. His wife Monica (Courtney Cox) was trying to dissuade him from taking up a career as vigilante copywriter in advertising when she quoted his job as "statistical analysis and data reconfiguration". Chandler then comments that she had to wait when he was changing jobs before she finally found out what he does.

Cool tricks with relative density by Adam Weiner

Is it magic? Is that aluminum foil boat floating on air? Well, no and no. What we literally don't see is that the bottom of that aquarium is filled with sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). Sulfur hexafluoride is a relatively nonreactive gas that has a density of about five times that of air. It's also transparent.

So, if you make a boat with a light enough hull - out of aluminum foil for example - although its density is going to be greater than air, it just might be less than SF6, and it's going to float there all day given the chance. (Remember, for a boat the density is the total mass of the hull, plus the air space within, divided by the total volume.) To sink the foil boat all you have to do is bail some of the gas into the boat, increasing its density until it submerges - just like with a boat in water.

Another property of sulfur hexafluoride was demonstrated on an episode of Mythbusters a while back. Because sound travels more slowly in SF6 than it does in air, if you breathe it into the lungs, it causes the vocal cords to vibrate at a lower frequency than they do in air, resulting in an abnormally deep voice. It's well known that helium, which is less dense than air, produces the opposite effect - that comically high-pitched voice (sometimes demonstrated at parties) if you inhale it and speak. Be aware that inhaling either of these gases displaces oxygen from the lungs, and done to excess can be dangerous.

Nevertheless, with a few liters of sulfur hexafluoride, you can make your own aluminum foil regatta too. Whatever floats your boat!
Source: http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2008-12/whatever-floats-your-boat

Whatever floats your boat

Anyone know the origin?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Economics of the Great Despression by Eric Carbonnel

Most people think that the United States is borrowing most of the world’s savings to fund the deficit. Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, who is presiding over ever higher inflation rates, even made a speech in 2005 called “The Global Savings Glut and the U.S. Current Account Deficit.”

The speech makes it sound as if the rest of the world has way too much savings, so much so that they don’t know what to do with it except loan it to the United States.

People think that the excess dollars that go overseas due to the U.S. trade deficit are being loaned back to us. This is not entirely true. To be sure, there is a lot of real foreign investment happening in the United States, but it’s not nearly to the extend reported.

So where does all that extra currency that purchases all those U.S. Treasury Bills to fund a large part of the deficit come from?

The countries that are the U.S.’s major trading partners create it.

China is the best example. When someone in the U.S. buys something in the U.S. that was made in China, that U.S. vendor bought that product from a Chinese businessman and paid in U.S. dollars.

The Chinese businessman then deposits those dollars into his checking account at his local Chinese bank. The bank then converts those dollars to yuan, the official Chinese currency. Now, the local bank has a glut of dollars and a shortage of yuan, so it sells the extra dollars to the People’s Bank of China and buys more yuan.

As long as the trade between the two countries is in equilibrium there is no problem with this. But when one country is running continuous trade deficits and the other continuous surpluses, as the United States and China currently are, a problem arises.

In the case of China, because there is more currency flowing into China than out, the People’s Bank of China ends up with a huge glut of U.S. dollars. Under the rules of the game of international trade and currency exchange they are supposed to sell those excess dollars on the Forex (foreign exchange market) and buy yuan.

But that would mean that there would be a glut of dollars and a shortage of yuan, which would cause the dollar to fall in value and the yuan to rise.

This means Chinese goods would then become very expensive in the U.S., slowing China’s exports, and that’s the last thing China wants.

So to get around the international trade and currency exchange game, China bends the rules. The People’s Bank of China takes the extra dollars and neutralizes them by buying a dollar-denomenated asset, most often some sort of interest-bearing investment instrument, like U.S. Treasuries.

This keeps the yuan from rising and the dollar from falling.

This is known as “neutralizing” or “sterilizing” excess currency inflows. The funny thing is that the U.S. was doing the same thing by sterilizing excess gold inflows all through the 1920s to keep the dollar artificially low and exports up, and it was one of the major factors that contributed to the Great Depression.

So if the People’s Bank of China used excess dollars to buy U.S. Treasuries, and didn’t buy the yuan on the Forex to sell to the businessman’s local bank, where did the People’s Bank of China get the yuan?

Answer: China creates it!

During recent years, the U.S.’s current account deficit has been financed primarily by money created by the central banks of other countries, in particular China.

Therefore, it is not a matter of the United States using up all the rest of the world’s savings to fund its deficit. It is a matter of the deficit being financed by the central banks of the United States’ trading partners, and, for their part, Asian central banks in particular have consistently demonstrated their ability and willingness to create money in order to finance the U.S.’s current account deficit.

So China is now sterilizing excess currently inflows just like the United States did in the 1920s. But why hasn’t China fallen into a depression like the U.S. did when it played the sterilization game?

Because China has added a little twist.

In the 1920s, Europe paid for U.S. imports with gold, and the Federal Reserve would cheat gold by locking it away instead of expanding the currency supply to match, thereby preventing the commensurate inflation it would have caused, keeping the price of U.S. goods low, and insuring a continuing trade surplus.

This was hugely deflationary.

As the rest of the world bought cheap American goods, gold would just disappear into the black hole of the Federal Reserve and the world money supply would contract.

And when currency contracts, deflation ensues.

When China sterilizes excess currency inflows, however, it’s extremely inflationary. For every excess dollar that China neutralizes by buying U.S. Treasuries, the People’s Bank of China has to conjure up a commensurate amount of yuan out of thin air.


As a result of all the currency games being played by China (and other countries), the total U.S. deficit has grown to over $7 trillion since the dollar was taken off the gold standard by President Nixon in 1971. These deficits are sustained by fiat currency from other central banks around the world.

