Saturday, February 7

Man arrested for genital mutilation

When I read this, I was gobsmacked. First let me quote the main bits and then I am going to rant.

In Haarlem a man has been arrested on suspicion of having genitally mutilated his five-year-old daughter. The man of Moroccan origin was taken into custody at the end of October after the girl's foster parents had made a report to the police. The case has only now been made public. Doctors have confirmed that the girl's genitals have been mutilated, but the father denies responsibility. He has been charged with grievous bodily harm. The case is expected to come to trial in May.
Between summer 2007 and spring 2008, 44 reports were made to child abuse hotlines about girls thought to have been genitally mutilated, or at risk of being so. Deputy Health Minister Jet Bussemaker is concerned that this may only be the tip of the iceberg.
Ms Bussemaker recently proposed measures aimed at protecting girls whose parents come from countries where genital mutilation is prevalent, such as Eritrea, Sudan and Ethiopia. Parents would be asked to sign a contract before visiting their country of origin, promising not to have their daughter genitally mutilated. If on their return the girl were found to have been mutilated, they could then face a prison sentence.

I have ranted about FGM frequently, see here. See this photo which I posted before? That’s what these uncivilised barbarians do to their children.

I have a 5 year old daughter so I guess it hit me harder than most. I see her, I see this shaving blade and simply cannot imagine what benighted and stupid religious and/or cultural justification can you give to actually tie your daughter down and snip off bit of her genitals? This is obviously not fun, but surely this does make you feel wanting to go totally medieval on the perpetrators of these crimes? How about castrating the father? Sounds like a fair trade to me, no? I know I shouldnt act like a barbarian myself, but hey, the animal doesnt live that far below the surface.

Plus given the fact that so many people think this is religiously mandated means that it is going to be very difficult to wipe out.

Nations turn to barter deals to secure food

A curious situation is emanating in the world of international intra-governmental trade. I quote:

Countries struggling to secure credit have resorted to barter and secretive government-to-government deals to buy food, with some contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars. In a striking example of how the global financial crisis and high food prices have strained the finances of poor and middle-income nations, countries including Russia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Morocco say they have signed or are discussing inter-government and barter deals to import commodities from rice to vegetable oil. The revival of these trade practices, used rarely in the last 20 years and usually by nations subject to international embargoes and the old communist bloc, is a result of the countries’ failure to secure trade financing as bank lending has dried up.

But before you think that this is too strange, it is not, this is quite common. Take a look at this deal. In return for up to 600k barrels of oil per day to the UK, the UK promised to provide a ton of aircraft and other defence benefits to the Saudi Arabian Government.

Here is another example. The Venezuelan government promised to give oil to London (to use in running its buses), in return for London providing free consultancy and advice on policing, tourism, transport, housing and waste disposal. But you have to remember this, when barter deals are not denominated in currencies, the chances of getting a corrupt hand in the till is massively increased because you simply cannot compare (or mark to market if you will) with international prices. In this particular case, the people who lost out were the people of Venezuela who were not able to get the money that they could have earned in return for some dubious advice on those aspects. In the interests of transparency, its best to sell the oil and buy services clearly and transparently. But then, politics trumped and a bad deal signed.

Same thing happened with the Al Yamamah deal, it is absolutely a stinker for corruption and something that I have complained bitterly about before. Deals like that have corrupted this country and have made us a laughing stock. Why barter? Just lay the costs out in public, its not like anybody else will complain, would they?

Another example of corrupt, trade distorting and silly deals were the oil for sugar deals signed between Russia and Cuba. Here is a great overview of this spectacular failure. I quote:

The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and the breakup of the Soviet Union in December 1991 became the precursors for the collapse of the Cuban economy, central to which were the Soviet oil-for- sugar swaps over the preceding three decades. At its
zenith, this barter arrangement provided the financial basis for Cuba to sustain the agricultural inputs necessary to produce sufficiently large annual harvests to permit significant sugar export levels and oil re-ex-port revenues. At its nadir, the systemic failure in the oil-for-sugar arrangement created shortages through- out the Cuban economy including fuel, fertilizers, herbicides, and spare parts for farming equipment
and sugar mills. Over the past decade, this is marked by the simultaneous downward spiral of Cuba's oil imports along with its sugar exports. Cuba's historic energy dependence and limited oil resources coupled with the sudden disruption of the oil-for-sugar barter arrangement severely impacted the Cuban economy
from which it has yet to fully recover.

