Saturday, May 3

More thoughts on why Ken lost

I saw this link from Sunny's Page. I read this in the fullness and the comments as well. I have to admit that I did not read this before, seems to be published when I was travelling and in any case, had bigger issues (like the most gigantically complex PMI in the infrastructure world to manage, hehehehe) to worry about.

Well, my first impression is that each and every of these leaders have lost their senses. I am deeply and bitterly disappointed in them. And look at the great and good, even Tariq Ramadan has signed this. You know what I think of him and these other people did exactly the same mistake as Tariq did. This is a secular country and they played the religious card. What does that make them? confused and stupid at best and frankly Neanderthal and stupid at the worst.

And you know what? this perhaps represents the cream of British Muslim Society. And we are relying on these muppets to address the problems of British Muslim extremism? These chaps ARE part of the problem. One good thing is that Soumaya Ghannoushi is going to leave the city now that Boris is going to run the city, hehehehe. Oooooo, the fun times of promising something in print, she will never live it down, lol. I presume she will go and live in that liberal heartland of Saudi Arabia in the Nadz region? She got hauled over the coals in the comments. Poor girl. But a clear example of never letting facts get in the way of her opinions, hehehehe.

My second impression is, what on earth is Labour doing with a bunch of idiots like this supporting them? Do they not see the damage they have done? I mean, forget about the country and normal citizens, its very clear that their interests in that direction are near about zero. But look at the damage pandering to these religious buffoons and morons has done to the party, the party that ostensibly supports social liberalism is in bed with a bunch of reactionary right wing religious buffoons who do not understand modern life, liberalism nor secularism if it bit their nose. But they will not junk them, they will not clarify them, and they will go quietly into the night.

As for this group, get a clue, get a life and most importantly, get some good brain cells which can help you get some good PR help, spectacular own goals like this increase not decrease problems for us. No, election of Ken is NOT good for Londoners, so its good that he will piss off, I want a mayor of London, not a foreign minister of UK. He has done many good things, but no, enough is enough, pandering to minorities is wrong. But thankfully, these leaders are basically blowhards, let me quote a comment from the CiF page.

The Muslim Council of Britain has the highest approval rating of any Muslim organisation in Britain, and only 6% of Muslims though it represented their views. (It's telling that the MCB haven't endorsed this letter, evidently the shooting of Charles Demenez still rankles, and it's hard to argue that you are the "new Jews" if you are campaigning for the local Gauleiter)

In the same poll the Muslim Association of Britain managed a 1% rating. The rest of these outfits are political plankton that would struggle to be recognised through a microscope.

Indeed, many of them are the same small group people, a fact they've tried to disguise by using all their nameplates at once. The UK Islamic Mission (UKIM), Dawatul Islam, Islamic Society of Britain, and Islamic Forum Europe are the same thing - a little Maudidist clique (yeah, the theologian who argued it was Islamic to enslave and rape women).

The British Muslim Initiative refuses to detail its membership due to its small size, but Ismail Patel and Ghannoushi both write for it, yet appear here in separate capacities to try and inflate the numbers. IslamExpo is a creature of the Muslim Association of Britain and Ghannoushi is a former director or research for it.

The Cordoba Foundation has Anas Al Tikriti as its chief executive and apparently only member (its website is "relaunching" sometime never) who was formerly a leading light in the Muslim Association of Britain. Azzam Al Tamini's Institute of Islamic Political Thought is another one-man band, but it comes in handy when you need the appearance of numbers. Azzam is also an official spokesman for the Muslim Association of Britain.

This is the problem, the media give these bunch of clown the oxygen of publicity, they dont do sweet sod all for the Muslim minority but they sure as hell as increase the Islamophobia coefficient in British Society. Oh! lets not forget that these groups, by and large, are howling bigots, specially against the gay and lesbian community. And they violated the charity commission's guidelines that any charity cannot take political positions.

I voted for Ken both times before. The first time because I wanted London to be out of the clutches of those pathologically centralising gits in Whitehall and Labour Party Headquarters. The second time, he spoke the language of improving the transport system. But this time? no, thank you. And guess what, Ken? It is such a telling that that a so called Buffoon got elected instead of you. What does that tell you about you, your policies, your supporters and the ordinary electorate? That a majority of voters actually felt not that good...

India helping Afghanistan improve

How creditable of India to do this, basic reconstruction and helping Afghans in their quest for electricity and energy, which can be used for powering schools. Oh! sorry, the Taliban dont like schools and the OIC moans about Palestine. Clowns.

I quote:

India will begin its heaviest airlifting operations Sunday to transport five mega transformers to Kabul as part of its attempt to provide electricity to the Afghan capital.

The air route is being preferred over sea and land to avoid delays and to minimise the risk of the transformers becoming targets of the rejuvenated Taliban militants in Afghanistan.

Much of the power transmission work India is doing is being carried out in a hostile terrain amid freezing temperatures. In addition, Indian engineers and workers have often been the target of the Taliban militants.

Since Pakistan does not allow India access to Afghanistan through its territory, most Indian goods are sent through ship to Bandar Abbas port in Iran. From there, the goods and materials go to Afghanistan in trucks.

