Saturday, December 27




click on the image for a bigger image or here.

Technorati Tags:

Bishops attack 'immoral' and "corrupt" Labour

Oooooo, ahhhhh!!!, that is going to hurt, now 5 bishops have attacked Labour policy. I quote some of the juiciest bits.

They warned the country was suffering from family breakdown, an unhealthy reliance on debt and a growing gap between rich and poor.

The Rt Rev Tom Wright, the Bishop of Durham, told the Sunday Telegraph ministers had not done enough to help the poor.

"Labour made a lot of promises, but a lot of them have vanished into thin air," he said.

"We have not seen a raising of aspirations in the last 13 years, but instead there is a sense of hopelessness. While the rich have got richer, the poor have got poorer.

"When a big bank or car company goes bankrupt, it gets bailed out, but no one seems to be bailing out the ordinary people who are losing their jobs and seeing their savings diminished."

In a separate interview with the paper, the Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch, the Bishop of Manchester, accused Labour of being "beguiled by money" and "morally corrupt".

I am sure Gordon Brown will be chewing on the carpet and howling away. By the way, what happens when he goes to confession? does he get chewed out by his confessor?

A Solar Eclipse from the sky

What a fascinating photograph of a solar eclipse on the earth...

Technorati Tags:

Religions evolve, are not revealed.

I read this quote couple of weeks ago and it made me go hmmm, makes quite a lot of sense.

Religions are not revealed: they are evolved. If a religion were revealed by God, that religion would be perfect in whole and in part, and would be as perfect at the first moment of its revelation as after ten thousand years of practice. There has never been a religion that which fulfills those conditions. -Robert Blatchford, author (1851-1943)

I have been variously a Sufi, a Bahai, a Hindu, a Pastafarian, an Atheist, an agnostic, an Eponite, sometimes all of them and sometimes none of them and yes, I would say that that quote makes sense. This idea of being a perfect religion is silly.

Technorati Tags:

So why is Caroline Kennedy eligible for the US Senate?

I read this interview twice over. I am still very unclear as to why she would be a good senator. Mind you, I wasn't clear why Hillary Clinton was fit for the senate either. But then, now I have found the answer, be married or be the progeny of a famous man. Nepotism? Heaven forbid, not in the land of meritorious achievement. And then they blame the UK for being class conscious! Disappointing, very disappointing indeed.


Technorati Tags: ,

Friday, December 26

Reading to children - good, not reading - bad

Here's another d'oh finding by the Institute of Education. I quote:

It concluded: "Reading to the child every day and having a mother who thinks it is important to stimulate young children are positively associated with all cognitive outcomes and negatively with problem behaviour." It said that reading to a child every day "appears to lower behavioural problems".

Children who were read to daily did better in the naming vocabulary test, which involved the children being shown a picture and asked to identify the object.

They also performed better in the foundation stage profiles and had higher behaviour scores.

Youngsters whose mothers thought it was important to talk to them and teach them the alphabet did better than their peers in a number of other tests, and also had better foundation stage profiles.

In contrast, on average, children who watch three or more hours of TV a day achieved lower scores on the tests.

What next? that feeding children makes them healthy and not feeding them is bad for their health?

Technorati Tags: ,

There’s Lots of Tech Help, Yes, on the Internet

General Tips

First, a few general rules. Many of the below sites require you to register a user name and password before you can post a question. Also, it’s a good idea to check how active a site is., for example, has more than 750,000 members. The bigger the site, the more likely you are to get an answer.

Sites with moderators are a plus because they will help weed out irrelevant or duplicate answers and keep the discussion on topic. There are also good fee-based sites like Experts Exchange (, but I’ve limited the below list to free help.


One of my favorite tech support sites is ( It has a clean design, which makes searching easy. When posing a question, use keywords, hit the search button, and a list of solutions will pop up.

FixYa lets its users rate one another so you can see who has a good solution rating and who doesn’t.

Users can choose among the “post a new problem,” “I can solve this!” and “I have the same problem” tabs. The site also has an alphabetical list of brands so you can search by name. ( is also a good bet, judging by sheer volume of active users.

The site’s PC hardware and tech general discussion board ( had nearly 240,000 posts when I checked it. Fair warning: the site is geared more toward the tech-savvy than the tech-phobic.

Tech publications PC World ( and CNet ( also have good discussion forums.



I solved my BlackBerry problem on’s forums ( Not only does the site break down problems by model, including Apple’s iPhone 3G, but it also has a section for older BlackBerrys (, which is helpful because not everyone has the money or desire to switch models every year. You can also search by carrier.

Users of the iPhone can turn to the iPhone Blog (, which is helpful because it uses screen images and other visual aids instead of dizzying amounts of text. Even better are video tutorials. Instead of wasting time trying to locate your SIM card tray, just mimic the video’s step-by step instructions and pause and replay as needed.

If you’re short on patience, CNet’s video tutorials ( are better organized and are presented by the site’s editors who, generally speaking, should be qualified to solve your problems. The site’s Quick Tips section is good to browse if you’re looking to better navigate your gadget. In one video, CNet’s editor at large, Brian Cooley, gives some BlackBerry navigation tips, which is infinitely more colorful than reading your phone’s instruction manual.

And if you still insist on speaking to a human being, go to ( first — it will tell you the fastest, most direct number to use to reach a living, breathing technician on the line.

See, even when you don’t want its help, the Internet is there for you.

