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
 blog it

Monday, March 30, 2009

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.

 blog it

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

 blog it

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I turned the lights off - did you?

"Above all in the current economic crisis, we should send a signal for climate protection," said Klaus Wowereit, the mayor of Berlin, one in a handful of German cities switching off lights at city halls and television towers for Earth Day for the first time.

NVDL: In my street we had our lights off, so did the people next door and the Slumlord downstairs. Across the road all the lights were burning, but diagonally across the windows were filled with soft candlelight.

My girlfriend and I thought it might be something worth doing once a month. Say the middle Wednesday in each month... Once could even log off your computer during one lunch break each month; it's a start.

Only with the lights off and the candles on do you realise how much noise is going on with the TV on and lights...and do you find yourself settling into The Now.
clipped from news.yahoo.com
Chinese cities go dark for Earth Hour

BONN, Germany – From an Antarctic research base to the Great Pyramids of Egypt and beyond, the world switched off the lights on Saturday for Earth Hour, dimming skyscrapers, city streets and some of the world's most recognizable monuments for 60 minutes to highlight the threat of climate change.

Time zone by time zone, nearly 4,000 cities and towns in 88 countries joined the event sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund to dim nonessential lights from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
People wave their glow sticks after the switching off of lights as part of the
"People want politicians to take action and solve the problem," said Kim Carstensen, director of the global climate initiative for WWF, speaking in a piano bar bathed by candlelight and lounge music.
 blog it

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

1 in 10 vehicles on road responsible for car accidents - not surprising when you see hwo people drive and their attitudes to other drivers

Yesterday a BMW overtook me on African Road, basically ramping over a series of speed bumps and then swerving in to avoid approaching traffic. It is so incredibly stupid. You drive slowly because you're in a quiet suburban neighborhood, and then someone behind you gets miffed, sprints past and ramps over a series of speed bumps. I guess something in their brain doesn't compute. It's just 'I did it my way' and my way is 'speed' - at all costs. Money and human lives not withstanding. Stupid.
clipped from www.sowetan.co.za

AA spokesman Gary Ronald estimates that about 5% of the accidents on South Africa’s roads were caused by bad signage and road conditions.

Law enforcement was one of the larger problems, he said, with taxis and motorists alike displaying a flagrant disregard of simple traffic laws.

“In almost every case, a crash is preceded by a traffic violation,” he said.

In 2008, there were 9,2 million cars on South African roads and 900,000 accidents, Ronald said.

“This accounts for a staggering 10% of vehicles on the road, with a cost to the economy equalling 3% of the national GDP (gross domestic product) and over 42 fatalities each day.”

Ronald said road accidents were as big a problem for the country as issues such as Aids and crime.

“It is estimated that, by 2020, road accidents will be third in the leading cause of unnatural deaths, ahead of Aids,” he said.

 blog it

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rubber Bullets on M1 - AVOID!

Taxi operators will be all over the N1 and M1 protesting the BRT. The police will also be there to maintain order. If possible, find another route.

On our way to a road safety meeting this morning we witnessed metro police having to use rubber bullets in taxi violence on the M1.

This has led to severe traffic congestion on the M1 between Midrand and Johannesburg.

 blog it

Monday, March 23, 2009

Head of Organised Crime Unit [+ 2 subordinates] arrested on Monday for drug trafficking [Why South Africa disgusts me]

NVDL: So you have the head of organised crime selling drugs to drug lords. That's a great way to fight crime...and another reason why this country - sick to its core - disgusts me.
clipped from www.iol.co.za
The head of the Krugersdorp organised crime unit and two of his subordinates were arrested on Monday for charges related to drug trafficking, said Gauteng police.

"They would take some of the consignment [of seized drugs] from the scene of the crime and sell it to drug lords," said national spokesperson for crime intelligence Senior Superintendent Tummi Golding.

The three police officers, one a senior superintendent and the other captains, had allegedly been stealing from drugs which were seized at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

Golding called their arrest a victory against crime. Corrupt police officers would be "hunted down", she said. They betrayed those they had sworn to protect.
"We will root them out. We are not ashamed to name our own," she said. - Sapa
 blog it

You're Wasting Money On...

Sure, buying organic makes you feel like you’re doing the right thing, but it isn't always the best choice for your wallet. Fruits and vegetables like kiwis, sweet corn and broccoli require very little pesticide to grow. Others -- like avocados, onions and pineapples -- have thick or peelable skins that reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals. “Any pesticide that remains is not getting through,” says Lempert. For a handy reminder as you shop, download the Environmental Working Group’s wallet-sized organic produce guide.

