Saturday, November 17

Mother and breast feeding baby torn apart by US immigration law!

Now I understand that immigration has to be controlled. Hey, I am one myself and that too an economic immigrant now citizen. But many do not. Now see the stupid policy that the Americans are faced with. If you are born in USA, you get a citizenship, if you aren't born in the USA (with due apologies to Bruce Springsteen), then you have to go through amazingly stupid and frankly bizarre ways to become a legal immigrant.

So if you are of child bearing age, you will try to make a child so that the child becomes a US Citizen even if you are not. I quote: "About two-thirds of the children of the illegal immigrants detained in immigration raids in the past year were born in the United States, according to a study by the National Council of La Raza and the Urban Institute, groups that have pushed for gentler deportation policies for immigrant families."

And then the ham-fisted immigration police forcibly separate the mother from the breast feeding baby, the baby is given to social workers, the mother is taken to jail pending deportation.

Now, if you had an ounce of common sense, what would you do? Change the law to consider family reunion visa's, citizenship by family, deportation is done with a bit of concern that families are deported together (the illegal immigrants leave with their US Citizen babies anyway) etc. But not these people, I am afraid. And what's the end result? a family torn apart, and more importantly, the USA's image dragged into the toilet for being a mean unfeeling unemotional monster who tears breast feeding babies.

Remember this poem?

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

By Emma Lazarus

Statue of Liberty National Monument

Lets have a bit of common sense and decency, folks, it doesn't feel good when you read about breast feeding babies being separated from their mothers.

Technorati Tags: , ,

I have decided to change my religion to Pastafarian!

I have been converted today morning by TBS. She is the high priestess of this new religion and I love it. So from now on, I will bid a regretful goodbye to my laser sword, swirling cloak, TIEfighter and become a pastafarian! My brother, Luca Giuliani is an Italian, so it fits in perfectly.

Technorati Tags:

Come to London because you can pee in a cup????????

Say what? now this is as bizarre as the one where Ken Livingstone insulted all Americans after the Iraq War and then went into a tourism conference and asked Americans to come to London.

Eurostar wants Belgians to come to London and this is the poster they are using!


Eurostar advert in Belgium depicting a skinhead urinating in a cup of tea

Do Belgians pee in a cup? Do they want to pee in a cup and they are not allowed to do so? do Londoners pee in a cup? Are you even allowed to do so? Why on earth are you going to come to London to pee in a cup?

Technorati Tags: , ,

Zimbabweans want "white" farmers to stay!

Now you know why Comrade Mugabe got rid of the white owned farms, yes? It was because there was not much left to steal for his gang of murderers and thieves. So they got rid of the white owned farms. They left, the farms were taken over by his crooks, and now they are not white, they are not farms and they are certainly not producing anything. With the result, eye watering inflation, millions emigrating, and Comrade Mugabe sitting on top of this stinking heap of corruption, racism, thuggery, intimidation, and ignorance. But one man is fighting back. I quote:

More than 4,000 white farmers have left Zimbabwe since President Robert Mugabe began his seizing their properties under his redistribution" scheme in 2000. But one provincial governor has made an unprecedented attempt to reverse the trend by preventing two white Zimbabweans from being evicted from their land, in a move that has surprised the country's white minority,

Lindsay Guild and his sister Heather were told that they can continue working their two farms near the city of Mutare after a campaign supported by people from all walks of society, including Vice-President Joseph Msika.

Tinaye Chigudu, the governor of the province of Manicaland, of which Mutare is the capital, said the pair made an essential contribution to the community and should be allowed to stay. His ruling thwarted the ambitions of two senior Zanu-PF party members of Mutare City Council, who wanted to seize the plots.

Mr Guild and his wife used to have two farms but were forced to give one up under the Mugabe reforms. In 2004, half their remaining land was seized by Irene Zindi, the deputy chairman of Mutare City Council. She then sought to take over the rest of it, while the council chairman, Fungai Chaeruka, tried to appropriate Heather Guild's farm. That will not now happen.

Hundreds of the Guilds' supporters, including black farmers, peasants and even members of the ruling party, Zanu-PF, protested outside the farms in defiance of militias armed with clubs and batons. Moses Chatora, a peasant farmer, said: "The Guilds help us. They taught us how to grow tobacco from seedlings and how to market it. A lot of people here have made a lot of money because of the Guilds." Only 400 white farmers remain in Zimbabwe out of an estimated 4,500 before Mr Mugabe's reforms.

But will anybody listen? no, welcome to the protection of stupidity and racism by the world.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Friday, November 16

Secularism versus Islamism - a very amusing debate on Al Jazeera

I know this is childish and I also know this is from MEMRI, but boyo, its friday and I want to be childish! :)

The following are excerpts from a debate on secularism and Islamism in the Middle East with Syrian author Nidhal Na'isa and Egyptian cleric Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Khouli. The debate aired on Al-Jazeera TV on October 30, 2007.

To view this clip visit:

"Despite the Western, Economic, Political, Cultural, Media, and Social Invasion of the Region, the Arab Individual's Hatred of the Foreign Platforms Only Grows, and His Adherence to the Islamic Platform Increases"

Interviewer: "What is better for the Arab world – the modern Western platform or the Islamic platform? Only 10.4% voted for the modern Western platform, while 89.6% voted for the Islamic platform. Nidhal Na'isa, let me begin with you.

"Despite the Western, economic, political, cultural, media, and social invasion of the region, the Arab individual's hatred of the foreign platforms only grows, and his adherence to the Islamic platform increases. You have the results before you: About 90 percent of the voters reject the modernizing, secular, Western platforms – call them what you will. How do you respond to this?"


Nidhal Na'isa: "As you know, these voters are a bunch of people misled and numbed by the proselytizing, generalized, deceptive, romanticized discourse, which promises them black-eyed virgins and boys in Paradise, and such things. This discourse merely postpones the resolution of their problems – instead of resolving them today, let's resolve them in a billion years. This is escapism into the future. That's one thing. If those voters had managed to get a job and a visa to America, none of them would have voted, and nobody would have watched your show. You would be fired from Al-Jazeera and would be left jobless.

"Secondly, these votes reflect disgust for the totalitarian regimes. Like the hijab and all this Islamization, we are talking about disgust with the totalitarian regimes that have denied these people the good life. They are not voting this way out of love for these platforms... "

Interviewer: "They're not voting this way out of love for the Islamic platforms?"

"We Must Draw a Distinction Between Islam and the Islamists; There are Islamists, Who Use Islam for Their Political Designs, and There is Islam"

Nidhal Na'isa: "The platforms are Islamist, not Islamic. We must draw a distinction between Islam and the Islamists. There are Islamists, who use Islam for their political designs, and there is Islam. We respect Islam in the religious, spiritual, and ideological sense. But those peddlers of Islam, who accuse others of heresy, are the ones we must confront. They mislead these wretched people and make fools of them, by the deceptive proselytizing discourse.

"If these voters had experienced life under the rule of the Taliban, under the rule of the [Somali] Islamic Courts Union, or under the rule of Al-Turabi in Sudan, with their 'salvation state,' or whatever they call it, they would renounce all their beliefs, and would flee not only to America, but to Zimbabwe, Upper Volta, Burkina Faso, or Myanmar.

"Ever since these Bedouins invaded and colonized these countries, these countries have lived in a cycle of subjugation, oppression, and torture. These countries live under the burden of totalitarianism, backwardness, and ideological and social decay. 'From Tangier to Jakarta' – that is the slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Islamic Al-Tahrir Party. From Tangier to Jakarta, all you see is poverty, totalitarianism, and decay..."

Interviewer: "And they talk about Islamic platforms..."

Nidhal Na'isa: "This platform has been failing for 1,400 years, and now they say to you: 'We will revive this platform.' Brother, if this platform was politically successful, we would welcome it, and would hope that people live a life of happiness. But this platform has brought nothing but wars and conflicts. People from the same country have become enemies because of these platforms, these lies, this animosity, this sectarianism, and this tribal fanaticism, which was revived by those Bedouins who invaded and colonized these countries.

"Egypt, Iraq, and Syria have been centers of civilization since the dawn of history. They gave rise to civilization. Every day the sun rose, civilization shone on them. But when those Bedouins went in, they destroyed these countries, which have never recovered since. Since those Bedouins entered these countries, they have never recovered. They have become decaying countries, suffering from poverty, misery, and tyranny."


Ibrahim Al-Khoulib: "First of all, who are these Bedouins to whom you refer?'

Nidhal Na'isa: "The Bedouins who invaded these countries."

Ibrahim Al-Khoulib: "What Bedouins?"

Nidhal Na'isa: "You know them perfectly well."

Ibrahim Al-Khoulib: "No, I don't."

