Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Chennai bombing suspect in custody

The suspect was held while hiding in the train (smart guys dont make mistakes like that). Naturally they will not disclose who he is and why they have booked him. But if he is truly a "person of interest" then we should expect rapid progress. There will be intense pressure to resolve this case quickly.

A woman passenger was killed and 11 others were injured, two of them grievously, when two bombs went off on in two coaches of the Guwahati-Bangalore Express at the Chennai Central railway station. ....blasts took place at around 7:45 am in S-4 and S-5 sleeper coaches after the train arrived at the platform number 9. It is believed that this was an IED bomb.....The woman passenger traveling from Bangalore to Vijayawada died. She was identified as 22-year-old Swati, who was slated to go further to Guntur.

Vijaywada is only six hours away from Chennai. Poor Swati, with her whole life ahead of her, lost her life because the train was running late (the bomb would have surely killed some other person).

Mice fear men (love women)

It is just like Saudi Arabia in reverse, men should not be exposed to mice unless accompanied by a woman.

Though it is just one study, we feel it makes sense. Cant really blame the mice, they are just looking for a mother's love (dont we all). To solve this problem men should try to become good at mothering (it is not that hard, just requires commitment).

The history of science is one chock-full of mice and men. Historically, biological and medical research has largely depended on rodents, which provide scientists with everything from cells and organs to behavioral data. That's why a new study in which researchers found that mice actually fear men, but not women, has the potential to be so disruptive. It might mean that a number of researchers have published mouse studies in which their results reflect this male-induced stress effect — and they know nothing about it.

Safe jobs (2029)

Late in the 21st century there will be NO safe jobs. Everything hard will be done by computers, everything tedious, dirty, and dangerous by robots (including warfare). People will probably die of boredom, just sitting around at home and watching reality TV all day.
According to CareerCast's "Best Jobs of 2014" report, employers are paying big bucks to lure employees that understand data, code and math (which really translates to "data analytics"). 
In fact, jobs that depend on these geeky skills comprise half of the top 10 jobs of 2014.
Data analysis is so important to the modern enterprise, in fact, that one executive recruiter declared, "In 15 years, if you don't have a solid quant background, you might have a permanent pink slip," simply because "so much of decision-making in corporations is going so quickly toward having a quant-foundation."
Here are the top 10 jobs of 2014, along with the median income for the position:

  1. Mathematician / $101,360
  2. Tenured University Professor / $68,970
  3. Statistician /$75,560
  4. Actuary / $93,680
  5. Audiologist / $69,720
  6. Dental Hygienist / $70,210
  7. Software Engineer / $93,350
  8. Computer Systems Analyst / $79,680
  9. Occupational Therapist /$75,400
  10. Speech Pathologist / $69,870
Among the worst jobs of 2014 were the lumberjack (No. 200) and the newspaper reporter (No. 199). While it's unclear what the lumberjack should do, famed statistician Nate Silver offers clear guidance for journalists: Learn to code.

Apollo babies (hackers) recover earth-rise

This beautiful pix showing earth-rise for the first time (and its companions) will certainly be a joy forever. One more proof that the world is being  ruled by hackers and we are just allowed to live in it (and gawp at their achievements).

The most recent and impressive ones are the Lost Lunar Orbiter (satellite) pictures from 1966. It is mind-boggling what the folks did in those early days with so little money and primitive technology. Space was the new frontier then, and that magic cant be recreated easily. If someone can do it, we bet it will be the hackers (aka techno-archaeologists). Take a bow, Keith Conning and Dennis Wingo.

Finally, we just got bit by the nostalga bug when we read about Usenet and Radio Shack. Good old days!!!
Sitting incongruously among the hangars and laboratories of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley is the squat facade of an old McDonald’s. You won’t get a burger there, though–its cash registers and soft-serve machines have given way to old tape drives and modern computers run by a rogue team of hacker engineers who’ve rechristened the place McMoon’s. These self-described techno-archaeologists have been on a mission to recover and digitize forgotten photos taken in the ‘60s by a quintet of scuttled lunar satellites.

The (im)moral Maharajah

Adultery in our opinion is not necessarily a moral crime (in the context of an open marriage). We doubt this was the case when the famous lady journalist hotted it up with the Maharajah of Raghogarh (Guna, Madhya Pradesh) but this will be settled between the private individuals and is not a public concern. Normally we would worry about the neutrality of news media when journalists gets into bed (literally in this case, figuratively for others) with politicians. However with the spread of paid news and other delights no one in India can pretend that news is in any way neutral. Also by the time one has filtered the bytes through the lens (multiple) of caste, class, religion, language, and region, one is at liberty to state that there is no objective truth.

That said, it is always delightful to catch politicians with their pants down, especially hyper-moralistic partisans like Digvijay Singh, who was taking pot-shots just yesterday at the Hindu Great Man (HGM). Now we have also been critical of the shabby manner in which Jashodaben has been treated but then we are not creepy, stinky, dirty old males jumping into bed with married females young enough to be our daughters.

We also hope that this is not going to be another tragic play like the Sunanda Pushkar story. We pray that the husband gets his pound of flesh out of the matter, nothing less than 10 crore in cash will do, a posh flat in Delhi, and yes, a Jaguar F-type (Car of the Year award from Playboy magazine). We do wish the (about to be) married couple happiness in their future life together.
Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh’s acceptance of his “relationship” with a 43-year-old Rajya Sabha TV anchor and their plans to marry created a political storm on Wednesday with the opposition BJP and Aam Admi Party (AAP) targeting the 67-year-old former Madhya Pradesh chief minister on “morality”.

Maoists driven back (by women voters)

Unlike in Kashmir (Srinagar recorded only 25% votes yesterday) there seems to be fresh hope for electoral democracy in Chattisgarh. Two key things will have to happen for democracy to flourish: maximum possible devolution of power to the lowest level possible, and implementation of social schemes without fear or favor.

