Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Violence linked to recession

NVDL: This - syburban violence - is going to be one of the most disturbing trends to emerge. Others will follow, including shortages and ordinary starvation. I was listening to the CEO of Mutual and Federal today (a South African insurer) who says weather related claims were up 30% year on year. Our troubles are escalating at an alarming rate.
clipped from news.yahoo.com
6 killed in home shooting in Santa Clara, Calif.

Atlanta –
Four Oakland, Calif., police officers shot down. An Alabama man strolling a small town with a rifle, looking for victims. Seven elderly people shot dead at a North Carolina nursing home. And on Sunday, six people, including four kids, died in an apparent murder-suicide in an upscale neighborhood in Santa Clara, Calif.

The details in all these cases are still emerging. In most, the exact motive has yet to be determined – or may never be fully understood.

On a broader level, however, such incidents may be happening more often because an increasing number of Americans feel desperate pressure from job losses and other economic hardship, criminologists say.

"Most of these mass killings are precipitated by some catastrophic loss, and when the economy goes south, there are simply more of these losses," says Jack Levin, a noted criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston.
Six dead in California shooting: police
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Times Nukes Itself On Google

The goal was to fold iht.com into nytimes.com. Fair enough; combining the two sites could have resulted in more juice for the newspaper under Google's PageRank algorithm by combining the strong reputations of the two major newspaper sites.

But the Times executed wrong.

NVDL: Scary how little these guys know.
clipped from gawker.com

The Times' longtime online chief, Martin Niesenholtz, recently whined that a Google search on the word "Gaza" didn't include any of his content on the first results page. And yet he just nuked 121,000 of his own articles containing that keyword.

That doesn't sound like the behavior of a self-improving, down-and-out newspaper exec but of a self-destructive long-term welfare recipient. As a certain newspaper put it 16 years ago, those sorts of people do themselves and their dependents "little good" and are the marker of a system that "isn't working very well." Google should tell the Times to take its own advice and fix its own systemic problems before asking for endless handouts.

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Marilize van Emmenis SMS: “Jy moet liewer stilbly. Jy gaan spyt wees …” [PICTURE]

Sy het vir hom gelieg en gesê dis nie sy in die video nie.
“Save my nommer op jou foon; as jy enige inligting kry, bel my.”
“Ek het gedink dis verby.”
Toe begin mense by hul huis verby ry.
En die Donderdag ná die voorbladberig kom drie ouens by haar ma se huis aan en vra haar weer uit.
“As hulle my uitgelos het, sou ek nooit gepraat het nie. Maar ek het bang geraak. Ek was bang ek verdwyn of kom iets oor.”

NVDL: Hmmm...I thought it wasn't Joost. Strange that everyone in this story are born-again Christinas, including van Emmenis. Meanwhile Joost has been fired by Supersport.

clipped from jv.news24.com
Marilize van Emmenis was ses weke gelede besig om haar babatjie te bad toe die duiwel by haar losgebars het.
Haar onbesonnenheid net meer as twee jaar gelede in ’n rugbyafrigter se huis in Pretoria saam met een van Suid-Afrika se grootste sporthelde het haar onverwags ingehaal.
“Ek dink dis jy op die voorblad,” was die strekking van ’n telefoonoproep wat sy dié Sondagoggend, 15 Februarie, ontvang het.
Dit was.
Sy het dorp toe gejaag om Rapport te koop.

Die wilde tyd in haar lewe was sonder waarskuwing terug: Die klein sitkamertjie. Die uitlokkende kleertjies. Die toilet. Die handsak. Die video. Die Cat. Die kondoom. Die amoreuse man.
Dit was ’n tyd in haar lewe wat sy gedink het sy het vir goed agtergelaat.
Destyds was sy “Jennifer” (21), die “malkoppie” van Pretoria. Die onverantwoordelike, rebelse meisie.
Sy het vir haar ma gejok oor haar mislukte modeontwerp-kursus.
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Wall Street's March rally on hold; market decides run is 'not justifed'

With the economy still deeply troubled, some analysts say Wall Street may have gotten ahead of itself.

"I think we had a huge run up ... that was not really justified," said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook investments. "There are a lot of negatives right now on the horizon."

