Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Don't Understand the Economy

The creator of 'Dilbert', Scott Adams, wonders about on the current state of the US economy:

As a general rule, wherever you find a large group of people who are baffled by complexity, you will find a smaller group of people making a good living screwing them. It's true with all complex things: insurance, cell phone plans, legal stuff, technology, you name it. But it has never been truer than with the mortgage backed securities that are currently crapping down the throat of the global economic system.

As I understand it, a bunch of geniuses used something called math to make it seem like a good idea to loan money to people who are unlikely to pay it back. But here's the part I don't understand: Who invested in these risky securities?

According to a recent piece on 60 Minutes, there might be $50 trillion invested in these exotic financial vehicles. So why didn't anyone ever offer those investments to me? And why don't I know anyone else who invested in them? And why haven't I seen a crying widow on TV who wishes she hadn't invested her life savings in them?

As I understand it, banks and mortgage brokers offloaded their crappy mortgages to these investors, thus transferring the risk from the system that makes loans to a bunch of confused people who apparently ran out of regular things to invest in. So why is the banking system in trouble if they moved their worst loans to other people? And who are these other people?

Do you personally know anyone who invested in these exotic securities? And if not, how did we watch so much coverage of the economic crisis without learning such a basic fact?

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Y'all Sound the Same

So I was talking to a girl who recently added me on Facebook.
Her last name was Serbian, so I had started the conversation with Serbian hello, how are you, I'm fine, thanks, etc

Then she tells me...

Sanja says:
Super... Znaes makedonski??

Super... You know Macedonian??

I swear the Balkan Slavic languages are one and the same... even Svetlana agrees.
Sort of.

Светлана says:
no no
Светлана says:
but macedonian sounds like serbian dialect
Светлана says:
we call it South Serbia anyways

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Friday, October 24, 2008

2008's Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Peacemaker or Puppet?

Throughout the Western world, the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari has been widely hailed, where there has been an outpouring of praise for the man and his efforts.

But there is another side to this man that has not yet received attention:

"It really doesn't matter if Paraguay hasn't recognised," Ahtisaari said. "Well over 65% of the wealth of the world has recognised. That matters."

Ahtisaari said Serbia would have to recognize Kosovo if it wanted to join the European Union.

"You can't be poking the EU in the eye [while] saying you want to join EU," he said.

Although he was supposed to be an impartial mediator, Ahtisaari admitted he had sent private messages to all parties soon after taking his role as mediator, that Kosovo's secession was inevitable.

- Kosovo Compromise, Monday, October 20, 2008

Svetlana wryly remarked, "Well, then what about Russia? And India, or China?"

As if this blatant statement does not indicate whose interests Ahtisaari has served in the fiasco leading up to the Kosovar Albanian declaration of independence early this year, the man's "negotiating" techniques are anything but peaceful (emphasis mine):

Ristic reports that as Milosevic listened to the reading of the text, he realized that the "Russians and the Europeans had put us in the hands of the British and the Americans." Milosevic took the papers and asked, "What will happen if I do not sign?"

In answer, "Ahtisaari made a gesture on the table," and then moved aside the flower centerpiece. Then Ahtisaari said, "Belgrade will be like this table. We will immediately begin carpet-bombing Belgrade."

Repeating the gesture of sweeping the table, Ahtisaari threatened, "This is what we will do to Belgrade." A moment of silence passed, and then he added, "There will be half a million dead within a week." Chernomyrdin’s silence confirmed that the Russian government would do nothing to discourage carpet-bombing.

- CounterPunch, October 14, 2008

Many in the West say the continued Chinese presence in Tibet leads to the "mindless destruction" of monasteries, as well as "cultural genocide".

But they remain strangely silent when the very same occurs in Kosovo and Metohija. Hundreds of mediaeval Serbian churches and monasteries, the few remaining strongholds of Kosovo's Christian history, are being emptied and destroyed by Kosovar Albanians as NATO "peacekeepers" nonchalantly watch on. Truly, the Eastern European bias remains alive and well even after the Red Scare has been deposited in history's rubbish bin.

