Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Sermon:He Boiled for Our Sins

After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting:

“Hallelujah! Salivation and glory and power belong to our God”

Christians will no doubt recognise Revelation 19:1  

On this Sunday however Christians are probably more focused towards Easter where the resurection of Jesus Christ is celebrated. Indeed my morning meal is as show above for this very reason

But of course these words and even suffering for our sins can be applied to what some would argue to be a more modern and realistic deity.

Surely today you should reach into your heart and find out more about the Church of the FSM

To quote from the holy text:


The more you read about us the more you're going to be persuaded that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the true Creator and that FSMism just might be the Best. Religion. Ever.  Go ahead. Try us for thirty days. If you don't like us, your old religion will most likely take you back. Unless it's the Jains, whose feelings are easily hurt.


<end quote>

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Tower of Basel

One significant issue that deters many Moral Individuals from entering the Banking Space is "I can't believe it works like that"

You analyse the workings of a particular banking instrument or practice and conclude

  • Surely I misunderstood how that works
  • This is surely misguided at best
  • And immoral at worst
I conclude therefore:
  • I'm not going to participate
Unfortuately others presented with the above facts:

  • If you let me get away with this shit, even an idiot like me can make some serious money

The improved Basel III rule was that banks should hold 10.5% equity meaning than can loan out the rest.

Now don't foget that that Basel III is a voluntary , regulatory standard.

That does not even make sense to start with!

Let's round 10.5 to 11%.  What does that mean? Well if I am a bank I can loan you 100 US Dollars (USD) but cover the loan with 11 dollars saved at the bank.

In other words, suppose a depositor walks in and deposits 100 dollars. The Bank then loans 100 dollars to 9 other people  (900 dollars of loans), and covers the loan with our 100 dollar deposit  (it needs just 11 x 9 = 99 USD).

Imagine 2 people refuse to pay back the loan.  The Bank is down 200 dollars, so can't easily pay you back.

Dont't forget that Basel III was discussed in 2010 for initial implementation 2013 now postponed to 2019.

And it is voluntary

And that is how banking works .. badly!

CDS to prop up Basel III

Friday, March 29, 2013

Not Bad Weather

This year of 2013 the weather in Switzerland has been up and down.  Variable.  Whilst in 2012 in Lausanne, winter exited by end of February leaving warmer cyclable temperatures, this year not.

But  as a receiptiant of UK news via our Swisscom TV internet connection we are most amused to find a succession of British reports of bad weather.

Countless video or BBC website reports showing a tiny, pathethic, thin coating of snow, with reporters predicting gloom, doom and staying at home a great option.




We find the situation tres amusant!  A positive step that UK motorists could invest in is Winter Tyres!  Then cars are safe at modest speeds even on uncleared snow coated roads upto (say) 10cm.  

And if UK winters really do become more severe  (I'm not convinced) then investment in local SnowPlough infrastructure, which during Snowy times clears all main roads here in Switzerland each morning at about 05.30

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Desert Island Discs

Desert Island Discs is a weekly radio program of the British BBC broadcast on Sunday on the  Radio 4 channel.

You can listen to it in the UK via iPlayer or live via the BBC web page, or with shortened music selections via Podcast.

The programme setup is that a well know person is asked to choose 8 favourite pieces of music they would like to listen to whilst they are marooned with on a desert island.   Whilst playing their choices the person gets to talk about their life and experiences and how they came to choose this music.

In the Christian religion the Sunday sermon broadcast from Churches across the land is indeed the traditional mindshaping weekly lecture,  but I would venture to suggest that listening to  Desert Island Discs provides a powerful sermon to me.

This week Jasvinder Sanghera discusses her life and this begins with forced, arranged marriage that was arranged for her by her parents with an unknown Sikh boy thousands of miles away.  A marriage to someone with who she felt she would have no connection with.

Jasvinder Sanghera  now  an activist and advocate for women's rights called  Karma Nirvana supporting women fleeing forced marriages.

BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs Jasvinder Sanghera

BBCR4 Desert Island Discs
Maxwell this womans work

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Acrobat AcroCat

Let us face facts.  Cats are just amazing.

Run Baby Run

An ode to the banks of the world ...

