The banksters are at it again

If you haven’t heard the term ‘bankster‘ before, it emerged in common usage around the time of the 2007/2008 financial crisis – or, if you will, the first instalment of the ongoing financial crisis, which is very much still with us (and will be for years to come). It’s a combination of the words ‘banker’ and ‘gangster’, and sums up the ethical proclivities of the larger banks and their senior executives fairly accurately, IMHO. It seems they’re at it again. Bloomberg reported in October: Bank of America Corp. [BoA], hit by a credit downgrade last month, has moved derivatives from

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A different kind of ‘toy story’

Via a link sent to me by Miss D., I came across this video titled ‘Address Is Approximate’. Its creator describes it as follows: A lonely desk toy longs for escape from the dark confines of the office, so he takes a cross country road trip to the Pacific Coast in the only way he can – using a toy car and Google Maps Street View. The music is by The Cinematic Orchestra. Very creative! Peter

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A famous urinal has been rediscovered

Yes, I said ‘urinal’ – although it’s more correct to say that the person for whose use it was installed was famous, rather than the receptacle itself. The Telegraph reports: German maritime archaeologists claimed to have found a urinal used by Kaiser Wilhelm II lying on the bottom of the Baltic Sea. The piece of porcelain history was discovered in the wreck of the Undine, a light-cruiser which was sunk in the First World War by the Royal Navy, that now lies 28 nautical miles off the German island of Rugen. SMS Undine (click the image for a larger view)

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An avoidable aviation tragedy

I’ve written before about the tragedy of Air France Flight 447, which crashed in the South Atlantic Ocean in 2009 with the death of all aboard. Now Popular Mechanics has published an in-depth examination of the cockpit voice recorder and what it reveals about the last minutes of the flight. Here’s an excerpt. We now understand that … AF447 passed into clouds associated with a large system of thunderstorms, its speed sensors became iced over, and the autopilot disengaged. In the ensuing confusion, the pilots lost control of the airplane because they reacted incorrectly to the loss of instrumentation and

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Sex education with Julia Sweeney

To offset at least some of any bitter taste left by my previous post, here’s Julia Sweeney’s hilarious description of how she fielded her eight-year-old adopted daughter’s questions about the birds, the bees and the flowers (and a frog). It’s probably not safe for work, but not in a pornographic or distasteful way – it’s just a sensitive subject. She handles it very well, in my opinion. I wonder how long it was before Mulan came back with more questions – and whether Ms. Sweeney’s response next time was “Ask your father!”? Peter

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The financial crisis gains momentum

I really, really hate being a ‘prophet of doom’ type. I upset even those closest to me when I talk about the current financial crisis, because they say that since there’s nothing they can do about it, they see no point in talking about it. Some have even accused me of schadenfreude, which certainly isn’t true, since my financial ox is about to be gored as hard as anyone else’s! However, I come from a background that has taught me to remain aware of my surroundings and what’s going on in my environment. It’s taught me, if I see danger

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Saigon – now Ho Chi Minh City – and its traffic

I know many of my readers served in the US armed forces during the Vietnam War, or had parents who served there. This video of Ho Chi Minh City – as Saigon was renamed after the war – shows the current challenges of navigating its streets. It’s still choked with motorcycles and bicycles, it seems, just as reported by those who were there in the war years. I’d be interested to hear (in Comments) from readers who were there before the fall of South Vietnam. How does the city look in comparison to your memories of the place? Peter

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Dog vs. cat people – the differences

Yahoo!’s ‘Shine’ lifestyle magazine has an article on the subject. I’m not sure where I fit in, because I like both dogs and cats; I grew up with both, I’ve had both as pets, and I fully expect to have both as pets again in the future sometime. To me, it’s not an either/or situation at all. Still, they offer some interesting statistics collected and analyzed by Hunch.com, including these examples: Dog people: 15% more likely to be extrovertsCat people: 11% more likely to be introverts Dog people: 67% more likely to call animal control if they happen upon stray

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The perils of resting on your technological laurels

The good people at Casey Research, in their latest Daily Dispatch newsletter, have a very interesting article on how Research In Motion (RIM), makers of the BlackBerry smartphone/PDA, lost their market leadership in the field. Here’s an excerpt. Last week (on Friday after market close, no less – the time when companies send bad news they hope the market will forget about by Monday), Blackberry smartphone maker Research in Motion (RIMM) dropped a bombshell, announcing that not only was its Playbook line of tablet computers floundering – not news to anyone who watches these things – but that the company

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