The option of using this route to transport the transformers was ruled out by India because the heavy equipment would make the movement by road extremely slow, delaying the project.

Again, good work there, chaps, and thanks for all the help, the rest of you.

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Grand Hyatt Hotels are no longer fit to live in :(

I have recently moved jobs. Unfortunately, for this job, I will be travelling like an absolute idiot all over the world. Very interesting and tough job with loads of travelling (a travel blog perhaps?).


Few of my old cards, I have junked or thrown away an equal amount...

Sad, very sad.






Last time I was in such a travelling job, I collected so many hotel and airline cards that it was ridiculous, a clutch of gold, platinum, silver, blue, green cards were good, but then I realised, all that showed was that I was away from my kids and missed important days of them growing up. 

But in this job, have to travel again but I know which hotel chain to avoid now. The Hyatt hotel chain is pretty good, I have to admit, good rooms, good customer service, good frequent user programme and so on and so forth. But hey, no drinks, no stay. After a long day at work, you need a drink.

Oh! well, there are other hotels in Cairo but the image of fun loving enjoyable Cairo is slowly but steadily going down the tubes. Mind you, this is a perfect example of hypocritical thinking, stop drinking alcohol but I can find 1000's of other cases in a hotel which violate some interpretations of Sharia law, ranging from its financing to bathrooms to employment tribunals to banking, inheritance, and and and. But amusing, none the less.

And guess what? this will again blow up into a huge issue...

Camels instead of the Internal Combustion Engine

Now this is curious. America is moving down to small cars because of rising oil prices. On the other hand, for a country like India, where the cost of any oil price increase compared to income is dramatically bigger than for Americans, what do you do? Answer is simple, you purchase more Camels. I quote:

Farmers in the Indian state of Rajasthan are rediscovering the humble camel. As the cost of running gas-guzzling tractors soars, even-toed ungulates are making a comeback, raising hopes that a fall in the population of the desert state’s signature animal can be reversed.

BoJo might be a buffoon, but Polly Tonybee came across as a bitter jealous clown

I was watching BBC news yesterday after the London Mayoral elections were announced. Polly Tonybee came on board and started her usual vituperation against Boris (an example can be found here). Anyway, that's fine, I dont mind, its clear that she has an opinion about him and that's how she is, a polemicist.

But do not confuse her for being a journalist, at least a journalist who has any pretensions towards even handedness or being bias free. Why? Because she took off on the media. She is part of the media and complained that the media made Ken Livingstone lose the election.

She then took off on Andrew Gilligan, the reporter on the London Evening Standard. Said he was biased against the Labour government because of the history and all that. Then the BBC interviewer said, hold on, for all that complaining about Andrew Gilligan, he has been awarded a very prestigious prize. He has been named as the Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards. She mumbled something and that was the end.

And then I got to thinking, this is a lady who has been voted as the most influential commentator for the second year running. And she is saying these things about a fellow media person. Now, the only conclusions I can draw is that she is a polemicist, biased, politically leaning, unable to judge fairly, and dare I say was coming across with very large amounts of jealous? I can understand her being bitter, but this? It was cringeworthy in the beginning but then it became clownish as time went on.

Fouling your own nest, Ms. Toynbee? I am not sure your colleagues in your various newspapers will really appreciate you taking off on your own colleagues.

University Student and Beauty Parades

So this young lady who has A grades in maths, physics, chemistry and biology at A-level and an A in further maths at AS-level. She has 10 A* GCSEs and is studying for a natural sciences course at Kings College, Cambridge is now a finalist in the Miss Universe competition. And there are zillions of complaints about how she is demeaning herself. Is she? No, she is not.

I was having a quiet chuckle about it. See my previous photo essay on beauty parades and why I love them. So go for it, young lady, be proud of what you are, and you do not have anything to defend to those cohorts of middle class incoherent morality who moan about women on beauty parades but do not mind having weird ideas about beauty. A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

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Friday, May 2

Are political election manifesto's legally binding?

Besides the fact that Labour has basically lied to the electorate (dont all political parties lie?) this raises a curious question in my mind. Labour promised to have a referendum (page 84 in its 2005 manifesto) on the that piece of rubbish called as the EU Constitution. The Constitution was rejected. So the EU politicians, thinking that we are all stupid, shifted some words around, renamed it and stuck it in front of the politicians who signed up with alacrity and promptly forgot all about the referendum. This Labour Government wriggled out of that promise.

The Conservatives have promised to hold one or whatever, but they are even less trustworthy than Labour going by past performance (I hope they have improved since then..). But here's the thing, somebody has taken the Government to court over this issue and the Honourable Judge agreed! This promises to be an interesting fight, but beyond this crucial issue of Europe, lies a more conceptual issue.

If a Government says something, does it become something that you can impose legally? I quote:

His lawyer, Rabinder Singh QC, said the application for judicial review was based on "the underlying fundamental principles of good administration, fair play and straight dealing with the public".

One way of looking at that statement is, The Government lied to us, My Lordship Judge, and we need justice. The other way is what the defending QC said and I quote:

But Philip Sales QC, for the office of the prime minister, denied that Gordon Brown or Foreign Secretary David Miliband had made any unambiguous and unqualified representation amounting to a promise to hold a referendum. He also said the claim was "misconceived" as a ratification of an international treaty was not open to challenge in the High Court and would breach Parliamentary privilege.

