Thursday, September 3

What a job: Grave Digger/Gardener with certificate in Excavation, Shoring and Pesticide Application.

Quite an interesting job. I quote:

Candidates must have experience in grave digging and hold a certificate in Excavation and Shoring and a certificate in Pesticide Application.

Seems like a whole load of qualifications required just to bury people, have a certificate in excavation and shoring means certificate in making a hole. And certificate in pesticide application? erm, swinging a watering can? Only in the public sector

these people are mad.

Bank Bosses: The law of unintended consequences

As Bloomberg reports,

Ten percent of candidates for senior management positions at Britain’s biggest financial companies withdrew their applications rather than learn whether they could pass an interview with the nation’s markets regulator.

Reynolds Porter said that some candidates drop out rather than challenge what may be an eventual FSA determination on whether someone is “fit and proper.” Appeals are public and the disclosure might damage a company’s reputation or the ability of the candidate to find another job.

“In the current environment no financial-services company would want to take the risk of being publicly accused of putting forward a supposedly sub-standard candidate,” said Jonathan Davies, a regulatory partner at Reynolds Porter. “There is a concern about just how much arm twisting the FSA is entering into to force companies into dropping their preferred job candidates.”

Now this is a pretty penny. I have further issues with this. If the FSA is actually interviewing candidates, then I am concerned about whether this is an examination driven bar? And why only for British Banks? And quite interestingly, the FSA is hiring a banker to interview other potential bankers for senior leadership positions. Look at the ranks of the FSA and you will find most if not all are also bankers. And what is the test?

The interviews test skills, behaviour, knowledge and expertise, including ethics.

I am really not sure about making all this public is a good idea. You can definitely injure a firm badly, not mentioning the personal injury to the candidate. We all know interviews are not good mechanisms for hiring people. And if I and rest of the world didn't see the damn crisis coming, how on earth will an interview tell you that I am good in managing crisis? weird or what?

Wednesday, September 2

Religion: the mug’s game

Religion very frequently makes chumps out of people. And there is nothing like people using religion to make financial chumps out of people. We saw that with Madoff, whose Jewish background was definitely connected to his fraud victims. See this recent example: I quote:

Henry Jones delivered the good news in a conference call with Tri Energy Inc.’s investors: The gold deal the company had been working on for years was about to pay off.

Jones, 55, a record producer in Marina del Rey, California, and his two partners had raised more than $50 million from 735 investors, which they said they were using to broker the sale to Arab buyers of 20,000 tons of gold owned by a group of Israelis. They promised to triple investors’ money -- if only Tri Energy could overcome some last-minute glitches.

All the company needed to close the deal, Jones said on the Dec. 20, 2004, conference call, taped by one of the participants, was a “safe-passage letter” that would cost $450,000. A few days later, on another call, he said Tri Energy had to come up with $100,000 to open a “commission account.” Then, on Jan. 15, 2005, a new request: The bank handling the deal wanted $125,000 to conduct an audit.

Like those caught up in other get-rich scams -- from Bernard Madoff’s $65 billion Ponzi scheme, which initially snared wealthy Jews, to an alleged $4.4 million fraud aimed at deaf people -- Tri Energy’s investors had something in common. Many were Mormons and born-again Christians who shared dreams and prayers on nightly conference calls. They vowed to use the profits for charitable works and kept raising funds, at times taking out second mortgages, draining retirement accounts and recruiting relatives.

While the delays and pleas for more money never stopped, the charade did.

Unbelievable, how people get caught up on this kind of fraud. Be warned, if something is too good to be true, it most probably IS too good to be true.

Tax the stupid

Actually, it makes total sense. If you are stupid enough to do something extremely stupid despite repeated warnings, then you are allowed to be stupid, the government WILL rescue you and will charge you for being stupid.

Governments charge taxes for all sorts of things such as earning money, buying property, flying in airplanes and getting gas. Now the French have come up with a new idea: a tax on being stupid.

This could be a huge windfall if applied generally. The French Foreign Ministry is proposing a very narrow law requiring citizens foolish enough to wander into international danger zones, regardless of public warnings, to pay at least part of the cost of their own rescue.

