News

Poker Poker is a gill of skame Monday 29 January 2007
A discussion I often have with poker players is about how much the game relies on skill and how much on luck. According to poker fans, it's about 50/50 and poker is hardly more random than a sport. According to me, it's over 90% luck, all those who make a living by playing poker online can only do so while the influx of clueless newbies lasts, any single tournament is almost as random as a lottery, and all the poker 'stars' are only famous because the media need poster boys for the game.

This leads to endless discussions, but imo my strongest argument settles the whole matter. Whenever there is a big poker tournament, go to Betfair and see what the betting market says on the chances of the stars. You will see that for every poker tournament, the favourite to win is always "The Field", i.e. a completely unknown player who's never won anything before.

For the upcoming World Poker Tour event in Los Angeles, you can bet on any of the famous poker stars - Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Scotty Nguyen, Gus Hansen, ... - yet the price for The Field is 1.24, which means the market considers it 80.6% likely (1 / 1.24) that a completely unknown player will beat all those stars. That figure just says it all. In any real sport, the chance of an unknown beating all the most famous players to win a major tournament is less than 1%.
Politics Virtual demonstration Thursday 18 January 2007
Hilarious: the French fascist party Front National set up a headquarters in the virtual world of Second Life. In response, some self-righteous leftist activists who inhabit Second Life started a virtual demonstration in front of those headquarters that ended in the building being destroyed with gunfire, holographic attacks and... an exploding pig. Just check the pictures it's hilarious, yet no doubt something that will one day be common.

Commodore 64 C64 music in Nelly Furtado song Sunday 14 January 2007
I've posted items before about the amazing music that was made on the old Commodore 64 home computer in the 80s (here and here). Since then, people from the demo scene have continued to make music on it, and now it turns out that one of those modern C64 tunes was stolen by the famous producer Timbaland and used in a song ("Do it") on the new album of Nelly Furtado.

Timbaland didn't just steal the entire rythm and melody, he also left the original track in the mix and as a result you can hear the characteristic sound of the C64's sound chip in the background throughout much of the song.
In the youtube movie below the two tracks are compared and put on top of each other, but the mp3's are clearer. While the plagiarism is blatant, the Finnish composer of the track stands almost no chance of getting compensated.
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Site News Search terms Thursday 11 January 2007
In my webstats I like to keep an eye on the search terms that bring people to my site. Most of the time it's names of places mentioned in my travel reports, but with some search terms it surprises me that my site is a top result. Take these for example:
  • photos of wrestlers from india
  • most wanted criminals in india
  • why don't people build pyramids anymore
  • Girls Fully Dressed in the Water
  • photos of corpses on everest
  • noisy Dutchmen (that search came from Belgium, of course)
  • mideast hairstyles

Apparently there's quite some demand for pictures of middle eastern girls, and some of those people end up on my site (probably because my Middle East travel report raves about the Israeli border guards and about Lebanese girls in general) as these search terms show:
  • photos of arabic city girls
  • hot Jordanian girls pics
  • middle-east girls pics
  • lebanese hot girls
  • israel girls hot photos

Interestingly that last search came from Saudi Arabia. It's not just girls that people are interested in btw:
  • gay middle east pics

Some even look beyond the human race:
  • smurf rape
Photos Best photos Wednesday 3 January 2007
It will be a while before my trip report continues, but the next part will be about my ascent of the volcano El Misti, and my pictures of its crater and of the surrounding landscape are the most spectacular I made on this trip (in my own opinion) so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I've discovered a site called TrekEarth where photo enthusiasts upload their best travel pictures. Everyone can only upload 1 picture each day and has to categorise each picture precisely, so the average quality is very high and it's a great place to quickly find a bunch of good pictures of a country or region you're considering going to or are just interested in. I have started uploading what I consider to be my own best travel pictures here.
Photos Arequipa & new bank card Thursday 28 December 2006
Part 9 of my photo report is about Arequipa, the cultural capital of Peru and the nicest city I visited. I was there for over a week because I used it as a base for climbing the volcano El Misti and visiting the Colca Canyon - those pictures will be in the next two parts. The main sight in Arequipa is the Monasterio de Santa Catalina, a city within the city and one of the most picturesque places I've ever seen. Meanwhile I have my new bankcard, here's a bad scan...