Run ...

Maybe I meant come?  (Fullscreen)

Well no, sorry, I did mean  Run

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ain't no sunshine

Agata is absent for but one night so far and believe me Marcus is totally miserable!

Many years ago we experienced the pain of living apart from each other in different countries England vs Poland,  Warsaw vs Krakow, England vs Switzerland.

Our shared angst led us to the conclusion that in our finite lifetimes, time spent apart is really time wasted.  

A perceived compromise in the West is the luxury that (at the expense of huge Energy and Carbon usage) we can work internationally apart and spend every weekend together.

But in some poorer societies families might work apart from each other for months or even a year at a time!

Whilst we respect all of these working methods when it is the difference between subsistence living or disaster, it is not for us.

Shared highs and lows, experienced together are what really counts.  Anything else is just second best.

So all in all,  come home darling!  The bed is indeed too big without you.

The bed is too big without you (audio)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Our Charging Station

With the move to portabilia and also Bluetooth we have found that we need to setup a wholly separate shelf in our Server room just for recharging!

Since this is the server room,  we are plugging into our highest quality Steffen power bricks, and some effort is made to tidy the cabling

So the mantra now is that we have programmed Marcus and Agata's brains to ideally plug our portabilia in as soon as we come back home from exercising or at the latest before we snuggle up in the bed.   Gadgets too; like us need their nightime charge.

Sunday Sermon:Putting a Stamp On it

What you see above is our fully legal postage stamp that will be on any letter that we send you from our home in Lausanne Switzerland.

In this Sunday Sermon I will point out that gently evangelising your Religion should be part of the DNA of any of the faithful.   Why, if you do not evangelise, you will surely be at the disadvantage of all those other less valuable religions   (you know the ones that discriminate against women,  have many references to the benefits of killing people in other religions and so forth).

Switzerland allows you to select your own stamp and so using WebStamp Easy we have got to work

1 Franc is about 1.1 US Dollars or about 0.70 GBP.  Welcome to Swiss prices :-)

1 Swiss Franc is enough for a 100gram local letter

And so in conclusion dear Brethren, limited to the first 50 people who would email us worldwide, we would be happy to send you a real FSM based letter with the above glorious stamp.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Buy this Watch

I already have a very beautiful Tag Heuer watch that has been relegated to Holiday use but I see this last week has been one of continued speculation that some big players like Samsung, Apple or even Google are planning to launch their own watch.

It is a tough sell to me:

  1. On my last holiday, I put on but never looked at my holiday watch!  After wearing it for about 5 days I took it off, I just did not need a wristwatch to tell the time
  2. Sports watches aside which perform a specific timing or measuring function a watch needs to be attractive
  3. It also needs to not to be mega huge  (hello Suunto!) so that Women can use it
  4. Or so huge that it interferes with a Business shirt cuff
  5. And not super heavy
  6. My Smartphone is also my Internet Portal, GPS, Music Player, Emergency Camera. And my timepiece with a plethora of time apps makes a fine watch.
  7. Any new watch needs to tell the time accurately.  Not some old skool, 5K dollar plus windy watch that is less accurate than a 10$ watch from the drugstore
  8. If its a techno watch it's tiny screen has to do something better that my Smartphone cannot do.   Currently I have no idea what that could be
  9. If it's a regular watch, then for me I already have a beautiful unused watch, why do I need another?

Overall then I would prefere to use a speciality Exercise / Body Monitoring Watch, which hopefully looks attractive.  Idle people can use it to see how many calories they burnt whilst watching TV  (so they can mistakenly eat more),  and I'll use it to will  my resting heart rate down below 35

Buy this watch article Gizmodo
Mio Alpha continuos Heart Rate Monitor
Scosche Heart Rate Monitor

Friday, March 22, 2013

Shred Me Baby

 I know what you are thinking,  surely you are not going to get excited over a paper shredder.

In fact, yes I am!

For years we try to totally minimise any and all paper that we buy or consume.  Buying a newspaper instead of reading it online means engaging in a large wasteful distribution cycle if you can instead read it digitally.

But despite digitally subscribing, several agencies, example Worldwide Tax authorities keep sending us paper documents galore.

