Friday, April 11

Gerard Depardieu flees France over taxes


An interesting comparison between France Latvia and Greece. On the reactions to austerity. One more thing. It's easier to give than to take away. Specially other peoples money. Sooner or later you will run out of other people's money. Debt is borrowing from your children. 

My mind boggles at who would be stupid enough to do so but as you can see, there are tons of such people and nations. 

Stay away from debt son. Not good. 



NGerard Depardieu flees France over taxes: A country’s reaction to higher taxes, austerityon , or budget cuts depends on its culture, history, and national mood. - Slate Magazine

159128585Au revoir, Gerard Depardieu

Photograph by Savo Prelevic/AFP/Getty Images.

PARIS—For a brief moment before Christmas, self-doubt gripped France. The beloved French actor Gerard Depardieu—who recently played Obelix, an even more beloved French comic book character—announced he was moving to Belgium because President Francois Hollande had threatened to tax millionaires at 75 percent of their income. The nation plunged into depression. Opponents of the wealth tax geared up to attack the president. Pictures of Depardieu in his new “home” in Nechin, a Belgian town just across the French border, appeared in Paris-Match alongside an article titled “France, which is a haven for rich Qataris, is a hell for its own inhabitants.”

Thursday, April 10

Wednesday, April 9

Up yours

Very Interesting Photos. Part 24 (35 pics)

the Taliban cut off his finger for voting the first time around. So he voted again…Welcome to Afghanistan

Irony And Humor In The Semantically Subversive Byzantine Empire

You were tiny when we went to turkey son. So I'm not sure you even recall any of that trip. 

Constantinople or Istanbul as it's called now, is a fascinating city. The stones of the city echo with the sheer weight of history. It's always been torn between the east and west. And Byzantine to boot. The word itself means complex. And that's the amazing part of this empire. Not many people know about it. Unlike other empires. Bit of a mistake there. But still. Another of those places where you should go to son. It's a fascinating synergy of Christian Eastern Islamic Islamic Western thought. Total exhilarating mess. We've got several books on this so you can read up on it if you wish. 



Irony And Humor In The Semantically Subversive Byzantine Empire

The Byzantine Empire arose after the death of the Roman Emperor Constantine. To make the empire more manageable, it was split into eastern and western halves, with Rome as the seat of the west and Constantinople as the capitol of the east. Unlike Rome of the time, the Byzantine Empire coupled military might and the religious authority of the Church.

When the Roman Empire collapsed and led Europe into the Dark Ages, the Byzantine Empire continued on and it continued to modernize. You don’t last for a thousand years, including holding off Muslim invaders for much of that time, without doing some things right. They finally collapsed in 1453, when Constantinople was captured by Turks. It is known as Istanbul today.

But much of the literature and works of art that hadn’t already been captured (including by Christian crusaders in 1204) or purchased made their way into Western Europe at the time, including a substantial literary heritage. We can thank artwork and artisans from the Byzantine Empire for a large part of the European Renaissance that happened in the following generations but the literature gets far less attention.

Tuesday, April 8

Nobody’s Son

We haven't spoken much about death son. It's a funny old thing. As a scientist, you know entropy will happen. Decay is part of life and death&taxes are inevitable. 

This is a very loving and moving story about a 55 year old man coming to terms with his fathers death. 

I think the first time death touched me sort of personally was when my grandmother died. I still remember baba getting the call in the morning and him weeping on the phone. And then we left for Jabalpur. But it didn't touch me that personally. I mean I didn't feel grief son. She was too remote to me. 

But when my uncle, babaji's elder brother died, and we were taking his body to the medical school where he had donated his body, I remember sitting in the back of the van and weeping. I missed that old man. And that was because of regrets. That's why you cry son, when somebody dies. Because you regret all the things you never did or said to the departed soul. 

Babaji then went through 2 open heart surgeries and then the Bhopal gas tragedy burnt out any feeling of fear for death. But I vowed that I will never feel regret for anybody's passing son. The way to avoid regret is to do and say all what you want this life so that when the person dies you do not weep but are happy because the person lived long and prospered and was happy. No regrets son. 

I'm proud of what you have done up till now and what you have become son. If something happens to be today I will be happy and at peace because you have become a man and I know you will take care of the family son. And we have done much with each other. Laughed scolded cooked swum played and joked. But that's from my perspective son. 

That's why we are going to India next month. To celebrate babaji's 80th birthday. To make him happy and cuddly. Have his family with him. He is so proud to hear that you got through in Oxford in ppe. His heart is near bursting with pride like mine. You have exceeded both of us and that's what we want kannu. But to go back and help babaji know the love and talk to him and listen and hug and kiss and and and.  To ensure we never feel regret. 