Nidhal Na'isa: "Yes, you do. Who invaded those countries? Who conquered them by the sword?"

Ibrahim Al-Khoulib: "I'm asking you..."

Nidhal Na'isa: "You know them...They were colonialist Bedouins..."

Ibrahim Al-Khoulib: "Brother, I have the right to ask you what you meant..."

Nidhal Na'isa: "The Bedouins who came from the Arabian Peninsula."

Ibrahim Al-Khoulib: "Who were they exactly? Do you mean the Bedouins of Najd in modern times?"

Nidhal Na'isa: "In modern times and in ancient times."

Ibrahim Al-Khoulib: "What do you mean?"

Nidhal Na'isa: "In modern times, they have invaded these countries, armed with petrodollars and Wahabism..."

Ibrahim Al-Khoulib: "The Bedouins who conquered these countries, according to you..."

Nidhal Na'isa: "They invaded them by means of the sword..."

Ibrahim Al-Khoulib: "They were the first Muslims, the companions of the Prophet Muhammad. Those were the Bedouins you are referring to." [...]

"Western Civilization is Not Really a Civilization"

Ibrahim Al-Khoulib: "When they entered Andalusia, they brought Europe out of the darkness of the Middle Ages. They established a civilization for which the Spaniards still long today. Spain found itself under the burden of the fanaticism and racism of Ferdinand, Pope Urban, and others, and so the Spaniards lament the loss of that heritage. The Jews who immigrated and founded America excelled in comparison with the other immigrants, because they stole the heritage of the Muslims."


"In Andalusia, which you say, the Muslims conquered by the sword, they left a civilization unparalleled throughout history to this day. Western civilization is not really a civilization, brother."

Nidhal Na'isa: "Western civilization is not really a civilization?"

Ibrahim Al-Khoulib: "You listen to me! You listen to me!"

Nidhal Na'isa: "How did you come here from Egypt in two hours? On camels, it used to take you over six months to make a pilgrimage."


Ibrahim Al-Khoulib: "Your concept of progress and backwardness are mistaken. This materialistic, technological progress, which gave rise to homosexuality even among the Church's clergyman and monks, who even perform same-sex marriages, is not a civilization. It is decay, in the true human sense and in the true moral sense. This runs counter to everything humanity has accepted in its long history."


"When the Muslims, with their Koran, tell the believers about Paradise, and the pleasant life therein, about the black-eyed virgins, and about those boys of whom you spoke – did they present the boys of Paradise like your boys, and the boys of America and the homosexuals? Did the Koran tell you such a thing?! Where is it written? Can you prove that any Muslim – reasonable or crazy, scholar or layman – ever interpreted that the boys of Paradise serve as fodder for homosexuals and people with vile desires, whose nature has been twisted?"


"Who confronts NATO in Afghanistan? Who is fighting NATO forces in their entirety in Afghanistan? Who fought in Iraq and destroyed it? The civilization that brought Iraq back to the Middle Ages, and removed it from the course of history – is it really a civilization?

"This civilization killed one and a half million people. It killed a million Iraqi children during the siege. It left traces of enriched uranium from the weapons that were used, and destroyed the environment for the next 35 billion years, according to American estimates. Is this a civilization? Was it the Muslims who annihilated the Indians? Did the Muslims ever annihilate any people, or even a nation of animals?"


Interviewer: "Turkey tried the Western modernistic platform since the fall of the caliphate in 1923 until recently, yet it returned full force to Islam. Why do you go against the flow?"

Nidhal Na'isa: "With regard to Turkey, my dear friend Faysal, without secularism – which is a Western, modernistic, and enlightened concept – they would never have come [to power]. They rule under a secular regime and constitution. They should thank the secular constitution for getting them to power. If they had been living under an emergency military regime, like your Arab regimes, they would never in their life have come to power." [...]

"Show Me One Secular Person Who Appears On Al-Jazeera TV Or Any Other Channel And Gets To Talk Reasonably"

Interviewer: "Why do people vote for the Islamic parties?"
Nidhal Na'isa: "Because there is no alternative. Show me one secular person who gets to appear on the Arab TV channels. Show me one secular person who appears on Al-Jazeera TV or any other channel and gets to talk reasonably. All we hear of is the culture of camel-urine drinking and breastfeeding adults. He was talking about the [Western] culture of homosexuality... with regard to homosexuality, Dr. Al-Khouli, it has existed from the prehistoric times, from the days of Lot, and in all societies..."

Ibrahim Al-Khoulib: "But our Lord annihilated them..."

Nidhal Na'isa: "Whether He annihilated them or not – that's not the point. These are social and mental diseases that have existed throughout history, and are not restricted to any one people or country."


"Those who are fighting in Afghanistan are a bunch of criminals and outlaws, who were sentenced in their own countries. If they were to return to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, or Algeria, they would be sentenced to death, yet you call them 'fighters.' They are a bunch of terrorists and outlaws who do not represent any platform.

"The only thing the Taliban did was to destroy the Buddha statues. You call that a platform? Those Buddha statues belonged to an historic civilization, and you tell me that these people are not destroyers. These are people who destroy civilizations, man. The only thing they care about is to cover women up with veils. Their sex phobia controls them. They are controlled by a phobia of sex, menstruation, and so on..."

Interviewer: "And beards and hair."

Nidhal Na'isa: "Exactly. You are talking about Andalusia. Dr. Ibrahim, my dear friend, you must open your mind and enlighten yourself."

Ibrahim Al-Khoulib: "Enlighten yourself! I enlighten you, not the other way around, boy!"

Nidhal Na'isa: "You are a boy yourself. You listen to me."

Ibrahim Al-Khoulib: "You are a boy compared to me."

Nidhal Na'isa: "And you're a boy compared to me too."

Interviewer: "Please, do not..."

Nidhal Na'isa: "I just want to open his mind."

Ibrahim Al-Khoulib: "I need my mind opened?! You have the brains of an ant, compared to me."

Nidhal Na'isa: "Thank you very much."

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

Why on earth is Britain funding virginity repair operations?

More proof that the UK is moving rapidly into banana republic territory. So now my tax pounds are being used to satisfy a deeply medieval moronic and stupid practise of repairing the virginity of stupid ignorant cows who are going to get married to stupid animals whose brains have migrated to their genitals. I quote:

The trend has been condemned by critics as a sign of social regression driven by Islamic fundamentalists. Some countries have made hymen reconstruction operations illegal.
Dr Magdy Hend, consultant gynaecologist at the Regency Clinic, Harley Street, London, who started hymen reconstruction more than 18 years ago in the Middle East and the Gulf, said: "In some cultures they like to see that the women will bleed on the wedding night. If the wife or bride is not a virgin, it is a big shame on the family."

"They might be British of ethnic background, they might be immigrants, or some people come from abroad, Asia, Middle East, the Gulf, and they don't want to have it done back home," he added.

Barbarians, animals. And how on earth is the NHS funding this?

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

Saudi gang-rape victim is jailed

This is so bizarre that I cannot believe it. You get gang raped by 14 animals, and then sentenced to 90 lashes for being in a car of a strange man. Then on appeal, the sentence is increased to 200 lashes and a 6 month jail sentence for, get this, trying to influence the judiciary through the media.


All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

Thursday, November 15

So you want to be a CIO?

An Interview with JP Rangaswami, one of the greats of London! :) Transcript enclosed but you can watch the video on the link.

CIO BT Design: JP Rangaswami - Transcript

Description: In a CIO Sessions interview, JP Rangaswami, managing director of BT Design talks to ZDNet editor-in-chief, Dan Farber about transformation and convergence at one of the world’s largest telecommunication companies. He also discusses his visionary thoughts on enabling new technologies inside the enterprise such as social networking, SaaS and open-source.


Dan Farber: JP thanks for joining me.

JP Rangaswami: A pleasure Dan, it’s been a while since we’ve met, looking forward to having a proper conversation.

Dan Farber: I am as well

Dan Farber: JP you have a new role at BT, you were formally the global CIO, now you’re the managing director of BT design. First of all, what is BT and what is your current role?

JP Rangaswami: BT as you know is one of the world’s largest telecom companies that have been converted into a platform based, networked, IT services company. We’re in about 190 countries with maybe 150,000 people. Within that, what we have done at BT is something special, believing in the convergent stories that most telcos have been putting out, we’ve taken our networks, our IT, our products and our processes, and brought all these together so that we have a truly converged design authority. And we’ve done the same with our operate function, the idea being that if we can bring our people, our processes, our networks, and our platforms together in that shape, we really are in the right place to attack the customers changing requirements.