Yet another Jew good/Muslim bad article

I do not know about why this thesis is so prevalent amongst a certain class of Muslims. It goes something like this. Jews have come up with so many Nobel prizes, inventions and discoveries while the Muslims have not. So Muslims should do the same and hark back to some mythical golden age. I am sure you must have read this before. What these frankly silly people do not understand is that if they are identifying excellence with a particular religion, then they are also identifying mediocrity or failure with another religion. If just belonging to Judaism was sufficient to start punching out Nobel Prizes and inventions, then is belonging to Islam sufficient reason for not getting Nobel Prizes and inventions? What follows is that the Muslims should convert to Judaism and viola', Nobel Prizes and inventions galore will come tumbling out of the sky. Or else there is something wrong with the religion. See what I mean? This is why this argument is so fallacious and the worrying thing is that this argument is usually made by quite highly educated people. Frightening, if this is what the educated masses are thinking. Stop beating yourself up for a made up argument.

Here's the latest epistle which got me moaning and whining. See how the issue is confused between religion, public policy, education, innovation and the rest? I quote some rather interesting snippets from this article:

The attitude explained above speaks volumes about love and care Muslims have for knowledge and research. Even in the 21st Century, in Pakistan millions of people have no access to education, and where schools are built they are systematically burnt down or blown out by bombs. Muslims are fast losing interest in education and benefits it could provide because they think they can become rich by other means which might not be legal. Also value of our education is constantly declining; and our ability to provide quality training and produce knowledge is shrinking. As a result of this Muslims are becoming less competitive in every field.

There are 57 Muslim Countries in the world with enormous resources, and yet there are only 500 universities in the Muslim World; and none of the universities in the entire Islamic World rank in the top 500 universities of the world. On the other hand the USA alone has 5,758 universities. In Christian countries 40% of population attend university; and in Muslim countries only 2% make to universities.

Even Pakistan's neighbour and Third World country, India has 8,407 universities; and Indian scientists, doctors and engineers are performing crucial role in advanced societies of the world. It is on strength of this, after the Mumbai carnage one USA based Indian wrote to me that India has softwere engineers, scientists and doctors to 'export', and Pakistan can only 'export drugs and terrorists'.

So problem is lack of educational and high tech training facilities, our failure to learn new knowledge; and our wrong priorities and failure to provide resources for education and research has put us where we are today. And instead of learning from our past mistakes and sorting out our priorities we Muslims, especially Muslims of South Asia like to shift blame to others by saying that it is Jewish, Hindu or American conspiracy.

A prominent Kashmiri journalist, Sardar Zia Mahmood who has kindly provided me this data, while talking to me said, 'One cause of extremism and terrorism is our inability to educate our young people and provide adequate opportunities for those who worked hard to get qualifications'. He further said, 'If we want to combat terrorism and extremism then we have to divert resources to educate and train people and promote culture of tolerance and democratic values'.

Not good, Dr. Shabir Choudhry, if you do have a doctorate or a medical degree, this kind of pap was not expected from you. Science and innovation is not driven by God or religion, but by human beings.

Technorati Tags: ,,,

Thursday, December 25

Mother worse off after getting married

This is simply very stupid and also provides more evidence that the state discriminates against married couples and marriage. Time after time, we have proof that society is much better off with couples in marriage, the children are better behaved and educated, the crime levels are lower, tax takes are higher, educational levels are higher and and and. But simply because of the stupidity of the governments, it simply makes sense for you not to marry. Read and weep.


In a desperate bid to claw back the monetary help that was withdrawn when they married, mum-of-one Kayleigh Tidswell-Brown, 22, and her husband Leigh, 25, are considering separating. If they do then her council will once more pay to help to look after her baby as the young mum strives to become a teacher.

The grant used to pay for her 24-month-old son Taylor's day care and upkeep while she studied for her degree....However, she has now been told that following her wedding in August, she is no longer eligible for any funding.

Final year student Mrs Tidswell-Brown said: "We've talked through the options and the only realistic solution seems to be a divorce. We will stay together of course but if our marital status is the only reason we lost our grant then we have to seriously consider it."

She added: "Nothing financially has changed in terms of our income. It's like being discriminated against because we're married.

"Before we planned to get married we were told it wouldn't affect anything. On that knowledge we decided to get married. All of a sudden we're told it does. "It seems we can't afford to live together."

Mugabe Backers operating freely in UK

Simply do not understand this government. The fact that it lies and is hypocritical is not surprising at all. But then, for Gordon Brown to say, "enough is enough" for Zimbabwe and then not doing anything about the fact that businessmen who are supporting Mugabe are allowed to do so freely is absolutely shocking. Perhaps not, it runs in his political philosophy to say one thing and mean something else. Very economical with the truth, is our Gordon. Blowhard git. I quote:


Of 21 companies put on a US blacklist by President Bush last month, 14 are based in Britain, two in the Isle of Man, one in Jersey and one in the British Virgin Islands. The other three are based in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Florida and Zimbabwe itself.

The operations of some British or British-owned companies have also caused concern. It was reported this year that Foreign Office officials were worried that the Zimbabwean subsidiary of the London-based Standard Chartered Bank was violating European Union sanctions. According to inside sources, the Foreign Office asked the Treasury to make “discreet inquiries” as to whether Standard Chartered loans to the Zimbabwean Government breached the sanctions.