Crude oil tumbled $3.97, or 7.6 percent, to settle at $47.99 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

NVDL: Good to see an American President that has some common sense for a change.
clipped from finance.yahoo.com

Related Quotes

Chart for GEN MOTORS

NEW YORK (AP) -- Wall Street's March rally is on hold after the White House rejected turnaround plans from General Motors Corp. and Chrysler and gave investors an economic reality check.

Major indexes fell about 3 percent Monday, including the Dow Jones industrial average, which lost about 254 points but finished well off its lows. Financial stocks weighed heavily on the market amid worries that banks will need fresh injections of capital.

Fears of an automaker bankruptcy have been looming over investors for months, and the latest developments, which included the removal of GM's CEO Rick Wagoner, made the market uneasy not only about the industry, but the overall economy. However, analysts said the pullback, which began with a 148-point drop in the Dow Friday, wasn't surprising after the average surged 21 percent over just 13 days.

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Hollywood Magic moves Closer to Holodeck

Movies are really becoming the imagination incarnate. But the credit crunch is slowing that trend of innovation down.
clipped from blog.wired.com
High-end filmmakers aren't just making movies these days. They're building virtual worlds before shooting a single frame of film, using digital tools that blur the lines between animation and live-action, virtual sets and physical soundstage, photorealistic cartoon characters and motion-captured human beings.

Over the past few years, digital moviemakers have mastered new technologies and learned to micromanage massive teams in order to bring complex collaborative visions to the screen. The goal: to create truly immersive movies that knock the socks off even the most jaded moviegoer.

Unlike previous 3-D cartoons, Monsters vs. Aliens was conceptualized from the get-go as a story designed for depth.

"It's a whole new language," Katzenberg said of the powerful new tools at filmmakers' disposal. "It's going to have to be learned and taught."


DreamWorks' McNally predicts an ever-escalating succession of mind-blowing spectacle.

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NBA earns $25 000 on TWITTER

Mark Cuban was fined $25,000 after becoming upset about a foul that wasn't called on Smith.
clipped from tech.yahoo.com
DALLAS - The NBA slapped Mavericks owner Mark Cuban with a $25,000 fine Sunday for publicly criticizing the officials after Denver's 103-101 win over Dallas.

Cuban used the Twitter online social network to complain after Friday night's game that Denver's J.R. Smith was not called for coming off the bench to taunt Antoine Wright after he missed a shot near the Nuggets bench.

Cuban said in another posting Sunday that he "can't say no one makes money from twitter now. the nba does."

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The World's First EV: 1886 Mercedes Benz

NVDL: Not bad but I think I'll stick to my bicycle for now.
clipped from www.gizmag.com
1886 Mercedes Benz patent car

Mercedes Benz has released pictures of an intriguing (if not practical) design study where century old tradition meets transport technologies of the future. The historical roots of the F-CELL Roadster are immediately recognizable in its large spoked wheels that hark back to the the first car developed by Karl Benz in 1886. Pair this with a modern-day hybrid drive system with a 1.2 kW (1.6 hp) electric motor powered by small fuel cell and you have one very modern roadster in a classic quadricycle package.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

US Stimulus: "Road to Recovery" = "Road to Hell"

Capital is as big an “input” for our method of farming as diesel fuel or fertilizers made from methane gas. The failure of banking will combine with city and state insolvency to crush public transit, law enforcement, fire protection, and whatever flimsy local safety nets exist to keep the ultra-poor and helpless from die-off. The lowering of living standards by 20 to 50 percent essentially eliminates all but the must critical commerce, meaning that most of the stores in the malls and strip malls lose their customers and shed employees, while the mall and strip mall owners lose their rents, and the bankers lose performing commercial real estate loans. As all this occurs, tax revenues go way down, schools can’t pay their employees or buy diesel fuel for their yellow bus fleets. More people lose the ability to carry health insurance. Hospital emergency rooms are overwhelmed. Health care descends to Third World levels. Meanwhile, pensions are destroyed, the elderly live on dog food and ketchup. . . . - James Kunstler

NVDL: I have not supported the bail out from the start. It was ill-conceived. It was based on an idea that 'something cannot fail". Well it has and it should. Bailing out the automakers was dumb, bailing out the world's bank insurer even dumber. There were far better ways to employ those bonusses...err...I mean funds for bonusses. But then I guess it depends on who you are. if you're rich, it was right, if it was your taxpayer dollars, it was a swindle in broad daylight.
clipped from news.yahoo.com
Czech government collapses, economy to blame

BRUSSELS – The head of the European Union slammed President Barack Obama's plan to spend nearly $2 trillion to push the U.S. economy out of recession as "the road to hell" that EU governments must avoid.

