Adamu's shared items

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sad state of affairs, BADASS photo

"Elite Zimbabwe soldiers, in 1982, whom Mr. Mugabe has long relied on to hold power."

Clearly, the Mugabe regime is the international equivalent of the badguy from Karate Kid.

There is NO mercy in this Zimbabwe!

This whole story (Mugabe's generals are torturing opposition politicians to extract criminal immunity) is as if Mugabe's generals have been ordered to "sweep the leg" of the opposition.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Souja Boy vs. Ice T

This passage from the Wiki entry on Soulja Boy left me speechless:

Feud with Ice-T
In June 2008, on DJ Cisco’s Urban Legend
mixtape, Ice-T
criticized Way for "killing hip-hop" and his song "Crank That" for being
"garbage" compared to the works of other hip-hop artists such as Rakim, Das EFX, Big
Daddy Kane
and Ice Cube.[22] Way then
responded in a YouTube video by mocking Ice-T's age saying "we Wikipedia-ed
this nigga, this
nigga was born in was born before the internet was created; how the
fuck you even find me?" Way, who seemed to be reading the Wikipedia article
about Ice-T as he spoke, frequently punctuated his comments with laughter. Ice-T
proceeded to offer a video response to Way's reaction in which he made an
apology for the harsh comment, but many felt it was a backhanded apology,
because at the end of the video Ice-T's son appeared reiterating the same
negative comment that Ice-T had stated in the mixtape. However Ice-T did not
apologize for his critique on Way's music even as to go so far as reiterating
his belief that Way's music was "garbage." Rapper Kanye West defended Way by
arguing that Soulja Boy created a new, original work for hip-hop, thus keeping
the authentic meaning of the music.[23] Way
followed suit by posting another video on the internet in the form of a cartoon
mocking Ice-T and ridiculing a video clip of Ice-T dancing.[24]
First off, Ice T as a rapper was never all that catchy. In fact, his work in the 80s sounds a lot like what gets mocked "I'm Ice T and I'm here to say" style corniness. Like take this from Breakin 2:

Say what you will about Soulja Boy, he didn't kill anything - he made a hot song with an accompanying dance that connected with the people of his day. As far as I can tell, Ice T has always been about his hard image, with the listenability of his music coming a distant second (something similar could be said of his acting career!). One thing the two have in common - Ice T's leather getup is just as flamboyant and ridiculous as the Superman-logo rainbow gear favored by Soulja Boy.

Considering difference between the music made 30 years ago in Ice T's heyday and the stuff that comes out today, it really shouldn't be considered in the same category at all. It would be like Little Richard saying Motorhead killed rock n roll. The two have just evolved separately such that they are mutually unrecognizable.

Another interesting comparison - Ice T grew up in Crenshaw and was part of the second generation and among the pioneers who contributed to the genre's shift from party anthems to talk about the gangster lifestyle. Soulja Boy's music draws on that history (raps about ho's, dances with handguns in both hands) but de-emphasizes macho violence. And crucially Soulja Boy has firmly middle class roots - he launched his career from his suburban Mississippi home with a music studio paid for by his dad.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

VAT taxes can end up being progressive?

The Economist Free Exchange blog has a brief discussion on consumption/VAT taxes:

...[A]n OECD study... finds, contrary to perceptions, that America has
one of the world's most progressive tax structures.
Even before the rise in
top marginal rates promised by Mr Obama, the US income tax collects 45 per cent
of its revenues from the highest-income decile. Compare that with Britain at 39
per cent, Canada at 36 per cent, France at 28 per cent, Sweden at 27 per cent
and an OECD average of 32 per cent.
That is because consumption taxes (VAT)
in Europe undermine the progressivity of income taxes. There exists a healthy
strand of the public finance literature suggesting that consumption taxes are
more efficient than income taxes. They can encourage more saving which leads to
more investment. Mr Crook believes that rather than steepening the tax schedule
America should consider a VAT.
Actually, this needn't even undermine
progressive taxation; consumption taxes can be implemented in a manner which
taxes higher earners (or spenders) more. Glenn Hubbard and
Bill Gentry
have found that broad consumption taxes can be progressive, for

Someone writing in the Nikkei's Economics Classroom column (not online, and I neglected to save the copy...) argued in line with that last argument that raising the consumption tax could end up being progressive. In particular they estimated that a higher Japanese consumption tax with the revenue used to fund social programs would end up being progressive as the poor would spend less yet use more social services, resulting in a net progressive redistribution. In their estimate, the middle class earners were squeezed the hardest as their net taxation/service usage was about even, even compared to the rich. Compared with the deeper analysis of the 48 page Hubbard and Gentry article, the Nikkei article seems kind of oversimplified.