Here is another example of an African Country, Uganda, starting to face issues with its barter deals. Here is a good overview of the Barter Trade and how it is changing. While private firms are better suited at doing barter trade, I am certainly not in favour of having barter trade done by Governments. Also, these barter trades crystallise the generally bad subsidy scheme. You pay tons of money to your farmers to grow stuff that nobody wants to buy, so you then do a barter trade with a country who does need that stuff, and you underprice your agricultural stuff. Which means that the international trade in that agricultural commodity is distorted as one market has its price driven down. See here for an example of what India is trying to do with Russia relating to its wheat crop. Here’s another example of the domestic sugar lobby moaning about its bad economics and trying to resolve it using another bad economic barter deal. See how much they demand subsidies and help and all that? All classic signs of people who cannot compete in the open market and thus want to suck on the taxpayer’s tit.

The costs relating to corruption, lack of transparency, lack of built in productivity agreements, and so on and so forth means that these agreements are generally bad in the long run. Going for bartering further lets the governments off from taking necessary decisions. For example, the fact that governments are not getting sufficient financing is neither here nor there, there are international funding agencies (government owned, such as IMF, or Import Export Banks etc.) who can provide funding, but because going to these agencies would mean exposing their bad economic policies, they tend to hide their faults by pitching barter as a way of doing trade. Bad, bad bad.

They have finally found WMD in Syria and Iran is to blame!!!!

See? see? the neo-cons were right, those Syrians and Iranians are up to no good and there is now incontrovertible evidence that they have actually used chemical weapons against soldiers of a NATO country. This is all because the Iranians were imperialistic powers waging war against the poor old defenceless NATO soldiers. Heinous crimes.

Here’s the story: I quote:

Archaeologists have found the oldest evidence of chemical warfare yet after studying the bodies of 20 Roman soldiers' found underground in Syria 70 years ago. Clues left at the scene revealed the Persians were lying in wait as the Romans dug a tunnel during a siege – then pumped in toxic gas – produced by sulphur crystals and bitumen – to kill all the Romans in minutes.

….

They had been part of a large Roman garrison defending the empire outpost city of Dura-Europos, on the Euphrates river in modern day Syria, against a ferocious siege by an army from the powerful new Sassanian Persian empire in around AD 256."

I think we need some demonstrations on the streets protesting against the use of chemical weapons against poor old innocent Romans who were simply undertaking resistance against the dastardly imperialistic Persians. What do you think?

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Quote of the Day:
An ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.
--Elbert Green Hubbard

Quote of the day:
Many would be cowards if they had courage enough. - Thomas Fuller

Friday, February 6

Lets go to school

image

I just found the juxtaposition of an African irregular militiaman from some forgotten war wearing a back bag which says, “Lets go to School”. The irony was stabbing my eyes, I tell you.

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Quote of the day:
I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant. - Robert McCloskey

Happiness is not a reward — it is a consequence. Suffering is not a punishment — it is a result.
--Robert Green Ingersoll

Statistically Significant Other?

This was just brilliant, if a bit of a nerdy mathematics/statistics joke from The Monkey Cage.

 

image

 

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Education minister's blog littered with spelling mistakes

Just what is with education ministers and pathetic educational performance? Check this out. I quote: 

The Labour MP's website was also found to contain typing errors and grammatical oversights.

The mispellings of Mr Knight, who was educated at Cambridge University, include "maintainence", "convicned", "curently", "similiar", "foce", "pernsioners", "reccess" and "archeaological".

Mr Knight, who is responsible for raising education standards, also clearly has problems with the "i before e, except after c" spelling rule taught to primary school pupils.

He spelled "achieving" and "received" incorrectly.

Mr Knight, 43, gives his opinions on local and national issues regularly on his website, which reveals he attended the fee-paying Eltham College, in Mottingham, south east London.

He went on to study geography, and social and political sciences at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, from 1984 to 1987.

Mr Knight, MP for Dorset South, said: "When I was at school the teachers told me to always check my work. While my spelling is generally pretty good, I need to focus more on checking."

Rob Wilson, the Conservative education spokesman, said: "He will be disappointed with his efforts in class but I'm sure he'll make every effort to improve now teacher has noticed he's falling behind."

