Saturday, October 1

Philip wasnt Greek, says Demosthenes

As you might heard, there is a big fight between Macedonia and Greece. Greece thinks that the Macedonians are gobbing on their proud history of Alexander and company. Macedonia says that Alexander was born in Macedonia so he is theirs. Here is one view. Its an amusing and totally ridiculous argument, but I came across this quote:

Demosthenes, (died in 322 BC) describes Philip (Alexander's father) as one "who is not only not a Greek and has nothing to do with Greeks, but is not even a barbarian from a place it would be honorable to name -- a cursed Macedonian, who comes from where it used to be impossible even to buy a decent slave" (Third Philippic 9.30f).

Pausanias, a second-century CE Greek, says "reverse that befell all the Greeks at Chaeronea" (Description of Greece, 9.6.5). Which clearly distinguishes Greeks from Macedonians.

Perhaps we need Demosthenes to walk around some more with a lantern. What a funny story. And then, in the meantime, the Macedonians tweaked Greece’s nose by installing this giant statue.

They are calling it as a Warrior Statue, lol. Naughty naughty. I quote:

"This is our way of saying [up yours] to them," Antonio Milososki, the state's former foreign minister, told the Guardian in an interview in October 2010.

Poor Greeks, they just cant catch a break, eh? Perhaps the Turks should take them over again Smile with tongue out


Welsh Education–some thoughts

As you know, I am closely associated with Swansea University Business School for many years now, am on their advisory board and am a visiting professor there. As a matter of fact I will be going over there again in November to deliver a lecture to the post graduate MBA students. Most probably I will talk about what do you do in your first 100 days of a job. But I digress.

Let me get the initial thoughts out of the way. I think Welsh education is in serious crisis. What it does, what its designed to do and what it feeds back to society, I am not sure that it is working well. Wales to me seem to reduced to some advertisements on BA flights, far too many photographs of puking mewling unconscious drunk young people on the streets of Swansea and Cardiff, heavy unemployment, and generally bad figures all around. But do not take my word for it, see what the Welsh Education Minister Leighton Andrews has to say on this matter. I quote:

"I will be blunt and I will be candid. In the first six months I have been in this post, I have begun to wonder whether the Higher Education sector in Wales actually wants the Assembly Government to have a higher education strategy, or whether it even believes that there is such a thing as a Welsh higher education sector ..."

"Indeed, I am not clear - eleven years after the National Assembly was created, and thirteen years after our historic referendum vote - that the higher education sector in Wales welcomes devolution or democratic accountability at all. Since our education agenda in Wales is based on the principle of democratisation, that is problematic."

"We have had more higher education institutions per head in Wales than any other part of the UK but have failed to break free from the bottom end of the UK growth and prosperity table. Our HE institutions are small compared with those just over the border. For all the achievements of higher education institutions, they have had only a very limited transformative impact on our economy, and on our global presence and reputation · We are not having a high enough impact in terms of the quality and quantity of our research · For too many in Wales, higher education remains a distant, and irrelevant activity, clouded in mystery.

"If we are to make the changes needed; we also have to be willing to question what may not be needed. We do not want governing bodies that act simply as a bunch of cheer-leaders for university management.

"I was interested to learn recently that some members of university governing bodies have been appointed on the basis of a phone call. Who you know not what you know. It appears that HE governance in post devolution Wales has become the last resting place of the crachach".

For me, a university governing body or advisory board is like the board of directors. They are the trustees for society to ensure that the university sector develops and delivers. If the universities and schools havent delivered, what does that say about the great and good of Wales? (the crachach)?

Did you know that 52% of the funding goes to administration and support services in the Higher Education Sector based upon a PwC Report? Chemistry and Modern languages departments are closing down. Also guess what? Most of the research being done in the universities is public sector research funded by the public sector. I am simply gobsmacked. Where is the value add? Where are the people who create jobs and scientific discoveries and innovation and and and? Where is the research to support that? Where are the students who are taught to be entrepreneurs, engineers and scientists?

I try to do what I can. In my lectures, I bang on about the students going and setting up their own units. Investing their own monies. Teach them about sales. How to generate more revenue. Bang on in these pages about it. And so on and so forth, but if we have to do more, we need people to realise that there is a crisis. I dont think people have realised it at all. And because they havent realised it, the funding is going to start getting cut. At end of the day, this entire convoy of public sector oriented very inefficient and ineffective education is being paid for by the taxpayer. And they are starting to revolt. By that time, we will have ended up with a group of highly useless drunk people who are lying around the streets of Cardiff and Swansea. Like now.