So after scanning all and every paper document we receive, backing it up redundantly, the next step is shredding!

  • The Rexel Auto+ series of shredders have an amazing design innovation: A Sheet feeder
  • Different models exist, but our smallest one takes up to 60 pieces of paper
  • Close the lid and it slowly shreds everything
  • Into 45mm DIN level S3 confetti pieces
  • It's very quiet
  • You don't mind it being slow (comparatively) since it's just goes on without you

Just absolutely wonderful!

Rexel Auto+ 60X Shredder
Rexel Auto+ 60X Shredder manual 

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Relationships are never easy, which is why by watching this 10 minute video you can improve yours.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Advice to the Cyprus Government and Bank Depositors

(But please can we have your money anyway)

What are the facts?

  • Total Cyprus Bank Deposits are about 70 Billion Euros,  about 50% (35 Billion Euros are local Cypriot money)
  • Gov proposes a novel 6.75% share swap on <100K Euros or 9.9% level share swap on >=100K Euros, on any personal savings, raising about 6B Euro
  • Plus a 10 Billion Euro Bailout needed from EC for a total bailout of 16B Euros
  • So the personal investor trades in their cash for Banking shares  (Note: The value of shares can go down as well as up :-)
  • The original EC proposal haircut (levy/share exchange) was going to be only on 100K Euro deposits or greater but then the share swap levy would have been >10% and this was thought to look bad! would hurt the Cypriot financial sector
  • The Cypriot financial sector is unusually servicing a large alleged questionable Russian client base
  • The Depositors protection scheme in Cyprus protects you against a Bank failure upto losses of 100K Euro.  Clearly in the above case there is no failure so you can't claim!
  • This is the first time that Creditors  (i.e. the Depositors) are being asked to pay for a Bank's errors rather than the whole country  (Government raises funds from Taxpayers), which actually is just saying that depositors should have some responsibility for the investments that they make (caveat emptor)

The Conspiracy Theory

  • Some say this is yet another cynical mechanism to drive Stock Markets higher.
  • On hearing the bailout Markets will dip slightly
  • But then the Goldfish brain trader mentality will kick in when a compromise / solution is found and Market Indexes will zoom past pre crisis levels

Some Flippant Advice then

  • Cyprus Government Stay Cool
  • They will probably reject the bailout terms
  • EU-IMF prefers to give big loans to big countries  Spain(big ==no problem) -Portugal-Ireland-Greece- Cyprus (small == no chance)
  • EU-IMF will then probably cave in (who blinks first)
  • Stock Markets will then inevitably rise

And the Answer?
  1. Individuals should live with their means
  2. Governments should live within their means
  3. When you incur a debt, you the debtor need to pay it back, the principal (what you borrowed) and any interest occuring.
  4. During that duration, the way it works is: you spend less on yourself, and pay back the difference. DOH!

Robert Peston on Cyprus

Cyprus government indeed rejects bailout terms

Monday, March 18, 2013

Nicely Potty

Marcus and Agata have an excellent track record of caring for plants, large plants!   This almost 15 year old photograph show Agata and Marcus's plant in Kralow poland. [Geeks can try and verify the date by zooming in and Bladerunner enhancing that Computer Shopper magazine]

And to carry on the tradition our lounge has been getting greener and greener over the years.

Whilst our bedroom plants our specially chosen to produce Oxygen whilst we sleep, the lounge plants are instead primarily decorative.

It might be green outside, but we think it should also be green inside too.

We visited Coop Bricolage and bought an even larger pot plus 2 bags of genuine Swiss Soil.  Oh, we are so patriotic!

Agata was caught, washing and cleaning the decorative stones.

Finally, Mr Palm is back in place, now again perfectly upright, and hopefully good for the next year.

What Price Fine Living

Our polite "deliver no flyers" sticker on our mailbox has faded and was consequently removed.  Hence we have to accept the more than 10 brochures that arrived on Saturday morning were fair game.

Since we are looking for a particular Balcony Chair  (already for 1 year now) we started browsing catalogs.

Then we found the a Property Guide :-(

After studying the brochure for about 5 minutes we began to feel quite poor:

Well 4-8 M CHF (Swiss Francs), in Geneva.  Well we never liked Geneva anyway!