Standard Chartered Zimbabwe is a subsidiary of Standard Chartered Plc of Britain. A Foreign Office official was quoted as saying: “I'm still nervous about the position of other [British-owned] banks [in Zimbabwe], and in particular Standard Chartered.”

Britain has failed to take action against individuals and companies while calling for Mr Mugabe to go. By contrast, the US Treasury last month named four financier “cronies” - Mr Bredenkamp, Muller Conrad “Billy” Rautenbach, Nalinee Joy Taveesin and Mahmood Awang Kechik - of Mr Mugabe and put them on a blacklist, freezing their US assets and banning American citizens from doing business with them.

On the US blacklist

John Bredenkamp “A close ally of Mugabe’s”, according to the US Treasury. It lists the following entities, owned or controlled by him: Alpha International (Private) Ltd; Breco (Asia Pacific) Ltd, also Breco (Eastern Europe) Ltd, (SA) Ltd, (UK) Ltd, Breco Group, Breco International, Breco Nominees Ltd, Breco Services Ltd; Corybantes Ltd; Echo Delta Holdings Ltd; Kababankola Mining Company; Masters Int Ltd; Masters Int Inc; Piedmont (UK) Ltd; Raceview Enterprises; Scottlee Holdings (Pvt) Ltd; Scottlee Resorts; Timpani Ltd; and Tremalt Ltd

Muller Conrad Rautenbach (aka Billy Rautenback) Zimbabwean businessman “with close ties to the regime”. Supported Zanu (PF) individuals during the conflict with the Democratic Republic of Congo and “provided logistical support” for mining projects that “benefit a small number of corrupt senior officials”. One entity designated is owned by him — Ridgepoint Overseas Developments Ltd

Nalinee Taveesin A Thai businesswoman who has organised “a number of financial, real-estate and gem-related transactions” for Grace Mugabe and others on the US blacklist

Mahmood Awang Kechik A Malaysian urologist. Alleged to have used his clinic to hide the destination of medical equipment coming into the country. Also implicated in schemes to “generate wealth for these regime officials” and the Zimbabwe Government”

Source: US Treasury Department

Compare this with the issue around Muslim charities here in the UK. Here's another story about this issue. The point that I am making is that the British Government, (its protests notwithstanding) goes after Muslim charities because they are proscribed by the USA, but not when it has to do with Mugabe's thugs. Quite an interesting dichotomy, no? But then, I suppose Gordon Brown does not have the bottle to take despots or terrorists on. It simply whines, moans and ruins the economy in its selfish stupid desire to hang on to power. What an incompetent git.

Same person, 2 jobs, 2 opinions - welcome to Pakistan

Now this is why I said in my post few days back.

"so what will you do if Pakistan does not do what you want them to do?"

Here's a fascinating reason why. This is a column written in one of Pakistan's main newspapers. And he talks about how the same person, Ambassador Hussein Haqqani, speaks from two sides of his mouth. I am going to quote this imaginary conversation with Hillary Clinton and US Ambassador Haqqani at length:

Haqqani: Madam Secretary, as I said to the New York Times on Nov 27, 2008: "It is unfair to blame Pakistan or Pakistanis for these acts of terrorism even before an investigation is undertaken".
Clinton: But Husain, on October 10, 2007 (not that long ago), you testified to the American people, through the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee. In it you said that, "Pakistan continues to be a major centre for Islamist militancy… Radical Islamists who came from all over the world to fight against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan went on to become allies of Pakistan's military intelligence apparatus, which used them to fight Indian control over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir as well as to expand Pakistan's influence in Afghanistan." So it seems that it may indeed be fair to blame Pakistan, no?
Haqqani: Madame Secretary, as I said to your friend George Stephanopolous on November 30, 2008, "The important thing is, everybody in the world is now coming round to agreeing that the government of Pakistan, the state of Pakistan, the military of Pakistan and even the intelligence services are not directly involved. That's the good news."
Clinton: George used to be a friend, but that's off-topic. I remember right after the Daniel Pearl kidnapping, you wrote a marvellous op-ed in the New York Times. It was like an early Valentine's Day gift for General Musharraf, published on Feb 13, 2002, and titled "Trying to Create a New Pakistan". In it you said, that "For now, Pakistan's leaders need to acknowledge that, in the strategic struggle with India, Pakistan nurtured the formation of terrorist cells that are capable of acts like kidnapping Mr. Pearl. If Pakistan is to make a clean break with such policies, it will have to begin cooperating with India by exchanging intelligence and agreeing to extradite wanted terrorists."
Haqqani: Madame Secretary, I have been telling you and everyone else in Washington DC that the US needed to ditch the dictator Musharraf, but you and your government took too long to take action.
Clinton: Well, Musharraf's been gone for four or five months now. Has your government begun to exchange intelligence with India? Has it handed over wanted terrorists? After all this is your advice to your country. Now you have a chance to carry out that advice.
Haqqani: As I said to Wolf Blitzer on CNN's Late Edition, on Nov 30, 2008, "Pakistan has made it very clear this time around Pakistan is not going to give any quarter to any terrorist groups and we want to work with India. We will cooperate in the investigation and we'll make sure we get these guys if they have any connection to us."
Clinton: It's interesting that you mention the interview with Wolf. You see in all your written work you clearly stipulate that the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is a product of the ISI. But when Wolf Blitzer, asked you if LeT was created by Pakistani intelligence, you said "Well, there's no way for me to know who created it."
Haqqani: Madame Secretary there isn't.
Clinton: Yes but in the Current Trends in Islamist Ideology (Volume 1, April 2005) paper you write that the LeT was, "founded in 1989 by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed (and) backed by Saudi money and protected by Pakistani intelligence services." Then in Volume 3 (Feb 2006) you write that, "Lashkar-e-Taiba is closely linked to the Saudi religious establishment, as well as to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence". Again in Volume 4 (Nov 2006) you write that, "the Pakistani military and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) supported militant Sunni Islamist groups in the northwest frontier bordering Afghanistan, as well as in Punjab and Baluchistan." And then, in your book, you write that the ISI directly pays the head of the LeT (on page 306), and that the "ISI was not too keen to offend its jihadi partners" by shutting them down (on page 303). Sounds like you do have a way of knowing who created the LeT.
Haqqani: Well, the LeT-ISI link is no more. As I keep saying, Pakistan's government, its people, its military and its intelligence agencies are all clean. We have nothing to do with these non-state actors.
Clinton: Sounds great Husain. I wish I could believe you. You see it simply boggles the mind that within a year since when you testified to the House Armed Services Committee, that Pakistan has changed dramatically. What should I tell President Obama? What has changed that has suddenly cleaned up Pakistan?

