Monday, September 29, 2008

C-SPAN Debate Hub

C-SPAN has created the ultimate liveblogging tool for covering the US Presidential debates: Debate Hub. The ambitious Debate Hub pulls content from a variety of sources—including YouTube, ADD microblogging tool Twitter, and C-SPAN's spin-free video coverage—and crams it all into a clean little web page. At the conclusion of each debate, C-SPAN guarantees to have all video clips linked to the official transcript, as well as a tag cloud detailing each debate's central themes.

Check out Debate Hub here.

(C-SPAN via Gizmodo)


Proceeds from the sale of these neat 'cardboard' silkscreened duvet-sets goes to benefit a Dutch homeless charity.

Fold & Spooky

Check out Goobeetsa's super cool Fold & Spooky origami monsters.  They've arrived just in time for Halloween.  Download here and get folding.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Real life cellphone dragnet for nuclear devices

Researchers at Purdue University are working on technology that will turn every cellphone into a roaming nuclear weapon sniffer and are lobbying Congress to legally require cellphone users and carriers to participate. The Distributed Nuclear Detection by Ubiquitous Cellphone project would be kind of like the massive cellphone dragnet in The Dark Knight, but it would look for terrorists sneaking dirty bombs and nuclear weapons instead of the Joker.

Like the Batman system, the more phones on the ground, the better, since it would be able to triangulate the source of radiation more accurately. Phones closest to the deadly stuff as they pass by would give off stronger signals, pinpointing where it's at, or how it's moving in real time.

There are major civil rights issues associated with such a programme. Interestingly, in The Dark Knight, Lucius Fox initially refuses to use the dragnet and only agrees after being assured it will be destroyed after the Joker is found. This set-up allows Christopher Nolan to neatly sidestep the issue of Batman having a digital big- brother eye over everyone, which would have been repugnant to many viewers.

Ultimately, the programme is likely to take the form of a voluntary or paid-participation arrangement. I am more interested, however, in the debate around whether people’s privacy should be sacrificed in favor of state security. Let the public debate begin ...

(Newsweek via Gizmodo)

Russell Brand and Simon Amstell - Painfully funny

Russell Brand is a hilarious and irreverent British comedian, whose recent claim to fame is that he seriously offended most of America while hosting this year’s VMAs (a feat which further endeared him to me). In addition to writing a football column for the Guardian, he also has an excellent radio show on BBC Radio 2.

For Russell’s 20 September radio show, he invited the equally funny, though far more understated, Simon Amstell (host of Never Mind the Buzzcocks) to co-host with him.

The resulting show is painfully funny. Download it here.

Where is Aston Villa?

I was asked the other day, by someone not versed in the ways of the beautiful game, to explain where in England the various Premier League teams come from.  After covering off the London clubs, it occurred to me that there must be an easier way (I actually took the easy option and sent them in the direction of google).  I ran a quick search myself this morning and came across this great map from

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A short Love Story in Stop Motion ... Stunning

'A Short Love Story In Stop Motion' is a stunning short film created by Carlos Lascano. Check it out.

(A Short Love Story In Stop Motion via Shape+Colour)

The hidden cost of war

This video from GOOD magazine is beautifully put together, but disappointing weak on logic.  It's worth a watch for its entertainment value.

(GOOD Magazine via Shape+Colour)

Wakusei daikaijû Negadon

In the not-too-distant future, Mars is colonized, and when a spaceship returning to Earth crashes in Tokyo, the mysterious cargo it has been carrying turns out to be a slumbering monster, and a mean one. A scientist who abandoned a robot-building project years earlier after a personal tragedy is moved to fire up his dormant invention to do battle with the invader ...

'Wakusei daikaijû Negadon', or 'Negadon: The Monster from Mars', is a computer animated short movie that is homage to the Japanese science fiction films of the 1960s. Negadon looks great, the story is neat and it succeeds in capturing the spirit of movies like Godzilla vs. Monster Zero. It's just a shame the film is not feature length.

(Negadon via io9)

Friday, September 26, 2008

The best news I’ve heard all week!