Dan Farber: Now you’ve been a CIO for many years, you were at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein, you were the CIO at BT before you took on his role, let me just quote something you said about the role of the CIO, you warn that “the CIO role could disappear within a decade because all senior managers and board members will have to be knowledgeable about IT, and that’s almost a given in the you-tube generation”. So do you think that the role of the CIO, that you’re a dinosaur if you’re a CIO today?

JP Rangaswami: Perhaps not today, although believe it or not, at BT we’ve done away with the CIO title at our levels. We call ourselves MDs because we’re fundamentally managing directors of certain businesses and the head of BT design overall is actually called a CEO which reflects what the person does. Part of the reason to get rid of the CIO title was effectively to say that we represent disciplines far beyond just was in IT in the past or in IS, that we represent networks, we represent products, we represent processes. What we represent is design so it made sense for us to come together and converge on that title.

Dan Farber: What kind of results are you seeing from doing this kind of reorganization, this kind of re-thinking of how you structure the organization?

JP Rangaswami: First and foremost we go beyond just thinking about just the technology and the systems to really include the networks, the people and the processes. It really gives us a different perspective because we can concentrate on the customer experience much more easily, you can really look at the end to end from how the customer touches anything we do to how we return that service to him when we can concentrate on the cycle time we take on the number of times we get it right so we can look at right first time levels. All these are disciplines which we feel we are better empowered to deal with because the role transcends the traditional IT role.

Dan Farber: Now let me also quote you on something that might be related to what you’ve been talking about which is you say “our future business is to teach our customer to fish rather than to sell them fishes” is the way you’ve been describing your role as managing directors rather than CIOs and this notion of convergence a different way of saying that?

JP Rangaswami: Well yes, what I actually said was, in the past we used to say “instead of giving a man a fish we teach him how to fish”. Today we’re building hurricanes and windmills, capturing energy that the customer creates and our role really is to expose our assets in such a way that that customer can create new value for himself and for his customers by the provision of our assets as usable tools and services, and that is as much a design construct as anything else. It is way beyond what we traditionally called IT.

Dan Farber: Well let’s talk a little bit about what’s inside the construct that you have. I know that you’re a big fan of open source and how does that play a role within your company?

JP Rangaswami: Well believe it or not, even in the last week we’ve had a couple of detail sessions articulating our open source policy. My personal views have never changed and I’m delighted to find that at BT, the views are strongly supported. So much so that we actually bought an open source company while keeping the assets available to the marketplace, we bought tiddlywiki a couple of months ago. The way we look at open source is simple: if the problem is truly generic, then we use open source to be able to solve it because that’s where the market tends to persist at the highest quality. If the problem is contained to a limited marketplace, we use closed source because the economics of finding such solutions work best for a firm that has N customers, N being a relatively small number. And if the problem is unique to us as BT, that is the place where we put all the focus of our best resources our internal guys, those are scarce, rare resources and we’d like to apply them on to scarce rare problems.

Dan Farber: Does software as a service play a role at BT?

JP Rangaswami: Absolutely. Part of why we built BT design the way we have is to realize that the past of having networks and products is really not where we’re going. We’re a platform based software driven networked IT services company. That’s what the transformation requires us to be, that’s what we’re shooting for, and that’s the way we believe we’re going to provide the customer the experience he wants. That means delivering services to the customer where he wants it, how he wants it, when he wants it, with whatever device whatever form of connect, whatever time of day. These constructs are not easy to apply unless you think of software as a service in being able to expose the assets as services not as products, and then to be able to expose them in such a way that the customer can actually create other services out of them, whitelabeling, mashing, the creation of managed mashable networks. All of this is only possible if you take the software as a service mindset.

Dan Farber: Now as part of that environment that you’re talking about, the software as a service and exposing the assets to the customer and letting them build upon it, obviously that might deal to some extent with the web 2.0 type technologies, how are you investing in those types of approaches?

JP Rangaswami: Well as you would expect, I don’t think I could have joined a firm that didn’t believe in collaborative tools and techniques and at BT it’s pretty much part of our DNA. Collaboration is right at the heart of what we do, we have very very large internal use of blogs and wikis, we have considerable use of IM techniques. We also have a growing ability for ourselves to be able use various forms of, I mean if you look at facebook, I think we’re probably up to 6000 people just on the visible BT.

Dan Farber: Let me ask you about facebook for a moment. Many companies today are banning facebook, myspace and other social networking services from their corporations, and your approach is to let them in. How do you justify that?

JP Rangaswami: Well I would ask the question the other way around and ask how the other companies justify what they’re doing. But fundamentally, what does facebook look like to me within an institution? It allows me to form groups of interest which is no different from arranging a meeting or creating a center of competence. It allows me to send messages to other people in an efficient way rather than blasting people with email based spam. It gives me the opportunity for people to subscribe to things their interested in, it gives me a newsfeed for what people are doing in a sharable consumable fashion, it allows me the opportunity even to publish the interests of different people in such a way I can look at what my colleagues are doing, what my subordinates are doing. In fact if you look at what I’m doing with facebook, what I’m really achieving, what any of us who wants to use it in an enterprise environment achieves, is to say that you’ve taken what happened t at the water cooler or at the coffee shop and made it persistent, made it shareable, made it teachable, made it learnable. That’s a huge win because we’ve spent years talking about the value of the water cooler conversations, of the coffee shops, of the more amorphous softer discussions. Now we have the ability to actually understand what these relationships are, how information and decision making migrates horizontally, laterally through an organization, rather than through the published hierarchies, how people really work, and what people do as part of that work. It’s time we broke the assembly line mindset, I think social networking tools give us an opportunity to look at the relationship graphs, to look at the people who form the malcolm, gladwell, mavens and connectors and salesmen. To look at the flows that matter rather than the flows of the politics, and these are immense tools.

Dan Farber: When you’re using facebook today, how are you able to look at that graph and utilize it for the company given that it’s beyond corporate control, there’s no compliance, there’s no archiving of anything within the corporate network?

JP Rangaswami: Well effectively you start by solving the small things, if you look at the way Bloomberg started as a community, then first and foremost you’ve got the liquidity of the community and they existed for some common purpose. They introduced chat, and chat certainly became a very efficient way of people being able to communicate with each other. There were network effects as the number of participants grew, and there were also regulatory concerns. As a result, people started creating policy to be able to implement those concerns, manage around them. The same cannon will happen with facebook, but it’s not gonna happen if we put our heads in the sand. It’s only going to happen through usage, through adoption, and through improvement. And by the way, it’s not just about facebook, it’s about social networks in general, facebook is just a very good construct to look at. So we use tools that are remarkably similar to facebook because they don’t have the only game in town.

Dan Farber: Let me ask you a final question, you’ve been talking about lots of very innovative strategies and technologies and tools. How do you actually create a culture in which all of that can really flower?

JP Rangaswami: I think first and foremost, what we appear to have done here at BT is to have taken away a blame culture. You get in trouble not for what you do, but for not trying. And then by having learning embedded within what you do, people are able to actually able to make something of mistakes, you really get into the “I have not failed, I have found 10,000 ways that do not work”. The challenge has been to make sure that we have to tools and techniques to capture that learning then to implement the lessons. So we spend a lot of time actually looking at lessons learned, so we can make sure that we prevent recurrent of the core issue, we look for root causes and then we prevent recurrence. I think if you get into that mindset of closed loop control, analysis of root cause, and prevention of recurrence, automatically you create a very high performance creative culture.

Dan Farber: JP, thanks so much for joining me today.

JP Rangaswami: A pleasure Dan, always a pleasure talking to you.

Dan Farber: I’ve been speaking with JP Rangaswami who is the managing director of BT design. For CIO sessions I’m Dan Farber, thanks for listening and watching.

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

May these child torturers rot in hell!

Read this and weep, words fail me. And if you have the stomach, see the pictures here. How can you do this to your own children? Just how? I mean, they are such wonderful creatures, creatures to be loved, adored, cuddled and kissed. They are our future, you blithering morons, they are going to be our support, carry on our genes, take care of us. What stupidity!

