Japanese Gardens

Stumbled Across this one. Well Designed site of Kyoto gardens.



I have been remiss in addressing many issues on this forum, let alone keeping up with the current events. I do apologise as there is much to be said, and much to be reported. Zeitgest is a propaganda film worth seeing. It addresses a very rough history of the origin of the Christian myth in Western Mythology with connections to astrology. This is somewhat interesting and entertaining though by no means a BBC documentary. Next, a stright up 9-11 Truth Conspiracy section (which I dont buy and do not recommend) ended with an informative and largely correct section on the origins, illegality, and fraud that genuinely is the Federal Reserve Banking Cartel.

Zeitgeist Addendum, the sequel, is even better. It refreshes us to the problems, and again addresses the Federal Reserve, fractional banking fiasco. It misunderstands monetary dynamics and fundamental economics in many respects,but makes some excelent points. Next it features the Economic Hitman followed by ample time to a living treasure, Jacque Fresco, and the Venus Project. .

By the way, I visited Jacque last march in Venus and will have more to say on him including a filmed interview.

In telling you to watch these films, know also that I do not agree with at least 50% of its assertions and analyses. Please also read and watch the criticisms which have merit, ironically coming from other Conspiracy Theorits who agree with most of the major premises but not the analyses or conclusions. Alex Jones. G Edward Griffin.

From Griffen:

All of the evils to which this program alludes are the result, not of the free enterprise system, but of the abandonment of free enterprise and the adoption of collectivism. This program creates a mythological boogeyman and then advocates more of the very thing that has brought us to the mess we are in today.

I think it is safe to say that money, trade and free enterprise as general technological systems are not the root of all our problems as Zeitgeist suggests. The redistribution of wealth is debatable as are laws and restrictions of markets and limitation of free contract. Money however is an inevitable property of combining scarcity, divisibility, transferability, durability and common perceived value.

The real battle emerging is between collectivist central-planning green technocrats - and the libertarian, self-sufficient, privacy-loving anarcho-Capitalists - perhaps these should be our emerging and conflicting dominant paradigms. Throw in some chaos from Fundamentalist Abrahamic Apocalypse Cult Fascists and Nihilists. Welcome to the Future.

The Trade

Go long Gold with stocks like GLD or more securely with a VIA MAT vault and private, tradable, liquid market through BullionVault. Higher priced GoldMoney is an alternative. With BullionVaut you can buy and sell gold in London, Zurich and New York.

Go long other precious/industrial metals: Silver (SLV, Goldmoney, and soon BullionVault), Platinum (PHPT), Palladium (PHPD), Copper (COPA), Steel

Go long the mineral slime Crude Oil (CRUD) and oil services companies particularly non-American companies. American Oil companies make huge profits and will make even more in the near future, but they could easily become subject to Windfall Profits Taxes under an Obama Administration. PetroChina (PTR) Petrobras (PZE) etc.

Go long Agricultural Commodities: Wheat (WEAT), corn, rice, cotton etc.

Go long Dividend Paying Value stocks in non-American companies, especially in the Developing World, that have strong balance sheets and are essential for civilisation. This includes mining companies, utility companies, etc. Later I will provide some specific recommendations.

America is a sinking ship. The Titanic really was struck on September 11, 2001 when the wars began, and the Federal Reserve began lowering interest rates, effectively rolling the Dot Com bubble into the Financial and Housing Bubbles which have just collapsed. Perversely we are now in the strange situation where investors are investing more in the unsinkable Titanic empire because they think it is more stable than any alternatives. As a result, the final bubble which has yet to burst is the United States Dollar bubble. The profligate borrowing, consumption, and deficit spending by the American Government and American Consumer has limits. When those limits are finally reached and the World decides to stop throwing good money after bad in lending to the United States, there will likely be a hyper-inflationary spiral, exchange controls, potential rationing of goods, and socialisation of most remaining wealth in the United States through taxation and inflation. No indication from the political leaders entering power suggests otherwise.