I have just read on Gizmodo, and verified for myself, that the Hong Kong online Apple store is selling unlocked iPhone 3G - check it out here. Under the price of the iPhone, the following text appears: "iPhone 3G purchased at the Apple Online Store can be activated with any wireless carrier. Simply insert the SIM from your current phone into iPhone 3G and connect to iTunes 8 to complete activation."

Picture Gizmodo

The only reason I don’t currently own an iPhone is that I’m locked into a 2-year PCCW contract and, until now, you could only purchase an iPhone with a Hutchison plan. Does anyone want an old HTC Diamond?

(Gizmodo, Apple Store)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Maureen Dowd

Maureen Dowd, at the New York Times, is one of the funniest and most insightful journalists covering the US Presidential Elections. Read her articles! ... ok, to get you rolling, check out this extract from her article titled Aaron Sorkin Conjures a Meeting of Obama and Bartlet.

... BARACK OBAMA knocks on the front door of a 300-year-old New Hampshire farmhouse while his Secret Service detail waits in the driveway. The door opens and OBAMA is standing face to face with former President JED BARTLET.

BARTLET Senator.

OBAMA Mr. President.

BARTLET You seem startled.

OBAMA I didn’t expect you to answer the door yourself.

BARTLET I didn’t expect you to be getting beat by John McCain and a Lancôme rep who thinks “The Flintstones” was based on a true story, so let’s call it even.

OBAMA Yes, sir.

BARTLET Come on in.

BARTLET leads OBAMA into his study.

BARTLET That was a hell of a convention.

OBAMA Thank you, I was proud of it.

BARTLET I meant the Republicans. The Us versus Them-a-thon. As a Democrat I was surprised to learn that I don’t like small towns, God, people with jobs or America. I’ve been a little out of touch but is there a mandate that the vice president be skilled at field dressing a moose —

OBAMA Look —

BARTLET — and selling Air Force Two on eBay?

OBAMA Joke all you want, Mr. President, but it worked.

BARTLET Imagine my surprise. What can I do for you, kid?

OBAMA I’m interested in your advice.

BARTLET I can’t give it to you.

OBAMA Why not?

BARTLET I’m supporting McCain.


BARTLET He’s promised to eradicate evil and that was always on my “to do” list.


BARTLET And he’s surrounded himself, I think, with the best possible team to get us out of an economic crisis. Why, Sarah Palin just said Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had “gotten too big and too expensive to the taxpayers.” Can you spot the error in that statement?

OBAMA Yes, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac aren’t funded by taxpayers.

BARTLET Well, at least they are now. Kind of reminds you of the time Bush said that Social Security wasn’t a government program. He was only off by a little — Social Security is the largest government program.

OBAMA I appreciate your sense of humor, sir, but I really could use your advice.

Read the rest of the article here.

(NYTimes: Maureen Dowd)

Hot Toys

io9 has an article on Hot Toys’ Iron Man Mark I figure, which is amazingly detailed.

Hot Toys’ is a kick-ass Hong Kong based production house, which specialises in designing and manufacturing highly detailed figures. I love going to visit their store in Mongkok. Although Iron Man is cool, my personal favourite is their 1/6th scale Joker.

(Hot Toys, io9)

In China, iPhone 3G will be released without 3G or Wi-Fi

South China Morning Post today reported that, in China, the iPhone 3G will be released without 3G or Wi-Fi functionality ...

It's true, China Mobile has asked Apple to disable these two features. Disabling 3G is reasonable enough, China Mobile desn’t have a 3G network. I'll leave the reason why they're disabling Wi-Fi up to your imagination. Either way, it will turn the iPhone into an almost-useless shiny brick (perhaps this is the secret Project Brick Apple has been rumored to be working on?).

Picture: Gizmodo


The Guardian has a great article about the SpeechWars website:

“SpeechWars is a clever tool for comparing how many times the two candidates have used a particular word in their campaign speeches. As these examples show, Obama — unsurprisingly — mentions Bush far more than McCain, but McCain mentions "love" far more than Obama; both men talk about good more than evil ... There is as yet no equivalent tool for Sarah Palin and Joe Biden, but it would be unnecessary; Palin's speeches consist almost entirely of the phrase "I said thanks but no thanks on that Bridge to Nowhere", interspersed with random combinations of the words "maverick", "Washington" and "glass ceiling", while Biden's technically don't count as speeches because nobody ever hears them.”

