Saturday, October 20

Note how the BBC spins it

So see what the headline is

A quarter of the free schools which opened in England this year are significantly under subscribed, figures obtained by the BBC suggest.

They interviewed 55 schools which opened in Sept. 41 replied. 14 had significant spare capacity. Normal statistical analysis means that you exclude outliers. But no, they didn't do that. They picked 4 to report.

They include Avanti House School in Harrow, the largest free school in England. It has places for 240 children but recruited only 130 pupils.

Wapping High School in east London was less than half full, with 38 pupils but places for 84.

The Al Madinah Muslim School in Derby fared better with 240 places filled out of a possible 300.

Beccles Free School in Suffolk, which campaigners had tried to prevent opening. It has 87 pupils but places for 162.

And then it keeps on going on and on and on and

notice that they didn't talk about the other 66% of schools or the 2/3rds of the schools who had full subscription. No comparison with schools (which are fully council and government funded) which are closing down (see here for an example). And such is the level of reporting and public policy. There is nothing in our polity that says that we have to deliver school education, pay yes, but why do we also have to deliver? But this idea that government can and has to do every frikking thing is making you and I basically puppets with no independent thought and action.


Friday, October 19

A Dirty Business

An interesting read about fraud and insider trading Kannu. 

Crime doesn't pay and money earned wrongly burns a hole and creates headaches. There are much easier ways to make good money and enjoy. 

But fascinating story of how greed corrupts normal people. High level people, highly educated but common thieves at that

A Dirty Business

In the fall of 2003, Anil Kumar, a senior executive with the consulting firm McKinsey, and Raj Rajaratnam, the head of a multibillion-dollar hedge fund called Galleon, attended a charity event in Manhattan. They had known each other since the early eighties, when, as recent immigrants, they were classmates at the Wharton School of Business, in Philadelphia. Their friendship, intermittent over the years, was based on self-interest rather than on intimacy. Kumar, born in Chennai, formerly Madras, India, was fastidious and morose, travelling at least thirty thousand miles a month for work, and seldom socializing. Rajaratnam, a Tamil from Colombo, Sri Lanka, was fleshy and dark-skinned, with a charming gap-toothed smile and a sports fan’s appetite for competition and conquest. Kumar was not among the group whom Rajaratnam took on his private plane to the Super Bowl every year for a weekend of partying. “I’m a consultant at heart,” Kumar liked to say. “I’m a rogue,” Rajaratnam once said. Kumar had the more precise diction and was better educated, but Rajaratnam was one of the world’s new billionaires and therefore a luminary among businessmen from the subcontinent. In an earlier generation of immigrant financiers, Kumar would have been the German Jew, Rajaratnam the Russian. Kumar might have felt some disdain for Rajaratnam, but Rajaratnam’s fortune made him irresistible.

McKinsey executives, in an attempt to cash in on the explosive growth of hedge funds, had recently sent Rajaratnam several e-mails proposing that Galleon hire the company to provide expert advice. Rajaratnam had ignored them. Leaving the charity event, Kumar expressed annoyance about the unanswered e-mails, he later recalled. Rajaratnam pulled him aside. “I’d much rather have you as a consultant than McKinsey,” he explained. “And I am willing to pay you half a million dollars a year.” Kumar replied that McKinsey forbade outside consulting, but Rajaratnam persisted, appealing to Kumar’s pride: “You work very, very hard, you travel a lot, you are underpaid. People have made fortunes while you were away in India, and you deserve more.” He noted that Kumar, who provided strategic advice to Silicon Valley technology companies—one of Rajaratnam’s investing specialties—possessed knowledge that was worth a lot of money. Kumar had only to keep a list of “ideas,” and to call him once a month or so. “I know you will do that if you get money from me,” Rajaratnam said. “And I know you will not remember to keep a list if you don’t get money from me.”

Thursday, October 18

Freedom of Speech is not absolute, even in Universities

I didn't realise this. I quote

Gallaudet University’s “chief diversity officer,” Angela McCaskill, was suspended (with pay) for signing a petition that sought a referendum vote on whether to undo Maryland’s new same-sex marriage law. Is it legal for a private employer to suspend or fire an employee for signing a referendum or initiative petition?

Really? I didn't realise that private political activity is proscribed. But looks like it is

It depends on the state. As I’ve discussed in a good deal of detail in a recent article, Private Employees’ Speech and Political Activity: Statutory Protection Against Employer Retaliation, about half the states impose some restrictions on private employers’ ability to retaliate against employees for the employees’ speech or political activity. Some state laws cover a large range of speech and political activity, while some cover only a small range. (Some, which I didn’t discuss in the article, only ban discrimination based on how an employee voted.) But nearly all the states that do impose such restrictions — beyond a mere ban on discrimination based on voting — would apply to referendum or initiative signatures.

Its interesting, conceivably a firm can even go forward and tell me where and how to vote? How amazing. I never thought that a university would do this. Second, that my personal political activity (as long as it doesn't violate support for clearly illegal actions such as terrorism – although that is also debatable) can be ground for me being fired!!!!

Wednesday, October 17

What about the bottom 1%?

Fascinating views.

We often hear a lot, especially from those who want to tear them down, about the top 1 percent. We don't hear nearly as much about the bottom 1 percent. Who are they? Where are they? Why are they in the bottom 1 percent? And what should we do about them?