Unbelievable. Before somebody says that I have too high standards, no. This is the education minister. Its like being an economics minister without any knowledge of economics (oh! sorry, Gordon Brown), or being the minister for aviation without having had taken one flight or been to an airport. And if this was a simple mistake, then sorry, that shows an alarming case of no attention to detail and inability to use spell check.

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US car sales fall below China's for first time

Now this is interesting. I quote:

Annualised US car sales slipped below 10m last month in spite of steep discounts offered by carmakers and government efforts to ease lending. GM said it estimated the overall annualised selling rate for cars at 9.8m in the US in January, compared with 10.3m in December, and less than China’s estimated selling rate of 10.7m last month.

”This is the first time in history that China has surpassed the US,” said Michael DiGiovanni, GM’s head of global sales and industry analysis. However, auto market analysts in China said the figures were not comparable because the Chinese figure included all vehicles produced in China - including heavy commercial vehicles and buses - while the US figure did not. Chinese passenger car production last year was 5.8m.

Still, a headline figure has significantly changed the balance of impressions at least. A small milestone on the path of shifting economic powers.

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Minister for Higher Education – definitely not a mastermind

This was terrifying. This chap has qualifications from here to kingdom come, he is a Member of Parliament in the UK, studied at SOAS and then Harvard Law School. He was in the Health Ministry, Constitutional Affairs and then Minister for Culture. Now he is responsible for higher education.

So what does this brainiac decide to do? He goes on celebrity mastermind. For those who do not know, its a rather high brow quiz show and you do need to show a modicum of intelligence other wise you show up as an utter twit.

He says he has the gift of the gab. Obviously, his gift of the gab comes with no knowledge of facts or knowledge, but since he is a politician, we do not expect him to do anything with his gab. Some of his answers:

  • Marie Antoinette discovered radiation.
  • Rose Revolution happened in Yugoslavia.
  • Leicester cheese accompanies port.  Leicester is BLUE???!!!!!
  • Confusing Godfather with Soprano’s.
  • Didn't know what the purple heart award was for.

    and the best one!!!!!

  • Henry VIII's son was Henry VII (in his defence, he does shake his head after realising that he made a clanger)
  • What a frightening situation. He didn't even get a story on football right!!!. Now one is definitely worried about the state of Higher Education in the country. Check out his website. It is so much “I, Me, Myself”, let me bang the drum for myself. God, Minister, pipe it down and for heaven’s sake, leave the gab alone.

    But the funny thing is, he is a Minister of Higher Education and Intellectual Property. I suspect somebody has stolen his intellectual property, no? For example, I wasted some valuable minutes hearing him talk about progressive young London and what can they do and and and. After watching it, I then tried to think, so what did I take away? I am afraid to say that I am an idiot. Couldn't think of anything concrete to take away…

    heavens!

     

     

  • Tuesday, February 3

    Why Do Vice-Chancellors Fail At Aligarh Muslim University?

    I wrote before about Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, one of my hero's. He founded Aligarh Muslim University. So when I read about why Vice Chancellors fail at AMU, I just felt sad. Really sad. Here we have perhaps one of the premium educational institutions dedicated to Muslim education. Over the decades of its existence, it has constantly turned out strong Muslim citizens, but in the past few years it seems to be stumbling a bit. I quote:

    If we look at the tenures of Vice Chancellors (VCs) at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in the last couple of decades we find that most of them, even though they were distinguished and competent managers, ran into substantial problems of indiscipline, students' strikes, violence, arson, forced shutdown of university, indifferent academic achievement, lack of pursuit of excellence and discontent in the community that AMU serves. That brings up the question as to why VCs fail at AMU.

    The author has identified so many issues and reasons for the troubles at AMU, specially for the VC. And one issue that I have with his recommendations is that they do not directly relate to the problems that he has identified. I have no way of judging whether or not those issues are true, but after having been in the Indian university system before, I can well say that many factors apply.

    My uncle has been the VC of two universities and both my parents were professors. My father then moved to the ministry of education and has been involved with several research institutes and quangos. Personally, besides the dubious pleasure of studying in the Indian education system, I was also a lecturer at a university. And yes, all those issues of politicising, violence, lack of teacher-student interaction can be seen, I agree and still see them. The stories that my uncle told me sometimes made me wonder at the venality of the Indian politicians.