(Guardian, SpeechWars)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Palin is the Bush doctrine

This is gold: Jon Stewart on Sarah Palin

"Why do I love Sarah Palin? She's a reformer. Like when the government wanted to give her this $223 million bridge to nowhere … Now I know that her detractors will say that she actually supported the bridge until it became a political albatross, and ended up keeping a lot of the money for it anyway, or that she claimed to have visited Iraq when she didn't. Or she didn't really sell that plane on eBay, or that she left the town she was mayor of nearly $20 million in debt, or that she made sure that women that were raped in her town were charged for their rape kits. Yeah! That's f**king true."

" … I don't think Bush knows what the Bush doctrine is. The point is this, she doesn't need to know the Bush doctrine. She is the Bush doctrine. Her foreign policy experience consists of being able to see Russia from an island in Alaska. And a refueling layover in Ireland."

(Daily Show)

Bottle Shock

Oliver Burkeman, from the Guardian, has written a hilarious article on the effect of the US Presidential race on wine sales in San Francisco: Bottle Shock. The extract below provides the crux of his observation:

“As we've recently learned, real Americans, in the American heartland of America, eat moose and go snowmobiling. But in liberal San Francisco, out-of-touch left-wingers prefer to sip wine while discussing their love of terrorists and homosexuality. Or at least they did until they realised what they were drinking: at Yield Wine Bar in downtown San Francisco, sales of a once-popular organic red from Chile have plummeted in the last few weeks, because its name is Palin Syrah. "It was our bestselling wine before [the VP announcement]," owner Chris Tavelli laments…”


Burkeman’s article reminds of the impact the movie Sideways had on wine sales in America. In the movie, Paul Giamatti’s character, Miles, is a wine aficionado who loves Pinot Noir and despises Merlot (“No, if anyone orders Merlot, I'm leaving. I am NOT drinking any fucking Merlot!”). Following Sideway’s release, Pinot Noir sales went through the roof, while Merlot sales declined.

I get the impression that some American’s take things a little too literally.

That's how we roll

This is how Larry and Sergey from Google roll. Thank you to Gizmodo for this pic, which was taken at the T-Mobile G1 event.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

If American foreign policy had a gift shop, what would it sell?

New York-based photographer, Phillip Toledano, has a new online exhibition America – The Gift Shop. The idea behind the exhibition is if American foreign policy had a gift shop, what would it sell? The exhibition is funny, sad and insightful, and successfully pokes fun at American politics and consumerism all at the same time. My favourite is the "I heart Unilateral Pre-Emptive Strikes" t-shirt.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Camouflage by Lui Bolin

Lui Bolin is a young Beijing based artist. I’ve posted a series of pictures from his ‘Camouflage’ collection, which features Chinese citizens painted to blend into their surroundings.

Camouflage can be enjoyed simply for the amazing technical accuracy Bolin has achieved. The effect is stunning – I was blown away when I first saw this collection.

Camouflage also presents an interesting social commentary. Bolin’s subjects have become one with their surroundings – it appears that individuality has been sacrificed in favour of the identity of the 'State'; Patriotism in its purest form. One World One Dream anyone?

(Lui Bolin via shape+colour)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Jack Sparrow Amigurumi

Check out these completely cool Jack Sparrow Amigurumi by Geek Central Station.  I don't care what you say about guys and stuffed toys, I wish Jack wasn't sold out.

Pop Culture Minifigs

The crazy kids at Lego are celebrating 30 years of their mini-figures by creating a set of pop culture figures. The lucky celebs who have been immortalised in blocky plastic goodness include Amy Winehouse, Madonna, David and Victoria Beckam (unfortunately David’s minifig looks more like Wayne Ronney), Brad and Angelina, and Cliff Richard (?). Unfortunately, these figures will not be released to the public.