So, the government's defence is, Sorry, My Lord, we didnt lie and in any case, even if we did lie, you cannot do anything about it as we are Parliament, you cannot judge us.

I think the results of this case if successful will impact the world far and wide (British legal judgements, by dint of history, commercial arbitration presence in the UK, etc. etc.). Politicians have to think very carefully about what they promise voters because if they do not fulfil those promises, they can be forced to do so by the court. So?

Well, two things can happen. (1) It might happen that political parties do not promise anything that is concrete. Which is a tragedy. (2) Populist single issue or extremist parties will emerge who can promise the world and then do it. In Government, the wild and wooly promises are generally toned down (like you saw with both US Democratic candidates who said one thing publicly about Canadian imports but their staff members said something else in private - to the effect, that was only for public consumption, once in power, nothing will be done..). But in this case, they will be forced to do so...

Worrying, what?

Thursday, May 1

Introduction to Express Link-Up

Over the past 4 months, I have been involved with a small charity, Express Link Up which helps to bring technology to hospitalised children. And it has soon become my passion. I decided to write this blog on an infrequent basis to talk about the challenges, joys, love, pain, frustration one feels when one gets involved in this kind of stuff. So do bear with me if I get too emotional...

Book review: Islam's women scholars

An interesting review here.

One indicator of the development of a society is its female literacy rate and, related to this, the number of its female scholars. On both these fronts, India's Muslims are among the lowest of all the communities in the country. This unfortunate fact provides a basis for negative stereotyping of the community, particularly in matters related to inter-gender relations.

This, however, is ironical, given that Islam is one of the few religions to have declared education to be a duty binding on all its followers, men as well as women. The irony is further heightened by the fact that early Islamic history provides examples of numerous Muslim women scholars who made valuable contributions to the intellectual life of their communities.

That little known story is precisely what this book is all about. It contains vignettes about scores of early Muslim women scholars, who could serve as major sources of inspiration to Muslims, including Muslim women, today if only they were more widely known, a task that the Maulana takes upon himself.

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Says it all

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Oxbridge top employer ranking is MI5

How impressive and amazing that the top brains of the country are going into the domestic intelligence agency, followed by Google, BBC, Goldman Sachs, McKinsey, FCO, Morgan Stanley, Civil Service, Penguin, Apple and Glaxo.

Very fascinating choices :)

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

More Hindu clowns on the fore

These people are seriously clowns, claiming to speak for a billion Hindu's, moaning about a film that has not been released and generally acting stupid. I mean, d'oh, they do not even know their own religion and scriptures. Where does one start? Do you want to talk about Maya? or karm? How about destiny? Or how about Ganesh? They dont even know what hinduism is, mind you, nobody does, but that just proves the point, what the hell are they moaning about?

Clowns, very amusing clowns. Oh!, here's the society's name: The Sanatan Society for Scientific Spirituality. Scientific spirituality, eh? lol lol lol, how funny.

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

Tax records are confidential?

While the Italians are scandalised about their tax records being publicised on the web, what about the tax authorities themselves? who guards the guards?

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

Yet another example of green versus green

Sighs. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

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

Israel should be ashamed of itself of doing this to orphans

This is literally outrageous. How can the Israeli army do this to orphans? And even if it is a front for Hamas, so bloody what? Is the Israeli army going to take care of the orphans, you blithering idiots? No, who cares for the children?

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

Reforming Islam, one woman at a time

This report was very creditable indeed, to listen to such progressive thoughts from a lady and her colleagues about improving the lot of women and removing medieval thought is very good indeed. Obviously, the paper will not take a independent position (an egyptian paper? take a independent position? perish the thought). I quote:

Egypt's National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) on 23 April which
urged that a panel be set up to "revise and rectify" reference books on Islamic
jurisprudence to remove controversial literature which participants said fanned
extremism, especially where women are concerned.....

In March, Radwan suggested that the testimony of just one woman be
acknowledged in a business transaction. At present, two women are needed if they
are to act as witnesses whereas one male witness will do. Radwan also advocated
enabling non- Muslims to inherit Muslims and vice versa.

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

Ultimate humiliation, your successor is rated higher than you

Tony Blair is rated to be higher than Gordon Brown. To add insult to injury, Gordon Brown does not even appear on the list of the top 100 most influential people in the world. OUCH!

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

Your tax details on the web

Now this is quite interesting. Would you mind exposing your tax and income details on a public website? I am slightly ambivalent over it. While on one side, I can well understand the problems of privacy, none-of-your-business, danger, etc. etc. but on the other hand, just the tax paid by individuals and companies is public income, and one could argue, that if you anonymise the individual, then we should be able to get much granularity down to a level which provides good information while saving individual privacy. Obviously, this does not apply to firms.

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

Happy 18th Birthday to Godwin's Law

18 years old and still going strong, we still have people fulfilling this condition, "As an online discussion continues, the probability of a reference or comparison to Hitler or to Nazis approaches 1" This is the reason why anybody who brings in the Nazi's or Hitler into a discussion immediately gets branded as an interesting chap/chappette. lol

And this happens almost once every week. Invariably. Whether its the chinese, palestinians, british, americans, israeli's, indians, italians, you name it, some idiot or somewhere will be so weak in his or her thinking that they are unable to debate and discuss coherently on that case but have to rely on reaching out to the Nazi's.