Congratulations are due to the Raman Singh led BJP govt for doing well on the governance front. However the Maoist menace will remain for a long time to come (it cant be wished away). The worst thing (as in Nigeria) is for the govt to become complacent.
Defying the Maoist threat of poll-boycott, Chhattisgarh has indeed created a record of sorts in the just concluded Lok Sabha polls in the state, registering not only the highest ever turnout of 69.48% but also witnessing an overwhelming participation of 68.04% women voters.

As compared to a turnout of 55.29% in 2009 and about 52.09% in 2004, nearly 70% of the 1,76,23,818 electorate exercised their franchise in these elections. Even the so-called "red areas", where Maoists had given called for a poll boycott, voters remained undeterred, with Bastar and Kanker regions recording a turnout of 59.4% and 70.29% respectively, another first in the state.

"million-woman" against Boko Haram (an appeal)

The Nigerian school girls abducted by Boko Haram apparently have been sold as slaves to jihadists. This is not exactly a surprise. A million-women march may help put pressure on a complacent government. But chances of recovering the girls (especially if they have crossed international borders) is close to zero.

We @ BP would like to appeal to our readers to highlight this important event on social media and hope for success in a difficult cause.
Protesters will hold a "million-woman march" in the Nigerian capital (Abuja) on Wednesday over the government's failure to rescue scores of schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram Islamists two weeks ago. Angry Nigerian parents lashed out at the government on Tuesday as a local leader claimed the hostages had been sold as wives abroad.

India before Japan (World Bank)

Economy #3 as ranked by the International Comparison Program (ICP), hosted by the Development Data Group at the World Bank.

These gross numbers are a bit meaningless anyway, still India would do much better off if the conflict level was lower in the sub-continent, OTOH the situation is more stable than Middle East North Africa (MENA) nations which are superior in HDI rankings.
In a matter of six years, India emerged as the world's third-largest economy in 2011 from being the 10th largest in 2005, moving ahead of Japan, while the US remained the largest economy closely followed by China, latest figures have revealed.

Messing about with the site

Since it seems that Blogger is going to stay our home for a little while longer I've made a few changes to the right hand column. Our comments section is uncharacteristically quiet as compared to before so just revamped that section.

Subverting the discourse; using the colour card

Maybe I read too much of Steve Sailer & the alternative sites. Maybe it's cuz I'm in Africa and see so much of the paternalism condescension of Muzungu NGO workers but I'm beginning to get awfully bored of our mainstream sanctimonious attitude towards "rights" (be it class, gender, race or orientation).

It's increasingly leading to a culture of hypocrisy in the public sphere but a shadow culture, where such vices flourish. As long as you espouse the "correct" views in public you can get away with practically anything short of murder in the real clubby elitist world that these movers & shakers actually occupy.

It's maybe a sign of the times when a Great Civilisation on the wane doesn't have much else to do but fight imaginary wars all the while not offering any real solutions.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Do what I say not what I do

I hang out with a lot of expats in Uganda. The local term for Westerner is Muzungu (Swahili/Luganda for "wanderer" as the white man was always wandering all over the place, the English language is called Luzungu).

At any rate almost down to the tee any Englishmen or American in Uganda would be a reliable lefty, almost a sure voter for the Labour/Liberal party or a Democrat/Independent.

While these self-professed liberals (after all most of them are NGO types) regularly declaim the Tory party or the right wing for their racism and proclaim their paens to diversity, in many of their gatherings I end up being the only "dark-haired" person about. Now that's another level of homogeneity and it's only happened to me once before in the West (forget about being the only dark skinned person but dark haired to boot).

At any rate I find that while their adhere to the cult of diversity and multi-cultural ism in practise the Tory party gatherings (even the far-right UKIP) will be more diverse in terms of race & ethnicity. In part because the right insists on a minimum standard of acculturation/assimilation (which is easily accomplished depending on your class levels, immigration is fraught as a two-edged sword since underperforming immigrants "sponge on welfare" high performing "take jobs") they are able to accommodate racial diversity.

Whereas I've noticed that the left liberals won't notice anything amiss about their all-vanilla gatherings, it's as though their ideological leaning insulate from any actual criticism. The right considers any superiority/arrogance to derive from wealth & the creation of wealth whereas the left seems to hold itself apart from a complex interlocking of race, class & ideology that makes it far more opaque and inaccessible to get into. Essentially the easiest pass is to blend in by just fudging the boundaries (understand the rules & play them to your advantage).

Save Our Servants (leaders)

Andhra Pradesh goes to vote today for the last time as an united entity. It is a bitter-sweet moment which has been 65 years in the making (an un-making).  

There are two parties presently in the battle-field led by (supremely astute) Servant-Leaders: Jaganmohan Reddy (YSR Congress) and Sonia Gandhi (Indian National Congress). While YSR Congress is expected to shine in coastal Andhra (estimated 90% Dalit Christian population), the fortunes of the INC (and the all-important Mission 115) will depend on its performance in Telengana.

Bishop G Dyvasyrvadam and Archbishop of Hyderabad Thumma Bala have issued an S.O.S. on behalf of The Andhra Pradesh Federation of Churches for today's (April 30) and the May 7 ballot. The Bishops have also presented a detailed Charter of Demands.
John Dayal, a noted (Catholic) Dalit activist reports from the Christian foxhole:
The Andhra Pradesh Bishops’ group has perhaps gone a step further and presented a charter of demands to the political parties and candidates in the election fray.  
These demands included setting up of a Christian finance and development corporation, ....removal of the ban on propagation and practice of Faiths in certain areas,  and Christian representation on various government organisations. They ....also demanded an Assembly seat in each district and two Lok Sabha (seats), .....apart from land for building churches. 

"Rahul Gandhi is not a running item any more"

On the eve of the April 30th ballot, the bookies have closed their books on the dynasty. Enough said.