Now is a phase of the financial market in which traditionally safe strategies such as going long AAA bonds, going long Blue Chip companies, holding cash in a bank, or holding cash in a mattress do not make sense as a means to preserve let alone appreciate wealth. Given the artificially low interest rates, and regular "liquidity injections" on the order on trillions of dollars, there is naught but destruction of the value of the dollar in the post. In this scenario, if one has good credit and can borrow at a low interest rate - borrowing to invest in commodities and non-US assets could be a brilliant leveraged play for those with some risk tolerance. It is in effect a short sale of the US Dollar.

Currencies such as the Yen and CHF are probably safer plays than most others, but they are still fiat currencies exposed to political risk of inflation and devaluation.

Lastly, listen to Peter Schiff (Video, Radio Show) and Jim Rodgers (Video) and make up your own mind. Also read through the many pieces I have shared through Google Reader on the topics of the Federal Reserve Bank and the Financial Markets.

Warning: All trading and "investing" is gambling and involves exposure to losses in real wealth.


Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley deserves great attention for his deep intellect as well as his analysis of the human condition and the potentials for human life and society and the dangers of power and control enabled by emerging technology.  Huxley, who wrote 'Brave New World' in the 1930s clearly saw much more clearly into the future than most other major intellectuals of his day.  To that end listen to Huxley's "Ultimate Revolution" speech at UC Santa Barbara March 20, 1962.  

Q & A

Lastly, read his books.


The Wire

Available on any major torrent tracker, the HBO's 5-season television series The Wire is one of the best shows ever made. The Wire focuses on organized crime, drug abuse, poverty, social services, law enforcement, and politics in the city of Baltimore, Maryland. The Baltimore inner city, like so many inner cities in America, has gone from a once developing industrialised center to a third world backwards wasteland of despair and violence. The fuel for this downward spiral is not surprisingly the war on drugs and its selective or sporadic enforcement and large profit potentials for dealers and suppliers. In contrast to "the game" of drug dealing and related crime, there exist precious few realistically attainable economic alternatives than a life of crime and violence for those born into it. The series addresses all of these issues directly, deeply, and poignantly. The show proves its social value by making it clear that the most effective way to address the disastrous economic situation of the inner-city is to decriminalise all forms of drug sale and use whilst allowing a protected environment for various charitable and social services to administer care to those in need unhindered. Besides its value for the exploration of American inner city life, corruption, and social ills, The Wire entertains and captivates with well-developed, interesting characters at all levels of position and power. Watch consecutively and in order.

9.7 IMDB rating.

The creators of the Wire have a new mini-series, Generation Kill, on HBO.


Impeach Bush, Impeach Cheney

I am watching live Dennis Kucinich calling for the Impeachment of the President and Vice President on the floor of the House. Rep. Kucinich is one of only a small handful of honest politicians in Washington. You can look for this speech on cspan.org or youtube. This post by Brad DeLong outlines some of the impeachable offenses:

David Kurtz writes:

Talking Points Memo | Phase II: Here are the key points from the reports, according to a press release from Sen. Jay Rockefeller's office:

  • Statements and implications by the President and Secretary of State suggesting that Iraq and al-Qa'ida had a partnership, or that Iraq had provided al-Qa'ida with weapons training, were not substantiated by the intelligence.
  • Statements by the President and the Vice President indicating that Saddam Hussein was prepared to give weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups for attacks against the United States were contradicted by available intelligence information.
  • Statements by President Bush and Vice President Cheney regarding the postwar situation in Iraq, in terms of the political, security, and economic, did not reflect the concerns and uncertainties expressed in the intelligence products.
  • Statements by the President and Vice President prior to the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate regarding Iraq's chemical weapons production capability and activities did not reflect the intelligence community's uncertainties as to whether such production was ongoing.
  • The Secretary of Defense's statement that the Iraqi government operated underground WMD facilities that were not vulnerable to conventional airstrikes because they were underground and deeply buried was not substantiated by available intelligence information.
  • The Intelligence Community did not confirm that Muhammad Atta met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001 as the Vice President repeatedly claimed.

These gross violations by Richard Cheney and George W. Bush to take care that the laws be faithfully executed are High Crimes, demanding immediate impeachment and removal from office.