But read the article by Mike Godwin who came up with this law, very amusing.

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

Wednesday, April 30

Apple versus Lenovo, presentation is 9/10's of the game

This is a brilliant presentation and bears out what I keep on saying, even if you have a brilliant product, if you have not packaged, marketed, sold, presented it properly, you will lose out. Check out this advertisement for Mac Air


now watch this fake advertisement for Lenovo



Here's a real advertisement by Lenovo which is taking about its sturdiness

Or its face recognition technology

or its long battery life

So which one is sexier, more attractive and more fun and which one is a dog?

Legislation and Gordon Brown

I am absolutely gobsmacked at what Gordon Brown is planning now. Do you know what he is now asking for? He is asking for more legislative ideas. I quote:

Gordon Brown yesterday urged cabinet colleagues to come up with fresh legislative ideas to give his government new momentum, after what are expected to be dismal local election results tomorrow.

The party is losing so to recover it, he wants to go and put on more laws. Why? what on earth for?  See what these buggers (and I include those muppets in the Conservative camps as well) have done to us. I quote:

A new version of the definitive guide to every law in England has more than doubled in size to over 100 volumes since the last edition was published 20 years ago. Campaigners said the scale of the size increase of the latest edition of Halsbury's Laws of England shows that Britain is now one of the most overly regulated countries in the world.....

Mr Hetherington said he had to make room for 900 new Acts of Parliament and 30,000 extra pieces of legislation in the new edition.

Dont you see what you are doing to the country and society, Gordon Brown? (and learn from this, David Cameron), do not burden the country with all these laws. Where is the sunset of the laws? remove laws, set the people free, set the companies free. Why do you want to imprison all of us? Do you not like freedom? And your controlling tendency leads you to disaster, all the time. It is very clear that you are unable to learn, but this is rather worrying.

I voted for Boris. Not because what he was bringing to the city. Actually, the Mayor cant do much anyway because you, Gordon, have centralised too much into the government. But electing Boris will mean that it will push you to either learn or leave. It will mean that people no longer trust Labour. And frankly, I dont. I do not trust you at all. I do not trust my MP, even though he is doing good or not doing bad at least. That's why I have voted for conservative in my local city elections as well.

When the going gets tough, you either hide or you legislate. In both cases, what do I need you for a prime minister? Any muppet can hide or legislate. What's the new thing that you are bringing? And most importantly, you aren't listening to me. David Cameron at least is providing me with an impression that he listens.

And my second vote went to the Lib Dems. Not to Labour. You know why? not because what policies they provide. I think the LibDems are a bunch of the biggest illogical incoherent bunch of time wasters. But I put in the second vote for them because they were NOT labour. That's where you have landed, mate. And your solution is to put more laws on me? Great idea, that will really make me think well of you.

Freedom of information case opens up EU files

Hear hear. Finally we might hope for more clarity and transparency from that secretive undemocratic set of organisations which belong to the European Union. Spending, deliberations, minutes, agreements, reports, all are generally hidden away. After all, we are mushrooms. But this is a good step. I quote:


The European Union's secretive lawmaking will be opened to more public scrutiny under proposals to overhaul freedom-of-information laws due to be unveiled on Wednesday.

The European Commission wants to update its rules after losing a series of court cases last year when it refused to hand over documents to journalists, activists and companies.

The reworked regime would take account of this case law. Crucially, national governments would no longer have an automatic veto over the release of correspondence with EU bodies. The names of lobbyists who meet EU commissioners, parliamentarians and officials would also be disclosed routinely for the first time.

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How does Google manage its innovation?

A fascinating interview on innovation is managed at Google. two crucial points (and it reminds me of the other adage, innovation happens despite management!!!)

Can other companies emulate Google's famous model of letting engineers spend
about 20% of their time on projects outside their main job?

The story of innovation has not changed. It has always been a small team of
people who have a new idea, typically not understood by people around them and
their executives. [This is] a systematic way of making sure a middle manager
does not eliminate that innovation. If you're the employee and I'm the manager,
and I sit down and say, "Our product's late, and you screwed up, and you gotta
work on this really hard," you can legally say to me, "I will give you
everything I've got, 80% of [my time]." It means the managers can't screw around
with the employees beyond some limit. I believe that this innovation
escape-valve model is applicable to essentially every business that has
technology as a component.

Can innovation really be managed, or is it a case where you have to keep the
company and its managers out of the way?

I disagree with the word "managed." You have to have a set of necessary
conditions for innovation to occur. To start with, you have to listen to people.

Pretty basic, no?
But not often practiced. Innovation comes from places that you don't expect.

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

Chancellor talking to companies about tax code

Praise where praise is due, the Chancellor has realised that he has basically violated some key precepts of tax policy, specially on the simplicity and consistency bit. This is the reason why firms are slowly heading for the exit. But given the fact that he has realised that labour taxation (both personal and corporate) policy is now frankly not fit for purpose, he has started to talk about it.

