Saturday, June 15

Won an award for communications

So I receive this press release.


I was just going to delete it when I saw something and burst out laughing. Check out the spelling of Communications and Professional.

Good heavens, Lauren Rutter will get into serious trouble…But the irony of a press release claiming being the leader of communications and professional services and making a typo on that was just too delicious not to point out.

Friday, June 14

Ben-Hur and Lew Wallace: How the scapegoat of Shiloh became one of the best-selling novelists in American history

I have to admit Kannu that I never read the book. The film itself made a huge impact on me. Judah Ben hur was such a heroic man, going through huge trials and tribulations. Then wins through. Takes revenge over his enemies. Becomes wealthy. Finds god. For I had seen the movie as a teenager. My aunt took me to see this in Calcutta. Big impression. Do see it if you can. 

But the backstory is perhaps more interesting. Didn't know the link to the carnage of the civil war. 




Ben-Hur and Lew Wallace: How the scapegoat of Shiloh became one of the best-selling novelists in American history. - Slate Magazine

Gen. Lew Wallace, circa 1861. Courtesy of Brady-Handy Photograph Collection/Library of Congress

You can also listen to John Swansburg read this piece using the player below:


Lew Wallace was making conversation with the other gentlemen in his sleeper car when a man in a nightgown appeared in the doorway. The train was bound for Indianapolis and the Third National Soldiers Reunion, where thousands of Union Army veterans planned to rally, reminisce, and march in a parade the New York Times would later describe as “the grandest street display ever seen in the United States.” It was Sept. 19, 1876, more than a decade since the Civil War had ended. Wallace had grayed a bit, but still wore the sweeping imperial moustache he’d had at the Battle of Shiloh. “Is that you, General Wallace?” the man in the nightgown asked. “Won’t you come to my room? I want to talk.”

Robert Ingersoll, also a veteran of Shiloh, was now the nation’s most prominent atheist, a renowned orator who toured the country challenging religious orthodoxy and championing a healthy separation of church and state. Wallace recognized him from earlier that summer, when he’d heard Ingersoll, a fellow Republican, make a rousing speech at the party’s nominating convention. Wallace accepted his invitation and suggested they take up a subject near to Ingersoll’s heart: the existence of God.

Ingersoll talked until the train reached its destination. “He went over the whole question of the Bible, of the immortality of the soul, of the divinity of God, and of heaven and hell,” Wallace later recalled. “He vomited forth ideas and arguments like an intellectual volcano.” The arguments had a powerful effect on Wallace. Departing the train, he walked the pre-dawn streets of Indianapolis alone. In the past he had been indifferent to religion, but after his talk with Ingersoll his ignorance struck him as problematic, “a spot of deeper darkness in the darkness.” He resolved to devote himself to a study of theology, “if only for the gratification there might be in having convictions of one kind or another.”

But how to go about such a study? Wallace knew himself well enough to predict that a syllabus of sermons and Biblical commentaries would fail to hold his interest. He devised instead what he called “an incidental employment,” a task that would compel him to complete a thorough investigation of the eternal questions while entertaining his distractible mind. A few years earlier, he’d published a historical romance about the Spanish conquest of Mexico, to modest success. His idea now was to inquire after the divinity of Christ by writing a novel about him.

It took four years, but in 1880, Wallace finished his incidental employment. He called it Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ. It’s one of the great if little known ironies in the history of American literature: Having set out to win another soul to the side of skepticism, Robert Ingersoll instead inspired a Biblical epic that would rival the actual Bible for influence and popularity in Gilded Age America—and a folk story that has been reborn, in one medium or another, in every generation since.

Thursday, June 13

Creative Jobs Versus Financial Stability - Is Creative Ambition Enough to Get Financial Stability


Didu told me a story when I would read books rather than study. It was about a man who gets down from a big expensive car wearing a suit and bumps into a woman. She is his old gf who had dumped him as he never could show determination to do something in his life. Always lost in books and dreams. After a coffee, they parted ways. The gf is kicking herself for having let him go. And then the next scene is of the man who lives in a little pokey room on top of a garage. He is a driver. Still reads books but also drinks. 