It turns out that about two thirds of the people in the bottom 1 percent are in U.S. prisons. And of these people, a few hundred thousand are there for victimless crimes. Letting them out would help them and save us taxpayer money. That’s a win-win.

ok, I will bite. Go ahead. how much exactly are the American taxpayers spending?

One thing that our taxes are spent on is keeping people in prison. According to a 2010 report from the Center for Economic Policy Research, we taxpayers are paying about $25,000 a year per prisoner to keep them there. In California, where high-income people are taxed particularly harshly, we pay about $47,000 per prisoner per year.

HOLY MOLY!, cant we ship them to Australia?

So let me get this straight: High-income people are paying lots of taxes so that the government can put poor people in prison and keep them poor or put non-poor people in prison and make them poor.

Tuesday, October 16

Your empathy isn’t empathy on my money

I loved this quote:

I’m all for empathy as it affects your desire to do nice things for others with your own money. I’m less impressed by you acting on your feelings of empathy by forcing me to do nice things for others. I believe the appropriate term for those who act in the latter way is manipulator.

Did you hear this, politicians and other people who love to decide what to do with my money? you are basically a hypocrite and untrustworthy, lack of principles and frankly a thoroughly bad egg. So since I have managed to piss you off anyway, here’s a letter from the same site..

Alan Blinder writes that Barack Obama is “a gifted orator, and empathy and fairness are in his bones” (“The Case Against a CEO in the Oval Office,” Oct. 2).

Assessments of Mr. Obama’s oratory are matters of subjective tastes.  But the assertion that the President is suffused with “empathy and fairness” can be questioned by pointing to objective facts.

Where, for example, was Mr. Obama’s empathy and sense of fairness in 2009 for Chrysler’s senior creditors – people he bullied into accepting fewer cents on the dollar than they were entitled to receive under long-established tenets of bankruptcy law?  Mr. Obama’s “empathy” for the UAW – junior creditors (and political supporters) who gained what was stripped from the senior creditors – hardly excuses his lack of empathy for the senior creditors (and, by the way, also U.S. taxpayers) victimized by his political opportunism.

Much worse: where is Mr. Obama’s “empathy” for the hundreds of innocent Pakistanis killed – and the thousands daily terrorized – by the drone strikes that he authorizes?  As The Atlantic‘s Conor Friedersdorf now-famously explained, “Women cower in their homes.  Children are kept out of school.  The stress they endure gives them psychiatric disorders.  Men are driven crazy by an inability to sleep as drones buzz overhead 24 hours a day, a deadly strike possible at any moment.  At worst, this policy creates more terrorists than it kills; at best, America is ruining the lives of thousands of innocent people and killing hundreds of innocents for a small increase in safety from terrorists.  It is a cowardly, immoral, and illegal policy, deliberately cloaked in opportunistic secrecy.”*

What’s in Mr. Obama’s bones isn’t “empathy and fairness.”  Instead, the only motive forces seemingly operating in his bones are those that infect nearly every politician’s marrow: a disgraceful lust for power, pomp, and office.

Monday, October 15

Watching the Murder of an Innocent Man

Couple of things here son. First is joburg. I've been there several times and its always been a scary place for me. One of the most scary places. In broad daylight, in downtown joburg. In front of the headquarters of the largest saffa bank, one is nervous. 

Second is this idea of a mob. I've been attacked in the middle of one in Harare and been part of many in bhopal and Indore. It's a mindless animal son. Something happens when a group of men and women are brought together, a demagogue whips up emotions and then it just snowballs out of control. The London riots, football riots in the uk etc are all examples of what mobs can do. 

Very dangerous son because reason doesn't work, intelligence is useless, personal character is squelched, civilisation vanishes and all you are left with is a mass of ugly ass violent people who can as easily turn into itself as that on an external object like police, trees and and and. 

Best option, walk away quietly, stay away from crowds. You cannot manage these risks. But if you are caught up in one, slowly very slowly move out from the centre towards the back of the mob. Pose as if you are going to be sick and pretend to vomit. And people will automatically squirm away from you and give you space. And then again slowly try to slip away. If the police come, don't fight, don't explain nothing. Simply do what they tell you and they will protect you. And call me :) we will sort you out. 



Watching the Murder of an Innocent Man

Pieter Hugo for The New York Times

Killing Field The open space between two squatter camps where Farai Kujirichita was beaten to death by vigilantes.

The mob, desperate for vengeance, had found an unlikely guide to lead them into their dark work. Fifteen-year-old Siphiwe, short, round-faced and reliably smiling, declared, “I know where these criminals live.”

He was a wayward teenager, a bad boy wanting to become a worse boy, and this gave him credibility in the matter of where vicious criminals might be found. A few men lifted him onto their shoulders so that the crowd, already in the hundreds, could see him better. Then an older man, wiser about these things, said to put the boy down. More than likely, they were about to kill someone. No one in the mob ought to be too conspicuous.

Diepsloot, in the northern reaches of Johannesburg, is a settlement of 150,000 people, the majority of them destitute. Crime oversteps even poverty as the most bedeviling affliction, and the night before, a gang of thugs marauded through one of the huge squatter camps in a subdivision called Extension 1. They were a methodical bunch, taking their time, shrewd about where to find stashes of cash amid the pittances, aware also of the police’s reluctance to enter the weave of shacks — the mokhukhus — where the narrow, unlighted pathways can be a fearsome labyrinth. The criminals killed two people, though the churning rumor mill put the number as high as 11.