It was the strongest pushback yet from a European leader as the 27-nation bloc bristles from U.S. criticism that it is not spending enough to stimulate demand.
Czech Prime Minister  Mirek Topolanek  delivers his speech Wednesday March 25,

To encourage banks to lend again, the U.S. government will also pump $1 trillion into the financial system by buying up treasury bonds and mortgage securities in an effort to clear some of the "toxic assets" — devalued and untradeable assets — from banks' balance sheets.

Obama insisted Tuesday that his massive budget proposal will put the ailing U.S. economy back on its feet. "This budget is inseparable from this recovery," he said, "because it is what lays the foundation for a secure and lasting prosperity."
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Barry Ronge - Quote of the Day

The history of this country has always involved an “us and them” division. It started with the Dutch settlers and the indigenous populations who saw their land annexed and their freedom curtailed by the colonial invaders.

Then it became the Brits against the Dutch Boers, warring factions that agreed on only one thing, and that was the exclusion of all people of other races.

NVDL: The future for people in South Africa and beyond will probably include an even stronger affiliation to us vs them, strictly in terms of the haves versus the have nots.
clipped from www.thetimes.co.za
We’ve got a bankrupt national airline; a bankrupt national broadcaster; drug busts at OR Tambo and Heathrow; and a seemingly endless revelation of executive corruption at the highest level.
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Don't believe in God eh? Well, go to church anyway - it's time to start becoming a community [Oh and quit believing 'He who dies with the most toys wins.']

In the next few years, it is likely that some form of relocalization will be needed. In the USA, churches may be good centers for this type of activity, because many people are already members of a church, and have many friends there. (In Europe, I would expect the situation to be different.) This reason, apart from any other, might be a reason why some Oil Drum members might want to join a church (or other local religious group), even if a person doesn't agree with all of the beliefs.

NVDL: Great article from The Oil Drum.
clipped from www.theoildrum.com

Examples of Belief Systems

It seems like we encounter quite a number of secular belief systems, such as:

1. The Oil Drum, and our message

2. Contemporary economic theory (several different flavors)

3. He who dies with the most toys wins.

4. Beautiful bodies are everything.

5. Technology will solve all problems.

6. Anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

7. Beliefs of a political party.

8. Permaculture can save the world.

Role of a god

I have been taught that a god is anything that one attaches supreme importance to. Money can be a god. In fact, in "contemporary economic theory" and in "he who dies with the most toys wins," money becomes a god. In "technology will solve all problems," science becomes a god. In "beautiful bodies are everything," perfect bodies become a god.

Filter for viewing what happens in the world

View of how we treat others

Circle of friendships

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"We're not viable, but please save us anyway" - GM/Chrysler [White House begins to smell the coffee]

GM owes roughly $28 billion to bondholders. Chrysler owes about $7 billion in first- and second-term debt, mainly to banks. GM owes about $20 billion to its retiree health care trust, while Chrysler owes $10.6 billion.

An exasperated administration official noted that the companies had not done enough to reduce debt; in some cases, it actually increased during this restructuring and review process.

NVDL: Last week I attended a presentation on an electric vehicle and the guys say that ICE [Internal Combustion Engines] conventionally only utilise 15% of the energy they consume - the rest goes into heat, wear and tear, entropy etc. 15% - that's shocking inefficient. The Joule is engineered to get 75% efficiency off a battery. GM and Chrysler could start by engineering lighter vehicles. They appear to lack imagination and vision. They've been caught with their pants down.
clipped from news.yahoo.com
US auto sales drop at least 40 pct

WASHINGTON – Neither General Motors nor Chrysler submitted acceptable plans to receive more federal bailout money, the Obama administration said as it set the stage for a crisis in Detroit that would dramatically reshape the nation's auto industry.

