March 29th, 2007

The alternate maps

This is a stunningly short but insightful article. As usual, a picture says more than 100 words.

HIV prevalence

Rather than defining each country by size, these computer-generated modified maps – or cartograms – redraw the globe with each country’s size proportionate to its strengths, or weaknesses, in a whole series of categories.

For instance, when it comes to military spending, the U.S. appears bloated, but Africa is huge when HIV prevalence is mapped.

The map shown here is HIV prevalence, but there are other maps in the article showing:

  • Alcohol Consumption
  • House Prices
  • Military Spending
  • War and death
  • Toy Imports and Exports
  • Wealth of Nations (in 1500 and 2002)

I will post more about political/technical aspects of (world) maps in a while.

Added:  Here is the source website of those maps. Already 366 maps there.

March 27th, 2007

The top gear

Ok, dilemma. I have a flying-stuff kick. And I hate violence. So what do we do with Fighter planes? Holy mozes, this is some awsome low level screaming. Thanks Flightglobal.

March 27th, 2007

The worst ever aviation disaster

Exactly 30 years ago, to be precise on March 27 1977 at 17:07 GMT, the American and the Dutch collided in the worst imaginable way. A topped off (fuel and passengers) Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 747 named “Rijn” took off on a mist covered single runway Los Rodeos Airport without proper take off clearance, while a fully occupied PanAm Boeing 747 “Clipper Victor” was still taxiing on the runway. 583 people lost their lives, only 70 survived.

KLM captain Van Zanten was too eager to take off and ignored the flight engineer questioning the clearance. Cockpit Resource Management was non existent. As always, there were many, many circumstances all adding up to this horrible event. The 747′s were diverted to Tenerife because there had been a bomb thread in Las Palmas, the destination. The taxiway was crowded with stranded planes. Van Zanten topped off the 747 because he was eager not to wait in Las Palmas, so he could return to Amsterdam without passing his legal flying time. The Clipper had to wait while the Rijn was loading up, because there was maybe 3 feet of clearance lacking for them to pass the KLM 747 and move out earlier. There was no ground radar. The Clipper could impossibly take the exit it was told to take. Radio traffic wording was not completely standardized back then, and in the final seconds, the PanAm (worriedly reporting it was still on the runway) and the tower transmitted at the same time, so the KLM crew missed that last essential bit of information that could have made them realize their fatal mistake.

KLM-1 We gaan. {We’re going}


RDO No .. eh.

APP Stand by for take-off, I will call you.

RDO And we’re still taxiing down the runway, the clipper one seven three six. (RDO and APP communications caused a shrill noise in KLM cockpit – messages not heard by KLM crew.

APP Roger alpha one seven three six report when runway clear

RDO OK, we’ll report when we’re clear.

APP Thank you

KLM-3 Is hij er niet af dan? {Is he not clear then?}

KLM-1 Wat zeg je? {What do you say?}

KLM-? Yup.

KLM-3 Is hij er niet af, die Pan American? {Is he not clear that Pan American?}

KLM-1 Jawel. {Oh yes. – emphatic}

PanAm captain sees landinglights of KLM Boeing at approx. 700m

PH-BUF started rotation

KLM-1 [Scream]


It was later calculated the Rijn would have made it over the Clipper if it had not refuelled. Adding to the drama is that at the time Van Zanten’s picture was on every leaflet of KLM as the senior, smiling, confident captain. It is rumored that at the moment KLM’s management heard of the crash they decided Van Zanten had to lead the investigation on behalf of the company. Little did they know, the man was already there.

More info in this Wikipedia article.

March 25th, 2007

The beauty of Africa

I suspect some “color enhancement”, but this is really stunning aerial photography. I bet most are taken from a hot air balloon.