NVD:: I'm a big culrpit on the bottled water thing, however, I've only noticed how much money I 'waste' on water since I've weaned myself off sodas and fruit juices. In this sense it's more of an investment. Do want to buy a filter and an aluminium flask though.
clipped from finance.yahoo.com

Cut back on these seven items and you could save roughly $1,000 a year.

1) Bottled Water

Getting your recommended eight glasses of water a day by bottle instead of tap is a huge waste of cash, says Phil Lempert, founder of Supermarket Guru. That buck-a-bottle water you down on a regular basis can really add up. (Even more so now that cities like Chicago collect an additional tax of five cents per bottle.)

2) Extended Warranties

Potential Savings: Someone buying a 40-inch Samsung flat panel high-def television at Best Buy for $800 has the option to add a four-year protection plan for another $150. Skip it, and pocket the cash instead. (The set already has a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.)

3) Gym Memberships
Check with your employer, health insurer and other membership groups like your union or alma mater to see if they offer discounts on gym and fitness club memberships, says Bob Nelson, president of Nelson Motivation, a benefits consulting firm.
4) Overdraft Fees

5) Organic Produce

 blog it

Touchline's BEST LIFE magazine bites the dust

The first of many no doubt.

The team that powers Men's Health will cease publication of its international men's title Best Life in April.

Best Life, in conjunction with its American partner Rodale Inc., was launched in May 2007. The title reflected a year-on-year drop in circulation from 18,766 to 13,851 (Audit Bureau of Circulations: July to December 2008).

Editor, Jason Brown, says Rodale Inc. is discontinuing the title, so the South African version is closing. "It came as a big shock to us. The economic crisis in the USA is affecting media in a number of ways. The advertising market has changed throughout the world. The title just wasn't meeting its internal benchmark."

Brown says it "is still to be decided" what will happen to the ten staffers at Best Life.

 blog it

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Oil outpaces JSE surge

The JSE has surged 5.46% so far today. Think that's a lot? Oil has surged 7.32%. You can't have one without the other, and oil is likely to outstrip the markets and later crush them every time. Koo koo.
 blog it

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bernanke vs Average American - There won't be a Depression/There will be

NVDL: "Only one in ten say recovery is likely within a year; one in five predict it will take longer than four years for the country to get back on its feet," Holland said.

So 9 of 10 Americans believe Bernanke is wrong (he said the economy will recover in 2009). I agree with the 9/10, which begs the question. Why do you have an expert on the financial system coming up with wishful fabrications? Is it because he has investments he hopes can be propped up by public sentiment? Or is he simply suffering from Jiminy Cricket Syndrome. It's quite troubling - knowing that this is the case.
clipped from finance.yahoo.com

The number of Americans who think another Great Depression will occur within the next year is on the rise, a poll released Tuesday shows.

Forty-five percent of people questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey said another depression is likely.

"Will the Great Recession turn into another Great Depression? A growing number of Americans think it might," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Last December, 38% said a depression like the one the U.S. experienced in the 1930s was likely in the next year. Now that number is up 7 points."

But Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke doesn't share that sentiment. Asked during an interview with CBS on Sunday whether the country is headed into a new depression, Bernanke said, "I think we've averted that risk. I think we've gotten past that."

 blog it

AIG is not thinking - are you?

Contrast these two stories:

1. http://www.nickvanderleek.com/2008/04/mark-mobius-us-recession-will-not.html
2. http://www.nickvanderleek.com/2009/03/in-dubai-party-is-already-over-with-one.html.

In the one the emerging market expert, guru etc advises his audiences |(incorrectly). If it takes a rookie blogger like myself to see that these celebrity economic experts are suffering from delusional hubris, you know we're in deep shit.

Oh, there goes the herd. Going to join 'em are ya?
clipped from www.cnn.com
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said AIG will have to return $165 million in bonuses for executives.

(CNN) -- Insurance giant AIG will have to return to the Treasury Department the $165 million it just paid out in executive bonuses, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Tuesday in a letter to congressional leaders.

Cuomo also wrote that 11 of the employees no longer work for the company. The largest bonus paid was $6.4 million; seven other people also received more than $4 million each.

Grassley and Baucus said all retention bonuses would be subject to a 35 percent excise tax for excessive compensation to be paid by the company and an additional 35 percent tax to be paid by the individual.