African Crucible: Cast as Witches, Then Cast Out
UIGE, Angola — Domingos Pedro was only 12 years old when his father died. The passing was sudden; the cause was a mystery to doctors. But not to Domingos's relatives.
They gathered that afternoon in Domingos's mud-clay house, he said, seized him and bound his legs with rope. They tossed the rope over the house's rafters and hoisted him up until he was suspended headfirst over the hard dirt floor. Then they told him they would cut the rope if he did not confess to murdering his father.
"They were yelling, 'Witch! Witch!'" Domingos recalled, tears rolling down his face. "There were so many people all shouting at me at the same time."
Terrified, Domingos told them what they wanted to hear, but his relatives were not appeased. Ferraz Bulio, the neighborhood's traditional leader, said seven or eight captors were dragging Domingos down a dirt path to the river, apparently to drown him, when he intervened.
"They were slapping him and punching him," he said. "This is the way people react toward someone accused of witchcraft. There are lots of such cases."
Mr. Bulio is right. In parts of Angola, Congo and the Congo Republic, a surprising number of children are accused of being witches, and then are beaten, abused or abandoned. Child advocates estimate that thousands of children living in the streets of Kinshasa, Congo's capital, have been accused of witchcraft and cast out by their families, often as a rationale for not having to feed or care for them.
The officials in one northern Angolan town identified 432 street children who had been abandoned or abused after being called witches. A report last year by the government's National Institute for the Child and the United Nations Children's Fund described the number of children said to be witches as "massive."
The notion of child witches is not new here. It is a common belief in Angola's dominant Bantu culture that witches can communicate with the world of the dead and usurp or "eat" the life force of others, bringing their victims misfortune, illness and death. Adult witches are said to bewitch children by giving them food, then forcing them to reciprocate by sacrificing a family member.
But officials attribute the surge in persecutions of children to war — 27 years in Angola, ending in 2002, and near constant strife in Congo. The conflicts orphaned many children, while leaving other families intact but too destitute to feed themselves.
"The witches situation started when fathers became unable to care for the children," said Ana Silva, who is in charge of child protection for the children's institute. "So they started seeking any justification to expel them from the family."
Since then, she said, the phenomenon has followed poor migrants from the northern Angolan provinces of Uige and Zaire to the slums of the capital, Luanda.
Two recent cases horrified officials there. In June, Ms. Silva said, a Luanda mother blinded her 14-year-old daughter with bleach to try to rid her of evil visions. In August, a father injected battery acid into his 12-year-old son's stomach because he feared the boy was a witch, she said.
Angola's government has campaigned since 2000 to dispel notions about child witches, Ms. Silva said, but progress comes slowly. "We cannot change the belief that witches exist," she said. "Even the professional workers believe that witches exist."
Instead, her institute is trying to teach authority figures — police officers, teachers, religious leaders — that violence against children is never justified.
The Angolan city of Mbanza Congo, just 50 miles from the border with Congo, has blazed a trail. After a child accused of witchcraft was stabbed to death in 2000, provincial officials and Save the Children, the global charitable organization, rounded up 432 street children and reunited 380 of them with relatives, the witchcraft report stated.
Eleven fundamentalist churches were shut down because of reports of child exploitation and abuse. Eight Congolese pastors were deported. Villages formed committees to monitor children's rights. The authorities say the number of children who are abused or living on the streets dropped drastically.
Uige, about 100 miles to the south of Mbanza Congo, is another story. Surrounded by lush green hills, it is a cluster of mud-clay settlements around crumbling shops pockmarked by bullet holes. In this region, said Bishop Emilio Sumbelelo of St. Joseph's Catholic Church, persecution of children is rising.
"It is very, very, very common in the villages," he said. "We know that some children have been killed."
His church runs the town's only sanctuary for children victimized as witches, a shelter barely bigger than a three-car garage. Thirty-two boys, including Domingos, occupy bunk beds stacked a foot apart, their few clothes stashed in boxes underneath. No shelter exists for girls.
Since July, all newcomers have been turned away. "Children come here to ask for protection, but we have no space," the bishop said. "To date, we have not found any special way to fight against this phenomenon."
Many boys describe pasts of abuse, rejection and fear. Saldanha David Gomes, 18, who lived with his aunt until he was 12, said she turned on him after her 3-year-old daughter fell ill and died.
After, he said, his aunt refused to feed him and bound his hands and feet each night, fearing that he would take another victim.
A neighbor finally warned him to flee. "I am not a witch, and I was not a witch," Saldanha said. "But I had to run away because they were threatening to kill me."
Afonso García, 6, took the shelter's last empty cot in July. "I came here on my own because my father doesn't like me and I was not eating every day," he said matter-of-factly.
After Afonso's mother died three years ago, he moved in with his father. His stepmother, Antoinette Eduardo, said she began to suspect that he was a witch after neighborhood children reported that he had eaten a razor. Besides that, she said, "he was getting thinner and thinner, even though he was eating well."
Under questioning, she said, Afonso admitted that a male relative had visited him in his dreams, demanding that he kill a family member. Afonso denies ever confessing to witchcraft.
What unfolded next is typical of many cases here. Afonso's relatives turned to a traditional healer for a cure.
The healer, João Ginga, 30, wears a fur-collared leather jacket and works out of what he calls a hospital — a cramped mud-walled room. "If someone has a bad spirit, I can tell," he said one recent morning as clients waited on a bench. "We treat more than a thousand cases a year."
With such a busy trade, Mr. Ginga said, he could not remember Afonso's case. Afonso's aunt, Isabella Armando, said her family gave Mr. Ginga $270 in cash, candles, perfume and baby powder to treat Alfonso.
Mr. Ginga performed some rituals, put a substance in Afonso's eyes that made him sob in pain and pronounced him cured, she said. But Afonso's father and stepmother, the only relatives who could afford to care for him, did not agree, and expelled him from their household.
"I pitied him, and I still pity him because he was living in the streets," the stepmother explained. "But we were afraid."
Mr. Ginga is hardly the only healer here who claims to cure child witches. Sivi Munzemba said she exorcised possessed children by inserting a poultice of plants into their anuses, shaving their heads and sequestering them for two weeks in her house.
Moises Samuel, director of the provincial office of the children's institute, said he was concerned not only about traditional healers but also about a bevy of churches with soothsayers who claimed to exorcise evil spirits and drew crowds even on weekdays.
Once a soothsayer or healer brands a child a witch, child welfare specialists say, even the police often back away.
Officers kept Domingos, the boy who was suspended from a rafter, for one night at the station house, then sent him home, said Mr. Bulio, the settlement's traditional leader. They never investigated Domingos's uncle, who Mr. Bulio said led the attack.
"Of course it was a crime," Mr. Bulio said. "But because it is witchcraft, the police do not take any responsibility."
Domingos, now 15, insisted that he said he was a witch only to save his life. But even his 32-year-old mother, Maria Pedro, disbelieves him.
Ms. Pedro is obviously fond of Domingos, her oldest child. She beams over his academic progress and worries about further attacks by his relatives, should he leave the shelter.
Still, she said, she suspects that he was bewitched into murder. "It must be true because he himself confessed," she said, eyeing Domingos carefully across a table in her two-bedroom house.
At that, Domingos stood up and walked swiftly from the house. Ten minutes later, he reappeared in the doorway, his face red and splotchy. "Mother, from this day on, I am no longer your son," he declared fiercely.
Ms. Pedro wordlessly watched him go. "I just don't know why Domingos got so angry," she said later.

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

President Sarkozy's Speech to the American Congress 2007

A fascinating read, if i didnt see it from a reputable source, I wouldnt have believed that a French President is actually saying these words (in french but you will get the idea). I am highlighting the bits that I found gobsmacking (as in the fact that a French President is saying this!). Now THIS is a leader, a person you can follow, a person who draws huge impressive ambitious dreams. Who talks the talk and walks the walk. I am very impressed by him.

Renewing the French-American Alliance
By Nicolas Sarkozy

Madam Speaker, Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen of the United States Congress, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The state of our friendship and our alliance is strong.

Friendship, first and foremost, means being true to one's friends. Since the United States first appeared on the world scene, the loyalty between the French and American people has never failed. And far from being weakened by the vicissitudes of History, it has never ceased growing stronger.

Friends may have differences; they may have disagreements; they may have disputes.

But in times of difficulty, in times of hardship, friends stand together, side by side; they support each other; and help one another.

In times of difficulty, in times of hardship, America and France have always stood side by side, supported one another, helped one another, fought for each other's freedom.

The United States and France remain true to the memory of their common history, true to the blood spilled by their children in common battles. But they are not true merely to the memory of what they accomplished together in the past. They remain true, first and foremost, to the same ideal, the same principles, the same values that have always united them.

The deliberations of your Congress are conducted under the double gaze of Washington and Lafayette. Lafayette, whose 250th birthday we are celebrating this year and who was the first foreign dignitary, in 1824, to address a joint session of Congress. What was it that brought these two men--so far apart in age and background--together, if not their faith in common values, the heritage of the Enlightenment, the same love for freedom and justice?

Upon first meeting Washington, Lafayette told him: "I have come here to learn, not to teach." It was this new spirit and youth of the Old World seeking out the wisdom of the New World that opened a new era for all of humanity.

From the very beginning, the American dream meant putting into practice the dreams of the Old World.

From the very beginning, the American dream meant proving to all mankind that freedom, justice, human rights and democracy were no utopia but were rather the most realistic policy there is and the most likely to improve the fate of each and every person.