Friday, April 3, 2009

News flash: Screwing around at work makes you MORE productive!


Study: surfing the Internet at work boosts

People who are able to spend 20 percent or less of their time surfing the
Internet at work are more productive than those who don't, according to research
from the University of Melbourne. Small Internet breaks help workers focus
better, though Internet addicts still have a problem.
In his report, Coker said that 70 percent of workers engage in WILB, the
most popular of which involved looking for information about products, reading
news, playing games, and watching YouTube videos. "People need to zone out for a
bit to get back their concentration," he said in a statement. "Short and
unobtrusive breaks, such as a quick surf of the internet, enables the mind to
rest itself, leading to a higher total net concentration for a days work, and as
a result, increased productivity."

Don't go thinking that you can now spend your entire day bidding on eBay
auctions, however. Coker said that—like everything—WILB should be done in
moderation. According to his research, those who surfed for less than 20 percent
of their time at the office were more productive than those who don't by nine
percent, but such productivity increases didn't apply to the Internet-addicted.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Elvis's "Fool's Gold Loaf"

From Get Rich Slowly:

On the night of 01 February 1976, Elvis Presley decided he wanted a Fool’s Gold Loaf, a special sandwich made of hollowed bread, a jar of peanut butter, a jar of jelly, and a pound of bacon. He and an entourage flew from Memphis to Denver. The group ate their sandwiches and then flew home. Price: $50,000 - $60,000.

Here is how you make this monstrosity of a sandwich:

Fool's Gold Loaf


o 2 T margarine
o 1 loaf Italian white bread
o 1 lb / 450 g bacon slices
o 1 jar of smooth peanut butter
o 1 jar of grape jelly

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C. Spread the margarine generously all over all sides of the loaf. Place it on a baking sheet in the oven.

Meanwhile, fry the bacon in a bit of oil until it is crisp and drain it thoroughly on paper towels.

Remove the loaf from the oven when it is evenly browned, after approximately 15 minutes. Slice the loaf lengthwise and hollow out the interior, leaving as much bread along the walls as desired. Slather a thick layer of peanut butter in the cavity of the loaf and follow with another thick layer of grape jelly. Use lots of both.

Arrange the bacon slices inside the cavity, or, if desired, layer the bacon slivers between the peanut butter and jelly. Close the loaf, slice and eat.

Serves one if you're Elvis. Serves 8-10 if you're a regular person.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Count censored

I hurt my face laughing at this:

Makes you wonder if this is what the Sesame Street people had in mind to begin with.

Raising bilingual kids

Interesting Japan Times article on raising bilingual kids. The keys are, according to the author:

  • First and foremost, raising bilingual children requires "time... monumental effort and perseverance on the part of both parents; and... piles of money"
  • Also beneficial are supportive relatives who can host the kids over summer holidays etc.
  • And one parent having a fairly mobile job will make it easier to move between countries.

Seems pretty doable!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What to do about Glenn Beck -- Shut it down!

"I just love my country and I fear for it."

Shouldn't he be in treatment instead of on TV?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Burmese political prisoners want freedom

Since the 2007 Saffron Revolution uprising, numerous Burmese activists have been given shockingly long prison terms, notably popular comedian Zarganar, whose alleged activism was defined as talking to the BBC during his efforts to aid the recovery following the devastating 2008 cyclone. This video outlines the plight of the prisoners and calls on compassionate souls to lend their support.

Free Burma's Political Prisoners Now! from FBPPN on Vimeo.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Well played?

The current featured post on Wikipedia:

The Chaser APEC pranks were a series of comic stunts that targeted the 2007 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Summit, which occured from 2–9 September, in Sydney, Australia. They were coordinated and performed by the Australian satire group The Chaser for the television series The Chaser's War on Everything. The most prominent prank was the breach of an APEC restricted zone in the heart of Sydney's CBD on 6 September. Julian Morrow directed a fake Canadian motorcade, which was allowed through the restricted zone by police and not detected until Chas Licciardello alighted, dressed as Osama bin Laden.

So much time and effort spent on something completely pointless and only mildly amusing.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tumultuous lives of R&B singers

Listening to the Quiet Storm station on Yahoo LaunchCast, I came across a new group named LeVert, singing "All Seasons" a 1990 slow jam with all the trappings of that era that are now getting lampooned by the likes of SNL's Andy Samberg - my favorites are the clicking synth bells and emotional sax solos that, with a little tweaking, could be reused as a variation on the Perfect Strangers theme song.

