Saturday, May 24

Come back to blighty to see terror plots

I come back from Malaysia and then am faced with a man who wants to blow up a shopping center (was the shopping experience so bad?) and an explosion in Exeter carried out by a mentally disabled man (was the food really that bad?). I am sure this is somehow connected to Palestine :)

Technorati Tags: ,

Women make gains in Arab boardrooms

Excellent news and very shameful for Japan and Italy. I quote:

Public companies listed in Oman and Kuwait have more women on their boards than in Italy and Japan, highlighting rare gains made by businesswomen in one of the most restrictive parts of the world.

Overall, the numbers arent that good,

The representation on boards in the two Gulf countries masks a bleaker overall picture: across the region women represent only 1.5 per cent of board seats, compared with 13.6 per cent in the US and 22 per cent in Norway.

But its a start at improving women's lives.

Marriage is irrelevant to public policy

This just brews me up no end. At best, it just shows that this minister is simply pig-ignorant about economics and politics, and at worst, she is an active danger to society. She actively flies against research which shows that a twin parent, male female family unit is good for everybody, the children, the parents themselves and the society itself.

But, I am simply dumbfounded at her thoughts. This is an educated woman talking? And the reins of our country are in this woman's hands? I simply do not believe it.
So the government should respect choices, eh? Would you respect my choice not to pay my taxes for say Scotland? You, Ms. Harman, are a blithering idiot.

Truly atrocious. Here's a good starting point for those who want to go check out human family economics, that large branch of economics and public policy.

Technorati Tags: ,

Friday, May 23

4.5 million UK households without full time earners

Ok, leave aside the political posturing over this statistic. But what does this tell you? This can mean that the pattern of work has shifted from full time work to part time work, or it can mean that more households are of single parenthood (who obviously cannot work full time given the shocking costs of child care in this country) or it can mean that there are no incentives given to the adults of working age to go out and work full time.

By definition, part time working will not give you as much earnings as earning full time will (generally!), so I can only guess that their survival is dependent upon the welfare state. But this is shocking because one in four households is effectively working much below potential at best or being a parasite at worst.

Given the fact that we are heading into a recession, taxes cannot be raised any more, where and how will the government try to get these dead weights into full time gainful employment? And its actually not getting better, its getting worse.

One Laptop per child is less important than a good teacher

The OLPC seems to have died a horrible death. A good idea, but I am afraid the path to good intentions is paved by hellish technology. In other words, the idea that throwing technology at problems will immediately resolve it means that usually it ends up creating bigger problems than it solves.

I quote:

What is the sense of introducing One Laptop per Child when they don't have seats to sit down and learn; when they don't have uniforms to go to school in, where they don't have facilities?"

"We are more interested in laying a very solid foundation for quality education which will be efficient, effective, accessible and affordable."

I was reminded of this situation when I was watching Dr. Craig Barrett, Chairman, Intel Corporation, do his thing at the WCIT 2008. He was talking about Intel's offering, the Classmate PC.

Convenient carrying handle

It is, obviously a competitor to the OLPC and there is some bad blood between them. But what Dr. Barrett said was so right, he said, what is far more important to a student is a good teacher, a laptop comes with way too many tails dragging behind it to be really effective. I fully agree, a good teacher is worth 100 laptops if there is a binary choice. But given the fact that resources are so low in developing countries, I would much rather suggest that they take the money and use that to develop teachers.

EU turning the screws on Iranian Bank

I have been talking about how USA is pressing down on the Iranian financial sector. You see, by choking off the flow of funds, a modern economy can be brought to its knees. And the constant American pressure is showing dividends (if you excuse the pun). I quote:

Bank Melli, Iran’s biggest commercial bank, is set to be banned from operating in the European Union under proposals in the final stages of discussion in Brussels.

And as the article quotes:

But Mr Levey said the financial sanctions, international warnings about the risk of money laundering and terror-financing in Iran, and related moves by international banks to scale down business with Tehran had had a big impact.

“It certainly has made the cost of financing [in Iran] to the extent that anyone has offered it at all, much more expensive,” he said.

Not that it will make a difference to Iran...

Anthropologists do it with people

Besides the fact that these anthropologists have the right to dissent and disagree, one wonders if they know what they are doing and saying? A democratically elected government, executing howsoever unpopular a decision, is being challenged by public sector workers. And they do not want anything to do with the military. So far so good.

So here's the question, do you seriously think that academics exist in a vacuum? Here's a question to the learned academics. Ok, so the members of the academy are not formally supposed to participate in this HTS initiative. Will you refuse to teach a soldier who wants to learn at your stateside school? Will you refuse to teach anthropology to students who have expressed a desire to join the military? Will you as an anthropology professor disown your child if s/he is in Iraq fighting insurgents?

Will you instead help your child out? How about refusing to take tax payer money as your salary in protest? They complain about manipulating local cultures, but then, all their own studies of whatever ilk, influences local cultures.
When they go and study a tribe in the middle of the Amazonian rain forest or a ghetto in Chicago, they influence and manipulate local cultures. So what makes their influencing good and the US military's influencing bad?
Military intervention in academics? Surely that's taxpayer money that you are complaining about. I presume they will refuse to take any monies from any government or private sources?

Its when you start inquiring that you know that outrage and principles have limits, where the limit or boundary lies is where the interesting or amusing part occurs, in this case, its in the amusing part...

Reminds me of the quote, arguments in academia are so bitter because the stakes are so little. In this case, the stakes are so high, so obviously the arguments have to be facile.

Technorati Tags: ,,

German Monsters and Locusts

What is with these German ministers and financial markets? They all seem to keep on banging on about how bad the markets are, they are either locusts or they are monsters. Nice welcome there, folks, and that's the reason why several parts of the government run banking sector in Germany is in deep trouble. So what does that make the government? monstrous dung beetles? Curious, no?

Corruption is hidden under national security rug

Its curious how people start hiding behind national security when corruption, monopolistic policies, bad governance, etc. etc. is in play. We saw that when we had the situation with BAe and UK and now we are seeing the situation with J Power in Japan.

See here.

The move came as the auditors of J-Power launched an internal investigation into the utility’s business practices, following a request by TCI, its largest shareholder with a 9.9 per cent stake.

yes? the auditors would be the protection of Mr. and Mrs. Yamamoto who have invested their life savings in this company, no?

No. Why?

TCI, which wants to improve returns from its 9.9 per cent stake in electric power wholesaler J-Power, is asking the company’s statutory auditors to investigate whether directors have breached their duty by failing to stop practices that have led to profit declines. But their relationship with J-Power offers small hope the auditors will uncover anything improper. Of the five auditors, one is a former J-Power director with 30 years of company service behind him. Two others hail from the Ministry of Finance – one of the government organs charged with determining whether TCI should be allowed to increase its stake in J-Power. The practice, called “descending from heaven”, raises questions as to whether some of the auditors may be constrained from acting independently of management.

Welcome to Japanese management..

A critique of Edward Said's Orientalism

Edward Said personifies the quote, "an author retains the singular honour of being a crashing bore long after he is dead". That book of his made my hair hurt, incomprehensible and intractable to say the least. But in certain circles, it is considered next to the Bible and Quran...

Here are couple of reviews of the book