Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

“Are You Lonely?”

February 21, 2011

A really energizing  — if somewhat embarrassing after-the-fact — conversation with my friend Armen.

100-foot cocaine-smuggling submarine

February 15, 2011

I’ve read about simple “submarines” for smuggling drugs that don’t fully submerge, but simply keep a small dome or port above the surface so the single pilot can see where he’s going.

But this is a different story.  Now mind you, it could be BS that it can fully submerge, but it IS sophisticated in that it uses a camera to see above the surface, which you can see in the pictures at the very top of the sub, under the transparent dome-looking thing at the top of the sail.

It’s allegedly built to move seven tons of cocaine to Mexico.  Not Texas or Flodia, but Mexico, because obviously our southern neighbor is a near-perfect superconductor of contraband.

At $15,000/kilogram wholesale, seven tons of pure cocaine is $100M.  If the sub cost 4000 million pesos like the news article says then that’s only $2M, or just 2% overhead if the sub never returns for a second load.  This obviously explains the reason for building a submarine in the first place, because it’s so dingdang efficient! Cube-square law strikes again!

I see this thing as the output sum of the following factors:

  • prohibition (secrecy)
  • abundant cash (see “prohibition” above)
  • internet (searching and encrypted communication)
  • jet aircraft (the easy movement of skilled people)

Here’s the Spanish news article, translated into English.  Note how it says that they found the submarine by tracing the technological bits and pieces used in it.  They didn’t find a submarine — they found the few special bits that had to come from outside Colombia:

The ship capable of carrying seven tons of cocaine was found in Timbiqui.

Men of the Pacific Naval Force, with support from the Colombian Air Force and members of CTI, came to one of the streams in a rural area of the town and met with the submersible measuring over 30 meters long.

Caught the attention of the authorities the technology used in the manufacture of this device, which allows you to browse completely submerged makes it virtually undetectable.

This submersible has advanced technology first seen in the country and its construction would have cost more than 4,000 million pesos to drug gangs, said the Navy in the Pacific.

In the same area were found a kitchen and precursors for the production of illicit substances, and two rifles, ammunition of different caliber and communications equipment.

Incredible story about Imperial Japanese bureaucracy

January 20, 2011

I just had to share this: link1 link2

The gist is that this particular Japanese flier was shot down into the jungle of the Solomon Islands in 1942.  The natives took care of him and eventually got him back to his people ten days later.

He had already been declared dead and posthumously promoted.  When he showed up alive, the brass were pissed off about his unearned promotions and proceeded to send him out on very dangerous consecutive missions in order to kill him.

“Finally, when a senior officer learned of this matter, he was taken off the suicide missions, brought back to ‘life’, and stripped of his double promotion – such an increase in rank for a living enlisted man would have been unprecedented.”

The Cambodian Exodus Donut Empire

January 5, 2011

I just had to share this with you two Future Business Mogus of America:

Have you noticed how the donut shop across from the Metro Cinema in the U-District, Ly’s Donuts and Espresso, has Cambodian-language posters on the walls?  And many donut places around LA?

Link1, Link2

It’s about how the California, Washington and Oregon donut business ended up being run by Cambodians.

It boils down to a certain ballsy Cambodian, Ted Ngoy, fleeing either death or brutal imprisonment at the grubby meat hooks of the Khmer Rouge, fleeing to the Marines’ Camp Pendleton near San Diego America where he worked odd jobs before learning the donut business.

This is right around the time that our indigenous donut industry was being metabolized down-river by Dunkin Donuts and Winchells.

So this Cambodian ends up buying and opening up DOZENS of donut shops all over California in order to (make a few bucks and) provide employment to the many other Cambodians who were landing there through the 70’s and 80’s, without skills or even the English language.

It’s really something.  If these guys can make it, so can anyone.

Solitary == Bad

December 18, 2010

This explains why spending all day looking at a computer screen (for money, you see) and long commutes to and from are freakin’ killing me.

Lordy!

James Burke on YouTube

November 5, 2010

James Burke’s “Connections, an Alternate  View of Change” (episode 1 part 1), from 1978, is the most brilliant piece of television I’ve ever seen.  Now that the YouTube era is upon us, it has now been entirely uploaded.

This is a big deal.  Please just give episode 1 part 1 a try and see if it moves you.

LovePlus+

September 1, 2010
I just had to share this bit of disturbing fascinatingness from Japan (tomorrow the world?)

LovePlus+ is a “virtual girlfriend” game/program for the Nintendo DS/iPhone, etc.  It’s a lot like Tamagochi (if any of you remember that), but instead of simulating the upkeep of a caring relationship between a person and a virtual baby chicken, it’s a virtual 17-year-old human female.

One fellow even married his.  Publicly!

And now holiday resorts are offering themed vacations to fellows and their LovePlus+ virtual girlfriends, which of course travel easier because they live in their Nintendo DS.  Some of the guys pay double, for both themselves and “her”.

This of course means at least 100 things, but I can’t get my head around just what they are.  ‘Which is why, of course, I’m posting this and provoking responses.

(One thing this reminds me of:  In artificial intelligence, we have the “Turing Test”, named after Alan Turning, inventor of the modern electric computer.  It goes like this: If a person is interacting in a screen-and-keyboard chat session with Entity X, and the person can’t tell whether he’s chatting with a person or a program, then the Turing Test has been passed and true AI has been achieved.  In the case of LovePlus+, though, the person knows it’s a program, and doesn’t care.)

I’m sure we have plenty of analogues to this here in the US and A, but I can’t quite put my finger on them.

The only “immortal” animal

June 18, 2010

A species of jellyfish that can sometimes revert back to being a baby jellyfish, and then grow up all over again.

Either bullshit or fascinating (or both).

The Dunning-Kruger Effect (short audio piece)

June 4, 2010

I sure found this very very interesting.  According to the Dunning-Kruger effect (named after the people who discovered it), people who are incompetent at subject X tend to drastically overestimate their competence.  Check out the audio piece about it from Australia.

And vice-versa, those who are most competent tend to under-estimate the other way.

Further, the only way for people to realize their incompetence is to see it in the rear view mirror after gaining actual education in subject X.  ‘And not, you see, by simply being shown a lousy test score.  That doesn’t cut it.

Hmm.  Four fingers pointing back, right?  So join me:

“I think I’m above average in the subjects that I actually suck at.”

Empty inbox!

May 19, 2010

This is what it looks like.  Dare to dream.