Friday, September 30

Dutch doctors urge end to male circumcision

Quite right too, this is a barbaric custom to snip off the foreskin. And no, just because it has been shown to help avoid AIDS is not a good reason. Nor is it a good reason that its culturally or religiously mandated. In Hinduism, people argued that women need to jump into the funeral pyre of their husbands. Same old same old. Muppets. I quote:

AMSTERDAM: Dutch doctors want politicians and human rights groups to speak out and discourage the practice of male circumcision in the Netherlands because they say it is a “painful and harmful ritual,” and a violation of children’s rights.

Between 10,000 and 15,000 boys are circumcized in the Netherlands each year, mostly for religious reasons and not always with an anesthetic, according to the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) which represents surgeons, pediatricians, general practitioners and urologists.

“We want to discourage male circumcision, because it is an unnecessary procedure with complications, which violates the integrity of the child,” Lode Wigersma, a spokesman for the association, told Reuters on Friday.

“This is not an innocent procedure, we see complications in about 5 percent of the cases, as well as some long-term and psychological implications,” he said.

Male circumcision involves the removal of all or part of the foreskin of the penis. It is a ritual obligation for infant Jewish boys, and is also a common rite among Muslims, who account for the largest share of circumcised men worldwide.

The Dutch medical association has urged religious leaders to find alternative rites of passage that are not irreversible and which are not painful for the child.

The practice of female genital mutation has been prohibited by law in the Netherlands since 1993 for all ages.

Thursday, September 29

Secularism, Fundamentalism, or Catholicism? The Religious Composition of the United States to 2043

Where will USA end up in the middle of this century? This article tries to give it a shot.

We provide a cohort-component projection of the religious composition of the United States, considering differences in fertility, migration, intergenerational religious transmission, and switching among 11 ethnoreligious groups. If fertility and migration trends continue, Hispanic Catholics will experience rapid growth and expand from 10 to 18 percent of the American population between 2003 and 2043. Protestants are projected to decrease from 47 to 39 percent over the same period, while Catholicism emerges as the largest religion among the youngest age cohorts. Liberal Protestants decline relative to other groups due to low fertility and losses from religious switching. Immigration drives growth among Hindus and Muslims, while low fertility and a mature age structure causes Jewish decline. The low fertility of secular Americans and the religiosity of immigrants provide a countervailing force to secularization, causing the nonreligious population share to peak before 2043.

Reminds me of Samuel P Huntington’s book on the challenges to America’s National Identity. Mind you, the previous research article’s get out of jail card is “if fertility and migration trends continue”. These are notoriously difficult to predict, but then, the attempts by the Tea Party, anti immigration, reduce taxes and all that which is roiling USA has some roots in this debate as well. This promises to be fascinating.

Tuesday, September 27

Religious Practices Among Islamic Immigrants: Moroccan and Turkish Men in Belgium

One of the most common mistakes people make is to assume that Muslims are monolithic. For that matter, the far too many people also think that the “west” is monolithic. I attended a book launch at SOAS recently where there was this book on framing Muslims. I have to admit that I wasn't really impressed. The whole concept to me sounded very woolly and from what the authors said, there was clear ideological bias. So I dont think I will be buying the book.

Speaking to somebody after the event, I explained why I think this was so. You see, man is a social animal and will form social groups (so far so good). Social groups are formed based upon two concepts. First is to define what they are and second is what they are not. So when, for example, the blurb on amazon says something like this, “Can Muslims ever fully be citizens of the west?” that immediately tells me that the authors themselves are now guilty of framing Muslims themselves. When the basic research question is not independent, then the entire argument is a solution in search of a problem. In effect, they are themselves part of the problem of stereotyping. You might as well as ask, Can people who speak Serbo Croat or whatever fully be citizens of the west? They are not monolithic.

They also do not consider the flip side of stereotyping, the one done on the West. The West is also not a monolithic character? Mixing together everybody from Chile to China, India to Scotland aint making sense to me. No doubt stereotyping happens. No doubt framing happens. All I am saying is that that is human behaviour and there are many more dimensions to this than what the authors consider.

And then Orientalism was brought into the picture and that was the death kneel for me. I dont understand that orientalism logic at all but what do I know.

But I was reminded of an interesting article which I read last year. Here is the link. and abstract:

This study examines the religious participation of Islamic immigrants in Belgium using data from the Migration History and Social Mobility Survey collected in 1994–1996 from 2,200 men who had immigrated from Turkey and Morocco. Religious participation is measured as mosque attendance, fasting during Ramadan, and sacrificing a sheep at the Festival of Sacrifice. Results show that the religious participation of Islamic immigrants depends on both premigration and postmigration characteristics. Religious participation is higher among immigrants who: (1) attended a Koranic school in their country of origin, (2) were socialized in a religious region of their home country, (3) received little schooling, (4) currently live in an area of Belgium with a greater number of mosques, and (5) associate with a high number of co-ethnics. These results suggest that the religious participation of Islamic immigrants in Belgium is an outcome of characteristics unique to immigrants as well as processes common among the general population.