I could have answered that hypothetical question. Actually, Pakistan has not changed at all, and will not do so either. It has and will remain the epicentre of terrorism till some basics are not understood by the Americans and the wider world. Shooting missiles at them will not help. Pressurising the democratic government will not help. Writing op-ed's will not work. The problem is and continues to remain, is with the Pakistani Army (and its various appendages such as the intelligence agency and the like). It is that body which is injurious to the health of that country, its neighbours, the world and and and. If you do not believe me, see what happens hypothetically above.

But again, I am certainly not holding my breath that the Americans will change their foreign policy. The Pakistani Army will remain top of the heap and will keep on creating problems. Ah! well, will not be surprised if war does break out. After all, that is what the Pakistani Army wants, a nice full fledged war which will justify its existence and give it another reason to rule over Pakistan for more decades. In any case, read the 2 faced pronouncements of the US Ambassador and the Leader of the Pakistani Opposition saying that Pakistan is a failed state and then wonder at the imbecility of it all.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Swat Taliban announce ban on female education from Jan 15

Oh! goody, no more pesky issues about teaching girls..I quote:


The Maulana Fazlullah-led militants, operating in the restive Swat Valley, have announced a complete ban on female education from January 15 and warned violators of harsh action.
Shah Dauran, the vice chief of Swat militants and in charge of the FM radio, announced that no government or private educational institution would enrol girls. He said all schools and colleges should stop female education by January 15.
He threatened to blow up all schools violating the ban, adding the schools providing education to girls would be forced to close. The militants in Swat, who have been known for their strong opposition to women education, have bombed or torched around 100 girls’ schools to forcibly stop girls from going to school in the district.
Due to their opposition and escalation of war between the security forces and the militants, dozens of schools have been either destroyed or closed. Actually, the terrorists went to the extent of destroying all schools, irrespective of boys and girls, in a bid to “Islamise” their curriculum.
Another argument the militants’ top leaders, including their chief Maulana Fazlullah, present is to destroy everything owned by the government because the security forces had been razing their houses and killing their colleagues.
The provincial government in June-July launched an ad campaign in newspapers to create a soft corner in the hearts of militants to stop blowing up schools but that ended up in smoke. APP adds: At least 11 more militants were killed when the security forces attacked their hideouts at Shakardara in Swat district on Wednesday.

That's what you want, no? the women to be illiterate and raise more illiterate sons and daughters? What a wonderful vision for Islam and for Pakistan. And to think today is the birth anniversary of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan. What a tragedy. Also read this op-ed about how the Pakistani State itself is the mother of these jihadi's. But why get all excited about suicide terrorism? After all, its part and parcel of normal business life now...

The astonishing story of how a suicide bomber was ‘hired’ from Wana and used by an individual in Bhakkar to kill a rival with whom he had a monetary dispute is an eye-opener. Twenty-six people died in the suicide blast in Bhakkar in August. PML-N MNA Rashid Akbar Niwani was among those injured in the bombing that took place during a gathering at his house. At the time, it was assumed he was the target and the motive possibly sectarian. It now transpires that a businessman from the town had effectively ‘purchased’ the services of a suicide bomber and an explosives expert from a person in Wana. The deadly duo effectively carried out the assassination. The suicide bomber, naturally, died – as was intended. Five others involved have been arrested, including the businessman who hired the killers. The account of how a suicide bomber could be acquired in exchange for Rs2 million and used to settle a personal score, highlights the fact that for the ruthless men who recruit and train bombers, many of them mere children, their lives mean nothing at all.

Wednesday, December 24

Librophiliac Love Letter: A Compendium of Beautiful Libraries

Such beautiful photographs of those temples of learning. Some which I loved.

Santa got me a mortar round, Ho! Ho! Ho!

Go figure.


Technorati Tags: ,,

The FSA shows its fangs despite global staff challenges

Finally the Financial Services Authority, the lead regulator of the United Kingdom, is starting to show its fangs. Good step but much more is required, I am afraid. I quote:

A record number of fines has been imposed by the City watchdog this year as it cracked down on consumer issues such as mortgage fraud and the mis-selling of payment protection insurance. Almost 50 penalties have been announced to date by the Financial Services Authority, more than twice as many as last year and half as much again as the previous record. Another heavy year of penalties is expected in 2009.