K and the more comprehensible Q are languages created by Artur Whitney based on APL. Kdb+ is the database system and interpreter for these languages. Kdb+ allows extremely efficient analysis of high-volume real-time and historic data simultaneously in a column based database. At $100,000 per Dual-Core Processor license, K is absurdly priced and only affordable for large financial institutions and the United States military. K is a vector based language with analogies to mathematics and human language. Nearly every character represents either a noun, verb, or adverb allowing extremely terse and efficient development and processing for those who are able to wrap their heads around the syntax.

K is powerful enough that an experienced quantitative analyst with the full range of tools could go from an idea, to a full tick-level back-test, to a fully deployed trading system in under an hour.

While this product is unfordable to nearly everyone in its full form, Kx Systems has released a limited version of the software free of charge. I highly recommend anyone interested in computer languages, analysis, finance, etc. to download and explore this amazing software which takes less than 200 KB on disk including the interpreter, an http server, and socket connectivity!

As a final note for those with a particular interest in providing programming services, it is our understanding that a capable K programmer averages about $250,000 per year working for a large investment institution.


Population Control

The concept of being "Green" is gaining increasing momentum in the developed world. One hopes that the removal of the Bush regime from power will result in improved legislation to slow the decline of the Earth's natural wealth which is being rapidly depleted. Bush aside, no major policy leader in any nation except China has bothered to propose measures to curb the growth of population. Meanwhile, European countries and many other countries have policies which encourage childbirth and increasing population seemingly to support their aging and selfishly infertile populations whilst reducing the need for importation of foreign labourers. While the economic decisions of humans are ultimately to blame for most environmental destruction, the quantity of humans certainly contributes directly to these problems as does the population of any pest species. We have already mentioned on this blog the 12 Monkeys scenario. In the spirit of Malthus, population limitation must be made a priority for governments. If measures are taken quickly to impose limits on population growth, 12 Monkeys can be avoided.

Unlike most of human history, we are now at a stage of having not just exceeded, but having overwhelmed the carrying capacity of our environment given the standard of living that we demand. In the absence of extremely harsh environmental regulation and economic restriction, Reproduction can no longer be seen as a right, but as a privilege, one which must be approved and earned by the collective authority. China's template solution allows only one child per couple and imposes varying degrees of penalties for any violations. A better solution would be one of progressive taxation. The degree of progression could be debated, but the overall outcome should be a birthrate which is less than or equal to the deathrate.

Such scheme would also have a positive effect on economic development, education, economic opportunity, and wealth per capita in nearly every region on Earth.


Room Temperature Superconductivity

If the research conducted by a Canadian and German team proves valid, scientists will have made an enormous leap by creating a room temperature superconductor with highly compressed Silane, SiH4. Superconductors can transmit electricity with miniscule resistance thus reducing energy loss. Since electric current generates magnetic fields, superconductors are required to generate enormously strong and sustained magnetic fields. MRI machines and the Large Hadron Collider at Geneve, Suisse are examples of the application of superconductors, but require expensive cooling.

A significant application of cheap superconductivity would be magnetic levitation.

*Update - I have been informed by an astronomer that the pressures required to acheive this (in the gigaPascals or millions of Atmospheres) are far in excess of anything we could engineer for industrial purposes, and are akin to the pressures existing at the center of Jupiter where hydrogen is metalic. We will have to keep waiting for cheap, practical room temperature superconductors.


Creative Zen

I have been the happy user of an Apple iPod 4th generation for a few years now. Aside from issues of hard drive failure, I was impressed most especially with the sleek design of the device, elegant in form and function, intuitive to navigate, and possible to control with one thumb often without looking. With the advent of the video iPod, the inevitable successor, Apple began falling into old, protectionist, sclerotic patterns. The formats which will play on the video iPod are limited only to Apple's proprietary format, supporting neither divx nor xvid, the most common formats for compressed digital video. Instead the video iPod owner was forced to convert their videos to Apple's format or even to rip their own DVDs. The Apple format is itself very low quality and conversion further destroys quality.