It’s an excellent concept. Teenagers who miss the last train home are told by their parents to pay the cab fare out of their own pocket money. So why shouldn’t thrill-seeking travellers pick up the tab for such obvious recklessness as sailing into the pirate-infested waters of the Gulf of Aden?

That kind of stupidity is what propelled the French into action. On three occasions since April 2008, French naval forces have had to save their citizens while sailing off the coast of Somalia. In a rescue operation earlier this year, one French hostage died as commandoes stormed his commandeered yacht. Three pirates were killed.

Diverting navy frigates and mounting raids like these cost a lot of money, at a time when France is trying to keep its deficit under control. No wonder Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner aims to spread the burden and share the responsibility.

resources are limited and specially military resources are even more rare and unique. To ask them to go rescue you out of being stupid…, i can see the sense in asking for rescue but why would rest of the taxpayers pay for your stupidity? A similar kind of thinking underlies the concept of asking alcoholic people to go on no alcohol diets before giving them valuable and rare organs. Similarly you hear about situation where medical care is refused to people who are obese. Interesting pragmatism, eh? Trust the French to come up with something like this. While saying that, I am thinking about Army teams which go about climbing Mount Everest. Now, they are public servants, should the Army fund these kinds of activities? Its not as simple as that, but if the individual does want to go do something risky and stupid which might entail the spend of public monies….

Organic Wines are fertilized excrementally

I was falling about laughing when I was reading this. I quote:

Helen Comoutos is a winemaker who knows about faeces.  “Sheep manure is the secret ingredient,” Comoutos says during a stroll through her 25 acres of aromatic vineyards on the Ionian Sea island of Zakynthos, the place where legend has it Zeus came for his wine.

“No chemical fertilizers, no industrial weed killers,” the octogenarian Greek vineyard owner adds, proudly prodding the roasting loam with her walking stick on a hot August afternoon. “We’ve mostly made our $15 Verdea Grande Reserve this way since 1638. And now the rest of the world is following us.”

Either way, all organic wines must be fertilized excrementally. In Burgundy, for instance, homemade compost mixtures based on cattle dung are handed down from father to son. One recipe, according to wine consultant and historian Clive Coates, calls for droppings to be stuffed inside a cow horn, buried in the earth on a special date and dug up on another before being diluted by 10 million parts of water and applied to the soil.

I am not that much of a wine drinker, the idea of drinking fermented grape juice somehow just doesnt fit into my world view, but the idea that one is drinking stuff made from grapes grown in manure… go figure.

Monday, August 31

Egypt: Female circumcision crackdown

Here’s another good step that is happening on FGM. Bastard doctor got what was coming to him. I quote:

Reports on Thursday said that the first doctor in Egypt was being charged under a new Egyptian law that forbids the controversial practice of female genital mutilation, or FGM. The man allegedly illegally circumcised a young girl last week and is being charged after a local hospital notified the authorities following the 11-year-old girl’s admittance into the hospital with heavy bleeding as a result of the procedure.

Sunday, August 30

The Forest Jihad

A very interesting paper indeed. I quote:

Recent Al Qaeda threats and related jihadi propaganda potentially herald a new weapon in the terrorist arsenal: the deliberate setting of forest fires and other conflagrations both to terrorize society and wreck untold economic damage. Beyond the immense, new burdens that would be placed on emergency response personnel, these fires could also create grave environmental crises causing severe pollution from gases escaping into the atmosphere. The strategy of “Forest Jihad,” now being championed by Al Qaeda strategists, is supported and justified theologically by radical Islamic scholars. With this new weapon, the terrorists believe, maximum physical and financial damage can be inflicted to targeted countries at comparatively little risk.

The paper was an eye opener for me. I didn't realise the sheer prevalence of using forest fires as a terrorist weapon. Over the 2 decades in Palestine/Israel, terrorism driven arson in the forest area was quite prevalent. Here’s the message posted as an example:


I quote

English translation of the statement:

“summer has begun so do not forget the Forest Jihad.”

“In the name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful.”

“We pray for God to aid us and heed our calls.”

“Summer has begun so do not forget the Forest Jihad.”

“I call on all Muslims in the United States, in Europe, in Russia,

and in Australia to start forest fires.”