But this is the issue, the quality of the regulatory staff across the world is quite concerning. It is also not surprising, here's a simple bargain for you. Would you want to join a regulator when you could have been working for a bank at a higher salary? No. Here's what the head of the CBOE said about the SEC staff.

Financial illiteracy among junior staff at the US Securities and Exchange Commission made it easier for Bernard Madoff to operate his alleged $50bn fraud undetected, the head of the US’s biggest options exchange has warned.

Bill Brodsky, chief executive of the Chicago Board Options Exchange, said the scandal showed that inspector-level staff had not received enough training to enable them sufficiently to check for fraud.

“The people doing the examinations have no clue what the right questions are to ask,” he said in an interview with the Financial Times. “Going in and asking questions out of a manual doesn’t help you understand how a business works.”

Mr Brodsky said part of the problem at the SEC was that many of the staff at the regulator did not have the fundamental investment experience.

“They’re young, they very often don’t have any money and they’re not allowed to use these instruments themselves. How do they equip themselves to do a good job?

“How do you take kids out of college and get them to understand something they have no tangible connection to?”

Good questions, I am not sure if there are good answers to the regulatory conundrum but good people are required, no questions asked.

Technorati Tags: ,,

Baby hedgehogs saved from a homeless Christmas

Makes you go, awwwwww, no? Here are the poor orphaned hedgehogs

How interesting to note that here we have charities which look after homeless orphaned hedgehogs as well. Sometimes one overlooks the good points of a society which looks after its people and animals in distress as well. Merry Christmas to all :)

Technorati Tags: ,

100,000 Pakistani Rupees to Burn a Schoolgirl

Two video's. No words necessary.


And dont you find this statement curious?

The officials said that the militants, who were Afghan citizens, had confessed to their involvement in the attack on the schoolgirls and their teachers on Nov. 12 and that a high-ranking member of the Taliban had paid the militants 100,000 Pakistani rupees for each of the girls they managed to burn.

Why Pakistani rupees? (Rhetorical question...) and why 100,000 of them? Its quite a high amount there. Gosh, tough mission for these big brave warriors of God.

And when you see what is happening in Pakistan proper with their schools, you then understand what these doughty warriors of God want with their people, they want to push their people into medieval illiteracy. Welcome to the Land of the Pure, I say. Here's an editorial on this issue.

The militants have once more demonstrated that the city of Peshawar is no longer safe. Incidents over the past few months have made it obvious the writ of state has vanished from the city. A spate of kidnappings, murders and attacks on shops selling CDs or video tapes make this obvious. To drive the point home, a band of militants has now attacked three leading private schools, torching buses and attempting to demolish the gate of one with a grenade. The choice of schools – two of them institutes for boys – would suggest the motive was to create panic and target the elite, rather than to shut down schools for girls as has happened across NWFP. Threats to elite schools have been made before, in Lahore, Islamabad and other cities. Nothing can be more terrifying for parents, and indeed other citizens, than the notion that their children are unsafe even at school. All three of the schools picked out by the militants were elite institutions. Four members of the staff were injured at one of the schools, two of them critically, while attempting to prevent the band of some 15 armed militants from entering the premises.
The message to city authorities has been sent out loud and clear. The militants have once more demonstrated an ability to strike at will. Psychologically they have also picked a manner to do so which is most likely to create terror. Security at schools in Lahore was stepped up on Tuesday in response to the terrible incident in Peshawar. Mercifully, no pupil was injured. But there is no guarantee that other attacks will not follow this one. The only way to stop them is to begin an all-out offensive against terrorists of all kinds. Only by doing so can we eradicate the fear that today walks alongside every citizen and now enters school alongside the children who attend these institutions.

I wonder if the Taliban rate card goes something like this:

1. Kill a woman: 500,000 Pakistani Rupees

2. Acid attack a woman: 100,000 rupees

3. Burn up a school: 50,000 rupees.

4. behead a school teacher: 250,000 rupees.

5. blow up a school: 150,000 rupees.


Here, I am throwing in another video for you, want to see how to burn your future up catastrophically? Here you go, watch how teachers, doctors and schools teachers are killed and schools burnt.



Tuesday, December 23

Liberals are stingy, Conservatives are generous

Now this made me wonder a bit. But first a bit of background. As regular readers of this blog would know, I am working with a charity for a long time. And bloody hell, its tough to get people to donate. Forget about donating their own money, even equipment which would normally go to waste is also not donated. Simply because it would take time for them to get off their butt and shake loose the equipment.

But its tough, quite difficult for people to actually give here in the UK. Speaking to the Charity's CEO, she said that she found that the conservative run councils are better at supporting charities compared to Labour or LibDem councils. I have also have had debates with people who say that Europeans give more than Americans, I am afraid its the governments who offer more aid, not individuals. After all, when everybody is paying for it, then it doesnt come out of my pocket. And proportionally, that tax dependent philanthropy hits the poor more. So when anybody moans about how Americans are stingy, you know immediately that the person personally will, most probably, not be a giving person. But here's Nicholas Kristoff's column of this. I quote some interesting bits:

Liberals show tremendous compassion in pushing for generous government spending to help the neediest people at home and abroad. Yet when it comes to individual contributions to charitable causes, liberals are cheapskates.

Arthur Brooks, the author of a book on donors to charity, “Who Really Cares,” cites data that households headed by conservatives give 30 percent more to charity than households headed by liberals. A study by Google found an even greater disproportion: average annual contributions reported by conservatives were almost double those of liberals.