    The main issue is the political pressure that all VCs are under. Despite the fact that the VC reports to the Chancellor (who is usually the Governor of the State), they are all under political pressure to either get their politically connected students done well with or try to get their hands on the grants or allow political activity or something else equally stupid. Second are the bunch of frankly  stupid professors who are nothing but time wasters. And yes, I should know, as I have been in the system. By and large, the vast majority of the professors in the Indian University System are useless, specially when you have had a chance to compare them with western university teachers and researchers. And no, I am not talking about the federal institutes of learning, I am talking about the bog standard, vast majority of universities, who pockmark every A, B and C cities in India. The politics in the university departments is absolutely horrendous and the professors go about linking with the politicians and that's another cross that the VC's have to bear. A case in point which my uncle mentioned, is when he said that 25% of his time was wasted on dealing with court cases that ex and current members of staff had brought against the University. Go figure.

    Added to that are the joys of dealing with various bodies such as AICTE, UGC etc. These, to a very large degree, are responsible for the foul and disgusting state of Indian education, because generally the people in them comprise of Babus whose last coherent and intelligent thought was way back in 1926. Most of these bodies are full of these  moribund Babus whose purpose in life is to accredit rotten institutions or stop any innovative measures from being taken. When I went to lecture at ISB, I spoke to a friend of mine who works there. He said that they have not taken Indian accreditation and are flourishing because of it. (Disclosure, I am going to hire from that school). According to him, the accreditation business is corrupt and is actually useless in getting anything done in terms of incorporation of a proper functioning modern business school with curriculum, training and teaching methods. So they just told the government agencies to buzz off, established ranks with international schools and they don't suffer at all because of that, (the Satyam issue is besides the point).

    The university funding model is an utter disaster. Given that all the funds are from governments, the tendency is to suck up to their paymasters. The amount of petty corruption in universities is absolutely stonking. You want to sell books to the library then you have to pay. The infrastructure funding element is massively corrupt - shoddy building work, rotten construction, you name it. Hiring is almost always corrupt, despite rules regulating it ( political connections also impact here). Examinations are reasonably ok, but try to trace the answer books. I have seen with my own eyes what happens. How do politicians know that my mother is marking the examination books of 2 university students and how can they call her up asking for better marks on a particular student's answer book? University examination departments are a bunch of crooks. How about the University Printing Shops? Here's a test you can do yourself. Go to the printing press and just look at the vehicles standing outside the press. Then compare those vehicles with other vehicles belonging to the employees in other departments.

    Actually, once one thinks about it, the fact that we have a functioning education system is amazing. If the bloody politicians have their way, the universities will turn into havens for criminals and dacoits, turning out students clutching worthless degrees. To a very large extent, this political interference has given rise to a huge private sector in education. My home town of Bhopal has suddenly become an educational hub.

    In one of my recent trips there, I was giving a lecture to a group of Business School professors and leaders. The numbers which I heard were gobsmacking. There were apparently 30 different business schools in that one city of Bhopal, having an enrolment of approximately 30,000 business students. Mind you, all these schools are affiliated to the University, bizarrely called as Barkhatullah University (not once in my entire life has anybody ever managed to tell me what that means). The idea that so many teachers and professors qualified to teach business are present in a small town such as Bhopal is amazing. Lord only knows what kind of business students are being turned out there.

    Anyway, why am I talking about Bhopal University? Well, because this is a university in a predominantly Muslim town and it frankly sucks in one of its objectives to improve the lives of its Muslim brethren. If a secular government owned university is so incompetent in this fashion, the fact that AMU is also facing issues as noted by the author is tragic.

    Education is the key to our youth - our future. Allowing these politicians and goons to run riot in the universities is not good. But given the nexus of religion and politics inside this model university, the chances are not so high for something good to happen. But here's hoping for the best and the little I can do is to hope that the author's wishes are translated into action, so that the next few Vice Chancellors of AMU are strong and are able to bring the AMU back into its shining path.

    Technorati Tags: Muslims,Universities,India,Education

    Land Density Graph

    Pretty interesting graphic, no? The boxes refer to the amount of square feet per person in the selected countries. Loads of empty countries there. Of course, you need to know what you are doing with those lands and whether those lands are capable of supporting people (cant see many places in Australia or USSR being very conducive to living comfortably)

     

     

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    Monday, February 2

    Lord Ahmed found guilty of texting while driving and killing

    Now this, via the Devil’s Kitchen, turns out that Lord Ahmed was also responsible for a similar accident. See here. I quote:

    Muslim peer Lord Ahmed has admitted sending and receiving text messages while driving on a motorway just before he was involved in a crash in which a man died.