All the while, these foreign banks are hoarding ever increasing amounts of U.S. debt (in the form of Treasuries) and artificially propping up the value of the dollar.

Much of our debt cannot be repaid, and if our trade partners begin to dump U.S. Treasuries on the world markets, the whole credit bubble will implode, resulting in a worldwide depression.

The longer governments and central banks try to cheat the free markets, the greater the pain will be when the correction occurs. Remember, in the end, fixed markets lose, and free markets always win.

I believe that inflation has slowed in China due to fears about deflation. When those fears fade, inflation picks up again and China will sell dollars to save its currency. This hyperinflation in China combined with the crashing value of the dollar will cause most fiat currencies to lose all value and will spell the end of the world's paper based currency system.
Source: http://www.marketskeptics.com/2009/01/economics-of-great-depression.html

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Origin of The Twelve Days of Christmas

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics.

It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

One true love refers to God.

Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

Three French hens stood for Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues.

The four calling birds were the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.

The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

Seven swans a-swimming represented the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments: Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

Nine ladies dancing were the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

The ten lords a-leaping were the Ten Commandments.

The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful apostles.

The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Operant conditioning

Operant conditioning is the use of consequences to modify the occurrence and form of behavior. Operant conditioning is distinguished from classical conditioning (also called respondent conditioning, or Pavlovian conditioning) in that operant conditioning deals with the modification of "voluntary behavior" or operant behavior. Operant behavior "operates" on the environment and is maintained by its consequences, while classical conditioning deals with the conditioning of respondent behaviors which are elicited by antecedent conditions. Behaviors conditioned via a classical conditioning procedure are not maintained by consequences.

Reinforcement and punishment, the core tools of operant conditioning, are either positive (delivered following a response), or negative (withdrawn following a response). This creates a total of four basic consequences, with the addition of a fifth procedure known as extinction (i.e. no change in consequences following a response).

It's important to note that organisms are not spoken of as being reinforced, punished, or extinguished; it is the response that is reinforced, punished, or extinguished. Additionally, reinforcement, punishment, and extinction are not terms whose use is restricted to the laboratory. Naturally occurring consequences can also be said to reinforce, punish, or extinguish behavior and are not always delivered by people.
- Reinforcement is a consequence that causes a behavior to occur with greater frequency.
- Punishment is a consequence that causes a behavior to occur with less frequency.
- Extinction is the lack of any consequence following a behavior. When a behavior is inconsequential, producing neither favorable nor unfavorable consequences, it will occur with less frequency.

Four contexts of operant conditioning: Here the terms "positive" and "negative" are not used in their popular sense, but rather: "positive" refers to addition, and "negative" refers to subtraction. What is added or subtracted may be either reinforcement or punishment. Hence positive punishment is sometimes a confusing term, as it denotes the addition of punishment (such as spanking or an electric shock), a context that may seem very negative in the lay sense. The four procedures are:
1. Positive reinforcement occurs when a behavior (response) is followed by a favorable stimulus (commonly seen as pleasant) that increases the frequency of that behavior. In the Skinner box experiment, a stimulus such as food or sugar solution can be delivered when the rat engages in a target behavior, such as pressing a lever.
2. Negative reinforcement occurs when a behavior (response) is followed by the removal of an aversive stimulus (commonly seen as unpleasant) thereby increasing that behavior's frequency. In the Skinner box experiment, negative reinforcement can be a loud noise continuously sounding inside the rat's cage until it engages in the target behavior, such as pressing a lever, upon which the loud noise is removed.
3. Positive punishment (also called "Punishment by contingent stimulation") occurs when a behavior (response) is followed by an aversive stimulus, such as introducing a shock or loud noise, resulting in a decrease in that behavior.
4. Negative punishment (also called "Punishment by contingent withdrawal") occurs when a behavior (response) is followed by the removal of a favorable stimulus, such as taking away a child's toy following an undesired behavior, resulting in a decrease in that behavior.

- Avoidance learning is a type of learning in which a certain behavior results in the cessation of an aversive stimulus. For example, performing the behavior of shielding one's eyes when in the sunlight (or going indoors) will help avoid the aversive stimulation of having light in one's eyes.
- Extinction occurs when a behavior (response) that had previously been reinforced is no longer effective. In the Skinner box experiment, this is the rat pushing the lever and being rewarded with a food pellet several times, and then pushing the lever again and never receiving a food pellet again. Eventually the rat would cease pushing the lever.
- Noncontingent reinforcement refers to delivery of reinforcing stimuli regardless of the organism's (aberrant) behavior. The idea is that the target behavior decreases because it is no longer necessary to receive the reinforcement. This typically entails time-based delivery of stimuli identified as maintaining aberrant behavior, which serves to decrease the rate of the target behavior. As no measured behavior is identified as being strengthened, there is controversy surrounding the use of the term noncontingent "reinforcement".

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operant_conditioning

Martial law

Martial law is the system of rules that takes effect when the military takes control of the normal administration of justice.

Martial law is sometimes imposed during wars or occupations in the absence of any other civil government. Examples of this form of military rule include Germany and Japan after World War II or the American South during the early stages of Reconstruction. In addition it is used by governments to enforce their rule, for example after a coup d'état (Thailand 2006), when threatened by popular protests (Tiananmen Square protests of 1989), or to crack down on the opposition (Poland 1981). Martial law can also be declared in cases of major natural disasters; however most countries use a different legal construct, such as a "state of emergency".

In many countries martial law imposes particular rules, one of which is curfew. Often, under this system, the administration of justice is left to a military tribunal, called a court-martial. The suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is likely to occur.

Takuya Kimura - Gatsby Moving Rubber