America did not tell the millions of men and women who came from every country in the world and who--with their hands, their intelligence and their heart--built the greatest nation in the world: "Come, and everything will be given to you." She said: "Come, and the only limits to what you'll be able to achieve will be your own courage and your own talent." America embodies this extraordinary ability to grant each and every person a second chance.

Here, both the humblest and most illustrious citizens alike know that nothing is owed to them and that everything has to be earned. That's what constitutes the moral value of America. America did not teach men the idea of freedom; she taught them how to practice it. And she fought for this freedom whenever she felt it to be threatened somewhere in the world. It was by watching America grow that men and women understood that freedom was possible.

What made America great was her ability to transform her own dream into hope for all mankind.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The men and women of my generation heard their grandparents talk about how in 1917, America saved France at a time when it had reached the final limits of its strength, which it had exhausted in the most absurd and bloodiest of wars.

The men and women of my generation heard their parents talk about how in 1944, America returned to free Europe from the horrifying tyranny that threatened to enslave it.

Fathers took their sons to see the vast cemeteries where, under thousands of white crosses so far from home, thousands of young American soldiers lay who had fallen not to defend their own freedom but the freedom of all others, not to defend their own families, their own homeland, but to defend humanity as a whole.

Fathers took their sons to the beaches where the young men of America had so heroically landed. They read them the admirable letters of farewell that those 20-year-old soldiers had written to their families before the battle to tell them: "We don't consider ourselves heroes. We want this war to be over. But however much dread we may feel, you can count on us." Before they landed, Eisenhower told them: "The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you."

And as they listened to their fathers, watched movies, read history books and the letters of soldiers who died on the beaches of Normandy and Provence, as they visited the cemeteries where the star-spangled banner flies, the children of my generation understood that these young Americans, 20 years old, were true heroes to whom they owed the fact that they were free people and not slaves. France will never forget the sacrifice of your children.

To those 20-year-old heroes who gave us everything, to the families of those who never returned, to the children who mourned fathers they barely got a chance to know, I want to express France's eternal gratitude.

On behalf of my generation, which did not experience war but knows how much it owes to their courage and their sacrifice; on behalf of our children, who must never forget; to all the veterans who are here today and, notably the seven I had the honor to decorate yesterday evening, one of whom, Senator Inouye, belongs to your Congress, I want to express the deep, sincere gratitude of the French people. I want to tell you that whenever an American soldier falls somewhere in the world, I think of what the American army did for France. I think of them and I am sad, as one is sad to lose a member of one's family.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The men and women of my generation remember the Marshall Plan that allowed their fathers to rebuild a devastated Europe. They remember the Cold War, during which America again stood as the bulwark of the Free World against the threat of new tyranny.

I remember the Berlin crisis and Kennedy who unhesitatingly risked engaging the United States in the most destructive of wars so that Europe could preserve the freedom for which the American people had already sacrificed so much. No one has the right to forget. Forgetting, for a person of my generation, would be tantamount to self-denial.

But my generation did not love America only because she had defended freedom. We also loved her because for us, she embodied what was most audacious about the human adventure; for us, she embodied the spirit of conquest. We loved America because for us, America was a new frontier that was continuously pushed back--a constantly renewed challenge to the inventiveness of the human spirit.

My generation shared all the American dreams. Our imaginations were fueled by the winning of the West and Hollywood. By Elvis Presley, Duke Ellington, Hemingway. By John Wayne, Charlton Heston, Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth. And by Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins, fulfilling mankind's oldest dream.

What was so extraordinary for us was that through her literature, her cinema and her music, America always seemed to emerge from adversity even greater and stronger; that instead of causing America to doubt herself, such ordeals only strengthened her belief in her values.

What makes America strong is the strength of this ideal that is shared by all Americans and by all those who love her because they love freedom.

America's strength is not only a material strength, it is first and foremost a spiritual and moral strength. No one expressed this better than a black pastor who asked just one thing of America: that she be true to the ideal in whose name he--the grandson of a slave--felt so deeply American. His name was Martin Luther King. He made America a universal role model.

The world still remembers his words--words of love, dignity and justice. America heard those words and America changed. And the men and women who had doubted America because they no longer recognized her began loving her again.

Fundamentally, what are those who love America asking of her, if not to remain forever true to her founding values?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today as in the past, as we stand at the beginning of the 21st century, it is together that we must fight to defend and promote the values and ideals of freedom and democracy that men such as Washington and Lafayette invented together.

Together we must fight against terrorism. On September 11, 2001, all of France--petrified with horror--rallied to the side of the American people. The front-page headline of one of our major dailies read: "We are all American." And on that day, when you were mourning for so many dead, never had America appeared to us as so great, so dignified, so strong. The terrorists had thought they would weaken you. They made you greater. The entire world felt admiration for the courage of the American people. And from day one, France decided to participate shoulder to shoulder with you in the war in Afghanistan. Let me tell you solemnly today: France will remain engaged in Afghanistan as long as it takes, because what's at stake in that country is the future of our values and that of the Atlantic Alliance. For me, failure is not an option. Terrorism will not win because democracies are not weak, because we are not afraid of this barbarism. America can count on France.

Together we must fight against proliferation. Success in Libya and progress under way in North Korea shows that nuclear proliferation is not inevitable. Let me say it here before all of you: The prospect of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons is unacceptable. The Iranian people is a great people. It deserves better than the increased sanctions and growing isolation to which its leaders condemn it. Iran must be convinced to choose cooperation, dialogue and openness. No one must doubt our determination.

Together we must help the people of the Middle East find the path of peace and security. To the Israeli and Palestinian leaders I say this: Don't hesitate! Risk peace! And do it now! The status quo hides even greater dangers: that of delivering Palestinian society as a whole to the extremists that contest Israel's existence; that of playing into the hands of radical regimes that are exploiting the deadlock in the conflict to destabilize the region; that of fueling the propaganda of terrorists who want to set Islam against the West. France wants security for Israel and a State for the Palestinians.

Together we must help the Lebanese people affirm their independence, their sovereignty, their freedom, their democracy. What Lebanon needs today is a broad-based president elected according to the established schedule and in strict respect of the Constitution. France stands engaged alongside all the Lebanese. It will not accept attempts to subjugate the Lebanese people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

America feels it has the vocation to inspire the world. Because she is the most powerful country in the world. Because, for more than two centuries, she has striven to uphold the ideals of democracy and freedom. But this stated responsibility comes with duties, the first of which is setting an example.

Those who love this nation which, more than any other, has demonstrated the virtues of free enterprise expect America to be the first to denounce the abuses and excesses of a financial capitalism that sets too great a store on speculation. They expect her to commit fully to the establishment of the necessary rules and safeguards. The America I love is the one that encourages entrepreneurs, not speculators.

Those who admire the nation that has built the world's greatest economy and has never ceased trying to persuade the world of the advantages of free trade expect her to be the first to promote fair exchange rates. The yuan is already everyone's problem. The dollar cannot remain solely the problem of others. If we're not careful, monetary disarray could morph into economic war. We would all be its victims.

Those who love the country of wide open spaces, national parks and nature reserves expect America to stand alongside Europe in leading the fight against global warming that threatens the destruction of our planet. I know that each day, in their cities and states, the American people are more aware of the stakes and determined to act. This essential fight for the future of humanity must be all of America's fight.

Those who have not forgotten that it was the United States that, at the end of the Second World War, raised hopes for a new world order are asking America to take the lead in the necessary reforms of the UN, the IMF, the World Bank and the G8. Our globalized world must be organized for the 21st century, not for the last century. The emerging countries we need for global equilibrium must be given their rightful place.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to express one last conviction: Trust Europe.

In this unstable, dangerous world, the United States of America needs a strong, determined Europe. With the simplified treaty I proposed to our partners, the European Union is about to emerge from 10 years of discussions on its institutions and 10 years of paralysis. Soon it will have a stable president and a more powerful High Representative for foreign and security policy, and it must now reactivate the construction of its military capacities.

The ambition I am proposing to our partners is based on a simple observation: There are more crises than there are capacities to face them. NATO cannot be everywhere. The EU must be able to act, as it did in the Balkans and in the Congo, and as it will tomorrow on the border of Sudan and Chad. For that the Europeans must step up their efforts.

My approach is purely pragmatic. Having learned from history, I want the Europeans, in the years to come, to have the means to shoulder a growing share of their defense. Who could blame the United States for ensuring its own security? No one. Who could blame me for wanting Europe to ensure more of its own security? No one. All of our Allies, beginning with the United States, with whom we most often share the same interests and the same adversaries, have a strategic interest in a Europe that can assert itself as a strong, credible security partner.

At the same time, I want to affirm my attachment to NATO. I say it here before this Congress: The more successful we are in the establishment of a European Defense, the more France will be resolved to resume its full role in NATO.