    The 51-year-old appeared at Sheffield Magistrates' Court where he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving on the M1 near Rotherham, South Yorkshire, on Christmas Day last year.

    Slovakian Martyn Gombar, 28, who was living at the time in Leigh, Lancashire, died when Lord Ahmed's Jaguar was in collision with an Audi car, which had stopped in the fast lane of the motorway.

    The peer suffered injuries to his face and shock in the incident on December 25.

    Lord Ahmed admitted a charge of dangerous driving on the southbound carriageway of the M1, between junctions 40 and 35.

    The court heard how he sent and received a series of five text messages while driving in the dark at speeds of, and above, 60mph along a 17-mile stretch of the motorway.

    He was handed an interim driving ban until his sentencing on December 22.

    Speaking outside the court, Lord Ahmed's solicitor Steve Smith said his client was not to blame for Mr Gombar's death.

    "It clearly shows now that he was not responsible for the death of that unfortunate man," Mr Smith said.

    "Whilst it is not his responsibility, it is not his fault, he still bears the death of this man at the forefront of his mind."

    Hmmm, why am I being cynical about how the treatment will be different for Peers versus “non-peers”?

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    This shoe throwing business is catching on

    God, what on earth is going on? You know that a chap threw shoes at President Bush.

     

    And now it seems that somebody chucked a shoe (looked more like a trainer to me) at Chinese PM Wen Jiabao.

    Welcome to democracy :)

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    Woman texter who killed motorist jailed for 21 months

    So let me understand this, you consciously break the law, you blithering idiot, knowing fully well that you cannot concentrate and drive at the same time. She caused the death of another woman. She is a killer and a murderer. If nothing else, because of her stupidity. There is a reason why the law suggests that you dont play on the railway tracks or go inside an electricity sub-station. And this is what she says:

    Curtis, who denied the charge of causing death by dangerous driving, said she felt "awful" for causing the death of another young woman. "I can't really describe in words how bad I actually feel," she told the court. "I just feel awful that I was involved and I can't really imagine how the family must feel."

    How does that help the poor woman? You obviously couldn't understand the concept of not texting or speaking on the phone while driving, it is obvious that you will never be able to imagine how the family will feel, you apology for a human being. Disgusting.

    On Saturday, on the way back from a trip with the kids to the council garbage dump, I nearly had an accident with a woman who had 4 kids, none of whom were belted in, and she was TALKING on the phone. I bellowed imprecations at her but too late. Just WHAT is so important about taking that call or texting that it is worth somebody’s life? Some people….

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    ABN in talks with RBS on buying back arms

    When I read this today morning, my jaw hit the ground. The veritable cheek of those gits is amazing, after running a perfectly good bank to the ground, the market punished them severely. And now, they want to recreate and purchase some bits back? The Chutzpah of some people…and some people never learn. Read and Weep.

     

    ABN Amro, the nationalised Dutch bank, has held exploratory talks with Royal Bank of Scotland on buying back some of its former businesses as the Dutch government tries to recreate a viable third large Dutch bank.

    Wouter Bos, Dutch finance minister, told the Financial Times that there had been contact between RBS and ABN. But he said the idea was not to seek to recreate ABN Amro as it was before RBS led a consortium of banks in 2007 that bought it and broke it up.

    “It’s going to be a new bank,” he said. “In the Dutch market there is still room next to ING and Rabobank for another major player and I believe also in Europe there is still room for a Dutch bank that expands, that has a foreign network, that can serve Dutch clients, at least Europe-wide.”

    It is most likely that ABN Amro will seek to buy back international operations that it lacks in its current form, which is dominated by a domestic retail banking operation.

