Sunday, 25 December 2011

100 things I learned and did in 2011

  1. Crisis brings people closer together.
  2. The world's entire money supply is $75.75 trillion.
  3. Turtles can breathe through their ass. Poor animal, so do they faint whenever they take a crap, or what?
  4. In 1324 Mansa Musa, the emperor of Mali, spent so much gold in Cairo on his way to Mecca that it devalued the gold currency there.
  5. The world's first novel is The Tale of Genji. The novel was written by Murasaki Shikibu in the year 1008. 
  6. Went to South Korea in summer. Amazing food, hilarious musicals (Jump and Nanta, a must see), and it got to be the most serendipitous trip ever: we decided to go off-map and just get lost in the country, and got lost we did, several times in fact, in which we always emerge in the randomnest places such as the heavily-guarded presidential palace.
  7. Our guide lady to the North-South Korean border looks amusingly like the female version of Manchester United's Park Ji-Sung.
  8. Every 10 Nov at 9:05am, everyone in Turkey stop their activities and have a minute silence, in memory of the death of the country's founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
  9. Bhutan's new queen, Jetsun Pema, is gorgeous.
  10. The word "travel" is derived from the old French word "travail", which means to work hard.
  11. The world's first backpacker is arguably the Italian Gemelli Careri (lived in 1651-1725). His travels, among others travellers' tale, was one of the inspirations for the novel Around the World in 80 days.
  12. Australia owns an estimate 40% of the world's uranium.
  13. The Australian aborigines experience the sacred realm of "Dream time" as far more real than the material world. 
  14. Which scares me a bit, coz once during 2011 I had a dream of having an affair with a grizzly bear, WTF. A freaking grizzly bear. The one with daddy issues at that.
  15. This year is the 10th anniversary of 9/11 attack in US soil on 2001. And 38th anniversary of 9/11 attack by CIA in Chile on 1973. If you think 3 thousand people died in the US was a tragedy, 30 thousand people died in Chile would be a catastrophe. Kindly watch this video.
  16. In Tibet, women have some kind of metal device that they use for picking their noses. I've got to get one of those!
  17. Hinduism had much bigger influence on Indonesia than I previously thought. It's reflected in its very name "Indonesia" which comes from Indu (Hindu) and nesos (Greek word for island) a word formed by George Samuel Windsor Earl in 1850.
  18. Indonesia's national symbol, the Garuda, is Hindu's king of birds, a half-man half-bird that pledged a lifelong allegiance to God of preserver Vishnu.
  19. In the story of Ramayana, Rama was the 7th incarnation of Visnu while Sita was the avatar of Lakshmi (Visnu's wife). Soulmates always end up together?
  20. Buddha Gautama is believed to be the ninth reincarnation of Visnu.
  21. There's a region in Europe where the religion of the population is Buddhism: the Republic of Kalmykia, a federal subject of Russia. It is the only Buddhist region in Europe.
  22. There's a really big difference between avoiding conflict, and being fouled at but stay quiet like an idiot to maintain harmony.
  23. Madagascar supplies around 60% the world's vanilla. 
  24. Telephone was first invented by Antonio Meucci in 1849 but wasn't patented. Alexander Graham Bell modified Meucci's invention and patented it in 1876.
  25. In ancient Japan, public contests were held to see who could fart the loudest and longest. See, I always thought I was Japanese in my previous life.
  26. Bartholdi, the sculptor of The Statue of Liberty, originally intended to make the statue as an Egyptian peasant holding a torch of freedom.
  27. In Greek Mythology the god Aphrodite was made from Uranus' testicles. That's right children, the Greek god of love was made from testicles.
  28. Did I hear you say elaborate on the testicles story? Uranus was the son and husband of Gaia (mother earth), they had 12 children called the Titans. Uranus hated them and was mean to them. One day their youngest son, Cronus, hid in Gaia's womb and waited for his dad Uranus to penetrate her. When he did, Cronus cut off Uranus' testicles and throw them into the sea, where the testicles then transformed to be Aphrodite. God, I can't wait to teach my unborn child all about Greek Mythology.