As May 16 nears, leading bookies in Rajkot, Indore and Ahmedabad have stopped offering bets on Rahul Gandhi as the next prime minister of India, suggesting that the Congress VP does not stand much of a chance to move into 7 Race Course Road after the Lok Sabha poll results are out in mid-May.  Even a month ago, some bookies were offering odds of about Rs 6-7 for Gandhi to be the PM, while the rate for Arvind Kejriwal, the founder of Aam Aadmi Party, was about Rs 500-525.

In contrast to Rahul Gandhi, the rate for Narendra Modi, the BJP candidate for the PM post, is 45 paise, nearly unchanged from what the rate was about a month ago. This means if one bets Rs 100 on Modi to assume the coveted office in Delhi's South Block, and he actually becomes the PM after May 16, one would get Rs 145.

"Rahul Gandhi is not a running item any more," said a person who is aware of the rates. According to the person, the rates in other parts of the country would differ by 1-2 paise, and not much.

In the Rajkot-Indore circles, the rates for the NDA coming to power is 44 paise. The rates for the BJP, which led the alliance that ruled the country from 1999-2004, getting 200 Lok Sabha seats is 46 paise and 58 paise for 250 seats.  
This rate has slightly changed what was offered about 10 days ago, — 50 paise to 75 paise for the BJP getting 250 seats — indicating the party has a lower chance of getting to that level.

Bookies are also betting heavily about the Congress getting less than 100 Lok Sabha seats, with the rates for it getting 85-90 seats at Rs 1.60-1.70, the person related to bookies said.


STOP Genocide now !!!

People hate wind turbines because they are an eye-sore (and in the proximate zone, ear-sore as well). This is a fact. People who hate wind turbines for other reasons accuse the technology for causing a genocide of the bird population. This is not supported by facts.

If you really want to protect birds, start building underground (which will kill rats, snakes etc) or at the least, seal off all the windows.

Israel: "Apartheid State" (under US protection)

What is not remarkable is that John Kerry uttered the A word (which is common-place in the left universe led by Jimmy Carter). What is remarkable is that he made the point at all, in the face of humungous support for Israel from the American public. The Gallup poll shows it all:

A quick (if shallow) analysis shows that prior to 9/11 the factions of Americans saying that they have sympathy with Israel and those who claiming sympathy for both Israel/Palestinians were roughly equal. Things changed drastically after 9/11 and now Palestinians are completely in the dog house.

This unconditional support for Israel also is reflective in terms of the massive amount of aid and diplomatic backing that Israel receives. Israel, Egypt, and Pakistan have always been amongst the top in-countries for US civilian/military aid, the case for Egypt is actually that it agrees to respect a formal peace pact with Israel- thus a quid pro quo for US funding.

If the US wall breaks down (it will not), it is possible that Israel will face a lonely fight to the finish against the combined forces of the Arab League and the Euro-American Left (which is leading the Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions campaign). Kerry's words are an amber signal in that direction.
If there’s no two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict soon, Israel risks becoming “an apartheid state,” Secretary of State John Kerry told a room of influential world leaders in a closed-door meeting Friday.

Imran Khan boarding the wrong usual

Our great leader has taken the pulse of Twitter and Facebook (or heard good news from on high) and has decided to throw caution to the wind and board the anti-GEO bandwagon.
Sadly, once more, he may be boarding the wrong train. The army's ability to swing itself into the harness and give orders has been slowly but steadily weakening for years. Zardari's successful tenure (successful in not falling to a coup) and the peaceful transfer of power to MNS were baby steps. A major Paknationalist media empire deciding its time to openly challenge the ISI after its reporter is shot (by the ISI or by someone else) is a bigger step (because it means serious sections of the ruling elite feel it is time they can do this). This is not to condone GEO's method of making the accusation, or their odious past record of labeling others as thieves, traitors, etc. That is all condemn-able and has been condemned in the past and should be condemned now. But their willingness to do so still indicates that they perceived a power shift.
The deep state (and its useful-idiot supporters in the PTI fan-base) have since mobilized to teach GEO a lesson and to show them who is still boss...but it is not exactly going  as planned. It took a few days, but liberal fascists (a term GEO and Hamid Mir freely popularized when they and the establishment were on the same page) continue to pop up to question the army's right to label GEO (or anyone else) as traitors. More significantly, MNS does not seem to be cooperating. Astute politicians like Zardari will soon get the hint (if they have not already got it) that there is not going to be a coup and its time to stand aside and let the ISI expose itself and its remaining supporters for what they are: people out of step with Pakistani political reality. (Look at the dozens or at most hundreds of people showing up to wave pro-ISI posters at rallies).

That leaves Imran Khan.

As expected, he has miscalculated. Thinking this whole sorry scheme of things entire may be wound up soon, he has boldly stepped forward (after waffling for a few days) and has now discovered that GEO is the enemy and he is ready to boycott them.
By doing so he stands ready to lose either way:

1. He is wrong and MNS and GEO both survive this episode, leaving him with abundant egg on his face after yet another failed "mobilization/revolution".


2. He has picked the "winning side" and the deep state will kill GEO and MNS (killing one without the other is not likely to be much help) on May 11th (the day Khan sahib and Canadian-gun-for-hire Tahir Ul Qadri are supposed to launch their campaign against this "corrupt system"). What then? He will find himself marked as a supporter of what will surely be Pakistan's last and least successful coup. The inevitable disasters that follow will end his political career (and possibly more that that).

I present to you, Imran Khan, leader with impeccable (bad) timing:

Imran khan boycott on geo by zemtv

PS: foreign friends unfamiliar with the tenor of the campaign against Hamid Mir may understand better after an example. Here it is:

Black money for (smooth) roads, (sturdy) lamposts

The most memorable (bone-chilling) promise made to the (about to be independent) nation by our esteemed first Prime Minister: 
"In an independent India," Nehru declared in one of the first speeches he made on June, 1945, "such black marketeers will be hung from the lamp posts

Arvind Kejriwal on why Nehru's party has (till very recently) been reluctant to retrieve black money hoarded in foreign banks (let alone call in the guillotine):

What will this notorious pot of gold get us? Lalu Yadav promised to use the black money for constructing roads (in Bihar) that will be as smooth as Hema Malini's cheeks (if true this would be money well spent). We should be able to afford a few (metaphorically speaking) robust lamp-posts as well.

