Friday, April 5

The dwarves of Auschwitz

Dear Son

The cruelty that we show fellow humans can sometimes be extraordinary. That's why ensure that religions and/or the state never gets too powerful. This is what and where people end up. 

Dead and gassed and tortured and and and. 

Real tragic and that's why the world decided, never again the holocaust. Didn't succeed that much. We had Bangladesh. We had Rwanda. We had Jordan. Etc etc. still we don't forget! 



The dwarves of Auschwitz | World news | The Guardian

The Ovitz family

The Ovitzs (from left): Elizabeth, Perla, Rozika, Frieda, Franziska and Avram

‘I was saved by the grace of the devil,” Holocaust survivor Perla Ovitz told us. Again and again, she recounted in detail how she and her family were taken to the gas chamber and ordered to strip naked. A heavy door opened and they were pushed inside. “It was almost dark and we stood in what looked like a large washing room, waiting for something to happen. We looked up to the ceiling to see why the water was not coming. Suddenly we smelled gas. We gasped heavily, some of us fainting on the floor. With our last breath we cried out. Minutes passed, or maybe just seconds, then we heard an angry voice from outside – ‘Where is my dwarf family?’ The door opened, and we saw Dr Mengele standing there. He ordered us to be carried out and had cold water poured on us to revive us.”

The Ovitz family, from the village of Rozavlea in Transylvania, was the largest recorded family of dwarves: a dwarf father who sired 10 children, seven of them dwarves. Perla, born in 1921, was the youngest. In that remote part of Romania in the early 20th century, it was difficult for anyone to eke a living from the land and livestock, and impossible for someone standing less than 3ft tall.

Their mother, anxious for her children’s future, guided them towards a common skill, a profession in which they could together make a living and would be neither isolated nor ostracised. As the five sisters and two brothers were all good-looking and musically gifted, the stage seemed the perfect choice: for where else could they be applauded, courted, honoured?

Wednesday, April 3

He Who Makes the Rules


Here's an excellent article on how the process of lawmaking happens. Or not as the case maybe. And all parts are important as its important all parties are heard. 

So now you see why financial institutions pay such close attention to what's going on in government. It can literally be the reason for success or failure. 

there is another quote which is relevant in these days, In democracy, its not the count of the vote which is important but also its important to know who counts the vote. That’s why an independent election commission is so vital. Unfortunately, we don't have something like that and therefore we end up with legal gymnastics like this. And this is the reason why I am sceptical of more regulation making economies safer.



The Washington Monthly - The Magazine - He Who Makes the Rules

Barack Obama’s biggest second-term challenge isn’t guns or immigration. It’s saving his biggest first-term achievements, like the Dodd-Frank law, from being dismembered by lobbyists and conservative jurists in the shadowy, Byzantine “rule-making” process.


In late 2010, Bart Chilton, one of three Democratic commissioners at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), walked into an upper-floor suite of an executive office building to meet with four top muckety-mucks at one of the biggest financial institutions in the world.

There were a handful of staff members present, but it was a pretty small gathering—one, it turns out, that Chilton would never forget.

The main topic Chilton hoped to discuss that day was the CFTC’s pending rule on what are known as “position limits.” If implemented properly, position limits would put a leash on speculation in the commodities market by making it harder for heavyweight traders at places like Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase to corner a market, make a killing for themselves, and screw up prices for the rest of us. Position limits are also one of many ways to tamp down the amount of risk big institutions can take on, which keeps them from going belly up and minimizes the chance taxpayers will have to bail them out.

The financial institution Chilton was meeting with that day was a big commodities exchange, which is like a stock exchange except that instead of trading stocks they trade derivatives based on the value of actual products, like oil and gas. Chilton wouldn’t say which major commodities exchange he was meeting with that day, but suffice it to say two of the biggest—the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and Intercontinental Exchange—have a lot to lose from federally administered position limits. To them, the more derivatives traded, the better. They’ve been fighting the CFTC’s attempts to establish position limits for years.

The passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in July 2010 seemed to promise meaningful reform on this front. The law includes Section 737, which explicitly directs the CFTC to establish position limits and lays out detailed guidelines on how they should do so. “The Commission shall by rule, regulation or order establish limits on the amount of positions, as appropriate,” it reads.

Still, even with the strength of the law behind him, Chilton waited until the end of the meeting to broach what he knew would be a tense subject. He began diplomatically. Now that the CFTC was required by law to establish position limits, his commission wanted to do so “in a fashion that made sense—one that was sensitive to, but not necessarily reflective of, the views of the exchange,” he told the executives.

Chilton’s gracious overture fell flat. His hosts, who had been openly discussing other topics moments before, were suddenly silent. They deferred instead to their top lawyer, who explained that the exchange’s interpretation of Section 737 was that the CFTC was not required to establish position limits at all.

Chilton was blindsided. While other parts of Dodd-Frank were, admittedly, vague and ambiguous and otherwise frustrating to those, like him, who were tasked with writing the hundreds of rules associated with the act, Section 737 didn’t exactly pull any punches. The Commission shall establish limits on the amount of positions, as appropriate.

“You gotta be kidding,” Chilton told the executives. “The law is very clear here. The congressional intent
is clear.”

But the executives stood their ground. Their lawyer quietly referred Chilton to the end of the sentence in question: as appropriate. Those two little words, the lawyer said, clearly modify the verb “shall.” Therefore, the statute can be interpreted as saying that the commission shall—but only if appropriate—establish position limits, he explained.

Tuesday, April 2

When Art Makes Us Cry

Kannu and Diya. 

Here's an interesting article on art. Art can be anything man made. It can be a window, a painting, a carburettor, a sculpture, a film, opera, song, book, a couch. Something man made. 

Much art is pedestrian. You pass on by. Some makes you stop and say 'thats nice' and walk on. Few will make you stop and observe and think. Extremely rarely will you cry. 

But it has to speak to you. Deep inside your heart. Where the feeling of beauty or sorrow or love or grief or whatever emotion reaches deep inside and squeezes your heart and makes you cry. 

Not many people experience this, kids. It could be because they are afraid to cry. Or aren't looking. Or aren't open. So on and so forth. There is no magic bullet to experience this. 

You could feel this while listening to a story or a hymn, or standing in front of a painting, or watching an opera, or observing a gravestone or a sculpture or just a beautiful photograph. This has happened luckily to me and I can only wish that you feel something like this as well son. 



When Art Makes Us Cry by Francine Prose | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books

When Art Makes Us Cry

Francine Prose

Scrovegni Chapel

Detail from Giotto’s Massacre of the Innocents

During the spring of 2010, when Marina Abramović’s retrospective, “The Artist is Present,” was on view at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, it sometimes seemed impossible to open a magazine or newspaper without reading about the artist and her show. I remember feeling curious, admiring, and vaguely irritated. Why, with so few hours in the day, was I spending even five minutes wondering about whether Abramović was exploiting the artists who had volunteered to serve as her apprentices and to reenact (in most cases naked) some of her most physically demanding performance pieces?

I went to see the exhibition and its eponymous centerpiece: the artist, seated in a chair in the museum’s atrium, gazing intently, immobile and in silence, at the audience members who came, one by one, to sit opposite her. As I watched from the sidelines, I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen for a while. We chatted about our work, exchanged news of family and friends. Then I left, glad to have seen my friend, but otherwise no more affected by the Abramović show than I had been when I arrived.

So I was surprised and pleased—as I usually am when something persuades me to reconsider an overly hasty judgment—to watch Matthew Akers’s documentary film, Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present, and to realize how much I’d failed to comprehend. Some of what I’d overlooked seems, in retrospect, obvious: spending months in a hard chair, staring at a succession of strangers, was no less punishing and painful than earlier Abramović works which had involved self-mutilation and physical danger. But though I’d read about the intense responses of so many of the visitors who came to experience the artist’s presence, I didn’t—and perhaps couldn’t, unless I’d stayed around for as long as Akers did—register them in my own brief visit to the show.