"Millions of Americans are losing their jobs -- millions. And to some degree, they're losing their jobs because of actions taken by some of these firms," Baucus said. "At the same time, they're giving themselves bonuses. I mean, give me a break. What are these people thinking? That's part of the problem. They're not thinking."

 blog it

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

As Newspapers Change Strategy, Internet Content Is Reaching Critical Mass

NVDL: I also believe the time is ripe (and right) for YAHOO! to transition itself as content provider. When this happens, even more Print providers will go out of business as the industry senses fundamental shifts taking place (from Print to Digital).

That said, over the medium term, it would be good to know if the savings we make from ink and paper will not be lost in trying to keep coal-power stations running, and electricity based internet humming uninterrupted. I'm not confident that it will beyond the next decade or so.
clipped from seekingalpha.com

Of these, it seems that Yahoo’s ability to build value added services around high quality content destinations - a la Yahoo! Fantasy Sports attached to Yahoo! Sports - as well as its proprietary (albeit second in class) ad platform could well be in the best position to benefit from the rationalization of the print media industry. I’ve written before that I believe that Yahoo should shift focus from its belief that it is an internet and search business and begin embracing its true role as a content destination. It would seem that the market is now presenting a tremendous opportunity for the business to seize relevance and get out from the shadow of search.

For those looking for the “next big thing,” I would put my money on what services or businesses rise to fill the “localization” void which will ultimately be created as newspapers exit the print business and pare down headcount.
One example might include the development of localized blog networks like SB Nation.
 blog it

UK: Cycle Coast to Coast or Swim between Scilly Isle [I'd LOVE to do this!]

Swim between the Scilly Isles

The Scilly Islands are a unique corner of the UK, a scattering of islands off the Cornish coast with beaches that wouldn't look out of place in the Maldives and an agreeably somnolent pace of life. Spend a holiday swimming between the islands (the longest distance is just over two miles) through the clear shallow waters which team with marine life. The islands are relatively undeveloped, thanks to firm management by the Duchy of Cornwall, and a microclimate created by the passing Gulf Stream means they are home to palm trees and tropical plants that form a striking contrast to the windswept, sea-lashed hills. Because the distances between the islands are relatively short, several swims can be taken each day, and by the end of the week the route will have circumnavigated all the islands.
clipped from www.guardian.co.uk
Sea Kayaking, Summer Isles, Scotland

Cycle coast to coast

Ride from one side of the UK to the other on this 140-mile trip from Whitehaven on the Irish Sea to Tynemouth on the North Sea. The route takes in the Lake District and the North Pennines, on traffic-free cycle paths that include stiff climbs such as the Whinlatter Pass and the road to Hartside, home to the highest cafe in the UK (580m). There are also some adrenalin-pumping descents: down into Keswick in the Lake District and on towards Derwentwater, and a long freewheel into Alston in Cumbria. The route passes by stone circles, mountain villages (including England's highest, Allenheads, at 609m) and swathes of moorland - some of England's most atmospheric and dramatic landscapes.

• For information on cycling the route independently, visit c2c-guide.co.uk. Skedaddle (0191 265 1110; skedaddle.co.uk) arranges four-night itineraries from £375, including B&B accommodation and lunches but not bike hire

 blog it

In Dubai the Party is Already Over - with one exception [ANDY BLAIR, PICTURED]

The expat rumour mill, which has gone into overdrive since the economic crisis struck in October, talks in dark tones about companies letting whole departments go at a stroke or shedding small groups of employees every week to minimise bad publicity. - ft.com

NVDL: Moral of the story - those who innovate (and enjoy a little luck) will survive.
clipped from www.ft.com
Andy Blair

Dubai’s Hot 100 party last month was a reminder of the city’s high-rolling times before the credit crunch. The annual celebration, laid on by a magazine profiling the United Arab Emirates’ smart set, drew a crowd of boldfaced names: Thaksin Shinawatra, former Thai prime minister, mingled with developer Sulaiman al-Fahim, who brokered the sale of Manchester City football club to an Abu Dhabi sheikh.

But among the employees of ITP, the magazine’s publisher, the free drinks were going down with more than the usual gusto. That week ITP cut its staff by about 10 per cent. “People knew the sackings were coming, and sure enough it was rough,” says one of those axed.