KFOR soldiers helplessly watch as Serbian homes burn near Priština

Gregory Elich concludes:

The selection of Martti Ahtisaari for the Nobel Peace Price was a reward for services rendered. This was a purely political statement, meant to underline an important principle in international affairs. The same Western nations that forcibly carved Kosovo from Serbia are vociferously complaining that independence for South Ossetia and Abkhazia violates international law and the territorial integrity of Georgia. This year’s Nobel Peace Prize affirms the lofty principle that it is only the West that will draw and redraw borders in the manner of 19th-century imperial powers.

It was these imperialist powers who drew the present-day boundaries in the Balkans - sometimes in ink, often in blood. And now they reward this "peacemaker" who has forcibly wrenched Kosovo and Metohija away from Serbia to give Albanian terrorists a country. No Orthodox Christian can ever accept this peace that leaves us with nothing but pain.

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Orthodoxy Arrives in Cuba

...most astonishingly, as a gift from the Communist state:

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Legendary Actress Laid to Rest

On October 15, Latvia bid farewell to legendary film and theatre actress, Vija Artmane. Fan and mourner alike gathered early morning in the capital's Nativity Cathedral for the funeral, presided over by Metropolitan Alexander Kudryashov. She was laid to rest at the Protection of the Mother of God cemetery. Andrejs Strokins captured the entire event on camera.

Born to a Baltic German father and a Polish mother, Alida Franzevna Artmane was raised in a village near Tukums on July 21, 1929. Fond of wild flowers, she spent her childhood playing the fields, learning to make flower arrangements and dolls. At 10, she became a shepherdess, tending a herd of cows for five years. She graduated from high school a year after the Second World War ended, and had dreams of becoming a lawyer, but thankfully, her passion for acting prevailed and she moved to Riga to study at the Daile Theatre Second Studio. Changing her name to Vija, she was critically acclaimed for her performance as Anna Karenina in the eponymous play by Leo Tolstoy; she also starred in Tolstoy's 'War and Peace', in Gogol's 'Dead Souls', and other classic Russian plays.

She achieved nation-wide fame for her role in the 1963 film, 'Rodnaya Krov', as a loving mother. Her subsequent film career was highlighted with such roles as Veda Kong in 'Tumannost Andromedy', as Catherine the Great in 'Yemelyan Pugachyov' and as Julia Lamber in 'Teatris'. Vija Artmane was honoured with the title, National Actress of Latvia and was named People's Artist of the USSR in 1969. The Culture Ministry of Latvia awarded her for her contribution to theatre and cinema in 1999. She converted to Holy Orthodoxy sometime in the early 2000s and her memoirs were published in 2003. She is survived by two children, a son and a daughter.

Блажени, яже избрал и приял еси, Господи. Память их в род и род.

Blessed are they whom Thou hast chosen and taken, O Lord. Their memory is from generation to generation.

A note to non-Orthodox readers: placed on the forehead of the deceased is a paper chaplet bearing the words of the Trisagion, representing the crown of victory at the end of the contest. The coffin is never closed, because we believe the body to be an honourable and even a holy thing. For us, the body is not something to be hidden away or hurriedly disposed of, and should be treated with reverence. One sometimes gets the impression that in closed-casket funerals, the deceased is the only person who is not present and does not matter.

Metropolitan Alexander Kudryashov presided over the funeral

"Сам, Господи, упокой душы усопших рабов Твоих Вия: в месте светле..."

Give rest, O Lord, to the soul of Vija, in a place of light...

Hundreds of Rigans turned out to say goodbye to Vija

A last kiss

Во блаженном успении вечный покой подаждь, Господи, усопшым рабом Твоим, имена, и сотвори им, вечную память.

Give rest eternal, O Lord, in blessed repose, to the soul of Thy departed servant, and make her memory eternal.