This is just a few Km west from us.  Our friends in Saint Prex never mentioned these property prices!

So the local properties are looking decidedly expensive.  It looks like even a decent Euromillions win would be pretty much be cleaned out after just buying a detached house round here.

We asked ourselves the question: Just how much money would you have to earn to be able to afford properties like these?

After this depressing analysis we flipped to the back of the brochure.

Some final questions to SPG Finest Properties as we are a little confused:

  • For the sale price of over 20M CHF as indicated,  do we get just the house shown or also the large island behind it?
  • This large house seems to be built on water, isn't this a tad risky?
  • It says plans for 38 buildings and 70,000 sq ft. Surely this is on the island somewhere then right?
  • Solar energy can be made available.   That's a bit vague, what do you mean exactly?

Ah, how the 'considerably richer than you' families live.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Sermon: Selecting a Spiritual Leader

Selecting a religious and spiritual leader is not easy for any religion.  But instead of selecting an old man (or woman), why, could we instead select a young, dynamic, furry kitten? In 10:

  1. Like many religious leaders kittens know their own priorities, they are leaders. 
  2. Kittens are attractive
  3. Kittens are likely to last at least 10 years, which is the life of many Spiritual leaders in other religious denominations
  4. Kittens do not have strong views against abortion, birth control or condoms
  5. Kittens begin to pur when happy.  A happy purring kitty is a joy to this world 
  6. Kittens do not eat very much.  Therefore they are very economical
  7. Kittens are very light, very low transportation costs - environmentally friendly
  8. Kittens are very Internet friendly.  And the Internet is the communication mechanism of today
  9. Kittens are very clean.  And we know that cleanliness is next to godliness.
  10. Kittens do not drink alcohol or take drugs and therefore do not bring shame on their ministry

I volunteer !

Kitty Ghost hunter

For a more intellectual Sunday Sermon click here

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A Readers Lament

On Thursday March 14th 2013 I and many hundreds of thousands of other users received the surprise message from Google that they would soon be terminating Google Reader.

It is no exaggeration to say that I rely utterly on Google Reader, which is a RSS reader that delivers to me the latest updates to all the Websites that I really care about.

My first reaction was anger, and my second reaction: anger!

I am extremely cross with Google and don't accept their excuse which is that  Oh, people can use Social Media to get this kind of content in the future.

Google does have Currents but it does not provide the breadth of an RSS reader, nor the brevity and information delivery.  Currents is mostly eye candy.

So then what does it mean to me?

  • Well I am still pretty much in shock
  • To me, Googles mindful phrase /Do no Evil/ is somewhat tarnished.
  • I am scouting around for Alternatives (see 8 link below)
  • Digg says they will build something.  Interesting
  • You know, I am so hacked off I might even buy a Macbook Pro Retina instead of a Chromebook Pixel.

Google says, Reader is to die
8 Google Reader Alternatives
Reader and Zite
Please sign the petition

Thursday, March 14, 2013

That Swiss Tax Cycle

With apologies to polite society I am going to talk to you about money.

In Switzerland the tax year runs from January 1 to December 31

Any by this Friday March 15 2013 you should have submitted your tax return for 2012.

New for this year is the ability to not only calculate your return electronically  but even to submit it electronically  (previously you had to print out the computerised calculation and post it).

What is the news?

  1. Of course we try to pay our taxes on time, and in full
  2. So it was a bit of a surprise to receive an unexpected request for large amounts of money for tax year 2009
  3. We were just trying to seal the deal on 2012
  4. The government is asking for Tens of thousands of dollars.
  5. We are sort of in shock, and are busy checking

So what can I recommend?

  • If you live in Switzerland, and are both married and working, then prepare for a huge tax bill.