The names of the infamous black money hoarders have been finally disclosed. The only question is why the inordinate delay in releasing information from 2009? No need to answer that question though.

MH 370 located in Bay of Bengal (maybe)

We have stopped covering this grisly business since there remains so much uncertainty. Now however there is a flicker of hope- there is actually a wreckage which has multi-element match with that of a Boeing 777 (not previously detected in the same sector).

If this is indeed confirmed it will be a major technical miracle.

On reflection, Bay of Bengal was always a more likely theater than Southern Indian Ocean, if there was foul play (likely) and especially if there was malfunctioning, it makes no sense that MH370 will continue to fly for so long.
An Australian marine exploration company has claimed that it has found the wreckage of the crashed Malaysian plane in the Bay of Bengal, 5,000 km away from the current search location in the Indian Ocean.

Slum-dog vs. Hans Solo

John Oliver is a British comedian, an Emmy winning writer and has his own HBO show (Last Week Tonight with J.O.). He makes a few salient points about Indian elections.

Re: why America should care-"Don't pretend you aren't interested in this, America. The last time you heard a rags-to-riches story about a tea-selling Indian kid, you threw a fcuking Oscar at it."

Re: evidence America does not care-   ....a clip of debates on American news channels about the Indian elections, where a guest can be seen saying,"India is not even in the same hemisphere and there's no point of discussing it."

Re: Rahul Gandhi-
Rahul Gandhi, calling him 'Indian Hans Solo' and pointing out how despite his political lineage is likely to lose to a 'tea seller'.
Re: Narendra Modi-
"No election is complete—or entertaining—without a little scandal, a 'je ne sais, genocide'." 

Re: Western Media-
CNN in India for using the title "One Billion Votes" for a story about the election, when India actually has only 800 million voters, saying "Their own graphic is wrong by the entire population of Brazil."

Re: India Media-
"Do you have a ludicrous number of people shouting at each other in a TV debate? Check.


Is Gypsy really a bad word?

First things first, Madonna: never call a Gypsy a gypsy.
There are somewhere between 8-10 million Roma or Romani (derogatively referred to as “gypsy”, the lowercase “g” insinuating that it’s not a proper noun) currently living in Eastern Europe. It’s impossible to get an accurate count because of the number of Roma who are undocumented by governments that still refuse to claim them or to acknowledge their existence as anything other than outsider.
With the resurgence of hate crimes against the Roma throughout Eastern Europe, the Western World is starting to ask, “Who are these people exactly?” Even though the Roma have been persecuted and murdered in droves since well before WWII, it has taken the general global public decades to become interested.

- See more at:

From what I can remember the root of the word Gypsy is the same as Egypt or Copt (as the Gypsies were initially assumed to be from Egypt) so it's not in itself derogatory.

In vein of this piece, I remember this paragraph by Steve:

Millions of people permanently lose the thread. Unlike academic specialists, they have other, more personally important things to think about than the changing names of distant ethnic groups. Thus, they never make the mental connection that the mysterious new Inuit their children are studying in school are actually those Eskimos that they liked reading about when they were the same age, or that these new-fangled Roma aren't Romans or Romanians, but are actually the Gypsies who play that wonderful violin music.

In attempts to create a new name unburdened by old prejudices, the name game can end up dissipating the goodwill built up toward the old one.

Read more: 
Feature: Name game - 'Inuit' or 'Eskimo'?

The part in bold is a nod to nonsensical name change in India in the 90's. If India were to ever rename itself Bharat or Egypt to Misr that would trash billions of dollars of PR. As we learnt from the debacle of New Coke never f*ck with the brand people and there was no better brand than Bombay.

Having an insider knowledge

Steve Sailer references Siamak Ebrahimi Nehoray, the lawyer for Ms. Stiviano in the Sterling Clipper scandal

Siamak Ebrahim Nehoray is a graduate of Memphis State (maybe he met some ballers there?) and the University of Laverne College of Law. He was suspended in 2004 by the state bar association for playing fast and loose with a small amount of a client's funds.

An anonymous commentator wrote:

Anonymous said...
The Wikipedia says that Siamak is a Persian name. A Google search for Nehoray brings up some Israelis. The lawyer could be an Iranian Jew.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Why Hamid Mir was shot..

This video will give you an idea

It is about 2 years old. On this particular issue, he has been (surprisingly) vocal from day one. For that he should get credit. A lot of people are digging up old segments in which Hamid Mir professes the kind of Paknationalist idiocies and Islamist fantasies that are a staple of mainstream media in Pakistan. And yes, he is certainly capable of those. He is, after all, a mainstream Pakistani journalist. Others have pointed out that his behavior within the GEO organization was rather haughty and he did not treat his colleagues and staff in a nice manner (for example, a journalist complained that she was told by a flunkey to leave the elevator because "sahib is coming" was Hamid Mir coming to work). That may be true, I have no idea. But he has certainly tried to publicize the Balochistan issue when no one else in the electronic media was touching it. And for that, he may have been shot.
It is still possible he was shot by someone else. Possible, but hardly likely.

His own article about this shooting:

Hamid Mir
Monday, April 28, 2014

Selfie (833AM), self-less (834AM)

Often we see youngsters going for study/work while listening to music, texting etc. in the bus/train without paying any attention to what happens around them. We frequently read about fatalities caused by this behavior and each time anxiety mounts: are our loved ones next on the grim reaper's list?

Now a new fad is up and running and (apart from the business of self-harm) now one has to worry about collateral damage (that famous word again). It is sad that a young lady had to die to make the point, but this being the "young invincibles" generation, we are not sure what else will get the message across. Our sympathies are (unfortunately but firmly) with the 73 year-old gentleman who is sure to have nightmares for the rest of his life.