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Friday, October 17, 2008


Хочется дурой набитою стать,
Чтоб не уметь ни писать, ни читать,
Чтобы валяться круглые сутки...
Чтобы смеяться на глупые шутки...
Чтобы переться от розовой шмотки,
Чтобы подруги - одни идиотки,
Чтоб в ридикюле духи и жЫвачка,
Чтоб Петросян насмешил до ус ....ки.
Чтобы компьютер - большой калькулятор,
Чтобы с ашипкай писать > "гиниратор",
Чтобы Дом2 - "зашибись передача",
Кучу любовников и побогаче.
Чтобы в наушниках - "Шпильки" с Биланом,
Чтобы трусы - только "Дольче Габана",
Чтоб "кибернетика" - страшное слово,
Чтобы "политика - это не клёво".
В общем, хочу быть набитою дурой,
Брать не умом, а лицом и фигурой,
Всё достигать, обнажая коленки...
Стать бы такой... И убица ап стенку
Станешь такой - офигеешь от скуки!
Будут вокруг не подруги, а суки.
Все мужики будут гады и жмоты,
Отдых достанет ну просто до рвоты.
Будут в квартире не стены - застенки.
Будут скучать друг по другу коленки.
Так что ресницами глупо не хлопай.
Взгляд в монитор и работай-работай!!!


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Beer - A Sign of God's Love!

With the Oktoberfest nearing its end, Memoirs thought it good to remind all "why malt does indeed offer convincing proof that God does indeed love us":

And yet, I can offer something about beer-brewing that proves, to my pagan mind, why malt does indeed offer convincing proof that God does indeed love us. In the process of brewing beer, there is a critical temperature. It is the temperature of the "sparge" water, the water used to wash the sugars out of the barley malt, and it must be 167 degrees. A few degrees lower, and you won't get all the sugars, a few degrees higher and you will get unpleasant tannins along with the sugars.

Yet, in the days before thermometers, which include most of the days during which mankind, Christian and pagan alike, have brewed beer, how did they possibly know when the water had reached that critical number? Boiling point is easy to find, but boiling water will ruin the wort. So how did they know? As it turns out, there is a sudden change in the reflectivity of water just at this critical temperature; that is to say, you can detect the change in temperature just by looking at the water, no thermometer required. Now, one can invoke mere coincidence to explain this. But to invoke coincidence is to reject not just God but science. For if we can attribute such miracles to coincidence, then we never need look for the cause of anything. And I think it quite reasonable, nay, quite scientific, to attribute such an amazing "coincidence" to the care and concern of God for his creation.

[via The Distributist Review]

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"You don’t win a Nobel Peace Prize without having blood on your hands"

Russia was outraged at the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Martti Ahtisaari last week. The former Finnish president was the UN envoy to Kosovo until 2007, when he quit amid vehement Russian opposition to Kosovan independence from Russian ally Serbia. Deputy leader of the Russian parliamentary foreign affairs committee, Leonid Slutsky, likened Ahtisaari's peace plan for Kosovo to the opening of a “Pandora's box”. Kosova declared independence on February this year.

- The Budapest Times, Monday, 13 October 2008

As if the committee wasn't discredited enough - Ahtisaari wins Nobel Peace Prize. First Kissinger, then Gore, now Ahtisaari?

This man's "supervised independence" plan for Kosovo and Metohija was a complete failure, a plan which solution was tacitly predetermined from the start. Ignoring Serbian interests, imposing one side's interests over another, and providing Kosovo's criminal overlords with all the prerogatives of a state (constitution, border/air traffic control, army, secret service, etc), has resulted in Kosovo's declaration of secession early this year. In addition, Ahtisaari's plan legitimizes the post-war discrimination of minorities, and fails to guarantee restitution of state, social or church property, resulting in widespread acts of violence against the remaining Serbs in Kosovo, as well as the continued destruction of churches and monasteries.

Johan Galtung, Norwegian founder of peace studies, hit the spot when describing Ahtisaari as a man who does not hesitate to favour solutions that bypass the United Nations and international law. "Ahtisaari does not solve conflicts but drives through short-term solutions that please western countries", Galtung adds - and his words will prove to be prophetic.

Kosovar secession is not "the last step in the disintegration of Yugoslavia", as so many have happily mentioned, but rather, the first step in further destabilization in the Balkans.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Who Needs Depth Perception...

...when you can't drive anyway?

A Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia has called on women to wear a full veil, or niqab, that reveals only one eye.

Sheikh Muhammad al-Habadan said showing both eyes encouraged women to use eye make-up to look seductive.

- BBC News, 14:51 GMT, Friday, 3 October 2008

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I Don't Ask For Much...

...but why is it sooo hard to get an Orthodox date in this @#$% country?!

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Church Militant

Kris Kuksi's Church Tank Type 5A

[via bookofjoe]

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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Excuse Me, Normal?!

If this does not show how inherently flawed Internet personality quizzes are, I honestly don't know what will.

Your result for The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test...

Joe Normal

For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.

You scored less than half in all three, earning you the title of: Joe Normal.

This is not to say that you don't have some Nerd, Geek or Dork inside of you--we all do, and you can see the percentages you have right above. This is just to say that none of those qualities stand out so much as to define you. Sure, you enjoy an episode of Star Trek now and again, and yeah, you kinda enjoyed a few classes back in the day. And, once in a while, you stumble while walking down the street even though there was nothing there to cause you to trip. But, for the most part, you look and act fairly typically, and aren't much of an outcast.

I'd say there's a fair chance someone asked you to take this test. In any event, fairly normal.

Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST

Take The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test at HelloQuizzy

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Monday, October 06, 2008


Её телефонная линя была востановлена!

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Behind Religious Harmony

Camille of Forsan et Hæc Olim Meminisse Iuvabit alerts us to this little-known article from Singapore's leading newspaper and official organ of the ruling party:

ZOROASTRIANISM is the 'sign of Zorro'. Islam is when 'their marriages take place in the void deck'. Buddhism is 'about filial piety'.
These were some comments made by youth here on various religions, as found in a study by former Aware president and educator Phyllis Chew.


While 76 per cent said they were 'tolerant' of other religions, their idea of tolerance was 'not talking about it'.

And while a whopping 92 per cent expressed desire to find out more about other religions, the majority said they would do so from the Internet.

At the same time, Dr Chew found that they switched religions through an emotional process. 'They will usually say things like, 'I've a good feeling (about this religion)' or 'My friends influenced me'.

'So it's not a very rational decision, like what are the pros, what are the cons. It's not very cognitive. The switching process is usually an emotional one.'

- News @ AsiaOne, Sep 14, 2008

It is as I have long feared. Religious tolerance (or 'harmony', as official sources often phrase it) in Singapore does not rest on mutual understanding and cooperation, but on a massive foundation of profound ignorance.

After all, what else can explain the existence of both 'Christian' and 'Catholic' as choices on official question forms? The leading newspapers continue to perpetuate this ignorant mistake, year after year, despite numerous friends writing in every so often to request that they refrain from doing so.

I disagree somewhat with the good doctor on the second quoted bit. Religious choice is hardly, if ever, a rational one. Some people are very systematic and insist on studying every detail, but these only make up a small percentage of converts. Most choose to convert based on a wide variety of factors, with intellectual rationalism usually not very high on their list of priorities.

Although, this would account for the massive increase in megachurch attendance this island nation has seen over the past few years - so much so, that a (nominally) Buddhist classmate was compelled to ask me if speaking in tongues and ecstatic Praise & Worship services were traditional components of Christian worship.


This is nation where students swim all day in the Sea of Knowledge and still come out completely dry.

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Now, who is more irrational: the person who believes in a God who they cannot see, or the atheist who is offended by a God they do not believe in?

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Friday, October 03, 2008

I Stay Up Late and I Don't Do Anything Productive learning the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet from Svetlana at four in the morning:

In other news, Memoirs announces a new category of posts!

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Eid ul-Fitr

I wish 'Eid Al-Mubarak' (literally, 'blessed Festival' in Arabic) to Muslim friends today, and while Malays and Turkmen generally understood me, the Kazakhs had no idea what I was saying.


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