Friday, December 31, 2010

Nevadans as Hobos

In the comments of a Paul Krugman blogpost, Ireland = Nevada, a Joseph OShaughnessy offers this interesting comparison between Ireland and Nevada.

The Irish are a homogeneous, well educated society. They have lived where they live, give or take 100 miles, likely for at least 500 [more like at least 1000-5000 years].

The Nevadans are, by and large, uneducated vagabonds. Their medical system is almost non-existent and where it exists, it should be banned. The oldest and most established citizens are themselves transients.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Russia, Where the Living is Hard

This image of a dead Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky was taken 2006 when he was 34. He was on the front page of a NY Times article about a Russian commission that investigates prison conditions and prison deaths, Documents Raise Questions About Russian Case. I showed his picture about half a dozen people and asked them to estimate his age. Most thought he was in his late 50's. The lowest estimate was 40. When this picture was taken he was 32. I wonder just how hard was life to look like this.

Xmas in Heaven

Friday, December 10, 2010

Undercover Cops - The Best Liars Ever?

He continued smoking while we continued questioning him carefully and as diplomatically as possible about the aspects of his testimony the previous evening, trying our best not to rile him, but I think it was too late for that. He answered the questions without pause and didn't appear to be lying, but of course you wouldn't be able to tell with a man like him anyway. His whole job was one lie after another...

DI Gallan questioning Stegs
in The Crime Trade by Simon Kernick

Obama - Always Give In To Threats

I think it's tempting not to negotiate with hostage-takers, unless the hostage gets harmed. Then people will question the wisdom of that strategy.

B. Hussein Obama, Noted Kenyan-American

Obama gave the above statement that after making a deal with congressional Republicans on maintaining tax cuts for billionaires. The problem is hostage taking as a crime has died in most countries is that people nad police have learned that dealing with hostage takers encourage them. It also an easy crime to prove since the criminals have to communicate to get the money.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

The American South and Minimum Wages

The above is from a map American minimum wage laws at the US dept of Labor. The colors are for the relative level of each states minimum wage law compared to the US federal rate. Green is for states the have higher rates, blue is for the states that use the federal rate, yellow is for those states that have a minimum wage lower than the federal and red is for those states without a minimum wage law. I found this page because I was watching a video post at Boingboing about the struggles that Disney employees have, Walt Disney World castmembers speak about their search for a living wage.

What is striking is how many off US states that formed the Old Confederacy are still not, even 150 years after they fought a war over it, that keen on paying people who work for them.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Oh, Great, Qatar Gets the 2018 World Cup

Qatar, pronounced catarrh, has won the right to host the 2018 World Cup, Retreat and revenge: England's options after their 2018 World Cup snub. A commenter on Jihadwatcher Droptheveil
has this reaction to sleazy dusty hell of Qatar.

I just can't imagine why ANYONE would want to go to Qatar let alone watch football matches in 50 degrees of heat. No matter how much air conditioning there will be in the stadiums, they will overheat very quickly with all those bodies and the sun throwing out so much heat, most air conditioning units there just cannot cope. English football fans like a pint of beer on such occasions and the only places to buy a drink is in the odd small bar on a top floor in hotels at huge prices, or around the pool of expensive hotels. No guest houses as we are used to in the UK. Drinking is not allowed in public apart from these very few bars. The traffic and driving must be some of the most dangerous in the world and I forecast now that there will be serious road accidents because the locals are idiots behind the wheel and have no road sense, it's them first in the queue and to hell with the rest of us. Car hire is very basic and from experience cars are not serviced to any of our western standards, so good luck. One cannot usually hire a car unless you are a resident and prove such. If a foreigner is involved in such an accident he is automatically the guilty party and the locals can do no wrong, I kid you not. You have been warned. They will need very large numbers of taxis and drivers because currently one cannot get a taxi for love or money unless you get one from a hotel at enormous costs. The place is a dust bucket and with all the building that will be necessary, built on slave labour by the way, it will be so much worse than it is now being a climate where dust hangs in the air. My advice, don't go, it's a dump, nothing to do in the evenings, and a spare day to 'sight-see' is too hot to go out although there are 'glamourous' shopping malls where you will be ripped off further. Sharia law already exists there and the place is half a step up from Saudi Arabia - just. I've lived there for several years so I speak from experience, one I could have done without!! The locals are surly and full of their own piss and importance. How was this country half the size of Wales been awarded the 2022 world football tournament? It beggars belief. Nuf said.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Weird Photo of Emperor Hirohito and British Troops

This image was captured of crown prince Hirohito reviewing troops in May 21, 1921, link . About 20 years, 5 months and 20 days later things were entirely different.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

War: Good, Necessary, Just

I don't think that there is such a thing as a "good war". There are sometimes "necessary wars". And I think Some might say "just wars". And that it never, I never questioned the necessary of that war [WWII] and still do not question that it was something that had to be done.

Sam Hynes in Ken Burns' The War

A Swiss Supervillian Datacenter

An anonymous commenter on my blogpost last year, "A Super Villain's Datacenter", sent me a link to another super villain server farm, Mount10. This one is is located in the Alps. In one of the Chung Kuo novels a super villain went to ground at a secret base high in the Alps.

The "Reliable" Criminal

"...They're reliable."

Which was a refrain I'd heard plenty of times before about criminals. They're reliable. The problem was, for most part, they weren't. They tended to be paranoid, highly strung, violent, and often drugged up, which was a pretty lethal combination. In the course of my career I've had two guns pulled on me, four knives, an axe, a tyre iron, even a fake medieval ball and chain. I've been held down by a gang of crazed thugs, flying on a diet of vodka and crack, who doused me in petrol and threatened to burn me alive unless I gave them the drugs I was supposedly carrying (I didn't, and they didn't), and many's the time I've woken up wondering when my luck's going to run out.

Undercover cop Sean Egan
in Simon Kernick's
The Last 10 Seconds.