Saturday, March 7

What would Jesus do?

I was gaping while reading this story. It is just simply too bizarre but it still did happen. First, the fact that a bastard slime ball of a stepfather has been abusing this little girl since she was 6 years and then made her pregnant with twins by the time she was 9 years of age.

Then I find out that Brazil doesnt allow abortions. Well, that’s a very minor wtf. In this day and age, can you imagine a country not allowing abortions? But then, let that pass.

The next wtf was that the local archbishop then proceeded to say that the child cannot have an abortion. What on earth are you on about, you doddery old fool? The doctors say that the child will die if she is allowed to proceed with the pregnancy. And tragically, they come to know that she is pregnant when she complains about “a pain in her tummy”. And then this idiot says that they cannot abort the twins?

Final wtf is that this archbishop fellow decides to excommunicate the poor little girl. I seriously think that these religious leaders are simply soft in the head. Oiy, archbishop, what would Jesus do when faced with this situation? Dont you think he would have hugged her and promised to protect her?

What a loon. More publicity is needed so that this kind of medieval thinking on part of these stupid religions is exposed.

Disabled children wait up to two years for wheelchairs

You know I keep on moaning about the fact that the ways of meeting children’s needs here in this country are strange? We are doing something for our long term sick children’s education by providing them by computers but i suppose you can say that that’s sort of optional.

But how about children who are unable to walk and need a wheelchair? If we have a fully funded NHS, surely they should be getting a wheelchair immediately? Well, no, unfortunately no. Read this and weep. I quote:

The NHS was told today to stop relying on charities to fill funding gaps after figures revealed many trusts would not pay the full cost of electric wheelchairs for disabled children.

Why on earth is this situation allowed to happen? Why aren't they given a wheelchair immediately? This is mental child abuse. And then not only people have to pay their taxes, but also give charity? Talk about being inefficient.

Statistics from 54% of NHS trusts in England and Scotland revealed that disabled children in England are forced to wait five months on average for a wheelchair.

5 months. Can you imagine? If you aren't disabled, think about this, you are forced to wait for 5 months for shoes. You dont have shoes. You cannot just go and buy them but are waiting to get them. Not for 1 day, not 2 days nor wait till the weekend so that you can purchase it, but for 5 months, 20 weeks, 140 days. 140 days without any shoes. Can you imagine what that will do to your feet? Now think about the poor disabled child. 5 months without a wheelchair.

The worst performing primary care trust (PCT), East Lancashire, in the north-west of England, had an average wait of two years for an electric wheelchair.

5 months was average across the country, but this area had an average wait of TWO years. And if you think that manual wheelchairs are possible, remember we are talking about children who are unable to control their muscles, so they cannot literally move about without assistance. Electric wheelchairs allow them to do so. And this is average 2 years, means 50% of the children in that area would have spent much more than 2 years waiting for an electric wheelchair.

The survey showed 58% of children in England had to wait at least three months for an electric wheelchair and 14% waited more than six months.

It gets worse. We are indeed a 3rd world country if this is how we treat our children in need. And then apparently we have sunk tons of money into the NHS.

Overall, 50% of the PCTs that responded said they did not fund the full cost of a powered wheelchair for a disabled child. Westminster PCT made an average contribution of only £700 towards the cost of a child's powered wheelchair, it said. Almost all PCTs contacted by the charity said the cost of a wheelchair was around £2,000 but in fact the true cost of a basic electric wheelchair would be around £3,000.

Holy crap. And rest of the money comes from charity, eh? typical.

A separate patient survey of 237 children found one in three did not receive any funding at all for their wheelchair.

And 1/3rd of the children dont receive any help whatsoever. Wonderful, you silly twits in the government. Do something!, get off your fat backsides and give this money to the kids. Or else, we will take the money for your shoes and give it to the kids. I bet that then the money will be found very quickly, no? And then when you read something like this, you feel so sad. I quote:

Family doctors are failing to provide improved services for patients, despite being paid tens of millions of pounds to do so, a report claims.


