Saturday, September 29

More clowns at the gate

So for some reason, the All India Christian Council has seen fit to include me on its mailing list. I tell you, the chaps who run this are basically clowns. If I was an Indian Christian and I was going to rely on these muppets to represent me, I would convert to being a Muslim. Or give it up completely. Here is an example of their utter stupidity.

A book on Dalits by a Christian Author has won an award. I quote:

New Delhi, September 27, 2012 - Noted Indian freelance journalist and human rights activist Oliver D’Souza has won the prestigious London Institute Of South Asia (LISA) Book Of The Year Award for 2011-12 for his book ‘Truth About Dalits’ conferred at its annual Seminar and Book Award ceremony.
Drawing from a short-list of global entries for the award, the award committee narrowed down on ‘Truth About Dalits’ as the winner for the award. Commenting on the criteria for conferring the award, Saeed Ismat Director of LISA said “ Oliver D’Souza has done a commendable job writing such an analytical and unbiased book on the Dalits. The institution considers the book of great value."
“The Truth about Dalits' is an eye opener and a remarkable research work. The author has spoken the truth with no prejudice, favour or fear.”
Truth About Dalits was first published as an Ebook and later on as a hardback by the institute itself and has received outstanding reviews from activists, scholars, academicians and critics alike.
The earlier Indian winners of the award include renowned writers, thinkers and ideologues Dr V T Rajshekar (2005) and Dr Kancha Ilaiah (2008).

previous winners were these two worthies? hahahahahah

So who is this London Institute of South Asia? Quite a good body, and I quote:

At the London institute of South Asia (LISA) we are determined to combat the tsunami of disinformation and propaganda brainwashing our minds so successfully. LISA is mindful of the influences corporate controlled mainstream media bears on the ordinary mind. At LISA we do not seek assistance or support from any foundation, government, or mainstream media since they are driven by their corporate masters or their specific agendas. We have reasons to believe that mainstream media is controlled by governments and owned by corporate elite and world bankers. It is not just a commonly known fact but a historical and universal truth that government secret agencies (either your own or that of foreign powers) have managed to exercise leverage in mainstream media in order to deceive the public at large and to further their agenda with full impunity.

We are an independent voice determined to speak the truth and provide an alternative source of information and ideas for our readers. LISA needs your support in that we are looking forward to benefit from your candid view and your efforts to spread the truth wherever and how- so- ever you can.

heh, the board of directors has Mr. Rajshekhar, and yes, that’s right, this LISA awarded a prize to one of its directors. Once you trawl through the site, its clear that this is a Pakistan hosted and sponsored site. Its verbiage against India, Dalits, Assam, etc. etc. are fulsome but does it have anything about the Baloch? nope, anything about the Northern Areas? nope. Nothing about Christians in Pakistan or the Hindus there.

Just click on some of the news items on the LISA site, they even have a story from George Galloway saying that the Syrian Rebels are on the side of the Crusaders. Now you see why I think the AICC are clowns and morons? To associate with dictators, army people and most importantly George Galloway and and is stupid.

But good for a laugh, how amusing. Every time Madhu Chandra sends me one of his PR’s, its great for a giggle. What a bunch of muppets.

Friday, September 28

Why are gifted children forgotten?

In this drive for inclusion and and and, there is one cohort of people who are forgotten, the smarts, the intelligent, the gifted children and students. Both in my personal life and in my academic life, this is one thing which I have seen so many times, the gifted child is not handled properly at all. Its like that the entire system is geared towards managing the great unwashed herd in the middle or the laggards, but the gifted? they are left to their own devices, they are left on their own, thinking, they will be ok…

So it was with interest that I read this.

Today’s systemic failure takes three forms.

First, we’re weak at identifying “gifted and talented” children early, particularly if they’re poor or members of minority groups or don’t have savvy, pushy parents.

Second, at the primary and middle-school levels, we don’t have enough gifted-education classrooms (with suitable teachers and curriculums) to serve even the existing demand. Congress has “zero-funded” the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program, Washington’s sole effort to encourage such education. Faced with budget crunches and federal pressure to turn around awful schools, many districts are cutting their advanced classes as well as art and music.

Third, many high schools have just a smattering of honors or Advanced Placement classes, sometimes populated by kids who are bright but not truly prepared to succeed in them.

Yep. I agree, similar situation here. I was pleased as punch to hear that Kannu’s current 6th form college has a gifted students programme. I have high hopes for it.

But the article ends with a great paragraph.