I would like France, a founding member of our Alliance and already one of its largest contributors, to assume its full role in the effort to renew NATO's instruments and means of action and, in this context, to allow its relations with the Alliance to evolve.

This is no time for theological quarrels but for pragmatic responses to make our security tools more effective and operational in the face of crises. The EU and NATO must march hand in hand.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I want to be your friend, your ally and your partner. But a friend who stands on his own two feet. An independent ally. A free partner.

France must be stronger. I am determined to carry through with the reforms that my country has put off for all too long. I will not turn back, because France has turned back for all too long. My country has enormous assets. While respecting its unique identity, I want to put it into a position to win all the battles of globalization. I passionately love France. I am lucid about the work that remains to be accomplished.

It is this ambitious France that I have come to present to you today. A France that comes out to meet America to renew the pact of friendship and the alliance that Washington and Lafayette sealed in Yorktown.

Together let us be worthy of their example, let us be equal to their ambition, let us be true to their memories!

Long live the United States of America!

Vive la France!
Long live French-American friendship!

Nicolas Sarkozy is the President of France.

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

Wednesday, November 14

What is your innovation archetype?

This document was passed on to me, about how to innovate in your firms. I quote from the starting paras:

Why do innovation efforts so often fail? We might expect individual innovations to fail – innovation is risky, after all – but that does not explain why companies often pull the plug on broad campaigns to accelerate innovation, sometimes after only short periods of time. While the business press hectors firms to try to become the next Google, many companies struggle with simply getting innovation initiatives off the ground.

The folks interviewed tons of people and firms and asked them about the following:

Products/services metrics
• Revenue growth normalized by R&D spend
• Average time to market for new products/services in days
• Average time to profitability/payback for new products/services in months
• Percentage of revenue from new products and/or services launched in the past year

Operational metrics
• Cost of goods sold as a percentage of revenue
• SG&A as a percentage of revenue
• Average days in inventory
• Percentage product and/or service sales orders delivered on time
• Fixed assets utilization rate

Business model metrics
• Number of new businesses launched in past three years
• Percentage of revenue by fulfillment channels
• Customer retention rate

Innovation enablers
• Employment of cross-functional teams
• Collaboration practices
• Mobilization capabilities (e.g., percentage of employees tasked with innovation goals)
• Innovation agenda (e.g., formal process for fostering and vetting new ideas)
• Customer satisfaction

Their research has shown the fallacy in the assumption that successful innovation will come simply by replicating the approach used by other successful innovators. A survey of more than 250 companies across multiple industries and 24 countries shows that the sourcing, shaping and implementation of ideas at innovative firms tends to conform to a small number of innovation archetypes, which represent a self-reinforcing combination of culture and operations. Google is representative of one of those archetypes, but only one.

Then they come up with 4 archetypes:
  • The marketplace of ideas
  • The visionary leader
  • Innovation through vigour
  • Innovation through collaboration

I will let you read about the archetypes in the document itself as they go more into detail into each of these archetypes, talking about the Leadership, Staff, Process and Environment.

Well, I suppose it is interesting to classify innovation processes and organisation structures. I can also see the sense in trying to do this for simple firms (single product, single country, etc.). But me sitting inside a financial institution, that too a global, multi product, matrixed managed firm, I cant see this happening at all. If I had to execute something like this into the firm, it would simply not work at all because the sheer amount of bureacracy, regulatory oversight, huge technology and operations tail, very high reputational risk, sensitivity of products, all go to make sure that innovation happens like mutation. While I do think that we are the market leaders in managing innovation with out outsourced and offshored partners, to try to build something like this into an overall firm will be a bit of a challenge.

Also, do we really need to work on innovation? Isnt it something like trying to teach entrepreneurship? you can manage the process and give tools/techniques to help manage the process, but you cant make it happen.

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

The Rabbit, Fox and the Wolf: A Fable for PhD Students

One sunny day a rabbit came out of her hole in the ground to enjoy the weather. The day was so nice that the rabbit became careless, so a fox sneaked up to her and caught her.
"I am going to eat you for lunch!", said the fox.
"Wait!", replied the rabbit, "You should at least wait a few days."
"Oh yeah? Why should I wait?"
"Well, I am just finishing my Ph.D. thesis."
"Hah, that`s a stupid excuse. What is the title of your thesis anyway?"
"I am writing my thesis on `The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves.`"
"Are you crazy? I should eat you right now! Everybody knows that a fox will always win over a rabbit."
"Not really, not according to my reserch. If you like, you can come to my hole and read it for yourself. If you are not convinced, you can go ahead and have me for lunch."
"You are really crazy!" But since the fox was curious and nothing to lose, it went with the rabbit into its hole. The fox never came back out.
A few days later, the rabbit was again taking a break from writing and sure enough, a wolf came out of the bushes and was ready to eat her.
"Wait!", yelled the rabbit,"you cannot eat me right now."
"And why might that be, you fuzzy appetizer?"
"I am almost finished writing my Ph.D. thesis on `The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves."
The wolf laughed so hard that it almost lost its hold on the rabbit. "Maybe I shouldn`t eat you, you really are sick in the head, you might have something contagious," the wolf opined.
"Come read for yourself, you can eat me after that if you disagree with my conclusions." So the wolf went to the rabbit`s hole and never came out.
The rabbit finished her thesis and was out celebrating in the lettuce fields. Another rabbit came by and asked, "What`s up? You seem to be very happy."
"Yup, I just finished my dissertation."
"Congratulations! What is it about?"
"It is titled `The Superiority of Rabbits over Foxes and Wolves"
"Are you sure? That doesn`t sound right."
"Oh yes, you should come over and read it for yourself."
So they went together to the rabbit`s hole. As they went in, the friend saw a typical graduate student abode, albeit a rather messy one after writing a thesis. The computer with the controversial dissertation was in one corner, on the right there was a pile of fox bones, on the left was a pile of wolf bones, and in the middle was a large, lip-licking lion.

The moral of the story:
The title of your dissertation doesn`t matter. All that matters is who your thesis advisor is.

Thanks to Dr. Vinay Gupta!

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

What do you do with your dead people on your planet?

Thanks for Chris Skinner, this joke is brilliant. But here's a thought for all in financial services. Why do you think this is funny? This is funny because we all have faced this scenario and can well face it. 10 Questions for you:
  1. Customer Services review?
  2. Level of responsibility given to front line staff?
  3. Level of responsibility given to front line staff's supervisor?
  4. Level of automation relating to customer events on credit card systems?
  5. Are large customer events (hatched, matched, dispatched) handled extra-specially? that is a high risk event but also a high return event.
  6. How do you think you as senior management are capturing events like this? For example, I can type up my conversation with Mesh Computers when I had a gigantic snafu with them and then can send it out on the web and my friends. In other words, the probability of senior management receiving this joke email from outside is higher than them receiving information like this from inside. I know you are taping this conversation, but how is this information reaching senior management? Ok, so the senior management does not get to hear it, who does? beyond the supervisor?
  7. And if it does reach you, what do you do? what have you done previously?
  8. Have you personally, as a senior manager, tried out your own company's products in an anonymous manner? I realise this wont be possible in investment and corporate banking but you can still do it in asset management, private banking, SME banking and retail banking.
  9. Your risk and control people must have asked for many of the risks/controls identified in this conversation. How many of those risks/controls have actually gone through a cost benefit analysis based upon customer service, reputational risk, revenue, etc.?
  10. Say this joke email comes out with an explicit name attached to it, say XYZ Bank. And when you are travelling into work in the train, you read this joke in the newspapers and your friends across the train are giggling at you. What do you do when you enter the office? What can you do to address this problem?

A lady died in January, and the bank billed her for their annual service charges on her credit card for February and March. When these were unpaid, the bank added late fees and penalty interest fees on top of the monthly charge. The balance had been $0.00 and is now over $60.00, and increasing every month, so her nephew calls the bank:

Nephew: “Hello there. My aunt died recently, and I am calling to tell you that she died as you keep mailing charges to her.”

Bank: “Well, the account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.”

Nephew: “Maybe you should turn it over to collections.”

Bank: “Since it is over two months past due, it already has been.”

Nephew: “So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?”

Bank: “Either report her account to the frauds division or report her to the credit bureau, maybe both.”

Nephew: “Do you think God will be mad at her?”

Bank: “Excuse me?”

Nephew: “Did you just get what I was telling you . . . The part about her being dead?”

Bank: “Sir, you’ll have to speak to my supervisor.”

Supervisor gets on the phone.

Nephew: “Hi. I’m calling about my aunt and am trying to tell you that she died in January.”

Bank: “Well, the account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.”

Nephew: “You mean you want to collect from her estate?”