Last Christmas, while Apple was cashing in on $300 Video or Touch iPods and $2000 iPhones (inclusive of contract) I gave my partner a $150 refurbished Creative Zen M player. It is as good as new, for half the price of a video iPod. The Zen plays all the major video formats. I was really sold on it when a friend pointed out divx and xvid capability and the A/V converter cable available for $5 delivered. It allows one to watch video content from the Zen on a television in high quality. Creative further does not impose any inane software requirements to use their products, ie iTunes and the inexcusable Quicktime. For anyone interested in a portable media player, I strongly suggest considering Creative products.

Apple seems to have some major philosophical shortcomings: image over substance, dominance over compatibility. They have been guilty of this from the beginning. Though they are first to market with very nicely designed products, their greediness in trying to dominate their market and every file format that is used on their system or software that runs on their platform ultimately alienates users and erodes market share.

If you want an iPod, consider Creative: the interface is not as slick as Apple, but they are more functional and cheaper than the Apple version.


GWT Conference

In December of 2007, I attended the Voices that Matter: Google Web Toolkit conference in San Francisco. This was my first professional technical conference and I found it a very valuable experience. I had only been coding webpages for a year since discovering this technology. I was all at once surrounded by all the developers and experts who could answer all my questions and teach me so much more besides.

I was particularly interested to meet the engineers from Google, the company that fascinates me, gives me hope, inspiration, and a little envy. They were all brilliant, nerdy people as I suspected, deserving to work for the top firm in the world. All of my hopes for Google as a benevolent and beneficent force in society were strengthened and confirmed by the conference. If I have not said enough already about it, this technology is wonderful for any java developer looking to develop a web application. I have developed front-end database applications with this, basic marketing websites, and furthermore have developed a financial trading application with it, all in java with no knowledge of javascript or DOM.

I commend the Palace Hotel for hosting the conference and Prentice Hall and Addison-Wesley for doing a magnificent job organising and filming the conference. All the videos from every session are freely available on youtube.

Furthermore, given the wonderful time I had seeing friends and relatives in the area, I am all the more convinced that the Bay Area as the capital of technology is a good place for a person like me to establish myself. It has a horribly lacking transportation system unfortunately, but adequate enough if you have 2 hours to get from A to B. European engineers ought to redesign the entire infrastructure.

Panasonic Toughbook CF-74 Review

Here is a video of a Panasonic Toughbook, and another. Pansonic's line of well designed, and durable laptops is far superior to any other I have seen. Their retail price is absurdly high for this, but somehow maintain a more reasonable secondary market (ie ebay) where they can be found at a more reasonable price. My new CF-74 Semi-rugged laptop with 4 GB RAM cost $1750 on ebay.

It has a touchscreen! It is not a tablet that swivels, but of course other Panasonic models do have that. Using a stylus rather than a mouse or touchpad on a portable device is very nice. The electronic outlets like USB, card slot, and monitor output are well protected by covers. The built in handle is fantastic, and this thing is durable enough that I could beat and assailant while it was running and it probably would not impact performance, though I have not tried. I have not examined thoroughly what technology they have regarding disk drive breaking during device acceleration as the Macbooks have. Nonetheless the hard drives are also said to be well protected. It is highly water resistant and the battery lasts for 5 or 6 hours.

If you are willing to pay a bit extra for a truly well made and useful machine, I recommend buying a CF-74 if you can find it for under $2000.

I do want to mention that there seems to be no support for Linux on this device. Virtualising obviously should be no problem, but it is annoying to be condemned to Windows to be able to utilise all the hardware devices such as touch screen. I will report my results when I really start messing around with it.

A word on Macs: the Macbook pro I used last year with 2 GB runs about $2500. After a year of use, I acknowledge that the OS is nice to have. The capability of Apple, a Unix based very flashy graphical OS to also Parallelise Windows and Linux is impressive, but overall, Macs are just attractive designer products and trendy status symbols. They are not at all worth their price tag when it comes to productivity or usefulness. Anyone hardcore about Unix like my astrophysicist friends runs Linux on a cheaper machine like a Lenovo Thinkpad. Those machines can virtualise Windows or emulate using WINE as needed. My cousin who is a professional film maker does well to have a MacBook pro, but I would not recommend a Mac to anyone outside that field at this point.