It’s time to end the bias against gifted and talented education and quit assuming that every school must be all things to all students, a simplistic formula that ends up neglecting all sorts of girls and boys, many of them poor and minority, who would benefit more from specialized public schools. America should have a thousand or more high schools for able students, not 165, and elementary and middle schools that spot and prepare their future pupils.

we should encourage the high fliers and gifted students. Don't be bogged down by the politics of envy. Encourage these budding genius’s..

Thursday, September 27

Iranian Universities–two views

The first view was this.

With the start of the new Iranian academic year, a raft of restrictions on courses open to female students has been introduced, raising questions about the rights of women to education in Iran - and the long-term impact such exclusions might have. More than 30 universities have introduced new rules banning female students from almost 80 different degree courses.

These include a bewildering variety of subjects from engineering, nuclear physics and computer science, to English literature, archaeology and business. No official reason has been given for the move, but campaigners, including Nobel Prize winning lawyer Shirin Ebadi, allege it is part of a deliberate policy by the authorities to exclude women from education. "The Iranian government is using various initiatives… to restrict women's access to education, to stop them being active in society, and to return them to the home," she told the BBC.

Higher Education Minister Kamran Daneshjoo has sought to play down the situation, stressing Iran's strong track record in getting young people into higher education and saying that despite the changes, 90% of university courses are still open to both men and women.

Sad, eh? so what does the top leadership have to say?

In a speech after the 2009 protests, the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for the "Islamisation" of universities and criticised subjects like sociology, which he said were too western-influenced and had no place in the Iranian Islamic curriculum. Since then, there have been many changes at universities, with courses cut and long-serving academic staff replaced with conservative loyalists. Many see the new restrictions on female students as a continuation of this process. In August 2012 Ayatollah Khamenei made another widely-discussed speech calling for Iranians to return to traditional values and to have more children


Here’s a speech by this worthy. Its worth reproducing in full. I was reading this and wondering if I lived on the same planet as he does. Here is another one where he is talking utter bollocks.



The following is the full text of the speech delivered on August 12, 2012 by

Ayatollah Khamenei the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution in

a meeting with professors.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Dear brothers and sisters, welcome.

This is a very valuable and pleasant meeting and the atmosphere is spiritual.

Last night was the last Night of Qadr. Hands were extended to God in prayer,

tears were shed, hearts became tender, and by Allah's favor massive provisions of

spirituality were provided for this country, for our pious people and for

you dear people who have attended this meeting.

I deem it necessary to express my respect for you honorable professors because

of your scholarly position, because of the role that our esteemed professors play

in the progress of the country. The primary purpose of this symbolic meeting

is to sho w respect for knowledge, knowledgeable people and professors.

Of course, we will definitely make use of the comments which were made by

the friends and we hope that what was said in this meeting will be used in

large-scale decisions in the country. The points which were made in the meeting

were enlightening and very good, and I express my gratitude for those points.

However, the primary purpose behind arranging this meeting was to show

respect for knowledge, knowledgeable people and scholars.

Today's meeting has been attended by the esteemed families of

the martyred nuclear scientists - Shahid Ali-Mohammadi, Shahid Shahriari,

Shahid Rezaeinejad and Shahid Ahmadi-Roshan - and I would like to welcome

them in particular. The memory of these martyrs will never be wiped off

from the minds of our people or the history of our country.

There were very good points in the statements which were made

by the brothers and sisters, and I wrote down some of the points.

The majority of the things which were mentioned and stressed by the friends

are the same concerns that I have. And I am happy to see that the intellectual

current in our universities has been directed towards these main concerns.

The issue of preparing plans and investing in

research and fundamentals, both in humanities and in experimental sciences -

which was highlighted by some of the friends - is among my concerns and

it is necessary to take care of it. The issue of forming a relationship between

industry and university has been among my recommendations. Good points

were made in this regard and it became clear that good things have been

done as well. Some of the friends made essential points about the need to

establish a department for major industries and to specify the value of labor.

The issue of scholarly articles and ISI citation indexing was among the points

which were made in this meeting. This issue is among my concerns, among the

things that I speak about. It is necessary for the high-level managers and

decision-makers who are in charge of scholarly issues of the country

to sit down together and think about this issue and find the appropriate

solutions, some of which were discussed in the meeting. The need to

prepare plans for implementing excellent ideas is among the things that I

always highlight. The ideas which were put forth in this meeting were

very good ideas, but it is often necessary to prepare plans for operationalising them.

This is one of the things that should be done in universities.

For example, "ethics-based economy" which was mentioned by one of the friends

is a very good idea. It is absolutely correct, but what are the ways in which

it can be implemented. As for the need to form a relationship between

university and industry - which has been discussed extensively over the past

years and fortunately good measures have been adopted in this regard -

there are certain shortcomings.