    The government takes both of your combined incomes and then taxes your total income at a single tax rate. (There is no individual taxation for married couples, and no marginal tax rate).
  • You should adopt a lifestyle that allows at worst to have savings to reconcile any extra tax you would need to pay for the year just past, from your savings.  Else you logically have to keep working forever, just to pay off your debts.
  • In Switzerland, all your assets are taxed including bank balances, so the less money you have in your accounts on December 31st the better
  • If you can, pay some of the taxes for the forthcoming year early!   You get bugger all interest on your bank savings  (less than 1%) so pay your taxes in advance and reduce your asset tax liability.  Plus, the canton pays better interest  than your bank on advanced taxes!
  • And, always keep some savings aside, because even when you think you have paid (in full) the Government can decide otherwise :-(

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

AIX levels with Hardware

IBM typically has 2 major Power announcements yearly.  But if you are keen to adopt the new hardware what software levels must you run?

You should navigate to  IBM System to AIX maps

Simply select the IBM Power or PureSystem you are interested in and then you will find what level of AIX (or Linux) you will require.

And what was announced in March 2013 anyway? 


IBM Power Systems machines March 2013

AIX Brochures

Smoke Gets


Swiss Bulls

Since Jan 01: Swiss SMI share market moves from 6970 to 7776.

Appreciaton == 10% in 3 months

Even more if we go back 6 months!

So now it is easy to be critcial of all three of the US, UK and Swiss stock markets

What are you thinking !

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Series Greetings

Ironically in this year 2013 we now have access to over 100 television channels.   Ironic because we stopped watching broadcast TV in about the year 2000, that is over a decade ago.

Since 2000 we have made do by watching Films and Series via download, a process now made quite trivial with sources like the BBC iPlayer and 4oD within the UK.

We don't think that we are ever going to make the transition back to terrestial  or even Internet delivered terrestial TV.

  • There is a lot of crap out there.   We don't have the time to watch crap
  • We want to watch Media at our leisure not hanging about for a TV program to air.
  • We don't rely or want any television advertising.   All fairly low brow stuff, and  anyway mostly advertising UK items we can only dream of buying in high priced Switzerland.
  • Sources like YouTube and our RSS feeds bring us a constant stream of targeted  (to our interests) video
  • But we are always on the look out for some new Series!

So in the realm of recent discoveries:

Game of Thrones (Adventure + Drama + Fantasy:  Seven noble families fight for control of the mythical land of Westeros

  1. I absolutely hate fantasy, other worldly constructs like Lord of the Rings  (Agata loves them)
  2. But Thus far  (season 1) there is a decent plot, a small cast (not b-zillions of characters),  all human  (no monsters so far)
  3. We are running on a loan DVD copy.   
  4. There are 3 series so far.  Series 1 == 10 episodes
  5. In depth characterisations, gripping.

Eureka (Comedy + Drama + SciFi): The best minds in the US are tucked away in a remote town where they build futuristic inventions for the government's benefit.

  1. Quirky Sci-Fi.  A nice light series
  2. Good to unwind to at the end of a frustrating work day

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Back in the Musical Business

Ah, the momentary feeling of great depression has again been lifted.  Because BBC Radio4 and BBC Radio1 downloads are back on again!

To explain:  These days the majority of BBC programs can be downloaded via Podcast subscriptions or listened within 7 days using the BBC iPlayer.

But what if you want to transfer the spoken word and music to your iPod and it's not a Podcast?

Until recently I would have recommended the iPlayer+ OSX application.  However it stopped working (again) recently.

Now I have a replacement,  the

Get iPlayer Automator

Interestingly enough, the operation of the application and even some of the Preferences panels are identical to the iPlayer+ so surely it must have a shared heritage.

So as a reminder, How does it all work?

  • On startup it downloads a long list of Radio and TV shows. I only use the Radio shows

  • Use the search to search for the exact name of the Radio show
  • It downloads them in the format as specified above
  • Since I am very particular I don't let the app add to my iTunes library automatically

  • Instead I'd first convert to .mp3 from .m4a format using the Windows AVS audio converter

  • Make sure the MP3 tagging is corrected.  Include the date!
  • Then file in the right place
  • Then manually add the .mp3 into my iTunes Library
Various Windows and Mac OSX machines all run Google Drive so my downloads are magically replicated across all systems.

So now it is back to listening to Atoms For Peace

(For those of us with Good memories this is similar to a slogan taken from the GEGB campaign first used at Geneva in 1958 and later used in a slightly modified form in a

 Nuclear Energy marketing campaign that I participated in.)