The White House pushed out GM's chairman and directed Chrysler to move quickly to forge a partnership with Fiat if it expects to receive additional government assistance.

President Barack Obama and his top advisers have determined that neither company is viable and that taxpayers will not spend untold billions more to keep the pair of automakers open forever.

"We think we can have a successful U.S. auto industry. But it's got to be one that's realistically designed to weather this storm and to emerge — at the other end — much more lean, mean and competitive than it currently is," Obama said.

In this June 26, 2008 file photo, then Democratic presidential candidate, Sen.
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Interview with Gerhard Swart - Systems Engineer of South Africa's EV [JOULE]

Electric Vehicles aren't quite as novel as we like to think. The first ever vehicles were electric, and the milk vans in many suburbs were the same. So are golf vans and busses in many communities. Mass production for commercial use is a different kettle of fish.

Gerhard is an affable chap who grew up in Zimbabwe. He said he learned how to innovate and engineer from his father, where they were often not able to get the sort of help on the farm they needed it was a case of boer maak 'n plan [a farmer makes a plan]. Gerhard and his 3 partners previous worked on the Rooivalk (weapons engineering etc) at DENEL as well as on the SALT project; a very advanced Large Telescope array in South Africa.

With the Joule they wanted to give something back.

Notice the red lines adjacent to the graph of oil prices. I support their view that oil prices are likely to spike rapidly upwards in the coming months.

Gerhard presented his ideas at an INCOSE meeting. There were several engineers present and some debate evolved over whether a successful roll out couldn't be eclipsed by a Japanese automaker steamrolling the idea and using their own economies of scale and scope. There is another possibility entirely, which is that a country or company will buy them out. Whatever the result, this is exceedingly good news for South Africa, although not a long term solution.

Watch the video of Gerhard's Presentation below.

Many thanks to Francois Retief and Siebert Benade for facilitating the trip.
More on this topic here.

Mama and Pappa - that doesn't compute, OK!

NVDL: This is fascinating.

Instead of simply insisting that the child wears a coat, Munakata says, “rather try to highlight the conflict that they are going to face. Perhaps you could say something like ‘I know you don’t want to take your coat now, but when you’re standing in the yard shivering later, remember that you can get your coat from your bedroom.’”

clipped from news.yahoo.com
This Sept. 5, 2007 file photo shows toddlers playing in a kindergarten class in Dresden, eastern Germany. (AP Photo/Matthias Rietschel)

Are you listening to me? Didn't I just tell you to get your coat? Helloooo! It's cold out there...

Toddlers listen, they just store the information for later use, a new study finds.

"There is a lot of work in the field of cognitive development
that focuses on how kids are basically little versions of adults trying
to do the same things adults do, but they're just not as good at it
yet. What we show here is they are doing something completely

"The older kids found this sequence easy, because they can
anticipate the answer before the object appears," said doctoral student
Christopher Chatham, who participated in the study. "But preschoolers
fail to anticipate in this way. Instead, they slow down and exert
mental effort after being presented with the watermelon, as if they're
thinking back to the character they had seen only after the fact."

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'Monsters vs. Aliens' - Animated comedy a slaptick treat

NVDL: I saw the preview to this today. Looks like a lot of fun. Animation is becoming SOOO creative now.

©2009 Dreamworks
It's come to be in the great cinema spectrum that Pixar makes cinema and Dreamworks makes cartoons. These days, I prefer the laughs, and "Monsters vs. Aliens" is a cracking animated comedy that takes wonderful care of its characters and pace, presenting a brisk, frequently hilarious romp that rarely pauses to reflect. The simplicity is refreshing.

"Monsters" only stumbles when trying too hard to either be cutesy (it's the second animated film in under a year to use the "Axel F" theme as a punchline) or satiric (Stephen Colbert as The President invites uncomfortable silences). When back on solid ground, the film is a blast as a straightforward, silly-hearted adventure, literally bursting through the screen to entertain as vigorously as it possibly can.
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