Anyway, belying the smooth crooning about romantic evenings and eternal love, LeVert's history isn't nearly so idyllic:

The band's success continued with their 1988 follow-up album Just Coolin'. Both The Big Throwdown and Just Coolin' received gold certification.

Beginning in the 1990s, Gerald began dividing his time between LeVert, and his solo career, but the band released three more albums, and Rhino Records released a greatest hits compilation album in 2001.

Gerald died due to an accidental overdose of over-the-counter and prescription drugs in November 2006.[1],[2] He had been planning a reunion at the time of his death.[citation needed]

The group's reunion plans were still alive, as the group replaced Gerald with Dwight Thompson, a fellow Cleveland native who was a member of R&B group The Rude Boys, which Levert discovered. Before the group started recording their new album Levert Dedication, Dwight Thompson left the group to return to the Rude Boys replacing Larry Marcus as their fourth member. Levert then brought in fellow Cleveland native Blaq Rose[3]

Sean Levert died at 39 following his brother's death on March 31, 2008, while serving jail time in the Cuyahoga County Jail for failing to pay child support. [4][5]. After the death of Sean LeVert Marc Gordon and Blaq Rose are still planning to release their new album.

Bonus Perfect Strangers theme action!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Train of thought from infectious Camp Rock song to Cyndi Lauper

So at work today I tried the Teen Pop station and this song got stuck in my head:

Here's what that movie's all about:

Mitchie wants to go to a music camp for young musicians named "Camp Rock". Since the family can't afford the tuition, Mitchie's mother (Maria Canals Barrera) arranges to cater food for the camp, thus allowing Mitchie to attend. When she arrives at the camp she immediately befriends a girl name Caitlyn (Alyson Stoner) who is an aspiring music producer.

Mitchie wants to be friends with the camp's 'mean girl' Tess Tyler (Meaghan Jette Martin), along with her clique Peggy (Jasmine Richards) and Ella (Anna Maria Perez de Tagle). When Mitchie introduces herself, the girls seem uninterested in her, so she lies about her mom, by saying she is the president of Hot Tunes TV China. They immediately take an interest in her and let her be their friend, making her very popular.

Meanwhile, spoiled rock star Shane Gray (Joe Jonas) has been forced to also attend the camp, after walking off the set of Connect 3's latest music video by his other band member Nate (Nick Jonas).

And you can kind of see where it might lead from there.

So I notice on Wiki that the movie was written by Julie Brown of "Earth Girls Are Easy" fame, and I remember when I was a kid Julie Brown seemed like a more annoying and less talented version of Cyndi Lauper.

And that thought led to the real gem of the evening: Cyndi Lauper doing a medley on Japanese TV! These performances are the best since everyone seems to be having such a good time clapping with their hands in the air:

When I was a kid there was some rumor that Cyndi Lauper was going to move into my hometown. As far as I know it never happened but I distinctly remember people telling me this as if it were some real, exciting news.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Bob Marley the cultist

What a tragically preventable death!

In July 1977, Marley was found to have acral lentiginous melanoma, a form of malignant melanoma, in a football wound - according to widely held urban legend, inflicted by broadcaster and pundit Danny Baker[17] - on his right big toe. Marley refused amputation, because of the Rastafari belief that the body must be "whole."

Marley may have seen medical doctors as samfai (tricksters, deceivers). True to this belief Marley went against all surgical possibilities and sought out other means that would not break his religious beliefs. He also refused to register a will, based on the Rastafari belief that writing a will is acknowledging death as inevitable, thus disregarding the everlasting (or everliving, as Rastas say) character of life.

The cancer then metastasized to Marley's brain, lungs, liver, and stomach. After playing two shows at Madison Square Garden as part of his fall 1980 Uprising Tour, he collapsed while jogging in NYC's Central Park. The remainder of the tour was subsequently cancelled.

Marley played his final concert at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on September 23, 1980. The live version of "Redemption Song" on Songs of Freedom was recorded at this show.[18] Marley afterwards sought medical help from Munich specialist Josef Issels, who promoted a controversial type of cancer treatment, partly based on avoidance of certain foods, drinks and other substances (Marley was also already a vegetarian, mainly for religious reasons).[19]. However, by this time his illness had already progressed to the terminal stage.