You can find more pirctures at Gigwise.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Nagi Noda

On 10 September, Tokyomango posted an obituary article about Nagi Noda, a seriously talented young artist and director who passed away on 7 September at the age of 35. I was sad to read that such a young and talented person had passed away. I was also sad that I had not come across her work until I read that article (I’d seen a clip of her artsy poodle exercise video, but I had no idea who had directed it). For those, like me, who haven’t come across her work before, I’ve posted two of her videos below.

This is the last video Nagi Noda worked on. It’s a music video for Japanese singer MEG. I love how the video’s quirky tone escalates as the song progresses. The use of kuroko is reminiscent of the matrix pong video that circulated the wires a few years back.

(via Tokyomango)

This is an advertisement for Coke that she directed. I think it’s the best ad Coke have released to date.

Financial Crisis - work it out yourself

I’m surprised by the lack of real debate in the media on the current financial crisis. Too many commentators are content to state the obvious, without providing any real insight into what is going on. To add insult to injury, many offer, as insightful predictions, stock standard phrases such as “the crisis isn’t over yet” and “tighter regulations are required”. It’s as if, after covering hurricanes and wars, the financial crisis has been put in the too hard basket because it can’t be explained away as an act of god or an act for god.

The major exception to my comments above is the NYTimes. Case in point:

Great Photo: Merrill Lynch Resume Workshop Cancelled

(Photo: fantasysage via The Consumerist)

Very sad, though perhaps the workshop is now being run as an internal programme. I’m pleased to see that the “Personal Branding” session is going ahead; I encourage self-flagellation for all financial sector employees.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

iPhone and HTC Touch HD

Gizmodo has posted pictures of the new HTC Touch HD with the iPhone. The Touch HD is probably the first phone that can be placed next to the iPhone and not be shamed (I actually think it looks better than the iPhone).

General impressions of the Touch HD on the internets are that TouchFlo is super smooth, the screen is huge and the 5 mega-pixel camera handles low light pretty well.
I’m currently using an HTC Diamond and my only complaint is that the interface is slow, particularly compared to the iPhone (2G or 3G version). If HTC has fixed the interface up, they could have a real contender on their hands.

Is this the long awaited “iPhone killer”? - Too early to judge I think. I await the HTC Touch HD with interest, particularly if I can run Android.

Roger Cohen: The king is dead

Roger Cohen has written an interesting article on the collapse of Wall Street, titled “The King is Dead”. Below is an extract from the article.

“The biggest single-day market drop since 9/11 reminded me that when trading reopened on Sept. 17, 2001, and the Dow plunged 684.81 points, some executives backdated their options to re-price them at this post-attack low in order to increase their potential gains.

So that's what "financial killing" really means. No better illustration exists of a culture where private gain has eclipsed the public good, public service, even public decency, and where the cult of the individual has caused the commonwealth to wither.”


Gizmodo Caption Contest: Vader Love

Great picture - personally, I'm impressed at the effort these two have gone to. Check out the comments section at Gizmodo.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Carwash for Shopping Carts

Sleepyanimal, who is clean freak, would love PureCart. PureCart is basically a carwash for shopping carts. The system uses a quick-drying sanitizing wash to clean and disinfect the carts inbetween uses. It’s perfect for the type of person who hates touching door-handles, uses wet-wipes before and after touching anything and wont use utensils if they’ve touched the tabletop in a restaurant. As far as I’m concerned, this gadget would just add one more irritating delay to supermarket shopping.

Black Humour

Songbird Estates signed a 30-year lease with Lehman Brothers for 1 million square feet of office space in London’s Canary Wharf five years ago. At the time, Songbird was smart enough to buy an insurance policy that would guarantee the lease for four years in case Lehman could not pay it. The insurer is AIG.


Aggressive short selling by speculators, a practice dreamt up by investment bankers, ultimately buried Lehman’s share price and lead to its bankruptcy announcement on Sunday. This outcome was clearly unexpected for the speculators still in the game, as it leaves them high and dry. One can only assume they were expecting the Fed to ride in and save the day. The whole thing appears to be a case where certain individual’s have so earnestly pursued greed that they have had the misfortune to overtake it.

On Sunday evening, in a last ditch attempt to save the bank, Lehman's was listed on ebay.

The listing was pulled following Lehman's bankruptcy announcement. Before it was pulled, however, I managed to copy some of the Q&A.

Q: What will you accept as collateral? I have Enron Class C paper and several reams of Washington Mutual letterhead.
A: now your talking --- Q. where is Enron paper traded?

Q: Can I demote the CEO to a janitor after I make this purchase?
A: we expect you will be working along side him.

Q: Does it come with that life sized inflatable punch bag of Alan Greenspan
A: Yes and if you act now we'll throw in an inflatable Bernanke and Paulson

Q: My office is across the hall from a Lehman branch. There is a cute blonde receptionist by the name of Halley that works there. Is she included in this sale?
A: This would be a separate transaction between you and Halley, however as the prestigious owner of an investment bank ... you have the wind at your back

Q: My mother says she'll send you a note promising to send you my allowance for the next three years- would this be acceptable payment?
A: please send info on your mother asap

Q: Will you toss AIG in with it as a bonus item? Will the Federal Reserve help with the auction fees?
A: AIG = All Is Good ... of course.. though we do not own them. Reserve no can do

Q: If I buy this and it all goes bad, will the Federal Reserve give me unlimited funds to make it all better? How much dummy spitting would I need to do?
A: not this time

Q: How about the toxic mortgage securities and all of the debt? Is that included?
A: duh

Q: Will I still be expected to pay executives large performance bonuses, or have they already taken all the money?
A: Yes to both questions

Q: Can I forcibly eject the current home owners?
A: the rats have already left the bldg.

Q: Has the State of Alaska made any offers on the item yet?
A: it has been earmarked

Q: Can you take Visa or do you prefer paypal?
A: priceless.

Q: I'm ready to bid, can I look at the books first? How many sets of books are there?
A: there is one set of books you snide buyer. However books are for losers

Q: If you end the auction early I will refinance my house and pull out my equity to pay you cash. Then I will just foreclose on my house so I don't have to pay anything for it.
A: Your application for COO is being currently considered

Q: Hello Lehman Brothers, I was wondering, I just received $25,000,000,000.00 of the U.S. Taxpayer's money via the FEDERAL Government to do an INDIRECT BAILOUT... Shsssh! Is this BAILOUT OFFER PRICE Acceptable, since I know the U.S. Greenback is becoming worthless to Americans and the World? Thanx, Ron Paul
A: Ron, We appreciate your offer, but this is only offered to idiots at the moment

Q: What a great deal if it includes the paperclips. When will you be listing Washington Mutual, and Wachovia?
A: actually we hope to offer the S&P 500 in 09

Q: 1) If I buy this with my eBay Mastercard and default on the payment, will the Fed bail out eBay? 2) I see I only get $200 of buyer protection from you. Can you recommend a bank that will provide an eBay default swap that will insure me if you don't deliver? Thanks
A: Fed's busy with other bailouts at the moment. We may only be worth $200 at this point

Q: I assume I can use my LEH stock as a down payment.
A: sure .. that's how we built this ship

Q: Can I pay in Canadian Tire Money? How about a post dated Zimbabwe Currency cheque?
A: We need to check with our accountants at Anderson about this

Q: Is transfer of staff included in this package? I only ask as I don't think I could justify paying incredibly inflated salaries.
A: sure you can ... we did it

Q: Can you please include a picture of the Lehman Brothers building I will be acquiring?
A: at this point we are not sure we own the building

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New Macbook?

According to Barron’s, Citigroup’s Richard Gardner has asserted in a research note that “field checks” have confirmed that shipments of new MacBooks have begun. Mr Gardner says the most distinctive features of the new MacBooks are “very thin aluminum casing, an LED-backlit display and an aggressive entry-level price point.”

I am very pleased to read this, as I am in the market for a new laptop. Hopefully, aggressive entry-level price point means the same thing to a research analyst from a large commercial bank as it does to me (though probably not). Currently price is the only thing stopping me from purchasing a new MacBook – it’s hard to justify the price of a MacBook when Lenovo and Asus have good products (X61 and Eee PC respectively) that are significantly cheaper.

Either way, I think I’ll delay my laptop purchase decision until early next month on the off-chance Mr Gardner is on the money with his statements.

(Barron's via Gizmodo)

Trading places

In keeping with my investment banking theme of the last few days: OObject has posted an excellent list of trading floors, including the mammoth UBS trading floor in Stamford Connecticut (above) and the futuristic glass enclosed cylinder trading room at the Tokyo Stock Exchange (below).

I’ve always been secretly covetous of the workstations that traders work at. There is something so impressive about the banks of computer screen, each filled with graphs and charts.

Hit this link for the full
trading places list.

Nintendo v Goldman

According to calculations by the Financial Times, the average employee at Nintendo is on track to earn more for their company this year than the average Goldman Sachs employee did in 2007, the investment bank’s best ever year.

Before tax and before pay, the average Goldman employee generated US$1.24m in profit last year, based on the company’s accounts. After Nintendo upgraded its earnings forecast, the FT estimates each staff member will produce more than $1.6m in profit this year.

There is no comparison when it comes to employee salaries. At Goldman the mean employee walked away with compensation of $660,000 in 2007 – about half of the profit they generated – the average salary at Nintendo was just $90,900.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Take a deep one ...

The news from Wall Street keeps getting worse. The latest is that Merrill Lynch has agreed to sell itself to Bank of America to avert its deepening financial crisis, while Lehman Brothers has announced that it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The sight of these once proud ‘Masters of the Universe’ brought to their knees, is a humbling moment for the financial sector. However, I can’t help but feel a fair amount of déjà vu. Haven’t we seen this before? (Black Monday – 1987, Long Term Capital Management 1998, Dot Com 2000) The sceptic in me says this is not a wake-up call, as some describe it, rather, we are experiencing a periodic market correction, which is required to address a systemic problem in the global economic system.

Such histrionics are interesting, but on a more immediate note, how much more pain are we yet to go through? Back on Wall Street, even as Lehman and Merrill’s futures were being decided, another crisis looms as the insurance giant American International Group (AIG) begins to teeter. New Times reported that AIG has sought a $40 billion lifeline from the Federal Reserve, without which the company may have only days to survive.

Bankers around the world are bracing themselves how the markets will react to the weekend’s events. Here in Asia, trading this morning has seen U.S. futures and the dollar tumble. Traders have been using terms like “mayhem” and “cathartic sell-off” to describe what is happening.

It’s a truism to say that how things play out over the next couple of days will have serious implications for the global economy and the extent to which it can be said to be in a recession. Once the dust settles, however, it will be interesting to examine the ravaged economic landscape. Hopefully, people (in both the private and public sector) see the opportunities for enhancement and take the time to redesign, rather than blindly rebuild, the financial sector. In the meantime, brace yourself and take a deep one …

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dmitry Maksimov

Sleepyanimal posted a great link to a showcase of Russian artist Dmitry Maksimov's work. I really like the way he mixes cold, artificially look photographs of nature (he uses the ‘tilt-shift’ effect), with amorphous spirit-like creatures (think Hayao Miyazaki – Spirited Away), which appear more real than their ‘natural‘ surroundings.

Virtual Realities

Dutch architects NL have created an interesting, funny and somewhat disquieting collection of photoshopped images for the Italian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale. NL's images make you think twice about the use, function and symbolism of everyday architecture and design. Critical, relevant and comic - an excellent combination.

"Flower Power - can we move from what the Dutch call "pollution of the horizon" to "heroic" configurations? Is it possible to create an Eiffel Tower, Atomium or St Louis Arch dedicated to the production of environmentally friendly energy?" Is an aesthetically pleasing wind turbine too much to ask for?

"Minimum Speed 200 hk/h - the products that surround us often have unused capacities, we only use a fraction of their potential." This statement would apply to about 70% of the gadgets and appliances I own. (The 5 year-old matchbox car racer in me misses the point entirely and wishes someone would make the loop-the-loop a reality.)

"Phantom Pain - in the capitals of Europe 18 square kms of office space is left unused. This equals more than half of Manhattan, or a ghost town of 50 twin towers." This is my favourite of the images.

(NL via de zeen)