Saturday, June 12

Greek Synod Condemns Mass in Modern Greek

What is with this? I quote:

The Greek-Orthodox Synod has condemned the Mass in modern language officiated in the diocese of Nicopolis, claiming that it puts "the Church's unity" at risk. Bishop Meletio of Nicopolis, in the northern region of Epirus, authorised, a long time ago, the translation of the Mass from liturgical Greek (close to the ancient Greek language and once spoken by the upper classes) into modern or "popular" Greek. He justified his decision saying, "otherwise the faithful don't understand the holy liturgy". But the Synod, the press reports, has ruled that translating the holy texts is forbidden; it is only allowed "as an exception and after the authorisation" of the Church. In the absence of a joint version, according to the orthodox leaders, a spontaneous and causal translation of the liturgy "could jeopardise the Church's unity". The Synod has taken its decision despite the fact that Meletio seems to enjoy the support of his believers and has obtained the official support of other bishops.

Looking down the ages, you find that you end up with this situation all the time. The priests always get upset when their role in being the sole channel to God is usurped by people who convert arcane religious mumblings into things that ordinary people understand. Some examples:

1. Tulsidas rendered the Ramayana into colloquial Avadhi rather than Sanskrit. This made this story very popular, but the Brahmins were quite upset about this. By the way, take a look at this online book, a pretty nice overview of the various (300 odd) versions of the Ramayana.

2. There are constant battles over the translation of the Quran. Here’s another link on how a translation into Dari got some of the fundo’s all excited.

3. The Bible translations were also contentious. Here’s an example. When the translations started to happen in the middle ages, like the Greek Synod of now, the then Pope, Innocent III, and Pope Gregory IX got upset and forbade them in the 12th and 13th Century respectively.

This just shows the fragility of these religious minds who think that the power of the word of God is somehow diminished because a different language is used. Tiny narrow minds!

Incidentally, I came across this great online book on Introducing Translation Studies. It offers a good academic coverage of this fascinating field. As for the Greeks, bah!

Friday, June 11

Saudi Arabia in trouble over housemaids

Yes, indeed, i can well see the solution to more and more expensive housemaids being Saudi men and women doing the work that the housemaids did. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!. I quote:

The upward spiral of housemaid costs will never stop. These costs will continue to increase as long as our society is totally dependent on foreign maids who have been allowed to become an integral part of our households.

They occupied homes, gained the sympathy of children and learned everything about our homes. For these reasons it is difficult, if not impossible, to get rid of the housemaid.

It is not an exaggeration to say that almost every home in the Kingdom, regardless of its financial situation, has a maid from Indonesia.

Local newspapers recently reported that the cost of recruiting maids from Indonesia has gone up by SR500 to SR10,000.

The charges imposed by recruitment offices have also increased to SR1,000 within two months. The offices have attributed this increase to the pressure exerted by the local recruitment offices in Indonesia, who also hiked their charges.

The time it takes to process paperwork for housemaids has likewise gone up from three to five months.

With the holy month of Ramadan near, the demand for housemaids is expected to surge and with it the costs of bringing them to the Kingdom.

The rise in demand for housemaids has also fueled a black market in cheap labor.

There are now millions of housemaids in our country, including 800,000 in Riyadh alone.

A number of maids tend to escape from their sponsors only a few days after their arrival, looking for more money.

In such cases, the sponsor will lose the money he spent on bringing her into the country and will also have to spend more time and cash recruiting a replacement.

The housemaids have also caused a number of negative habits to form within Saudi families. The children have become spoiled and housewives have neglected their primary duties because they  depend on maids to do everything in the house.

Aware of their growing importance, the housemaids have raised their salary demands and are imposing their own conditions, which the employing family is obliged to fulfill.

Our society is now torn between foreign manpower in the streets and housemaids in homes.

We are beginning to read about various crimes of theft and vengeance in addition to murder, child abuse, sorcery and others. Despite all this, the demand for housemaids is increasing.

I think it is time we curb the trend of recruiting maids and teach our society how to depend on itself.

Thursday, June 10

Woman Muslim MP in the UK. Welcome to Neanderthal times

Rushanara Ali is a new MP in the new British Parliament. Check out the reaction to her election. Welcome to the 7th century. Here’s another post on this.

Monday, June 7

Show me the money and who owns it

Over the past couple of years, there has been a steadily rising crescendo of voices, initiatives, conferences and papers, all concentrating on enhancing and improving the regulatory framework around the banks so as to avoid another banking crisis. By and large, all of the initiatives and suggestions concentrate on the risk element of the bank’s portfolios. Whether they related to the portfolio being too big (too big to fail), having badly designed instruments (toxic debt and credit instruments), bad remuneration policies (the hoo haa over bonuses), separation of prop trading from deposit making (the Volker plan aka Glass Steagal v 2.0), to globally coordinated regulation to improved liquidity standards and the like. What has not been considered, at least the little bits that I have read, is the factor of bank corporate governance. Thankfully, a recent paper sheds some light on this issue.