March 22nd, 2007

The judge

Outrage in my neighbouring country Germany. A 26 year old German woman, from Moroccan offspring, seeking a divorce because her Moroccan husband was systematically beating and threatening her, was turned down by the judge. The (female) judge argued that in Moroccan-Islamitic culture “it is not unusual for a man to excersize his right of punishment”. The woman, born in Germany, “should have taken that into account when she married the Moroccan born man”.  Even Islamitic groups in Germany expressed that the case should have gone by German law instead of by explaining the koran. The judge is taken off the case.  And rightfully so in my opinion. I think I am pretty liberal, live and let live, but violence to women, children etc? No way.  Fucker.

March 19th, 2007

The storm

Holy crap.


Thanks Dave.

March 19th, 2007

The beauty of China

You have seen some critical posts about China here. However, never confuse a country, it’s inhabitants, and it’s goverment though. I try not to. So here for some compensation. And some more.
Wonders of China

March 17th, 2007

Other numbers visualized

Google acquired Trendanalyser, and I must say, some of these representations are über-cool-sad-insightful. Look at this demo please. Note that the vertical life-expectancy axis is linear, but the horizontal income axis is logarithmic, each main line is a doubled income. Unfortunately countries like Iraq and Afghanistan are not available, but a few interesting selections are possible. May I suggest to tick:

  • China, most relevant and arguably the fastest income growth
  • Germany, largest European economy
  • India, for perspective
  • Japan, highest life expectancy
  • Lesotho, worst off life-expectancy wise (that is called H.I.V. my friends)
  • Sierra-Leone, worst off income wise
  • Unites states, highest income

Then press the “Play” button.

March 16th, 2007

The flow of money looked upon

Almost all the banks in the world do business with a company called Swift. While they sort of claim they are a “message transfer” company, they are in effect the clearing house for all inter-bank transaction between bank that have no peer-to-peer relationship. Read: they process virtually all international money transfers. It’s headquarters is located in Belgium. It turns out that the FBI and the CIA can more or less without anything more than asking, look into all transactions done through Swift. Even worse, if say a Dutch bank has an office in New York, questions about transfers done entirely within the Netherlands would be answered without much hesitation. Without question this is illegal. While this has caused a row in many European countries, it has gone more or less unnoticed in my country. That has changed now. The banks need to stick to the law too. Not that money flows cannot be traced for crime investigation, but a court order is needed AND clients should be informed that especially international money transfers can be scrutinized by foreign security agencies. Now if you think “so what?” imagine mr. Putin’s lot going over your bank statements. No, that is not something different.

March 14th, 2007

The electronic voting revisited

I wrote earlier about electronic voting and what happened here. The OSSE/ODHIR (say the Europeanelection watchdog wrote a report on the Netherlands elections in November 2006.

Currently, in the Netherlands, electronic voting is overwhelmingly the preferred method, and it has broad public support based on a high degree of trust in government and the electoral authorities.27. Whilst there have been no suggestions that trust at any level has been abused, the OSCE/ODIHR EAM believes that there is now a timely opportunity to further enhance transparency of implementation of new voting technologies, and public confidence, in an increasingly questioning and sceptical public environment. In particular:

Electronic voting systems should be monitored by an independent entity distinct from the authorities responsible for conducting elections. Such an entity should have broadtechnical expertise, and should be also responsible both for formulating and reviewing voting system standards.

There should be routine testing of voting machines before elections, and randomly selected machines should be subject to testing by an entity other than local election authorities. Mechanisms should be considered to verify that voting machines, as used on election day, are configured with the approved firmware and ballot definition.

In order to enhance public confidence in DRE voting machines, and to provide for meaningful audits and recounts, legislation regulating use of such systems should include provisions for a Voter Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPAT) or an equivalentverification procedure. Software dependent vote recording mechanisms which do not permit an independent check on their operation should be phased out.

Voting system standards should not permit the use of systems which depend for their security on the secrecy of any part of their technical specifications. Reliance on proprietary systems should be reduced, where neither citizens, nor electoral officials, nor observers can determine how they operate.

Do you also read they are giving a slap on the hands while putting it nicely (“there is now a timely…”)? What they certainly said was these elections were NOT using those recommended technologies.