Tuesday, July 3, 2007

land of not so free

ok folks, expect higher retail prices for all consumer goods from now on. no, i am not talking about the ridiculous u.s. government policy of promoting ethanol that is causing most food products (milk, corn, soybean, wheat, beef, pork, cheese, etc) to go up in price as much as 50% in recent months. if this policy wasn't enough of a blow to consumers, supreme court recently made a ruling that entitles retailers and manufacturers to price fixing.
i know this is a supreme court decision, but let's hope that this decision had nothing to do with politics or big money contribution of well-heeled corporations like in the ethanol case.

here is the article on the topic

interesting write up on this topic

Thursday, April 26, 2007

worthy charity destinations for turtles and entrepreneurs

the tax deadline has passed, and some of us have received our tax refunds. if you are looking to put your refund to a great cause, be careful. with so many scandals arising from charities using funds inefficiently or outright stealing from donors, you need to do due diligence on where your money is going. but do not worry, i will give you some suggestions. here are some of the interesting destination for your charitable contributions.


this concept is similar to the the endeavors of bangladeshi nobel prize winner muhammad yunus.
basically you send money to small entrepreneurs in developing countries to help them build their business out of poverty. you can select the person and business you want to send your money to, and keep track of how they are doing. if the business prospers, they can pay you back your money. more about kiva here
more about muhammad yunus here

great turtle race

one of the most endangered species in the world is turtles and tortoises.
there is an interesting research project done on leatherback turtles right now. check their website here

or if you have so much money that you need other places to donate, make sure to use the charity navigator. this website is a great starting point for you to do background check on the charitable organization of your choice.

Friday, March 23, 2007

don't ask me to change my im

there are so many im's out there like aim, yahoo messenger, icq, msn that it is hard to keep up with friends if you don't have 10 of them installed. it's just too bothersome to download all of them and log into them all. but no more. you can use this meebo thingy that lets you log into to all of them at the same time. it doesn't require you to download any of them, it is a web based app.
all you have to do is log into meebo, and that's it. all the messages you get are contained within you browser page. this might also let you circumvent some firewalls if you are at work.
this app does have some limitations, for example some of the fancy features like picture icons may not work, but overall for normal chat and conversation it works very well.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

image is everything: naughtiest nation in the world

bbc conducted a poll to see which countries were viewed to have positive (negative) influence in the world, and the result is interesting.
as you can see, canada, japan, and eu had the most positive ratings, while israel, usa, north korea, and iran had the most negative ratings. the article was found here.
the full report is also downloadable in pdf format. the full report gives the breakdown by country,
for example, only 11 percent of people in philippines gave a negative vote, while 78 percent in greece gave a negative.
what is interesting about these polls is that it gives you a clearer view of world. it is a mild surprise to me that israel would be perceived more negatively than north korea (i live in the usa). also surprised to see usa getting more positive feedbacks than, ....actually not many are behind the usa.
interesting way to play with these poll is to look at how some countries are looked very differently by different people. while more people in china see north korea as positive (39 vs. 34 negative), overwhelming majority see japan negatively (63 vs 18 positive). this is a stark contrast to the usa's view of north korea (73 negative vs 8 postive) and japan (65 postive vs 15 negative).

from these observation, i'm going to validate my suspicions without any empirical evidence; that these perceptions are created and influenced heavily by media, and that the media itself is influenced by politicians.
image from

fun links that may be relavant
- White House Accused of Censorship
A former CIA analyst says the agency was told to cut parts of his op-ed column.


-great firewall of china

Saturday, March 17, 2007

cucumber ham pretzel bread salami monster

this is a cucumber ham pretzel bread salami monster. or maybe it is a cucumber ham pretzel salami monster bread. either way a tasty looking treat.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

freedom fighters will get you out of your cell phone contract

the phone companies always come out with new promotions, each one being better than the one you currently have.
for example, sprint started offering a plan that gives you unlimited texting and calls for 120 bucks. for anybody(like myself) who find this an attractive offer, there were no way of taking advantage of these offers, because in american you cannot break your current contract without paying a hefty penalty. but now here is a clever service called cellswapper.com that will let somebody else take over the plan.
this is how it works. you list your current plan on cellswapper (free). if somebody takes over your plan, you pay 14.99. thats it. your name and personal info is switched out completely to the new owner of the plan, so it is safe.

very nice idea.

Saturday, March 10, 2007