Friday, March 6

Shoe thrown at Iranian President Ahmadinejad

This is turning into a weird political movement. This idea of throwing shoes at people that you dont like. When George Bush got targeted by shoes, Iran loved it, and several official shoe throwing campaigns were organised :).

But i suppose now the shoe is on the other foot, President Ahmadinejad got shoes thrown at him as well. I quote:

An Iranian website, Urumiye News, reported that a shoe was hurled at the president as his convoy drove through a central square. Security guards waded into the crowds but failed to find the culprit.

Apparently, this has happened before.

However, Ahmadinejad has been on the receiving end of flying footwear before. A shoe was thrown at him during a students' demonstration at Tehran's Amir Kabir university in December 2006.

He is in august company, Israeli ambassadors, Chinese premiers, US Presidents, Iranian President. What is common between them? They all got free shoes :)

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Thursday, March 5

Tall and shrinking Muslims, short and growing Europeans

I have written about the Arab Human Development Report before. It is indeed shocking to read about how the Arab lands are now. It does concern the rest of the world, because the Arabs and this region play a very big role in the religious wars and terrorism now roiling the globe. The Arab Development report points to various issues that the region has to grapple with. Obviously, Human Development is a comparative study, you compare the performance of the other countries to the Arab lands to check how far they are apart.

But what happened in the past? And I don't mean along the lines of Bernard Lewis’s What went wrong type of analysis. Where did the divergence happen? Well, I think we have a partial answer to that question. As is well known, the anthropometric (height/weight etc) dimensions of human beings is a good indicator of economic and human development. In other words, there is a good correlation and causality between good nutrition, good economic development, reasonably good height / weights.

So what was the difference? An article, Tall and shrinking Muslims, short and growing Europeans: The long-run welfare development of the Middle East, 1850–1980 by Mojgan Stegl & Joerg Baten of the University of Tubingen in Germany, published in the Explorations in Economic History came into my in-box recently.

They have done a sterling job in collecting anthropometric data from a staggering variety of sources and have combined it to provide some very interesting data. Without going into the intricacies of how they managed to do it, this is their first graphical result of the heights of the populations they studied.

And these results are statistically significant, the authors ran some standard statistical tests to make sure that the populations, samples etc. etc. are accurate. So how did the wages bit turn out around the inflexion point? They calculate real wages in Istanbul and industrializing countries in grams of silver per day (weighted by population size).


Curious result, no? It shows how the divergence in urban and rural areas emerge. The main improvement in the west happened in the cities, because if you strip out the cities, then the performance was about the same as urbanised Istanbul. Here’s another way of looking at the economic impact by comparing GDP per capita:

Not looking good, is it? If you go the whole hog by applying PPP and adjusting for population size, you get this picture:

So what were the other reasons given by the authors - besides the obvious economic development driving nutrition? Well, they point to the fact that in in many areas around the Middle East, people lived next to animal husbandry, and given that this was a concentrated protein rich diet, their heights and weights were quite good. However, as as the number of people living off animal husbandry in the Middle East started to drop, right at the same time, the supply chains in Europe improved with developed economies and better farming technologies. Diseases were further controlled and the graphs say it all. The Arab / Muslim (so as to incorporate the non Arab world of Turkey) world in the Middle East has steadily lost ground since then.

Now you can definitely incorporate the elements of colonialism, history, imperialism and the like, but that will make it a bit more difficult to ascribe differences in nutrition to imperialism, no? Does this mean that till about 1900/1910, Arab/Muslim imperialism and colonialism was still existent and then it was overtaken by European imperialism so the story flipped? I wonder what the situation will be in another 100 years of time?