Will something happen? lets see. I have to be blunt, I cannot see what the Chancellor can do, his hands are tied by the frankly silly mismanagement of the economy by the previous Chancellor, we are on track to spend more, and earn less, and that will hurt everybody. Its just too bad that the current Chancellor will have to carry the can while the Prime Minister buggers around with cannabis.

I was speaking to the limo driver yesterday morning on the way to the airport and he said that the communications fellow for Gordon Brown earns more than Gordon Brown. I replied, I am not surprised, the job of managing Gordon Brown is more difficult than managing the country.

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

Tuesday, April 29

How markets work?

Disclosure, my firm is mentioned in here... :)

Hat Tip: The Monkey Cage.

Some new photographs of Hiroshima

These photographs were amazing, see the full set and the background to these photographs here.



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The curious story of Jesus Matzo

I was doing comfort shopping in Sainsbury's last weekend when I came across this stack of goods. I have to admit I was puzzled. Yehuda as the word stood for Christian or Jesus as that's what I have heard in my childhood. Matzo I knew was a Jewish bread similar to a Indian chapati.

The maker of this bread is Yehuda Matzo and the Matzo seems to be named after a gentleman called as Eliezer Ben Yehuda, one of the men who was mainly responsible for reviving a long dead language, Hebrew, into common usage. Read his wiki entry, fascinating story. How amazing, a single man fighting against all those odds, to resurrect a language long thought to be dead or extinct.

Curious how language becomes part of nationalism as we have seen in so many countries, whether in Tamil Nadu with Tamil, Wales with Welsh, Spanish versus English in USA.


Monday, April 28

Deja vu', fighting over rotten rice

One of my earliest memories is to see Bangladeshi refuguees in 1971 fighting over left over food thrown in garbage bins. It is tragic to see that more than 35 years after independence, they are still fighting over rotten food.

Bangladesh deployed troops at a dumping site near the country’s main
Chittagong port yesterday to stop poor people from collecting rotten rice,
officials said. “The dumping site has been cordoned, and the relevant
authorities have been asked not to dump rotten rice at unrestricted spots
anymore,” a security official said.

Hundreds of poor people thronged the dumping
site as the food department started ditching some 500 tonnes of damaged rice on
Friday. Nearly half of Bangladesh’s 140mn people live on an income less than a
dollar per day and their plight has worsened since rice and other food prices
started rising this year.

The retail price of a kilo of rice and wheat has risen
by 100% since last year to around 40 taka ($0.58) and 45 taka respectively,
officials said. Bangladesh faces food shortages after the country lost around
3mn tonnes of rice and wheat in a series of floods and a devastating cyclone
last year.

The dumped rice had been donated for the victims of Cyclone Sidr by
Pakistan but was damaged during shipment in January. “The rice is still not too
bad, we are sure this will not harm us,” said Manjula Begum, a mother of three
children, after collecting a bowl of rice.

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

They can do without having poll's like this

This kind of a poll is mischievious and creates problems. What's the point of asking these questions?

What should be the response of Muslim Ummah to the blasphemous caricatures published in Denmark?
  • Boycott Danish products and Services
  • Expel Danish ambassadors from Muslim countries
  • Kill the Cartoonist and the Editors who published it
  • Ignore this nonsense and keep preaching Islam with peace
    ( 902 Votes )
902 votes have been cast and who knows who voted? Idiots.

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

Protesters burn Indonesian mosque

More fault lines and more to worry about rising fanaticism.

Hundreds of protesters in Indonesia have set fire to a mosque belonging to
the minority Muslim Ahmadiyya sect......We heard the attackers chanting 'burn,
burn' and 'kill, kill'," Zaki Firdaus, one of the sect's members, told the
Associated Press news agency. "It was horrifying."

Would we now get statements from the MCB that these do not speak in the name of Islam? Or that Inayat B actually supports the right of these Ahmadiya folks to practise their religion as they wish? Or perhaps they will consider how their own religion is being practised here in the UK? And if you say that what happens in Indonesia has nothing to do with a Brit Muslim, tell that to yourself the next time you moan about Palestine or Brit Muslims are found blowing up Jews.

I very much doubt it and this is the reason why all these leaders are looked upon with jaundiced eyes.

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

"I will defend your right to speak" does not seem to apply to BBC and ITV

While I think this chap is a loony, but surely his right to speak and say what he stands for is violated?

See here for the video and the election site. These media outlets do not help themselves, and then moan about them being pushed around by extremists, well, d'oh, sure they will when you dont stand up for free speech, you doofus..

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

Sikh Problems

I was sent this video link of an apparent fight between two Sikh groups in the UK. What was more interesting were the comments. Seems like there is an online fight between Sikhs who want to be with India, Sikhs who believe in their own homeland - Khalistan, Pakistani's and Indians. Very confused. More importantly, the language, holy moly, its is like a new language to me... Do read the comments, bloody funny and worrying at the same time. The knowledge of history is atrocious. Their behaviour sucks.....

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

Israeli attack kills four children of Palestinian family

What the hell is Israel doing? First it uses fletchette rounds for tank ammo and kills people and now it kills more children.

This is bizarre and frankly horrible.
Palestinian medics identified the dead children as sisters Rudina and Hana Abu
Meatik, aged six and three respectively, and their brothers, Saleh, four, and
Mousab, 15 months. The children's mother was in a critical condition.