Other research has reached similar conclusions. The “generosity index” from the Catalogue for Philanthropy typically finds that red states are the most likely to give to nonprofits, while Northeastern states are least likely to do so.

The upshot is that Democrats, who speak passionately about the hungry and homeless, personally fork over less money to charity than Republicans — the ones who try to cut health insurance for children.

Something similar is true internationally. European countries seem to show more compassion than America in providing safety nets for the poor, and they give far more humanitarian foreign aid per capita than the United States does. But as individuals, Europeans are far less charitable than Americans.

Americans give sums to charity equivalent to 1.67 percent of G.N.P., according to a terrific new book, “Philanthrocapitalism,” by Matthew Bishop and Michael Green. The British are second, with 0.73 percent, while the stingiest people on the list are the French, at 0.14 percent.

In any case, if conservative donations often end up building extravagant churches, liberal donations frequently sustain art museums, symphonies, schools and universities that cater to the well-off. (It’s great to support the arts and education, but they’re not the same as charity for the needy. And some research suggests that donations to education actually increase inequality because they go mostly to elite institutions attended by the wealthy.)

Conservatives also appear to be more generous than liberals in nonfinancial ways. People in red states are considerably more likely to volunteer for good causes, and conservatives give blood more often. If liberals and moderates gave blood as often as conservatives, Mr. Brooks said, the American blood supply would increase by 45 percent.

Monday, December 22

Only tax payers allowed to meet God

This story is just fascinating and shows how secularism and religion do not work together specially when we are talking about liberal democracies. So here we go, we have a house of God (to wit, a Church), which has taxes and tithes associated with it. And as it happens, people who do not tithe flood into the church during Christmas and take up all the seats. So they get upset. Now, I simply do not understand this idea of a state funded church, specially in Europe, but there you go.

Solution seems to be to get people to actually bring their tax returns with them when they come into the church.

Here's another solution, get the church to actually run itself based upon donations, why is the government getting involved? And if it does get involved, would it also do the same thing for Mosques, Gurudwaras and Temples? I dont think so. Hence state institutionalised discrimination. But how does this fit in with the idea of Jesus not liking money lenders, the prohibition against usury and all that? Gosh...

Vote for the Sexiest Geeks of 2008

This just blew me away. HOLY MOLY. Some of them (totally ignoring the TV actresses, they are not well, true geeks, I suppose) made me raise my eyebrows:

This is Winnie Cooper from the Wonder Years TV series as she was then and now.

BLOODY HELL! and here's her nomination photo and blurb, I was gaping a bit.

Danica Mae McKellar (born January 3, 1975), is an American actress and mathematical education advocate. She is best known for her role as Winnie Cooper in the television show The Wonder Years, and now as author of the two New York Times bestsellers, Math Doesn't Suck, and Kiss My Math, which encourage and empower middle-school girls with mathematics know-how.

How about this lady?

Alexandra Kostantinovna Kosteniukis a Russian chess Grandmaster and the current Women's World Chess Champion.

Vote away, folks, vote away. Hot diggity dah!

BTW, if you were a politics geek, here are your choices :)

Technorati Tags:

Bailout money for GM and Banks, a response

Dear Employees & Suppliers,

Congress and the current Administration will soon determine whether to provide immediate support to the domestic auto industry to help it through one of the most difficult economic times in our nation's history. Your elected officials must hear from all of us now on why this support is critical to our continuing the progress we began prior to the global financial crisis......................As an employee or supplier, you have a lot at stake and continue to be one of our most effective and passionate voices. I know GM can count on you to have your voice heard.

Thank you for your urgent action and ongoing support.

Troy Clarke

President General Motors North America


Response from:

Gregory Knox, Pres.

Knox Machinery Company

Franklin, Ohio


In response to your request to contact legislators and ask for a bailout for the Big Three automakers please consider the following, and please pass my thoughts on to Troy Clark, President of General Motors North America. 

Politicians and Management of the Big 3 are both infected with the same entitlement mentality that has spread like cancerous germs in UAW halls for the last countless decades, and whose plague is now sweeping this nation, awaiting our new "messiah", Pres-elect Obama, to wave his magic wand and make all our problems go away, while at the same time allowing our once great nation to keep "living the dream"… Believe me folks, The dream is over! 

This dream where we can ignore the consumer for years while management myopically focuses on its personal rewards packages at the same time that our factories have been filled with the worlds most overpaid, arrogant, ignorant and laziest entitlement minded "laborers" without paying the price for these atrocities…this dream where you still think the masses will line up to buy our products for ever and ever.

Don't even think about telling me I'm wrong.  Don't accuse me of not knowing of what I speak.  I have called on Ford, GM, Chrysler, TRW, Delphi, Kelsey Hayes, American Axle and countless other automotive OEM's throughout the Midwest during the past 30 years and what I've seen over those years in these union shops can only be described as disgusting. 

Troy Clarke, President of General Motors North America, states: "There is widespread sentiment throughout this country, and our government, and especially via the news media, that the current crisis is completely the result of bad management which it certainly is not."

You're right Mr. Clarke,  it's not JUST management…how about the electricians who walk around the plants like lords in feudal times, making people wait on them for countless hours while they drag ass…so they can come in on the weekend and make double and triple time…for a job they easily could have done within their normal 40 hour work week.  How about the line workers who threaten newbies with all kinds of scare tactics…for putting out too many parts on a shift…and for being too productive

(We certainly must not expose those lazy bums who have been getting overpaid for decades for their horrific underproduction, must we?!?)