Bank: (Stammer) “Are you her lawyer?”

Nephew: “No, I’m her nephew.”

Bank: “Could you fax us a certificate of death?”

Nephew: “Sure.”

After they get the fax.

Bank: “Our system just isn’t set up for death, sir. I don’t know what more I can do to help.”

Nephew: “Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. I don’t think she will care.”

Bank: “Well, the late fees and charges do still apply.”

Nephew: “Would you like her new billing address?”

Bank: “That might help.”

Nephew: “Rookwood Memorial Cemetery, 1249 Centenary Road, Plot Number 1049.”

Bank: “Sir, that’s a cemetery!”

Nephew: “Well, what do you do with dead people on your planet?”

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

Tuesday, November 13

Inflation now killing and wounding in China

I have been warning about Inflation in China for some time now. But the situation is getting pretty bad. There have been stampedes to purchase half price cooking oil which have injured nineteen people. Before this, three people were trampled to death when a store offered 20% discount on rapeseed oil and people just invaded the store. Given that the Chinese government is now freezing lending in many sectors, it will have a significant ripple effect across the world.

Not happy and curiously, no multi-lateral institution is seeing this. The closest I can think of is the BIS, the Bank of International Settlement, or the World Bank. But there is not even a peep from either. Why are they sleeping?

Technorati Tags: ,

Rape reduced by 85%, porn to thank possibly!

Professor D'Amato, a very learned man from all what it seems from his cv, has written an very thought provoking paper. In this paper, he claims that rape in the USA has reduced by 85% in the last 25 years. And there seems to be a correlation between the availability of porn and rape. While it is not clear, he argues:

Correlations aside, could access to pornography actually reduce the incidence of rape as a matter of causation? In my article I mentioned one possibility: that some people watching pornography may “get it out of their system” and thus have no further desire to go out and actually try it. Another possibility might be labeled the “Victorian effect”: the more that people covered up their bodies with clothes in those days, the greater the mystery of what they looked like in the nude. The sight of a woman’s ankle was considered shocking and erotic. But today, internet porn has thoroughly de-mystified sex.

Times have changed so much that some high school teachers of sex education are beginning to show triple-X porn movies to their students in order to depict techniques of satisfactory intercourse.

I am sure there will be other explanations forthcoming as to why access to pornography is the most important causal factor in the decline of rape. Once one accepts the observation that there is a precise negative correlation between the two, the rest can
safely be left to the imagination.

Now the problem is that I cannot replicate this study with other countries. Rape is considered to be a power trip, something that is related to men dominance while religious chaps think it is due to lust. See here for the causes of rape (mind you, the article is disputed on Wikipedia but it does not detract from the argument I am making!). So while the author is fulminating against religious reasons for the previous research, his pointing to availability of porn seems to further point to religious reasons behind raising lust (assuming that porn satisfies lust....).

On the other hand, countries where porn is banned or is severely limited still show incidents of rape. So not sure, what do you think?

Technorati Tags: ,

Free Speech Lost in Spain - cartoonists fined

Now this is so strange, here Europe is fighting a principled battle against free speech in the cases of hate crime and Mohammad cartoons, then Spain goes and does something spectacularly stupid like this!

Shame! Criminal!

Technorati Tags: , ,

US Financial Regulatory Framework Future: More Comments

Further to my long note about the future of US regulation, seems like the market is also thinking the same! I quote:

It appears as if Europe’s got it right; the push for a regulatory model closely mirroring Europe ’s was all the rage at the annual Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association meeting.
According to, the US regulation community is simply looking for an approach that is based on principles… the same approach that UK ’s Financial Services model has used for years. Here, companies do not have to concern themselves with the constant burden of having to answer to regulatory examinations. Instead of being forced to adhere to specific rules, corporations would have the luxury of sticking to guidelines.
With more and more freedom to de-list now materializing for foreign companies, many are doing exactly that.
“Given that freedom, they are leaving,” said Hal Scott, a professor at Harvard University, who spoke of the exodus of business to foreign markets.
Also on the regulatory reform side of the fence is John Thain, chief executive at NYSE Euro next (NYX) and his counterpart at CME Group Inc. (CME), Craig Donohue, who both praise the push for such changes.

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

India keen to usher in currency futures

Very good step, its better for corporates to manage the exposure to exchange rates via hedging rather than hope that the government will take a very blunt macroeconomic weapon to trying to manage the exchange rates.

India’s financial market regulators and stock exchanges are speeding up the introduction of currency futures amid government concern that a sharp appreciation in the rupee against the dollar is hurting politically sensitive export sectors.

Ravi Narain, managing director and chief executive of the National Stock Exchange, India’s largest bourse, said talks were under way with regulators about bringing in currency futures, possibly by early next year. The timing seems a no-brainer,” he said. “Everyone is keen to see this introduced sooner rather than later.”

A strengthening of more than 10 per cent in the rupee against the dollar this year has prompted layoffs in India’s textile, jewellery and other labour-intensive export industries.

In its battle to sterilise a flood of foreign dollars into the country’s booming equity and real estate markets, the Reserve Bank of India has accumulated a record $95.4bn in reserves over the past 12 months, bringing the total to $262.5bn.

There are concerns the RBI can slow but not stop the rise of the rupee, leading regulators to conclude that exporters need more tools with which to hedge foreign exchange risk, such as a large and liquid currency futures market.

Mr Narain said regulators were also working on developing interest rate futures, seen as crucial to the development of the country’s debt markets.

Bankers welcomed the moves. Sanjay Nayar, Citigroup chief executive officer for India and head of Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, said: “If Mumbai is to become a financial centre, the development of the bond, currency and derivative markets is critical. People need to be able to hedge their risk, and regulators seem to be gaining traction in that direction.”

The stock market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India, has promised to fast-track new products following measures last month aimed at curbing the use of offshore derivative instruments, or P-notes, that allowed investors to trade Indian stocks without registering locally.

Mr Narain said he was cautious about the prospect of consolidation among global exchanges, including those in Asia, partly because of a “stratospheric” rise in valuations on some bourses.

He said he had not seen a departure of liquidity from India following the crackdown on the use of P-notes, which were favoured by hedge funds.

The NSE accounts for 85 per cent of India’s combined equities and derivatives trading. In the year ending March, it made revenues of about $450m and profits of about $200m.

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

Unbelievable, Northern Rock will need government support till 2010

This is unbelievable. Northern Rock will need government support till 2010!!!!!

words fail me, I find this so amazing!, what on earth were we thinking when we thought that Gordon Brown was a good economic manager? He has turned out to be a complete idiot!, THIS is his idea of managing crisis's? Chuck him out, we need somebody else.

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

How to make a small fortune? start with a large one!

Goldman Sachs is being sued by a dot-com entrepreneur who claims that the bank took £6 million he invested with them, turned it into less than £3 million and then closed his account and told him to get lost. Steve Ronksley says he made the money from stock options he was given for setting up the UK offshoot of a US business. The gain left him with a £2.4 million tax bill to find, he told Goldman. “Within a year the amount was worth less than that £2.4 million.”

He claims that the bank mis-classified him as a professional investor, which he wasn’t, because this got round the duty of care owed to private clients. The case is due to reach the High Court next week, and he is represented by a small specialist law firm. He is suing the bank for professional negligence.

Goldman refused to say whether it is defending the action. “We never comment on litigation, alleged or otherwise.”

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

How much capital should a bank keep?

I have been thinking about corporate performance, capital and corporate governance for some time now. These three are very tightly linked together. In almost every case of a bank getting into difficulties, it was because the firm had bad capital controls and bad capital management. And thus it leads to bad performance and the balance sheet looks like Swiss cheese.

More importantly, if you control the amount of capital you can have very tightly based upon the risk factor, then counter-intuitively, in times of market turmoil, you make the problem worse. For example, say based upon their internal risk measures, you have determined that the capital I need to keep aside is 10 quid. So far so good. But say the markets have dived like a dingo down its hole. Now the risk measures would be saying that I have to either get rid of positions or I have to increase my capital. In the case of the former, I will be exacerbating the market problem by increasing the selling pressure. In case of the latter, you will end up with no take-up of your capital increase (either by a rights issue or bond issue or what have you) (who wants to purchase in a selling market?).

Furthermore, as we have seen in the case of the Northern Rock (btw, did you know that we have spent more on this stupid incompetent fiasco of Northern Rock than the entire military budget of this year? our squaddies are dying because they do not have equipment and our taxpounds are going to save the collective patooties of the government, FSA and the central bank - makes me furious, I tell you!), corporate governance problems kicks in, who wants to purchase it? Hedge Funds? Private Equity? Other banks? What? So what do you do?