One day this kind of event will really remove any kind of moral authority (if anything is left) that Israel have and that will really strip it of any kind of cover. They have been warned not to be stupid but if the American public turns against Israel (and it will if it is faced with a big event like Beslan), then its in trouble.

Talk to Hamas, Israel, talk to it, stop this stupidity and zero sum game, you cannot win and you cannot kill everybody.

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

Virtual Reality Outsourcing?

This is amazing... Can you imagine? offering to outsource services which are themselves virtual in nature?

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

India launches a rocket with a cluster of 10 satellites in it

Very nice and good, but you know what this reminded me of? It reminded me of this technology. Did anybody twig?

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

The country is screaming for help and Gordon bottles it again

Our economies are now finely balanced, demand and supply, just in time manufacturing, very long supply chains etc. etc. means that any interruption in the supply chain has very long lasting effects.

This strike by the workers in a refinery in Scotland is a case in point. They are striking over their pension rights. Ok, no problems, you can strike if you so wish, but at what cost? The estimate is that the country will be losing £50 million per DAY because of this strike and that's just direct costs, what about the indirect costs?

The industry is screaming for the government to take action and perhaps typically, this prime minister is sitting and doing sweet FA.

And to think I used to think that this man was competent. Pshaw, what a crock. And this isnt helping the other matter of Scottish independence either. The SNP can legitimately claim that Labour cannot be trusted with Pensions (they ruined the final salary scheme system in the UK when he became chancellor), cannot be trusted with the economy (not doing anything with the strike), not caring about ordinary motorists and citizens (rationing and shortages are already underway) and not caring about business (all the oil and gas companies in Scotland are furious)

Nice one, mate, nice one.

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

Sunday, April 27

Chelsea visit sparks Malaysia row


Vote for the Top 100 Public Intellectuals

Well, I suppose this is of interest, if nothing else but to check out who has arrived according to the Prospect Magazine, lol. I went through the bio's, quite an interesting if eclectic lot. Notice how the emerging markets have started being portrayed? Also it is interesting to see the regions and countries which have been ignored such as the African continent, Russia, Brazil...

Who speaks for Muslim women?

This is a curious blog-post which TBS chucked over to me. We have our differences over these three ladies that the post mentions, Asra, Ayaan and Irshad. I have written about Asra Nomani. Well, the post refers to two other women, namely, Ingrid Mattson and second is Zarqa Nawaz. I have heard of those two ladies definitely. But I think there are few questions came to mind.

  1. Why do Muslim Women need spokesmen (pun intended)?  (Compare to Hindu or Jewish or Christian women). I dont know much about the Christian or Jewish role models or spokespersons of today but thinking about it, I have never heard of anybody who is a purely Hindu female spokesperson. We have had spokespersons who spoke for Hindu Women like Raja Ram Mohon Roy. We have had Hindu Females who were leaders ranging from Indira Gandhi to Mayawati, but I never got the feeling that they were speaking purely for women. I have to admit that I dont know much about this area so am willing to be corrected, but boy, oh! boy, as soon as you talk about Muslim women, there are absolutely legions and battalions of men and women who form up to speak on their behalf. Curious, no?
  2. How do we decide on who speaks for whom? See my previous post on who is the best judge.
  3. Do you need to be outside the fold to speak about the fold or inside the fold? (abused women - do they escape the abusive household first or do they stay inside and try to reform the bad husband)
  4. Who are the other ladies in the west that are being followed? I mean, if Asra, Ayman and Irshad are on the far left of the scale, Ingrid and Zarqa are sort of in the middle, who is on the right? Yvonne Ridley? I have to admit that I find Yvonne Ridley a bit of a clown, but hey, she wears a hijab and says all the right things I guess that all Muslims like to hear, no? But she still does not have a following (i hope she doesnt!) How about Farhat Hashmi? Or Raheel Raza? (See my book review here.  And and and?
  5. Looking at the comment given below, you can see immediately how two identities are colliding. Women generally look at these 3 ladies as ladies first and all women as women first. Obviously, the author of the post looks at herself and others as Muslims first and women second.
  6. All reformers face resistance. So the fact that these 3 women's are feeling resistance is not a problem at all. I mean, look at Jesus, how many Jews took up his call? Christ, they even helped to crucify him (just kidding and punning!). Or talking about meeting resistance, even Prophet Mohammad met resistance all through his life. Very few followed him for a very long period of time, no?
  7. At end of the day, what seems to be the problem is if somebody gets money and/or publicity which seems to be a problem. I am not very sure why that is a problem. I mean, this criticism seems to be driven more by jealousy than anything that is logical. For example, what exactly is wrong with earning money? It is not like we do not have examples of preachers and mullah's who do exactly the same thing for money, going on TV, banging on and on about how to be a good Muslim and earning quite a lot of dosh for that (see the above example of Farhat Hashmi). Nothing wrong with getting publicity or getting money is there? Until and unless you are a socialist or an introvert, in which case, the problem is economic philosophical or emotional, neither of which applies in this case.
  8. And at end of the day, I am curious why people rush to judgement to that extent specially when it comes from a religiously mandated angle. I mean, if it is indeed religiously driven, then should not they believe in "Narrated Umar Ibn Al-Khattab: "Allah's Apostle said, "The reward of deeds depends upon the intention and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended." And its even in Bukhari Volume 5, Book 58, Number 238!. So this judging of niyaat is curious to say the least. (On a separate basis, this bloody publishing of Hadith's for the same author has to be fixed, somebody says that Hadith is Book 1, number 1, somebody says its 5, 58, 238, somebody says 86, 85, someone says, 1, 2, 51. etc. Go ahead, search the net.