Please do not take selfies while driving. Do not text. Do not update Facebook. Do keep your attention (every moment) on the road. 

A woman has died in a head-on collision on a US highway just seconds after she posted selfies and updated her status on Facebook, police have said.

How to safeguard against the coming extinctions

I was reading that one of the most heavily fortified facilities in the world is the Seed Centre in the Arctic, which preserves flora & fauna biodiversity so that if the day ever comes that we are threatened with mass crop extinctions (the cavendish banana, which is 90% of the world production & consumption, is threatened by a virus that wipes out the crop, each banana is an identical clone of another) we have a bio bank to start over.

During my travels it's increasingly obvious to me that English is the new Latin. Maybe a millennia from now different planets will spawn their own Vulgar English dialects that will emerge as lingua Franca in their own right. But as of right now the ongoing linguistic consolidation (the Tesot mother speaks Luganda as a first language and will only speak to her children in English) means that Uganda's tremendous linguistic & tribal diversity (in the dozens) is soon going to become Luglish (Luganda + English. Hinglish is not an isolated phenomenon..

Perhaps we need a linguistic bank where we record native speakers and record their language to store (after all our data capacity is rising on a geometric if not exponential level, apparently the internet weighs a millionth of an ounce) for the long years ahead.

Of course Baha'u'llah for saw this and cautioned us 150yrs ago to set an auxiliary language so that we both have global unity but maintain local diversity. But while we wait for the New World Order it may be prudent to save the bulk of the 6,000 or so languages that will soon diminish to a few hundred..

An Atheist upgrades to Allah (via Jesus )

A fascinating interview with Prof. Reza Aslan in which he explains why it is perfectly OK to be traditional, why Al-Qaeda is not anti-modern, and that religious radicalism is on the rise only as a reaction to progressivism (which is also on the rise).

Is there really a religious gene? People (especially in the West) are turning more and more to atheism as they become disillusioned with organized religion. Then again there are others who find profound meaning in religion.

One thing that seems to be of immense significance (and a point not discussed in the article) is that Reza Aslan's father was an atheist, so what was the trigger that led him to reject the ways of his dad and embrace religion? Also he explains why/how he adopted Christianity (but not why he left) and also his reasons for (presently) preferring Islam.
You first converted to Christianity and then to Islam. Can you take us through your personal journey of faith?

Sindh celebrates the girl child (and humanity)

It was very much of a Papa dont preach, keep your rosaries off my ovaries moment- an excellent day to be a denizen of Sindh - especially if you are a girl child.  The consequences of child marriage are terrible for mind and body alike.

Sharmila Farooqi and Rubina Qaimkhani are our heroes for having placed their lives on the line by leading on this bill. Interestingly enough, we have friends named Sharmila and Rubina- both Hindu Bengalis.

However as we see elsewhere in SAsia and on other humanitarian projects (for e.g. administering polio drops), passing laws is a necessary first step but only tight enforcement and co-opting of community leaders will make this a properly functional barrier against the sea of misogyny.
The Sindh Assembly on Monday passed the Sindh Child Marriages Restraint Bill, 2014 prohibiting marriage of children below 18 years.
The assembly is the first provincial legislature in the country to approve a bill to curb child marriages.
Under the bill, the minimum for marriage is 18 years. Those found violating the law would be punished in line with the penalty suggested in the legislation. According to the law, in cases of underage marriages, those involved can be sentenced to three years in prison and they can also be fined.
The bill was first presented in the assembly in 2013 by Sharmila Farooqi and Rubina Qaimkhani.


Reposted from Latif's Cavern
In Midnight's Children there was a quotation where the Brits had forbidden the Indian Royalty from passing on their titles to children of mixed marriages. The reasoning went that if this was allowed within a few generations Indian Royalty would have become entirely European.

This is certainly borne out by the Aga Khan who at last count is a quarter Indo-Persian the rest Europe and all of his descendant have married Europeans (his grandson, potentially the future Aga Khan would be a sixteenth Indo-Persian).

At any rate I'm beginning to see this borne out in the Desi Elite among Kampala. The Ismaili intermarriage rate (the Aga Khan of course is their leader) is substantially higher than either that of the Muslim or Hindu communities. Of course the Ismailis tend to prefer conversion of the foreign spouses but even so it's interesting to see that even the "halves" among the Ismaili community are so much more (they've been inter-marrying for more than a generation and even with Africans so it's rather non-discriminatory even though heavily tiled towards Europeans). 

I know that the Aga Khan kept his titles despite intermarrying and even though he is both Royal & Spiritual leader I wonder how much of the British injunction against Royal intermarriage has actually kept desi marrying rates much lower than they should be. I don't have the stars but observationally British Asians have the lowest out-marriage rates among the ethnic minorities.

The Parsis have strong admixtures (the Tatas have Europeans married in) and so do some elite Muslim families (Cipla's founder has a Lithuianian Jewish mother) and of course so do the Nehrus but perhaps if the Brits had allowed intermarriage and not been so paternalistic India (the Indian world from Afghanistan to Burma at it's greatest stretch) would have been far more anchored in Western ways?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

"We love Pakistan army and ISI"

With India in the middle of high-voltage drama season, can Pakistan be left behind?

The Guardian journalists are thrilled by the images of a David casting stones on the Goliath. However at the end of the day nothing much will happen but the demise of Geo TV. Pak military boasts of a solid middle class base and it is one institution that Pakistanis of all stripes (except perhaps Balochis and MQM followers) admire. Still, taboos are meant to be broken and this unprecedented defiance of the "agencies" may help future journalists in going where no one has gone before. 
For decades Pakistan's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence was the spy agency that could not be named, let alone publicly criticised. The media would refer only to the "agencies", the "establishment" or, even more coyly, "the angels".

(brown) Silicon Superman crushed by racism

You receive a minor wrist-slap for brutalizing another human being. As a brown super-man who conquered the commanding heights of Silicon Valley, you are still entitled to cry "racism." 