    RBS also owns ABN’s former corporate banking operations, which served large Dutch corporate clients and some small and medium businesses, but the business has already been integrated into RBS management and IT systems, making it less easy to separate


    Quote of the Day:
    If you can't beat your computer at chess, try kickboxing.
    --Anonymous

    Sunday, February 1

    How to cook Corn in a Cup

    My description of a recipe to a friend.

    madcapmagician: i cooked sweet corn for the kids
    madcapmagician: lol
    madcapmagician: for tea
    madcapmagician: they wanted me to do a corn in a cup
    madcapmagician: lol
    madcapmagician: well
    madcapmagician: its a very complicated recipe
    madcapmagician: you take out corn from the freezer
    madcapmagician: which is in a frozen pack
    madcapmagician: and then you swear while you struggle to take out the rubber band
    madcapmagician: and then end up cutting the damn thing off
    madcapmagician: then the entire lump of frozen corn drops on your toes
    madcapmagician: then you swear some more
    madcapmagician: and go hunting for the fast melting (we have underfloor heating in the kitchen)
    madcapmagician: blobs of corn
    madcapmagician: then you collect them
    madcapmagician: Diya helps in walking on many lumps
    madcapmagician: then you wash them
    madcapmagician: and then put them into a bowl
    madcapmagician: put them into the microwave for 5 minutes
    madcapmagician: till then you rummage through cupboards because you cant find anything
    madcapmagician: and then get all the condiments in a row
    madcapmagician: then go and read the economist and forget about the corn
    madcapmagician: till Diya comes and scolds you
    madcapmagician: you rush to the microwave
    madcapmagician: and find that it has cooled down
    madcapmagician: so you plonk another 2 minutes on it
    madcapmagician: and swear some more
    madcapmagician: then you find 4 small dishes
    madcapmagician: and then get told off by Diya for using picnic bowls
    madcapmagician: so put the picnic bowls back inside the cupboard
    madcapmagician: and then china bowls are brought out
    madcapmagician: then go pick up the corn bowl from the microwave
    madcapmagician: swear some more because its frigging hot and you forgot to use oven gloves
    madcapmagician: and then you hop around while waving your hands like a demented goat
    madcapmagician: then shove the hands under the kitchen tap
    madcapmagician: the tap obviously goes to the full so that water splashes all over the kitchen
    madcapmagician: swear some more
    madcapmagician: then dry off the sink, the bowls, the daughter, the hands, the condiments
    madcapmagician: find that the salt bowl now has 2 gallons of water in it
    madcapmagician: swear some more
    madcapmagician: go hunting for some dry salt
    madcapmagician: find it
    madcapmagician: repeat enterprise with rubber bands and plastic salt sacks
    madcapmagician: then load hot corn into the china cups
    madcapmagician: and then make magic with soya sauce, cheese, lime juice, a dash of chilli powder, a dash of garlic, coriander, butter, some garnishing of cheddar cheese, some piri piri powder, and then mix
    madcapmagician: ladle it out
    madcapmagician: and watch the kids eat with gusto.

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    Quote of the day:
    There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion. - Sir Francis Bacon
    Quote of the Day:
    Not all chemicals are bad. Without chemicals such as hydrogen and oxygen, for example, there would be no way to make water, a vital ingredient in beer.
    --Dave Barry

    The Taliban actually get a bum rap

    Very amusing. I quote:

    Their peaceful takeover of Swat has not been appreciated. They began small, as many of you might still recall, but there was no mistake that they were ahead of their times when they made driving compulsory on the right side of the roads instead of the left. Most people thought it was a loony thing to do in a country which is not exactly famous for its traffic sense–well, other than heroin traffic, where of course the whole belt is into serious enterprise. When the Taliban insisted that everyone drive on the right they were telling us that having driven on the left side for 60-plus years, all we had to show for it was Asif Ali Zardari. You can’t ask for a larger bum deal than that.


    Accepted that the overnight switch caught drivers unaware. There were pileups reported from Malakand to Kalam and beyond, but that’s hardly anything to lose your shirt over. Anyone who ever visited that valley must know that there is no such thing as a number plate on any vehicle. For some reason the law-abiding and God-fearing folks who ply vehicles up and down the valley have been waiting for years to be sanctioned a number plate so that they can pay their taxes like all good folks. Instead, they have had to make do with number plates like AFL 007 or APR 008 or X34Y (or such equally exotic letters) which no one quite knows the meaning of. As for allowing nature to take its rightful course and men to sport luxuriant beards–a move that has elicited a fair amount of criticism–what is wrong with that? We have all known that man is the only animal that has to suffer the mortification of shaving every day. There can be no worse start to the day. Banning razors and blades and other such useless and decadent tools is a step in the right direction–notice: not left, but right.

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    Quote of the Day:
    Act as if it were impossible to fail.
    --Dorothea Brande


    Quote of the day:
    There's no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes. - Doctor Who