The authors find that bank risk taking varies positively with the comparative power of shareholders within the corporate governance structure of each bank. Their sample has 279 publicly listed banks across 48 countries, so it’s pretty much a global study of the top banking firms in the world. In other words, you can pretty much take these outcomes to the bank (if you excuse the rather laboured pun) and generalise the results. The bank corporate governance is defined as relating to control rights and cash flow rights usually expressed in terms of one large shareholder having more than 10% of voting rights. If there is no single shareholder with more than 10% of voting rights, then it’s considered to be widely held. So what they find is that banks with a single large shareholder have a statistically significant greater bank risk and this is, surprisingly so, holding for all the 48 countries in the sample. No outliers at all. Policy implications are simple, regulators should also aim to get banks to diversify their shareholding, so that there is no single shareholder who manages to have banks hold greater risk than usual.

But then, there is a different angle to this. If the regulations are too onerous, then the utility value of holding a bank reduces because of increased capital requirements, and therefore existing owners can be tempted to increase risk to show greater returns. And the authors find that this behaviour is exacerbated when there is a single large shareholder in the bank. In other words, just increasing the requirement to hold more capital may not make the banking sector less risky if there are banks with large single shareholders. By how much you ask? The regression figures show that for widely held banks, for every 1 standard deviation increase in capital stringency, bank risk falls by 0.3 standard deviations, but increases by 0.1 standard deviations if the bank has a single large shareholder.

More worryingly, the authors find that capital requirements no longer have a robust direct link with banking stability and posit that this is due to the lack of attention paid to bank governance elements. Putting it in another way, it is crucial for regulators to factor in the bank governance elements in their analysis of the efficacy of proposed bank regulations. If they do not, then their attempts to reduce bank risk will be compromised at best and be ineffectual or even negative at worst.

Quite an interesting paper.

(Laeven Luc and Levine Ross, 2009, Bank Governance, regulation and risk taking, Journal of Financial Economics, 93, pp 259-275.

Sunday, June 6

Good news on the logophilia and biblophilia in Arab Lands

See here.

There was a special stand for the foundation of Dubai’s Sheik Makhtoum, who has launched a project to subsidize the translation and publications of 1,000 books a year into Arabic.
The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage has launched a parallel project, called Kalima, to subsidize the translation and publication of Arab works into other languages.

All this to be taken with a grain of piquant salt!!!

One Islam or many?

Well, i was chatting to somebody when this point came up from this blog:

”I think the kind of Islam that wants to force women to wear a veil or headscarf won’t be around in 20 years,”

So my correspondent said,

there is only ONE Islam but gazillion interpretations

My response was:

there are many islams
it is impossible for one islam to be
one cannot define it or describe it
hence it cannot be
islam is interpretations
gabriel interpreted the word of god
mo did so
then every muslim since then has done so
and that's the beauty of it
it is ever changing and fits in the beauty of god
the day somebody says "this is the islam", then immediately he thinks of himself as Allah
because only Allah can say what is true islam
we are all interpreters
so what she is saying is right

This was chat, so grammar, punctuation and sentence construction are bit lacking..

Also, if you look at Islamic history, this kind of drive to “One Islam” generally always means, I DEFINE WHAT TRUE ISLAM IS, AND IF YOU DONT LIKE IT, YOU ARE A HERETIC, AND I WILL LOP OFF YOUR HEAD AT WORST AND BELLOW IN YOUR EAR FOR THE NEXT 20 YEARS AT BEST. I exaggerate a bit, but hope you get the point.

I think they should all convert back to the great religion of Pastafarianism. There is only ONE way of making noodles.

btw, in case you are wondering, my correspondent said I was a donkey and i know nothing and stormed off.

Difference between Jobs and Dividends

from here. While the survey was too small, it is the difference between Japan, Germany/France and the UK/USA which is so shocking. Now imagine you are in a business which is operating in these countries. Try to manage this kind of expectation framework. And how will the financial markets react to such a framework? Fun time!

Update on World Environment Day & fundraising for IT4CH

Well, it was World Environment Day on Friday and there were a ton of activities that the bank was involved in. Check out the list of organisations involved with the firm on the back of the T shirt which I had to wear. In the interests of saving resources, I had to wear a T shirt which was at least 4 sizes too small. Somebody described it as “clingy” and he was being kind.


Very conveniently, the graphic points to where I need to reduce as well.



Now that we have finished taking the p out of me, let me get to the meat of the matter. We managed to raise more than £500 pounds in contributions just from contributions from people. The idea was that if you dressed down, you get to pay £1, if you were still dressed in a suit, then you get to pay £2. Which was quite nice and interesting. People contributed much more frequently and we were quite chuffed. Other sites like Sheffield and Birmingham are also going to contribute via the virgin giving website so at the moment, we dont know the full amount.

Sometime in the next couple of months, we will get the CEO of the Charity and perhaps a hospital teacher to come into the firm, accept the actual donation from one of the senior managers who is the sponsor of this programme and perhaps even get the climate champions to visit one of the hospitals to see where the firm’s equipment is being utilised. The idea that our old PC’s are being recycled by people who are getting trained on PC repair and then given to kids was very well received. Quite a lot of ideas popped out from the climate champions who want to help the firm out even more. So excellent :)Very chuffed about this all. Good engagement with all.