Death and posthumous reputation
While flying home from Germany to Jamaica for his final days, Marley became ill, and landed in Miami for immediate medical attention. He died at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Miami, Florida on the morning of May 11, 1981, at the age of 36. The spread of melanoma to his lungs and brain caused his death. His final words to his son Ziggy were "Money can't buy life."[20] Marley received a state funeral in Jamaica on May 21, 1981, which combined elements of Ethiopian Orthodoxy and Rastafari tradition. He was buried in a chapel near his birthplace with his Gibson Les Paul and a Bible.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009






Obama speech - everyone now required to go to college

Obama: Dropping out of high school isn't just quitting on yourself, it's quitting on your country. Highest proportion of college grads in the world by 2020.

This guy is totally on the right track to make education the big pillar of the US long term strategy. But wouldn't this be kind of meaningless if 80% of those grads are poli sci and liberal arts majors? While there is a place for that (it was a decent platform for me to learn Japanese and hone translation skills), it seems like we need more scientists and engineers.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More people working till they die of old age

This story from the WSJ made me sad and reminded me of the consequences of poor retirement planning. My grandma worked until her mid 70s because she never had an extra pension. Don't let this happen to you!

During past recessions, older workers simply would have retired rather than searching want ads and applying for jobs. But these days, with outstanding mortgages, bank loans and high medical bills, many of them can't afford to be out of work.

With jobs so scarce, people in their seventh and eighth decades are up against those half their age in a desperate scramble for work.

The number of unemployed workers 75 and older increased to more than 73,000 in January, up 46% from the prior January. Among workers 65 and older, the jobless rate stands at 5.7%. That's below the national average, but well above what it was in previous recessions, including the recession of 1981, when it reached at 4.3%.

The growing numbers reflect, in part, an increase in the number of older workers. The percentage of people 65 and older who are in the work force rose to 16.8% at year end, from 11.9% a decade earlier. Among people 75 and older, the increase was even greater -- to 7.3%, from 4.7%.

As people live longer and stay in better health, some of them merely want the stimulation and challenge of a job. But for workers like Ms. Appleby, Ms. Bennett and Mr. Dase, the motivation is financial necessity.

Fewer people than in years past are covered by defined-benefit plans, such as company-sponsored pensions that guarantee them specific monthly income for life. Those with retirement investments have seen their values erode with the stock-market tumble. Others worked for smaller companies, or were self-employed, and never had pensions. Many are outliving whatever savings they might have had, especially by the time they reach their mid to late 70s. Mortgages and medical bills push others into the job market because Social Security and Medicare, though helpful and critical, aren't enough.

There are few programs to help older unemployed workers. Several states are developing pilot programs. The Obama administration is receiving proposals for new ways to connect workers 55 years and older with local jobs.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ups and downs of business school

MBA grads can no longer count on high-paying Wall St. jobs.

But according to some business school officials (one spoke with WSJ radio (MP3)) applications for business school are way up as workers want to boost skills in a more competitive job market.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Former vs. formerly

A subtle grammar rule that I failed to notice recently:

The Vietnamese artist exhibiting her work in the United States reported that one of her artistic challenges had been the ________ widespread unavailability of paper and canvas in wartime, which she said often forced her to work on matchboxes and scraps of newsprint.

Fill in the blank:
(a) former
(b) formerly

And the answer is...

(b) former

You see, if it's "formerly" then the word "widespread" would be modified, when the word is supposed to modify the unavailability. And now you know!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Why don't you play the game?

Had no idea so many daft punk videos were anime-fied.
clipped from
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Monday, February 2, 2009

American Pop - inspiration for Kanye West's "Heartless"

Rotoscope animation is the best
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Love this animation

clipped from

Kanye West - Heartless

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Aso -- please hold this election already

The suspense is maddening!
clipped from

Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Taro Aso risks
deepening Japan’s recession in order to delay an election he’s
likely to lose.

Aso, whose approval rating has sunk below 20 percent after
less than five months in office, refuses to bow to pressure from
the opposition to call the election ahead of the legally
required Sept. 10 date. The resulting political paralysis is
stalling the 10 trillion-yen ($110 billion) stimulus plan he has
promised to restore economic growth.

“A tsunami is coming and we need effective economic
stimulus from the government,” says Tsuneo Watanabe, a Tokyo-
based adjunct fellow with the Center for Strategic and
International Studies in Washington. “By clinging to power,”
Aso, 68, and his Liberal Democratic Party are “making it harder
for ordinary people to cope with this severe downturn.”

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