For thousands of expatriates lured to Dubai by the promise of year-round sunshine and a tax-free lifestyle, the party is over. Corporate restructurings have arrived hard on the heels of steep falls in property prices and plummeting consumer confidence; El Dorado is fading back into desert.
“It’s a nightmare,” says one.
 blog it

Eskom needs R100 Billion so that you can turn your lights (and the internet) on by the end of the decade

"We will need between 90-110 billion rand to be invested in coal mines by 2020." - ESKOM

NVDL: I wonder where Eskom is going to get R100 billion from? I mean, has anyone noticed that credit evaporated out of the system recently...upwards of $17.5 trillion [translating to debts of over $6000 for every US man, woman and child, and making the average Britain 40 000 pounds (about R100 000) poorer.]
clipped from www.reuters.com

Eskom says SAfrica needs 40 new coal mines by 2020

JOHANNESBURG, March 11 (Reuters) - South Africa's utility
Eskom [ESCJ.UL] said on Wednesday the country would need to
invest up to 110 billion rand ($10.52 billion) in coal mining by
2020 and build at least 40 new coal mines in that time.

State-owned Eskom said Africa's biggest economy, which is in
the grip of a power shortage, will need to produce 374 million
tonnes of coal by 2018 to meet growing demand.

"We will need 40 mines to be opened requiring a large number
of mining rights to be awarded in a short period of time ... we
will need between 90-110 billion rand to be invested in coal
mines by 2020," Eskom's coal specialist Johan Dempers told a
coal, carbon and energy conference in Johannesburg.

 blog it

Monday, March 16, 2009

R1bn broadband project for Johannesburg in partnership with Ericsson

"The benefits and possibilities of a digital city are numerous for not only the City and its entities but for residents, business, hospitals, educational institutions, tourism and entertainment."
He says teleworking, video conferencing and WiFi hotspots will alleviate traffic congestion and save costs. Video streaming, Internet access and online applications will facilitate information sharing, stimulate socio economic development and improve health services and security.

NVDL: I hope there will be electrcity to run this fairy tale. If so good, but maybe we need to *make sure* it's guaranteed over the next 5 years, 10 years etc.
clipped from www.it-online.co.za

Johannesburg will be transformed into a "digital city" over the next three years, which will reduce the cost of telecommunications, improve service delivery and increase access to IT for residents.

"We regard access to broadband as a key driver of economic growth and wealth generation. Through this initiative we will ensure that all the citizens of Joburg gain access to universally available, reliable and affordable broadband", says Tau.
"This is as essential as the provision of water and electricity and will also help improve response times to crime and emergencies because the city’s closed circuit television network will be linked."
“Not only is the prospect of transforming Johannesburg into a truly ‘digital city’ an exciting one, the awarding of the tender is further confirmation of Ericsson’s proven ability to provide comprehensive end-to-end solutions that meet the needs of both telco and non-telco customers.”
 blog it

Kunstler was in South Africa - here's what he thought about the place [PLUS VIDEO]

The most conspicuous feature visible to someone from the US was the huge numbers of black Africans everywhere, but especially those traipsing or waiting along the the secondary highways in a country with very poor public transit. It looked like some kind of refugee stream from a distant war zone, but I was assured that it was just the normal flow of daily life.

NVDL: Read the rest of Jim's 'take' below, or watch this link:
I was in Johannesburg to give some talks at the invitation of an architecture firm, Osmand Lange, who had designed an outstanding New Urbanist project of some 35 acres in the otherwise Los Angeles-style illegible suburban sprawl north of the old central business district. The project, called Melrose Arch, was an ensemble of five-story buildings in a set of mixed-use, dense blocks rich with good public space -- a rare thing in this otherwise ultra-fortified security state of gated estate houses, malls, business "parks," and freeways.
   In fact, in the car coming off the very long flight from North America, with what felt like a brain-pan full of screaming weevils produced by jet-lag, I kept on wondering if I had somehow landed in LA by mistake, so similar was the palm-studded terrain and most of the objects deployed on it. After a day or so of brain rehab, the differences became more apparent.
 blog it

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My First Solo Photographic Exhibition

"Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly." -- Gilbert Keith Chesterton

NVDL: I called this exhibition Wizardry With Color and Light. I'd like to do another one this year, Ambient Light (also publicising my new Photo Blog).

"Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly." -- Gilbert Keith Chesterton

It's not easy to do your own exhibition. For starters, you need to be a perfectionist, and the more you are, the more you're likely to give everyone around you headaches. If you have a good team around you (of perfectionists) they ought to drive you to the brink of insanity en route to putting on a good show. It's normal, but it's not nice. Well, some of it is fun.

The exhibition I held on Friday May 4 was my first; it was themed around color and light, and magic. It was also about lightness, and manipulation. Every day we are manipulated and attempting to manipulate the world. Left brain human beings attempt to find rules to follow, and if there aren't any, they make them. Right brain people operate more holistically. They are the ones who try to change the world to suit them. I guess that's me.
 blog it