Justice (poetic) was finally done when Gurbaksh Chahal was ejected from the board of RadiumOne as a result of "twitter backlash". But lot of questions remain unanswered. Why did the police behave so stupidly? Why did the girl turn hostile? Did it matter that this guy is a big-time Obama donor? Our fear is that if he escapes now, the next victim may not wake up to tell the story.

"When she awoke, her brother was gone"

The (true) story of Mhd. Husein (15 years) and Senwara Begum (9 years) facing the horrors of the actual sea (and also a sea of inhumanity), separated from their parents.....perhaps forever.

So...we are experiencing in real-time the impact of yet another 2 nation policy...this time by devotees of a Great Soul who instructed that even plants and animals are to be treated with kindness. 

It is perhaps churlish to ask at such a sad moment, but when will the history of children displaced by the partitions in South Asia be written, many of whom are still rotting away in so many slums? If we the browns will not take responsibility, will the white man (Associated Press) launch an investigation and write the report? The theories of competitive grievances tend to drown out the reality of all the grief and misery.

The powerful epigraph in Jyoti Grewal's book on the Sikh riot victims (1984) comes to mind: ‘I write so I am not written out; I write so I am not written about.’
Their small boat was packed with 63 people, including 14 children and 10 women. They baked in the sun and vomited from the waves. Nearly two weeks passed, and then a boat with at least a dozen Myanmar soldiers approached. They kicked and bludgeoned the Rohingya men with wooden planks and iron rods, several passengers said.
They tied Mohamad’s hands and lit a match, laughing as the smell of burnt flesh wafted from his blistering arm. Senwara watched helplessly. The beatings finally stopped after Mohamad suspected money changed hands, and the soldiers ordered the boat to leave. The government said the Navy denied seizing any ships during that period.

“Tell us, do you have your Allah?” one Rohingya survivor quoted the soldiers as saying. “There is no Allah!”

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Beautiful people have it the worst

We really should exercise much more care when talking about beautiful people like Nargis Fakhri. The poor girl recently came in for some harsh treatment on the Koffee With Karan (KWK) show (Karan as in Karan Johar, the super-boss of Bollywood).

As she says, people consider her (unfairly) to be just a dumb, pretty face, and she wants to set the record straight...she is a talented, pretty face who hustled hard to find a royal patron who is duly appreciative of her talents (and her beauty).

Friday, April 25, 2014

Dharmics United vs. The Yavanas

As we arrive at the critical middle phase of elections, there is still space/time for one final piece of drama- Dr Manmohan Singh's brother Daljit Singh Kohli has joined the BJP. He was supposedly motivated by the humiliation inflicted on bade bhaiya by the dastardly dragons at the Delhi Durbar (PM had no comments except to express personal sadness).

It is quite possible that Daljit is a Vibhisana (devil brother) and not a Lakshman (angel brother), but the stories of humiliation are vouched for by many people in the inner-most circle (incl. Sanjaya Baru).

Any other time such stunts would be dismissed as pure drama-bazi, but if your boat is already sinking even a few straws may prove to be too much of a burden, especially when the public has reason to suspect that there is no honor to be spared amongst this gang of thieves.

Zack's Thought Experiment of the Day

Imagine if the journalist had used the word "black" settlements to describe inner-city areas.

A Jewish Photographer’s Portrait of Arab Israeli Teenagers

Eighteen 05
Jehad Nassar, 18, stands at the center of some of his gang members in Arrabe. Jehad has seen one of his friends lose his leg in a recent fight against another gang. Crime and gang disputes are very common, as the police hardly enter Arab settlements.
Natan Dvir
Turning 18 is the start of an important year for young Israelis. They typically finish high school, become legal adults, and get the right to vote. It’s also the year when the differences between two strata of Israeli society crystallize: While virtually all Jewish men and women join the military, most Arabs, who make up around 20 percent of the population of Israel, don’t.

Hamid Karzai - Congress's Man in Afghanistan

The big question though, after all these years, is whether Karzai was, in the end, a great leader. Can he even hold a candle to the regional heroes he so publicly admires, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

On Bard's (450) birthday, Romeo debarred

Romeo and Juliet dancing Bollywood Fusion in the rain to celebrate 450 years of the Bard? Alas, in the modern day Keystone State, the quality of mercy is highly strained.

Historians are unable to agree on the exact birth date of Shakespeare. Official celebrations mark it as April 23 (1564), but there are strong claims made for April 26. We personally prefer to celebrate everyday as Shakespeare day, since we love English (and English minus the Bard is a bit difficult to contemplate) and we love the day-to-day drama that takes place on this worldly stage, which if not always pitched at an epic Shakespearean level (thankfully), still manages to make our day (or break it).

One particular recent sketch that is tinged with much sadness: Pennsylvania authorities have suspended Patrick "Romeo" Farves from the school prom for having dared to offer a (plastic) rose to the beautiful and gracious Nina Davuluri.  Why? Surely the lady would not mind dancing a few steps with a young (if a bit too ambitious) boy. A missed opportunity for (brown-white) cross-culture pollination as well - Reihan Salam would have been pleased. 

Let us hope that not all young love is nipped in the bud in such a churlish fashion (Nina herself has requested for a royal pardon). The young adults now dreaming of making a grand entrance on the world-stage must be met with warmth, kindness, and understanding so that non-violent delights do not come to violent ends.

Post poll verdict: Congress in a tight corner

We agree with Yogi Berra that predictions are difficult...especially those about the future.

That said it was clear from yesterday that Muslims have been fully mobilized for the Congress. What was equally clear is that the Hindus have been fully mobilized for the BJP, in particular the Gujarati community in Mumbai (also includes a sizable number of Jains, Parsis and Dawoodi Bohras). To the extent the politicians wanted a polarized electorate they have got one (Aam Admi Party does not even have a whiff of a chance).  

The BJP/NDA will win this one and probably win big.

As a result of the mobilization efforts, polling was huge even in normally apathetic Mumbai. The top-line number is 52.66% (41.42% in 2009). These numbers are preliminary ones released by the Election Commission and may be revised later.