Curious, eh? to extend the results of this survey in Belgium and to try to answer the question raised in this book, one not only has to look at what better integration mechanisms to do in Belgium but also the factors behind the country of origin of the immigrants. (assuming that the level of religiousity is somehow linked to integration).

But complicated stuff and no simple answers. But look at this article on why are Jews so powerful.

Why are the Jews so powerful ? By: Dr Farrukh Saleem. (The writer is a Pakistani, an Islamabad-based freelance columnist.) January 12, 2009

Posted by ibnmahadi in Uncategorized.

There are only 14 million Jews in the world; seven million in the Americas , five million in Asia, two million in Europe and 100,000 in Africa . For every single Jew in the world there are 100 Muslims. Yet, Jews are more than a hundred times more powerful than all the Muslims put together. Ever wondered why ?

Jesus of Nazareth was Jewish. Albert Einstein, the most influential scientist of all time and TIME magazine’s ‘Person of the Century’ was a Jew; Sigmund Freud — id, ego, and super-ego, the father of psychoanalysis was a Jew; So were Karl Marx, Paul Samuelson and Milton Friedman.

Here are a few other Jews whose intellectual output has enriched the whole humanity:

  • Benjamin Rubin gave humanity the vaccinating needle.
  • Jonas Salk developed the first polio vaccine.
  • Alert Sab in developed the improved live polio vaccine.
  • Gertrude Elion gave us a leukaemia fighting drug.
  • Baruch Blumberg developed the vaccination for Hepatitis B.
  • Paul Ehrlich discovered a treatment for syphilis.
  • Elie Metchnikoff won a Nobel Prize in infectious diseases.
  • Bernard Katz won a Nobel Prize in neuromuscular transmission.
  • Andrew Schally won a Nobel in endocrinology (disorders of the endocrine system; diabetes, hyperthyroidism. Aaron Beck founded Cognitive Therapy (psychotherapy to treat mental disorders, depression and phobias).
  • Gregory Pincus developed the first oral contraceptive pill.
  • George Wald won a Nobel for furthering our understanding of the human eye.
  • StanleyCohen won a Nobel in embryology (study of embryos and their development) .
  • Willem Kolff came up with the kidney dialysis machine.

Over the past 105 years, 14 million Jews have won 15-dozen Nobel Prizes while only three Nobel Prizes have been won by 1.4 billion Muslims (other than Peace Prizes).

Stanley Mezor invented the first micro-processing chip. Leo Szilard developed the first nuclear chain reactor. Peter Schultz, optical fibre cable; Charles Adler, traffic lights; Benno Strauss, Stainless steel; Isador Kisee, sound movies; Emile Berliner, telephone microphone and Charles Ginsburg, videotape recorder.

Famous financiers in the business world who belong to Jewish faith include Ralph Lauren (Polo), Levis Strauss (Levi’s Jeans), Howard Schultz (Starbuck’s) , Sergey Brin (Google), Michael Dell (Dell Computers), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Donna Karan (DKNY), Irv Robbins (Baskin & Robbins) and Bill Rosenberg (Dunkin Donuts).

Richard Levin, President of Yale University, is a Jew. So are Henry Kissinger (American secretary of state), Alan Greenspan (fed chairman under Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush), Joseph Lieberman, Madeleine Albright (American secretary of state), Maxim Litvinov (USSR foreign Minister), David Marshal (Singapore’s first chief minister), Isaac Isaacs (governor-general of Australia), Benjamin Disraeli (British statesman and author), Yevgeny Primakov (Russian PM), Jorge Sampaio (president of Portugal), Herb Gray (Canadian deputy PM), Pierre Mendes (French PM), Michael Howard (British home secretary), Bruno Kreisky (chancellor of Austria) and Robert Rubin (former American secretary of treasury).

In the media, famous Jews include Wolf Blitzer (CNN), Barbara Walters (ABC News), Eugene Meyer (Washington Post), Henry Grunwald (editor-in-chief Time), Katherine Graham (publisher of The Washington Post), Joseph Lelyyeld (Executive editor, The New York Times), and Max Frankel (New York Times).

Can you name the most beneficent philanthropist in the history of the world ?  The name is George Soros, a Jew, who has so far donated a colossal $4 billion most of which has gone as aid to scientists and universities around the world. Second to George Soros is Walter Annenberg, another Jew, who has built a hundred libraries by donating an estimated $2 billion.

At the Olympics, Mark Spitz set a record of sorts by winning seven gold medals. Lenny Krayzelburg is a three- time Olympic gold medallist. Spitz, Krayzelburg and Boris Becker are all Jewish.

Did you know that Harrison Ford, George Burns, Tony Curtis, Charles Bronson, Sandra Bullock, Billy Crystal, Woody Allen, Paul Newman, Peter Sellers, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Douglas, Ben Kingsley, Kirk Douglas, William Shatner, Jerry Lewis and Peter Falk are all Jewish?

