Wednesday, November 11

The high environmental cost of our oasis fix

Here's an interesting take on something that you already know son. Water scarcity is a fact of life across so many countries and England included. Two years back, there was a hose pipe ban in the uk. Despite it raining so much. There are tons of reasons but mainly it's because we don't manage water properly and the stresses are huge. Despite a slowly reducing population, many countries are severely water stressed. There was a nasa hydrological map which showed how much ground water aquifers have been depleted in Asia Middle East and Africa. This will blow up the economics terribly. 

But oases are truly beautiful son. I've seen them in india and Saudi Arabia. To see them emerge out of the dusty desert is extraordinary. The feeling of happiness and joy. The feeling of being alive. It's fecund. It's fertile. The water. The brilliant green. Truly amazing sights. 

I'm running a small project in Nicaragua with the university of Bedfordshire where we will be trying to help a village become water sustainable. By using water harvesting techniques, improved irrigation methods, aquifer replenishment, and so on and so forth. This 5 year plan will be fascinating. I've never worked with water before. Hsbc is also sponsoring water charities and I'm getting involved there as well. This is going to be a big strategic issue for us. 

Look forward to speaking to you tonight son. 

Love you


The high environmental cost of our oasis fix – Rebecca Lawton – Aeon
(via Instapaper)

Seen from the air, the single verdant parcel of land with its straight borders and sharp edges resembles a green postage stamp pasted on a great expanse of manila envelope. Inside the boundary, a screen of trees hides a palatial estate, acres of emerald turf, a paved circular driveway, and an extensive array of tumbling, marble fountains. Outside the rectangle, a hot, rock-strewn fan of tan alluvium extends unvegetated and unwatered for half a kilometre to another such parcel, then another, then another. Toward the city centre eight kilometres away, residences cluster closer together but emulate the lush feel of the outlying estates with their surfeit of palm trees, water features and improbably green turf.

Monday, November 9

The Devil's in the Debt

Despite working in a bank son, I have problems with debt. I had a long discussion with many technologists and senior managers last week at an industry dinner. They were all getting excited about technological disruptions. Fine. But where's the growth from these new developments? Is this actually adding value? I don't think so. This is extracting more value from unused assets such as spare bedrooms and unused cars but a leap in productivity or sustainable demand isn't there. Where there is, is primed with debt with the underlying assumption that this investment will actually return monies which will be more than the interest rates. Which doesn't usually. So capital is wasted. 

So debt is dodgy. It hobbles you. It forces you to regularly pay. And at a time when you've got to be more flexible and fun to meet the challenges. 

Interesting thesis son. 



The Devil's in the Debt
(via Instapaper)

<p&gtGrim news in the fall of 2008.</p&gt
 Scott Olson/Getty Images
<p>Grim news in the fall of 2008.</p> Scott Olson/Getty Images

The 2008 financial crash was a self-inflicted, avoidable economic catastrophe. It wasn't the result of war or political turmoil, or the consequence of competition from emerging economies. It didn't derive from underlying tensions over income distribution or from profligate government spending.

No, the origins of this crisis lay in the dealing rooms of London and New York banks and shadow banks -- part of a global financial system whose enormous personal rewards had been justified by the supposed economic benefits of financial innovation and increased financial activity.

Many people are legitimately angry that few bankers have been punished. Some were incompetent, others dishonest. Yet they were not a fundamental driver of the crisis any more than the misbehavior of individual financiers in 1920s America caused the Great Depression.

Post-crisis regulatory reforms also miss the mark. Much focus has been placed on making sure that taxpayers never again have to bail out “too big to fail” banks. That's certainly important, but government bailout costs were small change compared with the total harm the financial crisis caused.

The Federal Reserve has sold all its capital injections into banks at a profit, and made a positive return on its provision of liquidity to the financial system. Across the advanced economies, bailout and support costs will be, at most, 3 percent of gross domestic product.

The full economic cost is far bigger. Advanced economies' public debt on average increased by 34 percent of GDP between 2007 and 2014. More important, national incomes and living standards in many countries are 10 percent or more below where they could have been, and are likely to remain there in perpetuity.

Such losses could happen again, and neither bankers threatened by prison nor a no-bailout regime will guarantee a more stable financial system. A fixation on these issues threatens to divert us from the underlying causes of financial instability.

War trophies: When Hindu kings raided temples and abducted idols

Kannu Diya

Here's a chapter from horrible histories. How Hindu King's nicked idols and destroyed temples properly. Of course one can say that the Hindu kings didn't destroy the idols but that's a quibble. The champions of idol destruction are of course the children of that very jealous God of Jews, Christians and Muslims. Very very jealous. Reading the scriptures will give you a shiver. He's pretty clear (or at least his scribes said so) that if you worship another God, you will be cast into hell and bad stuff will happen. 

Of course this is all utter rubbish. The idea that a God is all tied up in blocks of stone or is unique is complete and utter rubbish. At best, idols are focus objects. Objects of art. Objects of veneration. But to expect that they have some innate divinity is rubbish. But see how many wars have happened over idols. Mecca. Jerusalem. Ayodhya. Constantinople. Thebes. Mexico. You name it. 

Religion is a way of control kids. Don't mix with faith. 

Have a lovely Week. Best of luck with the interviews son. 



War trophies: When Hindu kings raided temples and abducted idols
(via Instapaper)

War trophies: When Hindu kings raided temples and abducted idols

Temple desecration under the Muslim rule in India was a continuation of the policy the ruling dynasties pursued in the pre-Islamic period. Hindu kings victorious in battles plundered the temples their vanquished rivals patronised, ferreted away the deities installed there, and in extreme cases, even broke them. Such instances are documented and known to historians.

But this phenomenon has failed to inform the public discourse on Islamic iconoclasm. This has enabled the proponents of Hindutva to project the destruction of temples under Muslim rulers as an assault on the Hindu religion, and as an example of the tyranny perpetrated on its followers.