Breaking down into constituencies we have: Mumbai North 52% (42.6% in 2009), North-East 53% (42.47), North-West 50% (44), North-Central 52% (39.5), South-Central 55% (39.5), and South 54% (40.37).

In Maharashtra the top-line number is 56.26%. The non-metro seats also saw healthy voting percentage: Nandurbar (62), Dhule (59), Jalgaon (50), Raver (58), Jalna (63), Aurangabad (59), Dindori (64), Nashik (64), Palghar (58), Bhiwandi (60), Kalyan (43), Thane (42) and Raigad (64). Thane (also Kalyan) was disappointingly low (why? these are politically very active).

For rest of India, voting percentage increased on average by more than 10% (excluding states which already record high turnouts). Specifically, and most significantly, Uttar Pradesh registered a 13% increase.

LTTE murderers will remain in jail (for now)

Update: This is probably the best decision the panel could have taken given the grave constitutional issues (state vs. center powers)  involved. A larger bench will examine and decide. 
As it stands we have (temporary) relief for the families of the victims and anxious anticipation for the families of the perps.
 The Supreme Court on Friday referred the case related to release of those convicted of killing former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to a larger constitutional bench. The convicts will not be released from prison till further orders, the court said.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mother of all ballots (180 mil, 117 seats, 04/24)

Tomorrow is a most  crucial day for the republic.
If you are one of the 180 million voters who plan to exercise their responsibilities as citizens, please pay attention to this last minute message (see below) from a (Christian) Father (Fraser Mascarenhas, Principal, St Xaviers College, Mumbai) to his (mostly Hindu) students.

An interesting point that needs highlighting, is the difference between Muslims and Christians in their attitude to Modi. Amongst the activists and intellectuals (Mascarenhas included) there is of course complete unanimity, an united wall against the Great Satan. 

However at the community level there are stark differences. The upper-caste Kerala Christians (Syrians) are publicly backing Modi (votes not so much), so are a large section of Goan Christians (votes will make a difference). There is no (apparent) solidarity with tribal, dalit Christians who may face an onslaught from Hindutva forces post elections. 

In contrast, the only muslims who will be freely voting for Modi are the Bohras of Gujarat/Maharashtra and the Shias in Uttar Pradesh. The Bohras are businessmen and are voting based on caste interests (as opposed to the interests of the Ummah), while Shias will vote due to their grievances against Sunnis (there is no Ummah).  

Americans (ideologues) prefer traitors

Reihan Salam does not think much of people who prefer to date people with a similar skin color.
He would prefer people to cast aside their prejudices and qualify as a race traitor (our words).

What was truly interesting was his assertion that people's attitudes to race (and dating) depend on the communities in which they grow up, which is dependent on when they were growing up. Thus a brown kid in the 1950s would be forced to date only whites, while in the 1990s there would be many eligible browns to choose from. The same concept presumably applies to where you are growing up, even today, Boise, Idaho is lily-white compared to New York City.

While we do not necessarily disagree with Reihan, our lived experience was that brown girls preferred dating white boys (and vice versa). The consensus opinion of our peer group (incl. both sexes and races) was that this dynamic was driven by the prejudices of the concerned women (white males are enlightened as compared to browns) and men (brown females are submissive as compared to whites).

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Deep State Fatwa: shut down Geo TV (or else)

Who is the Boss? After all these years (decades) and all the going back and forth there is not an iota of doubt. Aam aadmi-s (even elites such as Hamid Mir) may say whatever they want to say, provided the Deep State does not mind what they say.

And while we continue to chatter about foolish nothings, let us also drop the pretense of some strange, rogue element being responsible for taking care of Obama* Osama, shooting down Mumbai etc. An all powerful deep-state will not tolerate a single rogue element, let alone remain ignorant about multi-million dollar operations which required years of planning. Hafeez Saeed may be farting in your general direction but he is just a front-man in this scheme of things.
Pakistan's army demanded the closure of the country's most popular television channel on Tuesday following allegations that the military's main intelligence agency had ordered an assassination attempt on its star journalist.

In a three-page petition to Pakistan's broadcast regulator the ministry of defence accused Geo News of mounting a "vicious campaign" to libel the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) and called for its operating license to be revoked. "The telecast in question was aimed at undermining the integrity and tarnishing the image of state institution and its officers and falsely linking it with terrorist outfits," the notice said.

Ground Zero (Rana Plaza, Bangladesh)

We approach the first anniversary of a mass murder (of people by people whom they had trusted with their lives). May all their souls rest in peace. The living victims are another matter altogether- no justice for them even after all this time.

Incidentally, why was this picture not voted as #1 (for 2013)? Sad to believe there are many more (too may) horrors scattered around the globe. But still...this picture will live for-ever.

Please do consider buying the book. The authors have not specifically mentioned how the proceedings may help some charity involved with Rana Plaza victims but even so it is worthy of your hard earned dollars.

It is 24 April. The previous day, shortly after work started, three cracks were found in the reinforced concrete pillars that support the eight-storey building. An engineer sent by the Savar municipality declared the building unsafe, work in the five factories was halted and everyone was sent home.

If an order is delivered late, accepted practice in much of the industry is for the buyer to deduct 5% for each week of delay. The buyers already have political unrest, wildcat strikes and blockades to deal with; they cannot afford to risk losing further days of production.

Affirmative action is dead

Even a liberal women's block vote in the Supreme court could not block the inevitable.

Michigan is now free from the restraints of affirmative action in the Education arena. The 6-2 victory can be directly attributed to the Southern White backlash that helped elect Republican presidents with an objective to turn the Supreme Court red (among the new inductees were conservative icons such as Clarence Thomas who rose to prominence due to ...affirmative action). The surprising YES vote was that of liberal Stephen Breyer. 

Now many more ballot initiatives are anticipated at the state level to roll back quotas in other areas as well.