That stayed with me and still does. I could have been that man son if luck/god/whatever hadn't intervened. So do have a creative side. Paint. Write. Sing. Teach. Photograph. But only after you have financial security. I'm proud of your saving habits. When you told mamma that you will buy your phone from your own money, I was so proud. Seriously. That's my boy. 

Keep on it son. I love you. 


Creative Jobs Versus Financial Stability - Is Creative Ambition Enough to Get Financial Stability - ELLE

When I was 26, my then roommate was a great scavenger of furniture. One day, she came home with a daybed frame: a twin-size wooden box with only three legs, which is likely why someone had left it on a curb in the first place. The frame sat propped against our dining room wall for the next year, until I moved in with my boyfriend (now husband), and she let us take it. My husband made a fourth leg out of salvaged wood, and we found a cushion that more or less fit the frame in the “as is” section of IKEA. The back was constructed from a mattress pad rolled up and stuffed into a homemade pillowcase, and the whole ensemble was eventually covered with some black corduroy fabric that we bought for $10. All told, I think we spent about $40 on the “couch.” That was six years ago. At the time, I thought of our jury-rigged furniture as a temporary arrangement, a way station on the path to adulthood. Now it serves as a reminder of how slow and grueling the road to financial security can be.

Which brings me to a second anecdote, one that occurred about a year ago. Over a plate of pasta one night, my husband told me that I needed to make more money. I don’t remember what prompted it, whether we were discussing saving for a down payment or planning a vacation, but regardless of the topic, it was hard to argue with his point. If I really wanted the things I said I did, we’d need more than we were bringing in, than I was bringing in, because, as he implied, I was the one who wasn’t really holding up my end.

Grameen Foundation and other charitable bits and bobs

Its been a long time that I updated this blog. How time flies. And fruit flies like bananas.

So I have now joined up this Bankers without Borders outfit. Its a fascinating place started by the Grameen Foundation..famous organisation in its own right. The basic idea is that bankers with particular qualifications can help charities with various tasks such as finance, administration, recruitment, strategy, cash management, transformation, recovery, etc. etc. Usually for few months in some wonderful out of the way places. I applied to one outfit in Ghana who wanted a recovery piece (a charity which was facing problems and needed a bit of recovery…got some experience of that) but well, wasn't selected. So looking forward to the next opportunity.

Home Start Hillingdon is going well, well, as well as it can in these financially constrained times. But good news, the Mayor of Hillingdon has decided to join our summer event where we celebrate the wonderful work our volunteers do. So chuffed about it all.

Every month, I manage to get into a real funk, when I hear about some of the family situations we have to handle, its just crazy. I sometimes feel that before people can become parents, they need to go through exactly the same level of scrutiny that adoptive parents have to go through. The level of cruelty and pain and suffering and and and that kids go through is just amazingly painful. Through no fault of their own, they suffer so badly when their parents are made redundant, get drug addicted, imprisoned, etc. etc. sighs. hate hearing but also love hearing how we recover these families. each year we help up to 100 families. Brilliant work our staff and volunteers do.

On the Animal front, not much action, did potter around with some financials but haven't really managed to make as much of a difference as I wanted. But hopefully would be able to help raise some funds soon and also put my camera to good use with the munchkins. Every time I go there and see the mute hopeful look in the eyes of the dogs, it rips my heart out…sighs. cant wait till I retire and then have my own dogs :)

Helped out with some lectures to some educational trusts and foundations, hosted a group of students from the USA, that was fun, I actually got a T-Shirt out of it. Its very cool, pale blue..very nice. But cant wear it till I lose another 10 kilo’s, heh, so there’s a good incentive.

University lectures are proceeding apace. Am going to my old alma mater in 2 weeks time :) will be good

Enough already…

Wednesday, June 12

Resort Of Last Resort

Here's an example of where the bottom feeders live. People who are escaping Islam. Poverty. They are desperate to get away from the bastards who have ruined countries such as Pakistan Afghanistan and Iran. And more will come. The history of Islam tells us that Muslims kill more Muslims than any other religion. And this sad story has a long way to run. Till Muslims manage to box Islam into the civilised box rather than the shape fundamentalists have put it into. 