What are the executive solutions for these shortcomings? This issue is among

our needs and I ask our esteemed scholarly professors to work it.

In any case, I am grateful for the comments which were made by the friends.

I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to Dr. Rahbar for his competent

management and efforts. I ask the friends who work for my office, the President's

office or our ministries - the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology and

the Ministry of Health - to work on the points which were raised by the professors

in this meeting. They should sit down together and think about these points.

It is necessary to make the best of this meeting in order to move forward.

What I want to say is that today nobody can deny the fact that the world is

entering a new stage. You can witness this. If there is enough time to

discuss all the points that I have in mind, I will present a general outline and

then I will pose a question.

Finally, I will of fer a few recommendations regarding universities.

The world is currently in a state of change. Global structures are changing.

If we wanted to find a parallel for current conditions of the world in the recent past -

in the past couple of centuries - the conditions of the world after the first world war

would be a good parallel. Of course, change is happening in the opposite direction

. After the first world war, the political and economic structure of the world

changed dramatically. Or before that, during the time Europeans started colonialism,

new conditions were created in the world and the general structure of the world changed.

The transformations that can be witnessed today are of this nature, a change

in the general structure of the world. Of course, the change that is taking place

is happening in the opposite direction, in the direction of a balance between

the powers and general capabilities of the east and those of the west or between

one group of n ations and the rest of the nations. It is clear that we are moving

towards a transformation. What are the signs of this transformation?

I would like to provide a few examples.

One sign is Islamic Awakening. Throughout our history, we have never

witnessed such conditions in Islamic countries. There is a general sense

of identity and awakening, not only among the people of one country,

but also among the people of different Islamic countries. We have never

had this before. This is a new development. This is a sign, a sign of change.

There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world.

There are tens of countries which are mainly populated by Muslims and

these Muslim countries are located in sensitive parts of the world.

For this reason, this awakening is not an ordinary event:

it is indicative of a change in the new structure, map and system of the world.

Another sign is the failed campaign of the west - led by America -

to further spread its hegemony over our region.

They started a campaign, but their campaign was unsuccessful.

The events that happened in Iraq and Afghanistan did not happen abruptly.

Those events did not take place as a result of a prompt and abrupt decision.

No, everything had been fully planned and the goal was to spread

full western hegemony over every part of this region under the leadership of America.

Of course, I insist on calling this region "West Asia", not "Middle East".

The terms "Far East", "Near East" and "Middle East" are not correct.

Far from where? From Europe. Near to where? To Europe.

This implies that Europe is the center of the world. Anywhere that is far from Europe

should be called "Far East", anywhere that is close to Europe should

be called "Near East" and anywhere that is in between should be called

"Middle East": this is a definition that was presented by Europeans themselves,

but this is not acceptable to us. Asia is a continent. It has an eastern part,

a western part and a middle part. We are in the western part.

Therefore, our region should be called "West Asia", not "Middle East".

Another sign is the efforts to have complete domination over this sensitive region.

Why is this region sensitive? The reason is that first of all, there are massive

resources in this region, resources that the west needs. And energy resources

are a priority for the west. Second, an Islamic wave has always been expected

in this region. They always vaguely expected this Islamic wave, especially after

the Islamic Revolution and the emergence of the Islamic Republic. And this

was because they wanted to take control of this wave. Therefore,

simultaneous domination over the valuable resources of the region and

the Islamic wave forced them to start a campaign to occupy this region,

but they failed in the middle of the way, just like somebody who gathers all

his strength to jump across a canal but does not make it and falls into t he canal.

This is a sign of change.

Another sign is the events that are currently happening in Europe.

The uncertain future that has cast a shadow over the wealthy countries

in Western Europe is a very important event. The economic problems are not

because of tactical errors, so we cannot say that they made the wrong tactical

move at a certain stage which led to these consequences. No, this is not the cause.

The cause is more fundamental. They made fundamental errors. What is

happening today is due to fundamental errors in the west's philosophical and

intellectual perspective of the world and mankind, errors in world view.

Of course, unlike tactical errors, the consequences of such errors

do not reveal themselves quickly. Unlike tactical errors, the consequences of

such errors do not reveal themselves in the middle term. The consequences of

such errors reveal themselves in the long term. These errors are revealing

themselves after the passage of two, thr ee centuries. And know

that these errors will bring them down.

Another sign of this fundamental change in the map of the world is that

America's credibility is declining. As the top country in the world in terms of wealth,

science, technology and military power, America enjoyed credibility for several

decades and this credibility increased America's influence. During the early

decades of the second half of the 20th century, America's credibility had reached its peak.