World News Robotic deer Tuesday 26 December 2006
This is a great invention: a robotic deer to bait illegal hunters. Now they have to make one that can detect where the shot came from and shoot back immediately.
Photos Copacabana and Isla del Sol Monday 25 December 2006
Part 8 of the Peru and Bolivia photos is about my last three days in Bolivia, spent at Lake Titicaca. The island Isla del Sol, where the Incas thought the sun was born, is supposedly a highlight but I thought it was the least interesting of the places I visited in Bolivia. Still some nice pictures... Bolivia is one of my favourite countries (that I've been to), and since there are many great places I didn't go to (like Sorata and Rurrenabaque) about the only one I intend to go back to.
Internet Robo dance Monday 25 December 2006
Another cool movie: a kid robo-dancing (the one in the second half)...
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World News Jet-man Monday 25 December 2006
Yves Rossy, a Swiss former airline pilot, has mounted two small jet engines to a carbon fiber wing which he can attach to his back to form a mini-plane with his own body as the fuselage.

Click More... to see a video of him soaring over the Swiss Alps with it. It's one of the coolest things I've ever seen.
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Language Van Dale Saturday 23 December 2006
Er is me iets opgevallen toen ik de precieze definitie van het woord "paradigma" opzocht...
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Movies Grindhouse Friday 22 December 2006
Here's a movie I'm looking forward to: Grindhouse, a hommage to the exploitation movies of the 70s, will consist of two such movies, one called "Death Proof" and directed by Quentin Tarantino, the other called "Planet Terror" and directed by Robert Rodriguez. The two parts will be bound together by fake movie trailers so the whole thing replicates the experience of the old grindhouse cinemas where you could see several sleazy movies in succession.

Here's a press conference by Tarantino and Rodriguez on YouTube. This sounds like a worthy successor to Pulp Fiction, I hope they deliver!
Photos Huayna Potosi pictures Thursday 21 December 2006
The number one thing I'd wanted to do on my last trip was to climb a mountain of more than 6000 meters, and I did make it to the summit of Huayna Potosi which is 6088m high. That climb was no doubt the most memorable moment of this journey, so I took some time to sort out the pictures and make this report. We climbed the mountain during the night, and I described this climb in some detail because it's something I'll always want to remember. The pictures are mostly from the descent in the daylight.
Politics GDP in EU countries Monday 18 December 2006
An interesting statistic from Eurostat: GDP/capita of the EU countries (purchasing power standard, EU average = 100) over the last three years. I made a quick Excel graphic (without Luxemburg which is just off the charts) to see the evolution. The big loser is clearly Italy - serves them right for electing a clown like Berlusconi. Big winners are Ireland and the Baltic states.

Also interesting: the standard deviation (a measure for inequality) increased from 43.15 in 2003 to 43.86 in 2005 - a small increase but you'd expect a decrease in the EU.
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Gaming Only in America Thursday 14 December 2006
You have to read this to believe it: Wal-mart is selling a computer game in which the player has to either convert or kill non-Christians to win. In the game the good team consists of missionaries and gospel singers, while the bad team consists of rock singers and folks with Arab names and is led by the Antichrist, who is also the secretary-general of the UN - I am not making this up!

What disturbs me about this is not the game itself (sounds fun actually) but the fact that christian-fascist ideology is so widespread in the USA that Wal-mart, the very same superstore that prides itself of its "family-friendly" censorship and routinely forces music and games publishers to make 'clean' versions of albums and games - e.g. they made Nirvana re-record "Rape Me" without the word "rape" - has no qualms about selling and promoting this.


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