Well, here’s one answer: In other words, it is not sufficient to just meet Basel II requirements, but also to go ahead and have a buffer over and above it! But more importantly, certain economies which have a preponderance of bank lending compared to market lending (such as Germany or countries with less developed capital markets such as China and India) will be hit harder despite having buffer capital!. I quote the full conclusion as it is worthwhile reading it.

The problem of cyclicality of the Basel II minimum capital requirements is currently the subject of an intense discussion in the financial and supervisory community. This paper provides two important contributions to the debate. First, whereas previous research has largely focused on fluctuations in capital charges only, it finds that the behavior of capital buffers is crucial to assess the impact of capital requirements on bank lending. Second, it provides an analysis of macroeconomic consequences emphasizing the conceptual difference between the cyclicality of regulatory capital ratios and lending and their pro-cyclical effect on the real economy.

With regard to the cyclicality of lending I find that the capital buffers are likely to mitigate the impact of changes in capital charges. I find that by ignoring this effect one might substantially overestimate any potential lending volatility. At the same time, the capital buffer will only partially absorb the fluctuations in minimum capital (roughly by 50%). It is worth noting that the cyclical effects of regulatory capital on lending are not unique to Basel II, but that they are also present in the old framework with time invariant risk weights.

While pro-cyclical effects occur or are to be expected under the old and the new framework, the capital buffer is found to differ completely. Under the old framework this paper predicts an increase in the capital buffer during an economic downturn due to a reduction in lending (which is in line with previous empirical research). Under Basel II, however, the capital buffer will actually decrease, because the rise in the average risk weights will usually overcompensate the reduction in lending. I think that this finding has important implications for further empirical research on Basel II. In my view, it would be wrong to look at the movements of capital buffers under the old framework and assume a similar pattern under Basel II, as some previous papers seem to suggest.

As to macroeconomic fluctuations, the impact of Basel II on aggregate demand can be significant – even if banks hold significant capital buffers – in particular for economies where bank lending plays an important role in the firms’ investment decisions. However, the pro-cyclical effects on macroeconomic fluctuations will vary among countries. In general, bank-based economies will most probably experience the biggest effects, while the effects in financial markets-based economies will be smaller. The magnitude of any such pro-cyclical effect will depend on various factors, which are not specifically modelled in this paper, such as the firms’ access to outside capital for instance. Among other things, the average size of firms, the sectoral specialization of a particular economy, its accounting framework and the competitive condition in the banking industry play an important role in this regard.16

Finally, I need to mention some other qualifications of the model presented above. First, it assumes that the riskless interest rate remains constant over the business cycle. This assumption was made to separate the pro-cyclical effects of Basel from any potential counter-cyclical measures of the central bank. In the present context this means that the central bank needs to accommodate any income-induced changes in money demand in order to keep the interest rate fixed, and this has an additional effect on real demand. Further research is necessary to assess the interdependence of the prudential regulation of banks and monetary policy. Secondly, the model is not explicitly dynamic but makes interpretations that are dynamic in nature. However, augmenting the model with a dynamic specification is unlikely to change the basic results in principle unless one assumes very high portfolio adjustment costs on behalf of the bank.17 Deviating from the assumption of full flexibility in the portfolio adjustment – for example if assets are illiquid – it suffices to assume that a sufficiently large fraction of loans expires every year.

Frank Heid, The cyclical effects of the Basel II capital requirements, Journal of Banking & Finance, Volume 31, Issue 12, , December 2007, Pages 3885-3900.
Capital requirements play a key role in the supervision and regulation of banks. The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision is in the process of changing the current framework by introducing risk sensitive capital charges. Some fear that this will unduly increase the volatility of regulatory capital. Furthermore, by limiting the banks' ability to lend, capital requirements may exacerbate an economic downturn. The paper examines the problem of capital-induced lending cycles and their pro-cyclical effect on the macroeconomy in greater detail. It finds that the capital buffer that banks hold on top of the required minimum capital plays a crucial role in mitigating the impact of the volatility of capital requirements.

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

When are dead bodies sacrosanct?

My sister sent me this article. The article asks where the dignity in the display of this corpse is? The mummy does look strange and rather sad. I have to admit, the presence of the puffed up slimy popinjay, Indiana Jones wannabe Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and Director of the Giza Pyramids Excavation, really detracted from the whole thing. But I digress!

But what about publicly displayed bodies in general? What is the feeling? Was it bad? horrible? disgusting? undignified? People have very strong reactions when they see dead bodies. And these reactions span the entire spectrum from utter distaste to satisfaction to nostalgia to glee or Schadenfreude to pity or compassion, all the way to actual love as we will see.

See this picture of King Tut which has sparked off this debate.

I can see why he can look scary to some, but that was not what the commentator was complaining about. He was complaining about the fact that dead people should have their dignity and should be buried or cremated and generally kept out of sight post death and have their peace.

But I found it curiously sad and tender. Here is a man who died in his youth, had a very very torrid family history, and lived through turbulent times and his mummy with the fine tapestry of cracks on the chin, the slightly squished nose, the sunken eyes, all raise a feeling of pity and tenderness inside me towards Boy King Tut.

How about this one? The hanging body of Former President Mohammed Najibullah of Afghanistan displayed in Kabul publicly?

What about the bodies of American Contractors in Falluja?

How about the pictures distributed by the Americans of the dead bodies of Qusay and Uday Saddam Hussein?

No? how about this one of IL duce of Italy, Mussolini and his mistress, Clara Petacci?

This photo is coming from the civilised Christian west, which was responsible for the Holocaust and then this very barbaric hanging of the two bodies after Italy was liberated. It was a scene of ferocious joy, of revenge even, celebrating a monster getting what he justly deserves. Same with Najibullah, who was a monster by all accounts in Afghanistan. What about the American Contractors? They are also monsters in the eyes of the Iraqi's, so that is why they hung up those dead bodies and danced around the remains. The fact that they could do that to dead bodies and break the natural taboo of respect to the dead, means that the feeling of hatred and wanting revenge was extra-ordinarily high. And in the case of the Hussein brothers it was mainly cold hard political calculation. Curious, no? The lengths one can go to mistreat- even already dead - bodies?

But to go back to old geezers. The mummy of Ramses II and other mummies in Cairo Museum?

Ramses II is one of my heroes. I look at this shriveled body and think about the man who strode the world like a colossus. The man who fathered hundreds of children, and whose exploits were written down in stone and have come down to us thousands of years later. The man who was celebrated by Percy Bysshe Shelley in his immortal poem, Ozymandias.

I look upon his patrician visage, that hooked nose, that pointed chin and I do not see the wisps of red hennaed hair, nor the blackened skin or the thin neck. I see a Pharaoh. A Pharaoh striding down Thebes, in his white linen skirt, in his majesty, ruling over most of the then known universe. Now that dead body - to me - is simply a reminder for us to think about the greatness of his reign, not the shriveled body left behind.

Or the Iceman?

Or the Inca Mummy?

The above are prehistoric people. They are almost like museum exhibits or almost like they are like art objects, so you can look upon them without flinching. But what about people who become Gods after death? They were scientifically embalmed, with guards around them, modern mausoleums built for them and pilgrimages made to see their bodies after deaths. What about the man called Lenin?

Or Chairman Mao?

But then both were rather 'godless', no? So what about the 'godful'? Here's something/someone that I have seen personally in Prague. The Sedlec Ossuary. It is a church made out of the bones of 40,000 people. A church!!!!!!

And you see the same with Buddhist Monks.

If you think this public display of dead bodies is horrible, how about pets? Here is a selection of dead pets embalmed for life after death:

How cute, you say, no? So you can embalm your pets post death and find it nostalgic or just a bit strange. Its even comedic as evidenced in the Comedy series Scrubs.

If you do not like the display of bodies after death, can you use the bodies after death, for example for organ donation? or anatomy classes? or for use in testing Improvised Explosive Devices? Here's some very interesting advice on what to do if you find a dead body. I liked this part:

3: Do not - Do not set your camera on auto-timer, lie down next to the body and make rabbit-fingers behind the remnants of the victim's bloodied head as you have your picture taken. I'm not sure if this is illegal or not but it's in very poor taste.

But I understand there are certain type / classes of people who love, erm, making love to dead people, a condition called as Necrophilia. Here's Anthony Merino who was caught having sex with a corpse of a 92 year old woman inside a NY Morgue.

I do not really have an issue with the display of dead bodies. After you are dead, you are just some chemical components. You do not / cannot really care about what happens to your body after you are dead. It is not you, but other people who get all squeamish about your dead body or dead bodies in general. The distaste about dead bodies was burnt out of me when I was exposed to the Bhopal Gas Disaster. Here are two very famous images from that tragedy.

So I don't think that King Tut would mind his body being put on display. Dead bodies are not sacrosanct at all.

Technorati Tags: