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Archive for June, 2009

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America to Americans: You are not as confident as you think you are

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

From the top story on today’s Yahoo Finance page:

Investors are adding consumer confidence to their growing list of things to worry about.

Stocks reversed early gains Tuesday and moved lower after a private research group said consumer confidence unexpectedly fell in June. The Dow Jones industrials fell 105 points in late morning trading.

After months of economic data showing that the recession was not getting worse, investors are hungry for signs that the economy is actually growing. Investors have grown nervous that the economy’s rebound won’t be as robust as hoped.

So, basically, here’s the conversation we’ve been having with ourselves:

Investors (last few months): We’re finally starting to feel better about the economy. We’re going to buy some stocks.

Investors (day before yesterday): Still feeling better. Keep buying stocks…

Private Research Group (yesterday): We know you thought you were feeling better, but you’re not. You’re feeling worse.

Investors (this morning): Holy crap! This news has made me feel worse. Sell the stocks! Sell!! Sell!!!

Perhaps what we have here is an over abundance of information, which has crossed the “cause & effect” transom to become a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Categories: Money Talk | 3 Comments »

Good news abounds…

Monday, June 29th, 2009

While the global media obsesses over a rash of celebrity deaths, I was pleased to find some good news in my newsfeed this morning.

1) U.S. Seeks New Roles as Troops Prepare Exit From Iraqi Cities

June 29 (Bloomberg) — Iraqi government officials will mark tomorrow’s long-planned withdrawal of U.S. forces from their cities by taking the day off, decorating cars with flowers and broadcasting patriotic music.

U.S. officers say that the Iraqis will be in exclusive control of major combat in urban areas, including the flashpoints of Baghdad, Mosul and Baquba, for the first time since the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein. U.S. forces will ring volatile cities to prevent rebel infiltration, provide intelligence and fight if Iraqis request.

The urban pullout is part of an accord signed by the Bush administration and the Iraqi government in November, which called for a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces by the end of 2011. President Barack Obama wants to pull out all but 35,000 to 50,000 soldiers by August 2010. About 131,000 American troops are now in Iraq, according to Pentagon figures.

2) Scientists kill cancer cells with “trojan horse”

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian scientists have developed a “trojan horse” therapy to combat cancer, using a bacterially-derived nano cell to penetrate and disarm the cancer cell before a second nano cell kills it with chemotherapy drugs.

Sydney scientists Dr Jennifer MacDiarmid and Dr Himanshu Brahmbhatt, who formed EnGenelC Pty Ltd in 2001, said they had achieved 100 percent survival in mice with human cancer cells by using the “trojan horse” therapy in the past two years.

The first wave of mini-cells release ribonucleic acid molecules, called siRNA, which switch off the production of proteins that make the cancer cell resistant to chemotherapy. A second wave of EDV cells is then accepted by the cancer cell and releases chemotherapy drugs, killing the cancer cell.

“The beauty is that our EDVs operate like ‘Trojan Horses’ They arrive at the gates of the affected cells and are always allowed in,” said MacDiarmid. “We are playing the rogue cells at their own game. They switch-on the gene to produce the protein to resist drugs, and we are switching-off the gene which, in turn, enables the drugs to enter.”

So, major steps forward toward world peace and a cure for cancer? Not a bad day…

Categories: The Future is Now | No Comments »

New York City Sights – The Financial Buildings

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

Back in the day, if you wanted to see the buildings that made up Wall Street’s titans, you had to go to, well. . . Wall Street.  Not so much anymore.  The recession of 2000 started the move away from that expensive, if not historical, real estate, and the attacks of 9/11/01 accelerated it.  Today, you can find Wall Street firms all over New York (and sometimes in New Jersey!).  Here are some examples (all pictures taken from “The Top of the Rock,” located at the top of the famous 30 Rockefeller Plaza – an attraction I highly recommend).

Read the rest of this entry »

Categories: New York, New York | No Comments »

What do you think of when you see this bird?

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

When you see the picture on the right, what do you think of? Recent polling suggests that if you were born in:

…the 1940′s or 1950′s, you think: Woodstock – 3 Days of Peace & Music

…the 1960′s or 1970′s, you think: The Partridge Family – Come on, Get Happy!

…the 1980′s or 1990′s, you think: Twitter for Guitar?

(NOTE: This post inspired by a certain cousin of mine, who shall, at least for now, remain nameless…)
 

Categories: Primetime TV, Random Acts of Blogging, Words about Music | 2 Comments »

Scaling the Internet for really big news

Friday, June 26th, 2009

According to CNN, when Michael Jackson died, he almost took significant parts of the Internet with him. Sites that experienced slowness or outright downtime included Google News, TMZ, Perez Hilton’s blog, CNN, Twitter, Wikipedia, the LA Times’ site, AOL Instant Messenger, and MJFanClub.net (a Michael Jackson fan site).

The article calls it the biggest mobile event in history:

AOL consumer adviser Regina Lewis . . .told CNN that, although the numbers weren’t in yet, the day should prove an historic milestone for mobile internet traffic. “It could go down as the biggest mobile event in history,” Lewis said. She felt that was down in part to people checking news headlines from work. “People wanted to keep tabs on this story, but if you’re an accountant you’re supposed to be working on your spreadsheet. So they were using their personal cellphones to do so,” she explained.

While the scale of response to Jackson’s death might be unprecedented, the pattern of it was not, Lewis added. “With the advent of social networking, we saw a sequence that we traditionally see around the death of celebrities,” she said. “One, people clamour for the latest news; two, they share it; three, they react; and then the next stage, which we’re seeing alive and well on video sites … are tributes. In the case of Michael Jackson and Farah Fawcett, (people have) a lot to work with in terms of images and video,” she said.

A similar event that comes to mind (purely from an infromation technology point of view) is September 11, 2001. On that day, cell phones and web sites had huge outages as well, with some web sites reverting to plain text feeds in order to maximize their use of bandwidth to get information disseminated.

What’s different here, is that almost eight years later, the number of mobile devices in the world has dramatically increased, as has the breadth and depth of bandwidth-hogging rich media, like video clips. So, while scaling to handle another 9/11 involved adding more web servers and IP bandwidth, solving this problem is going to be a bit more complex. Network infrastructure folks, responding to Michael Jackson’s death, will have to respond to a wider variety of devices, protocols, and data objects moving around concurrently.

Yet another way Michael Jackson inadvertently changed the world…

Categories: Tech Talk, Words about Music | 1 Comment »

Going…Going…Gone.

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

How different the world is today than it was just a couple of days ago…

R.I.P.: Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson

Categories: Primetime TV, Words about Music | No Comments »

Celebrity Sighting – Chris Matthews

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

I don’t often spot celebrities on the streets of Manhattan, usually because I’m too oblivious to notice them as I walk right past them. But today, on my way to New York’s Penn Station, I looked to my left and there was Chris Matthews talking on his cellphone. This is why I finally threw a digital camera in my laptop bag (hat tip: Ilya Burlak).

Anyway, I moved to a respectful difference and then snapped a picture:

Figures he was to my left… (bad political humor)

Categories: New York, New York, News and/or Media | No Comments »

New York City Sights – Wimbledon in New York

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

The plaza in front of 50 Rockefeller Plaza is one of New York’s best kept secrets. The folks at Rockefeller Center transform it every few weeks into something completely new & different, often drawing big crowds. This week, as the Wimbledon tennis tournament starts up in London, they’ve created a grandstand in front of a large screen TV, and a scaled down tennis court. I’m told that during the lunch hour, Jennifer Capriati and Jim Courier were on that court hitting tennis balls with some of the tourists (sorry – I didn’t go outside during lunch today, so they’re not in the pictures. You can all have your money back if you want it…)

Anyway, some pics:

Categories: New York, New York | No Comments »

New York City Sights – Window Washer

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

It’s been a while since I posted to my New York City Sights feature, so tonight I present two entries. The first is a New York window washer (seen here in Rockefeller Center). Anyone want this job?

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NOTE: Not that it makes it any less insane, but he is tethered to the building with a belt around his waist. That said, he does have to climb into and out of the window while detaching/attaching said belt.

I’ll keep my feet firmly on the ground, thank you very much…

Categories: New York, New York | 1 Comment »

John Hodgman Geeks Out for President Obama

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

This is just unbelievably awesome:

(Hat tip: Andy Winston)
 

Categories: Political Rantings, Primetime TV, Random Acts of Blogging | No Comments »

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