To close it off son, never have any regrets. Laugh and smile. 



Nobody's Son

January 7, 2014

Posted by Mark Slouka



I lost my father this past year, and the word feels right because I keep looking for him. As if he were misplaced. As if he could just turn up, like a sock or a set of keys.

It’s not unusual. In fact, nothing about his death, or my grief, is unusual; there’s no news here—nothing remotely tragic. I know what tragic is: eight days before my father died, a skinny young man walked into an elementary school fifteen minutes from where I live and killed twenty children, something so outrageous that the laws of physics should have stuttered in sympathy, the thrown rock cleared the horizon, the bouncing ball kept bouncing forever.

My father’s death was not in that universe of things. Really, nothing happened. An old man who seventy years ago had held the national Czech junior record in the eight-hundred-metre run walked out of a restaurant in Prague that he went to every day, started making his way up the sidewalk with the cane that I had bought him, complained of feeling weak, sat down on the stoop of 74 Vinohradska street, and died. He was not a person of interest; he’d pass through the mesh of the New York Times Obituary section like dust. He’d lived a long, heartbreaking, and extraordinary life, lived it, on the whole, more decently than most, and when he came to the end of it, he died. It doesn’t get more ordinary than that—the dying part, at least.

Except that he was my father. And grief, like love, is resistant to reason. It was him and me. And now it ain’t.

I have other loves in my life that are greater. It helps. And it doesn’t.

I can’t look at his picture yet. Not yet. I will.

Monday, April 7

Of Religion and Redemption: Evidence from Default on Islamic Loans

I think I am getting religion. Fascinating study

We compare default rates on conventional and Islamic loans using a comprehensive monthly dataset from Pakistan that follows more than 150,000 loans over the period 2006:04 to 2008:12. We find robust evidence that the default rate on Islamic loans is less than half the default rate on conventional loans. Islamic loans are less likely to default during Ramadan and in big cities if the share of votes to religious-political parties increases, suggesting that religion – either through individual piousness or network effects – may play a role in determining loan default.

Looks like a great idea to me, I wonder why banks aren't cottoning on to this fact :) :P

Thursday, March 27

Mr Selden’s Map of China’, by Timothy Brook

Remember how I was talking about the map yesterday from the topkapi palace and how Columbus used it? When we gifted didu her antique map and old indenture agreement?

Here's another interesting map and you can actually see it when you go to oxford. Do remember to go see it and let me know, I'll want to pop up one day to see it as well son.

I saw this article when using the Financial Times app and thought you might be interested:
Financial Times,
‘Mr Selden’s Map of China’, by Timothy Brook
Review by Lisa Jardine
Lisa Jardine navigates through a vanished Anglo-Chinese world
Read the full article at:

Tuesday, March 25

Stepping off the Beaten Path by Saying No!

Here's a blog entry from somebody who is hoping to retire early. Fascinating stuff. About how they are reducing their outgoings. I know, i end up buying too much stuff. Bad mistake your father makes, son, dont make my mistake.

Kids are expensive, son, and one which you have to explore, but then, i think you have given me so much pleasure and happiness that if I had to spend 4 times on you, it would be cheap. But then, you may have different views, not everybody wants or likes children.

We are economic beings son, and our behaviours are driven quite often by economics. Having a child or not can, in many cases, driven by economics. One very commonly cited example is the change in fertility rate when recessions happen.
Still, good for you to think about how to reduce your outgoings...




Cee Aar is a Canadian in his late twenties who is on his early retirement journey. He has resisted (or plans to) convention in some ways and stops by to share his story of bucking the trend.

Going by Jacob’s list of common things that are classified as essential by most people, I live without a few or plan to avoid some in the future. However, one or two from my list below are bound to change and link me to the conventional kind in those aspects.


A few years back, when I was doing my post graduation, I shared an apartment and we had a television in the living room. I remember watching late night movies, shows like Grey’s Anatomy, CSI, etc. After graduation, I landed a job and moved out. Initially, I was looking for atleast a used TV to watch the news (yeah, since we live in the 1960s that there is no other avenue to get information). I put the word out to my friends but never looked at online or newspaper classifieds myself. As time passed, I started to question why needed a TV. The first few months without one did not seem to affect my life in a negative way. I still had access to many shows online if I wanted to watch them and I found other interests to keep me occupied. I couldn’t care less about a TV anymore!