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Wednesday, March 4

Protestors protest the British Day of Science on grounds that UK did war crimes

Two Museums in France decide to rent out space to an exhibition called as "British Day of Science". It is supposed to showcase the achievements of seven British universities. Each and every one of these Universities are funded in some shape or form by the the British Department of Defence. Several of these universities actually hired former members of the British Defence Forces as staff members. I quote:

British Day of Science is aimed particularly at sixth-form students, who can be expected to come in parties from schools across the country. What reaction can be expected from the many young people, already disaffected from science, who will associate the science museums with this British public relations exercise? The event is being billed as a celebration of science. In fact it is an attempted celebration of the United Kingdom.

In the immediate aftermath of the indiscriminate slaughter and attempted annihilation of all the infrastructure of organised society in Basra in Iraq, how can this "celebration" be allowed to borrow some respectability from the use of these distinguished institutions? The museums should cancel these unseemly events.

We are the great and good who are complaining against this.

(A selection is given below, see the link for more of these worthies)

Mairead Maguire Nobel Peace Laureate Dr Ian Gibson MP Mermber of Parliament Prof R.S.MacKay FRS Director of Mathematical Interdisciplinary Research, Mathematics Institute, University of Warwick Dr Jenny Tonge House of Lords Prof Steven Rose Life Sciences, Open University John Rose College lecturer/ Middle East author Prof Jonathan Rosenhead Operational Research, London School of Economics Dr Monica Wusteman Research Scientist (retired) Prof Jules Townshend Politics and Philosophy, Manchester Metropolitan University Mike Cushman Management, London School of Economics Dr. Sue Blackwell Linguistics, University of Birmingham Professor Mohamed El - Gomati Department of Electronics University of York Prof. Yosefa Loshitzky Film and Media Studies, University of East London Prof. Daphne Hampson Theology, University of St Andrews Prof Peter Hallward Modern European Philosophy, Middlesex University Prof Janet Watson Arabic Linguistics, University of Salford Prof Patrick Williams Nottingham Trent University Prof Hilary Rose Emeritus Professor of Social Policy, University of Bradford Prof David Seddon University of East Anglia Prof. Adah Kay City University, London Prof David Wield Open University Prof Mona Baker Translation Studies, University of Manchester Prof Myriam Salama-Carr University of Salford Prof Gabriel Alexander Khoury Imperial College London and Padua University Italy Prof. David Mond Mathematics Institute, Warwick University Prof David E Pegg Biology Department University of York Professor Tariq Modood, MBE, AcSS Professor of Sociology, Politics and Public Policy, Director, University of Bristol Prof Frank Land Information Systems and Innovations, LSE Prof Ailsa Land Operational Research, London School of Economics Prof Hans Haenlein, RIBA, MBE Architecture, University of Reading Prof Wolfgang Deckers University of Richmond Prof Malcolm Povey Food Physics, University of Leeds Prof Sol Picciotto Law, Lancaster University Prof James Dickens Arabic, School of Languages, University of Salford Prof David Elworthy Mathematics, University of Warwick Prof Roger Iredale International education, University of Manchester Prof Jim Al-Khalili Professor of Physics, and of Public Engagement in Science, University of Surrey Prof Colin Green Northwick Park Institute for Medical Research Prof Haim Bresheeth Cultural Studies, University of East London Prof Uri Davis Al Quds University, Jerusalem Prof Martha Mundy Anthropology, London School of Economics Prof Paulette Pierson Mathy hon. Prof. ULB, Brussels Prof Randa Farah Anthropology, University of Western Ontario Prof. Anthony C. Alessandrini Kingsborough Community Coll-City University of New York Dr Derek Wall Visiting tutor, Goldsmiths College ……


Replace the italicised UK at the top with Israel and you will understand why each and every one of these people have immediately identified themselves as eligible to go back to their schools now and request for a refund of their educational fees on grounds of idiocy. Here is a list of science based exhibitions and events that an arm of British Government, the British Council organised. Presumably this list of people will do the same, because the UK has been accused of War Crimes in Basra? See here, here, here. Interestingly enough, the 'Stop the War Coalition' has signed this petition. The 'Stop the War Coalition' works with the Campaign for for Nuclear Disarmament which has accused the UK government of war crimes. Confusing or what?

