India’s Amazing Mission to Mars and Patronizing Commentary from the West

We launched a peace project – not a bomb. We didn’t go around fighting a poor country citing the presence of fake WMDs. We didn’t build a vessel to conquer unsuspecting third worlders. We launched a mission to help humanity and the advancement of science. More importantly, we launched it with our money. We didn’t ask for your money nor help. Who are you to patronise us this way?

These journalists are like the rich bullies who enter a poor man’s house and mock at the books kept by the poor man – “You poor people can’t afford to eat rich food and you can afford to buy more books?”

Balaji Viswanathan

Secrets and Lies of the Bailout

So what exactly did the bailout accomplish? It built a banking system that discriminates against community banks, makes Too Big to Fail banks even Too Bigger to Failier, increases risk, discourages sound business lending and punishes savings by making it even easier and more profitable to chase high-yield investments than to compete for small depositors. The bailout has also made lying on behalf of our biggest and most corrupt banks the official policy of the United States government. And if any one of those banks fails, it will cause another financial crisis, meaning we’re essentially wedded to that policy for the rest of eternity – or at least until the markets call our bluff, which could happen any minute now.

Other than that, the bailout was a smashing success.

Secrets and Lies of the Bailout by Matt Taibbi


Fort Ross

Fort Ross is one of the coolest places that ever seen. The timelessness of wood construction was a sight to behold. Russians coexisting with norcal Indians:

The Kashaya Treaty between the Fort Ross settlement and the Kashaya Pomo Indians

On September 22, 1817, the Indian chiefs, Chu-gu-an, Amat-tan, Gem-le-le and others, appeared at Fort Ross by invitation. Their greeting, as translated, extended their thanks for the invitation.

Captain Lieutenant Hagemeister expressed gratitude to them in the name of the Russian-American Company for ceding to the Company land for a fort, buildings and enterprises, in regions belonging to Chu-gu-an, [land] which the inhabitants call Med-eny-ny. [Hagemeister] said he hoped they would not have reason to regret having the Russians as neighbors.

“Chu-gu-an and a second, Amattan, whose dwelling was also not far off, replied, “We are very satisfied with the occupation of this place by the Russians, because we now live in safety from other Indians, who formerly would attack us and this security began only from the time of [the Russian] settlement.”

And then:

After the hospitality, when [the Indians] departed from the fort, a one-gun salute was fired in honor of the chief Toion.


Below are a few photos from a recent walk around Fort Ross:

More on the Chapel inside the fort:

The chapel was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake. The foundation crumbled and the walls were ruined; only the roof and two towers remained intact. Between 1916 and 1918, the Chapel was rebuilt using timbers from both the Officials’ Quarters and the Warehouse. On October 5, 1970 the restored Russian chapel was entirely destroyed in an accidental fire. It was reconstructed in 1973. Following Russian Orthodox tradition, some lumber from the burned building was used. The chapel bell melted in the fire, and was recast in Belgium using a rubbing and metal from the original Russian bell. On the bell is a small inscription in Church Slavonic which reads “Heavenly King, receive all, who glorify Him.” Along the lower edge another inscription reads, “Cast at the foundry of Michael Makar Stukolkin, master founder and merchant at the city of St. Petersburg.” via

fort ross chapel

Measuring the Silk Road

Recently from Nicolas Christin at the Carnegie Mellon INI/CyLab:

We perform a comprehensive measurement analysis of Silk Road, an anonymous, international on- line marketplace that operates as a Tor hidden service and uses Bitcoin as its exchange currency. We gather and analyze data over eight months between the end of 2011 and 2012, including daily crawls of the marketplace for nearly six months in 2012. We obtain a detailed picture of the type of goods being sold on Silk Road, and of the revenues made both by sellers and Silk Road operators. Through examining over 24,400 separate items sold on the site, we show that Silk Road is overwhelmingly used as a market for controlled substances and narcotics. A relatively small “core” of about 60 sellers has been present throughout our measurement interval, while the majority of sellers leaves (or goes “under- ground”) within a couple of weeks of their first appearance. We evaluate the total revenue made by all sellers to approximately USD 1.9 million per month; this corresponds to about USD 143,000 per month in commissions perceived by the Silk Road operators. We further show that the marketplace has been operating steadily, with daily sales and number of sellers overall increasing over the past few months. We discuss economic and policy implications of our analysis and results, including ethical considerations for future research in this area.

Nicolas’ Conclusion:

We have performed what we believe is the first comprehensive measurement analysis of one of the largest anonymous online marketplaces, Silk Road. We performed pilot crawls, and subsequently collected daily measurements for six months (February 3, 2012–July 24, 2012). We analyzed over 24,000 items, and parsed over 180,000 feedback messages. We were able to determine that Silk Road indeed mostly caters to drug users (although other items are also available), that it consists of a relatively international community, and that a large number of sellers do not stay active on the site for very long. We further discovered that sales volume is increasing; currently corresponding to approximately USD 1.9 million/month for the entire marketplace, corresponding to USD 143,000/month in commissions for Silk Road operators. Informed by these measurements, we discussed some of the possible policy remedies. A surprising result is the tight coupling between Silk Road and the Bitcoin market – the daily sales on Silk Road correspond to almost 20% of the average daily volume of USD-BTC exchanges on Mt.Gox, the largest exchange forum. As a result, it seems like a potentially effective intervention policy would be to destabilize the value of the Bitcoin, to create instability in the marketplace.


PDF here.

97.8 percent positive feedback! Now that’s impressive.