As a matter of fact, Hollywood itself was founded by a Jew. Among directors and producers, Steven Spielberg, Mel Brooks, Oliver Stone, Aaron Spelling (Beverly Hills 90210), Neil Simon (The Odd Couple), Andrew Vaina (Rambo 1/2/3), Michael Man (Starsky and Hutch), Milos Forman (One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest), Douglas Fairbanks (The thief of Baghdad) and Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters) are all Jewish.

To be certain, Washington is the capital that matters and in Washington the lobby that matters is The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC. Washington knows that if PM Ehud Olmert were to discover that the earth is flat, AIPAC will make the 109th Congress pass a resolution congratulating Olmert on his discovery.

William James Sidis, with an IQ of 250-300, is the brightest human who ever existed. Guess what faith did he belong to ?

So, why are Jews so powerful ?

Answer: Education.

Why are Muslims so powerless ?

There are an estimated 1,476,233,470 Muslims on the face of the planet: one billion in Asia, 400 million in Africa,44 million in Europe and six million in the Americas . Every fifth human being is a Muslim; for every single Hindu there are two Muslims, for every Buddhist there are two Muslims and for every Jew there are one hundred Muslims. Ever wondered why Muslims are so powerless ?

Here is why: There are 57 member-countries of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), and all of them put together have around 500 universities; one university for every three million Muslims. The United States has 5,758 universities and India has 8,407. In 2004, Shanghai Jiao Tong University compiled an ‘Academic Ranking of World Universities’ , and intriguingly, not one university from Muslim-majority states was in the top-500.

As per data collected by the UNDP, literacy in the Christian world stands at nearly 90 per cent and 15 Christian- majority states have a literacy rate of 100 per cent. A Muslim-majority state, as a sharp contrast, has an average literacy rate of around 40 per cent and there is no Muslim-majority state with a literacy rate of 100 per cent. Some 98 per cent of the ‘literates’ in the Christian world had completed primary school, while less than 50 per cent of the ‘literates’ in the Muslim world did the same.

Around 40 per cent of the ‘literates’ in the Christian world attended university while no more than two per cent of the ‘literate s’ in the Muslim world did the same.

Muslim-majority countries have 230 scientists per one million Muslims. The US has 4,000 scientists per million and Japan has 5,000 per million. In the entire Arab world, the total number of full-time researchers is 35,000 and there are only 50 technicians per one million Arabs (in the Christian world there are up to 1,000 technicians per one million). Furthermore, the Muslim world spends 0.2 per cent of its GDP on research and development, while the Christian world spends around five per cent of its GDP.

Conclusion: The Muslim world lacks the capacity to produce knowledge.

Daily newspapers per 1,000 people and number of book titles per million are two indicators of whether knowledge is being diffused in a society. In Pakistan , there are 23 daily newspapers per 1,000 Pakistanis while the same ratio in Singapore is 360. In the UK , the number of book titles per million stands at 2,000 while the same in Egypt is 20.

Conclusion: The Muslim world is failing to diffuse knowledge.

Exports of high technology products as a percentage of total exports are an important indicator of knowledge application. Pakistan ‘s exports of high technology products as a percentage of total exports stands at one per cent. The same for Saudi Arabia is 0.3 per cent; Kuwait , Morocco , and Algeria are all at 0.3 per cent while Singapore is at 58 per cent.

Conclusion: The Muslim world is failing to apply knowledge.

Why are Muslims powerless?  Because we aren’t producing knowledge.
Why are Muslims powerless?  Because we aren’t diffusing knowledge.
Why are Muslims powerless?  Because we aren’t applying knowledge.

And, the future belongs to knowledge-based societies.

Interestingly, the combined annual GDP of 57 OIC-countries is under $2 trillion. America , just by herself, produces goods and services worth $12 trillion; China $8 trillion, Japan $3.8 trillion and Germany $2.4 trillion (purchasing power parity basis).

Oil rich Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Qatar collectively produce goods and services (mostly oil) worth $500 billion; Spain alone produces goods and services worth over $1 trillion, Catholic Poland $489 billion and Buddhist Thailand $545 billion. (Muslim GDP as a percentage of world GDP is fast declining).

So, why are Muslims so powerless ?

Answer: Lack of Education ! All we do is shout to Allah whole day and blame everyone else for our multiple failures..!

I ask you, if this isnt stereotyping, then what is? At one shot, Jews are stereotyped. Muslims are stereotyped. As I responded to the mailing group, I said. If this logic is right, then the root cause of this is the religion. Then all Muslims need to do to become good and smart is to convert to Judaism. If Islam is the rationale behind this grouping and frame, then it leads inexorably to that argument. Which is obviously stupid, reductio ad absurdum, eh? See why I find books like this and arguments like this very strange?