Ironically you see one of the sets of idiots, Saudis, who are responsible for this desecration of Islam coming to Indonesia to get their rocks off. The hypocrisy is breathtaking. The Saudis piss over their co religionists in India Bangladesh Pakistan Indonesia Egypt Lebanon and in return these guys fawn over the Saudis and lick their feet. Only place there where I faced in your face racism. Bah. 

But there you go. It's a sad view of one of the sad spots of the world. As an economist you need to consider why nations hate and love immigration. Freedom of capital is allowed generally but of labour? Nope. Think about why this is so son.



Resort Of Last Resort | The Global Mail

Fear, corruption, boredom, smugglers, extortionists, Saudi sex tourists and temporary wives: such is life in the Indonesian resort town that has become limbo for asylum seekers.

Night is enveloping the hills of Cisarua, a resort town high outside Jakarta, and the area’s evening rituals are beginning. Rainwater thunders down from nearby mountaintops along hundreds of canals and rivulets that go whooshing on into the polluted sink that is Indonesia’s capital.

Across the bowl-shaped valley, dozens of mosques begin booming the call to prayer, all merging together into an asynchronous whine. In hillside villas, groups of men from Saudi Arabia — some in traditional white thawb robes, some in baggy track pants – load up on the evening’s stock of alcohol, which is banned in their home country. On motorbikes and in cars, pimps begin ferrying in the men’s other vice — Arabic-speaking Indonesian women.

(See the photos behind the story: Barat Ali Batoor’s series from Cisarua, In Between Persecution And Asylum.)

In other rented houses, hundreds of asylum seekers sit with little to do. Many have become near-nocturnal out of sheer boredom, and are just starting their day. Over the past decade, the town has become the unofficial haven for asylum seekers heading to Australia. For some, it is a brief stopover before they jump on a smuggler’s boat. For others, it is a limbo that can last for years.

Haider — not his real name — is sitting in a living room with half-a-dozen other men who, like him, are Hazaras from the Pakistani city of Quetta. All appear drawn and exhausted. One of the men, Ghulam Reza, sits with his foot extended because of an untreated, bloody gash.

Tuesday, June 11

Terror Group Recruits From Pakistan’s ‘Best and Brightest’


I've written much about Pakistan before. It's a classic example of the worst that can happen when religion gets mixed up in state matters. Despite encouraging signs like the first democratic govt since independence able to complete its term of office, the state and religious nexus isn't broken and is actually getting stronger. 

For example some of my Pakistani friends on fb are showing an increased religiosity. One prayed to Allah to get Imran Khan elected. This fellow is a blithering nincompoop. He talks absolute rot but to listen to his supporters, the sun shines out of this backside. So to tease, I asked if other Pakistani religious minorities will also be praying to Jesus and Ram and Guru Gobind Singh to get him elected? No response but it was amusing. 

This is one of the reasons why I detest religion in politics and overwhelming state power. The combination is even worse.

These 200000 estimated jehadis in this group are with us, the group is growing and not only I but you will be dealing with this over the next 30-50 years minimum. Joy



Terror Group Recruits From Pakistan’s ‘Best and Brightest’ - ProPublica

Terror Group Recruits From Pakistan’s ‘Best and Brightest’

Imagine a terrorist group that recruits tens of thousands of young men from the same neighborhoods and social networks as the Pakistani military. A group whose well-educated recruits defy the idea that poverty and ignorance breed extremism. A group whose fighters include relatives of a politician, a senior Army officer and a director of Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission.

That is the disconcerting reality of Lashkar-e-Taiba, one of the world’s most dangerous militant organizations, according to a study released today [1] by the Combating Terrorism Center at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. The report helps explain why Pakistan has resisted international pressure [2] to crack down on Lashkar after it killed 166 people in Mumbai — six U.S. citizens included — and came close to sparking conflict between nuclear-armed Pakistan and India.