500 mil Speedsters on the (Whats App) Freeway

Amazing growth- 48 mil in India, 45 mil in Brazil for Whats App.
Still no clue as to how to monetize all this popularity (some teenager somewhere will figure that one out for sure).
The numbers released by WhatsApp on Wednesday shows that the instant messaging app continues to find users at an astounding pace. In a blog post, WhatsApp announced that it now has over 500 million active users. These users share 700 million photos and 100 million videos daily.


TCS (soft)powers India to Premier League

Once upon a time what was good for General Motors was also automatically considered good for America.
We presume the same thing holds true for TCS and India at present.

The rankings are a bit confusing, but whichever way you look (revenues, profit margin, employee count, market cap, growth rate) TCS is doing very well, perhaps only next to IBM.
This is a landmark for Indian IT. The country's largest IT services provider, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), has broken into the league of top 10 global IT services companies (by revenue), moving from the 13th position in 2012 to the 10th spot in 2013.

Rani of the Chopra-s

Best wishes to the couple!! Enjoy marital bliss for a long long time.

Popular Bollywood actor Rani Mukherjee has tied the knot with Aditya Chopra, son of late iconic filmmaker Yash Chopra, according to the Indian media.

Saudis execute (1977) innocents

No not the Shias in the Eastern Provinces, not even the Alawaites of Syria, just a few protected (ha ha ha) birds in Balochistan. One commentator put the best spin forward when he suggested that the prince must have got confused between "endangered" and "abundant."

Will the Riyal-khors ($1.5 Bil) now stand up against this flagrant violation of rules displayed by His Excellency? How about considering a blanket ban on "chidiya shikar?"
A Saudi prince has poached over 2,100 internationally protected houbara bustards in 21-day hunting safari in Chagai, Balochistan, during which the royal also indulged in illegal hunting in protected areas, says a report.

Animist Army vs. Christian Crusaders

The Church had sinned by engaging in a spot of idolatry (blasphemy??) by portraying Mother Mary as a tribal lady with Baby Jesus in a sling. The Animists are not prepared to take this outrage lying down and now a (century old) fight is reaching its Waterloo phase. With the fading of the Catholic-Parsi-Brahmin First Family of India from the scene the Christians will have a tough time (post elections) in keeping their ranks united and their flanks protected.

Two months before polling began in Jharkhand, Ajay Tirkey began dividing his day between campaigning for the Bharatiya Janata Party in Ranchi and attending to his real estate business. Mr. Tirkey, who heads the Central Sarna Committee(CSC), with lakhs of animistic Sarna tribals as members in urban parts of Ranchi, Gumla and Hazaribagh, believes that the BJP’s Narendra Modi will get the community what it has been demanding for decades: the distinction of being a minority religion with all attendant benefits. “We submitted a memorandum to Modi in December to introduce a Sarna code in the census, and [the] BJP’s State leaders agreed,” he says.

Hindu-Jewish-Amrika axis exposed!!!

The one true Leader, despised by secularists (liberals), full of fighting spirit against Pakistan (Russia), the maestro preparing to unleash the magic of the free market on impoverished peasants, this is indeed the second coming of Ronald Wilson Reagan.

BTW Cohen is a Jewish title and he was an associate of GW Bush. By definition this makes him a neo-con who must be engaged in stitching up a Hindu-Jew-Amrika pact. Arundhati Roy will be responding shortly with an in-depth accounting of the anticipated treacheries by this axis of evil. Reihan Salam will be pleased (but what about Bangladesh??).
Both Mr. Modi and Mr. Reagan rose from humble origins. Both were popular and successful State leaders: Reagan was “chief minister” (governor, as we say) of my home state of California. Mr. Modi, like Mr. Reagan, is an unabashed proponent of free market economics: the term “Modinomics” is of course a nod to “Reaganomics.”

A major common denominator between the two men is the nature of their detractors. Like the U.S., India has cultural elitists who seem to desperately crave the approval of their former colonial masters in Europe. The Indian cultural elite despises Mr. Modi every bit as much as the American cultural elite despised Mr. Reagan. They look down their noses at Mr. Modi, cringing at the thought of being led by a common chai wallah (“tea seller,” as I translated it for my U.S. readers) who can barely speak English. (I could never imagine Chinese or Russian citizens, proud of their own heritage, being ashamed that their leaders don’t speak English.)

We murder our brothers (because we hate others)

This is the essential logic of Hizbul Mujahidin and the other freedom fighters (in Kashmir and elsewhere). Power flows out of the barrel of a gun etc.

Thing is, this can (will) go on forever. We do not envisage the Valley people ever reconciling with Indians in Jammu and elsewhere. Too much blood has already been spilled.

If we include Kashmir in the MENA sphere it seems to be the fate of the Ummah to face down this daily ugliness in their lives with no end in sight. The health problems (physical as well as mental) of staying in a war zone are well documented. It seems the best place for a muslim (except for a few city states) is to be as far away as possible from the muslim heartlands.
Militants killed two local officials and another man in Indian Kashmir before issuing a warning to Kashmiris against voting this week in the country's election, according to police and residents.
The militants targeted two village council chiefs in separate attacks late on Monday in Pulwana district, south of the main city of Srinagar, a senior police officer said.

Nirvana-stan welcomes you (arrive, inspect, deport)

The scriptures famously refer to the soul-awakening impact of sickness, old age, and death on the young, impressionable prince Siddhartha Gautama. There is no command that we know of which forbids graven images of the Lord. The tattoo (below) does not look disrespectful, but we defer to the faithful on that account.

This event should be viewed as part and parcel of the learning process for faith-led communities around the world  as they scramble to secure their own pure (infidel-free) fiefdoms. The initial spark (usually lit by Islam envy) eventually becomes a raging fire that consumes the believer, non-believer and the dis-believer alike. Blasphemy and apostasy are used by opportunists to terrorize the innocent. The road to Hell is indeed paved with good sentiments (hurting others' religious feelings).

A British tourist is to be deported from Sri Lanka because of a tattoo of Buddha on her arm.