Still, some strange questions indeed.

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Has the internet increased exports for firms from low and middle-income countries?

We know globalisation has always been driven by technology. Better technology, better communications. Whether we are talking about the bronze age to the telegraph to the internet, with each jump in technology, globalisation has improved and extended.

Globalisation can be defined as increased communications, increased trade, increased resource transfers, increased knowledge, etc. on a global basis. And people do complain about globalisation mucking up the poor. Is that true? One way of answering this question is to ask whether the internet has improved exports for lower and middle income countries. This is, of course, assuming that the internet drives globalisation, which I am saying it does.

This paper checks this hypothesis and finds "a strong correlation between exporting and internet access at the enterprise level. Moreover, this correlation remains after controlling factors that might affect both exports and internet connectivity and self-selectivity".

The authors check eastern European and central Asian republics as their sample countries and most importantly, use firm level data rather than country level data (as country level data can be skewed by few very larger firms). The authors found that the firms having internet connectivity export more than firms who did not. But before you get all excited and get everybody hooked up to the internet, the authors also found that non-internet firms which already exported did not show more exports when they did get connected to the net.

But conscious of the fact that correlation does not mean causality, they further generate regression models and determine that even after controlling for various factors, the link between exports and net access is strong thereby giving credence to the fact that if you get net access, your exports will start at worst and improve at best.

So overall, it does seem to be prudent for Governments interested in pushing for better export performance to improve internet access and penetration rates across the country. Also for globalisation opponents, it might be worthwhile for them to consider the plus's of their argument as well.

I was a bit disappointed with the selection of sample countries, I would have preferred if they had added some of the lesser developed countries from Latin America and Africa but I suppose data availability was the challenge.


George R.G. Clarke, Has the internet increased exports for firms from low and middle-income countries, Information Economics and PolicyVolume 20, Issue 1, , March 2008, Pages 16-37.
Many commentators have suggested that the internet is one of the forces driving globalization. This paper assesses one aspect of these claims, looking at whether internet access appears to affect the export performance using data from enterprises in low and middle-income economies in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The paper finds a strong correlation between exporting and internet access at the enterprise level. Moreover, this correlation remains after controlling factors that might affect both exports and internet connectivity and self-selectivity.
Keywords: Internet; Development; Exports

China and Israel - a tale of 2 photographs

Take a look at these two photographs

The first one is obviously from Tianamen Square, which people will recognize. The second is from somewhere in the occupied territories in Palestine. Now there are two ways of looking at this.

The first way is that just like China clamped down on pro-democracy protesters and sent in tanks, nothing will happen in Palestine as well. It is now just a shade under 2 decades for China and nothing changed as yet, it is still the same old communist regime and in some ways, even more of a crackdown on any form of alternative political activity happened. So if you are big enough, brutal enough and do not give a toss at all,then  you will get away with repression.

The second way of looking at this is, people do not learn. 20 years onwards, China is still thought to be a repressed autocratic country in the world, whether it is Tibet, Uighurs or the students demanding freedom, it is still held up to be one of the standard bearers of the oppressed, communist, totalitarian, authoritarian regimes. Similarly, that is also the image that is getting propagated across the world for Israel. Is that something that one can live with?

And finally, all single ideology states are unable to change without massive and huge impacts to their core ideology. This is why liberal democracies are generally much better in reacting to massive change than totalitarian regimes. We all know about the challenges with China, but the problem with Israel is that while it was formed under an "exclusionist" philosophy, it decided to impose it on the basis of a liberal democracy. Well, those two mutually inconsistent and kind of mutually exclusive factors will lead inexorably to either the Zionist philosophy being abandoned / modified or liberal democracy being abandoned, but not both. This is why I strongly suggest that Israel should talk to Hamas (assuming it wants to go down the liberal democratic route).

Which iconic photograph does Israel want to be remembered by?

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Is this why the Saudi Clerics are to be re-trained?

Sarva Dharma Sambhav, or all paths lead to God, is one of the guiding principles of modern life, or  at least of Hinduism. But when I read this, I figured, we have a long way to go before we believe in this principle. Given that people mistakenly believe that Hinduism has Idol Worship, this hits close to home, I quote:

Riyadh: A resolution calling for the enactment of an international pact to forbid religions from being defamed or insulted as well as their symbols, leaders and prophets, has been voted out by the Saudi Shoura (Consultative Council).
A total of 77 members opposed the recommendation while 33 voted in favour. Those who opposed it argued that such a pact would force people to recognise religions, which advocate idol worship, and that "would be unacceptable."

"Some consider Buddhism, Qadianism and Baha'ism as religions. Can we make it obligatory for Muslims to respect these faiths and avoid criticising them?" he asked.