Monday, March 24

Beyond "Tolerance" and "Intolerance": Deconstructing the Myth of the Islamic Golden Age

An interesting article son. People keep on claiming golden ages all the time. Here in the uk. Or in the USA for example with the greatest generation or the attempts to go back to the American founders and constitutionalism. As you will find when you read economics and philosophy and politics, these are all constructions. Propaganda if you will. These are made up constructs. And the vast majority of people will buy into these constructs. Like there is a golden age of Hinduism. Or Islam. Or economics. Or industrialisation. Or what have you. Nothing of these constructs stands up to careful investigation. But I'm not saying that you ignore them. 

You've got to learn how to recognise them son. You've got to understand that the great unwashed herd will believe in things like this. Staying out is not an option. You're either the herder or you are the sheep :) so whenever anybody starts claiming god given truths or references to some kind of universal truth or a golden age, you know that you've got to be careful, smile inside and you know that it's possible to fool some people all the time. Sad but true. 

Incidentally the references in this article talk about roger who we met when we were in Sicily. He made that Norman cathedral and town in cefalu where we stayed. Interesting links eh? Good men can be found in every religion son. Just like bad men. 

You are a good man. And on the day we celebrate saraswati, the goddess of learning, my entreaties and prayers that she will always bless you and offer you her lap to lie down on and learn. 



Beyond "Tolerance" and "Intolerance": Deconstructing the Myth of the Islamic Golden Age


Like many other concepts that shape our understanding of medieval history, the idea of a “Muslim Golden Age” is a historiographical construct. It promotes the notion that, until at least the early eighteenth century, the Muslim world experienced an era of unprecedented stability, prosperity, and cultural production. More particularly, it emphasizes that the period between roughly 800 and 1200 (sometimes extended to 1700 in order to include the Ottoman Empire) can be considered to represent the pinnacle of human endeavor. There are many problems with this perspective. Putting aside the fact that it imposes an anachronistic framework on medieval Muslim history, its main argument that the period 800-1200 can be characterized mainly by tolerance, cultural efflorescence, political unity, and religious harmony is contrary to many of the facts that one encounters upon reading the history of the various civilizations which are subsumed under the category of “Islamic civilization”, a phrase which conceals the linguistic, cultural, intellectual, theological, and political diversity of the lands in which Muslims resided during the medieval and early modern periods. This is to say nothing of the fact that the narratives promoted by these “Golden Age” perspectives are usually a reworking of official histories which do not take into account the realities of marginalized groups during the same period. The “Golden Age” perspective is also problematic because it is in many ways reactionary and a response to the many political, religious, and intellectual challenges faced by the Muslim world in the modern period. History, or rather particular historical narratives about a “Golden Age”, therefore becomes an important repository for the “greatness of Islamic civilization” and a refuge in which Muslims can seek solace in order to refute the idea–promoted mainly by those hostile to Islam–that Muslim civilization was, is, and always will be characterized by death, destruction and chaos.

Thursday, March 20

This Is Danny Pearl's Final Story

Read and weep son. At how people can kill in the name of religion. And be proud of it. As if God, the merciful and compassionate, Allah u Akbar will celebrate and congratulate people who saw off people's heads. But down history, more people have been killed in the name of God than anything else. Think about Aurangzeb. We saw his pearl mosque yesterday at the red fort. A man who was so religious that he killed hundreds of thousands of people. Welcome to these religious bastards lives. And the only way to resolve this son is to keep educating them. The women. Get them into the economy. You cannot fight religious fundamentalism by war and guns only. You need to educate them. You need to laugh at their stupidity. 



This Is Danny Pearl's Final Story

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is walking toward me in a black prayer cap, a cream-colored tunic, and matching shalwar, or baggy pants. He’s hunched over, his beard dyed red, a symbol of piety to conservative Muslims, and I can’t take my eyes off him.

It’s May 5, 2012, the first time in three and a half years that KSM—as he’s known to American officials—has appeared in court, outside his prison cell. We are at Guantánamo, where a US military commission is about to arraign him and four other men for the September 11 attacks, in a courtroom that feels like a movie set. Erected atop an abandoned airfield on the base, it’s as big as a warehouse and has small trailers outside set up as holding areas, one for each defendant. When the courtroom door opened for the men, the Caribbean sun pushed its way into the room first.

I’m in seat number two in the first row of journalists and spectators, separated from the defendants by a wall outfitted with soundproof glass. A video system feeds sound and pictures to screens above us. I’m about 30 feet behind KSM, and there are 40 of us in the gallery. Yet as KSM takes his seat, it feels for a moment as if we’re the only two people in the room.

“Allahu, Allahu, Allahu,” I whisper.

For the families of those who died on 9/11, the day marks the start of what’s likely to be a years-long trial for justice against KSM, the self-described architect of the World Trade Center attacks. For me, it’s something else. KSM is the man who bragged about taking a knife to the throat of my Wall Street Journal colleague and close friend Daniel Pearl.