  29. In Roman Empire, men "testify" in court by swearing to a statement made by swearing on their testicles.
  30. Still on the testicles subject, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong and Spain's General Franco all had only one testicle. It is just me or do we find some kind of a dictatorial pattern here?
  31. When they were young, both Hitler and Stalin were thinking about becoming a priest. Stalin even joined an Orthodox seminary.
  32. Halloween is originated from Samhain Festival in the Medieval era. It was a sacred Festival of the Dead for the Pagan Celtic tradition.
  33. Gin, the drink, derives its name from Geneva Switzerland.
  34. In the 17th century, in their long-fought battle over the control of Spice Islands, British merchants made a deal with rival maritime power Dutch merchants to finally give up their pursue of control over a tiny island of Run (a largely ignored and insignificant island today in modern-day Indonesia) and leave it to the Dutch, while in return the British gained a Dutch-controlled tiny island called Manhattan. Amazing story, told briliantly in the book Nathaniel's Nutmeg. 
  35. The word coffee comes from Kaffa, the name of a province in southern Ethiopia. It is here in Ethiopia where coffee was first brewed.
  36. In the 16th and 17th centuries, in the Ottoman Empire, anyone caught drinking coffee was put to death. A very interesting story.
  37. Between the year 1824 and 1854 coffee brought inflation to Brazil, making labour cost, among other things, doubled. This labour cost rise changed the country's centre of economic gravity from cotton producers (in the north) and sugar producers (in the north-east) whom could no longer afford labour, to coffee producers in the southern areas.
  38. Mali is the world's hottest nation. While Ulan Bator (Mongolia) is the coldest capital in the world, followed by Astana (Kazakhstan) as the second coldest.
  39. Hottie of the year: Sherine Tadros. Smart, fearless, idealist and drop dead gorgeous.
  40. The best book I've read this year: I really can't decide between Treasure Island by Nicholas Shaxson, The Big Short by Michael Lewis and Griftopia by Matt Taibbi
  41. Over half the world's cork is exported by Portugal.
  42. There's an ANNUAL World Masturbating Championship. Masanobu Sato holds the world record for masturbating for 9 hours and 58 minutes. He said that in the competition he got support from his girlfriend, co-workers and of course, loving family. Dude. That's weird in so many levels.
  43. Nevertheless, Benjamin Netanyahu is still the undisputed wanker of the year.
  44. Israel's diamond-trade funds war crimes.
  45. Through the Balfour Declaration 1917 the British supported the international Zionist movement to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The British, however, supported the movement to gain counter-support from the Jewish community for their increasingly unpopular military actions during World War 1.
  46. Biggest let down of the year: when I heard that Sepp Blatter was caught in the spotlight for his comment on racial issue, he immediately post a picture of him hugging Tokyo Sexwale. I thought to myself Tokyo sex whale? Those kinky Japanese, now this I gotta see! But as it turns out, he's just hugging a politician from South Africa.
  47. The circumference of the earth is 40,000 KM.
  48. The word Himalaya comes from Tamil or Dravidia language of Him (snow) and Malaya (mountain), hence it means snow mountain.
  49. During British occupation in South East Asia, settlements who came from India called the locals (who lived in mountains) Malayans. Hence, the name Malaya (modern-day Malaysia).
  50. What's legal aren't necessarily right, I mean slavery and apartheid were once legal. So do the repackaging of US sub-prime mortgage bonds into AAA-rated CDOs and the proceeding sales and trades of "safe" CDO and its CDS, the root-cause of this global economic catastrophe.
  51. In parts of rural Nepal, people make houses using shit. Talking bout going green, well, brown.
  52. The original unlucky Friday the 13th happened on Friday 13 October 1307, when King Philip IV of France arrested and tortured the Knights Templars.
  53. The Knights Templars were the lender of king Philip IV's massive debt pile. The king couldn't pay them back, so he attacked them instead.
  54. The ancient Aztec civilization used chocolate as their currency.
  55. The first ever bar of chocolate was made in 1819 by a Swiss confectioner Francois-louis cailler.
  56. In the book Beyond Oil, Kenneth S. Deffeyes argued that the Reagan administration encouraged Saudi Arabia to lower the price of oil to the point where the Soviets could not make a profit from selling their oil, so that the USSR hard currency reverses became depleted. Fascinating stuff (But don't read the book, it's crap).
  57. 90% of Saudi Arabia's economy is in the hands of the US.
  58. My person of the year is of course Mohamed Bouazizi, who else?
  59. Bahrain was Iran's 14th province, before they held referendum and opt for independence.
  60. Apparently we can have quite a full adventure in only just 48 hours. Me, my missus and some friends hiked a mountain, rode a horse towards an active volcano, got caught in the middle of a pretty huge storm of volcanic ash, visited 2 cities and had culinary travels within just 48 hours in East Java.  
  61. Photography was invented in 1838 by a Frenchman named Louis Daguerre.
  62. From 875 million guns in the world, 270 million owned by US citizens, with ratio of 90 guns for 100 people. And they're still shocked whenever there's a gun shooting incident?
  63. The great Mongolian warrior Genghis Khan died in bed while having sex.
  64. In Mongolia, two of the most popular brands of beer are Genghis and Khan.
  65. Do you know where Hell is? It's in Norway. Specifically in Lånke area of the municipality of Stjørdal, in Nord-Trøndelag county, Norway. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but Hell is a very peaceful place.
  66. There's a town named Shit' in Ethiopia. Shit' has a 10 square km area (HA!), with elevation of 2379m above sea level. Wow Shit's pretty high.
  67. And there's a village named Fucking in Austria. The village is in municipality of Tarsdorf, where I assume is safe to shout "where's that Fucking village?!" 
  68. So, we have Fucking, Shit and Hell. Put it in a sentence, and we got ourselves one hell of an itinerary!
  69. The Federal Reserve System is the third central bank in the US history, established through Glass-Owen bill in 1913. The First Bank of the United States was established in 1791 and the Second Bank of the United States was established in 1816, but both failed after 20 years.
  70. The third central bank, The Federal Reserve System, is an agreement prepared by New York banking cartel, at a highly secret meeting held on Jekyll Island in November 1910. On the surface, the central bank was established to put order out of the chaos in "years of wilderness in US banking" since the 2nd central bank collapse (a historically bogus claim).
  71. But in reality, the Federal Reserve System was actually created to solve a banking crisis that the New York banking cartel themselves manufactured, in which the solution (the creation of the Fed) greatly benefits the banking cartel till this day.
  72. This year's best lesson would probably be this: Both communists and free-market capitalists have the same characteristics after all: abundant wealth and immunity from crime-prosecution for those in power.
  73. Attended a royal wedding (Yogyakarta's royal wedding), and even took part in the highly publicized star-studded wedding ceremony.
  74. The storage capacity of human brain exceeds 4 Terabytes.
  75. William Shakespeare lived in this world for exactly 51 years. He was born on 23 April 1564 and died on 23 April 1616. That's hauntingly amusing.
  76. Crazy gold swing during the summer. But gold would need to climb all the way to $3675 / ounce to cover all paper currency and coins.
  77. Throughout history there were powers which lasted for centuries, some for few years, but The republic of Subcarpathian Ruthenia lasted only for 1 day. It declared its independence at around 10 am on 15 March 1939 from Czechoslovakia, when Hitler's army invade all Czechoslovakia except Subcarpathuan Ruthenia. But then by the evening it was conquered by Hungarian army.
  78. There's a village named wetwang in East Riding of Yorkshire, England. Wetwang has a beautiful WET pond. HA!
  79. The word "assassin" is derived from "Hashshashin", a group of men lived in Persia in 11-13th century famous for cruelty and appetite for hashish.
  80. According to the book "Criminal Prosperity: Drug Trafficking, Money Laundering and Financial Crisis after the Cold War" by Guilhem Fabre , the Mexican crisis 1994 and its "tequila effect" is placed in the context of a "cocaine effect", due to the local laundering of drug profits in the US.
  81. The report also suggest that the Thai Crisis of 1997 also included a massive money laundering of institutional and criminal networks, whose undeclared profits represent about 10% of the Thai GDP.
  82. And the Japanese Crisis of the 1990s is related to the economic influence of the Yakuza on the real estate bubble.
  83. The mafia name Yakuza comes from the number 8-9-3 (Ya-Ku-Za), the losing hand in Oicho-Kabu (a form of black jack). The name means outcasts in society.
  84. If you fart consistently for 6 years and 9 months, enough gas is produced to create the energy of an atomic bomb.
  85. There's a medical condition called Pregmancy. It is a condition when a husband is so connected with his wife and so sympathetic towards his wife's pregnancy that he literally experience all the sickness, the cramps and cravings in TANDEM with his pregnant wife. Doesn't make sense, I know, but I had pregmancy when my missus was on her 1st trimester.
  86. L. Frank Baum created the story of "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" in 1900 for debating US Monetary Policy, in support for Bimetallism.
  87. Amnesty International's logo (a candle wrapped in barbed wire) was inspired by the ancient Chinese proverb "it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."
  88. The US spends 54% of its tax revenue on war. And there are 900 US military bases across the world, many at the gateways to the sources of oil. The US also engaged militarily in 75 countries.
  89. During World War 1 10% of all casualties were civilians, during World War 2 50% of all casualties were civilians, during Vietnam war 70% of all casualties were civilians, while in the Iraq war civilians are counted up to 90% of all deaths.
  90. Despite being a landlocked country, Laos has 4000 islands. They all are scattered in the Mekong River.
  91. In Iceland, folklore says that if you bathe naked in the morning dew on the morning of 24 June, you are supposed to keep aging at bay for longer.
  92. The character Indiana Jones is inspired by Hiram Bingham III, the first Westerner to found ancient ruins of Machu Picchu in 1911.
  93. Light bulb was first invented by Sir Joseph Wilson Swan on 1878 in England. Thomas Alva Edison perfected the prototype and patented it. But then in 1892 Edison's company merged with Swan's and created General Electric, where the company produce light bulbs using Swan's original prototype.
  94. Liechtenstein used to have the world's smallest army: 1 soldier. He served his country faithfully until his death at the age of 95.
  95. Leonardo Da Vinci was apparently gay.
  96. And so was the legendary economist John Maynard Keynes.
  97. Historically speaking, Christmas is derived from the Persian celebration of "Yalda", which was celebrated throughout the ancient world since 1735 BC.
  98. In the ancient world, the date 25 December was also celebrated as the birthday of Mithra. Many Jewish, Christian and Muslim customs have root in Mithraism.
  99. What a phenomenal year 2011 has been for global politics and economics news. Among many other big events:  The Arab Spring that toppled dictators Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak, Muammar Gaddafi and the continuous revolution in Yemen, Bahrain and Syria. Political deadlocks in US Congress, US debt surge pass $15 trillion mark and the horrible decline in US economy where now 1 in 2 Americans is poor or low income. EU sovereign debt mess, "shock doctrines" in Greece and Italy that ousted George Papandreou and Silvio Berlusconi and the installment of cabinet full of technocrats in both countries. Death of Osama Bin Laden and Kim Jong-il. Occupy movements that began in Wall Street then spread across the world, and of course the unthinkable protests by Russians against Vladimir Putin's regime.
  100. 2011 is definitely a year of great changes. Got a funny feeling that what happened this year were only the beginning towards something bigger in the near future. Can't wait to see what 2012 have in store!
More things I learned and did over the years