Do you folks really not know about this stuff?!?  How about this great sentiment abridged from Mr.  Clarke's sad plea: "over the last few years …we have closed the quality and efficiency gaps with our competitors."  What the hell has Detroit been doing for the last 40 years?!?  Did we really JUST wake up to the gaps in quality and efficiency between us and them?  The K car vs.  the Accord?  The Pinto vs.  the Civic?!?  Do I need to go on?  What a joke!

We are living through the inevitable outcome of the actions of the United States auto industry for decades.  It's time to pay for your sins, Detroit . 

I attended an economic summit last week where brilliant economist, Alan Beaulieu, from the Institute of Trend Research , surprised the crowd when he said he would not have given the banks a penny of "bailout money".  "Yes, he said, this would cause short term problems," but despite what people like politicians and corporate magnates would have us believe, the sun would in fact rise the next day… and the following very important thing would happen…where there had been greedy and sloppy banks, new efficient ones would pop up…that is how a free market system works…it does work…if we would only let it work…"

But for some nondescript reason we are now deciding that the rest of the world is right and that capitalism doesn't work - that we need the government to step in and "save us"…Save us my ass, Hell - we're nationalizing…and unfortunately too many of our once fine nation's citizens don't even have a clue that this is what is really happening…But, they sure can tell you the stats on their favorite sports teams…yeah - THAT'S really important, isn't it…

Does it ever occur to ANYONE that the "competition" has been producing vehicles, EXTREMELY PROFITABLY, for decades in this country?...  How can that be???  Let's see… Fuel efficient… Listening to customers… Investing in the proper tooling and automation for the long haul…

Not being too complacent or arrogant to listen to Dr. W. Edwards Deming four decades ago when he taught that by adopting appropriate principles of management, organizations could increase quality and simultaneously reduce costs. Ever increased productivity through quality and intelligent planning… Treating vendors like strategic partners, rather than like "the enemy"… Efficient front and back offices… Non union environment…

Again, I could go on and on, but I really wouldn't be telling anyone anything they really don't already know down deep in their hearts. 

I have six children, so I am not unfamiliar with the concept of wanting someone to bail you out of a mess that you have gotten yourself into - my children do this on a weekly, if not daily basis, as I did when I was their age.  I do for them what my parents did for me (one of their greatest gifts, by the way) - I make them stand on their own two feet and accept the consequences of their actions and work through it.  Radical concept, huh… Am I there for them in the wings?  Of course - but only until such time as they need to be fully on their own as adults.

I don't want to oversimplify a complex situation, but there certainly are unmistakable parallels here between the proper role of parenting and government.  Detroit and the United States need to pay for their sins.  Bad news people - it's coming whether we like it or not. The newly elected Messiah really doesn't have a magic wand big enough to "make it all go away."  I laughed as I heard Obama "reeling it back in" almost immediately after the final vote count was tallied…"we really might not do it in a year…or in four…" Where the Hell was that kind of talk when he was RUNNING for office.

Stop trying to put off the inevitable folks … That house in Florida really isn't worth $750,000… People who jump across a border really don't deserve free health care benefits… That job driving that forklift for the Big 3 really isn't worth $85,000 a year… We really shouldn't allow Wal-Mart to stock their shelves with products acquired from a country that unfairly manipulates their currency and has the most atrocious human rights infractions on the face of the globe…

That couple whose combined income is less than $50,000 really shouldn't be living in that $485,000 home… Let the market correct itself folks - it will.  Yes it will be painful, but it's gonna' be painful either way, and the bright side of my proposal is that on the other side of it all, is a nation that appreciates what it has…and doesn't live beyond its means…and gets back to basics…and redevelops the patriotic work ethic that made it the greatest nation in the history of the world…and probably turns back to God. 

Sorry - don't cut my head off, I'm just the messenger sharing with you the "bad news". I hope you take it to heart.

Gregory J. Knox, President

Knox Machinery, Inc.

Franklin, Ohio 45005

Al Zwahiri, 2nd in Command, Al Queda being interviewed


and what the heck, merry Christmas :)


Technorati Tags: ,

Fascinating Astronomical Photograph

Quoting from here:

Explanation: If you took a picture of the Sun at the same time each day, would it remain in the same position? The answer is no, and the shape traced out by the Sun over the course of a year is called an analemma. The Sun's apparent shift is caused by the Earth's motion around the Sun when combined with the tilt of the Earth's rotation axis. The Sun will appear at its highest point of the analemma during summer and at its lowest during winter. Today, the Winter Solstice day in Earth's northern hemisphere, the Sun is at the bottom of the analemma. Analemmas created from different latitudes would appear at least slightly different, as well as analemmas created at a different time each day. This particular analemma was built up by 46 separate Sun photographs taken during 2003 in Athens, Greece.