This was the case in our country as well. An elected government like the government

of Dr. Mosaddeq would run away from England and

seek protection from America.

Such things would increase America's credibility.

This was the case in the entire world. Today this credibility has completely disappeared.

That is to say, America is condemned in the world. The American government does

not enjoy widespread credibility among the people of any country.

"Death to America" is not just a slogan that is particular to the Iranian nation.

This slogan is chanted in many other countries as well.

A government that supports oppression, war, accumulation of weapons,

domination of nations, bullying and interference in the affairs of all countries

has acquired such a bad reputation and this is another sign. Therefore, change

in the world is inescapable. There are other signs as well,

but I will not discuss them in this meeting. This is one point.

The second point is that it cannot be denied that our country enjoys

a special position in this change, in this event, in this long story.

We are not just a bystander in this matter. Our country enjoys a special

position. What are the factors that give us this special position?

First of all, Islamic Awakening started in our country. Everybody is

saying this. Everybody understands this. Everybody knows this.

What we call "Islamic Awakening" started in our country over thirty years ago.

Lives w ere sacrificed, selfless efforts were made, and Islamic

Awakening reached its lofty goal - namely the establishment of the Islamic system.

Second, the Islamic Republic has been founded on a firm system whose

foundations are faith, rationality and affection. At the foundation of this

firm system, the faith of the people and government officials, rationality

and affections play a role. God willing, I will mention some examples of this

rationality if there is enough time. Such a firm system has been built and I

do not know of any other system in the world which is similar to this system:

a system that simultaneously relies on the faith of the people, on

ideological principles, on rationality and on strong emotions.

Third, a major portion of the wealth that the west is trying to plunder is

in our country. For a hundred years, the western world has been

feeding on this wealth - namely, energy resources, oil and gas. A few years ago

in a meeting in this Hussayniyyah, I presented details and statistics and

said that we make up around one percent of the world population,

but that we enjoy more than one percent of the essential resources

that sustain human life on earth. Apart from oil, we enjoy two, three,

five, seven percent of the global sources of essential metals. Moreover,

our sources of manpower and our

capacities are far more than this.

Our country enjoys capacities that exceed the global average.

Therefore, we are living in a country that enjoys such enormous natural

and human resources, resources which are needed by the west.

Today you see that they are after our talented youth, our outstanding people.

They identify each and every one of our outstanding professors, students

and elites and they try to take them away. We are suffering from certain

weaknesses and they successfully use these weaknesses to their advantage.

In any case, this shows the existence of this wealth in our country. This is another

factor which shows that our country enjoys a special and sensitive position in this global change.

Fourth, the Islamic Republic is intellectually productive, as opposed to

the inability of the west to produce novel ideas. After the introduction of

humanism and the schools of thought which rely on humanism, after the

introduction of the philosophies that originate from western humanism,

the west was no longer intellectually productive and it no longer produces

novel ideas for humanity and human life. We have new things to say about

issues related to human spirituality, social issues related to humanity and

issues related to government. When we say we have novel things to say,

it does not mean that the world will accept our novel ideas once we

present them. It only means that our novel ideas will create a new intellectual

current, a new wave in the world. Today we have presented "religious democracy"

in the area of political matters. We have presented "spirituality-based civilization"

in the area of general social issues. We have proposed "human dignity"

in different areas. We have put forth the idea that religion and life are intertwined.

These are novel ideas which have never been put forth in the world previously.

Even before the era of materialism and western humanism, even before secular

ideas had gained ground, religion was not intertwined with life. Not at all. It is true

that in certain parts of the world, the clergy were in power - the rule of the church.

In the context of the long and complicated history of Europe, there was a

war between the church and governments. But in any case, the church was

also in power. This does not mean that the life of the people was intertwined with

religion or that the laws and regulations for the life of the

people were extracted from religion.

There was no such thing in the west. There was no such thing in Islamic countries

either, except during the early years after the introduction of Islam. This is a

novel idea that we are presenting to the world. We are saying that religion is

intertwined with life. What is life? Life is politics, different activities,

trade, economy and everything else. This is a novel idea that we are presenting to the world.

Wednesday, September 26

You run, mine are all grown up

You know that Islamist terrorists tried to bomb in London in 2007? Here is the news story from BBC. I quote:


A car bomb planted in central London would have caused "carnage" if it had exploded, police say. A controlled explosion was carried out on the car, packed with 60 litres of petrol, gas cylinders and nails, in Haymarket, near Piccadilly Circus. An ambulance crew saw smoke coming from the green Mercedes, near the Tiger Tiger nightclub at 0130 BST (0030 GMT).

