Saturday, August 4

Penalising people for doing good

This is what usually pisses me off. Its like the government and institutions tends to force you into boxes and anything outside the box will make you get into trouble. So many times I have personally faced this and have seen this with Kannu as well. I finished my research and the model worked brilliantly, wrote up the dissertation at Manchester in about 15 months and submitted the report which was 36 pages long. My professor was happy but the job worths said, no, it has to be 100k words long and you have to study for 3 years. Mumbled something about it cannot be a PhD if its less than 100k words and our funding stream will get screwed up if everybody started graduating early. Kannu’s education is another case in point, the public schooling system is simply unable to cater for people on either side of the probability distribution and he would get bored so many times. And so on and so forth.

Here’s another example: I quote:

A private German economics and business university is suing one of its students for lost income after he finished his Bachelors and Masters degrees in about a quarter of the normal time.

Marcel Pohl completed 60 examinations in 20 months, gaining a grade of 2.3, and was officially ex-matriculated in August 2011. Such a course usually takes 11 semesters, but he only needed three.
Now the Essen-based School of Economics and Management (FOM) want the 22-year-old to pay his fees up the end of 2011 - an extra €3,000.
"When I got the lawsuit, I thought it couldn't be true," Pohl, who now works for a bank in Frankfurt, told the Bild newspaper. "Performance is supposed to be worth something."
Pohl completed his turbo degree by dividing up all the simultaneous lectures with two friends and then swapping notes. At the same time, he completed an apprenticeship in a bank.
"We didn't get any freebies, and we agreed our plans in advance with the school," Pohl said.
"We're always against slow students," said his lawyer Bernhard Kraas. "But when someone hurries and finishes early, suddenly he has to pay. That can't be right."
But the FOM argues that its fees are the total price for the studies, independent of how long the studies last. But if that it is the case, it remains unclear why they are only calling for a part of the cost for 11 semesters.

Now I ask you, is this fair? From one perspective, I would have said ok, if you said that the degree is going to cost you say $100, irrespective of the length of time you take, then I am fine with you suing me. But guess what? you wont do that because if I take 10 years to do the degree, you will lose out, no? So there is an element of illogicality in this argument.


Friday, August 3

A Hero Talks

Simple messages, nothing complex.

You have never lived till you have nearly died. Yep.

Thursday, August 2

Wednesday, August 1

What happened to General Zia?

General Zia of Pakistan casts a very long shadow. His Islamisation programme of Pakistan has turned that country into a progressively fundamentalist country. I get an email copy of the Dawn newspaper every day. Every day, the entire newspaper is full of doom and gloom, killings and robberies, corruption and pain. Zia has much to blame for. And then you have the killings of Palestinians on his shoulders in Jordan.

He was killed in a plane crash. Here is a long news paper item on the circumstances his death. Go read it, fascinating how there was a giant cover up. But don't be surprised, when Pakistan treats its living with such disdain, why are you concerned about its dead? Jinnah, one of the greats in the world, was treated atrociously and now his country is a blot on his ideas and dreams. And so on and so forth.

Tuesday, July 31

Around the Table

Some rather interesting vignettes on food. 

What I really liked was on the last section. You remember the small things such as where you had a good meal or when you cooked yourself. 

That's why I love cooking. It's a fun thing to do and gives me so many wonderful memories when you two have fun with me in the kitchen. 



CyipAround the Table []




Years ago, when I was completing a round-the-world voyage on Semester at Sea, one of my shipmates observed that, of the hundreds of pictures I’d taken, the snapshots that would hold the most meaning would be the ones with people in them. The rest were just postcards. So it is with our meals; the ones we remember most fondly aren’t generally the grandest examples of haute cuisine served in exotic locales. They’re the tiny triumphs (and minor disasters) we’ve shared with people whose lives intertwined with ours, if only for an evening; the gracious hosts and hostesses who poured themselves onto the plate and into the glass. Gopnik, Calder, Eisenpress, and Lapine understand this most essential fact of eating, and I’d like to say to them, if they’re listening: You’re welcome at our table any night of the week.

Monday, July 30

Why the Arab Spring will be difficult to sustain

Here’s one very good reason. I quote some excerpts from this rather shocking report.

Earlier this year, a debate on how to foster reading habits among Arab youth was prompted after the Arab Thought Foundation’s Fikr released its fourth annual cultural development report in January, saying that the average Arab child reads “six minutes” a year in comparison to 12,000 minutes its Western counterpart spends.
It also reported that an Arab individual on average reads a quarter of a page a year compared to the 11 books read by an American and seven books by a British person.

Another survey on reading habits in the Middle East in April 2011 made for a depressing read. Only one in five read on a regular basis and among those under 25 ─ nearly 65 per cent of the 3,667 questioned by Yahoo! Maktoob Research ─ about one in three seldom or never read a book for pleasure.

The survey’s results shows similar reading habits across countries. In an Arab League table of readers by nations, the United Arab Emirates placed fifth behind Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco and Iraq. In the UAE, just 22 per cent of people described themselves as regular readers.

One thing which the report doesnt mention is the sheer rejection of secularism, the requirement for open minds and thoughts. When everything is going to be fed through your local mullah or you made to regurgitate what you have memorised, what’s the big point of learning to read?

Reading opens the windows of the soul and brain, religion closes it. I do not have much hope that this will improve in the short term, till the Arab lands remove the cancer of religion and become secular, this will remain an issue