Looks almost like its a paddle for the women on the patio... :)


Technorati Tags: ,


So let me understand this clearly, Pakistan allows terrorists to run rampant on its soil who merrily attack its neighbouring countries. And what does the USA do? It publishes this pile of pap. What is extremely worrying is that this pile of pap was written by the great and good of American Foreign Policy experts belonging to the US Institute of Peace, namely:

Richard L. Armitage
Lee H. Hamilton

Kara L. Bue, Armitage International, L.C.
Lisa Curtis, The Heritage Foundation
Walter Andersen, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University
Stephen P. Cohen, The Brookings Institution
Xenia Dormandy, Harvard University
C. Christine Fair
John A. Gastright, Jr., DynCorp International
Robert M. Hathaway, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Dennis Kux, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Daniel Markey, Council on Foreign Relations
Polly Nayak, Independent Consultant
J Alexander Thier, United States Institute of Peace
Marvin G. Weinbaum, The Middle East Institute
Nicholas Hamisevicz, The Heritage Foundation

And what do these worthies come up with as the recommendations?

  • Commissioning a new U.S. National Intelligence Estimate to form a common operating picture on militancy in Pakistan and elsewhere. Based on this report, the U.S. government should develop a comprehensive strategy to address threats in Pakistan.
  • Exhibiting patience with Pakistan’s newly elected leaders in their struggle against extremist elements and working to stabilize the government through economic aid and diplomacy.
  • Assisting Afghanistan and Pakistan to transform their border from a hostile frontier into an “economic gateway.”
  • Assigning primary responsibility for coordinating and implementing Pakistan-Afghanistan policy to a senior U.S. official to promote better ties between the two states.
  • Increasing support for democratic institutions and efforts to build transparency and rule of law.
  • Implementing a robust public diplomacy program emphasizing mutual interests in combating extremism, creating prosperity and improving regional relationships.
  • Calibrating aid to Pakistan based on the level of Pakistan’s use of militants in its foreign policy.
  • Committing to $1.5 billion/ year in non-military aid tied to accountability and rigorous oversight.
  • Working with regional powers and Pakistan’s partners such as China, Japan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to build stability and counterterrorism in Pakistan.

But the basic question which these buggers forget is, so what if the Pakistani State, Army and Politicians do exactly what they have done till now, ignore all what you say and still allow the terrorists to run riot? Let me see, it is now 7 years since that famous phone call after 9/11. And the situation is now even worse. There was NO Pakistani Taliban at that time, now you have two Taliban groups, one in Pakistan and another in Afghanistan. Nice going. You have Pakistani state backed terrorists who are attacking democratic countries around the globe. These terrorists are giving money to other terrorists and also carrying out terrorism in Iraq and other places. And just what is the USA going to do?

That's the crucial question which these senior foreign policy chaps do not address. Every time, these bloody reports come out, thinking that these recommendations will start from scratch, but nobody looks back and says, so what will you do if Pakistan does not do what you want them to do?

See what the authors say even now.

What does the United States want from Pakistan?

    • A stable government enjoying the support of the Pakistani people and responsive to their needs.
    • Unstinting support in the effort to track down those responsible for the 2001 attack on the United States.
    • A common effort in the struggle to defeat the forces of extremism and terrorism, including in Kashmir.
    • A safeguards system that makes virtually impossible the unauthorized use, transfer, or theft of Pakistan’s most dangerous weapons and technologies.
    • A state that lives in peace with its neighbours, most notably India and Afghanistan.

This is what they wanted back in 2001. And sweet sod all has been done on each and every point. And they do not consider this simple point. What's worse is that these worthies are responsible for the future evolution of Foreign Policy of the USA towards Pakistan. Now, here's a prediction. Since nothing has happened in the past 7 years, even if Obama gets a second term, in 8 years time, another report will come out and nothing will have happened in those 8 years either to achieve American Foreign Policy objectives. Good heavens. Dont you guys think that trying to keep on doing the same thing over and over again expecting things to change with Pakistan is a sign of insanity? Have you tried to show some fresh thinking? Of course not. I am now very cynical about the Obama administration and any progress towards the Afghanistan War resolution unlike in Iraq.

Sunday, December 21

British Schooling System under stress?

I was at a Christmas party yesterday where I was told by a council worker that up to 15-20% of the Harrow Council's bog standard comprehensive school seats are now looking to be filled by private school children whose parents cannot afford the school fees. In other words, these parents have either been made redundant, been fired, their business's closed or simply cutting back on expenses. Now they are at the council's doorstep and demanding that their children be educated on the government's expense. Hmmm, curious situation, how will that be handled? I dont know, the government cannot suddenly produce additional seats now, can you? So it will try to jam in these students into the comprehensive schools further ruining their status.

Which lead me to wonder if the government knows what to do? See this for an example. Not only it has screwed up the government school system, it is now going after the independent school system as well. I quote:

We have neither a sensible government nor a courageous opposition. The tinkering is likely to continue. Each year, trust schools will find themselves subjected to more onerous expectations. Their freedom will be further eroded. As it is, they are expected to release staff to support work in state schools. Their head teachers are encouraged to take responsibility for new academies. The more time spent on such activities, the less time there is to teach the children whose parents pay the fees that keep the school going. Sooner or later, the penny will drop. Those parents are going to ask whether they are getting a reasonable return on their investment. They are not.

So what about the private schools?

In 2005, 43% of A grades in mathematics, 43% in chemistry and 55% in modern foreign languages were achieved by the 7% of pupils at independent schools. Yes, such schools have small classes and supportive parents, but these are still impressive figures. Ideally, places in the private sector would be increased so more children could benefit from the education that good independent schools offer.

Heaven help the British education system with such dunderheads on the levers of educational policy. I personally am not impressed by the Labour ministers nor the Conservative chaps, seriously a bunch of donkeys. (PS, my kids go to comprehensives..)