Reminds me of what Anatole France said: "If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing." As an Alumni and visiting professor of the University of Manchester, I would say, do it and be damned to these purveyors of foolish behaviour. I am thinking about Bill Buckley’s famous comments that he would rather be governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston phone book than the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University. I am so surprised that so many professors and educators would be so inclined to think of science in this way that it is related to nationalities, political ideologies or what have you. Truly the inconsistencies of people who demand boycotts is incomprehensible. It is silly! Just imagine these worthies protesting against the UK and how they will be treated? Just about the same way that they will be treated if they say that science and knowledge is country national specific. Grow up, you guys.

American Freedom

Either one can see this as globalisation or can see where USA and China are going…


Ironic, what?

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To the Public Sector Workers, fear is coming!

Ireland is facing severe economic dislocation. This isn't the place to talk about what happened, the link tells you more about what’s happening in Ireland, I quote:

  • Ireland became the first eurozone economy technically in recession in September after two quarters of negative growth.
  • That month, with concerns mounting about the health of the country’s banks, the government ignored the complaints of other EU member states and guaranteed the entire €440bn liabilities of its six domestic financial institutions.
  • In late December, Mr Lenihan returned to the banking crisis, announcing a €5.5bn recapitalisation, including – controversially – €1.5bn for Anglo Irish Bank
  • International investors have also given Ireland poor marks. Today only Greece in the 16-member eurozone is considered a worse credit risk and pays more to borrow in international debt markets. Last week, Standard & Poor’s downgraded Ireland’s debt outlook from stable to negative and warned it might cut its sovereign debt rating.
  • The general government deficit is now forecast to be 9.5 per cent of gross domestic product in 2009 – and that assumes €2bn in savings from planned reforms. Without these savings, the government calculates the deficit will hit 10.5 per cent this year and remain in the 11 to 12 per cent range through to 2013.
  • The increased government borrowing needed to finance such deficits could see Ireland’s debt-to-GDP ratio jump from 24.7 per cent in 2007 to more than 80 per cent. Such an increase in public debt would not just entail much higher debt service costs but could damage investor perceptions of Ireland.

But more importantly, what Ireland is doing to the public sector is what is quite interesting. Now that’s something that the public sector workers in places like the UK and other places in Europe are shuddering to read. Let me quote from this site:

  • Mr Cowen forced in a new pension levy for 350,000 public sector workers and froze their pay. The average public sector worker, on €45,000 a year, will now pay €62.50 a week into their pension fund.
  • Ministers took away the early childcare allowance from the parents of some 30,000 children. Payment of the allowance for the remaining 350,000 children will now be cut off once the child turns five, and the amount handed out will be cut from €1,100 to €1,000 a year.
  • Adjustments to the National Development Plan
  • A cut in the overseas aid budget.
  • Mr Cowen is also deferring pay rises due under the national pay deal.

Can you imagine? actually trying to reduce or free public sector pay? Scary stuff.., but I suppose we have to do the same thing over this side of the Irish Sea. This is what they are trying to do in Scotland:

But the leader of the Scottish National party told journalists that efficiency savings of the order demanded by Westminster in 2010/11 and again the following year would lead to 8,700 job cuts across the public and private sector.

Quite interesting days ahead…

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Monday, March 2

Fake Charities and Real Charities

We are working on the technology for long term sick and disabled children charity on a shoe-string. There is a bunch of about 50 odd people, part and full time, who are working on a shoe string salary and mostly free. We have to force our CEO to take a miniscule salary. But we manage to keep on going and have managed to get more than 5000 pieces of technology to individual children over the past so many years.

