Sunday, September 29, 2019

Irish property "Ponzi scheme" vs. Brexit delusion

In April 2019 the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA), which is the agency that manages the assets and liabilities of the Government of Ireland, published a paper,  'Characterising the Financial Cycle in Ireland,' by Rossa White, chief economist of the NTMA, and Lisa Sheenan of Queen’s University Belfast, in which they characterise the Irish property bubble period of 2001-2008, "a Ponzi scheme...with ruinous cost."

Monday, September 23, 2019

Climate Change: Indonesia and burning carbon-rich peatlands

Heavy smoke hangs over the Indonesian islands of Bangka and Belitung as well as Kalimantan (73% of the island of Borneo, excluding East Malaysia and Brunei). This thick smoke comes from the peat fires that have engulfed these peatlands. On September 11, 2019, NASA/NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite using the VIIRS instrument  (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) captured this dramatic photo of the smoke rising from these islands in Indonesia.

In August 1883 the eruption of the Krakatoa (Indonesian Krakatau) volcano on Rakata Island between Java and Sumatra, in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), was one of the most powerful in recorded history. Explosions were heard 2,200 miles (3,500 km) away in Australia as ash and rock was blasted to a height of 50 miles (80 km) in the atmosphere.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

War and Peace: Tolstoy's rejection of 'Great Man' leadership myth

Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), left, and Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) in Gaspra, Crimea, May 1901. At a previous meeting, Tolstoy commented, “You know, I hate your plays. Shakespeare was a bad writer, and I consider your plays even worse than his.'"

Leo Tolstoy (Lev Nikol√°yevich Graf (Count) Tolst√≥y, in Russian,) one of the world’s greatest novelists, is the author of the novel 'War and Peace,' which was written in 1865–1869. It is set in the period from 1805 to 1820 and describes the war between Russia and France through 1812. The book also contains an analysis of leadership that has resonance today, and Tolstoy rejects the notion that great men were instrumental in achieving success or failure in history.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Crazy economics have fuelled Hong Kong's protests

Last year a couple sold a parking space in Kowloon (in North Hong Kong on a mainland peninsula across from Hong Kong island's Victoria Harbour) for HK$6m (US$765,000). In 2017 the Straits Times of Singapore reported that a 4,242 sqft (394 sqm2) apartment had sold for HK$560m (US$71m).

This year, Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, ranked 32nd out of 35 global cities with an average property price of RM494,266 (US$119,738), according to Global Living report by US real estate firm CBRE.

Sunday, September 01, 2019

The popes of French wine

Grape cultivation or viticulture is almost as old as civilisation and the Phoenicians of the East Mediterranean carried the grape into France about 600 BCE. This year an archaeologist at the University Of York, UK, disclosed in a paper where he is the lead author, that grapes from the Jura region in Eastern France, near the border with Switzerland, which are used to produce Savagnin blanc (a white wine not to be confused with Sauvignon blanc), are the exact same grape, down to the genetic level, which have been grown there for at least 900 years.