Monday, May 25, 2009

Old days...

OK, so @MXML on Twitter posted a link to a sound track of L'aventurier by Indochine. Instantaneous flashback to '82 in Europe, when 'Bob Morane' burst onto the scene... 'le roi de la terre'... Enjoy!

Egaré dans la vallée infernale
Le héros s'appelle Bob Morane
A la recherche de l'Ombre Jaune
Le bandit s'appelle Mister Kali Jones
Avec l'ami Bill Ballantine
Sauvé de justesse des crocodiles
Stop au trafic des Caraïbes
Escale dans l'opération Nadawieb

Le coeur tendre dans le lit de Miss Clark
Prisonnière du Sultan de Jarawak
En pleine terreur à Manicouagan
Isolé dans la jungle birmane
Emprisonnant les flibustiers
L'ennemi est démasqué
On a volé le collier de Civa
Le Maradjah en répondra

Et soudain surgit face au vent
Le vrai héros de tous les temps
Bob Morane contre tous chacal
L'aventurier contre tous les guerrier
Bob Morane contre tous chacal
L'aventurier contre tous les guerrier

Dérivant à bord du Sampang
L'aventure au parfum d'Ylalang
Son surnom, Samouraï du Soleil
En démantelant le gang de l'Archipel
L'otage des guerriers du Doc Xhatan
Il s'en sortira toujours à temps
Tel l'aventurier solitaire
Bob Morane est le roi de la terre


Photo: Russian birth certificate Source: Wikipedia

The July 2nd 2008 'Registered Identity' entry very briefly touched on the issue that in many poor countries the percentage of inhabitants with birth certificates is extremely low (with negative 'knock on' effects e.g. see below), and that Afghanistan was making an effort to register its population. Now, Burkina Faso has started a twelve month campaign to get an estimated five and a half million people, mostly women and children,registered. This effort is being supported by UNICEF...

One example of problems caused by a lack of birth certificates and registrations (from UNICEF):

Children’s right to be registered at birth and their right to a name and identity are formally recognized by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Birth registration is instrumental in safeguarding other human rights because it provides the official ‘proof’ of a child’s existence. This documentation is crucial, especially during times of armed conflict or civil unrest. The ‘invisibility’ of non-registered children increases their vulnerability and the risk that violations of their rights will go unnoticed. Providing children with birth registration during and after conflict is, therefore, a matter of urgent priority. The urgency and importance of birth registration during emergencies was tragically demonstrated following the powerful tsunami that slammed into the coasts of India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the Maldives, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Seychelles andSomalia in December 2004, killing thousands of people and leaving hundreds of thousands of children and their families homeless. The most immediate task was to identify and register unaccompanied and separated children and trace their family members, working closely with hospitals, communities, police and local authorities. Reuniting children with family and extended family members in emergency situations is the best way to provide children with safety, security and care, and birth certificates and other documents of identification are essential to reunification efforts. While tracing efforts were underway, a well-intentioned outpouring of support from around the world included expressed interest in adopting children affected by the emergency. However, in the course of registration and tracing it was determined that, in fact, very few children who survived the tsunami lost their parents, and most of those children were taken in locally by extended family and friends. Another risk was traffickers who sought, in the aftermath of the disaster, to move unaccompanied children to international destinations – for adoption, but also for child labour and sexual exploitation. It was therefore a top priority to identify children and register them as quickly as possible...

Some bunk

Iran and nearby U.S. bases

"I'm one who believes that Iran getting a nuclear weapon is calamitous for the region and for the world," Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "It then, in my view, generates neighbors who feel exposed, deficient and then develop or buy the capability themselves," he said, suggesting Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapon likely would trigger a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. "The downside, potentially, is absolutely disastrous." But Mullen did not suggest the United States should take military action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. He echoed the Obama administration's policy that big powers should work together to persuade Iran not to pursue a nuclear bomb and halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons generally. "Major leaders, internationally, have got to come together to arrest this growth or the long-term downside for the people in the world is really, really tragic and drastic," he said.