What does that mean? It means that we are actually improving disused pieces of equipment, saving companies money which would have gone to recycling the equipment. This improvement is done by long term unemployed kids who have been in trouble with the law or long term unemployed or what have you and they get training on PC repair and maintenance. The equipment goes to the hospital schools, or special needs teachers or kids who are at home on long term illness cover. We are struggling every year to get pc’s and laptops. Laptops specially are important as the kids cannot use big pc’s when they are bed-ridden.

While government departments offer us with equipment which we actually take away, refurbish and recycle on our costs (we actually save taxpayer money), we do not get any assistance from the government in terms of equipment or funding. And in these days/times of recession, it has further dried up. So it was a a joy to love and behold when I read that there are fake charities out there which are hitting the existing charities hard.

What do they do? take a look at these charities and their background:

And then there are many more. What really gets me going are two things. (1) why on earth are taxpayers monies being paid to these charities? (2) what’s the point of the government giving charities money to lobby the government? Can somebody explain this?

Well, seems like this blogsite tried to explain this. Just read the article, you will find the amount of hypocrisy and stonewalling gobsmacking. One wonders what these people are doing? How can they do it? By taking monies away from legitimate charities and misallocating public monies, the government is actually stealing twice.

I agree, any charity which accepts government funding is fake. Period. The situation is much more horrible, take a look at this proposal. The proposal is good, but Barnardo’s (78% state funded); NCH (88%); and Leonard Cheshire (88%) are pokes in your eyes. One weeps, on seriously weeps at the tremendous waste of resources done by this government and the fake charities, the scabby leeches on the body of the state.

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The 25 Riskiest Outsourcing Hubs in the World

Now this was interesting:

After a year that saw terrorist attacks in Mumbai, kidnapping for profit in Mexico, and the unexpected meltdown of Satyam, one of India's biggest IT services firms, corporate America's cries for the CIO to get things done "better, faster, cheaper" offshore may begin to be drowned out by the more moderate mantra of today's outsourcing customer: "safer, more stable, more secure."

  1. Bogota, Colombia
  2. Bangkok, Thailand
  3. Johannesburg, South Africa
  4. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  5. Kingston, Jamaica
  6. Delhi/Noida/Gurgaon, India
  7. Manila/Cebu/Makita, Philippines
  8. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  9. Mumbai, India
  10. Jerusalem, Israel
  11. Curitiba, Brazil
  12. Dalian, China
  13. Juarez, Mexico
  14. Brasilia, Brazil
  15. Chandigarh, India
  16. Colombo, Sri Lanka
  17. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  18. Quezon City, Philippines
  19. Accra, Ghana
  20. Pune, India
  21. Chennai, India
  22. Hanoi, Vietnam
  23. Bangalore, India
  24. Hyderabad, India
  25. Kolkata, India

I do not have access to the book so I cannot really comment on the methodology involved, but I would be very hesitant to take this at face value, as with everything, ranking of such cities is very judgemental and not to be relied upon to actually base your long term service delivery decisions upon.

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Sunday, March 1

Ramakrishna: A lover of God

Ramakrishna Mission has been an integral part of my growing up. My grand parents, uncles and aunts, my parents, my wider family all have been associated with this mission. And singing in front of Ma Kali and slipping into a near trance was quite common back then. While I was growing up, two things happened which are pertinent. The first related to the regular visits to the Mission in Bhopal. At that time, it was in the middle of a vast stony rocky field. A temple of calmness in the midst of a very stark landscape. And you would get a sense of peace as soon as you entered the temple grounds. The teachers over there were wonderful, they wore simple clothes and their laughter was so wonderful. A childlike wonder at the world all the time and infinite patience to deal with zillions of questions. I regret to say that I do not remember their names. Singing the bhajans and the trance like state one would enter while singing to Ma Kali, just wonderful. Even now, it brings a strange sort of peace to myself and tears to the eyes.