The answer is YES, it does not matter what you believe in, as long as it is personal to you and you do not infringe on the rights of others (I know this is a generalisation, but you know what I mean. If your religion means that you get to cut off my ear and offer it roasted to your goddess, then no, not allowed, but if you want to worship my ear as a goddess and you do not insist in sitting on my shoulder to worship it, then by all means you can go for it).

Is this why this happened? In other words, would the training to be given to the Saudi Clerics train them on how to be liberal? and how to be more accepting of other religions and sects? I am a bit doubtful about this for many reasons (see one here), I quote from the end of the article

But critics are sceptical about whether such initiatives would work as long as the powerful, and ultraconservative, religious establishment in Saudi Arabia continues to exert enormous influence over society.

Only last week, a prominent cleric called for the beheading of two liberal writers who had questioned the orthodox view that Muslims can not change their religion.

The problem is, if you want, you can find evidence either way in the Quran, e.g. either by looking at the no-compulsion in Islam sure or for the verses's looking for the unbelievers. But it does not need to be like that. Islam as a religion is a great way to reach God, to be good people and citizens. Just as Hinduism is as well. We do not need arguments and fights. But bear in mind,that  this kind of medieval thinking has no place in the modern liberal and secular world. If you wish to be with the Neanderthals, then fine, but don't expect others to fjoin you! It should be promising to find out what the training produces! :)

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The technology supporting the British National Health Service

I attended one of those C breakfast forums, where the great and good of a particular functional segment get together to share knowledge and best practices. These can be relating to IT, talent management, risk management, offshoring, emerging markets and such issues. They are good places to pick up what others are doing and to learn. This one was for CIOs and was moderated by Michael Portillo. He is a very impressive chap who comes across as very authoritative and has a great sense of humour. One wonders what the UK would have been like if he had become the PM. As he said, he is a man with a great political future. Very funny and punny.

But I heard something that made me wonder about one thing and I decided to blog about it. There were several CIOs and heads of technology from various health authorities and hospitals around the country. And the discussion became so bizarre that I had to literally and vocally challenge them.

Their basic point was, their CEOs had no idea about technology and their hope was that their patients would select hospitals on the basis of their surgical or medical staff expertise. A CIO from a London Local Authority was talking about how they are using technology to provide competitive advantage to make one council better than other. Very good, very impressive and I was applauding inside. But the health authority guys said that this does not apply to them. And this is where and when I challenged them, even though I did not push it that much.

Again, I was just thinking, if these guys did not have the protection of the government, and if I was the CEO/COO/CIO of a private health sector, I would wipe the floor and literally steal every patient and doctor from these dinosaur NHS trusts and provide superior service at an improved value with better motivated staff.

Oh! I am sorry, they are already doing it. Despite the billions of pounds of investment into the NHS, it does not seem to have made a dent in the level of private health insurance at all. And they are working with my tax dollars and providing this kind of less that efficient service.

It is unbelievable that in this day and age, they have no idea about their patients, about service management or customer service management, no thoughts about segmentation or competition of staff. They do not know how modern technologies are working in terms of location analysis. Patients do not choose solely on the basis of doctors' expertise.

That is why they are called as a profession. In other words, a standard level of service from doctors, irrespective of which hospital they are based in, is expected. As long as they are regulated by the GMC, they are all the same.  So why on earth would I go about delving deeper into their qualifications? Surely that's the job of the GMC and the hospital?

They also did not seem to know about customer differentiation, like first time patients, regular patients, referrals, private patients, walk in patients, and so on and so forth. Each type of patient, both current and future, has to have a different customer facing experience. Here's a free idea for them. Put in a room with some large scale video rooms and apply a locational SMS technology unit to attract people who are walking past to come in to see how wonderful the hospital is.

Free publicity, or how about electronic linking with their local authority to further calibrate emergency and pre-emptive medical checks. Come and talk to me in a bank to create a financial product linked to a medical product which we can bundle with a credit card, so that every time you go over 30% of your disposable income on credit card debt, we give you a heart check for 75% of the cost.

Going forward, firms are checking out location devices. So, for example, if you were desirous of a taxi, you text a number and 3 LOCAL taxi numbers are sent back to you after triangulating your position. Or you can track your child based upon where his mobile phone is. Or if you were on the road and a chap falls ill, you can text and get a hospital informed. Or ambulance services will send the patient to a hospital based upon a complex series of rules in which, the quality of the doctor is just one tiny bit.

If it was a company, and I had a choice between an NHS and private firm, I would have sold NHS short. With all the money which is being pumped into the NHS technology bucket, it seems like we have challenges with deployment or usage, or even basic knowledge of what makes humans work and behave. And these guys are supposed to work for us and be doctors?

And looks like they are looking to hire some heavy hitters. Then again, the political parties are simply being stupid (specially that Stephen O'Brien, the Tories' shadow health minister). I mean, I can understand them being all excited but d'oh, if this is the level of discourse, then heaven help us. Is Stephen going to be the minister handling the NHS if they get elected? Then, mate, this problem is going to be yours, and you DO NEED heavy hitters. The country needs heavy hitters in the NHS. Talk about being stupid.

Good heavens!