(Admiral Mike Mullen's remarks came the day after Iran's president announced the country had tested a missile that analysts said could hit Israel and US bases in the Gulf, a major source of crude oil for the United States....)

Extract from: US military chief says Iran nuclear bomb would be 'calamitous.'

OK, blah, blah... fairly useless statement, filled with ' sound and fury, signifying nothing.' The sound and fury - 'calamitous', ' absolutely disastrous', 'tragic', 'drastic', etc., and the nothing - no clear reasons why these would correctly describe the outcome. The only glimmer of an adverse consequence, an arms race in the Middle East. However, one could as easily argue that this is a consequence of existing factors (Israel's nuclear weapons; N. Korea's ownership of the same, invasion of Iraq, etc.)

Oh, does Iran really need a long-range missile to reach "U.S. bases in the Gulf'? Rhetorical question: see map above for the answer...

Random pictures...

Couple of photos from the Pope's recent visit to Israel... showing two extremes...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Random charts...

Two charts related to health insurance and health care in the United States. The first shows the distribution of the types of insurance coverage (for the young, for seniors, and overall); while the second shows the distribution of national health care expenditures by service. etc. Both charts come from a CRS backgrounder on health care: 'Health Care Reform: An Introduction.'

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Great quotes...

"This idea of two states for two peoples is a stupid and childish solution to a very complex problem"
-Unnamed senior members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu staff.

This (i.e. a two-state solution) is the official position of the U.S. government, reiterated most recently by senior officials e.g. President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Random pictures...

Above: Brave New World, 2008
Below: Webs New Inner Diction, 2007
Picture credits: Brian Dettmer

Amazing book art... by Brian Dettmer, who "takes old books and turns them into beautiful works of art by cutting away selected parts to reveal layered images and text" See a gallery of 22 examples here...

Official web site of Brian Dettmer

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

QR update

The April 21st, 2009 blog entry 'BB & 2D barcodes' looked at the use of 2D barcodes, specifically on the BlackBerry. Couple of things, perhaps of interest:

1. The entry referenced the weird-looking Microsoft Tag... Well, this has been updated, and now one can use b/w, color dots, embed a background image, etc. See 'Custom Tags - Start Now!!' for more examples and guidelines....

2. Some examples of QR codes making their way into the environment:

Random charts...

Some results from the 2009 Annual Arab Public Opinion Poll...

Great quotes...

A Q&A session on Guantanamo at a press conference today (originally held to talk about credit card legislation) led to this exchange:
QUESTION: No one’s talking about releasing them. We’re talking about putting them in prison somewhere in the United States.
REID: Can’t put them in prison unless you release them.

Ah, the wisdom (not!) of Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV)

Misc. can you believe it?
(#3) - July 14th, 2008
Great quotes... - October 8th, 2008
A thin reed - Jan 8th, 2009

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Random pictures...

Great pictures of Russian 2009 V-Day Celebrations found here at Let Me Tell You (great site BTW)

Random charts...

Some market share numbers from a presentation by the CEO of Smithfield, world's largest pork processor... Critics have 'pointed out' the 'coincidence' that Smithfield has a 'plant' in the Mexican town where the first H1N1 cases occurred, the company has responded that none of its hogs have shown any signs and have denied any connection...

Random chart...

So, what's the latest with respect to the Obama administration jobs "saved and created?" The chart above from "Accountability?" by Greg Mankiw, shows the March and April unemployment numbers plotted on an administration graph that was supposed to project how unemployment would trend with and without the fiscal stimulus....

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Random chart...

Chart showing that commercial insurer payments are responsible for hospitals' positive margins. As the economy worsens and folks lose jobs some move from commercial to government coverage, with the concomitant negative effect on hospitals' finances....

Chart from a presentation on "...the state of the industry, national health care reform and what bright minds are thinking about..." linked here