Reading on:

One report claimed that a quick-thinking officer disconnected the mobile phone before bomb squad officers arrived.

You as well I would have read that statement and moved on, with perhaps a quirk of the eyebrows praising the officer. But here’s something that I read recently about this officer.

It is pretty rare for a terrorist to attempt to detonate a car bomb with a mobile phone in an urban area. It is common to use a mobile device in the deserts of Afghanistan or Iraq, but in a city there is just too much risk of someone dialing a wrong number and triggering the device prematurely by accident. But on 29th June 2007, Mohammed Haneef and Kafeel Ahmed attempted to detonate two large car bombs in London using a mobile phone. They had placed two devices, the first outside Tiger Tiger night club. The second was placed a few hundred meters away, at exactly the point where the police would have set up their control post to deal with the first bomb. Both cars contained around 60 litres of petrol, gas cylinders, nails and a mobile phone connected to a detonator. Their intentions were clear.

The police are often criticised for spending too much time worrying about traffic offences. Actually, it is part of their anti-terrorist activity. Car bombs are judged a threat and hence investigating and removing suspiciously parked vehicles is a priority for the police. I don't know the exact circumstances, but thankfully the second car bomb was removed for being illegally parked and placed in the underground car pound in Park Lane. Being underground, it was out of mobile phone coverage and inadvertently rendered useless. However, the first bomb was still live and posed a very material threat to the people in and around Tiger Tiger that night.

An ambulance crew called to Tiger Tiger at around 1.30am noticed a car suspiciously parked outside and radioed it into the police. The police reacted by deploying a foot patrol consisting of two officers to investigate. They walked around and inspected the car. Inside they could see the gas canisters, wiring and even the mobile phone on the end of the wires. It was clear that this was a bomb that could kill many people; it was primed and ready to explode. At that moment, one of the officers turned to the other - his junior - and uttered a line which puts goose bumps on my arms:

"You run - mine are all grown up."

As his colleague ran, the remaining officer attempted to defuse the device. He could see that the mobile phone was the trigger so he ripped it out of the wiring and started running down the road with it in his hands. As he ran down the street, with the phone in his hands, it rang.

As a result of the sharp eyes of the ambulance crew and the extreme bravery of the police officers, it is unquestionable that many lives were saved. The next day, Mohammed Haneef and Kafeel Ahmed drove a vehicle into the front of Glasgow airport and set fire to it, killing Ahmed in the process. Haneef was arrested and no one else was hurt. It was in part from the mobile phone records that the police were able to link the Glasgow attack to the attempted Tiger Tiger bombing and trace the movements of the two suspects.

You run, mine are all grown up.

Salutations on quiet understated bravery to you. Compare a man who was willing to give up his life to save others while these apologies for humankinds wanted to take lives. And were useless and incompetent to boot. Bah, spits on them.

Tuesday, September 25

Books need to be cool again

Let me add to John Water’s brilliant quote

If they don't have books, give them books till they have sufficient books that you feel comfortable in boinking them.

Monday, September 24

Good and Bad Teachers: How to Tell the Difference

This is a fascinating blog post which refers to a recent study on the value addition that teachers bring to the table. I quote the bit which is interesting.

They had access to data for a large urban school district that spanned the 20 years from 1988-89 through 2008-09. The data contained information on test scores for about 2.5 million children in grades 3 through 8, and also the schooling, and when available, earnings of the children after they finished these grades.

They find large effects on subsequent adult earnings when these young students had teachers who produced good improvements in test scores compared to the adult earnings of students who had teachers who produced little improvement in test scores. If teachers were paid in relation to their effects on the subsequent adult earnings of their students, these results imply that teachers with good VA ratings should be paid considerably more than teachers with bad ratings. Adopting such a payment system for teachers would produce an improvement in the quality of teaching because good teachers would be more willing to go into teaching at elementary and high school grades. Such a change may well induce an increase in overall spending on teachers’ salaries and benefits because taxpayers would be willing to support education more generously if they felt students were getting good and useful teaching.

As a teacher myself, as well as a parent and taxpayer, I am interested in the systems around teacher evaluation. I am happy that we are moving towards a more fair system of teacher evaluation rather than just dumping money into the education systems willy nilly.

Sunday, September 23

How dreams and reality conflict

When I was growing up as a teenager, I had this giant poster on my wall.

And what am I riding nowadays?

I just calculated that I have ridden this bike in the last 3 months more and longer than I have actually driven all of this year.

heh, how do dreams change, eh?