The second related aspect was my visit to Vivekananda Rock. If somebody asks me if I have met God, I say in the affirmative and that is one of the places I met him face to face. Strange no? So when I read this paper: Kali's child and Krishna's lover: An anatomy of Ramakrishna's Caritas Divina by Narasingha P Sil of Western Oregon University, published in Journal of Religion, 2008, I felt the tug of memories so badly. I quote the abstract:

The famous 19th-century Bengali saint Shri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa has almost universally been regarded as a Shakta (sometimes confused with Tantrika) devotee of the Mother Goddess Kali. His association with the Kali temple at Daksineshvar, in the northern suburb of Calcutta, has no doubt been a powerful argument behind his Shakta/Tantrika affiliation. This paper argues that Ramakrishna was essentially a bhakta (devotee) in the Vaisnava tradition and his cultural and family inheritance. His idea of the divine and his career and logia as a priest and a saint provide ample justification to consider him essentially a Vaisnava whose spiritual battle-cry was to demand to have dalliance with God.

The paper tries to decompose his feelings and his religious leanings by a variety of references, ranging from references to tantrik aspects to Vedanta to you name it. After reading the rather bewildering variety of references and attempts to decompose his faith, I was lost. But in the middle, the author hits on the precise nature of this wonderful man and I quote:

Nevertheless, it is important to bear in mind that Bengali folk culture essentializes simple fiducia and that Ramakrishna, an untrained and unread temple priest (although initiated into Shakti or Kali mantra by a professional priest named Kenaram Bhattacharya) cannot be pigeonholed neatly in any one sect formally. In other words, he was basically a lover of god

That is it. You really do not need a full fledged scholarly paper to know what he was, he was a lover of God. He investigated Islam and Christianity, delved into Buddhism and found that at end of the day, all paths lead to the same God. Sometimes, I think we make our relationship with God far too complicated. It is not, it is very simple. She loves us and we just need to love her back. Be like a Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, just love her. It is very difficult to explain this feeling of wanting to be one with God or personally speaking, one with Ma (whether it be Kali or Shakti or Durga, or what have you, they are all the same) but it is an indescribable feeling and I tear up every time I experience it. But still, the article is good, if nothing else for the good discussion on tantric scriptures and practises, Vedanta and Ramakrishna’s life. Oh!, the references are good as well.

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How an honour can be removed

now this is something that we were debating yesterday over lunch. Obviously aiming at the debate around Sir Fred’s pension fund. Personally speaking, i dont agree in taking away his pension fund simply on the say so of those idiots in the government. So the next day you dont like somebody, you take his pension out? If that works, should we take your pensions away, you ignorant incompetent bunch of ministers and MP’s? Sir Fred made ONE mistake, you have made a series of mistakes, he mucked up ONE bank, you mucked up the entire country. Anyway, so how do you get out of the honour business? Thankfully, here’s a quick guide to removal of British Honours. said this:

Politicians including the Prime Minister have little influence over the process.

Because honours like Sir Fred Goodwin's knighthood are granted by the Queen, only the Sovereign can remove them.

In practical terms, the real power rests with a small group of senior civil servants who make up the Forfeiture Committee

The committee is composed of the Cabinet Secretary, the Treasury Solicitor, the Permanent Secretary to the Home Office and Permanent Secretary to the Scottish Executive.

Any recommendation for forfeiture from the committee is passed to the Prime Minister who then submits a request to the Queen.

According to the Cabinet Office, if it came to light that an honours recipient had been convicted and jailed for a serious offence, the forfeiture of the honour would be "almost inevitable."

But where there is no clear case of criminality, the outcome is far from certain and the removal can be lengthy.

A prime example is Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president. He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1994. Years of political violence and repression in Zimbabwe sparked repeated calls for the honour to be annulled, but it was only in June 2008 that the honour was finally revoked.

I wonder what happened to Lord Archer? Or did not happen, rather. I mean, how come his or Lord Ahmed’s honours were not removed? Can you still remain a member of the House of Lords after being convicted of a crime?


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