“Praise God and praise God once more.”

“Peace and blessings upon his prophet.”

“The active intellectual scholar, the jihadist Abu Mus'ab Al-Suri, may God set him free, says: Jihad is an art just like poetry, music, and the fine arts. There are people that draw and there are others that are jihadists. They both act upon inspiration.”

“May God ease his calamity and set him free along with all of our imprisoned brothers. It is by the glory of God that his imprisonment has not prevented him from publishing his writings in the form of books and media. The idea of forest fires is attributed to him, may God set him free, as is in this short clip:”

“This call goes out to Muslims in Europe, in the United States, in Australia,

and in Russia to start forest fires.”

“Forest Fires.”

“The Jurisprudence of forest fires, as in 'an eye for an eye'; the amazing results;

and the operational instructions.”

“The Jurisprudence:

Is it permissible to burn trees?”

“Yes, under certain circumstance, such as when the prophet, PBUH

[peace be upon him], burned the Jews' palm trees in Al-Nadir.”

“Ibn Al-Qayyim narrated in [a book entitled] 'I'lam Al-Muwaqqa'in,' that: You should retaliate in the same manner as that in, which you were attacked. He goes on to say that: The punishment for a sin should be a similar sin. He also mentions that: If you should punish, punish as you were punished. This, in essence, justifies that. This suggests that the punishment should fit the crime, for instance in life, in matters of honor, and where assets are involved. Scholars have justified chopping down and burning the infidels' forests when they do the same to our lands.”

“God Almighty agreed to allow the companions to cut down the Jews' palm trees in order to dishonor them [Jews]. This was the Almighty's intention when He said: 'Whether ye cut down (O ye Muslim!) the tender palm-trees, or ye left them standing on their roots, it was by leave of Allah, and in order that He might cover with shame the rebellious transgressors. [Koranic Verse; Al-Hashr, 59:5].' This proves that God Almighty wishes to punish the unjust aggressor. The justification for burning their belongings is their aggression against Muslims and their deception. It is they who burn the Muslims' wealth.”

“This section was taken from a book by active and anonymous [as received] jihadi scholar Yusuf al-Ayiri28 may God accept him, entitled: 'The Truth about the New Crusade.' This is particularly evident in the Chapter regarding the times when it is permissible to kill those among the infidels who would be otherwise protected. The first case in this chapter addresses this topic. This is in the event the book entitled 'I'lam Al-Muwaqa'in' Shaykh Yusuf, may God have mercy on his soul, is unavailable.”

“Ibn Qudamah Al-Maqdasy writes in [his book entitled] 'Al-Muqni' [The Convincer], in the chapter on killing infidels and shelling them with manganese, as well cutting off their water supplies and destroying their fortresses: Concerning the issue of uprooting or burning their trees and plants, there are two views. The first is that it is permissible to do so as long as it does not harm Muslims. The second is that it is not permissible to do so unless it is justified to do so to them, for instance when they have done the same to us. An eye for an eye.”

“Shaykh Sulayman Bin Abdallah Bin Muhammad Bin Abd-al-Wahhab narrates in 'Al-Muqni' that trees and plants can be divided into three groups. The first group comprises [those trees and plants] which need to be cleared for a particular purpose, and can thus be uprooted or burned. This, however, solely on the basis of an undeniable need, as the narrator explains. The second is that group whose uprooting will cause Muslims harm. In this case, it is totally forbidden to uproot or to burn them. The third encompasses all other cases, which can be further divided into two subgroups. The first is a group that it is considered permissible to uproot or burn in the Hanbali [Muslim scholar] school of thought, where the scholars Malik, Shafi'i, and Ibn Al-Muthir followed the Hadith of the Prophet, PBUH, in the case of the burning of the palm trees in Bani Nadir, where God sent down the following: 'Whether ye cut down (O ye Muslim!) the tender palm-trees, or ye left them standing on their roots, it was by leave of Allah, and in order that He might cover with shame the rebellious transgressors.' [Koranic Verse; Al-Hashr, 59:5].”

“This has been taken from page 486 of the book entitled 'Al-Muqn'i Ma'a Hashiyatihi,' published by the Al-Salafiyyah [Salafist] Publishing House in Cairo.”