Monday, June 10

The Hell of American Day Care

Here's an interesting problem son. Govt's around the world are actually trying to reduce taxes and spend as the current level of spending is clearly unsustainable. More debt, borrowing from the future to spend in the present is starting to hit limits. So should we fund child care? The author talks about France but France is struggling with awesome amounts of debt. And it's social system creaks. Furthermore with such a great system France is useless at getting its people into work. 

Second aspect to remember is that having children is considered to be a choice. If you have children its expected that you are able to take care of them. Why should somebody else pay for your choices? I can understand low income, divorce etc etc but just like you wouldn't expect somebody else to pay for your vacation, the argument is that you have to have funds. 

But life isn't that simple and people will still have babies without the ability to pay or look after them. In my charity we find so many parents just useless at parenting at best and a threat to the kids at worst. 

So some element of child care has to be setup. Not a good choice. 



The Hell of American Day Care | New Republic


Mire looked down at her baby girl, Kendyll, who was curled up tight on a foldaway crib. “Night, night,” Kendyll had just murmured in her quiet, serious way. At 20 months, she was picking up all sorts of words, like “baby,” the name of the doll she kept nearby, and “Bryce,” the name of her big brother. She hadn’t slept much that night, and Mire thought about calling in late to work so Kendyll could get more rest. But it was only Mire’s second day at a new job she badly needed, as a receptionist at a Houston oil company. Mire, who was 30, with an open face and wide smile, was intent on making a good impression. The best she could do was give Kendyll an extra hour to nap and prepare some warm milk for her breakfast.

When Kendyll got up, Mire dressed her in a purple shirt that matched her own—purple was Kendyll’s favorite color—and put a pair of purple-striped stretch pants in her backpack. It was a challenge to get Kendyll to sit still for the hour it took to unbraid and re-braid her dark hair, and on such a hectic morning, Mire didn’t even try. At around 7 a.m., they got into the car and drove to Kendyll’s new day care.

The place was called “Jackie’s Child Care,” but there wasn’t anyone named Jackie who worked there. The proprietor was Jessica Tata, an energetic 22-year-old registered with the state of Texas to look after children in the wood-paneled house she rented on a quiet, middle-class street. Her regulars included Elias, a chunky 16-month-old with a bowlegged walk, and 19-month-old Elizabeth, who always jumped into her mom’s lap when it was time to drop her off. As Mire walked back to her car that warm February morning in 2011, she noticed Kendyll hovering at the entrance—a little sleepy, a little curious, gazing at the scene inside. Mire felt uneasy about leaving, especially since it was only Kendyll’s second day there and she didn’t know Tata that well. Shortly after, she called Tata to check in, and Tata reassured her that Kendyll was doing just fine.

Just after lunch, Mire’s cell phone lit up. The number was Tata’s, but she didn’t recognize the voice. “There’s been a fire,” a woman said. “They’ve taken all the kids to the hospital, for smoke, as a precaution.” Mire tried not to panic; she clutched at the word “precaution.” Her phone buzzed again, this time with a text message from a friend: “What day care did you say Kendyll goes to?” Mire called the friend, who was watching live TV coverage of a burning Houston day care. Black smoke was billowing from windows and holes in the roof; firemen were running out of the house, cradling limp babies in their arms. One little girl had braided hair and a purple shirt, her friend told her. She looked like Kendyll. Mire ran to her car. I can’t panic, she kept telling herself as she drove through heavy traffic and later past ambulances and fire engines. I just have to get there.

Trusting your child with someone else is one of the hardest things that a parent has to do—and in the United States, it’s harder still, because American day care is a mess. About 8.2 million kids—about 40 percent of children under five—spend at least part of their week in the care of somebody other than a parent. Most of them are in centers, although a sizable minority attend home day cares like the one run by Jessica Tata. In other countries, such services are subsidized and well-regulated. In the United States, despite the fact that work and family life has changed profoundly in recent decades, we lack anything resembling an actual child care system. Excellent day cares are available, of course, if you have the money to pay for them and the luck to secure a spot. But the overall quality is wildly uneven and barely monitored, and at the lower end, it’s Dickensian.